Hugo Best Novelette Longlist Discussion Thread

By JJ: We’ve spent a lot of time over the last several months reading and discussing the Hugo Best Novelette finalists. This thread has been created to give us the opportunity to discuss the rest of the entries on the longlist. Links are included to the works online, so that you can read them (if you have not already done so) and comment.

Please employ your best judgment, and use rot13 to encrypt anything especially spoilery, in consideration of those who may not have gotten to read all of the entries yet.

To make a JavaScript bookmarklet for your browser that handles rot13 – so that all you have to do is highlight some text and click the bookmark to encrypt/decrypt it — go here, click on the “file suppressed” message, copy the one line of code to your clipboard, and save it as the target/URL of a Bookmark/Favorite. (Thanks to Rev. Bob for the neat trick.)

[Third in a series.]

My Home Delusion

HouseCastSeason1By James H. Burns: In October of 2009, I had a very bad breakup. And during the first week, I kind of vegged out, watching a bunch of television (while still taking care of some writing responsibilities and the like), and finally checking out some television shows I had been hearing about for ages….

My Name Is Earl, The Office… Cable marathons made this rather easy.

And I kept seeing ads for the season debut of House

Now, some of the promos might have been glimpsed during Sunday football, on Fox, and during that year’s baseball post-season.

I had never watched the show, because…  Well, I guess the idea of a TV series that featured a drug addict as its hero — all I really knew about the program at that point — was just enormously offensive to me.

But in the coming attractions…

House, Dr. Gregory House, that is, was in an asylum.  For some reason, the physician had been sentenced to a mental ward. The commercials were compelling, and I was fascinated by the idea of a major network having the lead character of a series opening the season behind such bars.

I was hoping it wasn’t some kind of ratings-hoped-for outrage.

In the late 1970s, I visited a friend in a mental ward once, and it was all rather normal, except for that moment, as some of you know about it, after you’ve been buzzed through to the waiting room, and the door LOCKS behind you; in this case, with a never-to-be-forgotten clang.

A door that cannot be reopened without clearances.

About fifteen years later, I had to rescue someone from a Long Island mental hospital, who had been mistakenly incarcerated, due to an unforgivable mistake on the part of the admittance staff. In that case, the day room was entirely normal and pleasant looking.  There was no one extreme among the patients hanging out, except that I swear to you, they simply reminded me of some of the more out-there, or eerily docile media fans I would see at that era’s Creation science fiction and fantasy conventions in the North East…

The House episode was tremendously well done, and compelling. I became hip to the incredible talents of star Hugh Laurie, several years after so many had already made the realization.

The writing and production values were equally outstanding.

I began watching the repeats on cable, and soon fell in love with so many of the rest of the cast.

And the writing.

House, for the uninitiated, is a genius, a modern day medical marvel, renowned for his ability to diagnose the most difficult of cases. He has a team of especially talented doctors, who help him treat his patients:  always the most unusual, and complex of case studies…

A friend eventually asked me why I was fascinated by the series.

I told him there were two reasons, as best I could judge, aside from the obvious attractions of a well done show. One, it was a chance, for an hour every episode, to hear intelligent people converse. And I also said it was kind of science fiction. My friend, a long time genre buff, was astonished. He wanted to know how House could possibly be considered science fiction? I said,  “Just think about it. Ten, twenty years ago…  Almost everything in this series — the technology, the ethical issues — simply didn’t exist for the most part. It was all part of an undefinable tomorrow…”

But in those first weeks of happy infatuation, I started to notice something unusual.

House acted a bit like I did, way back in the 1980s… When I was on the convention scene fairly regularly, either as a guest, or as a regular in the dealers room.  (As much fun as conventions can be, I made a rather huge mistake:  turning my back on a fairly successful non-fiction writing career, to devote myself full time to a pop culture business. But then, I was in my early twenties…)

My rep, back then, was as someone extremely intelligent, but whose humor could — unintentionally, I promise you — be acerbic.

