Pixel Scroll 2/3/23 Listen To Them, The Pixels Of The Scroll! What Files They Make!

(1) SPACE UNICORNS SOUND OFF. You have until February 21 to make your voice heard: “Uncanny Celebrates Reader Favorites of 2022!”.

…While we have our personal favorites, we’d like to know which stories YOU loved from Uncanny in 2022.

We’ve set up a poll for Uncanny readers to vote for their top three favorite original short stories from 2022. (You can find links to all of the stories here.)

The poll will be open from January 31 to February 21, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!

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

(2) LOCUS RECOMMENDED READING LIST. The 2022 Locus Recommended Reading List from the magazine’s February issue has been posted by Locus Online.

(3) CEMETARY DANCE DROPS MONTELEONE. [Item by rcade.] He was still an active columnist for the magazine, 29 years after the bigoted column. Not any more, though:

(4) A FAREWELL TO HARMS. Priya Sridhar writes “My Goodbye Letter To J.K. Rowling: What To Do When Your Magical World Has Cast You And Your Friends Out With Hate” at Medium in Counter Arts. (Via Cat Rambo.)

… J.K. Rowling has joined the list of these creators that break their pedestals. I’ve been debating on writing this article for several years, because I did not understand. How could a woman that wrote about fighting tyranny with courage and friendship say such things, to hurt people? Why would she dig herself deeper, going from misappropriating Navajo beliefs to claiming that trans people do not exist?

This recent transphobia has provided the answer. YouTuber Jessie Gender posted a video revealing that JKR found her tweets about Jessie talking about Hogwarts Legacy, and decided to send her own fanbase against one person, labeling her a “trans gamer”. Jessie had to spend Christmas in Buffalo, New York, dealing with the fallout. According to the video, JKR apparently earns more money every time she talks about this issue in her hateful way. She didn’t care that she would be hurting a vulnerable person if it got the desired reaction.

JKR isn’t causing controversy because she is being an idiot. She’s harassing marginalized creators and critics to earn more revenue from her books and establish power over those that disagree with her.

Now, doesn’t that sound familiar? Oh yes, I know two bigoted characters that did exactly the same thing in the Harry Potter series. Spoiler alert: they were not protagonists, or even heroic side characters….

(5) BLACK HERITAGE IN HORROR. The Horror Writers Association Blog continues its series: “Black Heritage in Horror: Interview with Beatrice Winifred Iker”.

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?

I grew up in Southern Appalachia with a rich sociocultural history to draw from. The horrors and allure of the South are genuinely neverending, fostering my interest in the genre, specifically in the subgenre of southern gothic.

Aside from that, I’m fascinated with the darker tendencies and desires of the human mind. We spend so much time assimilating and confining ourselves to social norms, but I’m more interested in examining people and histories who choose not to or don’t have a choice….

(6) IT’S A FELONY. Them explains why “Some Florida Teachers Are Removing Books from Classrooms Due to New State Law”.

Teachers in Florida’s Manatee and Duval counties are removing or physically covering up books in their classrooms after the State Board of Education ruled that a law restricting the books a district may possess applies not only to school libraries but to teachers’ classroom books as well.

House Bill 1467, which went into effect last July, requires that all schools’ books may only be displayed if they’ve been deemed appropriate by a librarian or “certified media specialist” who has undergone state retraining. Under the guidelines, books must be “free of pornographic material” and “appropriate for the age level and group.” New training approved by the State Board of Educators also asks media specialists to avoid books with “unsolicited theories that may lead to student indoctrination.”

Breaking the law is a third-degree felony: A teacher could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for displaying or giving students a banned book. 

There’s a good chance that these “unsolicited theories” and “student indoctrination” tactics apply to the disproportionately high number of banned books that feature queer and trans characters, as well as other marginalized communities. A report from nonprofit group PEN America released last September found that over 41% of books banned over the past school year were targeted due to LGBTQ+ content…

(7) SCAM REVEALED. At Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss alerts everyone to: “Peak Fake: United Writers Organization and the Perpetual Eagle Awards”.

There’s a new solicitation doing the rounds. It’s from United Writers Organization, which describes itself as a “leading professional organization” for writers and publishers, and it delivers exciting news: you’ve been nominated for an award! A “complimentary nomination certificate” is yours for the asking–you don’t even have to pay! Although of course it would be nice if you became a UWO member, which will cost you a mere $99….

… Of course this is a scam–the out of the blue solicitation is a big clue, as are the language and grammar mistakes and telltale info from UWO’s domain registration–just 7 days old as of this writing, somewhat contradicting “Est. 1957” in the UWO logo….

(8) FESTIVAL OF MONSTERS. The Center for Monster Studies has put out a call for papers for the 2023 Festival of Monsters Conference. The conference will be held October 13-15, 2023 at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The deadline to submit abstracts and short bios is March 1.

The Center for Monster Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz is an interdisciplinary research, arts, and outreach organization focused on the ways monsters and tropes of monstrosity both perpetuate and contravene forms of social and cultural injustice. Each year we host a Festival of Monsters that brings together scholars, artists, students, and members of the general public to consider these issues.

Our 2023 Festival of Monsters (Oct. 13-15 in beautiful Santa Cruz) includes an academic conference, performances, readings, presentations from monster-makers in theatre, film and television, and events in association with an exhibit at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH) entitled Werewolf Hunters, Jungle Queens, and Space Commandos: The Lost Worlds of Women Comics Artists.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers or presentations on any aspect of monsters or monster studies. We are particularly interested in work that addresses the following topics:

Women creators of monsters

Monsters and misogyny

Monsters in comics

Monsters and sexual politics from any time period

Monsters and queerness

Papers from all disciplines are welcome. Because participants in the Festival include members of the general public as well as people from within the academic community, we ask that proposed papers consider the Festival’s mixed audience. We welcome complex theoretical concepts and scholarly interventions, but please make sure the terms and stakes of your paper are articulated as clearly as possible.   

Please submit 250-word abstracts and 50-word bios to [email protected] and [email protected] by March 1, 2023.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1937 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Now it is time for my all-time favorite Beginnings. It’s the first words of Tolkien’s The Hobbit, a novel I’ve read so many times that I know it by heart at this point. I consider it a perfect novel. 

Now we all know that the hobbit here is named Baggins but that won’t know here until the third paragraph of the novel, a nice touch indeed.  

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats—the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill—The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it—and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins. The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained—well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 3, 1925 John Fiedler. He’s solely here as he played the ever so bland bureaucrat who gets possessed by the spirit of Jack the Ripper on the Trek episode “Wolf in the Fold”. I’m less interested in him, though it was a stellar episode, than who wrote that screenplay. It was written by Robert Bloch, a master of horror who would write two other Trek episodes, “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” and “Catspaw”. (Died 2005.)
  • Born February 3, 1933 George Gipe. Screenwriter, The Man with Two Brains. He also wrote Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid but it’d be a stretch to consider that even genre adjacent. He wrote novelizations of Back to the FutureExplorers and Gremlins. And his Nearer to the Dust: Copyright and the Machine is interesting early (mid sixties) look at the potential effects of computers on copyrights. (Died 1986.)
  • Born February 3, 1938 Victor Buono. I remember him best in his recurring role of Count Manzeppi in The Wild Wild West. In his very short life, he showed up in a number of other genre roles as well including as a scientist bent on world domination in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea in an episode titled “The Cyborg”, as Adiposo / Fat man in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Colonel Hubris in  The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Professor William McElroy / King Tut in Batman, Sir Cecil Seabrook in The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and Mr. Schubert on Man from Atlantis. (Died 1982.)
  • Born February 3, 1954 Shawna McCarthy, 69. Editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction from 1983 to 1985, and Realms of Fantasy from 1994 to 2011. Sheila Williams in her history of the former said “While remaining a welcoming home for new writers, Shawna’s Asimov’s acquired an edgier and more literary and experimental tone.” 
  • Born February 3, 1963 Alex Bledsoe, born 1963, aged sixty years. I highly recommend his Tales of The Tufa which can sort of be described as Appalachian Fae though that’s stretching it. His Eddie LaCrosse novels remind of Cook’s Garrett PI series and that’s a high compliment as that’s one of my favorite fantasy PI series. Anyone read his Firefly Witch series? And to my surprise, he’s stopped writing fiction altogether.
  • Born February 3, 1970 Warwick Davis, 53. At least fifty live and voice appearances since first appearing in the Return of the Jedi in in place of Kenny Baker who was going to be a Ewok before he fell ill. Did you know he’s in Labyrinth as a member of the Goblin Corps? I certainly didn’t. Or that he did a series of humorous horror films centered around him as a Leprechaun? They did well enough that there was six of them. Hell he even shows up in Doctor Who during the Time of the Eleventh Doctor. 
  • Born February 3, 1979 Ransom Riggs, 44. He’s best known for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children which I’ll confess I know absolutely nothing about, so educate me. I know it was turned into a film by Tim Burton which could a Very Good Thing. 

(11) CHEAP IS GOOD, FREE IS BEST. “12 Surprisingly Low-Tech Special Effects Moments In Movies” – these are Ranker’s favorites.

Before there was computer-generated imagery (CGI), special effects crews often had to use practical effects to achieve their cinematic vision. Many of these practical effects were surprisingly low-tech genius creations that prove creative thinking often trumps throwing loads of money at a problem.

Practical effects include any special effects created without the use of computer-generated imagery. It’s a kitchen-sink term that incorporates everything from prosthetics to pyrotechnics to miniature models. Find out which grotesque movie monster was constructed in part with strawberry jam and creamed corn. How did they create that swirling tornado in The Wizard of Oz, which still looks great even by today’s visual effects standards? Some of these films were made more recently when computer effects were readily available. Yet, the filmmakers opted to get creative and go old-school low-tech practical effects that yielded a more authentic-looking result.

First up –

The Tornado In ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Was Made From A Stocking Wrapped Around Chicken Wire

Back in the 1930s, practical effects were not a stylistic choice, they were a necessity. At the beginning of The Wizard of Oz, a tornado takes Dorothy (Judy Garland) from the barren lands of Kansas to the magically magnificent world of Oz. 

The production hired prolific special effects master Arnold Gillespie to figure out how to create the movie’s famous twister. The Academy Award winner attempted several different methods before finally getting it right…. 

(12) RETRO SFF. Michael Dirda reviews The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sherriff in “The moon falls to Earth in a 1939 novel that remains chillingly relevant” at the Washington Post (behind a paywall.)

Late last month, NASA announced that an asteroid would pass exceptionally close to the Earth. As Jennifer Hassan wrote in The Washington Post, “NASA was quick to reassure people that the asteroid, which is estimated at between 11 feet (about 3.5 meters) and 28 feet (8.5 meters) across, would not end life as we know it on our planet.” Suppose, though, a much larger celestial object — say, the moon — were actually to crash into Earth. What then?

This is the scenario of R.C. Sherriff’s novel “The Hopkins Manuscript” (1939), recently reissued by Scribner. From its opening pages we learn that more than eight centuries have gone by since “the Cataclysm” and that Europe, particularly England, has been left a barren wasteland. For years, however, archaeologists of the Royal Society of Abyssinia have been seeking artifacts to help “reconstruct the lost glory of the ‘white man.’” During one expedition to what was once London, a young scientist, out gathering brushwood, unearths a small vacuum flask, inside which is a handwritten account of life in a small village called Beadle during the days leading up to the lunar catastrophe….

(13) IT’S BEING LET GO. “’Never Let Me Go’ Series Not Moving Forward at FX” reports Variety.

… The show was originally picked up to series by FX back in October and was meant to air exclusively on Hulu. It had originally been reported as being in development at FX in May 2022. According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, production had not yet begun before the decision to scrap the series was made.

The drama series was inspired by Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 science fiction novel of the same name, which was previously adapted into a film in 2010. The film was written by Alex Garland, directed by Mark Romanek, and produced by Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich….

(14) BIG APPETITES. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Raquel Welch please note… “Neanderthals lived in groups big enough to eat giant elephants” says a Science story.

Meat from the butchered beasts would have fed hundreds.

On the muddy shores of a lake in east-central Germany, Neanderthals gathered some 125,000 years ago to butcher massive elephants. With sharp stone tools, they harvested up to 4 tons of flesh from each animal, according to a study that is casting these ancient human relatives in a new light. The degree of organization required to carry out the butchery—and the sheer quantity of food it provided—suggests Neanderthals could form much larger social groups than previously thought…

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

Pixel Scroll 1/20/23 Scrolling About Pixels Is Like Stardancing About Naval Architecture

(1) SHORT SFF REVIVAL. Charlie Jane Anders diagnoses the problem and then brings forward “Some Ideas for How to Save Short Fiction!”

Short fiction is once again in crisis. After an era when the Internet seemed to be helping a lot of short stories find a bigger audience, the same thing is now happening to short stories that are happening to a lot of other content: the invisible hand is raising a big middle finger. Among other things, Twitter is getting to be much less useful in helping to spread the word about short stories worth reading, and Amazon just announced that it’s ending its Kindle subscription program from magazines, depriving magazine publishers of a pretty significant slice of income….

Here’s a short example out of several ideas Anders pitches.

I’d love to see more short fiction turning up in incongruous contexts

This is something I talked about a lot in the introduction to my short story collection Even Greater Mistakes (shameless plug alert!). I am always happy to see short stories show up on coffee bag labels, in pamphlets on public transit, scrawled on bathroom walls, or in the middle of a publication that mostly includes serious non-fiction pieces about politics and culture. I feel like we could be doing more to leverage the ability of short stories to show up in surprising places and suck us in with their narrative power.

(2) MEDICAL UPDATE. Paul Di Filippo’s partner Deborah Newton wrote to friends that on January 19 Paul was hit by a large SUV. 

The driver stopped, spoke to Paul and gave him her phone to call Newton.

I ran the three blocks to where the accident had occurred — the ambulance passed me as I ran.  Luckily there was a witness whose moving car was facing the accident when it happened and had a video camera on the dashboard.  He made arrangements with the police, who had already arrived, to share the video.  

Those of you who have met Paul in the flesh will not be surprised that he dragged himself up after the huge hit, and even climbed by himself into the ambulance.  The Dr. at the ER later called that “adrenaline”, but I believe Paul has a stronger energy and will than most of us mere mortals.

After extensive testing in the ER it was determined he sustained no head wounds or broken bones. However, writes Newton, “He is covered with bruises and has a large hematoma on his left thigh. His hip, where he believes he landed after the hit, is excruciatingly painful.”

He is back home, presently using a walker to get around.

(3) LIVE FROM 1968. Cora Buhlert returns to Galactic Journey as one of the contributors to a “Galactoscope” column, reviewing Swords of Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber — and also talking about some of the biggest protests her hometown has ever seen. There are also reviews of Picnic on Paradise by Joanna Russ, a Jack Vance book, an Andre Norton book and several others: “[January 20, 1968] Alyx and Company (January 1968 Galactoscope)”.

… However, with the sale of the Ziff-Davis magazines to Sol Cohen, the appearances of Fafhrd and Gray Mouser in the pages of Fantastic became scarce. It seemed the dynamic duo was homeless once again, unless they shacked up with Cele Goldsmith Lalli over at Modern Bride magazine, that is.

So imagine my joy when I spotted the brand-new Fafhrd and Gray Mouser adventure The Swords of Lankhmar in the spinner rack of my trusty import bookstore…

(4) 2024 NASFIC UPDATE. Sharon Sbarsky, the Pemmi-con/2023 NASFiC committee member in charge of NASFiC 2024 Site Selection, announced today that the Buffalo in 2024 bid has filed. She published the following extract from their letter of intent.

Upstate New York Science Fiction and Fantasy Alliance Inc. is pleased to present this letter of intent, along with Visit Buffalo Niagara, to host the 16th North American Science Fiction Convention in Buffalo, New York USA in 2024 .

Details of the bid

Proposed date: July 18-21, 2024

Proposed site: Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel and Convention Center & Buffalo Niagara Convention Center

Proposed Headquarter Hotel: Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel and Convention Center

Upstate New York Science Fiction and Fantasy Alliance, Inc. is a NYS registered not-for-profit corporation focused on encouraging and running fannish activities in New York State. Members of our bid committee include individuals who have experience working on Worldcon / NASFiC events, as well as others who have organized small conventions and other events across New York and Southern Ontario
https://buffalonasfic2024.org/

Sbarksy added: “Members of Pemmi-con will be able to vote in the Site Selection. Details will come at a later time. We hope to have electronic voting, similar to the Worldcon and NASFiC selections at Chicon 8. 180 days before the Start of Pemmi-Con is January 21, 2023, so the ballot is still open for additional bids.”

(5) GETTING UNSTUCK. Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware delivers another warning: “Bad Contract Alert: Webnovel”.

A bit over two years ago, I wrote about two companies, A&D Entertainment and EMP Entertainment, that appeared to have been deputized by serialized fiction app Webnovel to recruit authors to non-exclusive contracts. The contracts from both companies were (and continue to be) absolutely terrible.

