Pixel Scroll 10/25/22 Mahna Mahna! Do Scroll The Pixels The Pixels Are The One Thing That Is True

(1) PULLING RANK. Amanda S. Green puts a blip on indie author’s radar screens. There’s been a change in what rankings Amazon displays to readers: “And so it goes” at Mad Genius Club.

…And Amazon has changed the rules without much fanfare when it comes to what rankings they show. According to another author who queried Amazon about what they were seeing, Amazon has shifted to a policy where only three category rankings will show on a product page. In other words, you can be in the top 10 in four or more categories but Amazon will only show three. As if that’s not bad enough, the categories I see might not be the same one you see because their bots choose which ones to show based on our browsing histories.

As a reader, I don’t see a big problem. As a writer, this is a huge problem….

(2) KINDLE STORYTELLER AWARD. The winner of Amazon UK’s 2022 Kindle Storyteller Award is a historical fantasy novel: King of War by Peter Gibbon.

The Kindle Storyteller Award is a £20,000 literary prize recognising outstanding writing. It is open to writers publishing in English in any genre, who publish their work through Kindle Direct Publishing. Readers play a significant role in selecting the winner, helped by a panel of judges including various book industry experts.

The 2022 Kindle Storyteller Award was open for entries between 1st May and 31st August 2022.

(3) SAY IT AIN’T SO! Syfy Wire has horrible news: “Disney+ lands future seasons of ‘Doctor Who’”.

If you want to watch the next incarnation of Doctor Who, you’re going to need a Disney+ subscription.

Disney announced Tuesday morning that it will be the new home for upcoming seasons of the classic BBC science fiction series in the United States and around the world, a major streaming acquisition for a streaming service that’s already home to major franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star WarsNcuti Gatwa, who will play the Fifteenth Doctor on the series, confirmed the news during an appearance on Live with Kelly and Ryan this morning, according to a Disney press release…. 

(4) GATEWAY TO THE PAST. Young People Read Old SFF features a look at the Susan C. Petrey that ends her posthumous collection Gifts of Blood, which included essays by Le Guin, Vonda McIntyre, and Kate Wilhelm.  What do the panelists think of this Hugo finalist?

October 2022’s Young People Read Old Hugo Finalists offers a story unusual in several ways. Firstly, I was utterly unfamiliar with Susan C. Petrey’s Hugo finalist story ​“Spidersong1”. A glance at Petrey’s ISFDB entry offers a grim explanation: Susan Petrey died in her mid-thirties, 5 December 1980. Most of her work seems to have been published posthumously, largely in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, a magazine that for no good reason I did not read. 

In addition to her Hugo nomination, in spite of having just three stories in print (1979’s ​“Spareen Among the Tartars”, 1980’s ​“Spidersong”, and 1980’s ​“Fleas”), Petrey was nominated for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer2. Petrey died before the results of the nomination were announced. In fact, Petrey was one of two authors present posthumously on the 1981 Astounding Award3; Robert Stallman died August 1, 1980. As far as I can tell, this is the only year any nominees, let alone two4, for the Astounding were nominated post-mortum. 

“Spidersong” is unusual in a third, far more positive way: it is still in print, for web-based values of in print. Spidersong can be read in Issue 54 of Light Speed Magazine….

(5) LIGHTS ON. Cora Buhlert calls this a “semi non-fiction spotlight” because it’s about an anthology that mixes fiction reprints with essays and commentary: Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women Volume 2 (1953 to 1957), edited by Gideon Marcus”.

What prompted you to write/edit this book?

By 2018, I had read dozens of great stories by women in my trek through all the period science fiction magazines. That same year, I ran across A. J. Howells, who had started up a small press to republish The Office by Fredric Brown. His experience made me realize that it’s not too hard to start a press these days. Putting two and two together, it was obvious what my first project would be: a collection of all of my favorite stories by women from the era….

(6) THE NOT AT ALL JOLLY ROGER. According to this article from the Guardian, even Booker Prize winners have to deal with book piracy: “Booker prize winner urges people not to circulate pirated copies of his novel”.

Booker prize-winning author Shehan Karunatilaka has asked people not to circulate pirated versions of his novel.

Karunatilaka won the prize…for his second novel, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. In an Instagram story and a Facebook post two days after his win, Karunatilaka said it had “come to light that an unofficial and illegal” pdf version of his book was “doing the rounds on Sri Lankan social media”.

In his post, titled “Do not steal the moon”, the author wrote: “The book took seven years to write, with countless hours of research, craft and hard work poured into it. If you wish to support and honour Sri Lankan art, please do not forward pirated versions of the book and tell those who are circulating it to refrain from doing so.”…

(7) PREMEE MOHAMED Q&A: At the Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog: “Interview with Premee Mohamed, author of the Beneath The Rising trilogy”.

UHBC Blog: …Do you think it’s possible to write near-future fiction and not include some time of climate change elements?

Premee Mohamed: Well, anything’s possible in fiction.

But suppose I wanted to write a murder mystery set in London in a fancy house in the middle of the city in 1942. In theory, I could write the entire book just about the murder mystery and these friends would have to solve it.

But in practice, if I didn’t mention World War II at any point or the Blitz or the bombs or people that they knew that had died in the war … it would feel very weird and I feel like the book would be kind of missing something enormous about the reality of London in 1942….

(8) KNOW THE TERRITORY. J. Dianne Dotson advocates for “The Ecology of World-Building“ at the SFWA Blog.

…Interactions between living organisms and their environments include abiotic and biotic factors. Abiotic factors are nonliving factors, such as the sun, wind, precipitation, slope, or substrate (whether rock or other substance). Biotic factors are those that are living, such as plants, fungi, protists, or animals. Think about how both living and nonliving elements in your world affect your characters.

Other considerations include predator–prey relationships in your worlds. An apex predator is a top predator in a food chain. If your world has creatures, assume that there are predator–prey interactions. Where does each creature in your world fit in a food chain? What happens when you take the top predator away? What sorts of population pressures do your characters face? Showcasing these factors in your fiction weaves a unique tapestry for your characters to inhabit….

(9) CALLING OUT FATPHOBIA IN SFF. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Writing at Tor.com, R. K. Duncan enumerates the ways in which SFF has been a space that marginalizes those who are large. “SFF’s Big Fat Problem” is an important piece for us to read and to think about, when we’re consuming and creating fiction. 

In my lifetime, SFF has become unimaginably more welcoming of my queer self than it was when I began to read. My fat self, not so much. This essay is a callout for everyone who feels they are a part of this community. Do better.

(10) FEARSOME FIVE. James Davis Nicoll counts up “Five Chilling Horror Novellas to Read This Fall” at Tor.com.

October is, as I noted in an earlier essay, a season for ghosts and ghouls.  Days are shortening, winter is coming (at least for us folks in the northern hemisphere). It’s a season for melancholy entertainment.

Of course, autumn is also a busy season—even if, like the overwhelming majority of my readers, you don’t have to worry about getting crops in. You might not have the time, or the inclination, to read something long (there will be plenty of time for that in the cold days ahead). Happily, novellas are there for you. You might want to try one or more of these five….

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1969 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Picasso Summer 

Back in the Summer of love or thereabouts, Mister Bradbury wrote the script for The Picasso Summer which by the time it was in the can had involved artist Pablo Picasso, French directors Francois Truffaut and Serge Bourguignon, cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond,  animators Faith and John Hubley, composer Michel Legrand and Barbra Streisand. Even Bill Cosby was in the mix as his company produced it, as was another actor, Yul Brunner.

It’s based off his “In a Season of Calm Weather” short story which was first published in the January 1957 issue of Playboy. It was most recently, 2013, published by Bantam in his Medicine for Melancholy collection. 

SPOILERS OF A VERY PSYCHEDELIC NATURE FOLLOW. SENSITIVE MINDS SHOULD GO ELSEWHERE.

Bradbury wrote a most excellent script here. 

