Pixel Scroll 5/17/24 You Can’t Plant Me In Your Pixel, I’m Going Back To My Scroll

(1) THREAT ASSESSMENT. The U.S. State Department issued a “Worldwide Caution” for Americans overseas today, warning about potential threats to LGBTQ+ travelers and other violence.

Location: Worldwide

Event: Due to the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations, or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution.  The Department of State is aware of the increased potential for foreign terrorist organization-inspired violence against LGBTQI+ persons and events and advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution.  U.S. citizens should:

  • Stay alert in locations frequented by tourists, including Pride celebrations and venues frequented by LGBTQI+ persons.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive information and alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency overseas.

(2) HELP RETURN AN ITEM. Is this yours? Marcia Kelly Illingworth would like to return an item that was given to her at the 1996 Worldcon.

Sorry to call on you for something so insignificant, but it’s important to me, and to at least one other fan out there. In order to be sure this gets in the right hands, there will be some detail left out.

My first Worldcon dealing experience was in 1996 in Anaheim/Los Angeles. I was beginning to make my own jewelry at that time, and felt very flattered when a woman came to me with a treasured memento of a beloved pet, and asked me to make it into a piece of jewelry for her. I agreed, and dutifully took her details and the item. 

This was all during the time that I was burning up the airways, back and forth between Tennessee and London, which eventually turned into a happily ever after, and a long term move. During all of this, the details became separated from the item, and I didn’t know how to contact the owner. I hoped every year that she would return to a table where I was dealing. That hasn’t happened.  

Some of you may be aware that after the 2016 MidAmericon, I had a catastrophic illness, which landed me in emergency surgery to remove my colon, during which I arrested and had to be resuscitated, and in critical condition on a ventilator. I’m apparently too stubborn to even stay dead, but I digress. I went on to survive breast cancer and a bilateral mastectomy four years later.

What I haven’t been as open about is the toll it has taken on my life. My lungs were damaged, leaving me with ongoing breathing issues. My brain was affected, more than I was willing to admit, leaving me with memory deficits and personality changes. These appear to be progressing, unfortunately, so I’m trying to tie up as many loose ends as possible. 

I have intentionally not said what the sentimental item is, so that the right person is the one who contacts me for its return. You can reach me through Facebook Messenger. I’m still, as far as I can ascertain, the only Marcia Kelly Illingworth there is.  Please help me finish this task.

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to chow down on cryptid pizza with Lesley Conner in Episode 225 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Longtime listeners will have heard Lesley’s voice way back in 2017 on Episode 53 when she took part in a Horror 101 roundtable. Back then, she shared the microphone with five other creators, but a lot has changed for her over the past seven years, and now that she’s the Chief Editor at Apex magazine, I thought she deserved a spotlight of her own.

Lesley Connor and Scott Edelman.

You’ll understand why Lesley was the right dining companion for such a place just from the titles of the anthologies in which her fiction has appeared — all horror-focussed such as Mountain DeadDark Tales of TerrorBig Book of New Short HorrorRuthless, and A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre. Her horror novel The Weight of Chains was released in 2015. In addition to being the Chief Editor over at Apex magazine, she’s also co-editor of the anthologies Do Not Go Quietly and Robotic Ambitions, as well as of the upcoming The Map of Lost Places.

We discussed why horror is where she feels the most comfortable as a writer, how her role at Apex magazine grew from Social Media Manager to Chief Editor, her “Price is Right” method of filling out an issue’s word count, why she hardly ever reads cover letters, the trends she’s seen in the slush pile and what they mean, the key difference between editing magazines vs. anthologies, her longtime obsession with serial killers, how to go on writing after one’s writing mentor passes away, and much more.

(4) ONLINE FLASH SCIENCE FICTION NIGHT. Space Cowboy Books will host an online Flash Science Fiction Night with KC Grifant, Laura Blackwell, and Denise Dumars on Tuesday May 21 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific.

Join us online for an evening of short science fiction readings (1000 words or less) with authors KC Grifant, Laura Blackwell, and Denise Dumars. Flash Science Fiction Nights run 30 minutes or less, and are a fun and great way to learn about new authors from around the world.

Register for free at Eventbrite.

(5) GETTING AHEAD. Kathryn Adams is working through this year’s finalists a piece at a time. Here’s an excerpt from the first of her very good reviews of “Three More Novelettes” at Pixelated Geek.

The last three of the 2024 Hugo-nominated novelettes go from dystopian to near-utopian (with a lot of work from devoted neighbors), to a fantasy set in the outskirts of the jazz area.

I AM AI – Ai Jiang

…AI has found a surprising niche in order to make a living as a writer and pay off her parents’ and aunt’s debt: pretending to be an AI herself. Working anonymously in an internet cafe on the outskirts of the city, she scrapes together paying jobs by undercutting the fees that actual AI’s charge and churning out content that has the “surprisingly human for an AI” feel that AI subscribers are looking for.

Ai has to keep up a relentless pace, and she’s been gradually replacing parts of herself with tech so she can work a little faster, keep writing for a little longer into the night….

(6) BACK TO THE STACKS. “’The Librarians’ Spinoff on The CW: First Look at ‘Next Chapter’ Team” at TVLine.

The Librarians are ready to make some noise again, by way of a spinoff coming to The CW — and TVLine has your exclusive first look at the brand-new team, above.

A spinoff of TNT’s three movies-and-four seasons franchise, The CW’s The Librarians: The Next Chapter centers on Vikram Chamberlin (played by Jamestown‘s Callum McGowan), a protean genius, swashbuckler and Librarian from the year 1847 who accidentally time-travels to present-day Central Europe and now finds himself stuck here. When Vikram returns to his castle, which is now a museum, he inadvertently releases magic across the continent. He in turn is given a team of talented young people to help him clean up the mess he made by reclaiming magical artifacts from those who would abuse them.

The Librarians are ready to make some noise again, by way of a spinoff coming to The CW — and TVLine has your exclusive first look at the brand-new team, above.

A spinoff of TNT’s three movies-and-four seasons franchise, The CW’s The Librarians: The Next Chapter centers on Vikram Chamberlin (played by Jamestown‘s Callum McGowan), a protean genius, swashbuckler and Librarian from the year 1847 who accidentally time-travels to present-day Central Europe and now finds himself stuck here. When Vikram returns to his castle, which is now a museum, he inadvertently releases magic across the continent. He in turn is given a team of talented young people to help him clean up the mess he made by reclaiming magical artifacts from those who would abuse them.

The question is: Will Vikram keep his oath to the Library (and his new team), or will he attempt to travel back to his own time where unfinished business — and his heart — remain?…

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 17, 1955 Bill Paxton. (Died 2017.) Let’s talk about Bill PaxtonHe worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando, The Terminator and True Lies. I know only The Terminator is genre but I actually like the other films as well. He’s also in Predator 2 but Schwarzenegger went walkabout by then on hunting those aliens.

Bill Paxton at Wondercon in 2014. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

None of those roles were as major as the next role I’m going to mention which is his Alien one as Hudson, a boastful but ever so panicky Colonial Marine private. He’s known for this choice piece of dialogue, after the team’s dropship is destroyed, he exclaims, “That’s it, man! Game over, man! Game over! What the fuck are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do?”

He’s Chet Donnelly in John Hughes’ wonderfully offbeat Weird Science. Of course everything John Hughes does is either offbeat or just plain weird. This film I think stayed on this side of the former.

Slipstream has him co-starring with Mark Hamill in post-global apocalypse bounty hunter thriller. It gets a decent rating at Rotten Tomatoes at forty-three percent audience approval rating. 

Yes, he had a lead role in Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 as Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise. It’s a really stellar film. 

Finally he had a recurring role in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as John Garret. He was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who was left for dead, only to survive as he became the first Deathlok. Let’s just say his story becomes even more complicated from there. 

No, I forgot one role, though it’s definitely not genre. He was in my beloved Tombstone as Morgan Earp, the Tombstone Special Policeman present at that gunfight where he helped his brothers Virgil and Wyatt, as well as Doc Holliday, confront the outlaw Cochise County Cowboys. 

(8) BONUS BIRTHDAY. [Item by Lis Carey.]

Born May 17 Mark Leeper.

Avid and active sf fan Mark Leeper became enraptured by TV’s Commando Cody at the age of six, and never looked back. He’s been publishing movie reviews online since 1984, and began attending conventions with Boskone VI in 1969. In the years since, he has been on panels and conducted popular origami workshops at many conventions.  Mark and his wife Evelyn founded a science fiction club at Bell Labs in New Jersey in 1978, and maintained it until their retirement in 2001. Their fanzine, the MT VOID, also began in 1978, and is still being published—pretty impressive for a zine published weekly. Along with Mark’s editorials and reviews, it also features reviews and comments by others.

Mark has been an active fan for decades, and is still contributing to our community. Wish him a happy birthday!

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) END AT THE BEGINNING. Camestros Felapton’s review concludes “X-Men97 is a good argument against new X-Men movies”. But that doesn’t mean you should skip his review!

I only got around to watching the X-Men97 finale yesterday. It was tremendous and ridiculous fun. Lots of angst, weird morality and piles of people fighting each other with mutant and techno-virus super-powers. As a series, it just got better and better but so much of it was weaponising nostalgia as its mutant superpower. The story morphed from nostalgia about the original cartoon to nostalgia for how the comics at the time felt but using the same chopping up of comic plot lines into its own story….

(11) ORDER IN THE FOOD COURT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Sfnal it aint…but it does address certain aspects of one of the major burning issues of our time. Just what is a sandwich? “Are tacos and burritos sandwiches? A judge in Indiana ruled yes.” reports the Washington Post.

… Are tacos considered sandwiches?

According to one judge in Fort Wayne, Ind., the answer is yes. And he says burritos are sandwiches, too.

Allen County Superior Court Judge Craig J. Bobay wrote in a ruling Monday that tacos and burritos are “Mexican-style sandwiches.” Bobay made the decision in a case reviewing whether a restaurant, “Famous Taco,” could open a new location at a Fort Wayne shopping center.

The zoning policy for the property prohibits fast food, but allows exceptions for restaurants whose primary business is to sell “made-to-order” or Subway-style sandwiches. A city commission denied the request.

But Famous Taco, Bobay ruled, is allowed at the shopping center because it would serve “Mexican-style sandwiches,” and the zoning policy “does not restrict potential restaurants to only American cuisine-style sandwiches.” Hypothetically, other restaurants that serve made-to-order items, including “Greek gyros, Indian naan wraps or Vietnamese banh mi,” would also be allowed, Bobay wrote in his decision….

…With that, at least for now, the judge seems to have wrapped up the sandwich beef in Fort Wayne.

(12) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.]. Another day, another round of reporting on SFF on Jeopardy! and Jeopardy! Masters. I’m covering the regular game on Thursday, May 16, and Masters for Wednesday the 15th, and there was a fair amount.

Jeopardy! 5/16/2024

Single Jeopardy round:

Here Be Monsters, $1000: 1939’s “Son of Frankenstein” was the third in the series to feature the monster, and the last with this actor playing the role

Returning champion Grant DeYoung asked: “What’s Karloff?” (Like Matt Amodio, he seemed to just use “What’s” for all responses.)

Here Be Monsters, $200: In one of his many big-screen battles for Earth’s survival, he fought against Hedorah, the smog monster

Grant got it again: “What’s Godzilla?”

Anagrammed Authors, $400: Author born Eric Blair: gore lower leg

Grant was in again with “What’s George Orwell?”

Double Jeopardy round:

TV “Q”, $1200: On “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, this Ferengi bar owner was up, then down as his flavorful crew unionized

Still Grant! “What’s Quark?”

TV “Q”, $800: This NBC reboot tapped Raymond Lee to play time-traveling physicist Ben Song

Other contestants did buzz in sometimes, but you wouldn’t know it from reading this: Grant responded, “What’s ‘Quantum Leap’?”

Jeopardy! Masters 5/15/2024

In Game 1, the Double Jeopardy round:

Music in Books, $2000: The sinfonietta by Czech composer Leos Janaček features prominently in this Murakami book partly set in a world with 2 moons

Yogesh Raut came up with, “What is ‘1Q84’?”

Movie Memes: Who Said It, $2000: 2001: “One does not simply walk into Mordor”

Matt Amodio got it right: “What’s Boromir?” Ken noted, “Lord of the Rings!”

In Conceivable (i.e., words you can make using the letters in the word “conceivable”), $1200: In “Foundation” Isaac Asimov pithily wrote that this “is the last refuge of the incompetent”

This was a triple stumper! I’d expect most Filers to know this, but just in case I’ll say that the “this” is violence.

Movie Memes: Who Said It, $1200: 2002: “I don’t like sand”

Yogesh knew that it was gritty and gets everywhere: “Who is Anakin?”

Ken Jennings expanded on this: “Yes, in Star Wars!”

Movie Memes: Who Said It, $400: 1993: “Life finds a way”

Yogesh: “Who is Dr. Ian Malcolm?” Ken Jennings: “In ‘Jurassic Park’. You got it.”

Game 2:

The Single Jeopardy round had a whole “Science Fiction” category. I’ll present the clues in the order they were encountered.

Science Fiction, $600: Takeshi Kovacs has his consciousness downloaded into a new body in this “organic” Richard K. Morgan book from 2002

Victoria Groce successfully responded, “What is ‘Altered Carbon’?”

Science Fiction, $800. The Daily Double in the round, which went to Victoria, who bet all of the $1400 she had amassed. In novels by Dan Simmons, the planet Hyperion has a capital named for this poet who wrote an epic about the sun god Hyperion.

Victoria got it right: John Keats.

Science Fiction, $1000: The title virus in this Neal Stephenson cyberpunk classic affects users offline & online, but Hiro Protagonist is on the case

Amy Schneider got in ahead of Victoria with, “What is ‘Snow Crash’?”

There was one bit of SF-adjacent content in another category:

Floating on a Stream of TV, $600: We’d watch this Netflix title character deal with life and death(s) at Nevermore Academy any day of the week

Victoria asked, “Who is Wednesday?”

Science Fiction, $400: The title hero of this 1985 novel is a boy genius (last name Wiggin) on his way to Battle School & who might just be Earth’s savior

Amy got this one: “What is ‘Ender’s Game’?” (Which technically is not the response to the clue, but was accepted.)

Science Fiction, $200: In an 1897 H.G. Wells tale, these invaders were killed by “disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared”

Mattea Roach got in on this one. I wondered whether “What is ‘The War of the Worlds?” would be accepted, but in the event she responded to the clue as given with “Who are the Martians?”

(13) LEFT ON THE DRAWING BOARD. “A mega egg in Paris, a hovering hotel in Machu Picchu, an hourglass tower in New York, a pleasure island in Baghdad … we reveal the architectural visions that were just too costly – or too weird.” “How the world could have looked: the most spectacular buildings that were never made” – an architecture commentary in the Guardian.

…Did you know that, if things had gone differently, the Pompidou Centre could have been an egg? In the 1969 competition for the Paris art centre – ultimately won by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, with their inside-out symphony of pipework – a radical French architect called André Bruyère submitted a proposal for a gigantic ovoid tower. His bulbous building would have risen 100 metres above the city’s streets, clad in shimmering scales of alabaster, glass and concrete, its walls swelling out in a curvaceous riposte to the tyranny of the straight line.

“Time,” Bruyère declared, “instead of being linear, like the straight streets and vertical skyscrapers, will become oval, in tune with the egg.” His hallowed Oeuf would be held aloft on three chunky legs, while a monorail would pierce the facade and circle through the structure along a sinuous floating ribbon. The atrium was to take the form of an enclosed globe, like a yolk.

“Between the hard geometries,” Bruyère added, “comes the sweetness of a volume [with] curves in all directions, in contrast to these facades where the angle always falls right from the sky, always similar. So, the egg.” Sadly, it wasn’t to be. His ovular poetry didn’t impress the judges and Paris got its high-tech hymn to plumbing instead.

L’Oeuf de Pompidou is one of many astonishing schemes to feature in Atlas of Never Built Architecture, a bulging compendium of dashed hopes and broken dreams that charts a fascinating alternative universe of “what ifs”. It is a world of runners-up and second bests, an encyclopaedia of hubristic plans that were too big, expensive or weird to make it off the drawing board….

(14) TYRANNOSAURUS FLASH MOB. Yahoo! invites everyone to “Watch: High turnout turns dino record attempt into Tyrannosaurus wreck”.

A Canadian city’s attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as dinosaurs was disqualified due to the unexpectedly high turnout.

Travel Drumheller, the tourism organization for the Town of Drumheller, Alberta, said in a Facebook post that the April 27 record attempt in the city’s downtown attracted more than 3,000 people in dino-dress, but officials “could not obtain an exact measurement” of participants.

Keri Looijen, marketing manager for Travel Drumheller, said a Guinness World Records adjudicator was present during the attempt.

“He recorded 3,000 people through numbered bracelets or wristbands, which far exceeded what we had originally thought,” Looijen told CBC News.

She said photos and videos from the attempt indicate there may have been “close to double” that number of people, but an accurate count could not be obtained due to officials being unprepared for such a massive turnout.

“We weren’t entirely prepared for that many people to come,” Looijen said. “Guinness said that there were people that they had witnessed leaving the area after they had been wrist-banded, so they weren’t following what the volunteers had told them by staying in the space. They had to be all together in the area for one solid minute.”

The attempt was disqualified, despite very handily beating the current record of 252 people, which was set in Los Angeles in 2019.

Looijen said the city is hoping to make the “Jurassic Jamboree” an annual event, and it will be better prepared for the next official world record attempt.

(15) CONTINUED PROGRESS IN LONG MARCH TO FUSION POWER. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Abundant, clean energy is something of an SF trope powering civilizations of the future and a post-scarcity society….

This week’s Nature sees a rather dry paper but one that is still of importance as progress continues to be made in the long march to develop fusion power.

A group of largely US-based researchers have theoretically created tokamak plasmas with a line-averaged density approximately 20% above the Greenwald density and an energy confinement quality of approximately 50% better than the standard high-confinement mode.

