Pixel Scroll 6/14/24 No Pixels For Old Men

(1) ON THE FRONT LINES, AND THOSE WHO WROTE THEM. Through the lens of a letter by J.R.R. Tolkien, Brenton Dickieson explores the tension between two critics in a Twentieth Century culture war. “Great and Little Men: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Letter about C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot” at A Pilgrim in Narnia.

…Professionally speaking, Lewis was usually polite and firm when challenging Eliot in most of his literary criticism and theory. Sometimes the challenge is a bit more jovial, though there are a couple of moments of more pointed or heated criticism. Lewis was far more profuse in blame in his letters, where there seems to be a personal animosity toward Eliot–at least toward Eliot as a symbol. Twice, however, Lewis had a more personal opportunity to rethink his position and make a connection with another leading Anglican public intellectual.

The first of these was through Charles Williams, who was a close friend of both Eliot and Lewis. Indeed, Eliot and Lewis each described Williams in striking terms, admitting to Williams’ charismatic appeal and value as a poet and critic. Williams tried once, just a few months before he died, to bridge the divide between Eliot and Lewis. Just months before Charles Williams died, he arranged a meeting between Eliot, Lewis, and another Inkling, Fr Gervase Mathew, at the Mitre Hotel in Oxford. It was not a success….

(2) GLASGOW 2024 ADDS SPECIAL GUEST. Dr. Meganne Christian FRAeS (she/her) will be a Special Guest of the 2024 Worldcon. Dr Christian is Reserve Astronaut / Exploration Commercialisation Lead at the UK Space Agency, developing strategy on human and robotic spaceflight in the post-ISS landscape. Her full biography can be found on the Glasgow 2024 website.

In November 2022, she became a member of the ESA astronaut reserve, one of only 17 candidates selected from a pool of more than 22,500 applicants across Europe. Dr Christian holds a Bachelor of Engineering and a PhD in Industrial Chemistry from the University of New South Wales. From 2014 to 2023, she was a materials science researcher at the National Research Council of Italy and took two parabolic flight campaigns to test graphene coatings for thermal management in satellites.

Dr Christian has also undertaken two missions, including as a winter-over scientist, to the Concordia station in Antarctica, where she was a research scientist in charge of atmospheric physics and meteorology.

Looking forward to her appearance in Glasgow, Dr Christian said “I love science fiction, so I’m looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere with fellow fans and of course finding out the winners of this year’s Hugo Awards.”

(3) LAST-MINUTE SHOPPING IDEAS. A membership in Glasgow 2024 is one of the suggestions on the “STARBURST Father’s Day Gift Guide 2024” at Starburst Magazine. So is this:

Photo Creator Instant Pocket Printer

Another quirky gift choice is the Photo Creator Instant Pocket Printer. Again, aimed at younger folk, this is actually a very useful tool; it’s just that this set is very reasonably priced and comes with some good accessories. It’s a thermal printer that connects to your phone and can be used to print out silly pictures as well as actual photos. It comes into its own when you load it with sticky label thermal printer paper, turning this piece of childish fun into a useful and versatile label maker, as well as a way to create your own stickers. It doesn’t run out of ink (but needs special paper), fits in an everyday carry bag and is surprisingly practical.

(4) WRITING MASTER CLASS WITH GAIL CARRIGER ON JUNE 23. A one-day Locus Bay Area Writing Master Class with NYT bestselling author Gail Carriger is happening on Sunday, June 23, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., at Preservation Park in Oakland, CA. The cost is $210. For more info and to sign up: Locus Bay Area Writers Workshop: Writing Master Class with Gail Carriger, June 2024. Learn more about Gail at gailcarriger.com.

Her engaging instructional style will keep you entertained AND informed. Her workshop topic will be On Career & Comedy — a two-parter covering all the things Gail wishes she had known when starting out her career, plus practical tips on how to use comedy in your writing, with a break in between to order in sandwiches and chat. Gail combines the expertise of a dedicated data-miner with a fun and personable style, and can speak to both trad and self-publishing success and craft skills.

Part I: Things I Wish I Knew FIRST

Learn all the things Gail wishes someone had told her when she first started out in publishing! She’ll explain pesky concepts and terms that established authors and book industry professionals take for granted. She’ll review industry standards and expectations of authors, both in traditional and indie publishing. She’ll help you determine which path is best for your book and career: traditional publishing, self publishing, or a hybrid of the two. She’ll cover the things she believes EVERY author should have set up BEFORE their first book launch.

Part II: Peopling Fiction with Comedy

Gail addresses how authors can analyze and source humor, the many different ways to inject funny into fiction, and why you might want to do so. Learn to bring character depth, narrative pace, and social subversion to fiction using comedy. This is also your opportunity to pick her brain!

(5) WATCHMEN REWIND. World of Reel readies viewers for “’Watchmen’ Trailer: R-Rated Animated Adaptation Produced by Warner Bros”.

Some believe Zack Snyder’s “Watchmen” was a botched adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel, while others believe it to be an absolutely essential addition to the superhero genre. It’s a film that has spawned contentious debate over the years.

DC has decided to make an R rated animated version of “Watchmen” and maybe this’ll be a worthy effort. The adaptation is broken into two parts – one arriving in 2024 and the other arriving in 2025 (though no dates were provided by Warner Bros). …

(6) FIRST BITE, WRONG BITER. “The Early Vampire Novel The Vampyre was Falsely Attributed to Lord Byron” at CrimeReads.

One night in the rainy summer of 1816, at Lord Byron’s summer estate, Villa Diodati, in Cologny, near Geneva, Switzerland, Byron, and his friends Percy and Mary Shelley passed the time by telling ghost stories. The stories they created would lay the groundwork for future, publishable works…

However, there was at least another guest there, that night—one who is left out of Shelley’s recapitulation, likely because he was unknown as a writer. This is Byron’s physician-in-residence, John William Polidori, who contributed a concept that would later become his novel Ernest’s Berchtold; or the Modern Oedipus. But this novel not his most notable literary achievement, however—Polidori wound up expanding Byron’s vampire concept (several paragraphs of which Byron had actually written), churning out his own different short work on the same topic, entitled The Vampyre, that same summer….

…Polidori left Cologny in September of that year, and left his manuscript with his friend Countess Catherine Bruce, who lived nearby. Two years later, a London publisher named Henry Colburn received a manuscript in the mail, containing “outlines” of several stories—the gothic exercises developed and written by Byron’s houseguests in Cologny, and, apparently Polidori’s whole manuscript. Bibliographer Henry R. Viets, who comprehensively researched the publication history of Polidori’s text, claims that it is unknown how this material precisely arrived in Colburn’s possession. The outline for Frankenstein was in this bundle, but it had already been published, so Coulburn discarded it, and instead published, in his periodical called New Monthly MagazineThe Vampyre, attributing authorship to Lord Byron. He arranged for publication of the story as a book, shortly after. Polidori was shocked, upon seeing The Vampyre published, and under Byron’s name. Byron denied writing it, but it was almost too late—the story (in the magazine) was a triumphant success, and at least one literary edition was on its way….


[Compiled by Paul Weimer.]

Born June 14, 1949 Harry Turtledove, 76.

By Paul Weimer. Doctor T. The Master of Alternate History. The Avtokrator.

And he earned and earns those sobriquets. 

Once upon a time, there was a series of anthologies edited by Jerry Pournelle called There Will Be War. I loved these to pieces and bought each one as they came out. In the midst of that, I came across a different anthology, edited by S M Stirling called The Fantastic Civil War. In the midst of that volume there was, to my amazement, yet another piece by Turtledove called “The Long Drum Roll”, an excerpt from his forthcoming novel The Guns of the South. It was clear at this point that I needed to read it, and read more Turtledove.

Harry Turtledove

And so I began to tuck in. After Guns of the South, I started to explore the Videssos novels, and was delighted with the “Byzantine empire with magic” setting and worldbuilding. Gerin the Fox, too, and his “edge of the Not-Roman Empire” was also a lot of fun. Agent of Byzantium, with a secret agent in an alternate Byzantine Empire? I began to devour his catalog and oeuvre with reckless abandon and then tried to keep up.

To say nothing of his giant series. Worldwar, with aliens versus the Allies and the Axis. The How Few Remain series, going from his alternate 1862 all the way to the 1940s? And several other series going to four and more volumes?

But, given his output, even to this day, he is an author hard to keep up with.

Dr T has also written a lot of single one shot novels, with a dizzying variety of alternate historical scenarios, with a wide range of divergence points. His Through Darkest Europe, reversing the fortunes of Dar Al-Islam and Western Europe in the Middle Ages, showing an inward looking, backward looking modern Italy, is chilling and all too plausible. 

And if that wasn’t enough, Dr. T has also written a bunch under a variety of pseudonyms. His Turteltaub historical fiction novels, set in various periods are wonderful. His novel Justinian is NOT about the Justinian you are thinking of, but rather Justinian II, whose history and story is even wilder than the original. The novel reads like fantasy but it’s based strongly and accurately on real life events. It is almost literally unbelievable. 

But my one favorite book of his might be a surprise. It would be a World of Difference. The divergence point is what if Mars was about twice the size of Earth, and so was able to hold an atmosphere, and some very strange life. Minerva (the renamed Mars in this verse) has intelligent life that is based on radial symmetry, and while the cold war politics might seem dated today, I wouldn’t mind if we had wound up with Minerva instead of Mars in our own solar system.

