2017 Diana Jones Award

The winner of the 2017 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming was announced on August 16, the day before the start of Gen Con, in Indianapolis.

The winner is:

 

Gen Con A games convention

Gen Con is a fifty-year-old game convention originally organized in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, by Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax. Now accurately billed as ‘The Best Four Days in Gaming’, under the stewardship of Adrian Swartout Gen Con has become the key annual gathering for the entire worldwide tabletop gaming hobby. Not simply long-lived and highly regarded, Gen Con’s greatest impact lies in showcasing, year after year, the amazing diversity of gaming’s events, people, commerce, and camaraderie.

 

The Award was decided by judges whose names are generally secret, except for Peter Adkison, Matt Forbeck, John Kovalic and James Wallis, who have revealed their panel membership.

The award winner receives the Diana Jones trophy, which they may keep for a year before it passes to the next winner of the Award. They and the other nominees receive the right to use the Diana Jones Award logo for promotional purposes.

As for how that misshapen lump of plastic filled with scorched bits came to be the award trophy —

The Diana Jones trophy was originally created by the UK office of TSR Hobbies in the mid-1980s, to commemorate the expiration of that company’s licence to publish the Indiana Jones Role-Playing Game and the subsequent destruction of all unsold copies of the game. It was liberated from TSR Hobbies by forces unnamed and subsequently came into the custody of a member of the Diana Jones committee.

The trophy is a four-sided pyramid made of Perspex, standing ten centimetres high and mounted on a wooden base. Sealed within the Perspex are the burnt remains of the last copy of the Indiana Jones RPG, including two still-recognizable cardboard ‘Nazi™’ figures, as recorded in gaming folklore.

The Diana Jones committee believes that a trophy that embodies the destruction of the last copy of one of the games industry’s most unloved and least-mourned products is a suitable symbol for the aims of the Diana Jones Award.

Pixel Scroll 8/16/17 A Hyperloop Named Desire

(1) THE BARGAIN BIN. NASA’s trash is their cash: “NASA flight suits bought for $1.20 could fetch thousands”.

A pair of Florida college students browsing the racks at a thrift shop ended up paying $1.20 for a stack of NASA flight suits that experts said could be worth more than $5,000.

Talia Rappa and Skyer Ashworth said they were shopping at a thrift store in Titusville when they came across the five blue NASA flight suits and a white “control suit” under some sweaters in a plastic bin.

… The American Space Museum said the names and flight dates on the suits’ labels match the time frame of the 1983-1985 shuttle missions flown by astronauts George “Pinky” Nelson, Robert A. Parker and Charles D. Walker.

(2) CROWDFUNDING VOL. 2 OF THE DELANY JOURNALS. Kenneth James is editing the personal journals of Samuel R. Delany in a multivolume series for Wesleyan University Press.  The first volume, In Search of Silence, with Delany’s journals from the 1960s, came out earlier this year and received positive reviews in The New Republic (“Samuel R. Delany’s Life of Contradictions”), The Gay & Lesbian Review, and at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog by SF critic Paul Di Filippo. (The G & L Review article is unfortunately behind a paywall).

James has just launched a crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo — Autumnal City: The Journals of Samuel R. Delany — to fund the completion of next volume.

The next volume, which I’m working on now and which is entitled Autumnal City, collects Delany’s personal journals from the ’70s — during which time Delany wrote some of his most groundbreaking work, including Dhalgren, Trouble on Triton, and Tales of Neveryon.  During this time he also did substantial preliminary work for the novel Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand.

…The goal of this campaign is to raise $30,000 to support the remaining year’s worth of work needed to complete the second volume. This funding will cover three areas: expenses associated with the project (travel to the archives, travel to interview subjects, office expenses, and so on), expenses associated with this campaign (fees and percentages, cost and shipping of rewards, and so on), and personal expenses. Funds raised in this campaign will not support Wesleyan University Press, but rather will go directly to me, in support of my scholarly labor. In academic publishing, an author’s income comes not from book advances or sales, but rather from a university paycheck – or, if the author is an independent scholar (as I am), from some other source. For this project, you will be that source.

(3) ELLISON BIO. As for Paul Di Filippo, today at Locus Online he reviews A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison, by Nat Segaloff.

Chapter two takes our hero through high school, through SF fandom, and into the professional world of editing Rogue magazine, among other accomplishments. Segaloff shows that he, as biographer, is willing to skip around in time thematically when the narrative demands. Thus, hearing of Ellison’s first marriage, we also get an immediate foretaste of those to come. And in fact, as we shall soon see, Segaloff will abandon strict chronology at a certain point, in favor of totally thematic chapters, out of which the linear factual events of Ellison’s later life can be readily assembled.

(4) ALL RISE. Walter Jon Williams alerts the media to “Stand By for Greatness”.

So while I was in Finland, Orbit reverted the rights to all three of the Dagmar Shaw books.

I’ll try to make those available as soon as I can.  I can hardly do a worse job of promoting them than the original publisher.

(5) KEEP FIVE IN MIND. Victor Milán knows the magic number – “Five Classic Works of SFF by Authors We Must Not Forget” at Tor.com. Here’s one of his picks:

Jirel of Joiry by C. L. Moore

Catherine Lucille Moore (1911-1987) had to use her gender-neutral initials to get published in the 1930s. That didn’t stop her creating the fledgling genre of sword and sorcery’s first female protagonist in Jirel of Joiry. As brave, capable, and arrogant as any man, yet far from invulnerable, Jirel was more than just a red-haired, female Conan. While her adventures were clearly influenced by Robert E. Howard, as well as by Moore’s and Howard’s literary acquaintance H. P. Lovecraft, they focus less on her sword-swinging than her spirit and furious determination. A curious blend of compassion and cruelty, she’s a pious Catholic who’ll risk damnation to gain the means to overcome her foe—then brave the very Hell she sent him to, to free his soul from eternal suffering.

And you’ll never catch Jirel in a mail bikini. She wears the same practical armor as any other warrior of her unspecified Medieval period would.

Moore’s writing is brisk, strongly sensory, and evocative of settings Earthly and alien, though flavored with a few too many adjectives for the modern palate. She had a long and successful career with Jirel and the space opera adventures of Northwest Smith, then writing in collaboration with her husband, Henry Kuttner. Jirel of Joiry is a collection of most of the Jirel tales.

(5) SECOND FIFTH. Moments after posting this Scroll I learned, via Paul Weimer, that Deadline is reporting N.K. Jemisin’s ‘The Fifth Season’ Book To Be Developed As TV Series At TNT.

N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo Award-winning sci-fi fantasy novel The Fifth Season is getting the drama series treatment at TNT. The project is in early development at the cable network with Leigh Dana Jackson (24: Legacy, Sleepy Hollow) set to pen the adaptation and Imperative Entertainment’s (All the Money in the World) Dan Friedkin, Tim Kring and Justin Levy serving as executive producers.

