Pixel Scroll 10/25/16 Bears Discover File 770


(1) ARRIVAL PREMIERE BENEFIT FOR CLARION. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination will host the San Diego premiere of the film Arrival, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. After the film, there will be a conversation and Q&A with Ted Chiang, whose novella “Story of Your Life” provided the basis of the screenplay.

All proceeds from the screening benefit the Clarion Foundation, which supports the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop at UC San Diego. Click on the link to buy tickets.

Arrival is the the story of what happens when mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe. An elite team, led by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams), is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers-and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and, quite possibly, humanity.

Ted Chiang is a graduate and, later, instructor in the renowned Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, organized at UCSD by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. Known for his exacting craftsmanship in writing profound and psychologically rich science fiction, Chiang this year alone has the honor of having a story (“The Great Silence”) in both the Best American Short Stories 2016 and Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, after it was originally written for a collaboration with the visual artists Allora & Calzadilla.

(2) NEW CLARKE CENTER PODCAST. Into the Impossible: A Clarke Center Podcast launches November 1.

clarke-podcast-logoInto the Impossible is a podcast of stories, ideas, and speculations from the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. Early episodes will take listeners through exciting, ranging conversations with and between scientists, artists, writers, and thinkers of different stripes, on the nature of imagination and how, through speculative culture, we create our future. The first episode includes Freeman Dyson (physicist and writer), David Kaiser (physicist, MIT), Rae Armantrout (Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, UCSD professor emeritus), and Brian Keating (astrophysicist, UCSD).

Later episodes will feature actors like Herbert Siguenza (Culture Clash), futurists like Bruce Sterling (writer, design theorist, WIRED columnist), and science fiction authors like Vernor Vinge (novelist, mathematician, computer scientist), as well as looks into Clarke Center activities like Dr. Allyson Muotri’s lab growing Neanderthal brain neurons and the new Speculative Design major. We will also premiere an audio performance created in collaboration between artist Marina Abramovic and science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, created in workshop here at the Clarke Center with Adam Tinkle and local and student volunteers.

(3) LEARNING AND RELEARNING. Cat Rambo’s speech is now online — “Into the Abyss: Surrey International Writers Conference, Morning Keynote for October 23, 2016”.

I try to write, every day, 2000 words, because that’s what Stephen King does and I think he’s a pretty good role model. Note that I say try, because I don’t always hit it. But you must write. Every day you write is a victory.

Figure out your personal writing process and what works for you. And then do it, lots. I realized that my most productive time is the mornings. So if my mother calls in the mornings, she knows I will answer “Is this an emergency?” and if she says no, I will hang up. (I did warn her before implementing this policy.) Find the times and places you are productive and defend them from the world. You will have gotten a lot of writing advice here and the thing about writing advice is this. All of it is both right and wrong, because people’s process differs and moreover, it can and will differ over the course of time. Find what works for you and do it.

Be kind to yourself. We are delicate, complex machines both physically and mentally. Writers are so good at beating themselves up, at feeling guilty, at imagining terrible futures. You are the person with the most to gain from being kind to yourself; do it. Don’t punish yourself for not hitting a writing goal; reward yourself when you do.

(4) ZOMBIE PROM REVIEW. Martin Morse Wooster personally eyeballed the production and returned with a verdict:

I saw Zombie Prom on Friday, and I think Nelson Pressley’s review was unfair.  Unexpected Stage Company, which did the production, is a minor-league company.  I doubt any member of the cast was over 25 and no one was a member of Equity.  That being said, everyone hit their marks and remembered their lines and most of the cast had pretty good voices.  I thought the production was pleasant.

The title of the musical is misleading, because there’s only one zombie in the cast. (I guess they couldn’t call it One Zombie at a Prom.) It’s the 1950s, and we’re at Enrico Fermi High.  Jonny Warner gets jilted by his girlfriend and leaps into a vat of nuclear waste, which turns him into a zombie.  Will anyone accept him–including his former girlfriend?

I have never heard of Dean P. Rowe, who did the music, and John Dempsey, author of the book and lyrics, but they have talent and my guess is in five years we will hear a lot from them.  There are some mildly deep references to ’50s pop culture, including what I thought was a reference to The Milton Berle Show.  The two best performers were Dallas Milholland, who for some reason decided to play semi-villainous Principal Delilah Strict in a pseudo-British accent, and Will Hawkins, who played Jonny Warner with a great deal of gusto.

Their website is Unexpected Stage Company.

(5) LONG LISTENER ANTHOLOGY. David Steffen says there will be an audiobook of the Long List Anthology Volume 2 after all, using a modified table of contents.

I have been talking with Skyboat Media and we have decided to go ahead with the audiobook, with some alterations to the table of contents from the original stretch goal to get it to just the right length for the resources available.  So there will be an audiobook again this year, this time with 6 stories.

The table of contents is:

  • Our Lady of the Open Road by Sarah Pinsker
  • Today I Am Paul by Martin L. Shoemaker
  • Madeleine by Amal El-Mohtar
  • Pocosin by Ursula Vernon
  • Damage by David D. Levine
  • Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds by Rose Lemberg

The title will also be different to reflect the different table of contents from the book/ebook:


(6) TEPPER OBIT. The SFWA Blog posted an obituary for Sheri S. Tepper.

Cat Rambo says, “If I had to name one series by her I adore more than any other of the many excellent choices, it’s the Marianne series, and I highly recommend them to the File 770 readers.”


  • Born October 25, 1892 — Leo G. Carroll in 1892  (played Topper, and Alexander Waverly in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)
  • Born October 25, 1924 — Billy Barty. His sf/f resume includes the animated The Lord of the Rings (1978, rotoscope footage) Snow White (1987), Masters of the Universe (1987) and Lobster Man from Mars (1989).

(8) CHAT WITH THREE-BODY AUTHOR. An excellent interview at SF Crowsnest: “Cixin Liu: interviewed by Gareth D Jones”.

GDJ: My favourite character in the books is Da Shi, especially in the second volume, ‘The Dark Forest’. Do you have a favourite character out of the ones you wrote about?

CL: In terms of Da Shi, he’s one of the most liked characters amongst Europeans and American readers. I think it’s because he’s like a caricature of a Chinese person of Beijing police, real well-connected, good with people. But this kind of people are actually really common in China, so we all know someone like that. But for non-Chinese readers, he immediately captures the attention. In terms of favourite character, I don’t think I have a favourite character really because they’re just there to propel the story forward. So it’s where the story is taking them that affects them, so I don’t have a favourite.

(9) ET, PHONE US. “Either the stars are strange, or there are 234 aliens trying to contact us” says Phys.org news. Obviously, these guys haven’t read the Three-Body Trilogy.

What we’re talking about here is a new study from E.F. Borra and E. Trottier, two astronomers at Laval University in Canada. Their study, titled “Discovery of peculiar periodic spectral modulations in a small fraction of solar type stars” was just published at arXiv.org. ArXiv.org is a pre-print website, so the paper itself hasn’t been peer reviewed yet. But it is generating interest.

The two astronomers used data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and analyzed the spectra of 2.5 million stars. Of all those stars, they found 234 stars that are producing a puzzling signal. That’s only a tiny percentage. And, they say, these signals “have exactly the shape of an ETI signal” that was predicted in a previous study by Borra.

Prediction is a key part of the scientific method. If you develop a theory, your theory looks better and better the more you can use it to correctly predict some future events based on it. Look how many times Einstein’s predictions based on Relativity have been proven correct.

The 234 stars in Borra and Trottier’s study aren’t random. They’re “overwhelmingly in the F2 to K1 spectral range” according to the abstract. That’s significant because this is a small range centred around the spectrum of our own Sun. And our own Sun is the only one we know of that has an intelligent species living near it. If ours does, maybe others do too?

(10) THE HULK V. THE THING. CinemaBlend reports Stan Lee’s definitive answer to America’s most asked question. (And no, it’s not “Does your chewing gum lose its flavor in the bedpost overnight?”)

It’s a question that has dogged comic book fans for decades: who would win in a fight between The Hulk and The Thing? Of course, there’s only one man who has the definitive answer to this quandary: Marvel icon Stan Lee himself. So when it was finally posed to the comic book legend, the world waited with bated breath to hear the answer, which, as it turns out, is The Hulk.