His story is that SF architect George Smith (as played by Albert Finney) is vacationing in France with his wife Alice (a very beautiful Yvette Mimieux) with the hopes of meeting Picasso. Why he wants to meet him is not explained. The back story is he is terminally weary of being an architect.

The young couple are turned away from the artist’s home, and a fight breaks out. George in a rather nasty mood goes off to Spain to meet Spanish bullfighting legend Luis Miguel Dominguín, who might be a friend of Picasso and might get him an introduction. He doesn’t. 

So Alice stays behind and alone in France, very miserable. Upon he returns, he apologizes for the quite bad vacation. They go for a final swim on the beach, utterly failing to notice Picasso playing in the sand with his family just a few hundred yards away as they stroll away from him into the sunset.

YOU COME BACK. WE’RE NOT DOING INTERESTING DRUGS ANYMORE. I THINK. 

I must stress that it includes some very trippy and quite lively animated sequences of Picasso’s work done up in the finest Sixties style possible. Groovy man!  It’s quite delightful and all goes superbly well for our couple in the end.

It was shot in 1969, partly re-shot and tooted into the vault in 1969, but not shown publicly until 1972. It doesn’t appear in the Warner Bros. release records because it never hit the theaters only to premiere in the States on CBS’s Late Nite Movie. Warner Bros put a clip from it up here. Please, please do not link to the many extended clips from the film including the animated sequences as they are clear violations of copyright as the film is still very much under copyright.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 25, 1902 Philip Wylie. Writer of SF snd mysteries alike. Co-author with Edwin Balme of When Worlds Collide, his most important work, which was first published as a six-part monthly serial (September 1932 through February 1933) in the Blue Book magazine with illustrations by Joseph Franké. The novel was the basis of the 1951 film  of the same name that was produced by George Pal. (Died 1971.)
  • Born October 25, 1909 Whit Bissell. You most likely know him as Station Manager Lurry on “The Trouble With Tribbles”, but his major contribution to the SFF genre was being in all thirty episodes of The Time Tunnel as Lt. Gen. Heywood Kirk. He also did one-offs on The InvadersI Dream of JeannieThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaScience Fiction TheaterThe Incredible Hulk and The Outer Limits. And yes, in the Time Machine film. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 25, 1928 Marion Ross, 94. Best remembered as Marion Cunningham on Happy Days but she does have some genre roles, including an uncredited appearance in The Secret of The Incas often cited as the inspiration for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Charlton Heston was adventurer Harry Steele. Anyone see it? Again uncredited, she’s in a Fifties version of Around the World in 80 Days. The Sixties are kinder to her as she starts getting credited for her work, first for being on The Outer Limits as Agnes Benjamin in “The Special One” episode followed by being Angela Fields in Colossus: The Forbin Project. To date, her last genre role was on the animated Galaxy as the voice of Doctor Minerva in “Gotta Get Outta This Place”. 
  • Born October 25, 1940 Janet Fox. Author whose stories appeared in countless genre zines and anthologies between the Seventies and mid-Nineties.  Her long fiction, mostly the Scorpio Rising series, was done as Alex McDonough. She’s also know for the Scavenger’s Newsletter which featured a number of noted writers during its run including Linda Sherman, Jeff VanderMeer and Jim Lee. (Died 2009.)
  • Born October 25, 1963 John Gregory Betancourt, 59. Writer known for his work in Zelazny’s Amber universe but who has written quite a bit of other franchise fiction including works in the Star TrekHerculesRobert Silverberg’s Time ToursDr. Bones and The New Adventures of Superman. Most of his original fiction was early in his career. He’s also edited in a number of magazines including Weird TalesAmazing StoriesH. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of HorrorAdventure Tales and Cat Tales. He even co-edited with Anne McCaffrey, Serve It Forth: Cooking with Anne McCaffrey. His Wildside Press has been nominated three times for World Fantasy Awards. 
  • Born October 25, 1971 Elif Safak, 51. Turkish writer with three genre novels, one written originally in Turkish (Mahrem), The Gaze in its English translation, and two written in English, The Architect’s Apprentice (which was translated into Turkish as Ustam ve Ben)  and 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World.
  • Born October 25, 1971 Marko Kloos, 51. Author of two MilSF series, Frontlines and The Palladium Wards. His Lines of Departure was nominated for Hugo Award for Best Novel at Sasquan on a slate organized by the Sad Puppies. In reaction to this, Kloos withdrew the novel from consideration for the award. He was subsequently honored by George R. R. Martin for this decision. And that gets him Birthday Honors. Five of his books have been Dragon Awards nominees in the Best Military SF or Fantasy category.

(13) SOI HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES. The Society of Illustrators’ 2022 Hall of Fame Ceremony and Awards will catch up two years’ worth of inductees.

Since 1958, the Society of Illustrators has elected to its Hall of Fame artists recognized for their distinguished achievement in the art of illustration. 

Artists are chosen based on their body of work and the impact it has made on the field of illustration. 

2021 Hall of Fame Laureates

  • Braldt Bralds
  • Craig Mullins
  • Floyd Norman
  • Margaret Brundage
  • Jean Alexandre Michel André Castaigne
  • Walter Percy Day
  • Dale Messick

2022 Hall of Fame Laureates

  • Charles Addams
  • George Booth
  • Emory Douglas
  • Wendy and Brian Froud
  • Reynold Ruffins

(14) HUGO SWAG. Cora Buhlert recently received her 2022 Hugo finalist certificate and pin. You can see a photo here: “Look What the Mailman Brought Me”.

(15) SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY POETRY ASSOCIATION MILESTONE. Adele Gardner and Greer Woodward, Editors of the 2022 Dwarf Stars Anthology made a historic announcement about the poet who took second place in the 2022 Dwarf Stars Award for his poem “Colony.”

Jamal Hodge is the first black man to win or place in the competition. Though the editors are saddened that there have not been prior accolades for black men in the Dwarf Stars Award, we are so very glad that Jamal Hodge has broken this barrier and lifted us with the quality of his work.
 
Jamal Hodge is a multi-award-winning filmmaker and writer from Queens NYC who has won over 80 awards with screenings at Tribecca Film Festival, Sundance, and the Cannes Short Film Corner. As a writer, Hodge is an active member of the Horror Writers Association and the SFPA, being nominated for a 2021 & 2022 Rhysling Award for his poems “Fermi’s Spaceship” and “Loving Venus,” while placing second in the 2022 Dwarf Stars. His poetry is featured in the anthology Chiral Mad 5 alongside such legends as Stephen King and Linda Addison. His written work was featured in the historical all-black issue of Star*Line (43.4), Space and Time Magazine, Hybrid: Misfits, Monsters & Other Phenomena, Penumbric Speculative Fiction Magazine, Savage Planets, and many others. https://linktr.ee/directorh
 
Hodge’s 2022 Dwarf Stars poem “Colony” is a poignant observation of humanity. Although scientists have developed technology superb enough to send people to Mars and establish a colony, human nature has remained unchanged. The fact that murder is one of the things that marks our humanity is not only tragic, but may well damage prospects for a hopeful future. The editors admired the way this powerful message was expressed in only 29 words.

(16) MIGHTY DIALOG. Book Riot’s Kate Scottanoints these as “23 of the Best The Lord of the Rings Quotes”.

Choosing the best quotes from The Lord of the Rings is difficult, because there are so many amazing lines in this fantasy epic. Nevertheless, here are 23 of my favorite The Lord of the Rings quotes.

First out of the gate:

“‘Why was I chosen?’ ‘Such questions cannot be answered,’ said Gandalf. ‘You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.’”

How can it be that my own favorite isn’t even on the list!

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: The Rings Of Power (Season 1),” the Screen Junkies say this Lord of the RIngs prequel has so many mysterious strangers show up in the first episodes that “It’s hard to keep up with the people who aren’t mysterious. Stop making me do homework to watch TV!” the narrator complains. He shows at least five clips where the cast are trying very very hard not to say they’re making rings that characters can be lords of. Noting this is an Amazon project, the narrator asks, “do the orc slaves get free two-day shipping?”