Long live the Avtokrator!


(9) THERE’S STILL ORE IN THIS ENEMY MINE. An update?The Hollywood Reporter says “’Star Trek: Picard’ Showrunner Terry Matalas Tackling ‘Enemy Mine’”.

Terry Matalas, the showrunner who steered the final season of Star Trek: Picard to new ratings and critical heights, has been tapped to write an update of the 1985 cult sci-fi movie Enemy Mine for 20th Century Studios.

Set in a future where mankind is warring with a reptilian alien species, Mine starred Dennis Quaid has a human pilot and Louis Gossett Jr. as an alien who crash land on a desolate planet. Both have deep-seated hatred for one another, but are forced to overcome their prejudices to survive…. 

(10) THE PHYSICS GOES AWAY. “Wild New Study Suggests Gravity Can Exist Without Mass” at ScienceAlert.

What is gravity without mass? Both Newton’s revolutionary laws describing its universal effect and Einstein’s proposal of a dimpled spacetime, we’ve thought of gravity as exclusively within the domain of matter.

Now a wild new study suggesting that gravity can exist without mass, conveniently eliminating the need for one of the most elusive substances in our Universe: dark matter.

Dark matter is a hypothetical, invisible mass thought to make up 85 percent of the Universe’s total bulk. Originally devised to account for galaxies holding together under high speed rotation, it has yet to be directly observed, leading physicists to propose all sorts of out-there ideas to avoid invoking this elusive material as a way to plug the holes in current theories.

The latest offering in that vein comes from astrophysicist Richard Lieu at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, who has suggested that rather than dark matter binding galaxies and other bodies together, the Universe may contain thin, shell-like layers of ‘topological defects’ that give rise to gravity without any underlying mass.

Lieu started out trying to find another solution to the Einstein field equations, which relate the curvature of space-time to the presence of matter within it….

(11) HERE’S A REASON TO BUY NEXT YEAR’S CALENDAR. Physics World says “It’s official: United Nations declares 2025 the International Year of Quantum Science and Technology”.

The United Nations (UN) has officially declared 2025 to be the International Year of Quantum Science and Technology (IYQ). Agreed by its general assembly, the year-long worldwide celebration will highlight the impact and contribution of quantum science. It also aims to ensure that all nations have equal access to quantum education and opportunities. An opening ceremony is expected to take place on 14 January in Berlin.

(12) HOLD THE DOOR! “’Absolutely gutted’ — how a jammed door is locking astronomers out of the X-ray universe”Space.com has the story.

…First, the good news: The telescope’s main instrument, a soft X-ray spectrometer known as Resolve, is working as expected. The slightly worse news: An aperture door covering Resolve has not opened. Multiple attempts to open the door — or “gate valve” — have failed. Despite reports suggesting JAXA and NASA have decided to “operate the spacecraft as is for at least 18 months,” Yamaguchi told me that “has not been officially decided.”

A NASA spokesperson confirmed “NASA and JAXA continue to hold ongoing discussions about the best path forward to operate XRISM; the current, leading option is to collect science for the next 18 months before making another attempt to open the gate valve, but the agencies will continue to assess alternatives.”

With the door closed, an intriguing “What If?” situation for mission specialists and X-ray astronomers presents itself. On one hand, the spacecraft is working superbly and showing it’s capable of delivering a heap of new, exciting data. Trying to open the door risks damaging the spacecraft. On the other hand, opening the door could fundamentally change our understanding of the universe….

(13) ANOTHER SPACE HARDWARE CHALLENGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A bit worrying this as I was always a bit partial to the Hubble Space Telescope… “Hubble telescope down to last gyroscopes, limiting science” in Nature.

Despite failing hardware, NASA has no plans to pursue a servicing mission to the aging, iconic instrument…

Hubble’s gyroscopes, which spin at 19,200revolutions per minute, are precise but frag-ile. To make up for failures, service missions have shipped 16 replacement gyros to the telescope over its lifetime. It is now down to the last two of the six currently onboard. In standard three-gyro mode, the devices help the telescope quickly establish and maintain a view with its fine guidance sensors, which lock onto specific stars.

(14) THE MOST IMPORTANT MEN IN SF…? [Item by SFF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Moid Moidelhoff over at Media Death Cult takes a look at the first, principal gatekeepers of SF, the magazine commissioning editors of the early 20th century, in a short 11-minute, video. Time to grab a mug of builders…

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mark Roth-Whitworth, Ed Fortune, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer. (But if there aren’t any, how do I continue the roundup?)]

Pixel Scroll 3/19/24 Ocean’s Elevenses

(1) GAIMAN COLLECTION AUCTION RESULTS. March 15 was “The Day Neil Gaiman Swapped His Original Comic Art, Comic Books and Collectibles for More Than $1 Million”.

[He offered] 125 prized pieces from his collection — everything from original comic artwork to signed books, a Coraline puppet used in the film to limited-edition sculptures, handmade Christmas stories given as gifts, to the awards he received. It was a day well spent: The completely sold-out Neil Gaiman Collection Comics & Comic Art Signature ® Auction, which drew more than 1,200 bidders worldwide, realized $1,029,392.

A portion of the auction’s proceeds will benefit The Hero Initiative, which provides medical and monetary assistance to veteran comics creators, writers and artists needing a helping hand. Some proceeds will also go to the Authors League Fund, which assists professional authors, journalists, critics, poets and dramatists in financial need because of medical or health-related problems, temporary loss of income or other misfortunes.

Gaiman will also share some of the proceeds with the artists who made his imagination tangible enough to put on Bristol board.

“I love the idea of benefitting charities that look after authors who’ve fallen on hard times, that look after the artists and writers and creators of comics who’ve had hard times,” Gaiman told the packed auction gallery Thursday morning. “And I like the idea of normalizing the idea that we who do have art we bought for $50 a page or $100 a page that now sells for tens of thousands of dollars a page get into the idea of giving something back to the artists who originally drew it. That seems to me an important thing to do.”

This single page of art alone went for $132,000: “Dave Gibbons and John Higgins Watchmen #7 Story Page 16 Original Art”.

… Not far behind was the only piece of Sandman-related artwork Gaiman had ever purchased: Jean Giraud’s 1994 painting of Death of the Endless, sister of the titular Sandman whose epic tale spans the universe’s origin through the present day. This painting by the man called Moebius sparked a bidding war that drove its final price to $96,000. That was also the amount realized for John Totleben’s cover of Miracleman No. 16, the last issue written by Moore before Gaiman took the reins.

One of the auction’s most sought-after, fought-over pieces was among its smallest: an on-screen, camera-used puppet of Coraline in her orange polka-dot pajamas accompanied by her ever-present companion, The Cat — “fully posable actors,” as Gaiman explained. He told the audience that Coraline “has been in my bedroom in a glass case since 2009, and I had more qualms about letting her go than I did anything else in this entire auction. She’s there. She smiles at me. She’s special.”

It was so special that a bidding war broke out over Coraline, who eventually went to a new home for $72,000….

(2) KGB. Ellen Datlow has posted photos from the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading on March 13, 2024 where Moses Ose Utomi and Richard Butner read.

(3) EVIDENCE THAT SCHOOL TOSSED BOOKS WHICH WERE OBJECTED TO BY STAFF OR PARENTS. “Publishers Issue Letter to NYC DOE Over Discarded Books”Publishers Weekly has details.

Candlewick Press, Charlesbridge Press, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Sourcebooks, and the organization Authors Against Book Bans have issued a letter to the New York City Department of Education over reports that hundreds of books were discarded by a Staten Island elementary school on ideological grounds.

On March 11, Gothamist reported that hundreds of new books featuring characters of color and LGBTQ themes were found near the garbage at PS 55. Some of the books, pictured in the report, were marked by sticky notes that marked certain titles “not approved,” with reasons such as “Boy questions gender,” “teenage girls having a crush on another girl in class,” and “Witchcraft? Human skulls.”

The discarded books included copies of My Two Border Towns by David Bowle, illustrated by Erika Meza; Kenzy Kickstarts a Team (The Derby Daredevils #1) by Kit Rosewater, illustrated by Sophie Escabasse; Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald Smith; We Are Still Here: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac; and Nina: A Story of Nina Simone by Traci N. Todd, illustrated by Christian Robinson.

Gothamist reporter Jessica Gold found that no formal challenge to the books had been raised through official channels and that “the removal of the books resulted from an objection raised by staff or parents.” The NYC DOE has reportedly announced it is conducting an investigation into the incident.

In response, a coalition of publishers whose books were discarded teamed with Authors Against Book Bans to pen a letter to New York City’s DOE over the report about the book removal, stating, “If true, such action amounts to unlawful censorship and violates authors’ and students’ First Amendment rights.”…

(4) SENDAK FELLOWS. “2024 Sendak Fellows Announced”Publishers Weekly has the names.

The Maurice Sendak Foundation has announced this year’s Sendak Fellows: Charlotte Ager, Rocío Araya, and Cozbi A. Cabrera.

The four-week fellowship will take place May 13 through June 9 at Milkwood Farm in South Kortright, N.Y., and comes with a prize of $5,000. During the residency, artists will focus on a project of their choosing, meet with visiting artists and professionals in the field, and explore Sendak’s house and archives in Ridgefield, Conn.