EMP Entertainment no longer appears to be active (it has no website and I’ve heard nothing about it since 2020), but A&D is still going strong, and over the past two years I’ve been contacted by a lot of (mostly very young and inexperienced) writers who are confused about its complicated English-language contract, or have changed their minds about signing up and want to know how to get free (as with the contracts of so many serialized fiction apps, there’s no option for the author to terminate).

A&D recruits via a bait and switch. Writers are solicited by an editor or Author Liaison who claims to have discovered the writer’s work on Amazon or elsewhere, and invites them to publish on the Webnovel platform (the bait)….

(6) DON’T JUST ROLL THE DICE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “5 Things SecOps Can Learn from Dungeons & Dragons” at Tech Beacon. Note, “SecOps” is tech shorthand for “Security Operations” (or possibly “Security Operators”)

… Anyone who has ever experienced a SOC 2 or ISO 27001 audit might see the parallels between a lengthy framework of rules and their arbiter. Still, D&D is significantly more fun than a cybersecurity audit. In fact, when it comes to security preparedness there are quite a few lessons that security operations (SecOps) teams that are responsible for the security of connected assets—including myriad Internet of Things (IoT) devices—can learn from D&D. And they might just have a bit of fun along the way.

Assemble Your Party

From wizards and warriors to clerics and rogues, there are a wide variety of classes in D&D—each with its own specializations. The key to an effective adventuring party is to combine them in a way that the strengths of one character can mitigate the weaknesses of another. Building a cybersecurity team is no different. Aside from all the specialized roles within cybersecurity, such as incident-response or threat-hunting teams, an effective approach to security preparedness requires cross-functional collaboration between IT teams, operational-technology (OT) teams, and other lines of business to better understand how to balance business objectives with security requirements….

(7) A THEORY ABOUT THE HOBBIT.  Scott McLemee poses the questions in an “Interview with Robert T. Tally Jr. on historicizing ‘The Hobbit’” for Inside Higher Ed.

Q: You don’t historicize The Hobbit in the naïve or narrow sense of interpreting it as a fictionalized response to real-world events. Your approach owes a great deal to the American Marxist literary theorist Fredric Jameson—the subject of your first book. What does it mean to read Tolkien as a Jamesonian?

A: “Modernism” is a dirty word among many Tolkien enthusiasts, and perhaps for Tolkien himself, but I see his desire to “create a mythology for England” as a powerfully modern thing to attempt, more like Yeats or Joyce than most mere medievalism. Also, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are clearly novelistic in form, even if they deal with “epic” or “romantic” ideas.

In his work on postmodernism, Fredric Jameson refers to the “attempt to think the present historically in an age that has forgotten how to think historically in the first place.” Coming from an entirely different direction politically, I think Tolkien was deeply concerned with the modern world’s inability to “think historically,” and thus his desire to connect elements of the medieval historical world with our own time, even if—or especially if—that meant using fantasy as a way of sort of tricking us into “realizing” history.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2021 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Cat Rambo’s You Sexy Thing was a novel that I nominated for a Hugo. Why so? Because it is damn good. It made my top ten novels of that year by having a fantastic story, great characters that for the most part I could care about and not one but two truly interesting settings, the first being the intelligent bioship You Sexy Thing, and the other being a restaurant situated near a defunct star gate.

Now unlike the restaurant in the Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy, this one is not played for laughs and is real, working environment. I don’t know if Rambo has worked in such a place but she captures the feel of it very nicely as I have a very long time ago and it seems quite right.

Now before we get to the quote, I’m very, very pleased to note that the next novel in the series is indeed out relatively soon. Here are the details courtesy of the author:

Devil’s Gun, available this August, follows the adventures of intelligent bioship You Sexy Thing and its crew. While seeking a weapon against the pirate king Tubal Last and operating a pop-up restaurant near a failed star gate, Niko and her friends encounter a strange pair of adventurers who claim to have power over the gates that link the Known Universe.  But following the two on an intergalactic treasure hunt will require going into one of the most dangerous places any of them have ever faced.

Of course it will be available from all the usual suspects in both print and epub formats. 

Now I normally choose the quote, but this time I’m honored to say that Cat chose her favorite quote about food from You Sexy Thing:

[Niko] looked at Dabry, who stood ignoring them, caressing the eggplant with all four hands and his eyes half closed. “Sweet Momma Sky, should we leave so you can have your way with that eggplant or should I just let you take it to your bunk?”

His eyes closed entirely, expression blissful. “Baba ganoush,” he said. “Flat wheat bread dusted with cumin. Seared protein tinctured with lemon and garlic…”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 20, 1884 A. Merritt. Early pulp writer whose career consisted of eight complete novels and a number of short stories. H. P. Lovecraft notes in a letter that he was a major influence upon his writings, and a number of authors including Michael Moorcock and Robert Bloch list him as being among their favorite authors. He’s available at the usual suspects. (Died 1943.)
  • Born January 20, 1920 DeForest Kelley. Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the original Trek and a number of films that followed plus the animated series. Other genre appearances include voicing Viking 1 in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars (his last acting work) and a 1955 episode of Science Fiction Theatre entitled “Y..O..R..D..” They’re his only ones — he didn’t do SF as he really preferred Westerns. (Died 1999.)
  • Born January 20, 1934 Tom Baker, 89. The Fourth Doctor and still my favorite Doctor. My favorite story? The “Talons of Weng Chiang” with of course the delicious added delight of his companion Leela played by Lousie Jameson. Even the worst of the stories were redeemed by him and his jelly babies. And yes, he turns up briefly in the present era of Who rather delightfully. Before being the Doctor he had a turn as Sherlock Holmes In “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, and though not genre, he played Rasputin early in his career in “Nicholas and Alexandra”! Being a working actor, he shows up in a number of low budget films early on such as The Vault of HorrorThe Golden Voyage of Sinbad,The MutationsThe Curse of King Tut’s Tomb and The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood. And weirdly enough, he’s Halvarth the Elf in a Czech-made Dungeons & Dragons film which has a score of ten percent among audience reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Born January 20, 1946 David Lynch, 77. Director of the first Dune movieWent on to make Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me which is possibly one of the weirdest films ever made. (Well with Blue Velvet being a horror film also vying for top honors as well.) Oh and I know that I didn’t mention Eraserhead. You can talk about that film.
  • Born January 20, 1960 Kij Johnson, 63. Faculty member, University of Kansas, English Department. She’s also worked for Tor, TSR and Dark Horse. Wow. Where was I? Oh about to mention her writings… if you not read her Japanese mythology based The Fox Woman, do so now as it’s superb. The sequel, Fudoki, is just as interesting. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is a novella taking a classic Lovecraftian tale and giving a nice twist. Finally I’ll recommend her short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories. She has won a Best Novella Hugo for “The Man Who Bridged the Mist” had several other nominations. Much of her work is available at the usual suspects.
  • Born January 20, 1964 Francesca Buller, 59. Performer and wife of Ben Browder, yes that’s relevant as she’s been four different characters on Farscape, to wit she played the characters of Minister Ahkna, Raxil, ro-NA and M’Lee. Minister Ahkn is likely the one you remember her as being. Farscape is her entire genre acting career. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Get Fuzzy makes a noble pun about a bestselling horror writer.
  • Eek! deals with a young superhero’s fib.

(11) FRANKLY SPEAKING. In “When Monsters Make the Best Husbands”, a New York Times reviewer tells about two plays, one of genre interest.  

The monster is nestled in a glacier when the villagers dig him out, frozen but not dead, because he was undead already. Tall, broad-shouldered, hulking in his platform boots, he is instantly recognizable, and once he thaws, proves unpretentious despite his Hollywood fame.

It is 1946 in a tiny European village, and he is the most endearing of monsters: awkward, uncertain, just wanting to help out. And in “Frankenstein’s Monster Is Drunk and the Sheep Have All Jumped the Fences,” a winsome cartwheel of a show that’s part of the Origin Theater Company’s 1st Irish festival, he finds lasting romance — with a local outcast who falls in love with him at first sight. Never mind that by his own account he is “constructed from the dismembered body parts of a number of different corpses”; their sex life is fabulous….

(12) BEGIN AGAIN. The Cromcast, a sword and sorcery podcast that started as a Conan readthrough, are rereading all the Conan stories again ten years after they launched. They started with “The Phoenix on the Sword”, the very first Conan story: “Season 18, Episode 1: The Phoenix on the Sword!”

“Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of…”

(13) HE-MAN. The For Eternia YouTube channel has a great interview with Tim Sheridan, one of the writers of Masters of the Universe Revelation/Revolution, about why the Filmation Masters of the Universe cartoon resonated with so many gay people: “The Power of Pride: Talking Importance of 1980’s He-Man on the LGBTQ+ Community with Tim Sheridan”.

(14) THE NATURE OF REALITY COUNTS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I know from being involved with SF2 Concatenation that quite a few fans are interested in the interface between science and science fiction: after all, the term ‘science fiction’ contains ‘science’. Consequently, it should not be any surprise that all of the four YouTube Channels I invariably check out each week are SF and/or science related.

One of these is PBS Space-Time. It is ostensibly a physics channel (though often there’s astronomy and cosmology) and there’s nothing like at the start of the day having a mug of Yorkshire builders tea (sufficiently strong that the teaspoon stands up in it) along with a short episode of PBS Space Time: it is good to limber up with some physics before embarking on the serious biological and geoscience business of the day (tough as that is for Sheldon Cooper to take).

One aspect of the SF-science border is an exploration as to the true nature of reality. Are we living in a holographic universe? Are we living in a Matrix simulation? And if so is there a simulator?

This week’s PBS Space Time asks the question as to whether the Universe is simply, and purely, mathematical (not physical)? And if so, what of parallel Universes, dimensions and alternate Universes? Indeed, are there different levels to the multiverse?

Be assured, despite maths (or ‘sums’ as we environmental scientists call it) being in the title, there are no heavy mathematics in this short video, rather it is a somewhat deep philosophical discussion. Nonetheless, don’t worry if you find your mind being stretched: that’s what daily limbering up exercises are all about.

So, sit down with your mug of builders and enjoy this 16 minute slice of Space Time“What If The Universe Is Math?”

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

Pixel Scroll 12/27/22 Ebenezer Scroll! Tonight You Will Be Visited By Five Pixels (Three, My Lord!)

(1) BE THE SOCIAL MEDIA YOU LIKE. Cat Rambo counsels SFWA Blog readers about “Social Media Strategy for Writers” – and you can listen in.

You have been told, like so many writers before you, that you must have a social media presence. That nowadays, agents and publishing houses look to see how many Twitter followers you have before opening your manuscript. That it’s all about connection with readers, and the only way to manage that is a fashion show of your protagonist’s ball gown on BookTok with little animated birds helping you put on your stockings.

This is, in fact, not true.

A social media presence can be helpful for book promotion, certainly. But a forced, unhappy one, a presence that is mandated and labored on rather than performed for pleasure, will not be helpful. If you absolutely hate social media, then you will want to find other ways of self-marketing, which do exist. But human beings are social creatures, and most people find social media more alluring than they want to admit…. 

(2) TOUGH LITERARY TRIVIA. “Can you outwit Margaret Atwood? The bumper books quiz of 2022” in the Guardian. Never mind how many of the 50 questions I got right. (Okay, none – not even the one where a genre writer was the correct answer!! How can you not do better than that?)

Which author was this year elected to the US Senate? In what horror story does a vampire appear as a cat? Test your wits with questions set by authors including Atwood, Bernardine Evaristo, Ian Rankin and more…

(I got zero because I decided against dive-bombing the test, and only tried to answer the several questions I knew something about. Which wasn’t enough, as the result proved.)

(3) STERLING FREE READ. “’Balkan Cosmology’ by Bruce Sterling” at Medium, says the author, is “an eccentric work of scientific fabulation that’s my all-too-topical farewell to Belgrade. One of my homes for many years. I could likely sell this yarn and print it somewhere, but why, if no one in the Balkans would see it anyway? An ambivalent gift for Orthodox Christmas.”

…Nikola understood the sadness of this dismal fate, as a young man landing in an unmarked grave (because Serbian history abounded with similar episodes). However, Nikola lacked any proper shovel to dig his own grave. Tragically, he had to gouge his own grave with his survivalist camp-knife.

This cool, macho device featured a stout gleaming blade with a sawtooth, and also a fire-steel, a built-in whistle and a wilderness compass. However, as a grave-digging tool, a “survival knife” was a contradiction in terms….

(4) SFWA GROWS. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association has reached a membership milestone: “Championing SFF Storytellers at 2,500 Members and Beyond!”

… With that said, we want to show the SFF community what we’ve been up to with your valued engagement and much needed support. We’ve launched or continued a number of beneficial resources and programs this year for the entire SFF community. This is just a small sampling:

Safety Resources: A series of guides that help event planners and authors navigate questions around maintaining safety and privacy for events and our online presences.

Indie Pub 101: A hub of information for authors beginning a self-publishing career.

SFWA Blog series: The Indie Files and Romancing SFF blog series have helped shed light on how these two creator communities lend value to the genres.

DisneyMustPay: An ongoing endeavor with multiple peer organizations, this dedicated and tireless taskforce is still working behind the scenes to see that creators are getting what they’re owed by one of the biggest entertainment and media companies in the world. 

Givers Fund Grants: Awarded annually, these grants help promote the SFF genre through providing funding to projects like the South African Speculative Fiction’s workshop with the South African Environmental Project, distributing SFF books for free through the Gooding Public Library Foundation, and supporting small presses and magazines such as Space Cowboy Books and Firkin Press. We’ve awarded over $250,000 in Givers Fund Grants since 2014, and we’d love to see those numbers grow…. 

(5) REPLY HAZY, TRY AGAIN. “What weird fandom thing will happen this January?” – Camestros Felapton asks you to help him interrogate the fannish cosmos.

I don’t have firm statistical evidence that January is prone to fannish feuds, disputes or cause célèbres but something about a new year sets things in motion. Sometimes, it is a delayed reaction to stuff that happened in December (e.g. in 2020 the Courtney Milan/RWA dispute was really a late December thing that spilled over into January) and maybe people taking a break from being heavily online leads to more willingness to get het-up about stuff in the new year….

(6) IT’S NOT GUILLERMO CALLING. Victoria Strauss warns against “The ‘Mexican Film Director’ Scam” at Writer Beware.

If a rash of solicitations over the past few months are to be believed, there’s a major rush down in Mexico to acquire film rights to books.

…These virtually identical emails are, of course, laughably bogus–from the peculiar capitalizations, to the anonymous “Hollywood Movie Agents”, to the implausibility of these supposed directors bollixing up their own movie titles, to the unlikelihood of famous film folks personally soliciting authors via funny-looking Gmail accounts–but they have been briskly doing the rounds since this past summer, and I’ve collected quite a trove of them thanks to the many authors who’ve sent them to me.

Obviously a scam, in other words. But what’s the endgame?

Writers who respond to their “Mexican Film Director” receive a long spiel about turning books into movies, in which the Director claims that the writer’s book is in his “top 5”, and promises a “guaranteed film” with a huge budget and “advance royalties” to the tune of “$400K – $2M”.

Just one thing is needed for all this to happen: a screenplay! Does the author have one on hand? If not (or if they do and it inevitably fails to meet Hollywood’s exacting standards), the Director is happy to provide a referral to a “movie investor” who will foot 70% of the cost of creating one….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

[By Cat Eldridge.] Rod Serling statue

And perhaps across his mind there will flit a little errant wish, that a man might not have to become old, never outgrow the parks and the merry-go-rounds of his youth. — ending words of “Walking Distance”

Not all statues, no matter how much they deserve to exist, actually exist. At least yet. Such it is with the creator of the Twilight Zone series, Rod Serling.

In doing this extended look at the statues of fantastic creatures, mythic beings and sometimes their creators, I continually come across quite fascinating stories. Such it is with this story. 

In the “Walking Distance” episode of The Twilight Zone, a middle-aged advertising executive travels back in time to his childhood, arriving just a few miles away from his native town. That episode was based on Binghamton, New York, the hometown of Serling as he graduated from Binghamton Central High School in 1943. 

Well, I came upon news stories that the town in conjunction with the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation and The State of New York had decided Serling should be honored by his hometown. 

The Serling Memorial Foundation said it will use the grant and additional fundraising to place the Serling statue in Recreation Park next year. Note that this is the second fundraising effort as the first, a Kickstarter for $90,000, failed. 

I can’t find any update on the actual production of this statue, so I won’t swear that it’s going to happen in the time frame stated. The website for the Serling Memorial Foundation is, to put delicately, a bloody mess and says nothing about that project at all.

