Tristina Wright’s Fans Show Holiday Love, and SFWA Apologizes for Mistake

Tristina Wright has written a series of tweets about her request for aid from the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund. Several months after applying, she got an email saying she’d been granted $4,000, then received a follow-up email saying that the notification was a mistake, the message had been intended for another applicant. A friend of Wright’s reached out to SFWA Director At Large Justina Ireland. Wright says Ireland went to bat for her unsuccessfully, and Ireland has now resigned her SFWA directorship.

Several Twitter users have pilloried SFWA for the mistake. Others have decided to help Wright by making direct contributions to Wright through Patreon, and a crowdsourced fund appeal has been set up.

SFWA, meantime, has effusively apologized for the mistake. The full text of “SFWA Apology to Tristina Wright” is at the SFWA Blog.

President Cat Rambo’s statement says in part —

I have been in correspondence with Tristina Wright and I am deeply apologetic about what happened, as I have told Ms. Wright in e-mail. This should not have happened. I and the rest of the SFWA Board apologize again to Ms. Wright again for this egregious blunder. Normally, correspondence as it pertains to the Emergency Medical Fund is held in the strictest confidence to protect the privacy of those involved, but because Ms. Wright has made the details public and people are asking for future elaboration, here is what I know of how this occurred….

I wrote earlier to Ms. Wright to apologize for the lack of response and erroneous letter sent in December. As expressed in the e-mail, I would like to have the committee re-examine her application when they have the non-SFWA member guidelines in place, but I wanted to acknowledge the fact that, given how much we’d bungled things at that point, she might not want that.  I hope she will be willing to give us another shot.

In the meantime, I’m still trying to find out how and where the process failed. It is, to the best of my knowledge, the first time we’ve had such an incident. My plan is to make it the last as well

-Cat Rambo President, SFWA

Ninety-four people contributed nearly half the target amount ($4,500) of Wright’s GoFundMe in the first two hours of fundraising.

SFF in Hungary: A Status Report

By Bence Pintér: Mandiner.sci-fi celebrated its first birthday this October. I used this joyful occasion as a pretense to ask bloggers, critics, fans, writers, publishing professionals and other luminaries of the Hungarian SFF-scene to answer the question: where are we now? And while the respondents were not exactly like-minded, some aspects of the answers I got were surprisingly similar. The following is a summary of the dozens of answers I get.

  1. Being up-to-date. Hungarian SFF-publishing nowadays is up-to-date, professional and thorough like it never was. The most popular English-language titles are on the shelves in translation in the same year they were published in the USA. The Hungarian publishing houses offer a wide scale of subgenres of speculative fiction. They are mostly translated from English, but there are some books from Russia, the Czech Republic and Estonia.

  2. Publishing classics. There is a never-ending debate about publishing the classic authors of SFF in Hungary. In fact, during the communist era a lot of books by the contemporary SF masters (Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, etc.) were published, and a lot more was published in the last two decades. But everyone can name five favourite authors, ten favourite books, which were never translated into Hungarian. And probably they’ll never be. Small market, small opportunities: only the really big names could make it.

  3. Domestic authors. Short fiction could be the best training ground of a genre author, but in Hungary there are just few opportunities. The only monthly magazine dealing with domestic SFF stories is the infamous Galaktika. There is also the quarterly Új Galaxis (New Galaxy) which is publishing novice writers’ work; and Aranymosás competition with a similar approach. We have a shortfall of online venues also. There aren’t any serious writers’ workshops. There were some really good books and we saw new talents emerging in the last few years. The respondents’, and also the genre readers’ favourite seems to be the fantasy novel Horgonyhely by Anita Moskát. But generally we can not be satisfied. A part of the respondents think that Hungarian authors need to be more open-minded and they have to read more to be able to compete with foreign titles. Others think that the publishing houses have to take part in bringing up a new generation of Hungarian SF writers.

  4. Establishments. There is a Hungarian sci-fi award, the Zsoldos Péter Award. It is an understatement that it has limited reputation: a lot of prominent authors refused to take a part in it in the last few years. There is also a debate about HungaroCon, the only convention of SF literature in Hungary. One representative of a publishing house also expressed concerns about Hungarian fan’s willingness to visit events. There is a growing need for the academic discussion of genre fiction.

  5. What we need to do? The majority of respondents think that the mentioned trends and facts indicate that we are heading in a good direction, although we have to be more open-minded to put together the fragmented puzzle which is now the Hungarian SFF fandom.

*

So that’s the situation now. On our part, I can say that Mandiner.sci-fi, the first professional Hungarian news site in the field had a very exciting first year. We wrote countless reviews about Hungarian and English books, comics, TV shows and movies, made interviews with Hungarian authors, while reporting on the events of domestic fandom. And also we managed to shock the national (and also the international) genre community by revealing the extensive copyright infringements made by Galaktika in the last twelve years. You can read the two-part article here and here. (These ones are also Hugo-eligible in the Best Related Work category. Just sayin’.)

In one year we built a solid readership amongst the hardcore SFF fans, but we look for more. For the next year our aim will be to invite new readers to the field of speculative fiction. It will be a great challenge, finding the ways to do that. But we will try.

Doctor How, Cousin of You-Know-Who

“Sorry, what did you say? Did you mention “the rules”? Now listen, bit of advice – tell me the truth if you think you know it, lay down the law if you’re feeling brave! But, Daleks – never, ever, tell me the rules!”  Doctor Who in The Time of the Doctor Christmas Special

By Carl Slaughter: Why should Doctor Who have all the fun with the Timey Wimey thing. Let his cousin Doctor How fight aliens and save the universe. Throw Doctor When and Doctor Where into the mix. No doubt more sequels will follow. And who, yes who, will British author Mark Speed use next to parody The Doctor? Surely Doctor What, Doctor Which, and, in the grand finale against the Derelicts, Doctor Why. Yes, but can they reverse the polarity of the neutron flow?  And where is my jelly baby? Shut up K-9…

DOCTOR HOW AND THE ILLEGAL ALIENS

speed-illegal-aliens

What if the BBC had the wrong story? What if Doctor Who had family? For fifty years, it is Doctor How who has held the line against the forces of darkness and bureaucratic incompetence. Illegal aliens try to hack How’s Spectrel (TARDIS is a very rude word where he comes from), just as he suspects his estranged cousin Where has been compromised.  When reports come in of mysterious attacks by alien creatures, Doctor How has to rely on his new assistant Kevin, a petty criminal from south London, and Trinity, a morphing super-predator, as he counters this threat to humanity’s existence.  His efforts are hampered by bungling agents from MI16, desperate to capture the Time Keepers’ technology. Can Doctor How keep ahead of MI16, save Where, and combat the alien threat?

