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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(5) LUNAR ACCOMODATIONS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In a hole in the moon there lived a moonstronaut. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a moonstronaut-hole, and that means comfort.

Relatively speaking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(12) MEMORY LANE.  

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

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

SPOILER ALERT!

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

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

END SPOILER

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

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

(14) COMICS SECTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abstract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

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

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

SPOLIERS ABOUND. GO AWAY NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

END SPOILERS. REALLY. 

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

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe novels must do everything too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

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

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

SPOILERS ABOUND! 

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

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

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

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

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

END OF SPOILERS!

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

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

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

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

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Bill Higgins, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Francis Hamit, Michael J. Lowrey, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 6/3/22 Pixeled Like Your Soul, I’d Rather File Than Watch Disco’s Control

(1) BLUE PLAQUE SPECIAL. Radio Times reports “Verity Lambert, Doctor Who’s original producer, honoured with blue plaque”.

Some major names in the history of British television gathered on Sunday 29th May to honour the pioneering producer Verity Lambert, as Doctor Who’s very first director Waris Hussein and former showrunner Steven Moffat jointly unveiled a blue plaque on the wall of Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.

As the first ever female producer in the BBC drama department, Verity made a name for herself launching Doctor Who in 1963. Across a long and prestigious career, she produced dozens of successful and fondly remembered programmes, such as Take Three Girls, Budgie, The Naked Civil Servant, Rock Follies, Edward and Mrs Simson, The Flame Trees of Thika, Minder and Jonathan Creek. She died in 2007.

(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Karen Heuler and Sam. J. Miller in person at the KGB Bar on Wednesday, June 15 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Masks Strongly Encouraged.

  • Karen Heuler

Karen Heuler’s stories have appeared in over 120 literary and speculative magazines and anthologies, from Conjunctions to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction to Weird Tales, as well as in a number of Best Of anthologies (and in one of Ellen Datlow’s anthologies!). Her latest novel, The Splendid City, has just been published by Angry Robot Books. It’s a tale about stolen water, an exiled witch and her gun-wielding cat, and a city run by a self-declared President who loves parades. She has a literary short-story collection about dementia coming out in August, and Fairwood Books will publish A Slice of the Dark, a SF/F mix, this coming November.

  • Sam J. Miller

Sam J. Miller’s books have been called “must reads” and “bests of the year” by USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, and O: The Oprah Magazine, among others. He is the Nebula-Award-winning author of Blackfish City, which has been translated into six languages and won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Sam’s short stories have been nominated for the World Fantasy, Theodore Sturgeon, and Locus Awards, and reprinted in dozens of anthologies. He’s also the last in a long line of butchers. He lives in New York City, and at samjmiller.com

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

(3) PAUL WEIMER. Camestros Felapton continues his series of why-you-should-vote-for each Best Fan Writer finalist with “Paul Weimer: Hugo 2022 Fanwriter Finalist”.

Paul Weimer is a fan, a photographer, a podcaster, a review, a critic, a traveller and did I mention that he is a fan? A prolific reviewer and a frequent guest on numerous podcasts, Paul does not literally know everybody in science fiction but I like to imagine that he does. These days you are most likely to find paul at the Nerds of a Feather fanzine blog or on the Skiffy and Fanty podcast or among the webpages of Tor.com….

(4) HOW THE WEST WAS WON. Clarion West invites everyone to support the students coming to this year’s workshop by chipping in to pay for things on their Summer Workshop Wish List.

If you’d like to help the workshop’s students be more comfortable in our new facilities where they’ll be eating, sleeping, and living story for six weeks this summer, there are ways for you to help

The Summer Workshop needs items large and small for the students every year—from coffee to whiteboards and beyond. This year we especially need additional safety supplies to be as safe as we possibly can during the pandemic and to meet our COVID protocols. If you’d like to help out, you can purchase items from our Amazon Wish List.

Thank you so much for helping support our students and our workshop!

(5) DEVOLVER NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews the games of “tastemaking indie publisher Devolver Digital.” WASD was a game fair held recently in London.

Every year, a few Devolver titles inevitably make their way to year-end best-of lists.  ‘That success gives us the mandate to take risks and do some really interesting, off-the-wall games,’ says Graeme Struthers, head of publishing.  At WASD, this reputation attracted a constant stream of excited gamers to their booth of playable demos.  I sampled new releases Trek To Yomi, a moody samurai game in grainy monochrome inspired by classic Kurosawa films; Card Shark, a beautifully illustrated tale of cheating your way to the top of 18th-century French society using only a deck of cards; and Terra Nil, a ‘reverse city builder’ that asks you not to pave over the wilderness with motorways but instead restore the countryside to its former glory…

….Many of Devolver’s best releases take a received idea about games on their head and encourage players to look at the medium from a new perspective.  Often this means casting the player as a character they never thought they would inhabit. In Ape Out, you play an escaped gorilla whose every movement triggers a crash of cymbals or a snare-hit, creating a jazz score as you go.  The highlight of Devolver’s upcoming roster at WASD, Cult Of The Lamb, casts players as a sacrificial lamb which escapes from the altar and starts building its own cult in revenge.