Jackson brought the novel, the first in a three-book series, to Imperative, which secured the rights before the The Fifth Season‘s Hugo nomination. Jemisin went on to become the first black writer to win the Hugo Award for best novel. She followed that up last week by winning the prestigious science fiction award for the second consecutive year for the second book in the series, The Obelisk Gate. The third book was published Tuesday

(6) THE RECYCLE OF LIFE. NPR’s “All Tech Considered” asks, “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to … Interactive Biodegradable Funerary Urns?”

Earlier this summer, a modest little startup in Barcelona, Spain, unveiled its newest product — a biodegradable, Internet-connected funeral urn that turns the ashes of departed loved ones into an indoor tree. Just mix the cremains with soil and seedlings, and the digital-age urn will automatically water and care for your memorial sapling, sending constant updates to an app on your smartphone.

At first glance, the concept seems gimmicky — evidently, we’re running out of ideas for smart appliances. But the Bios Incube system can also be seen as the latest example of a gradual transformation in modern culture.

Technology is fundamentally changing how we deal with death and its attendant issues of funerals, memorials and human remains. Much of this change is for the good. Some developments are a little spooky. But one thing is for sure: You can do a lot of cool things with ashes these days.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born August 16, 1991 — Evanna Lynch (actress; plays Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter films)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born August 16, 1884 – Hugo Gernsback
  • Born August 16, 1930 – Robert Culp. Fans probably know him best from The Outer Limits episode “Demon With A Glass Hand,” written by Harlan Ellison.

(9) FROM HELL. New York City’s Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies relaunches in September with “Paperbacks from Hell”. The event takes place Tuesday, September 19 from 7-9:30 p.m. at Film Noir Cinema (122 Meserole Ave., Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY). Admission $12 advance / $15 door.

In the early ’70s, three books changed horror forever: “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Exorcist,” and “The Other.” The first horror novels to hit bestseller lists since 1940, they opened the floodgates for an avalanche of horror paperbacks to flood supermarket and drugstore shelves throughout the ’70s and ’80s, before “Silence of the Lambs” slit the genre’s throat in the early ’90s.

Fresh off last year’s one-man show, SUMMERLAND LOST, Grady Hendrix delivers a mind-melting oral history of this wild and woolly world of Nazi leprechauns, skeleton doctors, killer crabs, killer jellyfish, and killer fetuses, featuring hair-raising readings, a William W. Johnstone quote-off, and more tales of terrifying tots, tricycles, clowns, puppets, and heavy metal bands than should be strictly legal. Prepare yourself for a tour of this long-lost universe of terror that lurked behind the lurid, foil-embossed, die-cut covers of… the Paperbacks from Hell!

Following Grady’s illustrated presentation will be a live round table discussion and Q+A with several artists who painted the book covers under discussion, including Jill Bauman, Lisa Falkenstern, and Thomas Hallman.

(10) BRADBURY BY ATWOOD. Yesterday the Paris Review posted Margaret Atwood’s “Voyage to the Otherworld: A New Eulogy for Ray Bradbury” with the outro –

This original essay by Margaret Atwood was composed specifically for the re-release of Sam Weller’s interview book companion to his authorized biography of Ray Bradbury. Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, in a new hardcover deluxe edition, will be released this October by Hat & Beard Press in Los Angeles. 

….He ducked classification and genre corrals as much as he could: as far as he was concerned he was a tale teller, a writer of fiction, and as far as he was concerned, the tales and the fiction did not need to have labels.

The term science fiction made him nervous: he did not want to? be shut up in a box. And he, in his turn, made science-fiction purists nervous, as well he might. Mars in his hands, for instance, is not a place described with scientific accuracy, or even much consistency, but a state of mind; he recycles it for whatever he needs at the moment. Spaceships are not miracles of technology but psychic conveyances, serving the same purpose as Dorothy’s whirlwind-borne house in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, or the trance of the traditional shaman: they get you to the 0therworld.

(11) CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP. John Scalzi’s latest op-ed for the LA Times: “During Trump’s present, it’s hard to write the future, says science fiction writer John Scalzi”.

The thing is, science fiction has its setting in the future, but the people writing it and reading it live now, and the stories they’re writing and reading reflect the hopes and fears of whatever age the story is written in. There’s a reason science fiction literature of the late ’60s and early ’70s was about overpopulation, why in the ’80s cyberpunk reflected the uncertainty about the accelerating computerization of our world, and why much of the best science fiction of the last decade, from Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Windup Girl” to N.K. Jemisin’s “The Fifth Season,” is rooted in ecological disaster. Science fiction sees the world today and speculates out from there.

The secret, however, is to come at it from an angle. There’s a thin line between using contemporary themes to extrapolate from and entertain readers, and stepping up on a soapbox and using a political agenda to cudgel people. The least successful science fiction to me is the stuff that takes today’s political catfights and dumps it uncut into the deep future, hundreds if not thousands of years in the future. To have characters in far-flung times prattling on about issues clearly specific to our time would be like writing a novel where people in 2017 are having knock-down, drag-out fights about the Alien and Sedition Acts or the Boer War. Better that science fiction breathes life into today’s anxieties and aspirations in more clever and possibly subtler ways.

His article made me remember the experience of reading Doonesbury during the Watergate hearings, when cartoonist Garry Trudeau found it practically impossible to think up wilder stuff than was coming out in the daily news.

(12) RETRIEVAL. Beyond Skyline shows promise.

A tough-as-nails detective embarks on a relentless pursuit to free his son from a nightmarish alien warship.

 

(13) ONE OF THE FIRST OF ITS KIND. The BBC says “‘Frankenstein dinosaur’ mystery solved”.

Matthew Baron, a PhD student at Cambridge University, told BBC News that his assessment indicated that the Frankenstein dinosaur was one of the very first ornithischians, a group that included familiar beasts such as the horned Triceratops, and Stegosaurus which sported an array of bony plates along its back.

“We had absolutely no idea how the ornithischian body plan started to develop because they look so different to all the other dinosaurs. They have so many unusual features,” the Cambridge scientist said.

“In the 130 years since the ornithischian group was first recognised, we have never had any concept of how the first ones could have looked until now.”

(14) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Connecting to a past discussion of chocolate in various climates: “Truck With 20 Tons Of Nutella And Chocolate Vanishes; Police Hunt For Semi’s Sweets”.

“Anyone offered large quantities [of chocolate] via unconventional channels should report it to the police immediately.”

We trust you’ll abide by those instructions from law enforcement in Germany, where more than 20 tons of chocolate treats have gone missing after thieves stole a refrigerated trailer packed with Nutella, Kinder Surprise eggs and other sweets.

(15) REQUEST FROM TYRION. Gina Ippolito of Yahoo!, in “Peter Dinklage Urges ‘Game of Thrones’ Fans To Stop Buying Huskies Just because They Look Like Direwolves”, says that Dinklage and PETA are combining to urge people not to buy huskies if they can’t handle big dogs just because they want a “direwolf” at home.

“Please, please, if you’re going to bring a dog into your family, make sure that you’re prepared for such a tremendous responsibility and remember to always, always, adopt from a shelter,” Dinklage said in an official statement.

So if Game of Thrones has you itching for a Ghost, Nymeria, Summer, Shaggydog, Lady, or Grey Wind of your own, but you’re not sure you can commit to taking care of a live one, maybe consider an adorable stuffed animal instead?