Stan Lee made this admission during his chat with The Tomorrow Show. But there were a few caveats to Stan Lee’s answer, who predicted that The Thing/Ben Grimm would definitely give The Hulk/Bruce Banner a run for his money, as he’s a little smarter than his counterpart. But that didn’t stop Stan Lee from picking The Hulk as the winner, as he explained:

“Oh, The Hulk would win. The Thing is faster and smarter, so he would probably find a way to turn it into a draw or save himself. He’d trap or trick the Hulk. But, in a fair fight, there’s no way the Hulk [would lose]. He’d win.”

(11) FIFTH OF INDIANA. ScreenRant says a fifth Indiana Jones movie will be out in 2019, starring Harrison Ford and directed by Steven Spielberg. But what about George Lucas? “Indiana Jones 5: George Lucas Is Not Involved With Story”.

In an interview with Collider, the screenwriter mentioned that Lucas does not have a hand in crafting the Indiana Jones 5 story, saying, “I haven’t had any contact with him.” Spielberg’s earlier claims that Lucas would be an executive producer could still be true, but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Lucas is attached to an Indiana Jones film and isn’t helping design the narrative. It would appear that Lucas would rather enjoy his retirement than jump into the Hollywood machine again, which isn’t all that surprising considering his comments about Disney in the lead-up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For many fans, this is a bittersweet revelation; like Star Wars, Lucas is an integral part of the Indiana Jones property, but he was responsible for some of the more unfavorable elements in Crystal Skull, such as his insistence aliens be in the film. Some viewers would prefer Lucas stay away.

(12) SFWA MARKET REPORT. SFWA President Cat Rambo says, “The latest market report went out a little late this month and I wanted to make sure people were aware of it. Dave Steffen is doing a terrific job assembling it.” Find it here: http://www.sfwa.org/2016/10/sfwa-market-report-october/.

(13) OPENINGS IN RAMBO/SWIRSKY CLASS. There are still slots open in “Re-Telling and Re-Taleing: Old Stories Into New”, the Cat Rambo/Rachel Swirsky live online class happening Saturday, October 29.

Authors constantly draw on the stories that have preceded them, particularly folklore, mythology, and fables. What are the best methods for approaching such material and what are the possible pitfall? How does one achieve originality when working with such familiar stories? Lecture, in-class exercise, and discussion will build your proficiency when working with such stories. Co-taught with Nebula-award winning writer Rachel Swirsky.

(14) ARCHEOTELEVISION. Echo Ishii has a new post about another antique sff TV show – “SF Obscure: Children of the Stones”.

Children of the Stones is a 1977 television drama for children produced by ITV network. I know of this show mainly because of the late Gareth Thomas. So, I decided to watch it because I had heard good things about it.

Astrophysicist Adam Brake and his son Matthew go to a village called Millbury which has a megalithic circle of stones in the middle of it. (It’s filmed on the prehistoric monument of Avebury) Things get strange as soon as they arrive. First of all, the housekeeper and neighbors all seem abnormally happy. Matthew has strange feelings of evil and is immediately hostile towards the new neighbor. His father chides him, but Matthew can’t help but feel something is wrong. We later learn that Matthew has some psychic abilities and this is why he reacts the way he does….

(15) DISSECTING THE FALL TV PREMIERES. Asking the Wrong Questions’ Abigail Nussbaum continues “Thoughts on the New TV Season, 2016 Edition, Part 2”.

Westworld – Easily the most-anticipated new series of the fall, the consensus that has already formed around HBO’s latest foray into genre is that it represents the channel’s attempts to grapple with its own reputation for prurient violence, particularly violence against women (see Emily Nussbaum in The New Yorker, and Aaron Bady in The Los Angeles Review of Books).  You can see how that consensus has formed–Westworld builds on the 1973 movie to imagine a lush and impeccably-detailed theme park in which customers pay lavishly to indulge their every fantasy, which almost inevitably seem to involve murder, mayhem, and of course rape.  The metaphor for how HBO’s pretensions to highbrow entertainment ultimately rest on the sumptuously-filmed and -costumed violence of Game of Thrones, True Detective, and The Night Of pretty much writes itself.  For myself, I’d like to believe that there’s more to Westworld than this glib reading, first because I simply do not believe that anyone at HBO possesses this level of self-awareness–this is, after all, the channel whose executives were genuinely taken aback, in the year 2016, by the idea that their shows had become synonymous with violence against women–and second because it’s by far the least interesting avenue of story the show could take.

(16) WOMEN INVISIBLE AGAIN. Juliet McKenna takes to task “Andrew Marr’s Paperback Heroes – a masculine view of epic fantasy entrenching bias”.

Two things happened on Monday 24th October. News of Sheri S Tepper’s death spread – and a lot of people on social media wondered why isn’t her brilliant, innovative and challenging science fiction and fantasy writing better known?

Then the BBC broadcast the second episode of Andrew Marr’s series on popular fiction, looking at epic fantasy.

The programme featured discussion of the work of seven, perhaps eight, major writers – six men and one, perhaps two women if you include the very passing reference to J K Rowling .

Four male writers were interviewed and one woman. Please note that the woman was interviewed solely in the context of fantasy written for children.

If you total up all the writers included, adding in cover shots or single-sentence name checks, eleven men get a look-in, compared to six women. Of those women, three got no more than a name check and one got no more than a screenshot of a single book.

It was an interesting programme, if simplistic in its view, to my mind. There’s a lot of fantasy written nowadays that goes beyond the old Hero’s Journey template. There’s a great deal to the genre today that isn’t the male-dominated grimdarkery which this programme implied is currently the be-all and end-all of the genre….

(17) MASQUERADE VIDEOS. The International Costumers Guild has posted the final version of the “MidAmeriCon 1 masquerade Look Back”.

This episode features highlights from the MidAmeriCon 1 masquerade held in Kansas City, MO. Having discovered another version of this masquerade after the initial upload, we’ve replaced it with this one because the color is more vivid. There is also one additional costume entry that has been added to the video. Note: This video, while not the sharpest in detail, could still be considered slightly NSFW.


They have also just released a quick memorial to author and costumer Adrienne Martine-Barnes.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Nora and Bruce Mai, JJ, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Norma K. Hemming Award 2017

Applications are invited for Australia’s Norma K. Hemming Award for 2017.

The award is given by the Australian Science Fiction Foundation to mark excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class and disability in a speculative fiction novel or novella (e.g. science fiction, fantasy, horror) or a collection of shorter works by an individual author, produced either in Australia or by Australian citizens and first published in calendar year 2016.

The closing date for entries is Friday, January 13, 2017.

For further information about the Award including the Rules and entry form visit the Australian Science Fiction Foundation website or contact the Awards Administrator, Rose Mitchell, at awards@asff.org.au

The Norma K. Hemming Award will be presented at Continuum 13: Triscaideaphilia, the 56th Australian National Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne, Victoria, on June 9-12, 2017.

Pseudopod’s 10th Anniversary Kickstarter


Alasdair Stuart of the Pseudopod podcast by Escape Artists has launched a Kickstarter fundraising appeal as part of the podcast’s 10th Anniversary celebration.

Here’s the plan: we already pay pro rates for stories. We pay our editorial, production and administrative staff – a unique position in the industry. Now, it’s time to add our narrators to that list. For that, we need extra capital.

A host of incentives are being offered to donors. Here are three examples.

The Mug: Pseudopod Tower

The mug has been designed especially for us by Jonathan M. Chaffin, whose Horror in Clay company has run five successful crowdfunding campaigns for horror-themed mugs. Jonathan does amazing work; I own a couple of the mugs myself and we’re really excited to see this one become a reality. Particularly since the design is Pseudopod Tower constructed with nods to famous horror movies, a mysterious hooded ‘Slush wrangler’ and the show’s catchphrase ‘We have a story for you and we promise you it’s true’ in Enochian. Enochian!


The Anthology: For Mortal Things Unsung

We’re going all out too, launching our first ever anthology. For Mortal Things Unsung features specially commissioned stories from some of our best authors as well as reprints of all-time favourites.

