2018 Tähtifantasia Award

The Helsinki Science Fiction Society announced the winner of the 2018 Tähtifantasia Award at Finncon 2018 in Turku. The award is given for the best translated fantasy book published in Finnish during the previous year.

  • David Mitchell: Luukellot [The Bone Clocks] (Sammakko, Translated to Finnish by Einari Aaltonen)

The award jury is composed of critics Jukka Halme and Aleksi Kuutio, author and publisher Anne Leinonen, and Osmo Määttä of Risingshadow.net.

Jukka Halme said, “The jury commended the book’s handling of the themes of time, and the worth of eternal life, and how it tackles changes in society and consequences of climate change, yet is also an entertaining read. The Finnish translation gets a special mention from the jury.”

[Thanks to Jukka Halme for the story.]

Speaking of Chesterton

By John Hertz:  Walking round the Pasadena Chalk Festival (the 26th annual, goshwow) last month, I happened to see, besides lots of swell visual art, this line from Chesterton:

If seeds in the black earth can turn into such beautiful roses, what might not the heart of man become in its long journey towards the stars?

I couldn’t place it, so I asked the American Chesterton Society, from whom I have just learned it appears in Maisie Ward’s Return to Chesterton at p. 161.

You probably know two novels of his we may say are in our field, The Napoleon of Notting Hill and The Man Who Was Thursday. He wrote 80 books, 200 short stories, 4000 essays, several hundred poems, and plays.  He illustrated the first published collection of poetry by Edmund Bentley, who invented the clerihew – indeed Clerihew was Bentley’s middle name.

Chesterton was a man of colossal genius in more ways than one, standing 6 feet (2 m) tall and weighing 20 stone (280 lb, 130 kg).  During World War I, when a lady in London asked why he was not out at the Front, he replied, “If you go round to the side, Madam, you will see that I am.”

I mustn’t omit to recommend his Charles Dickens and Saint Thomas Aquinas – I don’t apologize, the author already has.

Return to Chesterton is a supplement to Maisie Ward’s biography of him. I recommend her too.

2018 Scribe Awards

The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers announced the 2018 Scribe Award winners at Comic-Con International in San Diego on July 20.

The IAMTW’s Scribe Awards honor licensed works that tie in with other media such as television, movies, gaming, or comic books.

The organization’s equivalent of a grandmaster award, the Faust Award, was accepted on behalf of the winner, Greg Cox, by author Jonathan Maberry.

Short Story

    TIE

  • “Banana Republic” by Jonathan Maberry
  • “Ganbatte” by Keith DeCandido

Adapted Speculative and General

  • Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet by James Goss

Original Speculative

  • The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase by Greg Cox

Original General

  • Don Pendleton´s The Executioner Fatal Prescription by Michael A. Black

YA Original

  • X-Files Origins: Devil´s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry

Audio

  • Warhammer 40,000: Agent of the Throne, Blood and Lies by John French

International Association of Media Tie-In Writers 2017 Faust Award

  • Greg Cox

2018 RITA and Golden Hearts Awards Winners

Romance Writers of America (RWA) announced the winners of the 2018 RITA® Awards and Golden Heart® Awards on July 19 at the RITA Awards Ceremony in Denver. Below are the winners of genre interest.

The RITA recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas. The full list of RITA winners is here.

Paranormal Romance Winner

  • Hunt the Darkness by Stephanie Rowe (Self-Published)

Young Adult Romance

  • Seize Today, Pintip Dunn (Entangled Teen)

The RWA also announced the winners of the 2018 Golden Heart® Award, for excellence in unpublished romance manuscripts. The full list of Golden Heart winners is here.

Paranormal Romance Winner

  • Jinn on the Rocks by Kay Hudson

[Via Locus Online.]

2018 Eisner Awards


Comic-Con International has announced the winners of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards 2018.

Best Short Story

Best Single Issue/One-Shot

  • Hellboy: Krampusnacht, by Mike Mignola and Adam Hughes (Dark Horse)

Best Continuing Series

  • Monstress, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image)

Best Limited Series

  • Black Panther: World of Wakanda, by Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Alitha E. Martinez (Marvel)

Best New Series

  • Black Bolt, by Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward (Marvel)

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8)

  • Good Night, Planet, by Liniers (Toon Books)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 9–12)

  • The Tea Dragon Society, by Katie O’Neill (Oni)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)

  • Monstress, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image)

Best Humor Publication

  • Baking with Kafka, by Tom Gauld (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Anthology

  • Elements: Fire, A Comic Anthology by Creators of Color, edited by Taneka Stotts (Beyond Press)

Best Reality-Based Work

  • Spinning, by Tillie Walden (First Second)

