GalaxyCon, Toner 2 Cancelled

GalaxyCon logoHere’s proof that you have to read fanzines if you want all the news. I learned from Arnie Katz’ latest issue of Claptrap that GalaxyCon, scheduled to be held in Las Vegas this November, has been cancelled — and taken Toner 2 with it.

Toner 2 was to have been Arnie’s con-within-a-con for “those who love to write, draw, publish and post for Fandom.”

The GalaxyCon website holds hope for the future, saying, “We are considering our options and will be working toward the goal of getting our Con rescheduled in 2015.”

Snapshots 141 USS Alchemy

Here are 16 developments of interest to fans.

(1) Maybe the thing to follow steampunk will be phonepunk. People seem to get a kick out of their ancestors’ enthusiasm for ridiculously primitive versions of today’s technology. Consider this NPR article about the 1964 World’s Fair:

1. We had picture phones back then?

Vito Turso was at the fair when he used one of the first picture phones. Back then, he was a boy selling pizza at the fair. He says the picture phone was one of his favorite exhibits.

“To walk into this room and have a conversation through what was like a small television — it was incredible,” Turso said. “The lines to use the picture phone were unending.”

But the picture phone was expensive back then — and it took decades before the technology became affordable. Also, it turns out, people don’t always want to see the person they’re talking with. Even now, in the era of Skype and Facetime, people mostly just want to talk on the phone, without seeing the person on the other end.

Fifty years ago people objected because they’d feel obliged to make themselves presentable before getting in front of the camera. Today they’re unwilling for a different reason: looking at a screen interferes with simultaneous multi-tasking, like driving erratically through traffic….

(2) In “Selections From H.P. Lovecraft’s Brief Tenure as a Whitman’s Sampler Copywriter”, Luke Burns has mated Monty Python with Cthulhu. Which I doubt he learned to do in 4-H.

Peanut Butter Cup

In 1856, a fisherman from a tiny hamlet on the New England coast made a terrible pact with serpentine beasts from beneath the sea, that he might create the most delicious sweet seen upon the Earth since the days of the great Elder Race. Thus was forged the satanic pact between peanut butter and chocolate that resulted in the mutant offspring you see before you!

(3) But talk about your basic eldritch horror. The Gothamist asks “The Reappearance Of The Toynbee Tiles: What Does It Mean?” Another batch of these tiles was recently scattered in New York City intersections. I’m guessing your first question is –

So what the hell are Toynbee Tiles? Glad you asked. The Toynbee Tiles are pieces of linoleum that appear in the asphalt of random intersections in major North American cities, mostly in the northeast, although some have even been spotted as far as South America. They (for the most part) bear a variation on the following message:

TOYNBEE IDEA
IN KUBRICK’S 2001
RESURRECT DEAD
ON PLANET JUPITER

So who is Toynbee? What does Stanley Kubrick have to do with this? Students of the tiles believe that Toynbee could be referring to one of two things. Either its based off of the teachings of British Historian Arnold Toynbee or Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Toynbee Convector.” Tile enthusiasts have found a specific passage of Toynbee’s that has to do with resurrection of the dead, where he elucidates the idea of actual physical resurrection being scientifically and religiously plausible. It’s pretty trippy.

As for Kubrick, Jupiter is the destination for the doomed astronauts in his 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. At the conclusion of 2001, astronaut Dave Bowman is taken through a portal just outside of Jupiter and experiences death, and then, remarkably, rebirth.

A Bradbury reference makes nearly anything a good bet for inclusion in Snapshots. You betcha.

(4) Between now and whenever the ashes of the last reader of paper books are scatted at sea news services will be publishing studies that justify preferring the old technology. Here’s the latest, from the New York Times:

In most respects, there was no significant difference between the Kindle readers and the paper readers: the emotional measures were roughly the same, and both groups of readers responded almost equally to questions dealing with the setting of the story, the characters and other plot details. But, the Kindle readers scored significantly lower on questions about when events in the story occurred. They also performed almost twice as poorly when asked to arrange 14 plot points in the correct sequence.

