Pixel Scroll 4/24/22 Story Day, Sweepin’ Boredom Away, On My Way To Where Genre Fans Meet, Can You Tell Me How To Get? How To Get To Pixel Scroll Street?

(1) WRITING ADVICE. Cat Rambo advises “Write What You Love” in a guest post at Stone Soup.

…Write what you love is one of those pieces of writing advice that gets trotted around and may even seem the equivalent of the LIVE LOVE LAUGH plaque hanging in some existential AirBnb of the soul. It’s a piece of advice that is so basic, so simple that people ignore it, think it purely decorative.

But the thing about that sort of advice is that often it’s worth taking the time to look again. Sometimes they’re more like zen koans, or puzzle boxes that yield increasing levels of secrets the more you know about unlocking their depths.

Absolutely, write what you love, and know that there are a multitude of reasons for doing so….

(2) VIDEO GAME REVIEW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Tunic.

…There are many games that keep their secrets hidden, but few are brave enough to refuse to tell you how to play. In Tunic you will have to work out for yourself how to run or level up your skills, often learning that you had an ability or an access to a shortcut that you could have been using all along, had you known it was there. There is something profound about a game that doesn’t expect you constantly to acquire new moves, but asks you to look within and discover the true extent of your abilities.

This thoughtful ethos is threaded through every layer of Tunic, a passion project by Canadian developer Andrew Shouldice, who spent seven years making it, mostly alone. The result feels singular yet also indebted to gaming history. Its top-down perspective and endless waves of slashable monsters recall recent indie games such as Hades and Death’s Door, but deeper in this game’s DNA are more ambitious references: to the way Elden Ring plays with death and combat, the sophisticated meta-puzzles of Fez and the obscure secrets in classic Mario and Zelda….

(3) COULDN’T SPARE TIME TO BE TIME TRAVELER. Slashfilm remembers this lost opportunity: “The Star Trek Role That Was Actually Written For Robin Williams”.

…[Whoopi] Goldberg is also, it turns out, old friends with comedian Robin Williams, as she, Williams, and Billy Crystal were the three headliners of the comedy charity event Comic Relief. And this is where we talk about how Williams wanted to follow Goldberg and make an appearance on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

In 1991, when “Next Generation” was in its fifth season, the show’s writers wanted to include Robin Williams. Williams was always an outspoken Trekkie — he even made a reference to killing off Spock in an episode of “Mork & Mindy” — and the “Trek” writers were, in turn, big Robin Williams fans. Williams’ fast-talking, manic comedy wasn’t necessarily a good match for the normally staid, composed, mature tone of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” so the writers would have to create a new role — likely not a Starfleet officer — for Williams…

(4) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2014 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction. — Nathan, the programmer

Just eight years ago, Ex Machina premiered written and directed by Alex Garland in his directorial debut. He previously wrote and produced Dredd but let’s not hold that against him. Too much. This is a story that follows a programmer who is invited by his CEO to administer the Turing test to an intelligent humanoid robot.

It had a core cast of Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac. 

It was made on a budget of just fifteen million, and it grossed thirty-six worldwide. Not bad at all. 

The reception was quite good. The critic at The Reader liked and said, “What’s amazing about Ex Machina is Garland’s precise control over the audience both visually and through a singularly perfect script. The characters and the audience are both captive, processing the slightest information as fast as they can.” Whereas Sunday People commented “Precision-tooled to perfection with sumptuously seductive design,it combines the brains of Blade Runner, the gloss of James Bond, and the sly satire of cult comic 2000AD.” Finally I’ll let NOW Toronto have the last word: “The film is at its best when the characters are simply talking to each other, creating a delicate, hypnotic back-and-forth between the humans and the new creature in their midst.”

Released on the US in 2015, it was nominated for a Hugo for MidAmericaCon which was the year The Martian won.

And yes, the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes really do like it giving an eighty-six percent rating. 

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 24, 1910 Albert Zugsmith. American film producer, film director and screenwriter who specialized in really low-budget exploitation films such as Sex Kittens Go to College and Female on the Beach through the Fifties and Sixties. So why am I giving him a Birthday, you ask?  Why it’s because he produced The Incredible Shrinking Man which won a Hugo at Solacon (1958). (Died 1993.)
  • Born April 24, 1925 Virginia Huston. Not a long genre history but an interesting one. Her first role was as Jane in Tarzan and the Jungle Queen (which was originally released as Tarzan’s Peril) and was advertised as being filmed on location in Africa. Next she was Lady Ellen Douglas in The Highwayman which is just genre adjacent, before being Carol Stratford in Flight to Mars. (Died 1981.)
  • Born April 24, 1930 Richard Donner. He’s credited in directing Superman which is considered by many to be the first modern superhero film. H’h. Well I’m instead going to celebrate him instead for ScroogedThe Goonies and Ladyhawke. Not to mention the horror he did — Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood. Oh, and the first X-Men film which was superb. (Died 2021.)
  • Born April 24, 1936 Jill Ireland. For her short life, she appeared in an amazing number of genre shows. She was on Star Trek romancing Spock as Leila Kalomi In “This Side of Paradise” episode. She had five appearances on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well as being on Night Gallery, My Favorite MartianVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Voodoo Factor and the SF film The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything based on the 1962 novel of the same name by John D. MacDonald. (Died 1990.)
  • Born April 24, 1939 David L. Ross, 83. He appeared on Trek as mostly Lt. Galloway eight times though occasionally as Security Guard or Guard. Since one of his appearances was on “Trouble with Tribbles”, he also appeared on “Trials and Tribble-ations”.  His only other genre appearance was a one-one off on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in “The Hot Number Affair”. 
  • Born April 24, 1947 Michael Butterworth, 75. Author of, with Michael Moorcock naturally, two Time of the Hawklords novels, Time of the Hawklords and Queens of Deliria. He also wrote a number of Space 1999 Year 2 novels, too numerous to list here. He also edited Corridor8 magazine from 1971 to 1974. He also wrote a number of short fiction pieces including one whose title amuses me for reasons I’m not sure, “Circularisation of Condensed Conventional Straight-Line Word-Image Structures“. 

(6) SPECIAL DELIVERY. Cat Eldridge wrote about Ray Bradbury’s special citation from the Pulitzer Board in the April 16 Pixel Scroll (item #9). We ran a photo of his agent accepting the plaque, but I just rediscovered the video of it being delivered to Ray Bradbury during his 2007 birthday celebration at a Glendale bookstore.

Unable to travel to the East-coast to accept the special Pulitzer in person, author Ray Bradbury accepts it on a special 87th birthday celebration held on August 25, 2007, at “Mystery and Imagination Bookstore”, in Glendale, California. ‘Logan’s Run’ author, William Nolan, presents the award, and ‘Ocean’s 11’ author, George Clayton Johnson, waxes eloquently around the fond memories of Bradbury, his influences, and his work.

(7) DON’T LOOK. Moira Weigel, an assistant professor of communication studies at Northeastern University, tells readers “What You Don’t Know About Amazon” in an opinion piece for the New York Times.

…If you are reading this, there’s a good chance you’re an Amazon customer. And if you feel guilty about that, it is probably because you are thinking about the warehouse and delivery workers whose labor Amazon exploits, the small merchants whose successful products Amazon copies, the beloved local bookstores whose bottom lines they undercut. Or maybe you just think about all the boxes piling up by your door.

You should feel guilty. I do, anyway. Convenience is not a good reason to participate in exploitation or waste. But guilt is a weak political emotion. In my experience, it can easily lose out to the 3 a.m. realization that Baby Two has soaked through her sleepsack and we need more Huggies Overnites ASAP.

But a series of product safety cases that have been brought against Amazon over the past few years makes clear that its rewiring of retail poses risks to customers as well. Above all, the cases highlight a significant gap between how most people understand the world’s largest e-commerce company and what that company actually does.

Conversations about Amazon tend to emphasize the company’s omniscience — the cutting-edge technologies that it uses to gather data on its competitors and customers and to discipline its workers. But in reality, as the scholar Miriam Posner has written, supply chains that drive global capitalism depend on “partial sight.” Companies are able to get customers so many things so cheap and fast because they know only what they have to; toward everything else, they often turn a blind eye….

(8) SPACE CASE. In “Judge John Hodgman on a Deathbed Request”, the New York Times columnist arbitrates an issue with a Martian twist.

(9) SCI-FI IDEA FOR LA SMOG. [Item by David Doering.] I can go months without finding anything off the wall, now I find several in a week! 

Here’s a sci-fi idea to clean up the air of LA in 1954. Big tubes would suck in bad air and expel it in the mountains. Wow. I love the phrase “…would be discharged harmlessly…” 

(10) BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] These two renditions of Bohemian Rhapsody aren’t new – though they may be to you.

Via Open Culture: “1910 Fairground Organ Plays Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and It Works Like a Charm”.

First built in Paris by Charles Marenghi in 1910, the organ above quickly found a home in a Belgian restaurant. And there it remained for many years … until 1967, when it traveled abroad, to a Texas fairground. Imagine the culture shock it must have felt. But that’s not where it ends.

Nowadays, you can watch the 81-key organ play Queen’s 1975 hit “Bohemian Rhapsody,” quite different than whatever it was playing in Antwerp a century ago. Alexey Rom wrote the arrangement for the song, and programmed it using the strip of cards being fed through the instrument. Hopefully this isn’t the last stop on this organ’s grand journey.

“Literal Bohemian Rhapsody” visualized as a short live-action video via Uncrate:

You’ve belted it out in your car. Sang along during Wayne’s World. But have you ever really listened to the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody”? Corridor turned the Queen classic into a shot film, resulting in a dark tale of drugs, crime, and a poor boy.

(11) DASHCON. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] The convention in question is from quite a few years ago, but this post-mortem video is recent and might be interesting to the Filers. You could call it “How to NOT run a convention.” “Tumblr’s Failed Convention: The Story of Dashcon” as told by Sarah Z.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/12/22 If I Could Godstalk To The Animals

(1) SPEAKER FOR THE REDSHIRTS. “The Big Idea: Wil Wheaton” is a discussion of Wheaton’s new book today at Whatever.  

… In Still Just A Geek, I write a lot about the child abuse, neglect, and exploitation I survived and still struggle with. It was incredibly challenging to revisit (and in the case of The Curse, relive) all of it. In the afterword, I wrote that I expected that doing that work would lead to a catharsis, but all it did was retraumatize me.

That was true, until I narrated the audiobook. Over the course of six or seven days, I said everything I wrote in the book out loud. I gave a voice to the child who was put to work against his wishes at seven years old. I gave a voice to the teenager who was abused by his father. I gave a voice to the young father and husband who was struggling to provide for his family while he also struggled to figure out what he was going to do with the rest of his life….

Click here to read an excerpt from Still Just A Geek

(2) THE LIST. While we’re talking about the struggle against things that make life hard, Tobias S. Buckell adds this question:

(3) ORIGIN OF THOUGHT SPECIES. In the LA Review of Books, Brian Attebery reviews a book that examines the question “Who Controls the Narrative?: On David M. Higgins’s ‘Reverse Colonization: Science Fiction, Imperial Fantasy, and Alt-Victimhood’”.

Both politicians and political scientists know the power of narratives: there is much talk about who controls and how to alter “the narrative.” But neither group tends to ask where these narratives are actually, you know, narrated. In his new book, Reverse Colonization: Science Fiction, Imperial Fantasy, and Alt-Victimhood, David M. Higgins offers a fascinating look into the process by which such stories are generated and transformed into cultural references and societal roadmaps.

Higgins examines a particular cluster of narratives about power and identity, a cluster that is nicely described in his title: stories that use the iconography of science fiction to express fear of the other and resentment of loss of power, thus giving a boost to a number of reactionary movements, from Brexit and the cult of Trump to anti-feminist internet trolldom. Higgins traces the origins of a set of powerful tropes in print science fiction from the 1960s and early 1970s; he then follows their spread through media and electronic culture as well as their uses in political rhetoric and advertising. His choice of decade might seem unnecessarily limiting — why not go back to the Gothic origins of science fiction or forward to survey the contemporary scene? — but it makes perfect sense as he guides us through the paranoid visions of Philip K. Dick, the heroic illusions of Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965), and the crumbling empires of J. G. Ballard, and then shows how these and their contemporaries provided the imagery, language, and narrative tropes that continue to mold behavior and set terms for debate….

(4) REPAYING IT FORWARD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses why far too many gamers are trolls.

…Two-thirds of gamers have experienced toxic behaviour in online multiplayer games, according to a study from games company Unity.  Anyone who has played an online shooter will be familiar with the abuse that fills your headphones and can escalate from ‘noob’ to ‘kill yourself’ within seconds.

Online gaming forums too are hotbeds of vitriol.  ‘Hate raids’ on Twitch–where mobs of trolls target streamers from minority backgrounds with spam and hate speech–have become so prevalent that streamers boycotted the platform last September in protest.  Anti-Defamation League research shows that marginalised groups suffer worst and that online abuse can cause real world harm, with 44 per cent of players feeling emotionally affected by attacks and 11 per cent of them reporting depressive or suicidal thoughts as a result….

(5) WE INTERRUPT THIS NARRATIVE. For those who just tuned in and for whom it’s important to believe that a genre that didn’t have a name until a hundred years ago was knowingly practiced by writers since Roman times, Grunge’s Richard Milner offers, “The 1,800-Year-Old History Of Science Fiction Explained”.

… But yes, science fiction does indeed go back to the 2nd century CE. That doesn’t mean that ancient sci-fi features cell phones, rocket propulsion, and quantum tunneling. Rather, it means that the recognizably current sci-fi tropes — extraplanetary adventure, alien races, space flight, and the rest — were present even back then, albeit in a softer, more fantastical form…. 

(6) GILBERT GOTTFRIED (1955-2022). Comedian and voice actor Gilbert Gottfried died April 12 from Recurrent Ventricular Tachycardia due to Myotonic Dystrophy type II. Primarily thought of as a comedian/comic actor by (likely) most people, he did tons of voice work in genre TV and films, mostly animated.

He was the voice of the wise cracking parrot Iago in Disney’s iconic animated film Aladdin (1992), the video Aladdin 2: The Return of Jafar (1994), and many more Aladdin-themed projects over the years.

His live-action genre film and TV work included episiodes of Superboy, The Weird Al Show (as “Al’s imaginary friend Gilbert”), and the last three Sharknado films. He also did voice work in episodes of The Ren and Stimpy Show, Superman: The Animated Series as Mr. Mxyzptlk, and many other sff shows.   

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1979 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-three years ago, I was at University which is where I saw Mad Max in a lovely old theater near there. Not a packed house but a decent gathering if I remember this correctly many years on. 

It was produced by George Miller and Bryon Eric Kennedy (who’d go on to Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior with him. He died at age thirty three when the helicopter he was piloting crashed at Warragamba Dam in New South Wales, Australia). 

The screenplay was by Miller and James McCausland. It’s his only screenplay and he shows up in Mad Max as the bearded man in an apron. 

Need I say who played the lead character here? I think not.

So how was the reception? 

First, it cost virtually nothing to produce, less than a half million, and made at least a hundred million globally. It holds the Guinness World Record for the highest box office to budget ratio of any motion picture ever.

Second, critics liked it. Or despised it. Philip Adams in the Australian Bulletin said that it had “all the emotional uplift of Mein Kampf”. Ouch. Whereas David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews stated that “Gibson’s thoroughly charismatic performance, along with Miller’s treatment of the film’s few high-octane moments, goes a long way towards keeping things interesting for the majority of Mad Max‘s mercifully brief running time.” 