Best Graphic Album—New

  • My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)

Best Graphic Album—Reprint

  • Boundless, by Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Adaptation from Another Medium

  • Kindred, by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy and John Jennings (Abrams ComicArts)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material

  • Run for It: Stories of Slaves Who Fought for the Freedom, by Marcelo D’Salete, translated by Andrea Rosenberg (Fantagraphics)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia

  • My Brother’s Husband, vol. 1, by Gengoroh Tagame, translated by Anne Ishii (Pantheon)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips

  • Celebrating Snoopy, by Charles M. Shulz, edited by Alexis E. Fajardo and Dorothy O’Brien (Andrews McMeel)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books

  • Akira 35th Anniversary Edition, by Katsuhiro Otomo, edited by Haruko Hashimoto, Ajani Oloye, and Lauren Scanlan (Kodansha)

Best Writer

    TIE

  • Tom King, Batman, Batman Annual #2, Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1, Mister Miracle (DC)
  • Marjorie Liu, Monstress (Image)

Best Writer/Artist

  • Emil Ferris, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters (Fantagraphics)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team

  • Mitch Gerads, Mister Miracle (DC)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)

  • Sana Takeda, Monstress (Image)

Best Cover Artist

  • Sana Takeda, Monstress (Image)

Best Coloring

  • Emil Ferris, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters (Fantagraphics)

Best Lettering

  • Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo, Groo: Slay of the Gods (Dark Horse)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism

  • The Comics Journal, edited by Dan Nadel, Timothy Hodler, and Tucker Stone, tcj.com (Fantagraphics)

Best Comics-Related Book

  • How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels, by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden (Fantagraphics)

Best Academic/Scholarly Work

  • Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics, by Frederick Luis Aldama (University of Arizona Press)

Best Publication Design

  • Akira 35th Anniversary Edition, designed by Phil Balsman, Akira Saito (Veia), NORMA Editorial, and MASH•ROOM (Kodansha)

Best Digital Comic

  • Harvey Kurtzman’s Marley’s Ghost, by Harvey Kurtzman, Josh O’Neill, Shannon Wheeler, and Gideo Kendall (comiXology Originals/Kitchen, Lind & Associates)

Best Webcomic

Will Eisner Hall of Fame Inductees for 2018

Judges’ selections

  • Carol Kalish (pioneering direct sales manager for Marvel Comics)
  • Jackie Ormes (first black female newspaper cartoonist, for the strip Dixie in Harlem featuring the character Torchy Brown).

Voters’ selections

  • Charles Addams
  • Karen Berger
  • Dave Gibbons
  • Rumiko Takahashi

The 2018 Eisner Awards judging panel consisted of librarian Candice Mack (Los Angeles Public Library), comics reviewer/journalist Graeme McMillan (i09, Wired, Hollywood Reporter), comics retailer Tate Ottati (Tate’s Comics, Lauderhill, FL), comics scholar Nhora Serrano (Hamilton College, Clinton, NY), writer/artist/educator Alexander Simmons (Blackjack, Scooby Doo, Archie; Kids Comic Con), and longtime Comic-Con volunteer William Wilson (anime/manga expert).

Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award

  • Norma Comics — Rafa Martínez, Barcelona, Spain

Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award

TIE

  • Hamish Steele, writer/artist of Pantheon (Nobrow)
  • Pablo Tunica, artist of TMNT Universe (IDW)

The Manning nominees were chosen by a panel consisting of board and committee members of Comic-Con International and a San Diego comics retailer.

Pixel Scroll 7/20/18 The Pixie With the Moxie Is The Scroll That Is Droll

(1) JAMES GUNN CANNED BY DISNEY. The director’s offensive tweets were unearthed and have led to him being fired by Disney according to Yahoo! Entertainment “Disney Drops James Gunn From ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Franchise After Offensive Tweets”.

Director James Gunn has been dropped from Disney’s Marvel franchise “Guardians of the Galaxy” over old tweets.

“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” said Alan Horn, chairman of  Walt Disney Studios, in a statement.

Gunn, the writer-director of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise, apologized late Thursday after a series of old (now deleted) tweets resurfaced in which the filmmaker made what he admitted were “offensive” jokes about taboo topics like rape and pedophilia.

Gunn frequently tweets about his opposition to President Donald Trump, and thus drew the ire of fans of the president such as right-wing provocateur Mike Cernovich, who began posting a series of old tweets by Gunn, many of which were subsequently deleted.

Online sleuths then dug up dozens of old tweets of the sort Gunn admitted were “offensive,” many from between 2008 and 2011.

“Expendables is so manly I f–ed the s– out of the p-ssy boy next to me,” he wrote in one.