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

Pixel Scroll 10/6/22 I’m Called Little Barlennan, Strong-Pincered Barlennan

(1) BRIDGING WORLDS EDITOR Q&A. Insightful questions, great answers in “Hugo Book Club Blog: Interview with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, editor of Bridging Worlds”.

It strikes me that your previous anthology Dominion was extremely successful. It seems to me like it would be tempting to take the easy route and follow that up with something very similar. One of the things that impresses me about Bridging Worlds is that you’ve taken a risk. Could you speak to that risk? To the fact that you’re tackling new ground here?

[ODE] I consider myself a literary explorer. I want to enjoy and experience things across the entire gamut of the literary, starting with the speculative. That is why I am engaged in a wide range of activities like writing and editing, long and short fiction, non-fiction, slush reading, publishing, conrunning, organizing awards, presses, etc. Even in my fiction, you’ll notice this. O2 Arena my Nebula-winning story is mundane sci-fi as Geoff Ryman coined, where my Nommo-winning “Witching Hour” is fantasyish. “Mother’s Love, Father’s Place” is a historical fantasy and “Destiny Delayed” in Asimov’s and Galaxy’s Edge published this year is a genre blender. My latest story “The Magazine of Horror”, yet unpublished is epistolary, written as a series of letters between magazine editors and a submitter. 

My editing is the same. After Dominion, an original fiction anthology, I undertook to do the first-ever Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology, a Hugo, Locus, WFA & BFA finalist. It was a reprint anthology. And next was Bridging Worlds, an original non-fiction anthology, then I edited several collections with Interstellar Flight Press before returning to editing original fiction with Sheree Renée Thomas and Zelda Knight again in Africa Risen. I believe in exploring, charting and discovering new courses, to challenge myself to growth as you cannot find without risk. Rather than stagnating on the capitalist, hollywoodish attitude of being safe and dying on the altar of ‘never change a winning formula.’ The truest wins, are yet undiscovered and continued progress and the ongoing growth of the genre hinges on going outside our comfort zones to find what’s different, new, needed.

(2) NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE. Annie Ernaux is the winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize for Literature, a French author cited “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory.” The summaries of Ernaux’ major works do not indicate that any are genre, but you wanted to know who won, didn’t you?

(3) RELATED WORKS. Cora Buhlert’s new “Non-Fiction Spotlight” is for Rising Sun Reruns: Memories of Japanese TV Shows from Today’s Grown-up Kids, edited by Jim Beard.

SFF-related non-fiction is somewhat sidelined by the big genre awards, since the Nebulas have no non-fiction category and the Best Related Work Hugo category has become something of a grab bag of anything that doesn’t fit elsewhere. So why do you think SFF-related non-fiction is important?

[Jim Beard] Because of the width and breadth of SF and Fantasy in pop culture, and how we all as fans have connection points throughout it. I personally love coming across a non-fiction book on a subject I love, whether well-known or obscure, and while I myself am chugging away on doing my own publications, I can’t wait to see what other editors and publishers are doing. We’ve only scratched the surface of what can be discussed, debated, and delivered in SFF non-fiction.

(4) TROLLING TOMLINSON. The Daily Beast gives mainstream media attention to a story fans have been following for some time: “Internet Trolls Have Tormented Patrick Tomlinson for Years and He Can’t Stop Them”.

…Tomlinson and his wife have both been the victims of impersonators spoofing their email and social media accounts to send bigoted messages to colleagues and random people, prompting intensive cleanup efforts on the sci-fi writer’s behalf.

All the while, the author continues to receive dozens of insulting texts, voicemails, and emails on a daily basis from his nameless stalkers, some of whom even send pictures indicating they’re just outside his house.

Yet, as Tomlinson told The Daily Beast, the efforts they’ve taken to identify his harassers and potentially bring them to justice have not only come up empty but cost them tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. All because a court recently found that the identity of the anonymous owner of the message board can remain hidden and thus cannot be subpoenaed to provide information about the identities of the users on their site.

Tomlinson’s plight is somewhat similar to that of trans Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, who has been the focus of a lengthy, vicious, anti-trans harassment campaign by users on the internet message board Kiwi Farms. In fact, Tomlinson himself was the target of a 1,400-page thread on the notoriously toxic online community, whose users single out specific individuals to stalk and harass….

…During this period of time, Tomlinson filed a court action attempting to subpoena Cloudflare in an effort to seek the identity of the anonymous blogger who runs the OnA Forums. Tomlinson’s lawyers argued that he needed the ability to depose the forum owner in order to learn the identities of dozens of anonymous users he sought to sue for posting defamatory statements about him on the site.

In September 2021, a California judge granted John Doe’s order to quash Tomlinson’s petition to subpoena Cloudflare to learn Doe’s identity, citing protections under Section 230 that allows for anonymity for those who passively engage on the internet.

…Besides quashing the subpoena, Judge Ethan P. Schulman also ordered Tomlinson to pay a mandatory amount of $23,739.25 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

(5) CITY TECH SF SYMPOSIUM. The Seventh Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium has put out a “Call for Papers: Science Fiction and the Archive”. The online event, sponsored by the School of Arts and Sciences at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY, will take place Tuesday, December 6, 2022 from 9:00AM-5:00PM Eastern.

Continuing the explorations and conversations of the previous two symposia on “Race” and “Access” respectively, this year’s City Tech Science Fiction Symposium is focused on the idea of the “Archive.” The potential of the SF Archive as an inclusive and celebratory concept is increasing, and we hope this symposium will be a space to facilitate its expansion through our conversations and collegial debate. Of course, an archive (little a) can refer to practical considerations of Library-based Special Collections like those in the City Tech Science Fiction Collection and others, including the collected materials, cataloging, and providing access. However, we are also thinking of the Archive (big A) in terms of canonicity, cultural preservation, reading lists, and bookstore shelfspace. These latter considerations raise questions about what does and doesn’t get included within what we might call the SF Archive as well as who does and doesn’t get a say in those selections. Therefore, the SF Archive is a broadly based concept that encompasses Libraries and Special Collections and the larger cultural space of fandom, social media, and the marketplace, all of which involve the exchange of cultural capital, influence by different forms of gatekeepers, and conversations on many levels by different readers about what SF should be valued, recognized, and saved. 

The SF Archive changes over time. Perhaps most exciting for the present are the many initiatives to excavate our shared cultural histories for SF that had been overlooked or forgotten but certainly deserving of inclusion, such those by writers of color, women, and LGBTQ+ persons; and efforts to bring global SF to wider audiences thanks to growing networks of readers and scholars versed in the original language of a text and those wanting to experience those stories through translation. 

The Symposium is also where Analog Science Fiction and Fact will announce the winner of their second Analog Award for Emerging Black Voices Award.

(6) CROWDSOURCED QUESTIONS FOR KEVIN SMITH. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Readers of the Guardian interview director Kevin Smith. Of his works Dogma and Masters of the Universe: Revelation are explicitly genre, the rest is at the very least genre-adjacent: “Kevin Smith: ‘How are you going to get laid if you look like an old person?’”. The answer to the first question is really sad BTW, because Smith says he received so much harassment from toxic fanboys about Masters of the Universe: Revelation that he wouldn’t even want to do a Star Wars or Marvel movie, because he fears it would be worse.

 What was it like working with Alan Rickman in Dogma? CWilliams1955

Bliss. Alan Rickman, it turns out, was my friend. I was such a fan from the moment I saw him in Die Hard. I assumed we were just associates, but he stayed in touch the rest of his life. Whenever I was in England, he would call out of the blue and say – I can’t do the voice: “I know you’re here, it’s time to hang out.” He wasn’t just being professionally courteous because we made a movie together 20 years ago. I still can’t believe Alan Rickman actually liked me.

