FREE COMIC BOOK DAY DRAWS NEAR. May 6 is Free Comic Book Day, a single day when participating comic book specialty shops across North America and around the world give away comic books to anyone who comes in. Check out the Free Comic Book Day Catalog and see what’s available. Different shops have policies on how many free comics you can receive, but you will receive at least one free comic if you enter a participating shop location. Use the Store Locator tool to find the shop near you.
MARVEL’S FREE COMIC BOOK DAY TITLES. Marvel’s contribution to this year’s Free Comic Book Day is packed with new beginnings including a prelude to the X-Men’s next era, Fall of X; an introduction to Jonathan Hickman’s bold upcoming projects, G.O.D.S. with Valerio Schiti and Ultimate Invasion with Bryan Hitch; the debut of a new Venom villain, and so much more.
Marvel Comics will also spotlight creators and characters from different cultures and communities in a special installment of the Marvel’s Voices program, Free Comic Book Day: Marvel’s Voices, and deliver all-ages Spider-Man adventures in Free Comic Book Day 2023: Spidey & His Amazing Friends #1 so that even the youngest readers won’t go home empty handed!
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2023: AVENGERS/X-MEN #1
Be the first to arrive at this year’s game-changing Hellfire Gala in a story by the current X-Men creative team: writer Gerry Duggan and artist Joshua Cassara. This year’s HELLFIRE GALA will be more dramatic than ever, and the tragic events of the night will lead mutantkind directly into FALL OF X.
Then join Duggan and superstar artist Javier Garrón as they reassemble the Avengers Unity Squad to navigate the dangers of FALL OF X and solve the mystery of the new Captain Krakoa in a prelude story to their upcoming run of UNCANNY AVENGERS. This action-packed story will also feature the debut of the STARK SENTINELS, a new line of mutant hunters who cause major havoc on the night of the Gala and in the pages of Duggan’s INVINCIBLE IRON MAN.
And score a sneak peek at one of the most talked about launches of the year, Jonathan Hickman and Valerio Schiti’s G.O.D.S., an extraordinary epic at the crossroads of magic and science where Marvel’s cosmic pantheon will be boldly reimagined.
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2023: SPIDER-MAN/VENOM #1
Dive into the next story arc of Zeb Wells’ run of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN with a story that sees the return of two classic Spidey villains! Featuring incredible art by Patrick Gleason, this thrilling story also unleashes the full potential Spider-Man’s new suit!
Then, web-swing over to the symbiote side of things with current VENOM masterminds, Al Ewing and Cafu! The pair will pull back the curtain on a secret chapter in symbiote history where an experiment went horribly wrong…. Say hello to new Venom villain, FLEXO!
And get a glimpse into Jonathan Hickman and Bryan Hitch’s ULTIMATE INVASION, a saga that begins with a daring mission to revive the Ultimate Universe but ends with the promise of something all-new and vastly different than anything that’s come before…
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2023: MARVEL’S VOICES #1
Spotlighting creators and characters across Marvel’s diverse and ever-evolving universe, this book will include a range of stories from previous Marvel’s Voices issues that star Ms. Marvel, Luke Cage, Wave, and more! Plus a brand-new Ironheart adventure by writer John Jennings and Paris Alleyne that debuts her deadly new nemesis, KHEM!
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2023: SPIDEY & HIS AMAZING FRIENDS #1
Swing into adventure with Spidey, Ghost-Spider, and Miles as they face off against Green Goblin, Doc Ock and more in this spectacular special. Filled with easy-to-read comic stories based on the hit Disney Junior show, this book is perfect for the youngest readers aged 5-7. Young fans will even be able to test their wall-crawling skills with thrilling interactive activity pages! Kids will love this not-to-be-missed comic: the perfect primer for the newest generation of Spider-Fans!
Check out the covers now. For more information, visit Marvel.com.
(1) WIRED DOES A JOB ON SANDERSON. In his WIRED article: “Brandon Sanderson Is Your God”, Jason Kehe slags Sanderson, his writing, his fans, his business, his religion, his taste in movie musicals, and anything else that comes to mind — and it really feels like puppy-kicking – in the original sense, not that Sanderson is/was a Sad Puppy.
…Sanderson, when I eventually meet him in person, makes versions of these excuses, plus others, for his writerly obscurity. It’s kind of fun to talk about, until it isn’t, and that’s when I realize, in a panic, that I now have a problem. Sanderson is excited to talk about his reputation. He’s excited, really, to talk about anything. But none of his self-analysis is, for my purposes, exciting. In fact, at that first dinner, over flopsy Utah Chinese—this being days before I’d meet his extended family, and attend his fan convention, and take his son to a theme park, and cry in his basement—I find Sanderson depressingly, story-killingly lame.
He sits across from me in an empty restaurant, kind of lordly and sure of his insights, in a graphic T-shirt and ill-fitting blazer, which he says he wears because it makes him look professorial. It doesn’t. He isn’t. Unless the word means only: believing everything you say is worth saying. Sanderson talks a lot, but almost none of it is usable, quotable. I begin to think, This is what I drove all the way from San Francisco to the suburbs of Salt Lake City in the freezing-cold dead of winter for? For previously frozen dim sum and freeze-dried conversation? This must be why nobody writes about Brandon Sanderson.
So, recklessly, I say what’s on my mind. I have to. His wife is there, his biggest fan, always his first reader, making polite comments; I don’t care. Maybe nobody writes about you, I say to Sanderson, because you don’t write very well….
There’s such an uproar that Sanderson’ has posted a letter to his fan community about the WIRED story on his sub-Reddit — “On The Wired Article” — in which he expresses his own confusion about the article but asks his fan community not to harass Jason Kehe over it (apparently this has been happening on Twitter.)
I appreciate the kind words and support.
Not sure how, or if, I should respond to the Wired article. I get that Jason, in writing it, felt incredibly conflicted about the fact that he finds me lame and boring. I’m baffled how he seemed to find every single person on his trip–my friends, my family, my fans–to be worthy of derision.
But he also feels sincere in his attempt to try to understand. While he legitimately seems to dislike me and my writing, I don’t think that’s why he came to see me. He wasn’t looking for a hit piece–he was looking to explore the world through his writing. In that, he and I are the same, and I respect him for it, even if much of his tone seems quite dismissive of many people and ideas I care deeply about.
The strangest part for me is how Jason says he had trouble finding the real me. He says he wants something true or genuine. But he had the genuine me all that time. He really did. What I said, apparently, wasn’t anything he found useful for writing an article. That doesn’t make it not genuine or true.
I am not offended that the true me bores him. Honestly, I’m a guy who enjoys his job, loves his family, and is a little obsessive about his stories. There’s no hidden trauma. No skeletons in my closet. Just a guy trying to understand the world through story. That IS kind of boring, from an outsider’s perspective. I can see how it is difficult to write an article about me for that reason….
(2) NEW AWARD COMPETITION. The Oxford Centre for Fantasy and Pushkin Children’s Books announced creation of The Oxford/Pushkin Children’s Fantasy Prize for fantasy novels aimed at Middle Grand and YA. (Entry fee: £5)
Calling all fantasy novelists at the beginning of their career to a new adventure. To mark this 50th Anniversary year since the death of J R R Tolkien, we are looking for fresh ideas and new voices in the fantasy genre. This is your chance to win our brilliant prize of £2000, as well as the incredible opportunity for mentorship with an editor at Pushkin Children’s Books.
Four runners-up will win further prizes to help them develop their writing skills.
… We will be looking for finalists writing novels for the following reading ages:
…When chatting with AI today, I decided I needed to know whether or not it could give me a good answer to one of our most burning questions here at Winter is Coming. Could it tell me, or even just predict, when George R.R. Martin will release The Winds of Winter? We’re going on 12 years now since the last entry in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series was released, so maybe I’m a little desperate to find out. Does AI know something we don’t? Well… no. I discovered that it doesn’t….
… Inside Octavia’s Bookshelf is a carefully curated set of books and non-book items that High has sourced from mainly independent Bipoc-owned businesses – “not on Amazon”, she emphatically said. Beyond books, Octavia’s Bookshelf has everything from quirky book-nerd socks to prayer candles dedicated to iconic Black women literary figures such as Toni Morrison and Audre Lorde.
“I had been thinking about [this bookstore] for about 10 years, but not in a way where I was ready to leave my job and do it,” said High, who managed communications for 15 years at Trader Joe’s.
But what pushed High to lean into her dream was the May 2022 death of her grandmother, who had always championed her granddaughter’s pursuits. High took the leap a few months later in October of that year and began the process of starting her own business….