(16) THOR INTERNATIONAL TRAILER #2. I’ve always been a strong believer that movie trailers are much better with Japanese subtitles.

(17) GODZILLA: MONSTER PLANET. The drawback with TOHO’s own trailer for this animated Godzilla picture is that it doesn’t need subtitles.

 [Thanks to Paul Weimer, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, Andrew Porter, and Kenneth James for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

“Scared To Death: The Thrill of Horror Film” Coming to Museum of Pop Culture 9/30

Pages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (Book of the Dead) from Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, 1987

Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) will open a new exhibition, Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film, on September 30. This original exhibit takes an in-depth look at more than a century of horror cinema, from blood-thirsty vampires and unrelenting zombies to fiendish slashers.

The exhibit presents the broad range of iconic horror villains and the stories over the generations that have brought them to life. It features a macabre display of more than 50 props and costumes from film and television including The Walking Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blade, Bride of Frankenstein, The Thing, Dawn of the Dead, Hostel, Jeepers Creepers, Pet Sematary, and more.

Taking inspiration from the genre, the 3,000 square foot gallery space is designed to evoke the unsettling sensations associated with cinematic terror. Themed sections include an unholy vampire chapel with walls dripping blood, a zombie containment area with an aquarium wall of submerged zombie heads from The Walking Dead, and a slasher’s den with a thicket of corpses suspended from the ceiling. The exhibit will also feature multi-media experiences including exhibit films, oral history interviews, and interactive photo ops.

Says Jacob McMurray, Senior Curator, MoPOP,  “We are also thrilled to add acclaimed directors Karyn Kusama and Roxanne Benjamin to join our guest curators, Roger Corman, John Landis, and Eli Roth.”

ARTIFACT HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Sweater worn by Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984
  • Severed heads from The Walking Dead, 2012
  • Church the Cat prop from Pet Sematary, 1989
  • Creeper costume worn by Jonathan Breck in Jeepers Creepers, 2001
  • Machete prop from Dawn of the Dead, 1978
  • Costume worn by Wesley Snipes in Blade, 1998
  • Lament Configuration Box from Hellraiser: Inferno, 2000
  • Pamela Voorhees severed head prop, from Friday the 13th, 1980
  • Stunt stake gun used in Fright Night, 2011
  • Hacksaw used by Carey Elwes as Dr. Lawrence Gordon in Saw, 2004
  • Hero functioning repeater crossbow used by Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing, 2004
  • Hi-8 camcorder used onscreen in The Blair Witch Project, 1999
  • “Gill Man” mask from Creature from the Black Lagoon, 1954
  • Mr. Pointy stake used by sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1998
  • Pages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (Book of the Dead) from Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, 1987
  • Special effects switchboard used in Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and other films 1930-1965
  • Axe used by Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining, 1980
  • Chainsaw used by the German Surgeon in Hostel, 2005

Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film is included with museum admission. Due to some graphic content, this exhibit is recommended for ages 13 and up.

Pages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (Book of the Dead) from Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, 1987

Westercon 70 Was Hot

By John Hertz:

Let’s see, if we can,
Xanadu on other worlds,
Xenogamously.

I wasn’t sure I could manage a 5-7-5-syllable acrostic about Westercon LXX.  You may think I didn’t.

Anyway I meant Coleridge’s wonderful poem (not particularly how he may have come to imagine it, nor the Raymond F. Jones story “Person from Porlock”, about the fellow who interrupted him, nor the strange Sturgeon story – “strange Sturgeon story” may be redundant).  “Xenogamy” – cross-fertilization – is from a conversation I had with Kevin Standlee a few years ago about what general-interest cons, like Westercon, are good for.

There are lots of special-interest cons these days.  At a general-interest con you meet people you didn’t know you wanted to meet.

When the chair of next year’s Westercon took the gavel during Closing Ceremonies she quoted that, gosh.

But we trespass upon chronology.

Westercon LXX “Conalope” was 1-4 July 2017 at the Mission Palms Hotel, Tempe, Arizona, combined with local Leprecon XLIII.  Attendance about 600; Art Show sales $5,100 by 31 artists.  The Hospitality Suite had a stuffed-toy jackalope; the newsletter was The Jackalopian.  It being the 70th-anniversary month of something or other in Roswell, New Mexico, just 400 miles away, slant-eyed oval heads were all over.

Author Guest of Honor, Connie Willis; Graphic Artist, Julie Dillon; Fans, Val & Ron Ontell; also Science, Henry Vanderbilt; Special Guests in honor of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, Bjo & John Trimble; Filker (our home-made music, from a 1950s typo of “folk” that stuck), Tim Griffin; Local Author, Gini Koch; Local Artist, Tom Deadstuff; Special Artist, Larry Elmore; Toastmaster, Weston Ochse.

On the cover of the Program Book was my favorite Dillon piece in the Art Show, Skyward Bound, a muscular black man in a knee-length tunic, golden wings strapped to his arms, poised to fly from a cornice in the clouds.

When I say the con was hot I mean it was lively, engaging, fun.  You probably know it was also 110F.  Even in the noonday sun I saw folks basking happily outdoors.  I asked.  They liked it.  There’s diversity for you.

Sarah Clemens leading her Art Show tour said “I couldn’t think of anything more incongruous for dragons to do than pressing flowers.  They’re terrible at it.”  That’s how she painted them.  Also “I like art’s having some ambiguity.  It gives people room to play.”

Regency Dancing had its usual salad bowl (so these must be my salad days) of people in modern clothes, period costume, fantasy and science fiction.  The last four words also describe my adventures teaching folks all over the spectrum from knowing nothing to lots.  I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

The Utah for 2019 Westercon party had Italian sodas.  Also mead from Hive Winery in Layton, where they’ll hold the con (they won).

At the WesternSFA party Craig Dyer gave a cordial reception.  He’d started distilling the best from life in 1988; he was well along by Westercon LVII when I was his Fan Guest of Honor (and where I saw Clemens’ superb “Stigmata”).

Hal Astell the Vice-Chair of LXX told me how well the multitudinous local groups were co-operating.

First Classics of S-F discussion, The Sword of Rhiannon (Leigh Brackett, 1949).  Rich McAllister said, a planetary romance head and shoulders above the rest.  Lin McAllister said it was like The Sea Hawk (M. Curtiz dir. 1940).  I said, look how naturally everything that has to happen, does happen.  Also we see not only “I’ll give them the technology, punish me for it” but why it might have been forbidden.

Enter, Led by a Bear

Art Show chief Annette Sexton-Ruiz taught me about mono silkscreens.  She said half the Show came from mail-ins.  I think it’s vital people can participate from a distance.  Kuma Bear’s tour had, as Lisa Hayes admitted, a simple but limited perspective.  Bears don’t like dogs; dogs fight bears.  Cats steal fish.  Kuma liked Tabitha Ladin’s “Blackberry Bounce” and the Steampunk (with railroad trains!) of an artist identified only as Voit.