It get an excellent seventy percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

It was not nominated for a Hugo but its sequel, The Road Warrior (with the alternative title of Mad Max 2) was at ConStellation. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 12, 1884 Bob Olsen. He wrote twenty-seven poems and stories that were published in Amazing Stories in the late Twenties and early Thirties. He’s said to be one of the first authors to use the term “space marines”. A search of both print and digital publishers does not show any indication that any of his genre or mystery fiction is now in-print. (Died 1956.)
  • Born April 12, 1916 Beverly Cleary. One of America’s most successful authors, almost a hundred million copies of her children’s books have been sold worldwide since her first book was published over seventy years ago. Some of her best-known characters are Ramona Quimby and Beezus Quimby, Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy, and Ralph S. Mouse. (Died 2021.)
  • Born April 12, 1915 Emil Petaja. He considered his work to be part of an older tradition of ‘weird fiction.’  He published thirteen novels and some one hundred and fifty short stories. His Otava series, published by Ace Books in the Sixties, is based on the Finnish national myth, The Kalevala. He was named the first ever Author Emeritus by the Science Fiction Writers of America. And he was chair of the Golden Gate Futurians, a club of writers and fans, hosting meetings at his home in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco. (Died 2000.)
  • Born April 12, 1921 Carol Emshwiller. I think her short stories are amazing and The Start of the End of It All and Other Stories collection won a World Fantasy Award. She’d later receive a Life Achievement honor from the World Fantasy Awards. I’ve not read her novels, so which would you recommend I read? Novel wise, she’s reasonably well stocked at the usual suspects but her collections are largely not there. (Died 2019.)
  • Born April 12, 1922 Vince Clarke. He first made acquaintance with fandom in the late Thirties, and was active as a fanwriter and editor from a decade hence including Science Fantasy News. He’d be the winner of the first TAFF in 1954 but didn’t take the trip. He worked on the 1957 Worldcon, Loncon I, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1995 Worldcon, Intersection. He helped create the British Science Fiction Association. (Died 1998.)
  • Born April 12, 1936 Charles Napier. Well, let’s meet Adam on the Trek episode of “The Way to Eden”. Oh, that’s a horrible outfit he’s wearing. Let’s see if he had better genre roles… well he was on Mission: Impossible twice in a truly anonymous roles, likewise he played two minor characters on The Incredible Hulk and he did get a character with a meaningful name (General Denning) on Deep Space 9. I’m surprised to learn that he voiced General Hardcastle in the Superman and Justice League Unlimited series, and also voiced Agent Zed for the entire run of the Men in Black animated series.  (Died 2011.)
  • Born April 12, 1958 Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink, 64. A LA-resident con-running fan. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons, frequently in the art shows. She has been a member of the Dorsai Irregulars. She is married to fellow fan Jerome Scott. Works for NASA where she’s co-authored papers such as “Measurements of Integration Gain for the Cospas-Sarsat System from Geosynchronous Satellites”.
  • Born April 12, 1968 Alicia Coppola, 54. She showed up on Voyager in the premier episode “Caretaker” as  Lieutenant Stadi. Depending on how you define genre, she was in National Treasure: Book of Secrets as FBI Agent Spellman, and had one-offs in Touched by an AngelThe Lazarus ManThe Burning ManThe SentinelProfilerThe Dead Zone and Teen Wolf. She was Dr. Ana Castillo in Blood & Treasure which surely is genre. 

(9) STRANGER THINGS. Season 4 is incoming. Variety sets the frame: “’Stranger Things 4′ Trailer Goes to War With Upside Down”.

The “Stranger Things” kids are all grown up and going to war with the monsters of the Upside Down in the official trailer for Season 4.

Set to a looping version of the pulse in Journey’s “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” the trailer sees Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Max (Sadie Sink) enter high school, while Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Will (Noah Schnapp) are in California. As the friends navigate their different surroundings, a new supernatural threat surfaces, forcing them to once again confront the horrors of the Upside Down….

(10) RUN DON’T WALK TO YOUR NEAREST THEATER. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This listicle of someone’s idea of the 15 “best” movie posters is a little over half genre. Maybe closer to 2/3 if you include all kinds of horror. YMMV. “These Are The 15 Best Film Posters Of All Time” at Buzzfeed. Images of the posters are at the link.

There have been many creative and eye-popping designs for film posters over the years, and a lot of them have become just as iconic as the films themselves. No matter how much they’ve told us about their respective movies, these posters made us want to line up and buy a ticket. These are the 15 Best Film Posters of All Time….

6. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Behind the shot of Elliott flying on his bike in front of the moon, this poster is one of the most memorable images of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi masterpiece. Invoking Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam,” this image is a marvelous display of a young boy’s first encounter with this magical little alien. 

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Critical Role’s The Legend of Vox Machina,” the Screen Junkies say that, even though we live “in a world where the only thing more boring than someone telling you about their dreams is someone telling you about their Dungeons and Dragons campaign,” this Amazon series, which raised $1.3 million on Kickstarter, could be the first successful adaptation of a tabletop game since 1985’s CLUE.”  After noting numerous board game adaptations that were failures (remember the Tom Hanks cheesefest Mazes And Monsters) this series “has so much D & D in it you’ll feel like you’re eating lunch alone in the eighth grade again.”  But then voice actor Matthew Mercer shows up and Mercer and the narrator have an epic voice rap battle!

The link is here.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/30/22 Everybody In This Scroll Is Wearing A Pixel, And Don’t Kid Yourself

(1) GAME MAKER SETTLES HARASSMENT SUIT. “Activision Blizzard to pay $18 million to harassment victims” reports the LA Times. However, a number of other such suits remain active.

Activision Blizzard agreed to set up an $18-million fund for employees who experienced sexual harassment or discrimination, pregnancy discrimination or retaliation as part of a settlement with a federal employment agency Tuesday.

The consent decree, which a federal judge said she intended to sign after a hearing Tuesday, comes in response to a lawsuit filed against the Santa Monica video game company in September by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which alleged that Activision employees were subject to “severe” and “pervasive” sexual harassment in the workplace.

Anyone who worked at the company after September 2016 and believes that they were subject to harassment, discrimination or retaliation will be eligible to apply for a share of the cash payout. The company officially denied all wrongdoing as part of the settlement, which also included requirements for regular audits overseen by the federal agency over the next three years, changes to workplace policies and anti-harassment training.

(2) MARK YOUR WESTEROS CALENDAR. TechRadar reports “Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon finally has a release date on HBO Max”.

Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon has finally been given a release date on HBO Max – and fans don’t have long to wait for Westeros’ return.

The 10-episode series, based on George R. R. Martin’s 2018 novel Fire and Blood, will begin streaming in the US and other HBO Max territories on August 21. Those in the UK will be able to access episodes at the same time as their US counterparts (on the morning of August 22) on Sky Atlantic and Now TV.

House of the Dragon will tell the backstory of the Targaryen dynasty, with events taking place 200 years prior to the events of the original show. Fans were treated to an ominous teaser trailer for the series back in 2021, but we’d expect a full-length trailer to drop imminently, given the recent news confirming its release date….

(3) FLASHBACK TO 2000AD’S 40TH BASH. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Alas, I could not make the 2017 event but one of my old college SF soc mates did a write up: “The 40th 2000AD anniversary event” at SF2 Concatenation.

PSIFA (my college SF society) has official permission from 2000AD (along with Cambridge U SF Soc) to have the Gronk as its mascot. We also visited its Command Module a couple of times back in the day (1979 and 1980) when it was based in London and had the 2000AD team as guests at one of our Shoestringcons, and Alan Grant as a guest of honour at one of our annual dinners. Indeed, at our college the SF soc was quite active as indicated by 2000AD being the second best-selling weekly (after New Scientist) at the college’s main campus Students Union shop.  So my links with 2000AD are somewhat historic. I must say, we never dreamed back then that it would last for the best part of half a century.  Indeed, I recall when some of us were chatting with them, that they themselves never thought the comic would last as evidenced by the fact they dubbed it with the then futuristic title 2000AD.  Well, we’re well past that milestone now…

The 40th anniversary celebratory bash cum one-day mini-con was very much a fan event with all the 2000AD Great & Good, script and art creator-droids present (there must been over 60 or so there), many with long queues for signings and sketches. And when the queues died off, you just wondered up for a chat. Tharg’s Nerve Centre and Pat Mills were particularly busy.

(4) HONEY, I’M HOME. “NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, Russian cosmonauts return safely to Earth”, and the Washington Post assesses how the two countries’ support teams cooperated.

Two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut landed in a remote area of Kazakhstan on Wednesday after undocking from the International Space Station and flying back to Earth in a historic mission that came amid mounting tensions over the war in Ukraine.

…The landing marks the end of a triumphant mission for Vande Hei, whose 355 days in space set a record for the longest single spaceflight for an American. His safe return, along with his Russian counterparts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov, also serves as a powerful symbol of partnership amid heightened tensions between the United States and Russia over the war in Ukraine — strain that has surfaced persistent questions about whether the relationship in space can endure.

Ever since Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine began more than a month ago, NASA has steadfastly maintained that the station has been operating normally and that its relationship of more than 20 years with the Russian space agency has been unaffected by the turmoil on the ground.

NASA deployed a team of about 20 personnel to Kazakhstan to retrieve Vande Hei, who would be whisked away in a helicopter to a NASA aircraft at a nearby airstrip. He is scheduled to fly directly back to Houston to be reunited with friends and family. The Russian and American teams appeared to be working well together in the recovery effort, which they have done many times before over their long partnership in space.

NASA has said it cannot operate the station without the Russians, which provide the propulsion that allows the ISS to keep its orbit and maneuver when needed. Russia needs NASA, as well, as the space agency provides power to the Russian segment of the station….

(5) GARRY LEACH (1954-2022). Artist Garry Leach died March 26 at the age of 67. The 2000AD website has an extensive tribute.

A modest and unassuming talent, by the time of his first work for 2000 AD – inking Trevor Goring’s work on the Dan Dare story ‘The Doomsday Machine’ in 1978 – his confident brushwork was already unmissable and although appearances were sporadic – whether on high-tech superspy series M.A.C.H.1 or on one-episode Future Shocks, including working with future collaborator Alan Moore – his self-assured style brought a solidity to its pages.

…His greatest and most famous work was co-creating the new Marvelman with Alan Moore in 1981. A revival of the unauthorised and believed-abandoned British version of Captain Marvel from the 1950s, this series for Dez Skinn’s Warrior anthology was a stunning deconstruction of the superhero genre that presaged Moore’s better-known work on Watchmen.

Garry’s sharp-lined realism brought a languid, sinewy quality to Marvelman that befitted Moore’s intense psychological script…. 

… After a spell working in advertising, Garry returned to comics in the late 1990s as John McCrea’s inker on Hitman, and worked for other DC Comics titles such as Legion of SuperheroesMonarchy and Global Frequency. He also inked fellow 2000 AD artist Chris Weston on J. Michael Straczynski’s The Twelve for Marvel Comics and returned to 2000 AD in 2004 to produce covers for the Judge Dredd Megazine….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1978 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-four years ago at IguanaCon II where Tim Kyger was the Chair and Harlan Ellison was the pro guest and Bill Bowers was the fan guest, Frederik Pohl’s Gateway wins the Hugo for Best Novel. 

The other nominated works for that year were The Forbidden Tower by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Time Storm by Gordon R. Dickson and Dying of the Light by George R. R. Martin. 

It was serialised in the November and December 1976 issues of Galaxy prior to its hardcover publication by St. Martin’s Press. A short concluding chapter, cut before publication, was later published in the August 1977 issue of Galaxy. (Huh? Why was this done?) 

It would win damn near every other major Award there was as it garnered the John Campbell Memorial for Best Science Fiction Novel, the Locus Award for Best First Novel, the Nebula Award for Novel and even the Prix Pollo-your Award for Best Science Fiction Novel published in France. It was nominated for but did not win the Australian Ditmar Award. 

It of course the opening novel in the Heechee saga, with four sequels that followed. It is a most exceptional series.

I’m chuffed that Pohl was voted a Hugo for Best Fan Writer at Aussiecon 4. Who can tell what works got him this honor? 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 30, 1928 Chad Oliver. Writer of both Westerns and SF, a not uncommon pairing of occupations at the time he’s was active. He considered himself an anthropological science fiction writer whose training as an academic informed his fiction, an early Le Guin if you will. Not a terribly prolific writer, with just nine novels and two collections to his name over a forty-year span. Mists of Dawn, his first novel, is a YA novel, which I’d recommend as it reads a lot to similar what Heinlein would write. (Died 1993.)

Born March 30, 1930 John Astin, 92. He is best known for playing as Gomez Addams in Addams Family, reprising his role in the Halloween with the New Addams Family film and the Addams Family animated series. A memorable later role would be as Professor Wickwire in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and I’d like to single out his delightfully weird appearance on The Wild Wild West as Count Nikolai Sazanov in “The Night of the Tartar” episode.

Born March 30, 1948 Jeanne Robinson. She co-wrote the Stardance Saga with her husband Spider Robinson. To my knowledge, her only other piece of writing was “Serendipity: Do, Some Thoughts About Collaborative Writing”‘ which was published in the MagiCon Program. (Died 2010.)

Born March 30, 1950 Robbie Coltrane, 72. I first saw him playing Dr. Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald on Cracker way back in the Ninties. Not genre, but an amazing role none-the-less. He was Valentin Dmitrovich Zhukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, with a much less prominent role as a man at an airfield in Flash Gordon being his first genre role. Being Rubeus Hagrid in the Potter franchise was his longest running genre gig. He’s also voiced both Mr. Hyde in the Van Helsing film and Gregory, a mouse, in The Tale of Despereaux film. 

Born March 30, 1958 Maurice LaMarche, 64. Voice actor primarily for such roles as Pinky and The Brain (both of which Stross makes use of in The Laundry series) with Pinky modeled off Orson Welles, near as I can tell the entire cast of Futurama, the villain Sylar on Heroes, the voice of Orson Welles in Ed Wood, a less serious Pepé Le Pew in Space Jam, and, though maybe not genre, he’s voiced  Kellogg’s Froot Loops spokesbird Toucan Sam and  the animated Willy Wonka character in Nestlé’s Willy Wonka Candy Company commercials.

Born March 30, 1990 Cassie Scerbo, 22. She’s only here because in researching Birthdays for this date, one site listed her as being a member of the cast of Star Trek: Progeny, yet another Trek video fanfic. Though IMDB has a cast listed for it, that’s about all I could find on it. If I was betting a cask of Romulan ale, I’d wager this was one of the productions that Paramount got shut down before it actually was shot.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Existential Comics pits Iron Man against the Villains of Society. (And don’t miss the alt text.)

(9) THOSE GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Sarah A. Hoyt explains her concept of a “contract with the reader,” and what it took for her to learn the importance of foreshadowing in “Just Sign on the Dotted Line” at Mad Genius Club.

… There was for instance the notable book whose description says that Mr. Bennet had improved the family fortunes, and so Lizzy and Darcy met on equal footing, which I stopped reading halfway through.

It wasn’t because our protagonists had not yet met. Yes, sure, the promise of any Jane Austen fanfic is that the couple will meet and have a happy ever after. I could have stayed with it, if they were having adventures leading up to “Everything between them changed in these ways.” It was that with that premise, the writer proceeded to give us exactly how Mr. Bennet improved family fortunes. To do her credit, she’d researched regency money and investment structures, and landowning, and how to improve land, and the price of cereals and….. Did I just fall asleep and drool on the table?

Yeah, after a first chapter that introduces the Bennet family, the author decided she’d suffered for her knowledge and we should too. When I got to the actual calculations pages, I gave up and hied to easier pastures. To be charitable, perhaps she’d been driven insane by the people who write regencies that assume that noblemen are businessmen, doctor is a revered status, and some dukes are accountants. It was still a major welshing on her contract with the reader.

Also in my own defense, my problems with foreshadowing were never as bad as the bad examples above. I just failed to establish the “range of the possible” in a book, and then had things happen that — to the reader — amounted to dropping an elephant from the ceiling onto the main character, with no warning….

(10) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 54 of the Octothorpe podcast, “John Coxon is dancing, Alison Scott is listening, and Liz Batty is Batman. We discuss the Chengdu Worldcon and the recent controversies they’re at the centre of, before moving onto discussing the FAAn Awards and books by Jo Walton and Naomi Novik.” Note: The episode was not yet loaded at the time this Scroll was posted.

A man with a beard wears a Necron-themed Christmas jumper, standing next to a Necron wearing an Octothorpe-themed Christmas jumper.

(11) ARTIFICIALLY INTELLIGENT STARGATE SCRIPT. Giant Freakin Robot announces “Richard Dean Anderson Joining The SG-1 Cast For New Stargate Episode”. (Subscription to The Companion is necessary to access the episode which is coming in May.)

When SG-1 entered its ninth season, Richard Dean Anderson ended his status as star and producer of the series. Instead, he opted to make several guest appearances. Now, much like his character, the former SG-1 star is being coaxed of retirement for a special reunion of the popular sci-fi show. According to Gate World, he is set to suit up Jack O’Neill for version 2.0 of Stargate A.I. The project, which was a table reading of a script written by artificial intelligence, was such a hit last November that The Companion has decided to give it another shot.