(I am not saying that folks were correct about the first opinion, and the second facet was certainly nothing to be proud of. But I must point out, on behalf of my ego (another House trait, come to think of it!), that in certain quarters (particularly comic book conventions), I was quite beloved…

At least some of the time!

And then there was the way Greg House dressed.

A nice pair of jeans, sneakers (running shoes, to you young ‘uns), and always a blazer…

Which was essentially my uniform for the better part of the ’80s, and well into the ’90s (if circumstances didn’t call for a full suit, and tie)…

House’s limp also presented a parallel. Thankfully, I’ve never needed a cane. But when I was twelve, I was hit by a car, and broke a leg, spending the better part of a year laid up, in traction, then a body cast, and then on crutches, wearing a brace….

Years later, friends told me, to my surprise, that when I was tired, there was still a noticeable change to my gait…

No, I wasn’t into Vicodin, or hookers, or even Giant Truck rallies…  (And most folks, until recently, didn’t know about my fondness for cats, and all animals.)

Nor, despite whatever may be evidenced in this missive, have I ever been under psychiatric care…!

But as I watched more and more of the show, there were other similarities…  All of which I just wrote off as a fun happenstance.

Then one day, while Googling around, I learned that one of the program’s producers might well have been around me, in the late 1980s… And then, there was the oddest revelation of all, that the producers’ first choice to play the doctor, was Rob Morrow (the gentleman who starred in Northern Exposure, as well as the feature film, Quiz Show).

If you were going to cast someone to play me, as I once appeared, Morrow might well have been many directors’ first choice…

This was all getting a little odd, and ultimately meaningless. At best, it would be another intriguing happenstance. (One incident in my life had more-than-likely inspired an early episode of Seinfeld (No, not “The Contest,” you wiseguys; but it’s a funny tale I still need to write up one day); and there had been a couple of other happy appearances or influences in the works — cinematic and elsewise — of friends, and acquaintances.)

I thought about this only occasionally, as I continued to be enthralled with all the seasons of House that I had missed, along with 2009’s new episodes. (After all, I was enjoying many other series, without any similarities in mind, whatsoever!)

Then, one day, while researching some other topic… I decided to do some more House-digging.

And it turned out, as best I could judge, the series’ actual creator couldn’t have possibly ever known me.

Or even heard of me.

I continued to be captivated by the series, except for some later casting misfires.  How could I not have been?  The drug plotlines I still found upsetting, but perhaps these could also be regarded as a metaphor:

No matter what one’s crutches, ultimately you have to stand again, on your own two feet…

Pixel Scroll 10/6 Beyond the pixelated event horizon

(1) Put together “William Shatner” and “flying” and I’m going to think of the “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” episode of The Twilight Zone. Not Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond — he thinks of a different Shatner role when he flies, and it got him into trouble.

Alex Salmond found himself in a bizarre situation with airline staff after booking on to a flight under the name James Kirk – the captain of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise.

The former Scottish first minister caused confusion when British Airways initially refused to let him board a flight at Heathrow under the sci-fi alias.

The Mail on Sunday reported that it took a series of telephone calls for the senior politician to persuade the airline that he should be allowed on board.

Salmond said he often travelled under a false name for security reasons and as a Trekkie – as fans of the show are known – he liked to use Kirk’s name, partly as a joke but also because it was easy to remember….

He told the Mail on Sunday: “It was all sorted out. I just wanted BA to ‘beam me up, Scotty’.”

(2) “Lines from The Princess Bride that Double as Comments on Freshman Composition Papers” by Jennifer Simonson on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

[Last 3 of 9.]

“Skip to the end!”

“That is the sound of ultimate suffering.”


(3) Ursula K. Le Guin will appear at UCLA on Sunday, November 15 at 4 p.m. Tickets from $19-$49.

Incomparable storyteller and worldweaver Ursula K. Le Guin joins us for a conversation celebrating her incredible oeuvre, hosted by Meryl Friedman, CAP UCLA Director of Education and Special Initiatives.

(4) A report on Diana Pavlac Glyer’s talk about the Inklings’ “dangerous friendships”, by Scott Keith.