Enhanced Patronage

We have added a few reward levels for those of you who would like to enhance your patronage.

Matross’ Lesser Sponsor

Want to be specifically thanked in an episode endcap? Or you want someone else to be thanked in your place? We can do that, and we’re ready to thank one person every week for a year.

Matross’ Sponsor and Matross’ Greater Sponsor

Want to include a special message before or after an episode? Birthday or anniversary wish to that special horror fan in your life? Pick the closing quote? Want to get Alasdair to recite horror limericks in his Manx accent? We can do that, too, and we’re ready to have one of each every month for a year. The Greater Sponsor can place the message before the story and the regular can place it after.

The Pseudopod 10th Anniversary Kickstarter has raised $4,199 of its $30,645 goal with 28 days left to run.

Vanity Press, Indie Author or….

By Steve Davidson: Like so many fans, I’m a failed author.

Not in a global sense – I have had two books published by traditional publishers, a few Flash fiction pieces by a fairly well respected website, hundreds of articles in magazines ranging from the completely obscure to Playboy and Maxim (both of those uncredited, but I cashed the checks) and untold millions of words paid for by third parties ranging from Bell Labs to a friend of a friend who needed a well-written business plan.

Nevertheless, in my own mind, I’m not an “author”.  Why?  Because I don’t have multiple novels sitting on shelves in bookstores in the Science Fiction and Fantasy section, nor even stories in professional publications qualifying me for full SFWA membership.

Those are my personal litmus tests for applying the title of AUTHOR to myself, or pretty much anyone else in the SF/F field.

These are the goals that I strive for when writing SF – qualification for SFWA, a place on the traditional shelf next to Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and so many others, perhaps even consideration for the holy grail – The Hugo Award.  (Beyond, of course, writing a cracking good story.)

Some of you may perhaps remember that back in the 70s, 1975 to be exact, Jacqueline Lichtenberg edited an anthology (along with Sondra Marshak and Joan Winston) titled Star Trek Lives!.

As an avowed Trekkie, I purchased anything with Star Trek on the cover back then and I bought that Bantam paperback for $1.95, only to be mortified by the discovery that it was a collection of amateur stuff collated from fanzines!

I looked at my pile of rejection slips from Amazing Stories, Fantastic Stories,  F&SF, Analog, back at that book and almost threw up my hands in despair:  I was writing serious stuff (great stuff if you must know, stuff that Ted White, and Ben Bova and Ed Ferman, bless their blackened editorial hearts, somehow failed to appreciate) and Bantam was publishing Trek wank from fanzines!  Obviously the fix was in.

Apparently, that fix has been in, at least for me, since at least 1975.

Fasting forward a few decades, we arrive at my re-emergence into the SF scene following a long paintball-related Gafiation.  Smack dab in the middle of the beginning of the fight between traditional publishing and the new kids on the block, the ebook self-published author.

Again, I was mortified.  I’ve not yet managed to break through the barrier and these upstarts had the gall to call themselves Science Fiction authors because they scribbled a few words in an electronic file and offered it for sale on the web?

Gall?  Did I say gall?  No, it wasn’t gall.  It was unmitigated hubris, the kind Zeus reserved his thunderbolts for (or maybe, during one of his randier moments, turning them into a ewe).

After saying “Pshaw!” (yes, I actually said it) I laughed a knowing laugh.  These upstarts could obviously not produce anything worth reading, let alone deserving of the title of Author.  They hadn’t had to sell themselves based on the quality of their work, not to an agent, not to a slush reader, not to an editor.  Hell, they hadn’t even befriended an author with some pull for years and years at conventions and club meetings.  They were so ignorant of the process they didn’t even know what rules they were breaking and, at that level of ignorance, it was just not possible for anyone to write science fiction, let alone good science fiction.

I happily joined the camp of anti-self-pub.  There was already too much out there to read and I have never had any respect for line jumpers.  Wait your freakin’ turn you snotty-nosed lawn-walker.  If you can’t wait to see yourself in print, publish a fanzine, that’s what those things are for.  Didn’t anyone ever tell you masturbation isn’t for public consumption?

One of Amazing Stories first rules was – self-pubs need not apply.  I didn’t have the time or resources to hand-hold anyone through an explanation of how paragraphs are constructed, nor to explain that “…and the planet was named Earth!” was not a new concept in the field.

Every human endeavor on this planet has rules and a hierarchy.  You don’t walk into the Met and take the lead in an opera because you sing well in the shower; you don’t throw a pass in the Superbowl because everyone picks you first for flag football; the Travelling Wilburys are not calling because you aced Guitar Hero.  The idea that one must earn one’s stripes is a long established tradition because it usually works out pretty well;  the head glassblower rarely burns his lips and that’s no accident.  You put your time in, you learn your craft and then, if you persist (and with a little luck) you can claim the mantle of AUTHOR.

My original SF blog (The Crotchety Old Fan) propounded this theory and took a fair amount of glee in exposing the attempts of these wannabes – mostly pointing out that the concepts, characters and plots had been told around the campfire for years;  I often suggested that perhaps someone interested in writing SF ought to be a little familiar with what has gone before – at least a little more familiar than playing a few sessions of HALO or watching a couple of super hero movies.

“Why are you so mean to us?” essentially sums up the response I got from self-pubbed authors.  The answer was – “because you’re jumping the line”.  (When my first novel is published by ACE or BAEN or TOR, then I won’t care about you so much, but until then….)

One memorable day, following a particularly excoriating review of some self-pub POS that had been sent to me unsolicited (it was, apparently, a series resurrected by a now successful romance author who obviously did not know there is a difference between universes, galaxies, nebulae and stars….) I was challenged by a self-pubbed author who considered themselves to be successful:  “Read something of mine and then say that“.

No, I’m not throwing good money after bad.  If you want me to read something, send me what you think is your best work and I’ll give it an honest shot.”

99 cents was obviously not too small a price to pay.  An ebook arrived.  I read the first two paragraphs and sent back four pages of critique, starting with “your tenses don’t agree.”

Never heard back from that guy again.

But you know, it did get me thinking.  Something I’d read about letting the audience be the editor, that these new authors were trying something pretty risky.  Kind of like what an artist does – here’s my pic, what do you think?

Maybe these folks weren’t line jumping so much as discovering that the store had installed self-check out lines….

I took a deeper look.

Yes, some of these folks were so ignorant they actually seemed to think that two seconds after they release their latest on Amazon, James Patterson will be calling to offer them a deal; and yes, many, many, many of them would be doing far better if they’d taken a traditional writing class or two (you know, the ones where the instructor slathers red ink all over your MS and constantly tells you that your mother dresses you funny, but then that’s probably payback for your crappy prose); and yes, many, many, many of them seem to be entirely ignorant of the field, if not downright hostile to it, and yes, some of them have become so frustrated by their failure(s) to crack through the traditional barriers that they’ve given up on that approach (when they should be giving up on writing)…


When you get right down to it, most of them are just folks who want to write science fiction and fantasy because they love it so much.  Just like me.  And maybe they’re a little braver than me, or at least a bit more risk-averse.  They’re willing to share something that might not be finished, or polished.

If you look at it from a contemporary perspective (the one outside my walled lawn), and you are honest with yourself, there’s almost no difference between a self-pubbed* author and an unpublished author who submits their MS to traditional markets.  The only real difference is, we get to look at one slush pile, while the other one remains private.

And there’s little to no difference between the (I’ll use the proper title now because we’ve arrived at that point) Indie author who achieves some success and acceptance and the unpublished author whose very first story has just been accepted by a traditional market.

I might not like either. Either might have some spelling and grammatical errors (probably both do); either might have some scientific errors (or engage in excessive hand-waving); either might be presented behind a lousy cover.  Either might be nominated for awards.  I might actually like either one, or even both.

Does the quality often leave something to be desired?  Well, its usually pretty obvious when they buy a cover from a cover mill, and usually even more so when they “put one together themselves” – but on the other hand, I now have worked with at least two author-artists who have nary a complaint about the publisher’s selection of scene or presentation; I met a third on a panel who was surprised to discover that she was already doing what many good graphic artists are:  arranging an image that plays well on both a rectangular book cover AND a square internet ad.

