Follow the Bouncing Case

Plaintiff Jon Del Arroz agreed to pay the costs when both parties asked the court to transfer his lawsuit against Worldcon 76 (“Jonathan Del Arroz vs San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. (‘SFSFC’) aka ‘Worldcon76’ David W. Gallaher (2019), President et al.”) from San Joaquin County to Santa Clara County.

But on July 20 the clerk of the Santa Clara County Superior Court declined the transfer. Why? Because the $50 transfer fee and first appearance fee (probably $435) hadn’t been paid.

So what happened?

JDA says, “That’s all attorney stuff, I’m busy making books.”

The notice came to light during a periodic check of the San Joaquin court’s online records of the suit.

PDF copies of the motions filed in June are now available.

The Stipulation to Transfer Venue signed by JDA’s attorney on June 26 also features the admission that of the 18 defendants, only one, Worldcon 76’s parent corporation SFSFC, has been served with the summons and complaint as required by law.

Del Arroz’ “Make Worldcon Great Again” GoFundMe raised $3,043 to pay for this suit. Now that it’s public record that he hasn’t timely served nearly all of the defendants, therefore the court will have no jurisdiction over them, will his fans feel they got their money’s worth?

Pixel Scroll 7/31/18 There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvish

(1) BOOKS PEOPLE BOUNCED OFF. On Bustle.com, Charlotte Ahlin takes a look at “The 15 Most Frequently Unfinished Reads, According To Goodreads’ ‘Popular Abandoned Books’ Shelf” and encourages at least a subset of people to try again. The list includes many genre works, but genre or not, Ahlin gives you a paragraph about each laying out why you might (or might not) enjoy the book more than you thought.

We’ve all left a book unfinished in our time. And honestly, I get it. Forcing yourself to slog through a book you don’t like is a pretty pointless endeavor. Reading should be fun, not a joyless exercise in seeming smart/trendy/interesting. But if you have it in your heart, some of these oft-abandoned books are actually worth giving a second (or third) chance:

1             The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling
2             Catch-22, Joseph Heller
3             A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin
4             American Gods, Neil Gaiman
5             The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
6             Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James
7             Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
8             The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
9             Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
10          Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
11          Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
12          Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Gregory Maguire
13          One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
14          Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
15          The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson

(2) LEADERS WHO READ SFF. POLITICO reports that two European Commissioners are science fiction fans. Valdis Dombrovskis (Latvia) is reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman, while Pierre Moscovici (France) recommends George Orwell’s 1984, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven“POLITICO Brussels Playbook: Death by a thousand cuts — What presidents are reading — Go full Orbán”.

(3) PUTTING A GOOD FACE ON IT. When Bill Oberst Jr. does his Bradbury show in 2019, this is the creator who will make the illusion convincing: “Jeff Farley Recreates Ray Bradbury for Touring Stage Portrayal of Sci-Fi Author”Broadway World has the story.

Jeff Farley‘s love letter to Ray Bradbury will soon be on Bill Oberst Jr.‘s face. Special effects makeup artist and Primetime Emmy Award Nominee Farley has just completed the sculpt for Oberst’s prosthetic transformation into Bradbury in the authorized stage portrayal of the beloved author, Ray Bradbury Live (forever.)

“This project is the culmination of four decades of professional experience, and the most exciting of my career,” Farley said. “I am proud to help my friend bring his vision to life. Bill says I’m his Dick Smith and he’s my Hal Holbrook. We laugh, but that really is the level of illusion we’re aiming for.” Smith’s prosthetics for Holbrook’s Mark Twain Tonight broke new SFX ground in 1967. For his part, Oberst says he’s “ecstatic” about what Farley (whose resume stretches from BABYLON 5, WOLF and Demolition Man to Quarry, Pod and Imitation Girl) is creating. “Jeff is a bit of a recluse and he’s very selective,” said Oberst “so I’m over the moon to have him crafting this illusion.”

(4) SF BOOK QUIZ. The Sporcle challenge: “Can you name the 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime, according to Amazon?” You’ve got 16 minutes. And it’s not enough to know a good book by the authors – you have to get the ones that made the list. Filers have been playing all day since Giant Panda dropped the link in comments.

(5) ONCE MORE INTO THE LIFEBOAT DEAR FRIENDS. Slightly better than cancelled, not nearly as good as rescued or renewed — “NBC Sets ‘Timeless’ Two-Part Series Finale” reports Variety.

NBC will bring back “Timeless” for a special two-part series finale, the network confirmed Tuesday.

“We’re excited to tell one final chapter to this incredible story,” said Lisa Katz, co-president, scripted programming, NBC Entertainment. “A huge thank you to all — our cast, crew, producers and partners at Sony – who have worked so very hard, and to the fans who kept us on our toes and made sure we did our very best week after week.”

In June, NBC canceled the time travel drama from Sony Pictures Television and executive producers Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke after two seasons. It was the second cancellation for “Timeless.” NBC had canceled the series after its first season, only to bring it back a few days later after Sony agreed to hand over a 50% stake in the show to NBC’s sister studio Universal Television.