The central relationship in Gabrielle Zevin’s best-selling novel “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is the lifelong creative partnership between Sam and Sadie, childhood friends who go on to start a video game company. The novel depicts the exhilarating highs and enraging lows of collaboration, including fights over recognition — that is, how Sam and Sadie see each other’s contributions to their work compared with how the world sees them.
One of the games they develop together, “Solution,” is now caught up in a real-life debate about artistry and credit.
On Thursday, game designer Brenda Romero wrote in a Twitter thread that Zevin had drawn on the ideas and structure of her board game Train without acknowledging its inspiration.
“A theme in the book is how women struggle to get credit for their work,” Romero wrote….
Nearly a third of the LGBT+ characters to have featured on US TV over the past year will not be returning in future, a new report has revealed.
Over the period between 1 June 2022 and 31 May 2023, a total of 596 LGBT+ characters were featured on scripted TV.
Of these, 175 will not be returning in the following season, as a result of series being cancelled or coming to a pre-agreed end. The majority of these characters (140) are the result of series being cancelled.
The statistics are taken from the annual report published by the US media monitoring organisation GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).
The report takes into account LGBT+ characters across scripted primetime broadcast networks, scripted primetime cable networks, and scripted series on the eight major US streaming platforms: Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Paramount+.
Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, describes the significant cancellation rates of LGBT+ “disappointing”.
“Some of the year’s biggest hits have been LGBTQ-inclusive series – including HBO’s The Last of Us, ABC’s Abbott Elementary, FX’s What We Do in The Shadows, Showtime’s Yellowjackets, Netflix’s Stranger Things, and HBO Max’s Hacks, to name only a few,” she wrote in a statement….
I invite you to take a seat at the table with my guest Annalee Newitz at Tony and Elaine’s, a casual, old school, Italian red sauce restaurant in the North End of Boston.
Annalee is the author of three novels — The Terraformers (just out in January), The Future of Another Timeline, and their debut novel Autonomous, which won the Lambda Literary Award, and was nominated for the Nebula and Locus Awards. Their short story “When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis” won the 2019 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. Their nonfiction books include Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age, which was a national bestseller and was praised in The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The New Yorker, and Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction, which was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize in science.
They’re also the co-editor of the essay collection She’s Such A Geek (Seal Press), and author of Pretend We’re Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture (Duke University Press). They’re the co-host with Charlie Jane Anders of the Hugo Award-winning podcast Our Opinions Are Correct, and in addition to having been the founder of io9, served as the editor-in-chief of Gizmodo.
We discussed how difficult (and disappointing) it would have been to eat a trilobite, what writing their non-fiction books taught them about creating the arcs of novels, why their brain seems more suited for novels than short stories, how best to include a message in fiction without the soapbox overwhelming the story, the greatest bad review one of their books ever got (it involved creamed corn), how to inhabit characters who are hundreds of years old, fun facts they learned about moose which helped make their new book better, the music they blasted to rev up for one of the novel’s big action scenes, how to make the growth of a fictional romance believable to readers, the serendipitous way in which Ken McLeod rekindled their love of science fiction, and much more.
(8) NBCC. The National Book Critics Circle Awards for the publishing year 2022 have been announced, however, I did not recognize any genre works among the winners. If I missed any, drop a comment to fill me in!
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2016 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Our Beginning this Scroll is one of P. Djèlí Clark’s Dead Djinn Universe stories, to wit A Dead Djinn in Cairo which has as its central character Fatma el-Sha’arawi, a fascinating Muslim woman who will show up again in his Hugo nominated A Master of Djinn novel.
This was published on the Tor website in 2016. There’s a third story here so far, The Haunting of Tram Car 015, also first published by Tor.
It’s a perfect Beginning in my mind as it very nicely introduces us to Fatma el-Sha’arawi and the Djinn in all their chilling awesomeness.
And now for our most perfect Beginning…
Fatma el-Sha’arawi, special investigator with the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities, stood gazing through a pair of spectral goggles at the body slumped atop the mammoth divan.
An Old One, at that—near twice the size of a man, with fingers that ended in curved talons, long as knives. His skin was a sheath of aquamarine scales that shifted to turquoise beneath the glare of flickering gas lamps. He sat unclothed between tasseled cushions of lavender and burgundy, his muscular arms and legs spread wide and leaving nothing to the imagination.
“Now that’s impressive,” a voice came. Fatma glanced back at the figure hovering just over her shoulder. Two long graying whiskers fashioned in the style of some antiquated Janissary twitched on a plump face. It belonged to a man in a khaki uniform that fit his thick frame a bit too tightly, particularly around the belly. He jutted a shaved round chin at the dead djinn’s naked penis: a midnight-blue thing that hung near to the knee. “I’ve seen full-grown cobras that were smaller. A man can’t help but feel jealous, with that staring him in the face.”
Fatma returned to her work, not deigning to reply. Inspector Aasim Sharif was a member of the local constabulary who served as a police liaison with the Ministry. Not a bad sort. Just vulgar. Cairene men, despite their professed modernity, were still uncomfortable working alongside a woman. And they expressed their unease in peculiar, awkward ways. It was shocking enough to them that the Ministry had tapped some sun-dark backwater Sa’idi for a position in Cairo. But one so young, and who dressed in foreign garb—they’d never quite gotten used to her.
Today she’d chosen a light gray suit, complete with a matching vest, chartreuse tie, and a red-on-white pinstriped shirt. She had picked it up in the English District, and had it specially tailored to fit her small frame. The accompanying walking cane—a sturdy length of black steel capped by a silver pommel, a lion’s head—was admittedly a bit much. But it added a flair of extravagance to the ensemble. And her father always said if people were going to stare, you should give them a show.
“Exsanguination,” she declared. Fatma pulled off the copper-plated goggles and handed them over to a waiting boilerplate eunuch. The machine-man grasped the instrument between tactile metal fingers, folding it away with mechanical precision into a leather casing. She caught her reflection in its featureless brass countenance: dark oval eyes and a fleshy nose set against russet-brown skin on a slender face. Some might have called it boyish, if not for a set of full, bold lips passed on by her mother. As the boilerplate eunuch stepped away, she used her fingers to smooth back a mop of cropped black curls and turned to the constable. Aasim stared as if she’d just spoken Farsi.
“Those markings.” She tapped the floor with her cane, where curving white script engulfed the divan in a circle. “It’s an exsanguination spell.” Seeing Aasim’s blank look, she reached down to her waist to pull her janbiya free and placed the tip of the knife at the djinn’s thigh before sliding it beneath a scale. It came back out clean. “No blood. Not a drop. He’s been drained.” The inspector blinked, catching on.
“But where did it … the blood … go?”
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 24, 1834 — William Morris. Credited with creating the modern fantasy literature genre, he certainly wrote some of it its earlier works, to note his epic poem The Earthly Paradise, The Wood Beyond the World and The Well at the World’s End, plus his entire artistic motif fits nearly within a fantasy literature as it looks as if it was created by the Fey Themselves. (Died 1896.)
Born March 24, 1874 — Harry Houdini. His literary career intersects the genre world in interesting ways. Though it’s not known which, many of his works were written by his close friend Walter B. Gibson who as you know is the creator of The Shadow. And one famous story of his, “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs”, was actually ghost-written by Lovecraft! ISFDB lists another piece of genre fiction for him, “The Spirit Fakers of Hermannstad.” (Died 1926.)
Born March 24, 1924 — Peter George. Welsh author, most remembered for the late Fifties Red Alert novel, published first as Two Hours To Doom and written under the name of Peter Bryant. The book was the basis of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. (Died 1966.)
Born March 24, 1941 — Henry Glassie, 82. Folklorist who’s the author of one of my all-time fav Christmas books, All Silver and No Brass: An Irish Christmas Mumming. I was delighted to see that ISFDB say he has two works of genre fiction, “Coals on the Devil’s Hearth“ and “John Brodison and the Policeman”. Both are to be found in the Jane Yolen anthology, Favorite Folktales from Around the World which is available at all the usual digital suspects.
Born March 24, 1946 — Andrew I. Porter, 77. Editor, publisher, fan. Major member of NYC regional fandom starting in the early Sixties. APA publisher and editor of Algol: The Magazine About Science Fiction (later renamed Starship) which won the Best Fanzine Hugo in 1974 (in a tie with Richard E. Geis’ SFR.) He also won two Best Semiprozine Hugos for his news publication Science Fiction Chronicle which he started in 1980 and ran for over 20 years. He has won myriad awards, including the Big Heart Award. He has attended hundreds of science fiction conventions and most Worldcons since his first in ‘63. He has been Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including the 1990 Worldcon. And he is an indispensible daily contributor to the Pixel Scroll!