Can they really be their own copy editors?  No.  The good ones aren’t – at least after they make enough sales to afford a good copy editor.  I do see many indies taking in corrections from their readers and incorporating them in later iterations of their work.  This may be a slower and less professional effort, but I’ve also noticed that there seem to be large swathes of the reading public who would never be considered for WSFS’s Fly Specking committee.  Between texting, the internet and the erosion of language studies in our public education system, speeling and gramur just do not seem all that important anymore.  These errors are not pushing readers out of a book because they are just not seen by the reader.  I’m not advocating for the end of copy editing, but it does seem that younger audiences are, as a general rule, far less sensitive to such things (but stick an inconsistency in a film or tv show and listen to the howls….)

I think the bottom line is this:  there is now effectively no difference between an indie and a traditional author.  Both methods of publication can produce brilliance and both can produce crap.  Both paths produce far more work than any one individual can consume (or even remain aware of).  The good story-tellers will find an audience; both types of author will use their success to improve their craft.   We’ll hear more and more about the good ‘uns and less and less about the bad ‘uns.  The only real difference between the past and now is, far more choices for the reader.

Me?  I’ve obviously changed my views.  In fact, Amazing Stories now has a Sunday feature devoted entirely to indie authors.

*Auto-correct changed this to “self-pupped” author.  Maybe my computer knows something I don’t.  Regardless and despite enormous temptation, I have decided to forego pontificating on the differences between self-pubbed and self-pupped authorship, other than to note that self-pubbed authors themselves have rejected that term in favor of the more neutral and better-sounding “indie author”.

Pixel Scroll 10/24/16 I’m Free. I’m Free, And Waiting For Scroll To Pixel Me

(1) KEEP ON FIBBING. Diana Pharaoh Francis says according to “Writer Club Rules: Truth is No Excuse” in a post at Book View Café.

That’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, that truth is no excuse for fiction. I’ve had students who want to fictionalize a real story and then have found themselves floundering because true things are often too unbelievable to work in fiction. Fiction needs to make sense. It needs to be plausible. Reality doesn’t. That’s why the saying, Stranger Than Fiction.

(2) SACRED QUESTER. In “Is This Economist Too Far Ahead of His Time?” in the October 16 Chronicle of Higher Education, David Wescott profiles Robin Hanson about The Age of Em, including where Hanson gets his wild ideas, how Hanson hopes to write sf someday, and how fans accost him with ideas about “transcension and living in blocks of computronium.”

Hanson considers himself something of an exception to that rule and has described his mission as a “sacred quest, to understand everything, and to save the world.” He argues that academics are primarily devoted to signaling their own importance, and not necessarily to the pursuit of intellectual progress. “We lie about why we go to prestigious colleges as students, we lie about why we fund research, we lie about why we do research … we lie about lots of things,” he says. “We are so tempted to bullshit and give the most noble reason for why we do things.”

For academics who do actually care about intellectual progress more than “prestige, promotions, salaries, funding, lots of students, and roaring crowds,” Hanson says, there is a lot of freedom.

For him it’s the freedom to study things like immortality, aliens, and what to do if you suspect you are living in a computer simulation. “There are important silly subjects,” he says. And while most academics shy away from silly, “silly doesn’t equal unimportant.”

(3) GHOSTBUSTER. Fox News reports “Bill Murray honored as he accepts Mark Twain prize for humor” in a ceremony at the Kennedy Center on Sunday night.

There were plenty of laughs at Murray’s expense in evening that took on the tone of a gentle roast. Jimmy Kimmel, Aziz Ansari, Sigourney Weaver and Steve Martin were among those who ribbed Murray for being aloof, unpredictable and difficult to reach — and somehow still lovable.

“I think you and I are about as close as two people can be, considering that one of them is you,” Martin said in a video tribute.

(4) TEPPER OBIT. Shari S. Tepper (1929-2016) died October 22 reports Locus Online.  The author of over 40 novels, Tepper received a lifetime achievement award from the World Fantasy Convention just last year.

John Scalzi paid tribute at Whatever:

Also a bit depressing: That Tepper, while well-regarded, is as far as I can tell generally not considered in the top rank of SF/F writers, which is a fact I find completely flummoxing. Her novel Grass has the sort of epic worldbuilding and moral drive that ranks it, in my opinion, with works like Dune and Perdido Street Station and the Earthsea series; the (very) loose sequel to GrassRaising the Stones, is in many ways even better, and the fact that Stones is currently out of print is a thing I find all sorts of appalling.


  • Born October 24, 1893 — Film producer-director Merian Cooper (the original “King Kong”).
  • Born October 24, 1915 — Bob Kane, creator of Batman.

(6) FREER’S SCAPEGOAT OF THE WEEK. Remember when Dave Freer used to teach about writing in his column at Mad Genius Club? Me neither.

Here am I, in the esteemed company of such luminaries in my field as Larry Correia and John C Wright, as winners of the Wally Award, an honor I will treasure – because it isn’t every day I find myself lumped with authors that I try to learn from and imitate, and I hear some terribly tragic news.

There’s no doubt that being singled out by none other than Damien Walter of ‘The Grauniad’, a newspaper whose reputation for unbiased journalism is only rivaled by Pravda, legendary for its typos and grammos (hence Grauniad, rather than The Guardian), and with research and factual quality which is mentioned in the same breath as News of the World and Beano (although they cannot seriously compete with Beano in the opinion of most people of an IQ above ‘sheep, dim (Merino)’) and whose sf/fantasy correspondent’s effect on the sales and livelihoods of sf and fantasy authors has been equated with file 770. The last comparison I feel unfair, because despite Damien’s tiny readership his attempts to harm my career and ability to make a living, he actually had some effect on my sales, with his hatred of my unread work improving sales for me. It is for this reason I find the news that the floundering ‘Grauniad’ (the Venezuela of mainstream print media, which is running out of other people’s money) seems to have dispensed with his services, so sad.

(7) CLOSE CALLS. The BBC interviews Megan Bruck Syal about avoiding extinction by asteroid.

Sixty-five million years ago, a catastrophic impact forever changed the environmental landscape of Earth – and there was no way to see it coming.

This Earth-bound asteroid – or maybe several – changed the course of millions of years of evolution, altered the composition of our atmosphere – and the geology of Central America for good measure.

To prevent a similar event, we need to be prepared. Megan Bruck Syal, postdoctoral researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, works on the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (Aida) – which, for the first time, will test how effective a kinetic impact mission would be in altering the course of an Earth-bound asteroid.

“It’s not a matter of if an asteroid will impact again, but when,” says Bruck Syal. “Planetary defence began to be an issue when more and more near-Earth asteroids began to be discovered.”

She warns of close calls, like the Chelyabinsk meteorite – which in 2013 made international headlines when it left hundreds of people injured and damaged thousands of buildings in Russia. “It really captured the world’s attention because no one saw it coming. And it was pretty small yet it still did a lot of damage for its size.”

(8) BLABBY MCBLABFACE. Apparently, if you want to know what’s happening in season 7 of Game of Thrones, it would not be too hard to find out — “MAJOR SPOILERS: The Entire Plot of ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 May Have Been Leaked on Reddit”.

A brave Redditor named awayforthelads dumped what appears to be the entire plot of Season 7 onto the Freefolk subreddit. The subreddit has a long history of being the go-to place for Thrones leaks and last season was incredibly reliable at thoroughly spoiling almost every detail of Season 6.

As further proof of authenticity, awayforthelads has deleted his account, presumably to evade the wrath of HBO.

And actress Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Daenerys Targaryen’s beautiful handmaiden Missandei, appears also to have confirmed the authenticity of the leak on Twitter:

(9) COSPAIN. Apparently it’s not a favorite holiday for some: “University of Florida offers counseling for students offended by Halloween costumes”.

Halloween can be scary, but it can also be… offensive?

The University of Florida wants students to know that counseling is available for students hoping to work past any offense taken from Halloween costumes.

“Some Halloween costumes reinforce stereotypes of particular races, genders, cultures, or religions. Regardless of intent, these costumes can perpetuate negative stereotypes, causing harm and offense to groups of people,” the school administration wrote in a blog post. “If you are troubled by an incident that does occur, please know that there are many resources available.”

