2024 Ursa Major Awards

The 2024 Ursa Major Awards were presented April 7 at Golden State Fur Con. The awards are given annually for “excellence in the furry arts.”

Image by EosFoxx

Best Motion Picture
Live-action or animated feature-length movies.

• Nimona (Directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane – June 30)

Best Dramatic Short Work
One-shots, advertisements or short videos.

• Lackadaisy (Pilot) (Directed by Fable Siegel – March 29)

Best Dramatic Series
TV or YouTube series videos.

• Helluva Boss (Created by Vivienne “VivziePop” Medrano – Season 2 Episode 3 to Midseason Special)

Best Novel
Written works of 40,000 words or more. Serialized novels qualify only for the year that the final chapter is published.

• Wolf of Withervale by Joaquín Baldwin (Paperbear – October 8th)

Best Short Fiction
Stories less than 40,000 words, poetry, and other short Written works.

• On the Difference Between AI Cats and Actual Cats: A Love Story, by Daniel Lowd and Mary E. Lowd. (Deep Sky Anchor – February)

Best General Literary Work
Story collections, comic collections, graphic novels, non-fiction works, and serialized online stories.

• Gnoll Tales, by NightEyes DaySpring. (Dancing Jackal Books – short story collection – June)

Best Non-Fiction Work

• Furscience, by Dr. Courtney N. Plante. (International Anthropomorphic Research Project – research on furry fandom – December)

Best Graphic Story
Includes comic books, and serialized online stories.

• Tamberlane, by Caytlin Vilbrandt and Ari Noble. (Internet – January 11 to December 27)

Best Comic Strip
Newspaper-style strips, including those with ongoing arcs.

• Foxes in Love, by Toivo Kaartinen. (Twitter – Jan 1 to December 21)

Best Magazine
Edited collections of creative and/or informational works by various people, professional or amateur, published in print or online in written, pictorial or audio-visual form.

• Dogpatch Press, edited by Patch O’Furr. (Internet – February to December)

Best Visual Art
Illustrations for books, magazines, convention program books, cover art for such, coffee-table portfolios.

• The Record Store by Squiddy (Twitter – February 10)

Best Game
Computer or console games, role-playing games, board games.

• Laika: Aged Through Blood (Developer:Brainwash Gang – Publisher:Thunderful Publishing – October 19)

Best Website
Online collections of art, stories, and other creative and/or informational works. Includes galleries, story archives, directories, blogs, and personal sites.

• Fur Affinity, Furry art and stories.

The Best Anthropomorphic Music category was cancelled. The award website did not post the winner of the Best Anthropomorphic Fursuit category.

Pixel Scroll 3/7/24 Files Scroll In Where Pixels Fear To Thread

(1) WILL THE DOCTOR APPROVE WHEN BBC MARKETING DEPARTMENT USES AI TO PROMOTE DOCTOR WHO? [Item by Ersatz Culture.] The BBC media centre published an article by the “Head of Media Inventory: Digital” earlier today, about their plans to use AI to promote Doctor Who.  It leads:

Experimentation is at the heart of how we approach marketing at the BBC. Testing and learning on how we let audiences know what BBC content is most relevant to them and we know they might love underpins our digital marketing strategy. However, experimentation in marketing typically requires more time spent on the creative work to make extra assets. Generative AI offers a great opportunity to speed up making the extra assets to get more experiments live for more content that we are trying to promote.

We’re going to take it one step a time, starting simple and learning as we go. We have chosen to start with Doctor Who, as it is a joint content priority for both BBC Public Service UK and BBC Studios marketing teams. There’s a rich variety of content in the Whoniverse collection on iPlayer to test and learn with, and Doctor Who thematically lends itself to AI which is a bonus.

We will be creating human-written marketing copy for a Doctor Who push notification, email subject line and in the promotional rail on BBC Search – then we will be using generative AI to suggest copy variations which are then reviewed and approved by our marketing team before being shown to the audience. Their success will be measured by click- rates, open-rates, and post-impression conversion-rates across each channel.

The article also provides details about how the BBC proposes to have human oversight and review of this process.

One fan pointed out that the 1979 story “City of Death” had already depicted the Doctor’s attitude towards computer-generated content.

(2) CHILDREN’S BOOK AUTHORS SIGN OPEN LETTER ABOUT GAZA. Publishers Weekly reports on an open letter to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators signed by children’s book creators in “SCBWI Addresses the Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza”.

… Hundreds of children’s and YA creators including Jason Reynolds, Elizabeth Acevedo, Brendan Kiely, Sabaa Tahir, and Maggie Tokuda-Hall added their names to the petition, which features an illustration—“We Feel Your Silence”—by Egyptian-born picture book artist Hatem Aly….

The full text of the open letter is at the link. The letter begins:

Dear Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators,

Our community of kids’ book creators and readers is calling out for solidarity and transparency.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is the deadliest for children in modern history. UNICEF, among other leading human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, recognized that “there is no safe place for children in Gaza” and that this is a war against children.

As the preeminent global community for children’s book creators whose mission is to, in part, “establish a more imaginative and inclusive world through the power of children’s literature,” many active, past, and prospective members of the community are struggling to feel a sense of inclusion and belonging when SCBWI remains silent.

Currently, over a million children are being actively starved while the Israeli government refuses to permit aid into the Gaza strip. Children are being carpet bombed and sniper-attacked in the Israeli government designated safe zone, Rafah, with nowhere to escape. Thousands of children have been orphaned, wounded, undergone surgeries and amputations without anesthesia, and disabled. Palestinian libraries, schools, universities, and publishing houses have been decimated….

Some signers from the sff community whose names jumped out at me are: Alaya Dawn Johnson, Alex Brown, Alyssa Wong, B. Sharise Moore, Daniel José Older, Jacqueline Woodson, Natalie C. Parker, Olivia A. Cole, Raina Telgemeier, and Tochi Onyebuchi.

SCBWI’s Executive Director has responded with a message on Instagram:

According to Publishers Weekly —

…Responses were mixed, and executive director Sarah Baker engaged with several commenters directly. Various community members thanked SCBWI “for supporting the voices of all authors and illustrators… while acknowledging this horrendous war and humanitarian crisis.” Others called the letter “performative” and “disappointing,” some said they would not renew subscriptions, and one called the approach “genocidal apologism.” SCBWI has more than 22,000 members around the world….

(3) URSA MAJOR AWARDS DITCH MUSIC CATEGORY. The Ursa Major Awards for anthropomorphic literature and arts announced March 6 they have dropped the Music Category.

No further explanation was given. Commenters seem to believe the decision was in response to a specific instance of ballot stuffing, or a finalist’s use of AI to create art.

(4) JACK WILLIAMSON LECTURESHIP. David Sweeten has circulated the schedule for the 47th Annual Jack Williamson Lectureship, being held at Eastern New Mexico University from April 11-13 in Portales, NM. The guest of honor is Martha Wells, with emcee Connie Willis.

Below is a brief rundown of the events as they stand, but some items are still in development. Generally, the main events of the Lectureship will take place on Friday, but please let me know if you can make the dinner on Thursday. Also, Connie’s workshop on Saturday is always a delight.

  • Thursday, April 11th: 
    • 3 pm: a forensic talk from Cordelia Willis.
    • 5-7 pm: Opening event in the Greyhound Lounge (CUB basement) with activities run by ENMU student organizations (including the History Guild doing a presentation on Jack Williamson, the Clayhounds [ENMU ceramics club] bringing scifi themed pottery and paint-and-takes, and more)
    • 7-9 pm: Lectureship participant dinner for authors, the committee, and academic presenters (please email me if attending so I can update the catering)
  • Friday, April 12th: 
    • 8:30 am: Academic Panel (CUB, Zia room)
    • 10 am: Guest of Honor Reading from Martha Wells (CUB, Zia room)
    • 12 pm: Keynote lunch with remarks from Connie Willis, keynote address from Martha Wells, and scifi/fantasy trivia 
    • 1:30 pm: Tour of Special Collections, including Jack’s Office and the Science Fiction Special Collection (GSSC, Special Collections)
    • 1:30 pm: Board Game Session (GSSC, Presentation Area)
    • 3-6:30 pm: Author Panels (JWLA)
    • 7 pm: Dinner at Asplunds’ house, Potluck
  • Saturday, April 13th: 
    • 8:30 am: Academic Panel (JWLA)
    • 10 am: Connie’s Writing Workshop (JWLA)

(5) TERRY CARR ON THE DILLONS. In January we reported the sale of Leo and Diane Dillon’s original art for the cover of The Left Hand of Darkness (see Pixel Scroll 1/27/24 item #2). Le Guin’s book was part of the Ace Specials series edited by Terry Carr.

Yesterday I happened upon an article Carr wrote for the fanzine Focal Point in 1971 (see page 6) right after he had to “fire” them because he was told their covers weren’t helping to sell the books. Though he reassured everyone:

…Don’t weep for Leo and Diane. They’re among the most sought-after artists in the book field, and they make a lot more money from the work they do for Time-Life Books or Fawcett Premier than we could ever pay them at Ace. When you visit them and look in on their studio you find incredibly beautiful sketches and partially finished paintings there. ’’That one was due last Tuesday,” says Diane, ’’and we were supposed to have twenty-five double-page spreads done for a history of Hawaii last month.” For the Dillons, the SF Specials were an extra job every month that they didn’t need and which they did for less money than they could get anywhere else. They did them out of friendship and love for the freedom to paint what they wanted….

Carr’s Focal Point column continues with several pages of detailed commentary on the covers they painted for the Ace series.

Ironically, just two issues later, Focal Point reported that Terry Carr himself had been let go by Ace.  However, they said Carr would continue editing the Ace Specials, working from home. The last Ace Special in the first series was released in August 1971. Carr would go on to enjoy a highly honored career as a freelance editor. And, in fact, in the Eighties he came back to Ace and edited a second series of Ace Specials.

(6) HOLY CATS, BATMAN! “Lego unveils 4,200-piece set celebrating 85 years of Batman: See the $300 creation” at Yahoo!

Fans of Lego and “Batman: The Animated Series” will have a chance to own a piece of history as Warner Bros. Discovery and DC celebrate 85 years of the Caped Crusader with a new brick set.

Lego Group on Thursday unveiled the Batman Gotham City Skyline set, an “amazing recreation of Gotham City as it appears in ‘Batman: The Animated Series.'”

The Lego press release adds:

…The 4,210 piece set is a Batman fan’s dream as every tower and building meticulously recreates iconic locations from Warner Bros. Animation’s “Batman: The Animated Series” including the Gotham City Court, Arkham Asylum, the classic Batwing and Bat Signal. The set is also full of Easter eggs and beloved characters including Catwoman, The Joker, Harley Quinn and Batman himself. In addition, parts of the set open up to reveal more intricacies inside.

The perfect set for DC fans, the Gotham City Skyline set is a stunning display piece which can be wall-mounted or placed on a shelf….

(7) GOTHAM AFTER DARK. Get an R-rated look at Gotham when The Gotham Follies of 1939: A Dark Night Parody come to Los Angeles on June 1. Tickets go on sale March 13; waitlist at the link.

Experience the allure of Prohibition-era Gotham City in The Gotham Follies of 1939—a captivating parody blending vaudeville, burlesque, cabaret, and contemporary entertainment from the creator of The Empire Strips Back. Step into a world where the Dark Night’s universe comes alive on stage, promising an unforgettable night of laughter, danger, and pure escapism at The Montalbán this summer.

Read the FAQS, ma’am.

(8) NOTES ON A CAREER. In this video from Variety, “Star Wars & Harry Potter Composer John Williams Reveals How He Came Up With Cinemas Biggest Scores”.