DOCTOR HOW AND THE DEADLY ANEMONES

speed-deadly-anemones-medium

Something ate the Rindan consul and her husband alive. And now it’s eating humans… The extraterrestrial diplomatic community blames Doctor How. He and his assistants try to deal with the alien threat quietly, but events spiral out of control when the MI6 headquarters and US embassy come under attack. Meantime, Doctor How’s cousin When has neglected to tell him about a far greater danger, which threatens to destroy the power of the Time Keepers. Doctor How, his assistant Kevin, and morphing alien superpredator Trinity must exterminate the vermin and find out who’s behind the plot to neutralise the power of the Time Keepers. Can they do it whilst keeping one step ahead of MI6, the Metropolitan Police and a crack unit of US Navy SEALs?

Pixel Scroll 12/6/16 Good King Wencescroll, On The Feast Of Pixel

(1) TAKING LIBERTIES. Gothamist reports New York City is plagued with another round of Nazi-themed ads — “Statue of Liberty Gives Nazi Salute in Huge Times Square Billboard for Amazon’s ‘The Man in the High Castle’”. (Photo here.)

(2) APPEALING ANACHRONISMS. Beware, Ryan Skardal’s review at Fantasy Literature may cause this book to land on your TBR pile: Last Year: Time travel tourism”.

Jesse Cullum works security at the City of Futurity – in fact, he just saved President Ulysses S. Grant from an assassination attempt, though he lost his Oakleys in the process.

The science fiction premise of Robert Charles Wilson’s Last Year (2016), is outlined in its opening scene. Oakleys are sunglasses that come from our time, but Ulysses S. Grant was one of the most important generals in the American Civil War. How can both exist in the same place? Well, in this novel, a “mirror” allows people to travel back in time, but to a specific point in the past — and it will produce a different a future. The people who travel back are tourists, and the City of Futurity, run by August Kemp, makes money from the past’s wealthy, who are curious to see the many inventions of the future. Also, Kemp steadily ships the past’s gold into the future. When the novel begins, The City of Futurity is about to begin its “last year” in the 19th century….

(3) THE NARRATOR’S TOUCH. Bookworm Blues has a wonderful variation on a common theme – “Best Audiobooks of 2016”.

The Fireman – Joe Hill

Narrated by Kate Mulgrew

I really want Kate Mulgrew to narrate all the thoughts in my head. I do. Honestly. I just want her to dig her way into my brain and just read my mind to me constantly. She’d make my random musings of, “Huh, I wonder what Frodo would look like with cockroach feet?” actually sound interesting. The Fireman is a fantastic book, and Kate Mulgrew is one of the best narrators out there. I think she kind of struggled with the English accent, but that’s easy to forgive because… LISTEN TO HER. She made this book one of those rare experiences where I listened to the book as much for the story as to just hear her talk to me.

(4) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #10. The tenth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed book and a Tuckerization from Tricia Sullivan.

Today’s auction comes from award-winning author Tricia Sullivan, for an autographed copy of OCCUPY ME and a Tuckerization (meaning you’ll show up as a minor character) in Sullivan’s forthcoming novel SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS.

About the Book:

A woman with wings that exist in another dimension. A man trapped in his own body by a killer. A briefcase that is a door to hell. A conspiracy that reaches beyond our world. Breathtaking SF from a Clarke Award-winning author.

Tricia Sullivan has written an extraordinary, genre defining novel that begins with the mystery of a woman who barely knows herself and ends with a discovery that transcends space and time. On the way we follow our heroine as she attempts to track down a killer in the body of another man, and the man who has been taken over, his will trapped inside the mind of the being that has taken him over.

And at the centre of it all a briefcase that contains countless possible realities.

(5) VOYAGERS. Big Think tells you how to see it — “Massive Poster Details Humanity’s Missions Through the Universe So Far”.

By our count, there are 113 spacecraft in this image. It’s a catalogue of all of the vehicles launched into space so far, from the U.S.S.R’s Luna 2 in 1959 to the U.S.’s DSCOVR in 2015. Every orbiter, lander, rover, flyby, and impactor is here, along with its trajectory. It’s actually an image of a physical poster from PopChart Lab that any space maven could spend some quality time with.

Open another tab in your browser and click here for a zoomable version of the image. (If you’re on your phone, you may want to bookmark this and check it out when you’re near a big screen.)

(6) PROJECTS ON THE WAY. Natalie Zutter promises “(Almost) Every SFF Adaptation Coming to Television and Movie Theaters!)” at Tor.com.

Thanks to major properties like Game of Thrones and Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, we’ve entered a golden age of sci-fi and fantasy properties being developed for film and television. It seems that nearly every network and studio has snatched up the rights to old and new classics, with a bevy of projects in production or premiering in the coming months. To keep you on top of the latest news, we’ve updated our master list of every SFF adaptation currently in the works, from American Gods to Y: The Last Man. And surprising no one, prolific writers Neil Gaiman and John Scalzi each have a number of projects in varying stages of development.

Check out this list and get your DVRs and Netflix queues ready, because you’re going to be wonderfully busy for the foreseeable future.

(7) BAD NEWS. Andrew Porter reports that Ted White told members of a listserve that he has lost his son, Aaron, to suicide.

Aaron was Ted’s son with Lynda Spencer, who has since remarried, and is equally devastated.

According to Moshe Feder, Spencer told Facebook readers:

Dear Friends,

Our darling son, Aaron died early Monday morning. He had been fighting depression and took his own life. We are so deeply devastated that we are having difficulty finding our way right now.

We’ve tried to contact many of you outside of FB, but there are so many of you that we want to know about our dear child that I’m taking to FB to share this horrible news.

We will let everyone know when and where the memorial service will be once we know the details.

Here is a photo of Ted and Aaron that was published earlier this year in the Falls Church News-Press.

ted-white-and-aaron-white-min

FALLS CHURCH RESIDENT TED WHITE (left) speaks with his son Aaron White in the living room of his house on Tuckahoe street. Ted grew up in the house and raised his children, including Aaron in the house. (Photo: Drew Costley/News-Press)

(8) VAUGHAN OBIT. Peter Vaughan, known to American audiences as butler William Stevens, the father of Anthony Hopkins’s character in Merchant Ivory’s film The Remains of the Day, and for five years as Jon Snow’s blind, scholarly mentor Maester Aemon Targaryen in HBO’s epic fantasy of Game of Thrones, has passed away at the age of 93.