For now, we can show this model that was prepared of the bronze statue. It is Serling standing in front of a slightly ajar doorway with the words: “You unlock this door with the key of imagination” on the door.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 27, 1917 Ken Slater. In 1947, while serving in the British Army, he started Operation Fantast, a network of fans which had eight hundred members around the world by the early Fifties though it folded a few years later. Through Operation Fantast, he was a major importer of American SFF books and magazines into the U.K. – an undertaking which he continued, after it ceased to exist, through his company Fantast up to the time of his passing.  He was a founding member of the British Science Fiction Association in 1958. (Died 2008.)
  • Born December 27, 1948 Gerard Depardieu, 74. He’s in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet which we all agree (I think we agree) is genre. He plays Obélix in the French film Asterix & Obélix and Asterix at the Olympic Games: Mission Cleopatra and is Cardinal Mazarin in La Femme Musketeer. 
  • Born December 27, 1951 Robbie Bourget, 71. She started out as an Ottawa-area fan, where she became involved in a local Who club and the OSFS before moving to LA and becoming deeply involved in LASFS. She’s been a key member of many a Worldcon and Who convention over the years. She was the co-DUFF winner with Marty Cantor for Aussiecon 2. She moved to London in the late Nineties.
  • Born December 27, 1960 Maryam d’Abo, 62. She’s best known as Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights. Her first genre role was her screen debut in the very low-budget SF horror film Xtro, an Alien rip-off. She was Ta’Ra in Something Is Out There, a miniseries that was well received and but got poor ratings. Did you know there was a live Mowgli: The New Adventures of the Jungle Book? I didn’t. She was Elaine Bendel, a recurring role in it. 
  • Born December 27, 1969 Sarah Jane Vowell, 53. She’s an author, journalist, essayist, historian, podcaster, social commentator and actress. Impressive, but she gets Birthday Honors for being the voice of Violet Parr in the Incredibles franchise. I say franchise as I’ve no doubt that a third film is already bring scripted.
  • Born December 27, 1977 Sinead Keenan, 45. She’s in the Eleventh Doctor story “The End of Time” as Addams, but her full face make-up guarantees that you won’t recognize her. If you want to see her, she’s a Who fan in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Her final Who work is a Big Finish audio drama, Iterations of I, a Fifth Doctor story. And she played Nina Pickering, a werewolf, in Being Human for quite a long time.
  • Born December 27, 1987 Lily Cole, 35.  She played The Siren in the Eleventh Doctor story, “The Curse of The Black Spot”. She’s also in some obscure film called Star Wars: The Last Jedi as a character named Lovey. And she shows up in the important role of Valentina in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Not to mention she’s in Snow White and The Huntsman as Greta, a great film indeed.
  • Born December 27, 1995 Timothée Chalamet, 27. First SF role was as the young Tom Cooper in the well-received Interstellar. To date, his only other genre roles have been as Zac in One & Two and of course he’s Paul Atreides in Director Denis Villeneuve’s Dune films.

(9) JWST OR FULL NAME? The New York Times explains “How Naming the James Webb Telescope Turned Into a Fight Over Homophobia”.

The debate over the telescope cuts to the core of who is worthy to memorialize and how past human accomplishment should be balanced with modern standards of social justice.NASA

For half a decade now, influential young scientists have denounced NASA’s decision to name its deep-space telescope after James E. Webb, who led the space agency to the cusp of the 1969 moon landing. This man, they insisted, was a homophobe who oversaw a purge of gay employees.

Hakeem Oluseyi, who is now the president of the National Society of Black Physicists, was sympathetic to these critics. Then he delved into archives and talked to historians and wrote a carefully sourced essay in Medium in 2021 that laid out his surprising findings.

“I can say conclusively,” Dr. Oluseyi wrote, “that there is zero evidence that Webb is guilty of the allegations against him.”

That, he figured, would be that. He was wrong.

…Mr. Webb, who died in 1992, cut a complicated figure. He worked with Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson to integrate NASA, bringing in Black engineers and scientists. In 1964, after George Wallace, the white segregationist governor of Alabama, tried to block such recruitment, Mr. Webb threatened to pull top scientists and executives out of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

Fifteen years earlier, however, Mr. Webb encountered different pressures as an under secretary at the State Department during the Truman administration. The political right, led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, sought to dismantle the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In attacking the State Department, they tried to ferret out employees they claimed were Communists and what they called “perverts” — gay Americans, in what became known as the lavender scare.

“The lavender scare, like the red scare itself, was an attack on the New Deal,” noted David K. Johnson, a history professor at the University of South Florida and author of “The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government.”

“Then,” he added, “it turned into a moral panic.”

These were bleak times. In two decades, between 5,000 and 10,000 gay employees were pushed out of government, careers and lives wrecked.

Secretary of State Dean Acheson denounced the “filthy business” of smearing diplomats. And President Harry Truman, records show, advised Mr. Webb to slow-walk the Republican investigation, while complying with its legal dictates. Mr. Webb did not turn over personnel files to Senate investigators, according to the NASA report.

In 2002, NASA named the telescope after Mr. Webb, citing his work in pushing to land a man on the moon. That decision attracted little attention, in part because the telescope was not yet built.

But as the telescope neared completion, criticism flared. In 2015, Matthew Francis, a science journalist, wrote an article for Forbes titled “The Problem With Naming Observatories for Bigots.” He wrote that Mr. Webb led the anti-gay purge at the State Department and that he had testified of his contempt for gay people. He credited Dr. Prescod-Weinstein with tipping him off, and she in turn tweeted his article and attacked Mr. Webb as a “homophobe.”

Those claims rested on misidentification and that portion of Mr. Francis’ article has been deleted without notice to the reader. Mr. Francis declined an interview.

As Dr. Oluseyi discovered and NASA’s report confirmed, it was not Mr. Webb but a different State Department official who oversaw the purge and spoke disparagingly of gay Americans….

(10) ORDER’S ASSASSIN SERIES CONTINUES. The Traitor by D.C. Gomez, Book Two of The Order’s Assassin Series, was released in November. Our favorite witch and former cop, Eric, from the Intern Diaries Series, has a new job with the Order of Witches. With no way out, he must continue his mission to clean out the Order, before he becomes the one hunted down.

Eric’s search for Rafael, the Order’s betrayer, is leading to a dead end. Running out of time, he decides to enlist the help of some old acquaintances in Salem’s underground.

In the meantime, the Garcia Clan, the deadliest of all the shifter assassin families in the world, has been attacked. Tensions are rising as Sasha is forced back on the field to investigate and bring the culprit to justice.

 With both the Order of Witches and the Garcia Clan searching for the truth, Eric and Sasha are the only ones standing between a full-on blood bath.

Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

D. C. Gomez is an award-winning USA Today Bestselling Author, podcaster, motivational speaker, and coach. Born in the Dominican Republic, she grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. D. C. studied film and television at New York University. After college she joined the US Army, and proudly served for four years.  You can find out more about her at www.dcgomez-author.com.

(11) WOULD YOU LIKE TO SWING ON A STAR.  Call it what you will, “The Webb Telescope Is Just Getting Started” says the New York Times.

So far it’s been eye candy from heaven: The black vastness of space teeming with enigmatic, unfathomably distant blobs of light. Ghostly portraits of Neptune, Jupiter and other neighbors we thought we knew already. Nebulas and galaxies made visible by the penetrating infrared eyes of the James Webb Space Telescope.

The telescope, named for James Webb, the NASA administrator during the buildup to the Apollo moon landings, is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. It was launched on Christmas one year ago — after two trouble-plagued decades and $10 billion — on a mission to observe the universe in wavelengths no human eye can see. With a primary mirror 21 feet wide, the Webb is seven times as powerful as its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope. Depending on how you do the accounting, one hour of observing time on the telescope can cost NASA $19,000 or more.

But neither NASA nor the astronomers paid all that money and political capital just for pretty pictures — not that anyone is complaining.

“The first images were just the beginning,” said Nancy Levenson, temporary director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, which runs both Webb and the Hubble. “More is needed to turn them into real science.”

…For three days in December, some 200 astronomers filled an auditorium at the institute to hear and discuss the first results from the telescope. An additional 300 or so watched online, according to the organizers. The event served as a belated celebration of the Webb’s successful launch and inauguration and a preview of its bright future.

One by one, astronomers marched to the podium and, speaking rapidly to obey the 12-minute limit, blitzed through a cosmos of discoveries. Galaxies that, even in their relative youth, had already spawned supermassive black holes. Atmospheric studies of some of the seven rocky exoplanets orbiting Trappist 1, a red dwarf star that might harbor habitable planets. (Data suggest that at least two of the exoplanets lack the bulky primordial hydrogen atmospheres that would choke off life as we know it, but they may have skimpy atmospheres of denser molecules like water or carbon dioxide.)….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. How It Should Have Ended gives its take about “How Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi Should Have Ended”.

Obi-Wan and Darth Vader are face to face once again

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

Pixel Scroll 10/7/22 Hey Hey We’re The Kzinti!

(1) COMICS: THE INSIDE STORY. Scott Edelman invites listeners to come to Chicago for lunch with Carol Tilley in episode 182 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Carol Tilley

This episode’s guest is Carol Tilley, a professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois who teaches and writes about comics, libraries, reading, and censorship. We first met six years ago when she was in D.C. to deliver a presentation at the National Archives titled “Dear Sirs: I Believe You’re Wasting Your Time,” during which she shared what she learned about comics readers of the ‘50s while researching the records of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. In her role as a comics historian, she’s made numerous visits to D.C. over the years to research at the Library of Congress and National Archives for a biography of Fredric Wertham, whose attacks on sex and violence in comics, and particularly his infamous book Seduction the Innocent, helped bring about the Comics Code.

She was interested not just in the inner workings of Wertham — who comics fans, when I first entered fandom, considered a bigger villain than Doctor Octopus and Lex Luthor rolled into one — but also in the experiences of those who read, drew, and engaged with comics in the US during the ’30s-’50s. She came to Worldcon to share what’s she’s learned, and was also going to speak on a panel about the renewed attack on books and curriculum in schools across the U.S.

We discussed how we each first learned about the Comics Code, the mostly forgotten rich kid origins of Blondie‘s Dagwood Bumstead, the unsettling inconsistencies she discovered while going through 200 boxes of Fredric Wertham’s papers, what those documents reveal about how he came to believe what he came to believe, what it means to research with the brain of an historian, the proper pronunciations of Potrzebie and Mxyzptlk, her efforts to track down those who wrote letters to the Senate protesting comic book censorship during the ’50s (including one of the founders of the Firesign Theater), the enduring power of EC’s “Judgment Day,” why she believed comic book censorship would have occurred even without Wertham’s input, what she thinks he’d make of today’s comics, how Wertham felt about the way comic book fans felt about him, and much more.

(2) MAYBE EVEN HOPE ESCAPED THIS TIME. Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware gets the word out about “The Implosion of BBB Publishings: A Peek Into the Sometimes Dysfunctional World of Paid Anthology / Boxed Set Publishing”.

… But no one had any inkling the company was in real trouble, or that Nichol was sick. With Nichol incommunicado, and many buy-ins and service purchases much older than PayPal’s 180-day claim window, how would authors get their money back? Who were Haney Hayes Promotions? What was this new publisher all about? Why hadn’t Nichol herself made any announcements? Why was Sosha Ann, whose name appeared alongside Nichol Smith’s on BBB’s contracts, and in multiple other contexts to indicate that she was co-owner of the company, now claiming to be just a helpless employee who’d been in the dark about BBB’s problems and had no access to its finances? And if she was just an employee, what gave her the authority to transfer BBB’s anthology projects to a new publishing company?

Furious not just at the sudden transition and unanswered questions, but at the callous offloading of financial responsibility and the demand that they essentially pay twice for inclusion in the same anthologies, writers poured out their anger, confusion, and hurt on Facebook and in the new SIR Facebook group. Also unleashed: a flood of complaints and reports to me, which in addition to the problems mentioned above, exposed the extreme unprofessionalism of BBB’s operations….

(3) TWELVE TOUGH TRIVIA QUESTIONS. [Item by Brick Barrientos.] There is a Seanan McGuire quiz on the Learned League site. It was written by a couple 
of fans with the last name Dempsey. It seems pretty difficult, only for avid fans, but File 770 readers might be interested. “LL One-Day Special: Seanan McGuire”.

(4) SEE BONESTELL ART AGAIN. In the Washington Post, Michael E. Ruane discusses the renovation of the National Air and Space Museum which will display Chesley Bonestell’s 1957 painting “Lunar Landscape,” which has not been shown in public since 1970.  Bonestell’s painting reflected the science of his time but research shows that micrometeorites have made the Moon more worn and less craggy than what Bonestell painted. “Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to reopen after renovations”.

… The Apollo 11 moon capsule sits at an angle in the eerie light of its display case, its heat shield still gouged from its 25,000 mph plunge through the atmosphere in 1969.

Nearby, the 1909 Wright brothers flier — the world’s first military airplane — still has oil stains on its fabric wings near the engine and the big bicycle chains that turned the propellers….

(5) WHITTAKER COMING TO DOCTOR WHO CON IN LA. Gallifrey One has confirmed Jodie Whittaker, who has played the most recent incarnation of the Doctor since 2017, as their headliner guest for Gallifrey One 33 1/3: Long Live the Revolution, taking place on February 17-19, 2023 at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel.

Ms. Whittaker, whose appearance is sponsored by Showmasters Events, will be joining us both Saturday & Sunday at the convention, for two interview panels, autographs & photo ops both days, and participating in our evening guest receptions. She joins previously confirmed guests Colin Baker, Janet Fielding, Sophie Aldred, Wendy Padbury, Frazer Hines, and a stellar lineup of guests including many still to be confirmed.

For more details about Ms. Whittaker’s appearance at her very first dedicated Doctor Who convention, or to purchase tickets to the event, visit our website at www.gallifreyone.com.

(6) JOHN WILLIAMS, JERRY GOLDSMITH & OTHERS. LA classical music radio station KUSC polled listeners about their favorite pieces of classical music. The station ran a blog post with part of the list – “Your 20 Favorite Movie Scores”. Over half are from genre films.

Music from the silver screen made quite a splash once again on this year’s Classical California Ultimate Playlist. Check out ths playlist of your favorite 20 favorite pieces from the movies, as voted by you for the 2022 Classical California Ultimate Playlist. Enjoy!

drive in movie theater sign with palm trees

(7) SPIDER-MAN LIBRARY CARD. Spider-Senses will be tingling across New York City as The New York Public Library (NYPL) and Marvel Entertainment join forces to release a special, limited-edition Spider-Man library card on October 11 to inspire new and existing patrons to explore a multitude of free books, resources, and programs at the Library, including Marvel graphic novels.

This dynamic collaboration—which debuts just in time for New York Comic Con—marks the 60th anniversary of Spider-Man’s first comic book appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 and emphasizes the importance of reading, knowledge, and libraries to Peter Parker’s crime-fighting comic book adventures. Images of Spider-Man—alongside Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy, two other iconic web-slingers—will be featured on the card, as well as on upcoming banners outside the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and the windows of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), exciting patrons of all ages to tap into the unique power of reading, comics, and libraries to discover their inner super hero. Details about the card and related activities are available online: nypl.org/beyondamazing

The Spider-Man card follows in the footsteps of previous library cards issued for the beloved children’s book The Snowy Day and the Library’s “Knowledge Is Power” card; aiming to help New Yorkers discover their full potential by tapping into the power of everything NYPL has to offer—millions of books to help readers scale new heights, a web of information via free computers and internet access, and a super-team of library staff—all available at your friendly neighborhood library.

The release of the Spider-Man card also marks the one-year anniversary of the Library’s decision to eliminate fines as a way to remove barriers to accessing the Library for all New Yorkers. This historic move was even a plot point in Marvel Comics’ Amazing Spider-Man #900, released on July 27. In a special story written by Daniel Kibblesmith, drawn by David Lopez, and colored by Nathan Fairbairn, Peter Parker returns a large stack of overdue books to the Library after learning of the elimination of late fines. Readers can check out Amazing Spider-Man #900 in a special bonus release on Marvel Unlimited, Marvel’s premier digital comics subscription service.

The launch of the special-edition card also marks the start of the Library’s Open House week, which begins October 11. The card will be available to new and current patrons free on a first-come, first-serve basis at all NYPL branches, located throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Libraries will be hosting a variety of programs and events throughout the week, as well as featuring book displays and reading recommendations from a special reading list curated by NYPL staff.

(8) UNHEARD SCREAMING. Do you remember this clue? “Jessica Fletcher. With a Robot. In Space.” by Mur Lafferty at CrimeReads.

…Also, I realized that subconsciously I put a little bit of my Grandma Lafferty into a lot of my stories. They seem to frequently include a tough old woman I like to call a “murder granny.” (While tough, the murder granny may or may not be an actual murderer. Also, to my knowledge, my Grandma was not a murderer.) In this book, there’s a little bit of my maternal grandmother as well, who was not tough as nails, but screamed during televised golf for the rolling ball to do her bidding, and really liked radio contests…

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1993 [By Cat Eldridge.] So what’s Sylvester Stallone’s perfect film? Without any doubt at all, that’d be Demolition Man which came out twenty-nine years this evening. (In my universe, all films came out in the evening.) It is a film that I saw first at the cinema on a proper full screen and I think have watched at least a half dozen times since. 