(10) THE ETHICS OF ASTRONOMICAL ART. NPR feature: “Out of This World: How Artists Imagine Planets Yet Unseen”. There’s a brief shout-out to Bonestell, but the artists interviewed aren’t likely to be known to fans.

“It’s tricky with computer graphics,” says Ray Villard, news director for the Space Telescope Science Institute. “You can make stuff in such extraordinary detail, people might think it’s real. People might think we’ve actually seen these features — canyons, all kinds of lakes and rivers.”

“The point of these illustrations is to create excitement, to grab the general public’s attention. But there is a danger that many people sometimes do mistake some of these illustrations for real photos,” agrees Luis Calçada, an artist with the European Southern Observatory’s education and public outreach department.

“Many, many astronomers actually do see this danger on this kind of illustration,” he says, “because it might create false images on people’s minds.”

(11) FIRE WHEN READY. NPR reports on experiments planned for the ISS, including deliberately starting a fire in the cargo ship in “Gotcha: Space Station Grabs Onto NASA’s 5,100-Pound Cargo Craft”.

Astronauts used the International Space Station’s robotic arm to grapple the Cygnus cargo spacecraft early Sunday morning, starting the process of bringing more than 5,100 pounds of supplies and research equipment aboard. The cargo’s experiments include one thing astronauts normally avoid: fire.

“The new experiments include studies on fire in space, the effect of lighting on sleep and daily rhythms, collection of health-related data, and a new way to measure neutrons,” NASA says.

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

Apex Magazine 2016 Subscription Drive

The 2016 Apex Magazine subscription drive starts today and runs through November 15. Their goal is to raise $10,000.

As an incentive for people to chip in, more bonus content will be added the magazine’s January 2017 issue.

Pay attention, because one of these intermediate goals will fund a new Ursula Vernon story!

As an added incentive, they’ve set up rewards that will unlock additional content for the January 2017 issue of Apex Magazine, creating a double issue as a thank-you.

We already have an impressive lineup of original fiction scheduled for January. Stories by James Beamon, Lia Swope Mitchell, Iori Kusano, and J.J. Litke. The issue will feature two poems, a reprint, and interviews with an Apex author and our cover artist. Our cover artist for January will be Aaron Nakahara.

As Apex reaches its subscription drive goals, they will add the following to the January issue, as well as a couple of rewards that will continue in every issue all year long:

  • $500 – a third original poem will be selected by our poetry editor Bianca Spriggs
  • $1,000 – a second reprint will be added to the issue
  • $2,000 – a new story by Ursula Vernon.
  • $2,500 – a fourth original poem
  • $3,000 – an interview with Nisi Shawl
  • $4,000 – a new story by Nisi Shawl.
  • $4,500 – a third reprint
  • $5,000 – a second story podcast performed by Mahvesh Murad.
  • $5,500 – an interview with John Hornor Jacobs
  • $6,000 – a new novelette by John Hornor Jacobs.
  • $6,500 – an interview with E. Catherine Tobler about her circus universe
  • $7,000 – we will add an additional 2,000 words to each issue of Apex Magazine in 2017, bringing the total up to 14,000 words per issue.
  • $7,500 – increase pay rate for original fiction to 7 cents a word
  • $8,000 – a new story by E. Catherine Tobler set in her circus universe
  • $8,500 – increase cover artist rate to $100
  • $9,000 – we will add another additional 2,000 words to each issue of Apex Magazine in 2017, bringing the total up to 16,000 words per issue.
  • $10,000 – increase pay rate for original fiction to 8 cents a word

Ways to support Apex Magazine between October 24 and November 15 include:

  • Subscribe. Yearly subscriptions through Apex and Weightless will be only $17.95 during the drive. Monthly subscriptions are available through Amazon (US) and Amazon (UK).
  • Give a gift subscription to the scifi lover in your life.
  • Become a patron on Patreon. Pledge as little or as much as you want for each issue.
  • The tip jar. Chip in one-time to help them reach their goals.
  • Buy past issues of Apex Magazine.
  • Join their Thunderclap (http://thndr.me/m0Fve2) and help spread the news.

Michael Swanwick On His (Many) Short Story Collections

By Carl Slaughter: In exclusive for File 770, to celebrate the publication of Not So Much, Said the Cat, which came out this summer, Michael Swanwick gives us the inside story on his collections.

(The Dog Said Bow WowHello, Said the StickNot So Much, Said the Cat.  Anyone else see a pattern?)

Sauk City: Arkham House, 1991


Thirteen stories:

  • A Midwinter’s Tale
  • The Feast of Saint Janis
  • The Blind Minotaur
  • The Transmigration of Philip K.
  • Covenant of Souls
  • The Dragon Line
  • Mummer Kiss
  • Trojan Horse
  • Snow Angels
  • The Man Who Met Picasso
  • Foresight
  • Ginungagap
  • The Edge of the World

MICHAEL SWANWICK: Five of these stories were Nebula Nominees. One was a World Fantasy Award Nominee. One won the Asimov’s Readers Award. And one won the Theodore Sturgeon Award and was nominated for the Hugo and Arthur C. Clarke Awards.

This was my first collection. Jim Turner, the editor at Arkham House at that time, called me up out of the blue one day, wanting to assemble a collection. I’d been publishing stories for a decade by then and we both agreed on which were the best, so the editing was easy. Jim was one of my favorite people. He’d begin a phone conversation by saying, “Listen, Swanwick, I don’t have time for any of your nonsense. I just need a question answered and that’s the end of it.”

“Hello, Jim. It’s good to hear from you,” I’d say. And with a harmless bit of gossip here and a comment about a hot new story there, I could keep him on the phone for hours. There aren’t many people I’d want to keep on the phone for hours, but he was right at the top of the list.

Jim’s original idea for the cover was to use Picasso’s Guernica as a wrap-around. But when he looked into it, the proportions were wrong. “I’d have to crop it to make it work,” he told me over the phone, “and you can’t cut up a great work of art!”

I will be grateful to my dying day that I resisted the urge to say, “Oh, go ahead, Jim.”

Lemoyne, PA: Tigereyes Press, 1997


Six stories:

  • Introduction: The Wireless Folly
  • Mother Grasshopper
  • North of Diddy-Wah-Diddy
  • The Edge of the World
  • Radio Waves
  • The Changeling’s Tale

MICHAEL SWANWICK: Five of these stories hadn’t been collected before. Of those, two were nominated for the World fantasy Award. One of these won and was also nominated for the Theodore Sturgeon Award. “The Wireless Folly,” which imagined the science fiction/fantasy/horror genre as a rambling building, constantly being added to, was written as an introduction to the volume. “Mother Grasshopper” also appeared for the first time in this volume.

One day, out of nowhere, my friend Chris Logan Edwards said he wanted to do a slim collection of my work. Slim, he said, to keep the price down so that people could buy it on impulse. I looked at my uncollected work and realized that the very best of it all happened on strange locales – a planet-sized grasshopper, a train passing through the borderlands of Hell, a tavern on an overbuilt medieval bridge, and my own neighborhood as seen from the afterlife. So I added the previously collected “The Edge of the World,” to bring it to length, and had a collection whose stories chimed nicely. One critic said that they were all about death, and that’s possible too.

Chris put together a beautiful volume with a particularly evocative cover by Lee Moyer. It was Tigereyes Press’s first publication and not only was it nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection, but it earned Chris a place on the World Fantasy Award ballot for Special Award, Non-Professional, as well. Not bad for his first book.

Pleasantville, NY: Dragon Press, 2000


Twenty-seven stories:

  • A is for Albany (to) Z is for Zothique, (plus) 120 is for Issues

MICHAEL SWANWICK: Sometime in my first two decades as a published writer, I acquired a facility for writing flash fiction. I wrote a series of twenty-seven stories, one for each letter of the alphabet, plus one marking the magazine’s tenth anniversary, and sold them to The New York Review of Science Fiction for, as I recall, five dollars a pop. The money was nothing, but I’d written them for fun, so that didn’t matter.