(9) CLASSIC CHARLIE BROWN. At Dreaming About Other Worlds, Aaron Pound removes our rose-colored glasses — “Musical Monday – Christmas Time Is Here by the Vince Guaraldi Trio”.  

This Christmas program, created more than fifty years ago now, shows that the “good old days” weren’t really that “good” to begin with. After all, Charlie Brown could plausibly lament the commercialization of Christmas as long ago as 1965, and Lucy could claim that the entire holiday was run by a “big Eastern syndicate”, and while Lucy’s claim was supposed to be mostly ridiculous, it was also supposed to be something that someone might actually believe. When Charlie Brown goes to buy a Christmas tree, the place that sells them is a gaudy showplace with spotlights, and almost all of the trees available are artificial. Even “back then” the world was commercialized, no matter what our hazy nostalgic gaze might tell us.

(10) DRAGON BREATH, Doris V. Sutherland, in “Dragon Awards Reviews: Horror, War and the Apocalypse” for Women Write About Comics, says the award-winning novels of Niemeier, Weber and Cole fall short of the mark.

A sequel to Brian Niemeier’s earlier novel Nethereal, Souldancer is one of the Dragon Award winners that benefited from Sad Puppy votes. It is primarily a space opera, making it an awkward fit for Best Horror Novel. Indeed, Niemeier acknowledges on his blog that the book was voted into this bracket for tactical reasons.

“I tip my hat to author and publisher Russell Newquist of Silver Empire,” he says, “who suggested Souldancer for the horror category, the only one where it wasn’t guaranteed to get annihilated.”…

Niemeier seems to view himself as working in the high-flying pulp adventure tradition of E. E. “Doc” Smith, but I do not recall Smith ever being this turgid. A closer comparison would be with Amazing Stories’ “Shaver Mystery” narratives, which, likewise, offered leaden mixtures of space opera and mythology. Now remembered only as curios, these were sold on the esoteric notion that they were true stories plucked from mankind’s racial memory.

Souldancer also has a distinct sales point. It is promoted on the grounds that, being written by a supporter of the Sad Puppies campaign, it somehow contains an essential sincerity and value that cannot be found in fiction from the SJW-dominated science fiction/fantasy/horror establishment. This marketing tactic will fail to attract anybody who is not already a convinced Puppy, of course. Should the Dragon Awards ever become a fandom institution, future generations will surely scratch their heads at how the first award for Best Horror Novel could have gone to this mediocre space opera.

(11) LITERARY BARTENDER. Nick Mamatas is co-editing Mixed Up: Cocktail Recipes (And Flash Fiction) For the Discerning Drinker (and Reader) with libations editrix Molly Tanzer, a volume forthcoming from Skyhorse in October 2017. He just posted the complete table of contents for the fiction element of the book.

  • Maurice Broaddus “Two Americans Walk Into a Bar” (Pimm’s Cup)
  • Selena Chambers “Arrangement in Juniper and Champagne” (French 75)
  • Libby Cudmore “One More Night To Be Pirates” (Dark ‘N’ Stormy)
  • Gina Marie Guadagnino “In The Sky She Floats” (Manhattan)
  • Elizabeth Hand “Eat the Wyrm” (margarita)
  • Cara Hoffman “I’ve Been Tired” (Negroni)
  • Jarett Kobek “Wes Anderson Uses A Urinal” (champagne cocktail)
  • Carrie Laben “Take Flight” (aviation)
  • Carmen Machado “There and Back Again” (corpse reviver #2)
  • Nick Mamatas “The End of the End of History” (vodka martini)
  • Jim Nisbet “Mint Julep Through the Ages” (mint julep)
  • Benjamin Percy “Bloody at Mazie’s Joint” (Bloody Mary)
  • Dominica Phetteplace “Gin is Stronger Than Witchcraft” (orange blossom)
  • Tim Pratt “But You Can’t Stay Here” (fin de siècle)
  • Robert Swartwood “Dinner with the Fire Breathers” (Smoking Bishop)
  • Jeff VanderMeer “Marmot Season” (Moscow Mule)
  • Will Viharo “Hot Night at Hinky Dinks” (mai tai)

(12) ANCIENT FANNISH VIDEOS RECOVERED. Here are four new uploads at the Fanac Fan History YouTube Channel.

  • Noreascon 2 (1980) Worldcon – Guest of Honor Speeches by Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm [Audio recording only, with added photos and captions]

Noreascon 2, the 38th Worldcon, was held in Boston in September 1980. This audio recording with images preserves/presents the Guest of Honor Speeches by Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm. Toastmaster Robert Silverberg is entertaining as always, with long introductions and not a little hyperbole. Damon Knight’s talk is full of anecdotes including how “Fred Pohl saved my life” and other stories about the Futurians. Kate Wilhelm gives a more serious talk about the nature of our reality.

 

  • My Favorite World Tomorrow panel

Featuring Jerry Pournelle, Arsen Darnay, Jim Baen, Karl T. Pflock, and Spider Robinson, this discussion is structured with the panelists describing their favorite future and then discussing and taking questions. The future visions range from the mystic to the moral to the technological. Jerry Pournelle moderates, with Jim Baen taking the editor’s role and commenting only.

 

  • Joe Haldeman sings “Stan Long”

We hope you enjoy this delightful clip of author Joe Haldeman, singing one of his most entertaining songs.

 

  • Transtemporal Institute for Fannish Studies

This video, “Know the Hotel Staff” made in “cooperation with the Institute for Transtemporal Fannish Studies”, was used as filler on the closed circuit video feed. Introduced by Dr. Dodd Clegler (a fannish reference old at the time), the film shows a time traveler interacting with various hotel staff as a training film for other travelers. It was created in the summer of ’76 by Minneapolis fans.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Moshe Feder, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Schnookums von Fancypants.]

Kevin J. Anderson interviewed about the “united artists” model vs. the “big publisher/little author model”

Kevin J. Anderson

Kevin J. Anderson

By Carl Slaughter: How do you sell more books than a major publisher? By going face to face with 4 million readers. So if you see Kevin J. Anderson at a con, he might be promoting one of his many books, but he might just as likely be helping 100 other authors promote their books, and they might just as likely be promoting his. Kevin calls this new marketing model “united artists” versus “big publisher/little author”. This is the same model for authors whose publishers say yes to some stories and no to others. Authors who have joined forces with him include Mike Resnick, Brian Herbert, Allen Dean Foster, and Tracy Hickman.

