Pixel Scroll 1/29/24 I’m All Lost In The Pixel-Market, I Can No Longer Scroll Happily

(1) SIC SEMPER HEAVENLY TYRANT. [Item by Anne Marble.] Xiran Jay Zhao’s social media offers a window onto their problems with the publisher of their next book, Heavenly Tyrant. They began on January 24 with these messages:

Then today, Xiran Jay Zhao implied that their publisher threatened legal action over those X.com. posts

And later:

In response to some of these posts, horror & SFF writer Zachary Rosenberg suggested at this point, Xiran Jay Zhao should get a lawyer and stop posting to protect their interests.

The hardcover was published by Penguin Teen. (Wikipedia says that they signed with Penguin Teen Canada. I’m not sure if they had a separate U.S. edition.) The paperback is published by Tundra Books, an imprint of Tundra Book Group, which is part of Penguin Random House of Canada Limited. The author lives in Canada.

(2) LUKYANENKO ENDORSES PUTIN. Well, what else did you think the Chengdu Worldcon’s absent guest of honor was going to do? “Писатель Сергей Лукьяненко поддержал решение Владимира Путина участвовать в выборах” at Звездный Бульвар (Star Boulevard) — “Writer Sergei Lukyanenko supported Vladimir Putin’s decision to participate in the elections”.

The collection of signatures in support of Vladimir Putin’s participation in the presidential elections continues in Moscow. The famous Russian science fiction writer Sergei Lukyanenko spoke about his support for the candidacy of the current president in Moscow today in a conversation with journalists from the Moscow News Agency.

“I support Vladimir Putin’s decision (to nominate his candidacy for the presidency). I think that the changes in the country are visible to everyone who has lived at least more than 20 years,” he said….

(3) DON’T SAY WORLDCON. This odd phenomenon in Chinese social media was reported earlier today. Later it was learned the ban only affected one group.

(4) FURRY CON STAFF UPRISING. [Item by Patch P.] There’s turbulent convention organizing, and then there’s having staff resign in protest to force a leadership change: “Grassroots action: Leadership changes and weeding out hate at Garden State Fur The Weekend”. Dogpatch Press has the full story, which begins —

Garden State Fur The Weekend is an upcoming furry convention set for May 3-5, 2024 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. With their launch only months away, something unusual happened. GSFTW posted an official statement about opposing hate and Nazi-fur groups….

It was followed by an announcement of the con chair stepping down and a new one stepping up. It blames medical issues of the ex-chair, Dashing Fox. Dogpatch Press wishes good health to him. The story could end there, but unofficially, the change was forced by staff resignations. You’re seeing the aftermath of revolt behind the scenes, then getting back on track for launch. Yes, they stood up with the power of collective will to change the leadership for the better….

…Let’s not beat around the bush about why staff resigned to uproot the ex-chair: He actively associated with the Furry Raiders. They are a nazifur group who wither everything they touch. Their ties to alt-right hate groups and criminal schemes could fill a book….

(5) RABBIT TESTERS. Michael Grossberg opens a discussion of “Rabbit Test: Samantha Mill’s story, which swept this past year’s sf awards, has been hailed as libertarian (But that depends on your view of its central issue.)” on the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Blog. One learns from his post there are people who classify themselves as Libertarians and do not agree with a woman’s freedom to choose to have an abortion. However, the post doesn’t explain whether that is on religious grounds, or why.

…That story is “Rabbit Test,” by Samantha Mills.

According to at least one veteran libertarian sf fan, Mill’s story fits the distinctive focus of the Prometheus Award.

“The well-written story has a strong individual-liberty theme,” said Fred Moulton, a now-retired former LFS leader and Prometheus judge.

But does it?…

…That’s been a hot-button issue even within the libertarian movement. Since libertarianism began to be popular in the 1960s and 1970s, most libertarians have supported a woman’s right to abortion (perhaps influenced partly by Ayn Rand, whose novels and essays helped spark the modern movement).

Yet, some libertarians have always disagreed, even while being consistently “pro-choice” on everything else that doesn’t violate the basic libertarian principles of non-aggression….

(6) GASTRONOMICAL AND OTHER BALONEY. In “Around the World in Eighty Lies”, The Walrus reveals an Atlas Obscura contributor’s mystifying pattern of fabricated facts.

THE STORY WAS CHARMING: a short article about soups, continually replenished for decades, secreted in jars across oceans. The soups, according to one source, were “older than Taylor Swift.” I devoured the article, published in December 2022 on Atlas Obscura, an online publication billed as “best-in-class journalism about hidden places, incredible history, scientific marvels, and gastronomical wonders,” and texted it to a few soup-obsessed friends. Then I forgot about it for months until the weather turned chilly and I pulled up the link again, only to notice the article had changed. An italicized editor’s note had been added to the top, which began: “This article has been retracted as it does not meet Atlas Obscura’s editorial standards.” The note went on to state that multiple details and interviews had been fabricated.

Intrigued, I did a Google search for the author, Blair Mastbaum. His social media profiles and Wikipedia page suggested an American writer in his mid-forties, very active on Instagram, where he posted captionless photos of his travels in Europe. Mastbaum had written ten other articles for Atlas Obscura, eight of which, it turned out, had similar retractions. Topics ranged widely: acoustic archeology, Hawaiian cultural appropriation, an obscure dialect of sign language. Mastbaum’s first retracted story had been published in January 2022; the last one more than a year later….

(7) ONE THUMB UP. [Item by Steven French.] For folks in Chicago, a “Science on Screen” series that includes Godzilla, Don’t Look Up, Contagio and War Games at Siskel Film Center from February 9-12.

It’s the end of the world as we know it…and, if we’re being honest, we could use some help in feeling fine. From pandemics to nuclear war, from planet-pulverizing meteors to a city-smashing monster, these films explore all the ways we’re risking destruction. Watch the films with experts from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, keepers of the Doomsday Clock, to discuss the end times—and how we can avoid them. Presented in partnership with the University of Chicago Existential Risk Laboratory, the Japanese Cultural Center (JCC), and the DePaul Humanities Center. Additional speakers to be added.

(8) WHAT WHO’S FIGURES WERE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This month’s SFX magazine has the final low-down on Britain’s Doctor Who viewing figures which now includes 7-day catch-up views. (Remember, for comparison the US has five times the population of the UK.)

First up, The Goblin Song by Murray Gold reach number one on the iTunes chart on the day of its release and no12 in the official single sales chart that week and number six on the official singles download chart and number four on the official top 40.

Doctor Who ‘The Star Beast’ consolidated at 9.5 million viewers including catch-up. Overnights for ‘Wild Blue Yonder’ were 4.83 million with 7.14 million adding in 7-day catch-ups. ‘The Giggle’ obtained 4.62 million overnight and 6.85 million with 7-day catch-ups added in.  ‘The Church on Ruby Road’ was the most watched scripted show (which excludes things like the King’s address to the nation) on Christmas day with 4.73 million viewers which increases to 7.49 million with 7-day catch-ups added in.

(9) BRIAN LUMLEY (1937-2024). Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner Brian Lumley died January 2 his website has reported. He came to prominence in the 1970s writing in the Cthulhu Mythos featuring the new character Titus Crow, and in the 1980s began the best-selling Necroscope series, initially centered on character Harry Keogh, who can communicate with the spirits of the dead. His other series included The Primal Lands, Hero of Dreams, and Psychomech. He wrote around 60 books and many works of short fiction.

Lumley also had a 22-year career as a Royal Military Policeman. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Ann (Silky) Lumley, his daughter Julie and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Brian Lumley at 1992 World Horror Con. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 29, 1958 Jeph Loeb, 66. It’s not likely that you’ve heard of Jeph Loeb but you’ll definitely have heard of the work he first did as a comics writer and later film writer/producer. So let’s get started.

Loeb, a four-time Eisner Award winner, started out as comic writer, with his first work being on Challengers of the Unknown with Tim Sale.  Loved that series! 

They notably would somewhat later do Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight and Batman: The Long Halloween. The latter you’ll no doubt recognize. The former is a collection of really interesting stories. It is available from the usual suspects. 

Jeph Loeb

(As always I’m not listing everything, just what I’m interested in.)

They did a really great Catwoman series, Catwoman: When in Rome. I’ll do no spoilers as it’s a six-issue story extraordinary told. If you’ve got lots of money to spare, the absolute edition is, well, absolutely amazing.

At the end of the Nineties, he started a nearly three-year run on Superman with Ed McGuinness largely being the artist. It ended with the rather amazing Emperor Joker storyline. 

Of course this being the two major comic producers, Loeb and McGuinness soon got another a series going, Superman/Batman, and that in turn led to a new ongoing Supergirl series.

Now Marvel. 

He destroyed his hometown of Stamford, Connecticut in the first issue of the Civil War series. Oh poor Stamford.

His Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America series got coverage by the Associated Press and The Washington Post. Impressive. 

Film scripts he has, oh yes.

With Matthew Weisman,  he wrote the script for Teen Wolf, you might recognize for having a major role for Michael J. Fox. Completely different in tone was his next script with Weisman, Commando, the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle. And he did Teen Wolf Two as well, this time with Weisman and Tim Kring.

Somewhere in the vaults of Warner Bros is his Flash film script.  Now that would really interesting to read, wouldn’t it?

He wrote a script for an episode of Smallville, after which he became a supervising producer and has written many episodes since then. He had a three year contract extension to stay on the series but left when his son developed cancer. (The son sadly passed away.)

He was writer/producer on Lost during its second season. After leaving Lost, he was co-executive producer and writer on Heroes. Tim Sale’s art was prominently featured. 

Thirteen years ago, Marvel Entertainment appointed him to the position of Executive Vice President, Head of Television of its new Marvel Television. If you’ve watched a Marvel series since then be it Agent Carter or Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., he’s listed as executive producer.

He left Marvel five years ago. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Loose Parts has its own peculiar idea about saving the Earth.
  • Candorville has a debate about whether to waste words on a genre topic.

(12) REINVENTING THE WHEEL, ER, GRID? “14 Years Later, a Classic Sci-Fi Franchise Is About to Take its Biggest Risk Yet” claims Inverse.

It’s time to get back on the grid. As of now, the third film in the Tron franchise — titled Tron: Ares, but styled as Tr3N — is officially filming. Fourteen years after the second film, Tron: Legacy, and 42 years after the 1982 classicTron will finally become the weirdest sci-fi trilogy of all time.

How should Tron-heads feel about all this? Will Tr3N fix everything or destroy all programs, now and forever? At this point, it feels like Tr3N will either be great or terrible, with no room for a middle ground. Here’s why….

… Whether the movie is great or horrible, the third Tron movie will have to tackle the paradox of Tron’s essential weirdness. As a concept, Tron was both ahead of its time and terribly shortsighted. In the first film, we got an entire virtual world populated by living, sentient Programs, who manifest as people; imagine The Matrix, but most characters are Agent Smith.

Because it came out in 1982, Tron used arcade game logic to imagine this alternate digital realm, which gave the film its beautifully minimalistic aesthetic. However, this vibe also made “The Grid” seem small and empty compared to the kinds of virtual worlds that have existed in science fiction ever since.

The limitations of Tron’s world-building were so obvious that Tron: Legacy explicitly states Kevin Flynn created a bigger and better second version of the Grid. Still, this Grid feels limited in the same way the first one did, simply because the world-building feels contingent on the real world mattering more than the Grid. The paradox at the heart of Tron is the struggle to make a virtual world matter more than the real world….

(13) BOMBS AWAY. “Dr Strangelove at 60: is this still the greatest big-screen satire?” asks the Guardian.

…The message of Fail Safe: human beings are fallible. The message of Dr Strangelove: human beings are idiots.

On balance, Kubrick’s message is more persuasive. Dr Strangelove remains the greatest of movie satires for a host of reasons, not least that it hews so closely to the real-life absurdities of the cold war, with two saber-rattling superpowers escalating an arms race that could only end in mutual annihilation. There’s absolutely no question, for example, that the top military and political brass have gamed out the catastrophic loss of life in a nuclear conflict, just as they do in the war room here. Perhaps they would even nod sagely at the distinction between 20 million people dead v 150 million people dead. All Kubrick and his co-writers, Terry Southern and Peter George, have to add is a wry punchline: “I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed.”…

(14) SLIM NOT-SO-SHADY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] When it first landed on the Moon a week or so ago, JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) first ever Moon lander was unable to generate solar power and quickly lost energy from the battery. Now, however, it appears that the solar panel was misoriented and SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) is back online. “Japan’s SLIM probe regains power more than a week after moon landing” reports Reuters.

… SLIM lost the thrust of one of its two main engines shortly before the touchdown for unknown reasons and ended up drifting a few dozen metres away from the target. The lander safely stopped on a gentle slope but appeared toppled with an engine facing upward in a picture taken by a baseball-sized wheeled rover it deployed.

The probe’s solar panels faced westward due to the displacement and could not immediately generate power. JAXA manually unplugged SLIM’s dying battery 2 hours and 37 minutes after the touchdown as it completed the transmission of the lander’s data to the earth.

JAXA does not have a clear date when SLIM will end its operation on the moon, but the agency has previously said the lander was not designed to survive a lunar night. The next lunar night begins on Thursday.

(15) DON’TCHA JUST LOVE DYSTOPIAS….? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Dystopias are great (provided you just read about them and not begin to live in them as we now seem we are about to….) Moid over at Media Death Cult has a dive into dystopic fiction.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Barbie with a Cat” is a parody of the movie with Owlkitty.

[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Anne Marble, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 1/19/24 All These Pixels Are Someone Else’s Fault

(1) WRITERS WHO SPEAK AT THE CIA. From Brian Keene I heard about this article:

Johannes Lichtman tells about attending “Invisible Ink: At the CIA’s Creative Writing Group” in The Paris Review. After he gives his presentation, they take him to lunch.

… I had a little time to kill before our lunch reservation—seating time in the executive dining room was not flexible—so Vivian took me to the gift shop.

Given that almost no one’s allowed inside Langley and the people who work for the CIA aren’t supposed to advertise it, it was, like with the museum, a bit of a mystery who the gift shop was for. The shelves were stocked with T-shirts (Central Intelligence Agency), mugs (Central Intelligence Agency), and novelty barbecue sauce (Top Secret Recipe!). There was also a Pride Month display (Central Intelligence Agency in rainbow)….

… While we waited for our food, the writer of dystopian sci-fi confirmed that if you work for the CIA, lawyers have to vet anything you publish. But they were more lenient than I would’ve guessed. She said that one of her novels had helped change how the agency viewed fiction versus nonfiction. While reading her novel, the lawyers decided that just because a character in a novel says something doesn’t mean that the author necessarily agrees, so there should be more leeway for CIA fiction writers. (Which suggests CIA lawyers are more nuanced literary critics than half of Goodreads.)…

(2) NEVER STEAL ANYTHING SMALL. This is breathtaking — “Peak Fake: A Scam Website Impersonating Macmillan Publishers”. Victoria Strauss analyzes the scam at Writer Beware.

I write a lot about impersonation scams on this blog–for good reason: they are extremely common, and becoming more so all the time. Literary agents, publishers, production companies, film directors: all are targets.

The purpose: money, of course. By posing as real, reputable companies and individuals, the scammers aim to make it more likely writers will be bamboozled into paying for needless, substandard, and/or fraudulent “services”.

This one, though, takes the cake: an entire website impersonating Macmillan Publishers.

The domain name, booksmacmillan.com, is just 15 days old as of this writing (the registration is, of course, anonymized):…

(3) LOCKS TOO EASY TO PICK. Cory Doctorow finds a creative way to criticize a trend: “Demon-haunted computers are back, baby”.

As a science fiction writer, I am professionally irritated by a lot of sf movies. Not only do those writers get paid a lot more than I do, they insist on including things like “self-destruct” buttons on the bridges of their starships.

Look, I get it. When the evil empire is closing in on your flagship with its secret transdimensional technology, it’s important that you keep those secrets out of the emperor’s hand. An irrevocable self-destruct switch there on the bridge gets the job done! (It has to be irrevocable, otherwise the baddies’ll just swarm the bridge and toggle it off).

But c’mon. If there’s a facility built into your spaceship that causes it to explode no matter what the people on the bridge do, that is also a pretty big security risk! What if the bad guy figures out how to hijack the measure that – by design – the people who depend on the spaceship as a matter of life and death can’t detect or override?…

Doctorow then gives several examples where software supposedly designed to secure computers turned out to be vulnerable. He sums up one case with a callback to his science fictional lede:

…This is a self-destruct switch that’s been compromised by the enemy, and which no one on the bridge can de-activate – by design. It’s not the first time this has happened, and it won’t be the last…

(4) THE WORST OF TIMES. BBC Radio 4’s Screen Shot discusses “British Dystopias”. Listen to the episode at the link.

Forty years on from 1984 and the release of the John Hurt-starring big screen adaptation of George Orwell’s novel, Ellen E Jones and Mark Kermode explore dystopian visions from British film and TV. Mark speaks to film critic Kim Newman about the literary roots of the dystopia, from 1984 to A Clockwork Orange. And he talks to actor Brian Cox about how, in a career that has included roles as Dr Hannibal Lecter and Logan Roy, the prophetic 1968 TV play The Year of The Sex Olympics remains one of the projects he is most proud of. Meanwhile, Ellen talks to Ngozi Onwurah, the director of landmark film Welcome II The Terrordome. Released in 1995, the radical British dystopian tale was the first feature directed by a black woman to get a UK cinema release. Ellen and Ngozi discuss why Welcome II The Terrordome was so prescient. And Ellen also speaks to Kibwe Tavares, who co-directed new film The Kitchen, about a dilapidated housing estate in a near-future London, with Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya.