One of my favourite memories is when he came to one of my shows at the O2 in London and we drove back to town together. He said: “I’ve finally broken and bought an apartment in New York.” I said: “That’s excellent.” He said: “It’s not excellent, it’s in the same building as my friend Ralph.” I said: “Why is that bad?” And he said: “Ralph Fiennes. If the Harry Potter world found out that Snape and Voldemort live in the same building, they’d burn it to the ground!”

(7) MEMORY LANE.  

1962 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty years ago, the very first novel in James White’s most exemplary Sector General series was published, Hospital Station

Now I wasn’t originally was going to do an essay on this series as I was about to do a UPN series about a human interstellar hospital series (and yes I’ll tell you about it next year) but I remember this series and yes I liked it a lot, so decided to essay it this time. Me, fickle? No. 

(That series, Mercy Point, was considered influenced by White’s series. It lasted seven episodes. No, I’ve not seen it.)

I think I was in University when I discovered the Ballantine Books paperback of the first novel  in a wonderful bookstore near the public library in the town near the University. (It had four used bookstores. Bliss!) I won’t say it was it was the cover that it attracted me as it wasn’t at all appealing, but the tag line of “the fabulous story of a hospital in the sky” did get my attention.  

It certainly didn’t disappoint. Hospital Station was quite amazing from beginning to end. It was the home of many strange creatures, including humans! 

As one reviewer so aptly put it, “Good-natured, high quality, pacifist SF that is ideal comfort food when looking to elevate your mood into the upper range of the happy scale.”  It was the antithesis of all the military SF in existence and I loved deeply it for being so. Humans and aliens not attacking each other, but working together instead. Oh how so very wonderful!

White was very good at envisioning both how humans would handle dealing with various aliens and those aliens themselves. One of the lasting advantages of text fiction over video fiction is it is easier to create in the mind’s eye an alien for the reader. And damn cheaper too! 

Some reviewers and readers have criticized the twelve novel series saying that as it went along its way that it got weaker, less interesting. Not for me, as I think it was perfectly fine right to the end, even the sometimes far too jokey The Galactic Gourmet. 

Okay, food in genre fiction is a tricky thing to doJust look at Steven Brust’s Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille which is the only novel by him that I deeply loathe with all my heart. (Don’t worry, he knows that. He gets dark chocolate from me.)

One critic compared the setting to that of Deep Space Nine which I must say makes me go WTF? Yes it’s a station in outer space but that’s the only resemblance. A pacifist hospital versus a heavily armed station? Huh?

I’ve re-read some of the novels several times such as Hospital Station forty years on and the steel booted Suck Fairy stubbed her toe on the way to it and broke her leg. It’s just as fine now as it was way back then. 

The first three novels, Hospital StationStar Surgeon and Major Operation are really a Meredith Moment from the usual suspects at twelve bucks.

White was a Guest of Honor of the L.A.con III Worldcon that Our Ever So Gracious Host chaired in 1996. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 6, 1942 Britt Ekland, 80. She starred in The Wicker Man as Willow MacGregor, and appeared as a Bond girl, Goodnight, in The Man with the Golden Gun. She was also Queen Nyleptha in King Solomon’s Treasure based off the H. Rider Haggard novels. 
  • Born October 6, 1946 John C. Tibbetts, 76. A film critic, historian, author. He’s written such articles as “The Illustrating Man: The Screenplays of Ray Bradbury” and “Time on His Hands: The Fantasy Fiction of Jack Finney”. One of his two books is The Gothic Imagination: Conversations on Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction in the Media, the other being The Gothic Worlds of Peter Straub.
  • Born October 6, 1950 David Brin, 72. Author of several series including Existence, the Postman novel, and the Uplift series which began with Sundiver, followed by Startide Rising, a most excellent book and a Hugo-winner at L.A. Con II (1984). I’ll admit that the book he co-wrote with Leah Wilson, King Kong Is Back! An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape, tickles me to no end.
  • Born October 6, 1955 Ellen Kushner, 67. If you’ve not read it, do so as her now sprawling Riverside series is amazing. I’m quite sure that I’ve read all of it. And during the High Holy Days, do be sure to read The Golden Dreydl as it’s quite wonderful. As it’s Autumn and this being when I read it, I’d be remiss not to recommend her Thomas the Rhymer novel which won both the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award.
  • Born October 6, 1952 Lorna Toolis. Librarian, editor, and fan Lorna was the head of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy at the Toronto Public Library from 1986-2017, a collection started in 1970 with a donation from Judith Merril. Toolis was a significant influence on the Canadian SF community, a founding member of SFCanada, who won an Aurora Award for co-editing Tesseracts 4 with Michael Skeet. (Died 2021.)
  • Born October 6, 1963 Elisabeth Shue, 59. Best known as Jennifer, Marty McFly’s girlfriend, in Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III, she also had roles in Hollow Man and Piranha 3D. Really Piranha 3D? Let’s look that up on Rotten Tomatoes… The audience reviewers there gave it a twenty-two percent rating.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) ACTING IN THE AGE OF CGI. [Item by Francis Hamit.] I trained as an actor when I was a Drama major.  A Method actor should be able to handle this. British-trained actors may have a harder time of it.  But this may explain why the performances in comic book movies are so uneven. “Does it really matter if Marvel’s stars act in a state of utter bewilderment?” in the Guardian.

Ewan McGregor revealed earlier this year that he spent virtually the entirety of filming for 2002’s Star Wars: Attack of the Clones wandering round a blue-screen studio talking to inanimate objects while portraying the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, an experience he clearly found disgruntling. “I spent a lot of time off on my own and on this planet with tall aliens, and of course, none of that was there,” he said during interviews for the recent Disney+ show that revived the Jedi knight. “For me, it was, like, a long time walking around blue sets speaking to tennis balls and sticks and it was just not what I was used to, and it was hard to make. Hopefully, we made it realistic and we did the best we could.”

In the early days of CGI film-making, actors regularly reported similar unease, but in recent years the problem seems to have diminished. This is probably down to the increased use of motion capture where actors can bounce off their fellow cast members in a more organic fashion….

(11) STAR POWER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Timmy Fisher discusses “When You Wish Upon A Star” from Pinocchio.

…The song was penned for Walt Disney’s original animated feature, with in-house composer Leigh Harline setting words by ex-Broadway lyricist Ned Washington.  That wistful version–a homage to the nursery rhyme ‘Star Light, Star Bright’–was perfectly suited for the crooning falsetto of Cliff Edwards, aka Ukulele Ike, a vaudeville star who voiced Jiminy Cricket and recorded abridged versions for the opening credits and the final scene….

Though Pinocchio initially struggled at the box office. ‘When You Wish’ was an instant hit:  a re-recording with Edwards and the Victor Young Orchestra jostled for attention among covers by Glenn Miller, Kate Smith, and Vera Lynn, as well as the movie soundtrack release.  Foreign-language versions such as the Swedish “Ser du Stjärnan I Det Blå” (“Do you see the star in blue”) soon popped up.  Even Nazi Germany succumbed.  According to Albert Speer, Hitler whistled it at the Palais de Chaillot overlooking a conquered Paris.

(12) THE DOC AND SPOCK. “Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy nearly directed the Doctor Who TV movie” reports RadioTimes.

Having premiered just over 25 years ago to a mixed reception, the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie has slowly garnered an appreciation alongside a strong fandom for Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, who made a brief return appearance as part of the show’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2013….

…While best known for his iconic role as Spock in Star Trek, Nimoy is no stranger to directing, having helmed Star Trek III and IV as well as Three Men and a Baby, which went on to become the highest-grossing film of 1987.

With an impressive track record not only with sci-fi fans but also at the box office, Nimoy might have seemed like a no-brainer to come on to direct. So, what happened?