CARL SLAUGHTER: What’s the “big publisher/little author” model and why is it bad for everybody? What’s the “united artists” model and how is it good for everybody?

KEVIN J. ANDERSON: Ah, the good old days! Previously, a perfectly viable model, a big publisher with big distribution and big offices in New York would take on an author and produce a book, using all their muscle to get copies out into bookstores. It’s very equivalent to big record labels making musicians into stars and then controlling their careers.

But, for good or bad, technology, marketing, and distribution have blown that bottleneck to pieces. Think about it—when is the last time you bought an album in an actual music store? Authors are able to go direct to readers now, selling eBooks and print books without having to get distribution through a chain bookstore. Authors are often more ambitious and more innovative in promoting their books. And the marketing is changing at warp speed—what worked six months ago may flop now. Indie authors are often right on top of these changes, which big old-school publishers may not embrace. Indie authors working together can be quite formidable.

CS: WordFire Press is a business, not an NGO. So what’s the business model? How do you be more friendly toward the author without endangering your own financial viability?

KJA: I started as an indie author reissuing my own backlist, but that proved so successful that other authors came to me. With my personal reputation in the field I brought in major authors with much to offer, as well as ambitious new authors who were motivated to promote their own books with the assistance of the tools I could bring to the table. We share in the effort, cooperate in pushing the titles, exchange podcasts and interview opportunities, and most importantly we appear at big shows together, selling each others’ books. The books don’t sell themselves, and It’s a synergy that really helps.

CS: What’s the sales/distribution model?

KJA: WordFire books are available in all eBook formats—Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, and all the others via Smashwords—and also in print, which we hand sell at the numerous comic conventions we attend. In 2016 alone, we exhibited at 22 conventions and were seen by 1.5 million attendees. If you count the reach of the TV, podcasts, and other social media we did at those shows, bump that number up to four million. But the authors are expected to help the promotion, and to help promote other authors’ books as well. United we stand, and all that.

CS: What was the inspiration for this project?

KJA: I saw the potential and started with my own old titles first, and then some specialty collections or editions of books that I knew I couldn’t sell to a traditional publisher. When those proved successful, Brian Herbert approached me for his own backlist as well as many novels of Frank Herbert that other publishers didn’t consider viable. We sold those very well, and then other authors came, Alan Dean Foster, Mike Resnick, Jody Lynn Nye, Allen Drury, Michael Stackpole, Tracy Hickman, as well as ambitious new authors who needed extra resources to meet their potential. Then our model of exhibiting at comic cons and meeting the fans directly also proved to be innovative and successful.

CS: What type of books do you publish?

KJA: We have done some outliers—romance, thrillers, non-fiction—but our real wheelhouse is in science fiction and fantasy, the field and the authors I know so well.

CS: How long have you been publishing? How many authors? Which authors? How many books? What kind of sales figures?

KJA: We’ve published nearly 300 titles and over a hundred authors. Our titles are on all platforms (many indie authors just go for Kindle and nothing else), and we are also widely distributed through the Baen eBook Library. We are expanding by leaps and bounds and always looking for new techniques. The sales depend on the authors—an unknown who really promotes can sell better than a big name who is more passive.

CS: How is the “united artists” model going to change book publishing?

KJA: No one has more incentive to sell their book than the authors themselves. We give them direct input in their cover art and their cover copy. By leveraging the energy and connections of the author, while adding the resources we bring to the table, we can make a big impact. This is much different from the big publisher saying, “There, there, author, we know what we’re doing. Go to your corner and let us handle it.” Authors like to be empowered, but they also like a helping hand. We give them the best of both worlds.

VanderMeer Creative Sponsors the Octavia Project for 2016-2017

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Octavia Project, a free summer program that uses science fiction and fantasy to teach 21st century skills to underserved Brooklyn teenage girls, announced today that they will be funded by VanderMeer Creative for one year. VanderMeer Creative is run by editor Ann VanderMeer and author Jeff VanderMeer. Along with the announcement of their fiscal support of the Octavia Project for 2016-2017, VanderMeer Creative is offering an all-expense paid scholarship (including air travel) to one 2017 Octavia Project participant to attend their summer writing intensive Shared Worlds at Wofford College in South Carolina in 2018.

Named after science fiction author Octavia E. Butler, the Octavia Project is delighted with the support of the VanderMeers, who have been champions of the program since its inception. “Now in our third year, this sponsorship means we will have more time to create dynamic summer programming and get the word out to even more girls. It’s a dream come true at this stage in our development.” said co-founder and director Meghan McNamara.

McNamara also spoke of expanding their paid teaching staff and their commitment to hiring women of color as teachers and guest artists. “From the very beginning, our greatest champions have come from the science fiction community,” said co-founder and author Chana Porter. “N.K. Jemisin, Malka Older, Ibi Zoboi, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, the staff of Tor.com— these members of the science fiction community helped make the Octavia Project possible.” Porter and McNamara went on to say that the Octavia Project was created to honor, support, and celebrate the imaginations of black and brown girls in Brooklyn, immigrant girls, and LGBTQ youth.

The Octavia Project uses girls’ passion in science fiction, fantasy, fan-fiction, and gaming to teach them skills in science, technology, art, and writing, equipping them with skills to dream and build new futures for themselves and their communities. Their inspiration and namesake is Octavia E. Butler, who broke barriers in writing and science fiction to become an award-winning and internationally recognized author (Kindred, Lilith’s Brood). The Octavia Project is inspired by her visions of possible futures and commitment to social justice.

Jeff VanderMeer commented, “Most of the things we fund or donate money to, we don’t make public, but the point of it being public is to up the profile of this important program and also to bring more major sponsors to them.”

VanderMeer interviewed one of the founders, Chana Porter, about the work of the Octavia Project for Electric Literature — “We Need the Alternate Realities Living Inside Girls of Color from Brooklyn”.

VanderMeer: How do you use science fiction as part of the Octavia Project?

Porter: Meghan McNamara, a science teacher and dear friend, saw the opportunity to teach science and tech skills through SF/F writing workshops I was leading with teen girls. Over the course of the month at the Octavia Project, teen girls from Brooklyn write SF/F stories that are enriched by interdisciplinary projects. A SF story is transformed into a text-based computer game. The girls learn simple coding while building the game based around their story. The computer game is a branching narrative, and this changes the way the author has been thinking about her story. So she keeps writing, incorporating the new ideas she gleaned from the computer game project.