“The best thing about being raped is when you’re done being raped and it’s like ‘whew this feels great, not being raped!’” read a tweet from February 2009.

Deadline’s coverage adds these details: “James Gunn Fired From ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Franchise Over Offensive Tweets”.

Disney and Marvel had never announced that Gunn would direct the third installment of Guardians of the Galaxy, but Gunn certainly declared it on social media. And after Guardians of the Galaxy 2 last summer grossed $863 million worldwide, to the original’s $773 million, there was every expectation he would remain at the helm. After all, the sly humor and tone that just crushed his career trajectory helped fuel the irreverently humorous tone of the Guardians franchise.

Unsurprisingly – “James Gunn Won’t Appear At Comic-Con After Being Axed From ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’”. Deadline has the story.

James Gunn, who was fired today from Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise after past offensive tweets surfaced, will not make a planned appearance at Comic-Con in San Diego today where he was set to appear on Sony Pictures’ Hall H session to tout an upcoming horror film he is producing.

Gunn has made the following response:

(2) WORST TOWN ON TV. Reason.com’s Glenn Garvin says don’t even stop there for gas — “Stephen King’s Nightmare Town Castle Rock a Distillery of Horrors”.

…Hulu’s new series Castle Rock is clearly an attempt to answer a question that has occurred to nearly every King reader multiple times over the years: Do the folks in this town ever notice the unholy frequency with which their neighbors fall into quicksand pits, get ravaged by their house pets, or are driven insane by mundane household items purchased at pawn shops?

Oh, yes they do, and you’ll have a creepy good time as Castle Rock follows their efforts to figure out why their town is such a demonic piece of crap. One of the lead investigators is even a Realtor, who I imagine faces some serious professional challenges in a town like this. (“It’s very cute little Cape Cod at an owner-was-murdered-by-a-jealous-neighbor-for-having-sex-with-the-ghost-of-Elvis price!”)

(3) CATCHING UP WITH THE PRISONER. It’s news to me! Apparently this sequel came out 20 years ago. Titan Comics is bringing it back.

Cult classic The Prisoner has been captivating audiences and firing imaginations since it first aired in the UK in 1967 and in the US the following year. Now fans can go even deeper into The Village with this official graphic novel sequel set twenty years after the events of the iconic TV series.

Originally published in 1988, Shattered Visage tells the story of former secret agent Alice Drake, whose round-the-world solo voyage is interrupted when she is accidentally shipwrecked and washes up on the shores of The Village. There she encounters Number Six, finds out what has become of Number Two, and discovers the true purpose of The Village.

Titan Comics, a licensee of ITV Studios Global Entertainment, are delighted to release this long out-of-print classic with new material, including character sketches and notes from writer/artist Dean Motter . Fans can finally get their hands on the unmissable next chapter in THE PRISONER saga for the first time in years.

(4) HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOR.COM. As part of Tor.com’s tenth anniversary celebration, Stubby the Rocket chronicles “15 Rituals The Tor.com Office Has Developed”.

Tor.com has existed on the internet for 10 years. And when you work in an office and you also work on the internet, where one day gives you a week’s worth of events to react to, you develop a lot of shorthands and rituals to get through the day….

6.) Dressing Up The Office, Part 1: Unicorn Lamp/Rocket Lamp

We had an in-office fundraiser for our unicorn lamp, and we adore it. (We also gave each color of the unicorn a different name after trying and failing to apply a single name.) Then we had an in-office fundraiser for a rocket lamp as well. It makes the place more homey, particularly during the darker parts of the year, and reminds us that we are all unicorns on the inside and rockets on the outside.

(5) RAMBO ACADEMY. The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers has posted a new list of classes. Notably, Seanan McGuire will be teaching a new class, an Ann Leckie’s doing her awesome space opera class again. Cat Rambo says if money’s an issue, see the info about scholarships below: “Classes for the Rambo Academy through October”.

Free scholarships: If you cannot afford a class but really want to take one, apply for a Plunkett Scholarship. Each class has a slot reserved for such a student, and the sole criteria is that you can’t afford the class but really think it would be useful for you. To apply, mail me with your name, the class name/date, and a brief statement about why you want to take the class. QUILTBAG and PoC candidates are especially encouraged to apply. The Plunkett Scholarships are named for Edward Plunkett, who wrote as Lord Dunsany. Scholarship recipients will be notified the week before the class.

(6) SCHNEPP OBIT. Jon Schnepp (1967 – 2018): US actor, animator, director; died July 19, aged 51. Animation work includes Aqua Teen Hunger Force (18 episodes, 2000-02), Space Ghost Coast to Coast (eight episodes, 1995-99), Metalocalypse (62 episodes, 2006-12); he has a voice role in The Oracle of Outer Space, due out later this year.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 20, 1969 – How could it be 49 years already?

