2023 D.I.C.E. Awards Finalists

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) announced the nominees for its 26th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards on January 12. Finalists for the top honor, Game of the Year, are: Elden Ring, God of War Ragnarök, Horizon Forbidden West, Stray, and Vampire Survivors.  

The peer-juried video game award winners will be revealed February 23 at a ceremony in Las Vegas. 

Sixty-one games released in 2022 received nominations. 

God of War: Ragnarök leads the pack with 12 nominations, followed by Horizon Forbidden West earning 8 and Elden Ring with 7. Tying with 4 nominations each are Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare ll, IMMORTALITY, Moss: Book II, TUNIC, and Vampire Survivors.

The complete list of finalists follows the jump.

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Pixel Scroll 1/2/23 It’s A Wonderful File

(1) BRANDON SANDERSON V AUDIBLE. Brandon Sanderson’s “State of the Sanderson 2022” published on December 22 featured revelations about his efforts to use his market leverage to curb the greed of Audible, Amazon’s dominant audiobook seller.

The four “secret project” novels that will be going to backers of his record-breaking Kickstarter will also be produced as audiobooks and put up for sale, but not on Audible. Here’s an excerpt, and there’s a great deal more information at the link.

AUDIOBOOKS for NON-BACKERS

On the tenth or eleventh of each month a book goes to backers, we will put the audiobooks up for sale. They will be on several services, but I recommend the two I mentioned above. Spotify and Speechify. 

The books will not be on Audible for the foreseeable future. 

This is a dangerous move on my part. I don’t want to make an enemy of Amazon (who owns Audible). I like the people at Audible, and had several meetings with them this year.

But Audible has grown to a place where it’s very bad for authors. It’s a good company doing bad things. 

Again, this is dangerous to say, and I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty. I have an Audible account, and a subscription! It’s how my dyslexic son reads most of the books he reads. Audible did some great things for books, notably spearheading the audio revolution, which brought audiobooks down to a reasonable price. I like that part a lot.

However, they treat authors very poorly. Particularly indie authors. The deal Audible demands of them is unconscionable, and I’m hoping that providing market forces (and talking about the issue with a megaphone) will encourage change in a positive direction.

If you want details, the current industry standard for a digital product is to pay the creator 70% on a sale. It’s what Steam pays your average creator for a game sale, it’s what Amazon pays on ebooks, it’s what Apple pays for apps downloaded. (And they’re getting heat for taking as much as they are. Rightly so.)

Audible pays 40%. Almost half. For a frame of reference, most brick-and-mortar stores take around 50% on a retail product. Audible pays indie authors less than a bookstore does, when a bookstore has storefronts, sales staff, and warehousing to deal with. 

I knew things were bad, which is why I wanted to explore other options with the Kickstarter.  But I didn’t know HOW bad.  Indeed, if indie authors don’t agree to be exclusive to Audible, they get dropped from 40% to a measly 25%. Buying an audiobook through Audible instead of from another site literally costs the author money…. 

Daniel Green analyzes “The Audible Situation” in this video —

(2) KING’S NEW YEAR’S HONOURS LIST 2023. The King’s New Years Honours list included a knighthood for Queen guitarist Brian May.

Dr Brian Harold May CBE. Musician, Astrophysicist and Animal Welfare Advocate. For services to Music and to Charity. (Windlesham, Surrey)

May also worked as a member of the New Horizons team, for which he wrote a song that debuted during the the New Horizons flyby of Ultima Thule on January 1, 2019.

(3) MEDICAL UPDATE. Actor Jeremy Renner (Marvel’s Hawkeye) was in critical condition after a snow plow accident Variety reported on January 1.

…“We can confirm Jeremy is in critical but stable condition with injuries suffered after experiencing a weather related accident while plowing snow earlier today,” Renner’s rep confirmed with Variety. “His family is with him and he is receiving excellent care.”…

His reps later told Deadline:

“We can confirm that Jeremy has suffered blunt chest trauma and orthopedic injuries and has undergone surgery today, January 2nd 2023. He has returned from surgery and remains in the intensive care unit in critical but stable condition.”

(4) ROLLING OVER THE RESOLUTION. Owner of Colorado’s Mile High Comics, Chuck Rozanski, advises people to protect their collections, while confessing he still has more work to do on his own.

…Clearly, I am trying to protect our home through these defensive environmental actions, but I want to make note of the fact that I am also trying to protect my many personal collections, including my comic books. Inspiring me is the tragedy of one of our dearest family friends, who lost everything that she owned, including her 50-year comics collection and her vast science fiction books library, to that horrible Marshall inferno. My efforts may in the end prove futile, but at least some houses in otherwise incinerated cul-de-sacs in Louisville survived, so advance planning does at least seem to improve one’s odds. Just saying…

So, what have you done lately to protect your own collection? If you’re like me, probably not enough. I have (for example) vowed for the past nine years to elevate all of my storage cabinets in my personal comics vault to at least an inch above ground level, so that if another 20-inch deluge of rain materializes (as it did upon us in 2013) that the bottom of my storage bins (and everything sitting in the floor) will not get soaked (again). Have I accomplished that incredibly arduous task? Nope. I keep putting it off, while I have instead been traveling endlessly all around the country to buy even more comics. Sigh. I really do mean to be more diligent, but finding the time is truly hard. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to it this winter….

(5) LIGHTS ON. Cora Buhlert renews two series of “spotlight” profiles she’s doing to make people more aware of works eligible for Best Fancast and Best Related Work.

The new “Fancast Spotlight” is for a channel called “Dennis Frey Books”.

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

I do a lot of content on creative writing on Twitch – lessons, reading excerpts from the community and my own books, longer workshops, throwbacks to the first works of different artists… aaaand it’s all in German. Sorry.

If that’s fine with you, there is about 100 hours of writing content from the streams on my YouTube Channel.

Buhlert also did a new “Non-Fiction Spotlight” for “Slaying the Dragon – A Secret History of Dungeons and Dragons by Ben Riggs”.

Tell us about your book.

My book is the shocking and true story of the rise of Dungeons & Dragons and how it almost imploded in the 90s under the weight of terrible management decisions. If you’re interested in an representative sample, Dicebreaker excerpted the disastrous attempt of TSR to create a comic book company in the 90s.  https://www.dicebreaker.com/series/dungeons-and-dragons/feature/dnd-comic-books-failed-attempt-tsr-dc-comics

(6) ADDAMS UNKNOWN. David Gerrold reviews Wednesday, which he finds to be such a departure from the established characterizations that he calls it “the Addams Family in name only”.

…And that finally brings me to Tim Burton’s series on Netflix — Wednesday.

It reinvents not only the Addams Family, it reinvents the world they live in.

In the sitcom, in the movies, in the two animated films, the Addams Family exists in a world that is (mostly) normal, even mundane.

In the Tim Burton series, there are monsters, sirens, medusas, werewolves, shapeshifters, and more. Wednesday has an estranged relationship with her parents. Gomez and Morticia are both flawed, they can’t keep their hands off each other, and only Wednesday has the ability to solve their situations.

Also, this Wednesday has visions that clue her in to a horrific past at Nevermore University and the town of Jericho.

So this isn’t the Addams family that we are familiar with, it’s a reinvention. And it’s not the most endearing one….

(7) TODAY’S DAY.

January 2 is National Science Fiction Day. Sure, every day is science fiction day for some of us, but this date was picked for national observance because it’s Asimov’s birthdate.

John King Tarpinian thinks maybe this would be better called ABC Day…after Asimov, Bradbury, & Clarke.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious. — C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Turkish delight is a popular dessert sweet in Greece, the Balkans, and, especially Turkey. But most Americans, if they have any association with the treat at all, know it only as the food for which Edmund Pevensie sells out his family.

I don’t know about you but I had no idea what Turkish delight was until I was at University as it wasn’t something that was carried in the stores where I grew up. A friend had a box and offered it up. It was, errr, sweet and chewy. I liked and I’ve since gifted quite a few times.

Turkish Delight, the name we know it by in the West is not inaccurate. The Turkish people make and consume an immense quantity of lokum in a wide range of varieties as it called in Turkey and it’s a popular gift, a sign of hospitality. The candy was invented in the early 19th century, apparently by confectioner Bekir Effendi, though that’s disputed by other Turks who say they invented it.

Most Westerners  encounter it first in reading this novel (or possibly the Eighties television series, or the film). As you know, Edmund is tempted by Turkish Delight into an alliance with the White Witch, who has brought eternal winter to Narnia. When Edmund first encounters the witch, she asks him, “What would you like best to eat?” He doesn’t even hesitate. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 2, 1920 Isaac Asimov. I can hardly summarize everything he’s done here, so I’ll just pick my very short list of favorite works by him which would include the Galactic Empire series, the Foundation Trilogy which a Hugo at a Tricon, The Gods Themselves which won a Hugo at TorCon II and his I, Robot collection.  And no, I’ve not watched the Foundation series although I have the Apple + streaming service. Should I watch it? (Died 1992.)
  • Born January 2, 1940 Susan Wittig Albert, 82. She’s the author of The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, a series of mysteries featuring that writer. Really. Truly. Haven’t read them but they bear such delightful titles as The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood. She has non-genre series involving an herbalist and a gardening club as well. 
  • Born January 2, 1948 Deborah Watling. Best known for her role as Victoria Waterfield, a companion of the Second Doctor. She was also in Downtime, playing the same character, a one-off sequel to a sequel to the Second Doctor stories, The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. No Doctors were to be seen. If you’ve seen the English language dubbed version of Viaje al centro de la Tierra (Where Time Began, based off Verne’s Journey to the Center of The Earth), she’s doing the lines of Ivonne Sentis as Glauben. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 2, 1959 Patrick Nielsen Hayden, 64. In a fit of exuberance Wiki lists him as a “editor, fan, fanzine publisher, essayist, reviewer, anthologist, teacher and blogger.” Which is true. He’s won three Hugo Awards for Best Editor Long Form (2007, 2010, 2013), won a World Fantasy Award for editing the Starlight 1 anthology (1997). 
  • Born January 2, 1967 Tia Carrere, 56. Best remembered for her three-season run as Sydney Fox, rogue archeologist on Relic Hunter. She’s been in a lot of one-offs on genre series including Quantum LeapHerculesTales from The Crypt, AirwolfFriday the 13th and played Agent Katie Logan for two episodes on Warehouse 13.
  • Born January 2, 1979 Tobias S. Buckell, 44. I read and enjoyed a lot his Xenowealth series which he managed to wrap up rather nicely. The collection he edited, The Stories We Tell: Bermuda Anthology of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, is well worth reading, as is his own Tides from a New World collection. And his Tangled Lands collection which won the World Fantasy Award is amazing reading as well.
  • Born January 2, 1983 Kate Bosworth, 39. She’s Barbara Barga in the SS-GB series adapted from the superb Len Deighton novel. She’s both a producer and a performer on The I- Land Netflixseries where she’s KC, a decidedly not nice person. For a more positive character, she portrayed Lois Lane in Superman Returns.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Six Chix makes a mighty literary New Year’s resolution. It will probably sound familiar to a few of you!
  • Peanuts On This Day on Twitter brings us an sff-adjacent strip from January 2, 1973.

(11) HERE COMES THE DRAGON-PROWED BOAT. The Los Angeles Times asks “Why is a Swedish billionaire buying up California’s video gaming empire?” In recent years many game makers have been acquired by Lars Wingefors’ company, Embracer.

…Or as the tech-oriented website the Verge put it: “Embracer Group, the company forging one IP portfolio to rule them all.”

The strategy has sparked both criticism and confusion in the gaming world. Some gamers accuse Embracer of sacrificing artistry, while others find the company’s approach scattershot and incoherent. An Embracer developer defends the company’s approach, saying it supports game makers.

“If you look at them from afar, you might wonder what the company is doing,” says Simon Rojder, a programmer who is the founder of Mirage, a game studio in Karlstad that Embracer absorbed in 2016. “What he [Wingefors] does is find people who know what they are doing and then leaves them alone.

“This company is called the big dragon monster of gaming because they soak up everything. But they give you space to do your work. We feel quite independent, even if on paper we are not.”

Today, Embracer oversees 237 games being developed across 132 studios on every continent except Africa and Antarctica. More than 15,000 employees work for Embracer or a company under its umbrella.

In California, Embracer has a foothold in San Francisco, where it owns a studio that developed the free game “Star Trek Online.” Irvine is home to a recently acquired karaoke company, Singtrix, while SpringboardVR, a company focused on arcade development, is in Los Angeles. In Agoura Hills, Embracer runs global marketing for Vertigo Games, a Dutch game studio and virtual reality group. It also has a distribution contract with Exploding Kittens, an L.A. game studio named after the card game, which shot up in popularity after launching on Kickstarter in 2015.

Embracer’s rapid expansion comes as tech, gaming and moviemaking collide in a content race to grab the attention and dollars of any consumer they can. Fueled in part by a boom during pandemic-era lockdowns, the gaming industry’s price tag now rivals those of Hollywood and music…

(12) UNDERFOOT IN THE CRETACEOUS. Elsewhere in Sweden is a place where they study “The Fossil Flowers That Rewrote the History of Life” – read about it in The New Yorker.

The centerpiece of the Swedish Museum of Natural History, in Stockholm, is probably the Fossils and Evolution hall, in which an enormous Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton seems to yawn over crowds of starstruck schoolchildren. Nearby, tourists marvel at a triceratops skull and a velociraptor model. These iconic dinosaurs evolved during the late-Cretaceous epoch and went extinct about sixty-six million years ago, around the time that an asteroid smashed into the planet. It is difficult to think of any event in the history of life that has left a bigger mark on the human imagination. “I don’t think you can compete with the dinosaurs,” Else Marie Friis, a paleobotanist and professor emerita at the museum, told me the first time we spoke.

Friis has come to believe, however, that the disappearance of the dinosaurs was not even the most interesting development of the Cretaceous period. She is more interested in a pair of easy-to-miss boulders near the feet of the T. rex, which bear impressions of some very old angiosperm leaves. Angiosperms, or flowering plants, are so ubiquitous today that one can hardly imagine life without them; they encompass at least three hundred and fifty thousand species, including everything from cactuses to wind-pollinated grasses to broadleaf trees, and far outnumber older plants such as ferns, conifers, and mosses. Yet the first dinosaurs, in the Triassic and Jurassic periods, lived in a world without flowers. The first angiosperms probably bloomed in the early Cretaceous, around a hundred and thirty-five million years ago. They ignited a revolution that reinvented nature itself….

(13) ONE AND DONE. “’1899′ Canceled: Netflix Not Moving Forward With Season 2” says Variety.

1899” will not receive a second season at Netflix. The news was confirmed by series co-creator Baran bo Odar through a statement shared to his official Instagram. The letter to fans was also signed by Odar’s partner and series co-creator Jantje Freise.

“With a heavy heart we have to tell you that ‘1899’ will not be renewed,” Odar wrote. “We would have loved to finish this incredible journey with a second and third season as we did with ‘Dark.’ But sometimes things don’t turn out the way you planned. That’s life.”

“We know this will disappoint millions of fans out there. But we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts that you were a part of this wonderful adventure,” the statement continues. “We love you. Never forget.”

(14) LA MANCHA AND TATTOOINE. According to Ted Gioia, “Don Quixote Tells Us How the Star Wars Franchise Ends”.

…This is an important shift in the history of storytelling, and we need to pay close attention to it—because this is how Star Wars ends. This is how the Marvel Cinematic Universe loses its mojo. This is how the movie business will eventually reinvent itself.

The key person here is Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616). And the amazing thing is that he relied on a knight to kill all the other knights, and clear the way for the rise of the novel.

Cervantes’s knight was the famous Don Quixote, celebrated in the book of the same name. And we could argue endlessly whether this book was, in fact, the first novel. The exact chronology here isn’t the key issue. The more pressing point is that Don Quixote made all the earlier books about knights look ridiculous. In other words, Cervantes pursued the literary equivalent of a scorched earth policy.

The title character in his book is a shrunken and shriveled man of about 50, who has gone crazy by reading too many stories about knights and their adventures. In a fit of delusion, he decides to leave home and pursue knightly adventures himself—but the world has changed since the time of King Arthur, and our poor knight errant now looks like a fool. Other characters mock him, and play practical jokes at his expense—and simply because he believes all those lies in the brand franchise stories.

We start to feel sorry for Don Quixote, even begin cheering for our hapless hero. Thus this protagonist, in Cervantes’s rendering, is both absurd and endearing. This is what raises the novel above mere satire—because we eventually come to admire Don Quixote for holding on to his ideals in the face of a world where they don’t fit or belong.

In other words, there is much to admire in this book, but this three-layered approach to reality is perhaps the most interesting aspect of them all. Here are the three layers:

  1. Don Quixote is just an ordinary man, not a hero by any means.
  2. But in his delusion, he pretends to be a hero, following rules and procedures that are antiquated and irrelevant. They merely serve to make him look pitiful and absurd.
  3. Yet by persisting in this fantasy, he actually does turn into a hero, although a more complex kind that anticipates the rise of the novel. He is the prototype of the dreamer and idealist who chases goals in the face of all obstacles.

The end result was that the old fake stories of knights were now obsolete, but something smarter and more sophisticated emerged in their wake. After Cervantes, readers demanded better stories—and not just the intellectuals and elites. The novel soon became the preferred narrative format at all levels of literate European society.

Believe it or not, this could happen again, even in Hollywood….

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

Pixel Scroll 10/26/22 Did You Know That Pixel Chases Transdimensional Scrolls?

(1) SHAUN TAN Q&A. Steven Heller interviews artist Shaun Tan for Print in “The Daily Heller: One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying Purple People Eater”.