(5) PLAGIARISM DISCOVERED. Utopia Science Fiction Magazine today made a painful announcement. Thread starts here.

(6) THAT SURE WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT. “Jodie Foster as Princess Leia? Here’s what Star Wars would have looked like” speculates the Guardian.

… Speaking to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, Foster revealed this week that she turned down the opportunity to star in 1977’s blockbuster gamechanger because she would have had to break a contract for a Disney movie (almost certainly 1976’s Freaky Friday) filmed during the same period….

…Foster would have been 13 or 14 during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, while Carrie Fisher (who won the role) was 19. Suffice to say, this would have changed the dynamic of Lucas’s movie just a little bit. Star Wars isn’t necessarily the most mature and sophisticated of science fiction sagas, but lowering the age of one of its central protagonists might have brought the era of Phantom Menace on us three decades too early. Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and Foster’s Leia would have had more of a daughter and father figure relationship, which might have provided its own unique dynamic, but certainly would have been a leap. Might Leia have ended up plunging that weird crossguard ’saber into Solo’s heart in the sequel trilogy instead of Kylo Ren?…

(7) DO NOT COLLECT $200. Gizmodo surveys “The Most Unhinged Monopoly Variations You Can Buy Right Now”. Here’s one that’s genre-themed:

A movie you barely remember, featuring characters you remember even less, featuring a set-up every kid will go crazy for: “Players try to safeguard as many properties as they can to collect rent in the form of cosmic energy units.” The sheer “waning days of Marvel Cinematic Universe dominance” vibes do add a certain nostalgic flair, though. $33.99 at Hasbro$14.97 at Amazon.

(8) EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON WHERE YOU ARE IN THE CIRCLE THAT NEVER BEGINS. (Some of you will remember that lyric.) The Guardian likes the look of an Indiana Jones game that’s in development: “Lashings of fun? Microsoft reveals new Indiana Jones game”.

…During Microsoft’s latest Developer Direct online event, streamed on Thursday evening, we saw a 12-minute preview of Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, a globe-trotting first-person adventure, set between Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Last Crusade. The project was revealed three years ago, but this is the first footage we’ve seen, and it’s promising stuff. It has Nazis, it has a whip, it has Dr Jones in deserts, in tombs and arguing with Denholm Elliott in fusty college buildings; and it has a story involving a stolen artefact that is somehow linked to an international network of ancient monuments all of which align with a circle spanning the world…

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 19, 1932 Richard Lester, 92. Serious film and I don’t get along — give me a good, fun film and I’m very, very happy. Thus you’re getting American-born but eventually British-resident film director Richard Lester for the Birthday this Scroll. Pop the bubbly and dig into the chocolate cake, let’s get started. 

A variety show he produced caught the attention of Peter Sellers who got Lester’s assistance in getting The Goon Show from the BBC Home Service on to ITV in the London area as The Idiot Weekly, Price 2d.  It lasted but six episodes. 

Richard Lester in 1967.

His second film after It’s Trad, Dad which is decidedly not genre was The Mouse on the Moon, a sequel to The Mouse That Roared (which he was not involved in at all.) It was by Michael Pertwee, brother of a certain actor we know from Doctor Who. Quite silly it was. 

He directed The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, a late Fifties sketch comedy short film directed by him and Peter Sellers. So why mention it? It’s because it was a favorite of John Lennon which led to him being hired to direct A Hard Day’s Night and then Help! You know which film is genre, so I needn’t say so. 

Next up is The Three Musketeers (which I didn’t know was also known as The Three Musketeers (The Queen’s Diamonds) which is an interesting title).  Fascinatingly George MacDonald Fraser wrote the screenplay. He shot The Four Musketeers right after this film.

He later reunited most of the Three Musketeers cast to film The Return of the Musketeers with the only notable cast member not being present was Raquel Welch. 

Lester was fond of swashbuckler films, so it was only natural that he decided to direct a Flashman film. Royal Flash was based offthe second of the Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser which now gives me the link to him writing the Musketeer screenplays. Cool. Very cool. And naturally Fraser wrote the screenplay here.

(A digression. I mentioned it before but I’ll mention it again. Kage Baker adored Flashman and this film as well. She told me several times in the last year before her passing on that she was planning on writing a Flashman novel but of course never did sadly.) 

Then there was Robin and Marian, which along with along with Richard Carpenter’s Robin of Sherwood, I hold to be the finest representations of Robin Hood ever done.  The script was by James Goldman, writer of The Lion in Winter, and as you know the leads were performed by Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn. Perfect. Truly perfect. 

Superman II was a great success after he reshot almost all the footage Richard Donner had already shot, some three quarters of the projected film. Ouch. (That was released as Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut.) Unlike this film, Superman III directed by him would be both a critical and box office failure. 

His last film before retirement though not genre, I’ll note as it’s a great film called Get Back, the thirty-three year old concert film that about The Paul McCartney World Tour of 1989–1990.  Seventeen of the twenty-three songs he performs are by the Beatles. 

(10) LANSDALE ON WALDROP. The Texas Standard interviewed Joe Lansdale about his friend in “Remembering science fiction author Howard Waldrop”. Waldrop died January 14.

Well, he was certainly known among other writers. I think he’s sometimes been called a writer’s writer, which is quite the compliment from one’s colleagues. What does that accolade mean to you when you think about Waldrop’s work and how he related with other writers? 

Well, you want the general audience to like your work, but I think there is something special about the idea that you’re writing something that your peers really get and really understand and really appreciate, because I think that ultimately you want to be able to say, “look, I want to write something unusual, but I want it to be appreciated by other people who write unusual things.”

So it’s not just passé or the same old stuff. So I believe that that’s what is meant by a writer’s writer. It’s a writer who looks at another writer and says, “I wish I could do that,” or “maybe I can learn to do that.”

(11) KILLING FOR IVORY. The Hugo Book Club Blog reviews Ray Nayler’s The Tusks of Extinction in “The Last Trumpet Shall Sound”.

…“The Mountain in the Sea had its roots in the ecological preservation work I engaged in in Vietnam. That work was preventative and positive, working with youth and with environmental activists to protect the Con Dao Archipelago,” Nayler explained by email in early January. “The Tusks of Extinction has its roots in my experiences in Vietnam dealing with the illegal ivory trade and the trade in rhino horn. That work exposed me to the grimmest realities of human greed, ignorance, and exploitation. The enormity of the slaughter of elephants and rhinos for the sake of useless trinkets and the stupidest pseudo-medicinal ideas.”…

(12) FREAKY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Um, Pennywise. Ghost hunting in a graveyard. And Tonopah NV—host city of Westercon 74 in 2022. “Man Gives Chilling Look at His One Night in ‘Haunted’ Clown Motel: ‘Done With Clown Stuff'” in People.

If you’ve ever wondered exactly what it’s like to stay overnight alone in a haunted motel — one inhabited by hundreds of clowns — one brave soul knows the answer.

In a video shared to Instagram, user Khail Anonymous shares his experience staying overnight at the Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada.

“Why did I go ALONE??” he captions the Reel, which begins with a shot of the hotel room door — decorated with a colorful illustration of what appears to be Pennywise, the toothed clown made famous in Stephen King’s It….

… The video also shows what’s next door to the motel — a graveyard complete with rows of headstones.

“There’s also a graveyard next door. I forgot to mention that, Oh, whoops,” he says in the video….

(13) NOT LONG BEFORE THE END. “A Hunger for Strangeness: A Cryptids Reading List” at Longreads.

Late one night many years ago, my sister was driving home through the leafy roads of South East England when a strange animal bounded into the headlights of her car and swiftly disappeared into a hedgerow. She was certain, she said, that it had been a wallaby—despite the fact that the kangaroo relative was native to Australia and Papua New Guinea and decidedly not native to Oxfordshire. Our reaction was about what you’d expect from a British family: politely skeptical. It had been dark, the encounter fleeting, and the human brain is decidedly fallible. Surely, then, she must have been mistaken.

My sister would eventually be vindicated when the existence of wild wallabies in the UK was confirmed and even captured on film. Yet, her experience isn’t too different from those who claim to have encountered cryptids, creatures whose existence remains a matter of debate. Yeti, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster are only the beginning; a small but committed community of cryptid hunters is dedicated to proving the existence of doubted beasts like the Mongolian Death Worm, the Honey Island Swamp Monster, and the Skunk Ape. …

… why do cryptid hunters continue to put their reputations on the line, and what other legendary beasts might we discover to be not so legendary after all? In an age when species extinction has reached alarming proportions, perhaps this quest to discover new life carries extra poignancy. The articles collected below offer tantalizing insight into both questions….

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Nickpheas, Michael J. Walsh, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 8/30/23 And The Pixels That Mother Gives You Don’t Do Anything At All

(1) COURT DECISION CURBS A LONGTIME COPYRIGHT REQUIREMENT. [Item by Anne Marble.] In 2018, print-on-demand publisher Valancourt Books sued the U.S. Copyright Office because of the “mandatory deposit” requirement — which required the publisher to send U.S. Copyright Office copies of about 240 of the books they publish. They didn’t have the books on hand and would have had to spend several thousand dollars to produce them. Valancourt faced the possibility of as much as $100,000 in fines.

The legal issues were analyzed by the plaintiff’s law firm Institute for Justice in a 2021 article “Unique Richmond Publisher Will Appeal After D.C. Judge Insists It Must Give the Government Free Copies of Its Books”.

Valancourt is a unique publisher run by James and his husband Ryan Cagle. James is a former lawyer who found his life’s calling reviving and popularizing rare, neglected and out-of-print fiction, including 18th century Gothic novels, Victorian horror novels, forgotten literary fiction and works by early LGBT authors. Founded in 2005, Valancourt has published more than 300 books, all of which they have permission to reprint, winning praise from literature professors and the press alike.

The U.S. Copyright Office is demanding copies of hundreds of books published by Valancourt. If Valancourt doesn’t send the books, they could be subject to fines of $250 per book (plus the retail price of the books), along with additional fines of $2,500 for “willful” failure to deposit the books. But there’s a problem: Valancourt doesn’t have the books. They are a print-on-demand publisher, and giving the federal government free books would damage their business.

An earlier Forbes article (“Why Is The Federal Government Threatening An Indie Book Publisher With $100,000 In Fines?” (2018) also explained:

…[M]andatory deposit was originally required if an owner wanted their works protected by copyright. That requirement was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court—in 1834….

Valancourt lost at the District Court level but won at the U.S. Appeals Court level (read the decision here). Reuters covered the victory: “US appeals court curbs Copyright Office’s mandatory deposit policy”. The Copyright Office says they are reviewing the decision.

(2) BIG GREEN NUMBERS. The Hollywood Reporter passes this on with a grain of salt: “’Ahsoka’ Series Premiere Gets Big Ratings, Disney+ Says”.

Disney+ is breaking with its usual practice to share some (strong) viewing numbers for the premiere of its latest Star Wars series, Ahsoka.

According to the streamer, the first episode of the series, starring Rosario Dawson as the titular Jedi, has racked up 14 million views worldwide in the five days after its Aug. 23 debut. Disney+ is using the same methodology for counting a “view” that Netflix has employed for the past couple of months — dividing the total viewing time by the run time for a given title.

In Ahsoka’s case, 14 million views of the 56-minute premiere episode would equate to 784 million minutes of viewing worldwide. “Views” doesn’t necessarily equal “viewers,” however, as the total viewing time doesn’t necessarily account for multiple people watching the show together or a single person watching the episode several times. Disney+ also didn’t release any figures for episode two of Ahsoka, which also premiered Aug. 23.

(3) PRATCHETT PROJECT EVENT. “Terry Pratchett at the Unseen University”, featuring a series of short presentations from researchers of various disciplines, is an in-person and virtual event happening September 22. Tickets available at the link.

The Pratchett Project in Trinity College Dublin is an interdisciplinary platform for research into the life and works of Terry Pratchett. It builds on the comprehensive collection of Pratchett’s works and their translations into forty languages, held in the Trinity College Library, as well as Pratchett’s personal connection with the College, borne out of the adjunct professorship he held from 2010. A further part of this endeavour is driven by Pratchett’s own life story and inclinations. In 2007, Pratchett publicly announced that he had a rare form of young-onset Alzheimer’s disease, called posterior cortical atrophy. He subsequently became a passionate campaigner who was determined to reduce the stigma of dementia. A docudrama on BBC followed the literary career and charitable work of the beloved author.

So, research into brain health is an important part of the Pratchett Project in Trinity College. We are currently developing this strand of the project to find new ways in which the implications of breakthroughs in research can be “translated” for members of the public. We aim to bring people together from various backgrounds and fields to make new connections, to promote public understanding and awareness, to change perceptions and inspire people to support brain awareness campaigns and get involved.

This Culture Night, we will be joined by a wide range of speakers, each discussing their research, which is in some way connected to the life and/or work of Terry Pratchett.

THIS EVENT CAN BE ATTENDED BOTH ONLINE AND IN PERSON.

IT WILL ALSO BE RECORDED AND UPLOADED TO OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

(4) AVOID TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Sarah A. Hoyt speaks with the voice of experience in “Starting Your Novel and Need to Know” at Mad Genius Club.

…Anyway, one thing that is becoming painfully obvious as I read people’s beginnings of novels, is that most of you have no idea how much information and world building to put in the beginning of your book.

This is not strange or unusual. I not only went through years of having this issue, but I also revert to this issue whenever I have not written for a long while.

When I fail I have two modes: either I write completely incomprehensible stuff or I write an opening that reads like you’re in a classroom and I’m expecting you to take notes.

But there is a way to handle it. I only figured it with Darkship Thieves, and only after breaking it pretty badly with an extra fifty pages in the beginning.

Anyway, so, what do you need to tell the reader: no more and no less than the reader needs to know.….

(5) GENRE WORK UP FOR KIRKUS PRIZE. The Kirkus Prize announced finalists across three categories, with winners to be named on October 11. The Fiction category shortlist includes White Cat, Black Dog by Kelly Link and Shaun Tan. Literary Hub explains how the award works.

The Kirkus Prize is one of the richest annual literary awards in the world with the prizes totaling $150,000. Writers become eligible by receiving a rare, starred review from Kirkus Reviews; this year’s 18 finalists were chosen from 608 young readers’ literature titles, 435 fiction titles, and 435 nonfiction titles….

(6) HUANG Q&A. “Reading with… S.L. Huang” at Shelf Awareness.

On your nightstand now: 

I don’t actually have a nightstand, but next to my bed or currently on my phone are:

The Search for E.T. Bell: Also Known as John Taine by Constance Reid. It’s the biography of mathematician Eric Temple Bell, who wrote Radium Age science fiction under the pen name John Taine, and it is WILD, because this man?? completely made up??? his entire life??? I read it because I’m writing an intro to a rerelease of his fiction, but his life is fascinating. I love reading about mathematicians!

Lost Ark Dreaming, a novella by Suyi Davies Okungbowa, which I was lucky enough to be sent an advance copy of. I haven’t started this one yet, but I’m looking forward to it!

Shigidi and the Brass Head of Obalufon, which is Wole Talabi’s debut novel–another advanced copy I’m super excited to start reading! I’ve really enjoyed Wole’s short fiction.

And finally, I’m also currently part of a book club reading this podcast version of Romance of the Three Kingdoms3kingdomspodcast.com . We’ve been at it a year, and we’re about a third of the way through! It’s a very, very long book.

(7) THE ART OF ZARDOZ. The Hugo Book Club Blog improved on a meme about good art vs. bad art that has been getting a lot of attention. Their table is effing brilliant. Or zeeing brilliant. You decide.

(8) WITH EXTRA ADDED BRAIN. At Galactic Journey, Victoria Silverworlf explains a fact of TV life in 1968: “[August 30, 1968] TV or Not TV, That is The Question (They Saved Hitler’s Brain and Mars Needs Women)”.

Not all movies show up in theaters. Movies made for television began a few years ago, at least here in the USA, with a thriller called See How They Run. There have been quite a few since then.

A similar phenomenon is the fact that theatrical movies are frequently altered for television. Of course, films are often cut for broadcast, either to reduce the running time or to remove material deemed inappropriate for the tender sensibilities of American viewers.

But did you know that new footage is sometimes added to movies before they show up on TV? That’s because they’re too short to fill up the time slot allotted to them.

An example is Roger Corman’s cheap little monster movie The Wasp Woman. In theaters, it ran just over an hour. On television, new scenes increased the length by about ten minutes.

Wasting time in front of the TV screen recently, I came across such an elongated theatrical film, as well as one made for television only. Let’s take a look at both.

They Saved Hitler’s Brain

This thing began life in 1963 under the a much less laughable title….

(9) MEMORY LANE

1991 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

To my thinking, there are two great fictional uses of the Babbage Machine that Charles Babbage designed but never built. Oh, and the first complete Babbage Engine was constructed in London in 2002, one hundred and fifty three years after it was designed. So what are those novels?

One is S.M Stirling’s The Peshawar Lancers in which the British Empire decamps to India after meteor strikes usher in a new ice age. That novel and his Sky People novels, particularly In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, are my favorite works by him.

Then there’s the one our Beginning comes from which is William Gibson & Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine, their name for The Babbage Machine. It was published by Gollancz thirty-three years ago with cover art by Ian Miller.

It was nominated for a number of Awards but didn’t win any. The nominations were a BSFA, a John W. Campbell Memorial Award, a Nebula and a Prix Aurora.