“FOX did not want him to do it. They were concerned it looked very kitsch to go, ‘Aren’t we clever? We’ve got Spock from Star Trek directing.’”…

(13) YOU GOT TROUBLE, MY FRIEND. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna says newspapers are slashing the space given to comic strips, with Lee Enterprises saying in its 77 dailies the comic strips will be cut to half a page.  Comic strip creators are scrambling to replace the lost income. “Is the print newspaper comics page in trouble?”

…And Patrick McDonnell, creator of the strip “Mutts,” which he says lost dozens of clients, underscores why comics are a popular staple of the newspaper, with readers developing long-term relationships with their favorite strips: “Over time, the characters are like family. Newspapers should consider this bond before they decide to make drastic changes.”…

(14) BOO! Alasdair Beckett-King sums up all haunted house movies in this clip from 2021.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Metal:  Hellsinger,” Fandom Games says this game combines the thrill of blasting creatures with the throbbing beats of metal, with a different headbanging song on every level.  They say “We wonder what these guys could do with an actual budget,” but adds the key to success here is “just don’t expect to use any part of your brain that you can’t find on a lizard.  But sometimes smooth brain fun is the best kind of fun.”

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

Pixel Scroll 9/16/22 Scroll Down, You Click Too Fast, You’ve Got To Make The Pixels Last

(1) AI IS NOT AN EXCUSE FOR CONTENT THEFT. Malcolm F. Cross wryly begins his email with this link, “I’m sooooort of pleased to announce that discovering another theft of my work inspired me to do a little art project. The theft in question was having some of my work added to the training data for a commercially used AI, and the result was this twitter thread.” The 26-tweet thread starts here. Excerpts follow:

(2) “PEOPLE’S JOKER” NEWS. Variety updated to its report about “’People’s Joker,’ Queer Movie Set in Batman Universe, Pulled From TIFF” with a statement by the filmmaker Vera Drew.

…In a statement shared with Variety on Wednesday evening, Drew promised that “everyone is going to get the chance to see this film.”

“I don’t respond well to bullying or pressure from faceless institutions,” said Drew. “It only emboldens me and what I was saying with this film. We’re looking for buyers and distribution partners who will protect us and make this film accessible to trans people and their families everywhere.”

Drew hinted at potential discord around the movie on Tuesday, ahead of her world premiere, posting a cryptic tweet: “I have no clue how today goes and my team wants me to say nothing of course so I’ll stay vague…but whatever happens in the next few hours, I want you to know…if you’ve been waiting and aching to watch our movie, ur going to get to soon. Stay tuned and stay with me. Need ur help.”…

Just before the movie rolled, The Globe and Mail reported that a title card was displayed stating that the film was protected under “fair use” laws.

“This film is a parody and is at present time completely unauthorized by DC Comics, Warner Brothers or anyone claiming ownership of the trademarks therein (eg. ‘Joker,’ ‘Batman, etc.),” read the title card. “Aside from licensed stock, all video and graphics featured in the film are original materials, often recreations of iconic comic book movie set pieces created by Vera Drew and a team of over 100 independent artists and filmmakers on three separate continents during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Any copyright or trademark infringement was not done intentionally. After consulting with counsel, the director believes in good faith that use of these names and characters in a autobiographical context of her personal coming-out story is protected by Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, which allows ‘fair use’ for purposes such as a relevant criticism, social commentary or education.”

(3) NBA LONGLISTS. The 2022 National Book Awards Longlist for Fiction announced today by the National Book Foundation includes two works of genre interest, a novel and a story collection.

Also announced were the Longlist for Nonfiction and the Longlist for Poetry.

(4) GROAN ABOUT. Dave Hook takes us inside another panel he participated in at the Worldcon in “Titus Groan and Chicon 8”.

…I found out that Chicon 8 (the 80th World Science Fiction Convention) would have a “Titus Groan” panel for their 1946 Project. The 1946 Project was their plan to celebrate 1946 and all things speculative fiction with panel discussions instead of doing a 1947 Retro Hugo.

I applied to be on the panel, telling the Programming Team with substantial fannish enthusiasm how great “Titus Groan” was, how I was prepared to answer the question of whether it was genre or not, and what I was prepared to do to get ready for a panel.

For unknown reasons, they selected me for the panel and made me the moderator. I did not have a problem with this; I thought I could do a great job. I had never been on any SF convention panels before. I thought I could do all of that, but I redoubled my preparations….

(5) RECALLING CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN. “The Worlds of Middle-Earth: The Millions Interviews Richard Ovenden and Catherine McIlwaine”. Their book includes essays by Maxime H. Pascal; Priscilla Tolkien; Vincent Ferré; Verlyn Flieger; John Garth; Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull; Carl F. Hostetter; Stuart D. Lee; Tom Shippey; and Brian Sibley.

In The Great Tales Never End: Essays in Memory of Christopher TolkienRichard Ovenden, who serves as Bodley’s Librarian, the senior Executive position of the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford, and Catherine McIlwaine, the Tolkien Archivist at the Bodleian Libraries, have assembled a remarkable anthology about Christopher, who died in 2020…. 

Lenny Picker: What personal memories of Christopher Tolkien are your most vivid?

Richard Ovenden: I had the good fortune of visiting him at least once a year for about 10 years. Staying in the house, having long conversations. He looked quite like his father. I never knew J.R.R. Tolkien, but Christopher’s memory of Oxford really was quite profound. He was born there, grew up there, and lived there for many decades. But his memory of it is really kind of frozen in about the middle of the 1970s, when the family moved to France. And so having a conversation with Christopher about Oxford was like having one about the Oxford of when J.R.R. Tolkien was still alive. So it seemed to me almost like you were talking to J.R.R. Tolkien. And because he had this immense knowledge of his father’s work and his mentality, there was that sort of connection. Christopher also had a very great sense of humor—a very, very dry sense of humor. And he was a very funny human being. He also was a great reader; he loved reading fiction, Victorian fiction, in particular, DickensTrollope, were a great source of pleasure for him. So he was a very literary person, not just in his own field of scholarship.

(6) WHO SHOULD WIN FAN HUGOS? In the Hugo Book Club Blog’s post “The Gordian Knot of Fan Vs. Pro” they’re inclined to think the knot is just fine the way it is and that the current WSFS rules get the balance right. 

…Just three years [sic] after the Scithers constitution was introduced [in 1963], Jack Gaughan showed just how unclear the existing language could be, winning both the fan artist and professional artist Hugo Awards in a single [1967] evening. There was an outcry over this — why have two separate categories if the same body of work could win both? A clause was quickly added to the constitution to prevent this from happening again, but the language did not seek to clarify what was Fan and what was Pro, rather stating that “Anyone whose name appears on the final ballot for a given year under the professional artist category will not be eligible for the fan artist award for that year.”

Over the years, this question has resurfaced fairly regularly. Questions were raised over John Scalzi winning best fan writer in the same year that his novel The Last Colony was on the ballot. Two years later there was some slight grumbling about Fred Pohl — at that time one of only 25 authors to have won three professional prose Hugos — winning for best fan writer.

So in this context, a well-intentioned but problematic proposal (“An Aristotelian Solution to Fan vs Pro”) brought forward to this year’s business meeting provided an attempt to parse out this question….

(7) BROOKLYN SFFF. The Brooklyn SciFi Film Festival returns for its third season October 3-9 presenting 200 independent SciFi films from around the world. 

This year’s festival will feature online and in-person events including an evening of Japanese SciFi hosted at Stuart Cinema Cafe on Tuesday October 4th from 7:00 to 9:00 and selected screenings and recognition on Saturday October 8th from 6:00 to 9:00 at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Downtown Brooklyn.  All films streaming online at BrooklynSciFiFilmFest.com starting October 3rd.  Official Selections.

(8) SMOKE ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM. Literary Hub introduces viewers to a 1982 BBC video about a writer at work: “Roald Dahl’s writing routine involved a shed, a sleeping bag, and cigarettes.”