I recently finished the C. S. Lewis biography authored by Alister McGrath entitled, C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet. I highly recommend it. Over the weekend, I also attended The Great Conversation (TCG) C. S. Lewis symposium. At the symposium, Diana Pavlac Glyer, professor of English at Azusa Pacific University gave a talk on the influence of the Inklings on the thought of C. S. Lewis. I am struck by the extent to which great writers like Lewis and Tolkien seemed to use what McGrath calls, “midwives” when writing their great works. Or as Glyer put it, “We all need dangerous friends.”….

Gradually, the schedule of Inklings’ meetings became regularized, so they generally met on Tuesday mornings at the Eagle and Child pub (which they called the “Bird and Baby” or just the “Bird”) and at Lewis’s study rooms in the college where he was an Oxford Don, Magdalen College, on Thursday evenings. At the pub they smoked their pipes, drank, and had good food almost like hobbits. While they sat in the bar, they talked about language and literature. Others in the group included Owen Barfield, Warren Lewis, Nevill Coghill, Hugo Dyson, and Charles Williams.

As it is described by those in the know, the Inklings were not afraid to mix it up a bit. These men were not all alike. Lewis was brash and boisterous. Tolkien seems to have been more reserved and introspective. They did not agree on many things. Tolkien is said to have believed that Lewis’s use of allegory in his Ransom Trilogy and Chronicles of Narnia, was perhaps too obvious. In fact, they often disagreed on issues of morality. McGrath explains that Tolkien believed that Lewis’s view concerning civil marriage was against the teaching of the church. Thus, the evidence points to the fact that Tolkien disapproved of Lewis’s marriage to Joy Davidman.

(5) Gregory N. Hullender of Rocket Stack Rank has responded to Neil Clarke’s recent editorial “The Sad Truth About Short Fiction Reviews”, where Clarke opined that short-fiction reviews are of little value.

In Hullender’s RSR post “Getting More From Short Fiction Reviews” he draws a distinction between a review system and a recommendation system. While conceding that Clarke is probably right that reviews alone aren’t worth a lot to most people, he argues that as part of a recommendation system, reviews can be very valuable indeed.

(6) Scientists think they may soon be able to answer “What color was the T-Rex?”. From NPR –

INSKEEP: That’s Jakob Vinther of the University of Bristol in Britain. Vinther and scientists from Virginia Tech confirmed traces of melanin in fossils dating back millions of years, and that melanin may provide a vital clue.

VINTHER: The kinds of hair colors that we see in humans, ranging from black to ginger, are made by melanin.

MONTAGNE: Bits of melanin are found inside cells, and the shape of those bits says something about the color of the creature.

VINTHER: If you have a black melanosome, they’re shaped like a sausage whereas if you have a red melanosome, then they’re shaped like a little meatball.

INSKEEP: Turns out, this meatball and sausage theme is pretty consistent across nature.

VINTHER: I myself is quite sort of ginger in my appearance. My beard is very, very sort of reddish. And if you took a look at the melanosomes in my beard, they will be shaped like little meatballs. And then if you have, for example, an American robin, they have this reddish-brown chest and they would also have these kinds of meatballs.

MONTAGNE: So the researchers are presuming the shapes may also have matched the color of creatures from the distant past. The team checked the melanin from two species of bat that lived almost 50 million years ago. They were a reddish-brown color.

(7) The Western Science Fiction Association maintains a convention listing page, and Stephanie Bannon invites conrunners to send their events for inclusion. Contact info at the site.

(8) It never occurred to me the Archie characters were based on anybody in particular. A documentary filmmaker tracked down the real life Betty.

In 1939, 18-year-old Betty Tokar Jankovich briefly dated, and quickly dumped, a comic book artist named Bob Montana. Though she quickly forgot about the young illustrator, he never forgot about her. More than seven decades later, Jankovich was shocked to discover that an ex-boyfriend she only vaguely remembered had named a character after her: She was the inspiration for Betty Cooper from the Archie comics.