Musical genius, John Williams, takes us through his incredible career and shares how the soundtracks for some of the biggest movie franchises such as Star Wars, Harry Potter and Jurassic Park were brought to life.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 7, 1944 Stanley Schmidt, 80. This Scroll I come to speak of an editor that I really like, Stanley Schmidt. Starting in 1978, his longest tenure as an editor was at Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine for an extraordinary thirty-four years. I’m reasonably sure that he was nominated a record twenty-nine times before winning a Best Editor, Short Form at LoneStarCon. That Award came just before his retirement from Analog, nice timing indeed.

But let’s go back in time now. 

Stanley Schmidt accepts the Solstice Award. Photo by Kathi Overton.

He started out as a writer with his first short story being “A Flash of Darkness” being published in Analog in September of 1968.  Likewise his first novel, The Sins of the Fathers, serialized in Analog from November 1973 to January 1974. So one could, well I will, say that his editing of Analog was well rooted in his own history with it. 

Now where was I? Oh there. The Sins of The Fathers is an amazing work and would’ve made a stellar series but Schmidt was not, shall I say a prolific writer with just three novels and I count thirty-two short stories, so that didn’t happen. However the Lifeboat Earth collection of nine stories does continue what was started here, so do get it and read them if you enjoyed this novel.

He edited a lot, and I do mean a lot, of Analog anthologies taken from the material he edited in those years he was there. I can’t say which you should read as they’re all likely to have excellent reading in them, aren’t they?  

He only edited four other anthologies of which I’ve only read one, having a decided jones for alternate history of all sorts: Roads Not Taken: Tales of Alternate History, co-edited with Gardner Dozois. Turtledove, Silverberg and Resnick, to name but a few, have stories here… Great stories all of course.

Before I take your leave, I should note that he had the honor of winning the Robert A. Heinlein Award which is given for outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings that inspire the human exploration of space.

(10) THE FEDERATION RETURNS. Camestros Felapton declares “I finally watched Star Trek Discovery Season 4” and delivers a season overview.

…Yes, it is nice that this crew gets to have a season in which they are actually part of a Star Fleet that is not trying to kill them (or is barely functioning) and eventually story elements fall into place that pull things together both thematically and as a genuinely interesting science-fiction story….

(11) FREE GAME. “Indie developer says Warner Bros is “retiring” his game from official platforms, so he’s giving it away for free instead” reports GameRadar+. Download it for free at Fire Face – Games.

Owen Deery, an indie developer behind the puzzle game Small Radios Big Televisions, has stated that Warner Bros. will soon be “retiring” the game from digital storefronts. In response, Deery is giving away the PC version for free to everyone. 

Small Radios Big Televisions released back in 2016 on Steam and PS4, published by the Warner Bros. subsidiary Adult Swim Games. The puzzler has you collect cassette tapes found in abandoned factories and explore the virtual worlds within them. However, Deery says it will soon be unable to buy, and that it will be removed from storefronts “within the next few weeks.”…

(12) MEET THE EMPEROR. Vanity Fair learns why at age 80 “Christopher Walken Still Rules: On ‘Dune: Part Two,’ ‘Star Wars’ and True Power”.

Truly intimidating power, Walken says, doesn’t have to announce itself. That’s his explanation for why the long-ruling emperor doesn’t feel obliged to dazzle with his appearance. “There is something about getting older that you’re sort of not inclined to get out of your pajamas,” he tells Vanity Fair. “He maybe doesn’t take a shower as often as he should. There’s a little bit of ‘the hell with it’ at a certain point.”…

…None of that will help a humble earthling get into the mindset of a galactic overlord. “I can tell you that it’s probably better not to think about it,” Walken says. “When I was young, I had to play a king in something. I was in a Shakespeare play. It was Henry II. And an older actor said to me, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ He said, ‘If the director sets it up so that people treat you like the king, you don’t have to do much.’ And I sort of trusted that to happen.”

The show of power and wealth is all around Shaddam IV, so Villeneuve and Walken believed it didn’t have to be piled on top of him as well. “The emperor’s got the trappings, he’s got the court, he’s got the costume, he’s got the bodyguards. And so I figured I’d just let them call me the emperor,” Walken says.

This withholding approach to the intimidating power broker is actually foreshadowed in another iconic Walken performance, in which he delivered an intimidating speech about a lion who reigns as “king of the jungle,” but tolerates the other animals nipping at him, taking food from his domain, and encroaching on his territory—“until one day…that lion gets up and tears the shit out of everybody.”…

(13) ARMORER GUILTY IN RUST VERDICT. AP News reports in Santa Fe, NM, “’Rust’ armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed convicted of involuntary manslaughter”.

A jury convicted a movie weapons supervisor of involuntary manslaughter Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal on the set of the Western movie “Rust.”

The verdict against movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed assigned new blame in the October 2021 shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins after an assistant director last year pleaded no contest to negligent handling of a firearm.

Gutierrez-Reed also had faced a second charge of tampering with evidence, stemming from accusations that she handed a small bag of possible narcotics to another crew member after the shooting to avoid detection. She was found not guilty on that count.

Immediately after the verdict was read in court, the judge ordered the 26-year-old armorer placed into the custody of deputies. Lead attorney Jason Bowles said afterward that Gutierrez-Reed will appeal the conviction, which carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

(14) USE THE CHURCH KEY, LUKE. Stephen Colbert rounded up some more examples of old Cristal beer product placements inserted in Star Wars films for the opening minutes of his Late Show monologue.

(15) PITCH MEETING. It’s an old movie but apparently a new Pitch Meeting – “Ghostbusters (1984)”.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The hate monologue” from the I have no mouth and I must scream animation.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Kathy Sullivan, N., Ersatz Culture, Dann, Danny Sichel, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn, with an assist from Braxis.]

2023 Ursa Major Awards Nominees

Image by EosFoxx

The nominations for the 2023 Ursa Major Awards have been finalized. The Ursa Major Award is presented annually for “excellence in the furry arts.” Anyone may nominate and vote for candidates for the Awards. The 2023 Ursa Major Awards final ballot will be open for voting from March 1 to March 24 on the UMA website.

THE 2023 NOMINEES

Best Motion Picture
Live-action or animated feature-length movies.

• Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (Directed by James Gunn – May 5)
• Leo (Directed by Robert Marianetti, Robert Smigel and David Wachtenheim – November 21)
• Migration (Directed by Benjamin Renner and Guylo Homsy – December 22)
• Nimona (Directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane – June 30)
• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (Directed by Jeff Rowe and Kyler Spears – August 2)

Best Dramatic Short Work
One-shots, advertisements or short videos.

• A Fox in Space – Episode Two – Fixing a Hole (Directed by Matthew Gafford – March 25)
• Lackadaisy (Pilot) (Directed by Fable Siegel – March 29)
• Once Upon a Studio (Directed by Dan Abraham and Trent Correy – October 15)
• Tamberlane (Directed by Ashley Nichols and Caytlin Vilbrandt – May 15)
• The Meeps – Love Louder (Official music video. Created in partnership with XIX Entertainment and T&B Media Global.)

Best Dramatic Series
TV or YouTube series videos.

• Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake (Developed by Adam Muto – August 31 to September 28)
• Bluey (Created by Joe Brumm – Season 3)
• Helluva Boss (Created by Vivienne “VivziePop” Medrano – Season 2 Episode 3 to Midseason Special)
• Sonic Prime (Created by Man of Action – Season 2)
• The Owl House – “For the Future” & “Watching and Dreaming” (created by Dana Terrace)

Best Novel
Written works of 40,000 words or more. Serialized novels qualify only for the year that the final chapter is published.

• Family Matters, by Mitch Marmel, Walter D. Reimer, and E.O. Costello. (FurAffinity – December 8)
• Otters In Space 4: First Moustronaut, by Mary E. Lowd. (Deep Sky Anchor Press – December 1)
• Rafts (ebook), by Utunu. (Makapu Village – March 15)
• Wolf of Withervale by Joaquín Baldwin (Paperbear – October 8th)
• You’re Cordially Invited to Crossroads Station, by Mary E. Lowd. (Deep Sky Anchor Press – July)

Best Short Fiction
Stories less than 40,000 words, poetry, and other short Written works.

• Aged Plant Fibers and Ink, by James L. Steele. (Zooscape – April)
• How Pepper Learned Magic, by Renee Carter Hall. (Zooscape – August)
• Of Heart and Stone, by Solomon Harries. (the Voice of Dog – Dec 4)
• On the Difference Between AI Cats and Actual Cats: A Love Story, by Daniel Lowd and Mary E. Lowd. (Deep Sky Anchor – February)
• Rhapsody of Stolen Feathers, by Frank Alvarez. (Androids and Dragons, October)

Best General Literary Work
Story collections, comic collections, graphic novels, non-fiction works, and serialized online stories.

• Commander Annie and Others Adventures, by Mary E. Lowd. (Argyll Productions – short story collection – November,)
• Gnoll Tales, by NightEyes DaySpring. (Dancing Jackal Books – short story collection – June)
• Lauren Ipsum, by Charles Brubaker. (Smallbug Press – comic strip collection – February 2)
• Some Words Burn Brightly: An Illuminated Collection of Poetry, by Mary E. Lowd. (Deep Sky Anchor Press – poetry collection – November)
• Zooscape, Volume 1, edited by Mary E. Lowd. (Deep Sky Anchor Press – anthology – September)

Best Non-Fiction Work

• A Guide to Drawing Manga Fantasy Furries: and Other Anthropomorphic Creatures, by Ryo Sumiyoshi. (Tuttle Publishing – Art guidebook – April 25)
• Furry Planet, by Joe Strike. (Apollo Publishers – history – August 29)
• Furscience, by Dr. Courtney N. Plante. (International Anthropomorphic Research Project – research on furry fandom – December)
• On Furries and the Media, by Soatok. (Dhole Moments – blog – June 6)
• TFTuesday Podcast – A Measured Response: Saberspark’s TF Video Essay, by Zilepo and K-Libra. (Youtube – video – August 30)

Best Graphic Story
Includes comic books, and serialized online stories.

• Silverwing: The Graphic Novel, written by Kenneth Opel, Illustrated by Christopher Steininge. (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers – September 19)
• Slightly Damned, by Chu. (Internet – page #1081 to #1111)
• Tamberlane, by Caytlin Vilbrandt and Ari Noble. (Internet – January 11 to December 27)
• Two Kinds, by Thomas Fischbach. (Keenspot – January 3 to December 25)
• Would Have Bit You, by Inanimorphs. (Tumblr – January to July, (also hard copy Issue 1))

Best Comic Strip
Newspaper-style strips, including those with ongoing arcs.

• Carry On, by Kathy Garrison. (Hirezfox – January 2 to December 29)
• Foxes in Love, by Toivo Kaartinen. (Twitter – Jan 1 to December 21)
• Freefall, by Mark Stanley. (Purrsia – January 2 to December 29)
• Lauren Ipsum, by Charles Brubaker. (Internet – January 2 to December 30)
• The Whiteboard, by Doc Nickel. (Internet – January 2 to December 25)

Best Magazine
Edited collections of creative and/or informational works by various people, professional or amateur, published in print or online in written, pictorial or audio-visual form.

• Dhole Moments, edited by Soatok. (Internet – January 6 to December)
• Dogpatch Press, edited by Patch O’Furr. (Internet – February to December)
• Flayrah, edited by GreenReaper. (Internet – January 1 to December 31)
• InFurNation, edited by Rod O’Riley. (Internet – January 1 to December 31)
• Zooscape, edited by Mary E. Lowd (Internet; Issue 17 to 19)

Best Visual Art
Illustrations for books, magazines, convention program books, cover art for such, coffee-table portfolios.

• Market Haul by Squiddy (Twitter – February 22)
• Our Furry City – Anthrocon 2023 by ARVEN92 (Deviant Art – June 1)
• Pines by Glopossum (Fur Affinity – January 6)
• The Record Store by Squiddy (Twitter – February 10)
• Winterrock Oasis by Bubblewolf (Fur Affinity – February 20)

Best Game
Computer or console games, role-playing games, board games.