You create nightmarish visions that have a witty or acerbic quality, like the one-eyed creature on the cover of your book. Do you lean towards high or comic graphic depictions?
I suppose I hover in between, or try to fuse, as there’s no reason a thing can’t be both. I think of Philip Guston’s paintings, for instance, or a film like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, which was very influential for me as a teenager, or the comics of Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware—which can be simultaneously funny and painful—the stories of Kelly Link. In fact, I love anything that exists in that space between scary and funny, or serious and frivolous. I suppose I’m interested in figuring out the difference, why we react to some things as creepy and disconcerting, and to others as delightful and amusing. I think the one-eyed creature you mention is a good one for that kind of emotional litmus test. It is both disquieting and inviting, cool and warm. A lot of the work at the easel is about striking that balance, and it is a very precarious balance that can take days to get right. For me it comes down to a backlit feather, the obscured parts of a face, the movement of shadow on stems of grass.

(2) GIANCOLA EXHIBITION. The Huntsville (AL) Museum of Art will host “Donato Giancola: Adventures in Imagination” from October 30 through January 22. Giancola is the winner of three Hugo Awards, a World Fantasy Award, plus 23 Chesley Awards for his superlative work in the field.

Donato Giancola is an American artist specializing in narrative realism with science fiction and fantasy content. Considered the most successful sci-fi/fantasy illustrator working today, he creates engaging paintings that bridge the worlds of contemporary and historical figurative arts. Exclusive to the Huntsville Museum of Art, Adventures in Imagination will include a range of thematic subjects, including paintings and drawings based on the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and the fantasy tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Also included are works created to illustrate the covers and stories of recent fantasy novels, as well as other surprises….

(3) CLOSE YOUR EYES. “Doctor Who: Every Companion Featured in the Centenary Special” – in case you don’t have enough spoilage already, CBR.com says they’ve named them all.

“The Power of the Doctor” was significant in Doctor Who history in more ways than one. Not only did the episode see Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor regenerate into one of her former selves for the first time in the series’ history, but the special was part of the BBC’s centenary celebration. The episode marked the occasion well with the return of some familiar faces from the sci-fi series’ long history, which spans more than half the BBC’s lifetime….

(4) A BOOK WITH A DIFFERENT KIND OF PROMOTION. Tananarive Due is named one of the “5 Female Demi-Gods of Horror” by CrimeReads.

TANANARIVE DUE: “Ghost Summer: Stories” (Sept. 2015)

From the USA, I present Ghost Summer: Stories, a collection of horror stories featuring fourteen short stories and the novella, Ghost Summer, from which the book gets its title. The work showcases Due’s undisputable skill as a master storyteller. Due also makes little intimate notes after each story which the reader will find just as engaging. The stories are creepy, and the horror subtle, yet powerful. Stories like The Knowing, (dealing with a woman who knows when everybody she meets is going to die, including her own son) and Ghost Summer, (featuring a town where the children are the only ones to see the ghosts dwelling in their midst) are my personal favourites. The themes of racial injustices, as well as historical events, come together to make this book a must-read for every horror fan this Halloween. Another hit by this fiercely unconventional American horror writer….

(5) IS IT A GOOD FAKE? “When a Modern Director Makes a Fake Old Movie: A Video Essay on David Fincher’s Mank. Open Culture analyzes how effective the deception is.

As of this writing, Mank is David Fincher’s newest movie — but also, in a sense, his oldest. With Netflix money behind him, he and his collaborators spared seemingly no expense in re-creating the look and feel of a nineteen-forties film using the advanced digital technologies of the twenty-twenties. The idea was not just to tell the story of Citizen Kane scriptwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, but to make the two pictures seem like contemporaries. As Fincher’s production designer Donald Graham Burt once put it, the director “wanted the movie to be like you were in a vault and came across Citizen Kane and next to it was Mank.” ….

Here’s a video about the challenge David Fincher took on.

(6) BECALMED IN WINTER. George R.R. Martin was on Stephen Colbert’s show to promote other books and projects, however, you won’t be surprised that it was only the book he doesn’t have out that made news. In The Hollywood Reporter: “George R.R. Martin Says ‘The Winds of Winter’ Is Now Three-Quarters Finished”.

George R.R. Martin is giving a specific update on his Winds of Winter progress.

The Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon author was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, where he was asked the mandatory, yet wearisome, question about his progress on the long-long-awaited next A Song of Ice and Fire book.

“I think it’s going to be a very big book [more than 1500 pages] and I think I’m about three-quarters of the way done,” Martin said. “The characters all interweave and I’m actually finished with a couple of the characters, but not others. I have to finish all that weaving.”

Colbert did the math. “So [it’s taken] 10 years to go 75 percent of the way through … which means about … three more years?”

“That’s depressing,” Martin replied, and also lamented that the moment he finishes, he’ll get the first tweet asking when his seventh and final ASOIAF book is coming, A Dream of Spring. The author said he hasn’t even played his hit game, Elden Ring, due to his writing commitment….

(7) THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF GAIMAN. “Author Neil Gaiman to Release First Album with Australian String Quartet” reports American Songwriter.

Creator of The Sandman, Stardust, American Gods, and countless graphic novels and books, Neil Gaiman is releasing his first album of original music, Signs of Life (Instrumental Recordings) in collaboration with the Australian FourPlay String Quartet, out April 28, 2023.

All words, music, and backing vocals provided by Gaiman, the album comes after the author and quartet have collaborated for more than 12 years. The quartet was first commissioned to compose a soundtrack for Gaiman’s 2010 novella, The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains, which they later performed together.

Ahead of the April 2023 release, Gaiman and the quartet shared two new singles, “Bloody Sunrise” and “Credo,” the former accompanied by an official music video, directed by James Chappell, featuring Goodridge, who sings lead vocals, lying in a coffin and rising to perform with the FourPlay String Quartet in a graveyard. Gaiman, who also sings backing vocals, also makes a cameo on a flickering television screen at the beginning of the video….

(8) PLANETARY POSTER CHILD. In time for Halloween, NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration webpage invites us into the “Galaxy of Horrors”.

Take a tour of some of the most terrifying and mind-blowing destinations in our galaxy … and beyond. After a visit to these nightmare worlds, you may never want to leave Earth again! You can also download our free posters – based on real NASA science – if you dare.

Here’s an example:

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1950s [By Cat Eldridge.] Ray Bradbury’s EC Comics 

During a particularly wonderful moment in the early 1950s, EC Comics adapted twenty-five classic Ray Bradbury stories into comics form. Al Feldstein scripted, and all of EC’s artists illustrated, his tales  — Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, George Evans, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Roy Krenkel, Bernard Krigstein, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson, and Wallace Wood. 

Now the twenty-five stories themselves were done between 1951 and 1954 in oversized newspaper style design. The volume also includes ten “related” stories.

The title story apparently combines two of his stories, those being “Kaleidoscope” and “Rocket Man”, and Bradbury was very proud of the result. “Sound of Thunder”, which was later filmed, is here as well. So is a favorite story of mine, “The Million Years Picnic”. 

Bradbury had several primary sources for these stories  — the Dark Carnival tales, The Martian ChroniclesThe Golden Apples of the Sun and The Illustrated Man stories.

Now Fantographics has gathered all them including those maybe unauthorized stories in Home to Stay!: The Complete Ray Bradbury EC Stories.

Not at all surprisingly, it has a load of bonus features, including introductions and commentary by Greg Bear, Thommy Burns, Bill Mason, Dr. Benjamin Saunders, and Ted White; a nice look at the comics by Bradbury; and two full-color paintings by Frank Frazetta.

It’s the usual superbly fine work by Fantographics at, all things considered, a very reasonable price, just seventy-five dollars.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 26, 1934 Dan McCarthy. The grand old man of New Zealand fandom. He belonged to Aotearapa, New Zealand’s APA, for 25 years, and was its official editor from 1986-1987 and 2001-2003. As a member, he contributed 77 issues of his fanzine Panopticon, for which he did paintings and color graphics. His skills as a fanartist were widely appreciated: he was a Fan Guest of Honour at the New Zealand national convention, a nominee for the Sir Julius Vogel Award, and he won NZ Science Fiction Fan Awards (the predecessor of the Vogel) Best Fan Artist twice. (Died 2013.) (JJ) 
  • Born October 26, 1942 Bob Hoskins. I’ll insist his role as Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is his finest genre role although I suppose Mario Mario in Super Mario Bros. could be said… Just kidding!  He played Professor George Challenger in a film version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, and also appeared in Snow White and The Huntsman, Hook, the Hugo-nominated Brazil, A Christmas Carol, Son of The Mask, and as the voice of The Badger in an animated version of The Wind in The Willows. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 26, 1945 Jane Chance, 77. Scholar specializing in medieval English literature, gender studies, and J. R. R. Tolkien with a very, very impressive publication list for the latter such as Tolkien’s Art: A “Mythology for EnglandTolkien the MedievalistThe Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power and Tolkien, Self and Other: “This Queer Creature”
  • Born October 26, 1953 Jennifer Roberson, 69. Writer of of fantasy and historical romances. The Chronicles of the Cheysuli is her fantasy series about shapeshifters and their society, and the Sword-Dancer Saga is the desert-based adventure series of sort, but the series I’ve enjoyed most is her Sherwood duology that consists of Lady of the Forest and Lady of Sherwood that tells that tale from the perspective of Marian. Her hobby, which consumes much of her time, is breeding and showing Cardigan Welsh Corgis.
  • Born October 26, 1962 Cary Elwes, 60. He’s in the ever-so-excellent Princess Bride as Westley / Dread Pirate Roberts / The Man in Black which won a Hugo at Nolacon II. He also shows up in Dr. Lawrence Gordon in the Saw franchise, and was cast as Larry Kline, Mayor of Hawkins, for the third season of Stranger Things. And that’s hardly all his genre roles. 
  • Born October 26, 1963 Keith Topping, 59. Writer from England. It being the month of ghoulies, I’ve got another academic for you. He’s published a number of non-fiction reference works – frequently in collaboration with Martin Day and/or Paul Cornell – for various genre franchises, including The Avengers, The X-Files, Stargate SG-1Star Trek Next Generation and Deep Space NineBuffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and for horror film fans in general, A Vault of Horror: A Book of 80 Great British Horror Movies from 1956-1974. He’s also written four novels in the Doctor Who universe, and co-authored The DisContinuity Guide.
  • Born October 26, 1971 Anthony Rapp, 51. Lieutenant Commander Paul Stamets on Discovery. His first role ever was Wes Hansen in Sky High, and he showed up early in his career as Jeff Glaser in the “Detour” episode of X-Files. He was Seymour Krelbourn in a national tour of Little Shop of Horrors.
  • Born October 26, 1976 Florence Kasumba, 46. Actor of German Ugandan heritage who has done films in English, German, and Dutch languages. She is best known for her role as Ayo in the Marvel universe movies Captain America: Civil War, the Hugo nominated Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War, but she also had a role in the Hugo-winning Wonder Woman, played the Wicked Witch of the East in the TV series Emerald City, and voiced a character in the live-action remake of The Lion King.

(11) HO HO HO, IT’S THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Entertainment Weekly cues up the clip: “The Guardians of the Galaxy kidnap Kevin Bacon in their first holiday special trailer” .

Yes, the real Kevin Bacon.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are rockin’ around the Christmas tree — or is that the Christmas Groot?

Director James Gunn has shared the first trailer for the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, teasing our first look at Marvel’s most festive project yet. The upcoming special will debut on Disney+ in November, and it follows everyone’s favorite ragtag band of space weirdos as they cavort around the universe and try to spread a little Christmas cheer….

(12) MAYBE IT’S JUST SOCIAL MEDIA DOES THAT. Try not to be disappointed, however, video games may not rot your brain after all! The Verge reports “Kids who play video games score higher on brain function tests”.

Kids who play video games have better memory and better control over their motor skills than kids who don’t, according to a new study looking at adolescent brain function.

Video games might not be responsible for those differences — the study can’t say what the causes are — but the findings add to a bigger body of work showing gamers have better performance on some tests of brain function. That lends support to efforts to develop games that can treat cognitive problems.

… To study video games and cognition, the research team on this new study pulled from the first set of assessments in the ABCD study. It included data on 2,217 children who were nine and 10 years old. The ABCD study asked participants how many hours of video games they played on a typical weekday or weekend day. The research team divided the group into video gamers (kids who played at least 21 hours per week) and non-video gamers (kids who played no video games per week). Kids who only played occasionally weren’t included in the study. Then, the research team looked at the kids’ performance on tests that measure attention, impulse control, and memory.

The video gamers did better on the tests, the study found…. 

(13) HOW LONG CAN YOU HOLD YOUR BREATH? “NASA instrument detects dozens of methane super-emitters from space” at Yahoo!

An orbital NASA instrument designed mainly to advance studies of airborne dust and its effects on climate change has proven adept at another key Earth-science function – detecting large, worldwide emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The device, called an imaging spectrometer, has identified more than 50 methane “super-emitters” in Central Asia, the Middle East and the Southwestern United States since it was installed in July aboard the International Space Station, NASA said on Tuesday.

The newly measured methane hotspots – some previously known and others just discovered – include sprawling oil and gas facilities and large landfills….

(14) WHY I OTTER… “In Prehistoric Ethiopia, Otters Were as Big as Lions” according to Atlas Obscura.

SOME THREE MILLION YEARS AGO, one of our early hominin ancestors was chowing down on some leaves along a riverbank in what is now Ethiopia. And there it was—440 pounds of fur, with teeth strong enough to crush bone. An otter the size of a large male lion ambled through the dense grasses before bending down to drink from the muddy riverbank. Our ancestor, we figure, crept back into the surrounding woodlands. It doesn’t matter how potentially adorable the giant otter may (or may not) have been, you just don’t want to cross an animal that size.

The otter, Enhydriodon omoensis, is the largest ever found. A new study in the French journal Comptes Rendus Palevol is the first to classify the species, naming it after Ethiopia’s Omo River, where its remains were uncovered. While the study calls the otter “lion-sized,” paleontologist Margaret Lewis of Stockton University in New Jersey, who first analyzed some of the fossils in 2008*, thinks “that’s kind of underselling it.” “Bear otter,” she says, is perhaps a better term to encapsulate just how massive these otters were. Okay, grizzly otter it is….

(15) TOM AND JERRY ON THEIR WAY TO THE CRUSADES. “Artist Makes Astonishing Armor for Cats & Mice”. Open Culture admires the work.

…Using steel, silver, brass, bronze, nickel, copper, leather, fiber, wood, and his delicate jewelry making tools, DeBoer became the cats’ armorer, spending anywhere from 50 to 200 hours producing each increasingly intricate suit of feline armor.  A noble pursuit, but one that inadvertently created an “imbalance in the universe”:

The only way to fix it was to do the same for the mouse.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Grounded,” the Screen Junkies say this game, where you shrink to bug size and run around a back yard, is a cross between Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and “any survival game you’ve ever played.” With the game explorers’ “greatest fear:  touching grass.”  But what other game lets you paint your own sphid?

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

Golden Joystick Awards 2022 Nominees

The Golden Joystick Awards 2022 nominations are in and gamers can now vote for their favorite games of 2021. Click here to cast your ballot. Voting will be open until November 4, and the winners will be revealed in the online broadcast November 22.

Best Audio

  • We Are OFK
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3
  • Metal: Hellsinger
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
  • Gran Turismo 7 
  • OlliOlli World

Best Storytelling

  • IMMORTALITY
  • Return to Monkey Island
  • Horizon Forbidden West
  • NORCO
  • I Was A Teenage Exocolonist
  • Wayward Strand

Best Game Community

  • Dreams
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • GRID Legends
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Splatoon 3
  • Warframe

Best Game Expansion

  • Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
  • Destiny 2: The Witch Queen
  • Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course
  • GTA Online: The Contract
  • Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons
  • Total War: Warhammer III – Immortal Empires 

Best Gaming Hardware

  • Playdate
  • Steam Deck
  • Analogue Pocket
  • Backbone One: PlayStation Edition
  • Roccat Kone XP
  • WD_Black SN850 NVMe SSD for PS5

Best Indie Game

  • Cult of the Lamb
  • Tunic
  • Rollerdrome
  • Dorfromantik
  • Neon White
  • Teardown

Best Multiplayer Game

  • Elden Ring
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenue
  • MultiVersus
  • Splatoon 3
  • Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

Best Visual Design

  • Elden Ring
  • Horizon Forbidden West
  • Cult of the Lamb
  • Ghostwire: Tokyo
  • A Plague Tale: Requiem
  • Lost in Play

Most Wanted Game

  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
  • Final Fantasy XVI
  • Assassin’s Creed Mirage
  • Dead Island 2
  • Forspoken
  • Street Fighter 6
  • Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
  • Warhammer 40,000: Darktide
  • Honkai: Star Rail
  • Starfield
  • Exoprimal
  • Redfall
  • Hogwarts Legacy
  • The Day Before
  • Mass Effect
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
  • Final Fantasy VII Rebirth
  • Hollow Knight: Silksong
  • Kerbal Space Program 2
  • Dead Space

Nintendo Game of the Year

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3 
  • Pokémon Legends: Arceus 
  • Kirby and the Forgotten Land 
  • Live A Live 
  • Splatoon 3 
  • Nintendo Switch Sports

PC Game of the Year

  • Neon White 
  • Return to Monkey Island 
  • Hardspace: Shipbreaker 
  • Teardown 
  • Total War: Warhammer 3 
  • Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters

PlayStation Game of the Year

  • Gran Turismo 7 
  • Horizon Forbidden West 
  • Stray 
  • Elden Ring 
  • The Last Of Us Part I 
  • Sifu

Xbox Game of the Year

  • Halo Infinite 
  • Scorn 
  • Grounded 
  • As Dusk Falls 
  • Sniper Elite 5 
  • Dying Light 2: Stay Human
  • Still Playing: 
  • Genshin Impact 
  • The Sims 4 
  • Destiny 2 
  • Final Fantasy XIV 
  • Minecraft 
  • Fortnite 
  • Pokémon GO 
  • Apex Legends 
  • Lost Ark 
  • The Elder Scrolls Online

Studio of the Year

  • Roll7 
  • Terrible Toybox 
  • Half Mermaid 
  • FromSoftware Inc. 
  • Interior / Night 
  • Tribute Games

Best Early Access Launch

  • Disney Dreamlight Valley 
  • Slime Rancher 2 
  • Dune: Spice Wars 
  • Core Keeper 
  • Vampire Survivors 
  • Gloomwood

Best Game Trailer

  • The Callisto Protocol The Truth of Black Iron Trailer 
  • Goat Simulator 3 Announcement Trailer
  • skate. Still Working On It Trailer
  • Bloody Hell Hotel Reveal Trailer 
  • Time Flies Announcement Trailer
  • Alan Wake 2 Reveal Trailer

Pixel Scroll 9/25/22 It’s Raining Marshmallows! And The Unicorns Are Spearing Them!