Jankovich would likely never have known about her Archie connection if not for filmmaker Gerald Peary. A documentarian, journalist, and Archie super-fan, Peary decided to research the real-life inspiration for the comic book characters. He didn’t expect to actually meet any living real-life members of the gang—he just wanted to find out if they’d really existed.

(9) Sales prices of some items in Profiles in History’s recent Hollywood Auction have been made public.

The “slave Leia” costume worn by Carrie Fisher in Return of the Jedi sold for $96,000.

The costume — once colorfully described by Fisher in a Newsweek article as “what supermodels will eventually wear in the seventh ring of hell” — came with a certificate of authenticity from Star Wars designer Richard Miller.

CBS News has results for 22 other pop culture items. Among them:

  • The 16-inch miniature Rebel Blockade Runner, seen in the opening moments of Star Wards (1977), sold for $450,000.
  • Leonard Nimoy’s velour tunic from the second season of the original Star Trek series went for $84,000.
  • George Reeves’ gray knit wool costume from The Adventures of Superman, when it was filmed in black-and-white, fetched $216,000.
  • The signature stylized “S” insignia is in dark brown on a field of crème. An “undersuit” made of durable synthetic satin-like fabric featured a sculpted rubber muscles. Also includes a molded fiberglass “flying pan” to hold Reeves when he flew, after he refused to hang from wires.
  • The duck that dropped down when someone said the secret word on Groucho Marx’ You Bet Your Life brought $16,800.
  • Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones fedora from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade sold for $90,000 and his bullwhip, used in the first three movies, sold for $204,000.

(10) John Ringo, who has said before there will be a continuation of the March Upcountry series, co-authored with David Weber, had a status report on Facebook. I’ve enjoyed the series so I’m glad to hear it, although fans should expect to wait another couple years before seeing more of Empire of Man.

(Another funny. David had just broken his wrist and was just starting to use voice-to-text to write. So at one point in an email I got the line ‘I’m looking forward to senior manuscript.’ Took me forever to figure out ‘senior’ was Dragon’s attempt to translate a Southern accent saying ‘Seeing your.’) :-)

Anyway, most of the ‘middle stuff’ is politics. So I’m going to write what I know (blowing shit up) and send it to David then say ‘David, this is your specialty. You figure it out. Looking forward to senior manuscript.’ :-)

I’ll probably end up writing it, Junior Author’s job, but it will give David a skeleton to hang the ‘politics’ on and come up with some ideas. :-)

So the answer to ‘what next’ is Empire of Man. But don’t get your hopes up. It will only be about half done when I’m done and currently the schedule is blocked with other stuff out to 2017.

(11) Previously unreleased Apollo photos, rather spectacular in places — “8,400 High-Res Images From The Apollo Moon Missions Were Just Put Online – Here Are The Best”.

Apollo 9

Apollo 9

(12) In a news flash apropos of our latest round of brackets, ran an article “HBO Confirms ‘Preliminary Discussions’ For ‘Watchmen’ TV Series”. HBO has spoken with Zack Snyder, director of the 2009 movie Watchmen, about a potential series.

(13) Pepsi will release Back to the Future Part II-inspired Pepsi Perfect, but like Doc Brown’s DeLorean, the price will be sky high.

Pepsi announced it is paying tribute to Back to the Future Part II with the release of Pepsi Perfect, the formerly fictional beverage featured in the film.

The company announced Pepsi Perfect, which contains Pepsi Made with Real Sugar and features packaging consistent with the beverage served to Marty McFly in Back to the Future Part II‘s fictional version of 2015, will be available starting Oct. 21.

The company said fans thirsty from a hard day riding on their hoverboards will be able to buy the limited-edition Pepsis at a price of $20.15 for a 16.9-ounce bottle and visitors to New York ComicCon will have an opportunity to get their hands on the collectable beverages early starting Oct. 9.

Must be the law of supply and demand at work — they’re making only 6,500 bottles.

(14) Today is election day at North Pole, Alaska and a familiar name is on the ballot. Seriously. So they say.

Santa Claus is running for the North Pole City Council.