Born March 24, 1946 — Gary K. Wolfe, 77. Monthly reviewer for Locus for 27 years now and, yes, I enjoy his column a lot. His brief marriage to Ellen R. Weil, which ended with her tragic early death, resulted in them co-writing Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever. Old Earth Books has reprinted many of his reviews done between 1992 and 2006. He’s also written several critical looks at the genre, Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy and The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction. Finally I’ll note that he’s involved with editor Jonathan Strahan on the stellar Coode Street podcast
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Eek! remembers the time Dr. Frankenstein made a mistake…
(12) AVENGERS AT 60. Alex Ross celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Avengers and the X-Men with new connecting variant covers that will run on various titles, starting with August’s UNCANNY AVENGERS #1. For more information, visit Marvel.com.
“In the case of the Avengers, I wanted to capture something of the era I grew up with, but also something extensive,” Ross said. “So I captured the first 30 years of that team, from the ‘60s through the ‘80s. I end where 1989 closes. I’m trying to make sure my work is aligning with how the character looked and also the attitudes the characters had.”
(13) JEOPARDY! Last night David Goldfarb watched the contestants strike out against this Jeopardy answer:
In the Double Jeopardy round, “TV Lingo” for $1600:
This substance powers spaceships on “Star Trek”
A triple stumper.
(14) BRAIN POWER. Meanwhile, Daniel Dern sends along a trivia challenge of his own:
A: (1) Peter Watts’ Blindsight (protagonist Siri Keaton, who has only one organic hemisphere; (2) (IMHO) Gene Wolfe’s story “The Island of Doctor Death And Other Stories,” Tackman Babcock (has both hemispheres, but they’re not connected fully).
Jack Daniel’s wants you to know that its shit doesn’t stink. Because it doesn’t poop. Sort of. NPR reports that the whiskey distiller made its case to the Supreme Court on Wednesday that a poop-themed dog toy resembling a bottle of Jack was an issue of trademark infringement.
The dog toy is made to look like a square Jack Daniel’s whiskey bottle, and its label says “Bad Spaniels” instead of “Jack Daniel’s.” Where a normal Jack Daniel’s label notes that it’s “40% alcohol by volume,” Bad Spaniels reads “43% poo” and “100% smelly.” Jack Daniel’s took issue with the toy because it’s potentially equating itself with the whiskey brand in the eyes of the consumer….
VIP Products, the company that makes the dog toy, retorted that a reasonable person would not mix up the two, and that it’s just a joke. The brand also manufactures dog toys spoofing beer, wine, and soda, with products like Dos Perros (instead of Dos Equis), Kennel-Relax’n (instead of Kendall-Jackson), and 7Pup (goes without saying)….
…There are institutions like the Pontifical Academy of Science that tell the Vatican what’s going on in the world of science, but we actually do the science,” said Brother Guy Consolmagno, an asteroid honoree (4597 Consolmagno) and director of the observatory, whose website tagline is “faith inspiring science.”
Interstellar objects have long been thought to transit our Solar System. Planetary systems eject large quantities of small bodies during the initial phases of their formation and, once ejected, these small ‘planetesimals’ travel through interstellar space for millions of years. It stands to reason that some of their paths will pass by the vicinity of the Sun. When ‘Oumuamua was first discovered, astronomers therefore expected it to behave like one of these fragments — not too dissimilar from the comets that form on the outskirts of our own Solar System.
From the beginning, however, something was amiss. ‘Oumuamua did not look like a comet and did not display the usual defining features of comets — a tail and a fuzzy envelope called a coma, both made from gas and dust. Instead, it resembled an inactive object, like an asteroid, which moves mainly as a result of gravity. However, it soon became evident that the motion of ‘Oumuamua was not exclusively due to gravity: it was being pushed along its path in a similar way to that routinely observed in comets, which are subject to an acceleration caused by the recoil of emitted gas and dust. How was it possible that this object looked inactive, but was showing indirect evidence of activity?…”
The primary research paper with the explanation is here.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Jennifer Hawthorne, Bill, David Goldfarb, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]
…The 12 stamps in the main set are all original illustrations and have been created exclusively for Royal Mail by renowned British comic book artist Mike McKone. They feature: Professor X; Kitty Pryde; Angel; Colossus; Jubilee; Cyclops; Wolverine; Jean Grey; Iceman, Storm; Beast; and Rogue….
An additional set of five stamps are included in a miniature sheet, exclusively illustrated by artist Lee Garbett, and feature some of the mutant enemies faced by the X-Men: Juggernaut; Mystique; Magneto; Emma Frost; and Sabretooth….
(2) AURORA AWARDS. Members of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association will be able to make 2023 Aurora Award nominations from March 4-April 22. According to Garth Spencer in Obdurate Eye #25, due to a lack of eligible movies or TV shows, or works in the Best Fan Organizational category, CSFFA is no longer giving out an award for movies or TV shows, and works that were in the Best Fan Organizational category are now in the Best Fan Related Work category. CSFFA have redefined the Best Artist category as the Best Cover Art/Interior Illustration category. Rather than nominating an artist, CSFFA members will nominate each work that an artist has published in the past year. [Via Obdurate Eye #25.]
You won’t find Von Goom’s Gambit described in any chess textbook.
… Because the character of Von Goom exists only in a short story. Von Goom’s Gambit by Victor Contoski was originally published in 1966, in Chess Review, before being reprinted a handful of times. One of those was in a slim volume of science fiction stories that somehow found its way into the reading room of my primary school.
…I remember being captivated by it.
Part of that was down to the idea of the Gambit itself. Out of all the possible arrangements of pieces on a chessboard, Von Goom had chanced upon one so alien to the logic of the human mind – so abhorrent – that it could wound and kill. Following that initial heart attack, Von Goom’s opponents in the story meet various terrible fates. One breaks down in tears at the sight of the board before him. Another is violently sick. A third is driven insane, while members of the watching crowd are turned to stone.
As a ten year old – obviously – I loved this a great deal….
(4) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 78 of the Octothorpe podcast is “Sqrrl Grrl”. (Or should that be the Ctthrp podcast?)
John Coxon is chuckling, Alison Scott is conversing, and Liz Batty is critical. We discuss the COVID policy from the 2023 Eastercon, Conversation, as well as discussing the latest news from the Chengdu Worldcon.
(5) ERASED FROM THE LANDSCAPE BUT NOT FROM HISTORY. The New York hotel where the 1967 Worldcon was held, then known as the Statler-Hilton, is in the midst of being demolished. The New York Times ran a full profile about its history, and about one person who tried to keep the historic structure from being torn down: “The Hotel Pennsylvania’s Great Disappearing Act”.
Bit by bit, floor by floor, the building that once rose 22 stories over Penn Station is shrinking before the city’s very eyes. The black netting draped over its ever-diminishing brick is like a magician’s handkerchief; once removed, it will reveal — nothing.
Behold: The Great Disappearing Act of the Hotel Pennsylvania.
This isn’t — or wasn’t — just any building. This was once the largest hotel on earth, with 2,200 rooms, shops, restaurants, its own newspaper, and a telephone number immortalized by the bandleader Glenn Miller with a 1940 song “Pennsylvania 6-5000,”…
You can find many of Jay Kay Klein’s photos taken at the 1967 convention on Calisphere.
(6) VALMA BROWN (1950-2023). Australian fan Valma Brown, a Melbourne fanzine editor married to Leigh Edmonds, died March 2. Edmonds announced her death on Facebook with the note, “It was sudden so there will be an inquest.” She and Leigh were Fan Guests of Honor at SunCon, the 1991 Australian National Convention. She ran unsuccessfully for GUFF in 1987.
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2019 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Elizabeth Bear’s Ancestral Night which was published by Saga Press four years ago this week is a novel that I fell in love the first time I read it. Now I’ll admit that I’m a long-term fan of her work going back to Hammered, the first in herJenny Casey trilogy. I think she’s a brilliant writer and a wonderful person. And yes I’ve sent her chocolate. Actually she’s reviewed chocolate for Green Man.
The book is a stellar blend of characters, humans who are almost more than human, aliens that are truly alien, an silicon intelligence who is fully realised, a ship as the primary setting that doesn’t feel cliched and a story that’s fascinating. And it feels friendly I think is the best word. It’s so richly detailed that I notice something new every time I listen to it.
And yes I’m hoping there’s a third novel set in this universe.
And here is the Beginning for Ancestral Night…
THE BOAT DIDN’T HAVE A name. He wasn’t deemed significant enough to need a name by the authorities and registries that govern such things. He had a registration number—657-2929-04, Human/ Terra—and he had a class, salvage tug, but he didn’t have a name.