(6) CURE FOR THE SUMMERTIME BLUES. Or at least a treatment for the symptoms. Jason, at Featured Futures, has condensed the month’s offerings down to a short list of cool stories in “Summation: July 2018”.

Here are the fifteen noted stories (four recommended) from the 92 stories of 503 Kwds I read from the July issues along with links to all their reviews and the other July posts on Featured Futures. This month’s wombat was a remarkable number of mostly print SF honorable mentions while all the few other items (except an excellent F&SF dark fantasy) came from the web.

(7) 2019 WORLDCON PROGRAM. Dublin 2019 has a form online where people can “Request to be a Programme Participant”. There’s more than one good reason to fill it out.

Kevin Standlee pointed out on Facebook a few days ago:

European data protection rules severely restrict the amount of information that entities can share with others, even those that hosted the previous event. You should assume that the 2019 Worldcon is starting with zero information about program participants, even if you were on program in Helsinki in 2017 or will be on program in San Jose in 2018. Contact Dublin if you’re interested in being on programming, and don’t assume that “of course they’ll just start with last year’s list” or “with the last European Worldcon’s list,” because legally, they can’t do that.

(8) LOOK OUT BELOW! What happens to the International Space Station when it can’t be maintained in orbit any more? It crashes, just like every other piece of hardware in low Earth orbit. Popular Mechanics takes a look at the status of plans to do this safely (hint: the plans are not nearly as well-developed as they should be; “Death Star: The ISS Doesn’t Have a Way to Crash Safely”).

As the debate over what to do with the International Space Station heats up, with a new NASA report casting doubt over the plans to commercialize it by 2025, the ultimate outcome could be its intentional crash landing into the Earth. But even that contingency is lacking, according to NASA Inspector General.

“At some future date NASA will need to decommission and deorbit the ISS either in response to an emergency or at the end of its useful life,” the report says. “However, the Agency currently does not have the capability to ensure the ISS will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and land in a targeted location in the South Pacific Ocean.”
NASA, to its credit, has started the work. However, even the most preliminary steps are snarled up in diplomacy with the Russian space agency. The Inspector General says that in January 2017, NASA completed a draft plan but “this plan has not been finalized and is pending review by Roscosmos.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born July 31 – France Nuyen, 79. In the original Outer Limits, Star Trek and Fantasy Island series, also Battle for the Planet of the Apes and The Six Million Dollar Man series.
  • Born July 31 – Geraldine Chaplin, 74. Dinotopia and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Gulliver’s Travels and a vampire series called  BloodRayne.
  • Born July 31 – Michael Biehn, 62. Best known in films directed by James Cameron; as Sgt. Kyle Reese in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in Aliens and Lt. Coffey in The Abyss; also in Logan’s Run, Timebomb, AsteroidClockstoppers and The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power. 
  • Born July 31 – Wesley Snipes, 56. Genre roles include Demolition Man, the original Blade films, as an alien abducting humans in The Recall film, and a Mayan God in The Chronicles of the Mayan Tunnel.
  • Born July 31 – J. K. Rowling, 53. Harry Potter books and films, some other decidedly not genre work
  • Born July 31 – Annie Parisse, 43. Regular cast on the Person Of Interest series, also The First, a Mars mission series and NYPD 2069.
  • Born July 31 – Zelda Williams, 29. Daughter of Robin Williams, she’s been in genre work such as the Dark/Web series, plus voice work in the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Legend of Korra, also roles in Stitchers and Teen Wolf.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) TOLKIEN AND LUCAS ON A DIET. Actor Topher Grace has taken to the editing suite and has taken a scalpel (or dwarven ax?) to the Hobbit trilogy—trimming the whole thing to a svelte two hours (IndieWire: “Topher Grace Recut ‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy as a 2-Hour Movie to Clear His Head After Playing David Duke”). Grace speaks of his reaction to playing David Duke in the upcoming BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee) and having his wife give birth during the production of that movie:

“I was so depressed.[…]  I was probably a terrible husband at the time. It was so disturbing to go home and turn on the news to see how his ideology was affecting us at the moment.”

Some people might have sought catharsis in a long vacation. Grace found a more unconventional outlet: Reediting Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” trilogy into a single movie.

Grace had previously recut the three prequel Star Wars movies into a combined 85-minute version he called Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back that was “for industry insiders before it disappeared from the internet” (SYFY Wire: “The Hobbit trilogy gets a new two-hour cut thanks to actor Topher Grace”). The IndieWire story continues:

While hardly the first fan edit of “The Hobbit,” Grace’s version may be one of the most palatable. One widely circulated fan edit in 2015, “The Tolkien Edit,” ran four hours long. Grace said he managed to reduce the entire trilogy to two hours, and felt that it was “a lot tighter.” (A Reddit forum actually predicted that Grace would tackle this project years ago.) “I don’t know what other guys do. Go fishing? For me, this is just a great way to relax,” the actor said. “There’s something really zen about it.”

