Pixel Scroll 5/12/22 We Will Always Have Pixels

(1) IS IT WASTED ON THE YOUNG? At Young People Read Old SFF James Davis Nicoll unleashes the panel on Joe Haldeman’s “Tricentennial”.

This month’s selection has an unusual history for a Hugo finalist, having been commissioned to accompany an already completed cover….

Generally speaking, this sort of exercise does not result in notable fiction1. Haldeman managed to deliver a story that wasn’t simply a finalist but a Hugo winner. Perhaps it’s not entirely coincidental that even though his career as an SF writer was still in its early days, he had by this point racked up two Hugo nominations2, a Hugo win, a Nebula win, a Ditmar win, and been a finalist for the Locus six times. 

Tricentennial stuck a chord with readers way back in the mid-1970s. Will it be as successful with the youth of today? Let’s find out!…

(2) THAT NEW LAFFERTY STORY. Meanwhile, at Galactic Journey the Traveler is reading the latest Galaxy – back in time, when the stories themselves were young! “[May 12, 1967] There and Back Again (June 1967 Galaxy)”.

Polity and Custom of the Camiroi, by R. A. Lafferty

A three-person anthropological team investigates the highly libertarian planet of Camiroi.  Society there is highly advanced, seemingly utopian, and utterly decentralized.  Sounds like a Heinleinesque paradise.  However, there are indications that the Terrans are being put on, mostly in an attempt to just get them to leave.

The result is something like what might have happened if Cordwainer Smith and Robert Sheckley had a baby.  That’d be one weird tot…but an interesting one.

Four stars.

(3) HE’LL GIVE YOU AN EARFUL. In “An Observation on Audiobooks” John Scalzi discusses his experience with the medium.

…As an author, I was not initially in love with audiobook versions of my books because it was an interpretation, and because the narration was not the way I heard the book in my own head — the narrative beats would sometime be different; a word would be given a different emphasis; a character who I heard one way in my head would sound different (and sometimes would feel like they had a different personality entirely).

Two things got me over this. The first was that audio increased my annual income from writing by about a third, which smoothed over quite a lot. The second thing was that I realized that audiobook narration is a performance and that, like one can appreciate the myriad of ways that actors have approached the “To Be Or Not To Be” soliloquy in Hamlet, one can equally look at the choices the narrator makes in their performance and see how they are in conversation with the text, often in ways that are a surprise to me, the author. So the necessary fact of the interpretation stopped being an annoyance and became a thing of interest….

(4) POINT OF DO RETURN. “Once more with feeling: why time loop stories keep coming back”, according to the Guardian’s Gillian McAllister.

If you die, what’s the plan for the next life?” This is the question posed in the opening scene of the recent BBC adaptation of Kate Atkinson’s 2013 novel Life After Life, in which the protagonist, Ursula, repeatedly dies and starts over from birth. It’s a fascinating idea: what would you do differently, and what would remain the same? It is one explored in another hit TV show that has just returned for a second season, Russian Doll, the first season of which saw the main character, Nadia, return endlessly to the night of her 36th birthday party, suffering a different death each time.

Mainstream film and television have a long history of playing with time loops. But while Groundhog Day was a huge success in the early 1990s, narratives about ordinary people caught in this speculative twist have been harder to pull off in literature. Perhaps this is because there tends to be an earnestness to such stories that doesn’t translate into fiction, and a tendency towards repetition that readers may not tolerate as well as viewers. It is trickier to create a montage in fiction: part of what makes Groundhog Day so compelling is the ability to only show the differences in Bill Murray’s repeating days….

(5) ORVILLE THIRD SEASON. “Our return is imminent.” The Orville: New Horizons arrives June 2 on Hulu.

(6) THE MOON THAT SOLD ITSELF. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] “A Twenty-First Century Moon Race Is Kicking Off A New Era of Lunar Exploration” reports Nature. These six countries are about to go to the Moon — here’s why.

Japan, South Korea, Russia, India, the United Arab Emirates and the United States aim to send missions to the Moon in the next year. But will they all make it?

NASA’s US$93-billion Artemis programme might be stealing most of the limelight with its maiden launch this year because it’s the first step towards sending astronauts to the Moon. But the United States is just one of many nations and private companies that soon plan to launch missions, heralding what scientists say could be a new golden age of lunar exploration.

Science isn’t the only driving force. The flurry of missions also signals the growing ambition of several nations and commercial players to show off their technological prowess and make their mark, particularly now that getting to the Moon is easier and cheaper than ever before….

(7) MUSK CONTRADICTED. Shannon Stirone says let the record reflect that “Mars Is a Hellhole” in The Atlantic.

There’s no place like home—unless you’re Elon Musk. A prototype of SpaceX’s Starship, which may someday send humans to Mars, is, according to Musk, likely to launch soon, possibly within the coming days. But what motivates Musk? Why bother with Mars? A video clip from an interview Musk gave in 2019 seems to sum up Musk’s vision—and everything that’s wrong with it.

In the video, Musk is seen reading a passage from Carl Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot

…Musk reads from Sagan’s book: “Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate.”

But there Musk cuts himself off and begins to laugh. He says with incredulity, “This is not true. This is false––Mars.”

He couldn’t be more wrong. Mars? Mars is a hellhole. The central thing about Mars is that it is not Earth, not even close. In fact, the only things our planet and Mars really have in common is that both are rocky planets with some water ice and both have robots (and Mars doesn’t even have that many)…

(8) CURIOSITY SNAPS A PHOTO. Mars may be a hellhole, but it’s a hellhole with a door. “’Secret doorway built by aliens’ spotted in picture taken by rover on Mars”. Picture at the link.

Recent pictures from Nasa’s Curiosity Mars rover show an intriguing feature which looks like a doorway nestled in the rocks on the Martian landscape.

It looks so convincing that it can almost tempt you to believe that it leads to a Martian hideaway – or a gateway to another Universe entirely.

While the internet seems to be having a field day with conspiracy theories about the mysterious doorway, some Reddit users aren’t buying it.

Many party poopers have pointed out the door is likely just a shear fracture — the result of some kind of strain on the rock, breaking part of it off….

(9) PIECES OF EIGHT. Octothorpe 57 is out now! Listen here! “Back Bacon is Best”.

John is a muppet bilby, Alison is actively drinking, and Liz MURDERS OWLS. We discuss Reclamation 2022 and the COVID that ensued, before talking about Horizon Forbidden West a whole bunch. Also other things.

Below, the Octothorpe cast are depicted as Australian mammals in muppet form. John is a bilby, Alison is a quokka, and Liz is an echidna. John has a glitter octothorpe on his forehead.

(10) MALTIN ON MOVIES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I heard this podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Gustav Hoegen.  Hoegen is Dutch, and when he was 6 he went with his father to the Tuchinski Theatre (an old-school picture palace) in Amsterdam to see Return of the Jedi, and he decided he wanted a career in the movies.  He worked his way up through British special effects shops in 2013 and now runs his own company, Biomimc Studio.  His creatures have appeared in four recent Star Wars movies, one of the Jurassic World pictures, and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.  He says that Ridley Scott, J.J. Abrams and Tim Burton were the best directors to work with, and he gets work because directors realize that actors do a better job reacting with an actual object on screen rather than doing the entire film via green screen. “Maltin on Movies: Gustav Hoegen”.

(11) SOMETHING FISHY. Radio Times spoke with the showrunner: “Russell T Davies confirms he planted Doctor Who red herrings”. But he won’t tell which ones.

…”There’s been a few false stories and false tales and we placed a few posts ourselves, a couple of misleading things, and we’re very pleased that that kind of worked.”

However, Davies clarified that the rumour James Corden might be taking on the role wasn’t one of his red herrings, adding: “We didn’t plant that one, so that caught me frankly.”

While Davies did not expand on which names he’d planted in the press, a number of actors associated with the award-winning screenwriter were rumoured to be Jodie Whittaker’s replacement

(12) ANN DAVIS (1934-2022). The Guardian paid tribute to the late Ann Davies as an “actor admired for her many roles in TV drama series including Z Cars, EastEnders and in 1964 an appearance in Doctor Who.” She died April 26 at the age of 87.

…Television immortality came early on when when she joined forces with the first Doctor Who, William Hartnell, in 1964 in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. As Jenny, a determined and capable freedom fighter, Davies was a cold and efficient co-combatant with the series regular Barbara (Jacqueline Hill, in real life Davies’s friend and neighbour).

The action required them to encounter the Daleks in arresting scenes filmed at London landmarks. At one point they smashed through a patrol with a van, which required early morning shooting in the capital to avoid the crowds. Although it was just one guest role in her long career, Davies remained in demand for Doctor Who interviews and signings.

(13) MEMORY LANE.

1969 [By Cat Eldridge.] Samuel Delany’s Nova was nominated for a Best Novel Hugo at St. Louiscon fifty three years ago, the year that Stand on Zanzibar won. Two amazing novels; in this Scroll I’m here just to talk about Nova though I won’t deny that Stand on Zanzibar is an amazing novel as well. 

Nova came at a point in Delany’s career after he had just won three Nebulas, two for novels, Babel-17 and The Einstein Intersection, plus one for his short story, “Aye, and Gomorrah..” The first novel was nominated for a Hugo at NYCon 3, the short story and the latter novel at BayCon. BayCon would see him get also nominated for “The Star Pit” novella, and St. Louiscon the next year would see his “Lines of Power” novella get nominated. It was a very fecund time for him. 

And then there was Nova, a fantastic novel that was first published by Doubleday in August 1968. Is it space opera? Is it really early cyberpunk? Of course it also had strong mythological underpinning and the tarot figured prominently into the story as well, so it couldn’t be nearly put into any categories, could it? All I know is that I really liked reading it. 

Reviewer Algis Budrys said in the January 1969 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction that it was “highly entertaining to read” and a later review on the Concatenation site said, “Though a novel, this runs like a string of tangled short stories fused and melted through one another, with fantastic concepts, but making its preposterous mission sound utterly credible for its extraordinary characters.” 

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 12, 1937 George Carlin. Rufus in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. He also showed up in Scary Movie 3 and Tarzan II. I once met him many decades ago at a Maine summer resort. He was really personable and nice. (Died 2008.)
  • Born May 12, 1942 Barry Longyear, 80. Best-known for the Hugo- and Nebula-winning novella Enemy Mine, which became a film by that name as well (novelized by Longyear in collaboration with David Gerrold.) An expanded version of the original novella, plus two novels completing the trilogy, The Tomorrow Testament and The Last Enemy, make up The Enemy Papers. I’m very fond of his Circus World series, less so of his Infinity Hold series. 
  • Born May 12, 1973 Mackenzie Astin, 49. His major genre role was in The Magicians as Richard/Reynard but he’s also appeared in I Dream in Jeannie… Fifteen Years Later (who knew?), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.The Outer LimitsLost and The Orville.
  • Born May 12, 1950 Bruce Boxleitner, 72. His greatest genre role was obviously Captain John Sheridan on Babylon 5. (Yes, I loved the show.) Other genre appearances being Alan T. Bradley in Tron and Tron: Legacy, and voicing that character in the Tron: Uprising series. He has a recurring role on Supergirl as President Baker.
  • Born May 12, 1953 Carolyn Haines, 69. Though best known for her Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series at twenty books and counting, she has definite genre credits having two orbs in her Pluto’s Snitch series, The Book of Beloved and The House of Memory, plus the rather excellent The Darkling and The Seeker though you might not recognize them as being hers as she wrote them as R.B. Chesterton. Her genre books are on Kindle. 
  • Born May 12, 1958 Heather Rose Jones, 64. Member of our File 770 community.  She received the Gaylactic Spectrum Award for the Mother of Souls, the third novel in her Alpennia series which has now seen four novels published, quite an accomplishment. For six years now, she has presented the Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast subseries of the Lesbian Talk Show.

(15) COMICS SECTION.

(16) WALK THIS WAY. “How far did Sam and Frodo walk in Lord Of The Rings?” Yahoo! Movies found someone who thinks they know the answer.

They might have big feet, but with those little legs Hobbits Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins had their work cut out trekking from Bag End to Mount Doom in JRR Tolkien’s seminal The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

One thing that has always enthralled fans when picking up Tolkien’s books is the attention to geography and the maps of Middle Earth.

Well now, thanks to one brilliantly thorough Imgur user called Mattsawizard, we can see how far those little legs had to go.

Better still he’s contextualised them with the UK….

(17) QUITE A HANDFUL. James Davis Nicoll directs us to “Five SFF Stories That Are Much Funnier Than They Sound”. First on the list:

The Night Life of the Gods by Thorne Smith (1931)

At first glance, Hunter Hawk seems to have been served the same dismal gruel as any other Thorne Smith protagonist. His home is inhabited by a swarm of grasping relatives, each one more feckless than the last. Other Smith protagonists require some external impetus to jar them out their conventional rut. Not Hunter Hawk, for long before the reader meets him, Hawk has energetically embraced mad science.

Having invented a petrification ray, Hawk’s immediate impulse is to turn it on his disappointing relatives. This leaves the inventor free for a meet-cute with Megaera, a 900-year-old fairy. It happens that Megaera has a trick that mirrors Hawk’s: she knows how to turn stone to living flesh. The couple could use this to de-petrify his relations. Instead, they transform statues of Roman gods into living deities.

The gods demand entertainment. Fortuitously, Jazz Age America is more than able to provide it.

(18) CONTAGIOUS ENTHUSIASM. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Chris Holm, author of a near-future sf novel where antibiotics have failed, offers eight recommendations for movies where disease is amok and creatures are covered with goo. “Eight Biological Horror Movies Guaranteed to Make Your Skin Crawl” at CrimeReads.

…Since [my novel] Child Zero seems to be scaring the bejesus out of everybody, I thought a fun way to celebrate its release would be an alphabetical roundup of my eight favorite biological horror movies.

Why biological horror rather than, say, body horror? Because even though the latter is an accepted horror subgenre, I’m not convinced everything on my list qualifies. Besides, I’m here to hype a biological thriller, not a body horror novel—so, y’know, synergy!…

(19) SAY CHEESE. What else do you say when you photograph something with a big hole in it? From the New York Times: “The Milky Way’s Black Hole Comes to Light”. (Photo at the link.)

Astronomers announced on Thursday that they had pierced the veil of darkness and dust at the center of our Milky Way galaxy to capture the first picture of “the gentle giant” dwelling there: a supermassive black hole, a trapdoor in space-time through which the equivalent of four million suns have been dispatched to eternity, leaving behind only their gravity and violently bent space-time.

The image, released in six simultaneous news conferences in Washington, and around the globe, showed a lumpy doughnut of radio emission framing empty space. Oohs and aahs broke out at the National Press Club in Washington when Feryal Ozel of the University of Arizona displayed what she called “the first direct image of the gentle giant in the center of our galaxy.” She added: “It seems that black holes like doughnuts.”…

 … Black holes were an unwelcome consequence of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which attributed gravity to the warping of space and time by matter and energy, much as how a mattress sags under a sleeper.

Einstein’s insight led to a new conception of the cosmos, in which space-time could quiver, bend, rip, expand, swirl and even disappear forever into the maw of a black hole, an entity with gravity so strong that not even light could escape it.

Einstein disapproved of this idea, but the universe is now known to be speckled with black holes. Many are the remains of dead stars that collapsed inward on themselves and just kept going.,,,

(20) NOVA FIREBALL. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The cover of the latest Nature is inspired by the article, “Chance discovery sheds light on exploding stars” (which is behind a paywall.) Here’s the introduction:

Nova explosions occur when a runaway thermonuclear reaction is triggered in a white dwarf that is accreting hydrogen from a companion star. The massive amount of energy released ultimately creates the bright light source that can be seen with a naked eye as a nova. But some of the energy has been predicted to be lost during the initial stages of the reaction as a flash of intense luminosity — a fireball phase — detectable as low-energy X-rays. In this week’s issue of NatureOle König and his colleagues present observations that corroborate this prediction. Using scans taken by the instrument eROSITA, the researchers identified a short, bright X-ray flash from the nova YZ Reticuli a few hours before it became visible in the optical spectrum. The cover shows an artist’s impression of the nova in the fireball phase.

(21) DEEP SUBJECT. Terry Pratchett talks to Leigh Sales of Australian Broadcasting about his Alzheimer’s and his support for right-to-die legislation in this 2011 clip: “Sir Terry Pratchett on life and death”.

(22) LEGO MUPPETS. IGN invites everyone to “Meet the LEGO Muppets Minifigures”.

On May 1, LEGO will release a series of Muppet Minifigures depicting Jim Henson’s most iconic creations: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Rowlf the Dog, Gonzo the Great, Animal, Janice, Swedish Chef, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, Statler, and Waldorf. LEGO sent IGN a preview set of all 12 minifigures, and we took a few photos (see below) to show off their details….

Part of what makes the Muppets lovable is their scruffiness; they’re cute, but not cloying in appearance or mannerism. And LEGO captures this quality by customizing each head distinctively–to be rounded, or conical, or exaggerated as need be.

Gonzo’s nose is huge. Beaker’s head is narrow. Honeydew’s eyes are non-existent. The Muppets are not subsumed by the LEGO aesthetic; if anything, LEGO compromised its design boundaries to ensure these figures retained that intangible ‘Muppet-ness’ they all possess….

(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Another conversation between Lewis and Tolkien (from Eleanor Morton): “JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis realise something about dwarves”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Andrew (Not Werdna), Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]

Pixel Scroll 4/14/22 The Golden Age Of Pixel Scroll Is Fifth

(1) A FILER’S ROSES. Today is release day for Heather Rose Jones’ novella The Language of Roses, a queer fairy-tale re-visioning that embraces the darker aspects of Beauty and the Beast, and does not particularly believe in redemption arcs.

(2) IT’S A CRIME NOT TO LIKE SFF.  Adam Oyebanji recommends novels by Asimov, Bagicalupi, and Martha Wells for mystery readers who say they don’t like sf. “Science Fiction For Crime Lovers: a Beginner’s Tour” at CrimeReads.

…It’s anybody’s universe, remember. Bad things can happen there. Crimes. Crimes that need solving. Mysteries. If you’re a lover of crime fiction, science fiction has a lot to offer you. If you’ve never read a sci-fi novel in your life, here are five you should consider—in increasing order of nerdiness from “sci-fi curious” to “irredeemable geek.” But every last one of them is a crime novel. So, buckle up. It’s time to engage thrusters….

(3) DID THE CREAM RISE? Cora Buhlert analyzes the Hugo ballot in “Some Thoughts on the 2022 Hugo Finalists”. Here’s a sample of her commentary on the Best Novella category:

…There’s some wailing and gnashing of teeth that all six finalists in this category were published by Tor.com. Unlike the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth from certain quarters, there is some merit to this, because if a single publisher completely dominates one category it is a problem.

That said, Tor is the biggest SFF publisher in the English speaking world and the Tor.com imprint did a lot to revitalise the novella form, which was limited to small presses, magazines and self-publishers before that. However, while small presses like Subterranean, Prime Books, Meerkat Press, Telos, Crystal Lake or Neon Hemlock do good work and publish some very fine novellas, they can’t compete with Tor.com’s marketing clout. Ditto for indies and magazines.