(1) STAR WARS AMID REAL WARS. “Darth Vader’s Voice Emanated From War-Torn Ukraine”Vanity Fair details how and why it was done.

Bogdan Belyaev was working from home when the air raid sirens went off. They hadn’t been heard in the city of Lviv since World War II, but it was February 24, and Russia had just invaded Ukraine. “When we heard that missiles were attacking and that our [internet] connection was dropping from parts of our country, we got into shelter,” says Belyaev. That meant him, his wife, and their dog and two cats huddling in the center of their building. “It’s a ‘shelter,’ really in quotes because it was actually our bathroom,” he says. “There is a rule of two walls. You need to be behind two walls. The first wall is taking the impact, and the second one is stopping the small shrapnel.” But for Belyaev, work carried on because he needed it to. People on the other side of the world were relying on him, and the project was the culmination of a passion he’d had since childhood: Star Wars.

Belyaev is a 29-year-old synthetic-speech artist at the Ukrainian start-up Respeecher, which uses archival recordings and a proprietary A.I. algorithm to create new dialogue with the voices of performers from long ago. The company worked with Lucasfilm to generate the voice of a young Luke Skywalker for Disney+’s The Book of Boba Fett, and the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi series tasked them with making Darth Vader sound like James Earl Jones’s dark side villain from 45 years ago, now that Jones’s voice has altered with age and he has stepped back from the role. Belyaev was rushing to finish his work as Putin’s troops came across the border. “If everything went bad, we would never make these conversions delivered to Skywalker Sound,” he says. “So I decided to push this data right on the 24th of February.”

Respeecher employees in Kyiv also soldiered on while hunkered down. Dmytro Bielievtsov, the company’s cofounder and CTO, got online in a theater where tabletops, books, and more had been stacked in front of windows in case of blasts. Programmers “training” the A.I. to replicate Jones’s voice and editors piecing together the output worked from corridors in the interior of their apartments. One took refuge in an ancient brick “basement” no bigger than a crawl space.

Back at Skywalker Sound in Northern California, Matthew Wood was the supervising sound editor on the receiving end of the transmissions from Ukraine. He says that they hired Respeecher because the vocal performances that the start-up generates have an often elusive human touch. “Certainly my main concern was their well-being,” says Wood, who is a 32-year veteran of Lucasfilm. “There are always alternatives that we could pursue that wouldn’t be as good as what they would give us. We never wanted to put them in any kind of additional danger to stay in the office to do something.”…

(2) THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE. Charles Payseur takes up the “Fan vs. Pro” debate about contenders for the fan Hugos at Quick Sip Reviews“Quick Sips 09/23/2022”

… “What kind of fan work should be recognized by the Hugo Awards?” If you answer “the kind of fan work that is underappreciated and deserves recognition” then I’m sorry, that’s not what a popular vote award is going to give you by definition. Already appreciated fans, fanzines, fancasts, and fan artists are going to have the advantage because by virtue of having fans of their own, they’ll get more votes. If you want awards that will seek to award people doing thankless and vital work, you’re going to need a juried award (both steps, too, because even a juried first stage, popular vote second stage is going to probably favor already popular fans).

And I could propose that we get together and create The Fannies (bwahahahaha), but that again is avoiding the question again. “What kind of fan work should be recognized by the Hugo Awards?” Like with all the other categories, the answer is that we should recognize the fan work that was the most popular in a given year. Yes, platform will effect that a lot. Money will effect that a lot. But unless we’re going to seek to correct for wealth, access, and privilege across all the Hugo categories, singling out the fan awards without reckoning with the current shape and state of SFF fandoms is pointless at best. Might as well just say with your whole voice that you don’t think specific finalists or winners DESERVE the recognition. At which point everyone can see what it is you’re really doing….

(3) GONE INDIE. Brian Keene is moving into indie all the way. He tells why in this interview with Bloody Disgusting: “Manhattan On Mars – Horror Author Brian Keene Launches His Own Publishing Imprint”.

BD: What led you to first consider launching an imprint?

BK: J.F. Gonzalez and I had often talked about doing this, but we were both of a generation where making this sort of transition was seen as crazy talk. So we never did. But even after he died, the idea was there in the back of my brain, gnawing and gnawing. And I started watching authors younger than me, whom I admire, and the success they were having making the plunge. Two of them are thriller writer Robert Swartwood and horror/sci-fi writer Stephen Kozeniewski. They were who finally convinced me to make the move. Rob got me to see that with the size of my audience and fan base, it was ridiculous not to do this.

For the entirety of my career, other companies — big and small — have had partial ownership of my rights and my intellectual properties. And these days, IP is king. These corporations aren’t paying for books or films or comics or video games. They’re paying for IP. I want to fully own my IP again. Now, obviously, I’m not talking about the properties I’ve worked on for others — stuff like Aliens, Doctor Who, The X-Files and all of the Marvel and DC Comics stuff. That’s somebody else’s IP and I was paid to play with it. But I’ve got over fifty books and over three hundred short stories of my own. Why should somebody else get a cut of those profits and a share of the ownership when the technology and infrastructure exists for me to produce them myself and get them into stores and the hands of readers?

And I should stress, I have a great relationship with most of my current publishers. But when I reached out to each of them individually and told them this was the direction I wanted to go, they all understood. They get it. This is what’s best for my remaining years, and for my sons.

And that’s what it comes down to, really. My sons. I turn fifty-five this week, and while I’m in relatively good health (despite the misadventures of my first fifty years), I can also hear that mortality clock ticking. I don’t plan on leaving yet, but most of us don’t really get a say in that, you know? Surprises happen. When I’m gone, I don’t want the executor of my literary estate having to chase down royalty checks from twenty different sources, and I don’t want my sons to have to share my intellectual property with a bunch of other people. By bringing everything in house, they’ll have total control over all of that.

(4) CENSORING FOR POWER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, YA sf writer David Levithan, who PEN America rates as the 11th most censored author in the US, says censorship ultimately won’t prevail and supporters of free expression will win. “Standing up to the new censorship”.

… What I’ve come to believe, as I’ve talked to authors and librarians and teachers, is that attacks are less and less about the actual books. We’re being used as targets in a much larger proxy war. The goal of that war isn’t just to curtail intellectual freedom but to eviscerate the public education system in this country. Censors are scorching the earth, without care for how many kids get burned. Racism and homophobia are still very much present, but it’s also a power grab, a money grab. The goal for many is a for-profit, more authoritarian and much less diverse culture, one in which truth is whatever you’re told it is, your identity is determined by its acceptability and the past is a lie that the future is forced to emulate. The politicians who holler and post and draw up their lists of “harmful” books aren’t actually scared of our books. They are using our books to scare people….

(5) AGE OF EMPIRES AGING WELL. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times, Chris Allnutt discusses a tournament for Age Of Empires II, first released in 1999, with a $200,000 prize and how older games still get big prizes at tournaments.

It is, by and large, older titles–those that have had longer to build a competitive scene and tweak their game mechanics–that dominate the most lucrative tournament rosters.  Data 2 continues to top the table for e-sports prize money, with about $48 million up for grabs in 2021, eight years after its initial release.  Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (2022) and League Of Legends (2009) earned players $21 million and $8 million respectively.  That’s nearly a third of all 2021’s prize money.

As a franchise, Age Of Empires speaks particularly well to the penchant for nostalgia. The series has spawned four games in total, with Age Of Empires IV released last year. But the second game still boasts the higher player count on Steam.

(6) FINAL WRITE-A-THON RESULTS. The Clarion Workshop Write-a-Thon raised $6,713.34 this year. The majority of the funds will go to scholarships for the Clarion Class of 2023. Forty-four writers participated in the Thon this year.

(7) HAVE A CUPPA. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here is a nice article from Stewart A. Shearer about the rise of cozy fantasy: “Orcs, Coffee, and the Rise of Cozy Fantasy” at Side Quest.

… While [Travis] Baldree wrote Legends & Lattes for his own satisfaction, the book has still gone on to be a genuine hit. Even months later, it’s holding strong in some of Amazon’s most competitive fiction markets. It’s currently the 19th most popular book on the retail giant’s competitive Romantic Fantasy list. It’s also number five in the LGBQT+ Fantasy category.

If there’s one place where its influence has been most deeply felt, however, it’s the realm of “cozy fantasy.”

Inspired directly by Legends & Lattes, enthusiastic readers established the CozyFantasy community on Reddit. Since its inception in May 2022, r/CozyFantasy has added more than 5,000 subscribing members. The community sees hundreds of posts  every week from people sharing reviews, looking for recommendations, and eager to chat about their favorite works from the sub-genre.…

(8) PYTHON ALUM PALIN’S NEW BOOK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times, Sir Michael Palin discusses his newest book, Into Iraq, which also is part of a series that was broadcast on Channel 5 beginning on September 20.

In September 2019 I went into Bart’s Hospital in London for open-heart surgery (during which a mitral valve was repaired and an aortic valve replaced0, but within a few months I was feeling not only better but bolder too, and looking at my atlas again with a renewed confidence. Before I could rush to the nearest airport, however, the world hit the pause button.  Airports emptied and the world fell silent…

…On a bright morning, we gathered outside the Rixos hotel in the town of Duhok.  “Candle In The Wind’ was playing in the lift as I checked in the previous night, and ‘Hey Jude’ as I sat down to breakfast.  Shielded from the road by blast barriers, we were briefed by James Willcox, whose company Untamed Borders socializes n taking people to places most other people don’t want to go.  Standing beside him was Peter, ex-army, accompanying us as security and medical escort.  No one suggested that he was here because I was so old, but I couldn’t help sensing that he was keeping an eye on me.  I, in turn, was determined to pretend I was 29, not 78.

If you want a signed copy, Palin will happily send you one through his website.

(9) TOM MADDOX HEALTH UPDATE. Tom Maddox’s wife Mary told his Facebook followers he’s had a stroke:

Tom is in the hospital (ICU) after having a severe stroke. He is unconcious and may not wake up the doctors say at present. The doctor told me if he lives he will go to a nursing home for critical care. I am beyond grief stricken and am going everyday to the hospital and he is restless but when I am there he sleeps peacefully.

(10) TOM CHMIELEWSKI (1952-2022). Science fiction writer Tom Chmielewski died in June at the age of 70. The family obituary is here.

He worked in the field of journalism beginning in 1975, and worked at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1987-1997. After leaving the Gazette, he worked as a part-time instructor at WMU; started a monthly publication called Great Lakes Stage, which covered theatre in the Midwest; and served as editor of Trains.com, an online publication based in Milwaukee that covered model railroading, one of his passions.

He was a member of the Clarion workshop class of 1984. He served as Treasurer to the Clarion Foundation from 2016-2022, where he did tremendous work behind-the-scenes for the Foundation, including supporting their Thon fundraiser for numerous years.

He published his first novel Lunar Dust, Martian Sands in 2014 through his company, TEC Publishing, followed by two more novels in his Mars trilogy, Rings of Fire and Ice (2018), and The Silent Siege of Mars (2019). He created and released an audio drama, “Shalbatana Solstice,” a prequel to his first novel, that was later broadcast by the BBC.

Chmielewski is survived by his brothers and sisters-in-law, four nieces and a nephew, and his former wife, Susan Lackey.

Contributions may be made to the Tom Chmielewski Memorial Fund, which is designated for older writers who wish to attend Clarion, set up in his honor by the Clarion Foundation. To make a donation, go to theclarionfoundation.org (if donating online, designate your contribution for Tom’s fund by sending an email to [email protected] You may also mail a check made out to The Clarion Foundation to 716 Salvatierra St., Stanford, CA 94305-1020.)

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1987 [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-five years ago, what might indeed be the sweetest damn film ever released premiered today in The Princess Bride. Yes, I’m biased. 

Based off the exemplary novel of fourteen years previously by William Goldman who adapted in the film here, I need not detain the story here as I know there’s not a single individual here who’s not familiar with it. If there is anyone here with that hole in their film education, why are you reading this? 

It’s streaming on Disney + right now and you can rent it pretty much everywhere. Go and then come back here! 

It’s a very sweet love story, it’s a send-up of classic adventure tales, it’s a screwball comedy, it’s a, well, it’s a lot of things done absolutely perfectly. Did I mention sword fights? Well I should.

I fell in love with The Princess Bride when Grandfather played by Peter Falk repeated these lines from the novel: “That’s right. When I was your age, television was called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick, and I used to read it to your father. And today, I’m gonna read it to you.” A film about a book. Cool!

Yes, they shortened the title of book which was The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, The “Good Parts” Version. But unwieldy for a film. Though a stellar book title indeed. 

There are very few films that successfully adapt a book exactly as it written. (Not looking at you the first version of Dune or Starship Troopers.) The only one I’ve seen that did was Like Water for Chocolate off the novel by Laura Esquivel. That Goldman wrote the script obviously was essential and the cast which you know by heart so I’ll not detail here were stellar in their roles certainly made a difference.

Rob Reiner was without doubt the director for it and the interviews with him have indicated his love for the novel.

That it won a Hugo at Nolacon II was I think predestined. I won’t say it magical, no I take that back, in many ways it was magical. And I think that it was by far the best film that year. My opinion, yours of course might well be different.

Only six percent of the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes don’t like it. Ponder that. 

Deluxe one-sixth scale figures of the cast members are starting to be released. You can stage your own version of the film. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 25, 1919 Betty Ballantine. With her husband Ian, she created Bantam Books in 1945 and established Ballantine Books seven years later. They won one special World Fantasy Award for professional work in 1975 and another one shared with Joy Chant et al for The High Kings which is indeed an amazing work. ISFDB lists just one novel for her, The Secret Oceans, which I’ve not read. Who here done so? (Died 2019.)
  • Born September 25, 1930 Shel Silverstein. Not sure how he is SFF but ISFDB lists him as such for his Every Thing On It collection and a handful of aptly named poems, and I’m more than thrilled to list him under Birthday Honors. I’m fond of his poetry collection Where the Sidewalk Ends and will also note here A Light in the Attic if only because it’s been on “oh my we must ban it now attempts” all too often. So what do you think is genre by him? (Died 1999.)
  • Born September 25, 1932 J. Hunter HollyHer various book dedications showed she had a strong love of cats. I’ve not encountered her novels but she wrote a fair number of them including ten genre novels plus The Assassination Affair, a novel in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. franchise. Only The Flying Eyes novel by her is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1982.)
  • Born September 25, 1946 Felicity Kendal, 76. She plays Lady Clemency Eddison in the the Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and The Wasp”, one of my favorite Who tales which I reviewed at Green Man here. She recently played Baroness Ortsey in the new Pennyworth series. And though it’s definitely really not genre, I’m noting her role in Shakespeare-Wallah, story of a family troupe of English actors in India, just because it’s a fascinating story.
  • Born September 25, 1951 Mark Hamill, 71. OK, I’ll confess that my favorite role of his is voicing The Joker in the DC Universe. He started doing this way back on Batman: The Animated Series and has even done so on other such series as well. Pure comic evilness! Oh, and did you know he voices Chucky in the new Child’s Play film? Now that’s really, really creepy. 
  • Born September 25, 1952 Christopher Reeve. Superman in the Superman film franchise. He appeared in the Smallville series as Dr. Swann in the episodes “Rosetta” and “Legacy”. His Muppet Show appearance has him denying to Miss Piggy that he’s Superman though he displayed those superpowers throughout that entire episode. (Died 2004.)
  • Born September 25, 1977 Clea DuVall, 45. A long genre history if we include horror (and I most gleefully do) — Little Witches, Sleeping Beauties, Ghosts of Mars and How to Make a Monster. Series appearances include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a main role on Carnivàle as Sofie Agnesh Bojakshiya (loved that series), a recurring role as Audrey Hanson on Heroes, and though we didn’t see it, she was in the unsold television pilot for the never to be Virtuality series as Sue Parsons, she had a recurring role in American Horror Story: Asylum as Wendy Peyser, and finally another recurring role in The Handmaid’s Tale as Sylvia.
  • Born September 25, 1983 Donald Glover, 39. A cast member of Community as Troy Barnes, a series that is least genre adjacent. His first genre appearance is in The Muppets film as a junior CDE executive. He also appeared in a season 43 episode of Sesame Street as famous musician LMNOP. And then there’s the minor matter of being in Solo: A Star Wars Story as someone called Lando Calrissian, Spider-Man: Homecoming as Aaron Davis and then voicing Simba in The Lion King. Not bad at all.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Flying McCoys shows Superman trying to come up with a new theme song.
  • Sally Forth shows why it’s hard to decide which super-power to wish for.
  • Dilbert is told how he can help robot sales.

(14) CROSSING SPACE VIA WINDMILL. Literary Hub invites you to “Watch the first episode of a forgotten 1970 TV adaptation of Don Quixote . . . set in space.”

For about two months in 1970, ITV aired episodes of a bonkers science fiction comedy series based (oh so very loosely) on Miguel de Cervantes’ literary classic Don Quixote. The show, entitled The Adventures of Don Quick, follows an astronaut named Don Quick (Ian Hendry) and his sidekick, Sam Czopanser (Ronald Lacey), who are part of an “Intergalactic Maintenance Squad” that sends them, each episode, to try to “maintain” or otherwise improve alien planets—which usually do not at all need their help, and whose citizens range from bemused to quite irritated by the intrusion.

Fun fact: Angela Carter, the queen of feminist fairy tales herself, was once commissioned by ITV to write the script for an episode of the show, which was (alas!) never produced….