Human made fusion power works by confining a plasma, creating such high plasma densities that atoms fuse to release energy with the creation of helium.

The confinement is done through a magnetic bottle. The very simplest confinement would be a tube with electric coils creating a magnetic field.  However, such a simple arrangement would see the plasma leak out of each of the tube’s ends.

To get around this you can turn the linear tube into a circular tube joining the former tube’s ends together, which gets rid of end-of-tube leakage as there are now no ends from which leakage can take place.

Such a circular ring, or donut-shaped ring, is the basis of the Tokamak design, which is what the researchers used.

Fusion power is oft ridiculed because it has long been predicted to be available to us in a few decades time but never seems to happen: tomorrow never comes. This is a little unfair as in the last decades of the 20th century a road map to commercial fusion was created and funding pledges made by various nations.  However, successive governments from various nations were repeatedly slow to provide this funding. Further, there were bureaucratic, administrative hurdles.  I recall around the turn of the millennium, that while the land in France for the US$22-billion ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) – scheduled to be operational next year – had been slated, the current landowners refused surveyor access!). This reactor will be the world’s largest Tokamak: it will weigh 23,000 tonnes and is designed to generate 10 times the power that it consumes.

We are getting there, albeit slower than we all had hoped.  Meanwhile, this is another milestone.

ITER experimental fusion reactor.

OK, so we are not there yet.  The researchers themselves point out that their experimental theory does not take into account the metal walls to carry away the heat used for electricity generation. Nor can it deal with the helium waste. But it is still a significant progress that should help ITER operation.

The researchers themselves say: “The operating regime we report supports some critical requirements in many fusion reactor designs all over the world and opens a potential avenue to an operating point for producing economically attractive fusion energy.”

Their paper itself concludes with: “The experimental achievement and the increased understanding reported in this paper may open a potential avenue to an operating point for producing economically attractive fusion energy.”

You can see the primary research paper here.  Though no-one seems to have picked up on this paper, Nature has made it open access (most research papers in Nature are not open access.)

(16) BILL AND NEIL’S EXCELLENT CONVERSATION. On Star Talk, “William Shatner Has Questions for Neil deGrasse Tyson”.

What is the value of curiosity? Neil deGrasse Tyson sits down with William Shatner to explore the nature of spacetime, Star Trek, human curiosity, loneliness, and more. How would warp drive work? What is William Shanter’s favorite Star Trek episode? Learn about the question Stephen Hawking had for Bill and the secret power of science fiction. Bill talks about what it was like to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon after Star Trek was originally canceled. We discuss Artemis, our return to the moon, and how we can create a base there. Will there be enough water on the moon for people to use? Neil breaks down how water can be used for fuel and how humans have harnessed the power of physics. We discuss Bill’s new documentary You Can Call Me Bill and some philosophical points about science. Are electrons lonely? We explore the difference between being lonely and being alone and the nature of curiosity. Is human curiosity a double-edged sword? Is there anything left on Bill’s bucket list? Plus, Bill asks if living beings like mycelia could be analogs for the universe’s structure. Why is it spacetime and not space and time separately? What is the vacuum of space made of? Discover virtual particles and how the fabric of spacetime may be a web made of wormholes. We break down dark energy and dark matter, and why their names may be misleading. To end, we discuss old age and wisdom: do they go together?

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

Pixel Scroll 5/9/24 When Pixel Filed, And Scroll Span, Who Then Melted Jack Dann?

(1) PARDON MY WTF. “Apple Apologizes for iPad Pro Ad After Criticism”The Hollywood Reporter explains why they need to. (Though they can’t be too sorry because the kerfuffle has helped the ad draw 53 million views.)

Apple is apologizing for an iPad Pro ad that was widely criticized when it debuted earlier this week.

The dystopian spot, titled “Crush,” shows several instruments, including a guitar and piano, being crushed by a hydraulic press. Also among the items being smashed flat are balls that look like emojis and an Angry Birds statue….

Apple CEO Tim Cook posted the spot on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday (it also was posted on YouTube). His post and the YouTube video are still up, but the spot won’t run on TV, according to Ad Age.

“Meet the new iPad Pro: the thinnest product we’ve ever created, the most advanced display we’ve ever produced, with the incredible power of the M4 chip. Just imagine all the things it’ll be used to create,” Cook wrote….

[One of the many negative comments was,] “Crushing symbols of human creativity and cultural achievements to appeal to pro creators, nice. Maybe for the next Apple Watch Pro you should crush sports equipment, show a robot running faster than a man, then turn to the camera and say, ‘God is dead and we have killed him.’”

(2) KGB. Ellen Datlow has posted photos from Wednesday night’s Fantastic Fiction at KGB session where John Wiswell and Anya Johanna DeNiro read from their recent novels.

(3) CHOOSING CONVENTIONS. The new episode of Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing podcast is “Conquering Conventions; Crafting Confidence”. (There’s also an excellent transcript available – yay!)

In this episode, she shares her experiences and insights on convention attendance, from choosing the right ones to the art of mingling without the cringe. Plus, she tackles the ever-present concern of COVID safety in crowded spaces.

Whether you’re a cosplayer or a casual attendee, Mur advises on how to present yourself professionally, connect with industry pros, and enjoy the con experience while staying true to your comfort level. And for those not ready to dive back into the physical con scene, she discusses the merits of virtual conventions and how they can be a great alternative.

(4) LEVAR READS RAY. LeVar Burton Reads “The Toynbee Convector” © 1983 by Ray Bradbury in his latest podcast.

The world’s only time traveler finally reveals his secrets.

(5) ‘THE HUNT FOR GOLLUM’. “New ‘Lord of the Rings’ Movie Coming in 2026, Andy Serkis Directing”Variety has the story.

Warner Bros. will release the first of its new batch of live-action “The Lord of the Rings” films in 2026, which will focus on Andy Serkis’ Gollum.

Original “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy filmmaker Peter Jackson and his partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens are producing the movie and “will be involved every step of the way,” Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said during an earnings call Thursday.

The project is currently in the early stages of script development from writers Walsh and Boyens, along with Phoebe Gittins and Arty Papageorgiou, and will “explore storylines yet to be told,” Zaslav said.

In a press release from Warner Bros. later Thursday morning, the studio revealed that the working title for the film is “Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum,” and it will be directed by and star Serkis in his iconic titular role….

…A separate, animated Middle-earth movie, “The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim,” is due on Dec. 13 via Warner Bros. and director Kenji Kamiyama. That movie is set 200 years before the events of “The Hobbit.”…

(6) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 109 of the Octothorpe podcast, “But Also a Worrying One”, John Coxon is middle, Alison Scott is even sadder, and Liz Batty is sorry.

We have a bumper mailbag in Octothorpe 109, and we continue our discussion about accessibility in Eastercon before segueing into a discussion of money and privilege with respect to conventions. We also mention the latest news out of Chengdu. Massive thanks to Ulrika O’Brien for the gorgeous cover art this week!

The background is a starry, lightning-filled square in blues, purples, and yellows. Atop that, there is a spaceship, somewhat like a rocket, with engines coming out of the sides. There are yellow lights shining from it, and a ladder reaches up to a central archway. John, Alison and Liz are depicted as silhouettes, regarding it with wonder. Their shadows stretch off the canvas, and they look faintly alien or futuristic in a hard-to-define manner.

(7) SERLING’S TRUNK STORY. “A short story by The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling is published for the first time” reports NPR.

…Not long after he returned from the war in 1946, Serling attended Antioch College on the G.I. bill. There, in his early 20s, he penned “First Squad, First Platoon,” a short story which is being published for the first time Thursday in The Strand. It was one of his earliest stories, starting a writing career that Serling once said helped him get the war “out of his gut.”

“It was like an exercise for him to deal with the demons of war and fear,” said his daughter, Jodi Serling. “And he sort of turned it into fiction, although there was a lot of truth to it.”

The story is set on Leyte Island in “heavy jungle foliage” and a “hostile rain that caked mud on weapons, uniforms, equipment.” Each of the five chapters in the 11,000-word story is about a different soldier and how they died….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 9, 1936 Albert Finney. (Died 2019.) I’m very, very fond of British performers and among them is Albert Finney. So let’s look at the career of this most talent actor.

His first genre performance is as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge. Scrooge is my favorite Albert Finney film and it is benefitted immensely by the many extraordinary strong performances by actors like him. To give a good sense of him in that role, I feel obligated to show him in his full Victorian regalia. 

That’s followed by being Dewey Wilson in Wolfen, a deeply disturbing film. Wolfen to me is the perfect werewolf film as it is a police procedural firmly within the horror genre. His character here Detective Dewey Wilson along with Diane Venora as Detective Rebecca Neff unraveled the grisly murders that turn-out to be based in First Folk reality. 

He plays Edward Bloom, Sr. Big Fish in the wonderful Big Fish. He’s central character here.  He is a story-teller but his only son, Will, doesn’t enjoy them because he believes they are simply not true. Of course, they are, but they’re just exaggerated. Or are they being so? 

He voices Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride. Now I’d love to tell how he was in that role but I’ll confess and say that I’ve not see that film as I am not a big fan of Tim Burton’s animated work at all. 

He was Kincade in Skyfall. He’s the gamekeeper of Skyfall Lodge and the ancestral Bond family estate in Scotland. He’s got a major role in that film.

He was Maurice Allington in The Green Man based on Kingsley Amis’ novel of the same name. He’s the somewhat inebriated owner and landlord of The Green Man, an inn that he says is haunted by ghosts.  He tells tales of these to scare guests as it amuses, or trying to seduce them to no avail as he’s not at all handsome. But it may be that The Green Man is truly haunted and those ghosts are happy with him…  it’s a great role for him and he play it quite well.

Lastly, I’ll wrap up with Murder on the Orient Express, the 1974 version. I have that poster, an original, not a reproduction, framed and hanging here as I truly love this film. Christie, who lived just long enough to see the film get released and be a box office success, said that Murder on the Orient Express and Witness for the Prosecution were the only movie versions of her books that she liked although she expressed disappointment with Poirot’s moustache as depicted here was far from the creation she had detailed in her mysteries.

She’s misremembering her detailing of that moustache which I confirmed checking the many such novels I have on hand in Apple Books. Most novels have no detailed description at all, and this in The Mysterious Affair at Styles  being typical: “Poirot seized his hat, gave a ferocious twist to his moustache, and, carefully brushing an imaginary speck of dust from his sleeve, motioned me to precede him down the stairs; there we joined the detectives and set out for Styles.”

Finney made a most excellent Poirot though many later critics compared him to David Souchet who they consider the definitive version of the character. I always wondered what Dame Christie would have thought of Souchet.  

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range might not be teaching what the student wants to learn.
  • Carpe Diem has an unexpected Egyptian traffic sign.
  • Heathcliff’s latest in a week-long series of guest appearances comes from Star Wars.
  • Nathan W. Pyle emphathizes with creators.

(10) GLIMPSE THE NEXT CHAPTER OF NEIL GAIMAN AND MARK BUCKINGHAM’S GROUNDBREAKING MIRACLEMAN SAGA. Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham: The Silver Age #1-7 is now available as a complete collection. Catch a glimpse of the action in the new trailer, featuring artwork from all seven issues.

In THE SILVER AGE, Miracleman has created a utopia on Earth where gods walk among men and men have become gods. But when his long-dead friend Young Miracleman is resurrected, Miracleman finds that not everyone is ready for his brave new world! The story that ensues fractures the Miracleman Family and sends Young Miracleman on a stirring quest to understand this world — and himself. It’s a touching exploration of the hero’s journey that ranges from the top of the Himalayas to the realm of the towering Black Warpsmiths — and into the secret past of the Miracleman Family!

 (11) X-MEN ONE-DAY SPECIAL ON LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] LearnedLeague just had a One-Day Special quiz about the X-Men. It focused more on the comic books than the various adaptations, which suited me just fine. I’m currently scored at 11/12, but I’ve submitted an appeal on the one answer where I was marked wrong. We’ll see if that goes through.

You can find the questions behind this link, although nearly all of them have pictures that people who aren’t LL members won’t be able to see. None of the pictures are absolutely necessary, but at least a couple of them have valuable clues.

(12) VIDEO GAME ANIMATION INSIGHTS. “’Harold Halibut’ brings with handmade charm and stop motion inspirations” on NPR’s “Here and Now”.

“Harold Halibut” is a new sci-fi video game set in an underwater space colony. But it’s got a novel look; all of the characters and sets in the game were made by hand, then 3D scanned and animated digitally….

(13) BRAINS DON’T GROW ON TREES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] 1 cu. mm of brain tissue. 5000 slices. 23 cm of blood vessels. 57,000 cells. 150,000,000 neural connections. Lots of surprises. The Guardian reports “Scientists find 57,000 cells and 150m neural connections in tiny sample of human brain”.

… “The aim was to get a high resolution view of this most mysterious piece of biology that each of us carries around on our shoulders,” said Jeff Lichtman, a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard. “The reason we haven’t done it before is that it is damn challenging. It really was enormously hard to do this.”

Having sliced the tissue into wafers less than 1,000 times thinner than the width of a human hair, the researchers took electron microscope images of each to capture details of brain structure down to the nanoscale, or thousandths of a millimetre. A machine-learning algorithm then traced the paths of neurons and other cells through the individual sections, a painstaking process that would have taken humans years. The images comprised 1.4 petabytes of data, equivalent to 14,000 full length, 4k resolution movies.

“We found many things in this dataset that are not in the textbooks,” said Lichtman. “We don’t understand those things, but I can tell you they suggest there’s a chasm between what we already know and what we need to know.”

In one baffling observation, so-called pyramidal neurons, which have large branches called dendrites protruding from their bases, displayed a curious symmetry, with some facing forwards and others backwards. Other images revealed tight whorls of axons, the thin fibres that carry signals from one brain cell to another, as if they had become stuck on a roundabout before identifying the right exit and proceeding on their way…

(14) INSULIN PUMP ISSUE. “FDA Warns on Insulin Pump Problem” at MedPage Today. “This has been a plot point in several movies and tv shows lately,” says Chris Barkley.

A mobile app used with an insulin pump that led to 224 injuries was recalled by Tandem Diabetes Care, the FDA announced today.

The recall is for the 2.7 version of the Apple iOS t:connect mobile app, used in conjunction with t:slim X2 insulin pump with Control-IQ technology, the agency said.

The FDA identified the action as a Class I recall, the most serious type. The recall is a correction, not a product removal, and was prompted by a software glitch that may cause the pump battery to drain sooner than expected. Users are being urged to update the app to the latest software….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Adam Savage tells “How Star Wars: Ahsoka’s Jedi Shuttle Filming Model Was Made!”

During the production of Star Wars: Ahsoka, Adam Savage visited the miniatures filming stage set up at Lucasfilm to watch the practical model of Ahsoka’s T-6 Jedi Shuttle being filmed. Modelmaker John Goodson and machinist Dan Patrascu spent four months building the 30-inch model of that T-6 ship for the show–an incredible hero ship model not only equipped with lights, but was fully mechanized with a rotating wing!

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Lise Andreasen, David Goldfarb, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 5/6/24 You Saved The Ringworld Old Wu, Louis

(1) TOMLINSON CRITICIZES PENGUINCON FOR CAVING TO HIS CYBERSTALKERS. In “PenguiCon 2024 Postmortem or How Not to Handle Cyberstalking”, Patrick S. Tomlinson explains how he was disinvited from a convention – one he didn’t originally apply to present at, until he was contacted by the committee about a proposal submitted by a cyberstalker.

…Now we can fast forward to this year, specifically February. I didn’t apply to attend PenguiCon in 2023 because my wife and I were traveling internationally too close to the convention to make it work logistically. So, I was surprised and happy to receive an email from the person who’d invited me in 2022 asking about scheduling for 2024. The surprise quickly turned to confusion when they asked if I’d submitted a panel suggestion Alien Crabs and Dragonpox: How STDs are depicted in SFF and why we need more sex-positive representation.”

Reader, I had not. I’m all for sex positivity, but no I didn’t want to run a panel on space herpes.

What had actually happened was a member of the stalking cult had impersonated me to abuse the convention’s unsecured panel suggestion form. I politely declined to run their panel but offered to do another presentation of my own choosing. My counteroffer was quickly accepted and a presentation “Why not Venus?” about terraforming our closest planetary neighbor was put on the official schedule. I booked my room and set to work researching, preparing, and practicing the presentation, an intermittent process which took a total of about two weeks.

Again, I need to reiterate the organizers of this convention were not only aware of the cult stalking us, but had previous experience identifying, confronting, and mitigating their criminal harassment to the benefit of all involved. I therefore approached the coming convention confident any stalker attacks would be properly wrangled, which is why what happened next caught me so completely off guard.

Two Mondays ago, just hours after putting the finishing touches on my presentation, the same person who had booked me was tasked by the PenguiCon board to inform me I’d been disinvited from the convention because the cult stalking my family had sufficiently harassed and threatened other attendees through social media and other vectors to the point I learned later a Guest of Honor was forced to withdraw out of concern for their safety….

I wanted to handle this privately, I really did. Both to try and salvage the relationships and to help everyone involved avoid embarrassment. But between the PenguiCon board ceasing all communication with me, and these libelous statements being made public by our stalkers as a result of poor OpSec on the part of at least one board member, I’ve been forced to present the facts and refute the false narrative being presented by both our stalkers AND the PenguiCon board itself, even if accidentally….

…I want to reiterate that all of this was a known issue that PenguiCon had prior experience with and had handled professionally and competently the last time around. Which is why I find the results and fallout from this year, which again I didn’t even sign up to appear at initially, so incomprehensible. I realize this means my chance of appearing at future PenguiCons now hover near absolute zero, and I’m genuinely upset about that. They have a great con with a unique blend of creators and builders from diverse disciplines that encourages conversation and cross pollination. And as someone who’s hand sold thousands of books, their co-op style bookstore for attending authors should be a model for conventions everywhere.

But for everything they do well, the way they handled cyberstalking, especially for a convention focused on sci-fi and tech, needs to be held out as an example of what not to do for other con runners and boards. Our situation is an extreme example, but when you’re working with guests who are quasi-public figures or even celebrities like authors, artists, and actors can be, you need awareness of the potential for cyberstalkers and have policies and procedures in place.