So rather than complain about Tor.com’s dominance, maybe we should support and talk up the smaller publishers of novellas more. For example, there were three novellas not published by Tor.com on my ballot, The Return of the Sorceress by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, published by Subterranean“A Manslaughter of Crows” by Chris Willrich, which appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and “The Unlikely Heroines of Callisto Station” by Marie Vibbert, which appeared in Analog….

(4) LOCAL HERO. And there’s a nice article about Cora’s own Best Fan Writer Hugo nomination in the Weser Kurier (in German): “Cora Buhlert aus Stuhr zum dritten Mal für Hugo Award nominiert”.

Die Stuhrer Autorin und Bloggerin Cora Buhlert ist im dritten Jahr in Folge für den Hugo Award in der Kategorie “Bester Fanautor” nominiert. In den Vorjahren belegte die Seckenhauserin jeweils den zweiten Platz in der Sparte (wir berichteten)….

(5) LEND ME YOUR EARS. The Terry Pratchett website announced new audio editions of 40 of the author’s books: “It’s Discworld like you’ve never heard it before”.

To celebrate 50 years of Terry Pratchett, we’re releasing 40 magnificent new recordings of the bestselling series in audio.

Even better, this is Discworld like you’ve never heard it before, with an incredible cast of names from British stage and screen taking on Terry’s unforgettable characters.

Confirmed names include:

    • Bill Nighy, star of Underworld and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as the voice of Terry Pratchett in the footnotes
    • Peter Serafinowicz, star of Shaun of the Dead and Star Wars, as the voice of Death
    • Game of Thrones’ Indira Varma, Fleabag’s Sian Clifford and Merlin’s Colin Morgan as series narrators
    • Andy Serkis, star of Lord of the Rings reading the standalone novel, Small Gods

‘I’m honoured to voice the footnotes and bring to life one of the funniest, quirkiest and best-loved aspects of Terry Pratchett’s world.’ – Bill Nighy.

(6) THAT WHICH IS WASTED ON THE YOUNG. James Davis Nicoll unleashed the Young People Read Old SFF panel on Child of All Ages by P. J. Plauger.

…“Child of All Ages” is a riff on that popular idea, the immortal living unseen among us. See de Camp’s acceptable “The Gnarly Man”, Bester’s execrable The Computer Connection, and Turner’s Australian Vaneglory. To be honest, when I reread Child of All Ages, I was underwhelmed but at least I had fond memories of reading the story for the first time. My young people cannot see that rosy glow of nostalgia surrounding this particular finalist so what will they make of it? 

Go on, take a wild guess.

(7) TRAILBLAZER. Howard Andrew Jones shares a guide to the works of Harold Lamb, the early 20th century historical fiction writer who was a huge influence on Robert E. Howard and others: “Where to Start With Harold Lamb” at Goodman Games.

… Today, though, most of Lamb’s fiction is in print once more,* and fairly easy to lay hands on, just like the histories, many of which are retained to this day by libraries across the United States. So much is out there now it can actually be difficult to know where to start. You need no longer scratch your head in wonder, however – this essay will show you the way.

First, to be clear, Lamb wrote some of the most engaging histories and biographies not just of his day but of all time. His non-fiction reads with the pacing of a skilled novelist and is the polar opposite of the stereotypical dry history book. His histories of The CrusadesHannibalTamerlane, and, of course, Genghis Khan (particularly his March of the Barbarians, which is the history of the Mongolian Empire, not just the life of Genghis Khan) are all great reads, as are many of his other books.

(8) LEONID KOURITS OBIT. Ukrainian fan and conrunner Leonid Kourits was killed by a Russian attack on his hometown reports German sff writer, editor (for the Perry Rhodan line) and fan Klaus N. Frick in “Leonid Kourits ist tot”. The article is in German, but here is the key paragraph via Google Translate:

…Leonid was a science fiction fan who loved international collaboration and lived for it. In 1988, he organized an international science fiction con in the Soviet Union, which took place in a small town on the Black Sea – on March 6, 2022, he fell victim to the Russian war of aggression against his hometown.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1988 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-four years ago, the Probe series started its eight-episode run.

It was co- created by Michael I. Wagner and Isaac Asimov. Asimov had quite some background in television SF series and Wagner was previously known for creating for Hill Street Blues. Here he co-created, produced and wrote several episodes of the series. 

The pilot and series starred Parker Stevenson as Austin James, an asocial genius who solved high tech crimes, and Ashley Crow as James’ new secretary Mickey Castle. 

It was re-aired on Syfy, though they edited the episodes to stuff in extra commercials as they did every series they aired that they hadn’t produced. 

What happened to it? Did poor ratings doom it? No, they didn’t. As one reviewer notes, “Together, these two encounter out-of-control experiments, supernatural events, and mysterious deaths. As you might expect, Probe features heavy doses of scientific knowledge and logical reasoning, but was cut short due to the 1988 writer’s strike.” 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 14, 1925 Rod Steiger. Carl in The Illustrated Man, which is specifically based on three stories by Bradbury from that collection: “The Veldt,” “The Long Rain,” and “The Last Night of the World.” Great film. Genre-wise, he also was Father Delaney in The Amityville Horror, showed up as Charlie on the short-lived Wolf Lake werewolfseries, played Dr. Phillip Lloyd in horror film The Kindred, was Pa in the really chilling American Gothic, played General Decker in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks (really, really weird film), Dr. Abraham Van Helsing in Modern Vampires and Peter on “The Evil Within” episode of Tales of Tomorrow series. (Died 2002.)
  • Born April 14, 1929 Gerry Anderson. English television and film producer, director, writer and, when needs be, voice artist.  Thunderbirds which ran for thirty-two episodes was I think the finest of his puppet-based shows though Captain Scarlet and the MysteronsFireball XL5 and Stingray are definitely also worth seeing. Later on he would move into live productions, with Space: 1999 being the last in partnership with Sylvia Anderson before their divorce. (Died 2012.)
  • Born April 14, 1935 Jack McDevitt, 87. If you read nothing else by him, read Time Travelers Never Die as it’s a great riff on the paradoxes of time travel. If you’ve got time of your own to spare, his Alex Benedict space opera series is a fresh approach to conflict between two alien races. He won the Robert A. Heinlein Award six years ago.
  • Born April 14, 1935 — Terrance Dicks. He had a long association with Doctor Who, working as a writer and also serving as the programme’s script editor from 1968 to 1974. He also wrote many of its scripts including The War Games which ended the Second Doctor’s reign and The Five Doctors, produced for the 20th year celebration of the program. He also wrote novelizations of more than sixty of the Doctor Who shows. Yes sixty! Prior to working on this series, he wrote four episodes of The Avengers and after this show he wrote a single episode of Space: 1999 and likewise for Moonbase 3, a very short-lived BBC series that I’ve never heard of. (Died 2019.)
  • Born April 14, 1949 Dave Gibbons, 73. He is best known for his work with writer Alan Moore, which includes Watchmen, and the Superman story ”For the Man Who Has Everything” which has been adapted to television twice, first into a same-named episode of  Justice League Unlimited and then more loosely into “For the Girl Who Has Everything”. He also did work for 2000 AD where he created Rogue Trooper, and was the lead artist on Doctor Who Weekly and Doctor Who Monthly
  • Born April 14, 1954 Bruce Sterling, 68. Islands in the Net is I think is his finest work as it’s where his characters are best developed and the near-future setting is quietly impressive. (It won a Campbell Memorial Award.) Admittedly I’m also fond of The Difference Engine which he co-wrote with Gibson. He edited Mirrorshades: A Cyberpunk Anthology which is still the finest volume of cyberpunk stories that’s ever been published to date. He’s won two Best Novelette Hugos, one for “Bicycle Repairman” at LoneStarCon 2, and one at AussieCon Three for “Taklamakan” His novel Distraction won the Arthur C. Clarke Award (2000). 
  • Born April 14, 1958 Peter Capaldi, 64. Twelfth Doctor. Not going to rank as high as the Thirteenth, Tenth Doctor or the Seventh Doctor on my list of favorite Doctors, let alone the Fourth Doctor who remains My Doctor, but I thought he did a decent enough take on the role. His first genre appearance was as Angus Flint in the decidedly weird Lair of the White Worm, very loosely based on the Bram Stoker novel of the same name. He pops up in World War Z as a W.H.O. Doctor before voicing Mr. Curry in Paddington, the story of Paddington Bear. He also voices Rabbit in Christopher Robin. On the boob tube, he’s been The Angel Islington in Neverwhere. (Almost remade by Jim Henson but not quite.) He was in Iain Banks’ The Crow Road as Rory McHoan (Not genre but worth noting). He played Gordon Fleming in two episodes of Sea of Souls series. Before being the Twelfth Doctor, he was on Torchwood as John Frobisher. He is a magnificent Cardinal Richelieu in The Musketeers series running on BBC. And he’s involved in the current animated Watership Down series as the voice of Kehaar. 
  • Born April 14, 1982 Rachael Swirsky, 40. Two Nebulas, the first for her “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” novella and the second for her “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” short story.  Both also were nominated for the Hugo. All of her work has been in shorter fiction, all of it superb, and it’s mostly collected in two works, Through the Drowsy Dark and How the World Became Quiet: Myths of the Past, Present, and Future.

(11) PIECES OF EIGHT. Octothorpe 55 is out! John Coxon is a Hugo Award finalist, Alison Scott is a Hugo Award winner, and Liz’s mum got a folk award once. We’re all very excited about our @TheHugoAwards nomination, and we also talk about @reclamation2022 and @BrandSanderson: “55: Beatboxing Champagne”.

(12) MAKING STEAL. Marion Deeds counts off “Five Unconventional SFF Heists” for Tor.com. Here’s one I didn’t know about!

Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Glamorists series started with homage to Jane Austen, but by the fourth book, Jane and Vincent have lost nearly all their material possessions and must out-swindle a swindler to keep from losing their secret magical glamourist process. The book is packed with beautiful settings—Murano and the Venetian lagoon—and wonderful elements like pirates, puppets and Lord Byron swimming naked in a canal, but the heart of the story is the relationship between our two main characters. Jane and Vincent finally reveal fears and issues to each other, and the relationship teeters under the stress of their situation. Is that why I include this book on the list? It is not. This is the only book on the list with heister nuns. Yes, Valour and Vanity includes a convent of feisty nuns who help with the heist. Need I say more?

(13) EUROCON 2022 PHOTOS. German fan and con runner Norbert Fiks shares photos of the 2022 EuroCon LuxCon in Dudelange, Luxembourg: “Impressionen vom Luxcon2022”. The blog is in German, but the post is mostly photos.

(14) FOR GAME LOVERS. This forthcoming series from Aconyte Books sounds interesting: “Announcing our newest series, Play to Win!” Here are the covers of the initial release coming in Fall 2022.

Aconyte Books have today announced the first two books in a brand-new non-fiction series, Play to Win. This new range of non-fiction titles will focus on the wide world of games and gaming, to entertain, inform and intrigue gamers and an interested general audience alike….

Everybody Wins: Four Decades of the Greatest Board Games Ever Made chronicles the recent revolution in tabletop gaming through an entertaining and informative look at the winners of the prestigious Game of the Year (Spiel des Jahre) award, known as the Oscars of the tabletop. Acclaimed British author and games expert James Wallis investigates the winners and losers of each year’s contest to track the incredible explosion in amazing new board games. From modern classics like CATAN, Ticket to Ride, and Dixit, to once-lauded games that have now been forgotten (not to mention several popular hits that somehow missed a nomination), this is a comprehensive yet hugely readable study, penned by one of tabletop gaming’s most knowledgeable commentators. Accompanying the book will be a dedicated podcast series, presented by the book’s author, James Wallis.

Rokugan: The Art of Legend of the Five Rings presents stunning art and illustration from the Japanese-inspired fantasy realms of Rokugan, setting for the famed Legend of the Five Rings series of games, in a lavish, large-format hardcover art book. The Emerald Empire is captured in an age of strife and upheaval – war, intrigue, wild magic and celestial turmoil – through the very finest artwork from across the history of the series. Iconic pieces from the L5R roleplaying and collectible card games are presented in their full glory, together with never-before-seen images, taking the game’s many fans and lovers of fantasy art on a journey through this extraordinary world.

(15) PARADIGM SHIFTER. Ngo Vinh-Hoi shares his appreciation for the works of Stanley G. Weinbaum: “Adventures In Fiction: Stanley Weinbaum” at Goodman Games.

Not many authors can be credited with changing the entire trajectory of a genre, yet Stanley Grauman Weinbaum managed to do so with his very first published science fiction story A Martian Odyssey. The story first appeared in the July 1934 issue of the science fiction pulp magazine Wonder Stories, which was a distant third in popularity to Astounding Stories and Amazing Stories. Forty years later, no less a figure than Isaac Asimov would declare that “hidden in this obscure magazine, A Martian Odyssey had the effect on the field of an exploding grenade. With this single-story, Weinbaum was instantly recognized as the world’s best living science-fiction writer, and at once almost every writer in the field tried to imitate him.”

(16) A DISCOURAGING WORD. A Politico writer says “NASA’s astronauts aren’t ready for deep space”.

…Over the next five years, NASA intends to start mining the lunar surface for water and other resources in preparation for a long-term human presence on the moon’s surface.

The space agency has yet to develop a specialized training program for the astronauts, lacks critical equipment such as new space suits to protect them against deadly levels of radiation, and is still pursuing a range of technologies to lay the groundwork for a more permanent human presence, according to NASA officials, former astronauts, internal studies and experts on space travel.

“This time you are going to need astronauts that are going to actually get out and start to live on the moon,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in an interview. “We’re going to build habitats up there. So you’re going to need a new kind of astronaut.”

The goal, said Nelson, is more ambitious than ever: to “sustain human life for long periods of time in a hostile environment.”…

Yet as NASA’s Artemis project approaches liftoff, it is becoming increasingly clear that even if the new rockets and spacecraft it is pursuing remain on schedule, the program’s lofty goals may have to be lowered by the harsh limits of human reality.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Sonic The Hedgehog 2 Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George, in a spoiler-filled episode, says when the writer explains that between the first and second Sonic The Hedeghog movies, the villain Robotnik has been on another planet getting stoked on mushrooms, the producer says, “I’ve been there!”  Also, the writer warns the producer that much of the second act is a “random romantic comedy shoved into the film with side characters who have nothing to do with the plot.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cora Buhlert, Joyce Scrivner, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 3/1/22 I Claim This Pixel In The Name Of Mike! Isn’t That Lovely, Hmm?

(1) AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS RESPOND TO INVASION OF UKRAINE. Shelf Awareness did a roundup of industry statements of support, and announcements of stronger actions.

PEN International released a letter signed by more than 1,000 writers worldwide, expressing solidarity with writers, journalists, artists and the people of Ukraine, condemning the Russian invasion and calling for an immediate end to the bloodshed.

“We, writers around the world, are appalled by the violence unleashed by Russian forces against Ukraine and urgently call for an end to the bloodshed,” the letter stated. “We stand united in condemnation of a senseless war, waged by President Putin’s refusal to accept the rights of Ukraine’s people to debate their future allegiance and history without Moscow’s interference.

“We stand united in support of writers, journalists, artists, and all the people of Ukraine, who are living through their darkest hours. We stand by you and feel your pain.

“All individuals have a right to peace, free expression, and free assembly. Putin’s war is an attack on democracy and freedom not just in Ukraine, but around the world.

“We stand united in calling for peace and for an end to the propaganda that is fueling the violence. There can be no free and safe Europe without a free and independent Ukraine. Peace must prevail.”


The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals issued a statement of solidarity and support for librarians, archivists and information professionals in Ukraine, noting: “We are gravely concerned at the threat posed by this action to the safety of the Ukrainian people, their heritage and identity, as well as to the security of our professional colleagues.


A statement of support, signed by Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, responded to a joint public appeal from the Baltic cultural organizations representing book creators, publishers and other professionals to end all cooperation with institutions of the Russian Federation.

“The organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair strongly condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine ordered by President Putin,” Boos wrote. “Against the backdrop of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, a violation of international law, the Frankfurt Book Fair is suspending cooperation with the Russian state institutions in charge of organizing the Russian collective stand at Frankfurter Buchmesse. The Frankfurt Book Fair assures the Ukrainian publishers’ associations of its full support.”

The appeal was signed by the Lithuanian Culture Institute, the Latvian Literature/the International Writers and Translators house, the Estonian Literature Centre, Publishers Associations and Writers Unions in all three counties, the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian sections of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), and the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre.


Publishers Weekly adds this news: “Ukraine Update: Bologna Blocks Russia, Ukrainians Call for Global Boycott”.

Today, the organizers of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair announced that, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Fair has, “with immediate effect,” suspended cooperation with all Russian state institutions in charge of organizing the Russian collective stand for the upcoming fair, which is scheduled for March 21-24. Last week, Bologna officials condemned the Russian attack, but had stopped short of blocking Russian participation in the fair.

(2) RUSSIAN SFF WRITER WHO OPPOSES THE WAR. An anti-war and pro-Ukraine article by Russian sff author Dmitry Glukhovsky has been published in Die Zeit, a major German weekly paper: “Ukraine: Antirussland”. If you’re willing to take your chances on a machine translation from German to English, a copy can be downloaded here.

… I have visited Ukraine many times, both before and after 2014. With each passing year, the difference between our two countries has become more and more clear to me. Ukraine was and remains a very free country. A country whose social and political life has always been characterized by chaos. It bears a strong resemblance to the Russia of before Vladimir Putin took office, and the longer Putin was in power, the clearer the differences became. From year to year in Russia order increased and freedom decreased. Today the difference to Ukraine is enormous. Russia is a police state with an almost dictatorial order. And there is almost as much freedom left here as in a dictatorship. Ukraine, on the other hand, has actually become a kind of anti-Russia: despite the chaos and total corruption, it is an example of a functioning democracy. During the elections, power shifted from one political-financial conglomerate to the other. When one of the parties tried to usurp power, people took to the streets demanding justice. In contrast, no real opposition has been admitted to the Russian elections for 20 years….

(3) TRACKULA. BBC Radio 4 has reprised “The Trainspotter’s Guide to Dracula”, a 2017 production. Listen at the link.

“3 May. Bistritz. Left Munich at 8:35 P. M, on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late.”

The first line of Bram Stoker’s Dracula makes it clear what the novel will be about: trains. As the book begins, the English solicitor Jonathan Harker is travelling across Europe by train, en route to meet his mysterious new Transylvanian client, complaining all the way about the late running of the service. “It seems to me that the further East you go the more unpunctual are the trains. What ought they to be in China?”

In the Trainspotter’s Guide to Dracula, Miles Jupp uses Bram Stoker’s novel as it has never been used before, as a train timetable, following its references to plot a route across Europe by rail to Dracula’s castle in Transylvania.

Will Miles be able to reach Dracula’s castle more quickly than Harker did, or will his journey be dogged by discontinued services, closed lines and delays?

(4) YOUNG AT ART. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll subjects his panel to a Fritz Leiber story that merges sff with chess.