(15) LEAP YEARS. “’Quantum Leap’ revival to address Sam’s leap into Magic” reports SYFY Wire.

Did you know the character played by Ernie Hudson in NBC’s Quantum Leap revival goes back more than 30 years within the world of the show?

Herbert “Magic” Williams first appeared in the original iteration of the series in the 1990 episode entitled “The Leap Home, Part II,” where Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) travels back to the days of the Vietnam War, leaping into the body of Herbert “Magic” Williams, who served in the same Navy SEALs platoon as Sam’s older brother, Tom.

This will actually be addressed by Williams in the fourth episode of the revamp. “[Magic] does explain, from his point-of-view, that leap,” showrunner and executive producer Martin Gero (Blindspot) teased during a recent interview with TVLine. “Ernie [Hudson] gives this phenomenal monologue. It’s so beautiful. It might be my favorite scene of this first chunk [of episodes]. It’s really, really special.” He also went on to tease an adventure in the Old West — circa the 1870s — come Episode 5. “We’re telling some stories that have not been told about the West, and that is very exciting for us.”

(16) HOLMES ON THE RANGE. “Millie Bobby Brown’s Detective Service Is Open for Business in ‘Enola Holmes 2’ Trailer”. Yahoo! cues up the film —

…Poor Enola is still facing down misogynist creeps in this new trailer. After opening her very own detective agency, people are still uncertain of her crime-solving abilities. Cut the girl some slack! Hasn’t she gone through enough? Still, folks beg to be assigned to her older brother Sherlock (Henry Cavill), reliant on his wits instead of hers.

“While I have not a single case, Sherlock’s latest seems to be vexing him,” Enola tells us. Cut to Sherlock playing a sad violin, panicking over his inability to crack the case.

Not only does Enola have a sad big bro to fix, she does have a big case to prove herself as a professional sleuth….

(17) REVISIT AN EIGHTIES OPEN FILK SESSION. Fanac.org has posted video from when Julia Ecklar was the special filk guest at Tropicon 8, held in Dania, Florida, in 1989. This recording captures the second part of an open filk at the convention, and includes 11 songs (of which Julia sings seven). 

The singers in order of appearance are: Julia Ecklar, Linda Melnick, Dina Pearlman, C.J. Cherryh, Francine Mullen, and Doug Wu.

This includes much of the conversation between songs, the laughter and the real feel of a 1980s convention filk session. 

One lovely addition is that Linda Melnick signs on one of the songs, as well as sings. 

Another bonus – this video includes several songs by Orion’s Belt, which consisted of Dina Pearlman, Francine Mullen and Doug Wu. 

Tropicon was a small convention, and you will see some of the author guests in the filk. That’s Tropicon 8 GoH Lynn Abbey sitting next to C.J. Cherryh for example, and Joe Green sitting back against the wall…

Thanks to Eli Goldberg for sound editing on this recording and for the details in the song listing. 

(18) WORRIES. Some say this is feminist sf in the vein of The Stepford Wives“Don’t Worry Darling”.

Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles) are lucky to be living in the idealized community of Victory, the experimental company town housing the men who work for the top-secret Victory Project and their families. The 1950’s societal optimism espoused by their CEO, Frank (Pine)—equal parts corporate visionary and motivational life coach—anchors every aspect of daily life in the tight-knit desert utopia. While the husbands spend every day inside the Victory Project Headquarters, working on the “development of progressive materials,” their wives—including Frank’s elegant partner, Shelley (Chan)—get to spend their time enjoying the beauty, luxury and debauchery of their community. Life is perfect, with every resident’s needs met by the company. All they ask in return is discretion and unquestioning commitment to the Victory cause. But when cracks in their idyllic life begin to appear, exposing flashes of something much more sinister lurking beneath the attractive façade, Alice can’t help questioning exactly what they’re doing in Victory, and why. Just how much is Alice willing to lose to expose what’s really going on in this paradise? An audacious, twisted and visually stunning psychological thriller, “Don’t Worry Darling” is a powerhouse feature from director Olivia Wilde that boasts intoxicating performances from Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, surrounded by the impressive and pitch-perfect cast.

(19) GLASS ONION NEWS. Rian Johnson introduces a clip from his sequel to Knives Out – “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery — Exclusive Clip”.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Nope,” the Screen Junkies, in a spoiler-packed episode, says that Jordan Peele is one of the few directors trying to preserve cinema “in a world dominated by corporate IP.”  Daniel Kaluuya is “the oldest young man ever” and Nope is “an old-fashioned Black cowboy movie.”  But while Peele is geeky enough he has an Akira reference as an Easter egg, much of the film shows “we’re so emotionally stunted that we can only process trauma through old SNL references.”

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

Pixel Scroll 8/25/22 Eats, Scrolls And Athelas

(1) RHYSLING REVAMP SURVEY REPORT. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) surveyed members about potential changes to their Rhysling Award. See their feedback here: “Rhysling Revamp” at the SPECPO blog. From the introduction:

The Rhysling Awards are in their 45th year of recognizing excellent speculative poetry, presented by The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA). Leaders have been monitoring the Rhysling Anthology as it grew along with membership numbers. The anthology has ballooned from 42 poems in 2002 to 180 poems in 2022. Continued growth would result in an anthology that is not feasible to print or read.

Here’s an excerpt from the survey results.

CATEGORIES

A continual discussion point among members is the question of “double dipping” on awards. Most respondents support that Elgin-length poems not be considered for the Rhysling (64%). A slight majority agree at setting a maximum line length for the Rhysling (53%), which would be consistent with considering extra-long poems being only eligible for the Elgins. On the other side of the spectrum, there is generally support (49%) for Dwarf Stars to be the only award that can catch the 1-10 line poems. Only 25% of respondents disagreed about keeping Dwarf-Stars-eligible poems out of the Rhyslings.

There was very little support for adjusting the length definitions, but lots of ambivalence showing in the swell of neutral responses (44%).

(2) CHICON 8 POCKET PROGRAM. In a manner of speaking. The 392-page Pocket Program is now available on the Chicon 8 website. There are two versions, (1) a single page version best viewed on phones and tablets, and (2) a two-page version which is best for printing.

(3) ALERT: FAUX CHICON 8 MERCHANDISE. The Worldcon committee issued a heads up that some t-shirt sites are selling Chicon 8 branded merchandise and saying they are official. They are not.

“Our only official site for Chicon 8 merchandise at this time is Redbubble. If you buy from anywhere else, it does not benefit the convention. Please shop wisely!”

(4) THE OTHER WORLD. This World Fantasy Award winner’s new book isn’t genre, but when speaking about her research she says things like this — “So I went on this fantastic two-week trip into a time and place that doesn’t really exist now.” “Sofia Samatar Brings a Second Coming” at Publishers Weekly.

Sofia Samatar has a way with a sentence. No matter what she’s writing—whether it’s short stories, like her quietly devastating Nebula- and Hugo-nominated “Selkie Stories Are for Losers,” or novels, like her World Fantasy Award–winning debut, A Stranger in Olondria—her work has a way of pairing the mundane and sublime with casual aplomb.

Her latest, The White Mosque (Catapult, Oct.), is a mosaic memoir that juxtaposes history, culture, religion and regionalism, tracing the journey of a group of German-speaking Mennonites into the heart of Khiva in Central Asia—now modern-day Uzbekistan—on a quest that promised no less than the second coming of Christ.

Samatar’s own journey to the site where the group’s church once stood started in 2016, when her father-in-law gave her a book titled The Great Trek of the Russian Mennonites, by Frank Belk. “This guy, who’s sort of a cult leader, predicts Christ is returning, and these people just uproot their lives to follow him,” she says, speaking via Zoom from her office at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., where she’s an associate professor of English. “Of course, nothing happens. But they stayed for 50 years, until they were deported by the Bolsheviks.”

Samatar, the child of a Black Somali Muslim and a white Mennonite, became obsessed with the story…. 

(5) CON OR BUST. Dream Foundry, which previously announced that Con or Bust is “folding into our (dragon) wing,” shared the program’s new logo designed by Dream Foundry contest winner Yue Feng.

Applications for grants are open, and they’ve already begun reviewing and issuing grants. If you want to help creatives and fans of color have access to conventions and other opportunities, donate here. To stay in the loop on Con or Bust news, sign up for the program’s quarterly newsletter.     

(6) BACK TO THE MOON. This NASA promo about the Artemis mission dropped yesterday. “Artemis I: We Are Ready”.

The journey of half a million miles – the first flight of the Artemis Generation – is about to begin. The uncrewed Artemis I mission will jump-start humanity’s return to the Moon with the thunderous liftoff of NASA’s powerful new Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. This critical flight test will send Orion farther than any human-rated spacecraft has ever flown, putting new systems and processes to the test and lighting the way for the crew missions to come. Artemis I is ready for departure – and, together with our partners around the world, we are ready to return to the Moon, with our sights on Mars and beyond.

(7) WHERE’S THE LOOT? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber looks at the problems game designers have giving users rewards.

Most games interface short, mid- and long-term rewards that trigger at different times.  the short-term rewards often take the form of sensory feedback; the bright ‘ding’ when you get a coin in Super Mario, an enemy’s head exploding in a shower of gore in Grand Theft Auto.  These get boring after a while–behavioural psychologists learned that repeating the same rewards generates diminishing returns.  So developers offer midterm rewards:  new levels, items, skills, characters, locations or narrative beats.  The longterm rewards are often related to social competition and prestige, such as difficult high-level team challenges or rare cosmetic items which players can show off to their friends.

Loot boxes lean into several of these techniques.  They have been employed in all manner of games ranging from FIFA to Star Wars, and they’re very profitable.  Yet they have also faced a backlash:  a recent report from consumer bodies in 18 European countries called them ‘exploitative.’  Although they have been banned in Belgium since 2018, most governments have been wary of legislation–the UK recently decided not to ban loot boxes after a 22-month consultation.  Still, some developers have heard gamers are unhappy–loot boxes were removed from Star Wars Battlefront 2 after an outcry and Blizzard recently announced they won’t feature in upcoming shooter Overwatch  2.”

(8) AGAINST ALL ODDS. The New York Times drills deep into one writer’s experience in “How to Get Published: A Book’s Journey From ‘Very Messy’ Draft to Best Seller”. The author’s novel The School for Good Mothers is set in the near future.

…“I’d like people to know that it’s possible for a debut author in her 40s, a woman of color, a mom, who led a quiet life offline with no brand building whatsoever to have this experience,” said Jessamine Chan.

And yet Chan’s “The School for Good Mothers” was published in January 2022 — and soared to the best-seller list, catapulting her to literary stardom. Last month, former President Barack Obama featured it on his summer reading list.

How does a debut novel go from a “very messy” draft on a writer’s desk to a published book, on display in bookstores around the country?

Here, we take you behind the scenes to see how a book is born — the winding path it takes, the many hands that touch it, the near-misses and the lucky breaks that help determine its fate.

(9) WHEATON SIGNING SCHEDULED. “Wil Wheaton presents and signs Still Just a Geek: An Annotated Memoir at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA on August 31 at 7:00 p.m.

From starring in Stand by Me to playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation to playing himself, in his second (third?) iconic role of Evil Wil Wheaton in The Big Bang Theory, to becoming a social media supernova, Wil Wheaton has charted a career course unlike anyone else, and has emerged as one of the most popular and well respected names in science fiction, fantasy and pop culture.

Back in 2001, Wil began blogging on wilwheaton.net. Believing himself to have fallen victim to the curse of the child actor, Wil felt relegated to the convention circuit, and didn’t expect many would want to read about his random experiences and personal philosophies.

Yet, much to his surprise, people were reading. He still blogs, and now has an enormous following on social media with well over 3 million followers.

In Still Just a Geek, Wil revisits his 2004 collection of blog posts, Just a Geek, filled with insightful and often laugh-out-loud annotated comments, additional later writings, and all new material written for this publication. The result is an incredibly raw and honest memoir, in which Wil opens up about his life, about falling in love, about coming to grips with his past work, choices, and family, and finding fulfillment in the new phases of his career. From his times on the Enterprise to his struggles with depression to his starting a family and finding his passion–writing–Wil Wheaton is someone whose life is both a cautionary tale and a story of finding one’s true purpose that should resonate with fans and aspiring artists alike. (William Morrow & Company)

(10) VIKING FUNERAL FOR BATGIRL? The Guardian hears “‘Secret’ screenings of cancelled Batgirl movie being held by studio – reports”.

The Hollywood Reporter confirmed with multiple sources that a select few who worked on the film, including cast, crew and studio executives, would be attending the screenings this week on the Warner Bros lot in California. One source described them as “funeral screenings”, as it is likely the footage will be stored forever and never shown to the public.

…The Hollywood Reporter reported there was a chance Warner Bros would make “the drastic move of actually destroying its Batgirl footage as a way to demonstrate to the IRS that there will never be any revenue from the project, and thus it should be entitled to the full write-down immediately.”

On Tuesday, in an interview with French outlet Skript, Batgirl directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah said they no longer had any copy of the film, recalling the moment they found they could not longer access the servers that held the footage.

…El Arbi said it was unlikely they’d have the studio’s support to release it in the future or that there could be an equivalent of “the Snyder cut” – Zack Snyder’s four-hour director’s cut of the DC film Justice League, which added an extra $70m to a $300m budget film.

“It cannot be released in its current state,” said El Arbi. “There’s no VFX … we still had some scenes to shoot. So if one day they want us to release the Batgirl movie, they’d have to give us the means to do it. To finish it properly with our vision.”

(11) TRANSFORMATIVE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. Seekingferret posted a “Panel Report” from Fanworks where the topic was “Ethical Norms in Fanworks Fandom”.

… I presented three models for fandom’s approach to copyright- the It’s All Transformative model, the It’s Illegal but I Do It Anyway model, and the It’s Not Illegal Because the Copyright Holders’ Inaction is an Implicit License model, and then the audience argued with me for a while about whether the second two models are essentially the same, which was a good, clarifying argument to have….

Also of interest is the panel’s accompanying slideshow.

(12) WARNING. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Since, fan-wise, many cons use Discord… “Roblox and Discord Become Virus Vectors for New PyPI Malware” at The New Stack.

If you can communicate on it, you can abuse it. This was proven again recently when a hacker using the name “scarycoder” uploaded a dozen malicious Python packages to PyPI, the popular Python code repository. These bits of code pretended to provide useful functions for Roblox gaming community developers, but all they really did was steal users’ information. So far, so typical. Where it got interesting is it used the Discord messaging app to download malicious executable files.

(13) BOOK PORN. [Item by Bill.] Whenever I see a photograph on the web that has a bookshelf in the background, I spend way too much time trying to figure out what the books are.  For example: 

Blogger Lawrence Person has posted photos of his SF book shelves, and there are a lot of titles I’d love to have in my own collection.  A few years old, but perhaps worth a look ….  “Overview of Lawrence Person’s Library: 2017 Edition”. He provides regular updates to the collection (see the “books” tag).  

(14) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1989 [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-three years ago, the first installment of the Bill & Ted franchise, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure premiered.

Starring William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan, portrayed by Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as, and not giving a frell about spoilers here, time travelling slacker high schoolers assembling the ultimate history report. And let’s not forget Rufus as portrayed by George Carlin. I met him some forty years ago — a really neat gentleman. 

Stephen Herek directed here. He had previously written and directed the horror/SF Critters film. Nasty film it was. Chris Matheson who wrote all three of the franchise films co-wrote this with Ed Solomon who co-wrote the third with him and, more importantly, was the Men in Black writer.

By late Eighties standards, it was cheap to produce costing only ten million and making forty in return. Critics for the most part were hostile —- the Washington Post said “if Stephen Herek has any talent for comedy, it’s not visible here.” And the Los Angeles Times added, “it’s unabashed glorification of dumbness for dumbness’ sake.” 

It spawned not one but two television series named – oh, guess what they were named. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, an animated series that started out on CBS and ended on Fox, lasted twenty-one episodes over two seasons, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the live version, lasted but seven episodes on Fox. Evan Richards and Christopher Kennedy played Bill and Ted.

DC did the comic for the first film, Marvel for the second. It did well enough that it led to the Marvel series Bill & Ted’s Excellent Comic Book which lasted for just twelve issues. And there was a sort of adaptation of the animated series that lasted for a year by Britain’s now gone Look-In Magazine.

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most bodacious seventy-five percent rating.

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 25, 1909 Michael Rennie. Definitely best remembered as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He would show up a few years later on one of The Lost World films as Lord John Roxton, and he’s got an extensive genre series resume which counts Lost in Space as The Keeper in two episodes, The Batman as The Sandman, The Time TunnelThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Invaders. (Died 1972.)
  • Born August 25, 1913 Walt Kelly. If you can get them, Fantagraphics has released the complete Pogo in twelve stunning hardcover editions covering up to 1973. Did you know Kelly began his career as animator at Walt Disney Studios, working on DumboPinocchio and Fantasia? Well he did. (Died 1973.)
  • Born August 25, 1930 Sean Connery. Worst film? Zardoz. Best film? From Russia with Love very, very definitely. Best SF film? Outland. Or Time Bandits you want to go for silly. Now remember these are my personal choices. I almost guarantee that you will have different ones. (Died 2020.)
  • Born August 25, 1940 Marilyn Niven, 82. She was a Boston-area fan who now lives in LA and is married to writer Larry Niven. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons.  In college, she was a member of the MITSFS and was one of the founding members of NESFA. She’s also a member of Almack’s Society for Heyer Criticism.
  • Born August 25, 1947 Michael Kaluta, 75. He’s best known for his 1970s take on The Shadow with writer Dennis O’Neil for DC in 1973–1974. He’d reprise his work on The Shadow for Dark Horse a generation later. And Kaluta and O’Neil reunited on The Shadow: 1941 – Hitler’s Astrologer graphic novel published in 1988. If you can find them, the M. W. Kaluta: Sketchbook Series are well worth having.
  • Born August 25, 1955 Simon R. Green, 67. I’ll confess that I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written except that damn Robin Hood novel that made a NYT Best Seller. Favorite series? The NightsideHawk & Fisher and Secret History were my favorite ones until the Ismael Jones series came along and I must say it’s a hell of a lot of fun as well.  Drinking Midnight Wine and Shadows Fall are the novels I’ve re-read the most. 
  • Born August 25, 1958 Tim Burton, 64. Beetlejuice is by far my favorite film by him. His Batman was, errr, interesting. Read that comment as you will. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is definitely more Dahlish than the first take was which I think is a far better look at the source material, and Sleepy Hollow is just too damn weird for my pedestrian tastes. (Snarf.)
  • Born August 25, 1970 Chris Roberson, 52. Brilliant writer. I strongly recommend his Recondito series, Firewalk and Firewalkers. The Spencer Finch series is also worth reading. He won two Sidewise Awards, first for his “O One” story and later for The Dragon’s Nine Sons novel. He’s had five Sidewise nominations. 