(12) OUT OF JOINT. An expert in the time travel industry has found his next job: “Steven Moffat Developing The Time Traveler’s Wife Television Series for HBO”Tor.com has the story.

HBO has won the bidding war for a TV adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, from former Doctor Who showrunner and Sherlock creator Steven Moffat. Other outlets, including Amazon Studios, were in the running to acquire the series about Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire’s nonlinear love story, according to Deadline.

The official logline from HBO is slightly tongue-in-cheek for a novel about Henry, a time traveler and librarian whose Chrono-Displacement Disorder drops him in and out of time, and artist Clare, who first meets Henry as a child and who spends the rest of her life encountering him at different ages as she progresses through time linearly…

“I read Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife many years ago, and I fell in love with it,” Moffat said in the official announcement. “In fact, I wrote a Doctor Who episode called ‘The Girl In The Fireplace’ as a direct response to it. When, in her next novel, Audrey had a character watching that very episode, I realised she was probably on to me. All these years later, the chance to adapt the novel itself, is a dream come true. The brave new world of long form television is now ready for this kind of depth and complexity. It’s a story of happy ever after?—?but not necessarily in that order.”

(13) OUTREACH. It’s not up to Gil Hamilton’s standard, but SingularityHub (“This Mind-Controlled Robotic Limb Lets You Multitask With Three Arms”) reports on a new brain-machine interface (BMI) that “only requires an electrode cap” and can control a third arm while you still use your biological two. The original paper (“BMI control of a third arm for multitasking”) is available at Science Robotics (a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science) for AAAS members or those willing to pony up to get past their paywall. Meanwhile, at SingularityHub:

To crack the problem, [Shuichi] Nichio and colleague Christian Penaloza recruited 15 volunteers and outfitted them with a prosthetic arm and a brain-wave-reading cap.

…The participants were asked to sit in a chair mounted with a robotic arm, strategically placed in a location that makes them feel like it’s part of their body. To start off, each participant was asked to balance a ball on a board using their own arms while wearing an electrode cap, which picks up the electrical activity from the brain.
Next, the volunteers turned their attention to the robotic arm. Sitting in the same chair, they practiced imagining picking up a bottle using the prosthesis while having their brain activity patterns recorded. A nearby computer learned to decipher this intent, and instructed the robotic arm to act accordingly.

Then came the fun part: the volunteers were asked to perform both actions simultaneously: balancing the ball with natural arms, and grasping the bottle with the robotic one. Eight out of the 15 participants successfully performed both actions; overall, the group managed cyborg multitasking roughly three quarters of the time.

(14) TIME AFTER TIME. Time for The Traveler at Galactic Journey to give John W. Campbell Jr. his monthly rap on the knuckles: “[July 30, 1963] Inoffensive Pact (August 1963 Analog)”.

At last we come to what you all will probably (as I did) turn to first: the conclusion to the second novel in the Deathworld series.  When last we left Jason dinAlt, interstellar gambler and lately resident of the dangerous world of Pyrrus, he had been enslaved by the D’sertanoj of a nearby primitive planet.  These desert-dwellers know how to mine petroleum, which they trade to the people of the country, Appsala, in exchange for caroj — steam powered battle wagons.  When dinAlt reveals that he can produce caroj himself, he is promoted to “employee” status and given run of the place.  He eventually escapes with his native companion, Ijale, as well as the obnoxiously moralistic Micah, who kidnapped dinAlt in the first place.  Adventures ensue.

The original Deathworld was a minor masterpiece, a parable about letting go of destructive hatred, suffused with a message on the importance of environmentalism.  It was also a cracking good read.  This new piece is just a yarn, one almost as clunky as the caroj dinAlt works on.  The theme is that universal morality is anything but, and ethics must be tailored to the society for which they are developed.

(15) SOLAR PROBE. NPR studies how NASA’s probe will keep from being burnt to a crisp: “Building A Probe That Will Survive A Trip To The Sun” — lightweight video with little discussion of the topic, but cool pictures of the probe being fitted out.

This summer, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will embark on a mission to “touch the sun.”

“Touch” might be a bit of an overstatement — the probe will actually pass 3.8 million miles from the sun’s surface. Its primary job is to learn more about the outer atmosphere of the sun, called the corona. Many things about the corona remain a mystery. For example, scientists still aren’t sure why the corona of the sun is hotter than its surface. The probe will take a series of images and measurements to figure out how energy and heat move through the corona.

 

(16) CASE OF THE UNKNOWN CON. Trae Dorn at Nerd and Tie found the explanation is simple — “The Reason You Didn’t Hear About SBC Anime Festival Is Because Apparently No One Did”.

It’s been a week and a half since AVC Coventions‘s Bossier City, LA based SBC Anime Festival closed its doors for 2018, and you’d be forgiven for not even knowing it happened. The reason for this is that apparently no one knew it was.

Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but very few knew about it at least.

Needless to say, vendors and artists present weren’t exactly happy about spending their weekend in an empty hall. One of those vendors was artist K.F. Golden, who decided to detail their experience on Tumblr.