(12) FUTURE TRIAGE. In the Washington Post, Pranshu Verma says the US military is creating a program called In The Moment which would use AI to calculate military triage, while bioethicists debate whether it’s a good idea to let an algorithm determine who lives and who dies on the battlefield. “U.S. military wants AI to make battlefield medical decisions”.

…To that end, DARPA’s In the Moment program will create and evaluate algorithms that aid military decision-makers in two situations: small unit injuries, such as those faced by Special Operations units under fire, and mass casualty events, like the Kabul airport bombing. Later, they may develop algorithms to aid disaster relief situations such as earthquakes, agency officials said.

… Matt Turek, a program manager at DARPA in charge of shepherding the program, said the algorithms’ suggestions would model “highly trusted humans” who have expertise in triage.But they will be able to access information to make shrewd decisions in situations where even seasoned experts would be stumped.

For example, he said, AI could help identify all the resources a nearby hospital has — such as drug availability, blood supply and the availability of medical staff — to aid in decision-making.

“That wouldn’t fit within the brain of a single human decision-maker,” Turek added. “Computer algorithms may find solutions that humans can’t.”…

(13) THE NEED FOR SPEED. “Turing Award Won by Programmer Who Paved Way for Supercomputers”  — the New York Times has the story.

In the late 1970s, as a young researcher at Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago, Jack Dongarra helped write computer code called Linpack.

Linpack offered a way to run complex mathematics on what we now call supercomputers. It became a vital tool for scientific labs as they stretched the boundaries of what a computer could do. That included predicting weather patterns, modeling economies and simulating nuclear explosions.

On Wednesday, the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest society of computing professionals, said Dr. Dongarra, 71, would receive this year’s Turing Award for his work on fundamental concepts and code that allowed computer software to keep pace with the hardware inside the world’s most powerful machines. Given since 1966 and often called the Nobel Prize of computing, the Turing Award comes with a $1 million prize.

In the early 1990s, using the Linpack (short for linear algebra package) code, Dr. Dongarra and his collaborators also created a new kind of test that could measure the power of a supercomputer. They focused on how many calculations it could run with each passing second. This became the primary means of comparing the fastest machines on earth, grasping what they could do and understanding how they needed to change.

(14) CHIPS ON THE TABLE. With Love From Sweden has some big news about the country’s SJW credentials:  “Issue 66: The status of cats & scilla season”.

…Earlier this month riksdagen (the Swedish parliament) voted in favour of an amendment to the law on supervision of dogs and cats, which means that cats will soon have the same status as dogs. From January 1 2023, all cats in Sweden are to be registered and either chipped or tattooed – or the owners could face a fine. Cat shelters and other animal welfare organisations have advocated for this change for many years, to raise the status of the cat. According to the last count, there are approximately 1.159,000 cats in Sweden.

Since 2001, all dogs that live in Sweden need to be marked with an identity number and recorded in the dog register of the Swedish Board of Agriculture. The registered owner is responsible for the welfare and behaviour of the dog, and the same will go for cats. Many dogs were already id marked before 2001 and many cats are already id marked today….

(15) LONG TIME PASSING. “Hubble telescope detects most distant star ever seen, near cosmic dawn” – the Washington Post picks up the story from Nature.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there was a large and magnificently brilliant star that shined across the young, expanding universe. The starlight skewed blue. It was the cosmic morning, when everything in the universe was still new, raw, the galaxies still forming not long after the first stars had ignited and lit up the heavens.The light from that blue star traveled through space for billions of years, and then one day a few thin beams crashed into a polished mirror — the light bucket of the Hubble Space Telescope.

In a report published Wednesday in the journal Nature, a team of astronomers asserts that this is the most distant individual star ever seen. They describe it as 50 to 100 times more massive than our sun, and roughly 1 million times brighter, with its starlight having traveled 12.9 billion years to reach the telescope….

(16) EYE BEFORE AIYEE.The Sea Beast is a new animated feature from Netflix coming in July.

In an era when terrifying beasts roamed the seas, monster hunters were celebrated heroes – and none were more beloved than the great Jacob Holland. But when young Maisie Brumble stows away on his fabled ship, he’s saddled with an unexpected ally. Together they embark on an epic journey into uncharted waters and make history.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Spider-Man:  No Way Home,” the Screen Junkies say that Spider-Man. having played second fiddle to Iron Man, Iron Man’s personal assistant, and Iron Man’s astrologer, now has to play second fiddle to two other Spider-Men.  This “2 1/2 hour brain vacation” has “all the characters you loved” from the previous Spider-Man movies, “some of the characters you forgot about, and none of the characters Sony would like you to forget about.”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Jeffrey Smith, John A Arkansawyer, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Russell Letson.]

Pixel Scroll 3/29/22 But I Scrolled A Fan In Reno, Just To Watch Them File

(1) PHILLIPS’ LE GUIN BIO ACQUIRED. “Virago snaps up first and only authorised biography of Ursula Le Guin”The Bookseller says it will be out in 2026.

…Virago has pre-empted the first and only authorised biography of acclaimed science and speculative fiction author Ursula K Le Guin. It is written by Julie Phillips. 

Rose Tomaszewska, editorial director at Virago, acquired UK & Commonwealth rights from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit on behalf of Melissa Flashman in the US.  

Hearing of an auction to acquire the book in the US, the Virago team acted swiftly to pre-empt it, securing rights ahead of the US, which closed with Thomas Gebremedhin at Doubleday. Publication is slated for 2026. 

Phillips is the award-winning author of James Tiptree, Jr (Picador) and The Baby on the Fire Escape (WW Norton & Co). After Phillips interviewed Le Guin for her biography of Tiptree (the pseudonym of science fiction author Alice B Sheldon), Le Guin invited Phillips to “rescue me from the vultures”. 

Agreeing with Le Guin that the biography should be posthumous, Phillips spoke to her in-depth over several years and frequently visited her at her home in Portland, Oregon. …

(2) YOU BE THE JUDGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] 2000AD are not bad at running conventions. Their 40th anniversary convention in 2017 was quite something.  And now, this past weekend, they held their 45th anniversary event — but on-line due to on-going CoVID concerns.  Unlike many SF cons providing online content, 2000AD have made much of theirs easily accessible to the world at large.  There is simply too much to report, but check out their YouTube channel for over a score of zarjaz videos. Nonscrots and thrill suckers go hide. Splundig.

(3) PRONOUNS. In “Some Thoughts on Pronouns by Nancy Jane Moore” for Milford SF Writers, Moore has much to say before concluding —

… It’s past time to up our gender game.

Adopting the use of they is far from the last change we’re going to make in the language and none of what’s being said right now is going to be the last word on gender. Pay attention.

And no, you don’t get an exemption on account of age. Getting old doesn’t mean getting stuck in your rut. If you’re still writing or working or dealing with people in the world, you’re not too old to pay attention to the important changes around you.

Trust me on this one.

(4) ABOUT ALOPECIA. Will Smith’s violent response to Chris Rock’s joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s baldness is being discussed everywhere, even in comments here. And I was personally surprised to see my daughter’s former dance teacher Alison Hooper Keslake being interviewed by the local ABC 7 News station about her experience with alopecia and her thoughts about the joke. I haven’t seen Alison for probably six years, which was just before she began dealing with the malady. She now goes bald, too. Video of her remarks can be seen on Facebook.

(5) THINKING INSIDE THE BOX. Customers are ready to resume exploring literary space again. “Bookstores Tap Nostalgia for Borders, Barnes & Nobles”Bloomberg psychs it out.

…When the final Harry Potter installment was published on July 21, 2007, bookstores across the U.S. celebrated with midnight release parties — some with booze, befitting a series whose earliest readers were now in their 20s. These parties took place at thousands of bookstores at a time that was, in retrospect, Peak Bookstore.

“That era, 1997 to 2007, was truly a sweet spot for readers,” Jenna Amatulli reminisced in HuffPost in 2017. “They watched the fandom bloom from nothing, lined up willingly outside of a physical store — oftentimes without a celebrity-sighting incentive — and read without the fear of a push-alert or Twitter spoiler.”

Turnout for the same release today would be lower, because of Amazon.com Inc., because of dying malls, because of J.K. Rowling’s support for gender essentialism — and because there are simply fewer bookstores. Between 1991 and 2011, the U.S. lost 1,000 chain bookstores. A story in The Bulwark checking in on Borders locations 10 years after its 2011 bankruptcy revealed that some had become Books-A-Million, but many more of their “medium-box” locations now sold food, furniture or clothes.

Even so, that HuffPost story, now five years old, may have played taps for the chain bookstore too soon.

Plenty of Millennials who grew up with a Waldenbooks, a Crown or a Borders have the same nostalgia for those chains that they feel for the malls that once contained them. At the same time, Gen Z is taking to TikTok to talk about books — driving billions of views as well as sales for authors’ backlists — and staging those videos at Barnes & Noble. B&N’s green-and-cream decor persists as an accessible symbol for books and, in a country recently starved for social interaction, a place where one day we will browse together again. Trends may come and go, but wooden shelves and squishy chairs will always mean, “Curl up with a book.”

The last of the major chains is betting on that rebound: Barnes & Noble, which once said it would whittle itself down to 450 stores by 2022, started the year with 625 — and plans to add 20 to 25 more in 2022….

(6) LEND ME YOUR EARS. AND HANDS. KQED invites listeners to hear “Gonzo the Great on the Creativity and Collaboration Behind Jim Henson’s Muppets”.

In the early 1970s, Dave Goelz was an industrial designer working for Hewlett-Packard by day and obsessing over the puppets on Sesame Street in his spare time. Fifty years later, Goelz still has the dream job he left Silicon Valley to pursue. He’s the Muppet performer bringing life to Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Waldolf, Zoot and others. We’ll talk about the creative alchemy of Jim Henson’s Muppet universe with Goelz as well as Henson’s biographer and the curator of Imagination Unlimited, an exhibit about Henson which opens this week at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

You also can register for a free Zoom program “’The Best Idea Wins’: Dave Goelz and Larry Mirkin on Creativity and Collaboration” to be held April 24 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

[Item by Cat Eldridge.]

Captain’s log. Using the light-speed breakaway factor, the Enterprise has moved back through time to the 20th century. We are now in extended orbit around Earth, using our ship’s deflector shields to remain unobserved. Our mission – historical research. We are monitoring Earth communications to find out how our planet survived desperate problems in the year 1968.

Fifty-four years ago on this evening, Star Trek’s “Assignment: Earth” first aired on NBC as part of the second season. Guest starring Robert Lansing as Gary Seven and Terri Garr as Roberta Lincoln, our crew which has time-travelled to 1968 Earth for historical research encounters an interstellar agent and Isis, his cat, who are planning to intervene in Earth history. 

It was directed by Marc Daniels whose firsy break in the business was directing the first thirty eight episodes of I Love Lucy. (Remember where Trek was produced.) This was one of fifteen Trek episodes he’d direct. He won a Hugo at NYCon 3 with Gene Roddenberry for Best Dramatic Presentation for “The Menagerie”. 

The story by Art Wallace and Gene Roddenberry. Wallace, who also did the teleplay,  is best remembered for his work on the soap opera Dark Shadows. Oh and he did some scripts for Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.

It was intended as a pilot for an Assignment: Earth series that Gene Roddenberry planned but that never happened. That is interesting story as though Roddenberry’s intent was that Lansing and Garr would continue in the series if it was commissioned, but since NBC was not involved in casting the backdoor pilot, it could and well might have been that NBC would insisted on changes or even completely recast the series had it picked up. 

Interesting note: The uncredited human form of Isis was portrayed by actress, dancer, and contortionist April Tatro, not Victoria Verti, actress (in Rosemary’s Baby under the name of Angela Dorian) and Playboy Playmate of the previous year, as would become part of Trek lore. Her identity was unknown until 2019 when The Trek Files podcast cited a production call sheet for extras dated the fifth of January for the year of broadcast. 

For decades now, fans had believed that the very briefly seen human form of the cat Isis was portrayed by actress Victoria Vetri. Many articles and websites treat that belief as revealed truth. Recently Vetri herself confirmed that she was not in the episode. No idea why the rumor started. 

Barbara Babcock, best remembered as Grace Gardner on Hill Street Blues, a most excellent series, was the Beta 5 computer voice (uncredited at the time) and she did the Isis’ cat vocalizations as well. Speaking of that cat, it was played by Sambo as you can see by this NBC memo. Interestingly Lansing though would later contradict that claiming that there were actually three black cats involved. I can’t confirm his claim elsewhere. 

Though this back door pilot did not enter production as a television series, both Seven and Roberta were featured in multiple stories and they were spun-off into a comic book series from IDW Publishing, Star Trek: Assignment: Earth by John Byrne. And there was the excellent novelization of the episode that Scott Dutton did for Catspaw Dynamics. I’ve read it and it’s quite superb.  

In addition, according to Memory Alpha, the source for all things Trek, “Seven and Lincoln have appeared in several Star Trek novels (Assignment: Eternity and the two-volume series, The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh by Greg Cox) and short stories (“The Aliens Are Coming!” by Dayton Ward in Strange New Worlds III, “Seven and Seven” by Kevin Hosey in Strange New Worlds VI and “Assignment: One” by Kevin Lauderdale in Strange New Worlds VIII).”

The plot concept of benevolent aliens secretively helping Earthlings was later resurrected by Roddenberry for The Questor Tapes film. That film was one of a series of television movies in which Roddenberry was involved — Genesis IIPlanet EarthStrange New World and Spectre. Need I say none made it past the stage of the initial television movie which served as a pilot? 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 29, 1943 Eric Idle, 79. Monty Python is genre, isn’t it? If not, I know that The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Yellowbeard, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (nominated at MidAmericaCon), Quest for CamelotShrek the Third and Nearly Departed, an updated version of Topper, which he all had a hand in certainly are. And it turns out he’s written a witty SF novel, The Road to Mars: A Post-Modern Novel, which involves an Android, comedy and interplanetary travel.
  • Born March 29, 1947 Patricia Anthony. Flanders is one damn scary novel. A ghost story set in WW I, it spooked me for nights after I read it and I don’t spook easily. Highly recommended.  James Cameron purchased  the movie rights to her Brother Termite novel and John Sayles wrote a script, but the movie has not been produced. Cold Allies was a Compton Crook Award finalist for best first novel. (Died 2013.)
  • Born March 29, 1950 Val Mayerik, 72. “Aw, clam up, bud! You don’t even know the meaning of the word! Finding yourself in a world of talking hairless apes–Now that’s absurdity!” —Howard the Duck. Mayerik is best known as the co-creator along with Steve Gerber of Howard the Duck. He first appeared in Adventure into Fear #19, a horror comic published by Marvel. However he was not Howard the Duck there as he had no name at all at this point – they named him later.
  • Born March 29, 1955 Marina Sirtis, 67. Counselor Deanna Troi in the Trekverse.  Waxwork II: Lost in Time as Gloria is her first true genre film role followed shortly by a one-off on the The Return of Sherlock Holmes series as Lucrezia. And then there’s her mid-Nineties voice acting as Demona on Gargoyles, quite possibly her best role to date. Skipping some one-offs on various genre series, her most recent appearance was on Picard where she and Riker are quite happily married.
  • Born March 29, 1956 Mary Gentle, 66. Her trilogy of Rats and GargoylesThe Architecture of Desire (an Otherwise nominee), and Left to His Own Devices, is a stunning work of alternate history with magic replacing science. Ash: A Secret History is superb, it won both a BSFA and a Sideways Award as well as being a finalist for a Clarke and a Campbell Memorial. 
  • Born March 29, 1957 Christopher Lambert, 65. He became famous by playing Tarzan in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. I however best remembered him as Connor MacLeod in Highlander in which he had one of the worst Scottish accents ever attempted. He’s the villain in the Ghost Rider sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, but do we really have to mention that film?  And I absolutely refuse to admit that the first Highlander film spawned a series of sequels. Shudder! 
  • Born March 29, 1957 Elizabeth Hand, 65. Not even going to attempt to summarize her brilliant career. I will say that my fav works by her are the Shirley Jackson Award winning Wylding HallIllyria and Mortal Love. And let’s by no means overlook Waking the Moon which won both a Mythopoeic Award and an Otherwise Award. Her only Hugo nomination was at Renovation for her “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” novella. 
  • Born March 29, 1968 Lucy Lawless, 54. Xena in Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, cylon model Number Three D’Anna Biers on that Battlestar Galactica series. She also played Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg, the last of a line of Germanic witches on the Salem series. Her most recent genre role was Ruby Knowby, one of the Dark Ones, on the Ash vs Evil Dead series. Though not genre, she was Lucretia in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, its prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and its sequel Spartacus: Vengeance.