Policies which do not include victim-blaming their targets and rewarding their criminal behavior.

(2) TOMLINSON ON AGENT LESLIE VARNEY. Tomlinson today also wrote a thread on X.com — that starts here – criticizing literary agent Leslie Varney. It begins: “And now I have to deal with Leslie Varney. Again. Leslie is a literary agent representing other authors like me. Over the last 11 months, she has also made the conscious choice to closely align herself with the criminal cult stalking and SWATTing my family.”

(3) PULITZER PRIZES. The 2024 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced today. The complete list is at the link.

The lone winner of genre interest is film critic Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times, for his writings about sff movies. The Pulitzer Prize website cites the reviews listed below. Unfortunately, you will probably find them paywalled.

(4) ON THE TRACK OF MIDWEST FURFEST GAS ATTACK. Fur and Loathing has dropped the first of six episodes in a “Furry True Crime podcast of six episodes, releasing weekly”. Connect at the link.

Dogpatch Press reminds fans what is being investigated in its post “Midwest Furfest 2014 chemical attack – new findings by Fur And Loathing podcast”.

Think you’ve heard everything about the 2014 chemical attack on Midwest Furfest? Wait until you hear this.

The intentional release of chlorine gas sent 19 people to the hospital. It was one of the largest chemical weapons terrorist attacks in American history.

Who did it? And… why?

The targets deserve to know, because they were lucky to survive. The weapon’s deadly potential was only avoided by fast response. The level of crime fell just behind the 2001 anthrax attacks, but strangely, nobody was ever charged for it. The story faded into underreporting, disrespect towards the community, murky rumors, and hopes that it won’t happen again. There’s pride in resilience — but 10 years later, justice wasn’t served. It’s the biggest cold case in furry fandom.

The case revived when investigation by Dogpatch Press drew journalist Nicky Woolf and Project Brazen to seek FBI records, identify suspects, and fly across America to interview sources. Nicky is a journalist who reports on internet culture, with stories in The Guardian, and his original podcast series Finding Q and The Sound: Mystery of the Havana Syndrome. Nicky and Brazen’s series Fur And Loathing delivers never-before reported findings to empower the community….

(5) AMAZON’S UNION-BUSTING. Cory Doctorow tells how “Amazon illegally interferes with an historic UK warehouse election” at Pluralistic.

…When it benefits Amazon, they are obsessive – “relentless” (Bezos’s original for the company) – about user friendliness. They value ease of use so highly that they even patented “one click checkout” – the incredibly obvious idea that a company that stores your shipping address and credit card could let you buy something with a single click: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1-Click#Patent

But when it benefits Amazon to place obstacles in our way, they are even more relentless in inventing new forms of fuckery, spiteful little landmines they strew in our path. Just look at how Amazon deals with unionization efforts in its warehouses.

Amazon’s relentless union-busting spans a wide diversity of tactics. On the one hand, they cook up media narratives to smear organizers, invoking racist dog-whistles to discredit workers who want a better deal: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/02/amazon-chris-smalls-smart-articulate-leaked-memo

On the other hand, they collude with federal agencies to make workers afraid that their secret ballots will be visible to their bosses, exposing them to retaliation: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/amazon-violated-labor-law-alabama-union-election-labor-official-finds-rcna1582

They hold Cultural Revolution-style forced indoctrination meetings where they illegally threaten workers with punishment for voting in favor of their union: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/31/business/economy/amazon-union-staten-island-nlrb.html

And they fire Amazon tech workers who express solidarity with warehouse workers: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/amazon-fires-tech-employees-workers-criticism-warehouse-climate-policies/

But all this is high-touch, labor-intensive fuckery. Amazon, as we know, loves automation, and so it automates much of its union-busting: for example, it created an employee chat app that refused to deliver any message containing words like “fairness” or “grievance…

(6) CHRIS HEMSWORTH TAKES A LIE DETECTOR TEST. Vanity Fair wired up actor Chris Hemsworth and asked him some uncomfortable questions.

Vanity Fair’s May cover star Chris Hemsworth takes our infamous lie detector test. Between him and Matt Damon, who usually pays the bill? Does he think he’s fashionable enough to be a co-chair for the 2024 Met Gala? Is it true that his little brother Liam also auditioned for “Thor”?

(7) THEY’RE THE TOPS. MoovitApp ended up with a list of 30 titles as they went about “Ranking The Most Popular and Beloved Books Of All Time”. Works by Hemingway, Tolkien, Harper Lee, and Nabokov are here – would you like to guess in what order?

It’s hard to say exactly what makes a book great; they are after all, pieces of art that are just as subjective as anything else. However, there are some books that seem to endure for longer and resonate with more readers. Whether or not you’re a fan of literature, these are the stories that some might consider required reading. So, did you read all the best ones, and did your favorite make the list? Read on and see!…

(8) ROGER BOZZETTO (1937-2024). French academic and literary critic Roger Bozzetto died March 20. His passing was reported on Facebook.

The specialist in science fiction and fantastic literature was one of the most important and relevant European SF&F critics and theoreticians.

He was Professor Emeritus of general and comparative literature at the University of Provence, France.

He was also a member of CERLI (Centre d’Études et de Recherches sur les Littératures de l’Imaginaire/Center for Studies and Research on the Literatures of the Imagination, founded in 1979, the pool of great SF&F specialists of the last three decades in the French university landscape).

(9) JEANNIE EPPER (1941-2024). Stuntwoman Jeannie Epper, who worked on myriad films, many genre or genre-adjacent, died May 5 at the age of 83. The Hollywood Reporter paid tribute:

Jeannie Epper, the peerless, fearless stunt performer who doubled for Lynda Carter on Wonder Woman and swung on a vine across a 350-foot gorge and propelled down an epic mudslide as Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone, has died. She was 83.

Epper died Sunday night of natural causes at her home in Simi Valley, her family told The Hollywood Reporter.

Just one member of a dynasty of stunt performers that Steven Spielberg dubbed the “Flying Wallendas of Film” — starting with her father, John Epper, there have been four generations of Eppers in show business since the 1930s — she worked on 150-plus films and TV shows during an astounding 70-year career.

In 2007, Epper received the first lifetime achievement honor given to a woman at the World Taurus Awards and ranks among the greatest stuntwomen of all time.

Known for her agility, horse-riding skills and competitiveness, the 5-foot-9 Epper also stepped in for Linda Evans on the ABC shows The Big Valley in the 1960s and Dynasty in the 1980s. When Evans’ Krystle was engaged in one of those knock-down, drag-out catfights with Joan Collins’ Alexis, chances are it was Epper you saw mixing it up.

Epper also put herself in harm’s way for Kate Jackson on Charlie’s Angels, for Lindsay Wagner on The Bionic Woman, for Angie Dickinson on Police Woman, for Jessica Walter in Play Misty for Me (1971), for Jill Clayburgh in Silver Streak (1976) and for Nancy Allen in RoboCop (1987).

… Epper worked for Spielberg (as director or producer) on eight films, among them Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), 1941 (1979), Poltergeist (1982), Catch Me If You Can (2002) and Minority Report (2002)….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Paul Weimer.]

Born May 6, 1969 Annalee Newitz, 55. By Paul Weimer: Newitz’s work for me has been far less about their science fiction and much more about their non fiction writing. Sure, Autonomous is a solid novel with a lot of things to say about autonomy, slavery, and a heck of a lot about economics and the free market, and gender dynamics. But it is Newitz’s  journalism at i09, Gawker, Gizmodo and elsewhere, writing about society and technology that really drew my attention to their work. That would also include the podcast Our Opinions are Correct, which Newitz co-hosts with Charlie Jane Anders. While I don’t always agree with them and their opinions, I have always found Newitz’ point of view (as well as Charlie Jane’s) to be interesting, strongly reasoned and worthy of engaging in and thinking about. 

Annalee Newitz in 2023. Photo by Scott Edelman.

Newitz’s book Four Lost Cities, to date, is my favorite of their works. Strongly grounded in their journalism chops, the book looks at four cities that have fallen into decay and ruin:  Çatal höyük, one of the very first and earliest of cities, Pompeii, perhaps the most famous and well known of the four cities, Cahokia, the Mound city whose mounds still remain on the other side of the Mississippi from St. Louis, and finally, Angkor Wat.  The last, particularly, was a revelation for me, as I didn’t quite realize the hydraulic engineering that went into and kept Angkor Wat running. Given Newitz’s interest in science and engineering, Newitz is particularly interested in how and when circumstances caused that engineering to slip. And consequently, just how the city’s inhabitants had to face a slow motion collapse and apocalypse. The fall of cities due to internal and external factors definitely loom over the other three cities in the volume as well, but Angkor Wat, as their capstone, definitely is where the themes of the book, and perhaps of a lot of Newitz’s concerns in general, really come to the fore and in full flower and their full powers.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! shows the beginnings of an eternal problem.
  • Tom Gauld teases about AI:
  • And here’s Teddy Harvia’s contribution!

(12) UNICORN. Michaele Jordan has allowed File 770 to share her latest micro story published by 50 Give or Take.

(13) VINTAGE X. The final trailer for Marvel Animation’s X-Men ’97 dropped a week ago. The series is on Disney+.

(14) STAR WARS THAT NEVER WAS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Moid Moidelhoff at Media Death Cult goes all alternate future with a Star Wars film that could have been… “The Star Wars Sequel That Was Never Made”.

We dive into the Star Wars sequel that could have been, Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye.The novel written by Alan Dean Foster.

(15) LEGO STAR WARS. And here’s some more Star Wars that should never be – but which Gizmodo tells us is going to get its own four-part Disney+ animation: “Darth Jar Jar Strikes in Lego’s Crazy New Star Wars Series”. (Can anything including Jar Jar really be called “intellectual property”?)

The Star Wars Universe gets turned upside down in Lego Star Wars: Rebuild the Galaxy, a fun what-if style series. When ordinary nerf-herder Sig Greebling (Gaten Matarazzo) unearths a powerful artifact from a hidden Jedi temple, the galaxy as we know completely changes.

In the four-part special debuting on Disney+ September 13, the good guys are bad, bad guys are good, and it all falls on Sig’s shoulders to become the hero the galaxy needs to put everything back together…. 

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michaele Jordan, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, and Kathy Sullivan for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern. (Daniel was inspired by this Allan Sherman parody.]

Pixel Scroll 4/22/24 Pixel Walked Through A Wall Where She Encountered More Pixels

(1) CLARKE AWARD SUBMISSION LIST. The complete list of eligible books received by Arthur C. Clarke Award judges has been posted in “Carbon-Based Bipeds: Apr 22nd. This year the judges received 117 eligible titles from 50 UK publishing imprints and independent authors. 

(2) PEN AMERICA MAKES LITERARY AWARDS DECISIONS. “PEN America Cancels 2024 Literary Awards Ceremony” reports Publishers Weekly.

PEN America has canceled its 2024 Literary Awards ceremony, which was previously scheduled to be held at the Town Hall in New York City on April 29, although some awards will still be conferred. The move follows months of steadily mounting criticism of the organization over its response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which culminated last week in 28 authors withdrawing books from consideration for the awards, including nine of the 10 authors nominated for the organization’s top prize, the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award.

“We greatly respect that writers have followed their consciences, whether they chose to remain as nominees in their respective categories or not,” PEN America literary programming chief officer Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf said in a statement. “We regret that this unprecedented situation has taken away the spotlight from the extraordinary work selected by esteemed, insightful and hard-working judges across all categories. As an organization dedicated to freedom of expression and writers, our commitment to recognizing and honoring outstanding authors and the literary community is steadfast.”

The $75,000 prize accompanying the PEN/Stein award will be donated, this year, to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund at the direction of the Literary Estate of Jean Stein….

The five finalists and winning titles for each of the more than 20 awards conferred by PEN America had already been selected by judges during deliberations held before the mass withdrawals, the organization said in a statement. As a result, the organization continued, the two winners who remained under consideration for their awards will receive their cash prizes. Those include Countries of Origin by Javier Fuentes (Pantheon), which was chosen to win the $10,000 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, and The Blue House: Collected Works of Tomas Tranströmer by the late Tomas Tranströmer, translated from the Swedish by Patty Crane (Copper Canyon Press), which was chosen to win the $3,000 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.

No winners will be announced if the winning title was withdrawn from consideration for the award,…

(3) CLARION WORKSHOP 2024. The Clarion Workshop at UCSD has announced the Clarion class of 2024:

The Clarion Workshop at UCSD  also plans to bring back the Write-A-Thon this year.

Last summer we saw enormous success in our Indiegogo fundraising campaign, but we also missed joining in writerly solidarity with the larger Clarion community. That’s why we’re returning to our roots–but we’re also hoping to shake things up a little (more news on this soon!)

As always, this year’s Thon will run concurrently with the workshop (June 23 to Aug 3) to help Clarion raise scholarship money to support future students. The Write-a-Thon also helps participants commit to writing goals for the summer. 

We’ll include more details for how to participate and contribute in our next newsletter. In the meantime, it’s time to start thinking about your writing goals for the summer. We can’t wait to hear more about them!

(4) THE X-MAN AND THE WHY-MAN. Deadline shares “’Deadpool and Wolverine’ Trailer”. Deadpool & Wolverine is set to arrive in theaters on July 26. Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool, and Hugh Jackman reprises his role of Wolverine in the Marvel film.

(5) READERS TAKE DENVER, AUTHORS GIVE IT BACK. [Item by Anne Marble.] On Threads, there are a lot of upset posts about Readers Take Denver — an event for authors and readers. If you see “RTD” trending, that’s why. This weekend, it was one of the top trending items on Threads. On Twitter, the Readers Take Denver posts were mostly positive — until later on Sunday. (On Twitter, if you search for RTD, you get mainly posts about Russell T Davies of Dr. Who, so I had a hard time finding information at first.) Here are some newer Twitter posts taking on the event:

On Threads, there are so many posts that “RTD” got its own tag on Threads: tag on Threads (registration required).  

Here is a good starting place on Threads (registration not required): @charlottedaeauthor: “After scouring Threads for information regarding Readers Take Denver, here’s what I’m gathering”.

This Thread also has details: @storiesdontcare “Readers Take Denver is an absolute logistical atrocity. $300 for a ticket”.

How influencers were treated: @authorncaceres “Influencers received different treatment. 1st they were told not to film anywhere. Then they were…”.

There were also accessibility issues: @rinkrat702 “Readers take Denver. Accessibility: me when I signed up. ‘I’d love to be on the ADA team’”.

It’s mostly a romance event, but it included romantasy authors — including big names such as Rebecca Yarros (“Fourth Wing”). There was also a day for thriller authors, including Jason Pinter and Mark Greaney. It sounds as if the organizers got way in over their heads. They had something like 3,000 attendees. And a huge list of authors (“Attending Authors / Narrators – Readers Take Denver”). Many think they aimed too high and ended up with a logistical nightmare.

There are allegations that the registration line took 3 hours — Also, signing lines took a very long time as well — too many authors in a small space without enough time allotted for the event. Authors are alleging that items were stolen from them (such as boxes of books). I’ve read about at least one case where an author’s books were accidentally given away as “swag.”

Also, the organizers apparently ran out of lanyards (!) and swag bags. And they didn’t have enough bottled water for the authors. Many readers enjoyed the event and had no issues, but other readers felt that they were ripped off.

It sounds like they needed better security, too. Later on Sunday, sexual assault allegations emerged. Several men attending another event entered RTD (despite having no badges) and groped women at RTD.

(6) SOFANAUTS LAUNCHES. Tony Smith hosts a new podcast — Sofanauts. He says the podcast mixes science fiction and technology. Two episodes are already available.

…Each week I’ll be joined by futurist, educator, speaker and writer Bryan Alexander (Thursdays) to talk about science fiction and technology. We’ll be discussing our favourite books, movies, and TV shows, as well as the latest technological developments that are shaping the future from the the very books, films and TV shows we’ve watched and read over the years….

(7) RAY GARTON (1962-2024). [Item by Anne Marble.] Horror author Ray Garton passed away on April 21. The announcement came from Dawn Garton on his Facebook page:

On April 9, 2024, he had posted on Facebook that he was in the hospital with stage 4 lung cancer.

Garton was named a World Horror Convention Grand Master in 2006.

Among others, Stephen King posted about his death:

A GoFundMe was started earlier in April by a family friend. “Ray Garton~Beloved Master of Horror”.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 22, 1937 Jack Nicholson, 87. My all-time must watch again performance by Jack Nicholson is that of him playing Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. I’ve refused to watch any of the later versions of The Witches of Eastwick simply because I can’t picture anyone else being that character.   

Bill Murray had been cast in the role had dropped out before even preliminary filming began. Jack Nicholson expressed interest in playing the role of Daryl to the producers through his then-girlfriend Anjelica Huston who was then being seriously considered for a role there. (Apparently the role Susan Sarandon got according to several sites.) So thus we got The Devil in the form of him. Brilliant role.

Jack Nicholson, center, Murray Close, right.

Now his first role in the genre was in The Little Shop of Horrors, the true one of course, not the latter one, as Wilbur Force, The Dentist.  Because Corman did not believe that The Little Shop of Horrors had any chance of making money at all after its first run, he did not bother to copyright it, resulting in the film entering public domain immediately, so I can show you this scene with him in that role.

His next film, another Roger Corman affair, The Raven, was better known forc who he was performing with than for him being in it, those performers being Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff. He played Lorre’s son, Rexford Bedlo. Poe’s “The Raven” poem was very, very faintly the basis of this film. Think a drop of blood in a gallon of water.

He’s Andre Duvalier in The Terror. Here he’s a French officer who is seduced by a woman who is also a shapeshifting devil. 

Now we come to what critics consider his best performance of all time, that of Jack Torrance in The Shining based off King’s novel which was produced and directed by Kubrick who co-wrote it with Diane Johnson. Look I can’t judge his role there as I do not do horror of that sort, so it’s up to the collective wisdom here to tell me how he was there. Go ahead, tell me. 