We called him Singer. If Singer had an opinion on the issue, he’d never registered it—but he never complained. Singer was the shipmind as well as the ship—or at least, he inhabited the ship’s virtual spaces the same way we inhabited the physical ones—but my partner Connla and I didn’t own him. You can’t own a sentience in civilized space.
Singer was a sliver of a thing suspended electromagnetically at the center of a quicksilver loop as thin in cross section as an old-fashioned wedding band, but a hundred and fifty meters across the diameter and ten meters from edge to edge. In any meaningful gravity, the ring would have crumpled and sagged like a curl of wax arched over the candleflame. But here in space, reinforced with electromagnetic supports, it spanned the horizon of the viewport in a clean arc.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 2, 1933 — Leo Dillon. With his wife Diane, they were illustrators of children’s books and many a paperback book and magazine cover. Over fifty years, they were the creators of more than a hundred genre covers. They won the Hugo for Best Professional Artist at Noreascon (1971) after being nominated twice before at Heicon ‘70 and St. Louiscon. The Art of Leo & Diane Dillon written by Leo Dillon, Diane Dillon and Byron Preiss would be nominated for a Best Related Non-Fiction Hugo at Chicon IV. They would win a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Some of my favorites? The first cover for Pavane. The Ace cover of The Left Hand of Darkness. And one for a deluxe edition of The Last Unicorn. (Died 2012.)
Born March 2, 1939 — jan howard finder. I’m not going to be able to do him justice here. He was a SF writer, filker, cosplayer, and of course fan. He was nicknamed The Wombat as a sign of affection and ConFrancisco (1993 Worldcon) was only one of at least eight cons that he was fan guest of honor at. Finder was even tuckerized when Anne McCaffrey named a character for him. (Died 2013.)
Born March 2, 1943 — Peter Straub. Horror writer who won the World Fantasy Award for Koko and the August Derleth Award for Floating Dragon. He’s co-authored several novels with Stephen King, The Talisman which itself won a World Fantasy Award, and Black House. Both The Throat and In the Night Room won Bram Stoker Awards as did 5 Stories, a short collection by him. Ok you know that I’m rarely impressed by Awards, but fuck this is impressive! (Died 2022.)
Born March 2, 1960 — Peter Hamilton, 63. I read and quite enjoyed his Night’s Dawn Trilogy when it came out and I’m fairly sure that I’ve read Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained as they sound familiar. (Too much genre fiction read over the years to remember everything…) What else have y’all read by him?
Born March 2, 1966 — Ann Leckie, 57. Ancillary Justice won the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the Nebula Award, Kitschies Award Golden Tentacle, Locus Award for Best First Novel, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the BSFA Award. Quite amazing. Her sequels Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy did not win awards but are no less impressive.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Dick Tracy seems to have started a crossover involving a Nero Wolfe character.
And Tom Gauld has been busy, too:
(10) FOR AMAZON PRIME MEMBERS. [Item by Dann.] Amazon just announced the First Reads books for Amazon Prime members. The genre title for March is House of Gold by C.T. Rwizi. He is the author of the outstanding Scarlett Odyssey series that concluded in 2022.
First Reads books are free to all Amazon Prime members. It is how I encountered C.T.’s first book Scarlett Odyssey a few years back. He is, in my opinion, a talented and overlooked author. House of Gold can be pre-ordered (free for Amazon Prime members) for delivery on April 1, 2023.
Pesky lunar dust is an annoying obstacle for astronauts landing on the Moon—it sticks to pretty much everything. New research from Washington State University may have cracked the code for keeping space suits dust-free, in which pressurized liquid nitrogen was used to literally blow the dust from surfaces.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has spotted a small Solar System rock by chance during a calibration run…
…[the body is a] roughly 15-kilometre-wide object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The photos were taken to measure how one of the telescope’s infrared cameras would respond. While analysing the data, the researchers spotted what looked like a much smaller asteroid, which they estimated to be 100–230 metres across.
If confirmed by subsequent observations, this would be one of the smallest objects ever seen in space — and JWST detected it at a distance of more than 130 million kilometres
Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă surprised his Cabinet on Wednesday by introducing them to a new member — run completely on artificial intelligence.
Ciucă introduced the new “honorary adviser” called Ion to the rest of his ministers in a demonstration, with a face and words appearing on a digital screen, responding to the prime minister’s prompts along with a computerized voice.
Ion was developed by Romanian researchers and will use artificial intelligence to “quickly and automatically capture the opinions and desires” submitted by Romanian citizens, Ciucă said.
“We are talking about the first government adviser to use artificial intelligence,” both nationally and internationally, he said.
Romanians will be able to send their ideas through an accompanying website (ion.gov.ro) as well as on social media and some in-person locations. Ion will then synthesize their contributions for the government to consider, according to the coordinator of the research team, Nicu Sebe. Users won’t, however, receive a response from Ion itself….
(15) LAST MONTH ON THE SCREEN. Here is what people were watching in February – according to JustWatch.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Edge of Tomorrow
The Twilight Zone
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Jurassic World Dominion
*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org
Actor Leonard Nimoy who portrayed the now-famous Spock talks with KGW about his new role. The first episode of Star Trek aired on September 8, 1967. Nimoy explains that Spock is a man born of alien and human descent who has complete control over his emotions; a unique look at a character beloved by millions now.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Dann, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) HWA ELECTIONS UPCOMING. The Horror Writers Association will be holding elections for President, Secretary, and three Trustee positions in September.
John Edward Lawson is running unopposed for President, and Becky Spratford is the lone candidate for Secretary.
The candidates for the three Trustee positions are Marc L. Abbott, Linda Addison, James Chambers, Ellen Datlow, Anthony Gambol, Sèphera Girón, Douglas Gwilym, Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito, Eugene Johnson, Stephen Mark Rainey, David Rose, Lindy Ryan, and John F.D. Taff.
The candidates’ statements are here. The elected officers will hold their respective offices for terms of two years, beginning on November 1 and ending on October 31.
(2) KEENE HEALTH UPDATE. Horror writer Brian Keene is positive for Covid-19 – and has symptoms — so he alerted Facebook readers who might have come in contact with him at last weekend’s Scares That Care Charity Weekend VIII.
For those who had me sign their books or take a selfie with them this past weekend: I have just tested positive for Covid-19. As you saw, I was pretty militant about keeping my mask on, so I hopefully didn’t spread it. But you deserve a heads up, regardless. My symptoms are more than mild but less than severe. Will be quarantining at home.
(3) LITERARY CONTACT TRACING. David Agranoff, host of the DickHeads Podcast, says the evidence suggests Philip K. Dick based a Ubik character in part on Robert Lichtman. Thread starts here.
The WGA said today that it has prevailed in a huge “self-dealing” arbitration against Netflix that it says will result in hundreds of writers on more than 100 Netflix theatrical films receiving an additional $42 million in unpaid residuals. The WGA West and the WGA East say they now are pursuing about $13.5 million in interest that Netflix reportedly owes writers for late payment of these residuals.
In a notification to their members, the guilds said that their victory stems from “an important arbitration over Netflix’s underpayment of the writer’s residuals for the theatrical motion picture Bird Box. Netflix argued the WGA should accept a substandard formula the company negotiated with DGA and SAG-AFTRA. After a hearing, however, an arbitrator determined differently — that the license fee should have been greater than the gross budget of the film. He ordered Netflix to pay the writer a total of $850,000 in residuals along with full interest of $350,000.”
“As a direct result of this ruling,” the WGA added, “216 writers on 139 other Netflix theatrical films are receiving an additional $42 million in unpaid residuals. The guild is now pursuing approximately $13.5 million in interest Netflix also owes writers for late payment of these residuals.”
The meaning of self-dealing and its consequences were explained by the guilds in their message to members:
“When a theatrical is licensed or released in any other market – like streaming or television or home video – residuals must be paid on revenues earned in those markets. The typical residual for the credited writer is 1.2% of the license fee paid to the producer for the right to exhibit that film.
“If the license is between related parties – for example, when Netflix is both the producer and the distributor of the film — the MBA requires that the company impute a license fee based on arm’s length transactions between unrelated parties of comparable pictures — for example, a Sony film licensed to Netflix. This critical definition, negotiated as part of the resolution of our strike in 2008, protects against the undervaluation of license fees through self-dealing.
“Rather than follow the established MBA definition for related party transactions (which exists in the DGA and SAG-AFTRA agreements with the AMPTP as well), Netflix negotiated new deals with the DGA and SAG-AFTRA that allow Netflix to pay residuals on significantly less than the cost of the film. Netflix then tried to force the WGA to take this ‘pattern’ deal. Since it was clear the new formula negotiated by the other Guilds undervalued these ‘imputed’ license fees, the Guild instead took the dispute to arbitration.