At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, speaks these words to more than a billion people listening at home: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon.

  • July 20, 1976 — Viking I landed on Mars to explore the surface of the Red Planet. The first robots on Mars, Viking I and its successor gave scientists their first information about the planet’s surface, including information they hoped would allow people to walk there. Although the Viking probes found no evidence of life on Mars, they returned detailed pictures of the planet and information about the soil’s composition. (John King Tarpinian will eat a Mars bar after he finishes his Moon Pie.)

(8) PROBABLY SOMETHING BUT NOT A TUX. The message Worldcon 76 sent to encourage Hugo nominees to dress up for the ceremony generated a certain amount of resentment, and things were already touchy before Paul Cornell’s tweet threw gasoline on the fire. Cornell soon banished it from Twitter. However, there’s a screencap in Kay Taylor Rea’s response —

Some of these selected tweets were direct comments on Cornell’s, while others addressed the general conversation rippling through the sff community.

Alternatively –

(9) ON THE RUNWAY. Meanwhile, Jodie Whittaker made a fashion statement wearing a hood at “Comic-Con 2018”

In the midst of this year’s Her Universe fashion show, founder Ashley Eckstein stepped forward and apologized for a last-minute addition to the line-up, a model who was late but who really wanted to walk the runway. And since it was the day of Comic-Con in which the new Doctor Who crew had been introduced, it was appropriate that the model would be wearing some new Whovian fashion.

From the moment she stepped on to the runway, though, the model looked familiar. Head down, hair dangling, it was clear she was almost made for the jacket that looked like the 13th Doctor’s. Of course, it’s because she is the 13th Doctor, making a surprise appearance for fans and to talk with an excited Eckstein.

 

(10) TAKEI MEMOIR. A graphic novel about George Takei’s childhood in a California concentration camp in WWII will come out next year: “George Takei Memoir ‘They Called Us Enemy’ Coming in Summer 2019”.

With immigration and the detention of migrant children in the news, IDW Publishing has announced details of They Called Us Enemy, a graphic novel memoir of George Takei’s childhood in American internment camps.

To be released in summer 2019, They Called Us Enemy will be co-written by Takei, Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, with art from Harmony Becker. Its plot revisits the actor and activist’s childhood as one of 120,000 Japanese Americans held in American concentration camps run by the United States during the Second World War.

According to the publisher’s official description, the book is “Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the terrors and small joys of childhood in the shadow of legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s tested faith in democracy and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future. What does it mean to be American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do?”

“It has always been my mission in life to raise the awareness of the unjust imprisonment of Japanese Americans in barbed-wire prison camps during World War II,” Takei told The Hollywood Reporter. “But I had no idea how chillingly relevant that dark chapter of American history would be to our times today.”

(11) DOOR DRAGONS. Here’s a chance to avoid missing the party:

(12) HE’S GOT THAT COVERED. Let Boing Boing tell you about the latest nuisance filing: “Trademark troll who claims to own “Dragon Slayer” now wants exclusive rights to book covers where someone is holding a weapon”.

Austin’s Michael-Scott Earle, last seen around these parts when he filed a trademark on the phrase “Dragon Slayer” for use in fantasy novel trademarks, has found a new depth to plumb: he’s filed a trademark on book covers “one or more human or partially human figures underneath, at least one of the figures holding a weapon; and an author’s name underneath the figures; wherein the title/series and author’s name are depicted in the same or similar coloring.”

(13) NIGHTMARE. Charles Payseur connects you with short fiction — “Quick Sips – Nightmare #70”.

The pair of stories from Nightmare’s July issue focus on people trapped in situations where they don’t have a lot of power, mostly because of their age. They weigh in on opposite sides of the specrtum, though, one character made vulnerable because of his old age, put in a home where he might be preyed upon at any moment and aware always of his own approaching death. The other piece focuses on a young person in a stifling household, living with rules that aren’t designed to protect him so much as to make his parent’s life easier. In both situations, the toxicity of the environment manifests in ways great and small (and sometimes furred) and forces the characters to choose if they’ll stay and try to face them or try to escape from a power they might not be able to defeat head on. Let’s get to the reviews!

(14) LEST DARKNESS PALL. Nature has a line on “A planet the colour of charcoal”.

A hot and gaseous planet orbiting a distant star is one of the darkest ever found.

Astronomers led by Teo Mo?nik at Keele University, UK, used NASA’s Kepler telescope to study a star called WASP-104, which lies roughly 144 parsecs from Earth in the constellation Leo. Earlier observations had documented a dimming of WASP-104’s light every 1.76 days, indicating that a planet was regularly crossing the star’s face. But Mo?nik’s team could not detect starlight reflecting off the planet, as scientists usually expect after discovering a new world. That led the researchers to conclude that the planet is nearly pure black in colour.

