Michael D. Toman: A Reminiscence

Michael D. Toman

By William F. Wu: My longtime friend Michael D. Toman died at home of natural causes in the last week of August. I knew him for forty-nine years. He was extremely kind and generous, very well educated, as well as being a brilliant, modest, and considerate friend.

His tastes were wide: Classical literature and of course science fiction and fantasy from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley to the most recent editions of Analog, Asimov’s, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. In casual conversations, he might reference the ghost stories of M.R. James and the work of Tolstoy (with the opinion that Tolstoy was unfairly denied a Nobel Prize), then express a thought connecting them to a work by Robert A. Heinlein or Lewis Carroll or John Updike. In music, he was well versed, as a baby boomer would be, in classic rock, but he also loved opera and blues – a range of taste I find to be rare. He often – one approving neighbor said almost nightly – listened to classical music. Movie soundtracks were another favorite and he would sometimes describe instrumental moments he loved using musical terms I never learned. Soundtracks by Miklós Rósza and Elmer Bernstein were among his favorites. He told anecdotes about the improvisations of early bluesmen as easily as referencing a Beatles song.

Michael – he eschewed “Mike” many years ago and I’m writing “eschewed” because he would find it funny – “Gesundheit!” – grew up in Lansing, Michigan, and attended Michigan State University for his bachelor’s degree. While I was born and raised in the Kansas City area, I have multi-generational roots in Michigan. My mother and her mother grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich., and attended the University of Michigan, where my parents met. I attended that university, got my bachelor’s degree in 1973, and took a year off from school before starting grad school in 1974.

Michael attended the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop in 1973, which was also a for-credit class at Michigan State at that time. Among the people he met there was Alan Brennert, who became a lifelong friend.  Before starting my grad school classes at Michigan in the fall of 1974, I attended Clarion that summer. One day, as I was walking up the hall in a dormitory, I glanced into the open doorway of a room where various manuscripts were on a table, available to read. A stranger was standing in the room, looking over the manuscripts, and I wondered why someone outside the workshop was in there.

It was Michael, of course, and he had come from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, where he was studying for a master’s degree in library science, to visit that week’s instructor. After all these years, I don’t remember which instructor that was, though it was either Robin Scott Wilson the first week or Harlan Ellison the third week. He also came back to see Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm in the final two weeks. We first met in the instructor’s room one evening with some other attendees.

I was impressed. Michael had a short story, “Shards of Divinity,” in the anthology Science Fiction Emphasis #1, edited by David Gerrold. I had bought the anthology, which had just come out in April of that year, and remembered the story. Michael was the first published author in my generation I met after reading his work, being about a year-and-a-half older than I am. He was friendly and funny. When I told him I had read that story of his, and liked it, he was surprised and modest, and covered his reaction with a joke about “Trekkies.” I had been writing stories all my life, but I had just started taking a professional approach and submitting stories during the previous twelve months. He had accomplished what I was aiming for.

Michael and I became friends gradually over time. During the following school year, I went to my first sf con. I took a girlfriend to Kalamazoo, where Harlan Ellison was the guest of honor. I had enjoyed meeting Harlan – including his highly disapproving critique of a failed story I wrote to his assignment about “where lost things go” – and visited with Michael and Harlan at the con. At another con that year, a ConFusion in Ann Arbor, I crossed paths with Michael again. I took my current girlfriend and Michael observed that I was wearing the same shirt as the last time he had seen me, but adding with a kind of humor I would come to know well, “same shirt, different girl.” It was funny but I had some explaining to do.

Subsequently Michael received his master’s degree and began working as a librarian at Lansing Community College. I was in a combined master’s and doctoral degree program in American Culture. We continued to cross paths at nearby cons and also the Worldcon in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1976. Eventually we visited back and forth between Lansing and Ann Arbor, discovering many more common interests including the original King Kong movie and alternate history fiction – and he knew more about both subjects than I did. We corresponded more often than we saw each other. Back then, when a “long-distance call” cost extra money, we saved pennies by not using the phone.

When I applied, in 1977,  for affiliate membership in Science Fiction Writers of America on the basis of a story published in a British anthology, Michael was the membership chairman. I received a letter of acceptance from him in which the body was informative and professional in tone. In a P.S., he added a humorous personal note as one friend to another in a style that he would use in correspondence with just about everyone for the rest of his life.

By 1978, we decided to go to the 36th World Science Fiction Convention, also known as Iguanacon II, in Phoenix together and share a motel room. We found a place much cheaper than the high-priced Hyatt Regency convention hotel. This motel was in walking distance of the con and we met another motel guest who was a fan. She went by Mickey and said she had never met published writers before. We enjoyed visiting with her and were careful to explain that our careers were still limited. At that con, we met writer Ed Bryant, who was editing an anthology at the time (he had already rejected a story of mine). We also met writers Pat Murphy and Cherie Wilkerson, who had attended Clarion that summer. They also became longtime friends.

At this con, we also learned of more science fiction and fantasy writer friends of our age group living in the Los Angeles area. As always, in visiting with people at the con, Michael was modest about being a published writer and always enjoyed complimenting and encouraging other writers whether they were published or not. He liked sharing information when he could about new short story markets and sometimes comments he had received or heard about from various editors that might reveal leanings they might have. This, too, continued for the rest of his life.

I had a year to go in grad school, though I didn’t know exactly when I would finish – I was about to start my doctoral dissertation, which I completed just about twelve high-stress months later. After all this time in school, I had lost interest in becoming a college professor somewhere. I knew I only wanted to write, though how I’d make a living wasn’t clear. Michael took part in a strike at the library, where he had a stressful split shift every day of work. Over time after the strike, the woman in charge gradually reduced the number of working hours of every employee who had taken part in the strike and was successfully forcing them to find work elsewhere.

At this 1978 Worldcon, we complained and commiserated about our lot and meandered toward the idea of moving to Los Angeles together after I had my doctoral degree and when he was ready to escape the stress and uncertainty of his library job.

Also that year, Michael had a story published in an anthology in France. It appeared as “Contre-odyssée”in translation and was “Against the Odds” in the original English. He was always disappointed that he was never able to get it accepted in the U.S. Two years earlier, “Shards of Divinity” had appeared as “Quelques miettes de divin” in a French anthology. In 1978 I had another short story published in a British anthology that was a sequel to the one in which my first professional sale had appeared in 1977. In the U.S., our publishing histories were Michael’s “Shards of Divinity” and a short story of mine that had appeared in a regional magazine in 1974. That publication was not deemed sufficient as a credential for SFWA membership. Despite writing and submitting our work often to U.S. magazines and anthologies, we each had two stories in European publications that outnumbered our individual stories in the U.S. That was an irony we shared with considerable annoyance.

During these years, Michael became friends with fellow Michigan State alum Joan Hunter Holly. Her first sf novel was published in 1959. Joan was down-to-earth and always supportive of his writing efforts. She lived in Lansing and ultimately had thirteen novels published and a number of short stories. Michael had a particular liking for her novel The Flying Eyes, in which aliens first appear over Spartan Stadium at Michigan State. She was SFWA treasurer in the late ’70s and Michael worked with her in his role as membership chairman. Through her, he met longtime writer Lloyd Biggle and he introduced me to both of them. Joan was a heavy cigarette smoker and died at the age of fifty, in 1982, from lung cancer. This hit Michael very hard. He spoke of her at times for the rest of his life.