David Hartwell, editor and founder of NYRSF, suggested that his Dragon Press collect the stories as a chapbook. The editing and illustration was done by Kathryn Cramer. This was an old school publication – sturdy, handsome, and economical – as suited David and Kathryn’s fannish streaks.

I don’t have any anecdotes about this one, but it made me happy and that will have to suffice.

Ann A. Broomhead and Timothy P. Szczesuil, eds., Framingham, MA: NESFA Press, 2000.


Eight stories and seven articles:

  • Moon Dogs HN NN
  • The Death of the Magus: Two Myths (article)
  • Mickelrede by Michael Swanwick and Avram Davidson
  • Vergil Magus: King Without Country by Michael Swanwick and Avram Davidson
  • Jane Swanwick and the Search for Identity (article)
  • The Hagiography of Saint Dozois (article)
  • Ancestral Voices by Michael Swanwick and Gardner Dozois
  • The City of God by Michael Swanwick and Gardner Dozois
  • The Dead
  • They Fell Like Wheat (article)
  • A User’s Guide to the Postmoderns (article)
  • Ships by Michael Swanwick and Jack Dann
  • In the Tradition… (article)
  • Growing Up in the Future (article)
  • Griffin’s Egg

MICHAEL SWANWICK: Two stories were nominated for the Nebula Award and three, including “Moon Dogs” (which was one of two stories original to this collection) were nominated for the Hugo. The introduction was by Gardner Dozois.

The New England Science Fiction Society has a pleasant tradition of creating a book, usually a collection, each year for the guest of honor at Boskone, Boston’s venerable science fiction convention. This presented a problem for me because I’d already contracted for what was by now my traditional collection-per-decade. Editors Ann Broomhead and Tim Szczesuil convinced me that by including non-fiction and some of the best of the collaborative fiction I’d written over the years, we could assemble a worthwhile book.

While there are some upbeat works in the collection (my posthumous collaboration – “Over my dead body,” I can hear his spirit growl – with Avram Davidson, “Vergil Magus: King Without Country,” is a hoot), the mood of the fiction is, overall, darker than usual for me. I have no idea why I didn’t include “Dogfight,” my collaboration with William Gibson, unless it’s that I didn’t want to look like I was trying to ride on his coattails.

During the convention, I was hobbling around on a cane, the result of a fall down the stairs and a broken toe, waving the book about and telling everybody that it was only one of three collections I had out that year.

“You know,” Marianne Porter, my wife, said, “you’ve got the makings of good murder mystery here.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Tomorrow morning, when you’re found beaten to death with your own cane and the detective asks who at the convention would have a motive for killing you, every writer here is going to raise a hand.”

Rick Berry, the artist guest of honor, created a beautiful illustration for the cover.

San Francisco: Frog Ltd., 2000, 2002


Nineteen stories:

  • The Very Pulse of the Machine
  • The Dead
  • Scherzo with Tyrannosaur
  • Ancient Engines
  • North of Diddy-Wah-Diddy
  • The Mask
  • Mother Grasshopper
  • Riding the Giganotosaur
  • Wild Minds
  • The Raggle Taggle Gypsy-o
  • Microcosmic Dog
  • In Concert
  • Radiant Doors
  • Ice Age
  • Walking Out
  • The Changeling’s Tale
  • Midnight Express
  • The Wisdom of Old Earth
  • Radio Waves

MICHAEL SWANWICK: Of these nineteen stories, fifteen were never collected before. The previously uncollected stories garnered three Nebula nominations, three Hugo nominations, two Sturgeon Award nominations, a World Fantasy Award nomination, an Asimov’s Reader’s Award, and two Hugo Awards. The introduction was by Bruce Sterling.

This collection was a collaboration between Frog, Ltd., an imprint of North Atlantic Books, and Tachyon Publications. It was my second major collection, gathering together all my best stories of the prior decade.

This book began my professional association with Jacob Weisman, who quickly became a good friend. Such good friends that, some years later, Marianne and I flew to San Francisco to attend Jacob’s wedding to his wife Rina. So now we have two good friends (at least) at Tachyon.

San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2003.


Ten stories (or more, depending on how you count them):

  • Cigar-Box Faust
  • Writing in My Sleep
  • An Abecedary of the Imagination
  • Eight Takes on Kindred Themes
  • Picasso Deconstructed: Eleven Still-Lifes
  • Brief Essays
  • Archaic Planets
  • The Mask
  • Letters to the Editor
  • The Madness of Gordon Van Gelder

MICHAEL SWANWICK: Cigar-Box Faust gathers together pretty much all my flash fiction written to that point, save for the 26 short-shorts in Puck Aleshire’s Abecedary. The title piece was a short drama written in one day for a cigar-box theater and a cast made up of a cigar cutter, a box of matches and, in the title role, the cigar itself.

Marianne came home from work that day and asked, “What’s new?” I sat her down at the kitchen table, placed the cigar box between us, and said, “Watch.

San Francisco, Tachyon Publications, 2004.


Fourteen (or eighteen, depending on how you count them) stories:

  • flash fiction
  • The Thief of Time
  • A Matter of Size
  • Three Conversations
  • How the West Was Won II
  • The Scientific Method
  • Dueling Mosasaurs
  • Pocket Brontosaurs
  • Herbivores
  • Parallels
  • Wusses
  • Dinosaur Music
  • The Bird-Fishers
  • Proving Dr. Tom’s Hypothesis
  • Five British Dinosaurs
  • Iguanodon anglicus
  • Yaverlandia bitholus
  • Altispinax dunkeri
  • Megalosaurus bucklandii
  • Craterosaurus pottonensis

MICHAEL SWANWICK: “I don’t think you understand how many genera of dinosaurs there are,” I replied when my editor at HarperCollins suggested that as a promotional device, I should write a brief story for every genus. But I was happy to write a goodly number, which were serialized on the Web to draw attention to my paleontology novel, Bones of the Earth.

Jacob Weisman, God bless him, liked the series, added “Five British Dinosaurs,” which had appeared in Interzone, and published them all in chapbook form with lovely illustrations by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.

I had great fun including some of my pals in the paleontologist community in the fictions. Ralph Chapman got to see his Pachycephalosaurus theories tested in the wild. Bob Walters was stranded in the Campanian Age when a hadrosaur crushed his time machine. Tom Holtz got eaten by a tyrannosaur. And Tess Kissinger went for a midnight ride with Ray Harryhausen in a pair of robot theropods.

Never let it be said that I don’t know how to show my friends a good time.

PS Publishing, 2005


One hundred eighteen stories:

  • Hydrogen: The Hindenburg (to) Ununoctium: Now You See It Now You
  • Flash fiction, one story for every element in the Periodic Table. Introduction by Theodore Gray.

MICHAEL SWANWICK: For a couple of years in the early part of this century, I was publishing, in addition to my usual fiction, two stories a week online. For Eileen Gunn’s ezine The Infinite Matrix, I produced a series of stories, The Sleep of Reason, based on Goya’s Los Caprichos etchings. That was 80 stories for Eileen and 118 for Ellen. Writers used to turn pale and hold up crucifixes when I entered the room.

Peter Crowther, the founder of PS Publishing, liked my series based on the elements and reprinted it in a beautiful book which very quickly went out of print.

The Sleep of Reason hasn’t appeared in book form yet. If anybody is interested, I can think of the perfect illustrator for it – and his work is all in the public domain.

Tachyon Publications, 2007


Sixteen stories:

  • ‘Hello,’ Said the Stick
  • A Great Day for Brontosaurs
  • A Small Room in Koboldtown
  • An Episode of Stardust
  • Dirty Little War
  • Girls and Boys, Come Out to Play
  • Legions of Time
  • Slow Life
  • The Bordello in Faerie
  • The Dog Said Bow-Wow
  • The Last Geek
  • The Little Cat Laughed to See Such Sport
  • The Skysailor’s Tale
  • Tin Marsh
  • Triceratops Summer
  • Urdumheim

MICHAEL SWANWICK: One story was nominated for the Nebula Award and four for the Hugo Award. Of those four, three won. Introduction by Terry Bisson.

My third decade collection arrived three years early. It was named after “The Dog Said Bow-Wow,” the first Darger & Surplus story and easily one of the most popular stories I ever wrote. At the time the collection came out, there were only three stories in the series, all of which were included. Someday there will be a full collection’s worth. But that day, alas, is not here yet.