• Friends vs Friends (Developer:Brainwash Gang – Publisher: Raw Fury – May 30)
• Komorebi (Developer/Publisher: Klace – July 27)
• Laika: Aged Through Blood (Developer:Brainwash Gang – Publisher:Thunderful Publishing – October 19)
• Pseudoregalia (Developer/Publisher: rittzler – July 28)
• Super Mario Bros Wonder (Developer: Nintendo EPD – Publisher: Nintendo – October 20)

Best Website
Online collections of art, stories, and other creative and/or informational works. Includes galleries, story archives, directories, blogs, and personal sites.

• e621 – art archive.
• Fur Affinity, Furry art and stories.
• Kemono Café, Furry webcomic hosting.
• Wikifur, Furry wiki.
• Wolfery – roleplay/MUCK.

Best Anthropomorphic Music

• Cruel Oasis, by Cassidy Civet – album – August.
• Hullabaloo, by Cassidy Civet – single – April 30.
• TECHDOG 1-7, by Patricia Taxxon – album – October 25.
• Triple Threat, by Klace – album – July 27.
• Vestigial, by Daniel Lowd and Mary E. Lowd – single – March.

Best Anthropomorphic Fursuit

• Draco – Maker: The Beastcub. Owner: Draco Deflagro. (Twitter – July 15)
• Forlorn Raven – Maker: Lemonbrat. Owner: Forlorn Raven. (Twitter – February 3)
• Pig in Dress – Maker/Owner/Wearer: Suolaxierr. (Twitter – July 15)
• Sandey – Maker/Owner/Wearer: Misplaced_Spigot. (Vancoufur 2023)
• Vauk – Maker: Kkes and Vauk. Owner: Vauk. (Twitter – August 7)

Pixel Scroll 2/2/24 Scroll Pixel Very Simple Man, With Big Warm Filey Secret Heart

(1) UNLOAD THE CANON. Rev. Tom Emanuel calls on scholars and students to “Decanonize Tolkien” at Queer and Back Again.

In the fifty years since Tolkien’s death, his work and legacy have irrevocably shaped our understanding of what fantasy even is. This Oxford don, whose seemingly anachronistic, unclassifiable, wildly popular stories of Elves, Hobbits, and magic rings were once dismissed by the self-appointed guardians of Western literature, has now become one of its canonical figures.

Whether this is a good or a bad thing depends very much on whom you ask. Speaking as a lifelong Tolkien fanatic, my answer is: a bit of both. Either way, we might as well throw in the towel on biblical scholarship as on Tolkien scholarship. Just as the Bible is an inescapable, bone-deep influence on Western culture even for those who do not accord it status as Scripture, Tolkien is an inescapable influence on modern fantasy and, by extension, the study of the fantastic. His canonical status is why we cannot yet write him off; he means too much to too many people, has exerted too great a gravitational pull upon our field of inquiry. Yet that same canonical status is also why Tolkien scholarship must explore new horizons of reception and applicability and grapple responsibly with Tolkien’s complicated legacies both literary as well as cultural, historical as well as contemporary – another feature his work shares with the Bible. In fairness to my colleagues, many exceptional scholars, both established and emerging, are actively breaking new ground in Tolkien studies. More is needed, however, and an active reconsideration of approaches which have held sway in our field for too long….

…Those of us who study the man will always find it edifying (possibly) and entertaining (most certainly) to “interpret every single note Tolkien once wrote on a napkin and subject this analysis to multiple peer review,” to quote from this forum’s prompt. If we seek to continue in a genuinely Tolkienian spirit, however, we would do well to consider more deeply and carefully the effects of Tolkien’s fiction upon his readers and the wider culture in which they are implicated.

Key to this endeavor will be loosening the grip of so-called “authorial intent” over large swaths of Tolkien fandom and scholarship….

(2) HUGO AWARDS MESS REACHES ESQUIRE. [Item by PhilRM.] A not-terrible article that just showed up in Esquire about Chengdu touches, briefly and not terribly accurately, on the Puppies, and is almost entirely about the exclusions rather than the complete lack of believability of the numbers (although Heather Rose Jones’ work gets a link), but at least it delivers a well-deserved drubbing to Dave McCarty. “Hugo Awards 2024: What Really Happened at the Sci-Fi Awards in China?”

…In 2021, the voting process to select the host city for the 2023 convention became a lightning rod for conspiracy theories. Each year, anyone who purchases a membership in the World Science Fiction Society can vote on where WorldCon will be held two years later. In 2021, voters could choose between Chengdu and Winnipeg, Canada for the 2023 convention. “There were concerns that a couple thousand people from China purchased memberships [in the World Science Fiction Society] that year to vote for Chengdu,” says Jason Sanford, a three-time Hugo finalist. “It was unusual, but it was done under the rules.”

While Sanford welcomed the participation of new Chinese fans, other people were alarmed that many of the Chinese votes for Chengdu were written in the same handwriting and posted from the same mailing address. The chair of the convention that year, Mary Robinette Kowal, says some members of the awards committee wanted to mark those votes as invalid. “But if you’re filling out a ballot in English and you don’t speak English, you hand it to a friend who does,” she says. “And the translation we’d put in could be read as ‘where are you from,’ not ‘what is your address.’”

Eventually, a few votes were invalidated by the committee, but most were allowed to stand. “China has the largest science fiction reading audience on the planet by several magnitudes, and they are extremely passionate,” Kowal says….

…When McCarty finally shared last year’s nominating statistics on his Facebook page, authors, fans, and finalists were shocked. In the history of the awards, no works had ever been deemed ineligible like this. Many people who had expected Kuang to win for Babel were now stunned to see she very well could have, and McCarty’s refusal to explain what happened made everything worse. (McCarty did not respond to interview requests for this story.)

“Fandom doesn’t like people fucking with their awards, no matter who does it or why,” says John Scalzi, a three-time Hugo Award winner who was a finalist last year in the Best Novel category: the very same category in which R.F. Kuang should have been nominated for Babel, according to the nomination count on page 20 of McCarty’s document. “The reason people are outraged right now is because they care about the award, in one fashion or another, and this lack of transparency feels like a slap,” Scalzi says….

The article ends:

At the end of my Zoom call with Sanford, I see some emotion in his face around the eyes. “When I was young, science fiction and fantasy books literally saved my life,” he says. “I looked for books that were Hugo finalists or winners, and they showed me a way forward. They showed me there are other people out there who think like me.”

Whatever happens to the Hugos moving forward, one thing is clear: No one should have the power to erase books from the reading lists of future Jason Sanfords.

Jason Sanford disavowed the last paragraph on Bluesky.

Yes, I read the Esquire article I was interviewed for about the Hugo Awards controversy. A good article overall. I liked how the transparency of the Hugos is compared to lack of the same with most literary awards. Then I read the closing paragraph. Oh gods. SMDH. Be nice & know I didn’t write that.

Editor’s Note: The article also says of McCarty, “Within the WorldCon community, he’s nicknamed the ‘Hugo Pope’ for serving on so many awards committees over the years.” It’s a nickname I haven’t heard before. And Ersatz Culture reminds me that the October 26 Scroll carried a photo of a signature book showing McCarty refers to himself as ‘Hugo Boss’.

(3) WE DON’T TALK ABOUT HUGOS. Artist Lar deSouza has done a cartoon inspired by the controversy. See it on Bluesky: “We don’t talk about Hugos….”.

(4) IN THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON, A HEADLINE. “Dungeons & Dragons Publisher Denies Selling Game To Chinese Firm: Here’s What To Know” reports Forbes.

Wizards of the Coast, the Hasbro division behind tabletop game Dungeons & Dragons, is denying rumors sparked by a Chinese news report that a struggling Hasbro could be selling its Dungeons & Dragons franchise to Chinese video game company Tencent….

…But in a Thursday statement to multiple outlets, including Forbes, Wizards of the Coast, the Hasbro division that publishes Dungeons & Dragons and games including Magic: the Gathering, denied the rumors, claiming while the company has multiple partnerships with Tencent, “we are not looking to sell our D&D [intellectual property],” and the company would not comment any further on “speculation or rumors about potential M&A or licensing deals.”…

(5) FIGHT GOES INTO THE SECOND ROUND. [Item by Cat Eldridge.] “Disney To Appeal Ron DeSantis Legal Loss As The Empire Strikes Back” reports Deadline. Of course they are. It’s The Mouse. They have far more lawyers than there are pirates in The Pirates of The Caribbean Ride at Walt Disney World. And those lawyers know more about fighting dirty than those pirates ever did. Hmmm…. Mickey with an eye patch and cutlass…

The lines at Disney World may be long, but the Mouse House isn’t standing around to let Ron DeSantis savor his win yesterday in the company’s First Amendment lawsuit against the failed presidential candidate.

Less than 24 hours after a federal judge agreed with the Florida Governor and deep-sixed Disney’s nearly year long legal action, the Bob Iger-run entertainment giant and Sunshine State mega-employer gave official notice they plan to challenge Wednesday’s dismissal.

“Notice is given that Plaintiff Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, U.S., Inc. (“Disney”) hereby appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit from the Order Granting Motions to Dismiss and the final judgment entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida on January 31, 2024,” said outside Disney counsel Daniel Petrocelli and a small legion of lawyers in a filing this morning.

No word yet when the actual appeal will be filed, but it could be within the next week or so, I hear.

In a Florida knife fight that started with Disney’s slow but eventual opposition to the state’s parental rights bill, known by detractors AKA the “Don’t Say Gay” law, and then turned to DeSantis’ throwing overboard the long standing governance the company had over the region around Orlando’s Disney World and appointing his own Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board. As the dust-up escalated, Disney filed its suit in April, as past and now present CEO Iger and the so-called “woke” battling DeSantis, who was eyeing what became a face plant of a primary campaign, hurled missives at each other in public…

(6) URSA MAJOR. Nominations for the Ursa Major Awards, Annual Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Award, are open and will continue until February 17.

To nominate online, all people must first enroll. Go here to ENROLL FOR ONLINE NOMINATIONS or to LOGIN if you have already enrolled.

You may choose up to five nominees for each category:

Nominations may be made for the following categories:

Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture
Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Short Work
Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Series
Best Anthropomorphic Novel
Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction
Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work
Best Anthropomorphic Non-Fiction Work
Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story
Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip
Best Anthropomorphic Magazine
Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration
Best Anthropomorphic Game
Best Anthropomorphic Website
Best Anthropomorphic Costume (Fursuit)
Best Anthropomorphic Music

(7) CALL FOR ‘WEIRD HOLLYWOOD’ SUBMISSIONS. Christopher J. Garcia, Chuck Serface, and Alissa Wales are planning an issue of The Drink Tank about Weird Hollywood. “Weird,” however you define that term, can apply to Hollywood as the city itself or as the entertainment industry. The editors are interested in fiction, art, history, poetry, photography, or anything printable you want to contribute. Send submissions to Chris at [email protected] or to Chuck at [email protected]. The deadline is March 1, 2024.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 2, 1990 Sarah Gailey, 33. Sarah Gailey comes to our attention with their Best Related Work Hugo at Worldcon 75 with their Women of Harry Potter posts. Fascinating look at some other commenters mostly. Here is the “Women of Harry Potter: Ginny Weasley Is Not Impressed” post at Reactor.

Their alternate history “River of Teeth” novella, the first work in that series, was nominated for  a Hugo Award for Best Novella at Worldcon 76 and a Nebula. It’s also the first work in their American Hippo duology, the other being the novella “Taste of Marrow”. 

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey, art by Will Staehle
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey, art by Will Staehle

Upright Women Wanted is set in the a fantasy of a Wild West of a twenty minutes into the future dystopian hyper heterosexual America which is all I can say about giving away spoilers about it. Major trigger warnings for any conservative readers here. 

Their Magic for Liars, is quite excellent I would say. It’s a murder mystery set in school for young wizards but it’s nothing like those books.  They discuss their book here in a YouTube video.

The Echo Wife is a thriller with some very adult questions about the nature of what being human actually means. To say anymore would be spoiling it. It’s damn good. I’d say that it’s their best work to date. 