“During the arbitration, the Guild showed that when Netflix licensed comparable theatrical films from third party producers it almost always paid a license fee that exceeded the budget. The industry refers to this model as ‘cost-plus.’ The Guild argued that Netflix must apply this cost-plus model to its own films and impute license fees in excess of the budget for the purpose of paying residuals. The arbitrator agreed and ruled that the license fee should be 111% of the gross budget of the film.”
…Songwriting duo Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear were the minds behind the popular adaptation of the hit television series. They staged a live concert of “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical Album Live in Concert” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC earlier this week, selling out the venue.
Netflix originally hailed the concept when it debuted as a free online homage. But when that expanded into a profitable business, things became sticky.
“Defendants Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear and their companies (“Barlow & Bear”) have taken valuable intellectual property from the Netflix original series Bridgerton to build an international brand for themselves,” the lawsuit stated. “Bridgerton reflects the creative work and hard- earned success of hundreds of artists and Netflix employees. Netflix owns the exclusive right to create Bridgerton songs, musicals, or any other derivative works based on Bridgerton. Barlow & Bear cannot take that right—made valuable by others’ hard work—for themselves, without permission. Yet that is exactly what they have done.”…
Launched in 2022, the ADCI (Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses) Literary Prize seeks to encourage greater positive representation of disability in literature.
Founded by author Penny Batchelor and publisher Clare Christian together with the Society of Authors, the prize is generously sponsored by Arts Council England, ALCS, the Drusilla Harvey Memorial Fund, the Hawthornden Literary Retreat, and the Professional Writing Academy.
Open to authors with a disability and/or chronic illness, the prize will call for entries of novels which include a disabled or chronically ill character or characters. The winner will receive £1,000 and two runners-up £500 each.
It’s time to settle in for another lunch during the Washington, D.C. pop culture festival Awesome Con. Last episode, you eavesdropped on my meal with Patrick O’Leary, and this time around you get to take a seat at the table with Sam J. Miller.
You first heard me chat and chew with Sam 5-1/2 years ago in Episode 24, and when I noted he’d be at the con to promote his debut short story collection Boys, Beasts & Men, I knew it was time for us to catch up.
So much has changed since I last shared him with you in late 2016! His first novel, The Art of Starving, was published the following year and was a finalist for the 2018 Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, and won the 2018 Andre Norton Award. Blackfish City, published in 2018, won the 2019 John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and was named a best book of the year by Vulture, the Washington Post, and Barnes & Noble, as well as a must-read for Entertainment Weekly and O: The Oprah Winfrey Magazine. His second young adult novel, Destroy All Monsters, was published by HarperTeen in 2019, and his second adult novel, The Blade Between, was published by Ecco Press in 2020.
We discussed the 1,500 short story submissions he made between 2002 and 2012 (as well as the one story which was rejected 99 times), the peculiar importance of the missing comma from the title of his new collection Boys, Beasts & Men, his technique for reading collections written by others, why the Clarion Writing Workshop was transformative, how Samuel R. Delany gave him permission, the way his novels and short stories exist in a shared universe, the impossibility of predicting posthumous fame, the superpower he developed via decades of obscurity, the differing ideas of what writers block means, and much more.
(8) A DATE IN THE SF CALENDAR. From Ray Bradbury‘s “There Will Come Soft Rains”.
The crash. The attic smashing into kitchen and parlor. The parlor into cellar, cellar into sub-cellar. Deep freeze, armchair, film tapes, circuits, beds, and all like skeletons thrown in a cluttered mound deep under. Smoke and silence. A great quantity of smoke. Dawn showed faintly in the east. Among the ruins, one wall stood alone. Within the wall, a last voice said, over and over again and again, even as the sun rose to shine upon the heaped rubble and steam: “Today is August 5, 2026, today is August 5, 2026, today is…”
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1966 – [By Cat Eldridge.]Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. is the Amicus film that premiered fifty-six years ago this evening. It was directed by Gordon Flemyng as written by Milton Subotsky, based off Terry Nation’s The Dalek Invasion of Earth for the TV show. It was the second such film done, the first being Dr. Who and the Daleks which was was based off Terry Nation’s The Daleks. It was not canon, nor has it been retroactively declared canon by the BBC.
Peter Cushing as Dr. Who and Roberta Tovey was Susan, his granddaughter. Bernard Cribbins appeared here as Tom Campbell. He appeared four times in the actual series. Despite this, the BBC explicitly note that that these films were not related to the series, nor any events here should reflect upon the series. Odd given that there was a Doctor Who there and his granddaughter, there was a TARDIS, there was Daleks and so forth.
Nation was paid five hundred pounds for three scripts with third being called The Chase but the second film drew so poorly that The Chase never got produced.
And if you watched this one, you’ll have noticed the curious matter of the Doctor not being on-screen much of time. Cushing was seriously ill during shooting so they had to rewrite the script to remove much of his lines.
Part of the funding came from a cereal company. The breakfast cereal Sugar Puffs to be precise and, their signs and products can be seen at various points in the film. Sugar Puffs ran a competition on its cereal packets to for its fans win a Dalek film prop, was allowed to feature the Daleks in its TV advertisements.
The overall critical response at the time was that both films suffered greatly in comparison to the series itself. A typical comment was this one from The Times: “[T]he cast, headed by the long-suffering, much ill-used Peter Cushing, seem able, unsurprisingly, to drum up no conviction whatever in anything they are called to do.” It’s worth noting that was really made on the cheap by the BBC costing only three hundred thousand pounds.
Tom Baker later criticized both films saying “There have been two Doctor Who films in the past, both rather poor… There are many dangers in transporting a television series onto the big screen… a lot of things that you could get away with on the small screen wouldn’t wash in the cinema.”
It holds a poor rating of fifty-four percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
I have not seen either film. I’m curious to hear from those of you who have seen them as to what you think of them.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 5, 1891 — Donald Kerr. Happy Hapgood in 1938’s Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars which certainly is one of the earliest such films. His only other genre appearances were in the Abbott and Costello films such as Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man in uncredited roles. (Died 1977.)
Born August 5, 1929 — Don Matheson. Best remembered for being Mark Wilson in Land of the Giants. He also had roles in Lost in Space (where he played in an alien in one episode and an android in another episode), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an Alice in Wonderland film and Dragonflight. (Died 2014.)
Born August 5, 1948 — Larry Elmore, 74. His list of work includes illustrations for Dungeons & Dragons, Dragonlance, and his own comic strip series SnarfQuest. He is author of the book Reflections of Myth. He was nominated for Best Professional Artist at MidAmericCon II, has the Phoenix Award and has five Chesley Award nominations.
Born August 5, 1966 — James Gunn, 56. Director, producer and screenwriter whose first film as director was Slither. Very silly film. He’s responsible for both Guardians of The Galaxy films, plus the forthcoming one. He executive produced both of the recent Avengers films, and he’s directing and writing the next Suicide Squad film. I am far fonder of the Guardians of The Galaxy films than I am of the Avengers films.
Born August 5, 1972 — Paolo Bacigalupi, 49. I remember the book group I was part of some years ago having a spirited debate over The Windup Girl (which won a Hugo at Aussiecon 4 in a tie with China Miéville’s The City & The City and a Nebula as well) over the believability of the central character. I think he did a better job with characters in his next novels, Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, but he’s really not about characters anyways but ideas. The Tangled Lands, a collection of his short works, won a World Fantasy Award. His novelette, “The People of Sand and Slag” got nominated at Interaction; “The Calorie Man” novelette at L.A. Con IV; “Yellow Card Man” novellette at Nippon 2007; and “The Gambler” novellette at Anticipation.
Born August 5, 1975 — Iddo Goldberg, 47. Israel-born actor. Freddie Thorne in the Peaky Blinders series , Isaac Walton in supernatural Salem series and Bennett Knox in Snowpiercer series. He also had a recurring role on Westworld as Sebastian. And under a lot of costuming, he played the Red Tornado in an episode, “Red Faced” of Supergirl.
Born August 5, 1980 — JoSelle Vanderhooft, 42. Former Green Man reviewer with a single novel so far, Ebenezer, and several collections, Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories and Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories which the former were nominated for a Lambda Award. She also co-edited with Steve Berman, Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction.
Jim Lee’s designs for the X-Men are burned into the minds of X-Fans like the Phoenix Force itself—whether you devoured comics, fell in love with the animated series, or, perhaps, just collected some of the iconic trading cards of the era. If you’re the latter, then we’ve got some very good news.
io9 has your exclusive look inside The Uncanny X-Men Trading Cards: The Complete Series, Abrams ComicArts’ 30th anniversary celebration of Jim Lee’s iconic 105 Uncanny X-Men trading card set. Featuring an introduction by Bob Budiansky and a foreword by Ed Piskor, the book collects the backs and fronts of every card in the classic series, as well as insight from Marvel creators in interviews conducted by Budiansky, the original writer and editor on the trading card series…..