In 1978, George Scithers, the editor of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, as it was titled at the time, accepted a novelette of mine. This gave me the credential to become a full member of SFWA, for which I got another letter from Michael with another dose of humor. The story was published the following year. Though our progress was slow, we felt optimistic about the direction of our writing careers.

I finished the rough draft of my dissertation in August of 1979 and the prospect of leaving my grad school life behind was becoming real. On Labor Day weekend of 1979, Michael came to Ann Arbor with some fan friends from Michigan State and one of them drove us down to Louisville to NorthAmeriCon ’79, the second North American Science Fiction Convention because the Worldcon was in Brighton, England, that year. The trip was an experience common to all of us: science fiction writers and fans saving money by sharing gas and a room, including some of us sleeping on the floor in those days when our bodies were young. At that con, we met writer Tim Sullivan, who became a longtime friend, and writer and orchestral composer Somtow Sucharitkul. Tim and Somtow lived in Boca Raton, Florida.

At one point, I was talking to one of them in the dealers room when someone interrupted, wanting to introduce another individual who lived in Boca Raton. I drifted away and learned much later that the new arrival was Diana G. Gallagher, at that time an unpublished writer working on an sf novel. While I didn’t meet her at that time, we would eventually get married.

Michael and I reaffirmed our plan to leave the long Michigan winters behind for Southern California. Knowing a number of writers already in the L.A. area – including Alan Brennert — made it a much more inviting location than any place where neither of us knew anyone. I received my doctoral degree in December of 1979 and drove my old, bought-used, gas-guzzling, but large sedan to pick him up in East Lansing in June of 1980.

Michael always hated driving. He never was in an accident or received a traffic citation. Even so, he would take a bus, ask a friend, or walk if possible – anything but drive. He owned cars at several times in his life but still avoided driving if he could.  Because he never had an explanation (“I just don’t want to”), I had to accept this, as did all his friends. So for our long trip, I agreed to do most of the driving and he agreed to spell me occasionally. We crammed the big car full of our stuff and departed late in the day.

On the second day, we had an experience Michael loved describing. I had been driving for hours in an overcast but dry day as we went south in Indiana. He agreed to take over so I could rest. As soon as he got behind the wheel and returned to the Interstate, a downpour began. He was both annoyed and hilarious: “You see what happens when I drive? You see?” He was laughing and serious at the same time. “You drive for hours and it doesn’t rain. You see?” He had more to say as lightning and thunder added to the storm.

Even so, he was a good sport and drove through the downpour for about an hour. At that point, at his request, I took over again. In minutes, the rain stopped. Then the clouds parted and I was driving in sunshine. I can’t remember exactly what Michael said in this moment, but he went on for a while – again, funny and serious at the same time.

We knew even then that when we would tell the story, listeners would assume, even while enjoying the anecdote, that we were exaggerating – especially given that were professional storytellers. In fact, the experience was exactly as I described. The fact that people didn’t necessarily believe it in full added both to Michael’s enjoyment of recounting the events and also to his annoyance about it. He told the story off and on for many years.

After a few days with my parents in the K.C. area, we drove into the Colorado Rockies. By prior arrangement, we took part in a weeklong Milford workshop in Telluride. Milford had begun in the 1950s and set the workshop pattern that led to Clarion. George R.R. Martin attended; we knew him from cons in the Midwest when he lived in the Chicago area. P.C. Hodgell, a Clarion-mate and good friend of mine, took part. We met Connie Willis, who became a longtime friend, and Kevin M. O’Donnell, Jr., who also became a good friend.

At the end of the week, Michael and I continued on our way. At one point, still on a winding mountain road, I needed Michael to drive for a while. He griped even more this time, in part because the lenses in his glasses had come loose and were held in place by clear tape – which narrowed his field of vision. I took over again as soon as I could. We reached Grand Junction in the evening and got a motel room.

Ready to leave the intensity of Milford and stress of driving behind for a while, we went to see a movie at a local theater – which happened to be showing The Shining. We knew it was based on a Stephen King novel but not that it was set in the Rockies. Nor was watching it a great way to relieve stress. After it was over, we laughed at the irony. And finally found time to relax.

In the Los Angeles area, we first stayed with Jim and Valerie Ransom, friends Michael had known in Michigan. Their kindness and patience with us can never be repaid. I found a part-time job at the L.A. City Hall with the help of Garrett Hongo, an old friend from my grad school days in Ann Arbor, as Michael applied for library jobs. We also house-sat for another old friend of Michael’s, as well as for Cherie Wilkerson and later a cousin of mine when they went out of town on long trips. One month we house-sat for the parents of a former girlfriend of mine – in fact, the girlfriend about whom Michael had observed “Same shirt, different girl” six years before.

I also attended that year’s Worldcon, which was in Boston. Someone – almost certainly either Tim Sullivan or Somtow Sucharitkul — introduced me to Diana G. Gallagher. She and I started a correspondence and sometimes talked on the phone throughout the following six months.

In January of 1981 Michael and I moved to an apartment complex with some of the other writers we knew, sometimes including Theodore Sturgeon. Michael started working for Harlan Ellison full time – each weekday I drove us to Harlan’s house where Michael, in librarian mode, typed cards to catalog Harlan’s immense book collection. Meanwhile, having received interest in my doctoral dissertation by a publisher of scholarly work, I sat in the art-deco dining pavilion and revised my dissertation. We had known Harlan for some years, of course, but these months deepened our friendship with him. During this time, Harlan accepted a story by Michael titled, “Quarto,” for The Last Dangerous Visions.  It was a brilliant pastiche of work by Jorge Luis Borges but did not make the final cut for the upcoming edition as I write this in 2023.

That spring, I attended the first International Conference on the Fantastic in Boca Raton, Florida, in part because my friends Tim Sullivan and Somtow Sucharitkul would be there. I read a short story and presented a scholarly paper drawn from my dissertation. More importantly, I got better acquainted with Diana. As a result of this trip, a couple of months later, I moved in with her and her two kids in Boca Raton.

I was apologetic toward Michael for moving on and he assured me that pursuing a serious relationship with a woman made sense to him. About three months later, Michael got a well-paying job as a reference librarian at The Aerospace Corporation. I did not return to Southern California to live until 1987, though I visited several times. Michael and I continued to correspond and, with his new income, he often called while I was still counting pennies. These years were full of bonding experiences that anchored our long friendship in years to come.

Michael always took great pleasure in helping writer friends any way he could. Sometimes he would make sure someone knew about a potential market; many times he would write to libraries to recommend they buy certain books. He also wrote to strangers with compliments and suggestions. In a striking example, he made Alan Brennert aware of two short stories when Alan was on the staff of The Twilight Zone in the ’80s. One was “Dead Run” by Greg Bear and the other was my “Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium.” Both were adapted for The Twilight Zone. All his life, he found ways to promote fiction by friends and strangers.