Their latest novel, Just Like Home, is not one I’ve read. Let’s just say that I don’t do serial killers and leave it at that. 

They also scripted The Vampire Slayer series on Boom! Comics from the universe of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

They have done a double, double handful of short fiction, almost so far collected though the American Hippo collects the “River of Teeth” novella and the “Taste of Marrow” novella, and two short stories, “Worth Her Weight in Gold” and “Nine and a Half”, all part of the River of Teeth storytelling. 

Finally they have a magical, in the best way magic is, newsletter called Stone Soup. “It’s about the things we cook, the things we read, the things we write. It’s about the things we care about, together and separately; it’s about everything we add to the pot, in little bits and pieces, to make something great. It’s about community.” You can sign up for the free level, or the paid which I do and is well worth the cup of coffee a month it’ll cost you. (My Patreon fees collectively are larger than any of my streaming services by far.) Mike has from to time included material from it here. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz ponders the power of story.

(10) ARE WRITERS GETTING PAID? The Society of Authors is skeptical. According to the Guardian, “Spotify claims to have paid audiobook publishers ‘tens of millions’ in royalties”.

Spotify has said that it has paid audiobook publishers “tens of millions” since allowing users 15 hours of audiobook listening in its Premium subscription package last autumn.

The company said that the figure, reported by trade magazine the Bookseller, is “100% royalties” and that it expects to “continue growing” royalty payouts in future. It would not give a more precise amount for payouts made so far, but said that the “tens of millions” figure applies in both pounds and dollars.

However, the Society of Authors (SoA) said they “remain concerned at the lack of clarity about the deals”. The industry body said it is “still waiting to see the effect on author incomes and whether these are real additional sales or simply take market share from Amazon”….

(11) JEOPARDY! [Item by Andrew Porter.] A Tolkien category featured on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! Some contestants stumbled.

Category: Talking About Tolkien

Answer: Humphrey Carpenter’s bio of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis & like-minded friends has this title, like their literary circle.

Wrong question: What is the Oxford group?

Right question: What is the Inklings?

Answer: To his family and close friends, Tolkien was known by this name, the first “R” in his initials.

Wrong questions: What is Rael? and What is Robert?

Right question: What is Ronald?

(12) CSI SKILL TREE. The latest episode of CSI Skill Tree is “Game Localization with Siyang Gao and Emily Xueni Jin”. The series examines how video games envision possible futures and build thought-provoking worlds. In this episode, the participants discuss the process of video game localization, which encompasses both translation and deeper work, even up to adapting a game’s mechanics, cultural references and allusions, and more to better resonate with players who encounter the game outside of its initial linguistic and cultural context.

Siyang Gao is a writer, translator, and video game localizer who specializes in narrative-heavy games, and Emily Xueni Jin is an essayist, researcher, and fantastic translator of science fiction who translates both from Chinese to English and the other way around. Also, here’s a YouTube playlist with all 14 of the Skill Tree episodes thus far.

(13) K5 WAS NO K9; RETIRED. The New York Times says “Goodbye for Now to the Robot That (Sort Of) Patrolled New York’s Subway”.

The New York Police Department robot sat motionless like a sad Wall-E on Friday morning, gathering dust inside an empty storefront within New York City’s busiest subway station.

No longer were its cameras scanning straphangers traversing Times Square. No longer were subway riders pressing its help button, if ever they had.

New York City has retired the robot, known as the Knightscope K5, from service inside the Times Square station. The Police Department had been forced to assign officers to chaperone the robot, which is 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 400 pounds. It could not use the stairs. Some straphangers wanted to abuse it.

“The K5 Knightscope has completed its pilot in the NYC subway system,” a spokesman for the department said in an email.

On Friday, the white contraption in N.Y.P.D. livery sat amid a mountain of cardboard boxes, separated from the commuting masses by a plate-glass window. People streaming by said they had often been mystified by the robot.

“I thought it was a toy,” said Derek Dennis, 56, a signal engineer.

It was an ignominious end for an experiment that Mayor Eric Adams, a self-described tech geek, hoped would help bring safety and order to the subways, at a time when crime remained a pressing concern for many New Yorkers….

(14) TUNES INSPIRED BY LOVECRAFT STORY. Another musical discovery that might be of interest: “The Music of Erich Zann” from Half Deaf Clatch via Speak Up Recordings at Bandcamp.

‘The Music of Erich Zann’ is one of my favourite short stories by H.P Lovecraft, and I’ve been wanting to do a musical adaptation for a long while now. This EP started out as a few short atmospheric instrumentals, but very quickly turned into a full blown musical work with lots of lyrics!

The words are an abridged version of the story and detail the salient points, rather than providing a blow by blow account, if you haven’t read the actual story I highly recommend it.

I kept the instrumentation relatively simple, just an acoustic guitar, electric cello, pipe organ, percussion and atmospheric soundscapes. The majority of the sounds are made by acoustic or electro-acoustic instruments, the electric cello was played through an Orange ‘Crush’ acoustic amp and EHX Soul Food pedal, any ‘otherworldly’ effects were created with instruments put through octavers and auto filters.

In the original story Lovecraft says that Eric Zann plays a ‘viol’, it is widely accepted that he meant a viol da gamba, a Baroque era instrument which closely resembles the cello, but has five to seven strings, and frets. Since these are rare and very expensive, I obviously decided to use my electric cello for this EP, as buying a viol da gamba seemed an unnecessary extravagance.

(15) OUT OF THE JUG. The Guardian visits with “The man who owes Nintendo $14m: Gary Bowser and gaming’s most infamous piracy case”.

In April 2023, a 54-year-old programmer named Gary Bowser was released from prison having served 14 months of a 40-month sentence. Good behaviour reduced his time behind bars, but now his options are limited. For a while he was crashing on a friend’s couch in Toronto. The weekly physical therapy sessions, which he needs to ease chronic pain, were costing hundreds of dollars every week, and he didn’t have a job. And soon, he would need to start sending cheques to Nintendo. Bowser owes the makers of Super Mario $14.5m (£11.5m), and he’s probably going to spend the rest of his life paying it back….

…In the late 00s he made contact with Team Xecuter, a group that produces dongles used to bypass anti-piracy measures on Nintendo Switch and other consoles, letting them illegally download, modify and play games. While he says he was only paid a few hundred dollars a month to update their websites, Bowser says the people he worked with weren’t very social and he helped “testers” troubleshoot devices.

“I started becoming a middleman in between the people doing the development work, and the people actually owning the mod chips, playing the games,” he says. “I would get feedback from the testers, and then I would send it to the developers … I can handle people, and that’s why I ended up getting more involved.”

In September 2020, he was arrested in a sting so unusual that the US Department of Justice released a press release boasting about the indictment, in which acting assistant attorney general Brian C Rabbitt called Bowser and his co-defendants “leaders of a notorious international criminal group that reaped illegal profits for years by pirating video game technology of US companies”.

“The day that it happened, I was sleeping in my bed, it was four in the morning, I’d been drinking all night,” Bowser says. “And suddenly I wake up and see three people surrounding my bed with rifles aimed at my head … they dragged me out of the place, put me in the back of a pickup truck and drove me to the Interpol office.”…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George’s “Echo Pitch Meeting” invites everyone to step inside the Pitch Meeting that led to Echo! Beware what you step in, though, because there are spoiler warnings.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, JJ, Kathy Sullivan, Joey Eschrich, PhilRM, Jason Sanford, Robin Anne Reid, Ersatz Culture, Chuck Serface, 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 Andrew (not Werdna).]

2023 Ursa Major Awards

Image by EosFoxx

The winners of the 2023 Ursa Major Awards, presented annually for “excellence in the furry arts”, were announced May 25 in a YouTube video. (Note: The video refers to them as the 2023 awards, while the Ursa Major Awards website calls them the 2022 awards. Please yourself.)

Best Motion Picture
Live-action or animated feature-length movies.

• Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Directed by Joel Crawford and Januel Mercado; December 21)

Best Dramatic Short Work
One-shots, advertisements or short videos.

• Horns (Directed by FattyDragonite; December 9)

Best Dramatic Series
TV or YouTube series videos.

• Bluey (Created by Joe Brumm; Season 3 (Part 2))

Best Novel
Written works of 40,000 words or more. Serialized novels qualify only for the year that the final chapter is published.

• A FurryFaux Paw, by Jessica Kara. (Page Street Kids; July 26)

Best Short Fiction
Stories less than 40,000 words, poetry, and other short Written works.

• Bears & Bravery, by Gre7g Luterman (illustrations by BearHybrid). (The Bear Minimum patreon; April 5)

Best General Literary Work
Story collections, comic collections, graphic novels, non-fiction works, and serialized online stories.

• Circles: Volume 4, by Steve Domanski and Andrew French. (Fenris Publishing, collection, Febuary 21)

Best Non-Fiction Work

• Art, Furries, God, by Patricia Taxxon. (YouTube, video; Jul 6)

Best Graphic Story
Includes comic books, and serialized online stories.

• The Whiteboard: Sherlock Holmes, by Doc N. (Internet, October 3 to December 23)

Best Comic Strip
Newspaper-style strips, including those with ongoing arcs.

• The Whiteboard, by Doc N. (Internet, January 4 to December 23)

Best Magazine
Edited collections of creative and/or informational works by various people, professional or amateur, published in print or online in written, pictorial or audio-visual form.

• Dogpatch Press, edited by Patch Packrat. (Internet; January 12 to September 30)

Best Illustration
Illustrations for books, magazines, convention program books, cover art for such, T-shirts, coffee-table portfolios.

• Ais05, Dragon Party, (Twitter, October 18)

Best Game
Computer or console games, role-playing games, board games.

• Cult of the Lamb (Developer: Massive Monster, Publisher: Devolver Digital; Aug 11)

Best Website
Online collections of art, stories, and other creative and/or informational works. Includes galleries, story archives, directories, blogs, and personal sites.

• Fur Affinity, Furry art and stories

Best Anthropomorphic Music

• Another Railway Day, by Nonnie, album, November 23.

Pixel Scroll 4/27/23 Only The True Pixel Denies His Divinity

(1) BOASE AWARD. The UK’s Branford Boase Award honors debut efforts in children’s books and the editors as well as authors behind them. There are three works on The Branford Boase Award 2023 Shortlist of genre interest:

The other shortlisted works are:

  • The Bones of Me by Kel Duckhouse, edited by Harriet Birkinshaw, Flying Eye Books YA
  • Seed by Caryl Lewis, edited by Sarah Hughes, illustrated by George Ermos, Macmillan Children’s Books 7+
  • The Cats We Meet Along the Way, Nadia Mikail, edited by Bella Pearson, Guppy Books YA
  • Ellie Pillai is BrownChristine Pillainayagam, edited by Leah Thaxton, Faber 13+
  • The Map of Leaves, Yarrow Townsend, edited by Rachel Leyshon, Chicken House 10+

(2) SMALL PRESS WINS AWARD WITH GENRE BOOK. “Dead Ink wins Republic of Consciousness prize with Missouri Williams’s ‘astonishing’ debut” in the Guardian.

…First awarded in 2017, the Republic of Consciousness prize is given to the best literary novel published by a small press in the UK and Ireland with fewer than five employees. Over the past seven years the prize has awarded almost £100,000 to more than 25 small presses and writers….

Dead Ink Books has won the Republic of Consciousness prize for small presses for Missouri Williams’s “astonishing” debut novel The Doloriad. Yet while Dead Ink and Williams will get the prestige of winning, the entire shortlist will receive the same reward. Each of the five books wins £1,000, split 70:30 between publisher and author, on top of the £300 awarded to the 10 longlisted titles, which was paid to the presses only.

Prague-based Williams’s novel is set in the imagined wake of a mysterious disaster that has wiped out most of humanity. One family, descended from incest, remains, ruled by a merciless woman known only as the Matriarch. When the Matriarch believes there might be more survivors she sends one of her daughters, the legless Dolores, as a marriage offering….