Tabitha Ladin’s “Blackberry Bounce”

Leviathan – Voit

I was Chief Hall-Costume Judge; hall costumes, the term we evolved years ago, are the fantasy and science fiction clothes some people wear for strolling the halls.  Marjii Ellers used to call them daily wear from alternative worlds.  Helping me were Elaine Mami, Sandy Manning, Bjo Trimble.  Jim Manning brought me a cookie from Alaska.

On Sunday afternoon I went to “Accurate Science in Science Fiction”.  As usual, the part after the colon was the real title.  Before the colon was “It Doesn’t Work That Way”, which might have been – I’ll let you do it.  Ron Ontell offered the best remark, “I’m only annoyed when after setting out to do science they get it wrong.”

Mami was the Masquerade Director; judges, Bridget Landry, Ochse, Bruce Rowan, Bjo Trimble; workmanship judge, Jocelyn Winters.  Julie Padegimas won Best Novice and the Southwest Costumers’ Guild workmanship award for “Dr. Arson” in red, and boots, and swell make-up; her name meant arson in Lithuanian.

Julie Padegimas as “Dr. Arson.”  Photo credit: Steven Goldstein – Keyhole Productions Photography

Steven Goldstein / Keyhole Productions Photography on Facebook

Sandy Manning won Best Presentation (Novice) for “A Touch of Color”, of course mostly black; expert at running Masquerades, she’s competed little herself.  Randall Whitlock won Best Workmanship (Master) and Best in Show as part of the Cady Family Strange Fabric We-Can-Do-It Challenge, each element judged separately.  He had fine stage presence.

Monday, The Lights In the Sky Are Stars (Fredric Brown, 1953).  Ben Yalow had stopped me in the hotel lobby to say kind things about this set of three.  Stars may be Brown’s only straightforward SF.  And what a wallop!  Bill Green said the protagonist, Max Andrews, was a villain.  Or was he a tragic figure?

At the Star Trek 50th-anniversary party I was neither first nor last to tell the Trimbles “You’re responsible for this.”  John said it was the greatest case of Who knew?  At the Westercon LXXI party (Denver, Colorado) – I think – Rick Moen tried to explain the Norwegian languages Bokmål (in case your software doesn’t show it, that’s a volle, an a with a tiny ring over it) and Nynorsk.

In the Hospitality Suite, talk of Justinian II led me into conversation with Paul Honsinger, whom I hadn’t known I wanted to meet.  Filking; I heard “Water’s been found on the Moon” and the Monster’s Lullaby.

Tuesday, The Time Machine (H.G. Wells, 1895).  R-Laurraine Tutihasi said it’s widely read a hundred years later.  Laura Freas Beraha asked “Who is its intended audience?”  Rich McAllister said it argues that struggle makes intellect.  Linda Deneroff asked “What kind of struggle?”  I asked if the end meant the world of the middle had failed.

For “How Do We Get to the Stars?” Steve Howe brought a chart of energy against distance.  He dared to mention the Orion pulsed-fission model.  A drive using antimatter is conceivable; he’s written about it. Unless I was asleep – always possible – we didn’t get to ramscoops.  You don’t carry much fuel, but what if you arrive somewhere thin of interstellar dust?

The Dead Dog Party (until the last dog is – ) was fine for fireworks.  I recited a poem to Leslie Fish.  Sandra Childress, currently of Tucson – as Woody Bernardi said he was – had been coaching archery.  The hotel lobby had a ten-foot color-photo display from the Arizona State University School of Earth & Space Exploration (gosh) with Ceres, Vesta, Jupiter’s and Saturn’s moons, and the Cassini, Dawn, Galileo, and New Horizons missions.  And so to bed.

Pixel Scroll 8/15/17 She Said She’d Always Been A Filer, She Worked At Fifteen Blogs A Day

(1) OUT TO LAUNCH. The Planetary Society is trying to raise $100,000 for its LightSail project. They have raised $22,000+ so far.

LightSail: Help Us Get to the Launchpad

The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft is getting ready to make space exploration history as the first to demonstrate controlled solar sail flight of a CubeSat.

Known as the people’s spacecraft, together we’re ushering in a new era—the democratization of space—but there’s still so much to be done and we need your support to do it.

“We have lingered for too long on the shores of the cosmic ocean; it’s time to set sail for the stars.” — Carl Sagan

We’re kicking off the final phase of preparations for the upcoming launch of LightSail 2 into space aboard the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket. We need your help to get there.

When you make a gift today, your contribution —and your impact on the LightSail mission—will be boosted by a $50,000 matching gift challenge issued by a generous Planetary Society member!

 

(2) TOUCHING SPACE. Some of the remains of the late Hugh Daniel, known to fans as “Doctor Destructo,” are scheduled to fly to the edge of space on the next Celestis mission.

Starseeker, the eighth Celestis Earth Rise service, is scheduled to launch from Spaceport America, New Mexico on November 15, 2017. Your loved one’s flight capsule – containing a symbolic portion of cremated remains or DNA sample and engraved with a memorial message – will launch into space, experience the elegant dance of weightlessness, and return to Earth for recovery and return to you as a flown keepsake.

The Celestis flight capsules will be flown aboard an UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL rocket, on a mission sponsored by the NASA Spaceflight Opportunities Program to conduct microgravity experiments and technology demonstrations for NASA and affiliated researchers.

You can read about Hugh Daniel at the link.

It seemed Hugh’s love of space and all things science began at birth, helped by regular dinner conversations, open houses at the University of Michigan (UofM) telescopes, Star Trek, Larry Niven, dozens of SciFi Conventions, endless conversations with amateur and professional astronomers, and many nights at the Lick Observatory. He assisted with a friend’s meteor work on Antarctica, attended private rocket launches, and even did some contract work for NASA. He always dreamed of the opportunity to make it into space himself, but he wasn’t counting on being reduced to 1 gram for the trip! Hugh didn’t believe in any form of “afterlife,” but in tribute to a warm and generous friend and beloved family member, we send a piece of him Ad Astra!

(3) IT’S THE VERSE. SPECPO brings us the “Armadillocon Poetry Thunderdome 2017”.

But what is a Poetry Thunderdome? First crafted at Comicpalooza, Thunderdome brings together a group of speculative poets to duke it out in front of an audience in a LIVE writing exercise. Audience members participate by yelling out prompts and poets are given a short period of time to write a poem in response. Hilarity ensues….

By the second round, the audience was feeling feisty. It chose “AitheistJackalope,” “Egypt,” and “Third Eye,” as the topics for our poets writing delight.

In response, Michelle Muenzler gave us this gem:

it’s not the third eye that gets you
that one has all the knowledge after all
it’s that fourth eye
the one that sees the jackalope in the corner of the bar
drinking whiskey and whining about his in-laws
just flown in from Egypt
and maybe it’s the drink talking now
but as far as you knew
there were no jackalopes in Egypt
…then again, somebody had to build the pyramids

(4) PUTTING OUT A CONTRACT. On Facebook, Heikki Sørum has photos of Eemeli Aro signing a solemn agreement to give Finnish fandom a 90 day respite before be gets them involved in his next fannish scheme. Aro was the first one to appear at a Fannish Inquisition and talk about holding a Helsinki Worldcon.