Now I did see Batman. Several times. And yes, I like it a lot. And yes, I thought he made a most excellent Joker. And one of the best Jack Napiers as well, a role that is even harder to get right. (The animated B:TAS series did so by showing him smartly dressed and grinning evilly but not speaking after committing a cold blooded murder. They’d refer to him several times over the series and in The Mark of The Phantasm film which I highly recommend.) So it was a very good role for him.

In Wolf, he was Will Randall. A middle-aged chief editor who hits a wolf with his car who is actually a werewolf who bites him. A Very Bad Idea Indeed. He chews a lot of scenery here. A lot. And he can, as we saw in Batman, chew scenery really, really well. Actually he did so in The Witches of Eastwick brilliantly as well. 

Finally there’s Tim Burton’s LoneStarCon 2 Hugo-nominated Mars Attacks! where he plays two roles, President James Dale and Art Land. I’ll be damn if I remember the latter role now nearly thirty years on after seeing it. One moment… Oh I see, he was the Galaxy Casino owner. No, that still didn’t help. The President James Dale character was fascinating if only as for being a much less in your face role than some of his other genre roles such as those of The ShiningBatman, and Wolf

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) TEDDY HARVIA CARTOON. Another of Teddy’s Belphegor cartoons. “I must have sold my soul to the Devil to come up with such funny stuff.”

(11) X MARKS A LOT OF SPOTS. Check out the first half of Scott Koblish’s connecting cover that run across four upcoming X-Men titles: X-Men #35 (Legacy #700), X-Men #1, Uncanny X-Men #1, and Exceptional X-Men #1. (Click for larger image – though still might not see a lot of detail.)

It’s a great time to be an X-Men fan! In addition to their animated resurgence in Marvel Studios’ X-Men ’97, the X-Men’s comic book line is closing out its’ revolutionary Krakoan age of storytelling AND gearing up for the exciting all-new From the Ashes era this summer! To celebrate this iconic franchise’s recent milestone, acclaimed artist Scott Koblish has crafted an insanely epic connecting cover that will grace some of the most highly-anticipated upcoming X-Men comic releases…. 

Showcasing the entirety of the X-Men’s 60-year publication history, including core X-Men series as well as spinoffs and limited series, this breathtaking group shot spotlights A-List X-Men, obscure mutants, super villains, allies, super hero guest stars, and much more. Test your knowledge of the mutant mythos by finding your favorites and identifying as many characters as you can!  For more information, visit Marvel.com.

(12) ASTEROIDS QUIZ. Brick Barrientos’ “Asteroids One-Day Special” went live on April 15. He says “Rich Horton was among my playtesters.” Here is the link to the quiz: https://www.learnedleague.com/oneday.php?5701.

The first question has audio which can only be heard by Learned League members – but you can eavesdrop on the copy hosted at Brick’s Google Drive:

1.  What astronomer and composer of this piece first suggested the term “asteroid”, just after the discovery of Pallas, the next body discovered after Ceres? Although at that time, the term was intended to apply also to the moons; objects with a star-like point appearance. 

(13) NOW, VOYAGER. [Item by PJ Evans.] In far-out news, Voyager 1 seems to be communicating again: “NASA’s Voyager 1 Resumes Sending Engineering Updates to Earth”.

…For the first time since November, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is returning usable data about the health and status of its onboard engineering systems. The next step is to enable the spacecraft to begin returning science data again. The probe and its twin, Voyager 2, are the only spacecraft to ever fly in interstellar space (the space between stars)….

…The team discovered that a single chip responsible for storing a portion of the FDS memory — including some of the FDS computer’s software code — isn’t working. The loss of that code rendered the science and engineering data unusable. Unable to repair the chip, the team decided to place the affected code elsewhere in the FDS memory. But no single location is large enough to hold the section of code in its entirety.

So they devised a plan to divide the affected code into sections and store those sections in different places in the FDS. To make this plan work, they also needed to adjust those code sections to ensure, for example, that they all still function as a whole….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. It’s a tight one. “Most awkward moments in superhero filming”.

Great power comes with… a painful costumes. Today, it’s about the unavoidable pain of being a superhero.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, JJ, Anne Marble, Kathy Sullivan, Brick Barrientos, Teddy Harvia, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 3/13/24 Pixel Would Like A Word With Engineering

(1) SFWA NEBULA FINALIST ANNOUNCMENT TOMORROW. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) will announce the 2023 Nebula Award finalists (to be presented this year in Pasadena) on the SFWA Youtube channel, tomorrow, March 14, starting at 5:00 p.m. Pacific. 

Once again, we’ll be calling upon a talented group of SAG-AFTRA narrators to take us through an evening filled with a variety of outstanding speculative fiction works. 

It’s sure to be a night to remember! We hope you’ll join us!

(2) NEBULA CONFERENCE SCHOLARSHIP DEADLINE. Also tomorrow — March 14, is the deadline to apply for the scholarships SFWA is offering for members of under-served communities to attend the Nebula conference! The 2024 Nebula Conference will take place June 6-9 in Pasadena, CA and online. If you or someone you know may benefit from these scholarships, please apply here or share this link: https://airtable.com/appqxO86fh6JpPBNR/shrjMcYbZyuTxhwVH

Scholarship applications must be completed on this form by March 14th, 2024. The scholarship recipients will be selected from the applicant pool by lottery. Applicants may be considered for more than one scholarship if they identify with more than one of the following groups.

Here are the categories of scholarships being offered and the number of online conference scholarships available for each:

  • Scholarship for Black and/or Indigenous Creators: This scholarship is open to Black and/or Indigenous creators in the United States and abroad. (quantity: 15 online scholarships)
  • Scholarship for AAPI Creators: This scholarship is available to Asian creators, Asian American creators, and creators from the Pacific Islands. (quantity: 15 online scholarships)
  • Scholarships for Hispanic/Latinx Creators: This scholarship is available to creators with backgrounds in Spanish-speaking and/or Latin American cultures. (quantity: 15 online scholarships)
  • Scholarship for Writers Based Outside of the U.S.: This scholarship is available to creators who live outside the United States. (quantity: 15 online scholarships)
  • Scholarship for members of the LGBTQIA+ Community: This scholarship is available to creators who identify as LGBTQIA+. (quantity: 15 online scholarships)
  • Scholarship for creators with disabilities: This scholarship is available to creators who identify as having a disability. (quantity: 15 online scholarships)
  • Scholarship for creators who face financial barriers: This scholarship is available to creators whose financial situations may otherwise prevent them from participating. (quantity: 15 online scholarships)
  • Scholarship for in-person registration are available in limited quantities for creators who identify with one of our online scholarship groups. This scholarship does not include funds for travel, lodging or other related expenses to attend the conference, only for registration.

SFWA says, “Our support of underserved communities isn’t possible without your help. If you are able, please consider making a donation at sfwa.org/donate to help us fund additional scholarships in the future.”

(3) COMPLETE TOLKIEN POEMS VOLUME PLANNED. “Collected poems of J R R Tolkien to be published for first time”The Bookseller has details.

HarperCollins will publish The Collected Poems of J R R Tolkien, edited by Christina Scull and Wayne G Hammond, in September 2024, the first time all the author’s poems will appear in one volume. 

HC, which holds world all-language rights to Tolkien’s works, said: “Poetry was the first way in which Tolkien expressed himself creatively and through it the seeds of his literary ambition would be sown.” One of Tolkien’s  poems “The Voyage of Éarendel the Evening Star”, begun in 1914, is where the “Silmarillion” first appears and both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings “are enriched with poems both humorous and haunting, magical and moving”. Tolkien scholars Scull and Hammond will provide analysis of each poem. 

Scull and Hammond were hired for the project by Christopher Tolkien’s, J R R Tolkien’s son and executor of his literary estate until Tolkien died in 2020. They said: “Charged at first to review only his early poems, we soon saw the benefits of examining the entire poetic opus across six decades, vast though it is with hundreds of printed and manuscript sources…Not long before his death, we were able to send Christopher a trial portion of the book, which he praised as ‘remarkable and immensely desirable’.”…

(4) SPEAKING OF. “The Oral History of ‘Repo Man,’ the Greatest Indie Sci-Fi Movie Ever Made” at Inverse.

Somewhere in the California desert, a police officer pulls over a 1964 Chevrolet Malibu as it lurches wildly across the highway. After interrogating the driver, he opens the trunk and is instantly vaporized by a blinding light that reduces him to a skeleton, leaving behind only a pair of smoldering leather boots.

Thus begins Repo Man, a sci-fi cult classic sci-fi with a nihilistic worldview and a punk rock soundtrack that by all accounts probably shouldn’t exist….

Dick Rude (plays Duke): I was a teenager going to the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in Los Angeles. I wrote a script called Leather Rubberneck with a friend of mine from school, about two kids who get drafted. Alex [Cox, writer and director] wanted to make the film, but it didn’t pan out. So he incorporated it into Repo Man. A lot of the characters, some of the dialogue, some of the ideas, there was quite a bit of it that was used in Repo Man….

Jonathan Wacks: We went through the Yellow Pages and looked up studios and producers and we sat and typed letters. We knew they wouldn’t pick up our phone. We sent hundreds of letters out and got zero responses. So we decided to raise $500,000 and shoot it at UCLA so we could use the equipment for free.

Peter McCarthy: The thing with UCLA is you never wanted to get your diploma. Once you did, you couldn’t go back and use anything….

Olivia Barash: I was talking to Alex, and I said, “Who are you going to have do the title track?” And he goes, “There’s one of two people. David Byrne, we have something out to his agent. But I really want Iggy Pop, we just don’t know where to find him.” And I said, “I know where to find him. He’s in my building. He’s my neighbor.” So Alex came over, and we rang the intercom outside, and Iggy answered. And that’s how we got Iggy….

(5) J-LO AND AI. “’Atlas’ trailer: Jennifer Lopez uses AI to save humanity in sci-fi thriller” – here’s Mashable’s introduction:

The first trailer for Netflix’s futuristic sci-fi thriller Atlas is here, featuring Jennifer Lopez having a very bad day.

Atlas follows the titular character Atlas Shepherd (Lopez), a government data analyst with a healthy distrust of artificial intelligence. However, after a mission to capture a rogue robot from her past goes wrong, she soon finds herself having to trust AI in order to save humanity. If AI wrote propaganda, this is probably what it would sound like….

(6) IT’S A TIE. “Reading with… Liz Lee Heinecke” at Shelf Awareness.

…Favorite book when you were a child:

It’s a three-way tie, with a few runners-up.

As a kid, I desperately wanted a horse but knew I would never have one, so I lived vicariously through Maureen and Paul Beebe’s adventures in Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry and illustrated by Wesley Dennis.

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey had it all as far as I was concerned: a gifted girl who isn’t allowed to be a musician because of her gender, tiny, colorful dragons called fire lizards, and a nearby planet that rained down flesh-eating parasites frequently enough to keep things exciting. I probably read it 20 times.

The Tombs of Atuan is the second book in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series and features a female protagonist who struggles against the confines of a role that’s been chosen by others. Most of the story takes place in a nightmarish underground labyrinth, where Le Guin’s hero Ged (Harry Potter’s prototype) struggles to steal a talisman. I loved everything about it.  

I was always on the lookout for books about girls on adventures. When visiting the library, I often checked out Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking books or the Danny Dunn series by Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams, which features a girl who loves physics.  

Your top five authors:

Ursula K. Le Guin: She caught my attention as a middle-grade reader with her Earthsea fantasy series and has kept me captivated as an adult.

She uses science fiction to escape the social confines of our planet and explores themes of colonization, race, environmental destruction, political systems, gender roles, and sexuality without ever losing sight of the story. The Word for World Is ForestThe Dispossessed, and The Left Hand of Darknessare three of my favorites.

Amy Tan: I can’t recall whether The Kitchen God’s Wife or The Joy Luck Clubwas my first Amy Tan book. I adore the funny, relatable stories she tells about women and family, and enjoy learning about Chinese culture and history. The Bonesetter’s Daughter, which weaves science and anthropology into the story, was fantastic too. I became an even bigger fan after hearing Tan sing with the Rock Bottom Remainders at First Avenue a few years ago.  

J.R.R. Tolkien: I can’t count how many times I’ve re-read The Lord of the Rings. I love losing myself in Middle-earth, with its mountains and languages and monsters and lore, and I’ve always been a sucker for a well-told hero’s journey.

Margaret Atwood: Sometimes I think she can see the future. The Handmaid’s Taleis a masterpiece in so many ways. I heard her speak once, and I recall her saying that she grew up reading science fiction stories with her brother. It’s amazing how the books we read as children shape us as adults.

Ann Patchett: She has been one of my favorite authors for years. As a reader interested in themes of music, science, and theater, she’s hit the mark over and over again with books like Bel CantoState of Wonder, and Tom Lake. I can’t wait to see what she writes next….

(7) THE WRITERS’ PRIZE. A non-genre work, Liz Berry’s The Home Child, was announced as the winner of the poetry category (£2000) and The Writers’ Prize Book of the Year (£30,000) at the London Book Fair on March 13.

Born in the Black Country and now living in Birmingham, The Home Child was inspired by the story of Berry’s great-aunt Eliza Showell, one of the many children forcibly emigrated to Canada as part of the British Child Migrant Schemes. This beautiful novel-in-verse about a child far from home was described as ‘absolutely magical’ by Fiona Benson.

The book achieved the highest number of votes from the 350+ celebrated writers in the Folio Academy, who exclusively nominated and voted for the winners of The Writers’ Prize 2024.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 13, 1956 Dana Delany, 68. I remember Dana Delany best for her role as nurse  Colleen McMurphy on China Beach, set at a Vietnam War evacuation hospital.  It aired for four seasons starting in the late Eighties. Great role, fantastic series. I rewatched it a decade or so ago on DVD — it held up very well.

Dana Delany

So let me deal with her main genre role which was voicing Lois Lane. She first did this twenty years ago in Superman: The Animated Series for forty-four episodes, an amazing feat by any standard.  That role would come again in Superman: Brainiac AttacksJustice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (avoid if you’ve got even a shred of brain cells), in a recurring role on the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited series, The Batman and even in the Superman: Shadow of Apokolips game.

Her other voice role of note was for Wing Commander Academy as Gwen Archer Bowman. And she wasn’t Lois Lane but Vilsi Vaylar in Batman: The Brave and the Bold’s “The Super-Batman of Planet X!”. 

She’ll have a one-off on Battle Galactica as Sesha Abinell; more significantly she has a starring role as Grace Wyckoff in the Wild Palms series. 

Oh, she showed up on Castle as FBI Special Agent Jordan Shaw in a two-part story, the episodes being “Tick, Tick, Tick…” and “Boom!”. 

So I’m going to finish with her role in Tombstone, Emma Bull and Will Shetterley’s favorite Western film along with the Deadwood series. It’s an inspiration she says for her Territory novel. And I love it as well. Delany played magnificently Josephine Sarah “Sadie” Earp, the common-law wife of Wyatt Earp. The final scene of them dancing in the snow in San Francisco is truly sniffles inducing. 

(9) CREATOR CANNED. Variety reports “X-Men ’97 Creator Beau DeMayo Fired Ahead of Premiere on Disney+”. Article does not give a reason.

Beau DeMayo, the showrunner and executive producer behind Disney+’s upcoming animated series “X-Men ’97,” has been fired ahead of the March 20 premiere, Variety has confirmed.

DeMayo had completed work on Seasons 1 and 2 of “X-Men ’97” ahead of his exit. He will not attend the March 13 Hollywood premiere for the show. His Instagram account, on which he had been previewing artwork and answering fan questions about “X-Men ’97,” has also been deleted.

He wrote and produced “X-Men ’97,” which is a continuation of the popular “X-Men: The Animated Series” that aired on Fox Kids in the ’90s. It is unclear why DeMayo was fired from “X-Men ’97” so close to the premiere, but he will no longer promote the show or be involved with future seasons….

(10) NO MICHELIN STARS FOR MORDOR. CBR.com chronicles “Every Meal Hobbits Eat In Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings”.

Peter Jackson and actor Billy Boyd found a memorable way to convey that love in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. As Aragorn leads the Hobbits toward Rivendell, Pippin asks about “second breakfast” and a litany of additional meals that will presumably be skipped as they continue. Tolkien specified six meals in the Prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring — which roughly match European traditions — but two of them are essentially the same meal. Here’s a rundown of each one to give a good idea of what Pippin is missing….

Here’s the one I’m always interested in:

Second Breakfast

Tolkien mentions second breakfast in The Hobbit, with Bilbo settling down to his just as Gandalf appears to tell him that the Dwarves have already left for The Lonely Mountain. It serves as a quiet joke — stressing that Hobbits in general and Bilbo in particular enjoy eating — as well as emphasizing the comfortable lifestyle he’s leaving behind to go on his adventure with the Dwarves. It also serves as the inspiration for Pippin’s line about second breakfast in The Fellowship of the Ring, which he doesn’t deliver in Tolkien’s text.

(11) PRAISE FOR STARMEN. [Item by Francis Hamit.] Demetria Head is a book blogger, one of that legion of reviewers who do it without pay and for the joy of it.  Ms. Head actually read the entire book and delivered an almost forensic analysis.  I think her work deserves wider exposure.

Demetria Head Review from BookBub and A Look Inside book blogs

“STARMEN” by Francis Hamit is a sprawling epic that seamlessly blends elements of magical realism, historical fiction, and sci-fi fantasy to create a mesmerizing tale that will captivate readers from start to finish. Set against the backdrop of the American Southwest in 1875, the novel introduces us to a cast of richly drawn characters whose lives become intertwined in a web of intrigue, adventure, and supernatural mystery.

At the heart of the story is George James Frazer, a budding anthropologist working for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, whose quest to contact a local Apache tribe leads him on a journey beyond the realms of ordinary reality. When a mysterious hot air balloon appears over the town of El Paso, owned by the British Ethnographic Survey, Frazer finds himself drawn into a world of ancient magic and hidden truths.