It’s that ever so rare screenplay written by committee that I like, as it had three hands in the writing of it — Daniel Waters, Robert Reneau and Peter M. Lenkov. Waters had just written Batman Returns and had earlier received an Edgar for Heathers, Reneau had for genre just an episode of Tales from the Crypt, and Lenkov hadn’t done anything notable yet though much later he make his mark as a rebooter of, well everything — McGyverHawaii 5-0 and even Magnum PI got so done by him.

It was, weirdly, directed by Marco Brambilla, an Italian-born Canadian contemporary artist and film director, known for re-contextualizations of popular and found imagery. Huh? 

Now for the film itself.

Stallone played a cop thawed out (shades of Niven) to capture an escaped criminal who originally had been frozen when he was. They both wind up in what is considered a utopia, the city of San Angeles. Like all utopian undertakings, it really isn’t. 

I loved the absolute deadpan way Stallone deals with everything odd there from the lack of toilet paper to discovering sex has been replaced by virtual experiences. He would have made an absolute spot-on Dredd. (Oh, wait!)

Let’s not forget the other casting here. Wesley Snipes gives one of the best performances of his career as Simon Phoenix, and I completely adore Sandra Bullock as Lieutenant Lenina Huxley. 

Her character was named after Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, and Lenina Crowne, a character in the novel.

The studio refused to say how much it cost but estimates say somewhere between fifty and seventy-five million. It did exceedingly well at the box office making at least one hundred and seventy million.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 7, 1938 Jane Gallion (Ellern). Writer, Poet, and Fan who was one of the members of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society subgroup The Blackguards, which hosted many parties and tournaments. She edited the fanzines Karuna, and Topaze (etc.) and contributed to many other fanzines over the years. Wrote a great deal of erotica for Essex House, including the post-apocalyptic novels Biker and Going Down. (Died 2003.)
  • Born October 7, 1942 Lee Gold, 80. She’s a member of LAFA, the Los Angeles organization for filkers, and a writer and editor in the role-playing game and filk music communities. She’s published Xenofilkia, a bi-monthly compilation of filk songs since 1988, four issues of the Filker Up anthology; and has published for forty-seven years, Alarums and Excursions, a monthly gaming zine, and edited many other fanzines. She is a member of the Filk Hall of Fame along with Barry Gold, her husband. 
  • Born October 7, 1945 Hal Colebatch. Lawyer, Journalist, Editor, and Writer from Australia who has written, singly or in collaboration, two novels and at least two dozen shorter pieces set in Larry Niven’s The Man-Kzin Wars series. However, his main body of work is non-genre, including six books of poetry, short stories, and radio dramas and adaptations. His non-fiction books include social commentary, biography and history, and he has published many hundreds of articles and reviews in various news and critical venues. (Died 2019.)
  • Born October 7, 1947 John Brosnan. Australian writer who died way too young of acute pancreatitis. He used at least seven pseudonyms, and wrote scripts for a number of what I’ll generously call horror films including one I know that somehow I saw — Carnosaur.  If you like your SF with a larger dose of pulp, his Sky Lords trilogy (The Sky LordsThe War of the Sky Lords and The Fall of the Sky Lords) is damn good. Airships, airships! (Died 2005.)
  • Born October 7, 1950 Howard Chaykin, born 1950, 72. Comic book artist and writer. His first major work was for DC Comics drawing “The Price of Pain Ease” which was an adaptation of author Fritz Leiber’s characters Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser in Sword of Sorcery #1. He would illustrate damn near everything else from Batman and The Legion of Super-Heroes for DC to Hulk and Iron-Man for Marvel (to name but a few series) but I think his best genre work was his own American Flagg! series which I’ve enjoyed more than a few times. It’s available from the usual digital suspects.
  • Born October 7, 1958 Rosalyn Landor, 64. She played Guinevere in Arthur the King, and Helen Stoner in “The Speckled Band” of Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes. She was the red-headed colleen Brenna Odell in the “Up the Long Ladder” episode of Next Generation. 
  • Born October 7, 1977 Meighan Desmond, 45. One of the beauties of the Xena-Hercules Universe is that they shared secondary characters betwixt them. So was the case with one played by Meighan Desmond — the Greek goddess Discord. She also showed up on the Young Hercules series as well. She stopped acting after these series and has done some, but not much, behind the scenes work since.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! shows an actor who only wants to do it if it’s artistic.

(12) HUMOR LITMUS TEST. Humorist Rex Huppke declares to USA Today readers “I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid for an abortion or if he blew up the planet Alderaan”. If you read a lot of social media it may take a few paragraphs to convince you he’s kidding.

… Like the many Republicans who’ve rushed in to stick up for Walker in the wake of the abortion news, I don’t care if the former football star is an ancient, trans-dimensional, shape-shifting entity of pure evil that takes the form of a clown named Pennywise and terrorizes a small town in Maine. I want control of the Senate, and I’m sure Walker regrets any past desire to feed on humans….

(13) NECROPERSONCY. Camestros Felapton reviews Tamsyn Muir’s third Locked Tomb book: “Review: Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir”.

… The big advantage Nona has over Gideon and Harrow is that Nona herself is just a lot more likeable. That’s a shallow criterion for judging a book but part of Muir’s writing genius with the Locked Tomb has been to pitch the style and structure of each volume to the titular character. Gideon was a brash, swashbuckling story with a protagonist who was fun to be with but who never really paid attention to the complex puzzle she was entangled with. Harrow was paranoid, secretive and actively leading the reader astray so as to hide their own vulnerability. Nona also doesn’t know what is going on but the central character is both innocent and curious and not afraid to ask questions….

(14) TUNE UP FOR HALLOWEEN. Not sure how the LA Opera got involved with Frankenstein, but they are! Tickets here.

The immortal horror classic is back onscreen with a live orchestra

This 1931 masterpiece of horror was originally released without a musical score, which inspired composer Michael Shapiro to fill in the void by creating an original new soundtrack. As the classic film plays on the big screen, he’ll conduct his gorgeous and atmospheric score, performed live by the LA Opera Orchestra, making this the ultimate audience experience for a truly iconic film.

Surround yourself with Old Hollywood glam at the beautifully-restored Theatre at Ace Hotel as the movie that made horror history returns to the big screen. Frankenstein with Live Orchestra is in town October 28 and 29 only, so click below to get your tickets before they’re gone!

(15) A TUMBLING TUMBLEWEED NO MORE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The pathfinding CAPSTONE mission had been in trouble for weeks with NASA unable to control the tumbling spacecraft. The trouble was finally located and the fix uploaded. This puts the mission back on track to try out the NRHO orbit planned for Gateway, the lunar space station portion of the Artemis program. “Engineers Regain Control of Moon-Bound Probe After a Frightening 4 Weeks”Gizmodo has the story.

…The recovery team traced the problem to a partially opened valve on one of CAPSTONE’s eight thrusters, according to an Advanced Space press release. The requisite fix was transmitted to the spacecraft yesterday and executed this morning to positive results. The probe remains on track as it heads to its operational orbit around the Moon.

CAPSTONE, short for Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, ran into difficulties following its third course correction maneuver on September 8. The 55-pound (25-kilogram) satellite lost full three-axis control and entered into a troubling tumble. A recovery team led by Advanced Space, which owns and operates CAPSTONE on behalf of NASA, scrambled to regain control of the $33 million cubesat.…

(16) ASTEROIDS IMPACTING EARTH. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Nature news of the asteroid re-direction test (previously covered by File 770) but also an editorial calling for NASA to do a complete survey of asteroids that are 140m across
or more. NASA has already completed a survey of asteroids over 1km across likely to hit the Earth. These are of dinosaur global extinction level type asteroids. However, smaller asteroids over a few 100 meters across will cause regional devastation if they hit the Earth. The Near Earth Object (NEO) surveyor began its preparations in 2019 but has had its annual budget cut by over 75% from US$170 million. This will delay NEO’s launch from 2026 to after 2028.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “’Vegetarian Vampire’ Toby Helps Heinz Promote Tomato Blood Ketchup”Adweek explains the campaign.

Heinz teamed up with “280 year-old vegetarian vampire, influencer and Tomato Blood activist” Toby, portrayed by viral TikTok star E.J. Marcus, on a “public-service-announcement film” to back the release of its Heinz Tomato Blood ketchup in its “spooky, Halloween-themed, limited-edition bottle.”…

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

Pixel Scroll 6/17/22 Three Scrolls And Three Pixels

(1) MAKING THE COPYRIGHT CLAIMS BOARD WORK FOR YOU. Victoria Strauss instructs authors how to access “The Copyright Claims Board: A New Option For Copyright Disputes” at Writer Beware.

Taking legal action if your copyright is infringed can be complicated and confusing–not to mention expensive. Suing an infringing party, which must be done in federal court, can rack up enormous legal fees, and take years to resolve. (For instance, the Authors Guild estimates that the average cost of a copyright suit is $400,000–often more than the value of the claim itself.) And there’s no guarantee of success. It’s a situation that, for many creators, renders their rights under copyright essentially unenforceable.

Traditionally in the USA, such suits have been creatives’ only avenue of redress. Now, though, there’s an alternative: the Copyright Claims Board (CCB), which opened for business yesterday.

Established by Congress in 2020 via the CASE Act, the CCB is a small claims court for copyright disputes, where creators can bring lower-dollar infringement claims (monetary damages are capped at $30,000) without having to hire an attorney or make a court appearance (proceedings are conducted entirely online). The CCB is housed within the US Copyright Office, and staffed by a three-person tribunal that oversees proceedings and is the final decision-maker on claims….

(2) ANALOG AWARD DEADLINE EXTENDED. The submission deadline for The Analog Award for Emerging Black Voices has been extended to June 30. Eligible to enter are “Any writer over 18 years of age who customarily identifies as Black, has not published nor is under contract for a book, and has three or less paid fiction publications is eligible.”

Here is what the award winner receives:

With editorial guidance, Analog editors commit to purchasing and publishing the winning story in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, with the intent of creating a lasting relationship, including one year of monthly mentorship sessions. These sessions will be opportunities to discuss new writing, story ideas, the industry, and to receive general support from the Analog editors and award judges.

(3) STAY FROSTY. The Game of Thrones spinoffs continue to multiply. The Hollywood Reporter brings news of another: “‘Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow Sequel Series in Development at HBO”.

The network has entered into early development on its first sequel to its blockbuster fantasy drama: A live-action spinoff series centered on the fan-favorite character Jon Snow, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Kit Harington is attached to reprise the role should a series move forward. The actor was twice nominated for an Emmy for his portrayal of an action hero who struggles to uphold his family’s noble values in a brutal world.

In Thrones’ eighth-and-final season, Jon Snow discovered his true name was Aegon Targaryen, a potential heir to the Iron Throne. In the series finale, he was exiled from Westeros and journeyed North of the Wall with the Wildlings to leave his old life behind. 

… The development signals an intriguing new direction in HBO’s handling of author George R.R. Martin’s fantasy universe, a move not unlike Disney+’s management of its Star Wars and Marvel brands where the streamer has found success launching character-focused sequel series such as WandaVision (starring Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (with Ewan McGregor reprising his iconic role).

Perhaps most boldly from a creative standpoint, the project would upend Thrones’ final season as the last word on the fates of the surviving characters in HBO’s most popular and Emmy-winning series of all time. In theory, the project could open the door for other surviving characters from the Thrones universe to reappear – such as Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie).

This development news means there are now seven Thrones projects in the works in addition to the upcoming House of the Dragon prequel series, which debuts Aug. 21. 

(4) NEWS TO HER. “’Game Of Thrones’ Star Maisie Williams Thought Arya Stark ‘Was Queer’” reports Deadline.

One of the most memorable Game of Thrones scenes in a final season full of memorable scenes was Arya Stark getting it on with Gendry.

Many were surprised that the hookup took place. Not the least of them was Maisie Williams, who played Arya.

Williams told Teen Vogue she was “surprised” by her character’s choice on the eve of major battle.

“The first time that I was surprised by Arya, I guess, was probably in the final [season] where she whips off her clothes and sleeps with Gendry,” Williams says. “I thought that Arya was queer, you know? So… yeah. That was a surprise.”

(5) PLATONIC IDEAS. Camestros Felapton returns to an intriguing question having done more research: “Does Gandalf Know About Atoms? Part 2 Corpuscular Wizards”.

So my previous post on this topic spun out some theories based on very little at all. I didn’t actually believe that Tolkien himself had any views on the issue. It was only afterwards, and with the addition of more coffee, that I realised the issue is right there in the text of The Fellowship of the Ring

(6) LIBRARY CENSORSHIP ISSUES. Organizations continue to target certain graphic novels for removal from school libraries. Publishers Weekly says “Comics Librarians Are Up for the Fight”.

…Organizations such as Moms for Liberty claim that award-winning books often push racial agendas or are obscene and demand their removal from shelves and reading lists. Many librarians counter that these concerns arise from the fact the books’ creators are Black or identify as LGBTQ, or that the titles touch on queer themes. Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, a memoir about growing up nonbinary, was the most banned book of 2021 and continues to be a flashpoint for controversy. Even acclaimed graphic novels like Art Spiegelman’s Maus (which won a Pulitzer Prize) and Jerry Craft’s New Kid (which won the Newbery) have become targets for removal.

The challenges have left librarians anxious and intimidated. In Texas and Florida, widespread library challenges have become highly politicized, with librarians in one Texas district being harassed and called groomers, heretics, and child pornographers on social media.

The movement to remove books from libraries and schools has affected school board elections, and laws are being passed to change library reporting structures, resulting in highly confrontational board meetings.

“It’s just demoralizing,” says Tina Coleman, membership specialist for the ALA and liaison for ALA’s Graphic Novel and Comics Round Table (GNCRT). “I’ve talked to librarians who have had to deal with the challenges, and even if it’s a relatively straightforward, easy challenge, librarians are getting all of this vitriol and being harassed. And we have to work under the assumption that this is going to be going on for an extended period of time.”

Indeed, the challenges show no signs of letting up—Moms for Liberty just released a fourth list of books it wants removed from libraries, including classics like The Kite RunnerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Slaughterhouse-Five (coincidentally adapted into a graphic novel in 2020).

It’s a frightening and exhausting atmosphere for librarians across the country, says Matthew Noe, lead collection and knowledge management librarian of Harvard Medical School’s Countway Library, who is wrapping up his second term as president of the GNCRT. “A lot of this stuff is sheer intimidation, and it’s mind boggling,” he adds. Noe feels that while the challenges were mounting all through last year, the phenomenon didn’t strike a chord in the mainstream news until Maus was removed from a school curriculum in Tennessee. “That seemed to be a wake-up call for a lot of people.”…

(7) WRITING ABOUT DISABILITY. Nathanial White draws from deep experience in this post for Tor.com: “Disturbing the Comfortable: On Writing Disability in Science Fiction”.

Six years ago I shattered my spine in a whitewater kayaking accident. The bone shards of my second lumbar vertebra sliced into my spinal cord, severing communication with the lower half of my body. Surgeons rebuilt my vertebra and scaffolded my spine with four titanium rods. I spent a year in a wheelchair. After hundreds of hours of therapy, my body established new neural connections. I learned to walk again. I’m tremendously grateful, and I know it’s an inspiring story. It’s the story that many want to hear. But it’s not the story I want to tell in my writing.

… I decide I need a more encompassing narrative, one that considers exasperation as well as progress, suffering as well as triumph. One that makes meaning not just from overcoming, but from the ongoing lived experience of pain. Maybe I can even exorcize pain through writing, transmute it into narrative. So I invent Eugene, the protagonist of my novella Conscious Designs. I give him a spinal cord injury. Maybe together we can find some sense in our suffering.

The more I get to know Eugene, the more compassion I feel for him. I consider giving him a shot at escaping his pain, so I send him into a near future where technology might be his savior.

Because I want to take away the visual signifier of his disability, his mobility impairment, I gift him a much more advanced robotic exoskeleton than the one that retrained my nerves. Eugene’s device is so svelte, it can hide under his clothes. He doesn’t even limp like I do, except when the machine fails.

But making Eugene mobile doesn’t make his disability go away. …

(8) MIDDLE-EARTH FASHIONS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Costume designer Ngila Dickson discusses the 19,000 costumes she made for The Lord Of The Rings in this 2003 clip Warner Bros. released two weeks ago.

(9) YOU’RE INVITED. “NASA Invites Media, Public to View Webb Telescope’s First Images” on July 12.

NASA, in partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency), will release the James Webb Space Telescope’s first full-color images and spectroscopic data during a televised broadcast beginning at 10:30 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, July 12, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Released one by one, these first images from the world’s largest and most powerful space telescope will demonstrate Webb at its full power, ready to begin its mission to unfold the infrared universe.