(5) LONG LIST ANTHOLOGY. David Steffen’s latest Diabolical Plots newsletter says he will produce a third Long List Anthology.

On Friday was the Hugo Award Ceremony announcing the winners of this year’s Hugo Awards, and with the nomination numbers posted after the ceremony, starts the planning of the Long List Anthology Volume Three.  If you’re not familiar with the previous two anthologies, it’s an anthology of short fiction from the longer Hugo Award nomination list–more stories that the Hugo voters loved.  Queries have been sent out and there is enough author interest to go forward, and I’m sure I’ll get more responses over the next week or so, (especially with international WorldCon travel).  I am aiming to launch the Kickstarter in early September, so the next newsletter might get sent out a bit early to coincide with it.  The anthology will have stories by the following authors and more included in the base goal or stretch goals:

  • Joseph Allen Hill
  • Yoon Ha Lee
  • Seanan McGuire
  • Ian R. MacLeod
  • Sam J. Miller
  • Sarah Pinsker
  • Cat Rambo
  • Jason Sanford
  • Caroline M. Yoachim

(6) THE SURVIVOR. The upcoming sci-fi indie short film The Survivor: A Tale From The Nearscape, which centers on a young boy as he does whatever it takes to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

In a post-apocalyptic world where the air is toxic to breathe and oxygen is a precious resource, a young boy embarks on a perilous supply run to obtain water and medicine for his ailing mother. With just his toy robot as a companion on his journey, he faces many obstacles, but the real danger is waiting for him back home.

 

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Polyphemus was the name of the cyclops Odysseus and his crew encountered in The Odyssey.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 15, 1977 — On duty at the Big Ear Radio Observatory at The Ohio State University, Dr. Jerry Ehman heard radio noise that lasted 37 seconds and came from the direction of a star nearly 220 light-years away. The signal traveled at a frequency whose use is prohibited by international agreement and that is unlike those of most natural radio sources. It is known as the Wow signal and hasn’t been heard since.
  • August 15, 1984The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension first screened in theatres on this day.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • August 15, — Bjo Trimble
  • August 15, 1990 – Jennifer Lawrence

(10) COMIC SECTION.

(11) CAVNA. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna interviews Ian Jones-Quartey, creator of the new Cartoon Network show O.K. K.O! Let’s Be Heroes because the show is a fictionalized version of Jones-Quartey’s home town of Columbia, Maryland — “A new Cartoon Network show finds inspiration in Columbia, Md., the animator’s home town”.

“OK K.O.!” centers on a boy’s adventures at friendly Lakewood Plaza, where his kick-butt mother runs a dojo and fitness center, and where he helps out at a bodega that supplies equipment to heroes — all across Route 175 from where villainous Lord Boxman runs his big-box retail monstrosity, which sells weapons to baddies.

(12) THE GOOD OMENS SCOREBOARD. Carl Slaughter, after reading that Neil Gaiman is showrunning a screen adaptation of his and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens, found more reasons to be proud of the collaborators:

“Good Omens” is #68 in the BBC’s survey of 750,000 readers.  The 67 books preceding it on the list include “Pride and Prejudice,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “1984,” “Jane Eyre,” “Wuthering Heights,” “Great Expectations,” “Little Women,” “War and Peace,” “Gone with the Wind,” “Grapes of Wrath,” “Emma,” “Animal Farm,” “The Count of Monte Cristo,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Crime and Punishment,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” “A Christmas Carol,” and a slew of B list classics.

Plus “Lord of the Rings,” “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” “Dune,” “Watership Down,” “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” “Harry Potter,” “Alice in Wonderland,” etc.

#69-200 includes, “Vanity Fair,” “The Old Man and the Sea,” etc.

Pretty impressive list of competition for a comedy sci fi writer!

(12) BEWARE SPOILERS. Business Insider interviews Conleth Hill: “The actor who plays Varys on ‘Game of Thrones’ explains how he’s making ‘a better world for everybody else'”

Kim Renfro: On the second episode, “Stormborn,” Varys had a confrontation with Daenerys over his loyalties. What was it like filming a conversation with Emilia Clarke?

Conleth Hill: That was very exciting. Had you not done that scene people would have gone ‘well why did she take him on her team so easily?’ And we couldn’t do it in Meereen because she was off with the Dothraki and I was off, according to some people ‘mermaiding around’ with Olenna and the rest, so it was nice that we had it as soon as we got there — where she was born.

Renfro: You brought up ‘mermaiding around’ — are you sick of people asking you if Varys is a merman?

Hill: Yes. I don’t get it. I really don’t get it. I mean I’m not annoyed or anything, I think it’s funny, but I really don’t know where it comes from. I think someone got too stoned one night and came up with it.

(13) DIY. And just to make sure no customer is left behind, IKEA has published diagrams showing how to turn their rugs into Game of Thrones capes – Bored Panda has them: “IKEA Releases Instructions How To Make ‘Game Of Thrones’ Cape After Costumer Reveals Actors Wore IKEA Rugs”.

Being a member of the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones doesn’t sound like much fun. Constant threat of danger and death at the hands of Wildlings and White Walkers. Vows of celibacy. Freezing your ass off constantly. There really is very little about their job that you’d actually want. They do however have some pretty cool capes, and you don’t need to be a Brother to get one. All you need is a $79 SKOLD IKEA rug, because believe it or not, that’s what the tough guys of the Night’s Watch have actually been wearing on their backs this whole time.

(14) PLAY PASSWORD. The NIST also approves of less-painful passwording: “Forget Tough Passwords: New Guidelines Make It Simple”.

The organization suggests keeping passwords simple, long and memorable. Phrases, lowercase letters and typical English words work well, Grassi tells NPR’s Audie Cornish. Experts no longer suggest special characters and a mix of lower and uppercase letters. And passwords never need to expire.

“We focus on the cognitive side of this, which is what tools can users use to remember these things?” Grassi says. “So if you can picture it in your head, and no one else could, that’s a good password.”

While these rules may seem suspiciously easy, Grassi says these guidelines help users create longer passwords that are harder for hackers to break. And he says the computer security industry in both the public and private sectors has received these new rules positively.

Chip Hitchcock adds, “I suspect this is a readable version of guidelines issued in June and linked to in the previous story; anybody want to dig through the bureaucratese to find out?”

(15) GAZING. London’s Great Fire monument was also intended to be a telescope: “The secret lab hidden inside a famous monument”.

Robert Hooke was a man of many passions, who applied his enquiring mind to subjects as diverse as chemistry and map making, at the sober end of the scale, and folk beliefs about toads and his own bowel movements at the other. In his day, he had a reputation as lofty as the pillar itself, variously described as “England’s Leonardo” and “certainly the greatest mechanick [sic] this day in the world”.

Today his name has largely been forgotten, but his contributions have endured. Among other things, he coined the word “cell” to describe the basic unit of life (they reminded him of Monks’ rooms, or “cells”), devised Hooke’s law of elasticity – arguably not particularly exciting, but useful – and invented mechanisms still used in clocks and cameras to this day.