This month’s selection is SF stalwart Fritz Leiber’s Midnight by the Morphy Watch, which as it happens I have not only read but read recently. I was not much impressed by the anthology that contained this story but I did like the Leiber…. 

However, if there is one thing I’ve learned from the nearly seven years I’ve been curating Young People, it is that the overlap between my opinions and the Young People’s is often well short of one hundred percent. Let’s see what they thought. 

(5) FOURTH STEP. Brandon Sanderson says “It’s Time to Come Clean”. “This is because something irregular has happened in my career lately, and I need to let you know about it.”

(6) KICK STEP. Sanderson’s confession leads into this Kickstarter – “Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson by Dragonsteel Entertainment” – which has already exceeded its $1 million goal and has raised almost $8 million with 30 days remaining.

Over the last two years, a group of ideas wormed their way into my brain and I found I couldn’t let them go. Despite all of my other obligations, I had to write these stories. So I squeezed them in during moments of free time, crafting four brand new novels. I’m extremely proud of them, as each represents some new aspect of storytelling that has forced me to grow in an interesting way. Each also takes you to someplace new, original, and vibrant. Three of these are Cosmere books taking place on new worlds, and the other one is something completely different.

(7) FOCUS ON RELATED WORK. Cora Buhlert has posted the next Non-Fiction Spotlight and interview with Abraham Riesman, author of True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee.

Tell us about your book.

It’s the first complete and unvarnished look at the life of the man born Stanley Martin Lieber. You know him as Stan Lee, the writer/editor who brought Marvel Comics to the world, changed global popular culture, and became an unmistakeable icon. But beyond those broad strokes, most of what the world knew about Stan Lee was false….

…It’s a story of overreach; of a man who achieved so much, yet always boasted of more. It’s a story of obsession; of the birth of modern fandom and its ripeness for manipulation. Above all, it’s a story of ambiguity; of the fact that certain moral judgments and factual assertions can never be made with certainty. Living with that ambiguity is the great challenge of understanding the life and impact of Stan Lee.

(8) LOST AND FOUND. James Davis Nicoll draws a bead on “5 Classic SF Stories About Lost Home Worlds” at Tor.com.

The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov (1955)

In one sense, Andrew Harlan knows exactly where Earth is. Although he and the other agents of Eternity live outside time, they can and do visit Earth almost any time they care to. Literally. The Eternals monitor and shape Earth’s history over a 70,000 century span. This paradoxically means Harlan can never return to the Earth he grew up on, because Eternity’s incessant tweaking of history to bring about a perfect, stable world means that version of Earth has long since been overwritten.

Harlan knows he can never go home. What he can do is allow himself to be drawn into an ill-fated romance with Noÿs Lambent, who is beautiful, irresistible, and as far as the skilled Eternal can ascertain, slated to be erased from history as an unintended but unavoidable side effect of Eternal tampering. Harlan is determined to save the woman he loves at any cost. Any cost may mean the very existence of Eternity itself…

(9) FOR YOUR VIEWING. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Matt Davis reviews The Spine Of Night, a 2021 fantasy film that deserves more attention, at Grimdark Magazine.

I’ve just come back from a trip. It wasn’t entirely long, but it was certainly very strange, and I won’t be forgetting it any time soon. The Spine of Night is a surreal, blood-soaked fever dream of epic proportions that recalls esoteric animated classics like 1981’s Heavy Metal Ralph Bakshi’s animated adaptation of Lord of the Rings. It unfolds a fantastical and outrageously violent saga throughout the course of its runtime, a story that touches on at times deeply philosophical themes of truth, knowledge, and the futility of existence. At times, The Spine of Night is even profoundly nihilistic—but also beautiful, and thoughtful….

(10) SMITH OBIT. Jeff Smith – the North Carolina fan, not the Filer – died February 28 after a short battle with liver cancer. He was a 2019 Rebel Award winner who chaired numerous StellarCon and MACE gaming conventions.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1989 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Thirty-three years ago this evening on CBS, the Hard Times on Planet Earth series first aired. It was one of those ubiquitous midseason replacements that networks are so fond of doing when a series they started the season with was a failure. This one had an alien soldier who rebelled against his empire doing penance in a human body (surprise). Originality wasn’t really a thing here even though Michael Piller was involved for three episodes.

The cast was Elite Military Officer (yes that’s how he’s named in the credits) played by Martin Kove, and Control, voiced by Danny Martin, and depicted as a small floating robot.

It was created by the brother Jim and John Thomas who previous has written the screenplays for Predator and Predator 2, though they would later write the Wild Wild West. Ooops. Reception for this was hostile to say the lies with People Magazine critic saying of this particular Disney product, “About 20,000 RPM—that’s how fast I reckon Walt Disney must be spinning in his grave with shows like this on the air.”  And the Sun Sentinel reviewerreally hated it:  “The youngest Nielsen demographic starts at 2-year-olds. Even the slowest of developers would be too sophisticated at 24 months for Hard Time on Planet Earth. There hasn’t been a more insultingly stupid, utterly worthless series since Misfits of Science.”

Normally I’d give you its rating on Rotten Tomatoes but apparently it has gotten even a dedicated fan base or CBS has kept it locked away deep in their digital vaults since its initial airing. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 1, 1915 Wyman Guin. Ok, occasionally doing these Birthdays results in me being puzzled and this is one of those times. In 2013, he was named as recipient for the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award at ReaderCon 24. When I look him up, I find that he wrote a single novel and seven stories according to the folks at ISFDB. I’ve not read him. So, was he that good? Should I seek out his novel, The Standing Joy, and add it to my reading list? His short stories are available at the usual digital publishers, but the novel still isn’t. (Died 1989.)
  • Born March 1, 1918 Roger Delgado. The first Master in the Doctor Who series and still my favorite. The role was written especially for him. He would appear only with the Third Doctor as he died in car crash in Spain. Other genre appearances were Quatermass IIDanger ManThe Mummy’s Shroud and First Man into Space. (Died 1973.)
  • Born March 1, 1930 Eddie Hice. New to the Birthday list for being one of the original Red Shirts on Star Trek. He appeared in two episodes, first as a Red Shirt in “The Day of The Dove” and then having the same role in “Wink of an Eye”. I don’t recall either episode well enough to remember his fate in those stories. He had an extensive genre history showing in Batman twice, including once playing The Riddler, he was in Get Smart nine times, six as an actor and three as stunt double (his career as a stunt double was much longer and extensive than his acting career), The Beastmaster and voice work on the animated Lord of The Rings. (Died 2015.)
  • Born March 1, 1938 Michael Kurland, 84. The Unicorn Girl which he pennedis the middle volume of the Greenwich Village trilogy by three different authors, the other two being by Chester Anderson and T.A. Waters. Kurland has also written other genre novels including Ten Little Wizards and A Study in Sorcery, set in the world of Garrett’s Lord Darcy. His other genre novels are Ten Years to Doomsday (written with Chester Anderson), Tomorrow KnightPluribus and Perchance. All three of the Greenwich Village trilogy are available from the usual suspects. 
  • Born March 1, 1946 Lana Wood, 76. She’s best remembered as Plenty O’Toole in Diamonds Are Forever. She was in The Wild Wild West as Vixen O’Shaughnessy in “The Night of the Firebrand” and as Averi Trent in “The Night of the Plague” episodes. She was in both of the CBS televised Captain America films playing Yolanda, and she was still active in the genre as little five years ago playing a character named Implicit in Subconscious Reality. Be very suspicious that all the Amazon reviews of the latter are five stars. Though it does get a fifty three percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • Born March 1, 1950 David Pringle, 72. Pringle, with Malcolm Edwards and Ian Watson, edited Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction from the late late Seventies through the mid Eighties. He helped found Interzone, and the 2005 Glasgow Worldcon committee gave Pringle a Special Award for his work on the magazine. Besides his various guides to the genre such as The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, I see early on that he did a lot of work on J.G. Ballard such as Earth Is the Alien Planet: J. G. Ballard’s Four-Dimensional Nightmare and J. G. Ballard: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography
  • Born March 1, 1952 Steven Barnes, 70. Co-writer with Larry Niven of the Dream Park series. I read the first two when they came out thirty years ago, not bad at all. Their Heorot series isn’t bad either. I’ve not read him on his own so cannot say how he is as a solo writer. I see he’s got a lot of series writing having done work for The Outer LimitsAndromeda and Stargate SG-1

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. Bob Byrne’s series about how the famous detective spent his time during the plague year continues at Black Gate: “Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 38”.

…I know a lot of people, staying at home all day, every day, are eating a lot more then they normally do. But since Nero Wolfe rarely leaves the house, there hasn’t been a change in his habits. Sometimes he wants more beer than he should have, but that’s got nothing to do with the pandemic. I’ve made sure to get my walk in at least every other day, since Fritz’ cooking hasn’t fallen off a bit. I don’t need my pants size to go up during all this….

(15) THAT’S A SPACY MEATBALL. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, John Kelly interviews NASA “multimedia liaison for film and TV collaboration” about the rules the agency has for working with film and television projects.  The agency “was heavily involved” with Hidden Figures, First Man, and The Martian, but refused to work with Life, a 2017 movie about an alien space bug that attacked astronauts.  The agency will also not approve use of its circular “meatball” (designed by James Modarelli in 1959) on “alcohol, food, cosmetics, tobacco, underwear, or technology.” “These days, everyone from filmmakers to fashionistas want to collaborate with NASA”.

… That’s where I saw him wearing what NASA-philes call the “Meatball,” the distinctive blue, star-filled circle, with a red swoop and a dot orbiting the letters “NASA.”That symbol seems to be cropping up everywhere. I saw characters wearing it in recent Spider-Man movies, in the new film “Don’t Look Up,” on various TV shows. What gives? The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is just another government agency headquartered in Washington. So is the National Archives and Records Administration, but you hardly ever see anyone wearing a NARA T-shirt in a blockbuster film….

(16) WHAT IT MEANS. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The always excellent Rogues in the House podcast hosts a roundtable about the future of sword and sorcery: “Sword and Sorcery Round Table: Making sense of the S&S label.”

Sword-and-sorcery can be a confusing label, but the Rogues are determined to make sense of it. In the latest episode, they’re joined by experts of the genre – Scott Oden, Howard Andrew Jones, and Brian Murphy – for a roundtable discussion.

(17) BRINGING SHECKLEY TO THE SCREEN. The Take Me to Your Reader podcast, which discusses cinematic adpatations of SFF stories and novels, discusses the two adaptations of Robert Sheckley’s “The Prize of Peril.” Cora Buhlert has a brief guest appearance, talking about the brilliant West German adpatation from 1970: “Shot With a Happy Ending (The Prize of Peril, by Robert Sheckley)”.

This time, the guys take on some Robert Sheckley in non-English adaptations, namely the 1970 German TV film Das Millionenspiel and the 1983 French film Le Prix Du Danger. Both of these films were adapted from Sheckley’s 1958 short story “The Prize of Peril.”

Of course, we engaged a couple of our friends who were native speakers to help break down the movies. So huge thanks to Cora Buhlert for her excellent breakdown of the German movie, and Emmanuel Dubois for helping us with the French movie.

(18) THE COMING FURY. Tor.com’s Vanessa Armstrong tells readers “Here’s What We Know About the Furiosa Movie So Far”.

… Making Furiosa something other than a non-stop action movie has the benefit of letting us get to see and experience other parts of the Max Max world, including locales that were only mentioned in passing in the 2015 film. “When I started reading [the Furiosa script], I couldn’t put it down,” unit production manager Dan Hood says in Buchanan’s book. “It is going to be really, really good. You get to see Gas Town. You get to see the Bullet Farm. It’s exciting to be able to build that stuff.”

That’s right—you only have to wait a little over one-and-a-half years to see Miller’s vision of Gas Town and the Bullet Farm, places that young Furiosa undoubtedly frequented before she became the Charlize Theron version we saw in Fury Road….

(19) MAKING MEMORIES. Lisa Morton recently asked readers of her newsletter Every Day Is Halloween, “Did you know that several of the best horror movies of the 1940s were written by a woman?” Her name is Ardel Wray.

…One of the reasons you’ve likely never heard of Wray is that she fell victim to the scourge of McCarthyism – she refused to work with investigators to name suspected Communists in the film industry and so was “gray-listed,” meaning her career as a screenwriter was essentially over….

Bright Lights Film Journal profiled her: “Ardel Wray: Val Lewton’s Forgotten Screenwriter”.

During the wartime years of the 1940s, RKO Pictures produced a series of low-budget B-movie chillers that have since become classics of the genre, celebrated for their subtlety and intelligence despite the lurid titles imposed by the studio. Produced by Russian émigré Val Lewton, the films effectively kick-started the careers of venerated directors Jacques Tourneur, Mark Robson, and Robert Wise. Other well-known industry names such as writer DeWitt Bodeen also found fame as a result of their association with Lewton’s B unit, affectionately nicknamed “The Snake Pit.”

However, Ardel Wray, whose credits include I Walked with a ZombieThe Leopard Man, and Isle of the Dead, remains largely unrecognized, despite contributing to more Lewton projects than any other single writer and despite being the only female writer on his team. In addition, she co-wrote what is arguably the best of the RKO “Falcon” thriller series, and wrote the original screenplay for the unproduced Boris Karloff/Val Lewton historical mystery Blackbeard the Pirate….

(20) AND THEN THE OTHER SHOE DROPPED. Yesterday, Disney announced it would not open some new movies in Russia due to the Ukranian situation, but the industry thought it was too late to expect Warner Bros. to halt this week’s opening of The Batman. But no! “’The Batman’ Pulls Russia Release” says The Hollywood Reporter.

Warner Bros. has pulled The Batman from its Russian release calendar at the eleventh hour. The decision comes as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine and follows Disney’s move to pause its upcoming releases in the country.

“In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia,” a WarnerMedia spokesperson said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”…

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: The Book of Boba Fett,” the Screen Junkies note that Boba Fett only had four lines in the first three Star Wars movies.  But in this show we learn Boba Fett is a bald fat guy who takes a lot of naps, spends way too much time in the bathtub, has many, many “space meetings” and has a gang led by people on space Vespas.  Thankfully, in chapter 5 the Mandalorian shows up to kick down doors and make a chain mail shirt for Baby Yoda.  But there is a scene where we see what happens when you get a Wookie drunk and give him brass knuckles!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Rich Lynch, Chris Barkley, Cora Buhlert, Giant Panda, Jennifer Hawthorne, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 1/31/22 But It Is The Plotted Truth, That Really Drives You Insane! Let’s Scroll The Pixel Again!

(1) THE BROKEN MIRROR OF NOSTALGIA REFLECTS A FRACTURED PAST. [Item by Olav Rokne.] At the Escapist, possibly my favorite film critic Darren Mooney offers trenchant analysis on the recent phenomena of movies paying homage to previous works that were widely disliked when they first came out. In essence, he suggests that there may be a collective yearning for an imagined halcyon past that never really existed in the first place. “Phantom Menace & ASM: Why Are We Nostalgic for Things We Hate?”

Nostalgia isn’t memory. In many cases, what is being evoked in these nostalgic franchise extensions isn’t anything resembling reality or history, but instead an imagined object. This often involves a crass distortion of the original object, in order to flatter the presumed audience.

(2) YOUNG PEOPLE. James Davis Nicoll has the Young People Read Old SFF panel opine about Vonda McIntyre’s “Wings.” It was a very well-received story five decades ago, however, the reception comes with a bit of static now.

Although it has not been often reprinted, Vonda N. McIntyre’s 1973? “Wings” seems to have struck a chord with fans and fellow professionals. ?“Wings” was nominated for both a Hugo and a Nebula, losing the first to Le Guin’s ?“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” and the second to Tiptree’s ?“Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death”. ?“Wings” is one of two stories about an alien race whose name for themselves is never given. Their world dying, the species launches a generation ship for another star. 1974’s ?“The Mountains of Sunset, the Mountains of Dawn” details how the great migration played out. ?“Wings”, in contrast is focused on events on the dying homeworld, and the relationship of two persons there….

(3) FIYAH GRANTS OPEN. FIYAH Literary Magazine is accepting applications for grants to assist Black writers of speculative fiction in “defraying costs associated with honing their craft.” Three $1,000 grants will be distributed annually as part of Juneteenth every year. Applications for the Rest, Craft, and Study grants are being accepted through May 15, 2022. There also are two other grants. All the grants are limited to prose writers for now. [Via Tor.com.]

The Rest Grant — $1,000

The FIYAH Rest Grant is for activists and organizers with a record of working on behalf of the SFF community, but who are in need of respite or time to recommit to their personal projects. Application materials include a 1-2 page personal statement on one’s history of work or ongoing projects on behalf of an inclusive SFF space.

 Study Grant — $1,000

This grant is to be used for defraying costs associated with attending workshops, retreats, or conducting research for a writing project. Application requirements include proof of acceptance to a workshop or retreat (where applicable),  a 1-page description of the work requiring research, and a 3k-word writing sample.

Craft Grant — $1,000

This grant is awarded based on a writer’s submitted WIP sample or project proposal, in the spirit of assisting with the project’s completion. Application requirements include a 5k-word writing sample, a 1-page proposal or synopsis of the project in question, and an introductory document detailing your goals for the project after completion.

Two emergency grants of $500 will be awarded, in March and October.

Emergency Grant — 2x $500

This is a needs-based grant to assist Black SFF writers with emergency financial circumstances which may be interfering with their ability to write. Emergency circumstances may include but are not limited to threat of eviction, payment of school fees, compromised or destroyed equipment, injury, travel for family care-taking in a time of crisis, or disaster or medical related relief. The Emergency Grant is awarded biannually, once in March and once in October. Application requirements include a 1-page statement detailing the nature of the emergency need for funds and intent for its use.

There is also –

Editorial Grant

The FIYAH Editorial Grant is intended as a stipend for Black editors who have been accepted for an unpaid editorial internship or fellowship at a publishing house or literary agency in 2022-23. Application requirements include a personal statement detailing your editorial experience (or lack thereof) as well as your focus for your professional development and career going forward as an editor, agent, or other industry professional. A detailed critique of a SFF novel or novella you’ve read in the last 12 months is also required. Use the button below to access the application form.

This grant was made possible by a sponsorship from Sydnee Thompson.

Applicants for any FIYAH Grant must be 18 years of age by June 19th of the application year, and writers of speculative fiction. In addition:

FIYAH Grants, like our other submissions, are open to Black people of the African Diaspora. This definition is globally inclusive (Black anywhere in the world) and also applies to mixed/biracial and Afro-appended people regardless of gender identity or orientation.

(4) MAUS CREATOR COMMENTS ON BAN. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Art Spiegelman about the recent efforts to ban MAUS. Spiegelman says he is happy that “the book has a second life as an anti-fascist tool.”  The hardcover of MAUS is currently #3 on Amazon and two paperback editions are in the top 10. “Art Spiegelman, ‘Maus’ author, sees the book’s Tennessee school ban as a ‘red alert’”.

…The 10-member board in McMinn County chose to remove “Maus” from its eighth-grade language arts curriculum, citing its profanity and nudity. Now the New York-based author is sifting through the minutes of the board’s Jan. 10 meeting, trying to make some sense of its decision to target the graphic memoir, which previously has been challenged in California and banned in Russia. [Spiegelman’s] conclusion: The issue is bigger than his comic book.