Each image will simultaneously be made available on social media as well as on the agency’s website at: nasa.gov/webbfirstimages

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY

1960 [By Cat Eldridge.] Anniversary: Twilight Zone’s “The Mighty Casey”

What you’re looking at is a ghost, once alive but now deceased. Once upon a time, it was a baseball stadium that housed a major league ball club known as the Hoboken Zephyrs. Now it houses nothing but memories and a wind that stirs in the high grass of what was once an outfield, a wind that sometimes bears a faint, ghostly resemblance to the roar of a crowd that once sat here. We’re back in time now, when the Hoboken Zephyrs were still a part of the National League, and this mausoleum of memories was an honest-to-Pete stadium. But since this is strictly a story of make believe, it has to start this way: once upon a time, in Hoboken, New Jersey, it was tryout day. And though he’s not yet on the field, you’re about to meet a most unusual fella, a left-handed pitcher named Casey — opening narration of “The Mighty Casey”

Before you ask, yes, I really do like this series. I think it’s the best fantasy genre series ever done bar none. And when a episode is stellar, it is among the best genre fiction done, period. So it is with “The Mighty Casey” which first aired on CBS sixty-two years ago this evening. 

Obviously the episode title is in homage to the “Casey at the Bat” baseball poem. Now go away if you’ve not seen this episode, go away as SPOILER ALERT I’m going to discuss it now. A really bad baseball team somehow acquires a robotic pitcher (really don’t ask as it makes no sense) but the League says Casey is not human and cannot play. So Casey is, sort of Wizard of Oz-ish given a human heart, which makes eligible Casey to play.  Unfortunately the human heart makes him realise that he shouldn’t be throwing those really fast balls. Oh well.

With the team sure to fold soon without its star robotic pitcher, the creator of that robot gives the manager Casey’s blueprints as a souvenir. Looking at them, McGarry suddenly has a brilliant idea, as he runs off after Dr. Stillman to tell him his idea. Rumors later surface suggesting rather strongly that the manager has used the blueprints to build a world-champion team of Casey robots. END SPOILER ALERT.

The entire production was originally filmed with Paul Douglas in the manager role. (Douglas previously played a baseball team manager in the Fifties film Angels in the Outfield. He died right after it was filmed and Serling decided that it needed to be done again with a new actor. CBS being cheap wouldn’t pay for it, so Serling paid for the entire shoot. 

It was filmed at Wrigley Field, a ballpark in Los Angeles, California that hosted minor league baseball teams for more than thirty years. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 17, 1898 — M. C. Escher. Dutch artist whose work was widely used to illustrate genre works such as the 1976 Harper & Row hardcover of Kate Wilhelm’s Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, or Berkley Books 1996 cover of Clive Barker’s Damnation Game(Died 1972.)
  • Born June 17, 1903 — William Bogart. Pulp fiction writer. He is best remembered for writing several Doc Savage novels using the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson. Actually he’s responsible for thirteen of the novels, a goodly share of the number done. It’s suggested that most of his short stories were Doc Savage pastiches. (Died 1977.)
  • Born June 17, 1927 — Wally Wood. Comic book writer, artist and independent publisher, best known for his work on EC Comics’s Mad magazine, Marvel’s Daredevil, and Topps’s landmark and stellar Mars Attacks set. He was the inaugural inductee into the comic book industry’s Jack Kirby Hall of Fame, and was later inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 17, 1931 — Dean Ing. I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Soft Targets and I know I read all of his Man-Kzin Wars stories as I went through a phase of reading all that popcorn literature set in Niven’s universe. His “Devil You Don’t Know” novelette was nominated for a Hugo at Seacon ‘79. I also liked  his L-5 Community series. (Died 2020.)
  • Born June 17, 1941 — William Lucking. Here because he played Renny in Doc Savage: Man of Bronze. (I know I’ve seen it, but I’ll be damn if I remember much about it other than I like Doc Savage.)  He also had one-offs in Mission: ImpossibleThe Incredible HulkThe American HeroThe QuestVoyagersX-FilesThe Lazarus ManMillenniumDeep Space Nine and Night Stalker. (Died 2021.)
  • Born June 17, 1953 — Phyllis Weinberg, 69. She’s a fan who was married to fellow fan the late Robert E. Weinberg. She co-edited the first issue of The Weird Tales Collector. She co-chaired World Fantasy Convention 1996. 
  • Born June 17, 1982 — Jodie Whittaker, 40. The Thirteenth Doctor who did three series plus several upcoming specials. She played Ffion Foxwell in the Black Mirror‘s “The Entire History of You”, and was Samantha Adams in Attack the Block, a horror SF film. I like her version of The Doctor a lot with David Tennant being my other favorite modern Doctor. 
  • Born June 17, 1982 — Arthur Darvill, 40. Actor who’s has in my opinion had two great roles. The first was playing Rory Williams, one of the Eleventh Doctor’s companions. The second, and to my mind the more interesting of the two, was playing the time-traveller Rip Hunter in the Legends of Tomorrow, a Time Lord of sorts. (And yes, I know where the name came from.) He also played Seymour Krelborn in The Little Shop of Horrors at the Midlands Arts Centre, and Mephistopheles in Doctor Faustus at Shakespeare’s Globe.  

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) PLANET OF THE APES COMICS RETURNING. Marvel Entertainment has announced the Planet of the Apes franchise is coming back to Marvel Comics with all-new stories starting in early 2023. The legendary science fiction franchise has spanned over five decades with media including comics, books, films, television series, video games, and toys. 

Marvel Comics and Planet of the Apes have a history that goes back over 40 years. Marvel first published Planet of the Apes stories in 1974, and in 1975, Marvel published Adventures on the Planet of the Apes, full-color adaptations of the iconic Planet of the Apes films. 

(14) A MEREDITH MOMENT. Peter Roberts once edited a fan newzine (Checkpoint) but he got better. For a few hours more the Kindle edition of his 2014 book The Book of Fungi: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from around the World co-authored with Shelley Evans is available for $2.99.

The blurb from Popular Science promises, “The lurid photographs and enticing, offhandedly witty descriptions make the reader want to go out collecting specimens right away.”

(15) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter did not touch that dial and was rewarded with a “double-stumper” while watching tonight’s Jeopardy! episode.

Category: Sci-Fi Characters

Answer: In an H.G. Wells tale, Griffin, whose face is wrapped in rags, turns out to be this title guy.

Wrong question: Who is the guy in the time machine?

Right question: Who is The Invisible Man?

Answer: Walter M. Miller Jr. won a Hugo Award for penning “A Canticle for” this saint.

No one could ask, “Who is Saint Isaac Leibowitz?”

(16) BUSINESS PLANS TO MAKE A LOT OF DOUGH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] It’s not so much a pizza-making robot as a pizza-making factory full of several robots & all fitting in a 16-foot box truck.

A start up headed by an ex-SpaceX employee has demonstrated an automated pizza-making machine designed to crank out one 12-inch pie every 90 seconds and to fit in a food truck. The only human would drive the truck, fold boxes, and hand over the goods. Ordering would be via an app. 

The pizzas are estimated to retail from $7-$10 depending on toppings… But first there’s a little matter of convincing the health authorities. CEO Benson Tsai wants to put his first trucks on the road in his home LA market this summer. “SpaceX rocket scientists built a robot that makes $8 pizzas” – the Los Angeles Times has the story.

… “Our vehicle build cost is on the same order of magnitude as building out a Domino’s store,” Tsai said. He declined to give specifics but said that the cost was in the low six figures. Domino’s franchise agreement estimates that, minus franchise fees, insurance, supplies and rent, opening a new location costs between $115,000 and $480,000 to build out.

With lower overhead compared with a store staffed by humans, Tsai says Stellar can drop prices but still maintain the fat profit margins enjoyed by pizza chains. Company-owned Domino’s locations had profit margins of 21% in 2021, according to the company’s annual report, even after 30% of revenue was eaten up by labor costs….

(17) SPEAKING OF LIGHTYEAR. Chris Evans and Taika Waititi chat with BBC One about Lightyear and the problems of doing voice work in this video, which dropped today. “’I have to get off this planet!’ Chris Evans, Taika Waititi on Lightyear and ‘quoting’ Thor Ragnarok”.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Interstellar Probes over at Isaac Arthur’s Science & Futurism channel.

We continue our discussion of surveying for habitable exoplanets by touring our possible option for interstellar probes, dumb and smart, flyby and protracted orbital.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Moshe Feder, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 3/22/22 Captain Pixel Versus The Winter Solstice

(1) GORINSKY OUT AT EREWHON. Erewhon Books announced today that its founder, Liz Gorinsky, is stepping down as Publisher.

We are grateful for Liz’s incredible work and vision as our Publisher and Founder, and we wish Liz the very best in all future endeavors. 

Senior Editor Sarah Guan will continue to guide Erewhon’s editorial program while leading the expansion of the editorial team in coming months.

Cassandra Farrin, (Director of Publishing and Production) and Martin Cahill (Marketing and Publicity Manager) will continue in their roles. 

Erewhon Books would like to take this time to recognize several new additions to the team:

Viengsamai Fetters (they/them) has joined the team as our new Editorial Assistant. 

Kasie Griffitts (she/her) has joined as our new Sales Associate.

Gorinsky tweeted:

Gorinsky also tweeted today:

(2) WRITER BEWARE HAS MOVED. Victoria Strauss explains the reason there is “A New Home For the Writer Beware Blog”.

… After many years on the Blogger platform, we have finally transitioned to WordPress, which offers much greater flexibility in terms of design, control, and ease of use.

We also have a new, easy to remember web address: writerbeware.blog.

I’ve been dissatisfied with Blogger for a while now. I’m not a web developer, but I’m not helpless, either; I maintain the Writer Beware website on the SFWA site, and I built and maintain two additional websites, my own and another for an organization my husband is part of. But every time I thought about moving to a new platform, the size of the challenge just seemed too daunting. How would I transfer hundreds of posts, not to mention the thousands of comments and images that go with them? What about all the non-working inbound links the move would create? Links wouldn’t be a problem if I just started fresh on a brand-new WordPress site–but then the blog would exist on two platforms, with two different web addresses. And what about WB’s thousands of followers and subscribers?

The turning point came last summer, when the only email subscription widget supported by Blogger discontinued service. If people couldn’t subscribe to the WB blog, there was just no reason to remain on Blogger…. 

(3) RESISTANCE. Eugen Bacon discusses the process of “Finding Me: Towards Self-Actualization in Writing” at the SFWA Blog.

I read Maurice Broaddus’s “Black Joy and Afrofuturism for Young Readers,” which heartens us to be present, fully and joyfully, not just for ourselves but for our children, our new adults, and our future generations. He dares that we find unapology for being, that ours becomes an everyday commitment to a joyful resistance against carefully charted devices of oppression.

That reading nudged an inward gaze at my own writing, and I saw its trajectory:

  • Please, let me…
  • I am Black…
  • I am here.

(4) SANDERSON KICKSTARTER. Checked the ticker on the Brandon Sanderson Kickstarter today. It is still spinning like mad, and flew past $31,759,250 while I was copying the number. Still nine days to go: “Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson by Dragonsteel Entertainment”.

(5) TAFF ITINERARY TENTATIVELY JELLING. Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey will finally get his Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund trip this year. This is what he’s mapped out so far:

It looks like (unlike the “lost voyage” of 2020) Spain will not be part of my 2020/2022 TAFF delegate voyage. So:

Starting at the Eurocon/Luxcon, popping over to Poland for visits in a couple of places (Warsaw and Silesia), to England for Eastercon/Reclamation, from there to visit Sverifans in Uppsala and Malmö. If I haven’t overstayed my welcome in the U.K., I could return from Sweden and spend a few days in the U.K., maybe actually SEE Scotland and Scotfen in their native habitat? I don’t HAVE to be back in the States until 6 a.m. May 2….

(6) AIDING UKRAINE. Sales of Building a Better Future, edited by David Flin, will help raise money for charity. Contributing author Alex Wallace explains: “I am proud to say that a group of online alternate history fans (myself included) came together to put together an anthology, Building a Better Futureall proceeds of which go the British charity Disaster Emergency Commission’s Ukraine Humanitarian Aid Appeal. My short story Our Lady of Guidance, is among the stories therein.” 

Following the start of the tragic events in Ukraine, a group of historical writers on an Internet forum discussed what they could do to help. The feeling of helplessness in the face of the man-made tragedy was palpable. We considered many options, each less practical than the previous one.

Then, someone had an idea. We were writers. We should write a book, an anthology, with proceeds going to help with the rebuilding of Ukraine.

From that, things flowed quickly. The theme of rebuilding became adopted: “Building a Better Future.”

That’s what you’re holding in your hands. The product of a group of historical writers trying to do something to help the people of Ukraine.

(7) WHAT WAS YOUR NEXT IDEA? James Davis Nicoll ticks off “Five SFF Stories In Which the Best-Laid Plans Are Thwarted” at Tor.com.

Who among us has not been betrayed by the failure of a simple plan that should have worked? One sets out to collect firewood, only to be suddenly concussed; one tries to kill time with a round of cards, only to crush four of one’s own phalanges; one seeks the comfort of restful sleep, only wake with a mysterious deep incision down one’s abdomen. It’s not just me—this seems to be a perverse tendency of the universe: I see it in the news and I see it in what I read. Consider these five SFF tales in which plans are thwarted, foiled, and frustrated by circumstance…

(8) STAR TREK, THE NEXT REGENERATION. Another fun read, this time about how the sausage gets made: “‘Is This a Joke?’ How a Classic ‘Star Trek’ Episode Broke the Rules of the Franchise” in The Hollywood Reporter.

… Unfortunately, Braga was largely on his own when it came to the second most difficult thing about writing the episode: The briefing room scene. Here, Geordi (LeVar Burton) explains to his shipmates that they are caught in a very Trek-ian “temporal causality loop.” Ironically, Braga found himself in a time loop of his own, rewriting the scene over and over again.

“It was my first big ‘technobabble’ scene, so it couldn’t just sound cool. It had to sound plausible. It had to resolve all the clues that had been accumulating,” says Braga. “In addition to all the explaining, you have to bring your own voice to it, too. You try to pepper in some cool or shocking moments, like when Picard asks how long we have been in the loop and Geordi responds with something like ‘it could be years.’ But Piller had me rewrite that scene so many times. I remember over Christmas break of that year, I was working on that scene.”…

(9) I CAN TELL BY YOUR OUTFIT. At CrimeReads Matthew Lyons recommends horror novels set in the American West: “Black Sunset: New Essential Horror Reads from the American West”.

…Stories about the American West have always been rife with scares and horrors sure to delight and repulse even the most hardened of horror fans, from pulpy matinee fare like Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula to literary classics like Blood Meridian, but by taking what works and leaving what doesn’t, writers today are riding into the sunset with some of the most breathtaking and terrifying fiction in recent memory….

(10) WILLIAM A. JOHNSON (1956-2022.) Writing as Bill Johnson, he won a Hugo Award in 1998 for his novella, “We Will Drink a Fish Together” which was also a Nebula nominee. His stories were published in The Year’s Best Science Fiction several times. The family obituary is here.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1995 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-seven years ago on FOX, the Sliders series first aired on this evening. Created by Tracy Tormé and Robert K. Weiss, it would air on that network for three years before moving to Sci Fi for another two years. As a consequence of that it was first produced in Vancouver before being finally being so done in Los Angeles. 

Befitting a cross-time series,  it had an expansive cast led by the brothers of Jerry and Charlie  O’Connell along with Cleavant Derricks, Sabrina Lloyd, John Rhys-Davies, Kari Wuhrer, Robert Floyd and Tembi Locke with Derricks being the only cast member to stay with the series throughout its entire run.

There has also been gossip among Martin fans that this series was inspired by George R.R. Martin’s 1992 ABC pilot Doorways but everyone involved said that was not true. 

So how was the reception at the time? Not good. The Los Angeles Time was typical when it said “Now comes ‘Sliders,’ a banal bore of a mishmash adventure series starring Jerry O’Connell as a genius grad student named Quinn Mallory, who discovers a way to visit parallel Earths by whooshing himself through a space portal known as a ‘wormhole.’ It beats studying.”  