The next day, a professional woman architect comes to teach the basics of 3-D modeling. The girl builds a cityscape from her imaginary world. Then we take it back to the page. Building her city has changed the way she thinks about her story. Every project is connected back to storytelling at the Octavia Project. The girl designs clothes and tools from her world, then uses basic circuitry and principles of electrical engineering to create wearable electronics based on her design. This causes her to think about how tools function in her story. She takes it back to the page.

This summer our theme at the Octavia Project is “200 Years in the Future”?—?we chose this theme for a few reasons. First, it pushes our participants to think about what they want their futures and the futures of their communities to look like. We’re asking them a question “What do you want the future to be like?” and then we’re helping them build the skills to create the answer. While most people agree that scientific discoveries can make the world a better place to live in, we created the Octavia Project to help address the imbalance around who gets to benefit from current and future technologies.

While most people agree that scientific discoveries can make the world a better place to live in, we created the Octavia Project to help address the imbalance around who gets to benefit from current and future technologies.

Along with our theme, this summer we’re learning about the evolution of life on Earth. We are looking at how plants and animals have evolved to where they are today, and then we’re imagining what these plants and animals might be like hundreds of years from now. We’re asking how has life on Earth changed and what conditions or events have made it change.

Octavia Project is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit arts service organization, and donations are tax deductible.

2016 Goodreads Choice Awards

The winners of the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Books 2016 have been announced.

Winners of the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016

  • Fiction: Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
  • Historical Fiction: The Underground Railroad  by Colson Whitehead
  • Nonfiction: Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
  • Memoir & Autobiography: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • Fantasy: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany
  • Mystery & Thriller: End of Watch by Stephen King
  • Horror: The Fireman by Joe Hill
  • Humor: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
  • Science Fiction: Morning Star by Pierce Brown
  • Graphic Novels & Comics: Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Andersen
  • History & Biography: Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner
  • Science & Technology: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal
  • Food & Cookbooks: Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat by Chrissy Teigen
  • RomanceIt Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
  • Debut Goodreads AuthorRebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands, #1) by Alwyn Hamilton
  • Young Adult Fiction: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  • Young Adult FantasyA Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2) by Sarah J. Maas
  • Middle Grade & Children’s: The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo, #1) by Rick Riordan
  • Picture Books: The Thank You Book (Elephant & Piggie, #25) by Mo Willems
  • Poetry: The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

Here are the vote counts for all the nominees in the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror categories.

BEST SCIENCE FICTION

184,025 votes total

morning-star

45,353 votes      Morning Star by Pierce Brown
31,389 votes      Dark  Matter by Blake Crouch
17,405 votes      Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray
14,139 votes      The Long Cosmos by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
13,673 votes      Murder in Time by Julie McElwain
13,178 votes      Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
11,353 votes      The Last One by Alexandra Olivia
8,216 votes        Lies, Damned Lies, and History by Jodi Taylor
7,098 votes        Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
6,739 votes        Crosstalk by Connie Willis
2,905 votes        Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold
2,695 votes        Death’s End by Cixin Liu
1,695 votes        Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker
1,475 votes        Too Like The Lightning by Ada Palmer
1,391 votes        A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
1,267 votes        Written in Fire by Marcus Sarkey
1,108 votes        Night Without Stars by Peter F. Hamilton
936 votes            Remanence by Jennifer Foehner Wells
552 votes            Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
400 votes            Kill Process by William Hertling

BEST FANTASY

317,002 votes total

harry-potter-and-the-cursed-child

128,543 votes    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
38,615 votes      A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
28,982 votes      The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson
16,412 votes      Feverborn by Karen Marie Moning
14,798 votes      Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
13,753 votes      All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
13,346 votes      Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews
12,739 votes      The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon
10,114 votes      Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop
8,924 votes        The Curse of the Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones
4,987 votes        The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
4,952 votes        The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu
4,870 votes        Age Myth by Michael J.Sullivan
3,354 votes        Stakes by Kevin Hearne
3,208 votes        Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley
1,986 votes        Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire
1,613 votes        The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence
1,497 votes        Vampire Girl by Karpov Kinrade
1,246 votes        The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks
713 votes            City Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett

BEST HORROR

134,220 votes total

the-fireman

23,289 votes      The Fireman by Joe Hill
21,871 votes      The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson
20,722 votes      The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
17,421 votes      Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger
6,779 votes        Over Your Dead Body by Dan Wells
6,678 votes        My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
6,147 votes        Fellside by M. R. Carey
5,881 votes        Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
5,042 votes        A Time of Torment by John Connolly
3,402 votes        Wicked Little Words by Stevie J. Cole and B. T. Urruela
2,909 votes        Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt
2,699 votes        The Visitor by Amanda Stevens
2,554 votes        The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Ravelle
1,936 votes        Nightmare Stacks by Charles Stross
1,677 votes        Kill Switch by Jonathan Maberry
1,203 votes        Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by Larry Correia and John Ringo
1,114 votes        Extinction End by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
1,042 votes        24690 by A.A. Dark
762 votes            The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
584 votes            Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh for the story.]

Rotsler Award To Ditmar

Dick Jenssen in 2000.

Dick Jenssen in 2000.

Martin James Ditmar (“Dick”) Jenssen is the winner of the 2016 Rotsler Award, given for long-time artistic achievement in amateur publications of the science fiction community. Established in 1998, the award carries an honorarium of US$300.

Known among fans as Dick or Ditmar, Jenssen got his first look at sf art – a painting of Saturn by Chesley Bonestell – when he was eight. Immediately his imagination kicked into gear, and he found himself able to visualize variations in the color, the point of view, and other details or hardware. By the time he was a teenager, he was producing art for his friends’ mimeographed fanzines, which involved using a metal stylus to draw on waxed master sheets.

Seeing for the first time Morris Scott Dollens’ black-and-white space and planetary scenes made him want to learn another technique, scraperboard. This was a thin white clay bonded to a cardboard base, which could be covered in India ink, then scraped away with a scalpel to reveal the white underneath. Ditmar’s efforts in this vein were published on the covers of Australian fanzines.

ditmar-cover-1954

The advent of computers gave Ditmar a new tool for producing exotic color compositions. “Since I usually always wanted to redo what I had created, in order to reorganize the compositional elements, and/or the coloring, and/or the elements themselves, it seemed that graphic packages would be ideal. Software which would allow me to generate three-dimensional objects in a virtual world, to organize their spatial distribution and relations, to color them as I wished, to manipulate them in unreal ways.” And digital and online fanzine publishers, freed from the cost of printing color art on paper, responded with approval, publishing several elaborate folios of these images.

dagonburst14mod

The Rotsler Award is sponsored by the Southern California Institute for Fan Interests, a non-profit corporation, which hosted the 1984, 1996, and 2006 World Science Fiction Conventions. The award is named for the late Bill Rotsler, a talented and prolific artist over many years. Sue Mason, Mike Glyer, and John Hertz served as this year’s judges.