In the current sociopolitical climate, he views the Tennessee vote as no anomaly. “It’s part of a continuum, and just a harbinger of things to come,” Spiegelman says, adding that “the control of people’s thoughts is essential to all of this.”

As such school votes strategically aim to limit “what people can learn, what they can understand and think about,” he says, there is “at least one part of our political spectrum that seems to be very enthusiastic about” banning books.

“This is a red alert. It’s not just: ‘How dare they deny the Holocaust?’ ” he says with a mock gasp. “They’ll deny anything.”…

(5) LOCKED STAR MYSTERY. James Davis Nicoll tells his Tor.com audience about “Five Flawed Books That Are Still Worth Rereading”. One of them is —

Sundiver by David Brin (1980)

…Modern readers will likely find Sundiver (the novel, not the spacecraft in the novel) a bit too much of its era; not in a good way. The treatment of women in this novel makes it obvious that the novel was published closer to the midpoint of the 20th century than to today. The “uplift” which gives Brin’s series its name involves a combination of genetic manipulation and selective breeding, though the humans in the novel decry the way senior galactic patrons treat their servant races. As to the science: Brin, even at the time, must have known that cooling lasers could not work as he has them work in the book. Too bad that many readers must have accepted this as science fact.

However! The novel in hand is not the grand-scale space opera one might expect. It’s a murder mystery on an isolated space craft. It just so happens that I am, in addition to being an SF fan, am also a fan of murder mysteries set in isolated locations. Sundiver was an engaging example of the form—it is hard to get more isolated than a location within the Sun….

(6) FREE BOOK UPCOMING. One of the three books Team File 770 advanced to the finals of the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition will be available free over the next few days. Martin Reed’s novel The Hammond Conjecture will be on free book promotion on Amazon from February 1-5.

(7) EARLY CINEMATIC VAMPIRE. Dutch fantasy writer Remco van Straten has dug up a Dutch vampire movie from 1919 called “Vampire: the Scourge of Amsterdam (1919)”.

 As I looked through the Dutch newspaper archive for information on Nosferatu‘s Dutch premiere for a blog post, I stumbled upon something that I, fairly knowledgeable on horror film history, didn’t know about: an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula was produced in the Netherlands in 1919, a full three years before Murnau made Nosferatu in 1922!…

(8) FANCAST DOUBLE-DIP. Cora Buhlert has posted a double Fancast Spotlight for The Dickheads Podcast (as in Philip K. Dick) and Postcards from a Dying World“Fancast Spotlight: The Dickheads Podcast and Postcards from a Dying World”.

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

I am involved in two fancasts. First and foremost is The Dickheads Podcast. We are in the 5th and maybe the final year of covering all of Philip K. Dick’s books in publication order. He has over forty novels published and at the time of this interview, we are about to record A Scanner Darkly the novel released in 1977….

On my own, I do a podcast called Postcards from a Dying World. In this show, I do whatever I want…. 

(9) THE PATTON OF SPACE FORCE. Season 2 of Space Force (dropping February 18 on Netflix) has a future where Patton Oswalt is an astronaut but the New York Jets are STILL terrible!

(10) HOLGER M. POHL OBIT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] German SFF writer, editor and fan Holger M. Pohl died unexpectedly aged 63.

Pohl was a German SFF writer, editor and columnist for the fanzine Fantasyguide. He was the author of Arkland, a fantasy novel inspired by the sword and sorcery of the 1960s and 1970s,and contributed to the multi-author space opera series Die Neunte Expansion and Rettungskreuzer Ikarus. With Dirk van den Boom he co-wrote the space opera novel Welt der Sieben Ebenen. He was a common sight at German cons and beloved member of the German SFF community. I only met him once at the Dublin Worldcon. Very nice guy.

Here are some German-language obituaries: Markus Mäurer, “Holger M. Pohl – Ein Nachruf” at Translate or Die (the blog’s actual name); Dirk van den Boom, “Holger M. Pohl ist tot” at SF Boom; and the fanzine Fantasyguide where he had a regular column. 

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1966 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Fifty-six years at Tricon where Isaac Asimov was Toastmaster, Roger Zelazny’s This Immortal would win the Hugo for Best Novel in a tie with Frank Herbert’s Dune. It was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in October and November 1965, in 1966 by Ace Books, in 1967 by UK publisher Hart-Davis in hardcover, and later by the SF Book Club with a Richard Powers cover. Three other works were nominated: John Brunner’s The Squares of The City, Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress which would win this Hugo the next year at NYCon 3 and Edward E. Smith’s Skylark DuQuesne.

(12) TODAY’S DAY.

January 31: National Gorilla Suit Day. 

Mad Magazine artist Don Martin created the idea of National Gorilla Suit Day for a 1963 comic strip in which a character mocks the holiday and is then assaulted by gorillas and people in gorilla suits. Since that time, the holiday has been semi-celebrated every year by fans of Mad Magazine and Don Martin by dressing up in a gorilla suit.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 31, 1921 John Agar. Between the early Fifties and the Sixties, he appeared in many SFF films such as The Rocket ManRevenge of the CreatureTarantulaThe Mole PeopleAttack of the Puppet PeopleInvisible InvadersDestination SpaceJourney to the Seventh PlanetCurse of the Swamp CreatureZontar: The Thing from Venus, Women of the Prehistoric Planet and E.T.N.: The Extraterrestrial Nastie. Love that last title! (Died 2002.)
  • Born January 31, 1937 Philip Glass, 85. 1000 Airplanes on the Roof: A Science Fiction Music-DramaEinstein on the BeachThe Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (with a libretto by Doris Lessing based on her novel of the same name), The marriages between zones three, four, and five (libretto by Doris Lessing, after her second novel from Canopus in Argos), The Witches of Venice and The Juniper Tree would be a very fragmentary listing of his works that have a genre underpinning. I’m very, very fond of the latter two works. 
  • Born January 31, 1960 Grant Morrison, 62. If you can find it, his early stuff on such U.K. publishers as Galaxy Media and Harrier Comics is worth searching out. Not your hero in tights materials at all. For his work in that venue, I’d recommend his run on The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, all of his Doom Patrol work (and the HBO Max series is based on his work and is quite spectacular), Seven Soldiers and The Multiversity which is spectacularly weird. 
  • Born January 31, 1962 Will McIntosh, 60. Best known for the  dozens of short stories he’s written that have been published in magazines including Asimov’s, InterzoneLightspeed and Strange Horizons. He won a Hugo for his short story “Bridesicle“ at Aussiecon 4.
  • Born January 31, 1968 Matt King, 54. He’s Peter Streete in the most excellent Tenth Doctor story, “The Shakespeare Code”. His other genre performances are Freeman in the superb Jekyll, Cockerell in Inkheart based off Caroline Funke’s novel of that name, the ghost Henry Mallet in Spirited and Clyde in the recent maligned Doolittle.
  • Born January 31, 1973 Portia de Rossi, 49. She first shows up as Giddy in Sirens which would I’d stretching things to even include as genre adjacent but which is definitely worth watching. For SFF roles, she was in Catholic Church tinged horror film Stigmata, musical Zombie comedy Dead & Breakfast and werewolf horror Cursed. She was Lily Munster in the delightfully weird Mockingbird Lane pilot that never went to series. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) FUTURE TENSE. The January 2022 story in the Future Tense Fiction series, a monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives, is “If We Make It Through This Alive,” by A.T. Greenblatt, a story about a cutthroat future road race, the climate crisis, the ability/disability continuum, and much more.

Slate published the story along with a response essay by Damien P. Williams, a scholar of technology and society. “How heeding disabled people can help us survive the climate crisis.”

Aliza Greenblatt’s “If We Make It Through This Alive” is an immediately engaging story, but the deeper in you get, the more is revealed. And one of the starkest but most subtly played revelations comes near the very end, when the audience is confronted with twin harsh truths: Disabled and otherwise marginalized people are least often thought of when planning for the future—and what disabled people know from their experience of living in this world likely makes them better prepared than nondisabled people to survive whatever comes next….

(16) BLACK PANTHER HISTORY. As Black History Month approaches, Marvel is taking fans on a historical journey, uncovering the evolution of Marvel’s first Black superhero: T’Challa, the Black Panther. Marvel Entertainment and SiriusXM will launch their latest original unscripted podcast series, The History of Marvel Comics: Black Panther, on Monday, February 14.

The six-episode documentary podcast, hosted by New York Times best-selling author Nic Stone (“Shuri,” “Dear Martin”), explores the comic book origins of the Black Panther through conversations with the creators who shaped T’Challa’s journey, celebrates the innately Afro-Futuristic world of Wakanda, and analyzes the larger social impact of the character.

The History of Marvel Comics: Black Panther brings writers, artists, and historians together to share a story that only Marvel can tell. The show features exclusive interviews with notable talent including Brian Stelfreeze, Christopher Priest, Don McGregor, Joe Quesada, John Ridley, John Romita Jr., Reginald Hudlin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and more.

The show explores some of Black Panther’s most pivotal moments including Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s 1966 debut of the character at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, his continued evolution through the birth of the Black Power Movement, his time with the Avengers and of course, the launching of  Black Panther’s adventures.

The series will initially be available exclusively on the SXM App and Marvel Podcasts Unlimited on Apple Podcasts. Episodes will be widely available one week later on Pandora, Stitcher, and all major podcast platforms in the U.S. Learn more at siriusxm.com/blackpanther.

(17) PITCHLESS MEETING. Mad Genius Club’s Dave Freer pretty much doesn’t watch TV and rarely sees a movie, which isn’t a problem except in this one way — “Every word you say…”

…It’s a curse because the right way to do elevator pitches to editors was to describe your book as like X movie or TV series, meets Y movie or TV series. Mary Poppins meets Die Hard and have a bastard love-child would be about my level… but I have actually heard it done, with movies I had never heard of (I am sure everyone else had). The Movie/TV tropes and references were plainly so much easier for both the author and the editor, than book ones. It is also plainly popular with readers, who, it seems know much more about movies than I do….

(18) ROAD TRIP! “NASA Vet and Space Mogul Aim to Build 97% Cheaper Space Station” at MSN.com.

…If Michael Suffredini is to get the price tag of the first private space station down to $3 billion — compared with the $100 billion it cost to build the International Space Station — the CEO of Houston-based Axiom Space has some decisions to make about what to outsource and what to build in-house.

… Axiom has tripled its headcount at its 14-acre Houston headquarters to 392, and will aim to get to 600 in the coming year. Recent hires include Tejpaul Bhatia, who helped build the startup ecosystem for Google Cloud, as chief revenue officer.

In order to make money, Axiom will also offer space tourism, though it says most of its revenues would eventually come from companies and industries taking advantage of a microgravity environment. U.K.-based studio Space Entertainment Enterprise, which is producing Tom Cruise’s upcoming space movie, announced on Jan. 20 a deal with Axiom to build an in-orbit studio.

Axiom slated its first entry to space for February, but recently moved it to March 31, due to additional spacecraft preparations and space-station traffic. For its first mission to the ISS in March, the crew includes American real estate mogul Larry Connor, Canadian entrepreneur Mark Pathy and Israeli tycoon Eytan Stibbe. The trip is costing each of them $55 million, according to Ghaffarian. It would be the first private astronaut mission in which the transportation vehicle is also private, according to NASA’s Hart. Axiom contracted SpaceX for the launch, and has become the biggest private client of Elon Musk’s space startup with four missions contracted. SpaceX did not immediately reply to a request for comment….

(19) LOOK, UP IN THE SKY! Space.com reports “The James Webb Space Telescope’s 1st target star is in the Big Dipper. Here’s where to see it.”

…Now that JWST has reached its final destination in space, the mission team is getting the next-generation space telescope prepped for observations. A bright point like HD 84406 provides a helpful target by which the team can align JWST’s honeycomb-shaped mirrors and to start gathering engineering data, according to the tweet….

(20) THE PLAY’S THE THING. [Item by Michael Toman.] Would any other theaterphile Filers also appreciate the opportunity to see this free performance of Jeton’s “The Department of Dreams”? Maybe with a small donation?

The world premiere of Department of Dreams by Kosovar playwright Jeton Neziraj at City Garage, November – December 2019. In this nightmarish, Orwellian comedy an autocratic government demands its citizens deposit their dreams in a central bureaucratic depository so that it can exert the fullest possible control of their imaginations. Dan, a new hire for the prized job of Interpreter, sift patiently through the nation’s dreams looking for threats to the government’s authority.  but finds nothing is as it seems except the authority he serves.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Olav Rokne, Cora Buhlert, Lise Andreasen, Joey Eschrich, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

Pixel Scroll 12/11/21 The Scroll In The High Pixel

(1) REACHING OUT. Kate Elliott distills her sff experience into a Twitter thread, which starts here.

(2) COWBOY BEBOP. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Science fiction author Wesley Chu (The Lives Of TaoThe Walking Dead: Typhoon) posted this “hot take” on Twitter:

He followed it up with a link to the petition “Save the live action Cowboy Bebop” posted in yesterday’s Pixel Scroll: “Make me a prophet, friends! Sign the petition to save Cowboy Bebop.” The petition now has over 2,000 signatures.

(3) IN AND OUT OF FLUX. Camestros Felapton, in “Review: Doctor Who Flux”, assesses how nu-Who’s thirteenth season with the Thirteenth Doctor wrapped up. Beware spoilers!

…So where does that leave Flux and why was it not so terrible despite all that? As I’ve joked before, it was a shaggy-dog story where lots of things happen but most of it doesn’t really matter. Events strung together but without a substantial narrative arc can be entertaining. These kinds of “just a bunch of stuff that happened” plots make millions when they are Fast & Furious movies. I don’t know what the first big example of this approach is but I suspect that is the James Bond film You Only Live Twice which makes not a bit of sense but has so many memorable fragments that it feels like it has a story there. F&F is worse to some degree because that narrative fragmentation splits over multiple films i.e. I can remember lots of scenes from those movies but I have to actively think about elements to work out which film it was from (at least from about F&F5)….

(4) SIGNING OFF. “Nichelle Nichols Appears for Final Comic-Con Events in L.A. amid Conservatorship Battle” reports Yahoo!

…Nichelle Nichols, one of the stars of the original Star Trek series and a pioneering recruiter of women and minorities for America’s space program, made her final convention appearance before her many fans as part of a three-day farewell celebration at L.A. Comic-Con over the weekend.

Best known for playing communications officer Nyota Uhura aboard the starship Enterprise, the iconic actress, singer and dancer — who turns 89 on Dec. 28 — signed autographs, posed for photos and attended an early birthday celebration, where she briefly but joyfully kicked up her heels and danced. Nichols was also the subject of tribute panels throughout the convention, though she did not make any public statements.

An active figure on stage, TV and music since the early 1960s, Nichols’ public and professional life has been slowed since she was diagnosed with dementia in 2018, and she has also been at the center of a conservatorship battle. However, she was all smiles during her many appearances on her retirement tour at Comic-Con LA. Nichols was seen waving, blowing kisses and flashing Star Trek‘s famous Vulcan salute to the many fans who turned out to bid her farewell….

(5) FROM THE ARCHIVES. [Item by Bill.] Metafilter just finished a series of posts over the last week in which highlighted “short speculative fiction stories published by online magazines that are no longer publishing, or that are on hiatus, but whose interesting archives remain online” — Posts tagged with magazinearchives / MetaFilter.

(6) PRAISING WITH FAINT DAMS. Is James Davis Nicoll’s Young People Read Old SFF panel impressed by this Lafferty Hugo-winner? Please…stop laughing.

This month’s Young People Read Old Hugo Winners presented me with a dilemma. “Eurema’s Dam” by R. A. Lafferty shared the 1973 Hugo for Best Short Story with “The Meeting” by C. M. Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl. How to choose between two works the voters found worthy? The answer, it seems, was in having read “The Meeting”, which is about commandeering a developmentally deficient child’s body so the body can house the brain of a superior child. Since I don’t actively dislike my Young People, I went with the story I didn’t remember anything about, a story that only might annoy them, rather than the story I remembered all too well and was absolutely certain would enrage them.

R. A. Lafferty was a beloved author of whimsical fantasies. My brain lacks the proper receptors and I don’t see the appeal. I am aware I am in the minority here. Perhaps my Young People will see the virtues in Lafferty’s writing to which I am blind. Let’s find out! 

(7) TIME AFTER TIME. The latest episode of CSI Skill Tree, a series on videogames, worldbuilding, storytelling, and possible futures, is focused on the 2019 game Outer Wilds, about unraveling the mysteries of a solar system caught in a time loop. The guests are game director and designer Randy Smith (Thief series, Waking MarsJETT: The Far Shore) and Luc Riesbeck, a space policy and research analyst at Astroscale U.S.

(8) FUTURE SEASON’S GREETINGS. The Bristol Board has copies of the original space-themed covers by Frank R. Paul for the Christmas issues of Forecast, Hugo Gernsback’s radio and electronics magazine of the Fifties and Sixties. Here’s an example.

(9) THANKS FOR THE MEMORY HOLE. “Feminist retelling of Nineteen Eighty-Four approved by Orwell’s estate” – the Guardian has the story.

The estate of George Orwell has approved a feminist retelling of Nineteen Eighty-Four, which reimagines the story from the perspective of Winston Smith’s lover Julia.

… Publisher Granta said that Julia understands the world of Oceania “far better than Winston and is essentially happy with her life”. As Orwell puts it in Nineteen Eighty-Four, “in some ways she was far more acute than Winston, and far less susceptible to Party propaganda … She also stirred a sort of envy in him by telling him that during the Two Minutes Hate her great difficulty was to avoid bursting out laughing. But she only questioned the teachings of the Party when they in some way touched upon her own life. Often she was ready to accept the official mythology, simply because the difference between truth and falsehood did not seem important to her.”

“She has known no other world and, until she meets Winston, never imagined one. She’s opportunistic, believing in nothing and caring not at all about politics. She routinely breaks the rules but also collaborates with the regime whenever necessary. She’s an ideal citizen of Oceania,” said Granta. “But when one day, finding herself walking toward Winston Smith in a long corridor, she impulsively hands him a note – a potentially suicidal gesture – she comes to realise that she’s losing her grip and can no longer safely navigate her world.”

Orwell’s estate said it had been “looking for some time” for an author to tell the story of Smith’s lover, and that Newman, who has previously been longlisted for the Women’s prize and shortlisted for the Guardian first book award, “proved to be the perfect fit”…

(10) WHO DREW. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist Colin Howard who did book and VHS covers for Doctor Who in the 1980s-1990s has announced a new art book: Timeslides: The Doctor Who Artwork of Colin Howard.

Colin Howard’s art graced the covers of around thirty VHS releases, and for the first time ever, they’re collected together in Timeslides: The Doctor Who Art of Colin Howard

Join Colin as he opens his personal archive and takes you on a tour of his Doctor Who universe – from iconic videos to book covers, from illustrations to private commissions. Featuring original sketches, unpublished designs, and a fascinating commentary, Timeslides takes you further behind the scenes than ever before.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1992 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-nine years ago, The Muppet Christmas Carol premiered as directed by Brian Henson (in his feature film directorial debut) from the screenplay by Jerry Juhl. Based amazingly faithfully off that story, it starred Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge with a multitude of Muppet performers, to wit Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Ed Sanders, Jerry Nelson, Theo Sanders, Kristopher Milnes, Russell Martin, Ray Coulthard  and Frank Oz. I must single out Jessica Fox as the voice of Ghost of Christmas Past. 