After the fire, Hooke tried his hand at architecture too, designing hospitals, civic buildings and churches across the city. He didn’t get a lot of credit, partly because most of his achievements were signed off by, and mistakenly attributed to, Wren – and partly because some of them weren’t very good.

(16) DINO NEWS. Martin Morse Wooster advises: “In the Washington Post, Travis M. Andrews writes about how Britain’s Natural History Museum discovered a fossil they thought was a crocodile was actually a new creature, which they named Lemmysuchus obstusidiens after the late heavy metal rocker Lemmy Kilmister.  This critter partied all night and fought all day, specializing in crushing turtle shells with its mighty teeth. The painting by Mark Witton is very cool.” — “Meet the brutally violent prehistoric crocodile named for Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister”.

They had a new species on their hands, and it needed a name. The creature’s brash, aggressive nature brought to mind the hell-raising British heavy metal band Motorhead, known for songs such as “Killed By Death,” “Born to Raise Hell,” “God Was Never On Your Side” and “I Ain’t No Nice Guy.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Karl-Johan Norén, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #12

Dear America, We Need to Talk…

By Chris M. Barkley: Hey America, rough weekend?

Yeah, I was watching and listening. Now, we need to talk. About what happened in Charlottesville.

And other things.

I am an African-American man. I was not born of privilege. Each day, I know that I am a marked man.

Marked as a threat by white people. Marked as a security risk by store owners. Marked to be maimed or murdered by fascists, racists and white supremacists. Marked for scrutiny (or worse) by various agents of law enforcement.

All because my skin tone is darker than their own.

But each day I awake, rise and step out my door, America. I do so with the full knowledge that I may never return to the embrace of my loving partner, my family and friends. I may fear all the things that may happen to me in the course of a day, but that is leavened by what I know:

  • That my parents, loved me enough to bring me into this troubled world.
  • That they provided me with a comfortable home, the love, guidance, education and love to be a kind and thoughtful person.
  • And that these things were given to me, my life, beliefs, associations and citizenship, are protected by the Constitution of the United States of America.

I was born a child of the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower; smack dap in the middle of the past century. My father, Erbil Augustine Barkley and my grandmother, who hailed from Birmingham, Alabama, came north to Cincinnati as part of the black diaspora of the 1930’s. My mother, Alice Elder and her four orphaned sisters came to Ohio to attend school. When they met, in a corner drugstore in the neighborhood I grew up in as a child, it was love at first sight. The best and worst of American history lay ahead of me.

I grew up in the age of science and science fiction. Vaccines. Lasers. Computers. Jonny Quest, Fireball XL-5 and Star Trek! Actual men flying actual space capsules, solo, in pairs and then, more. Neil Freaking Armstrong and Buzz Freaking Aldrin walking on the freaking MOON in the summer of ‘69, America! And all of this was balanced out by my constant fear of being vaporized in a nuclear war, the ongoing communist menace, the Vietnam War on the evening news everyday and the constant threats from the nuns at school and in the bullies on the neighborhood streets.

I mostly kept to myself, riding my bike, walking, watching old movies on television and reading. I read throughout the Silver Age of DC, Marvel, Gold Key and Charlton comic books. I read the adventures Danny Dunn and Alvin Fernald. I also dabbled in young adult books by Madeleine L’Engle and Isaac Asimov and Eleanor Cameron. These pursuits were not as frivolous as my parents made them out to be; they were essential tools that led to my being who I am today.

In 1976, I had the good fortune to fall in with sf fandom, which changed my life forever. Author David Gerrold recently described sf (and fandom, too, I think) as, “our private little secret, sniffed at by those who ‘knew better.’” Fandom has been my second family for over forty years and I have never regretted my association with these wonderful people who greeted me with wide and open arms.

But lately America, the stresses and strains of these modern times have tested even the strongest bonds of the best of families.

Nowadays, with social media and modern communication systems, a misunderstanding, a rumor, faked news or blatant lie can circle the globe a million times before the truth finishes rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

I am the direct descendent of people enslaved here. I don’t want revenge. I don’t want reparations for the actions of people I have never met or seen.

You know what I really want, America? I want all of us dwelling here to have a lengthy conversation about slavery, Native American genocide, immigration, the treatment of the veterans of our armed services and the basic right to just be FREE.

Free to explore places I’ve never been. Free to love my partner and friends. Free to hate the New York Yankees (in a benign way, of course), free to assemble peacefully, free to protest, free to make mistakes,  free to watch, comment, read and speak. These freedoms should be extended to everyone without reserve; to those I agree with but ESPECIALLY to those of whom I disagree with.

As I wise person I encountered once said, The First Amendment and the freedom to speak isn’t a private dance party limited to the elites, best buds or your social clique. Everyone dances and no one should be excluded.

I know that these freedoms come with a price and that while I am free to speak and express myself, I am not free from the consequences of any of my decisions.

And if the fascists, racists, opportunists, fear and hate merchants have their way and change to Constitution, to place legal limits on the freedoms we hold so dear, I am afraid that I and many of my family and friends may come to a parting of ways with you. This is a shame, because while 241 years is quite a run for a freedom loving people, I expected you to last far past my lifetime and far into the future.

I never met the late Heather Heyer, but I consider her to be my sister. According to her friends and family, she was an advocate of the poor and disadvantaged in her city.

I mourn her death because she did not have to be downtown in Charlottesville on a beautiful Saturday protesting the presence of fascists, nazis, and other merchants of hate and fear. She WANTED to be there because she wanted to show them that she was not afraid of them and to show them what the true face of democracy looks like.

Her martyrdom and the injuries to the wounded were sudden, brutal and so unnecessary.

What have we become, America? Can we honestly look in the mirror and call ourselves “that shining city on the hill” anymore?

We are no longer the envy of the civilized world. We are no longer considered the gold standard of liberty.

The slow erosion of American manners and civility, in the course of our everyday lives, in our business and trade practices and especially with our politics, makes us out to be a country to be loathed and feared. The current occupant of the White House and his minions are reinforcing this heinous message with each passing day.

We are on the verge of a new Civil War. But what will be different about this new war is that won’t be fighting about borders or slavery, we’ll be in conflict between the haves and have-nots, the disenfranchised verses the uninformed, the rich and bigoted against the poor and minorities of all races and beliefs.

And so America, the battle is on. The battle for your heart and your soul. Who will prevail?

And despite the pessimism and grief I have expressed in this letter to you, I believe in my heart that there are more Americans who want to maintain our shores as a beacon of freedom and prosperity than there are those who would seek to tear it all down.

For the sake of my families, my friends and fellow freedom fighters, I hope it’s us.

See you in the streets. Best Wishes,

Chris B.

What The Dragon Awards Will Never Be

The Dragon Award nominees came out August 3 and voting continues until September 1 — the deadline having been extended by two days after author withdrawals were permitted (although the award’s own webpage has yet to be updated.)

Larry Correia’s latest appeal to voters includes the line:

Unlike certain other awards, the Dragon actively encourages authors to ask their fans to turn out.