You should read the post in its entirety, but the gist of it is that very few people attended the convention. K.F. Golden took some pictures of the empty dealer hall, and it seems like no one knew the con was happening.

…The point is that when your event doesn’t do well, you still need to be able to talk to a vendor politely. This is basic customer service, and do not mistake me — when you are running a convention, vendors and artist are customers. If what K.F. Golden alleges is true, I would be hesitant to vend at any of AVC Conventions‘s other events.

(17) MY GENERATION. Phoebe Wagner delivers “Musings on The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang” at Nerds of a Feather.

While I love fantasy novels like The Poppy War, Kuang’s story has taken a special slot on my shelf because, as a millennial, I connected to the novel on a generational level. No, Kuang did not include avocado toast. From the voice to history to worldbuilding, the novel captured how I so often feel as a millennial. While the USA school testing systems are vastly different than Chinese systems, I remember the pressure of the SATs and GREs–and the relief at performing well. Like Rin, millennials grew up in the shadow of a terrorist attack and hearing the propaganda surrounding a war. Due to income inequality, those millennials that made it into “the good schools” found a cultural gap caused by wealth. Like Kuang’s worldbuilding around opium and other hallucinogens, so many millennials have watched their hometowns and families destroyed by opioids while simultaneously voting for the legalization of marijuana. These issues have marked the millennial generation, and Kuang captures them on the page.

(18) LET ROVER COME OVER. Here’s a curiosity: You can build your own open-source rover using JPL’s design.

(19) DISNEYLAND ICONS FOR SALE. Rachael Leone Shawfelt, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “Rare Trove of Disneyland memorabilia Going Up For Auction–Here’s Your Sneak Peek” says RIchard Kraft is putting his collection of Disneyland memorabilia up for auction, including original rides from Dumbo the Flying Elephant  and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride as well as  a Swiss Family Treehouse organ.

Kraft’s treasures will be on display for the public in a free exhibition called “That’s From Disneyland!,” from Aug. 1 to Aug. 26, in Sherman Oaks, Calif. The items are arranged according to their former location in the park; for example, a piece of the Dumbo ride is close to rare Snow White dolls. Original maps of the park hang on the wall above a miniature re-creation of the park.

(20) MANIFEST. Trailer for the new series —

An airplane disappeared, and its passengers were presumed dead until they returned, unscathed, five years later. Manifest is coming to NBC on Mondays this fall.

 

[Thanks to Giant Panda, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Iphinome, Nicholas Whyte, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

2018 Sunburst Award Shortlists

Sunburst medallion.

The 2018 shortlists for the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic were posted July 30.

The Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic is an annual award celebrating the best in Canadian fantastika published during the previous calendar year. Winners receive a medallion that incorporates the Sunburst logo. Winners of both the Adult and Young Adult Sunburst Award also receive a cash prize of $1,000, while winners of the Short Story Sunburst Award receive a cash prize of $500.

Sunburst Award winners will be announced in Fall 2018.

The Sunburst Award takes its name from the debut novel of the late Phyllis Gotlieb, one of the first published authors of contemporary Canadian speculative fiction.

Adult

  • Omar El Akkad, American War [Penguin Random House]

Set in a dystopic future as a second American Civil War rages, Omar El Akkad’s timely and disturbing novel bring to life a complex anti-heroine, Sarat Chestnut, and shines a light on the origins of terrorism, the catastrophic consequences of peak oil, the ravages of climate change, the plight of refugees, and the politics scarcity and resentment. American War’s masterful prose presents a powerful future mirror to the world we live in today.

  • David Demchuk, The Bone Mother [Chizine Publications]

In the hypnotic cadences of fairy-tales, like secret stories passed as wisdom down the family line, David Demchuk’s The Bone Mother whispers and warns of the dark extraordinary in all of us. This book dazzles, capturing the readers imagination, transcending easy labels to appeal to any one who loves literature.

  • Fonda Lee, Jade City [Orbit]

The characters in Jade City live and breathe, in a world that feels as real as our own. In that world, though, wearing jade gives some people powers, and those powers come at great cost. Every detail, from the décor to the dialogue, is chosen with care, without slowing down the novel’s pace. This book is a tour de force, and Fonda Lee has shown herself to be a master of her craft.

  • Eden Robinson, Son of a Trickster [Penguin Random House]

Whether he likes it or not, the supernatural world of spirits and witches is coming for sixteen-year-old Jared in Eden Robinson’s Son of a Trickster. Considering the life he’s had so far, a little magic might be what he needs to find his way through the chaos of his family, friends, and neighbors. At turns heart-wrenching and humor-filled, this contemporary fantasy brings its characters to vivid life in a story nearly impossible to put down.

  • Terri Favro, Sputnik’s Children [ECW]

In Sputnik’s Children, Terri Favro gives us the remarkable comic book creator Debbie, an unreliable narrator who decides to finally tell the story of her most famous character, Sputnik Chick: The Girl with No Past. Deftly mixing elements of CanLit, alternate history, weird fiction, and cold-war paranoia, Favro has created a memorable book full of adventure and feeling.