In 1982, Frank Delaney of the BBC visited Roald Dahl at home for a long conversation that meandered from children’s literature to 18th-century furniture and making orange marmalade. During that visit, Dahl gave Delaney a glimpse at his writing routine, which consisted, at the time, of four hours a day spent in a writing shed on his property.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1963 [By Cat Eldridge.]

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: There is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits. — opening narration. 

Fifty-nine years ago this evening on ABC, The Outer Limits series premiered, created and executive produced by Leslie Stevens who had done nothing of a genre nature before. It was directed by far too many to note here. Steven’s would later do Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. 

In the unaired pilot, it was called Please Stand By, but ABC rejected that title, so the producers renamed it.

Two episodes, “Demon with a Glass Hand” and “Soldier”, were written by Harlan Ellison. Clifford Simak wrote “The Duplicate Man” episode. David Duncan penned “The Human Factor”. Eando Binder gets credit for the “I, Robot” episode.  

“Demon with a Glass Hand” won a Writers’ Guild Award. Later, Ellison’s “Soldier” script would allow him to sue Cameron over his Terminator script and win rather nicely. 

Season One combined science fiction and horror, while Season two was shifted focus to being more about what they called hard science fiction stories, dropping the “scary monster” theme of Season One. The network thought the monster were the villains of the week.

The original series lasted a mere forty-nine episodes. The second iteration, which started in 1995, would last much longer, going an amazing one hundred and fifty-two episodes.

It was very popular in the ratings the first season but was competing against Jackie Gleason in the second season and that got it cancelled halfway through. As I noted, it had a second life thirty years on which was quite successful. Variety reported last year that an Outer Limits reboot was in development at a premium cable network though they declined to say which network.

Neat piece of trivia: The “ion storm” from “The Mutant” episode here which was a projector beam shining through a container containing glitter in liquid suspension became the transporter effect in the Trek series. Also, the process used to make pointed ears for David McCallum in “The Sixth Finger” episode here was used to make Spock’s ears, and The black mask from “The Duplicate Man” episode here was used by Dr. Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”. 

It’s streaming on Pluto. Pluto? Huh? 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 16, 1914 William Bernard Ready. Can I include an individual for just one work? Well given it’s my Birthday list, of course. It’s the 1968 work, The Tolkien Relation: A Personal Inquiry, Ready foresaw the cultural value of Tolkien’s writings and, while at Marquette University, he managed to purchase a large selection of original literary manuscripts by Tolkien in 1956-57, including manuscripts of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. (Died 1981.)
  • Born September 16, 1927 Peter Falk. His best remembered genre role is in The Princess Bride as the Grandfather who narrates the story. (The person who replaced the late Falk in the full cast reading of The Princess Bride for the Wisconsin Democratic fundraiser, Director Rob Reiner, wasn’t nearly as good as he was in that role.) He also plays Ramos Clemente in “The Mirror,” an episode of The Twilight Zone. And he’s Reverend Theo Kerr in the 2001 version of The Lost World. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 16, 1930 Anne Francis. You’ll remember her best as Altaira “Alta” Morbius on Forbidden Planet. She also appeared twice in The Twilight Zone (“The After Hours” and “Jess-Belle”). She also appeared in multiple episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. She’d even appear twice in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and played several roles on Fantasy Island as well. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 16, 1932 Karen Anderson. She co-wrote two series with her husband, Poul Anderson, King of Ys and The Last Viking, and created the delightful The Unicorn Trade collection with him. Fancyclopedia has her extensive fannish history thisaway, and Mike has her obituary here. (Died 2018.)
  • Born September 16, 1952 Lisa Tuttle, 70. Tuttle won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, received a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Bone Flute,” which she refused, and a BSFA Award for Short Fiction for “In Translation”. My favorite works by her include CatwitchThe Silver Bough and her Ghosts and Other Lovers collection.Her latest novel is The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross. Her collection, The Dead Hours of the Night was nominated for a Stoker last year — impressive! 
  • Born September 16, 1954 Howard Weinstein, 68. At age 19, he was the youngest person to ever write a Trek script, selling “The Pirates of Orion” for use in the animated series. Though it would be his only script, he would go on to write quite a few Trek novels — thirteen are listed currently at the usual suspects — and comics. He gets a thanks credit in Star Trek: The Voyage Home. He wrote a script, “The Sky Above, the Mudd Below”, for the fanfic affair Star Trek: New Voyages, but it never got made. And it won’t given that there’s a comic book series already made with its plot.  Paramount wasn’t at all pleased. To quote Zevon, “Send lawyers, gun and money / the shit has hit the fan.”
  • Born September 16, 1955 Amanda Hemingway, 67. British author of fantasy novels who’s best known for the Fern Capel series written under the Jan Siegel name — it’s most excellent. I’d also recommend The Sangreal Trilogy penned under her own name. Alas her superb website has gone offline. She is available from the usual suspects — curiously her Hemingway novels are much more costly than her Seigel novels are.
  • Born September 16, 1960 Mike Mignola, 62. The Hellboy stories, of course, are definitely worth reading, particularly the early on ones. His Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an amazing “What If” story which isn’t at all the same as the animated film of that name which is superb on its own footing, and the B.P.R.D. stories  are quite excellent too.  I’m very fond of the first Hellboy film, not so much of the second, and detest the reboot now that I’ve seen it, while the animated films are excellent.

(11) HEAR ABOUT “HUMAN EXCEPTIONALISM”. “Dean Koontz on His Vocation as an Author, Art and Meaning in Life, and Human Exceptionalism” in a downloadable interview at Humanize. (Note: I haven’t listened to it.)

In episode one of the second season of Humanize, Wesley J. Smith’s guest is the internationally famous novelist Dean Koontz. Dean and Wesley discuss how he came to be an author, how life is filled with meaning, his art, the importance of human exceptionalism, the problem with transhumanism, and how Dean uses humor to further his plots and character development. Dean recalls his upbringing in an impoverished household that did not have running water until he was 11, how a high school English teacher changed his life, and his love for the use of the English language. He and Wesley also discuss the beauty of the human/dog relationship and his philanthropic support for Canine Companions for Independence, a school that trains service dogs to help people with disabilities lead independent lives. Any reader of Dean Koontz and supporter of human exceptionalism will want to listen to this fascinating interview with one of America’s most successful and prolific authors…

(12) READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP. The Atlantic wants to know “Why Do So Many Kids Need Glasses Now?”

…In the U.S., 42 percent of 12-to-54-year-olds were nearsighted in the early 2000s—the last time a national survey of myopia was conducted—up from a quarter in the 1970s. Though more recent large-scale surveys are not available, when I asked eye doctors around the U.S. if they were seeing more nearsighted kids, the answers were: “Absolutely.” “Yes.” “No question about it.”

In Europe as well, young adults are more likely to need glasses for distance vision than their parents or grandparents are now. Some of the lowest rates of myopia are in developing countries in Africa and South America. But where Asia was once seen as an outlier, it’s now considered a harbinger. If current trends continue, one study estimates, half of the world’s population will be myopic by 2050.

The consequences of this trend are more dire than a surge in bespectacled kids. Nearsighted eyes become prone to serious problems like glaucoma and retinal detachment in middle age, conditions that can in turn cause permanent blindness. The risks start small but rise exponentially with higher prescriptions. The younger myopia starts, the worse the outlook. In 2019, the American Academy of Ophthalmology convened a task force to recognize myopia as an urgent global-health problem. As Michael Repka, an ophthalmology professor at Johns Hopkins University and the AAO’s medical director for government affairs, told me, “You’re trying to head off an epidemic of blindness that’s decades down the road.”

The cause of this remarkable deterioration in our vision may seem obvious: You need only look around to see countless kids absorbed in phones and tablets and laptops. And you wouldn’t be the first to conclude that staring at something inches from your face is bad for distance vision. Four centuries ago, the German astronomer Johannes Kepler blamed his own poor eyesight, in part, on all the hours he spent studying. Historically, British doctors have found myopia to be much more common among Oxford students than among military recruits, and in “more rigorous” town schools than in rural ones. A late-19th-century ophthalmology handbook even suggested treating myopia with a change of air and avoidance of all work with the eyes—“a sea voyage if possible.”