Following Jim Henson’s death in May 1990, the talent agent Bill Haber had approached Henson’s son Brian with the idea of filming an adaptation. It was pitched to ABC as a television film, but Disney ended up purchasing it instead. That’s why it’s only available on Disney+ these days. 

Critics in general liked it with Roger Ebert being among them though he added that it “could have done with a few more songs than it has, and the merrymaking at the end might have been carried on a little longer, just to offset the gloom of most of Scrooge’s tour through his lifetime spent spreading misery.” (Those songs were by Paul Williams, another one of his collaborations with the Jim Henson Company after working on The Muppet Movie.) Box office wise, it did just ok as it made twenty-seven million against production costs of twelve million, not counting whatever was spent on marketing. And audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather ungloomy rating of eighty-eight percent.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 11, 1926 Dick Tufeld. He’s best known, or at least best recognized, as the voice of the Robot on Lost in Space, a role he reprises in the feature film. The first words heard on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea are spoken by him: “This is the Seaview, the most extraordinary submarine in all the seven seas.” He’s been the opening announcer on Spider-Man and His Amazing FriendsSpider-WomanThundarr the BarbarianFantastic Four and the Time Tunnel. (Died 2012.)
  • Born December 11, 1945 Zienia Merton. She’s best remembered for playing Sandra Benes in Space: 1999. She played Ping-Cho during a series of First Doctor stories. She had roles on Dinotopia, the Sarah Jane Adventures and Wizards vs. Aliens. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 11, 1944 Teri Garr, 77. A long history of genre film roles starting in Young Frankenstein as Inga before next appearing in Close Encounters of the Third Kind as Ronnie Neary. Next is the horror film Witches’ Brew where she was Margaret Lightman. She voices Mary McGinnis in Batman Beyond: The Movie, a role she has does on a recurring basis in the series. Series wise, shows up uncredited in the Batman series in the “Instant Freeze” as the Girl Outside the Rink. And of course, she’s Roberta Lincoln in Star Trek’s “Assignment Earth” episode. (I once found a site that the spin-off series had actually been made.) She has a number of other genre roles, none as interesting as that one. 
  • Born December 11, 1954 Richard Paul Russo, 67. Winner of two Philip Dick Awards, first for Subterranean Gallery, and later for Ship of Fools. Subterranean Gallery was also nominated for a Clarke Award. He apparently stopped writing genre fiction quite some time ago. 
  • Born December 11, 1957 William Joyce, 64. Author of the YA series Guardians of Childhood which is currently at twenty books and growing. Now I’ve no interest in reading them but Joyce and Guillermo del Toro turned the early ones into in a rather splendid Rise of the Guardians film which I enjoyed quite a bit. The antagonist in it reminds me somewhat of a villain later on In Willingham’s Fables series called Mr. Dark. 
  • Born December 11, 1959 M. Rickert, 62. Short story writer par excellence. She’s got three collections to date, Map of Dreams which won a World Fantasy Award, Holiday and You Have Never Been Here. Her two novels The Little Witch and The Shipbuilder of Bellfairie are most excellent, and are available from the usual digital suspects.  Her collections unfortunately are not. 
  • Born December 11, 1962 Ben Browder, 59. Actor of course best known for his roles as John Crichton in Farscape and Cameron Mitchell in Stargate SG-1.  One of my favorite roles by him was his voicing of Bartholomew Aloysius “Bat” Lash in Justice League Unlimited called “The Once and Future Thing, Part 1”. He’d have an appearance as sheriff in the Eleventh Doctor story, “A Town Called Mercy”, a Weird Western of sorts.
  • Born December 11, 1965 Sherrilyn Kenyon, 56. Best known for her Dark Hunter series which runs to around thirty volumes now.  I realize in updating this birthday note that I indeed have read this first several of these and they were damn good. She’s got The League series as well which appears to be paranormal romance, and a Lords of Avalon series too under the pen name of Kinley MacGregor. She has won two World Fantasy Awards, one for her short story, “Journey Into the Kingdom”, and one for her short story collection, Map of Dreams

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) FOR YOUR WISHLIST. Connie Willis wrote a long Facebook post hawking her American Christmas Stories collection.

…Stefanie Peters and David Cloyce Smith and the other editors at Library of America did all the heavy lifting, scouring all sorts of obscure books and magazines, finding thousands of stories for us to choose from, and getting all the necessary permissions and releases. All I did was read a bunch of stories, suggest some stories they’d missed, and write the introduction.)

Between us, we found mysteries, horror stories, Westerns, science-fiction stories, ghost stories, police procedurals, and fantasies, stories by famous authors like Bret Harte and John Updike and stories by writers you’ve never heard of, like Pauline Hopkins and John Kendrick Bangs. Stories by African-American authors writing in the post-Civil War South, by Chinese-American authors writing about California’s Chinatown, by authors of vastly different backgrounds writing about Alaskan and Puerto Rican and Nebraska Christmases.

And we found stories written in all different keys, from cynicism to sentimentality, from nostalgia to urban angst. And comedy. So many Christmas collections focus solely on serious or uplifting stories, but humor’s been a staple of the American Christmas story since Mark Twain and William Dean Howells, and I was really happy we were able to include humorous stories by Shirley Jackson, Robert Benchley, Leo Rosten, Joan Didion, and Damon Runyon.

(Especially Damon Runyon. We would have included all his Christmas stories if we’d had room, and all of O. Henry’s, but alas, there were length constraints–and permissions we weren’t able to get. And in addition, we didn’t want this collection to be a carbon copy of every other Christmas anthology we’d ever read. Which is why O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi” and the “Christmas won’t be Christmas” piece by Louisa May Alcott aren’t in the book. Sorry. But they’ve been reprinted virtually everywhere, and if we included them, we’d have had to leave out stories by both O. Henry and Alcott that you might not have read before.).

We also included lots of other wonderful stories, like Langston Hughes’ wistful “One Christmas Eve” and Edna Ferber’s “No Room at the Inn” and Ben Hecht’s “Holiday Thoughts” Jacob Riis’s “The Kid Hangs Up His Stocking” and Jack London’s “Klondike Christmas” and Dorothy Parker’s “The Christmas Magazines and the Inevitable Story of the Snowbound Train.”

For you science-fiction, fantasy, and horror fans, there’s Cynthia Felice’s “Track of a Legend,” Mildred Clingerman’s “The Wild Wood,” Steve Rasnic Tem’s “Buzz,” Ray Bradbury’s “The Gift,”and Raymond E. Banks’s “Christmas Trombone.”” (And a story of mine that they chose, “Inn.”)…

And don’t forget to register for the Library of America’s American Christmas Stories conversation with Connie Willis, Nalo Hopkinson, and Penne Restad on December 15 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

(15) I READ YOU FIVE BY FIVE. Two more of James Davis Nicoll’s thematic look-back posts at Tor.com.

… Perhaps some fictional examples are in order, since historical examples would no doubt set the comments on fire (so let’s please avoid that)….

Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler (1980)

No person works as hard to find and gather humanity’s psionic adepts as Doro. Doro has invested millennia tracking down, gathering, and breeding mutants to ensure that they survive and flourish. Thanks to Doro’s endless work, the genes for psionic talents have been concentrated and encouraged to flourish.

However, this long-standing project had nothing to do with any particular concern for mutant-kind or a belief in orthogenesis. Doro is a psychic predator. Mutant minds are tasty and their appropriated bodies provide him with comfortable temporary accommodation. Worse, the psychics are quite aware of Doro’s appetites. They simply lack the means to resist him. The best that shape-shifting immortal Anyanwu can do is to play a weak hand as well as she can, using Doro’s desire for a peer to limit the damage he does to her kin.

… But pessimism is nothing new, of course. Olden time SF authors were enormously pessimistic, producing works every bit as sour and gloomy as the most morose works penned by today’s authors. Don’t believe me? Here are five intensely depressing SF novels from the long, long ago. I recommend each and every one of them, if only to cast your current circumstances in a more favourable light….

(16) GALACTIC OPPORTUNITY. Space Cowboy Books will host an online reading and interview with Janice L. Newman, author of “At First Contact,” on December 14. Register here.

Join us for a reading and interview with Janice L. Newman about her new book At First Contact, a touching trio of romances in a speculative vein. From the edge of space, to the shadows of the paranormal, to the marvels of the mystical.

(17) BANK ON IT. Seneca Falls goes all-in on It’s A Wonderful Life. “This New York Town Is Honoring A Beloved Holiday Movie’s 75th Anniversary” at Forbes.

… “We also say that we don’t think that Frank Capra intended Bedford Falls to be one place,” said Law. “It is every place that people hold dear to our hearts.”

Regardless, Law noted that Seneca Falls has welcomed actress Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu Bailey, since her first visit there in 2002.

“She has introduced us to other cast members, relatives of cast members and others associated with the film,” said Law. Other visiting actors have ranged from Jimmy Hawkins, who played Tommy Bailey, to Jeanine Roose, who played younger Violet Bick.

Grimes also helped to make the It’s A Wonderful Life Museum a reality, after being talked to about the need for a place where film fans can reminisce and honor its meaning….

Here’s the link to The Seneca Falls It’s A Wonderful Life Museum website.

It’s a Wonderful Life was filmed entirely in California, as were most movies at that time.

However, Seneca Falls has long believed itself to be the inspiration for Bedford Falls…

(18) GHASTLY TIMING. The New York Ghost Story Festival started December 11 and continues online. It’s free. Watch live on You Tube, or view any time later.

See the December 11 event with Kathe Koja, Brian Evenson, Rudi Dornemann and Jeff Ford:

Still to come —

  • Tuesday, December 14, 8:00 p.m. Eastern with David Surface, Brenda Tolian, Pat Wehl, and Joshua Rex here
  • Friday, December 17, 8:00 p.m. Eastern with Kevin Lucia, Jo Kaplan, and Eric Guijnard here.
  • Saturday, December 18, 7:00 p.m. Eastern with Sarah Langan, Kevin Brockmeier, John Langan, and Angela Slatter here

(19) W76 WOULD LIKE ITS $4K BACK. Twitter shut down Jon Del Arroz’ account under his own name, but he’s started another. Think about how good his lawyer must be that he was able to defend Jon against allegations of being a racist.

(20) MARTIAN MUD. “China’s Mars Rover Has Amassed Reams Of Geological Data” reports Nature.

 Some surface features, such as possible sedimentary material and mud volcanoes, hint at the past flow of water, so scientists are looking for clues that there was once water or ice below the surface. This is “of great scientific interest” because it might provide evidence of an ancient ocean, says Bo Wu, a planetary scientist at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

(21) ON YOUR HEAD BE IT. “The Sorting Hat Tells All In The Harry Potter Reunion” on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

On another night last week Jennifer Lawrence appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Near the end of their second segment, they discussed genre movies. After the 3:00 mark, Colbert gets a little flustered when Lawrence reveals how little she knows about the Lord of the Rings movies. Nominally, the main topic of the interview is Lawrence’s to-be-released movie Don’t Look Up, which definitely has a genre premise.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Bill, Ben Bird Person, Chris Barkley, Joey Eschrich, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]

Pixel Scroll 11/10/21 Pixel-Heroes Battle Pixel-Gorillas

(1) THE SIX-BODY PROBLEM. There’s a new trailer out for China company Tencent’s production of The Three-Body Problem, which is fueling comparisons with another adaptation forthcoming from Netflix. Will Netflix’ Benioff and Weiss, veterans of Game of Thrones, overlook Chinese cultural subtleties? Will China’s censors allow Tencent to address all of them? Variety begins with a gloss of the trailer: “Tencent’s First ‘Three-Body Problem’ Trailer Sparks Netflix Rivalry”:

…The new Tencent trailer opens with an exchange between two off-screen male voices.

“Have significant accidents ever happened to you in your life?” one asks. “No,” the other replies. “Then your life is a sort of accident,” the first continues. “But isn’t that the case for most people?” the second voice asks, and the first responds, to a backdrop of ominous music with deep foghorn-type blasts that would feel at home on the “Tenet” soundtrack: “Then most people’s lives are all accidents.”

In a final line, a woman’s voice says: “This is the end of humanity.”

Several companies have been trying to produce adaptations of Liu Cixin’s novel.

Tencent nabbed the rights to adapt the story into a TV series way back in 2008. Now, its version is entering a crowded playing field.

There are at least two other “Three-Body Problem” adaptations in the works in China, including a film backed by IP rights holder Yoozoo Group that may have fallen permanently to the wayside and an animated take from Gen Z- and anime-leaning platform Bilibili.

Netflix struck its own deal with Yoozoo to create an English-language adaptation, announcing the project last September. The American version is being co-created by “Game of Thrones” big shots David Benioff and Dan Weiss alongside Alexander Woo (“True Blood”), and will be directed by Hong Kong’s Derek Tsang (“Better Days”).

Chinese social media is pressuring Tencent to do a good job:

“‘Three-Body’ is a story full of Chinese elements told by we Chinese from our Chinese perspective and ways of thinking …to express Chinese people’s values, worldview and view of the universe. These things are very hard for foreigners to express — only we are able to do it,” wrote one popular comment in response to Tencent’s Weibo recent post about the new trailer.

It was outranked by the top comment, liked 27,000 times. It read: “Buck up — you better not lose to Netflix’s nonsense version.”

While nationalist users maintained that only a Chinese production could capture the essence of the story, the novel is set during the Cultural Revolution, which could pose a problem for censors in a Chinese retelling.

Incidentally, here is the trailer Bilibili released in 2019 for its anime adaptation of The Three-Body Problem.

(2) CHIP IN. M.C.A. Hogarth is closing in on the $10K stretch goal of a Kickstarter launched to fund a collection of MilSF short stories set in her Peltedverse: To Discover and Preserve by M.C.A. Hogarth. Two days left – you might want to get in on this.

Alysha Forrest, my oldest Peltedverse character, needs some love, aletsen. Not only does she need some, she deserves it. Though fewer in number than the books comprising the Eldritch canon, the Stardancer/light milsf books of the Peltedverse sell well and without nearly the advertising the Eldritch canon has. I have a bunch of short stories that belong to this side of the timeline, but they’re all Patreon extras or newsletter gifts… and I get questions about where new readers can find them all the time! That means it’s time to collect them for retail. And while I have five stories (enough to credibly issue a single volume), they’re pretty short and could use some friends. 

Hogarth has given fans this incentive to push the Kickstarter past $10K:

…if we do, rather than continuing to pad the collection indefinitely, I will promise to finish writing the latest Alysha novel. This is the only way to guarantee you see it within the next year, since it’s otherwise indefinitely backburnered…. 

(3) CLI-FI. The Arizona State University Center for Science and the Imagination today premiered a prerecorded video event, “Cli-Mates: Climate Futures Conversations from Scotland,” in collaboration with the Scottish SF magazine Shoreline of Infinity. The event features the SF authors Kim Stanley Robinson, Ken MacLeod, Xia Jia, Libia Brenda, Gabriela Damián Miravete, Tendai Huchu, and Hannah Onoguwe, along with several scholars and editors.

During the UN Climate Change Conference, or COP26 (1-12 November, 2021), the eyes of the world are on Glasgow, Scotland, where nations, civil-society groups and activists are meeting to determine the shape of global action in the face of the climate crisis. At this moment, perhaps more than any other, we need creatively expansive thinking about possible futures—stories that help us chart a path towards a just, equitable, sustainable global civilization.

(4) FOUNDATION FX. Apple TV+ shows how it’s done in Foundation — Bringing Visions To Life Featurette”.

From the start, the world’s most dedicated visual effects artists and costume designers established that Foundation would be a show unlike any other on TV.

(5) ONE-TIME OPPORTUNITY. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] I came across this interesting-sounding item on Twitter: On November 18, the Smithsonian Archives department presents Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Visions of the Future on Film, a 1984 film that was part of a NMAH exhibit on “how past visions of the future continue to impact our present and inspire even further futures”, plus commentary from current conservator William Bennett. This is part of the Smithsonian 175th Film Fest, presenting films from the Smithsonian archives.

Due to copyright restrictions, viewers will need to register for a Zoom webinar; the presentation won’t be streamed or saved on YouTube.

(6) FROM AREA 57. “Heinz Debuts ‘Marz Edition’ Ketchup Made With Tomatoes Grown in Mars-Like Conditions” reports Smithsonian Magazine.

On Monday, Heinz revealed its first bottle of “Marz Edition” ketchup, a special recipe made with tomatoes grown in extreme temperature and soil conditions similar to the Red Planet. The team of scientists behind the celestial sauce, which is the product of two years of research and development, says the delicious achievement also advances the possibility of long-term food production on Mars.

“We’re so excited that our team of experts have been able to grow tomatoes in conditions found on another planet and share our creation with the world,” Cristina Kenz of Kraft Heinz said in a statement. “From analyzing the soil from Martian conditions two years ago to harvesting now, it’s been a journey that’s proved wherever we end up, Heinz Tomato Ketchup will still be enjoyed for generations to come.”…

Also note that The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night included a “cold open” of Hunt’s trying to one-up Heinz with Uranus catsup—“The best tasting thing to come out of Uranus.” 