In 1985, I came out to L.A. with a friend and, with Michael, we watched the weeklong filming of “my” Twilight Zone episode, written by Alan Brennert. That would not have happened without Michael.

At the same time, Michael’s writing grew less frequent. He continued to submit stories already written and a poem, “Seven Ways of Looking at Godzilla.” The latter remains unpublished and I’ve suspected science fiction editors might not have appreciated its literary side and that editors of literary work were put off by Godzilla. In that poem, there’s that surprisingly wide range of interest and knowledge again, similar to his interest in blues and opera mentioned earlier. He filled paper grocery sacks and file folders with story ideas in his tight scrawl.

In the ’80s and ’90s, he had short fiction published in Cold Shocks, edited by Tim Sullivan; Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine, edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch; Fantasy Tales; and Fantasy Macabre. Beginning in the early ’90s, he did not write fiction for roughly the last thirty years of his life. He often said, “It’s easier to manage other people’s careers than your own.” Even so, he always insisted that he wanted to write more.

In 1987 I moved with my wife Diana and stepdaughter Chelsea to a small town in the Antelope Valley called Lake Los Angeles. The lake has been dry for decades and it’s nowhere near Los Angeles, being in the high desert north of the San Gabriel Mountains. However, I could now drive to the near edge of the L.A. sprawl in about an hour. Starting in the fall of 1987, five of us who were already acquainted got together for sushi and plum wine roughly once a year until the recent pandemic. The other three are Alan Brennert, Michael Cassutt, and Robert Crais. Michael and I had met Bob Crais at Clarion in 1975 when we returned to visit Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm. Michael Toman could not bring himself to try sushi and ordered his own dinner, but for many years we all enjoyed Japanese plum wine. Alan dubbed us Brothers of the Plum. I have always enjoyed the get-togethers and Michael in particular benefited from the camaraderie as his own writing efforts were left behind. He became more self-conscious than ever about telling new acquaintances that he was a published writer of fiction, but we always reminded him that he was.

In 1995, Michael became a reference librarian for the South Pasadena Public Library. It was, at last, the work he truly wanted: Working up lists of books for the library to buy, helping members of the public find books they sought, and also suggesting books they might like but didn’t know about. Bringing readers and books together brought him special satisfaction.

In the 2000s, Michael made editors of The Best American Short Stories aware of Harlan Ellison’s story “The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore.” This became Harlan’s first appearance in this series from the literary world. Out of all the countless ways in which Michael helped other writers, he took special pride in this.

His devotion to helping also included keeping friends up to date on many sorts of news related to creative work through correspondence and eventually email. In time, he became especially fond of File770.

Related to these activities, he treasured being a generally unknown yet influential “force for good,” as he phrased it – and said he would like to be remembered as such. Here it is. Those of us who benefited from his kindness will always remember.

And, of course, the personal side of our friendship continued. When I remarried in 2007, Michael was best man at the wedding.

 Michael repeatedly gave me an intended compliment that revealed something about his long years of not writing fiction. He would say, “I really admire your discipline,” in writing my work. I always gave him the same answer, that I liked writing short stories and novels. It’s something I really want to do. I explained that I enjoyed writing and was not disciplining myself in the sense he meant. Granting that of course there have been days when I was not in the mood but had a deadline to meet, overall I enjoy the process of writing fiction – emphasis on “process.” Though he always enjoyed corresponding with people, often with cultural references and humorous observations, Michael reached the point where he truly did not enjoy writing fiction and could only have done so with the “discipline” of forcing himself to do so.

Sadly, that meant that no one will ever read the unwritten stories based on the many premises he scribbled down. Many combined unlikely concepts along the line of his story “Against the Odds,” in which an additional travail for Odysseus occurs when he finds himself in our time in the back of a bus. At his best, Michael was brilliant in pastiche and with creating premises he never developed.

Just as he never offered a reason for his aversion to driving, he never made an effort to discuss his writer’s block. He insisted he wanted to write short stories but did not write for so many years – in a reference he would recognize, his intention to write and his published stories were jam tomorrow and jam yesterday — but never jam today.

I think Michael’s greatest moment of writing gratification came in the 2000s when Harlan gave him permission to enter part of his story “Quarto” in a contest judged by John Updike. Michael had long enjoyed and admired Updike’s work and was thrilled when Updike awarded Michael’s entry first prize. Michael received it from Updike in person.

So now my friend of forty-nine years is gone.

Somewhere, there’s an alternate world where Michael D. Toman enjoys writing fiction and fully develops all his premises with great personal satisfaction. That’s a world where we could enjoy all the pastiches and mashups and other story concepts brought forth by his intellect and knowledge and sense of humor. And it’s a world where every writer he ever helped and befriended recognizes and applauds his accomplishments.

I hope the Michael D. Toman I knew has found his way there now.

Pixel Scroll 9/3/23 Have Jetpack Will Pixel, Eventually, Maybe, Perhaps

(1) RIP MICHAEL TOMAN. South Pasadena librarian Michael Toman, who decided to become one of the rare people who pitch in every day with ideas for the Scroll, died earlier this week. How he will be missed! He was found dead at home on Saturday by a friend, writer William F. Wu, who checked after people hadn’t heard from him for days. Wu and Toman have been friends since they met in 1974 while Wu was attending Clarion at Michigan State, and Toman was visiting after having attended the year before.

I appreciated the pipeline he had to Clarion workshop news — and it turns out that his fellow Clarion ’73 alums included another frequent contributor here, Daniel Dern, as well as authors Alan Brennert, Darryl Schweitzer Jeff Duntemann and Stuart Stinson, among others.

(2) HOW TO GET WESTIN HVP COLLECTION. Best Fan Writer Hugo finalists Örjan Westin has made available online their collected 2022 Micro SF/F stories which appear in the Hugo Voter Packet.

Right. I write stories that are short enough to fit a tweet (up to 280 characters), and I post them to Twitter and other social media platforms under the moniker MicroSFF. There is no set schedule, nor, usually, much deliberation; I get an idea, I write a thing, I post it.

(3a) NYT ON MORMON YA WRITERS. As seen in the Sunday New York Times Style Section (mostly likely paywalled): “An Unexpected Hotbed of Y.A. Authors: Utah”

A tight-knit community of young-adult writers who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has yielded smashes like “Twilight.” But religious doctrine can clash with creative freedoms.

Daniel P. Dern briefly notes: “The list includes not just Orson Scott Card (as I expected) but also several major, major authors who I hadn’t realized were Mormons.”

(3b) THE ANSWER. “Revealed: how Hitchhiker’s Guide author predicted rise of ebooks 30 years ago” in the Guardian. I don’t suppose he was the only one, however, it is interesting to see what he thought about the idea.

…In the late 1990s, at least a decade before Amazon’s e-reader first came on to the market in 2007, the author and humorist made a series of notes uncannily predicting the rise of electronic books.