(3) HOW LONG? Author Hana Lee built a tool designed to calculate how many copies an author must sell to earn out an advance. [Via Publishers Weekly.]

“Earning out” means that the amount you’ve “earned” in royalties from copies sold (across all formats) equals or exceeds your advance payment.

(4) CON OR BUST AUCTION RETURNS. Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program makes direct cash grants to creators or fans of color to assist with travel, food, registration, and other expenses associated with attending industry events. They are bringing back The Con or Bust Auction to raise money for their grants and are looking for donors for items of interest to potential auction buyers. “Think special experiences (like author Q&As), art, limited and/or special edition copies of books, ARCs for anticipated releases, etc.”

They want to have donations in by the end of June for inclusion this year. See full information on the program and how to contact them about donations here. Dream Foundry is a recognized non-profit and any donations given to us are tax deductible.

(5) ELLIOTT Q&A. Paul Weimer asks the questions in “Interview: Kate Elliott, author of Furious Heaven at Nerds of a Feather.

Furious Heaven, being a sequel to Unconquerable Sun, is a middle book in a series. How has the writing of this been the same, and different than other series that you have done? 

My goal with each of the three books of this trilogy has been, and continues to be, to shape each individual volume as if it is a standalone. Unconquerable Sun completes several of its major plot threads and, I believe, ends at a satisfying point. If I’ve done my job right, the reader will feel they’ve read a complete story and ALSO wish to read more.

Middle volumes are peculiarly hard. It’s important, in my opinion, to avoid “adding more beads onto the string” — that is, just to add more incident without complicating or expanding on the original elements of the story. A middle volume can add layers, unexpected twists and outcomes; it can deepen the characters and guide the reader into new landscapes and unknown dangers only hinted at in book one. That’s how I worked with (for example) Shadow Gate (Crossroads), Cold Fire (Spiritwalker), and Poisoned Blade (Court of Fives), which are all second volumes in trilogies that make the story bigger and show the reader new places and new conflicts.

With Furious Heaven I specifically wanted to do my best to make the story readable by someone who hadn’t read book one, while also having it build on what had come before…. 

(6) DUNE 2 PREVIEW. “’Dune: Part Two’—An Exclusive First Look at the Saga’s Epic Conclusion”Vanity Fair offers descriptions and photos, but no video.

If you want to know where Dune: Part Two will begin, just look to the ending of the 2021 original. Director Denis Villeneuve wants to make it clear that his new movie, set for release November 3, is not so much another film as a continuation of the first. “It’s important—it’s not a sequel, it’s a second part. There’s a difference,” Villeneuve tells Vanity Fair for this exclusive first look. “I wanted the movie to really open just where we left the characters. There’s no time jump. I wanted dramatic continuity with part one.”…

….Although the first part of Dune became one of the first post-pandemic blockbusters and was nominated for 10 Oscars, winning six, the filmmaker himself still fixates on what he feels he could have done better. “You have to accept your failures as an artist,” he says. “It’s a task that was almost impossible, for me to be absolutely faithful to what those childhood dreams were. But what brings a lot of peace in my heart is that I brought a lot of them to the screen, a lot of them are close to what I had imagined.”

For now, Villeneuve is keeping his head down, staying focused on his work. “I’m deep into sound design and the visual effects, and it’s a race against time,” he says. Even discussing the film for this story was taxing for him. “I’ll be very blunt, okay?” he says with a smile, deploying the most Canadian analogy imaginable. “It’s very difficult for me to start to talk about a movie when I’m doing it. It’s like asking a hockey player to describe how he will score as he is skating toward the net.” 

Meanwhile, The Onion is skeptical: “’Dune: Part Two’ To Pick Up Right Where Viewers Fell Asleep During First One”.

(7) URSA MAJOR AWARDS. The group that runs the Ursa Major Awards for anthropomorphic works is asking for financial support. Contact them at the Ursa Major Awards website.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2003[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

One of my very favorite authors is Emma Bull (she and Will are on the chocolate gifting list) and Finder: A Novel of The Borderland is a novel that I’ve read at least a half dozen times to date.

Without stating any spoilers, I think it’s safe to say that Emma created truly believable characters, from the primary ones to the ones that just exist to enhance out the story, the setting of the city itself, and a story that makes the most of the setting that Bull has fleshed out from what Terri Windling created originally in this series.

The novel is available readily for quite reasonable prices in various editions, print and digital. 

And here’s the Beginning straight from the Border…

“My father he rides with your sheriffs

And I know he would never mean harm…

— Richard Thompson, “Genesis Hall”

 Chapter 1. Falling Out of Paradise

I remember where I was and what I was doing when Bonnie Prince Charlie was killed. Not that I knew it at the time, of course. But while Charlie was traveling the distance from the Pigeon Cloisters belfry to High Street with all the dispatch that gravity can muster, I was sunbathing.

If the weather had held, I’d have been on the roof of my building the next day, too, spread out like a drying sweater. But it promised rain. (If the forecast had been different, would the past be, too? Would a lot of people still be here? This town is strange and has weather to match, but I never imagined it was a matter of life and death.)

So when Tick-Tick pounded on the frame of my open front door, I was in and washing dishes. She poked her head in and shouted, “I am the queen’s daughter, I come from Twelfth and Flynn, in search of Young Orient, pray God I find him!”

I lifted my hands dripping from the suds, took the herbal cigarette out of the corner of my mouth, and said, “Excuse me?”

“Well, in a manner of speaking,” said the Ticker placidly. She stalked in, the picture of elven self-possession, and picked a saucer out of the dishpan with thumb and forefinger. “Mab’s grace. So low as you’ve fallen, my precious boy.”

“I’m out of cups. Nothing else would have driven me to it.” The water had killed my cigarette. I sighed and flicked it out the window.

She dropped into my upholstered chair and swung her long legs over the arm. Her concession to summer’s heat, I noticed, was to tear the sleeves off her favorite pair of gray mechanic’s coveralls and roll the legs up to mid-calf. And still she did look rather like a queen’s daughter; but the elves usually look like royalty. When they’re trying not to, they only look like royalty in a cheap plastic disguise. Tick-Tick had a face like the bust of Nefertiti, only more daunting, and her eyes were huge and long and the gray of January ice.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 27, 1899 Walter Lantz. Cartoonist, animator, producer and director who founded Walter Lantz Productions. He created the Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy characters among others. He received an Academy Award “for bringing joy and laughter to every part of the world through his unique animated motion pictures”. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 27, 1901 Frank Belknap Long. John Hertz says that Long should be singled out for the “To Follow Knowledge” novelette which he lovingly discuses here.  I only add that Long received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 27, 1920 Doris Baumgardt.Well-known and loved fan, illustrator and writer. She was a member of the Futurians, and a founding member of FAPA. She was also a member of the CPASF and the Science Fictioneers. She was one of five members of the Futurians allowed into the first World Science Fiction Convention by Sam Moskowitz — the other four were Isaac Asimov, David Kyle, Jack Robinson and Richard Wilson. She wrote three pieces of short fiction that were published in the Forties and Fifties; she contributed artwork to fanzines. (JJ) (Died 1970.)
  • Born April 27, 1958 Caroline Spector, 65. She was an Associate Editor at Amazing Stories for several years, but her main genre connection is her fiction in George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series where she has seven stories. She also a Shadowrun novel, Worlds Without End. (Now that was an interesting RPG!) she also has an essay, “Power and Feminism in Westeros” in James Lowder’s Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, From A “Game of Thrones” to “A Dance with Dragons
  • Born April 27, 1962 Rachel Caine. She had two ongoing endeavors, the Weather Warden series which is most excellent and the superb Great Library series. I can’t speak to the Morganville Vampires series as I don’t do vampires really. And yes, I know she’s got a number of other series, far more than can detailed be here. (Died 2020.)
  • Born April 27, 1963 Russell T. Davies, 60. Responsible for the 2005 revival on BBC One of Doctor Who. (A Whovian since the very beginning, he thinks “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” has the best dialogue in the entire series, an opinion I concur with.) Of course he’s also responsible for Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures as well. (Need I note that the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot was his idea?) Davies returned as the showrunner in October 2022 after the departure of Chris Chibnall; the first episodes of his second tenure will be the show’s sixtieth anniversary specials in 2023.
  • Born April 27, 1986 Catherine Webb, 37. She’s writes under a number of names but I only know her under her Kate Griffin name where she wrote the extraordinary London set Matthew Swift series which one of the best urban fantasy series I ever read. I’ve not read any of her fiction written as Claire North which is major other name, so if you have, do tell me how it is. As North, her book The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August won the Clarke Award and Campbell Memorial Award, and The Sudden Appearance of Hope won a World Fantasy Award. Now go read the Matthew Swift series! 

(10) JOBS MAGNET. “As New York Boosts Tax Breaks for Movies, Some Critics Pan the Program” reports the New York Times.

 Four years ago, Amazon pulled the plug on its plans to build a headquarters in New York City, amid left-wing outrage over a $3 billion public subsidy package. But New York has hardly cut the company off: Amazon’s film and TV arm has received more than $108 million in state tax credits since then, and the left has raised nary a peep.

The handout is part of a state program that provides hundreds of millions of dollars each year in tax incentives to producers across the film and television industry, including Amazon — helping fuel a rapid expansion of studios in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County.

Now, Gov. Kathy Hochul is pushing to expand the program by nearly 70 percent, using the proposed state budget to shower as much as $7.7 billion in tax credits on the industry over the next 11 years. As it now stands, the subsidy is the most generous of any offered by the state, according to an analysis by Reinvent Albany, a watchdog group.

The proposed expansion to $700 million a year from $420 million has drawn stern rebukes from a range of critics who argue the decades-old program has consistently been a bad deal for taxpayers. But its likely success shows what is possible when powerful political and economic forces align in Albany, and states are increasingly pitted against each other for prestige jobs.

Ms. Hochul’s team is most concerned about neighboring New Jersey, which, along with Georgia and Canada, offers its own buffet of sweeteners that threatens to siphon film projects from New York.

(11) WWII RESISTANCE WORK. “Colorful Stories for Children, With the Darkest History as Backdrop” in the New York Times.  Includes many pictures from the books.  

During World War II, a clutch of whimsical children’s books were published in the Netherlands under a pen name, El Pintor. One book shows children flying on the backs of sparrows. In another, they float, attached to balloons. There is a pop-up book with people and animals nestled in trees and an activity book with paper cutouts.

The books sold thousands of copies, and were popular not only in the Netherlands, which was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany in 1940, but in Germany as well.

The books did more than entertain children during the grim days of war. Behind the pseudonym El Pintor was a Jewish couple, Galinka Ehrenfest and Jacob Kloot. They used the name El Pintor to obscure their heritage, and funneled the proceeds from their picture books to fund Dutch resistance efforts and to help Jews who were hiding from the Nazi regime.

They did so at great risk, said Linda Horn, who wrote a book published in the Netherlands about Ehrenfest’s life.

“Secrecy was very important, people couldn’t write down what they were doing,” said Horn of those who worked in the Dutch resistance. “There are barely any sources.”…

(12) TODAY’S DAY. It’s World Hyena Day today. Which is important if you’re into furry fiction.

https://twitter.com/WildDogUtunu/status/1650854052245250049

(13) HISTORY-MAKING AMATEUR FILM CLUB. [Item by Ahrvid Enghom.] UK fan Jim Walker suddenly appears in the new documentary “A Bunch of Amateurs” (eg 37h30m in, but also later and in the credits), a film about the world’s perhaps oldest amateur film club, the Bradford Movie Makers founded in 1932.

Available here for UK viewers  (Geo-blocking may be overcome by VPN or something, if you know how.) I’ve seen the film, which has been on our local SVT.

(See also e.g. “Bradford-Based Feature Documentary A Bunch Of Amateurs”) — Bradford Movie Makers. They seem to have done some skiffy flicks among their 300 productions over 90 years, e.g. a Superman parody which is shown in this documentary.