(9) NEWS MINUTE. It’s definitely genre. Trust me. “How Will Smith Got A Standing Ovation During His Oscars Speech” from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

(10) AUDIOBOOK KICKSTARTER. Student Loans Paid in Blood is joined by The Cursed Apps, the second volume in the “Hardboiled Magic” series for a two audiobook set, currently funding on Kickstarter.

“You know how everyone threatened to write a book during COVID?” asks author Todd Allen. “I actually did and returned to the Hardboiled Magic series. I’ve been away for too long.”

The audiobooks are performed by Erik Braa, known as the voice of Draven in the League of Legends series.

The campaign runs through Wednesday, April 27. Todd Allen encouraged us to link to the over 60 minutes of sample chapters available on the campaign page.

What does an occult detective do when a mad god owes him money? Follow the trail into a world of student loans paid off by ritual blood sacrifice, of industrial espionage that comes from beyond the grave and where urban renewal leaves a trail of corpses.

Here’s the book’s inciting incident, in its entirety:

In a desperate bid to prevent being ousted from his own company, a startup founder accidentally draws the attention of necromancers looking to protect their secrets. Occult attention spills over from the founder to his shady investor, whose entire portfolio becomes infested as a food delivery app delivers vampires, a dating app transmigrates souls and a social media influencer’s video game creates literal zombie followers. Are the apps cursed or is something else in play? It’s tale of death and revenge set against a sardonic look at the tech world and venture capital.

Here’s the inciting incident in its entirety:

(11) POMPEII AND CIRCUMSTANCES. Boston Dynamics’ Spot is the “Robot dog called in to help manage Pompeii” reports the Guardian.

…The dog-like robot is the latest in a series of technologies used as part of a broader project to better manage the archaeological park since 2013, when Unesco threatened to add Pompeii to a list of world heritage sites in peril unless Italian authorities improved its preservation….

A four-legged robot called Spot has been deployed to wander around the ruins of ancient Pompeii, identifying structural and safety issues while delving underground to inspect tunnels dug by relic thieves.

The dog-like robot is the latest in a series of technologies used as part of a broader project to better manage the archaeological park since 2013, when Unesco threatened to add Pompeii to a list of world heritage sites in peril unless Italian authorities improved its preservation.

Spot, made by the US-based Boston Dynamics, is capable of inspecting even the smallest of spaces while “gathering and recording data useful for the study and planning of interventions”, park authorities said.

The aim, they added, is to “improve both the quality of monitoring of the existing areas, and to further our knowledge of the state of progress of the works in areas undergoing recovery or restoration, and thereby to manage the safety of the site, as well as that of workers.”

(12) THUMBS UP, THUMBS OUT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Douglas Adams talks about So Long And Thanks For All The Fish and chats about a “forthcoming” Hitchhikers film that never appeared in his lifetime in this clip from the David Letterman Show in 1985.

(13) A MOMENT OF PEACE. Peter Capaldi in 2016 reads a letter by British Captain Reginald John Armes to his wife about the Christmas Truce of 1914 during World War I.

On Christmas Eve of 1914, five months into World War I, something amazing happened: thousands of British and German troops on the Western Front decided to put down their weapons and greet each other peacefully. For the next few days, 100,000 men, British and German, chatted, exchanged gifts, sang carols, played football. They also, without fear, were able to buried their dead. On the evening of December 24th, the first day of the truce, Captain ‘Jack’ Armes wrote to his wife and described this incredible occurrence.

(14) THAT’S THE SPIRIT. Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is a new game. Here’s the Official Reveal Trailer.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fanac.org has posted video of Rich and Nicki Lynch’s Mimosa 3.5 – a “live fanzine” done as a panel at Chattacon XIII on January 16, 1988. (You also can read the script in the PDF copy of Mimosa 4 hosted by the FANAC archive.)

Beginning with Doug Chaffee drawing the “cover” on camera, and ending with WAHF (“We Also Heard From”) excerpts from letters of comment, this recording really is Mimosa Live. Mimosa, edited by Rich and Nicki Lynch, was nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo 14 times between 1991 and 2004, and won 6 times.

Articles in Mimosa 3.5 are read/performed by Chattacon guests Ron Goulart (who also draws another cover), Jack Chalker and Maurine Dorris. Julius (Julie) Schwartz makes an appearance with “The Amazing Flying Wollheims”. You’ll also see a very young Pat Malloy, Eva Chalker and others.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, David K.M. Klaus, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Todd Allen, 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 Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 3/25/22 Look At The Scroll Turn Hell-File Red! Someone’s Pixel’s Clicking Down, Down, Down

(1) THIS IS WILD. Brandon Sanderson invites you to watch as “We Back Every Publishing Kickstarter*”. As one commenter said, “Never thought I would watch a 30+ minute video of someone funding Kickstarters.” I had to watch the whole thing myself!

Today we are going to do something awesome. The Kickstarter has been successful beyond my wildest dreams, so I got my team together and I said what can we do to give back a little to this community that has supported us so well? So we are going to back every single Kickstarter in the publishing category. This is going to be awesome. …And indeed, some of these we’re going to pull out and we’re going to talk about why we’re backing them and what’s cool about them and so we’re going to do a time lapse for you and you can watch in real time as we back these all… 

In the middle of this, the Sanderson team tripped over a previously unknown-to-them Kickstarter function which sends all of their own backers an email every time they back another one. After a load of emails had gone out Kickstarter locked up their account! The team had to open a new account to keep going. (At first they worried that — doing the multiplication – they had unintentionally generated nine million emails. They soon learned it was a lot less – the emails only go to those who opt-in to receive such notices.)

(2) ELDEN RING. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews FromSoftware’s release The Elden Ring.

Here is the DNA which defines a FromSoftware game: difficulty which borders on masochism; finely-tuned combat that rewards patience; and storylines told through text that necessitates elucidation in YouTube explainers. Elden Ring continues the tradition, weaving the classic ingredients through a storyline written with the assistance of Game of Thrones author George RR Martin.  You are ‘a Tarnished,’ tasked with venturing across the decaying ‘Lands Between to reunite pieces of a broken ring and become the ‘Elden Lord.’

It doesn’t matter.  For most players, the plot will come a distant second in a bold change in the FromSoftware formula:  a vast open world of great beauty where almost everything wants to kill you.  While the graphics look dated by current standards, the design is stunning: misty forests, golden cities, and rotting red deserts you race past on your trusty spirit-horse, Torrent.

(3) ROWLING DECLINES PUTIN’S DEFENSE. “Vladimir Putin Claims West Is ‘Trying To Cancel’ Russia” reports Deadline.

Russian premier Vladimir Putin has delivered a TV address in which he claimed the West is “trying to cancel” his country.

During a deranged-sounding rant, translated and broadcast by Sky News, Putin at one point said that Harry Potter author JK Rowling had been similarly cancelled “just because she didn’t satisfy the demands of gender rights”….

Rowling’s response was carried by BBC News: “JK Rowling hits back at Putin’s ‘cancel culture’ comment”.

JK Rowling has hit back at Vladimir Putin, after the Russian president cited her in a wide-ranging speech that saw him criticise “cancel culture”.

At a televised meeting on Friday, Mr Putin compared recent criticism of the Harry Potter author to that faced by pro-war Russian composers and writers.

In response, Ms Rowling denounced the invasion of Ukraine in which she said Russia was “slaughtering civilians”.

Rowling has been criticised for her views on transgender issues.

“Critiques of Western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance, or who jail and poison their critics,” the Harry Potter author wrote on Twitter.

In the lengthy speech, which was given to the winners of various cultural prizes, President Putin claimed Russian composers and writers were being discriminated against.

(4) POLL TESTS SUPPORT FOR BOOK BANS. “ALA Poll Finds Public Broadly Opposes Book Banning Efforts” reports Publishers Weekly.

By large majorities, American say they oppose recent efforts to remove books from schools and libraries, and say they trust in librarians to make appropriate collection decisions. The news comes from a national poll commissioned by the American Library Association, released this week at the Public Library Association conference in Portland, Ore.

Amid a proliferation of new legislation in some states and an uptick in efforts to ban books nationwide, the ALA poll found that 71% of voters oppose efforts to remove books from public libraries, including majorities of voters across party lines. Furthermore, 74% of parents of public school children expressed “a high degree of confidence” in school librarians to make good decisions about which books to make available to children. The poll also found librarians to be held in high in their communities….

(5) COVER REVEAL. [Item by Bence Pintér.] Valancourt Books unveiled the cover for Attila Veres’s debut collection in English: The Black Maybe. Attila is the top Hungarian weird/horror author, I am really glad to see him published in the US. The book will be released in October.

…This volume collects ten of his best tales in English for the first time, ranging from weird fiction like ‘In the Snow, Sleeping’, in which a couple’s vacation to a health spa erodes into a surreal nightmare, to folk horror like ‘Return to the Midnight School’, in which the things that emerge from the soil in one rural farming community are bizarre and horrific, to Lovecraft-inspired tales like ‘Multiplied by Zero’, written as a wry travelogue in which a man sets out on a deadly holiday tour to explore Lovecraftian landscapes. And in the title story ‘The Black Maybe’, which Steve Rasnic Tem calls ‘one of the weirdest tales I’ve read in years’, a girl and her family escape the bustling city to experience farm life, only to discover with unimaginable horror the truth of what is really being harvested there….

(6) ESSAY: FRITZ LEIBER’S HUGOS. [Item by Cat Eldridge.] I recently listened to one of the audio versions of Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time, the one narrated by Suzanne Toren, which was his first Hugo win for Best Novel or Novelette at Solacon (1958). It would be the first of six Hugos and two Retro Hugos that he would garner in a long and distinguished career. (A movie based on one of his books also won.) So let me recount these. 

After the win for The Big Time, he next picked two nominations at Detention (1959), one for a novelette, “A Deskful of Girls” and one for a short story, “Rump-Titty-Titty-Tum-TAH-Tee” (and may I say that I really, really love that title?); another short story, “Scylla’s Daughter”, was nominated at Chicon III (1962), the same year he picked a Special Award for “The Use of SF in Advertisements”. Anyone care to tell me about this award pretty please? 

At the first DisCon (1963) he picked up a short story nomination for “The Unholy Grail”. Also nominated for Best Dramatic Production that year was Burn, Witch, Burn, also known as Night of the Eagle, which as you know is based off Leiber’s Conjure Wife, 

Loncon II (1965) saw The Wanderer novel pick up a Hugo, and “Stardock” was a finalist at Tricon (1966) as a short story nominee. “Gonna Roll Them Bones” picked up the Novelette Hugo at Baycon (1968) with “Ship of Shadows” garnering the Best Novella at Heicon ’70. 

The first Noreascon (1971) would see his “Ill Met in Lankhmar” novella win a Hugo. (I truly love those stories, one and all.)  And then the first Aussiecon (1975) would see his “Midnight by the Morphy Watch” novelette nominated for a Hugo and the next year at MidAmeriaCon (1976), his “Catch That Zeppelin!” short story won a Hugo. 

That’s it for Hugos, though there’s the matter of Retro Hugos too. L.A. Con III (1996) would see his Destiny Times Three novel nominated and Millennium Philcon saw the “Coming Attraction” short story likewise. Another short story, “The Sunken Land”, got nominated at Worldcon 76 (2018). At Dublin 2019, where two of his novels were on the Retro Hugo ballot, Conjure Wife outpolled Gather, Darkness for Best Novel, while his “Thieves’ House” novelette was also a finalist.  

His last Retro Hugo was CoNZealand (2020) for Best Fan Writer. He’d also get a nomination that year for Best Related Work for The Works of H. P. Lovecraft: Suggestions for a Critical Appraisal.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 25, 1927 Sylvia Anderson. Film producer, writer, voice actress and costume designer, best known for her collaborations with husband Gerry Anderson on such Supermarionation series as ThunderbirdsSupercarFireball XL5 and Stingray. She was responsible for much of the actual shows and the characters on them, in particular creating the iconic characters of Lady Penelope and Parker in Thunderbirds. (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 25, 1920 Patrick Troughton. The Second Doctor, of course. Troughton had a long genre resume starting with Hamlet and Treasure Island early on before proceeding to such works as Scars of Dracula and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell later on. Telly-wise, I see him on R.U.R. Radius playing a robot, on a Fifties Robin Hood show being that character, and later on in The Feathered Serpent, a children’s series set in pre-Columbian Mexico where he starred as the scheming High Priest Nasca. H’h (Died 1987.)
  • Born March 25, 1939 D. C. Fontana. You know that I’m not going to be able to give her complete précis here? She’s that complex a writer and producer, so I’m sticking to her writing side here. She’s first of all a script writer and story editor, best known for her work on the original Trek franchise but she was also involved on Logan’s RunThe Six Million Dollar Man, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. She was a story editor on the short-lived Fantastic Journey, and so many revisions made to her script for Battlestar Galactica’s “Gun on Ice Planet Zero” that her name is nowhere near it.  Oh, and she created the story that became “Encounter at Farpoint”. Impressive that. My absolute favorite work by her is “The War Prayer” episode for the first season of Babylon 5, based on a idea by Straczynski.  She even wrote an episode of the series Reboot! (Died 2019.)
  • Born March 25, 1942 Richard O’Brien, 80. He wrote The Rocky Horror Show forty-nine years ago which has remained in almost continuous production globally. He also co-wrote the screenplay of The Rocky Horror Picture Show film which came out just two years later. He appears in the film as Riff Raff. He’s in Casino Royale as a stunt performer and in the 1980 Flash Gordon as Fico. The Robin of Sherwood series had him in a recurring role as Gulnar. 
  • Born March 25, 1942 Jacqueline Lichtenberg, 80. She was nominated at the second DisCon for Best Fan Writer, the year Susan Wood won, and Neffy (National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Award) for Fan of the Year thirty-four years later. She’s written a number of Trek works and more fiction in the Sime/Gen ‘verse which I hadn’t known existed until now. If you’re so interested in the latter, she’s extremely well stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born March 25, 1947 Paul Levinson, 75. “The Copyright Case” novelette would garner him a much deserved HOMer Award. It was the first work in a series of novels and short stories featuring the fascinating NYPD forensic detective Dr. Phil D’Amato who first appeared in Levinson’s “The Chronology Protection Case” novelette. You can purchase it from the usual digital sources.
  • Born March 25, 1964 Kate DiCamillo, 58. She is one of only six people to win two Newbery Medals for her novels The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses. I’m not familiar with the latter work, but the former is a wonderful read that got turned into a remarkably good film as well, something that but rarely happens alas. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) PRINCE VALIANT ART. Nate D. Sanders Auctions is offering art from “The John Cullen Murphy Prince Valiant Estate” – bidding closes March 31.

We’re pleased to offer collectors nearly 400 lots of Prince Valiant artwork from the estate of John Cullen Murphy, the man handpicked by creator Hal Foster to continue Val’s epic journey of adventure, romance and bravery. Never before have so many lots of original Prince Valiant art been available at auction, ranging from preliminary sketches by Hal Foster, to full-page strips by John Cullen Murphy from the 1970s to 2000s. The result is a feast for the eyes and heart, the grand illustrations that Prince Valiant is known for, coupled with the characters and tales that have captivated millions of fans the world over.

(10) WHAT WAS THE NAME OF HIS OTHER LEG? (Come on, you’ve seen Mary Poppins, you don’t need the straight line.) “Why C-3PO Had a Silver Leg in the Original Star Wars Trilogy”CBR looks for the answer.

Over the decades, part of what has made the Star Wars franchise so interesting to its fans is the slew of questions that have arisen from the films. While some of them were answered in future movies and TV shows, others remained largely unanswered or unexplored in any form of media. However, that doesn’t mean that there may not be some history to it in some way, and a great example of that fact can be found in C-3PO’s silver leg from the Original Trilogy.

In an interview with Threepio actor Anthony Daniels, he explained the various changes and updates to his suits over the years and how they’ve adapted over time. For example, when he reached The Empire Strikes Back, he discussed how his shin was never gold but a shade of silver. While it was easy to see on the action figures, most of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back made it far more challenging to see. But Daniels also explained some clever behind-the-scenes reasons as to why the leg appeared gold on camera….