My first thought was I saw what you did there, then I realized he also had illuminated the essence of the award – it’s a tribal competition.

Previous to the announcement of the nominees nobody will have read more than a small fraction of the 51 novel finalists (never mind all the comic books and graphic novels). There’s not enough time for a voter to read the dozens of books they hadn’t already seen. (Well, my fellow fans Don D’Ammassa and Marty Massoglia could, but not the rest of us.) And I’ll leave aside the question of whether people will pay for access to all these books.

In short, this is just a raw get-out-the-vote scenario. Nobody is expected to have an informed opinion about which nominees are the best, only an opinion about who they want to give an award to. Unlike certain other awards.

We Are Not Alone

By John Hertz: The 2017 Worldcon has concluded, and we return to our regular program – or programme, which reminds me: thanks, Jukka! thanks, everyone!  When I happened on this passage in Chapter 51, the antepenultimate of Trollope’s Barchester Towers (1857), I could have thought the song was about us.

What novelist … can impart an interest to the last chapter of his fictitious history?…  And who can apportion out and dovetail his incidents, dialogues, characters, and descriptive morsels, so as to fit them all exactly in … without either compressing them unnaturally, or extending them artificially at the end of his labour?  Do I not myself know that I am at this moment in want of a dozen pages, and that I am sick with cudgelling my brains to find them?  And then when everything is done, the kindest-hearted critic of them all invariably twits us with the incompetency and lameness of our conclusion.  We have either become idle and neglected it, or tedious and overlaboured it.  It is insipid or unnatural, overstrained or imbecile.  It means nothing, or attempts too much….  Guided by my own lights only, I confess that I despair of success.

Pixel Scroll 8/14/17 All These Scrolls Are Yours, Except Europa; Attempt No Pixelings There

(1) LITIGATING CLARKE’S LAW. N.K. Jemisin is interviewed by Joel Cunningham of the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog in “The Logistics of Throwing Mountains: N.K. Jemisin Discusses The Broken Earth Trilogy”.

The Broken Earth series seems to straddle a line between fantasy and hard science (e.g. the orogenes of the novels acquire their names from orogeny: a folding of the lithosphere that creates mountains, but functionally what they perform is magic). There’s a whole mess of science underpinning the magic. What kind of research did you undertake to make orogeny something done by orogenes. and not a flat, scientific term?

I did want to play around a bit with that corollary of Clarke’s law—the idea that any sufficiently systematized magic is indistinguishable from science. A few years back I wrote a blog post called “But but but—why does magic have to make sense?” in which I argued that the whole point of magic was to defy reasoning and repeatability and all the things that equal science.

But then I wanted to write a world that tries to make sense of it anyway, and partially succeeds. And we can see by the obelisks floating through the sky of the Stillness that at one point in the distant past, people did figure magic out to a much greater degree. At that point, is it still magic? Has it become science? That’s one of the concepts the series is chewing on.

Research-wise, I hung out in seismologist forums and follow a bunch of geologist accounts on Twitter, and read a lot of layperson-oriented articles. I also visit volcanoes whenever possible, because I’m fascinated by them. Awesome demonstrations of the Earth’s power and potential fury. On a research trip to Hawai’i a few years back, I visited four volcanoes in four days. That was fun.

(2)  CASTING NEWS. What a combination of actors and writers — “Michael Sheen, David Tennant to Star in Neil Gaiman’s ‘Good Omens’ at Amazon”.

Michael Sheen and David Tennant have been cast in the lead roles in the Amazon series adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s “Good Omens,” Variety has learned.

The show is set in 2018 on the brink of an apocalypse as humanity prepares for a final judgment. But Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a demon, aren’t enthusiastic about the end of the world, and can’t seem to find the Antichrist. Sheen will play the role of Aziraphale, while Tennant will play Crowley. It will consist of six one-hour episodes.

…. Gaiman adapted all six episodes of the series and will also serve as showrunner. Following its exclusive launch on Amazon Prime Video, the series will also be broadcast on BBC in the U.K.

(3) BRADBURY LECTURE. The 4th Annual Ray Bradbury Memorial Lecture “Escape Velocity: Ray Bradbury and the American Space Program” will be presented by Jonathan R. Eller, Chancellor’s Professor of English and Director, Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, IUPUI on August 23, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. in the Central Library Riley Room at 40 E. St. Clair Street.

One of the reasons that Ray Bradbury remains one of the best-known writers of our time is that his dreams of reaching the stars became our dreams, too. The stories that grew into The Martian Chronicles and filled the pages of The Illustrated Man paved the way for his half-century relationship with NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and all the missions that took humans to the moon and launched unmanned craft to all the planets of our solar system.

(4) RUGS FOR THUGS. The Drum interviewed an Ikea marketer about “How Ikea responded to the news HBO’s Game of Thrones uses its rugs as costumes”.

Responding to the news, Ikea decked out some of its staff in the rugs in a real-time marketing stunt, jumping upon the Game of Thrones bandwagon in an organic way.

The Drum: Was the marketing team aware that Ikea goods were being used to furnish the show?

AF: We weren’t aware that Ikea’s rugs had been used in the show until the PR team spotted it in the news on Monday morning. Together with our PR agency, Hope & Glory, we quickly developed an idea that provided our ‘twinkle in the eye’ take on the news, it was low cost and could be pulled together in a couple of hours. As any PR professional will know, timing is of the essence when a story breaks and we wanted to be able to respond as quickly as possible.

We connected with the Ikea Wembley store and the deputy store manager walked the shop-floor identifying co-workers that looked the part to re-create the Game of Thrones look. Within a couple of hours we were in the rugs department with the co-workers, trying on the different rugs and generally having a bit of a laugh.

(5) RECORD HOLDER. After he saw this photo John Hertz asked, “What does Brother Davidson say about the last line of that Guinness certificate?”

Hugo Award Record

Steve Davidson replied, “The government of the United States has, in their lack of infinite wisdom, chosen NOT to give me exclusive control and ownership of the word ‘AMAZING’, more’s the pity.”

(6) SCIENCE IMAGINED. Nancy Kress analyzes the cultural impact of “The Science of Science Fiction:  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”.

However, that the “science” the public learns from SF is debatable doesn’t strike me as the worst problem. That comes from another source: Writers and scriptwriters often make science itself the villain. A problem involving some scientific advance—cloning, nanotechnology, AI—is set up, and all the negative aspects of the tech are brought out, exaggerated, falsified, and blamed. I understand the impetus for this—I’m a writer, too!—which is to create the conflict necessary to drive any story. But the cumulative net effect is the impression that new science and its offspring, new tech, are invariably bad.

In the movie Ex Machina, robots turn murderous.

In countless SF stories, AI tries to take over and must be fought, shut down, destroyed.

Cloning produces not crops or food animals that can feed an ever-expanding population, but rather the oppressive (and ridiculous) one-world biological totalitarianism of Gattaca

(7) BOLOGNA OBIT. Actor Joe Bologna died August 13 at the age of 82. He was well-known for playing King Kaiser in My Favorite Year (1982). His genre work included The Big Bus (1976), and Transylvania 6-5000 (1985). He voiced characters in the animated Superman TV series (1997-1998), and Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006).