But Adams, who died in 2001, did not live to see his musings, spread over three A4 pages, become reality. He wrote: “Lots of resistance to the idea of ebooks from the public. Particularly all those people who 10 years ago said they couldn’t see any point typing on a computer.

“I believe this resistance will gradually disappear as the electronic book itself improves and becomes smaller, lighter, simpler, cheaper, in other words more like a book.”

Adams’s notes are presented in their original handwritten form in a new book, 42: The Wildly Improbable Ideas of Douglas Adams….

(4) TALKIN’ ABOUT MY REGENERATION. “Doctor Who regeneration wins TV Moment of the Year at Edinburgh TV Awards’ and Radio Times has the story. (Complete list of winners at the link.)

Doctor Who, The Traitors and BBC One all took home trophies at this year’s Edinburgh TV Festival Awards….

In the only award voted for by the public, the scene in Doctor Who that saw Jodie Whittaker regenerate into David Tennant – from the episode The Power of the Doctor – was crowned TV Moment of the Year….

(5) THEY KEPT WATCHING THE SKIES. An amazing overview of how different cultures drew constellations. “Figures in the Sky” at Visual Cinnamon.

… Let’s compare 28 different “sky cultures” to see differences and similarities in the shapes they’ve seen in the night sky. Ranging from the so-called “Modern” or Western constellations, to Chinese, Maori and even a few shapes from historical cultures such as the Aztecs.

Take the star Betelgeuse. This red supergiant is one of the brightest stars in the night sky. In proper darkness, you can even see that it shines in a distinctly red color. It’s part of one of the easiest to distinguish modern constellations known as Orion, named after a gigantic, supernaturally strong hunter from Greek mythology.

The visualization below shows how Betelgeuse has been used by 17 cultures (out of the 28) to form constellations, each represented by a different color. …

(6) MARILYN LOVELL. Marilyn Lovell died September 2 at the age of 93 reports Deadline: “Marilyn Lovell Dies: Apollo 13 Commander’s Wife Was Symbol Of Courage During Accident”.

Marilyn Lovell, whose stoic comportment during the touch-and-go Apollo 13 flight accident gave the world hope that all would turn out well, died on August 27 in Lake Forest, Illinois, at 93. Her husband of 71 years, Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell, was at her side.

Her husband named a small mountain on the moon Mount Marilyn in her honor during his Apollo 8 moon flight in 1968.

Marilyn Lillie Lovell was born on July 11, 1930, in Milwaukee, WI. She was the youngest of five children. She graduated from Milwaukee’s Juneau High School, where she met her future husband, James A Lovell, Jr.

…In the Apollo 13 film, Tom Hanks played Capt. Lovell. Kathleen Quinlan played Mrs. Lovell and was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar. Marilyn Lovell was later a part of several Apollo 13 documentaries….


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 3, 1810 Theodor von Holst. He was the first artist to illustrate Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in 1831. The interior illustrations consist of a frontispiece shown here, title page and engraved illustrations. To my knowledge, this is his only genre work. (Died 1844.)
  • Born September 3, 1934 Les Martin, 89. One of those media tie-in writers that I find fascinating. He’s written the vast majority of the X-Files Young Readers series, plus a trio of novels in the X-Files Young Adult series. He’s also written two Indiana Jones YA novels, and novelizations of Blade Runner and The Shadow
  • Born September 3, 1943 Mick Farren. Punk musician who was the singer with the proto-punk band the Deviants. He also wrote lyrics for Hawkwind. (Can we consider them genre?) His most well-known genre work was the The Renquist Quartet about an immortal vampire.  The Renquist Quartet is available at the usual suspects.  Not at all genre, he wrote The Black Leather Jacket which details the history of the that jacket over a seventy-year span up to the mid-eighties, taking in all aspects of its cultural, political and social impact. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 3, 1954 Stephen Gregg. Editor and publisher of Eternity Science Fiction which ran from 1972 to 1975 and again for a year starting in 1979. It had early work by Glen Cook, Ed Bryant, Barry N Malzberg, Andrew J Offutt and Roger Zelazny. (Died 2005.)
  • Born September 3, 1969 John Picacio, 54. Illustrator who in 2005 won both the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist and the Chesley Award for Best Paperback Cover for James Tiptree Jr.’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. He’s also won eight other Chesley Awards. He was the winner of the Best Professional Artist Hugo in 2012, 2013, and 2020. And I’m very fond of this cover that he did for A Canticle for Leibowitz which was published by Eos seventeen years ago.
  • Born September 3, 1971 D. Harlan Wilson, 52. Author of Modern Masters of Science Fiction: J.G. BallardCultographies: They Live (a study of John Carpenter) and Technologized Desire: Selfhood & the Body in Postcapitalist Science Fiction. No, I’ve no idea what the last book is about. And I’m absolutely sure that I don’t want to. 


  • Bizarro once again lives up to its name with this visit to a specialized museum.
  • Eek! shows a set of superhero costumes that didn’t make the cut.

(9) NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE. More information from Buckaroo Banzai fandom. Yesterday we ran the link to World Watch One August 2023, which includes interviews with Carl Lumbly, Dr. Damon Hines, and Billy Vera. The group that publishes the online magazine also has a Facebook page. And they host a Buckaroo Banzi FAQ website as well.

(10) ART DETECTIVE WORK. [Item by Brick Barrientos.] The mystery of who painted the 1976 cover of A Wrinkle in Time has been solved. Spoiler alert: it’s Richard Bober. However, the detective story is totally worth reading. “Artist: Known — Illustrator for ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ gets long-overdue credit” at WBUR.

…Sarah: I find the colors of the cover and the painting so freaky, and I could not tell you why. They just caused this weird, low-level hum that’s really just full of dread in my heart.

Amory: But for Sarah, a self-proclaimed “gloom” and “fancier of […] magics both macabre and melancholy” as her blog proclaims… a painting that can induce a low level hum of DREAD in your heart? That’s a pretty exciting thing! Sarah wanted to include this piece in her forthcoming book, “The Art of Fantasy.” But…

Sarah: I couldn’t even remember what it was from….

Here’s the blog post about the search: “A Mystery That Should Not Exist: Who Is The Cover Artist For This Edition Of A Wrinkle In Time?” at Unquiet Things.

(11) A BRIDGE NOT TOO FAR. [Item by Brick Barrientos.] It’s not speculative fiction related but really worth reading. Like the Wrinkle in Time artwork story it’s a great detective story of why a pedestrian bridge was built in the Twin Cities. “The Mystery of the Bloomfield Bridge” at TylerVigen.com

This pedestrian bridge crosses I-494 just west of the Minneapolis Airport. It connects Bloomington to Richfield. I drive under it often and I wondered: why is it there? It’s not in an area that is particularly walkable, and it doesn’t connect any establishments that obviously need to be connected. So why was it built?

I often have curious thoughts like this, but I dismiss most of them because if I answered all of them I would get nothing else done. But one day I was walking out of a Taco Bell and found myself at the base of the bridge….

(12) CREATURE FEATURED. “Review of Creature from the Black Lagoon” at Captain Toy. Lots of photos at the link.