Jim Walker

(14) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 82 of Octothorpe, “Metatextual Dinosaurs”

John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty talk about their Hugo Award nominations. You have about four days to vote, so get your skates on! Read and watch everything we recommend! Do it now!

(15) APEX ACQUIRES KEENE BOOK. Apex Book Company has acquired first North America English trade paperback rights to the novel Island Of The Dead by Brian Keene in a deal brokered by the author.

Island Of The Dead is a horror/sword and sorcery novel in which an enslaved barbarian plots his escape from a war galley transporting soldiers and a mysterious biological weapon. But when a storm at sea leaves them shipwrecked on a mysterious island, friend and foe alike must band together against a ravenous, steadily growing horde of the undead.

Through Apex Books, Keene has written the Lost Level series of dark fantasy novels and co-authored the Rogan Chronicles series with Steven Shrewsbury.

Brian Keene is the author of over fifty books, mostly in the horror, crime, fantasy, and non-fiction genres. His 2003 novel, The Rising, is credited (along with Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic and Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later film) with inspiring pop culture’s recurrent interest in zombies.

(16) STALKER. “A Russian ‘inspector’ satellite appears to be chasing a secret US military satellite in a game of cat and mouse” – see photos at MSN.com.

mysterious Russian satellite and a confidential US military satellite appear to be engaged in a cat-and-mouse chase through space.

The Russian spacecraft, called Kosmos-2558, was launched into the same orbital plane as the US satellite, called USA-326, in August 2022 and has regularly passed close to the American spacecraft ever since.

The behavior of Kosmos-2558, and the lack of a formal explanation from Russia, has led space observers to believe that the probe is stalking USA-326. It’s at least the third satellite Russia has launched that appears to be an “inspector” — a spacecraft aiming to gather up-close data on another satellite….

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

2022 Ursa Major Awards Nominees

Image by EosFoxx

The nominations for the 2022 Ursa Major Awards have been finalized. The Ursa Major Award is presented annually for “excellence in the furry arts.” Anyone may nominate and vote for candidates for the Awards. The 2022 Ursa Major Awards final ballot will be open for voting from March 1 to March 31 on the UMA website.

THE 2022 NOMINEES

Best Motion Picture
Live-action or animated feature-length movies.

• DC League of Super-Pets (Directed by Jared Stern and Sam Levin; July 29)
• Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Directed by Joel Crawford and Januel Mercado; December 21)
• Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Directed by Jeff Fowler; April 8)
• The Bad Guys (Directed by Pierre Perifel; April 22)
• Turning Red (Directed by Domee Shi; March 11)

Best Dramatic Short Work
One-shots, advertisements or short videos.

• Horns (Directed by FattyDragonite; December 9)
• The Legend of Pipi (Directed by Julia Schoel and Birgit Uhlig; Jul 16)
• Monkey Wrench – The Ghost Egg (Directed by Julia Schoel and Birgit Uhlig; Jul 16)
• Tales From Scorchwater Valley (Directed by Alex Henderson; February 15)
• Tales of Zale – Flickering Lights (Directed by Sif Savery; September 7)

Best Dramatic Series
TV or YouTube series videos.

• Bluey (Created by Joe Brumm; Season 3 (Part 2))
• Helluva Boss (Directed by Vivienne “VivziePop” Medrano; Season 2, episodes 1-10)
• The Owl House (Created by Dana Terrace; season 2 episode 11 to season 3 episode 1)
• Tuca & Bertie (Created by Lisa Hanawalt; Season 3) Mature Audiences.
• Zootopia+ (Directed by Trent Correy and Josie Trinidad, Season 1)

Best Novel
Written works of 40,000 words or more. Serialized novels qualify only for the year that the final chapter is published.

• A FurryFaux Paw, by Jessica Kara. (Page Street Kids; July 26)
• Brothers At Arms by R.A. Meenan. (Starcrest Fox Press; February 14)
• Mouse Cage, by Malcolm F. Cross. (Fenris Publishing; July 13)
• Scars of the Golden Dancer, by NightEyes DaySpring. (Dancing Jackal Books; March 4) Mature Audiences
• Toledot (Post-Self #2), by Madison Scott-Clary. (Self; January 21)

Best Short Fiction
Stories less than 40,000 words, poetry, and other short Written works.

• Bears & Bravery, by Gre7g Luterman (illustrations by BearHybrid). (The Bear Minimum patreon; April 5)
• Draught Horse, by Huskyteer. (ROAR 11; July)
• Null, by Elise Zoe Heider. (Google Docs; April 10) Mature Audiences
• The Otter’s wings, by Mary E. Lowd. (ShadowSpinners Press; October 15)
• The Swift-Footed Darling of the Rocks (Do NOT Actually Call Me That), by Marie Croke. (Zooscape; issue 14)

Best General Literary Work
Story collections, comic collections, graphic novels, non-fiction works, and serialized online stories.

• Circles: Volume 4, by Steve Domanski and Andrew French. (Fenris Publishing, collection, Febuary 21)
• ROAR: Volume 11, Edited by Ian Madison Keller. (Bad Dog Books, anthology, July 1)
• Usagi Yojimbo Origins, by Stan Sakai. (IDW Publishing, trade paperback collection; volume 2 to 4)
• Usagi Yojimbo (Trade Paperback), by Stan Sakai. (IDW Publishing, trade paperback collection; Tengu War to Crossroads)
• When the World Was Young: A Prehistoric Anthology, edited by Madison Scott-Clary. (The Furry Historical Fiction Society,anthology, December 1

Best Non-Fiction Work

• Art, Furries, God, by Patricia Taxxon. (YouTube, video; Jul 6)
• Furries & The Ethics of Cringe Culture, by Kurtis Connor. (You Tube, video; September 30)
• Furry Fiction: The Squishy Edges and the Heart, by Mary E. Lowd. (Deep Sky Anchor, article, December 5.)
• Ursa’s Major Issue – Confident self-promotion vs humble passionate skill, and a voting system’s favoritism, by Sonious. (Flayrah, article; June 9)
• Who Runs The Internet? Furries, by Dylan Reeve. (The Spinoff, article; January 11)

Best Graphic Story
Includes comic books, and serialized online stories.

• Slightly Damned, by Chu. (Internet, pages 1038 to 1081)
• Sonic the Hedgehog, written by Evan Stanley and Ian Flynn, art by Aaron Hammerstrom, Evan Stanley and Adam Bryce Thomas. (IDW; issues 48 to 55)
• Usagi Yojimbo, by Stan Sakai. (IDW Publishing; issues 25 to 31)
• Usagi Yojimbo: Lone Goat & Kid, by Stan Sakai. (IDW Publishing; issues 1 to 6)
• The Whiteboard: Sherlock Holmes, by Doc N. (Internet, October 3 to December 23)

Best Comic Strip
Newspaper-style strips, including those with ongoing arcs.

• Carry On, by Kathy Garrison Kellogg (Internet, January 4 to December 30)
• Duncan & Eddie, by Chevril. (Twitter; January 1 to December 26)
• Foxes In Lovel, @foxesinlove. (Twitter; January 1 to December 21)
• Part Time Dragons, by Part Time Dragons. (Internet; Dragon Bite Meat to The Disturbing Side Effects of Immortality)
• The Whiteboard, by Doc N. (Internet, January 4 to December 23)

Best Magazine
Edited collections of creative and/or informational works by various people, professional or amateur, published in print or online in written, pictorial or audio-visual form.

• Deep Sky Anchor, edited by Mary E. Lowd. (Internet; May to December)
• Dogpatch Press, edited by Patch Packrat. (Internet; January 12 to September 30)
• Flayrah, edited by GreenReaper, Sonious, and Dronon (Internet; January 1 to December 29)
• InFurNation, edited by Rod O’Riley. (Internet; January 1 to December 30)
• Zooscape, edited by Mary E. Lowd (Internet; Issue 14 to 16)

Best Illustration
Illustrations for books, magazines, convention program books, cover art for such, T-shirts, coffee-table portfolios.

• Ais05, Dragon Party, (Twitter, October 18)
• Caraid, Jedit Ojanen, Mercenary, (Twitter, August 18)
• Jacato, Wind Watcher (Twitter, March 3)
• Wildering, Space Boy, (Twitter, December 1)

Best Game
Computer or console games, role-playing games, board games.

• Cult of the Lamb (Developer: Massive Monster, Publisher: Devolver Digital; Aug 11)
• Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series (Developer: Monkey Craft, Publisher: Bandai Namco; July 8)
• Lookouts (Developer: ParanoidHawk and ColDoggo, Publisher: itch.io; March 31)
• Stray (Developer: BlueTwelve Studio, Publisher: Annapurna Interactive; July 19)
• Tunic (Developer: Andrew Shouldice, Publisher: Finji; March 16)

Best Website
Online collections of art, stories, and other creative and/or informational works. Includes galleries, story archives, directories, blogs, and personal sites.

• e621, Art archive
• Fluffle, reverse image search for the furry community
• Fur Affinity, Furry art and stories
• Kemono Café, Furry webcomic hosting
• Wikifur, Furry wiki

Best Anthropomorphic Music

• Another Railway Day, by Nonnie, album, November 23.
• Can Opener’s Notebook: Fish Whisperer, by Vylet Pony. album, Feb 22.
• Cute Cervid Vol. 1, by CUTE CERVID (various artists), album, December 2.
• idaidaida, by ida deerz. album, June 3.
• Visiting Narcissa, by Patricia Taxxon. album, June 3.

Best Anthropomorphic Fursuit

• This category will not be contested this year due to insufficient nominations

Pixel Scroll 6/11/22 In The Beginning There Was Nothing But Rocks. And Then Somebody Scrolled A Pixel

(1) THE FUR IS FLYING. Flayrah’s Tantroo McNally suspects the number of furry fandom’s Ursa Major awards voters who make a dispassionate assessment of quality is being overwhelmed by devoted fans of specific popular franchises and creators that campaign for the award. McNally regards this as a problem, therefore is in search of a solution: “Ursa’s Major Issue – Confident self-promotion vs humble passionate skill, and a voting system’s favoritism”.

Ursa, we may have a problem. Or at least so it may seem. Over the past few years the number of people voting in the furry fandom’s popular choice awards appears to be dwindling once again, despite continual growth and booming attendance at our conventions – COVID aside – revealing the growing audience and community beneath this stagnation.

But if less people in proportion are voting, is there a reason for this? One option may be that the system may be lead to some strange victors based on popularity of a franchise or personality rather than other considerations. But is this just a coincidence or could it be how the system was inadvertently crafted?

This article’s goal is to highlight why the current system is so sensitive to favoring artists who self-promote or whose fans rally on their behalf, at the expense of voters that weigh more toward judging the quality of the pieces nominated without authorship considerations. It will then propose a small change to make it more fair to both types of voters and creators, without stifling out those who show up with a passion for their artist.

Flayrah’s awards coverage post by GreenReaper (Laurence Parry) also criticized those in hot pursuit of awards: “’Shine’, ‘Awoo!’ take 2021 Ursa Major Awards by landslides; K. Garrison wins three”.

…Prior to voting’s close, anonymous commenters disparaged Nightstar’s promotional endeavours, which included visibility hacks such as posting comics as stories. But nobody could fault her for effort, with not only a nominations plug or two… or three, but numerous comic strips ‘desperately’ seeking readers’ votes. Likewise, Shine‘s artist Star sought nomination and invited fans to vote, as did Rocket’s builder Akela Taka. Of course, this approach was not always successful — but to some, even a nomination felt like a victory….

(2) OUSTED FROM THE MOUSE. Kenan Thompson was today’s guest on Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me and one of his questions was about how Harlan Ellison got fired from Disney. And Kenan blew the question, spectacularly! “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! — Kenan Thompson”.

Kenan Thompson, the longest-tenured cast member of Saturday Night Live, plays our game about people who only lasted one day on the job. He is joined by panelists Luke Burbank, Negin Farsad and Hari Kondabolu.