(6) SIDE BY SIDE BY CYBERMEN. Radio Times tries to read the tealeaves of the Doctor Who multiverse: “Could Yasmin Finney’s new Rose be the key to Doctor Who’s own multiverse?”

Jodie Whittaker’s exit coming a year ahead of Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary means fans are expecting something massive in the next 12 months. Alongside the high-profile returns of David Tennant and Catherine Tate as the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble, Heartstopper’s Yasmin Finney is paving the way for diversity. Details about these returns and debuts are sketchy, but Finney’s role as “New Rose” could have us opening the doors to the multiverse….

… When Whittaker’s Thirteen escaped a possible-future version of a nuclear-ravaged Earth in Orphan 55, she told us. “The future is not fixed, it depends on billions of decisions and actions, and people stepping up.” This was teased years earlier when the Doctor-lite Turn Left explained how drastically things can change with a simple decision. Ten’s iconic episode featured Donna being manipulated by a Time Beetle, and although ‘Donna’s World’ was erased from existence, it’s got us thinking about how many others there are. 

Doctor Who has long established that N-Space is the Prime Universe in canon, but over the past 60 years, we’ve learned about a lot more. Across various media, the Doctor has visited an alternate Earth populated by the vampire-like Haemovores, the many alternate realities that have been conquered by Cybermen, and even one with Tardis Tails – an anthropomorphic cat version of the Doctor….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1969 [By Cat Eldridge.] On this date in 1969, the first incarnation of Star Trek came to an end. Its “five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before” would last just three years and seventy-nine episodes before ending with the “Turnabout Intruder”. 

The ratings for the series were never great and NBC responded by cutting the production each season from one ninety thousand the first season to the one eighty-five thousand the second season to the one hundred seventy-five thousand the last season. Assuming that there were salary increases which there were obviously were, this left little for special effects, costumes or anything else by the third season. And yes, it showed. 

It might have been a ratings failure in its first run but it thrived in syndication and spawned a vast franchise currently of ten television series (eleven if you include Short Treks which is remarkably good) with the latest being Strange New Worlds which I like quite a lot, and thirteen films. Not to mention novels, comics, action figures, games and toys. And decades of cosplayers. 

I’ve rewatched a lot of the series recently courtesy of Paramount + which is the home of it and everything else Trek. Some of the episodes are quite excellent, some are not bad and some are really execrable. I think it holds up fairly well all things considered. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 3, 1901 Maurice Evans. Ahhh the amazing work of make-up. Under the make-up that was Dr. Zaius in Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes was this actor. Though this was his most well-known genre role, it wasn’t his only ones — he was in a Thirties Scrooge as poor man, on Bewitched as Maurice, Samantha’s father, on Batman as The Puzzler in “The Puzzles are Coming” and “The Duo Is Slumming”, in Rosemary’s Baby as Hutch, and finally in Terror in the Wax Museum as Inspector Daniels. Oh, and he showed up on Columbo as Raymond in “The Forgotten Lady”. No, not genre — but I love that series! (Died 1989.)
  • Born June 3, 1946 Penelope Wilton, 76. She played the recurring role of Harriet Jones in Doctor Who wherethey actually developed a story for the character. She was also played Homily in The Borrowers, Barbara in Shaun of the Dead, The Queen in Roald Dahl’s The BFG, Beatrix Potter in The Tale of Beatrix Potter, The White Queen in Through the Looking-Glass and Gertrude in in Hamlet at the Menier Chocolate Factory. 
  • Born June 3, 1947 John Dykstra, 75. He was one of the founders of Industrial Light & Magic. That means he’s responsible for the original visuals for lightsabers, the space battles between X-wings and TIE fighters, and much of the other Star Wars effects. Can’t list everything he later worked on, so I’ll single out his work on Battlestar Galactica, the sfx for Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, the visual effects on X-Men: First Class, and visual effects supervisor on Doolittle. I know the last is a shite of a film but the creatures aren’t. 
  • Born June 3, 1949 Michael McQuay. He wrote two novels in Asimov’s Robot City series, Suspicion and Isaac Asimov’s Robot City (with Michael P. Kube-McDowell) and Richter 10 with Arthur C. Clarke. The Mathew Swain sequence neatly blends SF and noir detective tropes – very good popcorn reading. His novelization of Escape from New York is superb. (Died 1995.)
  • Born June 3, 1950 Melissa Mathison. Another one who died far too young of cancer. Screenwriter for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Spielberg credits the line “E.T. phone home” line to her. (She’s Eliot’s school nurse in the film.) She also wrote the screenplays for The Indian in the Cupboard and BFG with the latter being dedicated in her memory. And she wrote the “Kick the Can” segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie. (Died 2015.)
  • Born June 3, 1958 Suzie Plakson, 64. She played four characters on the Trek franchise: a Vulcan, Doctor Selar, in “The Schizoid Man”(Next Gen); the half-Klingon/half-human Ambassador K’Ehleyr in “The Emissary” and “Reunion” (Next Gen); the Lady Q in “The Q and the Grey” (Voyager); and an Andorian, Tarah, in “Cease Fire” (Enterprise).  She also voiced Amazonia in the “Amazon Women in the Mood” episode of Futurama. Really. Truly. By the way, her first genre role was in the My Stepmother Is an Alien film as Tenley. She also showed up in the Beauty and the Beast series as Susan in the “In the Forests of the Night” episode.
  • Born June 3, 1964 James Purefoy, 58. His most recent genre performance was as Laurens Bancroft in Altered Carbon. His most impressive was as Solomon Kane in the film of that name. He was also in A Knight’s Tale as Edward, the Black Prince of Wales/Sir Thomas Colville. He dropped out of being V in V for Vendetta some six weeks into shooting but some early scenes of the masked V are of him. And let’s not forget that he’s Hap Collins in the Sundance series Hap and Leonard which is steaming on Amazon Prime. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows why it’s not easy for a monster to get a drink.
  • Breaking Cat News shows that the future is unequally distributed. 