Since NECA announced they were picking up the Universal Monsters characters in their 7″ action figure line, I have been anticipating one in particular. While I’m a huge fan of the entire stable of characters, having spent my childhood watching them every Saturday afternoon on Sir Graves Ghastly, there was one that has always been at the top of the pack – the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

It isn’t because this was the best film they produced. Frankenstein was far superior, and Dracula was a better overall movie as well. But CFTBL had something they did not – one of the top three best ‘man in a rubber suit’ creature designs of all time.

The suit was designed by Milicent Patrick, an animator for Disney who also created the terrific Metaluna Mutant and Moleman. She was fired from her role as a designer by Bud Westmore after the Creature started to gain notoriety, because he had taken sole credit for the Creature design and wanted to keep it that way.

As is the norm with this series, I assmue there is both a color and black and white version. I’m looking at the color tonight, as I’ve usually (though not exclusively) stuck with the color versions. I also haven’t seen the black and white yet anywhere. There was also a Glow in the Dark release, put out as a SDCC exclusive.

Expect to pay around $38, depending on the retailer….

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

Pixel Scroll 7/24/16 The Pixel Who Walks Through Walls

(1) CLOTHING SHRINKS. NPR takes a psychological look at cosplay in “Cosplayers Use Costume To Unleash Their Superpowers”.

These cosplayers are invoking clothing’s subtle sway over us. People have used clothing to subdue, seduce and entertain for millennia. In some outfits, people not only look different, but they feel different. Psychologists are trying to figure out how clothes can change our cognition and by how much. Adam Galinsky, a psychologist at Columbia Business School, spoke with NPR’s Hanna Rosin for the podcast and show Invisibilia. Galinksy did a study where he asked participants to put on a white coat. He told some of the participants they were wearing a painter’s smock, and others that they were in a doctor’s coat.

Then he tested their attention and focus. The people who thought they were in the doctor’s coat were much more attentive and focused than the ones wearing the painter’s smock. On a detail-oriented test, the doctor’s coat-wearing participants made 50 percent fewer errors. Galinksy thinks this is happening because when people put on the doctor’s coat, they begin feeling more doctor-like. “They see doctors as being very careful, very detailed,” Galinksy says. “The mechanism is about symbolic association. By putting on the clothing, it becomes who you are.”

Almost any attire carrying some kind of significance seems to have this effect, tailored to the article as a symbol. In one study, people wearing counterfeit sunglasses were more likely lie and cheat than those wearing authentic brands, as if the fakes gave the wearers a plus to cunning. “If the object has been imbued with some meaning, we pick it up, we activate it. We wear it, and we get it on us,” says Abraham Rutchick, a psychologist at California State University Northridge.

(2) WOMAN OF MYSTERY. The LA Weekly claims to know “Why This Might be Elvira’s Last Comic-Con (as Elvira)”.

Cassandra Peterson has been playing Elvira, the self-proclaimed Mistress of the Dark and horror movie hostess, for 35 years, and she’s been attending Comic-Con as the character for longer than she can remember.

“I was going through my records trying to find the first Comic-Con I came to, and it was in the basement of some motel or hotel or something,” she says. She used to come almost every year, but this year will likely be her last, at least as Elvira. She’s here now to promote her upcoming coffee table book, which features commentary and photos spanning Elvira’s 35-year history (including a few behind-the-scenes shots, like one of her in full costume, seven months pregnant).

Reflecting on her years at the convention, she’s enjoyed meeting her idols, like Forrest Ackerman, a prominent figure in the sci-fi and fantasy scene, and running into colleagues. “I saw Gene Simmons last time I was here, a couple years ago, and that was awesome, because I don’t often run into him, and he was in his KISS drag, I was in my Elvira drag, kind of scary. We were both going, ‘How long are we going to be doing this?’”

But what sticks out the most is a memory of her first Comic-Con, where she was one of the only women in attendance. “When I was there, I was really the ‘odd man out,’ being a woman,” she says. “And now, I am positive that it’s at least 50 percent women [here] that are interested in the whole genre, whether it’s horror, fantasy, sci fi. And I’ve seen that, in my 35 years, just completely change.” She adds, “I was one of those geek girls who was into that stuff when I was a kid, so to see it catch on, for me, is pretty thrilling.”

(3) ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE. Trek Core relays word from SDCC: “The Roddenberry Vault Reveals Lost Star Trek Clips, New Blu-Ray Release Arriving in Late 2016”.

In a surprise reveal today at its own San Diego Comic Con panel, STAR TREK: THE RODDENBERRY VAULT, a years-long endeavor to recover lost and cut footage from the making of the original Star Trek series, debuted with never-before-seen clips from production of the series.

The source of the recovered material (to be released as part of an extended documentary) comes from hundreds of film reels of archived, unused Original Series footage – called the “Holy Grail” by Denise Okuda – which remained in Gene Roddenberry’s possession after the conclusion of filming on the classic series.

Mike and Denise Okuda spoke to the motivations behind the nine-year (!) project, starting from hints of cut scenes in the James Blish novelizations of the classic Trek episodes to occasional publicity photos that the pair had never seen before.

Producer Roger Lay, Jr., who worked on the Next Generation and Enterprise Blu-ray releases, also confirmed that a Blu-ray release of this recovered footage will be arriving before the end of 2016 – but the team has not yet finalized the documentary, and could not specify how many minutes of recovered footage will be included.

…We have no information yet on the timetable for release of this fantastic-sounding new Blu-ray, but as Lay reiterates at the end of the panel, this is a Fiftieth Anniversary production that WILL be out before the end of 2016.


Roger Lay Jr. and Ray Bradbury back in the day.

Roger Lay Jr. and Ray Bradbury back in the day.

(4) YOU’RE THE CADET. Guelda Voien was at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum to see an exhibit celebrating 50 years of Star Trek, and pronounced it “Every Dork’s Wet Dream”.

…It is Career Day at the Academy, and you’re given a chance to try out all the different stations—tactical, medical, navigation, command and communications. You perform tasks, like a phaser exercise or choosing which planet to evacuate your crew to, and take a sort of quiz at the end. Your RFID bracelet tracks your progress. It’s like the part of the Museum of Tolerance where you track a Jewish child through the Holocaust, but less horrible.

I did all of them except for communications. No offense, Uhura, but I did not go to Starfleet Academy to talk (though your role got way better in the reboots, thanks, J.J.). No, I went to shoot stuff, try to heal a Klingon and try the fucking Kobayashi Maru.

And I got to do all that stuff. The assessments straddled the obvious and full-on dorkbait in a way that kept me pretty much giddily entertained for an hour (the ticketed show is intended to take about that long and costs $25 for an adult nonmember). At some point, I turned to Danny and asked, “Is Kronos in the Alpha Quadrant?” He thought about it for a second. “I don’t think it is.” I thought about it. “Well, Bajor, Earth and Cardassia definitely are, so it must be Kronos that isn’t.” But I was also thinking, “Hmm, wasn’t Kronos destroyed by the time TNG began?” And that’s why they just call the Klingon homeworld “the Klingon homeworld” later in the timeline, right? And I was happy. This is why I came.