It is at the usual suspects as a Meredith Moment. 

And now, as I don’t want to give a single message generated by The Difference Engine, is our Beginning…

THE ANGEL OF GOLIAD

Composite image, optically encoded by escort-craft of the trans-Channel airship Lord Brunel: aerial view of suburban Cherbourg, October 14, 1905.

A villa, a garden, a balcony.

Erase the balcony’s wrought-iron curves, exposing a bath-chair and its occupant. Reflected sunset glints from the nickel-plate of the chair’s wheel-spokes.

The occupant, owner of the villa, rests her arthritic hands upon fabric woven by a Jacquard loom.

These hands consist of tendons, tissue, jointed bone. Through quiet processes of time and information, threads within the human cells have woven themselves into a woman.

Her name is Sybil Gerard.

Below her, in a neglected formal garden, leafless vines lace wooden trellises on whitewashed, flaking walls. From the open windows of her sickroom, a warm draft stirs the loose white hair at her neck, bringing scents of coal-smoke, jasmine, opium.

Her attention is fixed upon the sky, upon a silhouette of vast and irresistible grace—metal, in her lifetime, having taught itself to fly. In advance of that magnificence, tiny unmanned aeroplanes dip and skirl against the red horizon.

Like starlings, Sybil thinks.

The airship’s lights, square golden windows, hint at human warmth. “Effortlessly, with the incomparable grace of organic function, she imagines a distant music there, the music of London: the passengers promenade, they drink, they flirt, perhaps they dance.

Thoughts come unbidden, the mind weaving its perspectives, assembling meaning from emotion and memory.

She recalls her life in London. Recalls herself, so long ago, making her way along the Strand, pressing past the crush at Temple Bar. Pressing on, the city of Memory winding itself about her—till, by the walls on Newgate, the shadow of her father’s hanging falls …

And Memory turns, deflected swift as light, down another byway—one where it is always evening….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 30, 1797 Mary Shelley. Author of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818), her first novel. Another of Shelley’s novels, The Last Man (1826), concerns Europe in the late 21st century, ravaged by a mysterious pandemic illness that rapidly sweeps across the entire globe, ultimately resulting in the near-extinction of humanity. Scholars call it one of the first pieces of dystopian fiction published. (OGH) (Died 1851.)
  • Born August 30, 1942 Judith Moffett, 81. Editor and academic. She won the first Theodore Sturgeon Award with her story “Surviving” and the fame gained for her Pennterra novel helped her win John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at Nolacon II. Asimov wrote an introduction for the book and published it under his Isaac Asimov Presents series.  Her Holy Ground series of The Ragged World: A Novel of the Hefn on EarthTime, Like an Ever-Rolling Stream: A Sequel to the Ragged World and The Bird Shaman are her other genre novels. The Bear’s Babys And Other Stories collects her genre short stories. All of her works are surprisingly available at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born August 30, 1943 Robert Crumb, 80. He’s here because ISFDB lists him as the illustrator of The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick which is likely they say an interview that Dick did with Gregg Rickman and published in Rickman’s The Last Testament. They’re also listing the cover art for Edward Abby’s The Monkey Wrench Gang which I think is genre.
  • Born August 30, 1955 — Jeannette Holloman. She was one of the founding members of the Greater Columbia Costumers Guild and she was a participant at masquerades at Worldcon, CostumeCon, and other conventions. Her costumes were featured in The Costume Makers Art and Thread magazine. She’s here in the gold outfit that she designed and made at Costume-Con 9 which was held February 15-18, 1991 at The Columbia Inn in Columbia, Maryland. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 30, 1955 Mark Kelly, born 1955, aged sixty eight years. He maintains the indispensable Science Fiction Awards Database (SFADB), which we consult almost daily. He wrote reviews for Locus in the Nineties, then founded the Locus Online website in 1997 and ran it single-handedly for 20 years, along the way winning the Best Website Hugo (2002). More recently he’s devised a way to use his awards data to rank the all-time “Top SF/F/H Short Stories” and “Top SF/F/H Novelettes”. Kelly’s explanation of how the numbers are crunched is here. (OGH)
  • Born August 30, 1965 Laeta Kalogridis, 58. She was an executive producer of the short-lived not so great Birds of Prey series and she co-wrote the screenplays for Terminator Genisys and Alita: Battle Angel. She recently was the creator and executive producer of Altered Carbon. She also has a screenwriting credit for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a film the fanboys hate but which I really like. 
  • Born August 30, 1972 Cameron Diaz, 51. She first shows as Tina Carlyle in The Mask, an amazing film. She voices Princess Fiona in the Shrek franchise. While dating Tom Cruise, she’s cast as an uncredited bus passenger in Minority Report.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brewster Rockit has an inside comics joke, and it’s a hoot.
  • Tom Gauld, meanwhile, has an inside physics joke.

(12) A BIG FAN, EVENTUALLY. Peter Stone shows the evolution of one comics artist’s respect for another: “Mapping Out NEAL ADAMS’ Enduring Respect and Admiration for JACK KIRBY” at 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture.

Like many of us, Neal was not a big fan of Jack Kirby’s art when he was younger. In fact, Neal thought very little about Kirby’s art. IN FACT, Neal kind of hated it…

The transformation of Adams’ opinion began here:

[Challengers of the Unknown]  Issue #4! Chapter 4, “The Mechanical Judge”! The splash page was exactly what Neal was looking for. It had changed the way Neal viewed Jack Kirby when he was just getting into comics. Jack was writing and pencilling these stories and this was Neal’s Dream. His theory was always that artists should be writing their stories. They understood storytelling better than writers, according to Neal. A writer was there to add dialogue and that was “the icing on the cake.” But, in this case, it was the splash page image that blew his mind.

It was all about perspective. Kirby had drawn a futuristic, sci-fi building where the reader can see the bottom, middle and top clearly. The middle of the building is the focus and closest to the reader. However the top of the building AND the bottom of the building curve away and get smaller. Neal would always say it’s wrong but absolutely fascinating. Neal once drew a couple other examples of what Kirby was doing with perspective. The first is a boat with three men in it where the front of the boat comes to a point and the back end of the boat does the same. The widest spot is the middle section. Neal viewed it very much like a cinematic technique; a fish-eye lens that adds drama to the image….

…When Neal was 27 in the late ’60s, he started to realize how unique Kirby was. Fantastic Four was obviously a heightened version of the Challengers. Then, the Hulk, the Avengers, the (almost throwaway) X-Men, Ant-Man, Thor, Black Panther, a revised Captain America and so many others. Neal drew Deadman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Batman, Avengers, the X-Men and so much more while Jack Kirby was changing the comic universe. Neal saw that every page of a Jack Kirby comic had a boldly new idea that someone else could explore and turn into a regular series….

(13) THANKED AND EXCUSED. The actress that Carrie Fisher beat out for her Star Wars role — Terri Nunn — still went on to fame: “’Star Wars’ Princess Leia Runner-Up Wound Up Becoming A Famous Musician” at Slashfilm.

…Lucas said, “Your runner-up? She became a rockstar.” That runner-up was Terri Nunn, the lead singer of the band Berlin, who brought us songs like “Take My Breath Away” and “Metro.” In fact, Nunn’s audition with Harrison Ford is out there (via WishItWas1984) on YouTube. Nunn brought a softness to the part that is very different than Fisher’s interpretation. Frankly, I’m in awe of both of them for making what, at the time, was space gibberish sound compelling.

Nunn spoke about the audition in a 2022 interview with Rave It Up. She said, “I’m sitting there with Harrison Ford, and we’re reading these lines, and I had no idea what the hell is an R2-D2. I don’t know what that is. But I was trying to make it happen.” Nunn would go on to act in projects like “T.J. Hooker,” “Lou Grant,” and “Vega$,” but Fisher just nailed that audition….

(14) HOOCH YOU CAN FIND IN THE DARK. If It’s Hip It’s Here introduces oenophiles to “The latest in global design and creativity”.

The 19 Crimes x Universal Monsters Glow-In-The-Dark Wine Bottles are a must have for lovers of old classic monster movies and Halloween. The wine brand 19 Crimes has launched 2 new wines; a Frankenstein Cabernet Sauvignon and a Dracula Red Blend, both with illustrated labels that illuminate when the lights are out.

… The Frankenstein Cabernet, vintage 2021, is firm and full with a rich mouth feel. Aromatics of dark berries, violets and vanilla….

… The Dracula Red Blend, vintage 2021, is rich and round with a soft fruity finish. Sweet aromatics with notes of chocolate….

The place to buy them is at the 19 Crimes website.

(15) CYBERATTACKS ON TELESCOPES. “Hackers shut down 2 of the world’s most advanced telescopes” at Space.com.

Some of the world’s leading astronomical observatories have reported cyberattacks that have resulted in temporary shutdowns.

The National Science Foundation’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, or NOIRLab, reported that a cybersecurity incident that occurred on Aug. 1 has prompted the lab to temporarily halt operations at its Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii and Gemini South Telescope in Chile. Other, smaller telescopes on Cerro Tololo in Chile were also affected. 

… “We plan to provide the community with more information when we are able to, in alignment with our commitment to transparency as well as our dedication to the security of our infrastructure,” the update added. 

The cyberattacks on NOIRLab’s facilities occurred just days before the United States National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) issued a bulletin advising American space companies and research organizations about the threat of cyberattacks and espionage. …

(16) WHAT HAS IT GOT ON ITS SPROCKETSES? “Chandrayaan-3: What has India’s Moon rover Pragyaan been up to since landing?” BBC News overviews the rover’s first week of activity.

…Over the past few days, the rover has been hard at work.

On Tuesday evening, Isro said that a laser detector onboard had made “the first-ever in-situ – in the original space – measurements on the elemental composition of the surface near the south pole” and found a host of chemicals, including sulphur and oxygen, on lunar soil.

The instrument “unambiguously confirms” the presence of sulphur, it said, adding that preliminary analysis also “unveiled the presence of aluminium, calcium, iron, chromium, titanium, manganese, silicon and oxygen”.

“A thorough investigation regarding the presence of hydrogen is underway,” it added….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George’s “Game of Thrones Season 8 Pitch Meeting – Revisited!” is something you may have seen before. There’s some new content at the very end, and his explanation of how he decided which viewer questions to answer is worth skipping ahead to.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Anne Marble, John A. Arkansawyer, Rich Lynch, Kathy Sullivan, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anne Marble.]

Pixel Scroll 8/14/23 Nine Hundred Granfalloons

(1) LUKYANENKO’S LATEST OPINIONS ABOUT UKRAINE. Chengdu Worldcon GoH Sergey Lukyanenko’s interview on Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda was transcribed for his website. Here are some computer-translated excerpts; “’By the end of 2023, the situation for Russia will be clearer’ – S. Lukyanenko”.

M. Bachenina:

Well, then, who would you like to see at the head of Ukraine?

S. Lukyanenko:

This is a very difficult question, because, firstly, I would not want to see anyone there. As well as Ukraine itself. Because Ukraine, it was originally formed and is being formed as anti-Russia. That is, as long as Ukraine exists, it will act, unfortunately, as anti-Russia. It needs to be completely reformatted, it needs to completely change itself, including both the name and the territories, in order to create some kind of state that they want to create not as such an antagonist of Russia, an adversary and hater, but as a state that wants to represent something and live its own life. This will be a completely different state.

M. Bachenina:

Many now say that Russia cannot lose, we have the gene of winners. Do you agree with that? And if so, what is the manifestation of this gene?

S. Lukyanenko:

I don’t know if we have a special gene for winners, but I know that we didn’t worry about that, and we will naturally win, it’s indisputable. I would just like this to happen without any unnecessary victims, not only ours, but also those deceived Russian people who now live on the territory of Ukraine. As a matter of fact, we are, of course, one people, just part of the people has been reformatted. It’s, you know, like Tolkien, at one time he described that orcs are the same elves, only who have been poisoned, changed and distorted.

I understand that here we probably have a conviction on both sides that the beautiful elves are us, and there, on the other side, the nefarious orcs. But we know that we are not orcs….

(2) WRONG. THANKS FOR PLAYING. Robin A. Reid devotes her latest Writing From Ithilien newsletter to those “Misquoting Tolkien”.

At some point before Covid (2019 maybe?), I attended a Tolkien Society event and heard a great presentation by Marcel Aubron-Bülles based on a project that he calls “Things J.R.R. Tolkien has never said, done, written or had anything to do with (TThnsdwohatdw)” where he debunks, through research, internet quotes that are not by Tolkien, or are corrupted versions of what Tolkien wrote (I might charitably call some of those paraphrases but they are attributed as direct quotes to Tolkien), or are quotes from Jackson’s films (though they also might be incorrectly quoted). It was fascinating and turns out to that wrong/fake quotes on the internet are legion.

I’m quite sure there will eventually be quotes from Rings of Power attributed to Tolkien!

I am happy in this post to be able to add another example to Marcel’s list (I have skimmed the fifteen blog entries and do not see it!)….

Read the post to find out which one she has in mind.

(3) HUGO RECEPTION MUSICAL CHAIRS. The Hugo Book Club Blog takes its turn at explaining the “The Numbers Game” – the fluctuating ceiling on how many team members get listed as Hugo finalists.

…Over the past decade, there has been a regularly recurring argument about the maximum number of individual contributors that can be listed for each group finalist on the Hugo ballot. This is more common with fan categories like fanzine, fancast, and semiprozine — in recent years some of the contributors lists for an individual publication have extended to several dozen names.

On one side of the argument are those who express logistical concerns about the size of the ballot. On the other side are those who want to ensure that everyone who contributed to the success of a work or publication are given nomination-level credit for their work….

Is this issue something that should be addressed in a new Worldcon rule?

…Those advocating for a more restrictive set of rules point out that the pre-Hugo reception already has capacity issues and logistical constraints. They also suggest that if everyone gets called a “Hugo finalist,” then the status becomes devalued. In addition, the distribution of perks to Hugo finalists, such as the rocketship pins, etc., increase costs on Worldcons.

Both of these positions have merit, and neither should be dismissed out of hand. But the debate should take place in the appropriate forum. The WSFS membership on whose behalf these awards are presented deserve a say in this matter, and the way to do this is to allow both sides to make their case at a business meeting….

(4) INTERNET ARCHIVE SUIT PROPOSED AGREEMENT. Publishers Weekly has more details: “Judgment Entered in Publishers, Internet Archive Copyright Case”.

…The jointly proposed agreement includes a declaration that cements the key finding from Judge John G. Koeltl’s March 24 summary judgment decision: that the IA’s unauthorized scanning and lending of the 127 in-suit copyrighted books under a novel protocol known as “controlled digital lending” constitutes copyright infringement, including in the IA’s controversial “National Emergency Library” (under which the IA temporarily allowed for simultaneous access to its collections of scans in the the early days of the pandemic, when schools and libraries were shuttered).

Most importantly, the proposed agreement includes a permanent injunction that would, among its provisions, bar the IA’s lending of unauthorized scans of in-copyright, commercially available books, as well as bar the IA from “profiting from” or “inducing” any other party’s “infringing reproduction, public distribution, public display and/or public performance” of books “in any digital or electronic form” once notified by the copyright holder. Under the agreement, the injunction will not be stayed while the case is on appeal—essentially meaning that once Koeltl signs off, the IA will have to take stop making unauthorized scans of copyrighted works available to be borrowed within two weeks of notification.

The parties left one final dispute for Koeltl to clean up, however: what books will be “covered” by the proposed injunction?

In a letter to the court, IA attorneys argue that “Covered Books” should be limited to books that are both “commercially available” and available in digital format. “This case involved only works that the Publishers make available as e-books and so the scope of any injunction should be limited accordingly,” IA attorneys argue. “Because the parties did not have the opportunity in this case to litigate the degree to which the unavailability of digital library licensing would affect the fair use analysis, it is inappropriate for an injunction in this case, by its breadth, to effectively prejudge the outcome of that question.”

Lawyers for the plaintiff publishers counter that the injunction should cover all unauthorized scans of commercially available books, whether the copyright holder has licensed a digital edition or not. “The law is clear that the right to decide whether or not to publish a book in electronic format belongs to its authors and publishers, not IA,” the publishers’ letter argues….

(5) MAGICAL HISTORICAL FICTION. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s B Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 programme Open Book takes a deep dive into magical historical fiction and includes an interview with Ann Patchett.

Available on BBC Sounds  here. 28 minutes.

Anne Patchett

Octavia Bright talks to Ann Patchett about her captivating new novel. Tom Lake is the story of a young actor Lara under the spell of a future Hollywood star, but it is also about how she retells that story in later life to her adult daughters, and the power of storytelling itself.

Two masters of historical fiction, Laura Shepherd-Robinson and S. J. Parris (aka Stephanie Merritt) discuss the allure of magic and mysticism in their latest books set either side of the Enlightenment.

Plus Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah recalls the enchanting tale behind the book he’d never lend.

(6) IT ALL TIES TOGETHER. You may know about Philip José Farmer’s creation, but for the benefit of those born in the past few decades Keith Roysdon explains “The Wold Newton Universe: How a Fictional History Connects Literary Legends” at CrimeReads.

…Even a casual student of science fiction and comic-book history knows all about meteorites. They’re either the source of superheroic powers – or agents of destruction to people with fantastic abilities. (See: Kryptonite.) 

Farmer chose the former concept and, in an unmatched bit of revisionist literary history, decided to use the Wold Newton meteorite to form an interconnected world for some of imaginative literature’s most fantastic characters. Not Superman, of course, because his off-planet origin is well known. But very nearly everyone else was included, as Farmer and his successors in tending the Wold Newton Universe would have it….