(15) TOAD IN THE HOLE. That’s what Ellen Klages ordered in Episode 72 of Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Ellen Klages

…And then move on to this episode’s guest, Ellen Klages, who won the Nebula Award in 2005 for her novelette, “Basement Magic.” Her novella, “Wakulla Springs” (co-authored with previous guest of the show Andy Duncan), was a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula awards and won the World Fantasy Award in 2014.

She won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the Lopez Award for Children’s Literature, and the New Mexico State Book Award for Young Adult Literature for her first novel, The Green Glass Sea. She has served for twenty years on the Motherboard of the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award. Her novella “Passing Strange” was one of the finalists for this year’s Nebula award.

Our venue for this episode was the relatively new Whitfield at Ace Hotel. This was certainly the most picturesque setting for a meal I experienced in Pittsburgh, because the building which housed both hotel and restaurant was a century-old former YMCA.

We discussed why it took 40 years from the time she wrote the first sentence of her Nebula Award-nominated story “Passing Strange” to finish the tale, what a truck filled with zebras taught her about the difference between storytelling and real life, how cosplaying helped give birth to her characters, what she finds so fascinating about creating historical science fiction, why revising is her favorite part of writing, the reason she’s the best auctioneer I’ve seen in my lifetime of con-going, what she teaches students is the worst mistake a writer can make, how her collaboration with Andy Duncan gave birth to an award-winning novella, whether she still feels like “a round peg in genre’s polyhedral hole” as she wrote in the afterword to her first short story collection, and much more.

(16) ON THEIR WAY. Tor.com’s Lee Harris promised readers A Pair of Solarpunk Novellas from Becky Chambers without giving a definite date when they’ll come out.

Ever since I read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet I’ve wanted to work with Becky. She has a lightness of touch that makes you want to keep turning the page. So, when I contacted her and she suggested we work together on a couple of solarpunk books I was delighted. There’s a lot of darkness in the world, today, and I can’t wait to bring you Becky‘s trademark adventure style, wrapped up in a bundle of positive SF. It’s what we need, right now.

(17) CAPITAL CATS. In our national’s capital, a credential census is planned: “Washington, D.C., Is Counting All Its Cats. It Will Take 3 Years And $1.5 Million”.

…Various groups are working to spay and neuter stray cats or facilitate cat adoptions. Thousands of cats each year are spayed or adopted.

But groups like the Humane Rescue Alliance “have little sense if their programs are the lion’s share of adoptions in the city, or if their trap-neuter-return program is effective in helping to control the cat population,” Fenston writes.

It’s not easy to gauge a city’s cat population by eye alone.

“Cats are hard to see,” conservation biologist Tyler Flockhart told The New York Times. “You see very few cats when you’re out walking around. And that’s because they’re secretive animals. When you see a cat, there is almost certainly more than one there.”

(18) UNCREDENTIALS AND GAMING. Linda Holmes of NPR made the connection — “Put Your Face In It: How Gaming Helped Me Understand My Dog”

When I am walking my dog around the neighborhood now, I imagine him going boop-boop-boop as he wanders along wondering what he should approach, much as I do when I walk from my Stardew Valley farm to the place where I will once again sell my virtual parsnips. And when he sees an empty Doritos bag lying on its side on the street, I realize that he is having the same experience I did the first time I picked up an imaginary oyster on the imaginary beach. He is saying to himself, “This could be some wonderful and magical key to a benefit yet unrealized! This could be magic! This could taste delicious! This could transport me to another dimension!” Most importantly, he is thinking what I am always thinking any time I fail to investigate anything: “But what if I really neeeeeed it?” And he is pushing the only button he has. His action button.

(19) SUGGEST A NAME. But Spacy McSpaceFace need not apply: “Wanted: Inspiring name for Europe’s 2020 Mars rover”. This time suggestions will go to a panel instead a popular vote.

Here’s your chance to name the European rover that will go to Mars in 2020.

Currently called ExoMars, the six-wheeled robot needs something a bit more engaging and inspiring for when it lands on the Red Planet.

Astronaut Tim Peake is leading the hunt for a great moniker.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steve Green, David Doering, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, DMS, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 7/19/18 And Then There Were 770

(1) DRAGON AWARDS. July 20 is the deadline to nominate for Dragon Con’s Dragon Awards. If you’re ever going to do it now would be a good time…. If you’re not, no hurry!