Originally from the Isle of Wight, Ager is a freelance illustrator based in London. Her clients have included the New York Times, Google Design, Penguin Random House, and Flying Eye Books. Araya is an illustrator from Bilbao, Spain, currently living in France. Rocío’s first English-language translation of her book Head in the Clouds will be published by Elsewhere Editions in 2024. And Cabrera is the author-illustrator of Me & Mama, which received a Coretta Scott King Honor and Caldecott Honor, and My Hair Is a Garden.

(5) NOT QUITE INFINITE COMBINATIONS. Den of Geek says “It’s Official: TV Shows Have Run Out of Titles”. (Fanzines have run into the same problem – how else to explain “File 770”?)

Back when it was all fields around here, TV show titles were in abundance. In the days when television used to be hand-stretched and sun-dried and made at a gentlemanly pace by artisanal methods, there were titles galore. Worzel GummidgeStarsky and HutchLast of the Summer Wine. Distinct and descriptive titles milled around drinking holes, and all writers had to do was toss in a lasso and drag out a Sapphire & Steel or a Knight Rider.

But thanks to streaming, nowadays TV is made in windowless factories and injected with antibiotics and e-numbers. There can never be enough. Every streamer requires a chunky flow of television shows they can release all on the same day, not tell anybody about, and quickly delete for tax purposes before anybody watches them. And the first casualty (aside from the livelihoods of the writers, directors, crew, cast and the collective human spirit)? The titles.

The problem is, the glut has dried up the supply. Abstract nouns. Character names. Place names. Common phrases. “Fun” puns. Creepy lines from nursery rhymes for psychological thrillers. Every combination of words in the English language has already been used to name a TV show. ITV got lucky with Mr Bates Vs the Post Office, but it’s hardly a long-term solution.

Neither is it a uniquely new problem, but it is getting worse. Time was that two competing TV shows with the same title would be released a good many years apart, by which point, who could really remember the first one? When HBO brought out android interplanetary sci-fi Raised by Wolves in 2020, it was several years after the Channel 4 comedy Raised by Wolves set on a Wolverhampton council estate, and fairly difficult to confuse the two….

(6) DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME? “George Lucas Backs Bob Iger in Disney Proxy Fight with Nelson Peltz: ‘Creating Magic Is Not for Amateurs’” – a quote in The Hollywood Reporter.

… The Star Wars and Indiana Jones filmmaker is weighing in on The Walt Disney Company’s ongoing proxy fight with activist investors, and he is throwing his support firmly behind CEO Bob Iger and Disney’s board.

“Creating magic is not for amateurs. When I sold Lucasfilm just over a decade ago, I was delighted to become a Disney shareholder because of my long-time admiration for its iconic brand and Bob Iger’s leadership,” Lucas said in a statement Tuesday. “When Bob recently returned to the company during a difficult time, I was relieved. No one knows Disney better. I remain a significant shareholder because I have full faith and confidence in the power of Disney and Bob’s track record of driving long-term value. I have voted all of my shares for Disney’s 12 directors and urge other shareholders to do the same.”…

… Disney is facing a proxy fight against two activists: The corporate raider Nelson Peltz, and Blackwells Capital. Notably, Peltz has billions of dollars in shares pledged by Ike Perlmutter, who, like Lucas, sold his company (Marvel) to Disney and became a major shareholder. Perlmutter remained with Disney until being laid off last year….

(7) ARE YOU GOING TO BELIEVE YOUR LYIN’ EYES? Meanwhile, Variety reports Disney’s Star Wars cash register has rung up another sale: “’The Acolyte’ Trailer: New Star Wars Show Gets First Look on Disney+”.  

…Disney has released the trailer for its newest “Star Wars” series “The Acolyte,” which is set to stream on Disney+ June 4.

The series takes place 100 years before the franchise’s prequel trilogy during the High Republic era of the “Star Wars” universe, which is the furthest back in the timeline “Star Wars” has gone in a live-action production. An official logline for the series reveals, “An investigation into a shocking crime spree pits a respected Jedi Master (Lee Jung-jae) against a dangerous warrior from his past (Amandla Stenberg). As more clues emerge, they travel down a dark path where sinister forces reveal all is not what it seems.”…


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 19, 1928 Patrick McGoohan. (Died 2009.) I don’t how times I’ve seen the opening of The Prisoner series as it’s been separately shown from the episodes online pretty much since The Prisoner series first aired. Not sure in what context I watching it but that it was. It was, without doubt, one of the the best openings I’ve seen.

Then there was the series. Weird, thrilling, mysterious. Eminently watchable over and over and over again. Was it SF? Or was it a spy series set in the very near future? Who knew? And then there was Number Six, the never named intelligence agent played by Patrick McGoohan. He seemed destined to play this role.

He was an American-born Irish actor, director, screenwriter, and producer. Now it turns out that The Prisoner was his creation. He was also one of the writers – there were five in fact — and he was one of four directors. In other words, he had his hand in every facet of the series and its sixteen episodes. 

Before he was that unnamed intelligence agent he was, and I’m not at all convinced that McGoohan meant this to be a coincidence, secret agent John Drake in the Danger Man espionage series. I’ve seen a few episodes, it’s well crafted.  

Danger Man (retitled Secret Agent in the United States for the revived series) was a British television series broadcast between 1960 and 1962, and again between 1964 and 1968. (A neat bit of history here: Ian Fleming was brought in to work on series development, but left before that was complete. Apparently he didn’t like the way the secret service was to be portrayed.) 

After The Prisoner, McGoohan’s next genre endeavor was as the narrator of Journey into Darkness is a British television horror film stitching together two episodes derived from late sixties anthology television series Journey to the Unknown.

We are now leaving genre and headed for, well the Colombo series. Why so? Because he was good friends with Peter Falk and directed five episodes of the series, four of which he appeared in, winning two Emmys in the process. McGoohan was involved with the series in some way from 1974 to 2000. 

He was said that his first appearance on Columbo was probably his favorite American role. He had top billing as Col. Lyle C. Rum, fired from a military academy, in “By Dawn’s Early Light”, one of the  Colombo films that preceded the series.

His daughter Catherine McGoohan appeared with him in the episode “Ashes To Ashes” The other two Columbo episodes in which he appeared are “Identity Crisis” and “Agenda For Murder”.  

Yes, he reprised his role as Number Six for The Simpsons in “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes”.  Homer Simpson fakes a news story to make his website more popular, and he wakes up in a prison that is a holiday resort. As Number Five, he meets Number Six. 

McGoohan’s last movie role was as the voice of Billy Bones in the animated Treasure Planet.

He received the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award for The Prisoner.


(10) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] On last night’s Jeopardy! episode, the Double Jeopardy round had a category, “Horrors!”

$1200: This horror master turned director to translate his own novella “The Hellhound Heart” to the screen as “Hellraiser”

Yogesh Raut knew this was Clive Barker.

$1600: H.P. Lovecraft wrote that the “U”s in the name of this “hellish entity” should sound “about like that in ‘full’ “

Ben Chan stumbled over the pronunciation a bit but gave “Cthulhu”.

$2000 – Daily Double. Yogesh: “I’ve wanted to say this ever since I was a child. Alex, I’ll make it a true Daily Double.” His bet: $15,200.

The title of this 1962 Ray Bradbury novel is a Shakespeare line that rhymes with “By the pricking of my thumbs”.

Very unsurprisingly, Yogesh got this right, parlaying this into a runaway win for the round.

$800: His Christmas ghost story “The Haunted Man” sold 18,000 copies on its first day of publication in 1848

Yogesh picked it as Dickens.

$400: Catriona Ward’s “The Last House on Needless Street” is partly narrated by Olivia, one of these animals, & that can’t be good luck

Troy Meyer tried, “What is a pig?”

Yogesh said, “What’s a cat?” and on prompting added “black” and was scored right.

Catriona Ward squeed about being a clue.

(11) GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. “Researchers Name Ancient Species of Giant Turtle After a Universe-Vomiting Stephen King Character”IGN unravels the references.

Researchers have named a newly discovered species of giant prehistoric turtle after a universe-creating character that features in Stephen King’s novel It, alongside the Dark Tower series of books.

The monstrous armoured reptile was thought to have lived between 40,000 to 9,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene period, during which time it may have lived alongside and potentially been hunted as a source of food by early humans in the Amazon….

…The fossil’s gigantic proportions lead the scientists to name the species Peltocephalus Maturinin reference to the fictional, god-like turtle Maturin, which vomited out the universe that serves as the setting for Stephen King’s novel It. The benevolent turtle also appears as one of the guardians of the beams featured in King’s eight-part Dark Tower book series, which, like It, has been adapted into a live-action movie, though perhaps the less said about that the better.

As noted in the paper published in the scientific journal Biology Letters – and by the author himself on X after reading the news – King’s character was itself named in reference to the fictional doctor Stephen Maturin, who, in the course of Patrick O’Brian’s seagoing novel H.M.S. Surprise, names a giant tortoise….

(12) LIFE IS SHORT, ART IS LONG. ShortCon2024, “the Premiere Conference for Short Crime Fiction Writers”, takes place Saturday, June 22, and Michael Bracken and Brendan DuBois – familiar around here – are among the presenters.

Join acclaimed crime fiction professionals for an immersive, one-day event and learn how to write short crime fiction, get your stories published, and develop and sustain a long-term career writing short. 

(13) THUMBS UP. Camestros Felapton gives us his eyewitness account in “Review: Zombie the Musical”.