(7) OLD SFF LOOKS AT EVOLUTION. The Public Domain Review revisits “H. G. Wells and the Uncertainties of Progress” in this 2019 article.

For Wells the most basic level of uncertainty arose from the fear that the human race might not sustain its current rate of development. In his 1895 story “The Time Machine” he imagined his time traveler projected through eras of future progress: “I saw great and splendid architecture rising about me, more massive than any buildings of our time, and yet, as it seemed, built of glimmer and mist.”2 But the time traveler ends up in a world brought down by social division and degeneration. The brutal Morlocks are the descendants of the industrial workers, while the childlike Eloi are the remnants of the leisured upper classes. This prediction was based on his zoologist friend E. Ray Lankester’s extension of the Darwinian theory. Lankester argued that because evolution works by adapting populations to their environment, progress is not inevitable and any species that adapts itself to a less active and hence less challenging way of life will degenerate.3 Here was the model for a more complex vision of progress in which any advance would depend on the circumstances of the time and could not be predicted on the basis of previous trends….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 14, 1929 Richard Carpenter. Responsible for the simply superb Robin of Sherwood series. He also created Catweazle, the children’s series about an unfortunate wizard from the 11th century who is accidentally transported to the present day. And he was an actor who appeared in such shows as the Sixties Sherlock Holmes series, The Terrornauts film and the Out of the Unknown series as well. (Died 2012.)
  • Born August 14, 1932 Lee Hoffman. In the early Fifties, she edited and published the Quandry fanzine. At the same time, she began publication of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly which appeared regularly until ‘til 2006. The latter won the fanzine Hugo at Nippon 2007 (with Geri Sullivan and Randy Byers) after her death. She wrote four novels and a handful of short fiction, none of which are in-print. (Died 2007.)
  • Born August 14, 1940 Alexei Panshin. He has written multiple critical works along with several novels, including the Nebula Award-winning Rite of Passage and the Hugo Award-winning study of SF, The World Beyond the Hill which he co-wrote with his wife, Cory Panshin. He also wrote the first serious study of Heinlein, Heinlein in Dimension: A Critical Analysis. Let’s not overlook that he was the Hugo Award winning Best Fan Writer at NYCon 3. (Died 2022.)
  • Born August 14, 1950 Gary Larson, 73. Setting aside a long and delightful career in creating the weird for us, ISFDB lists a SF link that deserve noting. In the March 1991 Warp as published by the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, he had a cartoon “The crew of the Starship Enterprise encounters the floating head of Zsa Zsa Gabor”.
  • Born August 14, 1956 Joan Slonczewski, 67. Their novel A Door into Ocean won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. They won a second John W. Campbell Memorial Award for their Highest Frontier novel. They were nominated for an Otherwise Award for The Children Star novel.
  • Born August 14, 1965 Brannon Braga, 58. Writer, producer and creator for the Next Gen, Voyager, Enterprise, as well as on the Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact films. He has written more episodes of the Trek various series than anyone else has with one hundred and nine to date. He was responsible for the Next Generation series finale “All Good Things…” which won him a Hugo Award at Intersection for excellence in SF writing, along with Ronald D. Moore. He’s one of the producers of The Orville

(9) WORLDCON THEMED FABRIC. Glasgow 2024, A Worldcon For Our Futures introduces Sara Felix-designed fabrics.

Sara Felix, Hugo award-winning artist and Glasgow 2024 designer, has launched six brand-new fabric designs on Spoonflower, now available for purchase.

Whether it’s a yard of fabric or a throw pillow, tea towels or a blanket, you can celebrate Glasgow 2024 with your choice of festive wares!

A word from Sara: “I created these fabrics because while I love the tartan, I wanted a few more options to play with. So I took the Armadillo we use on the bottom of some of our webpages and publication pages and made these. Of course, we had to have the logo on there as well!”

Browse the designs on Sara Felix’s website.

(10) PASSENGERS. “You’ll travel nearly a trillion miles in your lifetime. Here’s how” explains Space.com. This reminds me of a paragraph in a Vonnegut book that ends, “Who says there’s no such thing as progress?”

….In addition to rotating, Earth orbits the sun. That orbit is an ellipse, which causes our planet to occasionally move more quickly or slowly depending on its distance from the sun. But on average, Earth’s orbital speed is about 19 miles per second (30 km per second).

That’s about 600 million miles (1 billion km) every year. So over a lifetime, each of us travels roughly 50 billion miles (80 billion km) — which, again, dwarfs the distance we travel due solely to the rotation of our planet….

(11) MULTITALENTED JOYNER’S NEW BOOK. Jackiem Joyner, author of Zarya Episode II Sochi Unleashed, also is a contemporary saxophonist and music producer with a pair of number one hit songs and five top 10 Billboard under his belt.

In the second novel of his Zarya series, the fate of Cydnus, a highly advanced desert world, hangs in the balance. With oxygen levels beginning to deplete, this politically divided planet stands on the brink of an existential crisis.

In the heart of the advanced city of New Cebrenia City, Zarya, along with her father, Aaron, and friends Kizzy and Marco, must navigate a complex web of political strife. With Vice Chairman Eros’s dark plots threatening their progress, the security of their only political ally, the chairman, is under threat.
Their most powerful asset is Sochi, Zarya’s advanced AI Airboard. Yet, Sochi’s newfound ability to control other machines presents both significant opportunities and risks.

Meanwhile, Aaron embarks on a perilous journey into the cosmos, driven by desperation to resurrect a long-abandoned project that might be Cydnus’s last hope. His mission, shadowed by his past, is a race against time, with the future of Cydnus at stake.

Zarya Episode II: Sochi Unleashed delves into the intricate relationship between sentient beings and technology, bravery amidst uncertainty, and the struggle for survival. As Zarya, her allies, and Sochi traverse this journey, the tale evolves into a saga filled with challenges and triumphs. Welcome to Cydnus, a world teetering on the brink of an uncertain future, in this captivating narrative.

Available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Media Death Cult’s latest from Moid is a very brief (Hondo Cit) look at Japanese SF shot on location in a Japanese garden in Poole (Dorset, England, Brit Cit): “The History Of Japanese Science Fiction”.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Anne Marble, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 6/29/23 Every Pixel In The Room Was Scrolling At Me

(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Michael Cisco and Farah Rose Smith on Wednesday, July 12, beginning at 7 Eastern.

MICHAEL CISCO

Michael Cisco is the author of several novels, including The Divinity StudentThe Great Lover, The Narrator, and Pest, as well as the Stoker-nominated nonfiction book Weird Fiction: A Genre Study. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies, and his most recent collection is Antisoc. He is the author of two novellas: ETHICS, and Do You Mind If We Dance With Your Legs? He lives in New York City.

FARAH ROSE SMITH

Farah Rose Smith is the author of the horror and dark fantasy novellas EvisceratorThe Almanac of Dust, Anonyma, and Lavinia Rising. She has also written two collections of short supernatural fiction, Of One Pure Will and The Witch is the Body. Smith recently completed a master’s degree in English Literature, Language, and Theory and is writing her third collection. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Smith currently lives in New York City with her husband, weird fiction author Michael Cisco, and their three cats.

Location: The KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

(2) BANKS ACCOUNT. On the 10th anniversary of the author’s death, the Guardian’s Steven Poole helps readers decide “Where to start with: Iain Banks”. The second book he considers is Consider Phlebas:

The billionaires’ favourite

Banks originally wanted to be a science-fiction author, but after several unsuccessful drafts in the 1970s decided to write something “normal” instead, thus rocket-boosting his literary career with The Wasp Factory. He then started publishing science fiction as Iain M Banks, beginning with Consider Phlebas, a phrase taken from Eliot’s The Waste Land. It’s a cosmos-spanning romp that introduces the Culture, a post-human galactic civilisation in which AI does all the work and no one wants for food or other resources. (Fully automated luxury communism – in space.)

In this first story, the smug liberal Culture is at war with the Idirans – AI refuseniks who are waging a jihad against them. Through this backdrop wanders sympathetic mercenary Bora Horza Gobuchul, a Mandalorian-style drifter with a very particular set of skills. Banks’s vision of a starfaring, post-scarcity civilisation run by AIs, in which people can change their DNA at will and live for 400 years, is publicly admired by tech giants such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk – even as they toil along with us in the capitalist present. Unfortunately for Bezos, a planned Amazon TV series based on the novel was cancelled in 2020 after Banks’s estate withdrew permission.

(3) APOCALYPSE, THE NEXT GENERATION. The New York Times magazine looks at media to probe the question “Will Children Save Us at the End of the World?”

…There’s “Station Eleven,” the 2014 novel by Emily St. John Mandel about the aftermath of a swine flu, which was turned into a much-discussed 2021 HBO Max series, in which an 8-year-old girl manages to survive with the help of a stranger turned surrogate parent. “The Last of Us,” HBO’s video game adaptation, which debuted in January, features a zombie-fungus pandemic; a seemingly immune teenage girl is humanity’s one hope. “Leave the World Behind,” Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel — soon to be a movie — about a bourgeois family vacation gone very bad, features a vague but menacing threat of apocalypse. Also loosely belonging to this category are the shows “Yellowjackets” (2021-present) — a girls’ soccer team turns to cannibalism after a plane crash — and “Class of ’07” (2023) — a school reunion coincides with a climate apocalypse — and the new-to-Netflix 2019 Icelandic movie “Woman at War” (a renegade activist tries to stop the destruction of the environment and adopt a child).

These stories are, in various ways, about how and whether our children can survive the mess that we’ve left them — and what it will cost them to do so. In “Station Eleven,” post-pans (children who were born after the pandemic) are both beacons of optimism and conscripted killers deployed by a self-styled prophet who hopes to erase anyone who holds on to the trauma of the past. And in “The Last of Us,” Ellie, the young girl with possible immunity (played by the actor Bella Ramsey), is forced to kill to survive, and to grapple with whether it’s worth sacrificing her own life in the search for a cure….

The anxieties that these works explore — about planetary destruction and what we did to enable it — are, evidence suggests, affecting the desire of some to have children at all, either because of fear for their future or a belief that not procreating will help stave off the worst. But following the children in these fictions, who didn’t create the conditions of their suffering, isn’t just a devastating guilt trip. Almost all these stories also frame children as our best hope, as we so often do in real life. Children, we need to believe, are resilient and ingenious in ways that adults aren’t. In these stories, when the phones stop working and Amazon stops delivering, it’s children, less set in their ways, who can rebuild and imagine something different. They’re our victims but also our saviors….

(4) SALVAGE RIGHT NEWS. Salvage Right by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, the 25th Liaden Universe® novel (and their 100th collaborative work), will be officially released in paper and ebook editions July 4, 2023. Some stores already have the hardback on the shelves; signed copies are available from Uncle Hugo’s bookstore in Minneapolis.

Sample chapters from Salvage Right are available online at Baen Books

In honor of Salvage Right Lee and Miller are taking part in a number of podcasts and special events:

  • Annies Bookstore: Selina Lovett at Annie’s Bookstore did a Zoom interview with the authors, which can be found here
  • Watch for Griffin Barber’s interview with them at the Baen Free Radio Hour
  • Upcoming: An interview with fyyd: CultureScape with Peter PischkeCultureScape with Peter Pischke with release date TBA
  • Another interview with Under The Radar SFF Books is due later in July
  • The authors will be doing a virtual book signing at Pandemonium Books, Wednesday July 26, details TBA

(5) MANNERS, PLEASE. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki thought a timely reminder was in order about the awards etiquette published by the Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog a couple of months ago, so he retweeted it today. Thread begins here. Here’s an excerpt:

(6) AMY WISNIEWSKI (1947-2023). Mythopoeic Society member Amy Wisniewski died June 20 at the age of 76. She is survived by her wife, Edith Crowe. David Bratman has written a tribute on Kalimac’s corner, “Amy Wisniewski”, which says in part:

…Amy was already in the Society when I arrived. The first meeting I attended was at the small house that she and her partner (and later wife) Edith Crowe were living at in the flatlands of Redwood City. 48 years later, in a larger house further up in the hills, they were still hosting meetings. Almost every year, except during pandemics, they hosted the annual Reading and Eating Meeting. We would gather for a potluck meal and then take turns reading short selections around the (once real, later theoretical) fire.

For a few years, Amy was our discussion group’s moderator, and she actually directed meetings with a skill and knowledge surpassing that of anyone else who had that title. Amy wasn’t a Tolkien scholar; she didn’t give papers at Mythcon; but she had read and absorbed his books and did the same for the books we were discussing, and consequently always had intelligent things to say….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2002 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Tonight we have a Beginning by Carol Emshwiller. She was prolific as a short fiction writer with more stories than I can comfortably count.  The two volume collection of The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller that Nonstop Press did a decade back collects nearly twelve hundred pages of her stories. 

She did just six novels of which four were genre and two were in the cowboy genre, Ledoyt and Leaping Man Hill.  No, I didn’t know she’d written the latter. All four of her genre novels are quite excellent.  The Mount which is where our Beginning comes from garnered a Philip K. Dick Award. 

And now from stage left comes our Beginning…

We’re not against you, we’re for. In fact we’re built for you and you for us – we, so our weak little legs will dangle on your chest and our tail down the back. Exactly as you so often transport your own young when they are weak and small. It’s a joy. Just like mother-walk.

You’ll be free. You’ll have a pillow. You’ll have a water faucet and a bookcase. We’ll pat you if you do things fast enough and don’t play hard to catch. We’ll rub your legs and soak your feet. Sams and Sues, and you Sams had better behave yourselves.

You still call us aliens in spite of the fact that we’ve been on your world for generations. And why call aliens exactly those who have brought health and happiness to you? And look how well we fit, you and us. As if born for each other even though we come from different worlds.

We mate the stock with the stocky, the thin with the thin, the pygmy with the pygmy. You’ve done a fairly good job of that yourselves before we came. As to skin, we like a color a little on the reddish side. Freckles are third best.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 29, 1919 Slim Pickens. Surely you remember his memorable scene as Major T. J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove? I certainly do. Simply astounding. And, of course, he shows up in Blazing Saddles as Taggart. He’s the uncredited voice of B.O.B in The Black Hole and he’s Sam Newfield in The Howling. He’s got some series genre work including several appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Night Gallery. (Died 1983.)
  • Born June 29, 1920 Ray Harryhausen. All-around film genius who created stop-motion model Dynamation animation. His work can be seen in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (his first color film) which was nominated for a Hugo at Detention, Jason and the Argonauts, Mighty Joe Young and Clash of the Titans. (Died 2013.)
  • Born June 29, 1943 Maureen O’Brien, 80. Vicki, companion of the First Doctor. Some 40 years later, she reprised the role for several Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio works. She had a recurring role as Morgan in The Legend of King Arthur, a late Seventies BBC series. Her Detective Inspector John Bright series has been well received.
  • Born June 29, 1947 Michael Carter, 76. Best remembered for being Gerald Bringsley in An American Werewolf in London, Von Thurnburg in The Illusionist and Bib Fortuna in the Return of the Jedi. He plays two roles as a prisoner and as UNIT soldier in the Third Doctor story, “The Mind of Evil”. 
  • Born June 29, 1950 Michael Whelan, 73. I’m reasonably sure that most of the Del Rey editions of McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series was where I first noticed his artwork but I’ve certainly seen it elsewhere since. He did Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls cover which I love and many more I can’t recall right now. And there’s a wonderful collection of work available, Beyond Science Fiction: The Alternative Realism of Michael Whelan.
  • Born June 29, 1956 David Burroughs Mattingly, 67. He’s an American illustrator and painter, best known for his numerous book covers of genre literature. Earlier in his career, he worked at Disney Studio on the production of The Black HoleTronDick Tracy and Stephen King’s The Stand. His main cover work was at Ballantine Books where he did such work as the 1982 cover of Herbert’s Under Pressure (superb novel), 2006 Anderson’s Time Patrol and the 1986 Berkley Books publication of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith Triplanetary.
  • Born June 29, 1957 Fred Duarte, Jr. His Birthday is today and this long-time Texas fan is eulogized by Mike here upon his passing almost a decade back. (Died 2015.)

(9) COMICS SECTION.

Catching up with Tom Gauld —

(10) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] From the June 28 episode, three clues in the single Jeopardy round.

Open Door, $1000: Gandalf initially struggles to open the door to this place, but after speaking the Elvish word for “friend” he gets it right

This was a triple stumper.

Google Easter eggs, $400: A Google search for what’s the answer to life, the universe, & everything gives you this number

Bryan White (whose score was $4200!): “What is 37?”

Neither of the other two could respond correctly. Douglas Adams is spinning in his grave.

$800: Google this HBO show with Pedro Pascal & keep clicking the mushroom icon for your screen to be enveloped by some humongous fungus

Bryan knew “The Last of Us”.

(11) ALL KAIJU ALL THE TIME. “24-Hour Godzilla Channel Coming to Pluto TV With Exclusive Films” promises Comicbook.com.

Godzilla is coming to Pluto TV with a huge new channel dedicated to showing off tons of Godzilla movies and shows 24 hours a day with some exclusive films to boot! TOHO’s famous Kaiju has been stomping through many eras since the giant monster was first introduced back in the 1950s, and has since amassed a massive library of TV shows and movies that fans still enjoy to this day. Now Pluto TV has made checking out your favorite Godzilla projects easier than ever before with a new streaming channel with the platform highlighting all of the biggest and best Godzilla outings over the years! 