The award was formally announced at Loscon 43. An exhibit honoring Ditmar’s work was displayed in the Art Show.

Online galleries

Colin Barnes’ Codebreakers Series

By Carl Slaughter: Colin Barnes’ popular Codebreakers series is back!  The four novels and the prequel novella are out in audio in November.

ALPHA

barnes-alpha

Code Breakers: Alpha is a futuristic, high-stakes thrill ride. In a post-apocalyptic future, humanity survives within a single domed city run by a shadowy benefactor known only as The Family. Each week the death lottery claims more lives and Gerry Cardle, head of the lottery, inexplicably finds himself the next on the list. Something’s wrong with the system. A deadly artificial intelligence has breached security. Gerry has just 7 days to live. Forced off the grid, Gerry has to do the unthinkable: willingly leave the city. What he finds in the abandoned lands will shatter his perception of what it means to be human. Everything he had been told before was a lie. In a deadly world of conspiracies, Gerry has to sacrifice everything he loves in order to save it, and time is running out.

BETA

barnes-beta

Being human is no longer enough. The fanatical Red Widows sweep destruction across the abandoned lands. Their aggression threatens to destroy the city Gerry had risked his life to save. Petal, the woman Gerry has come to love is dying. The despotic cabal, The Family, demand he bring her to them, but she’s missing, running from the Widows, searching for the truth of her origins before it’s too late. When their paths cross, Petal and Gerry will hold the fate of humankind in their hands—if they can survive the malevolent digital entity that stalks them from the shadows.

GAMMA

barnes-gamma

How much sacrifice should anyone have to give? Petal and Gabriel are forced to decide, as the mad, digital entity, Elliot Robertson, is determined to dominate the world. His influence, spread by an insurgent group, The Ronin, seeks to control and enslave the last of humanity. With time running out, Petal and Gabriel must travel to the far reaches of the abandoned lands in order to repair a server they believe will be the key to defeating Elliot and his ronin. All the while, Petal has a ticking time bomb inside her head: Gerry Cardle’s uploaded consciousness. The code of which is mutating, but to what end? Together with their few allies, Petal and Gabriel must face either victory or total annihilation.

DELTA

barnes-delta

Gabriel and Petal have tracked Gabe’s mother back to Hong Kong. But to find her Gabe has to face his old gang and the ghosts he thought he had laid to rest years before. While helping him, Petal stumbles on a way of getting Gerry’s mind out of her head, but like Gabe, she too has to return to a place full of ghosts: Libertas.

Enna is now the Prime Minister of the domed city, and when Petal arrives she discovers Enna has developed her Transcendent technology. However, to give Gerry a new existence, they’ll need more help—help from someone within the Family.

Faced with shifting loyalties and an uncertain future, Petal and Gerry will for the last time face a dire threat to their existence when Jess is kidnapped by a shadowy figure. It’s a race against time to find her and uncover the conspiracy before the Family has the last laugh.

CODE BREAKERS PREQUEL

barnes-prequel

Rogue hackers Petal and Gabriel are low on food and water. Their reputation precedes them and they are no longer able to hustle the crime community for supplies. With survival becoming harder, they’re left with no other choice but to accept a risky job from a dangerous individual. The two will have to negotiate with the Tinker – a woman whose reputation for psychotic behaviour is known across the nuclear-blasted Abandoned Lands; infiltrate a town overrun with killers; and recover a cache of exceptionally rare information. They will have to put their very lives on the line in order to succeed, and with the odds considerably stacked against them, they’ll need more than luck on their side.

Pixel Scroll 12/5/16 And They Will Know Us By The Trail Of Pixels

(1) POSTER CHILD. Early this year Cat Rambo placed herself at the forefront of the movement encouraging writers to put up awards eligibility posts, and using the authority vested in her by the Science Fiction Writers of America now calls on everyone to do it.

Practicing what she preaches, Rambo has done a year-end recap of her publications:

The stories of my own I am pushing this year are “Left Behind” (short story), “Red in Tooth & Cog” (novelette), “Haunted” (novella co-written with Bud Sparhawk), and the fantasy collection Neither Here Nor There. SFWA members should be able to find copies of those on the member boards; I am happy to mail copies to people reading for awards whether or not you are a member. Drop me a line and let me know the preferred format. I am looking for reviewers interested in Neither Here Nor There and happy to send copies as needed.

The recap contains links to nearly 30 other F&SF writer awards eligibility posts.

(2) PW PRIDE. Rambo is also proud of Publishers Weekly’s starred review for her new short story collection Neither Here Nor There.

This double collection showcases Rambo’s versatility within the fantasy genre. In the “Neither Here” half, tales set in her existing worlds of Tabat (“How Dogs Came to the New Continent”) and Serendib (“The Subtler Art”) rub shoulders with new worlds of magic and mystery. “Nor There” displays her skill at seeing our world through different lenses, with locations including steampunk London (“Clockwork Fairies”) and urban fantasy Seattle (“The Wizards of West Seattle”)…

(3) SCREEN TIME. George R.R. Martin is getting busy recommending things for Hugos – including other people’s things.

For my part, I already know what two of my Hugo nominations for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form will be. ARRIVAL, to start with. Terrific adaptation of a classic story by Ted Chiang. Brilliant performance from Amy Adams. (She is always great, I think, but this was her best role to date). A real science fiction story, not a western in space. Intelligent, thought-provoking, with some wonderfully alien aliens. And WESTWORLD, season one, from HBO. Of course, as with GAME OF THRONES, one can nominate individual episodes of this one in Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form… but for me it makes more sense to nominate the entire season in Long Form. (GAME OF THRONES season one was nominated in this fashion

(4) HITS AT THE LIBRARY. Library Journal’s “Best Books 2016” picked these as the top five titles from the year’s SF and fantasy.

Borderline, by Mishell Baker
The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers
The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman
Every Heart A Doorway, by Seanan McGuire
Behind The Throne, by K.B. Wagers

(5) SURPASSING THE MASTER. No spoilers for the movie Arrival in the following excerpt, only for the story it’s based on. But it’s natural that the movie spoilers quickly follow in Peter Watts analysis of the adaptation: “Changing Our Minds: ‘Story of Your Life’ in Print and on Screen”.

What might come as a shock— and I hesitate to write this down, because it smacks of heresy— is that in terms of storytelling, Arrival actually surpasses its source material.