… The show starts off with the hapless cast rehearsing their production of “It’s a Musical! (The Musical!)” with requisite sailors singing about the wonders of New York. In reality, the cast is a mix of a not-so-bright leading man whose acting career is magically failing upwards, a leading woman sick of playing two-dimensional characters, an ageing actress whose career is effectively over and a perpetual understudy with genuine talent but no chance of ever becoming a professional. Outside it is Sydney 1999 and people are worried about Y2K and excited about the Olympics coming in 2000. The tone is set with broad parodies about musicals and the sexism of the theatre industry (especially circa the 1990s).

The world of musicals begins breaking down when the leading man quits and the news on the radio warns of a rapidly spreading infection. Will there even be an audience for their opening night?…

Here’s a “sneak preview” from last fall.

[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Kathy Sullivan, David Goldfarb, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Creating the Watchmen Cover for Journey Planet

By Iain Clark: James Bacon at Journey Planet approached me with an interesting proposition: would I be interested in painting a new version of a Dave Gibbons Watchmen cover, for an issue of the fanzine dedicated to the comic, but with a twist?

This was a challenge, and to be honest, it wasn’t an automatic yes.

I’ve done a few covers for Journey Planet (issues 65, 69 and 74), not to mention several pieces for the Glasgow 2024 Worldcon including the BSFA award-winning “Shipbuilding Over the Clyde” (2020) and “Glasgow Green Woman” (2021).  But these were my own compositions, and I have no experience as a copyist.  Also Dave Gibbons is a world-renowned genius.  I, charitably, am not.

The cover was one of James’ favorites, the colors and contrast being to his liking and it was used for the Watchmen Portfolio, a huge 15.5” x 10” portfolio containing the French and US comic covers and the advertisements promoting that comic, produced in 1988.

Fortunately the cover is a clean graphic design with no figures in it.  I’m pretty good at replicating a reference photo when doing fan art, and this seemed achievable so I cautiously said yes, thus launching my career as an international art forger.

The original Dave Gibbons art

The ingenious twist for the Journey Planet version, suggested by Pádraig Ó Méalóid, was to have the famous smiley yellow badge upside down for use on the back cover (with the original art as the front cover); the idea being to imagine an alternate universe in which the badge fell, unnoticed, face down in the gutter and the whole sequence of events presented in the comics unraveled.

To complicate matters I was then asked if the final painting could still have the badge face up. As the face of the badge is very smooth, overpainting the smiley face over the reverse of the badge seemed impractical so I chose to start by creating as exact a copy of the original as I could manage, and then do the back of the badge separately to be added digitally.

The color balance of the various reference sources varied considerably.  I went with what seemed a good balance of the sources that drew out the subtle color differences in parts of the image (for example the purplish kerb and the slightly bluer drain).  Then it was a case of gridding-up the image, transferring it with pencils to stretched 250 gsm paper on a board, and getting to work.

That’s when the fun began.

I don’t know what scale or medium Dave Gibbons used for the original but as I’m primarily an acrylic painter that’s what I chose. I began by blocking in base areas of color onto my pencils

My copy at an early stage, with a print-out of the original art clipped to one side.

Once I had the color blocked in I started adding the texture and shade.  The more I worked the more it became clear that copying someone else’s art style is uniquely challenging.  Dave Gibbons had skillfully rendered the flowing blood in a distinctive, stylized way with detailed patterns of light and shade in the rivulets, and glints of light in specific places.  His image is no doubt a product of his experience, skill and countless spontaneous choices as he worked.  Rendering the blood in my own style would have been relatively straightforward.  Matching another artist’s tiny creative decisions was much harder, and a long way from intuitive. The reference images also varied considerably in the level of contrast which greatly affects how visible the blood textures and highlights become.

Acrylics are not the easiest medium to blend smoothly (my fault for choosing them!), so I used a slow drying medium, using several layers and some scumbling with the brush.  It took a lot of rework to create subtly blended acrylics which closely (but by no means exactly) mirrored the original.  Fortunately Mr. Gibbons’ style doesn’t show brush marks so there was no need to replicate that degree of spontaneity, but it was still a case of very carefully matching something that was originally far more natural.  The process was instructive, and I certainly gained a new appreciation for the incredible detail and mastery in the original art.

I kept adjusting as I went to match the shapes and textures of the original as closely as I could, for example adding a thin wash of scarlet ink at a fairly late stage to give the blood more lustre and saturation.  Again this is very much a judgement call as my reference images of the original varied from bright scarlet to deep magenta.

My copy nearing completion

The badge was its own challenge.  I nearly had a disaster when I tried to clean up a stray mark and ripped off a coin-sized chunk of the surface of the paper, right on the smoothest and least forgiving part of the image where there was no chance of adding texture to conceal the problem.  After a brief trip to the black abyss of despair and a short flirtation with the idea of throwing the painting out of the window I decided to try a very fine grade sandpaper and rich white gesso to rescue the painting and bring the surface of the badge back to smooth.  If I’d torn right through the paper you probably wouldn’t be reading this article.

Once I was happy with the painting I added a little “CLARK AFTER GIBBONS” to the bottom to keep me out of art prison, thus ending my career as an international art forger.

Finally I moved onto the back of the badge, which I did to the same scale as the rest of the image. Pádraig was able to supply photos of the back of his original badges from 1986 which was immeasurably helpful.  The direction of the pin was to match the “clock hand” blood splatter on the original so I made sure that the light direction matched the rest of the image, and that the tone of the yellow edging matched the front.  This was easily the most straightforward part of the project as I was free to make my own art choices.  I added one blob of Gibbons-style blood to integrate it with the rest of the image.

The back of the badge

I used Photoshop to add my reversed badge to my full painting, and did a bit of color correction to match the reference.

The final composited image.

All told this painting took me a couple of weeks around my day job. It was much more time consuming than I imagined at the outset because of the unexpected demands of matching another artist’s creative choices, but I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.

James and the Journey Planet team were delighted with the image, and so impressed and enthusiastic as James can be, that they asked to use the images for both the front and back covers. Michael Carroll worked up the sidebar logos in keeping with the original individual issues of Watchmen. The version with the upside-down badge went on the front cover with a yellow logo, and the image with the face-up badge went on the back with a green logo.

Ninety two pages of work from a variety of writers, fan and professional alike – with some fascinating insights – were sandwiched between these pieces when the team Jpresented the Fanzine to the world.

James then asked me if I would share my experience here on File 770.  I’m very pleased with how the cover turned out. This was a different kind of undertaking for me but that made it an enjoyable challenge in its own way, one that it stretched me as an artist in unexpected directions by forcing me to realize a specific effect.  I have very vivid memories of reading Watchmen when it was first collected (my elderly copy is the British yellow cover from 1987, 3rd printing). Even back then it had a considerable reputation and I gave it the close attention of a hallowed text.  I’m happy to have contributed my own little tribute with this cover and grateful to Journey Planet for thinking of me!

Journey Planet: Watchmen Now Online

“Who Watches the Watchmen?” Well, WE do, and we have been watching for almost forty years!

The latest issue of the multiple-award-winning fanzine Journey Planet takes a look at the phenomenon of Watchmen, the groundbreaking, genre-altering comic by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins that brought countless lapsed readers back to comics — and heralded the age of the graphic novel.

Helena Nash, Michael Carroll and Pádraig Ó Méalóid join regular editors Chris and James on an issue packed with appreciation, understanding, insight and consideration of Watchmen and its impact on the world, with contributions from over a dozen fans and comic-book professionals, including Bryan Talbot, Bruce Dickinson, Antony Johnston, Todd Klein, Tony Lee, and Tim Pilcher.

Featuring exclusive new interviews with Neil Gaiman, Harry Partridge, John Higgins and Paul Levitz, stunning new covers by Iain Clark, and an original Choose Your Own Adventure supplement by Helena Nash, the bumper 96-page Journey Planet: Watchmen is now available to download from www.journeyplanet.weebly.com.

2020 Emmy Winners

Tonight’s Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast ended the week-long series of presentations that comprised the 72nd Emmy Awards. The complete lists of winners can be downloaded here.

Watchmen was named Best Limited Series. Cast members Regina King won Best Actress and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II won supporting actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie. Damon Lindelof and Cord Jefferson also claimed the category’s Writing award for their Watchmen episode “This Extraordinary Being.”

The Mandalorian earned numerous Emmys in the crafts and production categories.

Chadwick Boseman, Dame Diana Rigg, DC Fontana, René Auberjonois, Robert Conrad, Brian Dennehy, Buck Henry, and Max Von Sydow were among the genre figures honored during the In Memoriam video.

The winners of genre interest follow the jump.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 8/11/20 The Pixel Scrolls So Sweetly, It Lists
The Links Completely

(1) LODESTAR MEMENTO. Fran Wilde shows off her Lodestar finalist pin. The Instagram is a video of her unwrapping the box. Below is a screencap of the pin.

(2) CAN’T TELL THE DC FROM THE DOA. A.V. Club reports “DC Comics hit with huge layoffs, DC Universe streaming service could be dead”.

The WarnerMedia branch of Warner Bros. was hit with a ton of layoffs today, and things seem especially dire this evening for the Warner-owned DC Comics. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a number of high-ranking people at DC are now out, including editor-in-chief Bob Harris, several senior VPs, and some editors (including executive editor Mark Doyle, who was in charge of the publisher’s edgy new Black Label graphic novels). Furthermore, THR’s sources say the layoffs have come for “roughly one third” of DC’s entire editorial staff as well as “the majority” of the people working on the DC Universe streaming service, and the DC Direct merchandise brand has been completely shut down after 22 years of selling Batman toys.