Young Adult

  • Wendy Orr, Dragonfly Song [Pajama Press]

Wendy Orr’s Dragonfly Song follows Aissa, or No Name, in her heroic journey to find her place in a cruel world. Abandoned as a child and raised as a slave and outcast following the death of her adoptive family, Aissa relies on her courage, determination, and wit to become a bull dancer for the great Bull King. Set in the Bronze Age, Dragonfly Song brings mythology to life through a mix of gorgeous prose and poetry.

  • Fonda Lee, Exo [Scholastic]

Generations after Earth has been taken over by an alien race, a teen boy finds himself at the center of the struggle between peace and freedom. Fonda Lee’s Exo deftly examines timely issues of colonialism, complicity, violent resistance, and personal responsibility in an intense, fast-paced work of science fiction that’s as gripping as it is thought-provoking.

  • Cherie Dimaline, The Marrow Thieves [Dancing Cat Books]

Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves brilliantly connects the legacy of residential schools to a dystopian future where only Indigenous people are able to dream. Written in exquisite prose, this stunning young adult novel is painful yet beautiful, bleak but ultimately hopeful. In this era of reconciliation, The Marrow Thieves is a speculative fiction that resonates and stays with the reader long past the last page.

  • Charis Cotter, The Painting [Penguin Random House]

The Painting has the feel of a classic novel for young readers, in which two girls are drawn together through a portal they can’t explain, and in which the atmosphere of the coast of Newfoundland weaves its own kind of magic. It is, though, a thoroughly modern novel, one that pulls the reader in to its mystery through the alternating perspectives of the two girls. Charis Cotter’s storytelling is brisk, confident and compassionate.

  • Kari Maaren, Weave a Circle Round [Tor/Forge]

Pure fun from start to finish, Kari Maaren’s Weave a Circle Round has characters you want to time travel with forever. In addition to exploring friendship and family, the book is about embracing our own peculiar personal powers and making the story we are caught up in our own.

Short Story Fiction

  • Sandra Kasturi, “The Beautiful Gears of Dying” [The Sum of Us, Laksa Media]
  • Rich Larson, “Spiked” [Abyss & Apex, June 2017]
  • Karin Lowachee, “Meridian” [Where the Stars Rise, Laksa Media]
  • Rati Mehrotra, “Hacker’s Faire” [Cast of Wonders #239, March 2017]
  • Kate Story, “Animate” [Cli Fi: Canadian Tales of Climate Change, Exile]

The Jury: The jurors for the 2018 Sunburst awards are:

  • Novel Jury: Megan Crewe, Kate Heartfield, Dominik Parisien, Halli Villegas, and Heather Wood.
  • Short Story Jury: Candas Jane Dorsey, Emily Pohl-Weary, and Alexandra Renwick

2018 Inkpot Awards

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Wow! This just happened! #inkpotaward

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Many creators were honored at Comic-Con International 2018 with Inkpot Awards for their contributions to the worlds of comics, science fiction/fantasy, film, television, animation, and fandom services.

The convention has not yet updated its list of winners, but all of the following artists, writers, and media figures were reported by social media as 2018 award recipients.

  • Rafael Albuquerque
  • Yoshitaka Amano
  • Marc Bernardin
  • Cory Doctorow
  • Brian Fies
  • Richard Friend
  • Elizabeth Hand
  • Deborah Harkness
  • R.C. Harvey
  • Nalo Hopkinson
  • Larry Houston
  • Jason Lutes
  • David Mack
  • Nichelle Nichols
  • Anne Nocenti
  • Liniers
  • Brian Pulido
  • Randy Reynaldo
  • Eric Reynolds
  • Kevin Smith
  • Peter Tomasi
  • Shannon Wheeler

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This morning was, perhaps, the best morning I’ve ever had at ##SDCC. I was scheduled for a Spotlight on Me panel, which I’d asked my friend @evnarc to moderate. I thought it was just gonna be he and I and 14 people talking about comics. When i got there, 100 or so people were already in their seats. Then SDCC’s Gary Sassaman introduced me, and then announced that I was a recipient of an Inkpot Award, for my contributions to the Comic Arts and a journalist and a creator. Already speechless as fuck, @evnarc launches into his own introduction, tracing our history as friends and colleagues, which left us both in tears. (My twitter feed has the text of his intro, in case you want to cry, too.) This morning broke me, then rebuilt me, and I can’t thank everyone enough.

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Film Music Review Celebrates Its Twentieth Anniversary

By Steve Vertlieb: Editor and composer Roger Hall is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of his acclaimed Film Music Review website with this special tribute to the glorious art of Music For The Movies. Roger has compiled a list of twenty favorite film scores of the past two decades, and has asked film music critic Steven Kennedy to do the same.