It does get a rather excellent sixty-four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 22, 1911 Raymond Z. Gallun. An early SF pulp writer who helped the genre to become popular. “Old Faithful” published in Astounding (December 1934) was his first story and led to a series of that name. “The Menace from Mercury,” a story published in the Summer 1932 issue of Wonder Stories Quarterly, was penned from a suggestion by Futurian John Michel and is considered famous among fans. His first published novel, People Minus X, didn’t appeared until 1957, followed by The Planet Strappers four years later. You can get all of his fiction at the usual suspects. (Died 1994.)
  • Born March 22, 1930 Stephen Sondheim. Several of his works were of a fantastical nature including Into The Woods which mines deeply both Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault for its source material. And there’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street which is damn fun even if it isn’t genre. (Died 2021.) 
  • Born March 22, 1931 William Shatner, 91. Happy Birthday Bill! Ok that was short. We all know he was Captain Kirk, but how many of us watched him as Jeff Cable on the rather fun Barbary Coast series? I did. It was really, really bad acting on his part though. Or that he was The Storyteller in children’s series called A Twist of The Tale? I was I surprised to discover that T.J. Hooker ran for ninety episodes! 
  • Born March 22, 1946 Rudy Rucker, 76. He’s certainly best known for the Ware Tetralogy, the first two of which, Software and Wetware, each won the Philip K. Dick Award. Though not genre, I do recommend As Above, So Below: A Novel of Peter Bruegel.
  • Born March 22, 1950 Mary Tamm. She’s remembered for her role as Romana as the Companion to the Fourth Doctor in “The Key to Time” storyline. It seemed liked she was there longer only because another actress, Lalla Ward, played her in the following season and she looked a lot like her. Ward was soon to be married to Tom Baker.  She also appears briefly in the 20th Anniversary special The Five Doctors through the reuse of footage from the uncompleted story Shada that Douglas Adams wrote. Tamm had only one other genre gig as Ginny in the “Luau” story part of the Tales That Witness Madness film. (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 22, 1969 Alex Irvine, 53. I strongly recommend One King, One Soldier, his offbeat Arthurian novel, and The Narrows, about a WW II Detroit golem factory where fantasy tropes get a severe trouncing. A Scattering of Jades, which won a International Horror Guild Award, is well worth reading.  He also wrote The Vertigo Encyclopedia which was an in-house project so, as he told me back then, DC delivered him one copy of every Vertigo title they had sitting in the warehouse which was a lot.  For research purposes, of course. It came in a very, very large crate. And he’s written a fair number of comics, major and minor houses alike.  His newest novel, Anthropocene Rag, sounds very intriguing. Has anyone read it? 

(13) HE SAYS IT’S BUNK. “Hugh Who? Grant dismisses reports he will be the next Doctor” reports the Guardian.

… Grant had played the Doctor in a Comic Relief special in 1999. He was offered the role in 2004, but turned it down.

Whittaker announced in 2021 that she would not play the Doctor again after three special episodes due to air later this year, meaning a vacancy has arisen.

However, in response to a Guardian article about his potential new role, Grant tweeted: “Nothing against Dr W but I’m not. No idea where the story came from.”…

Filers were not shocked to learn that a news item that first appeared in the Mirror was cracked.

(14) THE GIRL WHO WASN’T WEDNESDAY. Entertainment Weekly reports “Christina Ricci joins Addams Family show Wednesday as new character”.

Immortal souls (and mortal ones too), rejoice! Christina Ricci has joined the cast of Wednesday, Netflix’s upcoming live-action series based on the beloved Addams Family character.

The actress, who played Wednesday Addams in the 1991 Addams Family film and its 1993 sequel, will portray an “exciting new character” this time around — in other words, not a grown-up Wednesday. Details are being kept under wraps, though we know Ricci will be a series regular….

(15) PORTAL OPENING AT PRIME. SlashFilm’s B.J. Colangelo marks her calendar: “J.K. Simmons-Led Sci-Fi Series Night Sky Sets May Release Date On Prime Video”.

After spending the last two years mostly staring at the same four walls and continuing to carve out a perfect bottom-shaped dent in my living room couch, there are few things that sound more appealing than getting the opportunity to explore the limitless possibilities of time and space. Starring J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek, Prime Video’s “Night Sky” (formerly known as “Lightyears”) features the duo as Franklin and Irene York, a couple who discover a passageway in their backyard that leads to a distant planet. The Yorks have enjoyed their secret for years, but when a mysterious young man (Chai Hansen of “The Newsreader” fame) arrives out of nowhere, the Yorks realize that their unexplainable passageway may be part of an even bigger mystery than they ever thought fathomable.

The new eight-part series will hit the Prime Video streaming platform globally on Friday, May 20, 2022. All eight episodes will be available simultaneously, so we can all spend our weekend binging J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek’s adventures through time and space….

(16) CONTINUED NEXT UNIVERSE. Guardian reviewer Charles Bramesco shares his mixed verdict on Michelle Yeoh’s new movie: “Everything Everywhere All At Once review – ambitious, exhausting trip to the multiverse”.

… Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh, unstoppable), a Chinese American immigrant/laundromat owner/last hope for all existence, slingshots between realities with the raw kinetic energy of a boulder launched by a trebuchet. Sometimes, she need only open a door to find herself in another iteration of her life, or walk backward through bushes, or tap the Bluetooth-earpiece-looking gizmos an ally gives her. …

(17) ON STAGE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Suzi Feay reviews After The End by Dennis Kelly, a post-apocalyptic play  performed at the Stratford East Theatre (“After The End” – Stratford East) through March 26.

“Very strong language, nudity…violence and sexual violence”–since there are only two characters in Dennis Kelly’s After The End, the caveats constitute spoilers.  Louise regains consciousness after a nuclear explosion to find herself safe in an underground bunker belonging to Mark, a work colleague.  Outside, she was popular and ambitious, and he was the office dolt:  dull, friendless, and pedantic.  No one more sociable would have built a fallout shelter to begin with.  They have two weeks to ensure each other before it’s safe to emerge.

Sweary Louise (a pugnacious Amaka Okafor) has never checked her social privilege; being forced to get along with someone she has hitherto despised may prove character-building.  Mark (Nick Blood), thrilled at his unexpected access to the office princess, chivalrously takes the top bunk but his obsequiousness turns sour over a fraught game of Dungeons and Dragons.  Locked within four oppressive walls, their makeshift alliance of hobbit and elf disintegrates into a battle for control.

(18) SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST. Jeff Foust reviews “Space films at SXSW” for The Space Review.

…This year’s SXSW saw space make its way into the film festival as well. Several films screened at SXSW had links to space, from documentaries to movies that took some inspiration from spaceflight.

The most prominent of those movies was Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood, directed by Richard Linklater (Before SunriseBoyhoodDazed and Confused, among others.) The movie is a semi-autobiographical account of Linklater’s own childhood in Houston, not far from NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center) in the summer of 1969. The film uses rotoscope animation, like some of Linklater’s previous movies, making it appear like some hybrid of reality and imagination….

(19) C’EST OINK. ToughPigs asks “Did ‘Muppets TV’ Save The Muppets?”

…In 2005 French comedian Sébastien Cauet and French television network TF1 made a deal with The Walt Disney Company which would allow Cauet to write and produce his own version of The Muppet Show, as well as supply the voice of Kermit the Frog for the series. Rather than send the puppeteers to France, the puppets themselves were instead packed up and shipped off, and a team of French puppeteers would perform them instead, later being dubbed by voice actors.

Yeah. They made that. And not just a one episode thing, this abomination lasted TEN EPISODES! That’s way more than the three that Little Muppet Monsters got on the air!

Thanks to YouTube, we have a few clips of Muppets TV available, which I’ll admit I oddly enjoyed, even though I don’t speak the language (besides saying Bonjour and singing the theme song to ‘Madeline’)….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Horizon Forbidden West,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, says that gamers have to complete “the usual Excel sheet of objectives” for a game that’s ultimately “a child’s fantasy about robot dinosaurs.”  “At least they get robots in their apocalypse,” the narrator complains. “What do we get? Twitter!”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Will R., Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey, Cathy Green, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Victoria Strauss Co-Founder of Writer Beware® Shares Her Thoughts on #DisneyMustPay

[Originally published at Writer Beware®.]

By Victoria Strauss: This past April, I wrote about writers’ struggles to get Disney and Disney-owned publishers to provide unpaid royalties and missing royalty statements–in some cases, going back years–and the formation of the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force in response.

The problem: Disney has acquired many publishers and imprints over the years, along with their properties and contracts. In many cases, however, Disney is taking the position that while they’ve purchased the rights to those properties, they haven’t acquired the corresponding obligations stipulated in the contracts…such as payment and reporting. From the Task Force website:

Creators may be missing royalty statements or checks across a wide range of properties in prose, comics, or graphic novels. This list is incomplete and based on properties for which we have verified reports of missing statements and royalties.

  • LucasFilm (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc.)
  • Boom! Comics (Licensed comics including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.)
  • Dark Horse Comics (Licensed comics including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.)
  • 20th Century Fox (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alien, etc.)
  • Marvel WorldWide (SpiderMan, Predator, etc.)
  • Disney Worldwide Publishing (Buffy, Angel)

Drawn from multiple professional writers’ groups, the Task Force’s mission is to identify and advocate for writers who are owed money and accounting. There has been movement since April: several writers — including Alan Dean Foster, who was the first to go public — have successfully negotiated with Disney and have been paid. BOOM! Studios, which holds licenses for multiple Disney-owned comic book and graphic novel franchises, has offered to work with the Task Force to resolve royalty issues for comics writers and other creators (though to date little progress has been made). And two additional important writers’ organizations, WGA East and WGA West, have joined the Task Force.

This is just the start, though. Disney has not been pro-active in seeking out affected writers, and it has refused to post a FAQ on its website or provide procedures for resolution, leaving writers and their agents on their own to try and figure out what’s going on and whom to contact. In many cases–especially for books published years ago–writers may not even be aware that their publisher was acquired or that their books have been published in new formats or editions.

Also, while a few higher-profile novelists have been paid, several lesser-known writers and their agents are still in negotiations with Disney. And although there has been movement on the novel front, for comic book creators there have been almost no resolutions.

Accordingly, the Task Force is reaching out to all comic book and graphic novel creators who are missing royalty payments and statements from their work on Disney-owned properties. From the recent press release:

“Writers, artists, illustrators, letterers, and other artists are valued members of the creative teams that produce art and literature that is enjoyed by millions,” said Mary Robinette Kowal, Task Force Chair. “We are inviting these talented artists to share their stories and we will fight for them to receive the money that is owed to them.”

The Task Force’s goals are to ensure that all writers and creators who are owed royalties and/or statements for their media-tie in work are identified and that Disney and other companies honor their contractual obligations to those writers and creators after acquiring the companies that originally hired them.

How can you be part of the fight?

If you’re an affected creator, or suspect you are, SFWA is hosting this form that you can fill out to let the Task Force know. The purpose of the form is to provide the Task Force with information so it can review your case and then follow up (not every case is something the Task Force can help with, unfortunately). All information submitted is confidential; nothing will be shared outside the Task Force without your permission.

Additionally, the Task Force strongly recommends that, regardless of whether or not you’re affected, you continue to seek timely royalty statements (when appropriate).

If you’re a fan, use the hashtag #DisneyMustPay (the Task Force suggests some sample social media messages). Blog about it. Write about it. Post the press release on your website. The Task Force asks that you not boycott, as this would disproportionately affect creators who are being paid. But getting the word out, shining a light on the issue, is hugely important. Public pressure works: Disney is taking notice, as the resolutions reached by Alan Dean Foster and others show.

In closing: this is personal for me. The late Ann Crispin–bestselling author, Writer Beware co-founder, and my dear friend and fellow scam hunter–wrote for two Disney-owned media properties, including her bestselling Han Solo Trilogy and the novelization of Alien: Resurrection. As with other affected writers, Ann’s estate has not received royalty statements and/or payments for some editions of those works.

I’ll be following developments closely. Watch this space.

Background on the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force: The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force identifies and guides authors and other creators who might be owed money. Disney is refusing to cooperate with the Joint Task Force to identify affected authors and other creators. The Task Force was formed by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) and includes the Authors GuildHorror Writers AssociationInternational Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW), International Thriller WritersMystery Writers of America National Writers UnionNovelists, Inc., Romance Writers of AmericaSisters in Crime (SinC),  Writers Guild of America West (WGAW), and Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). Individual writers on the Task Force are Neil GaimanLee Goldberg, Mary Robinette KowalChuck Wendig, and Tess Gerritsen

The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force makes sure writers’ and other creators’ contracts are honored, but individual negotiations are rightly between them, their agents, and the rights holder. The Disney Task Force is working to address structural and systemic concerns. Additional updates and information are available at www.writersmustbepaid.org.

Victoria Strauss, co-founder of Writer Beware®, is the author of nine novels for adults and young adults, including the Stone fantasy duology (The Arm of the Stone and The Garden of the Stone) and Passion Blue, a historical novel for teens, one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2012. She has written hundreds of book reviews for publications such as SF Site, and her articles on writing have appeared in Writer’s Digest and elsewhere. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards.

She received the 2009 SFWA® Service Award for her work with Writer Beware®, and in 2012 was honored with an Independent Book Blogger Award for the Writer Beware® blog. She’s webmistress of the Writer Beware® website, which she also created, and maintains the Writer Beware® database, blog, and Facebook page.

Visit Victoria at www.victoriastrauss.com.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 3/12/21 All Unshielded Surfaces

(1) 2021 FAAN VOTING DEADLINE. FAAn Awards Administrator Nic Farey reminds everyone that today is the last day of voting – it closes tonight — March 12 — at midnight Pacific time. Guidelines and the ballot are available in The Incompleat Register 2020 [PDF file]

(2) SOLVING FOR PIE. Scott Edelman invites listeners to “Grab a slice of pie with Gil Roth” on Episode 140 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Gil Roth

I’ve been wanting to bring Gil to you for awhile, and had been hoping we’d be able to sneak away for a meal during either Readercon or the Small Press Expo, but neither occurred last year, at least not outside of a virtual space, and both will be virtual again this year. So as you listen, I’d like you to think of yourself as being with us at one of those cons, and tagging along as we head off to chat and chew.

We discussed his surprising (and my unsurprising ) guest with the greatest number of downloads, the advice John Crowley gave him about his potential writing career, how a guy who used to memorize X-Men comics got turned on to Love & Rockets, the way we process the deaths of former guests, the song he wants played at his memorial service, how to get often-interviewed guests not to regurgitate their favorite soundbites, why no comic book movie beats the first Superman, how he became the publisher of every letter Samuel R. Delany wrote in 1984, why during his days reviewing for The Comics Journal readers thought he was the secret identity of another writer, the Italo Calvino quote which has kept him going through the pandemic, and much more.

(3) YOUR IMAGINARY FRIENDS WHO WANT A PERCENTAGE. Victoria Strauss posted another Scam Alert at Writer Beware: “Paper Bytes Marketing Solutions and its Stable of Imaginary Agents”.

…To go with its brand-new name, Paper Bytes has initiated a brand new scam: a stable of imaginary literary agents. It’s an unusually detailed endeavor, with actual websites for each agent (albeit not very good ones) that include photos–some stock, some stolen–as well as made-up bios and false claims about who/what they represent. All share the email address @bookliteraryagent.com, which no doubt is convenient for the interchangeable roster of Paper Bytes marketers who inhabit these agent personas, but also makes them easier to track and expose.

I’ll list them all below. But first, How It All Works!…

…How to protect yourself?

1. Know how things work in the publishing world. Real literary agents don’t sell services to potential clients, or refer them to companies that do. Real agents don’t commonly contact writers out of the blue. The warnings at the Writer Beware website can help you recognize non-standard or predatory practices.

(4) ZIGGY STARDUST’S BROTHER BIGGY? Mental Floss recalls when “David Bowie Tried to Turn George Orwell’s ‘1984’ Into a Musical”.

The track list for David Bowie’s 1974 album Diamond Dogs offers a couple obvious clues about one source of inspiration: song titles include both “1984” and “Big Brother.” But Bowie didn’t just want to use themes from George Orwell’s 1984 on the record. As Open Culture reports, he initially hoped to turn the 1949 dystopian classic into a full-fledged musical of its own.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/x2xfpMMQIJ8 What form that musical was ultimately meant to take isn’t totally clear. According to Christopher Sandford’s biography Bowie: Loving the Alien, the adaptation would’ve been “a West End musical, with an accompanying album and film.” But in a Rolling Stone interview with William S. Burroughs from February 1974—just months before the release of Diamond Dogs—Bowie himself mentioned he was “doing Orwell’s 1984 on television.” It’s possible the project went through several iterations when the “Space Oddity” singer was still brainstorming it. But thanks to Orwell’s widow, Sonia (believed to be the basis for 1984‘s Julia), the musical never progressed past the incubation stage.

“My office approached Mrs. Orwell, because I said, ‘Office, I want to do 1984 as a musical, go get me the rights,’” Bowie explained in 1993, according to David Buckley’s Strange Fascination: David Bowie, the Definitive Story. “And they duly trooped off to see Mrs. Orwell, who in so many words said, ‘You’ve got to be out of your gourd, do you think I’m turning this over to that as a musical?’ So, they came back and said, ‘Sorry, David, you can’t write it.’” Since Bowie had already started “putting bits of it down” in the studio, the surprise rejection forced him to pivot quickly. His ill-fated musical became a concept album with Orwellian overtones.

(5) IT’S NEWS TO SOMEBODY. The publication of Matthew Yglesias’ article “Oh, the intellectual property rights you’ll extend” at Slow Boring has caught up with the already-played-out week-old Twitterstorm. Nevertheless, at the link you can read him make a case about copyright law, triggered by the Dr. Seuss controversy. 

…Regardless, under U.S. law, the copyrights last for the duration of their creator’s life plus 70 years — i.e., until 2061.