The Hollywood Reporter story adds:

…Insiders also say the majority of the staff of the streaming service DC Universe has been laid off, a move that had been widely expected as WarnerMedia shifts its focus to new streaming service HBO Max.

“DC Universe was DOA as soon as the AT&T merger happened,” said one source.

DC Universe launched in May 2018, and is home to live-action series such as Doom PatrolTitans and Stargirl, as well as animated offerings including Young Justice and Harley Quinn. Some of those shows have now started to stream on HBO Max.

Also a victim of the layoffs: DC Direct, the company’s in-house merchandise and collectibles manufacturer….

(3) THE HORROR. Jo Furniss totes up “10 Novels Based On Folk Horror” at CrimeReads.

…I don’t want to give the impression that my American Rose is some kind of bastard love child of Kate Bush and the Blair Witch. But like other suspense writers who dip their nibs into the cursed waters of folk horror, its elements may be sprinkled into a contemporary novel to create an atmosphere of dread.

The resurgence of the genre shows that folk horror is apt for our times. Identities are fluid. No bad deed goes unpunished. The civilized world is only a heartbeat away from primal and uncanny threats.

The genre is also nostalgic for a rural England that is as far from Downtown Abbey as you can get in a four-horse carriage. This England is afeared of change. In times of crisis, we return to the old ways, which offer a reassuring connection to a simple past. But at the cost of old evils. There is a sense that all progress is a chimera, that our modern sophistication is itself a form of naivety.

(4) BLACK UTOPIA. In “Will I Live to See My Utopia?” at Uncanny Magazine, P. Djèlí Clark responds to HBO’s adaptation of Watchmen.

…Before your mind can make sense of it, words in some shade of Watchmen yellow superimpose across the screen: TULSA 1921.

Gotta admit, didn’t see that coming.

Once those two words flashed, what I was looking at resolved into focus. The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921[5]. The Tulsa Massacre. The scene set off a surge on Google[6] as viewers searched for information on the riot—their first time learning about it. Many Black folks, though, didn’t have to go looking. We’d heard some version of this story. I couldn’t even tell you where or when it was passed on to me—one of those bits of common knowledge that travels along Black intra-community networks, written down in our Scriptures on the Sins of White Folk. The story of the all-Black and self-sustaining community that rose up in the middle of Jim Crow. That prospered, with its own businesses and professionals. Black Wall Street, they called it. Even if you didn’t know every detail—like the discrepancies about airplanes dropping dynamite on buildings, or the disputes over mass graves[7]—you had heard something about Tulsa. It was a story of Black excellence, and Black horror. A tragic tale of a lost world like the city of Atlantis, or doomed Krypton—only snuffed out not by natural disaster or hubris, but by the reckless fires of white supremacy.

Still, the cold open of an HBO production was the last place I expected to see this. I’d gone my entire Black life and never seen a single recreation—not once. Our stories didn’t appear in mainstream productions like this. Our histories certainly weren’t centered this way within a major speculative canon. Our perspective wasn’t supposed to fit into stories of superheroes as jaded vigilantes, a physics- bending blue guy, and the greatest hoax ever played on mankind—à la interdimensional psychic squid.

But here we were. This was happening….

(5) ROBOFLOP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Robots and disability access clash; everyone loses. TechCrunch’s Haben Girma discusses “The robots occupying our sidewalks” .

The robot, shaped like a large cooler on wheels, zipped along somewhere ahead of me. My left hand clasped the smooth leather harness of my German shepherd guide dog. “Mylo, forward.” The speed of his four short legs complemented the strides of my longer two — call it the six feet fox trot. Together we glided past the competition.

My quarantine buddy stayed behind filming the race. Mylo: 1, Robot: 0.

The Mountain View City Council voted on May 5, 2020 to allow Starship Technologies’ robots on city streets. Founded in 2014, Starship operates no-contact delivery robots in several cities around the world. Customers schedule deliveries of food, groceries or other packages through the Starship app.

My amusement with the little robots shifted to curiosity. Thirty years after the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, many tech companies still fail to design for disability. How would the autonomous robots react to disabled pedestrians?

About 10 feet down the sidewalk, I stopped and turned around. Mylo tensed, his alarm crawling up my arm. The white visage of the robot stopped about a foot from his nose.

I hoped the robot would identify a pedestrian and roll away, but it stayed put. Mylo relaxed into a sitting position — guide dog school didn’t teach him about the robot apocalypse. I scratched his ears and he leaned into my hands. The robot was not moved.


August 11, 1955 X Minus One’s “Almost Human” was broadcast for the first time. The screenplay was written as usual by George Lefferts off of Robert Bloch‘s story of the same name first published in Fantastic Adventures, June 1943. (Last collected in The Complete Stories of Robert Bloch, Volume 1: Final Reckonings, 1990.) Bloch’s tale has a petty criminal taking over an android for what he thinks he is suitable training and has the tables turned on him as the android is too human. The cast included Santos Ortega, Joan Allison, Jack Grimes, Guy Repp, Nat Pollen, Joseph Julian and Lin Cook.  You can listen to it here. (CE)


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertx.]

  • Born August 11, 1902 Jack Binder. In Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue they published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, with the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity”.  In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics.  During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.) (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1923 – Ben P. Indick.  Fanzine Ben’s Beat; letters, reviews, in AndurilBanana WingsThe Baum BugleThe Call of CthulhuChacalThe Frozen FrogThe Metaphysical ReviewNecrofileNyctalopsRiverside QuarterlyRod Serling’s Twilight Zone MagazineStudies in Weird FictionWeird Tales.  Wrote Ray Bradbury, Dramatist and George Alec Effinger; eight short stories; contributed to Hannes Bok studies and flights of angels (1968), Bok (1974).  First Fandom Hall of Fame.  My attempt to recruit him for APA-L produced, briefly, Chez Ondique.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born August 11, 1928 Alan E. Nourse. His connections to other SF writers are fascinating. Heinlein dedicated Farnham’s Freehold to Nourse, and in part dedicated Friday to Nourse’s wife Ann.  His novel The Bladerunner lent its name to the movie but nothing else from it was used in that story. However Blade Runner (a movie) written by, and I kid you not, William S. Burroughs, is based on his novel. Here the term “blade runner” refers to a smuggler of medical supplies, e.g. scalpels. (Died 1992.) (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1932 Chester  Anderson. His The Butterfly Kid is the first part of what is called the Greenwich Village Trilogy, with Michael Kurland writing the middle book, The Unicorn Girl, and the third volume, The Probability Pad, written by T.A. Waters. I can practically taste the acid from here… The Butterfly Kid is available from all the usual digital suspects. (Died 1991.) (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1936 – Bruce Pelz, F.N.  An omnifan who did clubs, collecting, cons, costuming, fanhistory, fanzines, filking, gaming, and, as the saying goes, much much more. Co-chaired Westercon 22 and L.A.Con the 30th Worldcon (with Chuck Crayne); founded Loscon and chaired Loscon 10; Fan Guest of Honor at Noreascon Two the 38th Worldcon; founded the History of Worldcons Exhibit; twice earned the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) Evans-Freehafer Award; was named a Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Soc.; service award); Filk Hall of Fame; invented APA-L, contributed to it, FAPA, SAPS, OMPA, The Cult, and for a while every existing apa; recognized fan and pro art with the Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (PDF); gave his collection of fanzines, almost two hundred thousand of them, to U. Cal. Riverside.  He was an Eagle Scout.  Here and here are appreciations by OGH.  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born August 11, 1949  – Nate Bucklin, 71.  First Secretary of Minn-stf (or stef, from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction) and thus one of its Floundering_Fathers.  Guest of Honor at Minicon 16 and 43, Windycon 32, DucKon IV.  Five short stories.  Fanzine, Stopthink; editor awhile of Rune; founding member of Minneapa.  Being a filker (see link under Bruce Pelz) he was Guest of Honor at GAFilk Six, and the Interfilk Guest at Contata 5.  Once explained to me “We have half these songs memorized – usually the first half.”  [JH]
  • Born August 11, 1959 Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid-Eighties. Kindle has Bone Music and a number of his other novels, iBooks has nothing available. (Died 2014.) (CE)
  • Born August 11, 1961 Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. It, like the rest of the Forever Knight novels, is not available in digital form. (Died 2010.) (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1970 – Elizabeth Kiem, 50.  Four novels for us; collaborated on five books about Balanchine.  Three of those four have the Bolshoi Ballet.  [JH] 
  • Born August 11, 1972 – Danielle Wood, 48.  Tasmanian.  Three novels for us (with Heather Rose); dozens more via thus this site (subscription needed).  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born August 11, 1976 Will Friedle, 44. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the FuturePeter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go!  to name but a few of his roles. (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1989 – Will Wight, 31.  Sixteen novels in three series; fourteen shorter stories, most available only here.  Website here.  Some of you will know why I keep misspelling his misspelling his name (and may even know how to spell Nesselrode).  [JH]


(9) TOWARDS POGO. Maggie Thompson guides readers through “The Depression Comics Challenge” at SDCC’s Toucan blog.

…Even in high school, Walt Kelly had worked at his local newspaper; after graduation, he even drew that paper a comic strip about the life of P.T. Barnum. While he was also hired for a few freelance assignments while living on the East Coast, he wanted to produce a different sort of comic art. Walt Disney Productions was his goal, he applied to work there, and he was hired.