The characters in “STARMEN” are truly the heart and soul of the novel, each one fleshed out with depth and nuance that makes them feel like living, breathing individuals. From the determined and resourceful Frazer to the enigmatic Apache witches and the ruthless Pinkerton agents, every character brings their own unique perspective to the narrative, driving the plot forward with their conflicting desires and motivations.

Plot development in “STARMEN” is masterfully executed, with Hamit weaving together multiple storylines that intertwine and intersect in surprising and unexpected ways. From the quest to find a missing heir to the discovery of a town inhabited by extraordinary gunfighters, each twist and turn of the plot unfolds with breathtaking intensity, keeping readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.

What truly sets “STARMEN” apart is its seamless blend of genres, incorporating elements of historical fiction, magical realism, and hard sci-fi into a cohesive and compelling narrative. From the romantic entanglements to the political intrigue and the mind-bending concepts of quantum mechanics and string theory, the novel offers something for every reader, appealing to fans of both traditional historical fiction and speculative fiction alike.

Overall, “STARMEN” is a tour de force of storytelling that will transport readers to a world of adventure, mystery, and wonder. With its unforgettable characters, intricate plot, and bold exploration of complex themes, it is a must-read for anyone seeking an immersive and thought-provoking literary experience.

(13) SHAKEN TO THEIR CORE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I have not seen it yet (but have downloaded to mem stick for home viewing – it might be rubbish???) In the TV series Pending Train, “100 People Accidently Time-Travel By Train to a Destroyed Earth in 2063”. See video at the link.

In Tokyo, train passengers find themselves fighting for their very survival after their train car jumps into an apocalyptic future

(14) ON THE AIR. Breathe (2024) with Jennifer Hudson, Milla Jovovich, Sam Worthington, Common, and Quvenzhané Wallis. In Theaters, On Digital, and On Demand April 26.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. How It Should Have Ended brings us up to date with “Previously On – DUNE”.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/12/24 I’m Just Fen

(1) SPECIAL DINO DELIVERY. Royal Mail’s “The Age of the Dinosaurs” special issue features eight new stamps showing different prehistoric species and their habitats. The stamps are in collaboration with the Natural History Museum and also celebrate 19th-century paleontologist Mary Anning. (Click for larger images.)

(2) WICKED WORLD’S FAIR MELTDOWN. Stephen Beale, editor of The Steampunk Explorer, offers an “Inside Look: What Happened at Wicked World’s Fair?” The post first appeared on March 7 and has been updated half a dozen times with additional sources. Beale provided this synopsis of the post for File 770:

The event, Wicked World’s Fair, took place in February in Pennsylvania.

The organizer (Jeff Mach) is a highly controversial figure who previously ran the Steampunk World’s Fair, which was one of the largest steampunk events in the U.S. It collapsed in 2018 following misconduct allegations. The Daily Beast had a story about it.

The short version of this latest event is that he significantly overbooked vendor spots, so they ended up in spaces intended for panels and other non-vendor activities.

The sound crew for concert performances walked out due to non-payment.

There was a $35-per-head tea party, for which he sold 88 tickets, but due to overcrowding of vendors, there wasn’t enough capacity for all the ticketholders.

Requests for refunds via Eventbrite were declined. He’s blaming Eventbrite, but it appears that he just didn’t have the funds to cover his expenses.

My sources for the story include the former vendor coordinator and the former operations manager, both of whom worked as volunteers.

Some widely circulated videos show a confrontation between Mach and the vendors. One has 1.2 million views on Facebook. In some videos, one of his associates is seen standing in front of a vendor and reaching for a sword.

Since the event, vendors formed a private Facebook group called Disgruntled Wicked Vendors. It has around 100 members, though not all were actual vendors.

Following the SPWF collapse, many steampunk vendors, performers, etc. have vowed to avoid participating in Jeff Mach events. It appears that many vendors at WWF were not aware of this history. They’re trying to raise awareness of him so others are forewarned.

The vendor complaints were also covered by LehighValleyLive.com in “Bethlehem area steampunk convention ends contentiously. Vendors claim organizer running scam.”

(3) GODZILLA MINUS MORE THAN ONE COUNTRY. GeekTyrant says Japan is getting discs in May – no word when there will be a U.S. release. “Godzilla Minus One Blu-ray is Coming and Toho Shared a First Look”.

Godzilla Minus One had an incredibly strong box office run at the movie theaters and fans flocked to the cinemas to watch it. That theatrical run has ended and now Toho is teasing the upcoming Blu-ray and DVD release of the film.

The home video teased below will be made available for Japanese consumers, but I think it’s safe to say that the United States will get something very similar.

The movie will be released in both its color and Black and White versions. The home release of Godzilla Minus One is set to hit shelves in Japan on May 1st. There’s no word on when the movie will hit home video in the United States….

(4) FAREWELL, MY DARLING, NEVER. Philip Athans is determined to keep them alive! “Don’t Kill Your Darlings” at Fantasy Author’s Handbook.

There’s good writing adviceinteresting writing adviceiffy writing advice, and then there’s terrible, awful, spirit- and creativity-destroying writing advice, and the worst example of the latter category is “Kill your darlings.” What makes this nonsense so bad is how often and irresponsibly it’s repeated.

Often attributed to Dylan Thomas, sometimes William Faulkner (who, if he followed this advice himself would have killed The Sound and the Fury in its entirety), and then repeated by other teachers and authors including Stephen King. In reality the concept seems to have first been belched forth by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch in a series of Cambridge Lectures about 110 years ago. Never heard of him? Neither have I. Maybe that’s because of his darling-free writing.

Whoever started it, it goes something like this:

“If you find you’ve written something you just love, that makes you feel as though you were born to do this, that you’ve found the heart and soul of it, delete that immediately and without further consideration because if you love it that much it can only be self-indulgent crap that no one else but you will like.”

What a spectacular load of bullshit….

(5) PROPSTORE. Craig Miller told about his evening at the Propstore auction on Facebook.

Propstore is an auction house based in London with an office here in Los Angeles. Their specialty is, as their name suggests, props from movies and television. Though, of course, they go well beyond that. (They’re the main auction house I’ve used to sell some of my collectibles.)

Last night was a reception and preview for their current auction, held on the penthouse level of the Peterson Automotive Museum in the Miracle Mile section of Los Angeles. (The auction starts today and goes for a total of three days and around 1500 items.) Herewith a few photos.

I have just a couple items in this auction. Alas, none of the really high-ticket items. I think solely a couple of pre-production paintings from “Return to Oz”. They weren’t on display.

What was on display were items including a Stormtrooper helmet from “Return of the Jedi”, an iconic dress worn by Lucille Ball on “I Love Lucy”, the Ten Commandments tablets from Cecil B. DeMille’s epic of the same name, and so much more. You can see a bunch on the Propstore Facebook page or on their webpage, where the auction is carried live (with on-line bidding, of course).

Propstore does these previews once a year and I frequently run into friends at them. Last night was no exception. It was nice to chat and spend a little time with Melissa Kurtz, Shawn Crosby, Chris Bartlett, among several others.

Perhaps best of all, because it’s been so long since I’ve seen or spoken to them, also present were Howard Kazanjian, producer of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Return of the Jedi”, and Anthony Daniels, known the world over for being the man inside C-3PO….

(6) AND IF YOU HAVE ANY MONEY LEFT OVER. Heritage Auctions’ “March 20 – 24 Treasures from Planet Hollywood” event is hawking stuff formerly on display at Planet Hollywood restaurants.

…Though Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis were the star investors best associated with the restaurant, Planet Hollywood was THE biggest star of them all. Millions would flock there to see items appearing on the silver screen, and sometimes even see one of Hollywood’s A-list coming to open the restaurant. Before emails and cell phones, before digital effects and Instagram, it was the closest we could get to being close to the movies we all know and love….

Here’s an iconic example of the wares: “Jurassic Park (Universal, 1993), Wayne Knight “Dennis Nedry” Hero”.

Designed to hold and preserve dinosaur embryos for 36 hours, the can is highly visible early in the film as Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) meets with his Biosyn contact, Lewis Dodgson (Cameron Thor), who gives him the can and explains its features while devising a plan to steal dinosaur DNA samples from John Hammond’s (Richard Attenborough) InGen. Later in the film, Nedry uses the can as he infiltrates the cold storage facility on Isla Nubar and secures the DNA samples. The can is ultimately lost as it falls from Nedry’s jeep, washed away in churning mud when the deceitful computer programmer meets his demise in the jaws of a Dilophosaurus. Chosen by Art Director John Bell, the Barbasol brand can was a perfect fit for its aesthetics and instant recognizability which would help it stick out in its scenes and draw the audiences’ eyes. Since the film’s 1993 release, Barbasol, and their can’s classic design, have become synonymous with the Jurassic Park franchise. Exhibits production and display wear with scuffing to the finish, oxidation across the metal components, color fading, and adhesive loosening to the vial’s labels. Vials contain remnants of the clear yellowish liquid used to fill them during production, with the “PR-2.012” vial missing its cap. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions.

Even more irresistible is this diminuitive costume: “Muppet Treasure Island (Buena Vista, 1996), Kermit the Frog”.

Muppet Treasure Island (Buena Vista, 1996), Kermit the Frog “Captain Abraham Smollett” Ensemble. Original (11) piece ensemble including (1) black frock-style coat with gold stitching, (1) ivory waistcoat with gold stitching, (1) pair of black breeches, and (1) long-sleeved ivory shirt with ruffled cuffs. The accessories included are: (1) black tricorn hat with gold stitching, (1) pair of ivory boots with button and buckle closures, (1) black cravat-style necktie, (1) black and red striped waist tie, (1) brown leather belt, (1) 19th century-style gray wig with ponytail and black bow, and (1) Kermit-sized sword with gold basket hilt that has some green coating from oxidation. This outfit is worn by Captain Abraham Smollett (Kermit) throughout the film as he captains the ship, “Hispaniola.” Ensemble displays some production wear. Obtained from Jim Henson Productions. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions.

(7) PANDAS AND SANDWORMS BECOME CASH COWS. Variety verified it by watching the ticket booth: “Box Office: Kung Fu Panda 4 Leads, Dune 2 Stays Strong”.

Universal and DreamWork’s animated adventure “Kung Fu Panda 4” topped the domestic box office, earning a solid $58.3 million from 4,035 theaters in its opening weekend.

It marks the biggest debut of the franchise since the original, 2008’s “Kung Fu Panda” ($60 million), overtaking the start of the two prior entries, 2016’s “Kung Fu Panda 3” ($41 million) and 2011’s “Kung Fu Panda 2” ($47.6 million), not adjusted for inflation….

…Although “Dune: Part Two” relinquished its box office crown to “Panda,” the sci-fi sequel had another strong outing with $46 million from 4,074 venues. It marks a 44% decline in ticket sales from its debut (an impressive hold for a blockbuster of this scale) and brings the film’s North American total to $157 million. Globally, the big-budget follow-up has generated $367.5 million.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 12, 1925 Harry Harrison. (Died 2012.) So let’s talk about  Harry Harrison who I’d say is best known for his extraordinarily excellent Stainless Steel Rat series. James Bolivar diGriz, aka “Slippery Jim” and “The Stainless Steel Rat” is one of the most interesting characters I ever had the pleasure to read. 

The Stainless Steel Rat showed up, not surprisingly in a story called “The Stainless Steel Rat” sixty-seven years ago in Astounding in their August issue. 

Harry Harrison. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

There are 12 works in the Stainless Steel Rat series, of which I’m absolutely certain that I’ve read and immensely enjoyed the first one, The Stainless Steel Rat, and after that is where it gets complicated. I’m looking now on the other iPad at the list of the novel titles and I can’t say that I remember any of them. I know that I’ve read at three or four of them, and liked reading them, but can’t tell you which, but I’m betting that they were the earlier ones. 

I do know that I read all of three of the Deathworld series with Jason dinAlt, a professional gambler, as the central character. They’re fun SF pulp, all three originally written as serials in the Sixties. A fourth, Return to Deathworld, for the Russian market was co-written with two Russian authors and hasn’t been translated into English.

His third series, Bill, the Galactic Hero, first appeared in the “Starsloggers” novella in sixty years ago in the December issue of Galaxy. Bill the character is among the silliest that I’ve ever read about. I’m really fond of truly silly SF, however, though I read the first one  I didn’t go beyond that.

Of course, worth noting is that Alex Cox directed an animated version of Bill, the Galactic Hero which was created with his students at the University of Colorado at Boulder, completed and released a decade ago. You can see it here.

Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room! became Soylent Green with Charlton Heston. I’ll confess I’ve not read the novel, nor ever seen the film. I see the film was nominated first a Hugo at Discon II and won a Nebula for the film.

I’m only going to note two other Awards, one is Sidewise Award for Best Long Alternative History, the Hammer and the Cross trilogy, and a Grand Master Nebula. 

I’ll admit I’ve not read enough of his shorter works to form an informed opinion, so I’ll let y’all tell me about that aspect of his fiction.

(9) BRAND X? “’Calling them X-Men is so 1960s’: Chris Claremont weighs in on the X-Men name change debate (and his idea for a replacement)” at Popverse.

Should the X-Men change their name? Ove the past few years, there has been some discourse around the name of Marvel’s iconic mutant team. The name has been around since the team’s first appearance in X-Men #1 (1963), but the world has changed since the 60s. Why does the team have a male-centric name when some of their most iconic members are female?

Chris Claremont, a writer famous for his 16-year X-Men run, has some thoughts on the discussion. During a discussion at the Uncanny Experience event, Claremont mused about the topic. “Calling them X-Men is so 1960s,” Claremont said, after referring to the team as the X-Group.

Claremont circled back to the topic during a question-and-answer session later in the discussion. When he was asked about changing the name, the writer revealed that it had been on his mind for years. “I tried that,” Claremont said. “I spent about 10 years referring to them as the X. The X being the unknown. It was pointed out to me that X-Men is trademarked, which apparently is a whole different kettle of fish. You can’t argue with legal people. When I came to work for Marvel, it was one or two guys, Apparently the Mouse House has much more than that. There are some fights you can’t win.”…

(10) LAUGHS OF THE CENTURY. Charlie Jane Anders makes excitement contagious about “My Favorite Comedy Films of the 2020s (So Far)” at Happy Dancing. Here’s one of her picks.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

This film finally made me a convert to the Chris Pine fan club. I know, I’m very late. Honestly, the whole cast is great, with Michelle Rodriguez getting better material than she usually gets and Justice Smith proving that he is an utterly brilliant actor. Not to mention Hugh Grant as a wonderfully oily villain. Like a lot of the other comedies on this list, Dungeons & Dragons manages to go way over the top while still having a lot of sympathy and respect for its characters, which is a tough balancing act. I appreciate any comedy whose characters seem to be genuinely trying to be better people, while screwing up over and over again. Also, the CGI monsters and other effects help tell the story instead of being a gaudy distraction!

(11) EMISSION POSSIBLE. [Item by Steven French.] Beautiful but deadly? No, not really! “The Collectors Who Hunt Down Radioactive Glassware” at Gastro Obscura.

IN JANUARY OF 2021, A New Jersey teenager brought a piece of an antique Fiestaware plate to a high-school science class. The student had received a Geiger counter, an instrument used to measure radiation, for Christmas, and wanted to do an experiment. When the plate registered as radioactive, someone at the school panicked and called in a hazmat team. The entire school was evacuated, and those in the nuclear science field were aghast….

…Prior to World War II, and well before its potential for energy or weaponry was recognized, uranium was commonly used as a coloring agent in everything from plates, glasses, and punch bowls to vases, candlesticks, and beads. Uranium glass mosaics existed as early as 79 AD.

Also known as canary or vaseline glass, uranium glass is typically yellow or green in color and glows bright green under a black light. Shades can range from a translucent canary yellow to an opaque milky white depending on how much uranium is added to the glass, from just a trace to upwards of 25 percent. Uranium was also used in the glaze of orange-red Fiestaware, also known as “radioactive red,” prior to 1944, and was once a common sight in American kitchens.

Although uranium glassware does register on a handheld Geiger counter, the radiation amounts are considered negligible and on par with radiation emitted from other everyday items such as smoke detectors and cell phones….

(12) FANCY A BEER? IT’LL KILL YOU. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Isaac Arthur departs from his usual Futurism for one of his “Sci-fi Sundays.”

This time it’s a shorter-than-usual edition at just 15 minutes because it is an impromptu one. This time the SFnal topic is of alien beer, specifically Alien Beer To Die For.

Now of course, I myself am unlikely to ever sample alien beer for the simple, factual reason that I live in Brit Cit, and have roots in Cal Hab and the Caledonian rad wastes, and am close to many of the best real ale hostelries in the spiral arm.

(Neat, huh? See some of you in Cal Hab this summer.)

A look at the possible effects of alien food, drink, and microbes on us or our ecosystem.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Godzilla takes girl on date and it’s adorable” – here, let Dexerto spoil it all for you.

…The 138-second short starts with said girl losing her mind when Godzilla (or perhaps more accurately, someone in a Godzilla costume) shows up at her door. She hits the deck, starts hyperventilating, and becomes hysterical. Which isn’t traditionally how a great date starts. But then it all becomes rather lovely.

They go shopping. Then have a picnic in the park, before a trip to the beach where this decidedly odd couple wrestle on the sand. The date ends with them kissing each other as the sun sets (well, mainly her kissing Godzilla as the monster’s mouth can’t move)….

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

Pixel Scroll 3/6/24 So We Scroll On, Filers Against The Current, Borne Back Ceaselessly Into The Pixels

(1) WANT TO HEAR SOME GOOD NEWS? In “Regarding Audible”, Brandon Sanderson reports progress has been made in moving audiobook distributors toward a fairer royalty structure. Work remains to be done, however.

…I’m happy to say that this stand has borne some fruit. I’ve spent this last year in contact with Audible and other audio distributors, and have pushed carefully–but forcefully–for them to step up. A few weeks ago, three key officers high in Audible’s structure flew to Dragonsteel offices and presented for us a new royalty structure they intend to offer to independent writers and smaller publishers.