(11) INHALE, EXHALE, CRUSH. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I know it’s not SF-ish but I do like questions like this… “Why boa constrictors don’t suffocate when they squeeze their prey to death” at Science.

The fearsome boa constrictor (Boa constrictor) lives up to its name. Whenever it’s hungry, the 4-meter-long snake wraps itself around rodents, birds, or even pigs, literally squeezing the life out of them. So why don’t boas collapse their own lungs in the process?

To find out, scientists strapped a blood pressure cuff (like the one your doctor uses) around the midsections of eight boas in their lab…. 

(12) TOMBSTONE TERRITORY. This might be a spoilerCinemaBlend gives directions: “RIP James Bond: No Time To Die Fans Can Now Pay Their Respects To The Final Resting Place Of Daniel Craig’s 007”.

… Through the Guide to the Farroe Islands website, fans of Ian Fleming’s legendary creation can now book what’s being called “the official James Bond tombstone tour.” On this seven hour excursion, a guided tour will take participants through the sights and sounds of Kalsoy island, where No Time To Die filmed its sequences involving the evil lair of Rami Malek’s Safin. The main attraction is the very spot where James Bond stood in his last moments, as that is now the spot of a tombstone honoring the man himself….

(13) PHONE ON A LEASH. “Too Much Screen Time? Landline Phones Offer a Lifeline” reports the New York Times.

First came the rhinestone-encrusted rotary. Then the cherry-red lips. After that, the cheeseburger.

By last summer, Chanell Karr had amassed a collection of six landline phones. Her most recent, an orange corded model made as a promotional item for the 1986 film “Pretty in Pink,” was purchased in June. Though she only has one of them — a more subdued VTech phone — hooked up, all are in working order.

“During the pandemic I wanted to disconnect from all of the things that distract you on a smartphone,” said Ms. Karr, 30, who works in marketing and ticketing at a music venue near her home in Alexandria, Ky. “I just wanted to get back to the original analog ways of having a landline.”

Once a kitchen staple, bedside companion and plot device on sitcoms such as “Sex and the City” and “Seinfeld,” the landline phone has all but been replaced by its newer, smarter wireless counterpart….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Spider-Man–Best Picture Summary,” the three Spider-Men make fun of the Best Picture nominees.  With The Power Of The Dog, they say, “You want Dr. Strange acting like a jerk?  We have that!”

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

Pixel Scroll 3/24/22 If You Want A Picture Of The Future, Imagine A Hand Clicking On A Pixel Scroll – For Ever

(1) MOPOP INTRODUCES NEW ONLINE COLLECTION VAULT. [Item by Frank Catalano.] Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture is finally putting part of its collection online. This is a very cool development for fans of science fiction as popular culture.

The announcement this week only covers a small part of the MoPOP permanent collection, but it’s far more than has been available before. I originally visited and covered the physical MoPOP vault in 2014 for GeekWire (“Preserving the future: A rare glimpse inside the EMP Museum vault”) and interviewed its curators for a podcast about preservation a few years later (“Preserving the future: How MoPOP protects and presents our ever-changing popular culture”).

How do I know it’s only a small subset of everything MoPOP has to offer? Back in 2014, I donated more than 50 lobby cards for science fiction and fantasy films to the permanent collection, and only one has appeared in the online vault so far, for Futureworld. (WHY that crappy movie and not ones for 2001, Planet of the Apes, or others? No idea.)

Direct link: MoPOP Online Collection Vault.

(2) GAIMAN’S ANSWERS. “Neil Gaiman Q&A: ‘As long as there’s a Tardis, all’s right with the world’” in New Statesman.

What’s your earliest memory?

My grandmother taking me to a bridge in my pushchair to watch the steam trains go by. I was 23 months old. I also remember her venting, months later, about the Beatles song “She Loves You” and how their use of the word “yeah” instead of “yes” meant we were now all living in the end times.

Who are your heroes?

As a boy I loved urbane and unflappable literary characters, such as PG Wodehouse’s Rupert Psmith, and indomitable heroes on television – Adam West’s Batman, Adam Adamant, Doctor Who, and the Monkees. When I was a teenager the Stranglers released “No More Heroes” around the same time that David Bowie sang “Heroes”. I listened to them both and thought we are meant to be our own heroes…

(3) KIJ JOHNSON’S NEW JOB. The Ad Astra Center for Science Fiction & the Speculative Imagination at the University of Kansas has announced that sff author Kij Johnson will join the Center as Associate Director. Johnson previously held the same title at KU’s Gunn Center for the Study of SF.

“Kij is a fantastic writer and educator. I’m very excited that she is on board to help shape the vision and impact of Ad Astra,” said center Director Chris McKitterick. “She has been a valued colleague for many years and someone I admire for their tenacity of thought, dedication to students, and excellence in craft.”

Johnson is a writer of speculative and experimental short fiction and novels. She has won the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, as well as the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire and others.

In 2013, she gave the inaugural Tolkien Lecture at Oxford University; since then, she has been a guest of honor at conferences and conventions in Sweden, France, and the United States. Johnson has also been a professor in the Department of English at the University of Kansas, starting in 2012.

“Science fiction—speculative fiction—offers a unique way of engaging with big ideas. In some ways, it is the dominant storytelling mode of our era,” Johnson said. “To continue my work exploring speculative fiction as a practitioner and educator through the efforts of the Ad Astra Center is particularly gratifying.”

These efforts will include many of the center’s public outreach projects, including conferences, classes, presentations, masterclasses, events, and workshops. Kij will be on hand to offer her expertise and experience in driving these projects.

“Right now, Kij and I are planning some wonderful things,” said McKitterick. “For fans, scholars, and writers of spec fic, there will be a lot to enjoy.”

(4) SEE SLF PANEL. The Speculative Literature Foundation has posted their panel “Creating a Shared World” on YouTube.

Writers from George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards and Ellen Kushner’s Tremontaine come together to talk about the challenges and delights of working in a shared universe. Panelists: Ellen Kushner, author of Swordspoint and other fantasy novels, Delia Sherman author of The Porcelain Dove, Walter Jon Williams author of the Privateers and Gentlemen series, and David D. Levine author of Arabella of Mars. Moderated by Mary Anne Mohanraj, SLF Director.

(5) LE GUIN BIO. Publishers Marketplace, behind a paywall, notes that Julie Phillips, author of the Hugo Award-winning James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, is at work on an untitled biography of Ursula K. Le Guin (first revealed in 2016) “which will intimately examine Le Guin’s intellectual and emotional development as a person and writer, her struggles with depression, her visionary politics, and her commitment to literary freedom.”

(6) A WORKING WRITER. Cat Rambo shares some words of wisdom from “Jane Yolen on Creativity, Productivity, and Returning to Scotland” on Medium.

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Jane Yolen, author of literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books, poems, and stories. This was such a joy of an interview that I wanted to pull out some of my favorite quotes….

(7) OPEN THE POD BAY DOOR HAL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] … And for God’s sake hold onto that rope!

An article in Vanity Fair (partial paywall) tells stories of the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey. These include the critical scene where astronaut Dave Bowman (played by Kier Dullea) is attempting to re-enter Discovery One and has to try a hazardous jump through vacuum without a helmet.

Dullea did the stunt himself because his face would be to the camera. In fact, his face could have ended up in the camera. The stunt was performed by the expedient of having the actor drop down a vertical shaft toward a camera mounted at the bottom. To control his fall, a rope was tied to him and belayed by a crewmember who had to stop Dullea when a knot tied in the rope reached the crewman’s hands.

I’m sure Dullea was never happier to get a scene right on the first take. And I’d make a bet he took more than one deep breath after doing so. “Behind the Scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Strangest Blockbuster in Hollywood History”.

… By March the production had moved onto its most elaborate set of all: the Discovery’s work and living area, a centrifuge that rotated to simulate gravity. Kubrick’s production team had taken six months to build an actual centrifuge, with a diameter of 40 feet and a weight of 40 tons. Dressed for its entire 360 degrees, the set could turn forward or backward, at a top rate of three miles an hour, creaking and groaning as it got up to speed. For some scenes the actors had to be strapped in place by hidden harnesses as they spun upside down, with props such as meal trays and video pads glued or bolted in place. Depending on the shot, the set’s entire circumference might be aglow with lights, the actors locked inside and forced to turn on the camera themselves before hitting their marks. In production photos the set resembles a demented and unlikely torture device, a hybrid of jewelry tumbler and blistering heat lamp. With God knows how many megawatts surging through the entire setup, lights frequently exploded while unsecured props and overlooked pieces of equipment plummeted as they reached the top of the arc, narrowly missing actors and crew members. “A portentous spectacle, accompanied by terrifying noises and popping light bulbs,” as Clarke described it….

(8) TIME BENDER. Brian James Gage discusses how he places real people in his supernatural historical novels at CrimeReads: “How (and Why) I Write Supernatural Historical Fiction”.

…Each day started with a brief meditation session where I would clear my mind and say to myself, “All that matters is the characters. Follow their lead, their needs and desires, and everything else about the narrative will unfold naturally.” As after all, in fiction, it truly is the characters who guide the story.

Let them lead and the story-arc will follow.

During my brief meditation, I would ask my characters what they were doing that day, how they were feeling, what they needed, and even if there was anywhere specific they wanted to go. Then I would kindly ask them to show up to set, so I could guide them on a wild and horrific adventure. And during this new ritual, I found something of vast importance—my authentic voice. In August 2020, I had the first draft of The Sommelier complete and for the first time in my life, the entire process felt like a wellspring of creativity and command as I purged my characters’ truth onto the page….

(9) TEXAS SCHOOL DISTRICT SCREENS LIBRARY HOLDINGS. In the wake of actions by Texas governor Greg Abbott, “Texas superintendent tells librarians to pull books on sexuality, transgender people” reports NBC News.

…“I don’t want a kid picking up a book, whether it’s about homosexuality or heterosexuality, and reading about how to hook up sexually in our libraries,” Glenn said.

He also made it clear that his concerns specifically included books with LGBTQ themes, even if they do not describe sex. Those comments, according to legal experts, raise concerns about possible violations of the First Amendment and federal civil rights laws that protect students from discrimination based on their gender and sexuality.

“And I’m going to take it a step further with you,” he said, according to the recording. “There are two genders. There’s male, and there’s female. And I acknowledge that there are men that think they’re women. And there are women that think they’re men. And again, I don’t have any issues with what people want to believe, but there’s no place for it in our libraries.”

Minutes later, after someone asked whether titles on racism were acceptable, Glenn said books on different cultures “are great.” 

“Specifically, what we’re getting at, let’s call it what it is, and I’m cutting to the chase on a lot of this,” Glenn said. “It’s the transgender, LGBTQ and the sex — sexuality — in books. That’s what the governor has said that he will prosecute people for, and that’s what we’re pulling out.”

Over the next two weeks, the school district embarked on one of the largest book removals in the country, pulling about 130 titles from library shelves for review. Nearly three-quarters of the removed books featured LGBTQ characters or themes, according to a ProPublica and Texas Tribune analysis. Others dealt with racism, sex ed, abortion and women’s rights. 

Two months later, a volunteer review committee voted to permanently ban three of the books and return the others to shelves. But that may not be the end of the process…. 

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1999 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-three years ago this month, Rainbow Mars was published by Tor. It is my absolutely favorite work by Larry Niven, with Ringworld being my second. It contains six stories, five previously published and the longest, “Rainbow Mars”, written for this collection, plus some other material. It is about Svetz, the cross-reality traveler who keeps encountering beings who really should not exist including those Martians. 

The first story, “Get A Horse!” was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in October 1969. That was followed by “Bird in the Hand” in the same magazine, October of the next year. Surprisingly the third story, “Leviathan!” was published in Playboy in August of that year. 

(Yes I know Playboy did a lot of SF, it’s just that I wouldn’t have expected this story to show up there. It fits F&SF better in my opinion. Your opinion on that matter of course may differ.)

Then “There’s a Wolf in My Time Machine” was published in October of that year in the fine zine that printed the first two. Finally the last story that got printed at that time, “Death in a Cage” was published in Niven’s The Flight of the Horse collection in September of 1973 which collected these stories as well. (The Flight of the Horse also had “Flash Crowd” which I like a lot and “What Good is a Glass Dagger?” which is fantastic.) 

Now we get Rainbow Mars, the novel that finishes out the work this delightfully silly work. Some of Pratchett idea’s from a conversation he had with Niven remain in the final version of Rainbow Mars, mainly the use of Yggdrasil, the world tree. Though there’s Norsemen as well…

There’s two other two short pieces, “The Reference Director Speaks”, in which Niven speaks about his fictional sources for the Mars he creates, and “Svetz’s Time Line” which is self-explanatory. 

An afterword, “Svetz and the Beanstalk”, rounds out the work in which Niven talks about the fictional sources for Rainbow Mars as a whole.

The fantastic cover art, which was nominated for a Chelsey Award, is by Bob Eggleton who has won, if my counting skills are right tonight, an impressive nine Hugos, mostly for Best Professional Artist though there was one for Best Related Work for his most excellent Greetings from Earth: The Art of Bob Eggleton

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 24, 1834 William Morris. Credited with creating the modern fantasy literature genre which may or may not be true, he certainly wrote some of its earlier works, to note his epic poem The Earthly ParadiseThe Wood Beyond the World and The Well at the World’s End, plus his entire artistic motif fits nearly within a fantasy literature and artistic design that looks as if it was created by the Fey Themselves. All of his works can be found at the usual digital suspects, often at no cost. (Died 1896.)
  • Born March 24, 1874 Harry Houdini. His literary career intersects the genre world in interesting ways. Though it’s not known which ones, many of his works were apparently written by his close friend Walter B. Gibson who as you know is the creator of The Shadow. And one famous story of his, “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs”, was actually ghost written by Lovecraft! ISFDB lists another piece of genre fiction for him, “The Spirit Fakers of Hermannstad”. And IMDB notes that he appeared in The Master Mystery which decidedly genre with robots and death rays. (Died 1926.)
  • Born March 24, 1930 Steve McQueen. Another one who died far too young. He got his big break by being the lead, Steve Andrews, in The Blob. Setting aside the two different roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents which are at least genre adjacent, The Blob is his only genre appearance in his brief life. He died of a damn heart attack. (Died 1980.)
  • Born March 24, 1946 Gary K. Wolfe, 76. Monthly reviewer for Locus for twenty-seven years now and yes I enjoy his column a lot. His brief marriage to Ellen R. Weil ended with her tragic early death. They co-wrote Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever. Old Earth Books has reprinted many of his reviews done between 1992 and 2006 in  Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996. He’s also written several critical looks at the genre, Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy and The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction. The Coode Street Podcast was nominated seven times before winning a Hugo at DicCon III; his Bearings: Reviews 1997-2001 was nominated for Best Related Work at Renovation; and Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996 was nominated for the same at L.A. Con IV. Very impressive indeed.
  • Born March 24, 1946 — Andrew I. Porter, 76. Editor, publisher, fan. He discovered fandom in 1960 and before the end of the year his first news-related column about upcoming paperbacks was appearing in James V. Taurasi’s Science Fiction Times. Porter has been nominated for the Hugo 26 times in the fanzine and semiprozine categories. His fanzine Algol: The Magazine About Science Fiction, later renamed Starship, won a Hugo for Best Fanzine in 1974, in a tie with Richard E. Geis, who was then doing The Alien Critic. (OGH accepted that Hugo on behalf of Geis. Sorry!Porter won two more Hugos with Science Fiction Chronicle, the newzine he began publishing monthly in May 1980, and twenty years later sold to DNA Publications.  He has won the Big Heart Award, and was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1990 Worldcon. And with John Bangsund, he was responsible for Australia hosting its first Worldcon. (OGH)
  • Born March 24, 1949 Tabitha King, 73. Wife of Stephen, mother of that writing brood. I met her but once on the lot of the original Pet Sematary a very long time ago. ISFDB to my surprise lists only two novels she’s written solely by herself, Small World and Wolves at the Door, and one with Michael McDowell, Candles Burning. None of her books are with her husband which surprises me. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • From Idiot of the East:

(13) STORYBUNDLES. Learn how the sausage is made: “THE INDIE FILES: A Guide to SFWA StoryBundles” at the SFWA Blog.