The North Pole Clerk’s office announced on Thursday that the former North Pole Chamber of Commerce president, whose driver’s license really does bear his legal name of Santa Claus, is one of two candidates who have launched write-in campaigns for City Council. The other is La Nae Bellamy.

The North Pole City Council has two seats up for election this year, but no one filed for office during the regular filing period. Candidates run as a group for the at-large seats, with the top vote-getters declared the winners. Claus and Bellamy will need voters to write in their names next Tuesday, Oct. 6.

The lack of candidates appears to be a problem throughout the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The two candidates for the Fairbanks City Council are uncontested, as are two school board seats. North Pole Mayor Bryce Ward is also uncontested in his re-election bid.

[Thanks to Mark sans surname, Locus Online, Ansible Links, Gregory N. Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

More Is Better For Dean Wesley Smith

Smiths-Monthly-Cover-13-web COMPDean Wesley Smith is celebrating his second anniversary writing a new novel for every issue of Smith’s Monthly, a magazine that consists only of his own fiction, over 60,000 words per issue.

At the moment he produces novels in four major series, including the time travel Thunder Mountain novels set in the old west, the galaxy-spanning Seeders Universe series, the urban fantasy Ghost of a Chance series, and the superhero series staring Poker Boy.

Smith reflects in his introduction to the 24th issue:

Occasionally, back in the old pulp days, one writer would fill an issue of one magazine or another, often with stories written under pen names.

And a few authors, Lester Dent to name one, wrote a novel a month for years.

But no one had tried filling a monthly magazine before every month.

Yes, I am that crazy.

Smith blogs daily, too, and in today’s post offers a unique metric for indie author sales success.

So what are good sales now? Everyone seems to have some idea, some made-up number in their head that they will be happy with. (And they never hit it, of course.)

Plus that number often has nothing to do with business and real accounting.

So one more time into some basic business numbers. Even if you think you might know this, read it again. Trust me, it will help.


I write a novel. 40,000 words. It takes me 40 hours at $50.00 per hour (rate I pay myself for sitting and having fun making stuff up. Figure your own time and hourly rate.)

So my time cost is $2,000.00. I have set costs of proofing and cover art of $300.00.  And I have other costs of $200.

So for the sake of this example, I have $2,500.00 investment cost in a novel. That’s my investment in the property. (As if I spent that much to go buy a house on a corner to rent. Yes, copyright is a form of property.)

I want to make a 10% annual rate of return on my investment. By any standards in any business, that’s a damn fine rate of return.

So I need to make $250.00 PER YEAR to get that rate of return.

Or about $21.00 per month in profit from sales.

Needless to say, Dean Wesley Smith is not someone who feels it is detrimental to an indie author’s career to write more than three novels a year…

Spider Robinson Commits to Next Year’s VCON

R. Graeme Cameron has stepped in as chair of next year’s VCON. Happily, as one of his first acts, was able to announce that Spider Robinson, prevented by illness from attending VCON 40 this past weekend, has agreed to be Master of Ceremonies for VCON 41 in 2016. Cameron says, “I know I speak for all local fen (fen everywhere for that matter) that we are glad he is recovering his health and we can hardly wait to see him again. Always good times when he is present at VCON!”

And how came The Graeme to chair next year’s con? He tells the tale after the jump….

Continue reading

Fowler Up For Warwick Prize

Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Serpent’s Tail) has made the Warwick Prize for Writing shortlist. It is one of six titles under consideration for the £25,000 biennial literary award.

The international and cross-disciplinary award, run by the University of Warwick, is open to any genre or form of writing. The theme for this year’s prize is “Instinct.”

The judging panel, chaired by Warwick Associate Professor, alumna and author A. L. Kennedy (chair), includes author and academic Robert Macfarlane, actress and director Fiona Shaw, Warwick alumnus and Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler and physician and writer Gavin Francis.

[Via Locus Online.]

2015 Geffen Awards

The 2015 Geffen Award winners were announced on October 1 at Icon, the Israeli convention for science fiction, fantasy and role-playing games. (Click on the link to see the original Hebrew titles.)