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1966 — Fifty-five years on NBC, Star Trek’s “The Corbomite Maneuver” first aired. It was the tenth episode of the first season, and it was written by Jerry Sohl who had previously written for Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Outer Limits, The Invaders, and The Twilight Zone. (His other Trek scripts were “Whom Gods Destroy” and “This Side of Paradise”.) It was the first episode that was filmed in which Kelley played Dr. Leonard McCoy, Nichols played Lt. Uhura and Whitney played Yeoman Rand, though we first saw them in “The Man Trap”.  Clint Howard, brother of Ron Howard, played Balok, and Ted Cassidy, who was Gorn in “Arena” and the android Ruk in “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”, voiced the Balok puppet here. So did critics like it? No idea as I can’t find any contemporary reviews of it though media critics now love it. Most put it in their top twenty of all the Trek series episodes. It was nominated for a Hugo at NyCon 3, the year that “The Menagerie” won. “The Naked Time” was also nominated that year. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 10, 1924 Russell Johnson. Best known in what is surely genre for being Professor Roy Hinkley in Gilligan’s Island. His genre career started off with four Fifties films, It Came from Outer Space, This Island Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters and The Space Children. He would later appear in both the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. On ALF, he would appear as Professor Roy Hinkley in “Somewhere Over the Rerun”.  (Died 2014.)
  • Born November 10, 1932 Roy Scheider. First genre role was as Dr. Heywood R. Floyd in 2010, the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey. His other major genre performance was as Captain Nathan Bridger in the SeaQuest DSV series. He also has roles in The Curse of the Living Corpse (his first acting role, a very low budget horror film), one of The Punisher films, Dracula III: Legacy and Naked Lunch which may or may not be genre.  I do not consider the Jaws films to be genre, but you may do so. (Died 2008.)
  • Born November 10, 1943 Milt Stevens. Today is indeed his Birthday. On the day that OGH announced his unexpected passing did a wonderful post and y’all did splendid commentary about him, so I’ll just send you over there. (Died 2017.)
  • Born November 10, 1950 Dean Wesley Smith, 71. Editor of Pulphouse magazine which fortunately Black Gate magazine has provided us with a fascinating history which you can read herePulphouse I first encountered when I collected the works of Charles de Lint who was in issue number eight way back in the summer issue of 1990. As a writer, he is known for his use of licensed properties such as StarTrekSmallvilleAliensMen in Black, and Quantum Leap. He is also known for a number of his original novels, such as the Tenth Planet series written in collaboration with his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. 
  • Born November 10, 1955 Roland Emmerich, 66. Usually I don’t touch upon SJW affairs here (well I do when I want to) but he’s very strong campaigner for the LGBT community, and is openly gay so bravo for him!  Now back to his genre credits.  The Noah’s Ark Principle was in ‘84 by him written and directed by him as his thesis after seeing Star Wars at the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film MünchenMoon 44 followed which likely most of you haven’t seen but now we get to his Hollywood films, to wit Universal SoldierThe High Crusade (yes, the Poul Anderson novel — who’s seen it?), StargateIndependence Day… no, I’m going to stop there. Suffice it to say he’s created a lot of genre film. And oh, he directed Stonewall, the 2015 look at that historic event which I know isn’t genre or genre adjacent but is worth noting. 
  • Born November 10, 1960 Neil Gaiman, 61. Where to start? By far, Neverwhere is my favorite work by him followed by the Sandman series and Stardust. And I sort of liked American GodsCoraline is just creepy. By far, I think his best script is Babylon 5’s “Day of The Dead” though his Doctor Who episodes, “The Doctor’s Wife” and “Nightmare in Silver” are interesting, particularly the former. 
  • Born November 10, 1971 Holly Black, 50. Best known for her Spiderwick Chronicles, which were created with fellow writer and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, and for the Modern Faerie Tales YA trilogy.  Her first novel was Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. (It’s very, very good.) There have been two sequels set in the same universe. The first, Valiant, won the first Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Doll Bones which is really, really creepy was awarded a Newbery Honor and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award.  Suffice it to say if you like horror, you’ll love her. 
  • Born November 10, 1982 Aliette de Bodard, 39. Author of the oh-so-excellent Xuya Universe series. Her Xuya Universe novella “The Tea Master and the Detective” won a Nebula Award and a British Fantasy Award, and was nominated for the Hugo and World Fantasy Award. “The Shipmaker”, also set herein, won a BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction. Her other major series is The Dominion of the Fallen which is equally lauded. She’s nominated for a Hugo this year for her “The Inaccessibility of Heaven” novelette. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) TAKE THE CASH AND THE CREDIT, TOO. [Item by David Doering.] I caught a reference on Cracked about writer credits and comics. A fan asserted that comic writers only starting get credit regularly thanks to Marv Wolfman. I thought, hmmm… Really?

What do you know? It’s true. The Comics Code Authority in the 60s banned mention of “wolfman” in comics, BUT  “In DC Comics’ House of Secrets #83, the book’s host said that the story was told to him by ‘a wandering wolfman.’” Comically [pun intended], DC then credited the story to “Marv Wolfman”, making the reference OK by the CCA. 

After that, writers asking and getting credit for their stories. See full details and scans of the comics at CBR.com: “Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #119”.

(11) FALSE GRIT. Joel Haver assures us “You’ll never find a more sandy planet of sand.” So this is a Dune parody, you assume? Hell no, it’s a Star Wars parody – go figure.

(12) TAKING THE MICK OUT. “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Blueprints Leaked Online” – and Blog Mickey has a bucket full of what leaked.

A set of blueprints reportedly belonging to the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction have leaked online. The attraction, which has been under construction for more than 4 years, will open sometime in 2022 at EPCOT. The blueprints pull the curtain back a bit on a project that Disney has only slowly revealed information about. It’s unclear how accurate the blueprints are to the final product, but lets take a look….

…As we saw in early construction photos, roller coaster track weaves throughout the building, but the blueprints show just how much track is inside.

It’s unclear how much of the roller coaster track is for the actual attraction, and how much is for the storage, but the majority of the attraction will take place in the large gravity building that was built from scratch for this attraction….

(13) THE GALACTIC HERO BILL. John Scalzi revealed his true net worth today. Don’t you agree that “Billions and billions” is a phrase that suits an sf writer very well?

(14) SHOW NO MERCY. James Davis Nicoll’s latest Young People Read Old SFF introduces the panel to Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1971 “Vaster Than Empires and More Slow.”

“Vaster” takes place in Le Guin’s Hainish setting, where for the most part other worlds are inhabited by variant humans seeded in the ancient past by the Hainish. “Vaster” is an exception: first contact here is not between two branches of humanity but between humans and something very alien. Let’s see what the Young People make of it! 

Sort of like a Beat Bobby Flay episode, the young judges record a split decision.

(15) LOST IN SPACE TRAILER. Official trailer for the third and final season of Lost in Space. All episodes drop December 1 on Netflix.

(16) UNHOBBLING THE HUBBLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This latest problem started 23 October. NASA seems cautiously optimistic that the Hubble can make a full recovery. WIRED has the story: “NASA Tries to Save Hubble, Again”.

THE HUBBLE SPACE telescope, one of the most famous telescopes of the 20th and 21st centuries, has faltered once again. After a computer hardware problem arose in late October, NASA engineers put Hubble into a coma, suspending its science operations as they carefully attempt to bring its systems back online.

Engineers managed to revive one of its instruments earlier this week, offering hope that they will end the telescope’s convalescence as they restart its other systems, one at a time. “I think we are on a path to recovery,” says Jim Jeletic, Hubble’s deputy project manager.

The problem began on October 23, when the school bus-sized space probe’s instruments didn’t receive a standard synchronization message generated by its control unit. Two days later, NASA engineers saw that the instruments missed multiple such messages, so they put them in “safe mode,” powering down some systems and shuttering the cameras.

Some problems are fairly easy to fix, like when a random high-energy particle hits the probe and flips a bit on a switch. But when engineers encounter an unknown problem, they’re meticulous. The slow process is designed to protect Hubble’s systems and make sure the spacecraft continues to thrive and enable scientific discovery for as long as possible. “You don’t want to continually put the instruments in and out of safe mode. You’re powering things on and off, you’re changing the temperature of things over and over again, and we try to minimize that,” Jeletic says.

In this case, they successfully brought the Advanced Camera for Surveys back online on November 7. It’s one of the newer cameras, installed in 2002, and it’s designed for imaging large areas of the sky at once and in great detail. Now they’re watching closely as it collects data again this week, checking to see whether the error returns. If the camera continues working smoothly, the engineers will proceed to testing Hubble’s other instruments….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Eternals Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spoiler-filled episode, has the writer say he has characters including “a speedster, a lady with ancient weapons, and a super-strong guy who shoots beams from his eyes.” The producer asks, “Yeah, yeah, and Batman and Aquaman. Are you sure you’re in the right office?”  The writer also can’t explain why introducing 10 superheroes we’ve never seen before can’t be done in an eight-hour Disney Plus show instead of a single movie.

After Avengers Endgame, Marvel has the massive task of not only continuing their surviving heroes’ stories, but also making audiences care about all new characters and all-new universe-threatening events. Their latest movie Eternals takes on the gargantuan challenge of introducing ten new superheroes AND explaining why they’re only showing up now. This thing’s getting complicated. Eternals definitely raises some questions. Like should this have been a Disney Plus show? Why do the Eternals only have important conversations at Golden Hour? Why is introducing humans to weapons not considered interfering in their affairs? Wouldn’t the Celestials be interested in stopping Thanos if they need a massive population to birth celestials? Why didn’t Kumail have a shirtless scene after all that work!? What have these post-credit scenes become?! To answer all these questions and more, step inside the Pitch Meeting that led to Eternals! It’ll be super easy, barely an inconvenience.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, N., Chris Barkley, Lise Andreasen, David Doering, Joey Eschrich, Bruce D. Arthurs, M.C. Hogarth, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 10/6/21 Magical Mystery Scroll

A lot of catching up to do. Let’s get started!

(1) YOUNG PEOPLE. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll turns his panel loose on a story that was heavy, deep, and real in 1971 and won Theodore Sturgeon his first Hugo late in his career.

Theodore Sturgeon was a widely beloved author whose work, I regret to say, never particularly appealed to me. Thus, aside from More Than Human, I am not widely read in his fiction. In particular, I have not read this specific story. Still, I do know something about ?“Slow Sculpture”, specifically that it won both a Hugo and a Nebula in a year when many observers might have expected some work from either Orbit 6 or Orbit 7 to win. Orbits 6 and 7 were remarkable anthologies, dominating award nominations in their years. For a story to edge out the Orbit stories, it must surely have been of remarkable quality. Right? And no doubt my Young People will as pleased to read ?“Slow Sculpture” now as reader were half a century ago. 

(2) SWECON GOING AHEAD. Fantastika, Swecon this year, has announced the con will run in Stockholm as planned November 19-21. No further postponement due to Covid restrictions is anticipated. (Fantastika was not held last year.) The con’s program is available.

(3) ASTRONOMICON CANCELS. On the other hand, the Astronomicon 13 (Rochester, NY) committee has decided to postpone until 2022 – due to Covid, and the loss of Canadian program participants.

With great sadness we must announce that due to the rise in Covid across the country and the border to Canada not being open yet, we must postpone Astronomicon this year.

Our tentative date for the con is November 4-6, 2022.

Most of our Guests of Honor and a good number of our program participants have signed on for 2022.

We want to bring you the Astronomicon that you deserve, and with the border being closed it causes us to lose between 10-15 program participants. That is unacceptable to us.

Join us next November for a great convention!!

(4) A TRAILER PARK IN WESTEROS. The Guardian’s Stuart Heritage frames the trailer for the forthcoming series: “Game of Thrones prequel: why we’ll all be hooked to House of the Dragon”.

…Set two centuries before Game of Thrones, it promises to chronicle the history of the fearsome House Targaryen. Until now, very little has been revealed about the series.

…But now things have changed. A first-look trailer has just been released and, although it is only 70 seconds long, the message couldn’t be clearer. If you liked Game of Thrones, you will like House of the Dragon. And if you didn’t like Game of Thrones, you will probably still watch House of the Dragon so that you can keep up with what everyone else is talking about.

(5) COUNTDOWN. The Horror Writers Association blog kicks off its “Halloween Haunts” series with “The Season Begins by Michael J. Moore”.

…In April, networks air “Halfway-to-Halloween” marathons, and time ceases to usher us away, as we begin to drift toward October.

Toward that shrieking, adolescent laughter. The sound of plastic wrappers, rustling as you walk. The smell of chocolate and caramel, and the feel of wooden doors against your bony knuckles. The shadows of monsters and superheroes, cast by the headlights of idling cars. Orange and black, yellow and green. The satisfaction of picking through your plunder at the end of the night.

This is the start of the holiday season. Not the 31st, but the first of the month. The morning the countdown begins. When slashers take over cable, and costumes go on display. Even non-horror-types catch the bug. Nostalgia beckons our inner children, inviting us to slip on a costume and knock on doors.

In October of 2019, I wasn’t ready for it to end, so I started writing a book centered around my favorite holiday. Then the pandemic struck, and lockdowns provided plenty of time to finish. My publisher, HellBound Books, has prepared it for release around that magical month this year….

(6) BREUER REMEMBERED. There will be a two-hour exhibition about “Amazing Breuer – Miles J. Breuer Czech Surgeon at the Birth of American Scientifiction” at the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Los Angeles on October 14 starting at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. If you are interested in taking part, send an email to czechconsulatela@gmail.com.

The exhibition is organized to commemorate the 76th anniversary of a passing of the Czech-American writer Miles (Miloslav) J. Breuer, who died in Los Angeles on 14 October 1945.

This early Czech-American science fiction writer was the author of the novel “Paradise and Iron” (1930), one of the first modern science fiction tales to warn of the dangers of a technologically oriented civilization, depicting a humanity threatened by what we today call artificial intelligence, and the co-author (with Jack Williamson) of The Girl from Mars, a thin 24 page work that became the first book in the world to be formally titled as science fiction.

At the turn of the 1920s and 30s, Breuer’s readers viewed this author as a major star of the science fiction genre. Discovered by Hugo Gernsbeck, Breuer contributed to “The Amazing Stories” and other pulp magazines.

He was born in Chicago to the Czech parents. Writing as “Miloslav” – the Czech version of his name – Breuer had published numerous stories also in Czech language (which were subsequently published in English in early science fiction magazines). 

(7) WAR’S IMPACT ON TOLKIEN. Renowned mythopeoic scholar Janet Brennan Croft will discuss Tolkien’s war experience and how war is handled in his writing: “Date with History: J.R.R. Tolkien (Virtual)” for the First Division Museum.  Thursday, October 7 at 7:00 Central. Free. Register at the link.

One of the reasons J.R.R. Tolkien is such a popular author is that he can be read at many levels. For the reader willing to look deeper than the adventure-story surface, there are many important themes in his works. War is one of the themes that runs through all of Tolkien’s books, especially The Lord of the Rings. Particular motifs appear over and over again: the effects of war on individuals, families, and society, whether war can ever be justified, and if so, the proper conduct of war; close friendships among groups of men; the glory and horror of battle. The depiction of war and its effects were drawn from his own life; he served in the First World War at the Battle of the Somme, and two of his sons fought in the Second World War. Like all artists, he absorbed the materials of his own life into his art. This talk will explore his personal experience of war and how it manifested in his legendarium.

(8) NO ONE CAN TALK TO A HORSE, OF COURSE. In a guest post at A Pilgrim in Narnia, Daniel Whyte IV expects Netflix will court controversy by producing a series about one of the books it holds rights to: “There Are No Cruel Narnians: What The Horse and His Boy Can Tell Us About Racism, Cultural Superiority, Beauty Standards, and Inclusiveness”.

Any potential adaptation of The Horse and His Boy will be fraught with minefields. Houston Chronicle editor Kyrie O’Connor claims it isn’t far-fetched to see the fantasy as “anti-Arab, or anti-Eastern, or anti-Ottoman” and suggests a desire to “stuff this story back into its closet.” While Lewis’ Narniad is emotionally stimulating and spiritually moving, it can be overshadowed by issues that led another popular fantasy writer and academic—Philip Pullman of His Dark Materials fame—to call it “one of the most ugly and poisonous things I have ever read.” He wrote that in a 1998 Guardian article titled “The Dark Side of Narnia.” Imagine what will be said about Narnia over twenty-five years later if Netflix dares to adapt The Horse and His Boy. (And I say to Netflix, as Aslan says to Bree, “Do not dare not to dare.”)

Indeed, as author, editor, and (somewhat) defender of C.S. Lewis, Gregg Easterbrook, wrote in The Atlantic two decades ago (partially in response to Pullman’s criticisms):

“Although Narnia has survived countless perils, the Chronicles themselves are now endangered… What’s in progress is a struggle of sorts for the soul of children’s fantasy literature.”

If the struggle is as eschatological as Easterbrook posits—and if Lewis’ reputation is indeed growing “beyond the reach of ordinary criticism” as Pullman argued in his ’98 hit piece—then it’s worth taking the time to look seriously at what the Narnia chronicles tell us about Lewis’ personal views and about the messaging (if any) encoded in the books….

(9) MEMORY LANE

1995 – Twenty-six years ago at Intersection, the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form went to Star Trek: The Next Generation’s two-part series finale, “All Good Things…“.  (Other nominated works were The MaskInterview with the VampireStargate and Star Trek: Generations.) It was directed by Winrich Kolbe from a script written by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga. The title is derived from the expression “All good things must come to an end”, a phrase used by Q during the story itself. It generally considered one of the series’ best episodes with the card scene singled out as one of the series’s best ever.  

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 6, 1942 Britt Ekland, 79. She starred in The Wicker Man* as Willow MacGregor, and appeared as a Bond girl, Goodnight, in The Man with the Golden Gun. She was also Queen Nyleptha in King Solomon’s Treasure based off the H. Rider Haggard novels. *There is only one Wicker Man film as far as I’m concerned. Whatever that thing was, it wasn’t Wicker Man. Shudder.
  • Born October 6, 1946 John C. Tibbetts, 75. A film critic, historian, author. He’s written such articles as “The Illustrating Man: The Screenplays of Ray Bradbury” and “Time on His Hands: The Fantasy Fiction of Jack Finney”. One of his two books is The Gothic Imagination: Conversations on Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction in the Media, the other being The Gothic Worlds of Peter Straub.
  • Born October 6, 1950 David Brin, 71. Author of several series including Existence (which I do not recognize), the Postman novel, and the Uplift series which began with Startide Rising, a most excellent book and a Hugo-winner at L.A. Con II.  I’ll admit that the book he could-wrote with Leah Wilson, King Kong Is Back! An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape, tickles me if only for its title. So who’s read his newest novel, Castaways of New Mohave, that he wrote with Jeff Carlson?
  • Born October 6, 1952 Lorna Toolis. Librarian, editor, and fan Lorna was the long-time head of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy at the Toronto Public Library and a significant influence on the Canadian SF community. She founded the SF collection with a donation from Judith Merril. She was a founding member of SFCanada, and won an Aurora Award for co-editing Tesseracts 4 with Michael Skeet. (Died 2021.)
  • Born October 6, 1955 Donna White, 66. Academic who has written several works worth you knowing about — Dancing with Dragons: Ursula K. LeGuin and the Critics and Diana Wynne Jones: An Exciting and Exacting Wisdom. She’s also the author of the densely-written but worth reading A Century of Welsh Myth in Children’s Literature
  • Born October 6, 1955 Ellen Kushner, 66. If you’ve not read it, do so now, as her sprawling Riverside seriesis stellar. I’m reasonably sure that I’ve read all of it. And during the High Holy Days, do be sure to read The Golden Dreydl as it’s quite wonderful. As it’s Autumn and this being when I read it, I’d be remiss not to recommend her Thomas the Rhymer novel which won both the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award. 
  • Born October 6, 1963 Elisabeth Shue, 58. Best known as Jennifer, Marty McFly’s girlfriend, in Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III, she also had roles in Hollow Man and Piranha 3D.
  • Born October 6, 1986 Olivia Jo Thirlby, 35. She is best known for her roles as Natalie in Russian SF film The Darkest Hour and as Judge Cassandra Anderson in the oh-so-excellent Dredd. And she was Holly in the supernatural thriller Above the Shadows.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) NATIONAL BOOK AWARD. [Item by Darrah Chavey.] The National Book Award Finalists were announced October 5. Finalists of genre interest include:

Fiction

  • Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land

Young Readers

  • Kyle Lukoff, Too Bright To See
  • Amber McBride, Me (Moth)

Translated Literature

  • Benjamín Labatut, When We Cease to Understand the World, translated by Adrian Nathan West

Winners will be announced November 17. Winners will receive $10,000 and a bronze sculpture.