(13) “IT FLOATS.” Ivory Soap floats on its own. Limestone blocks need a little help. “A Long-Lost Branch of the Nile Helped in Building Egypt’s Pyramids” according to the New York Times.

For 4,500 years, the pyramids of Giza have loomed over the western bank of the Nile River as a geometric mountain chain. The Great Pyramid, built to commemorate the reign of Pharaoh Khufu, the second king of Egypt’s fourth dynasty, covers 13 acres and stood more than 480 feet upon its completion around 2560 B.C. Remarkably, ancient architects somehow transported 2.3 million limestone and granite blocks, each weighing an average of more than two tons, across miles of desert from the banks of the Nile to the pyramid site on the Giza Plateau.

Hauling these stones over land would have been grueling. Scientists have long believed that utilizing a river or channel made the process possible, but today the Nile is miles away from the pyramids. On Monday, however, a team of researchers reported evidence that a lost arm of the Nile once cut through this stretch of desert, and would have greatly simplified transporting the giant slabs to the pyramid complex….

(14) EVOLVING ANIMATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Edward Vega of VOX looks at how the success of Spider Man: Into The Spider-Verse has shown animators an alternative to the photo-realistic animation of Pixar: “How ‘Spider-Verse’ forced animation to evolve”.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/13/22 Of Course That’s Scrollock Holmes. He’s Wearing A Godstalker And Scrolling A Meershaum Pixel

(1) CONGRATULATIONS. The 2022 Washington State Book Award Winners in the Books For Adults Categories include two by authors often in the news here.

Biography/Memoir

Fiction

(2) WHEN THE BIRD NESTS IN YOUR HEAD. Foz Meadows writes at length about the nature of Twitter interactions, taking as a text the criticisms and accusations made against her by Gretchen Felker-Martin and R.S. Benedict related to comments by Meadows about Isabel Fall and the author’s story “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” for which Meadows subsequently apologized — “Twitter, Truth & Apologies”. At the end, Meadows sums up:

…And all too often, even when social media professes to want growth from those it accuses of wrongdoing, what it really wants is a new culprit to feel vindicated about shaming, because that’s easier than weighing up whether you think so-and-so deserves another chance, and whether all your mutuals will agree with you, and if saying so is worth the chance of being called an apologist in the event that they don’t. Being reactive is simpler, easier, but at some point, we have to accept that not all takes require responses, and that if they do, they don’t necessarily have to be ours. If there’s one positive thing I’ve taken out of all this, it’s a desire to be more judicious about how I speak online: to be less knee-jerk, to give less space to opinions that don’t merit discussion, and to try for kinder readings of the works and people around me…

(3) GET YOUR S&S FIX HERE. At Grimdark Magazine, John Mauro reviews the anthology A Book of Blades, edited by Matt John and L.D. Whitney, in which Cora Buhlert has a story.

…I’d also like to mention “The City of the Screaming Pillars,” Cora Buhlert’s quest story of four travelers seeking long-lost treasure in an abandoned city in the middle of the desert. “The City of the Screaming Pillars” starts off as a standard quest story but then dives into much darker Lovecraftian territory…. 

(4) NEAL ADAMS TRIBUTE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] I just saw the 3-page (comic) story they’re talking about in the new issue of Fables (either #153 or #154, IIRC); here’s links to some articles about it.

DC Comics has published a comic paying tribute to legendary artist Neal Adamsfollowing his passing earlier this year. The three-page story, which is called “The Endless Line”, began to be published in all DC titles beginning Tuesday, July 19th, is written by Tom King and drawn by Neal’s son, Josh Adams. The story, which you can check out in a tweet from King below, features snippets from a real-life interview that Adams did with The Comics Journal in 1982, with wisdom that he is bestowing while drawing a sketch for one of his characters, Deadman.

The final page of the story shows a line of other characters that Adams is known for waiting in line for sketches, including Batman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Green Lantern. Also included among the story are quotes from some of Adams’ contemporaries and fans, including Jim Lee, Frank Miller, and Roy Thomas, which highlight his prolific work as an artist and advocate for creators’ rights…. 

In April, Bleeding Cool reported the sad news of the deal of comic book publisher, writer, artist and advocate, Neal Adams. From genre-defining runs on Batman, X-Men, Green Arrow and Green Lantern that would define the medium, and heavily influence the TV series and movies that would spin out of it, Neal Adams’ greatest legacy is one of creator rights, fighting for himself and fellow comic book creators against publishers, over rights, royalties, return of artwork and basic human decency. So much so that he even started his own publisher, Continuity Comics, and later his own comic book shop. He also fought creators to value their own contribution, demanding they charge for sketches and then signatures at comic book conventions, as a measure of their worth. 

And here’s a tweet to the full 3-page story!

(5) TALES FROM THE ROOF. In the Washington Post, Mary Quattlebaum interviews comedian George Lopez, who has co-written middle-grade horror novel Chupacarter with Ryan Canejo. “George Lopez, Ryan Calejo blend Latin folklore and laughs in new novel”.

… Like Jorge in the book, Lopez did some of his best thinking as a kid on the roof of his grandparents’ house in Southern California. “I’d sit there and look at the moon and wonder ‘Who am I going to be?’ ” he said.

His grandmother and step-grandfather, who raised him, are the models for Jorge’s loud, tough abuela and gentle abuelo.

Though his abuela didn’t throw empanadas at him, as does Jorge’s grandmother, she “did throw other things,” said Lopez with a laugh.

Calejo’s abuelas told him stories of frightening chupacabras and other legendary creatures to entertain and keep him out of mischief, Calejo said by phone from his home in Miami, Florida.

These tales inspired the first story he remembers writing in elementary school. It was about a protective doglike spirit known as el cadejo….

(6) ELLISON COMMEMORATION. “Troublemaker, Malcontent, Desperado: A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Harlan Ellison” will be hosted by the Ohio Center for the Book at Cleveland Public Library on September 17. [Warning: The downloadable 2007 booklet is a 238MB PDF file.]

The Ohio Center for the Book, in collaboration with Cleveland State University and Celebrating Cleveland’s Past Masters*, are honoring the life and legacy of Harlan Ellison: speculative fiction author, screenwriter, social critic, and self-described “troublemaker, malcontent, desperado” on Saturday, Sept. 17, 1:00 pm at Cleveland Public Library’s Louis Stokes Wing, 2nd floor, 525 Superior Avenue in downtown Cleveland.

The event commemorates the 15th anniversary of Ellison’s last public appearance in his hometown of Cleveland when he participated in the 2007 Midwest premiere of the biographical documentary Dreams with Sharp Teeth in the auditorium of Cleveland Public Library.

Click here to download a high-resolution PDF of the 2007 program booklet, A Tribute to Harlan Ellison, with appreciations, congratulations, and “short stories” from Daniel Pinkwater, Stuart Kaminsky, Marv Wolfman, Michael Moorcock, Leonard Maltin, Eric Shanower, Leo and Diane Dillon, Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due, Richard Matheson, David Twohy, and many, many others!

(7) BEST OF THE BEST. The Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog says next year’s Hugo ballot is already filled to overflowing with deserving media. Thread starts here.

(8) A DAUGHTER’S MEMOIR. “Emma Straub Remembers Her Father, Peter Straub” at Vulture. Andrew Porter sent the link with a note about his missed opportunity: “I confirmed that he was living in the Watermark, the assisted living facility in the former Towers Hotel, literally half a block from where I live… Wish I’d known; I’ve have visited him there.”