It’s coming up on two years since my father died at age 91. I miss him terribly, of course, but his death left me with a personal struggle I had not anticipated.
While you might understandably think his death left a void in my life, it did quite the opposite.
His death left me with so … much … stuff. He’d lived in the same house for more than 30 years, and even though he’d engaged in some half-hearted Swedish death cleaning — a decluttering aimed at easing burdens on one’s survivors – what he did, mostly, was just put things in boxes. Boxes I had to open to figure out what they contained after he died….
… I want to keep all of it, but I also want to pile it up and torch it.
Last week, I was bemoaning this dilemma when Anton, my future son-in-law, said, “Yeah, all the kipple.”
I thought it might be a Yiddish or German word, but Anton told me it was coined by the great science fiction writer Philip K. Dick in his 1968 dystopian novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” For those who need a plot refresher – or have not seen the 1982 movie “Blade Runner,” which was based on the novel – the story takes place in the future, after Earth has been mostly destroyed by a nuclear global conflict, World War Terminus. Most animal life has been extinguished. The population has emigrated to “off-world colonies.”
The word is used by the book’s protagonist, Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter assigned to kill some uncannily human-like robots who have escaped involuntary servitude on Mars and returned to Earth.
“Kipple,” Deckard explains in the book, “is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday’s homepage. [Dick’s incredibly prescient vision of a digital newspaper.] When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it.”….
A French scientist has apologized after tweeting a photo of a slice of chorizo, claiming it was an image of a distant star taken by the James Webb Space Telescope.
Étienne Klein, a celebrated physicist and director at France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, shared the image of the spicy Spanish sausage on Twitter last week, praising the “level of detail” it provided.
…Klein admitted later in a series of follow-up tweets that the image was, in fact, a close-up of a slice of chorizo taken against a black background.
“Well, when it’s cocktail hour, cognitive bias seem to find plenty to enjoy… Beware of it. According to contemporary cosmology, no object related to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere else other than on Earth”
After facing a backlash from members of the online community for the prank, he wrote: “In view of certain comments, I feel obliged to specify that this tweet showing an alleged picture of Proxima Centauri was a joke. Let’s learn to be wary of the arguments from positions of authority as much as the spontaneous eloquence of certain images.”…
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Ms. Marvel Pitch Meeting,” the writer explains that Kamala Khan begins as a big fan of Captain Marvel and has all of our stuff. “I like it when we can sell fictional merch,” the producer explains. He also likes a scene where Ms. Marvel suddenly has time travel and goes back to 1942 to save her grandmother’s life, because I think it’s a good idea for a character to be born.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Bill, John A Arkansawyer, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chris S.]
(1) AURORA AWARDS VOTING DEADLINE. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association members have only a few minutes left to vote for 2022 Aurora Awards. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. EDT, on Saturday, July 23.
The awards ceremony will be held as a YouTube and Facebook live streaming event at 7:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 13 at When Words Collide.
(2) BEAUTIFYING THE BRICKS. DreamHaven Books showed off the progress on their new outside wall mural to Facebook friends. There’s also this smaller peek on Instagram.
(3) HEAR HEAR. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) resumes its series with 2022 Rhysling Long Poem Reading Series Part 2.
…Presented here for your perusal and possible amusement is a fiction bibliography for science fiction and fantasy pulps issued in 1946. The list includes magazines that primarily published new works. Excluded are reprints of works published in prior years (most of Famous Fantastic Mysteries, all of Strange Tales). Non-fiction articles and editorials are also omitted. For brevity, we didn’t cite specific issue dates. For richness, we’ve transcribed the introductory blurbs that appeared in the Table of Contents or masthead for each story….
(5) DOODLER. [Item by Michael Toman.] “In a world where Franza Kafka became one of the first Big Name Fan Artists…?” “Kafka’s Inkblots” by J.W. McCormack, behind a paywall at New York Review of Books.
…Such an active imagination—the fever for annotation, familiar from Pale Fire or Flaubert’s Parrot, that distorts the inner life of the artist even as it seeks to illuminate it—is required of any reader hoping to get their money’s worth from Franz Kafka: The Drawings, a volume of the writer’s archival sketches and ephemera edited by Andreas Kilcher and Pavel Schmidt. A bearded maestro presides from the back of a business card. A stick figure seems to throttle a mass of squiggles. A harlequin frowns under the chastisement of an irate lump. Two curvilinear ink blots pass each other on a blank-page boulevard. A bushy-browed Captain Haddock-type glowers in profile on a torn envelope and, in the margins of a letter, a wrigglesome delinquent is bisected by a torture device that seems to clearly reference the one from “In the Penal Colony.” Limbs jut out cartoonishly from bodies, loopedy-loop acrobats snake up and down the gutter of a magazine, figures of authority preside in faded pencil, and then there are the stray marks on manuscript pages, neither fully letters nor drawings….
(6) BRICK BY BRICK. “E. E. Cummings and Krazy Kat” by Amber Medland at The Paris Review site puts the famous strip in perspective as an inspiration to all manner of creators of modern 20th-century literature and art.
…The Kat had a cult following among the modernists. For Joyce, Fitzgerald, Stein, and Picasso, all of whose work fed on playful energies similar to those unleashed in the strip, he had a double appeal, in being commercially nonviable and carrying the reek of authenticity in seeming to belong to mass culture. By the thirties, strips like Blondie were appearing daily in roughly a thousand newspapers; Krazy appeared in only thirty-five. The Kat was one of those niche-but-not-really phenomena, a darling of critics and artists alike, even after it stopped appearing in newspapers. Since then: Umberto Eco called Herriman’s work “raw poetry”; Kerouac claimed the Kat as “the immediate progenitor” of the beats; Stan Lee (Spider-Man) went with “genius”; Herriman was revered by Charles Schulz and Theodor Geisel alike. But Krazy Kat was never popular. The strip began as a sideline for Herriman, who had been making a name for himself as a cartoonist since 1902. It ran in “the waste space,” literally underfoot the characters of his more conventional 1910 comic strip The Dingbat Family, published in William Randolph Hearst’s New York Evening Journal….
As noted, I’m planning to finish up my posts on potential Hugo nominees for 1950s Worldcons, including those that didn’t award Hugos. This is a case (as with 1954) where stories from the eligibility year (i.e. 1950) had a shot at Retro-Hugos, as Milliennium Philcon, the 2001 Worldcon, chose to award them. (Appropriate, I suppose, as the 1953 Philcon originated the Hugo Awards.) And in fact I wrote a post back in 2001 giving my recommendations for Retro Hugos that year. This appeared in SF Site here I am bemused to find that my recommendations from back then are almost exactly the same as I came up with surveying 1950s SF just now.
The 1951 Worldcon was Nolacon I, in New Orleans, the ninth World Science Fiction Convention. As noted, they gave no Hugo awards. This was the first year of International Fantasy Awards, and both were given to books published in 1949: fiction went to George Stewart’s, Earth Abides (surely a strong choice) and non-fiction to The Conquest of Space, by Willy Ley and Chesley Bonestell….
… Lepp, who writes under the pen name Leanne Leeds in the “paranormal cozy mystery” subgenre, allots herself precisely 49 days to write and self-edit a book. This pace, she said, is just on the cusp of being unsustainably slow. She once surveyed her mailing list to ask how long readers would wait between books before abandoning her for another writer. The average was four months. Writer’s block is a luxury she can’t afford, which is why as soon as she heard about an artificial intelligence tool designed to break through it, she started beseeching its developers on Twitter for access to the beta test.
The tool was called Sudowrite. Designed by developers turned sci-fi authors Amit Gupta and James Yu, it’s one of many AI writing programs built on OpenAI’s language model GPT-3 that have launched since it was opened to developers last year. But where most of these tools are meant to write company emails and marketing copy, Sudowrite is designed for fiction writers. Authors paste what they’ve written into a soothing sunset-colored interface, select some words, and have the AI rewrite them in an ominous tone, or with more inner conflict, or propose a plot twist, or generate descriptions in every sense plus metaphor.
Eager to see what it could do, Lepp selected a 500-word chunk of her novel, a climactic confrontation in a swamp between the detective witch and a band of pixies, and pasted it into the program. Highlighting one of the pixies, named Nutmeg, she clicked “describe.”…
Nearly 30 years after “X-Men: The Animated Series” debuted, many of the beloved characters are returning for Marvel Studios’ upcoming show “X-Men ’97,” coming to Disney+ in fall 2023 with a second season already confirmed.