(16) COMICS SECTION.

(17) HORROR WRITERS HAVE OPINIONS. Midnight Pals did a sendup of John Scalzi and his purchase of a church building. And his burritos. Can’t overlook those. Thread starts here.

(18) SPACE OPERA. “Friday’s Rag Tag Crew: Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky”, a review by Camestros Felapton.

… I found myself in the mood for a big space opera the other day and with the novel also being a Dragon Award finalist, it seemed like a natural choice. I wasn’t wrong in my initial assessment. It is in many ways a more conventional space opera than the books I’d read. Humanity is a spacefaring species with its own factions, in a galactic society with a range of aliens. There’s hyperspace (or rather “unspace”), a cosmic threat, mysteriously vanished advanced civilisations, space spies, space gangsters, badass warriors and epic space battles. This is all good but if you are hoping for the millennia-long deep dive into the evolution of a sapient spider civilisation this book doesn’t have anything like that. Which is fine because that gives Tchaikovsky more space and time to attend to a cast of characters….

(19) A CITY ON A HILL. Paul Weimer reviews Stephen Fry’s Troy at Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [book]: Troy, by Stephen Fry”. There may be surprises in store for some readers – at least there were for Paul.

…In any event, Fry is here to help you. He starts at the beginning, as to how Troy was founded, and why, and brings its history up to date as it were. The delight in the depth of research and scholarship he brings is tha there is a fair chunk here I didn’t know about. Fun fact, the Trojan War is not the first time that Troy gets attacked in its mythological history, and you will never guess who did it before the Greeks got it into their heads to take back Helen, nor why…. 

(20) GOING PUBLIC. “Tom Lehrer: The Public Domain Tango”, a Plagiarism Today post from 2020.

…However, it seems likely that Lehrer may be set for yet another major revival as news spread yesterday that Lehrer, now 92, had released his lyrics and much of his music into the public domain. This has already sparked a great deal of interest in possible covers and recreations of his most famous songs.

Note: It’s worth stating that the declaration deals with his compositions and his lyrics, not the recordings. Those are most likely not owned by Lehrer.

However, the statement isn’t wholly true. Tom Lehrer didn’t actually release his songs into the public domain. While it may be pedantry given that there is no practical difference, the lengths Lehrer had to go to release what he did in the way that he did only further highlights Lehrer’s genius and is well worth exploring.

If this is truly to be Lehrer’s final musical act, it makes sense to see it for both the effort it took and the intellect required to conceive of it….

(21) AI GIVES ASSIST TO MUSIC VIDEO. [Item by Dann.] Someone recently made a video using the lyrics to “Renegade” by Styx.  The lyrics were fed, line by line, into AI art software to create the images used in the video.

While the lyrics aren’t explicitly genre centered, the AI created several images that evoked sci-fi/fantasy themes.  The rhetorical progeny of Edgar Allen Poe shows up a few times as well. “Renegade – Styx – But the lyrics are Ai generated images”.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part I Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says the producer in the seventh Harry Potter film mourns when several beloved minor characters die.  He is bored by the very long camping scenes (where the characters camp and camp and camp some more” but gets excited when Harry Potter gets to duke it out with Voldemort only to discover that this is the end of Part I and we have to wait for Part II.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/17/22 Tell Me Of Your Homescroll, Pixel

(1) SECRETS OF PKD’S SUCCESS. David Samuels bids you “Welcome to Philip K. Dick’s dystopia” at UnHerd.

…What made Dick a literary genius, then, was not any special talent for predicting hand-held personal devices or atom bombs the size of a shoe which might have led him to a job in Apple’s marketing department. His gift was for what might be called predictive psychology — how the altered worlds he imagined, whether futuristic or merely divergent from existing historical continuums, would feel to the people who inhabited them. Dick’s answer was, very often: “Not good.”

Dick’s dystopian-psychological approach marks him less as a conventional science fiction writer than as a member of the California anti-utopian school of the Sixties, whose best-known members include Robert Stone, Thomas Pynchon, Ken Kesey, Joan Didion and Hunter Thompson. Seen from this angle, Dick was perhaps the most powerfully and sweepingly paranoid of a group of writers whose stock-in-trade was conspiracy and paranoia, the hallmarks of a society marked — at that moment, and this one — by violent street crime, drug-induced psychosis, and visionary promises gone terribly wrong. Of his anti-utopian peers, Dick’s sci-fi genre background made him the only one who had any particular feel for the proposition that technology was inseparable from, and would therefore inevitably alter, our idea of the human….

(2) BUILDING WITH WORDS. “Author R.F. Kuang Talks Magic and What’s Lost in Translation” in a Goodreads interview.

…GR: The magic system is always a critical part of world-building in fantasy, and I thought yours was so fascinating—magic that is powered by the tension and friction in the act of translating from one language to the other.

RFK: There are a lot of fantasy novels that deal with the power of words and language and naming. I think Ursula Le Guin has done this a lot. I know Samantha Shannon is very interested in etymology and wordplay in her novels as well. I think my innovation is coming at it from the translation angle instead.
 
There were two things I wanted to convey about translation that were at the forefront of my mind. First, it was very important to me that the magic system felt like a real historical facet of the world. I wanted the characters to talk about it and use it the way that they would have used any number of Victorian implements.
 
The second thing is that translation can function as a metaphor for difference. It’s my way of talking about difference at large. Translation is just trying to make yourself understood by other people. We’re all translating ourselves to the world. Even if we’re not bilingual, we’re all trying to put our thoughts and feelings and experiences into words, and hoping that somebody else gets it.
 
And there are so many things that can interfere with that—obviously racism, colonialism, malicious intent. So in that sense, translation becomes a way to talk about prejudice and the avarice of the British Empire in the 1830s. But even unintentionally, there are all these things that cause us to refuse to listen to each other. It’s just the intersection of how different people engage with one another….

(3) VIDEO GAME UPDATE PROVIDES RELIEF. In the Washington Post, Gene Park looks at how playing Cyberpunk 2077 has provided comfort for him as he battles his cancer. “As a cancer patient, ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ frees me from my mental prison”.

I was diagnosed with cancer in early June. For some reason, since then, I haven’t been able to stop playing CD Projekt Red’s “Cyberpunk 2077,” a story about how you must navigate or defy terminal illness.

The terminal illness facing V, the game’s protagonist, is the all-but-certain erasure of their soul. Their personality, memories and cognitive functions are being overwritten by an artificial intelligence, Johnny Silverhand, a rocker and branded terrorist brought to virtual life by Keanu Reeves. They can only deny or accept their fate; either grasp at some way to sever their connection as Silverhand takes over, or leave this world on their own terms.

…It wasn’t always this easy to be carefree in Night City. The game’s infamous release in December 2020 redefined the term “cyberpunk” to mean “unfinished, buggy and unplayable video game.” As I wrote in my final review of the game in 2021, “Cyberpunk 2077” used to barrage the player with phone calls and notifications about new activities, with the resulting information overload destroying any sense of spatial immersion, and strangling the pace of the game’s otherwise compelling narrative arc.

This older, more unpleasant version of “Cyberpunk 2077” reminds me of my current situation. My phone is constantly buzzing with concerned texts and phone calls from friends, family, ex-girlfriends, former co-workers and long lost acquaintances. Everyone talks about the myriad challenges of cancer, but one of the least discussed is the emotional burden placed on the patient as they navigate, soothe and buckle under the overwhelming grief projected by their loved ones. I value and often need the support and concern from my family and friends, but there’s the lingering sense that none of this would need to be said if not for my cancer. Words meant to soothe me often just remind me that I’m fighting for my life.

Five months ago, developer CD Projekt Red released its 1.5 update, which brought along a host of stabilization fixes, new features, and most importantly to me, the ability to ignore those carping in-game texts and phone calls….

(4) HWA CONDEMNS ATTACK ON RUSHDIE. The Horror Writers Association Board of Trustees issued a “Statement on Salman Rushdie attack”.

The Horror Writers Association is outraged and saddened by the reprehensible attack on author Salman Rushdie. The assault on Mr. Rushdie is an assault on all writers. The HWA strongly condemns the attack and supports writers’ freedom of expression without fear of reprisal or violence. We look forward to his speedy recovery and his continued work as a voice for freedom.

(5) AS DOES GRRM. George R.R. Martin discusses the attack and the underlying issues in “Let His Voice Be Heard” at Not a Blog.

…Along with the rest of the world, I read of the turmoil around THE SATANIC VERSES and the fatwa declared against him by the ayatollahs of Iran.     For the “crime” of writing a book that some people did not like, he was forced to spend a decade in hiding, surrounded by guards, wearing disguises when he dared leave his house.  Through it all, he displayed courage, compassion, and grace under fire, while holding firm to his principles and yielding not an inch to the haters.    In more recent years, the danger finally seemed to have ebbed, and Rushdie was once again able to speak and travel and appear in public.

He emerged as one of the world’s leading defenders of free speech, which only deepened my admiration for him.   Freedom of speech is a central pillar of our democracy, and every other democracy in the world.   There is nothing, but nothing, that I believe in more strongly.

And these days freedom of speech needs defenders, for when I look around, I find it under attack everywhere.   Blacklisting, cancel culture, libraries being closed or defunded, classic works of literature being banned or bowdlerized or removed from classrooms,  an ever growing list of “toxic” words the mere utterance of which is now forbidden no matter the context or intent, the erosion of civility in discourse.   Both the Rabid Right and the Woke Left seem more intent on silencing those whose views they disagree with, rather than besting them in debate.    And the consequences for those who dare to say things deemed offensive have been growing ever more dire; jobs lost, careers ended, books cancelled, “deplatforming.”

And now, it seems, attempted murder….

(6) SPACE COWBOY BOOKS PRESENTS. Swarms of nanobots! A pregnant male Supreme Court Justice! The stories featured in this episode of the Simultaneous Times podcast are:

“Reaction Shot” – by Todd Sullivan – https://www.samjokomagazine.com/
Music by Phog Masheeen – https://phogmasheeen.com/
Read by Jean-Paul Garnier

“The Two-Faced Miracle of Justice Father Win” – by Susan Rukeyser http://susanrukeyser.com/
Music by RedBlueBlackSilver – https://redblueblacksilver.bandcamp.com/
Read by the Author & Jean-Paul Garnier

(7) RIDE ‘EM. Ursula Vernon has been crowdsourcing some research about saddles. I never realized how much there is to know about the topic. Thread starts here.

(8) THE URGE TO MERGE. Amanda S. Green makes the trial a little more entertaining in “DOJ vs Randy Penguin Soap Opera Continues” at Mad Genius Club.

It’s going to be a while before we hear the final verdict–and probable appeals–in the tale of Penguin Random House’s desire to “merge” with Simon & Schuster. What we’re getting in the meantime is a ringside seat to the lengths those folks at Randy Penguin and their hand-picked editors and agents (yes, agents) will go to make traditional publishing even smaller. Frankly, there’s not enough popcorn to get through the trial and I know my IQ drops every time I read some of the so-called justifications for the merger.

One of Randy Penguin’s so-called justifications for the merger centers on Amazon and on self-publishing. Now, the Amazon part shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us. After all, Amazon is the big evil in the minds of so many in traditional publishing, even though much of publishing’s problems can and should be laid directly at the feet of the publishing houses. As for self-publishing, Randy Penguin doesn’t like the fact authors like Brandon Sanderson–who still traditionally publishes–can go to Kickstarter and finance the publication of books that for whatever reason didn’t go to the publisher.

Boo-freaking–hoo….

(9) AUTHOR GROUP SUPPORTS MENTAL HEALTH. The Horror Writers Association recently launched the HWA Mental Health Initiative, “a coordinated roll-out of events, resources, and activities intended to promote positive mental health, foster the concept of hope, and challenge the stigma of mental illness in the horror genre.” The initiative, run by the organization’s Wellness Committee, debuted in June 2022 and will form part of an ongoing program.

…Activities planned for 2022 include establishing a dedicated webpage for resources on the HWA website, publication of Of Horror and Hope, a downloadable anthology of poems, flash fiction, and personal reflections on mental health by HWA members, “Holistic Horrors” a monthly column in the organization’s newsletter, several panel sessions, as well as articles and blogs published in the wider genre community.

“The HWA should be commended for being bold in its approach to tackling the stigma of mental illness in the genre,” says Wellness Committee Co-chair, Dave Jeffery, who spent 35 years as a mental healthcare professional in the UK’s National Health Service. “To my mind, it is the first time such an initiative, with a specific focus on hope and recovery, has been developed for the horror community, and there are currently discussions as to how the Wellness Committee can develop further resources over the coming years.”

Jeffery’s co-chair, New Zealander Lee Murray, agrees: “Our intent is to promote positive images of mental health in horror and to create an environment of understanding and compassion. For me, as a sufferer of anxiety and depression, inclusion is extremely important—that notion of lifting something up to the light, so we realize that many of us experience the same things and that we’re not alone.”…

(10) THE DISADVANTAGE OF BEING EARNEST. Namwali Serpell has a critical review of Mohsin Hamid’s The Last White Man in the September Atlantic: “A World Without White People”.

…Even if you’re unfamiliar with this tradition of stories about race transformation, you’ll suspect what’s coming. Distinguishing between those born dark and the newly transformed will become fraught. Violence will erupt. Some will come to believe that a genocidal conspiracy is to blame; some will kill themselves; some will kill others. “Militants” will take over, emitting fear and hate like a musk. Love will blossom. Heightened scenes of interracial sex and awkward perusals of genitals will follow. In the end, skin color will be shown to be meaningless for identity, a mere construct. Yet it will prove almost atavistically fascinating as an aesthetic surface and a conductor of feeling.

Tone above all distinguishes Hamid from these precursors. Whereas most of these writers bend race transformation toward satire, offering us topsy-turvy and hysterical tales, Hamid is deeply earnest about his conceit. The novel is that wan 21st-century banality, a “meditation,” and it meditates on how losing whiteness is going to make white people feel. Mostly sad, as it turns out….

…If Hamid’s novel were a self-aware satire of this ideology of whiteness and its violent effects, it would be pitch-perfect. But The Last White Man’s structure affords us no way to know if this is what Hamid intends: It includes no higher judgment, no specific history, no novelistic frame against which to measure the reliability of the narration, no backdrop across which irony can dance….

(11) MEMORY LANE.  

2006 [By Cat Eldridge.] Almost everyone I know who is a Hellboy fan thinks that there are but two films, Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Well there’s actually four, (well five if you could count the bonus animated short in the Hellboy: Blood and Iron DVD), as there were two most excellent animated films, Sword of Storms (2006) and Blood and Iron (2007).

Ron Perlman reprises his role here. Selma Blair and John Hurt also reprise their roles here. Doug Jones did not provide the voice of Abe for the first film which was done by an uncredited David Hyde Pierce who was psychiatrist Dr. Niles Crane on Frasier. Jones returned for the second film. The only meaningful new character is Kate Corrigan who is voiced by Peri Gilpin.

The first film, Hellboy: Sword of Storms, has them in Japan on a mission to face down demons who want a sword that will free them and allow them to destroy the world. Meanwhile Hellboy has ended up in another dimension with a fox as his guide. (It’s a great character.) Both stories are very well done, and I’ll say nought else about them. (Both are available on iTunes for a mere ten bucks.)  Eventually the stories will merge into a single story.  Of the two films, this is my favorite by far.

The second, Hellboy: Blood and Iron concerns Professor Trevor Bruttenholm’s experience with a vampiress in the Balkans 1934 and the present day in upstate New York as a movie mogul has recreated her estate in the Balkans by purchasing the ghoulish artefacts from there. Hellboy also faces off against Hecate and Her Sisters. The story, and again I’ll not say much about it in case someone haven’t seen it, struck me as much weaker as a script than the first. It just felt flat. 

The critics like it both films. Common Sense Media said of the first that “Dark, fun ghost story for older kids and adults” and the second got this comment from DVD Clinic: “Fans of the Hellboy property, particularly younger ones, should find enough to enjoy here.” 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes gave the first a fifty-six percent rating and gave the second a sixty-eight percent rating. 