That’s a big change from how we did things in the Founders’ era, when copyrights lasted 14 years with an option to renew the copyright for an additional 14 years.

Since then, not only has Congress repeatedly extended the duration of copyright terms, they’ve even extended them retroactively, basically preventing Mickey Mouse (created in 1928) or Superman (created in 1938) from ever entering the public domain the way that 19th century characters like Frankenstein1 or Sherlock Holmes have.

I bring this all up because I think it’s relevant policy context for the recent controversy over Seuss Enterprises withdrawing six books from publication that were deemed problematic. Right-wing agitators have responded to this as if it’s the government censoring Dr. Seuss, and so out of solidarity with Dr. Seuss, they are buying non-canceled classics like “Green Eggs and Ham” in droves. But this is just not factual. Dr. Seuss has been dead for nearly 30 years. His heirs — likely these two stepdaughters, though that’s not entirely clear — canceled the books, and now are the ones reaping the financial rewards from the backlash to their own actions….

(6) BEHIND WANDAVISION. Marvel Entertainment dropped a trailer for “Marvel Studios’ Assembled: The Making of WandaVision”, a behind the scenes look at the series.

(7) MORE BINDING. The Verge reports on a trend toward “Making fanfiction beautiful enough for a bookshelf”.

… Lesure spends hours making sure each book looks unique and regal, but she has to be careful not to use any specific imagery that could land her in trouble.

That’s because the books Lesure crafts contain works of fanfiction, and she’s found an entire community of avid readers looking to turn their unauthorized digital favorites into physical treats.

Nothing about the process is simple. There are “literally hundreds of moments where I could do something wrong and everything falls to shambles,” Lesure, a student who started bookbinding during a gap year in 2019, told The Verge. Her process includes typesetting, redoing the typesetting, doing that again and again until it’s right, printing, folding, sewing, making the cover, and finally putting it all together.

Fanfiction has traditionally been confined to online sites like Archive of Our Own (AO3) and FanFiction.Net, but some of the most prolific artists within the space have found a way to help people enjoy their favorite titles in new ways: binding the stories into physical novels designed to read better and stand out on bookshelves. The crafts have helped bring some of the most popular unofficial stories set in Harry PotterStar Wars, and other universes onto shelves where they can sit right alongside their authorized counterparts.

(8) OUR BRIGHT FUTURE. The New York Times takes stock of the city’s inescapable barrage of LED sign advertising: “Am I in Manhattan? Or Another Sequel to ‘Blade Runner’?”

…Adrian Benepe, the former New York City Parks Commissioner and current head of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, sees “creeping Blade Runner syndrome” everywhere, from the clogged skies over Manhattan to the subways, which he rides to work every day from his home on the Upper West Side.

“They’re empty,” Mr. Benepe said. “I’ve been alone many times at rush hour. It’s eerie as hell.” He also finds the movie prescient in its depiction of a world saturated by intrusive, omnipresent advertising.

“Places in New York that used to not have advertising now have ads,” he said. “You can’t get away from it. It’s in the subways, it’s on the streets, it’s on barges. You never stop being assailed.”

Giant screens are nothing new, of course. But New York’s streetscape had been permeated as never before with twitchy, adhesively catchy LEDs, a trend that has only accelerated during the pandemic, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announcing last summer the addition of 9,000 screens broadcasting “Covid-relevant safety information.”

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 12, 1927 –On this day in 1927, Metropolis premiered in Germany. It was directed by Fritz Lang. It was written by Thea von Harbou in collaboration with Lang. It  stars Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Brigitte Helm. The film’s message is encapsulated in the final inter-title of “The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart.” In 2001 the film was placed upon UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, the first film so distinguished. It is considered one of the greatest films ever made, and has a 92% rating among audience members at Rotten Tomatoes.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • March 12, 1879 Alfred Abel. His best-known performance was as Joh Fredersen in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.  It wasn’t his only genre as Phantom, a 1922 German film, was fantasy, and my German is just good enough for years I studied it to see how much of work could be considered genre or genre adjacent. (Died 1937.) (CE) 
  • March 12, 1886 Kay Nielsen. Though he’s best known for his work with Disney for whom he did many story sketches and illustrations, not least for Fantasia and The Little Mermaid be it thirty years after his death, I’d be remiss not to note his early work illustrating such works as East of the Sun and West of the MoonHansel and Gretel and Andersen’s Fairy Tales. (Died 1957.) (CE) 
  • Born March 12, 1911 – Edmund North.  Major in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II.  Served a term as President of the screen branch of the Writers Guild of America.  A score of movies; co-winner of the Best Screenplay Oscar for Patton; for us, screenplay for The Day the Earth Stood Still – which, despite its staggering difference from Bates’ “Farewell to the Master”, I think a classic.  Coined Klaatu barada nikto.  (Died 1990) [JH]
  • March 12, 1914 John Symonds. Critic of Alistair Crowley who published four, yes four, books on him over a fifty year period starting in the Fifties: The Great BeastThe Magic of Aleister CrowleyThe King of the Shadow Realm and The Beast 666. Needless to say the advocates of Crowley aren’t at all happy with him. Lest I leave you with the impression that his only connection to our community, he was a writer of fantasy literature for children including the feline magical fantasy, Isle of Cats  with illustrations by Gerard Hoffnung. (Died 2006.) (CE) 
  • Born March 12, 1916 – Richard Dorson, Ph.D.  Pioneering and possibly great folklorist – thus our neighbor; pioneering because, in his day, commercial and even arguably artistic success of retellings like Davy Crockett and inventions like Paul Bunyan were clouding the mind.  Coined urban legend and fakelore.  General editor, Folktales of the World.  Two dozen books, including a 1939 one on Crockett; Folk Legends of JapanAfrican Folklore.  “Suspicious of attempts by other disciplines –anthropology, sociology, and psychology, among others – to co-opt folk culture for their own … purposes…. emphasized the necessity for the accurate collection and documentation of folk materials” (quoted from this).  (Died 1981) [JH]
  • March 12, 1925 Harry Harrison. Best known first I’d say for his Stainless Steel Rat and Bill, the Galactic Hero series which were just plain fun, plus his novel Make Room! Make Room! which was the genesis of Soylent Green. I just realized I’ve never read the Deathworld series. So how are these? See OGH’s post on the Alex Cox animated version of Bill, the Galactic Hero here. (Died 2012.) (CE)  
  • March 12, 1933 Barbara Feldon, 88. Agent 99 on the Get Smart series. Other genre credits include The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and reprising her character on the short-lived follow-up to this series, Get Smart, done twenty years later. She didn’t have that much of an acting career though she did show up in the pilot of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. (CE) 
  • Born March 12, 1936 – Virginia Hamilton.  National Book Award, Newbery Medal (first black to win it), Hans Andersen Award, Wilder Award.  Amer. Lib’y Ass’n King-Hamilton Award named for her (and Coretta Scott King).  Eight novels (including Willie Bea and the Time the Martians Landed), thirty shorter stories, four collections for us; twoscore books all told.  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • March 12, 1952 Julius Carry. His one truly great genre role was as the bounty hunter Lord Bowler in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. – oh, but what a role it was! Over the course of the series, he was the perfect companion and foil to Bruce Campbell’s Brisco County, Jr. character. He did have one-offs in The Misfits of Science, Earth 2Tales from the Crypt and voiced a character on Henson’s Dinosaurs. (Died 2008.) (CE) 
  • Born March 12, 1955 – Jim Mann, F.N., age 66.  Living in Pittsburgh, hard-working member of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n) for whose NESFA Press he has edited a dozen books including The Compleat Boucher and The Rediscovery of Man (Cordwainer Smith).  Chaired Boskone 25 (with wife Laurie Mann) and 47.  Fan Guest of Honor (with LM), ArmadilloCon 27.  Fellow of NESFA (service award).  [JH]
  • Born March 12, 1963 – David B. Coe, Ph.D., age 58.  A score of novels, as many shorter stories (some under another name). Crawford Award for LobTyn Chronicle (trilogy).  Reviews and Robots called Time’s Children Best Fantasy Novel of 2018.  Interviewed in Strange HorizonsTeleport.  “We … construct our worlds twice…. for ourselves [and] again … digestible and entertaining and unobtrusive, not to mention elegant, poetic, even exciting….  all the necessary material – and not an ounce more….  [after we] have unraveled their mysteries … decided which elements … are most important to our stories.”  [JH]
  • Born March 12, 1971 – Rob St. Martin, age 50.  Six novels, one novelette, anthology Ages of Wonder (with Julie Cznerneda).   Has read Pride and PrejudiceThe Phantom TollboothA Tale of Two CitiesMoby-DickRomeo and JulietCurious George.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) GUARDIAN ANGLE. Lisa Tuttle has a new installment of “The best recent science fiction and fantasy – reviews roundup” at The Guardian in which she reviews Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley; Birds of Paradise by Oliver K Langmead; The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey; A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel; and A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine.

(13) GEARING UP. I’m always ready to read more about the Antikythera mechanism: “Scientists may have solved ancient mystery of ‘first computer’” in The Guardian.

…The battered fragments of corroded brass were barely noticed at first, but decades of scholarly work have revealed the object to be a masterpiece of mechanical engineering. Originally encased in a wooden box one foot tall, the mechanism was covered in inscriptions – a built-in user’s manual – and contained more than 30 bronze gearwheels connected to dials and pointers. Turn the handle and the heavens, as known to the Greeks, swung into motion.

Michael Wright, a former curator of mechanical engineering at the Science Museum in London, pieced together much of how the mechanism operated and built a working replica, but researchers have never had a complete understanding of how the device functioned. Their efforts have not been helped by the remnants surviving in 82 separate fragments, making the task of rebuilding it equivalent to solving a battered 3D puzzle that has most of its pieces missing.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the UCL team describe how they drew on the work of Wright and others, and used inscriptions on the mechanism and a mathematical method described by the ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides, to work out new gear arrangements that would move the planets and other bodies in the correct way. The solution allows nearly all of the mechanism’s gearwheels to fit within a space only 25mm deep….

(14) ROCKET’S RED GLARE. “Green Run Update: NASA Targets March 18 for SLS Hot Fire Test – Artemis”.

NASA is targeting Thursday, March 18 for the second hot fire of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s core stage at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

After performing tests to demonstrate that a recently repaired liquid oxygen pre-valve was working, the team has continued to prepare the core stage, its four RS-25 engines, and the B-2 test stand for the second hot fire at Stennis. Later this week, the team will power up the core stage again and do a final check of all its systems. Then, on March 16, two days before the test, they will power up the stage, starting the clock for the second hot fire….

(15) YOU ARE NUMBER SIX. Paul Weimer meets the challenge of reviewing the sixth book in a series: “Microreview [book]: Out Past the Stars by KB Wagers” at Nerds of a Feather.

… This is in many ways a very different book than the previous book, Down Among the Dead. Reading it in quick succession after the second book might give some emotional whiplash, it certainly is a gear shift. It’s much more like the first book of the Farian War trilogy, There Before the Chaos, in the sense that it builds up to a big set piece finale of a conflict. Unlike that first book, though, this book is much more about the action beats. 

This shows the range and power of the author across the three books, and sets them apart from the first trilogy as well, which is more adrenaline filled….

(16) TIGER TIGER. Elsewhere at Nerds of a Feather, Sean D assesses a novella by Aliette de Bodard: “Microreview [Book]: Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard”.

…This novella constantly shifts from plot point to plot point, that kept me on my toes without unmooring me into confusion. The craft involved with implementing poetic language that benefits the atmosphere, pacey scenes that never lose focus, and characters that I felt like I knew inside out by the story’s conclusion, deserves kudos. Mostly because the novella juggles a small, insulated cast of characters with subterfuges and violence that impact other kingdoms. Fireheart Tiger is like an expansive web that leaves the reader in the center of it, while also skillfully and pithily letting them know of all its disparate parts.

(17) ELDRITCH SCIENCE. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert couples an alarming report with a Cthulhu reference. “Quarantinewhile… Please Stop Reviving Ancient Pathogens From The Sea Floor”.

Quarantinewhile… In “Hey, maybe don’t do that” news, Japanese scientists are experimenting on 100-million-year-old bacteria that wake up from their slumber when brought to the surface and provided with food.

(18) PIPING AT THE GATES OF DAWN. And speaking of Lovecraft –

[Thanks To John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, rcade, Nic Farey, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Michel Toman, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 12/23/20 It Was The Alfred Bester Of Times, It Was The Bertie Wooster Of Times

Note: A bit light today because I’m off helping celebrate my brother’s birthday.

(1) OUT OF COURT. Mike Dunford of Questionable Authority makes some interesting comments on the decision against ComicMix (see “Dr. Seuss Enterprises Wins Appeal to Ninth Circuit; Seuss-Trek Mashup Violates Copyright”) and promises more on his next QuestAuthority at Twitch. Twitter thread starts here.

(2) A SCAM, BUT WHY? At Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss warns that a “Spooky Phishing Scam Targets Traditionally-Published Writers”.

…The phisher, or phishers, employ clever tactics like transposing letters in official-looking email addresses (like “penguinrandornhouse.com” instead of “penguinrandomhouse.com“) and masking the addresses so they only show when the recipient hits “Reply”. They know how publishing works and appear to have access to inside information, utilizing not just public sources like acquisition announcements in trade publications, but details that are harder to uncover: writers’ email addresses, their relationships with agents and editors, delivery and deadline dates, even details of the manuscripts themselves. 

And they are ramping up their operations. According to the Times, the scam began appearing “at least” three years ago, but in the past year “the volume of these emails has exploded in the United States.”

So what’s the endgame? Publishing people are stumped. Manuscripts by high-profile authors have been targeted, but also less obviously commercial works: debut novels by unknowns, short story collections, experimental fiction. The manuscripts don’t wind up on the black market, as far as anyone can tell, and don’t seem to be published online. There have been no ransom demands or other attempts at monetization. 

[From a New York Times article:] “One of the leading theories in the publishing world, which is rife with speculation over the thefts, is that they are the work of someone in the literary scouting community. Scouts arrange for the sale of book rights to international publishers as well as to film and television producers, and what their clients pay for is early access to information — so an unedited manuscript, for example, would have value to them.”

(3) A CAT WITH A DESK. Timothy the Talking Cat makes “Tim’s Last Minute Gift Suggestions” at Camestros Felapton.

… You worthless and ungrateful humans have probably left all your shopping to the last minute. Well let me help out. Here are some quick and easy gifts you can get together even on a tight budget.

…Surprises. Everybody loves surprises! Go out into the garden. Find a dead bird. Sniff it and maybe wack it about a bit with your paws. Bring it home and drop it somewhere surprising….

(4) LUKER OBIT. A phantom’s beloved and a garden ghost:“Rebecca Luker, a Broadway Star for Three Decades, Dies at 59” reports the New York Times.

Rebecca Luker, the actress and singer who in a lauded three-decade career on the New York stage embodied the essence of the Broadway musical ingénue in hit revivals of “Show Boat,” “The Sound of Music” and “The Music Man,” died on Wednesday in a hospital in Manhattan. She was 59. … she had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as A.L.S. or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

…Just five years after college, she was on the Broadway stage, assuming the lead female role in “The Phantom of the Opera”— Christine, the chorus girl who is the object of the phantom’s affections.

“Phantom” was her Broadway debut; she began as the understudy to the original star, Sarah Brightman; became an alternate; and took over as Christine in 1989. She remained with the show until 1991.

Ms. Luker moved on immediately to another Broadway show: She played a ghost, the little orphan girl’s dead Aunt Lily, in “The Secret Garden.” 