“X-Men ’97” will continue the story of the original “Animated Series,” which ran from 1992 to 1997 on Fox Kids Network. “X-Men: The Animated Series” helped usher in the popularity of the mutant superheroes before Fox made the first live-action take on the team in 2000.
The new series will include Rogue, Beast, Gambit, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Storm, Jubilee and Cyclops. Magneto, now with long hair and a purple suit, will lead the X-Men. The animation, revealed at Comic Con on Friday, stays true to the original animated series, but looks more modern, updated and sleek.
Cable, Bishop, Forge, Morph and Nightcrawler will also join the X-Men onscreen. Battling them will be the (non-“Stranger Things”) Hellfire Club with Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw, plus Mr. Sinister and Bolivar Trask will appear.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1995 – [By Cat Eldridge.]It is said that God made man in His image, but man fell from grace. Still, man has retained from his humble beginnings the innate desire to create, but how will man’s creations fair? Will they attain a measure of the divine or will they, too, fall from grace? — The Control Voice
Twenty-seven years ago, The Outer Limits’ “I, Robot” first aired on HBO.
This is a remake of “I, Robot” that aired thirty-one years earlier. Leonard Nimoy, who played the reporter Judson Ellis in that episode, plays attorney Thurman Cutler in this version, a role played by Howard Da Silva in the original. This remake was directed by Nimoy’s son Adam Nimoy.
Now “I, Robot” was written by Eando Binder, the pen name used by the SF authors, the late Earl Andrew Binder and his brother Otto Binder. They created a heroic robot named Adam Link. The first Adam Link story, published in 1939, is titled “I, Robot”. Adam Link, Robot, a collection of those stories, is available from the usual suspects.
Robert C. Dennis who wrote the screenplay here would go on to write multiple episodes of Wild, Wild West and Batman. He was also one of the primary writers for the earlier Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 23, 1888 — Raymond Chandler. He of the Philip Marlowe series who I hold in very high esteem is listed by ISFDB as doing some stories of a genre nature, to be exact, ”The Bronze Door”, “The King In Yellow”, “Professor Bingo’s Snuff” and “English Summer: A Gothic Romance”. I’ve neither heard of nor read these. So who here has read them? (Died 1959.)
Born July 23, 1914 — Virgil Finlay. Castle of Frankenstein calls him “part of the pulp magazine history … one of the foremost contributors of original and imaginative artwork for the most memorable science fiction and fantasy publications of our time.” His best-known covers are for Amazing Stories and Weird Tales. “Roads”, a novella by Seabury Quinn, published in the January 1938 Weird Tales, and featuring a cover and interior illustrations by him, was originally published in an extremely limited numbers by Arkham House in 1948. It’s now available on from the usual suspects. (Died 1971.)
Born July 23, 1938 — Ronny Cox, 83. His first genre role was in RoboCop as OCP President Dick Jones who comes to a very bad end. Later roles were Gen. Balentine in Amazon Women on the Moon in “The Unknown Soldier” episode, Martians Go Home as the President, Total Recall as Vilos Cohaagen, Captain America as Tom Kimball and a recurring role for a decade on Stargate SG-1 as Senator Robert Kinsey/Vice President Robert Kinsey.
Born July 23, 1957 — Gardner Dozois. He was founding editor of The Year’s Best Science Fiction anthology and was editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine for twenty years. He won fifteen Hugos for his editing and was nominated for others. He also won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story twice, once for “The Peacemaker” and once for “Morning Child”. Stories selected by him for his annual best-of-year volumes have won, as of several years ago, 44 Hugos, 32 Locus, 41 Nebulas, 18 Sturgeon Awards and 10 World Fantasy. Very impressive! (Died 2018.)
Born July 23, 1982 — Tom Mison, 40. He is best known as Ichabod Crane on Sleepy Hollow which crosses-over into Bones. He’s Mr. Phillips in The Watchmen. It’s barely (if at all) genre adjacent but I’m going to note that he’s Young Blood in A Waste of Shame: The Mystery of Shakespeare and His Sonnets. Currently he’s got a main role in second season of the See SF series on Apple TV which has yet to come out. Apple hasn’t put out any publicity on it.
Born July 23, 1989 — Daniel Radcliffe, 33. Harry Potter of course. Also Victor Frankenstein’s assistant Igor in Victor Frankenstein, Ignatius Perrish in Horns, a horror film, and Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Old Vic in London.
…As described in a press release sent to The Takeout, the Grey Poupon with Salted Pretzels is “An unexpected yet delightful blend of sweet ice cream, honey-dijon swirl, and salted pretzels.” It’s part of Van Leeuwen’s line of summer limited edition flavors, which also includes Campfire S’mores, Summer Peach Crisp, Honey Cornbread with Strawberry Jam, and Espresso Fior di Latte Chip. All of these flavors are available at Walmart until the end of the season.
… Even the smell of the ice cream was slightly mustardy—I was prepared for a real dijon bomb.
But the first scoop left some things to be desired. First, the mustard flavor is a little muddled and lost amidst the creaminess….
…With each draw of the curtain, we saw a series of burlesque acts that were visually decadent and tonally unique. Aside from Jabba the Hutt and captive Leia, my other personal favorite was when Sheev Palpatine — who looked absolutely grotesque thanks to a wrinkled blue-and-white skin suit — fully stripped and swung on a massive disco ball to Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.” Just before that, R2-D2, resident space pimp, made it rain by ejecting wads of cash into the air while a braggadocious Han Solo undulated to “Smooth Criminal,” making every goth and nerd in the audience scream like animals….
By shining a laser pulse sequence inspired by the Fibonacci numbers at atoms inside a quantum computer, physicists have created a remarkable, never-before-seen phase of matter. The phase has the benefits of two time dimensions despite there still being only one singular flow of time, the physicists report July 20 in Nature.
This mind-bending property offers a sought-after benefit: Information stored in the phase is far more protected against errors than with alternative setups currently used in quantum computers. As a result, the information can exist without getting garbled for much longer, an important milestone for making quantum computing viable, says study lead author Philipp Dumitrescu….
…The trailer features elements from several of the show’s standalone stories that all paint a very stark picture of how the world fell — and honestly we’re reminded of a ton of the drama from the COVID-19 era, particularly the denialism, rugged individualist posturing, and the scapegoating.
For example, we see Parker Posey as an apparently well-to-do woman who straight up refuses to believe reports of a zombie apocalypse… of course, until it runs right up and bites her. Crews meanwhile plays a survivalist who lives an isolated, paranoid life, until he (for an as-yet unrevealed reason) ends up sheltering with Olivia Munn and gets called out. Will he change? We’ll have to find out….
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: The Quarry,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-packed episode, say this game about teenagers getting munched on in the quarry by monsters “is a B movie with AAA production values that has “two hours of story and eight hours of wandering around like a stoned teen.” But the CGI is so lifelike that the characters are actors you almost recognize, including “That guy who was in the thing you saw once.”
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Dann, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]
Starting on July 27, X-Men visionary Chris Claremont teams up with artist Sid Kotian for a five-part Gambit limited series. Claremont, the writer who defined the X-Men and crafted the franchise’s most influential stories, is back with a brand-new X-Men saga starring one his most popular co-creations—Gambit.
Featuring artwork by rising star Sid Kotian, Gambit will be a five-issue limited series that invites fans back to the exciting time when Gambit and a de-aged Storm forged an everlasting bond as they thieved their way along the Mississippi River!
The series will unearth a wide range of previously untold adventures, from a brush with the Shadow King to an array of earthbound and out of this world escapades, that gives Claremont a chance to further explore Gambit’s path to becoming a heroic X-Man. And it reveals new insights into another trademark character of his, Storm, at a pivotal moment in her history. Get your first look at this story of action, intrigue and revenge in new interior artwork and variant covers by all-star artists Salvador Larroca, Peach Momoko, Scott Williams, and InHyuk Lee.
When asked why he chose to revisit this specific era, Claremont told AiPT Comics: “Because I considered it somewhere that provided the opportunity for a whole-lotta-fun to be had by all involved. Think about it: who notices kids? The way Remy dresses, not to mention his great body and gorgeous looks, most of the time all eyes turn towards him. [Kid] ‘Ro remains functionally invisible. Target looks to Remy, ‘Ro picks his pocket. But the true reason, frankly, is that the story turned out to be a whole lot more fun this way.”
Gambit #1 hits stands on July 27. For more information, visit Marvel.com. See the variant covers following the jump.
Mutantkind is set to send shockwaves through the Marvel Universe yet again in this year’s Hellfire Gala!