It’s not that it has a more epic scale, or more in the way of conventional dramatic conflict. Not just that, anyway. It’s true that Hollywood— inevitably— took what was almost a cozy fireside chat and ‘roided it up to fate-of-the-world epicness. In “Story of Your Life”, aliens of modest size set up a bunch of sitting rooms, play Charades with us for a while, and then leave. Their motives remain mysterious; the military, though omnipresent, remains in the background. The narrative serves mainly as a framework for Chiang to explore some nifty ideas about the way language and perception interact, about how the time-symmetric nature of fundamental physics might lead to a world-view— every bit as consistent as ours— that describes a teleological universe, with all the Billy Pilgrim time-tripping that implies. It’s fascinating and brow furrowing, but it doesn’t leave you on the edge of your seat. Going back and rereading it for this post, I had to hand it to screenwriter Eric Heisserer for seeing the cinematic potential buried there; if I was going to base a movie on a Ted Chiang story, this might be the last one I’d choose.

(6) CALL FOR PAPERS. GIFcon, Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations, is looking for papers and creative works. The deadline is December 19. The SFWA Blog gave their announcement a signal boost:

With a focus on intersections (academic and creative writing; film, art, and games) we aim for GIFCON’s inaugural event to be a crossroads at which these communities can meet and come into conversation.

Fantasy at the Crossroads: Intersections, Identities, and Liminality

29th – 30th March 2017

What is Fantasy? This is a question that the University of Glasgow’s MLitt in Fantasy has explored throughout its first year. While this may seem an unanswerable question, for many of us, fantasy is where reality and the impossible meet. Fantasy inspires a sprawling collection of worlds that stem from a myriad of identities, experiences, and influences. From traditional epics to genre-melding, fantasy branches out into every style imaginable. Cross-sections of genre and identity create cracks in traditional forms, opening in-between spaces from which bloom new ideas and stories.

Examples of intersections in fantasy can be found in:

– Julie Bertagna’s Exodus trilogy, which explores environmentalism within the context of fantasy and science fiction.

– Arianne “Tex” Thompson’s Children of the Drought series, which focuses on subversions of race and gender.

– China Miéville’s The City and the City, which fuses the detective novel with the fantastic.

– Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child, which uses fairy tale inspirations to create a magical realist setting and narrative.

– Netflix’s Stranger Things, which melds horror with Dungeons and Dragons via a coming-of-age science fiction story.

– The Elder Scrolls video game series, which intersects narrative, music, and visual arts.

– Frank Beddor’s Looking Glass Wars series, which combines science fiction and fantasy to explore unique, genre-melded world-building.

…Please submit a 300-word abstract, along with a 100-word biography (both in DOC or RTF format) to submissions.gifconference@gmail.com by Monday 19th December 2016.

(7) RIVENDELL AUDIO. Here is the schedule of December Readings from Rivendell program in the Twin Cities, MN.

readings-from-rivendell-december

(8) WETA DIGITAL END OF YEAR PARTY 2016. I’d love to be on the invitation list for this shindig —

The Weta Digital End of Year Party has always had the reputation of being the best party in town. As with previous years, no one knew where the party was being held, or what was involved, all we knew was we had to go to platform 9 at the Wellington train station. After boarding buses at the station, we were transported to the secret location. This is what went down after we arrived… The party was themed by the four elements of nature – Water, Fire, Air/Wind and Earth. As you can see in the video, the themed installations and performance art at the party location were fantastic, and an amazing time was had by all! A big thanks to Weta Digital for putting on such an incredible party!

 

(9) PUCK VS. CUPID. The Book Smugglers present Tansy Rayner Roberts’ review of the year’s favorites in “Smugglivus 2016: A Very TansyRR Smugglivus”. There’s a lot of entertaining writing in the post, not to mention revelations about the previously unsuspected (by me, anyway) subgenres of gay hockey comics and novels.

This has also been an important year for Check! Please, one of my favourite all time web comics. I a couple of scary, stressful months earlier in the year, and the Check! Please fandom pulled me through until I was ready to face the world again. Check! Please was already an adorable gay hockey comic about bros and sports and friendship and pies, but its creator Ngozi gave us so many gifts this year, starting in February with The Kiss which pretty much made the comics fandom lose their collected minds.

Their love is so canon, y’all!

We’ve also had several waves of updates throughout the year, following the ups and downs of our hero Bitty and his secret NHL boyfriend. Ngozi also launched a Kickstarter for the book publication of Year 2 which was crazy successful, showing how dramatically her work’s popularity has soared since Jack Zimmermann got a clue that he was a character in a sweet gay rom com, not a gritty hockey tragedy.

(10) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #9. The ninth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed copy of Jenna Black’s Replica, and a matching handmade pendant to go with it.

Today’s auction is for an autographed copy of REPLICA and a handmade pendant to go with it (pictured below). You can see samples of Black’s other gorgeous pendants at her Etsy store.

About the Book:

Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake’s marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in the Corporate States. She lives a life of privilege even if she has to put up with paparazzi tracking her every move, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image—no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.

Nathaniel Hayes is the heir to the company that pioneered human replication: a technology that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Except he’s more interested in sneaking around the seedy underbelly of the state formerly known as New York than he is in learning to run his future company or courting his bride-to-be. She’s not exactly his type…not that he can tell anyone that.

But then Nate turns up dead, and Nadia was the last person to see him alive.

When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory back-up, he doesn’t know what—or rather, who—killed him. Together, Nadia and Nate must discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.

(11) NOT ASKING SANTA FOR THESE. This link leads to a page from Hunter’s Planet of the Apes Archive. Consider it an online museum of print advertising for Planet of the Apes merchandise.

(12) IN DOORSTOPS TO COME. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer have sold another Big Book – “Announcing The Big Book of Classic Fantasy”.

As Ann and I announced on social media last week, we’re thrilled to have sold another behemoth of an anthology, The Big Book of Classic Fantasy, to editor Tim O’Connell at Vintage Books!! Tentatively scheduled for publication in 2018 and covering roughly the period 1850 up to World War II. Thanks to our agent, Sally Harding, and the Cooke Agency. This will be our fourth huge anthology project, following this year’s The Big Book of Science Fiction, The Time Traveler’s Almanac, and the World Fantasy Award-winning The Weird.

Will this anthology include not just your favorite classics from the English language, but also translations from all over the world? Yes. Will it include never-before-translated new stories? Yes. Will it include the best of the Decadents and the Surrealists in a fantastical vein? Oh yes, most certainly. We hope to widen our net on the translation side, focusing on areas of the world that have been underrepresented in prior anthologies.