Pluto TV has announced a new Godzilla channel filled with not only classics such as the original 1954 Godzilla debut film, Godzilla vs. Megalon, and more but even left-field additions such as the animated Godzilla: The Series from the late ’90s and early ’00s. But the biggest surprise is that this new Godzilla channel will also offer up seven Godzilla films that are exclusive to Pluto TV as fans won’t be able to find them streaming anywhere else. Read on to see the massive list of movies and TV shows coming to Pluto TV’s new Godzilla channel launching on July 1st…. 

(12) HERE’S MY NUMBER AND A DIME, DIAL ANYTIME. “The Real History Behind the Archimedes Dial in ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’” in Smithsonian Magazine.

Off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900, sponge divers came across a shipwreck filled with ancient treasures. Hidden among flashier finds like marble statues and jewelry was a mysterious device known today as the Antikythera mechanism.

Dated to more than 2,000 years ago, the device “is probably the most exciting artifact that we have from the ancient world,” says Jo Marchant, author of the 2008 book Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World’s First Computer. More than a millennium before 13th-century Europeans invented the first mechanical clocks, the Antikythera mechanism employed similarly complex technology—including gear wheels, dials and pointers—to chart the cosmos. The ancients used it to predict eclipses, track the movement of the sun and the moon, and even see when sporting events like the Olympics were scheduled to take place.

Contrary to what Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the latest installment in the epic franchise, suggests, the Antikythera mechanism won’t transport you back in time—not literally, at least. Every Indiana Jones adventure needs an exotic MacGuffin; in the new outing, which arrives in theaters this week, the hero chases after the Archimedes Dial, a fictionalized version of the Antikythera mechanism that predicts the location of naturally occurring fissures in time.

…In the film’s 1944-set prologue, Indy (Harrison Ford) captures a train loaded with Nazi plunder, including the titular Dial of Destiny. The movie then jumps ahead to 1969. Indy is set to retire from teaching archaeology, and the world is celebrating the safe return of the Apollo 11 crew. One of the men most responsible for the United States’ victory in the space race is Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), a former Nazi who was given sanctuary by the Allies in exchange for his expertise, much like the real-life NASA engineer Wernher von Braun. When Indy learns that Voller wants to use the Archimedes Dial to travel for nefarious purposes, he reluctantly dusts off his old hat and bullwhip to (again) keep a potentially devastating weapon out of Nazi hands….

(13) NATURE EDITORIAL WARNS ABOUT AI. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] You know, I simply love the end of the world.  You can’t beat it. Of course, as long as it is firmly in SF.  (Wouldn’t like it in reality: it’d get in the way of afternoon tea and evening real ale down the pub…)

Today’s Nature editorial once more tackles doomsday.  Beware of tech companies achieving their goals through obsfucation… “Stop talking about tomorrow’s AI doomsday when AI poses risks today”.

Talk of artificial intelligence destroying humanity plays into the tech companies’ agenda, and hinders effective regulation of the societal harms AI is causing right now.

The idea that AI could lead to human extinction has been discussed on the fringes of the technology community for years. The excitement about the tool ChatGPT and generative AI has now propelled it into the mainstream. But, like a magician’s sleight of hand, it draws attention away from the real issue: the societal harms that AI systems and tools are causing now, or risk causing in future. Governments and regulators in particular should not be distracted by this narrative and must act decisively to curb potential harms. And although their work should be informed by the tech industry, it should not be beholden to the tech agenda.

Many AI researchers and ethicists to whom Nature has spoken are frustrated by the doomsday talk dominating debates about AI. It is problematic in at least two ways. First, the spectre of AI as an all-powerful machine fuels competition between nations to develop AI so that they can benefit from and control it. This works to the advantage of tech firms: it encourages investment and weakens arguments for regulating the industry. An actual arms race to produce next-generation AI-powered military technology is already under way, increasing the risk of catastrophic conflict — doomsday, perhaps, but not of the sort much discussed in the dominant ‘AI threatens human extinction’ narrative.

Second, it allows a homogeneous group of company executives and technologists to dominate the conversation about AI risks and regulation, while other communities are left out. Letters written by tech-industry leaders are “essentially drawing boundaries around who counts as an expert in this conversation”, says Amba Kak, director of the AI Now Institute in New York City, which focuses on the social consequences of AI.

To all of which the SF fan might ask how the genre might contribute…?

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Steven French, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day –dsr-.]

Pixel Scroll 5/25/23 Pixels Propagate Like Tribbles And They Purr Like Them Too

(1) JACQUELINE WOODSON INTERVIEW. “U.S. Book Show 2023: Jacqueline Woodson Works from Memory and Empathy”Publishers Weekly reports from the show.

Mention Jacqueline Woodson—a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature—and readers begin naming favorite titles: groundbreaking LGBTQ novels (From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun), stories of BIPOC histories and identities (After Tupac and D Foster), books adapted to TV (Miracle’s Boys), and the National Book Award–winning memoir in verse Brown Girl Dreaming. At a lunch-hour keynote on May 24, Woodson sat down with bookseller Miwa Messer, executive producer and host of the Barnes & Noble podcast Poured Over, to discuss her work.

We’re here with Jacqueline Woodson, and we’ve run out of superlatives to describe her work—straight up, let’s not pretend,” Messer said, before reading an abbreviated list of Woodson’s accolades: a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, an NAACP Image Award, and a 2023 E.B. White Award for achievement in children’s literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters,

… “When I write, I’m very conscious of [my reader] seeing themselves in it,” Woodson said. “Is there something about how I write a character that might break that person’s spirit?” She wants to impress upon readers “that they’re not existing alone. Theirs isn’t an isolated experience.”

Warmly acknowledging her longtime editor, Nancy Paulsen, who was in the audience, Woodson explained her revision process. She reads everything aloud to hear characters’ voices, and revises scenes while “having faith [in] the picture I’m trying to paint on the page.” Her own memories and thorough research enable her to craft people and places, she said. “I think of it like a photograph that’s developing, and it becomes more clear [as] I go back into it.”…

(2) THE 84 PERCENT SOLUTION. The Hugo Book Club Blog says “The Word For ‘World’ Isn’t America”. “If the Hugo Award is to be a truly ‘World’ award, American fandom may need to relinquish it … by establishing an American award for American fiction.”

So why is there no national award recognizing the best science fiction published by authors from the United States?

It could be argued that this is a reflection of American exceptionalism or imperialism.

The Hugo Award — when it was established in 1953 — may have billed itself as celebrating the world’s greatest science fiction, but that was for a limited definition of “world.” This was a “world” that extended no further north than Toronto, no further east than London, and no further south or west than Los Angeles. American cultural hegemony was baked into the DNA of the award.

An American national SFF award was not seen as necessary, because the Hugos existed.

To date 84.2 per cent of all winners, and 84.5 per cent of the authors represented in the prose categories (short story, novelette, novella, novel and series) were born in the United States…

(3) NOT PARSELEY. NOT SAGE. NOT THYME. Craig Miller told Facebook readers about a close call at home last night.

About 9:30, roughly an hour and a half ago, headlights suddenly shined blindingly through our living room windows followed by a crash.

A minivan had come hurtling down the street, apparently missed the turn, came up between our two parked cars, over the curb, across the sidewalk, through our garden, and up our front path, finally stopping when it smashed into the cement and metal fences between our house and our neighbors.

I rushed out. The driver kept trying to back up but the car was stuck. The driver and the passenger got out. The driver had a hard time because he was in the middle of our bushes. They took off down the street.

I called the police. They’re still here. Eventually a tow truck will come and they’ll impound the vehicle.

One nice thing: they drove into and got stuck in the midst of a huge rosemary bush. All that friction in the rosemary and the yard smells terrific. One of the cops even said, “Is that rosemary? Smells great.”

(4) HOME AT LAST. Walter Jon Williams shared good news with Facebook readers. And some not-so-good news.

So Kathy’s finally home after 13 days confined to COVID jail in a hotel room on Malta.

She arrived just in time for me to catch a cold, which is definitely not COVID since I’ve tested negative two days in a row.

Timing could have been better. Definitely.

(5) GOLLUM GAME? “The Lord of the Rings: Gollum review – boil it, mash it, stick it in the bin” – a real KTF review in the Guardian.

This game never looked especially promising, and now it’s out, it’s about as riveting as listening to a huddle of ents discuss the finer points of deciduous shedding. It’s a technical disaster, at least on PC, and even when it does work, it feels like an extended forced stealth section from a game where stealth is just one of 50,000 other systems. It’s watery, janky, broken, alternately frustrating and frictionless, completely without tension or pathos, and squanders a great concept….

(7) NICE TRY, BUT NO CIGAR. “Max Will Revert Film Credits to List Directors, Writers After Backlash” reports Variety.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s newly launched Max lumped film directors and writers under a single “creators” heading — a change that prompted a backlash from filmmakers and Hollywood’s directors and writers guilds. Now the company says it is reverting the listings back to how they were presented on HBO Max, blaming the issue on a technical “oversight.”

“We agree that the talent behind the content on Max deserve their work to be properly recognized,” a Max spokesperson said in a statement to Variety. “We will correct the credits, which were altered due to an oversight in the technical transition from HBO Max to Max and we apologize for this mistake.”Max’s move to consolidate writers, directors and other creatives under the single “creators” listing drew ire amid the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, as the union is seeking to reach a new contract with major studios through the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers….

Meanwhile, if you want to know what movies and TV shows are available on the service, click on “Max – full list of movies and TV shows online” at JustWatch.

(8) TODAY’S DAY. This was news to me, but maybe not to most fans. May 25 is —

Craig Miller, author of Star Wars Memories, says, “I don’t know that I coined it but it’s a term I’ve been using for a number of years.  When people started arguing about whether May 4th or May 25th is Star Wars Day, I started saying — in places like Facebook — that I consider May 25th Orthodox or Old Testament Star Wars Day.  May 21st – the date The Empire Strikes Back debuted – is New Testament Star Wars Day.  And May 4th is New Age Star Wars Day.  It’s people using a popular pun to center around.  It’s apt because, in most countries, Star Wars didn’t debut on May 25th.  Further, I’ve been saying that the period from May 4th and May 25th marks Star Wars Season.  Sort of like the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter is the Lenten Season.

P.S. May 25 is also Towel Day.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1962[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Philip K. Dick’s The Man in The High Castle is the source of our Beginning. I know it’s been turned into an Amazon series but y’all know that I never watch any series based off a piece of fiction that I really like and yes, The Man in The High Castle falls into that category.

It was first published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons sixty-one years ago in a hardcover edition which cost three dollars and ninety-five cents. The cover is by Robert Galster. 

I really cannot say anything further as it’d spoil the novel though admittedly the cover does a fairly nice job of doing that I think.

And with that, here’s our Beginning…

FOR A WEEK Mr. R. Childan had been anxiously watching the mail. But the valuable shipment from the Rocky Mountain States had not arrived. As he opened up his store on Friday morning and saw only letters on the floor by the mail slot he thought, I’m going to have an angry customer. 

Pouring himself a cup of instant tea from the five-cent wall dispenser he got a broom and began to sweep; soon he had the front of American Artistic Handcrafts Inc. ready for the day, all spick and span with the cash register full of change, a fresh e svase of marigolds, and the radio playing background music. Outdoors along the sidewalk businessmen hurried toward their offices along Montgomery Street. Far off, a cable car passed; Childan halted to watch it with pleasure. Women in their long colorful silk dresses . . . he watched them, too. Then the phone rang. He turned to answer it.

“Yes,” a familiar voice said to his answer. Childan’s heart sank. “This is Mr. Tagomi. Did my Civil War recruiting poster arrive yet, sir? Please recall; you promised it sometime last week.” The fussy, brisk voice, barely polite, barely keeping the code. “Did I not give you a deposit, sir, Mr. Childan, with that stipulation? This is to be a gift, you see. I explained that. A client.”

“Extensive inquiries,” Childan began, “which I’ve had made at my own expense, Mr. Tagomi, sir, regarding the promised parcel, which you realize originates outside of this region and is therefore—”

“But Tagomi broke in, “Then it has not arrived.”

“No, Mr. Tagomi, sir.” 

An icy pause.

 “I can wait no furthermore,” Tagomi said.”

“A substitute, then. Your recommendation, Mr. Childan?” Tagomi deliberately mispronounced the name; insult within the code that made Childan’s ears burn. Place pulled, the dreadful mortification of their situation. Robert Childan’s aspirations and fears and torments rose up and exposed themselves, swamped him, stopping his tongue. He stammered, his hand sticky on the phone. The air of his store smelled of the marigolds; the music played on, but he felt as if he were falling into some distant sea.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 25, 1808 Edward Bulwer-Lytton. In addition to the opening seven words from Paul Clifford — “It was a dark and stormy night” — he also coined the phrases “the great unwashed”, “pursuit of the almighty dollar” and “the pen is mightier than the sword.” ISFDB credits him with eight genre novels including The Coming Race, Asmodeus at Large and Last Days of Pompeii to name but three. He wrote a lot of short fiction with titles such as “Glenhausen.—The Power of Love in Sanctified Places.— A Portrait of Frederick Barbarossa.—The Ambition of Men Finds Adequate Sympathy in Women”. (Died 1873.)
  • Born May 25, 1913 Carl Wessler. Animator during the Thirties working on “Musical Memories” and other theatrical cartoon shorts for the Fleischer Studios, and a comic book writer from the Forties though the Eighties for including Charlton Comics, DC, EC Comics, Harvey Comics and Marvel. He also worked for editor-in-chief Stan Lee at Marvel’s 1950s forerunner, Atlas Comics. (Died 1989.)
  • Born May 25, 1916 Charles D. Hornig. Publisher of the Fantasy Fan which ran from September ‘33 to February ‘35 and including first publication of works by Bloch, Lovecraft, Smith, Howard and Derleth. It also had a LOC section called ‘The Boiling Point’ which quickly became angry exchanges between several of the magazine’s regular contributors, including Ackerman, Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. He paid for the costs of Fan Fantasy by working as the teenage editor of Gernsback’s Wonder Stories. (Died 1999.)
  • Born May 25, 1935 W. P. Kinsella. I’d say best known for his novel Shoeless Joe which was adapted into the movie Field of Dreams, one of the few films that Kevin Costner is a decent actor in, ironic as the other is Bull Durham. Kinsella’s other genre novel is The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and it’s rather less well known that Shoeless Joe is but is excellent. He also edited Baseball Fantastic, an anthology of just what the title says they are. Given that he’s got eighteen collections of short stories listed on his wiki page, I’m reasonably sure his ISFDB page doesn’t come close to listing all his short stories. (Died 2016.)
  • Born May 25, 1944 Frank Oz, 79. Actor, director including The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horrors and the second version of The Stepford Wives, producer and puppeteer. His career began as a puppeteer, where he performed the Muppet characters of Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and oh so patriotic Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Genre wise, he’s also known for the role of Yoda in the Star Wars franchise until he was removed from that role by The Evil Mouse.
  • Born May 25, 1949 Barry Windsor-Smith, 74. Illustrator and painter, mostly for Marvel Comics. Oh, his work on Conan the Barbarian in the early Seventies was amazing, truly amazing! And then there was the original Weapon X story arc involving Wolverine which still ranks among the best stories told largely because of his artwork. And let’s not forget that he and writer Roy Thomas created Red Sonja partially based on Howard’s characters Red Sonya of Rogatino and Dark Agnes de Chastillon.
  • Born May 25, 1966 Vera Nazarian, 57. To date, she has written ten novels including Dreams of the Compass Rose, what I’d called a mosaic novel structured as a series of interlinked stories similar in tone to The One Thousand and One Nights that reminds me more than a bit of Valente’s The Orphans Tales. She’s the publisher of Norilana Books which publishes such works as Catherynne M. Valente’s Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies,and Tabitha Lee’s Lee’s Sounds and Furies.  She has two Nebula nominations, one for her “The Story of Love” short story and another for her “The Duke in His Castle” novella. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur says Heaven is hell on editors.
  • Bizarro finds the next phase in AI authors’ evolution.
  • Bizarro shows part of the Darth Vader health regimen.

(12) ALLIGATOR LOKI MAKES A SPLASH IN HIS PRINT COMIC DEBUT. Alyssa Wong and Bob Quinn’s Alligator Loki #1 arrives in September.

After making his debut in Marvel Studios’ Loki on Disney+, the reptilian God of Mischief headlined his very own Infinity Comic series on the Marvel Unlimited app. Now, this iconic and adorable troublemaker will grace the stands of your local comic shop for the very first time in September! An extra-sized one-shot, ALLIGATOR LOKI #1 will collect the entirety of Alyssa Wong and Bob Quinn’s hit Infinity Comic series as well as an all-new adventure from the life of everyone’s favorite swamp-dwelling scamp!

 Bow down to the reptile in a helm who has enraptured the Ten Realms…with his cuteness! First Alligator Loki chomped down on Mjolnir, and then he chomped his way into our hearts. Now, the beloved Alligator of Mischief finds – and makes – trouble all across the Marvel Universe!

 For more information, visit Marvel.com.

(13) LIVES IN COMICS. NBM Graphic Novels debuts two bios about people of genre interest.

After the bankruptcy of his first two companies, the young Walt Disney decides to call on his older brother Roy to start a new business: the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studios. The combination of their opposing talents, one artistic, the other managerial, will give birth to an entertainment giant despite the difficult nature of Walt. Little by little, Walt will push his brother into the shadows and sink into chronic depression and excessive consumption of alcohol … But all this will not prevent him from producing the greatest masterpieces of animation.