This new structure doesn’t give everything I’ve wanted, and there is still work to do, but it is encouraging. They showed me new minimum royalty rates for authors–and they are, as per my suggestions, improved over the previous ones. Moreover, this structure will move to a system like I have requested: a system that pays more predictably on each credit spent, and that is more transparent for authors. Audible will be paying royalties monthly, instead of quarterly, and will provide a spreadsheet that better shows how they split up the money received with their authors….

Now, before we go too far, I do anticipate a few continuing issues with the final product. I want to manage expectations by talking about those below.

  • What I’ve seen doesn’t yet bring us to the 70% royalty I think is fair, and which other, similar industries get.
  • Audible continues to reserve the best royalties for those authors who are exclusive to their platform, which I consider bad for consumers, as it stifles competition. In the new structure, both exclusive and non-exclusive authors will see an increase, but the gap is staying about the same.
  • Authors continue to have very little (basically no) control over pricing. Whatever the “cover price” of books is largely doesn’t matter–books actually sell for the price of a credit in an Audible subscription. Authors can never raise prices alongside inflation. An Audible credit costs the same as it did almost two decades ago–with no incentive for Audible to raise it, lest it lose customers to other services willing to loss-lead to draw customers over.

These are things I’d love to see change. However, this deal IS a step forward, and IS an attempt to meet me partway….

…Because of this, I will be bringing the Secret Projects to Audible very soon. I consider Audible to again be a positive force for the industry, and I have decided to shake hands with them. Audible has promised to release their new royalty system for all authors sometime in 2024, though I should be testing it in the next month or so….

(2) WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION. There is one work of genre interest on the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist.

Click here for the complete longlist.

(3) ATTENTION AURORA AWARDS VOTERS. Members of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA) can nominate for the 2024 Aurora Awards through April 6. Full guidelines at the link.

(4) GENRE ALL THE WAY DOWN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4’s A Good Read this week devotes its first half to the book On Writing by Stephen King.  Not only does it do what it says on the tin, there is even a plot twist at the book’s end with the reveal that the writing of this book was what enabled King to recommence fiction writing following a bleak period when his life came apart after an accident. (His wife comes out of this very well.)

Another book reviewed in the programme is firmly SFnal, it being the post-apocalyptic On The Beach. It’s just the book to read with Putin’s finger hovering over a big red button in the Kremlin.

The singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams loves books about the craft of writing and her choice of a good read is ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’, by the master of horror, Stephen King. The book gave her practical tools and advice which helped her to write her debut novel, The Ormering Tide. She also loves what we learn about King’s life – from his flatulent childhood nanny to the devastating 1999 accident which almost ended his life.

And the poet and novelist Andrew McMillan chooses On the Beach by Nevil Shute. In Australia, a group of people try to come to terms with the end of the world. A nuclear war has wiped out all life in the northern hemisphere and the radiation is drifting steadily south. What would you do if you knew that you, and everyone you know, had only months to live?

You can access the full programme at “A Good Read”.

(5) HELP FIND IT. The Lost Universe is NASA’s table top role-playing adventure. Download it at the link.

A dark mystery has settled over the city of Aldastron on the rogue planet of Exlaris. Researchers dedicated to studying the cosmos have disappeared, and the Hubble Space Telescope has vanished from Earth’s timeline. Only an ambitious crew of adventurers can uncover what was lost. Are you up to the challenge?

This adventure is designed for a party of 4-7 level 7-10 characters and is easily adaptable for your preferred tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) system.

NASA’s first TTRPG adventure invites you to take on a classic villain (while also using and learning science skills!) as you overcome challenges and embark on an exciting quest to unlock more knowledge about our universe. Download your game documents below and get ready to explore Exlaris!

From the game runner’s manual:

…The first part of the game is an introduction to the world, and the city the players find themselves in. During this portion of the game the players find themselves thrown into the bodies of the characters they created; they know what they would normally know on Earth but have no knowledge of the place they’re in. They won’t recognize each other and will have to tell the other players what they see when they look at them. However, they will intuitively know they have magical ability if they are a spellcaster and can learn how to channel that in early encounters in the game….

… The second part of the adventure is a journey outside the city to nearby ruins, where they will complete a skill challenge and encounter the dragon that was behind the disappearances. They must complete these challenges before they can recover the researchers and get home…

(6) AUNTIE ‘EM! “Scandal in Oz: Was ‘Over the Rainbow’ Plagiarized?” Did cousin Judy sing a stolen song? The Hollywood Reporter takes the case.

Norwegian pianist Rune Alver carefully unfolded the brittle sheet music and began caressing the keys of the baby grand. He had found the classical piece buried in an archive and believed it hadn’t been heard in maybe a century. But as he delved into the second section, Cantando, he felt a shiver run down his spine. The melody wasn’t just reminiscent of something he’d heard before — it was iconic. He instantly recognized the unforgettable, yearning opening notes of “Over the Rainbow,” the Academy Award-winning anthem Judy Garland performed in The Wizard of Oz, perhaps the most famous song to come out of Hollywood. How could this be? The sheet music was dated 1910, and The Wizard of Oz premiered nearly 30 years later. But the melody hung there (“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high …”). It was hauntingly similar. Too similar, he thought. 

About 10 years ago, Alver, now 67, was researching the works of a Scandinavian composer named Signe Lund when he made this disturbing discovery. In the late 19th century, Lund had been the toast of Oslo and went on to a successful career in the United States, before her Nazi sympathies late in life turned her into a pariah. She was now long forgotten. It was at an archive in Bergen, Norway, that Alver unearthed the pages of her composition titled “Concert Étude, Opus 38,” which she had written in the United States and copyrighted in Chicago in 1910 during one of her visits to America. Lund had performed the piece in many American cities. It was “the most popular of her pieces” in her lifetime, Alver says.

The similarities between Lund’s “Opus 38” and composer Harold Arlen and lyricist E.Y. “Yip” Harburg’s “Over the Rainbow” cannot be dismissed. Though there are notable variations (the former is in a minor key, for example, and follows a different time signature), the melodies of the main themes are nearly identical. Decades after the deaths of Arlen and Harburg, it is impossible to unequivocally determine whether the similarities are unintended or deliberate — a notoriously difficult thing to prove even when all participants are living. But to Alver, who included “Opus 38” on his 2020 CD Étude Poétiques: Works by Signe Lund, there is no debate about it. “Of course it is plagiarism,” he says today. Given the sacred aura that surrounds “Over the Rainbow,” the accusation borders on the blasphemous, akin to smudging the Mona Lisa. Yet Alver has no doubt that Lund’s DNA can be found in Harold Arlen’s melody…

…As an unabashed fan of Arlen and Oz, [composer Stephen] Schwartz concedes there are undeniable commonalities between Lund’s and Arlen’s compositions, but adds, “If this was a different composer or in different circumstances, I might be a little more suspicious of something untoward having occurred here, but I think it’s extremely unlikely.” 

Schwartz is not the only one whose ears pricked up when they first heard the Cantando to Lund’s “Opus 38.” Michael Feinstein, the polished pianist and recording artist who founded music-preservation nonprofit The Great American Songbook Foundation, recognizes the likeness as well. “Well, it’s very similar, of course, to ‘Over the Rainbow.’ But there are only 12 notes on the piano,” he explains. “My take on it is that Harold never would have knowingly stolen anything. It’s not hard to prove any theory when it comes to music. There is a famous saying that ‘plagiarism is copying without inspiration, and inspiration is plagiarism without getting caught.’ ”… 

(7) LEGACY. “John Williams Reflects on Oscar Noms, ‘Star Wars,’ Spielberg Collabs” in Variety.

Harrison Ford can’t escape the two-and-a-half-minute fanfare that John Williams composed for his most famous cinematic hero, Indiana Jones. “As I often remind John, his music follows me everywhere I go — literally,” Ford says. “When I had my last colonoscopy, they were playing it on the operating room speakers.”  

Creating those big, bold, brassy musical moments has become Williams’ trademark over his seven-decade career. Without his symphonic genius, some of the most indelible images in movie history — from E.T.’s flight across the moon to the ravenous shark zeroing in on an unsuspecting swimmer — would have lacked their singular power.   

This year, Williams is resetting the record books again with his Academy Award nomination for best original score for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” It’s his 54th nomination, which is the most ever for someone not named Walt Disney, and thus the biggest tally for any living person — and any nonproducer, period.  

“People ask about a legacy,” Williams says as he sits in the Amblin screening room on the Universal lot, adjacent to his bungalow office. “If I could be remembered as someone who did his job well and remembered as a good solid musician, I would rest very happily.” 

(8) SIGNAL FADE. AP News says, “They are TV’s ghosts — networks that somehow survive with little reason to watch them anymore”. Has it been that long since I watched the USA Network just to see Tadao play “Shake Hands Man”?

…Few cable and satellite networks are a force anymore, the byproduct of sudden changes in how people entertain themselves. Several have lost more than half their audiences in a decade. They’ve essentially become ghost networks, filling their schedules with reruns and barely trying to push toward anything new.

Says Doug Herzog, once an executive at Viacom who oversaw MTV, Comedy Central and other channels: “These networks, which really meant so much to the viewing public and generations that grew up with them, have kind of been left for dead.”…

…Cable TV primarily took flight in the 1980s, breaking the iron grip of ABC, CBS and NBC. Essentially the first fragmentation of media, cable brought people with common interests together, says Eric Deggans, NPR television critic.

“People who were previously marginalized by the focus on mass culture suddenly got a voice and a connection with other people like them,” Deggans says. “So young music fans worldwide bonded over MTV, Black people and folks who love Black culture bonded over BET, middle-aged women bonded over Lifetime and fans of home remodeling convened around HGTV and old-school TLC.”…

…Now MTV is a ghost. Its average prime-time audience of 256,000 people in 2023 was down from 807,000 in 2014, the Nielsen company said. One recent evening MTV aired reruns of “Ridiculousness” from 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

The general interest USA Network’s nightly audience tumbled 69% in the same time span, and that was before January’s announcement that viewer-magnet “WWE Raw” was switching to Netflix.

Without favorites like “The Walking Dead” or “Better Call Saul,” AMC’s prime-time viewership sunk 73%. The Disney Channel, birthplace to young stars like Miley Cyrus, Hilary Duff and Selena Gomez, lost an astonishing 93% of its audience, from 1.96 million in 2014 to 132,000 last year….

(9) MICHAEL LANGFORD (1955-2024). Longtime Georgia fan Michael Nathan Langford died March 5 at the age of 69. The family obituary is posted on Legacy.com. (No relation to the editor of Ansible that we’re aware of.)

…He was an entertainer and cabaret host for WHOlanta, and also worked as a writer and actor for the Atlanta Radio Theater Company and Sketchworks Comedy. He was an avid chess player and enjoyed attending and performing at DragonCon. He was preceded in death by his parents, Nathan Davis Langford and Patricia Ann Crocker Langford; and his partner of 21 years, Kim Holec….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 6, 1957 Ann VanderMeer, 67. Ann VanderMeer was the fiction editor for Weird Tales magazine until Marvin Kaye purchased it. While she and Stephen H. Segal were editing it, they won a Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine. It was also nominated for a World Fantasy Award. 

Ann VanderMeer accepting Hugo in 2009. Photo by Stu Segal.

She edited as Ann Kennedy The Sterling Web which would become The Silver Web zine from the late Eighties to the beginning of this century.  

Her latest major ongoing editing endeavor is what is now Reactor, ‘til recently Tor.com. She’s been there for a decade now. She and the other Senior Editors have put together The Best of Tor.com anthology series.

Steampunk and Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded, edited with her husband of over 20 years, Jeff VanderMeer, and published by Tachyon, are simply excellent. There are writers that I know with a sprinkling of not so recognizable writers. The thirdl, Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution, I’ve not yet read.

I am going to single out just one more work she edited, again with her husband, as it’s just awesome — The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities

Lambshead was a man who enjoyed lending out his acquisitions but it is suspected by many that he held the strangest pieces of his collection in an underground lair only he could enter. And these pieces are now written about by such writers as Holly Black, Neil Gaimain, Mike Mignola (there are many illustrated pieces here) and China Mieville to name but a very few.

And here’s a sample from one of those entries.

1929: The Singular Taffy Puller

As Told to N. K. Jemisin

I had traveled far—along the bustling coast by rail, then across the Atlantic by steamship, at great expense, I might add—on a matter of pride. Or, more specifically, dessert. You see, the cobbled and sweaty streets of my city would reek but for the exquisite aromas that offer relief from horse manure and overindulgence. Wrinkle your nose and you might miss the scent of the most delicate amaretto fondant, or creamy divinities solidifying to tooth-tenderness. And when the pecan harvest is brought—ah, me! You never tasted pralines like mine.

But those selfsame streets are crowded with eateries these days, and an old octoroon spinster looking to make a name for herself must employ more than the braggadocio that paler, maler chefs may indulge. Especially given that, of late, my business had suffered by its proximity to a flashy new restaurant next door. It was for this reason that I traveled to the house of the esteemed doctor, and was ushered into the renowned cabinet, so that I could at last behold the item that might—I hoped— save my business.

On entry to the doctor’s home, I was momentarily stunned by the profusion of wonders within. These included the cabinet itself: a room of what had been handsome walnut wainscott and elaborately worked moulding (French rosettes and Egyptian cartouches, of all the mad combinations), though the lingering evidence of half-finished reorganization obscured the best of it. What remained of the chamber’s treasures had been tossed, with no apparent regard for further cataloguing or even convenience, onto bookshelves, plinths, and racks, which quite crowded the space…. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brewster Rockit lets you eavesdrop on an argument from the future.
  • Free Range – you know the phrase, you just didn’t know it was a prank.
  • Speed Bump demonstrates a continuing “problem”. (Well, not all of us think it’s one.)

(12) MUTANT MILESTONE. This June, creators from the X-Men’s past, present, and future come together to bid a final farewell to the Krakoan Age in X-Men #35, the milestone 700th issue of Uncanny X-Men. The issue will feature an epic-length story by writers and artists who shaped the Krakoan Age including Gerry Duggan, Kieron Gillen, Al Ewing, Lucas Werneck, Joshua Cassara, and more. The giant-sized issue will also feature a story of family by X-Men master Chris Claremont and offer a glimpse of things to come in the new X-Men titles launching this summer.

Check out artist Pepe Larraz’s wraparound cover below.

(13) GIFT ECONOMY FANFIC BINDERS. In Atlas Obscura’s report on “The Emerging Art of ‘Fanbinding’” they interview people who are binding fanfic – but not for profit, in contrast with some others who made the news a few weeks ago.

THE IDEA FIRST CAME TO Tiffo while they were volunteering at a local nonprofit writers’ league. In addition to that, they’d been active in online fanfiction communities for years, cheering on fellow writers who published their work digitally, sometimes at novel-length (or longer!), entirely for free. Members of both groups of writers were always excited to share their work with the world—but there was one key difference. “People I knew from the writers’ league got to walk up and go, ‘Look at my book,’” Tiffo says. “I got to hand it to them and say, ‘Sign your book for me.’ It’s beautiful to have that moment, to get to see the things that people worked so hard on become a physical thing.” And then they thought: Fanfiction authors work just as hard on their stories as any other kind of writer. Why couldn’t they have that same experience?

Tiffo looked up bookbinding tutorials to create their first physical fanfic artifact: a pair of anthologies of their best friend’s Doctor Who stories. (Since their friend often wrote about the character Rose, Tiffo even cross-stitched a galaxy-patterned rose for one of the covers, probably the last time they’ll cross-stitch for a book, they joke. But you never know.) They fell in love with the act of physically making books, but felt certain they couldn’t be the only one excited by the idea of binding fanfiction specifically. The internet was there to help: They found the term “fanbinding”—and, more importantly, the Renegade Bindery….

…“I recently bound a Witcher fic, set in Kaer Morhen during the winter, that featured a cerulean blue jacket, so it’s bound in a blue to match, with blue drop caps in a middle ages–style font alongside woodcut prints of wolf cubs playing,” says Des. For a Mo Dao Zu Shi fic (based on the popular Chinese novel and telelvision series), she made hexagrams from the text of the I Ching; for a Star Wars fic, she played with the aesthetics of Jedi temples….

…This DIY spirit aligns with Renegade’s commitment to the fannish gift economy, the ethos that underpins the largely non-monetized fanfic world. Renegade’s members don’t charge money for their labor, though they might ask a recipient to help with material costs. Des helped write these values into the Code of Conduct, which members agree to when they join the Renegade Bookbinding Guild. Binders generally get permission from the authors whose fic they’re binding, and that mutual respect extends to keeping binding free….

(14) ANTHROPOCENE CANCELED! “Proposal to mark a new chapter in Earth’s history will ‘go no further,’ scientists say”CNN explains.

Scientists have voted against a proposal to declare a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene to reflect how profoundly human activity has altered the planet.

The proposal was rejected by members of the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy, which is part of the International Union of Geological Sciences, according to three voting members of the subcommission contacted by CNN Tuesday.

The vote followed a 15-year process to select a geological site that best captures humanity’s impact on the planet. The international union’s Anthropocene Working Group, which spearheaded the effort, made a July 2023 announcement that identified the location as Crawford Lake in Ontario because of the way sediment from the lake bed reveals the geochemical traces of nuclear bomb tests, specifically plutonium, from 1950.

The vote was not unanimous, said Kim Cohen, an assistant professor of geosciences at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and a voting member of the subcommission.
“There were some abstainees. There was a minority of yeses to a majority of nos,” said Cohen, who voted in favor of the proposal.

Phil Gibbard, a professor emeritus of quaternary paleoenvironments at the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and a voting member of the subcommission, said that the “proposal for a formal Anthropocene was rejected by a 66% vote.”

(15) ONE IS COOL, THE OTHER IS GHASTLY. Ghostbusters News claims “AMC Theatres unveils exclusive Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire collectibles”. Learning from the promoters of Dune, AMC theaters will be offering a Ghost Trap popcorn container to those who buy tickets to the forthcoming Ghostbusters sequel. However, they say AMC has pulled its plans for the Slimer popcorn container.

(16) RAILROADING TIME. Brick Technology gives a lesson in “Building a Cat-Sized Lego Train”. Technology purr-fected!