When I gave my father the pile of pages that would become my novel This Time Tomorrow, he quickly thumbed to the back and asked, “What page do I die on?” This was a joke and also not a joke. In the book, he (“he” being Leonard Stern, the fictional father in my novel) dies on page 301. In real life, off the page, my father, Peter Straub, died on September 4, 2022. In the book, Leonard dies in his bedroom at home with his daughter, her stepmother, and his nurse. In real life, my father died in the windowless ICU hospital room he’d been stuck in for a month, most of that time doing fairly well, recovering from a fractured hip and sitting up, reading books and watching MSNBC, just as he would have at home. My mother and brother and I were by his side, and I held his hand. It started very slowly — what page do we begin to die on, any of us — and, mercifully, ended fast….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1974 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-eight years ago this evening Kolchak: The Night Stalker first aired on ABC. It was preceded by The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler films, both written by Richard Matheson. 

It was based off a novel by Jeff Rice who Mike has some thoughts about here.

It was remade seventeen years ago as The Night Stalker with Stuart Townsend as Carl Kolchak. It lasted ten episodes. It was set in Los Angeles. Need I say more? 

Let’s talk about Darren McGavin for a moment. He was perfect for this role. Though only fifty-two when the series was shot, he looked a decade older and quite beat up. That suit he wore could have been acquired second hand. Or fourth hand. And that hat — I wonder how many they had in props that were exactly identical. 

The actor himself had certainly had some interesting times with four divorces by then, and this was not his first time portraying a world-weary investigator. He was the title character in the short-lived Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer series in the Fifties. It lasted a year.

Now Kolchak: The Night Stalker did not break the pattern of having a beautiful woman around as it had Carol Ann Susi as the recurring character of semi-competent but likable intern Monique Marmelstein in a recurring role.

And I really liked the characters of his boss, Tony Vincenzo as played by Simon Oakland, who was quite bellicose and had no clue of what Kolchak was doing. Good thing that was, too. 

Ahhh the monsters. Some were SF, sort of — a murderous android, an invisible ET, a prehistoric ape-man grown from thawed cell samples, and a lizard-creature protecting its eggs. Then there was the fantastic ones — a Jack the Ripper, a headless motorcycle rider, vampires, werewolves, witches and zombies to name but a few he tangled with. 

It has become a cult favorite which currently carries a not surprising ninety-four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes but it was a ratings failure complicated by Darren McGavin being unwilling to do more episodes and only lasted one season before being cancelled.  

Chris Carter who credits the series as the primary inspiration for The X-Files wanted McGavin to appear as Kolchak in one or more episodes of that series, but McGavin was unwilling to reprise the character for his show. He did appear on the series as retired FBI agent very obviously attired in Kolchak’s trademark seersucker jacket, black knit tie, and straw hat.

C.J. Henderson, who won a World Fantasy Award for his Sarob Press, wrote three Night Stalker novels  — Kolchak and the Lost WorldKolchak: Necronomicon and What Every Coin Has. There have been other novels and shorts published. Three unfilmed scripts for the TV series have survived, “Eve of Terror”, written by Stephen Lord, “The Get of Belial”, written by Donn Mullally, and “The Executioners”, written by Max Hodge.

Let’s see if it streaming anywhere… It is streaming on NBC of course. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 13, 1916 Roald Dahl. Did you know he wrote the screenplay for You Only Live Twice? Or that he hosted and wrote for a sf and horror television anthology series called Way Out which aired before The Twilight Zone for a season? He also hosted Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected broadcast in the UK.  My favorite Dahl works are The BFG and The Witches. What’s yours? (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 13, 1920 John Crawford. He appeared in The Twilight Zone’s “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim” as Joe. He was also Harrison in the early Fifties pulp The Invisible Monster.  Interestingly he was Roth in Zombies of the Stratosphere which was supposed to be a Commando Cody serial but got changed for reasons unknown. And late in his career, he was Polydeukes in Jason and the Argonauts. (Died 2010.)
  • Born September 13, 1931 Barbara Bain, 91. She’s most remembered for co-starring in the original Mission: Impossible television series in the 1960s as Cinnamon Carter, and Space: 1999 as Doctor Helena Russell.  Her first genre role was as Alma in the “KAOS in CONTROL” episode of Get Smart! She was active as of last year as showed in the Space Command series as Auut Simone in the “Ripple Effect” episode. 
  • Born September 13, 1933 Warren Murphy. Ok, I’ll admit that I’m most likely stretching the definition of genre just a bit by including him as he’s best known for writing along with Richard Sapir the pulp Destroyer series that ran to some seventy novels and was (making it possibly genre) the basis of Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.  He did a number of other series that were more definitely genre. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 13, 1937 Don Bluth, 85. Animator of quite some note. In his career, he’s been involved in some manner with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, the Fantastic Voyage series, the Archie series (seriously) Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down series (again seriously) The Secret of NIMHAn American TailThe Land Before TimeAnastasia and Titan A.E. 
  • Born September 13, 1944 Jacqueline Bisset, 78. I never pass up a Bond performance and so she’s got on the Birthday Honors by being Giovanna Goodthighs in Casino Royale even though that might have been one of the dumbest character names ever. As near as I can tell, until she shows up in as Charlotte Burton in the “Love the Lie” episode of the Counterpart series that’s her entire encounter with genre acting. Genre adjacent, she appeared in the Albert Finney fronted Murder on the Orient Express as Countess Helena Andrenyi. 
  • Born September 13, 1947 Mike Grell, 75. He’s best known for his work on books such as Green Lantern/Green ArrowThe Warlord, and Jon Sable FreelanceThe Warlord featuring Travis Morgan is a hollow Earth adventure series set in Skartaris which is a homage to Jules Verne as Grell points out “the name comes from the mountain peak Scartaris that points the way to the passage to the earth’s core in Journey to the Center of the Earth. The animated Justice League Unlimited “Chaos at the Earth’s Core“ episode made use of this story. 
  • Born September 13, 1974 Fiona Avery, 48. Comic book and genre series scriptwriter. While being a reference editor on the final season of Babylon 5, she wrote “The Well of Forever” and “Patterns of the Soul” as well as two that were not produced, “Value Judgements” and “Tried and True”. After work on the Crusade series ended, she turned to comic book writing, working for Marvel and Top Cow with J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars series being another place where her scripts were used. She created the Marvel character Anya Sofia Corazon later named Spider-girl. She did work on Tomb RaiderSpider-ManX-Men and Witchblade as well.

(11) MIRACLEMAN. Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham’s unfinished storyline “The Silver Age” begins October 19.  

 In the late 80s, Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham took over the saga of Miracleman to critical acclaim. The pair of comic visionaries expanded the Miracleman mythos with new characters and introduced the story of Young Miracleman. Their series was cut short mid-storyline almost 30 years ago, but now their Miracleman: The Silver Age saga will finally be completed! MIRACLEMAN BY GAIMAN & BUCKINGHAM: THE SILVER AGE #1 and MIRACLEMAN BY GAIMAN & BUCKINGHAM: THE SILVER AGE #2 will present the early chapters of the story that made it to stands but with stunning new remastered artwork by Buckingham and containing bonus content! And then, starting in December’s MIRACLEMAN: THE SILVER AGE #3, all-new material by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham will at long last, continue this legendary comic story!

(12) SEARCHING FOR INTELLIGENT LIFE. Carl Sagan tells the BBC in 1967 how to send a message to outer space that extraterrestrials could understand. “Where Is Everybody?”

(13) MORE DISNEY SEQUEL MANIA. Disney revives the National Treasure franchise but without Nic Cage. National Treasure: Edge Of History Official Trailer”.

Jess Morales, a 20-year-old Dreamer, sets off on an exploration to discover the mystery of her family history, and, with the help of her friends, seeks to recover historical lost treasure.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the Screen Junkies say this film has “the joke rate of Family Guy” (including playing Jane Foster’s fatal pancreatic cancer for laughs) with “the look of that time you shroomed at Dave and Busters.”  Chris Hemsworth, who has played Thor ten times in eight years, struggles to come up with something new, and few will be excited by the “100 screaming goat jokes.”

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