As he worked for Disney on a variety of projects for the next five and a half years, he became friends with several of his fellow writers and artists. Like many other fledgling creators there, he’d eventually go on to work in the new comic book industry.

But wait. We were wrapping up the 1930s. And the 1940s were just ahead….

(10) CONDEMNED BY THE SCI-FI SCRIBE. In “Awards For Works Should Be Judged By The Work Itself” [Archive Today copy] Richard Paolinelli rolls together the week’s kerfuffles – Hugo toastmaster GRRM mispronouncing names, Jeannette Ng’s Hugo, the Retro-Hugos for Campbell and Lovecraft, and the attack on the concept of an sff canon – into one prodigious blunt and fires it up. Every paragraph is like this:

…And now they want to change the rules for future Retro Hugos it seems. No longer can the best work be nominated, they yowl, but if the creator behind said work does not pass the “Officially Acceptable Wokeness Test” they must be chiseled out of the SF/F historical record forever lest future generations ever hear of their vile “un-woke” creations!

And to make sure we know how unwoke he is, Richard repeatedly misspells N.K. Jemisin’s name, and delivers this bonus blast to John Scalzi’s syndicated movie review column of 30 years ago.

…Even John Scalzi jumped into the fray to declare that we really shouldn’t waste our time on the “old SF/F” stuff and only read the “modern (read: acceptably woke) stuff”.

HISTORICAL NOTE: I had the extreme displeasure of having to read his crap when it shot across the McClatchy Newspaper wire back in the mid-1990s when he was at the Fresno Bee and I worked the copy desk for two days a week at the Modesto Bee (thankfully the other three days I escaped that torture by working in the Sports department.)

When I heard Scalzi had jumped to fiction writing I pitied his poor editor. His stuff at the Bee was always the last we worked on and always need massive reworking to be suitable to run….

(11) DOWN THESE MEAN BOSTON STREETS. Obviously not sff, but I sure have read a hell of a lot of these books. At CrimeReads, Susanna Lee surveys “The World Of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser And The Birth Of The 1970’s Private Detective”. Really, Lee could have been rather more critical and still have been fair to the series.  

…In [The Godwulf Mnuscript], a student member of the anticapitalist committee tells Spenser not to laugh at the group, saying that they are “perfectly serious and perfectly right.” Spenser answers that so is everyone else he knows. In a world that revolves around ideologies and declarations of righteousness, Spenser is glad to meet people who don’t take themselves too seriously. The cast of supporting characters is populated by friends of different genders and colors who operate on principle without saying so, who are more about the walk than the talk. This is part of the hard-boiled principle of understatement; other people’s pain is to be taken seriously, but one’s own is not. But it is also a signal that the hard-boiled is beginning to change his parameters.

(12) AN EX-WIZ OF A WIZ. “Successor To Fill The Shoes Of Retiring New Zealand Wizard” is a short transcript from NPR’s Morning Edition. This is nearly the whole thing:

Ian Brackenbury Channell walks around in black robes and a pointy hat. He’s a tourist attraction, so Christchurch, New Zealand, even pays him. As he steps aside, a successor wizard takes over. Now, you may ask, exactly what magical power does this wizard possess? His answer – every day, the world gets more serious, so fun is the most powerful thing.

(13) NO LONGER AN ENIGMA. “Wartime code breaker helps crack Sheffield birds’ behaviour”.

Scientists have used mathematical equations developed by a wartime code breaker to understand the behaviour of birds.

University of Sheffield researchers used models developed by Alan Turing to study why flocks of long-tailed tits spread out across the countryside.

They found the birds were more likely to stay close to their relatives but avoided larger flocks.

PhD student Natasha Ellison said the maths was essential to the research.

Researchers tracked the birds around Sheffield’s Rivelin Valley, which eventually produced a pattern across the landscape, and they used maths to reveal the behaviours causing these patterns.

The team used equations developed by Mr Turing in the 1950s, who developed them to describe how animals get their spotted and striped patterns.

(14) REVERSE POLARITY. “Stunning ‘reverse waterfall’ filmed near Sydney” is a BBC video.

High winds and torrential rain on the New South Wales south coast in Australia have resulted in a spectacular sight – waterfalls in the Royal National Park being blown in reverse.

(15) WHEN FRUIT COLLIDES. “‘Bullying’ Apple fights couple over pear logo”: BBC’s article includes a picture of the allegedly-infringing graphic.

When Natalie Monson started her food blog 11 years ago, she didn’t expect to end up embroiled in a fight with the world’s most valuable company.

But the US small business owner is now battling Apple for the right to use a pear in the logo on her recipe app.

In a patent filing, Apple said the image was too similar to its own logo and would hurt its brand.

Ms Monson says the tech giant is simply “bullying” and she feels a “moral obligation” to fight back.

More than 43,000 people have already signed the petition she and her husband Russ, owners of the Super Healthy Kids website, created last week to try to pressure the company to back down.

“This is a real world example of a small business being destroyed by a giant monopoly because they don’t have accountability,” Mr Monson told the BBC. “That was so frustrating to us that we thought we had to do something. We can’t just be the next victim on the list.”

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

(16) A VERY ANTISOCIAL INSECT. Yes, this ant could do anything except bite its way out of a drop of tree resin: “Fossil of fearsome ‘hell ant’ that used tusk-like jaws to hunt its victims discovered in amber” at Yahoo! News.

A 99-million year old fossil of a “hell ant” is giving researchers a glimpse into the behavior of these fearsome ancient insects, a new study reports.

Encased in amber (tree resin), the fossil provides the most vivid picture yet of how hell ants once used their uncanny tusk-like mandibles and diverse horns to successfully hunt down victims for nearly 20 million years, before vanishing from the planet.

“Since the first hell ant was unearthed about a hundred years ago, it’s been a mystery as to why these extinct animals are so distinct from the ants we have today,” said study lead author Phillip Barden of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in a statement.

(17) WHY IT’S GR8T. In “Honest Trailers:  Avatar–The Last Airbender” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies explain that the anime series Avatar–The Last Airbender is “full of life lessons that will thrill your inner eight-year-old–because it was written for eight year olds.”

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

MOPOP 2020 Science Fiction + Fantasy Hall of Fame Class

The Seattle-based Museum of Pop Culture today announced the new inductees to its Science Fiction + Fantasy Hall Of Fame Class. The four are Star Wars, and Watchmen as creations, and Ted Chiang, and D.C. Fontana as creators. They join more than 100 previous honorees. Here are the citations:

Star Wars

Starting with Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977, the Star Wars saga launched a revolution in big-budget science fiction filmmaking. One of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time, the series, set “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” brought science fiction to the forefront of popular culture. The beloved series has spanned over 40 years, and spawned 11 original films.

Created by George Lucas, the space Western/epic/opera takes place in a massive universe inspired by the American West. With phrases like “may the Force be with you” and “evil empire” embedded in popular lexicon, Star Wars’ cultural impact extends beyond the scope of fans.


Written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons, Watchmen is a deconstructed super hero story set primarily in an alternative version of the 1980s. Both a critique and a reinvention of traditional comic book tales, Watchmen is dark, gritty, and it used emojis before emojis.

Watchmen’s alternate take on history, nonlinear story structure, and deconstruction of the superhero narrative make many critics consider the series to be one of the best and most transgressive comics in modern history.

Ted Chiang

Acclaimed science fiction and fantasy short story writer Ted Chiang has won numerous Hugo and Nebula Awards for his work. The 2016 film Arrival was adapted from his short story “Story of Your Life.” Chiang holds a degree in computer science from Brown University, and previously worked as a technical writer for a tech company in Bellevue, Washington.

Chiang’s work is known for its intricate, introspective style. While the fantastic is the genre he writes in, he never fails to leave out humanity in an ever-evolving world of technology.

D.C. Fontana

Born in Sussex, New Jersey, screen and television writer D.C. Fontana knew she wanted to be a writer at age 11, when she began writing horror stories featuring her and her friends as characters. She got her start working as a secretary for famed American writer Samuel A. Peebles. Initially hired to be his secretary, Fontana sold him her first story.

Fontana’s achievements include writing for the original Star Trek franchise, of which she was involved from the developmental stages of the series. Fontana has been praised writing believable female characters at a time when television writers were mostly men. She contributed to other genre television and film as a writer and a producer, including Logan’s Run and Buck Rogers.

Founded in 1996 and relocated from the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas to its permanent home at MoPOP in 2004, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame honors the genre’s leading creators and most impactful creations. Each year, MoPOP puts out a call to the public inviting it to weigh in on which creators and creations should be included next.

The latest inductees were chosen after a month-long voting process where the public was asked to choose among these nominees for inclusion: Babylon 5Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Xenomorph (fr. Alien), as well as Star Wars and Watchmen, which wound up earning the most votes. The most recent creators considered included Lois McMaster Bujold, Rick Baker, and Sigourney Weaver, plus D.C. Fontana and Ted Chiang, which ultimately won the favor of MoPOP’s audience.

The physical hall displaying the names of the honorees and artifacts related to them is currently closed, as is the museum as a whole during the pandemic. But it’s got some wonderful items, some of which are detailed here. The museum’s exhibits explore the lives and legacies of all current inductees through interpretive films, interactive kiosks, and more than 30 artifacts.