(2) “JUST WEAR CLOTHES, HONEY.” That’s the advice I got the time I called Arthur Bryant’s ribs place to ask if they had a dress code. I follow the same advice when I go to the Hugos.

(3) TOR TAKES LIBRARIANS BY SURPRISE. And not in a good way: “Tor Scales Back Library E-book Lending as Part of Test”Publishers Weekly has the story.

After years of relatively little change in the library e-book market, there has finally been some movement—unfortunately, librarians say, it is movement in the wrong direction. Leading Sci-Fi publisher Tor Books, a division of Macmillan, has announced that, beginning with July 2018 titles, newly released e-books, will be no longer be available to libraries for lending until four months after their retail on sale date.

In a statement to libraries through their vendors, Macmillan officials said the new embargo was part of “a test program” (although an “open ended” test, the release states) to assess the impact of library e-book lending on retail sales. But the statement goes on to say that the publisher’s “current analysis on eLending indicates that it is having a direct and adverse impact on retail eBook sales,” and that Tor will work with library vendors to “develop ongoing terms that will best support Tor’s authors, their agents, and Tor’s channel partners.”

…On July 19, American Library Association president Loida Garcia-Febo issued the following statement:

“The American Library Association and our members have worked diligently to increase access to and exposure for the widest range of e-books and authors. Over years, ALA made great strides in working with publishers and distributors to better serve readers with increasingly robust digital collections. We remain committed to a vibrant and accessible reading ecosystem for all.

I am dismayed now to see Tor bring forward a tired and unproven claim of library lending adversely affecting sales. This move undermines our shared commitment to readers and writers—particularly with no advance notice or discussion with libraries. In fact, Macmillan references its involvement with the Panorama Project, which is a large-scale, data-driven research project focused on understanding the impact of library holdings on book discovery, author brand development, and sales. For this reason, this change by Tor—literally on the heels of Panorama’s launch—is particularly unexpected and unwelcome.

“The ALA calls for Macmillan to move just as quickly to reverse its course and immediately lift the embargo while the Panorama Project does its work.”

(4) BIG REBOOTS TO FILL. Somebody thought this would be a good idea: “‘In Search Of’: Zachary Quinto Follows in Leonard Nimoy’s Footsteps… Again”.

We’re all very used to revivals and reboots these days but with the return of iconic sci-fi/mystery series In Search Of , one big reason to celebrate (besides its launch on the History Channel) is that actor Zachary Quinto is a part of this project.

Quinto, who first became known to TV fans for his role as the villainous Sylar on the original run of NBC’s Heroes, leapt to greater heights of fame in 2009 when he took over the role of the most famous Vulcan in the galaxy, Spock, in the updated Star Trek big-screen franchise. Of course, Spock was first played by Leonard Nimoy in the 1960s television series and, yes, Nimoy later hosted In Search Of.

 

(5) DROPPED IN POTTER’S FIELD. There’s an open question about why this happened: “London erects 25-foot Jeff Goldblum statue to commemorate ‘Jurassic Park’s 25th anniversary”.

They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should build a 25-foot replica of Jeff Goldblum.

Londoners and tourists alike were puzzled Wednesday morning to find a statue of Goldblum, his shirt unbuttoned in a recreation of his famous “Jurassic Park” pose, staring seductively at them from the banks of the River Thames near Tower Bridge.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 19 – Benedict Cumberbatch, 42. Some of his sort-of genre and definitely genre roles include Stephen Hawking in HawkingThe Hobbit films as a certain cranky dragon, Star Trek into DarknessDoctor Strange, Sherlock, and possibly my fav role potentially by him as the voice of the title character in the forthcoming animated The Grinch film.
  • Born July 19 – Jared Padalecki, 36. Best known for his role as Sam Winchester on Supernatural, and not surprisingly, Supernatural: The Animation.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) OKAY. Mad Genius Club columnist Kate Paulk makes everything as clear as she usually does in “Eschew Claytons Diversity”.

…Take the Mad Geniuses. We’re Odds. We don’t fit in. But every last one of us fails to fit in in a different way than every other one of us….

(9) UNDER NEWTON’S TREE. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler is getting to dislike F&SF’s 1963 incarnation almost as much as he loathes Analog“[July 18, 1963] Several bad apples (August Fantasy and Science Fiction)”.  

I’ve discussed recently how this appears to be a revival period for science fiction what with two new magazines having been launched and the paperback industry on the rise.  I’ve also noted that, with the advent of Avram Davidson at the helm of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the editorial course of that digest has…changed.  That venerable outlet has definitely doubled down on its commitment to the esoteric and the literary.

Has Davidson determined that success relies on making his magazine as distinct from all the others as possible?  Or do I have things backwards?  Perhaps the profusion of new magazines is a reaction to F&SF’s new tack, sticking more closely to the mainstream of our genre.