(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • December 23, 1963 — On this night in 1963, Twilight Zone’s “The Night of the Meek” first aired. This was a Christmas-themed story with Art Carney as a Santa Claus fired on Christmas Eve who finds a mysterious bag that gives an apparently unlimited stream of gifts. The script which was written by Rod Serling would be used over in the Eighties version of this series and on the radio program as well. Serling ended the original broadcast with the words, “And a Merry Christmas, to each and all”, but that phrase was deleted in the Eighties and would not be back until Netflix started streaming the series.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 23, 1896 Máiréad Ní Ghráda. She’s the author of Manannán, a 1940 novel which is regarded as the first such science fiction work in Irish. Several years previously, she translated Peter Pan into Irish, Tír na Deo, the first time it had been so done. (Died 1971.) (CE) 
  • Born December 23, 1927 – Chuch Harris.  (“Chuch” from ChucHarris.)  Englander who became an adjunct (at least) of Irish Fandom with a letter to Walt Willis of Slant beginning “Dear Mr. Ellis”.  CH submitted a story about a family of werewolves beginning “The family were changing for dinner”.  Persuaded to visit Vin¢ Clarke and Ken Bulmer at their flat the Epicentre (mistaking this for the center, or centre, of an earthquake, has a long history) he helped generate Sixth Fandom, was shot with a water-pistol by James White, wrote for Hyphen, and formed Tentacles Across the Sea with Dean Grennell.  Much later Spike published the Chuck Harris Appreciation Magazine, which only a Johnson fan like me would call the Great Cham, hello Spike.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born December 23, 1928 – George Heap.  Long-time secretary of the Philadelphia SF Society, filker, Tolkien fan before the paperback Lord of the Rings arrived, he moved to Rochester, joined The Cult, and died at the horrid age of 41 just before Noreascon I the 29th Worldcon.  You can see four 1960 issues of his SF Viewsletter here.  (Died 1971) [JH]
  • Born December 23, 1929 Peggy Fortnum. She’s an English illustrator beloved for illustrating Michael Bond‘s Paddington Bear series. She first illustrated him in A Bear Called Paddington. One of Fortnum’s Paddington illustrations is part of a series of stamps that was issued by the Royal Mail in 2006 celebrating animals from children’s literature. Somehow it seems appropriate on Christmas for me to share that stamp here. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born December 23, 1945 Raymond E. Feist, 75. Best known for the Riftwar series. The only novel I’ve read by him is was Faerie Tale, a dark fantasy set in the state of New York, which is one damn scary work. His only Award to date is a HOMer Award for Servant of the Empire which he co-wrote with Janny Wurts. (CE)
  • Born December 23, 1978 Estella Warren, 42. Deena on the Planet of The Apes. She also shows up in Ghost Whisper, the Beauty and the Beast film as Belle the Beauty, TaphephobiaFeel the Dead and Age of the Living Dead. (CE) 
  • Born December 23, 1954 – Susan Grant, age 66.  U.S. Air Force veteran, then commercial pilot; 18,000 hours flight time.  RITA Award – for Contact, an SF romance; there’s cross-genre action for you.  A score of novels, a few shorter stories, several Booklist and Library Journal Books of the Year.  [JH]
  • Born December 23, 1960 – Miyabe Miyuki, age 60.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Six novels, ten shorter stories so far available in English.  Yamamoto Shûgorô Prize, Naoki Prize, two Yoshikawa Eiji Prizes, Nihon SF Taishô Award.  Mystery Writers of Japan Award.  Batchelder Award for the English translation of her Brave Story.  Film, television, manga, video games.  All She Was Worth (English title) called a watershed in the history of women’s detective fiction.  [JH]
  • Born December 23, 1970 – Natalie Damschroder, age 50.  A dozen novels for us, thirty all told, many shorter stories.  Loves the New England Patriots more than anything except her family, writing, reading, and popcorn.  I omit what she thinks her teen fiction kicks.  [JH]
  • Born December 23, 1984 Alison Sudol, 36. She’s known for her role as Queenie Goldstein on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I do so like those titles. She’s also has a recurring role as Kaya in Transparent, a series which is at least genre adjacent for its genre content and certainly SJW in content. (CE)
  • Born December 23, 1985 – Marta Dahlig, age 35.  Digital artist, mostly.  Here is the Jun 05 Revelation.  Here is The Shifter (German edition, translated as The Healer).  Here is Sloth.  In a different vein, here is Mimi and the Brave Magic.  [JH]
  • Born December 23, 1986 Noël Wells, 34. Voice actor on Star Trek: Below Decks where she voices the green-colored Ensign D’Vana Tendi. I so wanted to love this series but was actually repelled by it. I said a year ago that “It should a rather fun time.” Well I was wrong.  So what do y’all think of it? (CE) 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • “Shoe” might have this same reaction to some of the book lists I run.
  • “Get Fuzzy” doesn’t treat a famous mathematician with the gravity his deserves.

(8) HIGH CALIBER CANON. Sff gets a fillip of genre recognition in The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story edited by John Freeman, to be released May 4, 2021.

…Beginning in 1970, it culls together a half century of powerful American short stories from all genres, including–for the first time in a literary anthology–science fiction, horror, and fantasy, placing writers such as Usula Le Guin, Ken Liu and Stephen King next to some of the often-taught geniuses of the form–Grace Paley, Toni Cade Bambara, Sandra Cisneros, and Denis Johnson. Culling widely, Freeman, the former editor of Granta and now of his own literary annual, brings forward some astonishing work to be regarded in a new light. Often overlooked tales by Dorothy Allison, Charles Johnson, and Toni Morrison will recast the shape and texture of today’s enlarging atmosphere of literary dialogue.

(9) BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES. Jason Scott retells a story he says happened in the 1990s. Thread starts here.

(10) REGIME CHANGE. The Washington Posts’s Alexandra Petri finds another leader who has their own reality:“I, the White Witch, am disgusted by anyone who would try to make it always winter and never Christmas” .

Here in Narnia, it is so, so important that we have seasons, as I, the White Witch, have always been the absolute first to say. Lots of seasons, one leading to the next, leading to Christmas. I have always cared the most about seasons, and the second most about being absolutely sure that there will be Christmas. “More Seasons for Narnia!” was actually my slogan, although it was on a bumper sticker covered in ice crystals and hidden on my sledge under a big heap of Turkish delight. But I knew that it was there….

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

Pixel Scroll 11/1/20 You Only Scroll Twice: Once When You Are Born, Once When You Look Your Pixel in the Face

(1) BUTLER QUOTED. Brain Pickings consults “Octavia Butler on Creative Drive, the World-Building Power of Our Desires, and How We Become Who We Are”.

After the glorious accident of having been born at all, there are myriad ways any one life could be lived. The lives we do live are bridges across the immense river of possibility, suspended by two pylons: what we want and what we make. In an ideal life — a life of purpose and deep fulfillment — the gulf of being closes and the pylons converge: We make what we want to see exist.

This interplay is what Octavia Butler (June 22, 1947–February 24, 2006) explores throughout Parable of the Talents (public library) — the second part of her oracular Earthseed allegory, which also gave us Butler’s acutely timely wisdom on how (not) to choose our leaders.

(2) JOIN eAPA AND LEARN QUAINT AND CURIOUS FORGOTTEN LORE. [Item by Garth Spencer.] eAPA, one of the longest-running electronic Amateur Publication Associations, is a great place to find and learn Things Fans Were Not Meant to Know! Words that rhyme with orange, for instance, or the curse that sank Atlantis, or the REAL reason why the British Empire is no more! 

You too can share your Forbidden Knowledge of the Lost Civilization of Sitnalta, why the fabulous city of Temlaham was buried under a landslide, and the Hideous Sign now covered by the Site C Dam! JOIN the international quest to save humanity from the approaching threat to us all!

Or just have fun writing fannish contributions to a monthly APA. 

Write Garth Spencer at [email protected] for the eAPA Guidelines, and check out the password-free October 2020 mailing on eFanzines.com today!

(3) HEARD THAT NAME BEFORE. At Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss is “Disssecting A Scam: The Literary Scout Impersonator”.

I’ve written several posts about a fairly new phenomenon in the world of writing scams: scammers that falsely use the names of reputable publishing professionals, including literary agents and publishers, to lure writers into paying large amounts of money for worthless, substandard, and/or never-delivered services.

This time, I’m breaking down a very similar scam that, capitalizing on the pandemic-fueled popularity of Netflix and other streaming services (as well as the eternal writerly dream of having one’s book translated into film), is appropriating the name of Clare Richardson, Senior Scout for film and TV at the New York office of Maria B. Campbell Associates, to hoodwink writers in an unusually complicated–and expensive–scheme.

(4) REVIEWS OF NEW SFF. Amal El-Mohtar’s latest Otherworldly column for the New York Times Book Review covers Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi among others: “Dealmakers and Wanderers: New Science Fiction and Fantasy” .

… I have been longing to read Susanna Clarke again for 16 years, ever since I turned the last page in “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.” I was surprised to find PIRANESI (Bloomsbury, $27) anticipating pandemic confinement — the difficulty of dividing time, of maintaining a stable sense of self — through a filter of marble and gold, of rushing ocean, of tenderness and love.

(5) NOT ALL WET. James Davis Nicoll’s post for Tor.com, “Five Books Featuring Alien Oceans”, includes one where humans are the bait.

Oceans may be rare in the inner Solar System—Mars and Mercury are too small for oceans while Mercury and Venus are too hot—but if we consider that water is composed of hydrogen (the most common element in the universe) and oxygen (the third most common element), it seems likely that water would be pretty common too. Indeed, if we look at the worlds out beyond the Solar System’s frost line, we note that there are likely to be oceans within Europa, Enceladus, Ganymede, Ceres, Pluto, and other small worlds.

As for exoplanets (which we have been discovering at a surprising rate, of late) … well, some of them must have oceans, or be covered with oceans, as well. SF authors, even before the exoplanet boom, have long been imagining water worlds. Here are a few books about ocean planets.

(6) THE AGE OF BANGSUND. “Those who lived, loved and are gone: John Bangsund”The Age in Australia published a tribute on November 1. (Which is already yesterday there, mind you.)

In the late 1990s, the offices of Meanjin magazine in Melbourne would receive a package of tobacco-scented and wine-stained proofs four times a year.

They were from their charismatic editorial consultant John Bangsund who, with an unmatched studiousness and attention to detail, had pored over each issue to make sure no errors or inaccuracies had slipped through before it went to print.

It was this unwavering passion for words and writing, matched by a deep knowledge about everything from classical music to science fiction, that saw the Melbourne editor become a beloved figure within literary circles for decades…

(7) DOYLE OBIT. Debra Doyle (1952-2020) died October 31 announced her husband Jim MacDonald:

It is with great sorrow that I report that Debra Doyle, my beloved bride of 42 years, died this evening at 1841 hours. She died of an apparent cardiac event, at home, in my arms.

Doyle authored or co-authored over thirty novels and more than 30 short stories, usually with her husband. Knight’s Wyrd, co-authored by Doyle and MacDonald, was awarded the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature in 1992. Their story “Remailer” was longlisted for the Tiptree Award in 2000. Both of them taught at the Viable Paradise genre writer’s workshop on Martha’s Vineyard.

A GoFundMe has been started for Funeral Costs for Author Debra Doyle.

This GoFundMe is to cover funeral costs, the extent of which is not currently known. Any additional funds raised beyond what is needed for burial will be used to ease the transition for her husband, Jim.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 1, 1897 – Naomi Mitchison.  A dozen novels, fifty shorter stories, for us; a hundred books, a thousand short stories, book reviews, essays, travel, poems, recollections, in all.  Much moved by leftist causes, though she was eventually unhappy with the political Left, her work, never neutral, at best finds its own strength.  She wrote historical, allegorical, fantastic, sometimes scientific fiction.  Feminist, gardener, rancher. (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born November 1, 1910 – Malcolm Smith.  Woodworker, pulp illustrator, staff artist for Marshall Space Flight Center; he drew for us, also detective stories, Westerns, newspapers.  Here is the Apr 43 Fantastic.  Here is the Feb 48 Amazing.  Here is the Mar 50 Other Worlds.  Here is the Feb 58 Imagination.  (Died 1966) [JH]
  • November 1, 1917 Zenna Henderson. Her first story was published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1951.  The People series appeared in magazines and anthologies, as well as the stitched together Pilgrimage: The Book of the People and The People: No Different Flesh. Other volumes include The People Collection and Ingathering: The Complete People Stories. She was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1959 for her novelette “Captivity.” Her story “Pottage” was made into the 1972 ABC-TV Movie, “The People”.  “Hush” became an episode of  George A. Romero’s Tales from the Darkside which first aired in 1988. (Died 1983.) (CE)
  • November 1, 1923 Gordon R. Dickson. Truly one of the best writers in the genre. I’m not going to even begin to detail his stellar career in any detail as that would require a skald to do so. His first published genre fiction was the short story “Trespass!”, written with Poul Anderson, in the Spring 1950 issue of Fantastic Stories which was the first issue of Fantastic Story Magazine as it came to be titled later. Childe Cycle involving the Dorsai is his best known series and the Hoka are certainly his silliest creation. I’m very, very fond of his Dragon Knight series which I think really reflects his interest in that history. (Died 2001.) (CE) 
  • Born November 1, 1923 – Dean Grennell.  Pioneer Wisconsin fan, served in the Army Air Corps (“Nothing can stop…”), moved to Los Angeles where I met him.  Fanzine Grue (its name a parody of True).  Here is his cover for Sky Hook 25.  Coined several fannish expressions e.g. croggle, “a verb signifying intense disturbance of a subjective nature” – H. Warner) and the unrelated if like-sounding crottled greeps (“But if you don’t like crottled greeps, what did you order them for?”).  More here. (Died 2004) [JH] 
  • November 1, 1941 Robert Foxworth, 79. He’s been on quite a number of genre shows including The Questor Tapes,seaQuest DSVDeep Space NineOuter LimitsEnterpriseStargate SG-1 and Babylon 5. His first genre role was as Dr. Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein where Bo Swenson played the monster. (CE) 
  • November 1, 1942 Michael Fleisher. Comics writer best known for his DC Comics work of in the Seventies and Eighties on Spectre and the not very traditional Jonah Hex. (Hopefully they’ll be added to the expanded DC universe comics app next year.) He also has had long runs on Ghost Rider and Spider-Woman early on which shows that he is a rather good writer even then. (Died 2018) (CE) 
  • Born November 1, 1956  – Lynne Jonell, 64.  The Secret of Zoom (a topic many of us wish we understood today) was a School Library Journal Best Book of 2009; President Obama bought one for his daughter (no blame to him that it has an orphan boy named Taft).  Ten more books, some about rats, cats.  “I’m tall.  I like to sail….  I have a patient and loving husband and two wonderful sons who are loving (but not so patient)….  I like to look out my widow at the branches of trees….  This is good for inspiration and also lets me pretend I am thinking hard.”  [JH]
  • November 1, 1959 Susanna Clarke, 61. Author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell which I think wins my award for the most footnoted work in genre literature. It won the World Fantasy, Nebula, Locus, Mythopoeic and Hugo Awards for Best Novel. It was adapted into a BBC series and optioned for a film. The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories collects her short works and is splendid indeed. Her latest novel, Piranesi, is getting good reviews here. (CE) 
  • Born November 1, 1964 – Karen Marie Moning, 56.  Eight books about highlanders, a dozen in a Fever Universe; Shadowfever and more have been NY Times Best Sellers.  Two RITA Awards.  Her Website quotes Jorge Luis Borges “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library,” hello Evelyn Leeper.  [JH]
  • Born November 1, 1965 – Alberto Varanda, 55.  Portuguese working in French.  A dozen covers; here is The Angel and Deathhere is The Death of Ayeshahere is Enchanterhere is Blood of Amber.  [JH]
  • November 1, 1973 Aishwarya Rai, 46. Actress who’s done two SF films in India, the Tamil language Enthiran (translates as Robot) in which she’s Sana, the protagonist’s medical student girlfriend, and Mala in Action Replayy, a Hindi-language SF romantic comedy. She was also Sonia in The Pink Panther 2. (CE)

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Pooch Cafe has dueling Halloween costumes.
  • Shoe turned back the clock and got extra 2020.
  • Bizarro has advice for an unhappy actor.
  • Incidental Comics’ Grant Snider has some thoughts about confinement:

(10) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. “Claire Cronin: Blue Light Hauntings”, Q&A with a horror author at Guernica.

Guernica: Encountering your work, it’s almost like you need to get something out of your system— which gets crystallized in Blue Light of the Screen. Did you think of this book as an exorcism of sorts?

Cronin: It became something like that towards the end. It’s definitely confessional, [and] a little bit psychoanalytic, but I was the therapist and the patient.

Exorcism stories are not resolved at the end. Well, some exorcism movies do resolve the demonic possession, but even when that happens, there is still the sense that evil is floating around in the ether, waiting for its next victim. And in true stories of demonic possession, a victim often has to be exorcised many times, over many years. The threat doesn’t really go away.

In the case of my book, I did attempt to find resolution, but of course the problems that I deal with keep going. There’s still evil in the world and plenty of reasons to feel despair. Though I wanted to show that I’d found some self-awareness and faith through my struggles, I didn’t want to write a happy ending. I don’t believe in happy endings; they’re not true to life. At the end of a ghost story, something ominous still lurks.

(11) WISH LUST. It’s great to be a genie, of course, but keep that old horse before the cart: “Indian doctor duped into buying ‘Aladdin’s lamp’ for $41,600”.

Two men have been arrested in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly duping a doctor into buying an “Aladdin’s lamp” that they promised would bring him wealth and health.

As part of the con, they even pretended to conjure up spirits from the lamp, in line with the tale from The Arabian Nights, Indian media report.

The men had reportedly wanted more than $200,000 for the lamp but settled for a down payment of $41,600.

(12) EXCITING HOME PRODUCT OF THE DAY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] (As if there aren’t already enough cranks reading this.)

Do you long for the upper arm-and-wrist exercise of running that Gestetner or other unenchanted duplicating machine?

Here’s an “unduplicator” — Hand-cranked paper/CD shredders!

Via a TechRepublic article featuring one of them. And here’s the vendor site.

[Thanks to Daniel Dern, John Hertz, Steve Miller, Danny Sichel, Mike Kennedy, Garth Spencer, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]