[Thanks to Frank Catalano for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 6/18/20 On And On They Filed Until They Reached The Sea Of Pixelbilities, Where They Could Scroll No Further

(1) GLORIOUS. Benford and Niven’s third and final book in their Bowl of Heaven series is out, and they’ll be doing a Powell’s Books Zoom event on June 30, 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register here.

Written by acclaimed, multi-award-winning authors, Gregory Benford (Timescape) and Larry Niven’s (Ringworld), GLORIOUS (Tor Books) concludes the Bowl of Heaven series praised by Booklist as “a solid adventure and entertaining speculation on the lives of alien creatures.”

In the journey that began with the New York Times bestseller, Bowl of Heaven and its sequel, Shipstar, audacious astronauts encounter bizarre, sometimes deadly life forms, and strange, exotic, cosmic phenomena, including miniature black holes, dense fields of interstellar plasma, powerful gravity-emitters, and spectacularly massive space-based, alien-built labyrinths. The alien civilization is far more advanced than our own, and difficult for our astronauts to comprehend. The astronauts must explore and document this brave, new, highly dangerous world, while also dealing with their own personal triumphs and conflicts — their loves and jealousies, joys and disappointments.

Benford and Niven are masters of the science fiction genre and a sci-fi power duo. Together they have combined their talents and expertise to create an unforgettable series for science-fiction fans everywhere.

(2) MY PRECIOUS. Michael Dirda’s resolve to get rid of some of his books has been sorely tried — as happens to so many of us — “By day, I’ve been trying to cull my book collection. But at night, eBay beckons” in the Washington Post.

… Alas, my plan to sort and cull my thousands of books — described last week in my Zippy Shell column — failed to make allowance for human nature. For even as I was straining my back by carrying boxes up the stairs to donate or sell to the noble used book dealers of Washington, come bedtime I would go online to take a quick peek at the current offerings from L.W. Currey, John W. Knott, Richard Dalby’s Library, Type Punch Matrix, Wonder Book and Video or Capitol Hill Books. It didn’t matter that I ached like a stevedore at the end of a double shift. During daylight hours, the world applauded a crusading Dr. Jekyll energetically focused on discarding and recycling printed matter, but once night fell Mr. Hyde would emerge and, while fiendishly cackling, type arcane titles into the search engines of viaLibri, eBay and Addall. Typically, when a friend recently recommended H.B. Marriott Watson’s “The Adventurers” (1898), there was suddenly nothing I wanted more in the world than a copy of this forgotten piece of swashbuckling Victoriana….

(3) GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. UK publication Infinity Magazine subsequently deleted the public post screencapped below.


(4) GENESIS. Although Mark Lawrence takes J.K. Rowling and Ursula Le Guin as texts, more than anything his post “Influence” is a warning to readers who want to infer the source of a writer’s ideas based on similarities to other works.

One of the questions I’m most often asked in the gazillion blog interviews I’ve done is (second only to “Where do you get your ideas?“):

What are your influences?

It’s a question I’ve always had difficulty answering and am saved from mainly by being able to point at two very clear influences for my first two trilogies.

Let’s note that influence comes in many forms, not least: writing style, characters, ideas/topics, and book structure.

(5) COMING IN 2021. HBO Max dropped this sneak peek at Zack Snyder’s Justice League today.

(6) WE WON? The BBC reports “Six movies resuming production after coronavirus”; 5 are genre.

While lockdown may have provided us with the chance to catch up on some old movies, there’s only so many you can watch before you crave something new.

Agreed? Agreed.

Well, fear not, because around the world some of the big-hitters are starting to re-commence production – which was of course halted by Covid-19 – in a variety of socially-distanced ways.

Here are just six of the films to keep your fingers crossed for then in 2021, when the cinemas are hopefully back in business.

Avatar 2

The long-awaited sequel to James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi blockbuster was able to re-start filming in New Zealand this week, because the country is almost coronavirus free.

Cameron and producer Jon Landau told the press Down Under that part two of the planned five-part film series; rumoured to be called The Way of Water (oh yeah, it’s set under water this time, by the way) would bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars back into the country following the pandemic.

Landau shared a photo on Instagram earlier this week as the production got under way.

It will also bring some more big names including Kate Winslet and Vin Diesel to add to returning original stars Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington.

Avatar 2, which is intended to work as a standalone feature (you won’t need to have seen the first one, in other words), will focus on the children of Sully and Neytiri, who are by now leaders of their clan.

The film is now slated for a December 2021 release, with film five in the diary already for 2027 – for those of you who like to plan ahead.

(7) CLOCKING IN. The Root spreads the word: “Tick Tock: Watchmen Will Be Free on HBO for a Few Days Starting on Juneteenth—You Must Watch It”.

…But, you only have a limited time—This offer will only be available Friday June 19 through Sunday June 21. You have 3 days to watch the debut season, which is a total of 9 episodes. Since everyone should be binging experts by now, that’s light work!

…In addition to its groundbreaking portrayal of the Tulsa Race Massacre, Watchmen is a must-watch due to its timely thesis on white supremacy. In fact, it’s worth a revisit or two to truly reflect on its themes in a critical way. I certainly plan to revisit it.

So go ahead and watch Watchmen and discuss the episodes thoroughly. View the show for free online via HBO.com and via On Demand.

(8) HEAR FROM HUGO FINALISTS. Saturday’s episode of Essence of Wonder will have the “Hugo finalists for Short Story and Editors”. June 20 at 3p.m. Eastern. Register at the link.

Nibedita Sen, Fran Wilde, Alix E. Harrow, SL Huang, and Shiv Ramdas will join Karen Castelletti to discuss their nominations for Best Short Story.

That panel will be followed by “A Mini Show With Lior Manor, Mentalist.”

Then, at 4:40p.m. Eastern will follow a “Panel Discussion With Hugo Awards Finalists in the Best Editor Short Form Category” —

Ellen Datlow, Lynne Thomas, Neil Clarke, Lynne M Thomas, and Michael Thomas will join Gadi to discuss their nomination and work.


  • June 1971 — Larry Niven’s All the Myriad Ways, his third collection, was published by Ballantine Books. Costing $.95 and having 181 pages, it included a number of stories of interest such as the first Gil the ARM story, “The Jigsaw Man”, “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex” and “What Can You Say About Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers?“. It is currently available from all the usual digital suspects. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 18, 1862 – Carolyn Wells.  A hundred seventy books, many for children, many more mystery fiction, also poetry, plays.For us, Folly in Fairyland – reprinted 2016 – no, not that, “Folly” is a nickname for Florinda; anyway, see here.  And here is A-L of her Animal Alphabet; when you look at the rest of this Ink-Slinger’s Profile you’ll recognize Mark Twain, but you should know Skippy was a popular 1923-1945 comic strip.  There’s more, but I’ll stop now.  (Died 1942) [JH]
  • Born June 18, 1889 – Elisabeth Holding.  More mystery fiction; no less than Tony Boucher applauded its “subtlety, realistic conviction, incredible economy”.  For us, he praised Miss Kelly too, about a cat who learns to speak with humans: “one of those too-rare juvenile fantasies with delightful appeal to the adult connoisseur.”  We can also claim three shorter stories, translated into Dutch, French, Italian.  (Died 1955) [JH]
  • Born June 18, 1908 Bud Collyer. So far as genre is concerned, he’s best-remembered from radio, starring in the dual role of Clark Kent and Superman beginning in early 1940 on The Adventures of Superman on the Mutual Broadcasting System, a role he also would do in the later Superman and other cartoons such as Aquaman and the Batman/Superman Hour. He was posthumously named as one of the honorees by DC Comics in the company’s 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great. (Died 1969.) (CE)
  • Born June 18, 1917 Richard Boone. He did only two genre roles, one of which — playing Maston Thrust Jr. in The Last Dinosaur — I’m willing to bet you’ve never seen. The other however is one that nearly everyone here has heard, yes, heard, as he voiced Smaug in the Rankin/Bass animated The Hobbit. (Died 1981.) (CE)
  • Born June 18, 1926 – Allan Sandage, Ph.D.  Important next-door neighbor: an astronomer, possibly a great one.  Regarded for thirty years as the pre-eminent observational cosmologist.  Published two atlases of galaxies; five hundred papers.  Warner, Crafoord, Gruber Prizes; Eddington, Cresson, Bruce Medals; Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.  See here.  (Died 2010) [JH]
  • Born June 18, 1931 Dick Spelman. A fan and a legendary book dealer who was active at SF conventions from the late Seventies  through the early Nineties. He chaired Windycon IX in 1982. He was a member of the board of directors of Chicon IV, and ran the Dealers’ Room at many Worldcons. In 1991 he sold his book business to Larry Smith and retired to Orlando, where he was active in local fannish affairs. (Died 2012.) (CE)
  • Born June 18, 1942 Roger Ebert. He got his start as a fanzine writer while in high school, publishing the Stymie zine and having his writing appear in Xero, Yandro and many other zines such as KippleParsection and Psi-Phi. In university, he was a member of the Champaign-Urbana Science Fiction Association. His fannish autobiography is How Propellor-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors and Kids in Basements Invented the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System. Mike has much to say about him here. (Died 2013.) (CE)
  • Born June 18, 1942 – Redmond Simonsen.  Game designer; indeed credited with coining that phrase, and “physical system design”.  Founding editor of Ares magazine.  Charles Roberts Awards Hall of Fame.  King of Clubs in Flying Buffalo’s 2008 Origins Poker Deck.  (Died 2005) [JH]
  • Born June 18, 1947 Linda Thorson, 73. Though Diana Rigg as Emma Peel was John Steed’s best-known partner on The Avengers, she was not his first nor his last. His last one would be Tara King played by this actress. She was the only one to be a real spy. Interesting that other than an appearance on Tales from The Darkside, her only other genre performance was on The Next Gen as Gul Ocett in “The Chase” episode”. (CE)
  • Born June 18, 1949 Chris Van Allsburg, 71. For some twenty years now, the local Narrow Gauge Railroad has ran a Polar Express every Christmas season compete with cars decorated in high Victorian fashion and steaming cups of hot chocolate. It always sells out for the entire month. Allsburg‘s Polar Express book is just magical for me and I enjoy his Jumanji every bit as much. He illustrated A City in Winter which was written by Mark Helprin — highly recommended. (CE)
  • Born June 18, 1951 – Vivian Vande Velde 69.  Fiction for children and young adults.  Two dozen novels, five dozen shorter stories.  Edgar Award for Never Trust a Dead Man, also School Library Journal Book of the Year.  Anne Spencer Lindbergh Prize.  Paterson Prize. “When our daughter was born, I quit my job….  Since I was home all day, I had to either take housework more seriously or come up with a good excuse why I couldn’t…. Writing turned out to be harder work than I thought…. getting published was even harder…. 32 different publishers … before number 33 said yes.”  [JH]
  • Born June 18, 1971 – Sarah Hines Stephens 49.  Two Wonder Woman stories, here’s one; two about a girl (I mean really a girl, she’s in 6th Grade) whose study of insects grosses out her friends, but then invaders invade and she develops insectile powers (not all insects are bugs, but I can’t help that, the title wouldn’t have been as cool if it had been Bugged Girl); four dozen in all, some with co-authors, some re-tellings, some non-fiction.  [JH]