The authors have chosen a cartoon style, worthy of Mickey Mouse comics, to tell a very serious story of creation, money and politics, but also… of family.

One of the greatest writers in science fiction history, Philip K. Dick is mostly remembered for such works as Blade Runner, Minority Report and Total Recall. His dark, fascinating work centered on alternate universes and shifting realities in worlds often governed by monopolistic corporations and authoritarian governments.

His own life story seems a tussle with reality, going through five wives and becoming increasingly disjointed with fits of paranoia and hallucinations fueled by abuse of drugs meant to stabilize him. His dramatic story is presented unvarnished in this biography.

(14) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 84 of the Octothorpe podcast, “I Do Not Like to Be Delighted on Every Page”, “John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty read A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge in what marks the start of the SUMMER OF FUN!”

(15) BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. A lot of you will have seen this news item already, however, it’s still a fun item. “Long story: book returned to California library nearly a century late” in the Guardian.

A history book about the US has been returned to a library in California, almost 100 years overdue. The copy of Benson Lossing’s A History of the United States, published in 1881, was returned to St Helena public library in Napa Valley earlier this month. It had been due back on 21 February 1927.

At the time the book was borrowed, fines for overdue titles were a nickel (five cents) a day, meaning Jim Perry, who had the book, theoretically owed about $1,756 (£1,417). Luckily for him, the library scrapped late fines in 2019.

Perry found the copy in a box of books that belonged to his late wife, Sandra Learned Perry, according to the St Helena Star. He told the newspaper that he was “pretty sure” her grandfather, John McCormick, a descendant of one of St Helena’s oldest pioneer families, was the original borrower of the book.

Perry originally returned A History of the United States to the library’s front desk without leaving his name, but was tracked down after the library appealed for more information about the book’s history.

Library staff suspect the book was one of 540 volumes originally available from the Free Public Library, a predecessor to St Helena Public Library. The book has now been placed in a glass display case at the library’s entrance.

The Guinness World Record for an unreturned and overdue library book is held by a book owned by Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. The history book, written in German, was borrowed in 1667 or 1668 by Colonel Robert Walpole, the father of Sir Robert Walpole, regarded as the first prime minister of Great Britain.

It was discovered by Prof John Plumb while he was working on a biography of Walpole, and returned to Sidney Sussex on 16 January 1956, at least 287 years overdue….

(16) A DEEP DIVE FOR AN ANSWER: CAN YOU HELP? S. Elizabeth of Unquiet Things tries to unravel “A Mystery That Should Not Exist: Who Is The Cover Artist For This Edition Of A Wrinkle In Time?” The guesses are still pouring in.

Why is it that in this current year of 2023, no one seems to know who the cover artist is for this iconic Dell Laurel-Leaf A Wrinkle in Time cover art?? In a time when we have so much information available to us at our literal fingertips, how could it possibly be that the above marvelously and terrifyingly iconic imagery is perpetually credited to “unknown artist”? Even the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, always an excellent and trusted resource, does not have an answer….

S. Elizabeth follows with all the steps in her investigation so far.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Barbie comes to theaters July 21.

To live in Barbie Land is to be a perfect being in a perfect place. Unless you have a full-on existential crisis. Or you’re a Ken.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, N., Danny Sichel, Kathy Sullivan, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 4/1/23 Shhh. Be Vewy Quiet, I’m A Pixel and I’m Hunting Filers

(1) VOTING OPENS IN SFWA ELECTION AND REFERENDUMS. Full SFWA members have until April 11 to vote in this year’s SFWA Board of Directors election and respond to two referendums on whether English-language translations and speculative poetry should be allowed to count toward SFWA membership eligibility.

BOARD ELECTION

Candidates for President: Jeffe Kennedy*

Candidates for Secretary: Jasmine Gower*

Candidates for Director-At-Large (three [3] positions open): Phoebe Barton, Chelsea Mueller, Anthony Eichenlaub, Christine Taylor-Butler*

Oghenechovwe Ekpeki is also running for SFWA Director-at-Large, as a write-in.

* = currently serving on the Board

REFERENDUMS. Genre writers of poetry and translators of fiction cannot currently use those portions of their paid work as part of their catalog when applying to join SFWA or to upgrade their membership classification. Two resolutions dealing with those qualifications are up for a vote:

(I) Paid SFF and related genre poetry sales shall be considered for the purposes of determining eligibility for membership in SFWA.

(II) Payment for SFF and related genre translation work shall be considered for the purposes of determining eligibility for membership in SFWA by the translator.

(2) WELL, I’M BACK. The Chengdu Worldcon’s English language website is operational again after being down for several days. Naturally it never occurred to the committee to announce the outage before it began, or explain it while it was happening. They told Facebook readers today:

Our official website of 2023 Chengdu Worldcon has come back after upgrades. Please visit the previous address to checkyour membership status, purchase new memberships and to participate in the 2023 Hugo Awards nomination. For any inquiry, please contact us at:

[email protected]

en.chengduworldcon.com

Thanks for your patience and have a good weekend ahead!

(3) HOUR OF POWER. Well, maybe forty-two minutes anyway. BBC Radio 4 Front Row on Thursday included coverage of the Naomi Alderman novel The Power – a topical item as it has just been made into a TV series. Front Row, Ria Zmitrowicz on The Power, The ENO’s The Dead City and God’s Creatures reviewed”.

The trailer for The Power is online.

The Power, is an emotionally-driven global thriller, based on Naomi Alderman’s international award-winning novel. The world of The Power is our world, but for one twist of nature. Suddenly, and without warning, teenage girls develop the power to electrocute people at will. The Power follows a cast of remarkable characters from London to Seattle, Nigeria to Eastern Europe, as the Power evolves from a tingle in teenagers’ collarbones to a complete reversal of the power balance of the world.

(4) WRONG ENOUGH TO WIN. [Item by ErsatzCulture.] The April 1 edition of the BBC quiz show Pointless Celebrities (which should be available online to UK iPlayer users here) opened with a question asking the contestants to complete the names of a set of science fiction novels.

For anyone unfamiliar with Pointless, it’s roughly an inverted Family Fortunes/Feud, where surveys have been done of 100 members of the public, but here contestants have to pick the least popular answers. If a completely incorrect answer is put forward, that’s scored as 100 points. The eight contestants are split into four teams of two, and in the opening round, one member of each team has to choose one of 7 questions to answer, and then the other members of each team have to choose from a second set of 7 questions. The aim is to come out of that round with the lowest total score, with the team having the highest score being eliminated.

All but one contestant went for a correct answer – the offender being Children of Dune.  Whilst it’s not surprising to me that the Vonnegut and Cixin Liu novels aren’t well-known to the general public, I was surprised to see how low the James, Haig and St. John Mandel works scored.

There is a series of screencaps from this part of the game in Ersatz Culture’s post at Mastodon, “An episode of Pointless Celebr…”

(5) FLAME ON! Carriesthewind’s Tumblr is the source of the rant “The IA’s ‘Open Library’ is Not a Library,…” quoted by Seanan McGuire at Seanan’s Tumblr.

…Yesterday’s district court ruling DID NOT CHANGE ANY SUBSTANTIVE COPYRIGHT LAW IN THE U.S. I cannot emphasize that enough. Regardless of whatever you think of the ruling, it was applying already existing law to the facts.

This is because the Internet Archive’s “Open Library” absolutely violates existing copyright law. It just does! They broke the law, they had plenty of notice they were breaking the law and harming authors (more on that below) and just think the law shouldn’t apply because they don’t like it.

The Internet Archive’s “Open Library” is not a library….

But what really got Carriesthewind steamed was a line in IA’s statement about the decision “The Fight Continues” which says — “It hurts authors by saying that unfair licensing models are the only way their books can be read online.” That provoked this response:

…How DARE you cloak your theft in the real struggles authors face with unfair licensing models. How DARE you pretend you are on the side of authors when you are stealing their works, and they have made it quite clear that they would like you to stop, please. And how DARE you frame it in this “for exposure” bullcrap that ignores the real struggles that authors have to eat, to get healthcare, to get any sort of fair pay and wages for their work, and instead pretend that all authors should care about is whether or not their books can be read online….

(6) COURT REJECTS A BOOK BAN. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] CNN is reporting: “Judge orders books removed from Texas public libraries due to LGBTQ and racial content must be replaced within 24 hours”. Although no SFF titles are specifically mentioned in the article as having been targeted for the bans, there is a statement that the library cut off access to thousands of digital titles because they weren’t able to restrict access to two of the books they wanted to ban unless they banned access to the ALL the digital titles — so that’s what they did (!@#@!)  and I’m sure that impacted access to a lot of SFF digital titles. Also I figure that the Filers are interested in book banning/unbanning just as a general topic.

A federal judge in Texas ruled that at least 12 books removed from public libraries by Llano County officials, many because of their LGBTQ and racial content, must be placed back onto shelves within 24 hours, according to an order filed Thursday.

Seven residents sued county officials in April 2022, claiming their First and 14th Amendment rights were violated when books deemed inappropriate by some people in the community and Republican lawmakers were removed from public libraries or access was restricted.

The lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio claimed county officials removed books from the shelves of the three-branch public library system “because they disagree with the ideas within them” and terminated access to thousands of digital books because they could not ban two specific titles….

(7) STEAMY IN SEATTLE. Clarion West is promoting “Steamy in Seattle, a Paranormal Romance Tea Party”, an in-person event also being streamed online. Takes place May 5 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. Pacific. Buy admission for the in-person experience at the link above, or register for the free online version.

Meet authors Gail Carriger and Piper J. Drake as they discuss the paranormal romance genre and their own work in steampunk, shapeshifter romance, and romantic thrillers! Grab a steaming cup of tea and some delicious treats prepared by the Seattle Central College culinary students, or tune in via livestream.

Location: One World Restaurant on Seattle Central College campus (Capitol Hill neighborhood) and streaming worldwide!

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1958[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

The Muppet Show used to have a segment called “Pigs in Space.” Well this Social Justice Credential counterpart called “Cats in Space”, with a dollop of ever so cute kittens added in, appeared long before Heinlein’s Pixel came into being. 

Our Beginning this Scroll is of Ruthven Todd’s Space Cat and the Kittens. It was published sixty-five years ago by Scribner’s. It’s the fourth, and last, of a children’s books series involving Flyball, a cat who, yes, lives in space. 

The preceding books which, like this one are illustrated by Paul Galdone, are Space CatSpace Cat Visits Venus and Space Cat Meets Mars. Without giving anything away, let me just say that there will be a lot of cats, not a few kittens and a considerable comical situations as the series goes on. 

They are available in both hardcover and from the usual suspects.

Yes there are spoilers here, so go away if you don’t want to read them as this Beginning tells us about how these cats… Oh that would be giving something away, wouldn’t it? 

And here it is…

They were in and out of everything. When you thought you had cornered one of the red and gray bundles flashing among the crates in the storeroom, you would suddenly become aware that you had been attacked from behind by another. With its sharp claws unsheathed it was scrambling up your back. 

Still, everyone on the Moon not only put up with them but liked them. This was only right, for their parents were the most famous cats in the whole of space. Flyball, their father, had not only been the first cat to leave Earth for the Moon, but he had also been the first cat on Venus and on Mars. 

On Mars he had found his wife. Moofa was the last of the Martian fishing cats. Red as any firetruck, with darker stripes that ran from her head to her tail, she had lived on the fish that she caught in the Martian canals.

Now Moofa and Flyball had these two kittens—Marty and Tailspin. Marty was the older brother by a few minutes and was as proud of it as if he had arranged it himself. 

At first glance the kittens, showing both their father’s gray and their mother’s red, looked exactly alike. Then a second look showed that Tailspin had a pure gray tip to his tail while Marty’s tail was red all the way. 

The kittens had been born on the Moon and both Moofa and Flyball agreed that it was an ideal place for kittens, even though there were neither mice nor birds for them to chase. 

On the Moon they were almost as light as feathers and could jump the most tremendous distances. Still, they found, it was just as hard to catch one’s tail on the Moon as it was on Earth. They knew about Earth, for they had visited it on the shuttle-rockets which went back and forth all the time. 

The Earth, the kittens thought, was rather a dull place. A jump that on the Moon would carry them across a room, on Earth was only an ordinary little pounce.

So please name other SF where cats are characters in the story.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 1, 1875 Edgar Wallace. Creator of King Kong, he also wrote SF including Planetoid 127, one of the first parallel Earth stories, and The Green Rust, a bioterrorism novel which was made into a silent film called The Green Terror. Critics as diverse as Orwell, Sayers and Penzler have expressed their rather vehement distaste for him.  Kindle has an impressive number of works available. (Died 1932.)
  • Born April 1, 1883 Lon Chaney. Actor, director, makeup artist and screenwriter. Best remembered I’d say for the Twenties silent horror films The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera in which he did his own makeup. He developed pneumonia in late 1929 and he was diagnosed with bronchial lung cancer which he died from. (Died 1930.)
  • Born April 1, 1926 Anne McCaffrey. I read both the original trilogy and what’s called the Harper Hall trilogy oh so many years ago when dragons were something I was intensely interested in. I enjoyed them immensely but haven’t revisited them so I don’t know what the Suck Fairy would make of them. I confess that I had no idea she’d written so much other genre fiction! And I recounted her Hugo awards history in the March 7 Pixel Scroll (item #9). (Died 2011.)
  • Born April 1, 1930 Grace Lee Whitney. Yeoman Janice Rand on Star Trek. She would reach the rank of Lt. Commander in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Folks, I just noticed that IMDB says she was only on eight episodes of Trek, all in the first fifteen that aired. It seemed like a lot more at the time. She also appeared in in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. By the last film, she was promoted to being a Lt. Commander in rank. Her last appearance was in Star Trek: Voyager’s “Flashback” along with Hikaru Sulu. Oh, and she was in two video fanfics, Star Trek: New Voyages and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. (Died 2015.)
  • Born April 1, 1942 Samuel R. Delany, 81. There’s no short list of recommended works for him as everything he’s done is brilliant. That said I think I’d start off suggesting a reading first of Babel- 17 and Dhalgren followed by the Return to Nevèrÿon series. His two Hugo wins were at Heicon ’70 for the short story “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” as published in New Worlds, December 1968, and at Noreascon 3 (1989) in the Best Non-Fiction Work category for The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village, 1957-1965.  I will do a full look at his awards and all of his Hugo nominations in an essay shortly. 
  • Born April 1, 1960 Michael Praed, 63. Robin of Loxley on Robin of Sherwood which no doubt is one of the finest genre series ever done of a fantasy nature. He also played Phileas Fogg on The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, an amazing series that never got released on DVD. It has spawned a lively fanfic following since it was cancelled with names such as Spicy Airship Stories which I admit I’m going to go read.
  • Born April 1, 1963 James Robinson, 60. Writer, both comics and film. Some of his best known comics are the series centered on the Justice Society of America, in particular the Starman character he co-created with Tony Harris. His Starman series is without doubt some of the finest work ever done in the comics field. His screenwriting is a mixed bag. Remember The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Well, that’s him. He’s much, much better on the animated Son of Batman film. And I’ll admit that James Robinson’s Complete WildC.A.T.s is a sort of guilty pleasure.
  • Born April 1, 1970 Brad Meltzer, 53. I’m singling him for his work as a writer at DC including the still controversial Identity Crisis miniseries and his superb story in the Green Arrow series from issues 16 to 21 starting in 2002.  He and artist Gene Ha received an Eisner Award for Best Single Issue (or One-Shot) for their work on issue #11 of Justice League of America series. 

(10) KELLY LINK INTERVIEW. Electric Literature declares, “Kelly Link Makes Fairy Tales Even Weirder Than You Remember”.

Chelsea Davis: Rules—often arbitrary, always ominous—shape many fairy tales, and most of the stories in White Cat. Don’t let anyone enter the front door; don’t visit your lover unless it’s snowing; and (my favorite) don’t hunker down for the night in a home that doesn’t have a corpse inside. How do explicit rules activate or shape a story?

Kelly Link: I love thinking about rules! I’m deeply interested in the relationship that we have with them as members of a family, or a social group, or a culture. They mark out the territory in which we (or our characters) live our lives. When thinking about imaginary people, a useful approach is to consider what rules they live by, which rules they break, and the consequences or freedoms that occur as a result.

When I was a kid, I was fascinated and horrified by all sorts of rules: Don’t wear white after Labor Day! Wear pantyhose with skirts. Never wear navy and black together. Don’t take candy from a stranger. 

I was a preacher’s kid, and aside from all the familiar stuff about virginity, and not taking the Lord’s name in vain, there were weirder, more interesting rules about not eating shellfish, or wearing certain fibers together, or not suffering a witch to live. (Though the two rules about loving your neighbor as yourself, and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you still seem like good practice.)…

(11) EKPEKI GOFUNDME CONTINUES. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki’s GoFundMe fundraiser for visa processing & legal fees has reached 20 percent of its $17,500 goal.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki recently experienced visa complications that left him unable to attend the NAACP Image award ceremony, where he was a nominee for his work co-editing the anthology Africa Risen. These visa issues will also prevent him from attending the 44th Afrofuturism-themed International Conference For The Fantastic In the Arts as a guest of honour or be a visiting fellow at Arizona State University.

Because of these issues, Ekpeki is crowdfunding for a new visa that allows him the range of activities his burgeoning literary career demands.

Specifically, this crowdfunding is for a new visa and the associated legal and application fees. Ekpeki has already connected with a lawyer experienced in this legal area who will assist with the application.