… We seek a well-rounded collection that includes a variety of subgenres and a diversity of authors, settings, and characters. We also look for unique takes on our theme, which means you should never self-reject if you think your book only kind-of fits! 

Conversely, because readers do not select each book individually in a bundle, we avoid books that preach a strong message or contain content that many readers may find disturbing. Those books have a place! But we prefer not to roll them into our bundles….

(14) EVEN-MORE-COLOSSAL CAVE, COMING SOON(ISH). [Item by Daniel Dern.] “Sierra Founders Ken And Roberta Williams Are Remaking 1976’s Colossal Cave Adventure” reports HotHardware. Alternate item title, perhaps: “I’d Love To Play A New Version Of That Game,” said Dern adventurously.

“Roberta and Ken Williams were retired for 25 years, mostly living in Mexico, playing golf, and exploring the world on their boat. In 2020 when the Covid pandemic struck, Ken and Roberta were locked down like everyone. Ken was bored and Roberta suggested he write a book about Sierra. The process of writing the book brought back long forgotten memories resulting in Ken deciding to learn Unity and deciding to make a game,” a related FAQ explains.

They didn’t have any interesting in starting another company, and instead were “just looking for something fun to build.” Roberta had the idea to pay homage to the game that inspired Sierra and “changed our lives.”

And so here we are. Colossal Cave 3D Adventure is being built with Unity. It promises a fully immersive 3D experience with over 143 locations to explore, and will release to the Quest 2, PC, and Mac. And true to old school form, there will be a boxed version (with a USB stick in the box), though those details are still being hammered out.

You will be in a 3D maze of twisty passages! A hollow voice is unlikely to cry out, “God stalk!” 🙂 (quips Dern).

(15) INITIAL THOUGHTS. On a different subject, Daniel Dern suggested a too-long Scroll title that is too entertaining to actually discard, so here it is.

If Hans Solo and Chewie started shipping while doing the Kessel Run, we could have T-shirts that were NSFW NFT of a WTF FTL WFH? Nah, NFW.

(16) TAKING THE HYDE OFF ‘EM. “Jekyll & Hyde files for bankruptcy with $1.5M owed in rent” while Crain’s New York Business is watching the courthouse.

Actors put on shows during dinner and each floor of the restaurant focuses on a different aspect of a fictional, 1930s British explorers club, from science fiction to the Gothic horror of its namesake characters, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Andrew Porter says, “They used to have a branch in the 50s on 6th Avenue, where I went during a Nebula or Stoker weekend, with Stephen Jones and others, A Long Time Ago…”

(17) ERASURE. “Hit Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Reboot Debuts First Trailer” and Comicbook.com walks us through it.

… This new chapter of the Eraser series trades Schwarzenegger’s John Kruger character for a different U.S. Marshal named Mason Pollard who “specializes in engineering the fake deaths of witnesses that need to leave no trace of their existence.” As you can see in the trailer, this film once again goes with the premise of the Eraser’s mission being compromised in a serious way, forcing him to go on the run with a key witness that’s in his care….

(18) SPACE-TIME. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The cover on this week’s edition of Nature has an SFnal riff. The cover image shows a view of the Milky Way captured at Nambung National Park in Western Australia. To understand how the Galaxy formed requires precision age dating of the stars that it contains. In this week’s issue, Maosheng Xiang and Hans-Walter Rix of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, present an analysis of the birth dates for nearly 250,000 stars in their subgiant evolutionary phase, when they can serve as precise stellar clocks. The researchers found that the individual ages of the stars ranged from about 1.5 billion to more than 13 billion years old. Tripling the age-dating precision for such a large stellar sample allowed the researchers to infer the sequence of events that initiated our Galaxy’s formation. Using this information, Xiang and Rix were able to determine that the oldest part of our Galaxy’s disk had already begun to form about 13 billion years ago, just 800 million years after the Big Bang, and that the formation of the inner Galactic halo was completed some 2 billion years later.

(19) HE’S BACK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan Reynolds and Mark Ruffalo team up with a Valued Senior Actor about daylight savings time as they plug The Adam Project.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Batman Returns Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George explains that in this movie Oswald Cobblepot became The Penguin because his parents threw him out the window into a river but penguins saved him,  Villain Max Schreck thre Selina Kyle out of a window but cats licked her a lot so she became Catwoman.  The producer explains he was personally saved by pigeons but since this si a family blog we won’t discuss what happened to him!

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Frank Catalano, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]

Pixel Scroll 3/21/22 Go Strider In The Sky 

(1) BALTICON GUEST NEWS. Balticon 56 announced that Odera Igbokwe has had to withdraw as Artist Guest of Honor due to personal reasons.

They followed up by naming two special guests: Kevin Roche, a costumer, conrunner, and quantum scientist and his husband Andy Trembley, a filker, costumer, and conrunner.

Balticon, which takes place May 27-30, also confirmed they will be streaming their most popular program tracks, and hosting virtual panels, kaffeeklatsches, author readings and more.

Virtual pricing for the whole weekend is $30 for adults and $20 for young adults. Virtual membership is automatically included with any in-person membership purchase. (Full rate information is here.)

(2) ESFS AWARDS NOMINEES. The European Science Fiction Society has released the nominations for the 2022 Achievement Awards, Hall of Fame Awards, and Chrysalis Awards.

The winners of these awards will be selected at the next general meeting of the ESFS, which will take place at Luxcon 2022, which takes place from 7th to 10th April, 2022 in Dudelange, Luxembourg.

(3) GRRM-CONNECTED GAME SUCCESS. Yahoo! reports “’Elden Ring’ Sells Over 12 Million Copies Worldwide”  — “Almost as many as PacMan,” teases John King Tarpinian.

While publisher Bandai Namco initially predicted that FromSoftware‘s Elden Ring would sell around 4 million units, the game has more than surpassed expectations. In the 18 days following its release, over 12 million copies of Elden Ring have been sold worldwide, the two companies announced on Monday.

According to the press release, the game was released throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 1 million units were sold in Japan alone.

Created in collaboration with novelist George R. R. Martin, who is best known for writing the series behind Game of Thrones, Elden Ring is an open-world action RPG that entered development in 2017. Players begin with a linear opening but are gradually enabled to explore the mythical Lands Between….

And George R.R. Martin recently took a moment to deny a story about the game.

…Oh, and as long as I am setting stuff straight, there’s a weird story all over the internet about how I “hid” my initials in ELDEN RING because… ah.. some of the characters have names beginning with R, or G, or M.   To which I say, “Eh?  What?  Really?”   This was news to me.    I have been writing and publishing stories since 1971, and I suspect that I have been giving characters names beginning with R and G and M since the start.   Along with the other twenty-three letters of the alphabet as well…  

(4) WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE IF THE MANDALORIAN WAS INDIGENOUS? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Pretty cool Star-Wars-Inspired works by Canadian artist Christal Ratt got featured on the CBC News this weekend. Ratt, a member of the Barriere Lake Algonquin Nation in Quebec, used traditional techniques to create birch-bark armour modelled after the Mandalorian’s beskar armour. “What if the Mandalorian’s armour was birch bark instead of beskar? An Algonquin artist brings that to life”.

…And while it may not be able to stop lightsabers, the wearable piece of art also includes a birch bark helmet, with quilled Woodland florals and different shades of orange to honour residential school survivors from her community. 

The piece is called Shemaginish, which means warrior….

Personally, I find it really interesting to note that several artists of Indigenous Canadian descent are reinterpreting Star Wars iconography through traditional Indigenous styles. In addition to Ratt, there are several examples I can think of this, including well-known Canadian artists Andy Everson (a member of the Comox First Nation), and Aaron Paquette (a member of the Métis community in Edmonton) have found inspiration in mixing Star Wars with styles drawn from their respective Indigenous communities.

(5) AUTHOR’S GUILD SUPPORTS SMART COPYRIGHT ACT. The Author’s Guild announced, “AG Supports Introduction and Passage of the SMART Copyright Act of 2022”.

Why the Smart Copyright Act Is Necessary

The safe harbors for internet platforms in the Copyright Act are conditioned on the platforms’ cooperation to remove pirated content. The law has not worked as intended by Congress to encourage that cooperation, however, because the courts resisted enforcing the loss of safe harbors. In doing so, they took the teeth out of the law. As a result, piracy is out of control today, and the only mechanism that creators have to combat piracy is to send continuous takedown notices to the platforms, which is not only costly and time-consuming—for both the creators and platforms—but it is also ineffective because pirates often repost the infringing material. Online piracy harms the entire publishing and other creative ecosystems, leaving creators, who are usually at the bottom of the food chain, with only crumbs. Writers and other creators have no recourse except to watch the income from legitimate sales of their works dwindle while e-book pirates line their coffers.

The best way to curb piracy is for service providers to adopt STMs that automatically limit the amount of piracy on their services. These technologies already exist, and many platforms already use them effectively for certain types of works. The Authors Guild and other organizations representing creators have asked Congress to require all the major user-generated content sites to use such technologies to prevent or curb piracy. While the current law contemplates voluntary multi-industry convenings to create and adopt STMs, there has been no incentive for online providers to do so. As a result, no STMs have been formally recognized in the 23 years since the law was passed.

Bill co-sponsor Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) says on his site:

…Online service providers struck a deal with Congress twenty years ago—they wouldn’t have to pay for copyright theft facilitated by their systems if they worked with copyright owners to create effective standardized technical measures (STMs) to identify and protect against distribution of stolen content. In enacting this grand bargain, Congress clearly envisioned this safe harbor immunity would act as an incentive for platforms and rights holders to collaborate on developing effective measures to combat copyright theft, lower transaction costs, accelerate information sharing, and create a healthy internet for everyone. 

Yet rather than incentivizing collaboration, the law actually inhibits it because service providers cannot risk losing their valuable safe harbors if an STM is created. In addition, the current statute provides only one path to establish that a technological measure is a consensus-based STM that must be available to all. As a result, no STMs have been identified since the law took effect.  The issue isn’t whether technical measures to combat rampant copyright infringement exist—plenty do—but rather how to encourage service providers to adopt technical measures to combat stealing and facilitate sharing of critical copyright data.   

The Strengthening Measures to Advance Rights Technologies (SMART) Copyright Act of 2022 takes a measured approach to addressing these barriers in two ways. It creates flexibility so that more existing measures could be eligible for consensus created STMs and it addresses the incentive issue by authorizing the Librarian of Congress to designate through an open, public rulemaking process technical measures identified by stakeholders that certain service providers must accommodate and not interfere with. Instead of “bet the company” loss of safe harbors, violations involving designated technical measures (DTMs) risk only actual or statutory damages, from which innocent violators can be exempt.

Read a one-pager of the bill HERE and myth vs. fact HERE.

(6) LISTEN IN. Cora Buhlert is interviewed by Oliver Brackenbury in episode 36 of the So I’m Writing a Novel podcast: “Interview with Cora Buhlert”.

Cora Buhlert is a Hugo-nominated author and genre scholar who Oliver was lucky enough to meet through his research for the novel, and he’d love for you to meet her too!

Oliver and Cora discuss her falling in love with the very American body of work known as pulp fiction while she grew up travelling the world, the survival of dime novels in modern Germany, the irresistible pull of forbidden fiction, Thundarr and He-Man, “the best thing that happened in Germany in 1989”…

(7) SLICE OF LIFE. Did you ever want to know what H.P. Lovecraft thought of Gustav Meyrink’s The Golem and its silent film adaptations? If yes, Bobby Derie has you covered: “The Golem (1928) by Gustav Meyrink” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein.

Der Golem (“The Golem”) was a silent film directed by and starring Paul Wegener with German intertitles released in 1915. The film is now believed to be lost, aside from some fragments. This film was followed by two more: Der Golem und die Tänzerin (“The Golem and the Dancing Girl”) in 1917, and Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (“The Golem: How He Came Into The World”) in 1920, both of which were also directed by and starring Paul Wegener as the golem. So it isn’t clear which film Lovecraft actually saw. The 1920 film survives and is in the public domain.

Lovecraft claimed in most of his letters to have caught a showing of it in 1921, and like many an English student of the VHS era who needed to write a book report, he assumed somewhat erroneously that it was faithful to the plot of the book….

(8) ONCE UPON A NEWSSTAND. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] At Dark Worlds Quarterly, G.W. Thomas takes a look at Weird Tales’ shortlived sister magazine Oriental Stories a.k.a. Magic Carpet Tales: “Magic Carpet Tales: The Other Weird Tales” I’ve read some of Robert E. Howard’s contributions to Oriental Stories/Magic Carpet Tales and they were very good.

… Exotic locales, sexy seductresses and plotting agents aside, much of what appeared was a type of Horror fiction. Not always supernatural, torture tales, conte cruels but not your run-of-the-mill werewolf and vampire stories. For those who love Robert E. Howard and other WT authors, this is a bonanza of secondary tales….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1968 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] On this day in the United Kingdom fifty-four years ago, Planet of The Apes premiered. It was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. The screenplay was by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling, and was based loosely upon Pierre Boulle‘s La Planète des Singes

It starred Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison. Roddy McDowall had a long-running relationship with this series, appearing in four of the original five films (absent only from the second film of the series, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, in which he was replaced by David Watson in the role of Cornelius), and also in the television series.

It was met with critical acclaim and is widely regarded as a classic film and one of the best films of that year.  Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said that it was “much better than I expected it to be. It is quickly paced, completely entertaining, and its philosophical pretensions don’t get in the way.” And Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times exclaimed that it was, “A triumph of artistry and imagination, it is at once a timely parable and a grand adventure on an epic scale.” 

It did exceedingly well at the box office costing less than six million to make and making more than thirty million in its first year of screening.

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an eighty-seven percent rating with over a hundred thousand reviewers having expressed an opinion!

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 21, 1931 Al Williamson. Cartoonist who was best known for his work for EC Comics in the ’50s, including titles like Weird Science and Weird Fantasy, and for his work on Flash Gordon in the Sixties. He won eight Harvey Awards, and an Eisner Hall of Fame Award.  (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 21, 1944 Lorene Yarnell Jansson. Yarnell played Dot Matrix (body acting, with Joan Rivers performing the voice) in Spaceballs. She was Sonia in The Wild Wild West Revisted, Formicida / Dr. Irene Janis in Wonder Woman’s “Formicida” episode and on the Muppet Show in season four episode, “Shields And Yarnell”. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 21, 1946 Terry Dowling, 76. I was trying to remember exactly what it was by him that I read and it turned out to be Amberjack: Tales of Fear and Wonder, an offering from Subterranean Press a decade ago. Oh, it was tasty! If it’s at all representative of his other short stories, he’s a master at them. And I see he’s got just one novel, Clowns at Midnight which I’ve not read but really should. He’s not at all deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects but they do have this plus several story collections. He’s won ten Ditmars, very impressive indeed, and quite a few other Awards as well.
  • Born March 21, 1946 Timothy Dalton, 76. He is best known for portraying James Bond in The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill but is currently in The Doom Patrol as Niles Caulder, The Chief. As I’ve said before, go watch it now! He also was Damian Drake in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Sir Malcolm on the Penny Dreadful series and Lord President of the Time Lords (Rassilon) during the Time of Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. He went to theatre to play Lord Asriel in the stage version of His Dark Materials.
  • Born March 21, 1956 Teresa Nielsen Hayden, 66. She is a consulting editor for Tor Books and is well known for her and husband, Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s superb weblog Making Light, and back in the Eighties, they published the Izzard fanzine. And she has three fascinating framing pieces in The Essential Bordertown, edited by Delia Sherman and Terri Windling. 
  • Born March 21, 1958 Gary Oldman, 64. First genre film role was as Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Next up is the lead role in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. And of course he was Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg in Fifth Element, followed by being Lost in Space‘s Dr. Zachary Smith, which in turn led to Harry Potter’s Sirius Black, and that begat James Gordon in the Batman filmsAlthough some reviewers give him accolades for us as role as Dr. Dennett Norton in the insipid Robocop remake, I will not. Having not seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I can’t say how he is as Dreyfus in it.
  • Born March 21, 1965 Cynthia Geary, 57. Best remembered as Shelly Tambo on Northern Exposure. It’s genre, isn’t it? If that’s not enough, she’s got a prime genre role in The Outer Limits episode “Mary 25” in which she plays Teryl who is not what she seems. And she shows up on Fantady Island in the “Dying to Dance” as Pamela Lewis.
  • Born March 21, 1970 Chris Chibnall, 52. Current showrunner for Doctor Who and the head writer for the first two (and I think) best series of Torchwood. He first showed up in the Whoverse when he penned the Tenth Doctor story, “42”.  He also wrote several episodes of Life on Mars. He’s been nominated for a Hugo three times for work on Doctor Who, “Rosa” at Dublin 2019, “Resolution” CoNZealand and for “Fugitive of the Judoon” at DisCon III.
  • Born March 21, 1985 Sonequa Martin-Green, 37. She currently plays Michael Burnham on Discovery which is now In its fourth series. She had a brief recurring role as Tamara in Once Upon a Time, and a much longer recurring role on The Walking Dead as Sasha Williams but I’ve never seen her there as zombies hold absolutely no interest to me. Well Solomon Grundy does…  And she was in the Shockwave, Darkside film.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Duplex shows the history you learn from watching movies.
  • Lise Andreasen says these are “Exactly the same things I would do!”