(Subterranean Press), 2008


  • The Feast of St. Janis
  • Ginungagap
  • Trojan Horse
  • A Midwinter’s Tale
  • The Edge of the World
  • Griffin’s Egg
  • The Changeling’s Tale
  • North of Diddy-Wah-Diddy
  • Radio Waves
  • The Dead
  • Mother Grasshopper
  • Radiant Doors
  • The Very Pulse of the Machine
  • Scherzo with Tyrannosaur
  • The Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O
  • The Dog Said Bow-Wow
  • Slow Life
  • Legions in Time
  • Triceratops Summer
  • From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled…

MICHAEL SWANWICK: Subterranean Press likes to put out career-summing “best of” volumes dedicated to people like Joe Haldeman, Lucius Shepard, Nancy Kress, Larry Niven… Pretty heady company to be numbered among. So when Bill Schafer asked me to join them, what else could I do but blush and nod?

This collection was not only beautifully made but large – so much so that it was a bit of a relief to discover that I didn’t have to include any of my weaker stories to fill it up.

Bill asked if I had any ideas for the cover artist should be and I immediately suggested Lee Moyer, who had done such a bright and witty job on A Geography of Imaginary Lands. When I saw the cover (which includes a half-hidden portrait of my hirsute self), I was glad I did.

I look forward to the day when I have enough new fiction to assemble The Second Best of Michael Swanwick.

Pixel Scroll 10/23/16 Earth Scrolls Are Easy

(1) LE GUIN HEALTH NEWS. Ursula K. Le Guin, who was hospitalized for a few days this summer with heart problems, gave a health update in a comment at Book View Café on October 22.

The kindness of these messages is wonderful.  I wish I could thank you each. I can only thank you all with all my heart.

Health update: My daily bouquet of medicines with weird names is definitely doing its job.   Am quite recovered from the bad time, and get along fine if I don’t push it. My model of behavior is the Sloth.  Can’t hang from branches yet, but am real good at moving slo o o w w l y . . .

Best wishes to all my well-wishers.

(2) STARSHIPS IN OUR LIFETIME. Starship Engineer Workshops are being offered in London on November 12-13.

For further information or to book contact the team at: info@i4is.org  for more details.  For the full promotional flyer: http://i4is.org/app/webroot/uploads/files/SE_A4_Nov2016%20(AM)%20Vers%202.pdf

The Initiative for Interstellar Studies in collaboration with the British Interplanetary Society will deliver an updated Starship Engineer workshop course. Two one day courses, either attend one or both, each will be different and important in their own way.

12th November: Starship Engineer.  Aims to give a grounding in interstellar studies. It starts from considering the essential requirements to giving you an overview of different spacecraft systems, then takes you on a journey through several actual starship design studies. We use examples from the literature, but focus on two specific case studies, that of fusion and beamed-sail propulsion, as plausible ways by which we may someday reach the  stars.

13th November: Science Fiction Starships.  The works of science fiction literature have fascinating starship concepts, but how realistic are they? In this day course we will examine and evaluate the laser-sails in “The Mote in Gods Eye (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle), Torch Ships in “Time for the Stars” (Robert Heinlein), Quantum Ramjets in “The Songs of Distant Earth” (Arthur C Clarke) and other inspirational examples of interstellar vessels….

Principal Lecturers: Kelvin F. Longis a physicist and aerospace engineer, until recently Chief Editor Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, author of the book “Deep Space Propulsion: A Roadmap to the Stars” and is the Executive Director i4is and a member of the Breakthrough Starshot advisory committee.

Rob Swinney is a former RAF Squadron Leader aerosystems engineer and is a Deputy Director of i4is. He, and Long, have both been involved in the creation and running of the only two modern starship design projects, Project Icarus (fusion) and Project Dragonfly (laser-sails).

(3) IN TRAINING. Kevin Standlee writes a lyrical post about taking the California Zephyr through the Sierras.

Speaking of the nice parts: the eastbound Zephyr includes some views through the Sierra Nevada that you don’t get on the westbound trip. For example, shortly after Colfax the train goes around “Cape Horn” with some spectacular views of the American River Canyon. Some of the trees have finally been cut back as well; for a while, they’d grown so thick that they cut off the vista, which was unfortunate. Eastbound you miss this because the normal eastbound track goes through a tunnel that custs off this corner with its precipitous view. I’m composing most of them while snaking our way up the mountain, but I can’t post it because on this stretch there is no cell phone signal. We’re on the opposite side of the mountains from the I-80 corridor where the cell phone towers are. Not that I mind. I’m mostly looking out the window. As a touch-typist, I don’t need to stare at the keyboard to write.

(4) NOT A TYPICAL ANALOG WRITER. Galactic Journey says Harry Harrison has finally registered on their radar screen –

Author Harry Harrison has been around for a long time, starting his science fiction writing career at the beginning of the last decade (1951).  Yet, it was not until this decade that I (and probably many others) discovered him.  He came into my view with the stellar Deathworld, a novel that was a strong contender for last year’s Hugo.  Then I found his popular Stainless Steel Rat stories, which were recently anthologized.  The fellow is definitely making a name for himself.

Harrison actually occupies a liberal spot in generally conservative Analog magazine’s stable of authors.  While Harry tends to stick with typical Analog tropes (psionics, humano-centric stories, interstellar hijinx), there are themes in his work which are quite progressive – even subversive, at least for the medium in which they appear.

For instance, there is a strong pro-ecological message in Deathworld.  I also detect threads of pacifism in Harrison’s works, not to mention rather unorthodox portrayal of women and sexual mores.  Harry isn’t Ted Sturgeon or anything, but he is definitely an outlier for Analog, and refreshing for the genre as a whole.

(5) ALMOST YOUR BIGGEST FAN. The Twitter user formerly known as Jim Henley knows how to pay a compliment.

(6) DILLON OBIT. Comics artist Steve Dillion died October 22 reports the BBC.

Steve Dillon, the legendary British comic book artist, known for his work on Preacher, Punisher, and 2000AD’s Judge Dredd has died aged 54.

His brother Glyn confirmed the death on Twitter, saying his “big brother and hero” had died in New York City.

Dillon was a prolific artist who began professional work at age 16, drawing for Marvel UK’s Hulk magazine.

He was best known for his US collaborations with writer Garth Ennis, creating classic cult comic titles.

In his Twitter profile, Dillon, originally from Luton, describes himself as: “A comic book bloke. Co-creator/Artist of Preacher. Co-founder/Editor of Deadline magazine. Artist on Punisher, Judge Dredd and many others.”


  • Born October 23, 1942  — Michael Crichton.

(8) YOUR EPIC IMAGINATION. James Davis Nicoll says it’s “Good news!” Dorothy J. Heydt’s The Interior Life (published under penname Katherine Blake) available again as a free ebook.

Go here for the download.

(9) DO YOU LIKE WHAT SMART PEOPLE LIKE? Ann Leckie keeps hitting them out of the park. Today’s topic: “On Guilty Pleasures”.

Or Romance. Romance isn’t one of my things, right, but let’s be honest, a crappy detective novel or a crappy SF or Extruded Fantasy Product is just as bad as a crappy Romance. When it’s SF we’ll protest that no, that’s just a bad one, the whole genre’s not like that, but Romance? Romance is just stupid, man.

Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things that poor people like–or tend to buy or use because it’s cheap. Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things that teenage girls like, or women. Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things we liked when we were kids.

I’m not saying that nothing can be criticized–there are surely bad Romance novels. Taylor Swift is a pretty good songwriter who has done some very admirable things, but she’s also had her less than admirable public moments. Velveeta doesn’t come out well in a comparison with really good cheese (unless its a competition for what will make the easiest mac & cheese, given only three minutes and a microwave to work with), and it’s probably not very good for you. I’m perfectly willing to criticize things I like, or consider criticism of those things, and still like them.

No, I’m talking about that weird, moral dimension to likes and dislikes. You like pumpkin spice anything? You should be ashamed. You should feel guilty, because you’re not supposed to like that, smart people don’t like that, people who like that have something wrong with them.