As the third component in this loving trilogy of film score adoration, I have put together a collection of my own twenty all-time favorite film scores, together with commentary on their historical value, as well as the reasons for my personal affection for each of them. Roger’s work as a music preservationist and composer is both admired and respected across the waves, and so it is both an honor and a privilege to share in this anniversary tribute to the screen music and composers who have so gloriously elevated our souls, and to a respected web home celebrating its twentieth year.

Pixel Scroll 7/30/18 There Have Been Rumors About This Strange Scroll, Frightening Rumors About Hapennings Way Beyond The Laws of Nature

(1) FREE ELIZABETH BEAR BOOK. Joey Eschrich, Editor and Program Manager, Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University wants Filers to know they recently published We Have Always Died in the Castle, a free ebook featuring a near-future story about virtual reality by Elizabeth Bear. It also features a couple of stunning original illustrations by Melissa Gay.

Virtual reality technology is no longer confined to computer-science labs and high-tech theme parks. Today, head-mounted goggles, sensors, and haptic control systems are tools for immersive journalism, professional development, and clinical therapy. In this novella, award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Elizabeth Bear and artist Melissa Gay imagine a near future informed by visceral VR simulations to catalyze positive change.

We Have Always Died in the Castle is the first story in the Crowd Futures project from Arizona State University. An experiment in collaborative storytelling, Crowd Futures brings authors and illustrators into dialogue with members of an intellectually curious public to participate in the creative process by proposing scenarios, sharing ideas, weighing options, and navigating the uncertainties of our looming scientific and technological discoveries.

(2) ON THE RADIO. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie tells Filers when to tune in to BBC Radio 4.

Cowie says, “A slight shame this was not broadcast a couple of weekends ago as that would have been compensation for those of us who did not go to the Eurocon in Amiens, the home of Jules Verne”

  • Radio 4 Extra (a separate BBC radio channel supplementing Radio 4) will shortly see a programme on the comic Eagle [Wikipedia]. (But I don’t think they – BBC – have a web page for this prog yet). This was a mainstay for kids aged 8 to 12 in the 1960s wit a few SF related strips.  The most famous of which was Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future [Wikipedia].
  • The channel will also broadcast a related programme, a drama adaptation of the Dan Dare adventure Voyage to Venus (there is a page for it).

(3) ATTENTION ALL FILERS WHO HAVE $100K THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH. A rare Magic: The Gathering card (“Black Lotus from the original [Alpha] release”) has sold on eBay for $87,672 — not counting shipping of $125  There were “exactly 1,100 copies printed of every ‘rare’ card in the Alpha set” (Kotaku.com: “Rare Alpha Black Lotus Sells For $87,000”) and ghis one was graded as a 9.5/10. At this writing, another copy (graded 9/10) is listed on eBay for $100,000.

(4) ORDER A NORSE COURSE. Francesca Strait, in “Channel Your Inner Thor At This Viking Restaurant in Australia” on CNN.com, says that if you’re in Sydney or Melbourne, you can have a Viking feast at Mjølner restaurant, named after Thor’s hammer.

It might be thousands of miles from Scandinavia, but this Viking-themed restaurant offers a contemporary interpretation of Norse traditions Down Under.

Mjølner restaurant first originated in Sydney and there’s a recently opened outpost in Melbourne, named after Thor’s famous hammer.

Of course, Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, is a proud Aussie and featured in a recent Crocodile Dundee-themed tourism ad for Australia, so it’s only fitting the feasting halls of Asgard are being recreated in Oz.

(5) SEMI-FORGOTTEN HARD SCIENCE. James Davis Nicoll remembers when “When Ramjets Ruled Science Fiction”.

The classic Bussard ramjet novel is, of course, Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero. What was for other authors a convenient prop was one of the centerpieces of Anderson’s novel. The Leonora Christina sets out for Beta Virginis, a nearby star. A mid-trip mishap robs the ship of its ability to slow down. Repairs are impossible unless they shut down the ramjet, but if the crew did that, they would instantly be exposed to lethal radiation. There’s no choice but to keep accelerating and hope that the ship will eventually encounter a region in the intergalactic depths with a sufficiently hard vacuum so that the ramjet could be safely shut down. Even if they did find such a region, the crew is still committed to a journey of many millions of light years, one that will forever distance them from their own time.

Even before Tau Zero, Bussard ramjets were everywhere. Larry Niven’s A Gift From Earth feature an egregiously hierarchical society that is toppled thanks to a package delivered by robotic ramship. Jo Walton’s review of that novel is here.

(James Davis Nicoll also proudly notes, “I got name-checked in the Guardian” — “The English language reigns now, but look at the fate of Latin”.

The point is made graphically by a famous description attributed to James Nicoll: “We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary”.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 30 – Arnold Schwarzenegger, 71. Terminator franchise of courses as well as Running ManConan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer, Tales from the Crypt and True Lies. Apparently in sort of announced Conan and Terminator reboots.
  • Born July 30 – Christopher Nolan, 48. Writer, producer and often director as well of the Batman film franchise, The Prestige, Interstellar, Inception and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to name some of his work.