Best original book

  • Broken Skies by Keren Landsman

Best original short story

  • “Five Four Three Two One” by Hila Benyovich-Hoffman

Best translated SF book

  • The Martian by Andy Weir

Best translated fantasy book

  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Best translated YA book

  • Ozma of Oz and Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L Frank Baum

The Geffen Awards are given each year for the best sf&f books and stories published in Hebrew. The award is presented by the Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy, and is named after the association’s founder, Amos Geffen.

Fred Duarte Passes Away

Fred Duarte Jr. Photo by Mark Olson.

Fred Duarte Jr. Photo by Mark Olson.

Fred Duarte, Jr. who died October 3, was one of the many Texas fans who have worked hard to earn their region an enviable reputation for hospitality.

I remember as fan GoH at Armadillocon 11 in 1989 that Fred and con chair Karen Meschke, to whom he was married, collected me from the airport and gave me a view of the Texas capitol illuminated by night as we made our way to the hotel.

Also, George Alec Effinger gave them a shout-out in the dedication of The Exile Kiss — “And special thanks to Fred Duarte and Karen Meschke for hospitality above and beyond the call of duty, while my car was in a near-fatal coma during the writing of this book.”

As a conrunner, Fred had a deep resume. He chaired or co-chaired two World Fantasy Cons (2000, 2006), four Armadillocons (1987, 1988, 1992, 1995), a Westercon (1996), and Smofcon 13 (1995).

He ran the WSFS division for LoneStarCon 3 (2013), and headed the “Program ‘Oops’” department for Noreascon 3 (1989).

Fred found fandom in 1981when he moved to Austin from Kansas City. He met Robert Taylor and Willie Siros after seeing an ad for ArmadilloCon in the back of Analog. His first Worldcon was ConStellation in Baltimore (1983).

He contributed to Pat Mueller Virzi’s fanzine Pirate Jenny. He also helped with the hotel contract and negotiations for Corflu Quire (2006), hosted in Austin by the Fandom Association of Central Texas.

Late in life he was fan guest of honor at the 2011 Armadillocon.

Fred’s passing shocked Pat Cadigan – as she wrote on Facebook:

In mourning for Fred Duarte until further notice.

Fred asked me to be the Toastmsster at ArmadilloCon, back in the day. It was my first ever TM gig and ArmadilloCon was a great place for it.

I’m sorry, this news has really shaken me. Today is cancelled.


Bill Parker and Fred Duarte in 2013.

Bill Parker and Fred Duarte in 2013.

Pixel Scroll 10/5 Manic Pixel Dream Scroll

spacesuite-exlarge-169(1) “Should Zurich ever hold a Worldcon, I think we’ve got the GOH’s hotel room,” says Tom Galloway. It’s the Grand Kameha’s Space Suite.

Always dreamed of going to space but never felt cut out for grueling astronaut training?

Soon it’ll be possible to (almost) indulge this fantasy without leaving Earth.

A hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, has just unveiled a new suite kitted out to look like the inside of a space station.

Grand Kameha’s Space Suite comes equipped with a “zero gravity” bed — built to look like it’s floating above the ground — and steam bath designed to simulate a view into the universe.

(2) Tor Books is celebrating 35 years with a new logo.

new tor logoAin’t no mountain high enough?

(3) Author Tom Purdom has been in the hospital since August 5 reports the Broad Street Review

You may know Tom as the author of five acclaimed science fiction novels as well as novelettes that appear in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. More likely you know him as the peripatetic and prolific chronicler of Philadelphia’s diverse classical music groups, whose scene he has covered for this and other publications since 1988. Tom’s relentless curiosity has also blessed BSR readers with thoughtful explorations of countless other topics, from arms control to religion to professional soccer to the growing appeal of older women in his senior years. As the paragraph above suggests, even at 79, Tom retains a youthful appetite for the cultural rewards of urban life and an eagerness to go public with his enthusiasms.