OMG!!! Real books win!!! And why is that? According to Forbes:

Researchers theorize that the reason for the discrepancy might be due to readers of a print book being able to feel how far they’ve gone, giving them a tactile way to mark time and events, something the digital group didn’t get with a plastic e-reader. Another theory was that readers just don’t digest digital texts the way they do print texts.

(5) Writers are just as adamant about this as anyone. Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians trilogy, is quoted in The Huffington Post

I’m very crusty on this issue. When I die I want to leave my kids a roomful of books, not a chunk of plastic that they have to guess the password to. I think Maurice Sendak said it best: “It’s like making believe there’s another kind of sex. There isn’t another kind of sex. There isn’t another kind of book.

(6) Bill Watterson’s original artwork for three comic strip collaborations with Pearls Before Swine cartoonist Stephan Pastis sold at Heritage Auctions in August for $74,090. Proceeds will benefit The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

(7) If you failed to make the top bid in the Watterson auction maybe you’re still in the market for an expensive fannish trinket. How about a Godzilla made of gold?

golden godzilla

There’s a pretty predictable pattern that merchandising for anime and youth-oriented movies in Japan follows. New hits get inexpensive trinkets, at a price point where kids can purchase them with their allowance. After a decade or two, higher-quality, items start to show up, like Sailor Moon jewelry and Gundam cars, which are priced more in line with what the franchise’s nostalgic and employed fan base is willing to spend.

Since it’s now been 60 years since the first Godzilla movie, some fans who weren’t even in preschool for the legendary kaiju’s debut are now getting close to retirement. With possibly a whole career’s worth of earning, prudent financial decisions, and wise investments, some Godzilla fans can afford to lay out big money to show their respect for the King of the Monsters, which is where this solid gold Godzilla figurine comes in.

The statue sells for 150 million yen (US $1.47 million).

(8) I was intrigued to read about this 1600-year-old board game invented by the Vikings.

Viking warriors storm into the torch-lit camp of a rival clan. Outnumbered, the ambushed Norsemen are far from their boats. Their one goal: flee to a nearby castle while keeping their king alive.

At first glance, Hnefatafl (prounounced “nef-ah-tah-fel”) might just look like a knock-off version of chess with Norse helms and impressive beards, but the game is at least 600 years older — already well-known by 400 A.D. — and is perhaps a lot more relevant to the conflicts of the 21st century.

“I love the asymmetry in this game. To win in this game, you absolutely have to think like your opponent,” emails Kristan Wheaton, a former Army foreign area officer and ex-analyst at U.S. European Command’s Intelligence Directorate. “Geography, force structure, force size, and objectives are different for the two sides. If you can’t think like your opponent, you can’t win. I don’t know of a better analogy for post-Cold War conflict.”

The game is similar to chess, but with several important differences. Instead of two identical and equal opponents facing each other, Hnefatafl is a game where one side is surrounded and outnumbered — like a Viking war party caught in an ambush.

The game might seem unbalanced. The attacking black player has 24 total pieces — known as “hunns” — to white’s meager and surrounded 12 hunns. But white has several advantages.

(9) Kyle Anderson published this early scouting report about a different numbered science fiction personality — the Twelfth Doctor:

Some people have already seen “Deep Breath,” the feature-length premiere of the eighth series of Doctor Who and the first to feature Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor. I am not one of those people and will likely be watching the premiere on Saturday, August 23rd, just like everybody else. But already from the trailers and interviews given by the cast and crew, it’s pretty clear that Capaldi’s take on the millennia-old Time Lord is darker, angrier, certainly less nonsense-taking, even though he’s also been said to have a sense of fun and excitement about traveling through time. Just from these little bits, it seems to me that the Twelfth Doctor is a bit of an amalgam of the First Doctor, the Third Doctor, and what the Sixth Doctor SHOULD have been, which is what the actor who played him wanted in the first place.

(10) Peter Capaldi’s own view of things can be found on the Doctor Who website:

Then there was a glorious interview on BBC Breakfast, in which Peter discussed first the Doctor’s new, flinty demeanour: “I was keen that he be a little darker, less user-friendly, but he’s funny, y’know, he’s still a very joyful character. He’s just a little more… he doesn’t care very much what people think about him. But he’s still full of joy, he still loves the universe, he still loves his life.”