(13) THE MISSION. WisCon’s parent organization SF3 has posted a draft revision of its mission statement that emphasizes its opposition to white supremacy and racism generally: “SF3: Interim Mission, Vision, and Values”.

As noted in our Anti-Racism Statement, the SF3 Board is undertaking work to reexamine our organizational mission with the intent to eliminate white supremacy and build an organization and convention where all members can thrive and contribute. In connection to this work, we are sharing interim versions of a mission statement, organizational vision, and a clear statement of our community values which center inclusivity and explicitly reject racism and white supremacy.

These interim statements will guide our work over the next year, including community-wide conversations and strategic planning to develop a permanent and inclusive set of foundational documents for SF3 and its projects, including WisCon.

(14) CONNIE WILLIS’ CHRISTMAS STORY ANTHOLOGY. Steve Rasnic Tem posted a photo of the physical cover on Facebook. The book will be released October 26.

Library of America and Connie Willis present 150 years of diverse, ingenious, and uniquely American Christmas stories

Christmas took on its modern cast in America, and over the last 150 years the most magical time of the year has inspired scores of astonishingly diverse and ingenious stories. Library of America joins with acclaimed author Connie Willis to present a unparalleled collection of American stories about Christmas, literary gems that showcase how the holiday became one of the signature aspects of our culture.

Spanning from the origins of the American tradition of holiday storytelling in the wake of the Civil War to today, this is the biggest and best anthology of American Christmas stories ever assembled. From ghost stories to the genres of crime, science fiction, fantasy, westerns, humor, and horror, stories of Christmas morning, gifts, wise men, nativities, family, commercialism, and dinners from New York to Texas to outer space, this anthology reveals the evolution of Christmas in America–as well as the surprising ways in which it has remained the same.

(15) SHAT TALKS SPACEFLIGHT. Anderson Cooper went one-on-one with William Shatner about his upcoming flight on New Shepard Blue Origin.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, Lise Andreasen, Darrah Chavey, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]

Pixel Scroll 9/8/21 HR Pixeling Stuff! Whose Your File When Things Get Rough

(1) ABOUT TIME. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll has one he’s sure the panel will like. Can that actually happen?

This month, the Old Hugo Finalist the Young People read was Samuel R. Delany’s “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones”, which was first published in New Worlds, #185 December 1968. Despite my track record of guessing wrong about what older SFF will appeal to younger people, I am pretty confident about this one. Not only did “Time” win both the Nebula and the Hugo in its category, but Delany’s fiction is objectively popular. The Bantam edition of Delany’s crowd-pleasing Dhalgren, for example, went through 19 editions and sold over a million copies. Success in this matter is therefore utterly assured…. 

(2) WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW. “Edgar Allan Poe Needs a Friend” – and apparently found one – as explained by Matthew Redmond at Lapham’s Quarterly.

Type “Edgar Allan Poe” into your preferred image search engine, brace for impact, and press Enter. Instantly you hit a wall of chalk-white faces, each conveying a mixture of despair, dyspepsia, grief, wonderment, and wounded pride. Some are actual daguerreotypes, while the rest are fan art or movie stills inspired by those antique likenesses. In every case, one has the distinct feeling that misery could not ask for better company. This is Poe.

Now try searching “Poe Osgood portrait” instead. What comes up this time is a face totally different from those in the previous set. It can’t be the same person. There is color in his cheeks and light in his eyes, and his brow looks quite unburdened. The expression registers as neither menacing nor miserable, but magnanimous. This too is Poe.

It is Samuel Stillman Osgood’s more human version of the poet, novelist, and critic that interests us here. That the portrait has become emblematic of a close friendship between Poe and Frances Osgood, the artist’s wife, makes it still more surprising, because Poe is not supposed to have had friends…. 

(3) SAD POOPERS. Camestros Felapton, in Debarkle chapter 63, charts “What the Evil League of Evil (and Friends) Did Next”.

… In an apparent bid to make the historiography of the Debarkle easier, multiple members of 2014’s Evil League of Evil banded together to publish an anthology entitled “Forbidden Thoughts”. The title, evocative of Harlan Ellison’s never fully completed Dangerous Visions anthologies, was predicated on the idea that the last bastion of transgressive ideas in speculative fiction is reactionary conservatism….

(4) STONE SOUP. In “Building Beyond: Mycorrhizal Networking”, Sarah Gailey is joined by Casey Lucas and Arkady Martine to work on the writing prompt:

City planners in this civilization rely on fungus to help them do their jobs.

(5) THE END IS NEAR. Leonardo DiCaprio is part of a celebrity ensemble cast in Don’t Look Up, which tells the story of two low-level astronomers who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth. On Netflix on December 24.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1966 – Fifty-five years ago on NBC, Star Trek premiered. Roddenberry had pitched a brief treatment to Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s Desilu Productions, producers of Mission: Impossible, three years previously, calling it “a Wagon Train to the stars”. I won’t go into details here as y’all know them all too well but will note that it would spawn eleven television series to date, thirteen films, and numerous books, games, and more toys than you can possibly keep count. The series won two Hugos, one at NyCon 3 for “The Menagerie”, and another at Baycon for “The City on the Edge of Forever”.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 8, 1925 — Peter Sellers. Chief Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films which are surely genre, aren’t they? Of course he had the tour de force acting experience of being Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley and Dr. Strangelove in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Amusingly he was involved in a number of folk tale productions in various mediums (film, radio, stage) including Cinderella, Tom ThumbMother Goose and Jack and The Beanstalk. (Died 1980.)
  • Born September 8, 1937 — Archie Goodwin. Comics writer and editor with a very long career. He was the writer and editor of the horror Creepy and Eerie anthologies, the first writer on the Iron Man series, wrote comic book adaptations for Marvel of the two Star Wars sequels and edited the Star Wars line for them. For DC, he edited Starman which Robinson said he was inspiration for. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 8, 1945 — Willard Huyck, 76. He’s got a long relationship with Lucas, first writing American Graffiti and being the script doctor on Star Wars before writing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom before being the writer and director on Howard the Duck which, yes, is a Lucasfilm. It’s the lowest rated on Rotten Tomatos Lucasfilm production ever at 15% followed by Radioland Murders, the last script he’d write for Lucasfilm.  
  • Born September 8, 1952 — Linda D. Addison, 69. First Black winner of the Stoker Award which she has won five times. Amazingly, The first two awards were for her poetry collections Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes and Being Full of Light, Insubstantial. All five of her Awards were for poetry collections. She does write more than poetry as her story, “Shadow Dreams”, was published in the Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda anthology.
  • Born September 8, 1954 — Mark Lindsay Chapman, 67. Sorry DCU but the best Swamp Thing series was done nearly thirty years ago and starred the late Dick Durock as Swamp Thing and this actor as his chief antagonist, Dr. Anton Arcane. Short on CGI, but the scripts were brilliant. Chapman has also shown up in Poltergeist: The LegacyBram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy, The New Adventures of Superman, The Langoliers and Max Headroom to name a few of his genre appearances.
  • Born September 8, 1965 — Matt Ruff, 56. I think that his Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy is his best work to date though I do like Fool on The Hill a lot. Any others of his I should think about reading? And of course there the adaptation of Lovecraft Country which I’ve not seen as I don’t have HBO. He won an Otherwise Award for Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls, and an Endeavour Award for The Lovecraft Country.
  • Born September 8, 1966 — Gordon Van Gelder, 55. From 1997 until 2014, he was editor and later publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, for which he was awarded twice, and quite well deserved they were, with the Hugo for Best Editor Short Form at Nippon 3 and at Devention 3.  He was also a managing editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction from 1988 to 1993, for which he was nominated for the Hugo a number of times. 
  • Born September 8, 1975 — C. Robert Cargill, 46. He, along with Scott Derrickson and Jon Spaihts, worked on the script for Doctor Strange. More intriguingly they’re writing the script for The Outer Limits, a movie based on the television show. The film, produced by MGM, will be adapted from just the “Demon with a Glass Hand” episode begging the question of what they’re writing for a script given that Ellison did write the Writers Guild of America Awards winning Outstanding Script for a Television Anthology script.

(8) TRAILER PARK. A new DCEU animated film trailer: “Injustice”.

Inspired by Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm Studios’ popular video game, and the best-selling DC graphic novel based on the video game, Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One by Tom Taylor, the animated film Injustice finds an alternate world gone mad – where The Joker has duped Superman into killing Lois Lane, sending the Man of Steel on a deadly rampage. Unhinged, Superman decides to take control of the Earth for humanity’s own good. Determined to stop him, Batman creates a team of like-minded, freedom-fighting heroes. But when Super Heroes go to war, can the world survive?

(9) FOUR EXCUSES. Mostly not genre, but Stephen Colbert’s “Excuses Song” could be like a national anthem for introverts.

Stephen, Jon and the Stay Human band recorded this hot new jam guaranteed to make you dance, and give you some foolproof excuses to get out of social obligations this Fall.

(10) STEVE POPS BACK IN. My daughter grew up watching Blue’s Clues. Which means I watched, too. So while I don’t know about her, I needed this! “So about that time Steve went off to college…”

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles” on YouTube, Fandom Games says this steampunk series “has almost nothing to do with what actually goes on in a courtroom” and featrues Sherlock Holmes as “an arrogant moron.”  “So strap on that katana and get ready to make objections!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 8/3/21 No One Will Be Watching Us, Why Don’t We Pixel In The Scroll?

(1) NEW CLIMATE IMAGINATION FELLOWSHIPS. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination has announced a new Climate Imagination Fellowship, which brings together an international team of science fiction authors to craft positive visions of climate futures, grounded in real science and local realities. The inaugural fellows are Libia Brenda, Xia Jia, Hannah Onoguwe, and Vandana Singh. Learn more at climateimagination.org, or check out the full announcement, “Climate Imagination Fellows inspire visions of resilient climate futures”.

The Climate Imagination Fellowship, hosted by the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University, seeks to inspire a wave of narratives about what positive climate futures might look like for communities around the world.

The first four climate fellows are talented sff authors from all around the world “will generate hopeful stories about how collective action, aided by scientific insights, culturally responsive technologies, and revolutions in governance and labor, can help us make progress toward inclusive, sustainable futures.”

Hannah Onoguwe, Xia Jia, Vandana Singh, Libia Brenda. (Photo credits: Greatman Shots and Claudia Ruiz Gustafson.)
  • Libia Brenda is a writer, editor and translator based in Mexico City. She is one of the co-founders of the Cúmulo de Tesla collective, a multidisciplinary working group that promotes dialogue between the arts and sciences, with a special focus on science fiction; and Mexicona: Imagination and Future, a series of Spanish-language conversations about the future and speculative literature from Mexico and other planets. She was the first Mexican woman to be nominated for a Hugo Award for the bilingual and bicultural anthology “A Larger Reality/Una realidad más amplia.”
  • Xia Jia is a speculative fiction author and associate professor of Chinese literature at Xi’an Jiaotong University in Xi’an, a city in the Shaanxi province in northwest China. Seven of her short stories have won the Galaxy Award, China’s most prestigious science fiction award. She has published a fantasy novel, “Odyssey of China Fantasy: On the Road” (2009), and four collections of science fiction stories: “The Demon-Enslaving Flask” (2012), “A Time Beyond Your Reach” (2017), “Xi’an City Is Falling Down” (2018), and “A Summer Beyond Your Reach” (2020), her first collection in English. Her stories have appeared in English translation in Nature and Clarkesworld magazine. 
  • Hannah Onoguwe is a writer of fiction and nonfiction based in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State in southern Nigeria, a region famous for its oil industry. Her short stories have been published in the anthologies “Imagine Africa 500” (2016), from Pan African Publishers, and “Strange Lands Short Stories” (2020), from Flame Tree Press. Her work has appeared in publications including Adanna, The Drum Literary Magazine, Omenana, Brittle Paper, The Stockholm Review and Timeworn Literary Journal. In 2014, “Cupid’s Catapult,” her collection of short stories, was one of 10 manuscripts chosen to kick off the Nigerian Writers Series, an imprint of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).
  • Vandana Singh is an author of speculative fiction, a professor of physics at Framingham State University and an interdisciplinary researcher on the climate crisis. She is the author of two short story collections, “The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories” (2014) and “Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories” (2018), the second of which was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award. Her short fiction has been widely published, including the short story “Widdam,” part of the interdisciplinary climate-themed collection “A Year Without a Winter” (2019). She was born and brought up in New Delhi and now lives near Boston.

Each fellow will write an original piece of short climate fiction, building on local opportunities, challenges, resources and complexities, and drawing on conversations with experts in a variety of fields, ranging from climate science to sociology to energy systems to biodiversity. They will also write a set of shorter “flash-fiction” pieces. These pieces of short fiction will be collected, along with essays, interviews, art and interactive activities, in a Climate Action Almanac, to be published in 2022.

(2) YOUNG PEOPLE READ OLD SFF. James Davis Nicoll is having the young people read old Hugo finalists. And now it is Niven’s turn in the barrel. “Neutron Star”.

“Neutron Star” or at least the collection of which it is the title story enjoys the distinction of being the piece most likely to entice new readers to read more Niven. To quote:

“It seemed to (Spike McPhee) that he should suggest to readers that they try a different Niven book first, as an introduction to Known Space. He tried out his theory: Of a sample set of about 60 or so readers, he got them to first try the Neutron Star collection before attempting Ringworld. Doing so improved the sample set’s desire to continue on to other Known Space books?—?from one-third to approximately two-thirds.”

It certainly worked for me: having encountered the collection, I hoovered up every other Niven work I could find in the mid-1970s. However, if there is one thing this series has taught me in the last five years, it is that material that appealed to people half a century ago does not appeal to young people today. Will this be the exception? 

Oh, you sweet summer child….

(3) WORLDCON MASQUERADE SIGNUPS. DisCon III is taking registrations for both the Virtual and In-Person Worldcon Masquerades. Click on the link for full details: Masquerade.

Virtual Dates

  • Online registration for the Virtual Masquerade is OPEN now. Register here.
  • Online registration for the Virtual Masquerade CLOSES: 11:59 PM EDT on Wednesday, September 1, 2021
  • Videos must be SUBMITTED BY: September 1, 2021 via the addresses on the registration forms.

In Person Dates

  • Online registration for the in person Masquerade OPENS: July 1, 2021. Register here.
  • Online registration for the Masquerade CLOSES: 11:59 PM EDT on Wednesday,  December 15 , 2021
  • In-person registration OPENS: 3 PM on Wednesday, December 15, 2021
  • In-person registration CLOSES: Noon on Friday, December 17, 2021

(4) SPACE: THE VINYL FRONTIER. Arun Shastri looks at the reason why some products look familiar: “Read Before Assembly: The Influence Of Sci-Fi On Technology And Design” at Forbes.

In 1966 a television series called “Star Trek” introduced the communicator, a device Captain Kirk flips open to talk to his crew remotely.

Decades later, in the mid-1990s, Motorola released its StarTAC model phone—credited as the first flip phone and clearly inspired by the communicator device from the science fiction series.

… Sci-fi writers have been instrumental in imagining our present and our future—so much so that large tech firms have sponsored lecture series where fiction writers give talks to employees and commissioned “design fiction” projects to develop more sophisticated products and experiences.

For instance, Arizona State University has founded the Center for Science and the Imagination, whose goal is to ignite collective imagination for a better future. The Center created Project Hieroglyph, a web-based project that provides “a space for writers, scientists, artists and engineers to collaborate on creative, ambitious visions of our near future”—and presumably also to steer us away from dystopian futures worsened by irresponsible technology use.

(5) CLOTHES CIRCUIT TELEVISION. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] Lisa Hayes found the VHS video tape buried in one of my boxes that had the ConAdian 1994 Worldcon Masquerade video on it, digitized it, and I’ve uploaded it to the Worldcon Events YouTube channel.

Unfortunately, the last part of the credits didn’t make it onto the 2 hour VHS tape. Also, due to YouTube copyright reasons, there is at least one entry that has its sound muted.

(6) SPECIAL BOOKS WILL COMMEMORATE MUSEUM OPENING. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will publish three debut catalogs on the work of legendary moviemakers Hayao Miyazaki , Spike Lee, and Pedro Almodóvar, whose careers will be celebrated when the museum opens its inaugural exhibitions to the public on September 30, 2021.

Bill Kramer, Director and President of the Academy Museum, said, “These first Academy Museum publications are a lasting record of our extraordinary inaugural exhibitions and our dynamic collaborations with Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli and filmmakers Spike Lee and Pedro Almodóvar. Like the exhibitions, these catalogs will bring readers closer to the filmography, art, influences, and careers of these remarkable artists.”

…The richly illustrated catalogue Hayao Miyazaki is published in partnership with Studio Ghibli. It will be available through the Academy Museum Store on September 7, 2021. Marking the museum’s eponymous inaugural temporary exhibition, the publication features hundreds of original production materials, including artworks never seen outside of Studio Ghibli’s archives in Japan. The 288-page hardcover book illuminates Miyazaki’s creative process and animation techniques through imageboards, character designs, storyboards, layouts, backgrounds, and production cels from his early career through all 11 of his feature films, including My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001), and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). The bookfeatures a foreword by producer and Studio Ghibli cofounder Toshio Suzuki along with texts by Pixar Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter, Cologne-based journalist and film critic Daniel Kothenschulte, and Academy Museum Exhibitions Curator Jessica Niebel. Hayao Miyazaki is designed by Jessica Fleischmann/Still Room and copublished with DelMonico Books.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1973 – Forty-eight years ago at Torcon II, Slaughterhouse-Five won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. Other finalists that year were The PeopleSilent Running and Between Time and Timbuktu (also based on a number of works by Vonnegut). The novel it was based on, Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, had been nominated for a Hugo three years earlier at Heicon ’70. Ursula K. Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness would win that year. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 3, 1904 Clifford Simak. [By Paul Weimer.] I first encountered Clifford Simak in the story whose last four lines haunts me to this day, the tale of a man, his dog and Jupiter: “Desertion”.  From this singular story, I discovered the wealth of his work, the rest of the stories besides Desertion in the City cycle, Way StationThe Goblin Reservation, and a host of short stories. Many things strike me about his work, in reading and re-reading his work: his abiding love of dogs, his aliens, funny, amusing, well drawn and yet sometimes inhumanly incomprehensible. (Not Explaining Everything is a feature, not bug, of Simak’s fiction) And time travel. Not in the traditional sense of a Time Patrol, but much of Simak’s fiction sends his protagonists forward and backward in time, or they’ve found they already HAVE done so, and it did not go well. Pastoral is the other note that Simak’s work evokes for me, the rural midwest setting of many of his stories and novels, his backcountry characters vividly and sometimes a bit tetchily deal with the issues they are faced with.  But there is a fundamental sense of themes of independence and autonomy and being true to oneself that inhabits his fiction, including those last four lines:   

“I can’t go back,” said Towser.
“Nor I,” said Fowler.
“They would turn me back into a dog,” said Towser.  
“And me,” said Fowler, “back into a man.”

(Simak died in 1988.)