So much of what we like or dislike–what we’re publicly supposed to like or dislike–is functioning as in-group identifiers.

(10) HAN SOLO MOVIE CASTING. Donald Glover will play young Lando Calrissian, and YES he will wear a cape reports the Los Angeles Times.

Donald Glover is officially your new Lando Calrissian. Lucasfilm has announced that Glover will play the younger version of “Star Wars’” Cloud City administrator turned Rebel Alliance general in the upcoming standalone Han Solo film.

Glover will join Alden Ehrenreich, who was confirmed to play the young Solo during Star Wars Celebration in July.

According to the press release, the upcoming film will depict “Lando in his formative years as a scoundrel on the rise in the galaxy’s underworld — years before the events involving Han, Leia, and Darth Vader in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and his rise to Rebel hero in ‘Return of the Jedi.’”

(11) ACCELERATING HUMAN IMAGINATION IN ENGLAND. Did somebody think it wasn’t fast enough?

On November 24 and 25th on the campus of the University of Liverpool, London, the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and the University of Liverpool, London will host a workshop called Accelerating Human Imagination, bringing together a number of US and European experts in the study of imagination. They will be presenting and discussing new research on questions such as: What is “imagination?” Is there a singular basis of imagination that develops into a number of different phenomena, or do we use the word imagination to group together a number of aspects of behavior and cognition into a common category? If we can better understand imagination, we might be able to find ways of directly engaging it in order to accelerate its operation. What use might we put this accelerated imagination to?

(12) RAW SCIENCE FILM FESTIVAL. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination is a  partner of the Raw Science Film Festival, which honors films on science and technology from around the world. The screening and award ceremony will take place on December 10, 2016, on the Fox Studio lot inside the historic Zanuck Theater. Sheldon Brown will be on hand to present the inaugural Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination Prize in Speculative Media. The deadline for festival submissions is November 9.

(13) INDIE SHRINKS. At Mad Genius Club, Fynbospress makes insightful speculations about the new author earnings report.

Interesting times, interesting results. After two and half years of constant growth, this time we see the first contraction for indie market share. Trad Pub’s big five showed a very slight gain in unit sales, but most of the market share went to Amazon’s own publishing arm, and a smaller amount to uncategorized single-author publishers (mostly indies).

On gross revenues, most of the lost market share went to small and medium publishers, with a smaller amount to amazon Pub.

Having the what, we’re left to speculate on the why, and how. Causes may include, but are not limited to: Amazon’s Kindle first program, pushing their own new releases; Bookbub’s increasing percentage of big and medium press slots as opposed to indies (and increased price raising the barrier to the fewer slots left); Amazon’s new promoted/sponsored search ads; consolidation of indies into small pubs; the stars being in the right configuration for C’thulu to rise from dead R’lyeh; other factors unknown at this time.

(14) SAY AHHHHH. Research shows “Migraine Sufferers Have More Nitrate-Reducing Microbes in their Mouths”.

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have found that the mouths of migraine sufferers harbor significantly more microbes with the ability to modify nitrates than people who do not get migraine headaches. The study is published October 18 by mSystems.

“There is this idea out there that certain foods trigger migraines — chocolate, wine and especially foods containing nitrates,” said first author Antonio Gonzalez, a programmer analyst in the laboratory of Rob Knight, PhD, professor and director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UC San Diego and senior author on the study. “We thought that perhaps there are connections between what people are eating, their microbiomes and their experiences with migraines.”

Many of the 38 million Americans who suffer from migraines report an association between consuming nitrates and their severe headaches. Nitrates, found in foods such as processed meats and green leafy vegetables and in certain medicines, can be reduced to nitrites by bacteria found in the mouth. When circulating in the blood, these nitrites can then be converted to nitric oxide under certain conditions. Nitric oxide can aid cardiovascular health by improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. However, roughly four in five cardiac patients who take nitrate-containing drugs for chest pain or congestive heart failure report severe headaches as a side effect.

(15) SQUINTING. Kevin Marks discusses “How the Web Became Unreadable”. Surprisingly, he’s not talking about all the political posts.

It’s been getting harder for me to read things on my phone and my laptop. I’ve caught myself squinting and holding the screen closer to my face. I’ve worried that my eyesight is starting to go.

These hurdles have made me grumpier over time, but what pushed me over the edge was when Google’s App Engine console—a page that, as a developer, I use daily—changed its text from legible to illegible. Text that was once crisp and dark was suddenly lightened to a pallid gray. Though age has indeed taken its toll on my eyesight, it turns out that I was suffering from a design trend.

There’s a widespread movement in design circles to reduce the contrast between text and background, making type harder to read. Apple is guilty. Google is, too. So is Twitter.

(16) HAGIOGRAPHY. Leonard Maltin interviews Stan Lee for Parade.


When asked which three of his superheroes he would like to have dinner with, he takes a moment to think the question through. “I’d probably enjoy talking to Iron Man,” he says. “I’d like to talk to Doctor Strange. I like the Silver Surfer. Iron Man is sort of a classier Donald Trump, if you can imagine that sort of thing. The Silver Surfer is always philosophical; he comments about the world and man’s position in the universe, why we don’t enjoy living on this wonderful planet and why we don’t help each other.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, JJ and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

2016 Utopiales Awards Shortlists

Prix Utopiales Euorpeen

Finalists have been announced for three awards that will be presented at Utopiales, the Nantes International Science Fiction Festival.

The nominees for the Prix Utopiales Européen 2016 (Utopiales European Awards) are:


  • La fenêtre de Diane by Dominique Douay (Les Moutons Électriques)
  • Futu.re by Dimitri Glukhovsky. Translation (from Russian) Denis E. Savine (Éditions L’Atalante)
  • Légationville [Embassytown] by China Miéville. Translation (from English) Nathalie Mège (Fleuve Editions)
  • Métaquine by François Rouiller (Éditions L’Atalante)
  • Sous la Colline by David Calvo (Éditions La Volte)
  • Le vivant by Anna Starobinets. Translation (from Russian) Raphaëlle Pache (Mirobole Editions)

The award recognizes a novel, or a collection, published in French during the eligibility period whose author is a citizen of a country belonging to the European Community. The prize has a cash value of 3000 euros.

The nominees for the Prix Utopiales Européen Jeunesse 2016 (Utopiales European Youth Awards) are:


  • Les Copies by Jesper Wung-Sung. Translation (from Danish) Jean-Baptiste Coursaud (Éditions du Rouergue Jeunesse)
  • Empreinte digitale by Patrice Favaro (Thierry Magnier Éditions)
  • La source by Maxime Fleury (Thierry Magnier Éditions)
  • Les sous-vivants by Johan Héliot (Seuil Jeunesse)

The nominees for the Prix Utopiales 2016 du meilleur album de BD (Utopiales Prize for the best album of Comics)


  • L’Apocalypse selon Magda, Chloé Vollmer-Lo & Carole Maurel, éd. (Éditions Delcourt)
  • Le dernier arpenteur des sables, Jay Hosler, (Éditions Cambourakis)
  • Ex Nihilo, Stéphane Douay et Jean-François Kierzkowski, (Les Éditions Pirates)
  • Nefer, Chants et contes des premières terres, Arnaud Boutle, éd. (Éditions Delcourt)
  • Pouvoirpoint, Erwann Surcouf, éd. (Vide Cocagne)
  • Transperceneige Terminus, Jean-Marie Rochette & Olivier Boquet, éd. (Casterman BD)
  • Zita, Sylvie Fontaine, éd. (La Boite à Bulles)

The award ceremony will take place during the Utopiales International Science Fiction Festival of Nantes, October 29-November 3.

World Fantasy Con Rates Rise November 1

The cost of World Fantasy Con 2017 attending memberships will increase on November 1 from $150 to $225. Supporting memberships will remain at $50.

World Fantasy 2017 will be held in San Antonio, Texas from November 2-5.
The guests of honor of World Fantasy 2017 are David Mitchell, Karen Joy Fowler, Greg Manchess, and Gordon Van Gelder with Martha Wells as the Toastmistress.

The convention’s Code of Conduct, accessibility policy, and other information about World Fantasy 2017 are available at the World Fantasy Con 2017 webpage.