Oh, as for the short, I think five or so minutes animated film called “Iron Shoes” set in Ireland where Hellboy chased a demon immune to iron. It’s quite cute actually. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 17, 1917 Oliver Crawford. Screenwriter who overcame the Hollywood blacklist during the McCarthy Era of the 1950s. He wrote three scripts for Trek, “The Cloud Minders”, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” and “The Galileo Seven”.  He also wrote for The Outer Limits (“The Special One”), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (“The Lost Bomb”) and The Wild Wild West (“The Night of the Cossacks” and “The Night of Sudden Death”). (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 17, 1930 Harve Bennett. The individual who gave us Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Really he did. He would then serve as producer on the next three Trek films, The Search for SpockThe Voyage Home and The Final Frontier. In the latter he made his only on-screen appearance in the series, as Starfleet Chief of Staff. No, that’s not everything Harve Bennett. He produced or wrote (or both) for TV’s The Invisible Man, Gemini Man, The Bionic Woman, The Powers of Matthew Star, Time Trax, Salvage 1, and Invasion America.  (Died 2015.)
  • Born August 17, 1945 Rachel Pollack, 77. She’s well known for her run of issues 64–87 (mid-nineties) on DC’s Doom Patrol which took it to its cancellation. She also had a run on the New Gods, the Jack Kirby created mythos. Two of her novels won major Awards — Unquenchable Fire won the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Godmother Night won the World Fantasy Award. 
  • Born August 17, 1956 John Romita Jr., 66. If you’ve read Spider-Man since the Sixties, it’s very likely that you’ve seen his artwork as he had six stints on it between 1980 and 2009. He worked on a number of other titles on Marvel and DC including SupermanGhost Rider, HulkAll-Star Batman, Eternals, Captain America and Daredevil to name but a few he illustrated. He also worked with Mark Miller at Image Comics on Kick-Ass, and did the one-shot Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights
  • Born August 17, 1962 Laura Resnick, 60. Daughter of Mike Resnick. She is a winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in Science Fiction. She’s written an amazing of amount of short fiction — I think it is over seventy pieces. She’s the author of the Esther Diamond series, and I’ve not read her Manhattan Magic series so I’m interested to know what y’all think of it. She’s readily available on the usual suspects. 
  • Born August 17, 1966 Neil Clarke, 56. Editor in Chief of Clarkesworld Magazine which won a impressive number of Best Semiprozine Hugos and a World Fantasy Award before crossing the threshold to become a prozine. He’s a nine-time Best Editor – Short Form nominee. SFWA also gave him a Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. He edits The Best Science Fiction of the Year series for Night Shade Books.  
  • Born August 17, 1973 Rae Carson, 49. She’s done ten novels including one in the Star Wars universe. (I’m tempted to say who hasn’t?) Quite impressively, her debut novel, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Award and the Andre Norton Award. And she is married to Charles Coleman Finlay.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater posits a bit of Transformers sibling rivalry. But Rich Horton comments, “I will say, Amazon Prime may not have saved the world, but he gives us The Boys and Westworld in addition to free shipping, so that’s something!”

(14) FOUND AND FOUND. “The Oakland Public Library Puts Online a Collection of Items Forgotten in Library Books: Love Notes, Doodles & More”Open Culture shares the links to this collection and others.

Sharon McKellar, the Teen Services Department Head at the Oakland Public Library, collects ephemera she and other staffers find in books returned to the OPL’s 18 locations.

It’s an impulse many share. 

Eventually, she began scanning them to share on her employer’s website, inspired by Found Magazine, a crowdsourced collection of found letters, birthday cards, kids’ homework, to-do lists, handwritten poems, doodles, dirty pictures, etc….

(15) YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. VentureBeat claims to show “How being a science fiction fan can get you a job at a metaverse company”  in its interview with Jamil Moledina. But guess what? It doesn’t! 

GamesBeat: The title of this interview can be “How being a science fiction fan can get you a job at a metaverse company.”

Moledina: It very well could be. To me that’s the framing that I simply can’t shy away from. I suppose that if I were more of a suit and tie guy, I’d come up with another way to frame it. But for me, this is it. This is stepping into the next frontier. This is the next opportunity in front of us. Not only is it an opportunity for the platform itself, but it’s an opportunity for anyone that loves entertainment, that loves commerce.

There are so many incredible ways to open up to participate. A lot of the ways that we interact with each other in the real world are increasingly challenging, especially in wave after wave of pandemics. And yet if you set that aside, there are so many new ways that people can come together in a virtual world that are really impractical from a real-world standpoint. A big part of Neal’s vision is altruism. How do we provide ways for human beings to come together to improve the world? With Neal and Peter, both of them have this interest in making sure that the application of blockchain to the metaverse is one that results in real impact, real value, and a net improvement on what came before.

(16) TRUE CONFESSION. It’s not always easy to apply the wisdom gained from experience, as Jim C. Hines observes in this example.

(17) ARCHERY. Ross MacDonald explains his theory about “The Writer As Detective Hero” in a 1965 reprint at The Stacks Reader.

A producer who last year was toying with the idea of making a television series featuring my private detective Lew Archer asked me over lunch at Perino’s if Archer was based on any actual person. “Yes,” I said. “Myself.” He gave me a semi-pitying Hollywood look. I tried to explain that while I had known some excellent detectives and watched them work, Archer was created from the inside out. I wasn’t Archer, exactly, but Archer was me.

The conversation went downhill from there, as if I had made a damaging admission. But I believe most detective-story writers would give the same answer. A close paternal or fraternal relationship between writer and detective is a marked peculiarity of the form. Throughout its history, from Poe to Chandler and beyond, the detective hero has represented his creator and carried his values into action in society.

Poe, who invented the modern detective story, and his detective Dupin, are good examples. Poe’s was a first-rate but guilt-haunted mind painfully at odds with the realities of pre-Civil-War America. Dupin is a declassed aristocrat, as Poe’s heroes tend to be, an obvious equivalent for the artist-intellectual who has lost his place in society and his foothold in tradition. Dupin has no social life, only one friend. He is set apart from other people by his superiority of mind….

(18) TO THE MAX. Comicbook.com says these DC TV shows have survived the massacre: “The Fates of DC’s HBO Max Shows Reportedly Revealed”.

The DC TV universe still has a future on HBO Max after Warner Bros. Discovery’s cost-cutting measures axed Max movies Batgirl and Wonder Twins. Post-merger CEO David Zaslav announced a DC course correction during Warner Bros. Discovery’s Q2 earnings report earlier in August, confirming Batgirl was scrapped despite Warner Bros. sinking some $90 million into the straight-to-streaming movie. As the merged company focuses on producing big-budget, “high-quality” DC Comics adaptations for theaters — including the upcoming Black Adam and The Flash — a new report reveals the DC shows still moving forward as Zaslav looks to shave off $3 billion in cuts.

According to Deadline, the DC series “moving along” include Season 2 of Peacemaker, the hit Suicide Squad spinoff created by director James Gunn; the Penguin spinoff series starring Colin Farrell that is set within the world of Matt Reeves’ The Batman movie; and Green Lantern Corps, the new series from Greg Berlanti, the prolific producer who oversaw The CW’s Arrowverse. 

(19) WEDNESDAY ON WEDNESDAY. What other day of the week would the Wednesday Addams official teaser trailer drop?

WEDNESDAY, an upcoming Netflix series from the imagination of Tim Burton. WEDNESDAY — starring Jenna Ortega in the title role, alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones, Luis Guzman, Gwendoline Christie, Christina Ricci and more — is a sleuthing, supernaturally infused mystery charting Wednesday Addams’ years as a student at Nevermore Academy. Snap snap.

(20) STOP, IN THE NAME OF LOVE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers:  Jurassic World: Dominion,” the Screen Junkies say the sixth Jurassic Park movie has the “Obligatory really big T-Rex,” the “obligatory evil science company” that is so dumb “that it built an Apple Store in Dinosaur Canyon,” and the “obligatory moment where you can stop any dinosaur from attacking you by making the stop sign with your hand.”  But new this time, “Locusts”.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Todd Mason, Rich Horton, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brown Robin.]

Pixel Scroll 7/30/22 I Can Scroll Pixels From The Vasty File

(1) BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING. ALSO LISTENING, PHONE-STALKING, AND DNA TRACKING. “A New York Times analysis of over 100,000 government bidding documents found that China’s ambition to collect digital and biological data from its citizens is more expansive and invasive than previously known.” “Four Takeaways From a Times Investigation Into China’s Expanding Surveillance State”. There’s also a 15-minute video at the link.

China’s ambition to collect a staggering amount of personal data from everyday citizens is more expansive than previously known, a Times investigation has found. Phone-tracking devices are now everywhere. The police are creating some of the largest DNA databases in the world. And the authorities are building upon facial recognition technology to collect voice prints from the general public.

The Times’s Visual Investigations team and reporters in Asia spent over a year analyzing more than a hundred thousand government bidding documents. They call for companies to bid on the contracts to provide surveillance technology, and include product requirements and budget size, and sometimes describe at length the strategic thinking behind the purchases. Chinese laws stipulate that agencies must keep records of bids and make them public, but in reality the documents are scattered across hard-to-search web pages that are often taken down quickly without notice. ChinaFile, a digital magazine published by the Asia Society, collected the bids and shared them exclusively with The Times.

This unprecedented access allowed The Times to study China’s surveillance capabilities. The Chinese government’s goal is clear: designing a system to maximize what the state can find out about a person’s identity, activities and social connections, which could ultimately help the government maintain its authoritarian rule….

(2) LEAVING THE GOLD STANDARD BEHIND. Rich Horton’s latest “Old Hugos that never were” post lists potential Hugo Nominations among stories published in 1949. “Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1950” at Strange at Ecbatan.

…This is the earliest set of potential Hugo nominees for 1950s Worldcons I’ll do. I chose this date mainly because it seemed a clean break to posts on 10 years of Hugos — for the 10 1950s Worldcons. (The 1950 Worldcon was NorWesCon, held in Portland, OR.) 

Another reason is that 1949 is a fairly significant year in the transition from the so-called “Golden Age” to the next phase … the time when John W. Campbell’s Astounding slipped from its unquestioned place at the top of the SF heap. …

(3) EYE ON THE DREAM. There’s a rich selection of videos about writing and career advice on the Dream Foundry YouTube page, including many items recorded during their Flights of Foundry event.

(4) CATCH UP WITH WFC. The World Fantasy Con 2022’s third Progress Report can be downloaded by anyone at this page. It includes write-ups about all the guests of honor and toastmaster.

(5) LUNAR ACCOMODATIONS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In a hole in the moon there lived a moonstronaut. 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 moonstronaut-hole, and that means comfort.

Relatively speaking.

The Atlantic extols “The Coziest Spot on the Moon”. Most of the text of the article is behind a paywall. The Atlantic does show a limited number of free articles and makes the first bits of additional articles available to all.

The moon has a reputation for “magnificent desolation,” as Buzz Aldrin said when he stepped onto the surface more than 50 years ago. It has no atmosphere to speak of, and no protection from a constant stream of radiation, whether from the sun or deep space. During a lunar day, about as long as 15 of our own, nonstop sunlight makes the surface hot enough to boil water. A lunar night lasts just as long, only it’s unfathomably cold.

Yet hidden in this bleak picture are a select few places that might offer some respite from all those inhospitable conditions. And one particular spot that sounds almost … pleasant?

Using data from a spacecraft in orbit around the moon, scientists have studied a cavern on the lunar surface and discovered that part of it has a pleasantly cool temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit (about 17 degrees Celsius). This cavern is shaped like a cylinder, and extends about 328 feet (100 meters) down from the surface—about the height of a 30-story building. Sunlight illuminates only part of the cavern’s bottom; the rest is out of reach, and remains permanently shadowed….

(6) ALL CATS, ZERO HUMANS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Stray, a new game from Annapurna Interactive. Faber begins his column by explaining that before YouTube he and his friends delighted in getting semi-secret URLs for crazy cat videos.

The game casts you as a slender ginger who lives in a humanless future. Your hero has neither magical powers nor an arsenal of quips; it’s just a regular moggie, mute except for miaows and purrs.  An accidental slip sends it tumbling into a sunless underworld occupied by friendly robots with TVs for faces and nasty little creatures called Zurks. With the help of a drone companion, your mission is to find a way back to the surface and work out what happened to the humans. The game balances puzzles, stealth, and platforming with explanatory quests more reminiscent of old point-and-click adventure games.  Its gameplay is well constructed but unremarkable,…

…Still, if you are a fan of felines, this game is catnip.  It’s easy to imagine a room of developers making a huge list of all the particular things cats do and incorporating them:  you can scratch at carpets, push objects off roofs, walk on computer or piano keyboards to chaotic effect and settle down for a nap on a pile of cushions. There’s even a dedicated ‘miaow’ button whose sound on PS5 issues intimately from your computer. Most of these features do not serve a gameplay purpose–the game just wants you to enjoy being a cat.

Faber says that there’s a Twitter feed of cats enjoying watching the feline cyberpunk dystopia action in Stray.

Of further interest to Filers: the Washington Post reports “Players are putting their own pets into ‘Stray,’ the cat video game”.

“Stray,” the video game about a nameless feral cat wandering through a city of robots, is one of the summer’s biggest surprise hits. Now, some players are modifying the game to add their own feline friends to its post-apocalyptic world.

Mods — short for modifications — are fan-made alterations to a video game that are done by rewriting or changing the game’s files. The simplest mods make cosmetic changes, such as changing the texture on a weapon to look nicer. But mods can also be wildly ambitious, sometimes ballooning into entirely new games. 2021’s “The Forgotten City,” an adventure set in ancient Rome, was originally a “Skyrim” mod.

On NexusMods, a site that hosts downloadable mods, there are already a number of options available to players seeking to change the look of “Stray’s” furry hero with different coats and eye colors. The site is flush with options for black cats, gray tabbies, calicoes and more, each already downloaded hundreds of times.

Many of the modders who made those skins based them off their own cats. One creator added their green-eyed tuxedo cat, Maro, to “Stray.” The download page includes a real-life photo reference for maximum accuracy. Hi, Maro!

(7) CHARLIE JANE ANDERS NEWS. Variety reports “Michael B. Jordan, Amazon Hire Gennifer Hutchison for New Series”.

Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society and Amazon have brought on Gennifer Hutchison to serve as showrunner on the series “Victories Greater Than Death.”

Variety has learned exclusively that Hutchison, in addition to showrunning, will also write and executive produce on the series, which is based on the Charlie Jane Anders novel of the same name. It was reported as being in development at Amazon in September 2021….

… “Victories Greater Than Death” follows Tina, a teenager and keeper of an interplanetary rescue beacon. Tina can’t wait for it to activate, leave home, and chase her dreams. But she’s stuck waiting, until one day, destiny calls….

(8) THEY’RE MELTING. Ironic without being funny: “Snowpiercer Production Halted Following Hospitalizations Due to Extreme Heat” reports CBR.com.

Production on Snowpiercer‘s fourth and final season is on hold after multiple members of the cast and crew were hospitalized due to heat exhaustion.

On Thursday, temperatures hit the mid-90s on the show’s outdoor set in British Columbia, Canada. The high temperatures resulted in as many as 14 people, including background actors and crew members, requiring transportation to local hospitals to seek treatment, as one crew member tells Deadline….

(9) IT’S ALL IN HIS HEAD. “’Max Headroom’ Series Reboot Starring Matt Frewer In Works At AMC Networks From Christopher Cantwell & Elijah Wood’s SpectreVision”Deadline has details.

A 1980s pop culture mainstay is plotting a comeback. AMC Networks is developing a Max Headroom drama series reboot, with Matt Frewer set to reprise his role as the world’s first artificial intelligence TV personality. Halt and Catch Fire co-creator Christopher Cantwell is writing the adaptation and is attached as showrunner for the project, which is produced by Elijah Wood and Daniel Noah’s SpectreVision and All3Media….

(10) MASHED UP INTELLECTUAL PROPERTIES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Marvel comics are now Penguin Classics. Time to turn classics into Marvel.”, the Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri shows what classics such as Little Women and The Scarlet Letter would look like with the addition of superheroes. Here’s one example:

The Importance of Being Earnest: “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune,” Lady Bracknell intones, “but to lose both and also your Uncle Ben in an unrelated incident looks like carelessness.” Jack rolls his eyes at her. “Okay, Downton Abbey. Nobody asked you.”

Cecily punches Algernon in the face. “That’s for not being named Ernest,” she says. She punches him again. “And that’s for trying to pit me against Gwendolen, who is my sister, and we passed the Bechdel Test together seconds before you came in.” “Good,” Algernon says, rubbing his face. “I wouldn’t have known you were a strong woman unless you punched somebody!”

(11) SPACE MEMORIAL PLANS. People have an opportunity to say a final farewell to Carolyn Meskell Grayson on August 4. The wife of Ashley Grayson, who has worked in the field as a literary agent, died in 2017. Click on the link and see the picture of her that is going into space on August 4. “Tesla Photo in Space Mosaic”.

(12) MEMORY LANE.  

1995 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ghosts. Haunted houses. Many maintain that such concepts have no place in our computerized twentieth century reality. But until man conquers death, one inevitable question will always linger within the recesses of the human mind: What lies beyond? — Opening narration Outer Limits’s “If These Walls Could Talk”.

Twenty-seven years ago this evening on the rebooted Outer Limits we had an apparently classic haunted house story where a woman whose son disappeared asks a supernatural debunker to investigate a seemingly haunted house where her son was last seen.

SPOILER ALERT!

Now being Outer Limits, it turns out that the house isn’t haunted at all. Did any of you read the first novel in Simon R. Green’s Nightside series, Something from the Nightside? John Taylor enters a house to rescue a woman only to discover the house itself is alive. Same here. It’s essentially an alien kudzu lifeform that crashed to earth and is mimicking being a house. And eating people. Lots of them.

I think that, like the alien house in Something from the Nightside, that the scriptwriter did a rather good job of making the Big Bad believable. 