(7) HINTING UNDINTING. An utterly brilliant challenge on Reddit: In limerick form (AABBA), and without saying its name, what is your favorite movie?

There once was a man with a dream:
“Put a dream in a dream!” He would scream.
There’s a top at the end,
And we all pretend
That we definitely know what it means.

Two rockers were failing a class,
so they telephoned back to the past.
They escaped awful fates
with some help from Socrates,
and the speech by Abe Lincoln kicked ass.

(One commenter says the choice to rhyme fates and Socrates was excellent.)

It’s a tale that’s a bit unbelievable:
A princess is now irretrievable.
When a man all in black
Catches up from the back
The kidnapper says, “Inconceivable!”

(8) ARTIFICIAL STUPIDITY? “IBM’s Watson supercomputer recommended ‘unsafe and incorrect’ cancer treatments, internal documents show”STAT News has the story – behind a paywall, unfortunately.

Internal IBM documents show that its Watson supercomputer often spit out erroneous cancer treatment advice and that company medical specialists and customers identified “multiple examples of unsafe and incorrect treatment recommendations” as IBM was promoting the product to hospitals and physicians around the world.

The documents — slide decks presented last summer by IBM Watson Health’s deputy chief health officer — largely blame the problems on the training of Watson by IBM engineers and doctors at the renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 30, 1958War Of The Colossal Beast enjoyed its New York theatrical premiere

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Monty illustrates one of the downsides of a writer using a coffee shop as free office space.
  • Non Sequitur explains when to accept defeat.
  • Would you admit your worst fear? — Candorville.

(11) ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK.

(12) POLITICAL DISCOURSE. One small step for man, one giant bleep for mankind. From the Washington Post — “Perspective What is Bigfoot erotica? A Virginia congressional candidate accused her opponent of being into it.”

Our weird political era just got a little hairier. For the first time, millions of Americans are asking, “What is Bigfoot erotica?”

That question has been inspired by Leslie Cockburn, a Democrat who’s running for Congress in Virginia’s 5th District. On Twitter this Sunday, Cockburn accused her Republican opponent, Denver Riggleman, of being a “devotee of Bigfoot erotica.” Her tweet included a crudely drawn image of Bigfoot — with the monster’s genitalia obscured — taken from Riggleman’s Instagram account. She added, “This is not what we need on Capitol Hill.”

…Chuck Tingle, the pseudonym of an author of comically absurd erotica, is perhaps the most well-known creator of monster porn, including about 10 books featuring encounters with Sasquatch. Reached via email, Tingle said he understands why Bigfoot monsters are so attractive as romantic heroes: “They are natural outdoorsmen .?.?. which I think is nice, and, even though it seems like they could have a bad-boy way, they are actually very kind.” He imagines his readers think, “Wow, he could protect me in a big fight, and he could also take me on a walk in nature and show me which are the best plants to kiss or to eat in a stew.”

“Such stories, he said, “prove love is real for all.”

Whether the voters of Virginia’s 5th District will agree is not clear

(13) A FUTURE TO AVOID. Ian Allen’s opinion piece “Inside the World of Racist Science Fiction” in the New York Times says “To understand why white supremacists back the president, we have to understand the books that define their worldview.” Andrew Porter sent the link with a note, “The article has a horrible title, bound to sow confusion. Absolutely nothing at all to do with professionally published science fiction, or SF fandom.” Just the same, I’m surprised I  never heard of any of these authors before.

Two years later — after Richard Spencer, after Charlottesville — the public has heard a lot about white supremacist culture. But I’d argue that we haven’t quite heard enough. To understand their ideologies and why they support this president so strongly, we need to examine their literature…..

Most of the books are self-published. Others are distributed by small, activist imprints or the publishing arms of white nationalist organizations. They are sold online, at gun shows or person to person. This scattershot distribution system makes it hard to track sales, but the more popular titles are estimated to have sold hundreds of thousands of copies. I acquired some out-of-print titles from rare book dealers.
They are dog-eared, annotated and often inscribed.

… White supremacists seem convinced that the novels’ “white genocide” is coming to life, and are petitioning Mr. Trump for help. This past spring, Andrew Anglin, the deeply sinister and darkly clever force behind Daily Stormer, the most Millennial-y neo-Nazi site on the web, started to spread the news of a “migrant caravan” that was moving through Central America, toward the United States-Mexico border. It was a protest march, organized by the Central American pro-immigration activist group Pueblo Sin Fronteras. The march has taken place every year since 2010 without ever getting much traction in the press.

But Mr. Anglin saw an opportunity in the implication of a literal enactment of [Jean Raspail’s 1973 novel] “The Camp of the Saints.” He rallied his troll army to petition Mr. Trump to use the word “caravans” publicly, and on April 1, he did. In fact, he and Vice President Mike Pence used the word multiple times, then issued an order to send the National Guard to the border. The story dominated the news cycle for days, and Mr. Anglin took a well-deserved victory lap, bragging that “the media was not talking about this, only the alt-right was, and Trump is posting about it — so he does hear us.”