Hit from behind

At least that was the case until last month. Tom’s byline hasn’t appeared in BSR or anywhere else since August 11. Nor is he now living a life that anyone would describe as satisfying. Instead, Tom has spent the past seven weeks in a hospital bed, most of that time with his head held aloft by a neck brace, his arms and body connected to tubes, his lungs fed oxygen from a tank….

On August 5, Tom was enjoying his daily three-mile stroll along Philadelphia’s new Schuylkill River Trail. Behind him on bicycles, unknown to Tom, were a grown woman, a schoolteacher, and her elderly father. The woman, noticing one of her students walking the trail, waved happily and called to her father to share her discovery. The father turned his head and, in his distraction, crashed into Tom from behind.

In an instant, the active life Tom had savored for decades was shut down, at least temporarily. The blow to his back caused spinal injuries; his fall to the pavement caused a concussion, an enormous bump on his forehead, and two black eyes. His diaphragm was paralyzed.

(4) “Pluto’s Big Moon Charon Reveals a Colorful and Violent History” – read about it on the NASA site.

At half the diameter of Pluto, Charon is the largest satellite relative to its planet in the solar system. Many New Horizons scientists expected Charon to be a monotonous, crater-battered world; instead, they’re finding a landscape covered with mountains, canyons, landslides, surface-color variations and more.

“We thought the probability of seeing such interesting features on this satellite of a world at the far edge of our solar system was low,” said Ross Beyer, an affiliate of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team from the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, “but I couldn’t be more delighted with what we see.”

(5) Genevieve Valentine reviews Ancillary Mercy for NPR.

Breq has spent two books trying to bring down the head of the Radch, a galaxy-spanning empire. It’s complicated work (for one thing, the imperial civil war is between cloned iterations of the Empress herself), so it’s just as well for the series that Breq accidentally keeps falling into broken things that need fixing on a more local level: Her devoted lieutenant Seivarden, captaincy of a ship whose human crew has no idea of their leader’s past, a planetary assignment with the expected imperial prejudice, and a space station awash in all the cultural minutiae the Radchaai empire can offer. And luckily for readers, that’s quite a bit.

(6) George R.R. Martin previews his big investment in Santa Fe’s arts scene in “Meow Wolf Roars”.

The House of Eternal Return, long adrift is time and space, is spinning back towards earth and its eventual landing on the south side of Santa Fe… courtesy of the madmen and madwomen of Meow Wolf, the City Different’s wildest artist’s collective.

Remember Silva Lanes? That derelict bowling alley I bought last winter? If not, go back to January and February on this very Not A Blog and read the old posts. Or just Google “Silva Lanes” and my name, and you’ll find plenty of press coverage.

Anyway… work has been proceeding down on the south side ever since. My own construction crew has gutted the remains of the old structure, torn up the parking lot, and has been working day and night to bring everything up to code. Meanwhile, Meow Wolf’s artists have been across the street, making magic… and now they’ve moved in and started the installations. The two construction crews are working side by side.

Meow Roar house

(7) The local papers have also featured the development.

Santa Fe New Mexican – “Meow Wolf banks on returns with ambitious new exhibit”.

Take a kernel from the Children’s Museum, a wrinkle from an Explora science exhibit and a seam from Burning Man, and one has the inceptions of what Meow Wolf is hoping to create in Santa Fe.

But the exhibit that is being developed, designed, programmed, manufactured, cut and cobble together by the arts group in a 35,000 square foot former bowling alley is perhaps unlike what has ever come before.

The House of Eternal Return, an electronics- and sensory-heavy exhibit, will feature a Victorian house with passageways, forests, caves, treehouses, bridges, a light cloud, a sideways bus, an arcade and workship spaces.

As planned, visitors will be primed with lasers, smoke, touch sensors, color, story and fantasy.

Albuquerque Journal – “Meow Wolf’s latest futuristic project bends time and space”.

George R.R. Martin, who bought the old Silva Lanes bowling alley for $750,000 on agreement to lease it to Meow Wolf, is now financing a $1 million to $2 million renovation of the building.

“Meow Wolf’s project is going to be exciting and strange,” Martin said in an email. “It’s something the city has never seen before.