(5) MARVEL AT DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE. The Los Angeles Times says Marvel Studios has made official what fans have been speculating about for awhile — “Tower of Terror to get superhero makeover at Disney California Adventure Park”.

….Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment Inc. in 2009 for $4 billion but had yet to inject many of the Marvel characters into the Anaheim theme parks. The ride will reopen next summer.

The move to re-create the Tower of Terror into a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction has been rumored on Disney fan blog sites for months but the Burbank-based entertainment giant has refused to comment on the speculation.

The announcement was made by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige at San Diego Comic-Con, the annual celebration of comics and pop culture.

“We are eager to present the attraction to the millions who visit Disney California Adventure and place them in the center of the action as they join in a mission alongside our audacious Guardians of the Galaxy team,” he said in a statement.

In the past, Disney has added new features to existing rides to renew interest among park visitors. Space Mountain, for example, became Hyperspace Mountain when the park added elements borrowed from the popular Star Wars franchise, now owned by Disney.

But Disney representatives say that the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride will keep the fast-dropping elevator from the Tower of Terror, but the rest of the attraction will be completely overhauled.

They declined to say how much Disney will spend on the project.

Disney fans have speculated that the overhauled attraction will stand at the entrance to a new Marvel land at the park.


(6) GONE. Variety reports “Popular Movie, TV Set Location Sable Ranch Destroyed in California Wildfire”. IMDB shows a number of sf TV episodes were shot there.

Sable Ranch, a location boasting Old West-style buildings that have been used for countless movies and TV shows, is one of the latest casualties of a Southern California wildfire that has nearly blocked out the sun in Los Angeles all weekend.

The ranch in Santa Clarita, Calif., was destroyed by the fire on Saturday despite the efforts of dozens of firefighters, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some offices were reportedly able to be salvaged, but the set is gone.

Sable Ranch served as host to such movies as horror film “Motel Hell” and Chevy Chase’s “The Invisible Man,” as well as classic Westerns like “The Bells of Coronado.” Television shows including “The A-Team,” “Maverick” and “24” also shot at the location.

(7) HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE FINISHED? Caroline Yoachim says this was her way —

(8) SDCC AS SEEN FROM WILLIAM WU BOOKS. Sundays are less crowded than Saturdays in front of William Wu Books.

wu books at sdcc

(9) I THINK HE LIKED IT. Ian Sales was surprised to be pleased by Station Eleven. By the end of his review I was convinced to add the book to my TBR list – something the thoroughly favorable reviews I read had never accomplished.

Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel (2014). This won the Clarke Award last year, and while I’d heard many good things about it, it’s a lit-fic post-apocalypse novel and I find post-apocalypse fiction banal at the best of times, and lit fic attempts at the genre all too often seem to think they’re doing something brand new and innovative, that no one has ever thought of before, and so the prose tends to reek of smugness. So my expectations were not especially high. Happily, Mandel proved a better writer than I’d expected, and I found myself enjoying reading Station Eleven. It’s still banal, of course; more so, in fact, because it trots out the Backwoods Messiah With The Persecution Complex plot, which should have been retired sometime around 37 CE. Anyway, a global flu epidemic wipes out most of humanity. Station Eleven opens in Toronto, when a famous actor has a heart attack on stage and dies. Then everyone else starts to die from the flu. The book jumps ahead twenty years to a post-apocalypse US, and a travelling orchestra/acting troupe, who travel the southern shores of the Great Lakes. And then there is a half-hearted attempt at a plot, which ties in with some of the flashback sections, which are about either the actor or the main character of the post-apocalypse story, a young actress in the travelling troupe. The writing was a great deal better than I’d expected, and so despite being post-apocalypse I came away from Station Eleven a little impressed. A worthy winner of the Clarke Award.

(10) AUTHOR EARNINGS. At Mad Genius Club, Fynbospress pointed out a new round of statistics has been posted:

Author Earnings just did an in-depth analysis of the romance genre, and presented it at the RWA (Romance Writers of America). …

2.) Down in the comments at the bottom, both of the report itself and in the comments at Passive Voice, Data Guy provides breakouts for SF&F, and for Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, too!


  • July 24, 1948 – Marvin the Martian (not yet given that name) appeared onscreen for the first time in the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Haredevil Hare”.


  • July 24, 1969 — Apollo 11 returned to Earth, ending its historic moon-landing mission. After the spacecraft’s splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were flown by helicopter to the recovery ship USS Hornet.


  • Born July 24, 1951 – Lynda Carter, called by some the Only and True Wonder Woman.
  • Born July 24, 1982 — Anna Paquin

(13) THOUGHT FOR THE DAY. Neil Armstrong said the Apollo missions demonstrated that “humanity is not forever chained to this planet, and our visions go rather further than that, and our opportunities are unlimited.”

(14) SELDEN’S XANATOS PLAN. Vox Day teases “No one foresaw it” at Vox Popoli.

It’s no wonder the SF-SJWs are always a few steps behind.

It had been believed that the slaters would lose interest if they couldn’t sweep entire categories, since it that would mean that they could neither get awards for their own favorites (since fans would No Award them) nor “burn down” the awards, since fans would have at least a couple of organic works to give awards to. No one foresaw the “griefing” strategy of nominating works whose mere presence on the finalist list would cast the awards into disrepute. – Greg Hullender at File 770

They still don’t quite get it, do they? Rabid Puppies didn’t nominate “If You Were a Dinosaur My Love” or “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” for the Hugo Award. We didn’t give a Best Novel Nebula to The Quantum Rose (Book 6 in the Saga of the Skolian Empire) or a Best Novel Hugo to Redshirts. We’re not casting the awards into disrepute, we are highlighting the fact that the SJWs in science fiction have already made them disreputable. I wonder what they will fail to foresee next? That’s a rhetorical question, of course. I already know….

(15) A VOX ON BOTH THEIR HOUSES. RameyLady doesn’t understand the impact of the Rabid Puppies slate on the finalists –

The nominees continue to suffer, in these shorter works, from poor selection but perhaps that’s as much a result of fan voting as it is the Puppies’ attempt at chaos and domination.

— but still writes a good overview of the Hugo-nominated novelettes.

In order of my appraisal:

  1. “Obits” by Stephen King is going to be my top pick in Novelette, though my #2 selection is within a hair’s breadth of taking my top vote.  But it’s hard to deny the feel of sentences coming off the pen of a man as experienced and talented as King.

(16) BALLOT SNAPSHOT. Mark Ciocco says Lois McMaster Bujold gets his vote for Best Novella in his survey of all five nominees.

After last year’s train wreck of a Novella ballot, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this year’s finalists. But it seems my fears were misplaced, as this might be the most solid fiction category of the year. Novellas can be awkward and to be sure, a couple of these don’t entirely pull it off, but even those manage better than the other categories.