All I can tell you is that the latest edition ain’t that great, though, to be fair, a lot of that is due to the absolutely awful Heinlein dross that fills half of the August 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction.  See for yourself…

“Heinlein dross” turns out to be code for an installment of the novel Glory Road.

(10) SPACE SAILS. [Item by Mike Kennedy] An exploratory project at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville AL is examining metamaterials as the basis for a solar sail for CubeSat propulsion. The Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout) is being developed by Marshall and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a candidate secondary payload to launch with EM-1 the first uncrewed test flight of the Space Launch System.

NEA Scout would be a robotic mission to fly by an NEA and return data “from an asteroid representative of NEAs that may one day be human destinations.” The asteroid chosen will depend on the launch date; the current target is  1991 VG. Though this is still only a candidate mission (and thus may never happen), NASA explains the mission like this:

Catching a ride on EM-1, NEA Scout will deploy from SLS after the Orion spacecraft is separated from the upper stage. Once it reaches the lunar vicinity, it will perform imaging for instrument calibration. Cold gas will provide the initial propulsive maneuvers, but the NEA Scout’s hallmark solar sail will leverage the CubeSat’s continual solar exposure for efficient transit to the target asteroid during an approximate two-year cruise.

Once it reaches its destination, NEA Scout will capture a series of low (50 cm/pixels) and high resolution (10 cm/pixels) images to determine global shape, spin rate, pole position, regional morphology, regolith properties, spectral class, and for local environment characterization.

Popular Science article looks a little closer at the use of metamaterials for the sail, talking with Dr. Grover Swartzlander (Rochester Institute of Technology) who is the lead for the project.

The metamaterial Swartzlander is proposing would have several advantages over the reflective materials of the past. Swartzlander’s sails would have lower heat absorption rates due to their diffractive nature which would scatter solar rays, and the ability to re-use what Swartzlander told NASA was “the abundant untapped momentum of solar photons” to fly through the cosmos.

Swartzlander is leading an exploratory study through NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program. With nine months and $125,000, his research team will work on a NASA satellite called the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, or NEA Scout for short. A robotic reconnaissance mission, NEA Scout is a CubeSat meant to explore asteroids. NEA Scout would be NASA’s first craft to be powered by sails.

(11) THEY SWORE A MIGHTY OATH. No “Second Variety”? “AI Innovators Take Pledge Against Autonomous Killer Weapons”.

The Terminator‘s killer robots may seem like a thing of science fiction. But leading scientists and tech innovators have signaled that such autonomous killers could materialize in the real world in frighteningly real ways.

During the annual International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Stockholm on Wednesday, some of the world’s top scientific minds came together to sign a pledge that calls for “laws against lethal autonomous weapons.”

“… we the undersigned agree that the decision to take a human life should never be delegated to a machine,” the pledge says. It goes on to say, “… we will neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of lethal autonomous weapons.”

The moniker “autonomous weapons” doesn’t draw the same fear or wonder as a killer robot, but weapons that can function without human oversight are a real concern.

(12) NOT THE SIZE OF A PLANET. No one will ever be wondering this about sff fans. Gizmodo’s article “Did Neanderthals Go Extinct Because of the Size of Their Brains?” follows up a paper in Scientific Reports and a theory that Homo neanderthalensis may have gone extinct because their brains — though larger than that of Homo sapiens — had a cerebellum that was proportionately underdeveloped relative to H. sapiens.

Indeed, though scientists have many Neanderthal skulls to work with, none of them contain actual brains, making it difficult to know what the inside of their heads actually looked like. The next best option, therefore, is to look at their fossilized skulls and try to figure out the shape, size, and orientation of the Neanderthal brain.

To do this, Ogihara’s team created virtual three-dimensional “casts” of brains using data derived from the skulls of four Neanderthals and four early modern humans (the skulls used in the study dated from between 135,000 and 32,000 years ago). This allowed the researchers to reconstruct and visualize the 3D structure of the brain’s grey and white matter regions, along with the cerebrospinal fluid regions. Then, using a large dataset from the Human Connectome Project, specifically MRI brain scans taken of more than 1,180 individuals, the researchers modeled the “average” human brain to provide a kind of baseline for the study and allow for the comparative analysis.

Using this method, the researchers uncovered “significant” differences in brain morphology. Even though Neanderthals had larger skulls, and thus larger brain volume overall, H. sapiens had a proportionately larger cerebellum, the part of brain involved in higher levels of thinking and action. Modern humans also featured a smaller occipital region in the cerebrum, which is tied to vision. Looking at these differences, the researchers inferred such abilities as cognitive flexibility (i.e. learning, adaptability, and out-of-the-box thinking), attention, language processing, and short-term and long-term memory. Homo sapiens, the researchers concluded, had better cognitive and social abilities than Neanderthals, and a greater capacity for long-term memory and language processing.