Once open, the fantasy house will allow visitors to touch hundreds of digital connections imbedded in everything from walls and doors to furniture and personal items. Sensors will trigger a range of visiual and audio experiences, providing in many cases elaborate, visual transport to wild places.

(8) I doubt this has changed for all values of “we”….

(9) Everybody needs a hobby. Emily Stoneking’s is making “Cruelty-Free Knit Anatomy Specimens”.

Will R. adds, “The alien autopsy is pretty good.”

Uh, yeah….

(10) Larry Correia responded to a comment on his “Fisking the New York Times’ Modern Man” post —

Well, since I get far more traffic than File 770, somebody must care.

Really? Let’s see what Alexa has to say about that.

  • Global Rank – 140,439

  • Global Rank – 175,887

But in the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you who is way out in front of this race —

  • Global Rank – 78,211

(11) Adam-Troy Castro’s review of Upside Down concludes —

A pretty dumb story partially redeemed by some downright amazing visuals, it’s actually the second best movie where Kirsten Dunst kisses a guy upside down…

(12) Dave Freer starts the week by sharing his opinions about “Cultural appropriation and Political Correctness in writing” at Mad Genius Club.

Enter the newest shibboleth of Arts world (along with 23 sexes) intended to divide and exclude.

Cultural appropriation.

I’m a wicked man because I talked about Yogurt (Turkic) and Matryoshka dolls (Russian) and shibboleth (Hebrew). These words, and a meaning of them have all become quite normal in English, understood, accepted… and maybe not quite what they meant (or still mean) in their root-culture.

But the culture of the permanently offended (the one I adopt nothing from, because yes, I consider it inferior, and overdue for the scrapheap of history.) has discovered it as a new and valuable thing to… you guessed it!… Be offended by. Demand reparations for the terrible damage done. Exclusivity even. Heaven help you if you’re not gay, and write about something that could be considered gay culture, or Aboriginal, or Inuit or quite possibly of sex number 23 (is that the one where you identify as coffee table?). Contrariwise, you are to be utterly condemned, pilloried, attacked, decried as a sexist, racist, homophobic misogynist if you don’t include all the possible groups (including number 23) in your books, in the prescribed stereotype roles.

(13) Do not be confused by the last post – the following movie is not a documentary. “’No Men Beyond This Point’ Sci-Fi Comedy Lands At Samuel Goldwyn”.

Samuel Goldwyn Films has acquired worldwide rights (excluding Canada) to writer-director Mark Sawers’ sci-fi comedy satire No Men Beyond This Point, which just had its North American premiere in the Vanguard section at the Toronto Film Festival. The pic is set in a world where women no longer need men in order to reproduce and are no longer giving birth to male babies, leaving the male population on the verge of extinction. A 2016 release is in the works.

(14) Today’s Birthday Boy –

1952 – Clive Barker

(15) Apex Magazine publisher Jason Sizemore has announced a significant change to the magazine’s publication model. Subscribers will continue to get the new eBook edition delivered via email or to their Kindle account on the first Tuesday of each month. While Apex Magazine’s content will still be available as a free read, instead of posting the entire issue’s contents on that first Tuesday, they will be released over the course of the month.

Example: On the first Tuesday of the month, the entire issue becomes available to our subscribers (and to those who pay $2.99 for our nicely formatted eBook edition through Apex or our other vendors). That day, we will only post one of that issue’s short stories. One Wednesday, we will publish one poem, and on Thursday we will publish a nonfiction piece. A week later on the following Tuesday, we will repeat the cycle.

We at Apex Magazine feel like this is an ideal situation for our readers and our administrators. It rewards subscribers further with early access to content. It also allows us to focus on each contributing author singularly each week on the website. Readers win, authors win, subscribers win, and Apex Magazine wins!

(16) Councilmember Mike Bonin represents the 11th District in the city of Los Angeles. And the councilman says he has “the best collection of Justice Society of America action figures in all of Los Angeles.”

[Thanks to Steven H Silver, Will R., James H. Burns, JJ, Tom Galloway, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]