(12) JEOPARDY! David Goldfarb notes that Thursday’s Jeopardy! episode had a category in the Double Jeopardy round called “Quoth the Title”. It hit one SFF trilogy in the middle, at the $1200 level:

Philip Pullman quoted Milton, “Unless the almighty Maker them ordain” these “to create more worlds”.

Returning champion Lisa Srikan tried, “What are men?” Jacob Lang was perhaps influenced by this to respond, “What are children of men?”. Sharon Stone (not that one) declined to guess. This isn’t quite at the level where I would just assume that every Filer would know it: the clue was looking for “His Dark Materials”.

Goldfarb also tuned into Friday’s Jeopardy! episode and enjoyed several more SFF-related clues. 

In the first Jeopardy round, 

“Hey, Big Spender” for $200:

If you’ve really got all that dough, why don’t you buy Action Comics #1 from 1938, which saw the debut of this otherworldly hero

Jen Petro-Roy responded correctly.

In the Double Jeopardy round,
“Oh, the Literary Places You Don’t Want to Go!”: $1200: 

The Sprawl is a rough city with an artificial gray sky in “Mona Lisa Overdrive”, a novel from this cyberpunk master

Jen knew William Gibson.

“Literary Places”: $2000: 

The idyllic school Hailsham harbors grotesque deeds in “Never Let Me Go” from this Japanese-born author

Jen messed up the name Kazuo Ishiguro: “Kashiguro” was not accepted. The other two didn’t answer.

“Last Lines of Movies”: $800: 

“Oh, no. It wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.”

Jen knew it.

“Literary Places”, $400: 

Isla Nublar off Costa Rica sets the scene of this 1990 Michael Crichton novel that bioengineers some terror

Brittany Shaw knew this one.

(13) APRIL FOOL’S DAY. The Unofficial Hugo Book Club blog tried its best to keep the holiday alive.

(14) FURTHER APRIL FOOLISHNESS. James Davis Nicoll reviews an essential volume of the science fiction canon in “By Klono’s Silk Unmentionables!”

Time erodes all, including our collective memory. Even what is preserved in print can be subject to caprice; once well-known works can be forgotten. Take, for example, that classic space opera: Thorne Smith’s Lensmen….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Meanwhile, this trailer for Trolls Band Together is not an April Fool – but maybe it ought to be!

After two films of true friendship and relentless flirting, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) are now officially, finally, a couple (#broppy)! As they grow closer, Poppy discovers that Branch has a secret past. He was once part of her favorite boyband phenomenon, BroZone, with his four brothers: Floyd (Golden Globe nominated electropop sensation Troye Sivan), John Dory (Eric André; Sing 2), Spruce (Grammy winner Daveed Diggs; Hamilton) and Clay (Grammy winner Kid Cudi; Don’t Look Up). BroZone disbanded when Branch was still a baby, as did the family, and Branch hasn’t seen his brothers since. But when Branch’s bro Floyd is kidnapped for his musical talents by a pair of nefarious pop-star villains—Velvet (Emmy winner Amy Schumer; Trainwreck) and Veneer (Grammy winner and Tony nominee Andrew Rannells; The Book of Mormon)—Branch and Poppy embark on a harrowing and emotional journey to reunite the other brothers and rescue Floyd from a fate even worse than pop-culture obscurity.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, David Goldfarb, Jennifer Hawthorne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Danny Sichel, ErsatzCulture, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 3/21/23 Is This The Real File? Is This Just Fan Activity? Caught In A Pixel, No Escape From 770

(1) FUTURE SF’S ONLINE “ANTHOZINE”. UFO Publishing and Future Affairs Administration has launched a new project they term an “anthozine”.  

These stories will appear in The Digital Aesthete: Human Musings on the Intersection of Art and AI hybrid anthology/zine project. They will be published as a book on November 14, 2023, and gradually posted to the Future SF website over the course of the following months.

The antho’s preview story was posted today, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Silicon Hearts”.

“Next up is Johnny Zepter.” Steve called up the figures. At her own screen, Kate opened the spreadsheet and readied herself to make notes.

“This week, our good buddy Zee submitted four hundred and seventy-three stories to eight different outlets, of which four were accepted.” Steve nodded in appreciation. “Nice work Jay-Zee. That’s another forty quid in the kitty.”

“One percent takeup,” Kate noted. “We’re hitting the mark nicely there.”

“People’s tastes don’t change, right?” Steve said. Johnny Zepter wrote space adventure. He had a stable of half a dozen two-fisted, square-jawed action types who encountered alien planets or artifacts, defeated the locals with human ingenuity or just by punching them in what they had for faces, discovered something superficially revelatory and made a witty quip about it. Four hundred times this week alone….

Preorder the book via the links at the bottom of the story, or support them via Patreon.

(2) IN THE RUNNING. In the SFWA officer elections, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki is a write-in candidate for director-at-large he told Facebook readers today.

SFWA members have until April 11 to vote in the 2023 Officer Elections.

(3) SO WHAT HAPPENED? Very early Sunday morning during last weekend’s Furnal Equinox convention the committee sent this tweet:

And later that day this update was posted to the convention’s website which only added to the mystery: “March 19, 2023 – Early Morning Disturbance”.

Update:  What we know so far..

Early this morning there was an incident near the south tower elevators that created a disturbance which spread throughout the convention level at approximately 2 am.

The events occurred as follows:

• Attendees moved down the escalators away from the south tower

• They moved across the lobby and then back upstairs towards the sky bridge to the convention center 

• Hotel security called Toronto Police Services (TPS) immediately following the incident

• The Nightingales responded shortly after hearing the attendees

• Together with the Toronto Police Service, they secured the area

• They then performed a sweep of the area

• A lockdown was initiated, and the gaming lounge was evacuated

• An “all clear” was called within two hours after no immediate threats were located.

The investigation is still ongoing. At this time we do not have more details, but will provide updates as we investigate further. Please allow us to continue to gather information and avoid spreading rumours. 

We have been assured that the convention area is safe and Furnal Equinox attendees may enjoy the final day of the event as planned.  If you have any concerns now or in the future, please feel free to contact there Nightingales in person or via email at [email protected]. Your health and safety is our top priority.

We would also like to thank the Westin Hotel security team and Toronto Police Service for their quick response and assistance on this matter. And a thank you to all attendees for your cooperation and patience.

So what happened? “Sir Tillfred Laurier” knows, having had some too-personal experience with the offender. Twitter thread starts here.

Now have you figured out the answer? There’s video of Nakedman in action on Twitter here. Or there’s a version with “censored” blocks over the peccant parts, plus furry Odin Wolf’s commentary, here.

(4) INDUSTRY PRAISE. Publishing Perspectives reports the “British Book Awards: Trade and ‘Book of the Year’ Shortlists”. Fiction and children’s fiction are strong on genre nominations. The shortlists for those categories are shown below.

…British Book Awards—sometimes called the Nibbies, as the logo reminds us—are a brand of The Bookseller, the United Kingdom’s news medium of record for the publishing industry. There are 29 award categories. …

Fiction

  • Love Marriage by Monica Ali (Virago, Little, Brown)
  • Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes (Mantle, Pan Macmillan)
  • Fairy Tale by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton, Hachette)
  • Babel by R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager, HarperCollins)
  • The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press, Headline Publishing Group)
  • Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Picador, Pan Macmillan)

Children’s Fiction

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Diper Överlöde by Jeff Kinney (Puffin, Penguin Random House Children’s)
  • Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tọlá Okogwu (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books UK)
  • Tyger by SF Said, illustrated by Dave McKean (David Fickling Books)
  • The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books UK)
  • Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books UK)
  • Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good by Louie Stowell (Walker Books)

(5) SWIPER, NO SWIPING.  Publishers Weekly reports that “At Hearing, Judge Appears Skeptical of Internet Archive’s Scanning and Lending Program”. He does sound dubious.

After nearly three years of legal wrangling, the Internet Archive’s scanning and lending program finally got its day in court on Monday, March 20. And if Judge John G. Koeltl’s questions are any indication, the Internet Archive is facing an uphill battle.

Over the course of a 90-minute hearing on the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment, Koeltl appeared skeptical that there was sufficient basis in law to support the Internet Archive’s scanning and lending of print library books under a legally untested protocol known as controlled digital lending, and unconvinced that the case is fundamentally about the future of library lending, as Internet Archive attorneys have argued.

“To say that this case is about the ability of a library to lend a book that it owns ignores whether the library has a right to copy wholesale the book,” Koeltl offered at one point during an extended exchange with IA attorney Joseph Gratz. “Does a library have the right to lend a book that it owns? Of course,” the judge conceded. But the question at the heart of this case, he added, is “whether a library has the right to make a digital copy of a book that it owns and then lend that digital copy, which it has made without a license and without permission” to patrons. “To formulate the issue in this case as simply ‘does the library have a right to lend a book that it owns’ belies the issue in the case,” Koeltl said….

… But Koeltl peppered [the Internet Archive’s attorney] Gratz with questions throughout the hearing, appearing deeply skeptical that the Internet Archive’s fair use case was properly supported by case law, and unconvinced that the publishers’ market for library e-books was not impacted by libraries choosing to scan print books under CDL protocols.

“A library whether they hold a physical copy or not, has the ability to license an e-book from a publisher. Rather than pay that licensing fee to the publisher some libraries choose to make their own copy and to lend that copy. Why isn’t it self-evident that that deprives the publisher of the fees that the publisher could otherwise obtain from licensing an e-book to that library?” Koeltl asked.

“It is because with respect to the copies at issue in the CDL situation the question is not between OverDrive and nothing. The question is between physically lending a book to a particular patron, for which no payment would be due to a publisher, or digitally lending that book to the patron,” Gratz replied, adding that to find harm “there would need to be a reason to think that the publishers were worse off than the situation in which in which the fair use did not occur at all.” In fact, library e-book lending has grown throughout the existence of the IA’s scanning program, and actually surged during the height of the pandemic….

(6) GOING PAPERLESS? This news item seems like a parallel issue: “Students speak out about one university’s plans to have a digital-only library” at NPR.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

What’s a library like without books? My kid’s school library removed most of the books, creating a space to use in other ways. And apparently, the university system in Vermont wanted this, too. They proposed taking library books off the shelves of at least three campus libraries and offering digital copies instead. That would save money, but…

ROSIE PHELAN: I was shocked. I was really taken aback when I heard that that was happening.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Rosie Phelan is an English major who works in the library at Castleton University. That’s one of three colleges merging to create a new Vermont State University.

PHELAN: You go to a college and you expect to have these resources, and the next thing you know, they’re just taken away.

INSKEEP: Phelan insists students still use physical books….

(7) JEOPARDY! Tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! devoted an entire category to science fiction books. Andrew Porter noted these two entries gave contestants problems.

Category: Books: The Future is Now

Answer: He saw 2024 as a Hellish wasteland in his 1969 short story “A Boy & His Dog”

No one could ask, “Who is Harlan Ellison?”

***

In 2025, game shows are to the death in “The Running Man”, written by Stephen King under this pseudonym

No one could ask, “Who is Richard Bachman?”

(8) TAX SEASON. Lincoln Michel encourages authors to “Write-Off What You Know” at Counter Craft.

Business Income Means Business Deductions

On the one hand, 1099 income seems like a raw deal. You don’t get taxes taken out for you like at a standard job, meaning you owe more at tax time. And you even pay higher taxes in the FICA category. (FICA taxes include Social Security and Medicare. These are paid 50% by your employer and 50% by you. But if you’re a self-employed business, then you pay both halves.)

OTOH, you can and should lower your freelance tax bill with business deductions. Just as a regular company takes deductions, you get to take them as a solo business. The money you can write off lowers the income that is taxed, thus lowering your tax bill….

And from there he goes into more tax return issues.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1965[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is one of my favorite SF works. I knew it had won a well deserved Hugo at NyCon 3 but I hadn’t realized it was nominated the previous year at Tricon. Isn’t that a tad unusual?

It had been first published in If magazine in five parts starting in the December 1965 issue. It was then published in hardcover by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in 1966.  The Penguin Publishing Group has it for sale at the usual suspects as does what I suspect is one pirate publisher as it has no copyright information. 

Now I really think that everyone here has read this novel but keeping with our very firm policy of absolutely no spoilers, I won’t say anything beyond the fact that I think that this is one of his best novels and I’ve throughly enjoyed it each and every time I’ve experienced it. Characters, stetting and story — what’s not to really like here? 

So now to our most superb Beginning…

I SEE IN Lunaya Pravda that Luna City Council has passed on first reading a bill to examine, license, inspect—and tax—public food vendors operating inside municipal pressure. I see also is to be mass meeting tonight to organize “Sons of Revolution” talk-talk. 

My old man taught me two things: “Mind own business” and “Always cut cards.” Politics never tempted me. But on Monday 13 May 2075 I was in computer room of Lunar Authority Complex, visiting with computer boss Mike while other machines whispered among themselves. Mike was not official name; I had nicknamed him for Mycroft Holmes, in a story written by Dr. Watson before he founded IBM. This story character would just sit and think—and that’s what Mike did. Mike was a fair dinkum thinkum, sharpest computer you’ll ever meet. 

Not fastest. At Bell Labs, Buenos Aires, down Earthside, they’ve got a thinkum a tenth his size which can answer almost before you ask. But matters whether you get answer in microsecond rather than millisecond as long as correct? 

Not that Mike would necessarily give right answer; he wasn’t completely honest. 

When Mike was installed in Luna, he was pure thinkum, a flexible logic—“High-Optional, Logical, Multi-Evaluating Supervisor, Mark IV, Mod. L”—a HOLMES FOUR. He computed ballistics for pilotless freighters and controlled their catapult. This kept him busy less than one percent of time and Luna Authority never believed in idle hands. They kept hooking hardware into him—decision-action boxes to let him boss other computers, bank on bank of additional memories, more banks of associational neural nets, another tubful of twelve-digit random numbers, a greatly augmented temporary memory. Human brain has around ten-to-the-tenth neurons. By third year Mike had better than one and a half times that number of neuristors. 

And woke up.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 21, 1915 Ian Stuart Black. British screenplay writer best known for scripting two First Doctor stories, “The Savages” and “The War Machines” (with Kit Pedler and Pat Dunlop) and a Third Doctor story, “The Macra Terror”. He wrote thirteen episodes of The Invisible Man as well as episodes of One Step BeyondThe SaintStar Maidens and Danger Man. (Died 1997.)
  • Born March 21, 1931 Al Williamson. Cartoonist who was best known for his work for EC Comics in the ’50s, including titles like Weird Science and Weird Fantasy, and for his work on Flash Gordon in the Sixties. He won eight Harvey Awards, and an Eisner Hall of Fame Award. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 21, 1936 Margaret Mahy. New Zealand author of over a hundred children’s and YA books, some with a strong supernatural bent. She won the Carnegie Medal twice for two of her fantasy novels, The Haunting and for The Changeover, something only seven authors have done in total. (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 21, 1947 Terry Dowling, 76. I was trying to remember exactly what it was by him that I read and it turned out to be Amberjack: Tales of Fear and Wonder, an offering from Subterranean Press a decade ago. Oh, it was tasty! If it’s at all representative of his other short stories, he’s a master at them. And I see he’s got just one novel, Clowns at Minnight which I’ve not read. He’s not at all deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects but Kindle has this plus several story collections. 
  • Born March 21, 1947 Don Markstein. He was the creator and sole maintainer of Don Markstein’s Toonpedia which is subtitled “A Vast Repository of Toonological Knowledge”. It is an encyclopedia of print cartoons, comic strips and animation started in 2001. He said, “The basic idea is to cover the entire spectrum of American cartoonery.” (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 21, 1956 Teresa Nielsen Hayden, 67. She is a consulting editor for Tor and is best known for Making Light, a blog she shares with her husband Patrick and which may yet resume activity. She is also one of the regular instructors for the Martha’s Vineyard writing workshop Viable Paradise.
  • Born March 21, 1970 Chris Chibnall, 53. A showrunner for Doctor Who and the head writer for the first two (and I think) best series of Torchwood. He first showed up in the Whoverse when he penned the Tenth Doctor story, “42”.  He also wrote several episodes of Life on Mars. He’s been nominated for a Hugo three times for work on Doctor Who, “Rosa” at Dublin 2019, “Resolution” CoNZealand and for “Fugitive of the Judoon” at DisCon III.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Pickles has an unexpected Star Wars reference.

(12) EVANGELIZING FOR SUPERGIRL. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Some of the comic book nerds in the book club with me have all been quite impressed with Tom King’s latest work Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, which James Gunn has listed as the direct inspiration for the upcoming Supergirl movie. It’s eligible for the Hugo this year — and I think it’s something a lot of Worldcon folks would love. Smart, fun, serious, high adventure. “Kara Zor-El Unbound” at the Hugo Book Club Blog.

… These aren’t stories about saving the universe, defeating galactic tyrants, or challenges with world-shattering consequences. But the fact that the stakes are more personal shows what matters to Supergirl, and the human scale of the story makes it highly engaging.

On a technical level, this is a superhero comic book, but the writing takes much of its inspiration from heroic fantasy. This is a story about a sword-wielding hero and sidekick traveling across distant landscapes on a quest and getting pulled into side adventures. Given that it takes cues from the heroic fantasy work of Fritz Leiber, Woman of Tomorrow seems like something that would appeal to many Worldcon attendees….

(13) THEY’VE BEEN HAD. “These Painters Regret Their Dealings With Scam Artists” – and the New York Times introduces them to us.

… It seemed too good to be true — and it was.