(13) FORTNITE. Brian Feldman, in “The Most Important Video Game on the Planet” in New York Magazine, looks at how Fortnite. since its introduction in July 2017, “has risen to become the most important video game currently in existence…obsessed over by rappers and athletes, hotly debated in high school cafeterias, and played by 125 million people.”

Since it launched in July of last year, Fortnite has risen to become the most important video game currently in existence. The 100-player, last-man-standing video-game shooter is obsessed over by rappers and athletes, hotly debated in high-school cafeterias, and played by 125 million people. All this, not because of a major technical or graphical breakthrough, or for a groundbreaking work of narrative depth, but for, essentially, a simple, endlessly playable cartoon. On a colorful island peppered with abandoned houses, towns, soccer fields, food trucks, and missile silos, players don colorful costumes, drop out of a floating school bus, and begin constructing ramshackle forts that look like they’ve popped straight out of a storybook, before blowing each other to smithereens.

(14) TITANS. Official trailer —

TITANS follows young heroes from across the DC Universe as they come of age and find belonging in a gritty take on the classic Teen Titans franchise.

 

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

AudioFile’s Summer Book Recommendations

From AudioFile Magazine, a sampler of new and classic sff audiobooks for fans to listen to this summer. Click on the titles for more information, and on the SoundCloud links to hear the narrators at work.

Places in the Darkness by Chris Brookmyre, read by Robin Miles (Earphones Award Winner)

It has to be difficult to provide the voices for an entire city. Yet that’s just what narrator Robin Miles does wonderfully in this mystery set aboard the space station Cuidad de Cielo (City in the Sky). Complicating matters is the fact that this outpost, a jumping-off point to the stars, is populated by outcasts of many nationalities who are seeking new lives.

PLACES IN THE DARKNESS SoundCloud sound clip



Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci, read by Dan Bittner

Narrator Dan Bittner throws himself into this science-fiction adventure with the enthusiasm the story begs for. Cade Sura grew up certain that his older brother, Tristan, is the Paragon who will reclaim the galaxy from the evil Praxis Empire. When Cade ends up in Tristan’s place, he has to lean on his misfit crew of friends to save the day.

BLACK STAR RENEGADES SoundCloud sound clip



Provenance by Ann Leckie, read by Adjoa Andoh (Earphones Award Winner)

Narrator Adjoah Andoh creates a stunning tapestry of characters within the vast galaxy this audiobook spans. Her theater background allows her to give distinctive timbres and accents to every character, which helps to keep the large cast and complex story straight.

PROVENANCE SoundCloud sound clip



The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, read by George Guidall

George Guidall narrates this classic novel with gravity and emotion. He smoothly shifts his voice between that of the outsider Genly Ai, a black man with a masculine voice who is acting as an ambassador on the distant planet Gethen, and the more androgynous voices of the gender-shifting humanoid aliens.

LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS SoundCloud sound clip



Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, read by Tim Robbins (Earphones Award Winner)

Bradbury’s iconic novel about the dangers of complacency and the value of curiosity gains a solid new voice with this audio performance.

FARENHEIT SoundCloud sound clip



Dune by Frank Herbert, read by Scott Brick, Orlagh Cassidy, Euan Morton, Simon Vance, and Cast (Earphones Award Winner)

This full-cast performance, augmented by sound effects and music, does justice to a classic of the science fiction genre. Dune, a complex tale of greed, the quest for power, and the indomitable human spirit, follows the development of young Paul Atreides into the messianic Muad’Dib.

DUNE SoundCloud sound clip

DC Universe Pre-Order Offer

By Daniel P. Dern: As a DC fan who also reads Marvel (and other) comics, while I enjoy Marvel’s streaming comic service (not all titles or issues, and nothing less than 6 months old, but still a great value if there’s enough of interest), I’ve been hoping DC would catch up. (Hoopla Digital, free via your library card, offers a reasonable range of comics from DC, Marvel and many other publishers, but the per-month limits are, well, limiting.)

I’m hoping that DC Universe, announced recently, will feed more of my DC comic jones. I’ve gone ahead and pre-ordered, $75-ish for a year (and 3 months free as a pre-order); the launch is “Fall 2018.” We’ll see. (It looks like there’s also lotsa movies’n’video, tho whether that’s available via non-DC, ahem, channels is also Not Yet Known (by me, anyway).

The main URL is: https://www.dcuniverse.com/coming-soon/

(The trailer really doesn’t provide any info, IMHO.)