  • Born August 3, 1920 P. D. James. Author of The Children of Men which she wrote to answer the question “If there were no future, how would we behave?”. Made into a film which she said she really liked despite it being substantially different than her novel. I like authors who can do that. ISFDB lists her as having done a short story called “Murder, 1986” which they say is genre but I’ve not read it. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 3, 1940 Martin Sheen, 81. So that was who that was! On Babylon 5: The River of Souls, there’s a Soul Hunter but the film originally didn’t credit an actor who turns out to be Sheen. Amazing performance. He’s been in a number of other genre roles but that’s the ones I like most. Though I will single him out for voicing Arthur Square in Flatland: The Movie.
  • Born August 3, 1950 John Landis, 71. He’d make this if all he’d done was An American Werewolf in London, but he was also Director / Producer / Writer of the Twilight Zone movie. And wrote Clue which is the best Tim Curry role ever. And Executive Produced one of the best SF comedies ever, Amazon Women on the Moon. Neat fact: he was the puppeteer for Grover in The Muppet Movie, and he later played Leonard Winsop in The Muppets Take Manhattan
  • Born August 3, 1954 Victor Milán. New Mexico author who specialized in media tie-in fiction. He had work in BattletechForgotten RealmsOutlanders UniverseStar Trek and Dinosaur Lords franchises to name but a few. His universe was The Guardians series. And a lot of stories in the Wild Card Universe. Craig W. Chrissinger has a remembrance here. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 3, 1972 Brigid Brannagh, 49. Also credited as Brigid Brannagh, Brigid Brannah, Brigid Brannaugh, Brigid Walsh, and Brigid Conley Walsh. Need an Irish red headed colleen in a genre role? Well she apparently would do. She shows up in Kindred: The EmbraceAmerican GothicSliders, Enterprise (as a bartender in one episode), RoarTouched by an AngelCharmedEarly EditionAngel (as Virginia Bryce in a recurring role), GrimmSupernatural and she had a run in Runaways in the main role of Stacey Yorkes.
  • Born August 3, 1980 Hannah Simone, 41. She was Mera, the lead, in the film remake of The Greatest American Hero. She was also Leena Param  in The H+ series in which humanity is nearly wiped and addicted to the internet, and host for several seasons of the WCG Ultimate Gamer series.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro — You wouldn’t think Dr. Frankenstein could make this mistake.

(10) HORSEBLEEP. Although the topic has been in the Scroll before, this June 2020 article may still be fresh for a lot of us — The Atlantic looks at how “’My Little Pony’ Fans Confront Their Nazi Problem”.

… For years, this has been the status quo in the world of My Little Pony. In supposed deference to principles of free speech and openness on the internet, the presence of self-described Nazis within a fandom that idolizes compassion-oriented cartoon characters has become a coolly accepted fact. The community has sorted itself largely into two camps: those who think anything goes as long as someone finds it funny, and those who would rather ignore toxic elements than admit that not everything is perfect.

Until now. Following a new wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the United States, the fandom is in an all-out civil war, forced to either confront or deny what it’s let go on for so long. The abrupt reckoning has raised an existential question for internet spaces large and small: If you’ve gone online to live in a fantasy space, can you avoid taking responsibility when the real world finds its way in?…

… Now the real world and Equestria are colliding. Over the past few weeks, some My Little Pony fans have mocked the protests with racist fan art, most of which was posted to Derpibooru,  then massively upvoted by /mlp/ users. One much-discussed image was a pony version of a white-nationalist meme that circulated after the launch of a SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station: a photo of the two white astronauts side by side with a photo of black protesters “rioting.” The artist replaced the black people in the image with cartoon zebras—which are awkwardly coded as African in the real My Little Pony universe, but often referred to on 4chan with a portmanteau of zebra and the N-word. “Beautiful,” one user responded to the image. “Perfect for subtle messaging.”

At the same time, My Little Pony art that was supportive of the Black Lives Matter protests was being hit with hundreds of downvotes—an apparently coordinated action that is against the site’s rules….

(11) FAMILIARS. The Guardian interviews the artist about the project in “Rankin designs covers for Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy”. More covers at the link.

Portraying Marisa Coulter, who has “tortured and killed without regret”, Rankin juxtaposed her with her golden monkey dæmon so that their eyes appear almost superimposed.

He said: “I wanted to create this amalgamation of the dæmon and the person. It’s really trying to embody the darkness of the series.”

The photographer said book covers should be more dramatic: “With classics, there’s a lot of playing safe … because one aesthetic or another might not be liked … What’s great about His Dark Materials is that the publisher and Philip went for the stronger, darker, more mysterious images.”

(12) DEATH WARMED OVER. Ars Technica’s Jennifer Oullette says “Post Mortem is the Norwegian vampire procedural dramedy we need right now”.

… The trailer opens with Live waking up in a hospital. Odd tells her that everyone thought she was dead after her body was found in a field. The responding officers processed the scene and transported her body to the morgue—at which point she woke up on the autopsy table. Officers Judith and Reinert are beside themselves about the mix-up, although Judith adds, “In our defense, you seemed really dead.”

Live soon realizes she isn’t quite herself. There’s the sudden onset of insomnia, and her senses are strangely heightened—so much so that she can hear a person’s pulse. Also, her eyes have changed color to a rich emerald, and she finds that she is significantly stronger. Then there’s her growing thirst for blood, culminating in a shot of Live waking up with her mouth covered in it—hopefully from the local blood bank, but Officer Judith has her suspicions that something stranger is going on. Odd, for his part, is happy to admit that he wishes there were a serial killer on the loose, as at least that would drum up some much-needed business for his funeral home….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Jungle Cruise Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George has, in a spoiler-packed episode, has the producer interrupt the pitch by taking a call from Dwayne Johnson, who says he has to be in every movie with “jungle” in the title and you can’t question Dwayne Johnson because he’ll raise an eyebrow at you!

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Joey Eschrich, Paul Weimer, Jennifer Hawthorne, Kevin Standlee, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

Pixel Scroll 6/1/21 Welcome To The Hotel Cthulhu: You Can Get Eaten Anytime You Like, But You Will Never Leave

(1) OCTAVIA BUTLER BIRTHDAY MONTH. The Los Angeles Public Library and The Huntington are commemorating Octavia E. Butler’s birthday throughout June in a joint celebration of her work, her legacy, and her community.

The virtual events listed below are all free, open to the public, and family-friendly, ideally for ages 10 and up.

  • Parable of the Sower Book Club Chat — Sat., June 5, 4 p.m. | Reserve
  • JPL & Octavia E. Butler — Sat., June 12, 2 p.m. | Reserve
  • Octavia Lab Tour — Fri., June 18, 4 p.m. | Reserve
  • Make a Zine Celebration of Octavia E. Butler and Juneteenth — Sat., June 19, 4 p.m. | Reserve
  • In Conversation with Author Lynell George — Fri., June 25, 4 p.m. | Reserve
  • Parable of the Sower Graphic Novel Creators’ Presentation — Sat., June 26, 4 p.m. | Reserve 

(2) CHAMBERS ON TOUR, AT YOUR COMPUTER. Becky Chambers is doing a virtual tour for her upcoming book A Psalm for the Wild-BuiltTor.com has information about it, including links to the independent bookstores hosting each stop on the tour. It looks like she’ll be appearing in tandem with different SFF authors on Zoom at each of the three “stops” — Martha Wells, Sarah Gailey, and T.J. Klune + Alix E. Harrow. “Join Becky Chambers on Tour for A Psalm for the Wild-Built”.

In A Psalm for the Wild-Built, it’s been centuries since the robots of Panga became self-aware and walked into the wilderness. When one walks right into the life of a tea monk named Dex, an entirely unexpected connection is formed. The robot wants to know what people need. But how can one person answer that question? As Sarah Gailey said, “This is a book that, for one night, made me stop asking ‘what am I even for?’ I’m prescribing a preorder to anyone who has ever felt lost. Stunning, kind, necessary.”

(3) POST-PANDEMIC BOX OFFICE. Variety reports “’A Quiet Place Part II’ Smashes Pandemic Era Records”:

…The movie business is breathing a little easier after Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II roared to $57 million over the Memorial Day Weekend. It’s a sign that cinemas are back after more than a year of pandemic era closures, capacity restrictions, and skittish customers.

Deadline says, “That’s a number which isn’t too far from the $60 million which the John Krasinski-directed sequel was anticipated to do in its three-day opening pre-pandemic.” 

(4) REJECTION SLIP-UP. Remember, it’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you. Joe Vasicek lays out his evidence in “Short Stories, Author Blacklists, and Navigating Woke Science Fiction”.

Last year, I had a short story published in the anthology Again, Hazardous Imaginings: More Politically Incorrect Science Fiction. Not only was it one of my highest paying short story sales to date, but it also made it onto the Tangent Online 2020 Recommended Reading List with a *** rating, their highest tier. Only 13 out of 293 stories on the list received that honor—and making the list at all was an accomplishment!

But a funny thing happened after the anthology came out: for a stretch of several months, I stopped receiving personalized rejections for my short story submissions, and instead got only form rejections. Normally when I write a cover letter for a short story submission, I mention the last three markets that I was published in. For example: “My stories have recently appeared in Again, Hazardous Imaginings; Twilight Tales LTUE Benefit Anthology, and Bards and Sages Quarterly (forthcoming).” In a typical month, I’ll get maybe a dozen or so form rejections and a couple of personalized rejections, depending on how many stories I have out on submission.

Back in March, I started to notice that I wasn’t getting any personalized rejections. Suspecting that my publication credit in Again, Hazardous Imaginings wasn’t helping me, I decided to change things up and only list my publication credits for stories listed in Locus Magazine’s Year In Review issue. My thinking was that all of the Hugo and Nebula eligible markets give their yearly reports in that issue, and since all of the editors want to acquire stories that are likely to win awards, a publication credit in one of those markets is more likely to get them to pay attention.

Lo and behold, I started getting personalized rejections again….

(5) YOUNG PEOPLE. In the latest Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll turns the panel loose on “The Longest Voyage” by one of my favorite writers, Poul Anderson.

… Anderson’s curious views of the narrative role of women at the time of writing surely do not pertain to The Longest Voyage because The Longest Voyage contains no women to speak of. As well, Anderson has chosen for the setting an Earthlike moon of a gas giant, perhaps the first plausible example of such a world I recall encountering. Perhaps this story highlights Anderson’s strengths in a way to which the Young People will respond?

(I can’t bear to look!)

(6) HIGHER-TECH CONEHEADS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Even Daleks, after a hard day of extermination, need to take an ice cream break!

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 1, 1984 — On this day in 1984, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock premiered. It was written and produced by Harve Bennett, and directed by Leonard Nimoy.  It starred William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan. George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Merritt Butrick and Christopher Lloyd. Critics generally loved it and thought Nimoy caught the feel of the series; audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 61% rating. It would finish third at Aussiecon Two behind 2010: The Year We Made Contact which won the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo and Ghostbusters which came in second.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 1, 1858 – Frank Ver Beck.  Wood engravings; illustrations for Collier’sThe Ladies’ Home Journal,Scribner’s; superlatively, animals, sometimes in a style eventually called anthropomorphic.  Twenty books, e.g. A Handbook of Golf for Bears, and in particular Baum’s Magical Monarch of Mo.  (Died 1933) [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1914 — George Sayer. His Jack: C. S. Lewis and His Times which won a Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inkling Studies and is considered one of the best looks at that author. He also wrote the liner notes for the J. R. R. Tolkien Soundbook, a Cadmeon release of Christopher Tolkien reading from excerpts from The SilmarillionThe Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. (Died 2005.) (CE)
  • Born June 1, 1928 — Janet Grahame Johnstone, and Anne Grahame Johnstone. British twin sisters who were children’s book illustrators best remembered for their prolific artwork and for illustrating Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians. They were always more popular with the public than they were critics who consider them twee. (Janet died 1979. Anne died 1988.) (CE)
  • Born June 1, 1940 — René Auberjonois. Odo on DS9. He’s shown up on a number of genre productions including Wonder WomanThe Outer LimitsNight GalleryThe Bionic WomanBatman Forever, King Kong, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryEnterpriseStargate SG-1 andWarehouse 13He’s lent both his voice and likeness to gaming productions in recent years, and has done voice work for the animated Green Lantern and Justice League series. (Died 2019.) (CE) 
  • Born June 1, 1947 — Jonathan Pryce, 74. I remember him best as the unnamed bureaucrat in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He’s had a long career in genre works including Brazil, Something Wicked This Way Comes as Mr. Dark himself, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Governor Weatherby Swann, The Brothers Grimm, in the G.I. Joe films as the U.S. President and most recently in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote as Don Quixote. (CE) 
  • Born June 1, 1947 – Adrienne Fein.  One of three Founding Mothers of CMUSFS (Carnegie Mellon Univ. SF Society).  Introduced Arthur Hlavaty to apas .  Known as a loccer (loc or LoC = letter of comment, the blood of fanzines) but no slouch as a fanartist, e.g this cover for Granfalloon 1 and interiors there, this one for It Comes in the Mail 18, interiors for Riverside Quarterly.  (Died 1990) [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1947 – Chris Moore, age 74.  Four hundred sixty covers, fourscore interiors.  Collection, Journeyman.  Here’s a cover for The Stars My Destination; one for The City and the Stars; one for Hexarchate Stories.  Here’s his story.  [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1948 – Mike Meara, age 73.  Nova Award for Best Fanwriter.  Administered the FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards at Corflu 32 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable).  Fanzine, A Meara for Observers.  [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1954 — Michael P. Kube-McDowell, 67. A filker which gets major points in my book. See him with The Black Book Band here: “Back in Black”. And yes, I’m stalling while I try to remember what of his I’ve read. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read both of his Isaac Asimov’s Robot City novels, and now I can recall reading Alternities as well. God, it’s been twenty years since I read him. I’m getting old. (CE)
  • Born June 1, 1958 – Ian Gunn.  Seven dozen interiors in Banana WingsFocus, and like that; in Program Books for ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon, ConAdian the 52nd, Aussiecon 3 the 57th; logo for The Frozen Frog; 10 Ditmars (one won by a story!), 2 FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards, 1 Hugo at last.  (Died 1998) [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1965 — Tim Eldred, 56. Author and illustrator of Grease Monkey, a most excellent humorous take on space operas and uplifting species.  As an illustrator alone, he was involved in Daniel Quinn’s superb The Man Who Grew Young. (CE)
  • Born June 1, 1994 – Caighlan Smith, age 27.  Two novels, two shorter stories.  Has read A Doll’s HouseLes MisérablesFrankenstein, two Gormenghast books (the third on its way).  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) BIG BEZOS IS WATCHING. According to The Guardian, “Amazon US customers have one week to opt out of mass wireless sharing”.

Amazon customers have one week to opt out of a plan that would turn every Echo speaker and Ring security camera in the US into a shared wireless network, as part of the company’s plan to fix connection problems for its smart home devices.

The proposal, called Amazon Sidewalk, involves the company’s devices being used as a springboard to build city-wide “mesh networks” that help simplify the process of setting up new devices, keep them online even if they’re out of range of home wifi, and extend the range of tracking devices such as those made by Tile.

But Sidewalk has come under fire for the apparent lack of transparency with which Amazon has rolled out the feature, as well as the limited time available for users to complete the tricky process required to opt out. Other critics have expressed concerns that failing to turn the setting off could leave customers in breach of their internet service provider’s terms and conditions.

“Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps devices work better,” the company said in a Q&A document for users. “In the future, Sidewalk will support a range of experiences from using Sidewalk-enabled devices, such as smart security and lighting and diagnostics for appliances and tools.”…

(11) CHAPTERS TAKES THE CASH AND LETS THE CREDIT GO? [Item by James Davis Nicoll.] I somehow overlooked Donna Scott’s Best British SF series, now in its fifth year. Went to Chapters Indigo to order it. Chapters credits the anthologies to various famous male authors.

(12) JDA’S SPORTS REPORT.

(13) REVENGE IS A DISH BEST SERVED OLD. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “Ancient Athenian Curse Jar Contained Dismembered Chicken And List Of Intended Victims” at IFL Science.  I particularly love the article’s turn of phrase, “perhaps you need to lift your vengeance magic game.”

Have you ever hated someone so much you sacrificed a chicken in the hope its slaughter would empower a curse, then carved the targets’ names into the pot holding the chicken and buried it for more than 2,000 years? If not, perhaps you need to lift your vengeance magic game, because someone not only did that but also found 50 people they hated enough to score a place on the pot’s exterior. We don’t know whether the curse worked, but it must be conceded all the intended victims are dead.

The pot (or “chytra”) buried between 325 and 270 BCE in a corner of a building in the Athenian Agora provides insight into the uses of magic at the time. Almost a century after Socrates and Plato, the home of ancient reason and learning still had people practicing something mystical.

Having been dug up in 2006 from a corner of the Athenian Agora’s Classical Commercial Building, the chytra has finally been described by Dr Jessica Lamont of Yale University.

Under the wonderful title “The Curious Case of the Cursed Chicken”, Lamont has described her findings in Hesperia. The pot contained the head and lower limbs of a chicken, but this was no remnant of a meal. A large iron nail has been stuck through the underside, its wide circular head sealing the entrance, and a small coin has since fused to the nail head. “This assemblage belongs to the broader realm of Athenian binding curses, which, … aimed to ‘bind’ or inhibit the physical and cognitive abilities of its human targets,” Lamont writes. These were usually written on lead tablets, but the nail and animal sacrifices were common features.

More than 30 of the names are still legible, some of them familiar while others were previously unknown from Athens. The handwriting suggests at least two people carved the names, something Lamont says is “largely unprecedented in Greek curse tablets”. Other writing could include the actual curse and up to 25 names, but only scattered letters can be read….

(14) ON TOP OF OLD SMOKEY. The Pasadena Museum of History knows where you can find the humble artifacts left behind by a historic science experiment: “Lookout Mountain and the Speed of Light”.

The first lookout tower of the Angeles Forest was erected on Lookout Mountain No. 2 in 1913 and was active until 1927 when it was moved to Sunset Peak. Today, one will find on Lookout Mountain, in addition to a sign and a register, three in-line concrete blocks. The tallest of these, forty-two inches high, has a metal tablet marked “ANOTONIO 1922” and one of the smaller blocks, twenty-six inches high, has an unmarked survey point. If a sight is taken in a westernly direction over these two points, it will align to a spot on Mt. Wilson, marked on topo maps as “Michelson.” These blocks supported a mirror system for an exacting experiment by America’s first Nobel Prize winner, A.A. Michelson, in the years 1922 to 1926 to determine the speed of light.

The speed of light had been measured before, but never on such a spectacular scale or with as much accuracy. At station “MICHELSON” on Mt. Wilson; an octagonal mirror was mounted on a rotor that reflected a light beam to the station “ANTONIO” on Lookout Mountain, nearly twenty-two miles distant; then reflected back to another facet of the octagonal mirror, where it was reflected in the observer’s eye….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Army of the Dead” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say this new Zack Snyder film has robot zombies, brain zombies, and “the awesome zombie-killing saw,” and a team of mercenaries that has six “damaged bad-asses,” “two fun-loving bad-asses” and “the world’s most obvious traitor.  But Snyder, free of studio control, still can’t figure out how to focus his film!”

[Thanks to John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Nina Shepardson, James Davis Nicoll, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Peer.]