(13) WILLIAMS OBIT. Van Williams, famed as television’s The Green Hornet, has died at the age of 82.

Variety reports he actually died on Nov. 28, but his passing only became publicly known on Sunday.

Born in 1934 in Forth Worth, Texas, Williams was working as a diving instructor in Hawaii when he was discovered in 1957 by producer Mike Todd, who persuaded him to move to Hollywood. He earned his big break two years later with a lead role on the ABC private detective drama “Bourbon Street.” He followed that with “Surfside 6,” starring opposite Troy Donahue.

However, it’s on the short-lived “Green Hornet” that Williams made a lasting mark as newspaper publisher Britt Reid, who fought crime as the masked Green Hornet alongside his partner Kato, so memorably played by Bruce Lee.

(14) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 3, 1974 – The last new episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus was broadcast on the BBC.

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 5, 1901 – Walt Disney

disney-comic-lio161205

(16) A CAPRINE TRAGEDY. As discussed in comments on an earlier Scroll, the Gävle Yule Goat was burned down on its inauguration day, and replaced by a baby goat made of straw.

Only a week later, a vandal drove a car into the replica.

But in the early hours of Monday, those who were unable to sleep and instead found themselves watching the goat’s webcam feed (we’re told this is a thing) were able to see in real-time how someone raced towards the new goat in their car and brutally ran it over.

(17) SEND THE BILL TO LUCASFILMS. VentureBeat has been reliably informed coff that “The Death Star would cost $7.8 octillion a day to run”.

The British energy supplier Ovo has put some very well-spent hours into a comprehensive calculation of the operating costs of the Death Star, which will return to the spotlight in the December 16th movie Rogue One. They conclude that operating the planet-destroying starbase would cost 6.2 octillion British pounds, or $7.8 octillion, per day—that’s $7,800,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

To put that absurdly large number in perspective, $7.8 octillion is more than 100 trillion times the $70 trillion annual global economic activity of Earth, or 30 trillion times the roughly $200 trillion in wealth on our little blue planet.

(18) WHAT IF THEY’RE NOT LITTLE AND GREEN? NPR reports on NASA’s efforts to recognize life if they find it:

There’s a growing interest in so-called biosignatures — or substances that provide evidence of life — because NASA has upcoming missions that have real potential to search for them. Those include a visit to Europa in the 2020s and the 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, which could scan the atmospheres of planets around other stars.

The last thing NASA officials want is a repeat of the experience with the Viking missions back in the 1970s, when analysis of Martian soil chemistry produced what was initially interpreted as evidence of life — but then later deemed a false-positive.

“I remember the aftermath of that,” says James Kasting, a professor of geosciences at Penn State University, who was tasked with planning this week’s meeting. “NASA was criticized heavily for looking for life before they had investigated the planet and for not having thought that through carefully. They’re hoping to avoid that same experience.”

Finding life means first defining life, and NASA’s Green says the key features are that it must metabolize, reproduce and evolve.

(19) ESA WILL BUILD ROVER. The European Space Agency will build a Mars rover, even if the cost keeps going up.

Europe will push ahead with its plan to put a UK-assembled robotic rover on the surface of Mars in 2021.

Research ministers meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland, have agreed to stump up the outstanding €436m euros needed to take the project through to completion.

The mission is late and is costing far more than originally envisaged, prompting fears that European Space Agency member states might abandon it.

But the ministers have emphatically reaffirmed their commitment to it

(20) AUTO INTELLIGENCE. Uber has bought an AI company to move toward self-driving car.

Ride-sharing service Uber has acquired a New York-based artificial intelligence start-up which it hopes can speed up its progress in creating self-driving cars.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, will see Uber gain 15 specialist researchers who will form a new division at the company known as Uber AI Labs.

(21) DISAPPEARING STAR. Did you enjoy the video of Chris Pratt’s magic, linked here the other day? Cards aren’t the only medium he does tricks in — “Chris Pratt keeps cropping Jennifer Lawrence out of Instagram selfies and it’s hilarious”.

The acting megastar duo are both starring in upcoming sci-fi romance Passengers, but throughout the film’s promo tour 37-year-old Pratt has been enjoying social media hijinks by cutting out 26-year-old Lawrence whenever the pair share a snap together….

 

(22) WINTER IS COMING. At Dangerous Minds, “Stunning images of pagan costumes worn at winter celebrations around the world”.

In a recent interview, French photographer Charles Fréger revealed that he has always been fascinated by European tribal traditions. This fascination inspired the well-known artist to travel all around Europe to capture images of people dressed in ritualistic costumes honoring the arrival of winter and other seasonal celebrations.

Fréger began his journey in Austria and to date has photographed stunning costumes and rituals from 21 countries around the world. According to Fréger there are many celebrations that mark the arrival of winter that take place in the Czech Republic and, say, Italy that are quite similar when it comes to the materials that are used to create the costumes. Such as the incorporation of animal pelts, branches from trees, horns and bells into the costumes. Though they may share similar appearances, the story behind each living piece of folklore varies from country and location. Here’s more from Fréger about why so many of these celebrations often involve a human masquerading as an animal:

It is not about being possessed by a spirit but it is about jumping voluntarily in the skin of an animal. You decide to become something else. You chose to become an animal, which is more exciting than being possessed by a demon.

(23) LOL. Larry Correia goes through the comments carefully answering everyone’s questions about when the electronic and audiobook versions of his latest novels will be available, when one fan decides to yank his chain:

Ben Smith: Will the leather bound book have a kindle version?

(24) MR. GREEN HAS ARRIVED. Let’s kick off the verse segment of today’s Scroll with a link to Theodora Goss’ “The Princess and the Frog” which begins….

I threw the ball into the water.
The frog came out and followed after,
bringing me the golden ball —
which I did not want at all, at all.

(25) SEASONED GREETING. Joe H. and Heather Rose Jones produced this collaboration in comments.

Lo, how a pixel scrolling,
From tender file hath sprung…
Of Glyer’s laptop coming
As SMOFs of old hath sung

(26) THEN ONE FOGGY CHRISTMAS EVE. In a piece called “Hamildoph (An American Christmas Story)” the group Eclipse 6 performs “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” as if it was done by the cast of Hamilton.

I cannot fly if I cannot see, people!
I’m in dire need of assistance.
Brrr
Your Excellency, you wanted to see me?
Rudolph, come in—did you say “brrr”?
Yes, sir, ‘cause it’s freezing.

 

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