Building an RC Lego train that cats can ride in with 3D printed rails and wheels. My 2 cats Cookie and Muffin are tired of walking, they’d rather travel by Lego train. Lego isn’t designed for building a large train that can carry cats because it lacks large wheels and rails for smooth movement. To solve this, 3D printing was used to create these parts. The rail switches use magnets or rubber for automatic changing. The bogies have a suspension system to handle uneven tracks and curve tilts, with each wheel powered by a strong, compact Lego L motor. The axles are made of aluminium to avoid bending under the weight. The bogies feature an automatic coupling system like those in American trains, which can be opened using air pressure. The train’s frame is flexible and only sturdy when combined with the outer shell, it keeps the train low for easy boarding. This frame also contains pipes for door operation and coupling, along with wiring for non-Lego LED lights. The train is powered by 3 Lego Powered Up hubs, allowing for extra sensors to automate the train further. The carriages are designed like trams, the only type suitable for transporting cats, as the cat’s weight helps with wheel-rail friction. A standard locomotive would need to be very heavy to pull cat-filled carriages. The train has an open roof for quick cat exits.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Frank Herbert Explains the Origins of Dune (1969)” – let Open Culture introduce the interview.

Dune: Part Two has been playing in theaters for less than a week, but that’s more than enough time for its viewers to joke about the aptness of its title. For while it comes, of course, as the second half of Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s influential sci-fi novel, it also contains a great many heaps of sand. Such visuals honor not just the story’s setting, but also the form of Herbert’s inspiration to write Dune and its sequels in the first place. The idea for the whole saga came about, he says in the 1969 interview above, because he’d wanted to write an article “about the control of sand dunes.”…

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

Pixel Scroll 8/17/23 These Scrolls Don’t Understand The Concept Of Pixels The Same As We Do

(1) FACES IN THE NEWS. A long, detailed infographic has been posted here by Chengdu Association for Science and Technology (Chengdushi Kexue Jishu Xiehui), which Zimozi Natsuco says, “is always considered as the upper guidance institution of Chengdu Science Fiction Association”. It is translated:  

Understand Worldcon by 1 picture: All you want to know about 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention is here!

It opens with a six-pack of guests:

Shown in addition to GoHs Robert J. Sawyer and Liu Cixin are new guests Michael Swanwick, David Wesley Hill, Touya Tachihara and Kim Bo-young.

(2) TWO BEAUTIES. In two minutes James Bacon tells the story of two copies of X-Men 28, featuring the debut of Banshee, one with fanhistorical significance.

I share here two issues of X-Men 28, videoed in the basement of Sub-City in Dublin. The very nice high grade copy on the left belongs to the store, the one on the right is of Irish fanhistorical significance. Both are very beautiful.

(3) SEANAN MCGUIRE VIRTUAL AND LIVE APPEARANCES. Join urban fantasy author Seanan McGuire as she celebrates the two new additions to the October Daye series — Sleep No More and The Innocent Sleep with a series of events.

September 5 — Seanan McGuire In conversation with Catherynne Valente: Virtual Event Hosted by Mysterious Galaxy House

September 29 — Seanan McGuire Reddit AMA / October Daye – Astra Publishing House —  Reddit.com/ r/Fantasy

October 30 — Seanan McGuire in Conversation at University Book Store in Seattle, WA

(4) JUST ADD WATER. Radio Times reports “Doctor Who lost story The Underwater Menace to be animated”.

The partially missing Doctor Who adventure The Underwater Menace is set to be restored with new animated visuals.

Out of 253 episodes from the show’s first six years, 97 remain lost in their original form, due to the BBC’s policy of junking archive programming between 1967 and 1978.

However, audio recordings of all episodes exist, with The Underwater Menace – a 1967 serial starring Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor – being the latest story to be given new life by way of animation….

All four episodes will be animated in colour for a new DVD and Blu-ray release – though the second and third episodes do exist in their original live-action form and these will also be available on the set, along with the option to watch the animated episodes in black-and-white.

(5) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty read Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty. They they talked about it, and recorded it, and now you can listen to it: “Resolutely Alison All the Time”. You can also play the fun game, ”Who was away during the recording time leading to the release of a bonus episode”, which is always a hoot, eh? 

(6) BARBIE’S INFERNO. Fanac.org has posted the audio recording from Minicon 23 (1988) of Jeanne Gomoll reading her fanzine article “Barbie’s Inferno”. (There’s a YouTube transcript available.)

Minicon 23 was held April 1-3, 1988. On Saturday afternoon, David Emerson hosted a program of fanzine readings, including Jeanne Gomoll’s reading of her hysterical short piece, “Barbie’s Inferno.”  This 18 minute audio recording, enhanced with images, is a delightful visit both to that program in 1988, and to the subject matter – Jeanne Gomoll’s childhood experiences with Barbie…Jeanne is an outstanding writer, as well as an excellent reader.  This short recording provides an empathetic glimpse into what many fans have experienced — what it’s like to grow up in a family where you and your parents have very different ideas of who you should be.  Plus you learn about waxers. 

Thanks to Geri Sullivan for recording, preserving, digitizing and providing this program.

Originally published in Harlot (edited by Anne-Laurie Logan and Avedon Carol, 1983), a newly revised version of “Barbie’s Inferno” is contained in Pretending, the first volume of Jeanne’s two volume memoir, Pretending and Becoming (to be released).

(7) PROMETHEUS AWARDS CEREMONY AUGUST 19. Sarah Hoyt (Darkship Thieves) and Dave Freer (Cloud-Castles) will participate in the 43rd annual Prometheus Awards live Zoom ceremony Saturday, August 19, along with leaders from The Heinlein Society and Heinlein Trust.

The Libertarian Futurist Society’s half-hour awards show is free and open to the public, including all interested sf/fantasy fans, and will begin at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. The Zoom link is here.

This Prometheus Blog post also has the Zoom link and more details about the speakers.

(8) FREE READ. Grist shares new climate fiction from Imagine 2200 in “When We Are Ruins, Dance On Us”.

A revolution has moved society off of fossil fuels. In Singapore, the former Supreme Court building, long abandoned and newly haunted, bemoans what it has lost. Through the building’s musings, we hear about how the world has changed, and how hard it can be for the privileged to let go of an unjust past that benefited them.

(9) HOW FI IS CLI-FI? Ann-Marie Cahill asks “How Accurate is Climate Fiction? (And Does Is Matter?)” at Book Riot.

Here’s a great question to kick off your next book club meeting: How Accurate is Climate Fiction? To be clear, I am not questioning the Climate Crisis, nor any of the far-more-educated-than-me climate scientists who feel like they have been screaming into the void for eons. Unfortunately, you are more likely to elicit action out of people with an Aerosmith song and Bruce Willis brooding in space than reading the latest World Meteorological Organization report (it’s here, in case you’re interested).

The follow-up to this great opener is, naturally: Do We Even Want Cli-Fi to be Accurate? And there lies the problem. Science Fiction has always been the go-to genre for exploring our options. Climate Fiction (or cli-fi) fits in this perfectly, giving us a literary platform to test our worst-case scenarios and come up with some inspiration to make it better. Or at least that’s the theory. Cli-fi has been a fairly popular sub-genre for science fiction, with a recent surge in the last five years — not a surprise when you consider the growing need to do something about the Climate Crisis. For many climate scientists, it may be the best way to impart much-needed information to the general public. Of course, there is a fine line between accurate and “based on sound scientific principle.” One sells the hard science message, and the other sells the books. The difference is a question of how much accuracy we, as the reader, can handle in our climate fiction. And if it’s not accurate, why don’t we feel any better about our future? …

…In short, Climate Fiction is as accurate as the author wants it to be. Whether the book passes your mental benchmark for accuracy, reasonable scientific principle, or an acceptable suspension of disbelief is completely up to you. If you don’t like it, you can always close the book. Life’s too short to spite-read….

(10) SCOFFER. Unlike the previous writer, Sergey Lukyanenko thinks what the West calls climate change is very overrated. Here’s a quote from the transcript of his appearance at VK Fest 2023, “The Image of the Future in Russian Science Fiction”.

What dangers await humanity? What do you see today from the key for the next 50 years?

SERGEY LUKYANENKO: I’m not going to talk about environmental problems, which are very fond of being raised in the West, because these problems, in fact, are much less terrible than they are trying to show us. This is a slightly invented problem from the finger, so that there is something to fight with and how to fill heads. I may say a sad thing for people, but on the scale of planet Earth, humanity, in general, is such a trifle that can be completely compressed into cubes and drowned in a small lake. They say that if all of humanity is collected and placed in Lake Baikal, the water level there will rise by only a couple of millimeters. That’s all you need to know about us and our impact on nature.

Of course, we do a lot of harm to nature, but some serious exploding volcano will release carbon dioxide and other dust into the atmosphere in a couple of days much more than humanity does in a year. Remember, there was such an Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull. As soon as he “baited” a little there in Iceland, and all over Europe, the planes stopped flying, because it became dangerous to fly. Ecology is not such a big problem, in my opinion.

(By the way, why is Lukyanenko’s picture missing from item #1?)

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 17, 1930 Harve Bennett. The individual who gave us Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Really he did. He would then serve as Producer on the next three Trek films, The Search for SpockThe Voyage Home and The Final Frontier. Bennett also wrote Star Trek III, co-wrote the story and screenplay for Star Trek IV, and co-wrote the story for Star Trek V. His only on scene appearance is in the latter as the Starfleet Chief of Staff. He’s the voice of the Battle simulator computer in Wrath of Khan, and the Flight Recorder in the Search for Spock. (Died 2015.)
  • Born August 17, 1945 Rachel Pollack. She’s getting a Birthday note for her scripting duties on her run of issues 64–87 (1993-1995) of Doom Patrol. She also assisted in the creation of the Vertigo Tarot Deck with McKean and Gaiman, and she wrote a book to go with it. She won a World Fantasy Award for Godmother Night, and an Arthur C. Clarke Award winner for Unquenchable Fire. She also wrote Salvador Dali’s Tarot, a book-length exposition of Salvador Dalí’s Tarot deck, comprising a full-page color plate for each card, with her commentary on the facing page. (Died 2023.)
  • Born August 17, 1956 John Romita Jr., 67. If you’ve read Spider-Man since the Sixties, it’s very likely that you’ve seen his artwork as he had six stints on it between 1980 and 2009. He find a number of other titles on Marvel and DC including SupermanGhost Rider, HulkAll-Star BatmanEternalsCaptain America and Daredevil to name but a few of the titles he illustrated. He also worked with Mark Miller at Image Comics on Kick-Ass, and did the one shot Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights
  • Born August 17, 1962 Laura Resnick, 61. Daughter of Mike Resnick. She is a winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She’s the author of the Esther Diamond series, and I’ve not read her Manhattan Magic series so I’m interested to know what y’all think of it. She’s readily available at the usual.
  • Born August 17, 1966 Neil Clarke, 57. Editor in Chief of Clarkesworld Magazine which has won a impressive number of Best Semiprozine Hugos and a World Fantasy Award before crossing the threshold to become a prozine. He’s a nine-time Best Editor – Short Form nominee. SFWA also gave him a Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. He edits The Best Science Fiction of the Year series for Night Shade Books.  
  • Born August 17, 1973 Rae Carson, 50. She’s done ten novels including one in the Star Wars universe. (I’m tempted to say who hasn’t?) Quite impressively, her debut novel, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Award and the Andre Norton Award. And she is married to Charles Coleman Finlay, SF editor and writer.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld has it figured out.

(13) MORE SFF IN LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] There’s currently a Mini-League going on, focusing on “Notable Women of Asia”. Match Day 7 had this question:

The Astounding Award for Best New Writer, which is awarded to writers in science fiction or fantasy, was renamed after 2019 winner Jeannette Ng called its previous namesake “a fucking fascist” in her acceptance speech, a speech for which she won a Hugo the following year. In her 2020 acceptance speech for that Hugo, Ng called for the freedom of “my most cyberpunk of cities”, the place where she was born. What city is that?

The answer of course was Hong Kong: this had a 57% get rate, with the most common wrong answer being Hanoi (given by 8% of players).

Also in the recent past there was a One-Day Special quiz about the show Quantum Leap. You can read its questions here.

(14) MARRIAGE IS WHAT BRINGS US TOGETHER.  The Marvel press release calls it the moment fans never thought would happen—the wedding of Emma Frost and Tony Stark! Taking place in X-Men #26 (on sale 9/6) and Invincible Iron Man #10 (on sale 9/27), writer Gerry Duggan will deliver this highly-anticipated story alongside X-Men artists Jim Towe and Javier Pina and Invincible Iron Man series artist Juan Frigeri. The Fall Of X era has hit both mutantkind and Iron Man where it hurts and as their enemies grow stronger, Emma and Tony will strengthen their alliance to “till death do they part!”

Witness the shocking proposal and Emma’s even more shocking answer in X-Men #26, and then put on your best Hellfire attire for the introduction of Mrs. and Mr. Emma Frost in Invincible Iron Man #10! The circumstances of the ceremony is riddled with secrets and subterfuge, but fans can get their first inside look at the nuptials in the X-Men / Iron Man: The Wedding of Emma Frost & Tony Stark Trailer, featuring never-before-seen artwork!

“Emma and Tony — I think now people are starting to get a sense of how they work,” Duggan told AiPT Comics in a recent X-Men Monday. “I hope you all check it out. They are getting married. I promise no shenanigans. Beyond that, I don’t know what you’re going to get.”

(15) SCIENTISTS LEAVING TWITTER. Nature surveyed scientists to ask their reasons for leaving Twitter. “Thousands of scientists are cutting back on Twitter, seeding angst and uncertainty”.

…Nature obtained the e-mail addresses of thousands of scientists who were identified through a social-media research project as having tweeted about papers on which they were a corresponding author1. The survey from Nature asked whether people had changed their use of Twitter in the past six months and why. The reasons respondents gave varied, but many of those who had markedly reduced or stopped their activity on X mentioned Musk’s management of the platform. Many said that they had noticed an uptick in the amount of fake accounts, trolls and hate speech on the platform.

Žiga Malek, an environmental scientist at the Free University of Amsterdam, mentioned in the survey that he had started seeing a lot of “strange” political far-right accounts espousing science denialism and racism in his feed. He has to block them constantly. “Twitter has always been not so nice let’s say, but it is a mess right now,” he said.

Researchers have found that, contrary to such public claims from Musk, hate speech increased after he took over2. Musk has threatened to sue at least one group studying these trends.

A lot of experts and specialists are leaving the platform, says Timothy Caulfield, a law scholar and science communicator at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. “If that happens, are we just making room for a massive echo chamber that can spread misinformation in a way that is very harmful to society?”

X did not respond to Nature’s request for comments.

Where are they going?

The most popular alternative social-media site that respondents mentioned opening accounts with was the free, open-source software platform Mastodon. Compared with X, Mastodon allows for better community moderation, says Rodrigo Costas, an information scientist at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, who has been studying scientists’ use of Twitter since 2011. In February, he and Jonathan Dudek, a communications researcher also at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies, examined the Twitter profile information of 400,000 researchers — obtained for a previous research project3 — to see who was broadcasting their movement to other platforms. Roughly 3% of the profiles mention a Mastodon account, according to the researchers’ preliminary analysis.

Although it has been around for some seven years, Mastodon has a much smaller user base than do other social-media platforms. In Nature’s survey, LinkedIn was the second most popular place for respondents to open new accounts, and Instagram, owned by Meta, was third. Threads, also owned by Meta and pitched as an alternative to X, had started just a few days before the survey was launched. It reportedly attracted 100 million users in its first five days, and was the fourth-most-popular platform among survey respondents, with about 1,000 people saying that they had joined (See ‘Signs of dissatisfaction’)….

(16) I SHALL RETURN. The New Yorker tells what it learned about a growing business that parallels online selling: “What Happens to All the Stuff We Return?”

…Steady growth in Internet shopping has been accompanied by steady growth in returns of all kinds. A forest’s worth of artificial Christmas trees goes back every January. Bags of green plastic Easter grass go back every spring. Returns of large-screen TVs surge immediately following the Super Bowl. People who buy portable generators during weather emergencies use them until the emergencies have ended, and then those go back, too. A friend of mine returned so many digital books to Audible that the company now makes her call or e-mail if she wants to return another. People who’ve been invited to fancy parties sometimes buy expensive outfits or accessories, then return them the next day, caviar stains and all—a practice known as “wardrobing.” Brick-and-mortar shoppers also return purchases. “Petco takes back dead fish,” Demer said. “Home Depot and Lowe’s let you return dead plants, for a year. You just have to be shameless enough to stand in line with the thing you killed.” It almost goes without saying that Americans are the world’s leading refund seekers; consumers in Japan seldom return anything….

(17) SFF SALE. [Item by BGrandrath.] So here is another of my favorite BookTubers promoting a Whatnot sale. I recommend her channel; she has a series called Books Without Barcodes where she reviews…well, books published before they had barcodes. She gives a fresh look to books you and I read years ago. This video is titled “Once in a Lifetime Science Fiction Book Haul”.

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, James Bacon, John Coxon, Michael Grossberg, BGrandrath, Ersatz Culture, Zimozi Natsuco, David Goldfarb, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 6/19/23 Frenemy Mine

(1) BIOLOGY LESSON. We can learn along with Matt Wallace:

(2) KGB. Ellen Datlow has shared her photos from the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading on June 14 where “Nathan Ballingrud read from his novel The Strange and Dale Bailey read from his story ‘I Married a Monster from Outer Space’ and both made the crowd very happy.”

(3) COVER ART UNCOVERED. Alex Shvartsman has revealed the cover for The Digital Aesthete. See preorder information at the link.

We now have a cover for the anthology of stories about artificial minds interacting with art. The stories and the art are created by humans (the cover is drawn and designed by the spectacular K.A. Teryna!)

(4) NO, NO, IT WOULD BE A LITERARY SOCIETY. Norman Spinrad’s first attempt to explain his idea was completely successful. Everybody knew exactly what he meant. Now he tries to remedy that with a cagier post, “SFS and SFWA”.