(12) OUTFOXED. Arturo Serrano reviews the new Pixar film for Nerds of a Feather in “’Turning Red’ finds joy in the scary messiness of puberty”.

…Disney/Pixar’s new animated movie Turning Red takes this metaphor of puberty as transformation and situates it in the no less stressful context of the immigrant experience during the rise of digital mass media. If being a teenager is hard, it’s almost unbearably so when inherited traditions and expectations conflict with multicultural openness and pop culture sex symbols. When protagonist Meilin Lee learns that the women of her family have the power to transform into enormous red pandas, it feels like it couldn’t have come at a worse time: she’s busy enough pleasing her parents and excelling at school and daydreaming about boy bands without going all Katie Ka-Boom every time she gets emotional. So she panics, and tries to hide what’s happening to her, and pretends to be in full command of her feelings—but her inner animal won’t be tamed. There’s no denying the call of nature….

(13) EFF ME. That was my reaction to the headline “Hugh Grant ‘in conversation’ to replace Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who” at Metro News.

…Well, rumour has it the Love Actually star could be taking over from Jodie Whittaker as the Time Lord.

According to The Mirror, the BBC series could be heading for a Marvel-style makeover, with Hugh at the helm….

(14) WIN BY LOSING. “Loki Award Show Lost Saves Universe, According to Miss Minutes”Gizmodo has the story.

Awards season hit a high note this weekend as multiple guilds and groups gave awards leading up to the grand finale, the Oscars, which happen this coming Sunday. One of the biggest to do so was the Writers Guild of America—and apparently one specific category literally saved the world, at least according to a certain animated talking clock from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

… In the Drama category, Succession was up against The Handmaid’s Tale, The Morning Show, Yellowjackets, and Marvel’s Loki. And it’s that last one we’re going to concentrate on. Showrunner and head writer Michael Waldron revealed on Twitter that, had Loki won, this is the acceptance speech the writers submitted to air.

(15) REGENCY TEA TIME. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Aja Romano shares her appreciation for the works of Georgette Heyer and wonders why Heyer is not a household name and has never had a film or TV adaptation: “When will Hollywood discover Georgette Heyer?” at Vox. I’d say that Georgette Heyer is at least genre-adjacent, since a lot of SFF fans seem to like her and Regency romance in general. Plus, Regency dancing is a thing at many cons.

…[Jane] Austen’s relative lack of sentiment also helped her gain popularity and respect as a writer in a male-dominated century of literature. While other women writers of her time like Fanny Burney were reviled as trashy, Austen’s lack of interest in high drama and romance made her work acceptable to male readers as well as to women. One 19th-century critic wrote approvingly that “she sets her face zealously against romantic attachments.”

That patriarchal lack of respect for the art of writing about love may also explain why few outside of romance fans have ever heard of Austen’s primary successor: Georgette Heyer. Despite singlehandedly creating the modern romance, Heyer is still a niche author. And though she has nearly 10 times as many books available for cinematic adaptation as Austen, Hollywood has yet to discover her….

(16) PARALLAX VIEWS OF WESTEROS. George R.R. Martin introduces The Rise Of The Dragon” at Not A Blog and explains how it complements Fire & Blood. Sample art at the link.

We’re so excited to announce The Rise of The Dragon, a lavish visual history of House Targaryen – the iconic family at the heart of HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon – featuring over 180 all-new illustrations!

For those of you who are wondering: What’s the difference between The Rise of the Dragon and Fire & Blood? Think of The Rise of the Dragon as a deluxe reference book, in which Westeros’ most infamous family – and their dragons – come to life in partnership with some truly incredible artists.

Fire & Blood was scribed as a grandmaesters’ account of events from Aegon Targaryen’s conquest of Westeros through to the infamous Dance of the Dragons, the civil war that nearly undid the Targaryen rule. The Rise of the Dragon will cover the same time period, but is written in a more encyclopedic style similar to The World of Ice and Fire. In fact, The World of Ice and Fire authors Elio M. García, Jr. and Linda Antonsson have returned to help with this tome. …

(17) AIRING ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From the “By The Book” weekly interview in the NY Times (Sunday) Book Review section, 3/20/22, with Jeremy Denk, a question that IIRC is part of every interview:

Q: What books are on your night stand.

A: In Manhattan, my night stand has become commandeered by a CPAP machine. I chose breathing over reading.

He then goes on to list books elsewhere in his domicile(s).

(18) IT’S FOR YOU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The BBC shows it’s possible to walk outside with a mobile phone “as big as a walkie talkie” and make a phone call in this clip from a 1974 episode of Blue Peter.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Lise Andreasen, Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who calls it his Tolkien cowboy title.]

Pixel Scroll 3/19/22 Marconi Scrolls The Mamba

(1) GRIMM TIMES AHEAD. The Brothers Grimm Society of North America launched this week. “The BGSNA promotes the study of all aspects of the legacy and the spirit of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and their works. Website and membership info forthcoming.”

(2) MARCON ENDING. Marcon, the annual Columbus, Ohio convention, is calling it quits. I was Marcon’s toastmaster in 1977. At least that didn’t kill it. The con chair posted on Facebook:

Due to many challenges with which we are all familiar the current staff are stepping down. One of the panel tracks for this year will be “how to run a convention”. If you are willing to travel to Columbus in May to impart your knowledge on how to run a con there will be an entire panel track on just that topic. Please consider sharing your wisdom and experience with the folks coming next and PM me about your desire to sit a panel this May 6-8 at the final MARcon.

The Marcon.org website shut down earlier this month.

(3) VINTAGE PNEUMA. Christianity Today’s Louis Markos reviews The Medieval Mind of C. S. Lewis: How Great Books Shaped a Great Mind by Jason M. Baxter in “C.S. Lewis Was a Modern Man Who Breathed Medieval Air…”

The British Boethius

Like his friend Tolkien, C. S. Lewis was a man who loved all things medieval and who infused all that he wrote with a premodern ethos that hearkened back to an older, more traditional understanding of technology, books, wisdom, and morality. In his new book, The Medieval Mind of C. S. Lewis: How Great Books Shaped a Great Mind, Dante scholar Jason Baxter unpacks the full extent of Lewis’s medievalism. Just as Michael Ward demonstrated in Planet Narnia that Lewis keyed each of his seven Narnia Chronicles to one of the medieval planets, so Baxter demonstrates that the medieval worldview colored not only Lewis’s apologetics and fiction but his scholarship as well….

(4) NO STACKS OF BOOKS WITHOUT STACKS OF BUCKS. Publishers Weekly hears “Librarians ‘Disheartened’ by FY2022 Federal Budget, Preparing for Tough FY2023”.

Signed into law on March 11, the reconciled FY2022 budget (which began on October 1, 2021) contained only flat funding for the LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) at $197.4 million—despite the House last summer approving a $9 million increase that would have taken LSTA funding to $206.5 million. LSTA funding, which is administered by the IMLS (Institute for Museum and Library Services) through grants to states, is the primary source of federal funding dedicated to America’s libraries….

…Amid rising inflation and continued economic volatility and uncertainty as the country emerges from the pandemic, flat funding is essentially a cut.

(5) MARLON JAMES. Boston Review’s Nate File interviews Marlon James, who says: “’Representation doesn’t just mean heroes. We need the villains as well.’”

Nate File: When Black Leopard, Red Wolf first came out, you joked that this trilogy was like an African Game of Thrones. That took off as the elevator pitch for the books, but they’re really very different. Do you regret making that joke?

 Marlon James: No, if for no other reason than it got people to pay attention to it. But also, I’m inspired by this idea that you don’t have to let go of the world of make-believe to tell a serious story. This idea that persists in fiction and in storytelling that realistic fiction is the grown-up genre and that fantasy is child’s play, even though fantasy, at a certain point in our evolutionary history, was considered fact. At one point, Zeus was a fact. For a lot of people, Shango is a fact. Game of Thrones supported the idea of telling a story that is decidedly adult—although I have no problem with teenagers stealing this book—but retain the fantastical and even the supernatural. It liberated how I always wanted to tell a story but never felt I could.

 NF: Why do you think things shifted? When did fantasy become inappropriate for adults?

 MJ: Christianity had a lot to do with it, and it still has a lot to do with it, because we look at fantastical things as inherently demonic. We’ve been burning women as witches for centuries. And, for better or worse, the rise of the nineteenth-century novel reproduced some of those ideas where things that go bump in the night are things that children believe in.

Margaret Atwood said once that human nature hasn’t changed in a thousand years, and the way you know this is to check the mythologies. I agree. I think that we reach for the fantastical sometimes to explain things that we can’t explain in the real world. For Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, only the fantastical could explain the type of horror that they witnessed in World War I. We still reach for allegory, we still reach for myth, we still reach for tall tales in order to understand ourselves….

(6) RANDOMIZED TBR. James Davis Nicoll recommends these “5 Extremely Unscientific Methods for Picking Your Next Book”.

Anyone can apply logic, taste, and methodical research to the problem of selecting which limited subset of the vast number of books available one is to read. Conversely, one can half-ass one’s way through Mt. Tsundoku using methods of dubious reliability. Don’t believe me? Here are five methods I have used, each more ludicrous than the one before….

(7) TAKARADA AKIRA OBIT. Actor Takarada Akira, whose resume was filled with appearances in kaiju movies, has died at the age of 87. Variety’s profile says:

…He made an impression in a major role as a Navy diver in the original 1954 “Godzilla” and thereafter was cast in series follow-ups including “Mothra vs. Godzilla” (1964), “Invasion of Astro-Monster” (1965), and “Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster” (1966).

…After the collapse of Japan’s studio system in the 1970s Takarada’s appearances in films became fewer though his career revived in the 1990s with supporting roles in the films of Itami Juzo. He also appeared in new entries in the “Godzilla” series such as the 1992 “Godzilla vs. Mothra” and the 2002 “Godzilla: Final Wars.” He is credited in the 2014 Garth Edwards “Godzilla” as a Japanese immigration agent, though his scenes were cut from the film….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1999 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Now I have come to praise Farscape which debuted twenty-four years ago this evening on on Sci-Fi Channel’s SciFi Friday. I won’t claimed to be objective as regards this series as I consider it to be the finest SF series ever done bar none. 

It was produced originally for the Australian Nine Network, and was, as if you didn’t notice, produced in that country with an all Australian cast save Ben Browder as John Crichton.  It was created by Rockne S. O’Bannon who would go on to be involved in seaQuest DSV, Defiance and Alien Nation. He and Brian Henson were Executive Producers (along with a number of other individuals).

And that brings me to the Jim Henson Company which was responsible for the amazing look of this series. They produced two of the characters here, Pilot and Rigel, plus produced the appendages on Ka D’Argo’s face and the Diagnostic Repair Drones or DRDs, and of course the makeup that created the various aliens. 

The characters here make use of slang such as frell, drad and dren as a substitute for English expletives. I particularly like frell as it’s so obvious what it really is. 

So how was the reception for it? Buzz-eye.com summed it up nicely this way: “The beauty of ‘Farscape’ for the uninitiated is in how surprising the show can be; you genuinely never know what the writers are going to throw at you next, and I truly envy anyone who gets to imbibe in the series for the first time via this box set.”

It currently holds an eighty-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

It would run for four stellar seasons and get a proper send-off in The Peacekeeper Wars after it got cancelled on a cliffhanger. A weird cliffhanger at that. If you’re interested in watching it again, or amazingly haven’t seen it yet, it is currently airing on Amazon Prime. 

That it got no Hugo nominations is frelling beyond the pale. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 19, 1926 Joe L. Hensley. A member of First Fandom fondly remembered by OGH and others, he began publishing genre fiction with “Eyes of the Double Moon” in Planet Stories in the May 1953 issue. He would publish some thirty tales over the next fifty years including three with Ellison (including “Rodney Parish for Hire” in Partners in Wonder). Much of it is collected in Final Tales. He was also a writer of mystery fiction, at least twenty-four novels. I’m not seeing him really at the usual suspects in either genre in any meaningful amount. (Died 2007.)
  • Born March 19, 1928 Patrick McGoohan. Best remembered as Number Six as the ever so weird Prisoner series which he both created and produced. He was prior to that series, John Drake in Danger Man which might connect to this series or not. Did you know that he had a long-running connection with Columbo, directing, producing, writing, and appearing in several episodes? He appeared in “By Dawn’s Early Light” and “Identify Crisis”. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 19, 1932 Gail Kobe. She has genre appearances with the more prominent being as Jessica Connelly in Twilight Zone’s “In His Image”, in another Twilight Zone episode as Leah Maitland in “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross”, and two Outer Limits episodes, first as Janet Doweling in “Specimen, Unknown” and then as Janet in “The Keeper of the Purple Twilight”. (Died 2013.)
  • Born March 19, 1936 Ursula Andress, 86. She was Honey Ryder in the very first Bond film, Dr. No, and Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Let’s see if she’s done any other genre work… well her first was The Tenth Victim based on Sheckley’s 1953 short story “Seventh Victim”. She also appeared in L’Infermiera, oops wrong genre, The Mountain of the Cannibal GodThe Fifth MusketeerClash of the Titans where she played of course Aphrodite, on the Manimal series, The Love Boat series and the two Fantaghirò films. 
  • Born March 19, 1945 Jim Turner.  Turner was editor for Arkham House after the death of August Derleth, founder of that press. After leaving Arkham House for reasons that are not at all clear, he founded Golden Gryphon Press which published really lovely books until it went out of existence. (Died 1999.)
  • Born March 19, 1955 Bruce Willis, 67. So do any of the Die Hard franchise movies count as genre? Even setting them aside he has a very long  genre list, to wit Death Becomes Her (bit of macabre fun), 12 Monkeys (weird sh!t), The Fifth Element (damn great), Armageddon (eight tentacles down), Looper (most excellent), The Sixth Sense (not at all bad), Sin City (typical Miller overkill) and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (yet more Miller overkill).
  • Born March 19, 1964 Marjorie Monaghan, 58. JoJo on all six episodes of Space Rangers. My brain keeps insisting it lasted much, much longer. She also was on Babylon 5 as the Mars Resistance leader during the Earth Alliance Civil War, where she was known as Number One. She’s also appeared on Quantum Leap, in the cyberpunk Nemesis film, in The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy film, on Andromeda series and on The Great War of Magellan film.
  • Born March 19, 1969 Connor Trinneer, 53. Best remembered for his roles as Charles “Trip” Tucker III on Enterprise Michael the wraith on Stargate Atlantis though he only provided the voice later on.  He also was Tycho “Ty”Johns in Star Runners, one of those good awful Sci-Fi films. How awful? It rates twelve percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld shows Guardian readers the periods of reading in the garden.

(11) ELEVATOR PITCH. SYFY Wire warns that “‘Moon Knight’ Goes Full Horror Mode In First Freaky Clip From Marvel’s New Disney+ Series”.

Here’s a pro Marvel tip: Never let a terrifying Ancient Egyptian deity corner you inside an elevator. Judging by the first official clip from the Moon Knight TV series (coming to Disney+ at the end of the month), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness won’t be the MCU’s initial foray into the world of horror. And here’s another piece of advice: if you’re ever scared witless by what may be a hallucination of an inter-dimensional being, pretend you dropped your contact lens on the floor. It doesn’t exactly work here, but it’s better than nothing….

(12) EMMA VS. J.K. “People Are Praising Emma Watson’s Alleged Jab At J.K. Rowling, Just Days After J.K. Went On An Anti-Trans Rant On Twitter”Yahoo!’s article amplifies what they’re talking about with video clips and tweets.