What happened next followed a pattern seen in nearly a dozen attempts at defrauding artists of their paintings and money that were reviewed by The New York Times. In each case, young artists were offered an attractive price for artworks by “collectors” who sent them checks to cover the price of the work and the cost of shipping it. Each of them was then asked to forward the shipping fee by money order to a person who was arranging the delivery.

Ginsberg sent $2,060 to the aptly named Linda Shady, who was supposed to be a shipping agent based in Fond du Lac, Wis. That name turned out to be fictitious and the person apparently used fake identification to cash the money order before Ginsberg was told by his bank that the $6,210 check he had received — more than he asked for — had not cleared.

“That was when I realized it was fraud,” Ginsberg said.

Cybercrime experts said fake check scams were growing. Though it did not study art scams per se, a study published in February by the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network tallied more than $124 million in damages from more than 40,000 cases involving fraudulent foreign money offers or fake checks.

Most of the cases start with an email from a fictitious person, a subset of the surge in phishing that has greatly increased the vulnerability of communications online. A study by the tech security company SlashNext projected that there were more than 255 million phishing attacks in 2022 through email, mobile and other online channels. That was 61 percent higher than the rate of phishing attacks the company tallied a year before….

(14) BE THE MAN WHO BOUGHT THE MOON (NECKLACE). [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Christie’s is having an online-only auction (closing 28 March) of meteorites & meteorite-related objects. Several of the items have had their origin traced to the Moon, Mars, or a specific asteroid. “Deep Impact: Lunar, Martian, and Other Rare Meteorites”.

Perhaps the crown jewel (so to speak) of the auction is Lot #1—an 18 inch single-strand necklace, consisting of 48 8.25 mm beads derived from Lunar material. One particular asteroid, NWA 12691, has been sectioned for display and sale. Apparently some of the smaller bits from that were formed into these beads.

The estimated price for the necklace is $140,000-$200,000, though the top bid as I write this is a mere $10,000. There are a scant few items in the auction with a higher estimate, but none of those is likely to make as fine a red carpet display.

The catalog description notes:

Fastened with a white gold clasp and knotted when strung, each of these lunar beads are of the highest quality. As is the case with any other lunar feldspathic breccia, each bead is composed of fragments of olivine, pigeonite, augite, ilmenite and signature white anorthite — which is rare on Earth but common on the Moon. The different minerals and lithologies were naturally bound together by a melt of lunar regolith, the result of repeated impacts on the lunar surface prior to the collision responsible for launching NWA 12691 to Earth. 

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Honest Trailers does “Everything Everywhere All At Once”, delivering its on-brand snark:

…Stephanie Shu co-stars as their daughter Joy, a character whose complex journey takes her to the edge of madness and back, playing both a teenager struggling to connect with her mom and an omnipotent nihilist seeking to destroy the universe. So of course she lost the Oscar to Jamie Lee Curtis as a mean lady with a funny voice… Let’s just pretend this was a makeup for True Lies….

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Olav Rokne, Kathy Sullivan, Rich Lynch, Alex Shvartsman, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]

Pixel Scroll 1/31/23 A Subway Named Moebius, Larryus, And Curlyus

(1) KINDRED CANCELED. Can the news get any worse? The Hollywood Reporter tells us “’Kindred’ Canceled at FX”. The drama was based on Octavia E. Butler’s 1979 novel about a young Black woman who is pulled back and forth in time.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the Disney-backed basic-cable network has canceled the drama based on Octavia E. Butler’s 1979 novel about a young Black woman who is pulled back and forth in time. Showrunner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Watchmen) is expected to shop the drama from FX Productions as he envisioned a multiple-season run for the series.

Reps for FX declined to comment.

Kindred debuted Dec. 13, launching all eight episodes of the drama that starred Mallori Johnson as an L.A. woman who is pulled back in time to the 19th century South.

…The drama, which streamed exclusively on Hulu, currently has a 70 percent score among critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a 51 percent rating among viewers. In his reviewTHR chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg said Kindred was “often effective, but key choices aren’t clicking.” (Hulu does not release traditional viewership data.)…

(2) FUTURE TENSE. The January 2023 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series, “Bigfeet” by Torie Bosch, is a story on “de-extincting a creature that (probably) never existed” —  about a rogue effort to genetically engineer Bigfoot.

It was published along with a response essay, “De-extinction and conservation: When introducing a new species goes wrong” by conservation researcher Challie Facemire.

… This fictional scenario has many real-world counterparts: In the 1920s, sport hunters released a dozen mountain goats on the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington state—the same region where some of the story’s Bigfeet are set loose. Like the Bigfeet, the mountain goat population grew out of control quickly. The goats have caused problems since, from eating sparse alpine plants to trying to lick salt off hikers’ clothes and gear—salt deposits don’t occur naturally in the peninsula, but the goats need it in their diet. As a result, federal and state land managers were forced to carefully devise a multiyear plan to relocate or extirpate the goats (including lifting some by helicopter to more suitable habitats)….

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Jeffrey Ford and Marie Vibbert in person at the KGB Bar on Feburary 8, beginning at 7:00 Eastern.

Jeffrey Ford

Jeffrey Ford is a New York Times Notable author for his novel The Physiognomy. In addition, his eleven novels and eight collections of stories have garnered multiple genre awards. His short stories have appeared in a myriad of venues within the SFF/H genres and beyond, He has new stories coming out this year from Tor.com, Asimov’s, and a couple of anthologies. He is recently retired from 40 plus years teaching literature and writing. He lives somewhere out in Ohio in a hundred-and twenty-year-old farmhouse with his wife and seven cats, four dogs, and a turtle.

Marie Vibbert

Marie Vibbert is the Hugo-longlisted author of over 80 short stories, translated into four languages, as well as three novels, some poems, comics, and video games. Her first novel, Galactic Hellcats, was longlisted for the BSFA in 2021. Her latest novel is The Gods Awoke.

Where: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs). When: February 8th, 2023, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

(4) MONTELEONE INTERVIEW RESURFACES. Hatchet Mouth Episode 158 “Facebook has AIDS w/ Tom Monteleone” seems to have reappeared if you haven’t heard enough toxicity yet today. It includes the insulting anecdotes referenced in yesterday’s Scroll.

(5) HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE. Literary Hub shares “Why I’m Still on Strike: Portraits from the HarperCollins Picket Line”.

…As the only union in the Big 5, we are in the unique position to push the needle forward for all publishing, not just HarperCollins—a weight and opportunity that isn’t lost on any of us. You can feel it in our picket line chants, in our weekly membership meetings, in our Slack conversations. It’s palpable—the outcome of this strike will determine if hundreds of brilliant workers will leave publishing forever, or if people will finally be able to see a future for themselves in an industry desperately in need of change.

We’re on Day 58 of the strike, with no idea of how much longer this will stretch on. I admit it: I’m terrified and exhausted. I also have never believed in our mission more….

(6) HAUNTED HOUSES IN SPACE. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] YouTuber Romancing the Gothic posted this video exploring “Haunted Houses in Space” through the films SolarisAlien, and Event Horizon.

(7) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was pleased to see tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! had an entire category, “Sci-Fi and Fantasy”. Some of the entries were too tough for the contestants.

Answer: This Joe Haldeman classic tells of William Mandella, who fights the interstellar Taurans for a really long time.

No one could ask, “What is ‘The Forever War’?”

Answer: A “Star Trek” homage, this colorful John Scalzi title refers to clothing soon-to-die crew members wear.

Wrong question: “What is a red shirt?”

Right question: “What are the red shirts?”

Rich Lynch, who also was watching, adds that “One of the clues was a head shot of GRRM.”

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1948 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

In tonight’s Scroll, we debut a new essay series which is First Paragraphs. To start this off, we have the beginning of the Lensmen series by E.E. “ Doc” Smith which was chosen by Mike Glyer who says, “First paragraphs — it’s actually the first line  of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Triplanetary: A Tale of Cosmic Adventure that I love the most. It really sets the tone for what he turned into a six-book saga.” 

The magazine version of Triplanetary appeared in 1934 and only later was turned into a fix-up novel, a prequel that begins the series. Four of the Lensmen series as this would known as would be nominated for Retro Hugos though this was not one of them. 

The entire series is available for free from the usual suspects. And, I kid you not at all, there are eleven different audio recordings of Triplanetary

Two thousand million or so years ago two galaxies were colliding; or, rather, were passing through each other. A couple of hundreds of millions of years either way do not matter, since at least that much time was required for the inter-passage. At about that same time—within the same plus-or-minus ten percent margin of error, it is believed—practically all of the suns of both those galaxies became possessed of planets.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 31, 1923Norman Mailer. I never knew he wrote in the genre but he did. Ancient Evenings certainly has the elements of fantasy and The Castle in the Forest is interesting retelling of Adolf Hitler and his last days. (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 31, 1937Philip Glass, 86. 1000 Airplanes on the Roof: A Science Fiction Music-DramaEinstein on the BeachThe Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (with a libretto by Doris Lessing based on her novel of the same name), The marriages between zones three, four, and five (1997, libretto by Doris Lessing, after her second novel from Canopus in Argos), The Witches of Venice and The Juniper Tree would be a fragmentary listing of his works that have a genre bias. 
  • Born January 31, 1947Jonathan Banks, 76. First genre role was as Deputy Brent in Gremlins, a film I adore. In the same year, he’s a Lizardo Hospital Guard in another film I adore, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Ahhh, a good year indeed. Next I see him playing Michelette in Freejack, another better than merely good sf film. The last thing I see him doing film wise is voicing Rick Dicker in the fairly recent Incredibles 2.  Series wise and these are just my highlights, I’ve got him on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Shel-la in the “Battle Lines” episode, in Highlander: The Series as Mako in the “Under Colour of Authority” episode and as Kommander Nuveen Kroll in short lived Otherworld series. In SeaQuest 2032 also had for two episodes as Maximillian Scully. 
  • Born January 31, 1960Grant Morrison, 63. If you can find it, their early stuff on such U.K. publishers as Galaxy Media and Harrier Comics is worth searching out. Not your hero in tights materials at all. For their work in that venue, I’d recommend his run on The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, all of his Doom Patrol work (and the HBO series is based on their work and is quite spectacular), Seven Soldiers and The Multiversity which is spectacularly weird.
  • Born January 31, 1962Will McIntosh, 61. Best known for the dozens of short stories he’s written that have been published in magazines including Asimov’s, InterzoneLightspeed and Strange Horizons. He won a Hugo for his short story “Bridesicle“ at Aussiecon 4.
  • Born January 31, 1973Portia de Rossi, 50. She first shows up as Giddy in Sirens which would I’d stretching things to even include as genre adjacent but which is definitely worth watching. For SFF roles, she was in Catholic Church tinged horror film Stigmata, musical Zombie comedy Dead & Breakfast and werewolf horror Cursed. She was Lily Munster in the delightfully weird Mockingbird Lane pilot that never went to series. 
  • Born January 31, 1977Kerry Washington46. Alicia Masters in Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Also played Medical Officer Marissa Brau in 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea. She voices Natalie Certain in Care 3. She also voices Princess Shuri in a short run Black Panther series. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur applies logic to the idea of colonizing Mars.

(11) WORD POWER. The Hugo Book Club Blog reviews R. F. Kuang’s Babel in “All Words In All Languages Are Metaphors”.

…This is a novel that uses the form of Regency-era historical fantasy to tackle themes of social justice that are at the forefront of today’s cultural vanguard in science fiction and fantasy. In short, it uses the cultural precepts of England at the peak of its colonial power to disclose and critique the social impacts of those systems.

It’s worth noting that although many American authors have attempted to mimic the style of period British prose, the vast majority have failed, often sounding affected, or pompous, or leaden. But instead of clumsy pastiche, Babel feels like a fantasy that William Makepeace Thackeray might have written. Kuang evokes era-appropriate ambiance and regionally-believable prose and dialogue so skillfully that we double-checked to see if she was born and raised in Hertfordshire or Dorset. (We strongly encourage everyone to read the “Author’s Note on Her Representations of Historical England, and of the University of Oxford in Particular,” which precedes the text of the novel.) It is especially gratifying that a book that is deeply concerned with language as a concept uses it so skillfully….

(12) MARVEL’S THIRD ANNUAL X-MEN ELECTION STARTS TODAY. Make your mutant voice heard! For the third consecutive year, Marvel is putting the fate of the X-Men in the hands of fans The 2023 X-Men election will run from Tuesday, January 31 until Friday, February 3. Participants can vote now at marvel.com/xmenvote. The results, along with the full new X-Men team, will be unveiled during the Hellfire Gala in Marvel comics this July.

For three years, the X-Men election has given True Believers everywhere the opportunity to determine the newest protector of Krakoa. In 2021, Polaris won the first-ever election and was featured in Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz’s X-MEN. And in 2022, fan-favorite Firestar was chosen to become the newest member of the X-Men, where she then took on a starring role in Duggan’s second year of X-MEN, with artists C.F. Villa and Joshua Cassara.

Once again, several nominations have been accepted to determine the final member of the new X-team. Only one vote is allowed per person, so read about the nominees below and choose wisely!

2023 X-Men Ballot Nominations:

CANNONBALL: One of the original “New Mutants,” the second class of students in the Xavier School, Sam Guthrie has come a long way. His ability to transform into a human cannonball, propelling himself with great force at high speeds while making himself “nigh invulnerable” has taken him from an awkward lanky teen to a married father who is both a former X-Man and Avenger! Why not rocket him to the front lines again?

DAZZLER: Dazzler first made it to the scene as a pop star, using her secret mutant power to transform sound into light as part of her stage show. Becoming a hero and joining the X-Men never dimmed her star-power, even as she learned to use her ability to dazzle as an offensive weapon. Since then, she’s been a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, a freedom fighter, mother to a time paradox, and a vampire hunter. Isn’t it time for Alison Blaire to reclaim center stage?

FRENZY: Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes and durability have made Joanna Cargill a formidable opponent to any who crosses her. From her early days opposed to the X-Men as a member of Apocalypse’s Alliance of Evil, her time as one of Magneto’s Acolytes, and Mister Sinister’s Marauders, to her time on the side of good with the Jean Grey School, and eventually as an intergalactic ambassador with S.W.O.R.D., Frenzy has what it takes to tackle anything!

JUBILEE: Having joined the X-Men as a teenaged runaway, Jubilation Lee had been shooting explosive fireworks out of her hands into the face of evil for many years when she lost her powers in M-Day. Even so, that didn’t stop her from fighting for what’s right—first as a New Warrior using a power suit, and later as a vampire, going against every monstrous urge that came with that transformation. Cured of that curse and with her mutant powers returned, Jubilee deserves to reclaim her spot on the X-team!

JUGGERNAUT: The non-mutant stepbrother of Professor X, Cain Marko long ago claimed the gem of the ancient “god” Cyttorak, transforming him into the unstoppable brute known as Juggernaut. For many years he was a thorn in the X-Men’s side, frequently rampaging through their lives leaving wreckage behind. More recently, however, Cain has shaken off the evil influence of his dark master, claiming the power of Juggernaut under his own terms and making amends for his past deeds.

PRODIGY: Prodigy possesses the power of psychomimetry—a form of telepathy that grants him the skills and knowledge of those in his proximity. This allows him equal mastery of any skill—mental or physical—as those around him. His ability to retain knowledge from those sources makes him an even more formidable mutant – one who is brilliant at biology, computers, martial arts, and strategic planning. David Alleyne may borrow from others, but he is one of a kind.

(13) PLEISTOCENE PARK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A Dallas-based company believes it’s well on its way to resurrecting the woolly mammoth. They’ve targeting 2027 to re-introduce this “cold-resistant elephant“ in Siberia. Or, well, maybe somewhere else given the current political situation. “Woolly Mammoth Coming Back to Life by 2027: De-Extinction Details”.

…The woolly mammoth’s DNA is a 99.6 percent match of the Asian elephant, which leads Colossal to believe it’s well on its way toward achieving its goal. “In the minds of many, this creature is gone forever,” the company says. “But not in the minds of our scientists, nor the labs of our company. We’re already in the process of the de-extinction of the Woolly Mammoth. Our teams have collected viable DNA samples and are editing the genes that will allow this wonderful megafauna to once again thunder through the Arctic.”

Through gene editing, Colossal scientists will eventually create an embryo of a woolly mammoth. They will place the embryo in an African elephant to take advantage of its size and allow it to give birth to the new woolly mammoth. The eventual goal is to then repopulate parts of the Arctic with the new woolly mammoth and strengthen local plant life with the migration patterns and dietary habits of the beast….

(14) STEAM THEME. “New Universal Citywalk LA Restaurant Goes Full Steampunk Willy Wonka” reports Eater – LA.

Fresh off the buzz from the Super Mario Brothers-themed Toadstool Cafe, Universal CityWalk opens a new and immersive dining restaurant called Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen on Friday, January 27. This new spot took over the former Hard Rock Cafe and feels very much like a merger of steampunk industrialism cobbled together with the Cheesecake Factory — and sprinkled with plenty of Willy Wonka vibes to boot.

This isn’t a new concept for Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, since there are locations in both Orlando and Beijing, but it is new for Los Angeles. The entire full-service space, complete with a bar area and multi-level dining room, runs with its bigger-than-life theme to extremes and even offers an extensive backstory involving two live dolled-up characters named Penelope and Jacques that’ll rove throughout the eatery to interact with the guests….

(15) ON THE WAY FROM DC. In this video James Gunn shares his vision for the future of the DC Universe and the upcoming slate from DC Studios. “Chapter 1 – Gods and Monsters”.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, N., Rich Lynch, Olav Rokne, Ben Bird Person, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 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.]