(3) SPOCK TO BE REMOVED FROM CANADIAN FIVE DOLLAR BILL. Well, technically he’s never been on it, however quite a few years ago, Lloyd Penney was the first person to show me how easy it is to turn the fellow on Canada’s $5 bill into a likeness of Spock.

Now the time is fast approaching when Wilfrid Laurier will be put out to pasture in favor of one of the shortlisted candidates for the next $5 bank note.

It won’t be William Shatner. He’s Canadian, but he fails the requirement of having been dead for 25 years – fortunately for us.

(4) UP ALL NIGHT. MSN.com sums up “Everything we know about Marvel’s Midnight Suns”.

…As of now, the reveal trailer is all that we have as far as footage for Marvel’s Midnight Suns, and while it has next to nothing in terms of gameplay, we can still learn a lot about what this game will be.

Marvel’s Midnight Suns will be a more supernatural-focused take on the superhero genre and is something like a more magical-focused version of the Avengers, although we obviously see some of the big names from that team here as well, including Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and Captain America. The plotline will be notably darker than other Marvel media, with the main antagonistic force being the spawn of the underworld. Hydra has awoken the Mother of Demons, Lilith, from her long slumber, and she has begun her own quest to summon an even greater evil known as Chthon.

The Avengers turn to the titular team known as the Midnight Suns, made up of heroes with their own supernatural talents, to combat this occult threat. Their first act is to bring out a secret weapon of their own, Lilith’s own child, known as the Hunter, who is the only one to have ever managed to defeat Lilith in the past. It looks, at least from the small bits we’ve seen, to be a fresh perspective for this franchise, and we’re excited to see if it can stick the landing….

(5) ATTENTION, PLEASE. Lisa Tuttle’s latest book recommendations came out in yesterday’s Guardian: “The best recent science fiction and fantasy – review roundup”. Reviews of Ordinary Monsters by JM Miro; In the Heart of Hidden Things by Kit Whitfield; The Sanctuary by Andrew Hunter Murray; The Splendid City by Karen Heuler; and Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada.

(6) GUSHING. USA Today reviewer Kelly Lawler seriously, seriously loves For All Mankind, now starting season 3 on Apple TV+. “’For All Mankind’ review: Why Apple TV+ space drama is TV’s best show”.

It’s 1992, and the solar system’s first space hotel is about to open. A woman is running for president. The United States, the Soviet Union and a private corporation are in a three-way race to land astronauts on Mars. 

At least, that’s what’s happening in the 1992 of Apple TV+’s stunning “For All Mankind” (returning Friday, streaming weekly streaming Fridays; ★★★★ out of four) an alternate history drama that imagines the 1960s space race between the U.S. and the USSR never ended. Now in its third season, the series rockets to a Mars-centric version of the 1990s where the timeline is different but still feels a bit like the ’90s we know. 

“Mankind” is the rare series that’s exciting, emotional, tense, dramatic, heartbreaking, elating and infuriating all at once. Some TV shows are good, some are great, and still others remind me why I became a critic in the first place. And in the endless barrage of mediocre series pushed out weekly, “Mankind” stands out, a shining star (or moon or planet) among the replaceable rest….

(7) BEGIN HERE. The Best of Edward M. Lerner was released in May. “A physicist and computer engineer, Edward M. Lerner toiled in the vineyards of high tech for thirty years, as everything from engineer to senior vice president. Then, suitably intoxicated, he began writing full time.”

While you probably know Ed from his SF novels, including the InterstellarNet series and the epic Fleet of Worlds series with Larry Niven, Ed is also a prolific author of acclaimed short fiction. This collection showcases his finest and favorite shorter works.

Faced with the common question of which of his books should someone read first, he has carefully selected these stories to cover his wide range. Now he can answer, “This one!”

Alternate history. Parallel worlds. Future crime. Alien invasion. Alien castaways. Time travel. Quantum intelligence (just don’t call him artificial). A sort-of haunted robot. Deco punk. In this book, you’ll find these—and more—together with Ed’s reminiscences about each selection and its relationship to other stories, novels, and even series that span his writing career.

These are the best, as determined by awards, award nominations, and the selective tastes of eight top editors and choosy Analog readers.

Each excellent story stands alone—you won’t need to have read anything prior—but you’ll surely want to read more of Ed’s books afterwards.

Available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1993 [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-nine years ago on this day saw Spielberg taking on Nazis, errr, wrong film. No, this time it was Really Big Reptiles. Jurassic Park premiered launching the beginning of a very, very lucrative franchise. It would indeed be honored with a Hugo at ConAdian the next year suggesting that it a very popular film among y’all.

It’s based on a screenplay by Michael Crichton as co-written by David Koepp off his novel of the same name. It was produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen, both of which had long histories with Spielberg. The human cast was extended, so I’ll just single out Richard Attenborough, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel L. Jackson, Sam Neill and BD Wong here.

Now about those Really Big Reptiles. They were created with a combination of imagery from Industrial Light & Magic and with life-sized animatronic dinosaurs built by Stan Winston’s team. Yes they were life-size! These were Really Big Reptiles. I thought they looked lifelike when I watched it in the theater and I know why they were! Scary looking bastards they were. 

Despite the impressive look of the film, it was actually cheap to produce costing around sixty million dollars. Crichton was smart as he only took a one point five million fee and instead got a guaranteed percentage of the gross, a gross which was over a billion in the end. 

Did the critics like it? Yes for the most part though I thought they rightfully note almost all of them that the human characters came off as, errr, lacking in being real. Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone said that it was a “colossal entertainment—the eye-popping, mind-bending, kick-out-the-jams thrill ride of summer and probably the year” and Roger Ebert in his Chicago Sun-Times review noted that though it’s a great SF film: “the movie is lacking other qualities that it needs even more, such as a sense of awe and wonderment, and strong human story values.” 

May I ask do we really need strong human characters when you’ve got Really Big Reptiles? I think not. 

It went to create quite a franchise. The Lost World: Jurassic Park was next followed by Jurassic Park IIIJurassic WorldJurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and A sixth film, Jurassic World Dominion, came out this month. Films four and five each grossed over a billion dollars with the other sequels doing well over a half billion. 

It currently holds a ninety-two rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 11, 1927 — Kit Pedler. In the Sixties, he became the unofficial scientific adviser to the Doctor Who production team. One of his creations was the Cybermen. He also wrote three scripts — “The Tenth Planet” (co-written with Gerry Davis), “The Moonbase” and “The Tomb of the Cybermen“.  Pedler and Davis went on to create and co-write the Doomwatch series. He wrote a number of genre novel including Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters (co-written with Gerry Davis) and Doomwatch: The World in Danger. Another one who died much too young, by heart attack. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 11, 1929 — Charles Beaumont. He is remembered as a writer of Twilight Zone episodes such as “Miniature”, “Person or Persons Unknown”, “Printer’s Devil” and “The Howling Man” but also wrote the screenplays for several films such as Burn, Witch, Burn which was nominated for a Hugo at Discon I (no Award was given that year), 7 Faces of Dr. Lao and The Masque of the Red Death. He also wrote a lot of short stories, so let’s see if there’s digital collections available. Yes, I’m pleased to say, including several by legit publishers. Yea! (Died 1967.)
  • Born June 11, 1933 — Gene Wilder. The first role I saw him play was The Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles. Of course he has more genre roles than that starting out with Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory followed by the already noted Blazing Saddles and then Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein which won a Hugo at the first AussieCon. He was Sigerson Holmes in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, a brilliantly weird film whose cast also included Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise, Roy Kinnear and Leo McKern!  I’ve also got him playing Lord Ravensbane/The Scarecrow in The Scarecrow, a 1972 TV film based based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “Feathertop”. (Died 2016.)
  • Born June 11, 1945 — Adrienne Barbeau, 77. Swamp Thing with her is quite pulpy. She’s also in the Carnivale series, a very weird affair that never got wrapped up properly. She provided the voice of Catwoman on Batman: The Animated Series. And she was in both Creepshow and The Fog. Oh and ISFDB lists her as writing two novels, Vampyres of Hollywood (with Michael Scott) and presumably another vampire novel, Love Bites. Anyone here read these? 
  • Born June 11, 1959 — Hugh Laurie, 63. Best known as House to most folks whose series is streaming on Peacock right now and I really should rewatch it. His most recent genre role was as Mycroft Holmes in that wretched Holmes and Watson film. He’s had past genre roles in The Borrowers, the Stuart Little franchise, TomorrowlandBlackadder: Back & Forth and Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)
  • Born June 11, 1968 — Justina Robson, 54. Author of the excellent Quantum Gravity series which I loved. I’ve not started her Natural History series but have not added it to my digital To Be Read list, so would be interested in hearing from anyone here who has. I was surprised that she hasn’t picked up any Hugo nominations so far, although her work has been up for other awards 18 times.
  • Born June 11, 1971 — P. Djèlí Clark, 51. I’m very much enjoying A Master of Djinn which made my Hugo nominations list this year. It follows his “The Haunting of Tram Car 015” novella and “The Angel of Khan el-Khalili” and “A Dead Djinn in Cairo”, short stories, all set in his Dead Djinn universe. I’ve not read his “Black Drums” novella which garnered a Hugo nomination at Dublin 2019, nor the “Ring Shout” novella which got a Hugo nomination at DisCon III, so I welcome opinions on them. And I see his “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” short story also got a 2019 Hugo nomination.  CoNZealand saw “The Haunting of Tram Car 015” pick up a nomination.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Crankshaft gets another superpet joke out of the setup we linked to the other day.

(11) STRETCH GOAL. “More ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’: Sony to Release Extended Cut In Theaters” reports Variety.

Are your spidey senses tingling?

Sony Pictures announced that “Spider-Man: No Way Home — The More Fun Stuff Version,” a cut of the December 2021 Marvel film with added and extended scenes, will hit theaters over Labor Day Weekend.

The news came Friday evening in celebration of 60 years of the Spider-Man comic book character and 20 years of Spider-Man films, along with a teaser featuring a clip from the movie where Tom Holland and previous “Spider-Man” actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield unite.

“This is so cool. We should do this again,” says Garfield’s Peter Parker.

“You got it,” Maguire’s Peter replies….

(12) PEDAL TO THE METAL. On the 40th anniversary of E.T., Henry Thomas chats with Ethan Alter of Yahoo! Entertainment on how he filmed that bicycle scene. “’E.T.’ at 40: Henry Thomas explains the movie magic behind the beloved film’s famous flying bike scene”.

It’s a scene that every child of the ’80s knows by heart: Riding through the California wilderness with his extra-terrestrial pal, E.T., riding shotgun — or, more accurately, riding shot-basket — young Elliott’s bicycle lifts off from the forest floor and ascends into the sky until the two are silhouetted against the full moon. That image didn’t just define Steven Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster — it also became the signature logo for his production company, Amblin Entertainment, gracing hundreds of beloved films and TV series. While that scene defines movie magic for audiences in the theater, for the film’s young star, Henry Thomas, it was just another day on the job….

(13) FOZ DIDN’T DIG IT.  This title tells you what Foz Meadows thinks of the new movie: “I Saw Jurassic World: Dominion So That You Don’t Have To”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

Jurassic World: Dominion is not a good movie. Let’s get that out of the way up top. Given how terrible the first two Jurassic World movies were, I wasn’t expecting it to be, and yet I felt the need to see it anyway, just to make sure. Possibly this coloured my perception of it from the outset, but generally speaking, I’m not a person who purposefully sets out to hatewatch things, as I’d much rather be pleasantly surprised by an okayish film than proven right by a dud. I will, however, spitefinish an aggravating film in order to justify writing about it afterwards, and having sat through all 146 minutes of Dominion – unlike my mother, who walked out of our session and went home after the first five minutes because it was so goddamn loud – I feel the need to save others the time and money of doing likewise….