I think I should this make this clear. SFWA means Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association. SFS means Speculative Fiction Society. SFWA has existed for a long time and I was elected its president three times. Speculative Fiction Society is something that does not yet exist, it is something that may or may not exist in a possible future, it is, well, speculative fiction.

SFS is not an enemy of SFWA nor would it be mean to replace it. SFS is not a new invention. SFWA was born as society of speculative fiction writers. Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm invited writers of their choice to their large house in Milford annually to meet each other and bring stories of theirs to read his small society. Stories of which they were proud, stories they felt had literary problems, and to some extent, stories that they had trouble finding proper publication.

Although we all well knew that the price of liberty was taking care of business, this was primerily a literary society. The core was to help each other create better literature. But business being what it was, Damon said that we should create something that could also help writers take care of business. Not quite a union like the Screen Writers of America, but something that could act like one when called to, a Science Fiction Writers of America.

The SFWA.

The SFWA, now calls itself the Science Fiction and Fantacy Writers Association. As such, it sometimes does act like a union when it comes to the rights and economic problems of its members. But it no longer functions as a literary society devoted to the literary health and evolution of speculative fiction.

Indeed it has now become a legally non-profit corporation, whose bottom line is not literature, but the bottom line, dedicated to maximum numbers of various levels of memberships, selling various fandom goods like baseball or soccer teams, behaving more like the Science Fiction and Fantasy Fandom Association.

An SFS, a Speculative Fiction Society, could never take the place of this Science Fiction and Fantasy Fandom Associaton. It could not do it, it would not want to do it, it would not want to destroy it. It would not be a corporation, not-profit or not.

The literary concept of speculative fiction is at least as ancient as Plato’s REPUBLIC and it was captured as “science fiction,” “sci-fi,” and yes, SF, by publishing fluke, and the purpose of a Speculative Fiction Society would be to rescue what should be a central literature of any dynamic society.

A famous and almost you might say snotty French publisher that calls itself “Less Belles Lettres” wanted to publish a book celebrating its hundredth birthday. They wanted to publish a book called “Les Futures des Belles Lettres,” a double meaning in French, the future of the publisher and the future of serious literature.

They asked me to write whatever I wanted to as long as the story I did that. I wrote a story called BELLES LETTRES AD ASTRA. A hundred years in the future the central literature would have to be be speculative fiction

(5) HOWDY. Literary Hub delivers a post “In Praise of Sci-Fi Legend Connie Willis’s Cinematic Universe” inspired by her new book Roswell.

…Centered on Francie, a young woman traveling to New Mexico to stop her college roommate’s UFO-themed wedding, Roswell is a kind of self-learning punchline algorithm. A skeptic regarding all things flying saucer, Francie is of course abducted. From there on out, the novel’s escalation through repetition is unceasing. The way Monument Valley has been mislocated in old western films, the way playing solitaire invites unsolicited advice, the way language empties itself semiotically if explained for too many hours to a cute, terrifying little alien: all turn the plot forward like fine teeth in a gearbox.

Francie eventually helps her captor, a pretty decent non-humanoid fellow, learn English thanks to the aforementioned western films. “I AINT NEVER GULLED A PARDNER,” the alien initially repeats without understanding; astute readers will hear another turn of the machine. The idea of “PARDNERS” becomes vital not only for surviving Las Vegas hotels and an Elvis-themed wedding, but essential to Francie saving her friends and at least one planet….

(6) ABOUT GOLIATH. Abigail Nussbaum is one of the participants in a “Roundtable on Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi at Strange Horizons” which she discusses at Lawyers, Guns and Money:

I mentioned Tochi Onyebuchi’s Goliath in my Hugo ballot post, and reviewed it on my blog. But the further I get away from it, the more convinced I become that this is one of the major science fiction novels of 2022, and that neither I nor the fandom as a whole have done enough to promote or discuss it. I was therefore thrilled when Strange Horizons reviews editor Dan Hartland proposed a roundtable discussion of the novel. Along with A.S. Lewis, Archita Mittra, and Jonah Sutton-Morse, it was a thrill to go deep into this remarkable, challenging book….

And here’s the link: “Tochi Onyebuchi’s Goliath: A Roundtable By Dan Hartland, A. S. Lewis, Archita Mittra, Abigail Nussbaum, and Jonah Sutton-Morse”:

Jonah Sutton-Morse: Thanks for gathering us—I’m really looking forward to this.

I have, I think, an answer to what the book is “about,” and moreso to “where did your focus wind up landing,” but I’m not sure they’re particularly satisfying, so I’m looking forward to reading other answers to this.

My focus in Goliath wound up landing on the moments and edges outside the stories that the book tells. There’s a way that Goliath is straightforwardly a story about ecological collapse, capitalism scavenging on leftover fragments, and the destructive impulses of gentrification and racism that we can see in national US news stories every day. But it struck me that, while the book was aware of that story, and expected the reader to be able to follow it (and this is a book that I found hard to follow), my focus kept falling on the pieces outside that story. The impulse to scavenge the remnants of a city is less interesting than the people who do the basic manual work of hammering the bricks. The people who leave ecological collapse are less interesting than those who remain—and even among those who left, the most interesting are those at the margins who eventually return. The mechanics of living in climate collapse, and enduring the policing that comes with the intrusion of wealth, are acknowledged but less interesting than an adventure collecting wild horses, or a group of people playing Spades and talking trash.

I don’t really like saying that this novel is “about” the lives and details around the edge of the destructive forces that regularly lead my national headlines (and I realize that the “Winter” section that Dan puts at the heart of the book at least partly complicates my reading), but it is those lives and details that my focus landed on….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2011[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

The author of tonight’s Beginning, Saladin Ahmed is an Eisner Award-winning comic book writer for the debut of the Black Bolt series. He also wrote the Miles Morales: Spider-Man series. He is currently writing Miles Morales: Spider-Man and Exiles. Finally in this vein, I want to note his work on The Magnificent Ms. Marvel series.

His only novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon, where our Beginning is from, was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 7. Dublin 2019 saw him pick up a Best Graphic Story nomination for Abbot.

He’s written but a double handful of short fiction sff stories, six of which are collected in Engraved on the Eye: Short Fantasy & Science Fiction.

And now his Beginning…

NINE DAYS. 

Beneficent God, I beg you, let this be the day I die!

The guardsman’s spine and neck were warped and bent but still he lived. 

He’d been locked in the red lacquered box for nine days. 

He’d seen the days’ light come and go through the lid-crack. Nine days. He held them close as a handful of dinars. Counted them over and over. Nine days. Nine days. Nine days. If he could remember this until he died he could keep his soul whole for God’s sheltering embrace. 

He had given up on remembering his name.

The guardsman heard soft footsteps approach, and he began to cry. Every day for nine days the gaunt, black-bearded man in the dirty white kaftan had appeared. Every day he cut the guardsman, or burned him. But worst was when the guardsman was made to taste the others’ pain.

The gaunt man had flayed a young marsh girl, pinning the guardsman’s eyes open so he had to see the girl’s skin curl out under the knife. He’d burned a Badawi boy alive and held back the guardsman’s head so the choking smoke would enter his nostrils. The guardsman had been forced to watch the broken and burned bodies being ripped apart as the gaunt man’s ghuls fed on heart-flesh. He’d watched as the gaunt man’s servant-creature, that thing made of shadows and jackal skin, had sucked something shimmering from those freshly dead corpses, leaving them with their hearts torn out and their empty eyes glowing red.

These things had almost shaken the guardsman’s mind loose. Almost. But he would remember. Nine days. Nine…. All-Merciful God, take me from this world!

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 19, 1915 Julius Schwartz. He’s best known as a longtime editor at DC Comics, where at various times he was primary editor for the Superman and Batman lines. Just as interestingly, he founded the Solar Sales Service literary agency (1934–1944) where Schwartz represented such writers as  Bradbury, Bester,  Bloch, Weinbaum, and Lovecraft which included some of Bradbury’s very first published work and Lovecraft’s last such work. He also published Time Traveller, one of the first fanzines along with Mort Weisinger and Forrest J Ackerman. (Died 2004.)
  • Born June 19, 1921 Louis JourdanFear No Evil and Ritual of Evil, two TV horror films in the late Sixties, appear to be his first venture into our realm. He’d play Count Dracula in, errr, Count Dracula a few years later. And then came the role you most likely remember him for, Dr. Anton Arcane in Swamp Thing which he reprised in The Return of Swamp Thing. Definitely popcorn films. Oh, and let’s not forget he was Kamal Khan, the villain in Octopussy! (Died 2015.)
  • Born June 19, 1926 Josef Nesvadba. A Czech writer, best known for his SF short stories, many of which have appeared in English translation. ISFDB lists a number of stories as appearing in English and two collections of his translated stories were published, In The Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman: Stories of Science and Fantasy and Vampires Ltd. : Stories of Science and Fantasy. Neither’s available in digital format. (Died 2005.)
  • Born June 19, 1947 Salman Rushdie, 78. Everything he does has some elements of magic realism in it. (Let the arguments begin on that statement.) So which of his novels are really genre? I’d say The Ground Beneath Her FeetGrimus (his first and largely forgotten sf novel), Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights and Haroun and the Sea of Stories. If you’ve not read anything by him, I’d start with The Ground Beneath Her Feet which is by far both one of his best works and one of his most understandable ones as well.
  • Born June 19, 1952 Virginia Hey, 71. Best known for her role as Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan in the fabulous Farscape, series and playing the Warrior Woman in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. She’s also Rubavitch, the mistress of KGB Head, General Pushkin, in The Living Daylights. She also had a brief appearance as a beautician in The Return of Captain Invincible, an Australian musical comedy superhero film.
  • Born June 19, 1954 Kathleen Turner, 69. One of her earliest roles was in The Man with Two Brains as Dolores Benedict. Somewhat of a Fifties retro feel with that title. Of course, she voiced sultry Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, one of my favorite all time films. I still haven’t seen all of the Roger Rabbit short films that were done. She voiced Constance in Monster House a few years later, and was in Cinderella, a television film where she was the lead of the Wicked Stepmother Claudette.
  • Born June 19, 1957 Jean Rabe, 66. She’s a genre author and editor who has worked on the DragonlanceForgotten RealmsRogue Angel and BattleTech series, as well as many others. Ok, I admit to a degree of fascination with such writers as I’m a devotee of the Rogue Angel audiobooks that GraphicAudio does and she’s written according to ISFDB five of the source novels under the house name of Alex Archer.  
  • Born June 19, 1978 Zoe Saldana, 45.  She was born with the lovely birth name of Zoë Yadira Saldaña Nazario. First genre role was Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. She’s Nyota Uhura in the new Trek series and she’s also Neytiri in the Avatar franchise. She portrays Gamora in the MCU, beginning with Guardians of the Galaxy, a truly great film. I’ll confess that I’ve not yet seen the other Guardians of the Galaxy films. Should I? 

(9) THEY’RE NOT LOSING AN X-MAN, THEY’RE GAINING AN AVENGER. This September, Tony Stark and Emma Frost tie the knot in the X-Men #26 and Invincible Iron Man #10 crossover event.

Today IGN exclusively revealed the upcoming connecting covers for X-MEN #26 and INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10, which feature the long awaited wedding between Emma Frost and Tony Stark. Debuting in September, both issues are written by Gerry Duggan with art by Stefano Caselli (X-MEN #26), Juan Frigeri (INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10), and stunning covers by Lucas Werneck.

 First, in X-MEN #26, the moment we swore would never happen—heck, the moment EMMA FROST swore would never happen—is here at last! As the Frost/Stark knot is tied, Emma’s mutant family reacts to this surprise news! Then, readers are cordially invited to the wedding of Anthony Edward Stark and Emma Grace Frost in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10. Come join the lucky couple as they exchange vows. Attire is Hellfire formal. Orchis raid to follow. Plus some exclusive wedding extras!

(10) ROMITA JR. Q&A. “’The greatest man I’ve met’: iconic comics artist John Romita Sr. remembered by his son” at the Gothamist.

To many of our listeners, your dad was an artist who created and designed characters at both Marvel and DC. He’s best known for drawing Spider-Man in the ’60s and ’70s. He had a hand in creating Wolverine, the Punisher and Luke Cage, among others. But who was he to you?

He’s the guy who taught me how to hit a curve ball, and that was almost as [important] to me as learning how to draw Spider-Man’s eyes properly. It was so much more than just the art. I was talking to my brother about the fact that when it rained on the weekends in the summertime, we would watch old movies together and he would tell us what was about to happen. And the scenes in “On the Waterfront” have stuck with me forever since. That’s the part I remember, is how much time he spent with us.

And then he taught us so many things. It was more than just the art mentor to me – and yet he never forced anything on me, as far as art went. He told me, “I’m not gonna tell you what to do. You come to me and ask me a question. If you do something wrong, I’ll proactively act that way.” So the man just did everything right with my brother and me. It was fantastic.

Like I said, as much as he helped with my art-world life, he was that way with all aspects of our lives. He was a brilliant man….

(11) IN ANOTHER FATHER’S DAY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here’s an interesting video about the cargo vessel MS München, which vanished in December 1978 and is believed to have been sunk by a rogue wave:  I remember this case very well, though I was only five when it happened. But my Dad worked for Hapag Lloyd, the shipping company which owned the München, at the time and so the search for the missing vessel was a big topic in our home. I’m not sure if my Dad helped to design the München — he was a naval architect for Hapag Lloyd —  but he definitely knew some of those who were lost and attended the memorial service for the crew and passengers.The loss of the München also overshadowed the launch celebration for the new Hapag Lloyd cruise liner MS Europa only 8 days after the München vanished. My Mom and many other women opted to wear black evening gowns for the launch banquet.

(12) COMING ATTRACTION. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I had only just alerted Filers as to Matt O’Dowd’s safe distance from a supernova (see (16) in the June 15 Scroll) in his PBS Space-Time video when new research indicates that the Red Giant Betelgeuse is in the late stage of core carbon burning, and a good candidate for the next Galactic supernova. It had been thought it might be many centuries away but it could be as close as a few decades. Fortunately Betelgeuse is hundreds of light years away.  Nonetheless it should be visible in the day time and maybe some Filers who are on the young side might just witness it.  In fact it may have already exploded just that the light has not reached us…! (See the pre-print Saio, H. et al (2023) “The evolutionary stage of Betelgeuse inferred from its pulsation periods”. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.)

(13) DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE. The Smithsonian Magazine says “Cats May Have Been Domesticated Twice”. You know, given the independent nature of cats that just sounds so likely. However, the headline meant something different than what I first assumed.

Whether they were being worshipped as gods or transformed into memes, the relationship between cats and humans goes back a long ways. There are more than 500 million domestic house cats around the world, all of which are descended from a single subspecies of wildcat. But according to new research, there might have been a second, more recent (and unrelated) instance of cats becoming domesticated in China.

Most archaeologists believe that cats probably domesticated themselves more than 10,000 years ago when the fluffy little murderbeasts realized they could get an easy meal by staking out Neolithic storerooms and farms for the rats and mice that were attracted to human settlements. More cats meant fewer rodents, which meant more crops for the hard-working humans. Over time, our ancestors started taking care of the felines, leading to the modern house cat, Grennan Milliken writes for Popular Science.

But this story of a second line began a few years ago, when researchers uncovered several cat bones near Quanhucun, an early farming village in central China. The bones were about 5,300 years old and analysis of their chemistry showed these felines likely survived on a diet of grain-fed rodents, suggesting they at least hunted for dinner near the town’s millet stores.

The scientists found a few indications of domestication, according to the study recently published the journal PLOS One. First, based on the wear of its teeth, the remains of one of the cats seemed much older than the others, perhaps suggesting that someone took care of the cat as it got older, writes David Grimm for Science. These cats also were all slightly smaller than their wild counterparts, and one was even buried as a complete skeleton.

“That’s evidence of special treatment,” study author Jean-Denis Vigne tells Grimm. “Even if what we’re seeing here is not full domestication, it’s an intensification of the relationship between cats and humans.”

Further analysis showed that these cats did not descend from the same subspecies as the modern house cat, but actually belonged to a species known as “leopard cats,” Grimm reports. This means that the leopard cat lineage is genetically distinct from our modern fuzz balls….

(14) BUSINESS IS BOOMING. Apparently this “New England theater one of just 30 in the world to see this Hollywood blockbuster as intended”.

…When Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ hits theaters in July, the Providence Place Cinemas 16 in Rhode Island will present the $100 million epic in IMAX 70mm film, one of just 30 movie theaters in the world to do so.

Without getting too technical, 70mm is regarded as the best possible projection for films. Frames are more than three times larger than a typical celluloid, allowing for a much richer and fuller picture than is typically found in modern theaters….

…In addition to the upscale picture, portions of ‘Oppenheimer’ were filmed in black and white, meaning Nolan had to practically invent a new format of film.

The film about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist who oversaw the development of first atomic bomb during World War II, drops on July 21. The pristine film formats will be especially pivotal in viewing the Trinity Test, the first detonation of a nuclear weapon.

“We knew that this had to be the showstopper. We’re able to do things with picture now that before we were really only able to do with sound in terms of an oversize impact for the audience, an almost physical sense of response to the film,” said Nolan in a recent interview.

(15) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Media Death Cult’s Moid Moidelhoff has just made three mini-documentaries on science fiction.  There is nothing really new here for the seasoned SF fan but some of these were shot on location.  The first video looks at SF’s origins and includes a trip to Mary Shelly’s grave and Woking’s Martian tripod.

The second video examines SF’s Golden Era with the rise of the classic pulp magazines and the big three – Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein – before moving on to Wyndham.

 He ends with the interest in dystopias, autocratic dictatorships and mutually assured destruction.  Could Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 dumbed-down world ever come about? In part, shot on location at the Jodrell Bank radio telescope and an English village that could be Midwich… The final video ponders on SF’s present-day state. There was the rise of the new wave with Moorcock and then in the US with Ellison. And we also got Dick and cyberpunk before cyberpunk, and Gibson. Could we be about to embark on the most exciting period of science fiction?

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Alan Baumler, Cora Buhlert, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Free Comic Book Day 2023 Arrives May 6

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.

[Based on a press release.]