Earlier this week, Emma Watson graced the BAFTAs stage to present the award for Outstanding British Film.

She was introduced by Rebel Wilson, who joked, “Our next presenter is Emma Watson. She’s proud to call herself a feminist, but we all know she’s a witch.”

Once Emma reached the podium, she immediately said, “I’m here for all the witches.”

Here’s why people kind of did a double-take after that comment. Emma’s “all the witches” remark comes just a few days after J.K. Rowling did one of her infamous anti-trans rants on Twitter….

(13) CLICKS WILL ABOUND. Frankenstein or Dracula? Star Trek or Star Wars? Delta or Omicron? Time for the latest duel: “Wordle vs. Elden Ring: Which is a better game?” asks Slate.

Two massive cultural juggernauts currently stand astride the video gaming landscape. One is Wordle, a minimalist word-guessing game that combines elements of hangman and Mastermind with 3 million total players, many of whom have logged on to play each day’s new puzzle for months and counting. The other is Elden Ring, a brutal fantasy role-playing game released in February, which has received near-perfect reviews from gaming critics and players since release. So far, estimates suggest the multiplatform game has sold 10 million copies on PC alone—a big feat for a game that’s not even a month old.

As games, they couldn’t be more different. Heck, Wordle doesn’t even have any graphics, and failing to solve Elden Ring’s puzzles results in (in-game) death, not a broken win streak. But their differences aside, no two games have generated more discussion and discourse in 2022 than these. They’re early Game of the Year contenders, not soon to be forgotten or toppled. We all know, however, that only one game can be the year’s best game—and while it may be too early to tell, it doesn’t hurt to ask ourselves: Is Wordle or Elden Ring more deserving of the title?…

(14) THEY’RE DYING TO BE INVITED. “Margaret Atwood’s Dream Dinner Party Features a Crystal Ball and Hammer”  at bon appétit.

You get to host any three people, fictional or real, dead or alive. Who’s invited?
I’ll stick to dead people. If I fail to invite some living people, they’d be very annoyed. (Not to say other dead people wouldn’t be. I’d expect to hear from Samuel Johnson and Oscar Wilde, who prided themselves on their dinner conversation.) But here’s my invite list…

(15) THE TRUTH IS SEMI-OUT THERE. This week’s Isaac Arthur video is a look at covert aliens.

Clandestine conspiracies and covert alien activity are popular theories involving UFO & UAP sightings as well as in science fiction, but what would covert alien activity look like?

(16) JAMES BOND DOES IT BETTER FOR COMIC RELIEF. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Comic Relief Red Nose Day is an annual BBC charity bash where comedians and others in a funny way raise money for good causes (not for comedians). By midnight last night, more than £42.7m has been raised in Comic Relief’s latest Red Nose Day broadcast, with a host of stars taking part in sketches and stunts. The total will rise as donations continue to come in. Comic Relief: Red Nose Day raises £42m in star-studded show – BBC News. Though there was much new material, we did get a dusting off of a James Bond skit first performed last year.  So, here is 007 meeting Nan (Catherine Tate)…

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day “Everyone who can’t stand ‘We Built This City’”.]

2022 D.I.C.E. Awards

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) has announced the winners of the 25th Annual D.I.C.E. (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) Awards for best games of 2021.

It Takes Two, a cooperative platforming journey where players control a couple going through a divorce that takes a fantastical turn, was named the Game of the Year at a ceremony held in Las Vegas

The Academy membership voted awards in 23 categories. Rachet & Clank: Rift Apart led the field, winning four awards.

The night honored multiple industry leaders, including Ed Boon (NetherRealm Studios), who was the 2022 Hall of Fame inductee, and Phil Spencer (Microsoft Gaming), who received the Lifetime Achievement Award. 

The complete list of winners is below:

GAME OF THE YEAR

  • It Takes Two 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN GAME DIRECTION

  • Deathloop 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN GAME DESIGN

  • It Takes Two 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN ANIMATION

  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION

  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN CHARACTER

  • Resident Evil Village – Lady Dimitrescu 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN ORIGINAL MUSIC COMPOSITION

  • Returnal 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN AUDIO DESIGN

  • Returnal 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN STORY

  • Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy 

OUTSTANDING TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT

  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart 

ACTION GAME OF THE YEAR

  • Halo Infinite 

ADVENTURE GAME OF THE YEAR

  • Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy 

FAMILY GAME OF THE YEAR

  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart 

FIGHTING GAME OF THE YEAR

  • GUILTY GEAR -STRIVE- 

RACING GAME OF THE YEAR

  • Forza Horizon 5 

ROLE-PLAYING GAME OF THE YEAR

  • Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker 

SPORTS GAME OF THE YEAR

  • Mario Golf: Super Rush 

STRATEGY/SIMULATION GAME OF THE YEAR

  • Age of Empires IV 

ONLINE GAME OF THE YEAR

  • Halo Infinite 

IMMERSIVE REALITY TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT

  • Lone Echo II 

IMMERSIVE REALITY GAME OF THE YEAR

  • Lone Echo II 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT FOR AN INDEPENDENT GAME 

  • Unpacking 

MOBILE GAME OF THE YEAR

  • Pokémon UNITE 
Rachet & Clank: Rift Apart

Pixel Scroll 1/18/22
21 Jaunt Street

(1) RED WOMBAT EXTRA! Ursula Vernon has launched a newsletter: Wombat Droppings – Issue #1.

Hello, friends and subscribers! I’m starting a newsletter, because Twitter is like drinking from a firehose, Patreon costs you money, and I rarely have the braincells to blog these days. (Plus, when all your presence is on someone else’s platform, they can delete you at any time and leave you floundering in the social void.)

I promise that if you subscribe, I will not bother you too much. Also, I have no intention of charging for this thing, although apparently “newsletter” now means “thing you charge money for” and I don’t know what to call a thing that used to be a newsletter but now isn’t? (Free newsletter? I dunno. May need to workshop that.)

Anyway, let’s give this a try and see what happens!

The theme of Issue #1 is “So I’ve Started GMing…”

…Our game hook is that all the players are interns from the Church of the Good Boy, an all-dog temple established in our previous campaign. So they are all dogs, except for the rogue, who has paperwork stating that he is a dog, despite suspiciously cat-like ears…

(2) PUBLISH LIKE A PIRATE DAY. This might be the topic of Red Wombat’s next newsletter:

(3) CSI SKILL TREE. The CSI Skill Tree series examines how video games “envision possible futures, build rich and thought-provoking worlds, and engage people as active participants in unfolding and interpreting stories.”

The next event in the CSI Skill Tree series will be on Wednesday, February 23, from 1:00-2:15 p.m. Eastern and feature Cloud Gardens, a 2020 gardening game about using plants to overgrow and transform abandoned post-industrial landscapes. The guest speakers are SFF author and translator Ken Liu and game designer Liz Fiacco, who has worked on titles including The Last of Us 2 and Pillars of Eternity. The event is virtual, free, and open to everyone. Here is the registration page.

The event is cohosted with Orion Magazine, a quarterly publication working at the convergence of ecology, art, and social justice, and attendees will receive a code for 20% off a subscription to Orion.

Join the Center for Science and the Imagination and Orion Magazine, an ad-free, quarterly print publication at the convergence of ecology, art, and social justice, for our latest event, featuring “Cloud Gardens,” a 2020 gardening game about using plants to overgrow and transform abandoned post-industrial landscapes. At once soothing and cryptic, “Cloud Gardens” uses pastel colors and calming music to raise questions about the boundaries we construct between organic and built environments, the human and the nonhuman, the sublime and the dystopian.

(4) RENEWED AND PRENEWED. “’Star Trek: Discovery,’ ‘Lower Decks’ Renewed at Paramount Plus”Variety has the story.

“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Star Trek: Lower Decks,” and “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” have all been renewed at Paramount Plus.

For “Discovery,” that means it will return for a fifth season. The show is due to resume its fourth season on Feb. 10. “Lower Decks” will now be back for a fourth season, with Season 3 of the animated comedy set to debut this summer.

“Strange New Worlds” has yet to debut its first season, which will drop on Paramount Plus on May 5. 

(5) MINUTES OF THE WORLD SQUEECORE CONGRESS. Sure, you could run your own Twitter search for the latest “squeecore” tweets – but these are curated tweets. You know, like a cooking show where the chef does marvels by adding pancetta or Calabrian chiles. (People are now looking around, asking, “So why don’t I see anything Mike added?”)

CAT RAMBO

LAURA DIAZ DE ARCE

SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA

NICK MAMATAS

DR. AMANDA DILLON

PAUL M. CRAY

3DPARTYINTERNET

MARIE BRENNAN

ANNA NICGIOLLAMHUIRE

ANDREW NETTE

(6) FOWL BAWL. Was it a slow news week? Having nothing more pressing to do, TIME Magazine ripped Donald Duck as one of the “Top 10 Worst Awards-Show Hosts” for his work on the 1958 Oscars.

We love classic cartoons as much as the next kid disguised as a grownup, but given the star power of the glittering 1950s, Donald Duck probably didn’t need to co-host the 30th Academy Awards. Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, David Niven, Rosalind Russell and James Stewart also ran the 1958 show. Donald appeared on film rather than, as is preferable for most hosts, in person. Still, he wasn’t completely out of his element: 15 years earlier, his short Der Fuehrer’s Face won an Oscar.

(7) CHUCK SHIMADA OBIT. LASFS member Charles Shimada passed away peacefully in his sleep on December 26, 2021, Calvin Ogawa reported on Facebook. LA-area fans remember Chuck for doing a lot of the Audio/Video technical setup for many conventions over the years – including the 1996 Worldcon I chaired.

Much earlier, at the 1975 EquiCon, Chuck let me run the projector as we showed Star Trek episodes. These were Gene Roddenberry’s personal 16mm prints. And while I was rewinding one of them, I noticed to my horror that I had not closed the reel lock — the reel was starting to do a high-frequency wobble. What would happen when it reached the end? OMG! Was it going to fly off and unspool irreplaceable film all over the fans sitting in front of the projection stand? What would happen to my hand if I grabbed the reel to stop it spinning? I found out. Nothing, fortunately; film saved; I lived to volunteer another day.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1973 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-nine years ago, The Six Million Dollar Man premiered this evening on ABC. It was based on Martin Caidin’s Cyborg. Executive Producer was Harve Bennett, who you will recognize from the Star Trek films. It was produced by Kenneth Johnson who would later do The Bionic Woman spin-off and the Alien Nation film. 

Its primary cast was Lee Majors,  Richard Anderson and Martin E. Brooks. Majors had a successful second series shortly after this series was cancelled, The Fall Guy, about heart-of-gold bounty hunters. The Six Million Dollar Man would run for five seasons consisting of ninety-nine episodes and five films. The Fall Guy would run five seasons as well. 

Reception by media critics is generally positive. Phelim O’Neil of The Guardian says, “He was Superman, James Bond and Neil Armstrong all rolled into one, and $6M was an almost incomprehensibly large amount of money: how could anyone not watch this show?” And Rob Hunter of Film School Reviews states “The story lines run the gamut from semi-believable to outright ludicrous, but even at its most silly the show is an entertaining family friendly mix of drama, humor, action, and science fiction.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 18, 1882 A.A. Milne. Talking fat bears obsessed with honey. Bouncing tigers, err, tiggers. Morose, well, what is he? It’s certainly genre. And though it isn’t remotely genre, I wholeheartedly recommend Milne’s The Red House Mystery, a Country House Mystery that’s most excellent! (Died 1956.)
  • Born January 18, 1932 Robert Anton Wilson. I think I first encountered him in something Richard E. Geis wrote about him in Science Fiction Review in the Eighties. Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy is just weird and might or might not be a sequel to Wilson’s The Illuminatus! Trilogy co-authored with Robert Shea. But the absolutely weirdest thing he did might be an interview titled Robert Anton Wilson On Finnegans Wake and Joseph Campbell. (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 18, 1933 John Boorman, 89. Director who’s responsible for one of the best SFF films ever done, Excalibur, and one of the worst, Zardoz. (He wrote the novel for that one as well.)  (I know some Filers like Zardoz. Oh well.)  He also directed the rather nifty Emerald Forest which Holdstock did a far better than merely good job of novelizing.
  • Born January 18, 1937 Dick Durock. He was best known for playing Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing and the following television series which ran for three seasons. His only other genre appearances were in The Nude Bomb (also known as The Return of Maxwell Smart) and “The First” of The Incredible Hulk. He shows up in Die Hard with a Vengeance in a subway scene. No, it’s not genre, I just like that film. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 18, 1953 Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennet, 69. Her best novel is I think Tam Lin though one could make an argument for Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary which Windling calls her favorite fantasy novel. Her Secret Country trilogy is also a great deal of fun to read. Much of her short stories are set in the Liavek shared universe created by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. All of the Liavek anthologies are now available on all major digital platforms. According to the files sitting in my Dropbox folder, there’s eight volumes to the series. They’re wonderful reading. End of plug.
  • Born January 18, 1955 Kevin Costner, 67. Some of his genre films are Robin Hood: Prince of ThievesWaterworldThe Postman and the recent Dragonfly, but I really like his Field of Dreams — his acting in it as Ray Kinsella is quite excellent. Not quite as superb as he was as “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham but damned good. Bull Durham is one of my go-to films when I want to feel good. He also was Jonathan Kent in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
  • Born January 18, 1964 Jane Horrocks, 58. Her first SFF genre role was Pattern in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, scripted off the Joan Aiken novel. A year later, she showed up in the most excellent The Witches, scripted off the Raoul Dahl novel playing Miss Susan Irvine. She voices Black Widow / Mrs. Plum in Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride, and voiced Hannah in the late Ninties Watership Down.

(10) IRISH COMIC NEWS AWARDS SHORTLISTS. Congratulations to James Bacon who has been nominated for the Irish Comic News’ ICN Awards 2021 in the Best Irish Writer (Non-Fiction) category for his work on File 770. (James also edits and writes for Journey Planet.) The complete list of nominees is here.

BEST IRISH WRITER (NON-FICTION)

As I mentioned in a year-end roundup, James uses his descriptive abilities and camera to allow Filers to accompany him to exhibits and events in vivid and enjoyable reports. 

His round table interview with N.K. Jemisin about her work on Green Lantern was great fun to read. And he constantly reviews comics from off the beaten track which deserve our attention. His work last year on File 770 was considerable —

I wish him and all other nominees the best of luck. 

(11) EFFICIENCY EXPERT. I can see that Michael Carroll’s sense of humor is part of his appeal – here’s how he introduces his list of Rusty Staples’ “Most Popular Posts of 2021!”

…As I promised in last year’s look back at the previous year, I ditched my plan to post at least one entry every week: doing so freed up a lot of time that I was able to divide between idly daydreaming about winning imaginary arguments with jerks, and needlessly wallowing in unwarranted self-pity. So, time well-spent, I think….

(12) MOON KNIGHT. Disney+ dropped a trailer for their new streaming series with Oscar Isaac yesterday. The series will premiere on March 30.

(13) THAT’S A LOT OF QUARTERS. “Microsoft acquires gaming giant Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion” reports CNN.

Microsoft on Tuesday announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard in a blockbuster deal worth nearly $70 billion. It’s one of the biggest acquisitions in the tech industry in recent years, one that will boost Microsoft’s standing in the growing gaming industry but could be complicated by recent concerns about Activision’s toxic culture.

The all-cash transaction is valued at $68.7 billion, and Microsoft says it will make the company the third-largest gaming company by revenue, after Tencent and Sony.

Bobby Kotick, the controversial CEO of Activision Blizzard, will continue in his role, according to a press release detailing the announced acquisition. Activision employees had previously staged walkouts and called on Kotick to step down for having allegedly been aware of widespread harassment and discrimination problems at the company for years….

(14) DOCKING MANUVER. Here we are outside 104 E. Providencia Ave in Burbank in 1964. I hope somebody explained parallel parking to Mr. Sulu later!

(15) A ROBERT PICARDO APPEARANCE. Jonathan Cowie reports that at the last Novacon they screened a short film based on a story by Chris Priest – here is a trailer for it: The Stooge.

(16) A REAL INCENTIVE. JDA truly understands the audience for his comics.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Cath Jackel.] Here’s a BBC Reel about How to ride a pterosaur, according to science. Includes a saddle mockup inspired by How to Train Your Dragon.

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