(10) TANGLED WEB. BBC’s Tanya Beckett takes a closer look at how China’s increasing influence is affecting the movie-making process in Hollywood. “Why did China ban Spider-Man?” – listen in at BBC Sounds.

Ever since Hollywood entered the Chinese market in the early ’90s, the importance of Chinese audiences was apparent. Over recent years the Chinese market has grown in significance to the point of deciding whether a film is ultimately successful or not. Given the country’s importance to the overall profitability of Tinsel Town, it is of little surprise that their censors are able to increasingly demand changes to films that threaten the Chinese narrative. Despite this, the recent Sony/Marvel blockbuster Spider-Man did not appear to challenge Chinese values.

(11) PROJECTING. GameSpot calls these “The Very Best Sci-Fi Movies Of the 1980s”. Twenty films – but there are three I’ve never had a desire to see. Does it help balance things that I have watched this one so many times?

2. Ghostbusters (1984)

Much like another entry on this list, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters was almost a very different film with a very different cast. Luckily, though, the production ended up with the right team and script to truly capture a lightning ghost in a bottle. Ghostbusters tells the story of a trio of academics and inventors studying the paranormal, who go into the business of capturing and containing dangerous ghosts. It is, in essence, blue-collar sci-fi, with a heavy dose of comedy resulting from having three of the best comedy actors of the 1980s on the cast. Few movies are this rewatchable and this quotable.

(12) SPEAKING OUT. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna profiles Kristen Schaal, who is proud of her extensive voice work in animation (most recently in The Bob’s Burgers Movie) but also in BoJack Horseman and Toy Story. “Kristen Schaal of ‘Bob’s Burgers’ is the queen of quirky voice acting”.

… The Emmy-nominated actress aims to elude being pigeonholed, yet she’s well-aware that some casting directors now refer to a “Kristen Schaal type,” saying on Marc Maron’s podcast several years ago that their elevator-quick description of her as performer might well be: “She’s manic and a little crazy, coming out of that sweet face and voice.”

Whatever the alchemy within her artistry, there’s no doubting that Schaal has carved out an animation niche within her larger résumé: She is the queen of voicing the askew….

(13) AUTHOR’S PAPERS. This processing of Lawrence Watt-Evans’s papers reportedly is very recent.  UMBC is the University of Maryland (Baltimore County). “Lawrence Watt-Evans papers”. They were donated in 2017.

Abstract: The collection contains materials that cover Lawrence Watt-Evans professional career from 1974 to 2018. Included are manuscripts of his books, short stories, editorials, and comics and graphic novels; personal papers; correspondence with publishers, fellow authors, and fans; and convention memorabilia including programs and fliers.

Citation: Lawrence Watt-Evans papers, Collection 260, Special Collections, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Baltimore, MD).

(14) PIZZA NIGHT ON THE ISS. Six of seven Expedition 67 crew members are pictured enjoying pizza during dinner time aboard the International Space Station. Clockwise from left are, Flight Engineer Denis Matveev, Commander Oleg Artemyev, and Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov, all from Roscosmos; NASA Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Jessica Watkins; and ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti.

(15) WHERE TO GET BUTTERSCOTCH BEER. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Wand sold separately (and batteries not included!) “Flying Cauldron Butterscotch (non alcoholic) Beer – 12 Oz”.

The Art Of Magic Is Thirsty Work!

Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer (non-alcoholic) 

Last time around, you cleared our shelves of this irresistible soda within hours of our owls delivering the newsletter!

Flying Cauldron Butterscotch (non-alcoholic) Beer is another butterscotch flavored soda in our beverage lineup.  This is a fun, magical drink that is free of preservatives, free of caffeine, free of gluten & GMO’s.  Enjoy this drink in a frozen mug or drop in a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In The Mandrake, jointly made by 11 students at the Savannah College of Art and Design,  carrot farmer Mr. Rabbit is right to worry when a raccoon shows up with a strange plan.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Nancy Sauer, 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 Peer.]

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.]