At last year’s gala, mutants changed the face of the solar system, terraforming Mars and claiming it for mutantkind. This year will continue the tradition with more game-changing developments, the exciting reveal of the new X-Men lineup, direct lead-ins to the events of A.X.E.: Judgment Day, and more, all in one giant-sized issue. The future of mutantkind as we know it begins here. Written by current X-Men writer Gerry Duggan and featuring artwork by Kris Anka, Russell Dauterman, Matteo Lolli and C.F. Villa, X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1 will also boast stunning covers by superstar artists Stanley “Artgerm” Lau, Adam Hughes, Arthur Adams, Carlos Gómez, and Nick Dragotta.
For the full scope of the event, fans should pick up upcoming issues of Immortal X-Men and X-Men. In Kieron Gillen’s Immortal X-Men #4, Emma Frost will stop at nothing to make sure the Hellfire Gala is a night no one in the Marvel Universe will soon forget. And in Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz’ X-Men #12, the grand climax of the book’s first epic year, the current X-Men team go out in style, and secrets are revealed that guarantee the Hellfire Gala will be overflowing with drama.
And if you’re looking for the afterparty, swing over to Zeb Wells and Amazing Spider-Man #9 this August. Something happens at the Gala that sends Spider-Man and Wolverine on a dangerous mission all over creation! That’s right — the best duo in comics is back, but who are they fighting, and what (or who) are they fighting for? Pick up X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1 to find out!
Check out all the variant covers below and visit Marvel.com right now for an exclusive sneak peek of X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1, on sale July 13.
Rising out of the ashes of Inferno and emerging out of the vital time-travelling mission in X Lives Of Wolverine/X Deaths Of Wolverine comes The Second Krakoan Age of X-Men: Destiny Of X. Mutantkind is reshaped once more, as Krakoa’s greatest triumphs and most crushing challenges still lie ahead. The possibilities are endless as your favorite ongoing X-series embrace their future, starting March 30.
The rulers of Krakoa strive to hold mutantkind together, no matter how much they want to tear each other apart in Kieron Gillen and Lucas Werneck’s IMMORTAL X-MEN #1
Kate Pryde enlists a new crew to rescue rescue mutants and unravel a vital mystery stretching two billion years into the past in Steve Orlando and Eleonora Carlini’s MARAUDERS #1
Mutantkind has taken over Mars and now they have to fight for it. Join Storm, Magneto, Sunspot, and more as they strive to save the red planet from war in Al Ewing and Stefano Caselli’s X-MEN RED #1
Krakoa’s deadly strike team deals with the mind-melding new threat known as CEREBRAX as Benjamin Percy and Robert Gill launch an all-new arc in X-FORCE #27
Captain Britain recruits nine knights to join her on a magical quest for the holy grail of mutantkind in Tini Howard and Bob Quinn’s KNIGHTS OF X #1
As numerous new threats begin to close in on Krakoan’s first team of X-Men, an old enemy emerges as Gerry Duggan continues his hit run on X-Men alongside artist Javier Pina in X-MEN #10
Nightcrawler assembles a squad to bring justice and peace to Krakoa and protect mutantkind from its most soul-crushing threats yet in Si Spurrier and Jan Bazaldua’s LEGION OF X #1
Magik and the recently resurrected Madelyne Pryor compete for the throne of Limbo in Vita Ayala and Rod Reis’ acclaimed run of New Mutants, igniting the all-new ‘Labors of Magik’ arc in NEW MUTANTS #25
Wolverine continues to take on mutantkind’s most brutal missions… with some unwelcome help from Deadpool as Benjamin Percy and Adam Kubert continue their masterful run on Wolverine in WOLVERINE #20
Explaining his own plans for Destiny in an exclusive interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gillen said, “Immortal X-Men for me is this love story of two women across time. Saying that Destiny is Mystique’s moral compass is too simple, because that implies that morals are important. But she is the object Mystique orients herself around. That’s how I see it. She is of fundamental importance to Mystique, and vice versa.”
Get your first glimpse at what’s to come in the all-new Destiny Of X trailer. Then view the cover art for the series following the jump.
The next era of X-Men is on the horizon. With creative team changes and cast shakeups, Destiny of X will be a season of radical transformation for the X-Men line and its characters. The possibilities are endless as the second Krakoan age begins over the next few months. Fans can discover more about what’s to come this May in their most anticipated X-Men ongoing series.
Judgment Day is coming! Tying together current story threads in Avengers, X-Men, and Eternals, writer Kieron Gillen and artist Valerio Schiti bring you the next Marvel Comics epic this summer. See the first seeds planted for this upcoming saga in issues of Kieron Gillen and Lucas Werneck’s Immortal X-Men! May’s Immortal X-Men #3 will dive into one of the most fascinating objects in the X-Men mythos: Destiny’s diaries. Over one hundred years ago, Irene Adler wrote twelve books. A sequel is long overdue.
The main team of Krakoan X-Men won’t be safe from the effects of Judgment Day either. Creative powerhouses Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz continue their hit run in X-Men #11. The women of the X-Men are heading for the hottest action in the galaxy…Gameworld! But if it’s true that the house always wins, they might be in over their heads!
The quest is revealed in Tini Howard and Bob Quinn’s Knights Of X #2. Betsy Braddock has assembled her Knights. Their mission: to save Otherworld from Merlyn and his powerful henchmen…by finding the holy grail of mutantkind. But Otherworld is vast, and innumerable armies stand in their way. When Merlyn targets the Crooked Market, a safe haven for mutantkind, the Knights must split up. Will Captain Britain find the grail? Will Gambit lead the others into a deadly trap? Death looms over the Knights — in more ways than one.
Meet Mother Righteous in Si Spurrier and Jan Bazaldua’s Legion Of X #2! Legion is offered an unholy deal by this major new character, the self-proclaimed wheeler-dealer of the astral plane. But is the price worth the prize for a young man stuck in his father’s shadow? Meanwhile, the Skinjacker grows bold. Not content with stealing identities of other mutants, he turns his powers on the Legion of X.
Launched in last month’s Marauders Annual #1, Steve Orlando continues his new run alongside artist Eleonora Carlini in Marauders #3. Panic in Shi’ar space! The Marauders are prisoners of the Kin Crimson, a secret society stretching back billions of years, who outrank even the Shi’ar Majestrix…or so they think. But Captain Pryde and the Marauders aren’t giving up, not with the Shi’ar holding the last survivors of mutantkind’s first generation hostage. With the weight of history looming like a nuclear threat, can Kate Pryde convince Xandra to side with mutantkind against her kingdom?
Vita Ayala and Rod Reis’s acclaimed run heats up inNew Mutants #26. While the queen is away, demons will play! A new queen has taken the throne of Limbo — Madelyne Pryor, A.K.A. the Goblin Queen! Meanwhile, separated from Limbo, Magik faces an enemy she thought she had banished long ago…
Wolverine masters Benjamin Percy and Adam Kubert take Logan deeper and deeper into DANGER in Wolverine #21. Outnumbered and surrounded, Wolverine unleashes his berserker rage, and Deadpool embraces his deadly fighting skills in a last ditch effort to save mutant lives. But what’s with all the Robot X-Men, and what do they have to do with the X-Desk?
And over in Percy and Robert Gill’s X-Force #28, Cerebrax stalks the island of Krakoa, and no one is safe! Its hunger for minds is insatiable…but what happens when it absorbs the minds — and powers — of the most powerful mutants?! X-Force will have to STEP. IT. UP. – and Kid Omega leads the way.
And expect planet-size power grabs and enormous omega-level feats in Al Ewing and Stefano Caselli’s X-Men Red #3. Tarn the Uncaring waged war and torture on Arakko for centuries. He’s the most hated being on Mars…and he sits on their ruling council. Abigail Brand has a plan to remedy that — and reap the rewards. So does Roberto Da Costa. But only one of them can win…and Tarn’s going to make at least one mutant pay the price for it.
Marvel remembers that fifty years ago, Giant-Size X-Men changed our world. This June, Planet-Size X-Men changes our universe.
In June, the inaugural Hellfire Gala is where the first team of Krakoan X-Men will be announced to the world as well as the plans that mutantkind has in store for the Marvel Universe.
This comics event will unfold in issues of the ongoing X-Men series and in Planet-Size X-Men, a special double-sized one-shot from two of mutantkind’s most masterful creators: writer Gerry Duggan (Marauders, Savage Avengers) and artist Pepe Larraz (House of X). On sale June 16.
Omega-level mutants will take center stage and new omega-level mutants will be introduced as Magneto puts the pieces in place for an ambitious plan that will truly change everything…
Below, check out some never-before-seen variant covers by artists Olivier Coipel, Terry Dodson, and Rachel Dodson as well as a first look at interior artwork.