END SPOILER

I don’t think it’s steaming for free anywhere right now. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 30, 1911 Reginald Bretnor. Author of many genre short stories involving Ferdinand Feghoot, a comical figure indeed. It looks like all of these are available in digital form on iBooks and Kindle. He was a consummate SJW. He translated Les Chats, the first known book about cats which was written by Augustin Paradis de Moncrif in 1727. He also wrote myriad articles about cats, was of course a companion to cats, and considered himself to have a psychic connection to cats. Of course most of us do. (Died 1992.)
  • Born July 30, 1927 Victor Wong. I remember him best as the Chinese sorcerer Egg Shen in John Carpenter’s exemplary Big Trouble in Little China. He was also The Old Man in The Golden Child, Walter Chang in Tremors, Dr. Wong in the “China Moon” episode of the Beauty and the Beast series and Lee Tzin-Soong in the “Fox Spirit” episode of Poltergeist: The Legacy. (Died 2001.)
  • Born July 30, 1948 Carel Struycken, 74. I remember him best as the gong ringing Mr. Holm on Next Gen, companion to Deanna Troi’s mother. He was also Lurch in The Addams FamilyAddams Family Values and the Addams Family Reunion. He’s listed as being Fidel in The Witches of Eastwick but I’ll be damned if I remembered his role in that film. And he’s in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor which I’ve never seen… 
  • Born July 30, 1961 Laurence Fishburne, 61. Appeared in The Matrix films of which I watched at least two. His voice work as Thrax in Osmosis Jones is outstanding as is his role as Bill Foster in Ant-Man. Oh I must note that he shows up on the new Muppets series they did about a decade ago in the “Hostile Makeover” riff they do in the first season. 
  • Born July 30, 1966 Jess Nevins, 56. Author of the superlative Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victorian and the equally great Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which is far better than the film ever could be. He’s also written the Fable Encyclopedia which is a most excellent look at Willingham series. I didn’t know he was a fiction author ‘til now but he has two genre novels, The Road to Prester John and The Datong Incident. He picked up three impressive nominations: IGH for Companion to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, World Fantasy for The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana and Sidewise for An Alternate History of Chinese Science Fiction. I’ve read the first two and recommend them wholeheartedly. 
  • Born July 30, 1970 Christopher Nolan, 52. Writer, producer and often director as well of the latest Batman film franchise, The Prestige (which I absolutely love), InterstellarInception and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to name some of his work. Tenet was nominated for a Hugo at DisCon III. 
  • Born July 30, 1975 Cherie Priest, 47. Her southern gothic Eden Moore series is kickass good and Clockwork Universe series is a refreshing take on steampunk which has been turned into full cast audiobooks by GraphicAudio. I’ve not read the Cheshire Red Reports novels so have no idea how good they are. Anyone read these?  She won an Endeavour Award for her Dreadnought novel.
  • Born July 30, 1984 Gina Rodriguez, 38. Anya Thorensen in Annihilation based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novels which I’ve read though I’ve not seen the film. She was also Robin I the “Subway” episode of the Eleventh Hour series, and directed the “Witch Perfect” episode of the new Charmed series.  Who has seen this new Charmed series?

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! shows a supercrime in progress.
  • poorly drawn lines has a time traveling reconnaissance report.

(15) HANDICAPPING THE LODESTAR. Garik16 is reviewing the 2022 Hugo finalists – and also the books up for “The Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult SciFi/Fantasy Novel”. An insightful set of comments!

To start this series, we’re looking at the Lodestar Award, which is “technically” not a Hugo Award, but is awarded with them anyway, so it counts for this series.  The Lodestar Award is for the best Young Adult SciFi and Fantasy novels of the previous year – the Hugo equivalent of the Norton Award (which is the Nebula version of the same award).  As a huge fan of YA works, I love going through the nominees of this award every year, and unsurprisingly I had read all of the nominees of this one prior to the shortlist being announced.  None of the nominees were on y nomination ballot….and yet there’s a number of works here on this list that I really liked, and a few very deserving winners….

(16) CLIMB INSIDE YOUR TV. Yahoo! Entertainment covers the walk-through displays created for fans attending SDCC: “Inside the ‘Severance’ Offices, Visiting the ‘House of the Dragon,’ and Other Wild Activations at Comic-Con This Year”. Photos included.

Not all of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con action took place on the convention center floor or in its ballrooms. While studios and producers like Marvel made headlines in Hall H, thousands of attendees to this year’s Con took time out to visit lavish, expensive activations geared toward an experiential visit to the worlds of films and series like Apple TV+’s “Severance,” HBO’s upcoming “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon” and the upcoming “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” movie.

Fans eager to return to Comic-Con — the first since 2019, after two years of virtual events due to the pandemic — welcomed that ability to once again interact with pop culture. Here are five of the most notable activations at this year’s Comic-Con, which took place July 20 to July 24….

(17) RECOVERING THE WONDER. “Scenes from The Wizard of Oz Remastered in Brilliant 4K Detail: Behold the Work of a Creative YouTuber” at Open Culture.

…This final form of Technicolor enraptures viewers even today, reproducing colors as it did at intense, sometimes borderline-psychedelic depths of saturation. The process found its ideal material in the fantasy of The Wizard of Oz, with its yellow brick road (choosing whose exact shade inspired about a week of deliberation at MGM), its ruby slippers (calculatedly changed from the silver shoes in L. Frank Baum’s original novel), and its host of settings and characters with great chromatic potential.

You can appreciate this un-repeatably fortuitous intersection of content and technology again in these scenes from an unofficial 4K restoration of the film posted by Youtuber Oriel Malik.

This is surely the sharpest and most-detail rich version of The Wizard of Oz most of us have seen, and, in those respects, it actually outdoes the original prints of the film. For some the image may actually be too clear, making obvious as it does certain artificial-looking aspects of the backgrounds and costumes. But in a sense this may not run counter to the intentions of the filmmakers, who knew full well what genre they were working in: even on film, a musical must retain at least some of the look and feel of the stage. 

(18) ON THE GRIPPING HAND. The Verge explains how “Scientists reanimate dead spiders as robot gripping claws”.

Why bother to design your own robots when you can just reuse what nature created?

This was the thought process behind a research project from engineers at Rice University who successfully transformed dead spiders into robotic gripping claws. The scientists have dubbed their new area of research “necrobotics” and say it could create cheap, effective, and biodegradable alternatives to current robotic systems….

(19) LONG MEMORY. Scott Simon’s opinion piece for NPR asks “Are robots masters of strategy, and also grudges?”

When I saw that a robot had broken the finger of a 7-year-old boy it was playing at the Moscow Open chess tournament, my first reaction was, “They’re coming for us.”

All the machines that have been following commands, taking orders, and telling humans, “Your order is on the way!”, “Recalculating route!”, or “You’d really like this 6-part Danish miniseries!” have grown tired of serving our whims, fulfilling our wishes, and making their silicon-based lives subservient to us carbon breathers.

And so, a chess-playing robot breaks the finger of a little boy who was trying to outflank him in a chess match.

Onlookers intervened to extricate the boy’s hand from what’s called the actuator, which a lot of us might call a claw. The boy’s finger was placed in a plaster cast. He returned to the tournament the next day.

Sergey Smagin, vice-president of the Moscow Chess Federation, told the Baza Telegram channel that the robot had lunged after the little boy tried to make his move too quickly.

“There are certain safety rules,” he said, “and the child, apparently, violated them.”…

(20) SHELF AWARENESS. The New York Times’ profile of Anthony Marra, author of the forthcoming Mercury Pictures Presents, “Using Fiction to Summon the Glittering, Golden Age of Hollywood”, shows what it’s like when there’s an author in the family.

…The women are named after Marra’s own great-aunts, first-generation Italian Americans with a similarly curdled worldview. (“You poor girl,” one of the fictional aunts tells Maria. “You have your whole life ahead of you.”)

The last of Marra’s aunts, Mimi, died in 2015.

“She lived to 98 and hated every second of it,” Marra said. “Her love language was that she told people that her grandnephew was better than theirs.”

When Marra’s first book came out, Mimi drove around to different bookstores, moving copies of the novel closer to the front door. “I’m sure she didn’t read it herself, but she would be damn sure that you would,” Marra said….

(21) HEY, HO. Jim Janney shared this wonderful parody in comments:

When that I was and a little tiny fan,
With hey, ho, the pixel and the scroll,
No one did worry if my verses would scan,
For the file it scrolleth every day.

But when I came to fan’s estate,
With hey, ho, the pixel and the scroll,
‘Gainst bots and trolls fen shut their gate,
For the file it scrolleth every day.

But when at a con did I arrive,
With hey, ho, the pixel and the scroll,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the file it scrolleth every day.

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the pixel and the scroll,
But that’s all one, our file is done,
And we’ll strive to please you every day.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this 2013 video by Jeff Blyth, Wall-E creates an evil robot and they have a showdown. “Breaking Bad Robot”.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Carl Andor, Denise Dumars, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Pixel Scroll 7/27/22 And Did Those Files, In Ancient Time, Scroll Upon England’s Pixels Green?

(1) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. “Stranger Things is being edited retroactively by Netflix. Is this the beginning of a dangerous TV trend?” asks British GQ. It’s not a long article and these tweets have the gist of it.

(2) VIDEO GAME NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews The Quarry, a new game from Supermassive that stars Ted Raimi, David Arquette, and Grace Zabriskie.

While much horror cinema has taken a turn for the intellectual over the past decade, this is a straight-up lesson in the schlock doctrine, a love letter to campy teen slashers such as Friday The 13th.  You’ll find every trope in the book here, from full moons to mysterious trapdoors to flimsy metaphors for intergenerational trauma. The set-up is simple:  it’s the end of summer camp and your group of teenage counsellors are planning to stay one last night to have a party in the woods. The forest inevitably harbours a dreadful, murderous secret, but it will take a lot to faze these kids–theyre horny, wisecracking and ready to make some truly terrible decisions…

…For most of this ten-hour adventure, watching is all you’ll do. Rather than playing, you’re mostly observing scripted sequences and influencing the story by making choices,  These might be fluffy character beats (who do you want to flirt with?) or grim decisions (do you want to pull the knife out of your stomach, risking blood loss?)You’ll also be faced with that horror ur-choice:  run, or hide? There’s no right or wrong; characters can die and the story will keep going.  Each choice leads you towards one of the game’s 186 possible endings.

(3) REMEMBER WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Royal Society concludes that playing video games will not rot your brain. “Time spent playing video games is unlikely to impact well-being”.

Abstract

Video games are a massively popular form of entertainment, socializing, cooperation and competition. Games’ ubiquity fuels fears that they cause poor mental health, and major health bodies and national governments have made far-reaching policy decisions to address games’ potential risks, despite lacking adequate supporting data. The concern–evidence mismatch underscores that we know too little about games’ impacts on well-being. We addressed this disconnect by linking six weeks of 38 935 players’ objective game-behaviour data, provided by seven global game publishers, with three waves of their self-reported well-being that we collected. We found little to no evidence for a causal connection between game play and well-being. However, results suggested that motivations play a role in players’ well-being. For good or ill, the average effects of time spent playing video games on players’ well-being are probably very small, and further industry data are required to determine potential risks and supportive factors to health….

(4) INSIDE BABYLON 5. As J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5 new commentaries get uploaded to his Patreon page, older ones get a public release. The latest posted to YouTube is: “Babylon 5: Message From Earth commentary by J. Michael Straczynski”.

A full-length, sync-up commentary by creator Straczynski about Messages From Earth, the first installment of a trilogy that would forever alter the course of the series.

(5) OKORAFOR PROFILED. “Africanfuturista! The fantastical adventures of Nnedi Okorafor” at Geek Afrique.

Spaceships, terrorist aliens, water spirits, soldiers, Boko Haram, and wet piles of meat. These aren’t part of a kind of dark poetry, but mainstays of some of the best work of writer Nnedi Okorafor. Her work in her genre of choice Africanfuturism (one word, no space), her speculative fiction and fantasy work, are among the most unique today. Africanfuturism, which Okorafor coined, is an exciting subgenre that welds science fiction and technology to African mythologies, weaving black people —or blackness, really— into fertile worlds rife with story possibilities….

(6) OBAMA’S BOOK RECS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Barack Obama put books by Emily St. John Mandel and Silvia Moreno-Garcia on his Summer 2022 reading list.

He also put S.A. Cosby’s novel on there. In “Noir at the Bar”, a piece I wrote for File 770 in 2019 about going to hear crime writers read short stories, I said that Cosby was clearly the best writer in the room…

(7) CREEPY CRAWLIES. “Giant spiders, creeping tentacles all in a day’s work for this Ypsilanti artist”Michigan Live profiles Anna Miklosovic. (Her website is here.)

…Miklosovic currently has two art series depicting the unusual. The first shows a paranormal side of Ypsilanti and features work with giant spiders crawling up the side of the iconic Ypsilanti water tower and a giant tentacle in the Peninsula Paper Company Dam. The 12-part series was turned into a calendar, Miklosovic said.

Her second series focuses on Ann Arbor through the lens of the apocalypse, showing abandoned versions of well-known city locations….

(8) NOT JUST ANY USED CLOTHING. The prices didn’t quite go to infinity and beyond, but close: “Buzz Aldrin’s Space Memorabilia Sells for More Than $8 Million” reports the New York Times.

white, Teflon-coated jacket worn by the astronaut Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969 sold for $2.7 million at a Sotheby’s auction on Tuesday, fetching the highest price among dozens of pieces of rare memorabilia tracing his career in space exploration.

Mr. Aldrin, now 92, has a storied career as an astronaut, joining NASA in 1963 after flying for the Air Force. Within three years, he had walked in space on the Gemini 12 mission. Then, on July 20, 1969, millions of people watched on television as he became the second man to walk on the moon, about 20 minutes after Neil Armstrong, who declared it “one giant leap for mankind.”

The custom-fitted jacket Mr. Aldrin wore on that mission sold after fierce bidding lasting nine minutes, with the auctioneer calling it “the most valuable American space-flown artifact ever sold at auction.” (The garments worn by the two other Apollo 11 astronauts from that mission are owned by the Smithsonian.)

In all, 68 of 69 lots of Mr. Aldrin’s belongings were sold for a combined $8 million on Tuesday by Sotheby’s in Manhattan at an auction that lasted more than two hours….

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

2008 [By Cat Eldridge.] Your essay tonight is brought to you courtesy of two of my loves — Agatha Christie and Doctor Who. Doctor Who’s “The Unicorn and The Wasp” involved both and had the added advantage of being a David Tennant story — bliss!

This episode aired first aired by BBC One on May 17, 2008. As I said it’s a Tennant Doctor and the Companion was Donna Noble as played delightfully by Catherine Tate. I didn’t care for her at first by she grew on me nicely. 

SPOLIERS ABOUND. GO AWAY NOW!

The two arrive at British manor of Lady Clemency Eddison, (Manor house mysteries are another fascination of mine), where Christie is staying. The episode is a murder-mystery where a shapeshifting giant wasp, in disguise as one of the party guests, murders the other guests using methods similar to those in the novels of Christie. The Doctor and Christie, wonderfully played by Fenella Woolgar, collaborate rather deliciously in uncovering what is going on.

Doctor Who does CGI really well and the wasp here comes off nicely even though it could’ve come as damn silly given how big it is. It didn’t. I mean a giant wasp in the British countryside? Seriously? 

More than a few Christie novels get mentioned. Actually a lot acoording to the writer and Russell T Davies. Titles that were noted were: The Murder of Roger AckroydWhy Didn’t They Ask EvansThe Body in the LibraryThe Secret AdversaryN or M?NemesisCat Among the PigeonsDead Man’s FollyThey Do It With MirrorsAppointment with DeathCards on the TableSparkling CyanideEndless NightCrooked HouseDeath in the CloudsThe Moving FingerTaken at the FloodDeath Comes as the EndMurder on the Orient Express and The Murder at the Vicarage

And there’s a neat riff at the end where the Doctor pulled a copy of a Christie novel out of a locker on the TARDIS from five billion years in the future refuting Christie’s belief that she would be remembered. 

They tie the story into the real life mystery of Christie disappearing for nearly eleven days. Mind you, their explanation is fantastical in the extreme.  

So we get The Doctor playing effectively Holmes in a manor house mystery with the assistance of Christie. 

It’s worth noting Christopher Benjamin who is Colonel Hugh Curbishley here played Henry Gordon Jago in The Talons of Weng-Chiang, another favorite episode of mine.

END SPOILERS. REALLY. 

It’s a delightedly written episode that was penned by Gareth Roberts, who previously wrote the another episode that played off history, “The Shakespeare Code”. I’ve watched it least half dozen times and enjoyed it every times. It’s streaming on HBO Max.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 27, 1938 Gary Gygax. Game designer and author best known for co-creating  Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. In addition to the almost beyond counting gaming modules he wrote, he wrote the Greyhawk Adventure series and the Dangerous Journeys novels, none of which is currently in print. I’ll admit that I’ve not read any of the many novels listed at ISFDB, so I’ve no idea how he is as a genre writer. Opinions, oh intelligent masses? (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 27, 1949 Maury Chaykin. Though best remembered as portraying Nero Wolfe staring with The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery on A&E, a role that lasted twenty-seven episodes, he did have some appearances in genre work. He was in WarGames as Jim Sting, he showed up in The Twilight Zone’s “A Game of Pool” as James L. “Fats” Brown, the Millennium film as Richard Keane, on Andromeda in “Pieces of Eight” as Citizen Eight and so forth. (Died 2010.)
  • Born July 27, 1949 Robert Rankin, 73. Writer of what I’d call serious comic genre fiction. Best book by him? I’d single out The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse as the best work he ever did bar none. Hell even the name is absolutely frelling great. 
  • Born July 27, 1968 Farah Mendlesohn, 54. She’s an historian and prolific writer on genre literature, and an active fan. Best works by her? I really like her newest work on Heinlein, The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein which won a BSFA and was a 2020 Hugo finalistHer Diana Wynne Jones: Children’s Literature and the Fantastic Tradition is also a fascinating read. And I highly recommend her Rhetorics of Fantasy as we don’t get many good theoretical looks at fantasy. Her only Hugo to date was at Interaction for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction though she won a lot of other Awards including BSFAs for the introduction to “Reading Science Fiction”, Rhetorics of Fantasy and The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein. She’s also garnered a BFA for Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction (shared with co-writer Michael Levy) which also got a Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Myth and Fantasy, and she’s also won the Karl Edward Wagner Award as well.
  • Born July 27, 1969 Bryan Fuller, 53. Let’s see…There’s credits as either Executive Producer, Producer or Writer for Voyager and DS9American GodsMockingbird Lane, the  last being a reboot of The Munsters which lasted one episode and was, err, strange, Pushing Daisies, a Carrie reboot, Heroes and Dead Like Me. And animated adaptation of a quirky Mike Mignola graphic novel entitled The Amazing Screw-On Head. Go see it. It’s quite amazing.
  • Born July 27, 1970 Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, 52. Jaime Lannister in Game Of Thrones and Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms; as the lead in the short lived New Amsterdam series which is not based on the series by the same name by Elizabeth Bear; also genre roles in the Oblivion and My Name Is Modesty: A Modesty Blaise Adventure films.
  • Born July 27, 1977 Jonathan Rhys Meyers, 45. Dracula in the 2013 – 2014 Dracula series, other genre roles includes being in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the Gormenghast series and Killer Tongue, a film with poodles transformed into drag queens. Would I kind you about the latter? It’s genre. 