  1. Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold – No surprise here, as I was one of the many who nominated this in the first place. I’m a huge fan of Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga and it’s very much to her credit that I’ve followed her from my preferred SF genre to her fantasy worlds. This story takes place in her Chalion universe and tells the story of a young man who accidentally contracts a demon. This is both better and worse than you’d expect. Better, because in Chalion, demon possession can grant great powers. Worse, because with great power comes intrigue and scheming by those interested in your new powers. That’s all background though, and the story itself is well plotted and the character relationships, particularly between Penric and his demon, and extremely well done. Easily and clearly tops this list. (Also of note: the sequel to this story is out!)

(17) RESPIRE OR EXPIRE. Spacefaring Kitten tackles The Martian in “Aspiration Porn — Campbell Nominee Andy Weir”.

While watching The Martian, I remember enjoying the cosmic visuals, but the reader of the book doesn’t have that and she has to be kept in awe of the science. It was quite impressive, considering that the natural sciences interest me very little. Still, Weir was able to force me into the aspiration porn mindset — ISN’T IT GREAT THAT THE HUMAN RACE HAS DONE SUCH A WONDERFUL THING AS GOING TO SPACE (AND MOSTLY ALSO MAKING IT BACK ALIVE??!!). Yeah, it is. Little less bable about making water and oxygen wouldn’t have hurt, but I guess that really paying attention to these technical details was what Weir’s project was about.

(18) IT’S ALIVE! Bradley W. Schenck tells how he achieved “My successful human hybrid experiment” – which is a piece of digital artwork.

It’s with no small amount of pride that I can now reveal my second, and most successful, human hybrid experiment. I wish I knew exactly what it was; but, as you can see, it’s keeping an eye on us until I figure that out.

Over the past year or so I’ve learned some new tricks with my morph-targeted character heads, and the most interesting tricks are the ones I can play on characters that are already done. Some of this is due to Collapse to Morpher, a very useful 3DS Max script.

Morphs are terrific, but they rely on the source object and its morph targets sharing the exact same topology. That means they need to have the same number of vertices, and (importantly!) those vertices have to be numbered in the same order. If you’re not careful you can end up with two objects that used to share those properties but which now are subtly and fatally different. You just can’t morph them any more.

(19) ANOTHER MARVEL SUPERHERO HEARD FROM. Doctor Strange movie trailer #2 dropped at Comic-Con.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John King Tarpinian.]

Pixel Scroll 6/17/16 The Second Fifth Season

(1) RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU’RE A GREAT WRITER. Photos from George R.R. Martin’s sit-down with Stephen King last night in Albuquerque, in “The King and I” at Not a Blog.

(2) NON-ENGLISH SCHOLARSHIP AWARD. Through September 1, the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts is taking entries for the 10th annual Jamie Bishop Memorial Award for a critical essay on the fantastic written in a language other than English.

The IAFA defines the fantastic to include science fiction, folklore, and related genres in literature, drama, film, art and graphic design, and related disciplines.

The prize is $250 U.S. and one year’s free membership in the IAFA.

(3) FUTURE IAFA. In 2017, “Fantastic Epics” will be the theme of the 38th International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, to be held March 22-26 in Orlando, Florida. Guests of Honor: Steven Erikson and N.K. Jemisin; Guest Scholar: Edward James; and Special Guest Emeritus: Brian Aldiss.

(4) INVENTIVE SF WRITER. Mike Chomko salutes “120 Years of Murray Leinster” at the Pulpfest website.

Although magazines have been around since the seventeenth century, it wasn’t until the last month of 1896 that the pulp magazine was born. It was left to Frank A. Munsey – a man about whom it has been suggested, “contributed to the journalism of his day the talent of a meat packer, the morals of a money changer and the manner of an undertaker” – to deliver the first American periodical specifically intended for the common man — THE ARGOSY. In his own words, Munsey decided to create “a magazine of the people and for the people, with pictures and art and good cheer and human interest throughout.”

That same year, on June 16, a child was born who would become one of THE ARGOSY’s regular writers for nearly four decades — William Fitzgerald Jenkins. Best known and remembered under his pseudonym of Murray Leinster, Jenkins wrote and published more than 1,500 short stories and articles, fourteen movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays. Active as a writer for nearly seven decades, Jenkins’ writing career began in early 1916 when his work began to be featured in H. L. Mencken’s and George Jean Nathan’s THE SMART SET.

(5) JEMISIN INTERVIEWED BY WIRED. “Wired Book Club: Fantasy Writer N.K. Jemisin on the Weird Dreams That Fuel Her Stories”.

We asked readers to submit questions. Here’s one: “I love how this storyline seemed to play with the idea that a person is fluid rather than static, especially when discussing the concept of mothering. Women tend to be judged very harshly on whether or not they want a family, and on the decisions they make when they do have a family. To see one person travel along all different points of the mother spectrum was very interesting. Am I reading too much into this?”

No! I’m glad that reader saw that. I tend to like writing characters that are not typical heroes. I have seen mothers as heroes in fiction lots of time, but they tend to be one-note. You don’t often see that they weren’t always that interested in having kids. They weren’t always great moms. You don’t often see that they are people beyond being mothers, that motherhood is just one aspect of their life and not the totality of their being. I had some concern about the fact that I am not a mother. It’s entirely possible that I made some mistakes in the way that I chose to render that complexity. But it’s something I wanted to explore.

(6) YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN. In fact, they have.


(7) JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS COVER. Joe Zieja, gaining fame as a genre humorist, proves his mettle in “Five Books I Haven’t Read But Want To and Am Going to Summarize Anyway Based on Their Titles and Covers” at Tor.com.

The Grace of Kings—Ken Liu

The year is 2256. The Earth is a barren wasteland of oatmeal raisin cookies and hyper-intelligent cockroaches Everything is pretty much firmly settled in a dystopian, post-apocalpytic mess, and nobody can grow any plants. Except one girl: Grace King. This is the story of one girl’s attempt to grow a dandelion out of a really fancy upside-down ladle. As she struggles to find the courage inside herself—and maybe some water or fertilizer, or something—we recognize that her quest for the ladle is not unlike our own, deeply personal quest for soup.

This game sounds tailor made for Filers…

(8) FATHERS DAY READS. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog comes up with “5 Great Dad Moments in Science Fiction & Fantasy History”.

Aral Vorkosigan Saves His Son (The Warrior’s Apprentice, by Lois McMaster Bujold) Aral Vorkosigan is not a man who easily bends his principles or behaves counter to his beliefs; you can probably count the number of times he’s actually used his power and influence for personal gain on one hand—remarkable considering how much power he wields at various times in his career. At the end of the second book in Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, his son Miles stands accused of raising a private army and is poised to be drummed out of the military and executed, but Aral influences the proceedings so that Miles is charged instead with the equally serious crime of treason. Why is having your son accused of treason a grand Dad Moment? Because Aral knew treason could never be proved—while it was pretty clear that Miles had indeed raised a private army (even if he had a really good reason). It’s a neat way for Aral to demonstrate his loyalty to his son without, technically, violating his own moral code.

(9) NOW WE HAVE FACES. Yahoo! News brings word that Supergirl has cast its Superman.