…It is unlikely that Mr. Trump has read any of these books. But members of his staff undoubtedly have. His former aide Steve Bannon is a fan of “The Camp of the Saints” and refers to it often — in knowing, offhand ways that betray both his familiarity with racist literature and his awareness of his target audience’s reading habits. Another administration official, Julie Kirchner, was named ombudsman at the Customs and Border Protection after spending 10 years as the executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. That organization, which Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group, was founded by John Tanton, who runs The Social Contract Press, which is the current publisher of “The Camp of the Saints.”

The point is not that there is a direct line between, say, “The Turner Diaries” and the Oval Office. Rather, it’s that the tropes that define the Trump administration’s rhetoric and policies — apocalyptic xenophobia, anti-Semitic conspiracies, racist fear-mongering — are also the tropes that define white-supremacist literature.

(14) EMISSION QUITE POSSIBLE. James Corden looks like he might lose it before they even get him on the plane —

[Thanks to JJ, Rick Moen, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern,Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Joey Eschrich, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Worldcon 76 Gaming

[From a press release.]

The gaming department for WorldCon is pleased to announce that WorldCon 76 will have an open gaming area for convention attendees. The convention has provided a large room for our use, which will be open 24 hours a day. We will be scheduling short games and demonstrations, and have a library and resource area out for anyone who wishes to browse through games or learn something new between panels and events. For games not intended for all ages, there will be a separate room open late for adult players to enjoy.

We are looking for attendees who are interested in volunteering to run or play in demonstration tabletop RPG, board or miniature games during the convention. Most games will be of short duration, suitable for play between other programming events.

We will have a wide variety of RPG, board, miniature and eurogames available. Our intent is to promote diversity in games and players, so you can expect representation from indie creators from all walks of life, as well as mainstream game companies. The gaming staff are ready to help all our guests find something to play, and to provide a fair, fun, and respectful gaming experience at WorldCon.

Our games on tap include (but are not limited to): Dungeon World, Urban Shadows, Blue Rose, Monsterhearts, Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, Lady Blackbird,The Watch, Fate, Star Wars, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Ninja Burger, Chez Geek, Artemis and a variety of card and board games.

If you wish to volunteer, or have any questions or suggestions, our contact email is: shaun@worldcon76.org

[Thanks to Rose Embolism for the story.]

Alasdair Stuart Talks About Escape Artists

By Alasdair Stuart: Hello, I’m Alasdair Stuart and I own Escape Artists. We’ve been active for 14 years, we produce 4 weekly podcasts, have an archive of over 2,000 episodes covering science fiction, fantasy, horror and YA and we don’t charge for a single one of them.

I love my job. And this year, it involves being a part of Hugo history. Escape Pod is our science fiction show and it’s a Best Semiprozine finalist this year. That’s amazing. What’s more amazing is that it’s the first ever audio-first magazine to reach that level. For years, the category was dominated by print magazines. Then it was opened up to digital possibilities and the digital magazines spent a few years making their way into the running. Now you can draw a line with two distinct points on it showing the massive progress not just the field, but the awareness of it outside the legacy print magazines, has made. Print. Print and digital. Now, print, digital and audio in a glorious melange. The entire field this year is amazing and in no small part due to the massive variety in style, format, tone and approach between the finalists. Variety really is the spice of life for this industry and an award like this and remember, whoever controls the spice, controls the universe.

That’s why I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved in 2017, and also where it’s got us.

Take a look at the Escape Pod Hugo Voter Packet. Five episodes, a cross-section of 2017 that covers every editor, every host, reprints and originals as well as an entry from our yearly Artemis Rising project. There’s a sample of every major voice on the show there and it was consciously designed to be that way. We didn’t want to bury voters under hundreds of pages of material so, instead, went for some of our finest hours. Or, more commonly, our finest 35 minutes at a time. We work hard to ensure our stories fit inside a commute so you’ve always got something good to listen to.

Those stories were picked by our heroic slushers, polished and finalized by Norm Sherman (Now doing great work over at the revitalized Drabblecast), S.B. Divya and Mur Lafferty along with Benjamin C. Kinney. Then narrators and hosts, including Mur, Divya, Tina Connolly and myself were assigned, audio producers like Adam Pracht worked their magic and the episode was ready to go.

It takes a village to make a podcast. And that village works 52 weeks of the year to make sure it gets done. And I’ve never been prouder of the people I work with than I am right now. Especially as our fantasy show PodCastle just became the first podcast to be shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award and PseudoPod, our horror show, is a finalist in the BFS’ inaugural Best Audio award.

So if you’re a listener, thank you. If you’re a new listener, welcome aboard. We hope you enjoy the shows and where they’re going. Because after this year, we certainly do.

Cats Sleep on SFF: Derelict

Kit M. Harding’s subject wasn’t that enthusiastic about joining show business —

I finally got the other cat to cooperate! This is Rorschach, who belongs to one of the other roommates, and was not best pleased to find me sticking a book under his head. The book is Derelict, by L. J. Cohen.


Photos of other felines resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com