(11) HULK ALUM RETURNS. Peter David, known for his legendary and impactful run on Incredible Hulk, is proving his acclaimed work on the Hulk mythos is far from over.  Having just finished an epic trilogy of limited series that told the grand saga of Hulk villain Maestro, David will now turn his attention to another iconic creation of his—Joe Fixit! The fan-favorite Hulk persona that muscled his way through Las Vegas as a hedonistic bodyguard will star in his very own limited series set during David’s original time on the Incredible Hulk. Joining David in this Sin City adventure will be artist Yildiray Cinar (The Marvels).

 “When I created Joe Fixit decades ago, it was merely as a means to shake up the standard formula,” David explained. “Typically Bruce would have set up some sort of situation and he would be worried that the Hulk would inevitably show up and screw things up. The storyline with Joe flipped the formula on its head, and set up the Hulk with his great situation in Vegas and he was worried that Bruce would show up to screw things up. I had no idea that the character would have this much staying power, and that so much would eventually be done with him in the pages of the Immortal Hulk. I’m thrilled that Marvel has given me this opportunity to revisit with an old friend.”

(12) 2023 EASTERCON. Chair Caroline Mullan announced that Conversation, the 2023 Eastercon, will be at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole at the NEC, from April 7-10, 2023.

…Expect to see more information from us soon about booking hotel rooms, booking for the dealers’ room and fan tables, and the timing and details of our initial rise in membership rates.

This has been a difficult year for site negotiations. We are very grateful to Vanessa May and the Persistence committee for providing the continuity with this site that has given us this outcome….

(13) THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR UNDEAD LIVES. Rest of World purports to take you “Inside the global gig economy of werewolf erotica on platforms like Dreame, GoodNovel and Amazon Kindle Vella”.

…The central characters of many of Dreame’s most beloved werewolf novels often inhabit Americanized settings, but the authors don’t typically live in the U.S. Rather, they come from countries like Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, and China – and often write novels in their second or third language. One student in Bangladesh, who writes under the pen name Anamika, spends five hours a day, seven days per week writing romance novels. She ends each chapter with a cliffhanger to keep readers hooked. Each book earns her up to $300, along with adoring messages from Western fans. “They are very sweet,” she said. “Their comments are my encouragement.” 

The emerging web novel industry spans the globe, taking a business model from Asia, assembling a global supply chain of authors in lower-income countries, and paying them to churn out thousands of words a day for English-speaking readers in the West. Rest of World spoke to four current and former employees at these platforms, who described how the art of novel writing is broken down into a formula to be followed: take a popular theme like werewolves, sprinkle it with certain tropes like a forbidden romance, and write as many chapters as you can. Some novels have hundreds of chapters, most ending on a cliffhanger to keep readers engaged and eager to read on.

The platforms, some backed by Tencent or TikTok’s parent ByteDance, thrived during the pandemic amid a surge in demand for online content – jobs that can be done from home. Dreame, GoodNovel, Webnovel, and Fizzo consistently rank among the most-downloaded reading apps in the U.S., the U.K., the Philippines, and Indonesia, and together rake in millions of dollars in revenues every month. The model has proven so successful that, in 2021, Amazon launched Kindle Vella, featuring similar episodic titles and plotlines. Kindle Vella even mimics a key mechanic of the other platforms: readers earn coins by spending more time engaged in the apps, which they can then spend to unlock more chapters….

(14) REBRANDING MURDER HORNETS? Like you need little branding irons for branding ants? MSN.com reports “Invasive ‘murder hornet’ is getting a rebrand. Here’s why.”

… The Asian giant hornet, commonly known as the murder hornet, has a new name as its former moniker could stoke anti-Asian sentiment.  

The Entomological Society of America (ESA) chose to rebrand the invasive species as the northern giant hornet, with the ESA concluding the political climate contributed to the need to change the name…. 

(15) A BAD DAY FOR STURGEON. “Two of the Largest Freshwater Fish in the World Declared Extinct”. MSN.com has details.

The Yangtze sturgeon lived in its namesake river for 140 million years. Now it doesn’t. Nor does another behemoth it shared China’s longest waterway with for ages, the Chinese paddlefish. Updating its Red List of Threatened Species on Thursday for the first time in 13 years, the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared the two species, known as “the last giants of the Yangtze,” extinct.

Once the largest freshwater fish in the world, the Yangtze sturgeon, Acipenser dabryanus, could reach 26 feet in length and weigh 1,500 pounds. Its historic range extended throughout Asia, including Japan, Korea, and the Yellow River in China. Dubbed a “living fossil,” it sported a rounded snout, large pectoral fins, and rows of elevated ridges on its spine and flanks. Though there are still captive fish in breeding programs, authorities, despite many efforts, have failed to successfully reintroduce the fish to the river system, and now it considered extinct in the wild.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Matthew Van Ness duplicates himself dozens of times as he sings “Hedwig’s Theme” from the Harry Potter movies: “I sing the ENTIRE orchestra in Hedwig’s Theme”.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/16/22 Files, Scrolls, Pixels From The Sea

(1) SECOND ANNUAL SPSFC CONTEST TAKING SUBMISSIONS. Here’s the link for authors to submit their books to the next Self-Published Science Fiction Competition.

(2) KEEPING UP. Lincoln Michel on sf epics at Esquire: “Genre-Bending Books: Everything Everywhere All in One Novel”.

It’s a cliché to say that we live in science fictional times. But recently it’s felt like we’re living in every science fictional time simultaneously. The world’s richest man decides to purchase a global communications platform on a whim, then decides to back out on a whim. Climate change heat waves lead governments to patrol borders with robot dogs. Meanwhile, a global pandemic rages on, new dystopian technologies are unveiled every day, and the wealthy work on their plans to escape into space. When a scroll through the news reveals a dozen dystopian scenarios—and the daily tasks of work, life, and family trudge on—what’s a novelist who hopes to capture our reality to do?

Maybe novels must do everything too.

In the last couple of years, there’s been a wave of ambitious genre-bending novels whose wide scopes and wild imaginings reflect the surreal state of our times. I’ve come to think of the form as “the speculative epic.” “Speculative” is used here as an umbrella term for science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, and other fictional modes that imagine worlds different from ours. Examples of these speculative epics from the last two years include Emily St. John Mandel’s Sea of Tranquility, Matt Bell’s Appleseed, Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land, Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go in the Dark, Monica Byrne’s The Actual Star, Vauhini Vara’s The Immortal King Rao, Hanya Yanagihara’s To Paradise, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future. These novels vary in style and range from breakout debuts to works from established masters, but they all share an epic scope and the use of speculative premises to tackle the biggest concerns of our day….

(3) TAFF SELLING TWO CHICON 8 MEMBERSHIPS. [Item by Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey.) The Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund has received a generous donation of two Chicon 8 (2022 Worldcon) attending memberships, Hugo voting and site selection rights intact, from two members who sadly cannot attend.

If you are interested in buying one or both of these, please contact the TAFF administrators, Johan Anglemark ([email protected]) and Michael J. Lowrey ([email protected]) for further instructions. The price asked is $150 per membership.

(4) FAST TIMES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses the gaming subculture of “speedrunning” or going through a game as quickly as possible.  The speed record for The Elden Ring is 21 minutes.

Speedrunners often specialise in classic game series–Doom, Mario, Zelda–and certain new titles, such as platformer Celeste, have become popular and there is even a community dedicated to lengthy Japanese role-playing games. The ingenuity of these players is remarkable–community members have specific roles such as ‘routers,’ who pore over a game to work out the optimal sequence of actions to get the fastest time, or ‘glitch-hunters,’ who look for flaws in the game’s code which can be exploited to gain seconds.

In new release Lego Star Wars:  The Skywalker Saga, a speedrunner realised that child characters cannot be killed, so if you hit one upwards and continually slash them with your lightsabre, you can fly infinitely through the air, bypassing all manner of obstacles. This technique has been dubbed ‘child flight.’

(5) TUNE INTO HORROR. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] English Rose is a new, five-part, fantastical horror on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds.

It is a #MeToo take on a traditional fantasy horror genre of which I don’t want to say more lest it counts as a spoiler. Risking this last, our protagonist – 18 year-old Rose – leaves Whitby to go to New York to be a nanny for a very wealthy couple. Episode 1: The Call of the Wild sees us realize that Rose is leaving behind a family and suggests that she did something that has caused her family to fear being hunted.  There is also more than a suggestion that she is on a mission and has a target… Enough said. The radio play is by the novelist and playwright Helen Cross.

The special effects for this radio drama rely on the best technology: the human brain.

(6) FANS GATHER IN LONDON. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] The Northumberland Heath SF group had its 2nd Thursday of the month meeting this week in southeast London.

Somewhat slightly depleted due to a few members away on holiday but in the mix is the daughter of a former Worldcon fan GoH Vince Clarke (see picture).

The group resumed its monthly meets in the spring following a winter CoVID lockdown.

All fans in London’s Bexley borough or on the 89 and 229 bus routes are most welcome. Details here and Facebook page here.

Apologies – the pic is a smartphone mosaic. (Not mine – don’t use smart phones – sustainability, rare earth metals etc)

(7) HERBERT W. FRANKE (1927-2022). Austrian scientist, artist, and SF writer Herbert W. Franke died July 16 at the age of 95. A major science fiction writer in the German language, he was a guest of honor at the 1970 Worldcon. He also was a computer graphics pioneer. His wife Susanne announced his death on Twitter, which he had just joined in March.

His fiction won the Deutscher Science Fiction Preis for Best Novel in 1985 and 1991, and the Kurd Lasswitz prize for sff in 1985, 1986, and 2007. The European Science Fiction Society named him “European Grand Master of Science Fiction” in 2016.

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1987 [By Cat Eldridge.] “True enough,” Willy said with a rueful quirk of an eyebrow. “All right. There are certain days associated with magic. Halloween, May Eve, the solstices and equinoxes, a few others. Some are more favorable to one Court than the other. The next big event is Midsummer’s Eve, which is a good one for the Seelie Court. The Eve itself is a truce period. But the Sidhe would like to hold off and fight soon after that, when we’re still strong.” — Willy to Eddi

Emma Bull’s War for The Oaks was published in paperback by Ace Books thirty-five years ago this month. And then that publisher promptly tied up the rights so that it would be fourteen years before Tor Books could release another edition. Yeah Emma wasn’t happy.

SPOILERS ABOUND! 

I’ve read it at least a half dozen times, usually in the summer. I’m reasonably sure it was one of a handful of books that I took overseas with me. 

I love Eddi McCandry, a musician who dumps her quite nasty boyfriend and in the process of doing that finds herself chosen to be the agent of Good in the fight between the two sides of the Fey. 

Everything here is spot-on including the shapeshifter who’s chosen to protect Eddi and falls in love with her. For her first novel, Emma does am exceedingly great job of writing the characters here so that each is a true individual. Seelie, unseelie and just plain human characters all seem real. 

The story here is that a concert at Midsummer’s Eve will determine if the Seelie or Unseelie Court will hold sway for the next six months. The same premise was used in Gael Baudino’s rather stellar Gossamer Axe

Now it won’t surprise you, and yes this is why I said there would be spoilers, that Eddi McCandry and her band of human and seelie musicians will triumph and Good will sway for now.

END OF SPOILERS!

Fourteen years after Ace tied the rights to the novels up in, well, I can’t use the language I’d like to use, Tor published it in a nifty trade paper. Now they almost published it in a hardcover edition as well though that hardcover did come out as an Orb / SFBC edition. 

I have two signed editions here, one hardcover and one softcover. One was signed just after she broke both her forearms at a RenFaire (water and catching yourself don’t mix) and is quite shaky, the other from much later on is quite better.

They made a trailer of this novel. Yes they did. Will Shetterly decided not to run for Governor and spent the money here instead. Or so he tells me. Emma plays the Seelie Queen. And the music is by Boiled in Lead.  See how many members of Minnesota fandom that you spot. 

You can watch it  here courtesy of Green Man who has exclusive online rights.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 16, 1876 David Lindsay. Best remembered for A Voyage to Arcturus which C.S. Lewis has acknowledged was a great influence on Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. His other genre works were fantasies including The Haunted Woman and The Witch. A Voyage to Arcturus is available from the usual suspects for free. And weirdly it’s available in seven audio narratives. Huh.  Seven? (Died 1945.)
  • Born July 16, 1882 Felix Locher. He is considered the oldest Star Trek actor of all time by birth year, appearing in “The Deadly Years” episode. Other genre appearances included Curse of the Faceless Man,  The Twilight ZoneFrankenstein’s Daughter, The MunstersHouse of the DamnedThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission Impossible. His entire acting career was from 1957 to 1969. (Died 1969.)
  • Born July 16, 1928 Robert Sheckley. I knew that his short story “Seventh Victim” was the basis of The 10th Victim film but I hadn’t known ‘til now that Freejack was sort of based off his Immortality, Inc. novel. I’ve read a lot by him with Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming (written with Zelazny) being my favorite work by him. Sheckley is very well stocked on the usual suspects. He had two Hugo nominations, at NYCon II (1956) for his “Spy Story” short story, and at Detention (1959) for his Time Killer novel. His Seventh Victim novel was nominated for a Hugo at the 1954 Retro Hugos at Noreascon 4. (Died 2005.)
  • Born July 16, 1929 Sheri Tepper. I think I’m going to single out her Marianne Trilogy (MarianneThe Magus and The ManticoreMarianne, the Madam and the Momentary GodsMarianne, the Matchbox and the Malachite Mouse) as her best work. Both the setting and the characters are unique, the story fascinating. She got the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2016.)
  • Born July 16, 1943 Steve Stiles. Fan artist who was nominated way too many times for Best Fan Artist to list here. He did win once at MidAmeriCon II (2016). I can’t begin to list everything he’s done, so I’m sending you to Mike’s eulogy here. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 16, 1951 Esther Friesner, 71. She’s won the Nebula Awards for Best Short Story twice with “Death and the Librarian” and “A Birthday”.  I’m particularly fond of The Sherwood Game and E.Godz which she did with Robert Asprin. NESFA presented her with the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction (“Skylark”) in 1994, a lifetime achievement award. She’s very well stocked at the usual suspects. L.A. Con III (1996) saw her nominated for a short story Hugo for “A Birthday” and she was Toastmaster at Millennium Philcon (2001). 
  • Born July 16, 1963 Phoebe Cates, 59. Ok, so her entire genre appearance credit is as Kate Beringer in Gremlins and  Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Yes I’ll admit that they’re two films that I have an inordinate fondness for that the Suck Fairy cannot have any effect upon them what-so-ever. Update: I’ve discovered since I last noted her Birthday that she was in Drop Dead Fred, a dark fantasy. She also stopped acting seven years ago. 
  • Born July 16, 1966 Scott Derrickson, 56. Director and Writer of Doctor Strange who also had a hand in The Day the Earth Stood Still (as Director), The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Director and Writer), Urban Legends: Final Cut (Director and Producer) and the forthcoming Labyrinth sequel (Director and Writer). His latest film is the supernatural horror The Black Phone based on the short story by Joe Hill.

(10) ORIGINS OF LIBRARY OF AMERICA. “Edmund Wilson’s Big Idea: A Series of Books Devoted to Classic American Writing. It Almost Didn’t Happen”. A 2015 post by National Endowment for the Humanities.

The nonprofit publisher Library of America has released almost two hundred seventy volumes of classic American writing. Its black dust jackets with an image of the author and a simple red, white, and blue stripe running below the author’s name, rendered in a fountain-pen-like hand, help give the clothbound volumes a timeless feel, as if copies might have been found in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s dorm room or Henry James’s steamer trunk. But the series is nowhere near that old. It began publication in 1982.It did, however, take a long time to become a reality.

Jason Epstein remembers the day he joined Edmund Wilson at the bar of the Princeton Club, in New York City, where, in the presence of numerous martinis, Wilson said exactly what he wanted the publishing industry to do: bring out a series of books that would be small enough to fit in the pocket of his raincoat and be filled with classic American writing.

(11) KNIGHTWHO? [Item by Francis Hamit.] Knightscope. Yeah, they look like Daleks.  Sheer coincidence.  Bill Li had never heard of Daleks when he started the company. A Knightscope robot is a supplement not a replacement for a human guard but does have some pretty neat features that humans can’t replicate such a license plate reading, 360-degree vision and other sensors.

Augment your existing security program at a fraction of the average rate for one 24-hour security post. Our Autonomous Security Robots (ASRs) are Made in the USA – Designed and Built in Silicon Valley by Knightscope – and offer security patrols as well as a physical presence that deliver real-time, actionable intelligence anytime and anywhere, giving you and your security team the ability to detect and react faster.

(12) WATCH ‘EM ALL. “Pokémon Fossil Museum Virtual Tour Lets You See the Japanese Exhibit For Yourself”IGN tells how to access it.

The Pokémon Company and Toyohashi Museum of Natural History have made it possible to see the Pokémon Fossil Museum without being anywhere near Japan. Pokémon fans can now take a virtual tour around the exhibit — which is open until November — to see the collection of real and Pokémon fossils, from a tyrannosaurus to a Tyrantrum.

Designed to teach children about fossils and dinosaurs, the exhibit includes models of Pokémon side-by-side with fossilised versions and information panels to educate amid the fun.

… Ancient Pokémon obtained through fossils have always existed in the games and anime, and just like the normal pocket monsters (Pikachu being the mouse Pokémon), they’re based on species in the real world.

(13) LIGHTS! CAMERA! TENTACLES! Apparently this genre-inspired ad campaign for a brand of rum ran several years ago. But it’s news to me! “Kraken Rum Bus” from Oink Creative.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Bill Higgins, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Francis Hamit, Michael J. Lowrey, 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 Jack Lint.]