For Season 2, though, the Last Son of Krypton will finally have a face, and he’ll look a lot like Tyler Hoechlin. The Teen Wolf star takes flight in a role previously played on The CW by Smallville’s Tom Welling, who portrayed a pre-Superman Clark Kent for 10 seasons.

Hoechlin actually has comic book roots that pre-date his Supergirl assignment. At the age of 14, he won the coveted role of Tom Hanks’s son in Road to Perdition, the Sam Mendes-directed adaptation of an acclaimed graphic novel. In addition to his role as Derek Hale on Teen Wolf, the actor will also appear in the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.

(10) QUALITY EMERGENT. At Amazing Stories, MD Jackson continues the series: “Why Was Early Comic Book Art so Crude? (Part Two)”.

His talents did not go unnoticed. Everett M. “Busy” Arnold, publisher of Quality Comics, wanted to integrate the comic book format into the more prestigious world of the Sunday Funnies. He lured Eisner away from the studio to create a weekly comic book that would be distributed by a newspaper syndicate. Eisner agreed and came up with his most famous creation, The Spirit, which would continue to break new ground artistically, but also in the comic book business. Eisner insisted on owning the copyright to his new creation, a situation almost without parallel in comics at that time and almost without parallel on any popular basis for several decades to come. “Since I knew I would be in comics for life, I felt I had every right to own what I created. It was my future, my product and my property, and by God, I was going to fight to own it.” Eisner said. That was a watershed moment in terms of the artist being acknowledged as a creator of comics rather than just part of an assembly line.

(11) A LOONEY IDEA. A BBC video explains why Earth probably has more than one moon a lot of the time.

Or, as JPL explains it:

As it orbits the sun, this new asteroid, designated 2016 HO3, appears to circle around Earth as well. It is too distant to be considered a true satellite of our planet, but it is the best and most stable example to date of a near-Earth companion, or “quasi-satellite.”

“Since 2016 HO3 loops around our planet, but never ventures very far away as we both go around the sun, we refer to it as a quasi-satellite of Earth,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “One other asteroid — 2003 YN107 — followed a similar orbital pattern for a while over 10 years ago, but it has since departed our vicinity. This new asteroid is much more locked onto us. Our calculations indicate 2016 HO3 has been a stable quasi-satellite of Earth for almost a century, and it will continue to follow this pattern as Earth’s companion for centuries to come.”



(13) A DOCTOR ON DYING. Rudy Rucker Podcast #95 shares with listeners an essay/memoir by Michael Blumlein called “Unrestrained and Indiscreet” originally read at the SF in SF series in San Francisco.

And then all at once Blumlein … tells about learning that he himself has lung cancer, about having large sections of his lungs removed, and about learning that the treatments have failed and that he’s approaching death. Blumlein is a doctor as well as as science-fiction author, and he ends with a profound meditation on the process and experience of death…

(14) SCALES AND TALES. William Wu has released the final cover for Scales and Tales, the anthology created to benefit three different animal adoption programs in the LA area.

Wu’s small press is printing 500 copies. An e-version will follow.

There will be a signing at the San Diego Comic-Con in July, and another at Dark Delicacies bookstore in Burbank on August 28 at 2 p.m.

Scales-and-Tales-cover COMP

(15) SIXTIES HUGO WINNER. Nawfalaq at AQ’s Reviews is not the least blown away by Clifford D. Simak’s Way Station, a book that was at the very top of my list of favorite sf novels for a number of years.

Way Station by Clifford D. Simak (1904 – 1988) is the third novel by the author that I have read. It was published in 1963 and won the 1964 Hugo Award for best novel.  Off the bat, I have to say that this is the most polished of the three novels by Simak that I have read. Nevertheless, I admit that this was not an easy read for me to get through. The setting and the tone really caused the big slowdown with my reading of this novel.

The review makes me want to “revenge read” Way Station to prove to myself it is as wonderful as I remember. But what if it’s not…?

(16) SECURITY THEATRE? JJ calls this a “replicant check.”


(17) IT PAYS TO BE A GENIUS OF COURSE. In this installment of Whatever’s “The Big Idea” series, Yoon Ha Lee reveals the thinking behind Ninefox Gambit.

Not so fast. Both of them were also supposed to be geniuses: Jedao at tactics and psychological warfare, Cheris at math. It’s possible that writing geniuses is easy when one is a genius oneself; I wouldn’t know, because I’m definitely not a genius. (I have since sworn that maybe the next thing I should do is write slapstick comedy about stupid-ass generals, not brilliant tacticians.)

So I cheated.  A lot. One of the first things I did was to reread James Dunnigan & Albert A. Nofi’s Victory and Deceit: Dirty Tricks at War. I wrote down all the stratagems I liked, then tried to shove all of them into the rough draft. (And then there was too much plot so I had to take some of them out.)  And of course, their opponent also had to be smart. I’d learned this from reading Gordon R. Dickson’s Tactics of Mistake, a novel I found infuriating because the “tactical genius” mainly geniused by virtue of the opponent being stupid, which I’m sure happens all the time in real life but makes for unsatisfying narrative. Besides all the military reading I did, I also hit up social engineering and security engineering.


  • June 17, 1955 — Bert I. Gordon’s King Dinosaur premieres in theaters.

ws_Vintage_Cinema__King_Dinosaur!_1440x900 COMP

(19) MONSTERKID. Rondo Award emcee David Colton presents Steve Vertlieb with the Lifetime Achievement, Rondo Award “Hall Of Fame” plaque at the Wonderfest film conference on June 4.

Vertlieb receives rondoRondo Hall of Fame

(20) STAR WARS 8 FINISHES SHOOTING IN IRELAND. Post-Star Wars filming in Ireland, the studio put an ad in a local Kerry newspaper complete with Gaelic translation of may the force be with you. The commenters tried to make it look like the translation was wrong. All I can say is Google Translate made nonsense of it.

Then local Credit Union decided to capitalize on the zeitgeist with Darth Vader as Gaeilgoir (Irish speaker).

(21) FURNISHING THE FUTURE. Stelios Mousarris is a designer with a fantastic imagination.

A Glass Coffee Table propelled by a team of rockets makes a nice Father’s Day gift.


Ever since I was a little boy, I loved playing with action figures and spent my weekend mornings watching cartoons on the TV. I have been collecting toys and action figures and anything nostalgic from my childhood until this day.

Every time I take a look at my collectibles I remember my childhood, when I used to play for hours on end without a care in the world.

I wanted to recreate that feeling of carefreeness and nostalgia with the Rocket Coffee Table. The design is visually playful bringing cartoon-like clouds and aerial rockets from a personal toy collection to life, in the form of a table.

Combining various techniques from lathe to 3d printing, resin casting and traditional hand curved pieces, this table is fashioned to draw a smile on the face of nostalgic adults, children, and children trapped in adult bodies.

The rockets are not attached to the glass giving the opportunity to each owner to form their own desired structure of the table.

Price: €5000

Or look at the Wave City Coffee Table:

another table 2 COMP.jpg


Inspired by a film this table is a well balanced mixture of wood, steel and 3D printed technology.

Price: €8500

[Thanks to Nigel, JJ, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, and robinareid for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]