(12) TERRAN PRIZE. George R.R. Martin announced that Maurice Haeems will receive the scholarship he funds to bring a writer to the Taos Toolbox:  “Haeems Wins Terran Prize”.

…With that in mind, back in 2018 I established THE TERRAN PRIZE,  to bring an aspiring SF writer from abroad to the Taos Toolbox, the graduate level writing workshop that Walter Jon Williams runs every summer in the mountains of northern New Mexico.  The Prize is given annually and covers all tuition and fees to the Toolbox (but not travel).

…Maurice was born in Mumbai and has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the University of Mumbai and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Over the last 30 years, he has lived in Mumbai, London, Hong Kong, Taipei, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Dubai while pursuing professional careers in mechanical engineering, investment banking, and software entrepreneurship.

(13) WILL THIS CHOPPER GET IN THE AIR? In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport discusses the Mars mission to be launched in July and how the Mars rover Perseverance has a helicopter attached, nicknamed “Ingenuity,” which will be the first aircraft to flit on another planet. “NASA rushing to complete Mars launch before planet moves out of range. Mission to include first-ever helicopter exploration.”

… In addition to probing for signs of ancient life on and below the Martian surface, the Perseverance mission would also take to the skies. The Ingenuity helicopter would attempt to fly — an exceedingly difficult task given that the “atmosphere on Mars is only one percent the density that we have here on Earth,” Wallace said. “Trying to control a system like this under those conditions is not easy.”

NASA said it hopes to get at least three flights from the helicopter, but it stressed that it was purely a technology demonstration mission and that it would take each one as they come.

(14) DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT. Count on Jon Del Arroz to bring you yesterday’s 770 content today!

(15) HALLOWEEN TREE. But here’s today’s Bradbury news, via Deadline:“Ray Bradbury’s ‘The Halloween Tree’ In The Works As Movie At Warner Bros With Will Dunn Adapting”.

We have learned that Will Dunn has been tapped by Warner Bros to adapt Ray Bradbury’s 1972 fantasy novel The Halloween Tree

…Bradbury wrote and narrated Hanna-Barbera’s 1993 feature-length animated version of the novel for television, for which he won the 1994 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program.

(16) NOT-QUITE-THE-NEXT-GENERATION. On the other hand, here’s some much older Roddenberry news — JDA might like that even better! From TrekMovie in 2018: “Unearthed: Pre-Roddenberry ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Pitch Was A Wildly Different Show”.

…The 8-page concept pitch, entitled “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” was conceived by producer Greg Strangis (War of the Worlds, Falcon Crest) over the summer of 1986 and is set during a 10-year war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. It tells the story of the U.S.S. Odyssey, a ship ferrying a group of cadets on their first deep space assignment and tasked with delivering a document to Organia that could ultimately change the course of the war.

While some of the ideas in this concept can be seen in what ultimately became Star Trek: The Next Generation (such as a young Klingon officer as part of the crew), this original pitch bears little resemblance to the show that went on to have seven successful seasons. One of the more creative ideas was how the original captain dies in the pilot, but “continues to ‘live’ in the ship’s computer” as a hologram who can be summoned for advice….

So would this character have turned into the Emergency Holographic Captain?

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, John Hertz, Jeffrey Smith, Will R., Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Steve Wagner, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Peabody Awards: 2019 Winners

The Peabody Awards has named 30 programs as the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and digital media during 2019.

Here is the complete list of winners in the Entertainment category, which include programs of genre interest Chernobyl, Stranger Things and Watchmen. .


  • “Chernobyl” HBO Miniseries and SKY in association with Sister, The Mighty Mint, and Word Games (HBO)

This emotionally searing miniseries about the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and political aftermath is written, acted, and composed to perfection.

  • “David Makes Man” Page Fright and Outlier Productions in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)

This visually stunning coming-of-age drama by Tarell Alvin McCraney follows a gifted 14-year-old African American boy (superbly acted by Akili McDowell) growing up in the projects in Florida and haunted by the death of a friend.

  • “Dickinson” Apple / wiip / Anonymous Content / Tuning Fork Productions / Sugar 23 Productions (Apple TV+)

While set in the appropriate time, this historical dramedy about famous poet Emily Dickinson is infused and energized by a fresh, contemporary sense and sensibility.

  • “Fleabag” All3Media International Limited and Amazon Studios (Prime Video)

Phoebe Waller-Bridge writes and stars in the second season of the hilarious and caring show about a woman struggling with the death of a friend, and attraction to a hot priest.

Ramy Youssef writes and stars in a touching, thoughtful, and very funny sitcom focusing on a first-generation American Muslim and his family in New Jersey.

Season three continues the fun, nostalgic, horror-meets-sci-fi series about a group of adolescents fighting dark forces in their 1980s Indiana town.

  • “Succession” HBO Entertainment in association with Project Zeus, Hyperobject Industries, and Gary Sanchez Productions (HBO)

Boasting one of the best ensembles on television, the second season of this satiric comic drama follows the devolution of the fictional Roy media magnate family, and their battles over who will succeed its imperial patriarch.

  • “Unbelievable” Timberman-Beverly Productions, Sage Lane Productions, Escapist Fare, Katie Couric Media, and CBS Television Studios for Netflix (Netflix)

The superb dramatization of intersecting, albeit vastly-differently-executed investigations into a serial rapist, features standout performances from Toni Collette, Merritt Weaver, and Kaitlyn Dever.

  • “Watchmen” HBO in association with White Rabbit, Paramount, Warner Bros. Television and DC (HBO)

Brilliantly penned by Damon Lindelof, this high concept sci-fi superhero show refashions the famed DC Comics series to tell a story about racism, policing, fear, and more.

  • “When They See Us” Participant Media, Tribeca Productions, Harpo Films, Array Filmworks for Netflix (Netflix)

Devastating and commanding, the powerful miniseries from Ava DuVernay about the Central Park Five case and the lives it ruined, offers riveting work from a strong ensemble cast.

The organization also announced FRONTLINE and The Simpsons as recipients of Institutional Awards. This distinctive honor goes to programs that have made a significant impact on media programming and the cultural landscape. Cicely Tyson was named winner of the Peabody Career Achievement Award on Monday.


On December 17, 1989, the clouds parted in the now-iconic opening sequence of “The Simpsons,” inviting the world into the town of Springfield for the first time. Already well known to fans of “The Tracey Ullman Show”—which ran a series of animated shorts by creator Matt Groening starting in 1987—Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie would soon rocket to international fame. “The Simpsons,” with nearly 700 full episodes to date, is now the longest-running scripted prime-time series in American television history, and likely the most globally recognized program in history.

Following a decade of earnest family sitcoms, the brash yellow splash of “The Simpsons” on TV cleared the way for a more satiric-parodic, deeply ironic mode of comedy. From the outset, the program was eager to question and rib not just the medium its viewers grew up on, but the beliefs upon which they were structured. Decades later, the effect of its witty humor and willingness to question authority is evident in similarly important comedies that followed in Homer’s four-toed path.

“The Simpsons” expanded notions of what the sitcom could be. It gifted us a wonderful family caught between the poles of father Homer’s delightful ignorance and daughter Lisa’s endearing brilliance, a family that would fumble, fight, and fail, and yet who loved each other in spite of it all. It boldly and inventively ushered animation back into primetime. And it has found ways to remain funny, fresh, and insightful while trusting and respecting its audience’s intelligence. In one episode, Homer thumps his television angrily, demanding that it “be more funny.” Peabody commends “The Simpsons” writers, animators, and cast for answering Homer’s call for 30 years.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]