(14) IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL GET DRUNK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] I do not want Shoeless Joe crushing the grapes for me. Especially after a full nine innings. “The baseball field in a wine vineyard” at MLB.com.

…It’s there because, well, a guy and his team needed a place to play baseball.

“The field was built in 2002,” Green said. “It was proposed by our vineyard operations manager, Manuel Vallejo, who’s worked for the Ballettos for more than 30 years. Manuel asked [founder] John [Balletto] if they could plow about four acres for a baseball field. He was playing in a community league and his team was having a really hard time finding places to practice.”

During that time, the Balletto family was in the middle of transitioning from a vegetable farm to a winery — so they were already razing old fields and planting new ones. John also thought it would be a good idea, a perk for employees and a fun addition to the property. So, the founder bought his baseball-loving employees the materials needed for construction and then Vallejo and his coworkers began building their vision. It took about a year to finish, and they proudly maintain it to this day. Vallejos’ team is fittingly called Los Uveros or, The Grapers, and they play other community teams on Sundays with practices a couple times per week. Their jerseys are also as cool as you’d imagine….

…”Yeah, all of the sections are marked. Left into center field, we’re growing Pinot Gris,” Green told me. “Right field is Chardonnay. Left field, like foul ground, is mostly Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and there is a little bit of Pinot Noir out there.”…

(15) NORWEGIAN WOOD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] If they do three Troll movies, will that be a Trollogy?

Deep inside the mountain of Dovre, something gigantic awakens after being trapped for a thousand years. Destroying everything in its path, the creature is fast approaching the capital of Norway. But how do you stop something you thought only existed in Norwegian folklore?

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

2022 Ursa Major Awards

Image by EosFoxx

The winners of the 2022 Ursa Major Awards, presented annually for “excellence in the furry arts”, were announced May 15 in a YouTube video. (Note: The video refers to them as the 2022 awards, while the Ursa Major Awards website and another major furry news site call them the 2021 awards. Suit yourself.)

Best Motion Picture
Live-action or animated feature-length movies.

  • Raya and the Last Dragon (Directed by Don Hall, Carlos Lopez Estrada, Paul Briggs and John Ripa; March 5)

Best Dramatic Short Work
One-shots, advertisements or short videos.

  • Nobody Does It Better, Musical interlude by Princess Katre (Video production by Frank Berhring, artwork and concept by K. Garrison; from the comic strip Carry On. December 26)

Best Dramatic Series
TV or YouTube series videos.

  • Helluva Boss (Created by Vivienne Medrano; Season 1 episode 3 to episode 6) Mature Audiences.

Best Novel
Written works of 40,000 words or more. Serialized novels qualify only for the year that the final chapter is published.

  • The Captain’s Oath, by Rick Griffin. (Self; February 20)

Best Short Fiction
Stories less than 40,000 words, poetry, and other short Written works.

  • Where Have All The Mousies Gone, by Mary E. Lowd. (In Daily Science Fiction; December 14)

Best Other Literary Work
Story collections, comic collections, graphic novels, non-fiction works, and serialized online stories.

  • Awoo!: Volume 1, by AC Stuart. (Fenris Publishing, comic strip collection; November)

Non-Fiction Work

  • This furry scientist won’t let Twitter’s COVID pessimists kill her vibe, by Chris Stokel-Walker. (Input, article; June 2)

Best Graphic Story
Includes comic books, and serialized online stories.

  • Shine, by Babystar (Fur Affinity, January 1 to December 24) adult material

Best Comic Strip
Newspaper-style strips, including those with ongoing arcs.

  • Carry On, by Kathy Garrison Kellogg (Internet, January 1 to December 31)

Best Magazine
Edited collections of creative and/or informational works by various people, professional or amateur, published in print or online in written, pictorial or audio-visual form.

  • Dogpatch Press, edited by Patch Packrat. (Internet; January 21 to December 22) (Monthly publication of the FWG, sponsors of the COYOTL awards)

Best Published Illustration
Illustrations for books, magazines, convention program books, cover art for such, coffee-table portfolios.

Best Game
Computer or console games, role-playing games, board games.

  • Deltarune: Chapter 2 (Developer/Publisher: Toby Fox; September 17)

Best Website
Online collections of art, stories, and other creative and/or informational works. Includes galleries, story archives, directories, blogs, and personal sites.

  • Fur Affinity, Furry art and stories

Anthropomorphic Costume (Fursuit)

2021 Ursa Major Awards Nominees

Image by EosFoxx

The nominations for the 2021 Ursa Major Awards have been finalized. The Ursa Major Award is presented annually for “excellence in the furry arts.” Anyone may nominate and vote for candidates for the Awards. The 2021 Ursa Major Awards final ballot will be open for voting from March 1 to March 31 on the UMA website.

2021 NOMINEES

Best Motion Picture
Live-action or animated feature-length movies.

  • Luca (Directed by Enrico Casarosa; June 18)
  • My Little Pony: A New Generation (Directed by Robert Cullen and Jose Ucha; September 24)
  • Raya and the Last Dragon (Directed by Don Hall, Carlos Lopez Estrada, Paul Briggs and John Ripa; March 5)
  • Sing 2 (Directed by Garth Jennings; December 22)
  • Wish Dragon (Directed by Chris Appelhans; January 15)

Best Dramatic Short Work
One-shots, advertisements or short videos.

  • Fossils (Directed by Piti Yindee; June 3)
  • Fuelled (Directed by Michelle Hao and Fawn Chan; December 1)
  • Katrina the Fuzzy Princess (Directed by Charles Brubaker; September 9)
  • Nobody Does It Better, Musical interlude by Princess Katre (Video production by Frank Berhring, artwork and concept by K. Garrison; from the comic strip Carry On. December 26)
  • The Mandrake (Directed by Quincy Baltes; August 8)

Best Dramatic Series
TV or YouTube series videos.

  • Beastars, Season 2 (Directed by Shinichi Matsumi; January 7 to March 25)
  • Centaurworld (Created by Megan Nicole Dong; July 30 to December 7)
  • Chikn Nuggit (by Chikn Nuggit; videos January 1 to December 31)
  • Helluva Boss (Created by Vivienne Medrano; Season 1 episode 3 to episode 6) Mature Audiences.
  • Odd Taxi (Directed by Mugi Kinoshita; episode 1 to 13, April 6 to June 29)

Best Novel
Written works of 40,000 words or more. Serialized novels qualify only for the year that the final chapter is published.

  • Interesting Times, by George Cole and N.C. Shapero. (Jarlidium Press; March)
  • Starwhal in Flight (The Entangled Universe, Book 3), by Mary E. Lowd. (Aethon Books; February)
  • The Bee’s Waltz: A Labyrinth of Souls Novel, by Mary E. Lowd. (Shadow Spinners Press; November)
  • The Captain’s Oath, by Rick Griffin. (Self; February 20)
  • The Entropy Fountain (The Entangled Universe, Book 2), by Mary E. Lowd. (Aethon Books; January)

Best Short Fiction
Stories less than 40,000 words, poetry, and other short Written works.

  • Crystal Fusion, by Mary E. Lowd. (In The Voice of Dog; August 16 & 20)
  • Dance of Wood and Grace, by Marie Croke. (In Zooscape; issue 10)
  • The Arsenal of Obsolescence, by Mary E. Lowd. (In The Voice of Dog; June 7 & 10)
  • Too Cuddly, by Mary E. Lowd. (In Daily Science Fiction; May 18)
  • Where Have All The Mousies Gone, by Mary E. Lowd. (In Daily Science Fiction; December 14)

Best Other Literary Work
Story collections, comic collections, graphic novels, non-fiction works, and serialized online stories.

  • Awoo!: Volume 1, by AC Stuart. (Fenris Publishing, comic strip collection; November)
  • Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory, by Evan Dorkin illustrated by Benjamin Dewey. (Dark Horse, trade paperback collection; November 16)
  • Difursity Vol. 2, edited by Weasel. (Thurston Howl Publications, short story/article collection; October)
  • Sam Digger: Beaver Detective, by Ian Madison Keller. (Rainbow Dog Press, anthology; March 18)
  • Shark Week: An Ocean Anthology, edited by Ian Madison Keller (Rainbow Dog Press, anthology; June 30)

Non-Fiction Work

  • Furry Fiction Is Everywhere: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Anthropomorphic Characters, by Ian Madison Keller & Mary E. Lowd. (Rainbow Dog Books, writing guide; September 10)
  • How Furries Are Making Virtual Reality Worth Visiting, by Matt Baume. (Input, article; July 27)
  • The otter who became an accidental VTuber star, by Patricia Hernandez (Polygon, article; February 18)
  • The Zoo Files, by Toad McKinley. (Youtube, video; January 12)
  • This furry scientist won’t let Twitter’s COVID pessimists kill her vibe, by Chris Stokel-Walker. (Input, article; June 2)

Best Graphic Story
Includes comic books, and serialized online stories.

  • 24/7, by Hladilnik. (Twitter; October 31)
  • Blades of Furry, by Deya Muniz and Emily Erdos. (Webtoons; Episode 5 to 45)
  • Found Retake, by Toddlergirl (Fur Affinity, January 2 to December 28)
  • Isla Aukate, by Foxena (January 1 to December 31)
  • Shine, by Babystar (Fur Affinity, January 1 to December 24) adult material

Best Comic Strip
Newspaper-style strips, including those with ongoing arcs.

  • Carry On, by Kathy Garrison Kellogg (Internet, January 1 to December 31)
  • Foxes in Love, by @foxes_in_love. (Twitter; January 2 to December 22)
  • Freefall, by Mark Stanley (Internet, January 1 to December 31)
  • Friends You Are Stuck With, by Gabe Bold (Internet, January 8 to December 25)
  • The Whiteboard, by Doc N. (Internet, January 4 to December 24)

Best Magazine
Edited collections of creative and/or informational works by various people, professional or amateur, published in print or online in written, pictorial or audio-visual form.

  • #ohmurr!, edited by Izzy Torres, AKA Weasel. (Internet; Issues (7) from Spring to Winter 2021) Mature Audiences.
  • Dogpatch Press, edited by Patch Packrat. (Internet; January 21 to December 22) (Monthly publication of the FWG, sponsors of the COYOTL awards)
  • Flayrah, edited by GreenReaper, Sonious, and Dronon (Internet; January 2 to December 31)
  • InFurNation, edited by Rod O’Riley. (Internet; January 2 to December 30)
  • Zooscape, edited by Mary E. Lowd (Internet; Issue 10 to 13)

Best Published Illustration
Illustrations for books, magazines, convention program books, cover art for such, coffee-table portfolios.

Best Game
Computer or console games, role-playing games, board games.

  • Death’s Door (Developer: Acid Nerve, Publisher: Devolver Digital; July 20)
  • Deltarune: Chapter 2 (Developer/Publisher: Toby Fox; September 17)
  • Doodle Champion Island Games (Developer/Publisher: Google; July 23)
  • F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch (Developer: TiGames, Publisher: Bilibili; September 7)
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (Developer/Publisher: Insomniac Games; June 11)

Best Website
Online collections of art, stories, and other creative and/or informational works. Includes galleries, story archives, directories, blogs, and personal sites.

  • e621, Furry art
  • Fur Affinity, Furry art and stories
  • Fuzznet Music, World’s biggest furry-centered professional music distribution collective.
  • Wikifur, Furry wiki
  • Zootopia News Network, All things Zootopia.

Anthropomorphic Costume (Fursuit)

  • Armored Lizardman, Maker: Treasure Court, Owner: xinghejieZLS, Displayed on Twitter January 27.
  • Bash the Piñata, Maker: Kemonokapi, Owner: @TransformARTive/@BashThePinata, Displayed on Twitter January 20.
  • Fifel, Makers: feathersOkapi and ZettaNova, Owner: GlacierClear, Displayed on Twitter August 14.
  • Rocket Raccoon (Endgame Version), Maker/Owner/Wearer: Akela Taka, Displayed on Twitter January 31.