(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

When first introduced to Eastern bloc fans at an Eighties Worldcon, they called them “the black cookies.” They’re a fan favorite, but Yahoo! claims “You Will Never Look at Oreos the Same Way Again After Reading These Facts”.

To date, Oreo has over 42 million Facebooks followers. In comparison, The New York Times has 13 million.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 14, 1975 The Rocky Horror Picture Show premieres.

Let’s do the Time Warp again!

  • August 14, 2009 District 9 premiered on this day.

(10) COMIC SECTION.

(11) W75’S CANCELLED LARP. Jaakko Stenros and Markus Montola tell the LARP community’s side of the story in “How Worldcon Banned a Larp”.

On Friday the discussion on the topic continued in social media, where misunderstandings spread fast. For example, one tweeter wrote that the “scenario is ‘you are in an old folks home, have Alzheimer’s, and think you’re one of your RPG characters, hilarity ensues’.” Afterwards some were under the impression that “hilarity ensues” was a quote from the program description when in fact it was an interpretation of a tweeter.

However, now there were people also defending A Home for the Old on Facebook and Twitter and criticizing the actions of Worldcon. Many Nordic role-players found the statement’s tone condescending and rife with cultural imperialism — of Anglo-Americans trying to ‘civilize the natives’ by instilling their moral conventions on a subculture they clearly failed to understand.

No benefit of the doubt was given, and there was an aura of assuming that the Nordic creators had obviously not thought about the implications of their little games — simply because the usual phrases relating to identity politics were not foregrounded in the blurb. The idea that a creative work can just be cast aside, censored, with no debate, based on rather flimsy basis, was found appalling by many Nordic people deeply invested in the role-playing culture. A Home for the Old, and by extension the Nordic role-playing culture, was cast as not worthy of debate.

(Finland has the highest incidence of Alzheimer’s in the world.)

All of this is in stark contrast with the Nordic and Finnish cultural context, where larps, role-playing games, and games in general, are considered valuable works worthy of analysis, criticism, respect, and debate. Role-playing is a form of artistic expression that continues to gain momentum and respect.

(12) CRITIC. Frans Mäyrä, Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, esp. Digital Culture and Game Studies in the University of Tampere, Finland, took offense at the decision: “LARP: Art not worthy?”

There will be no doubt multiple reactions coming in to this from experts of this field in the future. My short comment: this is an unfortunate case of censorship, based on cultural perception of play and games as inherently trivializing or “fun-based” form of low culture. It seems that for some people, there still are strict cultural hierarchies even within the popular culture, with games at the very bottom – and that handling something sensitive with the form of role-play, for example, can be an insult. Such position completely ignores the work that has been done for decades in Nordic LARP and in digital indie “art games” (and also within the academic traditions of game studies) to expand the range of games and play for cultural expression, and to remove expectation or stigma of automatic trivialism from the interactive forms of art and culture. The organisers have obviously been pressurised by some vocal individuals, but the outcome in this case was a failure to stand up, explain the value and potential of role-playing games, and Nordic LARP in particular to an international audience, and make a difference. A sad day.

(13) REMEMBER THAT MONEY YOU SAVED FOR A RAINY DAY? Here’s the outfit to spend it on – a bargain at only $20,000 — the “SPIDER~MAN 2 Original Movie Prop Signed by Stan Lee ~Trenchcoat Worn by Stan”. Rush right over to eBay!

This incredible SPIDER~MAN original movie prop features the trenchcoat that Stan Lee wore during the scene in which he saves a life. This is the ONLY time that Stan makes an appearance where he gets involved to save someone! Best of all it comes signed by Stan Lee. It comes with a COA from Sony/Columbia Pictures and Hollywood Vault who were the official auctioneer a few years ago

(14) HARDWARE FOR THE LONG HAUL. Marketplace explains why “NASA is testing supercomputers to send to Mars”.

Scientists in space have computers, but they don’t exactly look like the one you might be reading this on. Computers in space have highly specific functions. There is no consumer-grade Mac or PC up in space. A lot of that has the do with the fact that laptops in space degrade quickly out there.

But NASA wants to fix that problem by creating new supercomputers, developed in partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The technology is being tested on the International Space Station in hopes that the computer can withstand trips to Mars.

(15) YOUTUBE MUSICAL. Hamilton’s opening number — with the words changed to be about Game of Thrones.

(16) WEIRD AL. Last week’s crisis, this week’s filk: “Watch ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Beg North Korea Not To Nuke Us On Last Week Tonight”.

After highlighting the accordion skills of North Koreans earlier in the show, Oliver introduced Yankovic to play a whole new polka song about all the reasons that North Korea should not nuke us. Tom Hanks figured heavily. Sample lyric: “Please don’t nuke us, North Korea / Right now, we’re all a little tense / Believe me, we don’t hate you / In fact, we really don’t even think all that much about you, no offense.”

 

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Taking Inventory of Future Worldcon Bids

Who wants a Worldcon? Next year fans will choose the site of the 2020 con, for which New Zealand (Wellington) is currently running unopposed. Beyond that?

The list of bids on the Worldcon.org page is copied here, with a few modifications.

2020 Worldcon Bids

2021 Worldcon Bids

2022 Worldcon Bids

  • Chicago in 2022

2023 Worldcon Bids

2024 Worldcon Bids

2025 Worldcon Bids

2032 Worldcon Bids

  • Tampere in 2032

ADDITION. In the afterglow of Worldcon 75, bid ribbons for the next Finnish Worldcon began to appear. Tampere in 2032 is not on the Worldcon.org list yet. Is the bid real? Well, the ribbons are.

SUBTRACTION. For a couple of years Worldcon.org has been listing a Doha, Qatar in 2022 bid. Superversive SF contributor “Ray Blank” (pen name of Eric Priezkalns), posited the bid in June 2015 while taunting fans about diversity in articles like “On Worldcons and World Cups” (Superversive SF, June 13, 2015):

Qatar is scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup, and they are nearing completion of one of the largest convention centres in the world, with a view to becoming a hub for global and regional events. But if Worldcon went to Qatar, its members would have to engage with a society where homosexuality is against the law, many women choose to cover their faces, and expatriate workers have inadequate legal protection, leading to their mistreatment.

If you have strongly-held progressive beliefs, you should want to go to places like South Africa, Malaysia and Qatar; nobody changes opinions by avoiding those who disagree with them. And dealing with weighty real-world issues might discourage some of the sound and fury that taints arguments about how to vote for a book award.

He also engaged fans here at File 770, writing a dozen comments, all on June 15 and 16, 2015. He said about Qatar:

From scratch, I’m going to work on a new bid for Worldcon to be hosted in a country that would be radically different to any previous host. My first thought is to see if it will be possible to build grass roots support for Doha, Qatar, to host the 2022 Worldcon. Failing that, I will explore the possibility of a bid for Bangalore, India.

There has been no sign of any traditional bid activity – parties, ads, etc. Ray Blank has time to do something about that if he wants, but right now there’s nothing to justify keeping Qatar on the list.