He also addressed the possibility that peope might be put off such a huge jump in age between Matt Smith and himself, with neat reasoning: “I think there’s a magic about him that is not about being in your 20s or your 30s. We don’t consider the Wizard of Oz to be too old, and we don’t consider Father Christmas to be too old. These are mythical, magical characters. And the fact that they’ve been around the block only adds to their magic, I think.”

“One of the wonderful things about Doctor Who is that I believe somebody somewhere will love me, for somebody somewhere I’ll be somebody’s favorite Doctor, even if everybody else hates me. Someone will think I’m just the bee’s knees.”

(11) William Ledbetter hit the bull’s-eye with his SFWA Blog post “The Scientist Next Door: Or How to Approach Experts with Research Questions”:

A few years ago, I was researching a scientific principle called “Invariant Transit Tubes,” or more commonly known as the “Interplanetary Superhighway.” I stumbled across a paper on the topic that was, shall we a say, a bit over my head. I noticed that the paper had been co-published by three researchers, all from different establishments: MIT, JPL and the University of Turin in Italy. The publication also included email addresses. In a sudden fit of “oh hell, why not” I emailed each of these guys a simple question, hoping that at least one of them would reply. The email was short and straightforward. I identified myself as a science fiction writer who was curious about one aspect of their paper. “Could effect X be used in situation Y?” Much to my surprise, all three of them replied. It turns out that no, effect X could not be used in situation Y, which of course saved me from what could have been an embarrassing hard SF faux pas, but one of the researchers was interested in my project, asked questions, made suggestions, and over an email string that bounced back and forth for about a week, I learned a great deal about that topic and several related ones. Evidently scientists, researchers, and experts of every ilk tend to like talking about their field of expertise. Who knew?

(12) LA Weekly seemed astonished to discover “A Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention That only Charges $10?”

There was a piece of paper taped to the front entrance of the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday afternoon, its opening paragraph reading like a manifesto. “For those attending for the first time, this is a medium size show not to be compared with Comic-Con International,” it said. “There’s no pipe and drape around the tables or carpet that adds to the expense of a show. This allows the show to only charge $10.00 and allows collectors to spend more on their hobby.”
In recent years, fan conventions have mushroomed into high-profile, weekend-long events where studios announce new releases, cosplayers are photographed like celebrities and lines are everywhere. There was no line to get inside the Shrine for Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention. By mid-afternoon, the longest wait here was to buy a caricature from Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi. If you wanted to buy something, you could easily get the attention of one of the dealers. There were no costumed con-goers, no impromptu photoshoots blocking the aisles. It was a convention without the frills that, for some, are part of the experience and, for others, are an annoyance.
Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention launched the same year that Star Wars hit theaters. The idea of summer blockbuster movies was still novel. Comic book conventions as we know them today were still decades away. In 1977 Los Angeles, there were only a few, mostly short-lived events that catered to comic book fans. Bruce Schwartz took “the skeleton” of one of those smaller gatherings as it was folding. Out of that, he built Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention. Thirty-seven years and more than 350 shows later, he still promotes the convention.

(13) In September, San Diego area playgoers will have the option to see “Red Planet Respite” at the La Jolla Playhouse.

American firm GlobalCom Venture Capitals develops the first interactive resort experience on Mars in 2044 with the Marsimerica space research institution.

“Red Planet Respite” is the story of the debut crew sent to test out the luxurious resort intended for the socially elite. An unexpected phenomenon that takes place in the universe during their voyage forces the crew to face consequences and psychological extremities they could never prepare for.

It will be on stage two nights, September 12 and 13.

(14) Does anyone need a Christmas gift for Larry Correia? May I suggest Drive-A-Tank. I saw this story in Chronicles of the Dawn Patrol

A business named Drive-a-Tank offers drivers the chance to pilot surplus military tanks and other armored vehicles around an old limestone quarry and smash junk cars like an action movie hero.

The ride is loud, grinding, hot and dirty – ideal for satisfying one’s inner Rambo.

“It was awesome. I mean, controlling that machine, it’s incredible,” said Jacob Ostling, 19, of New Canaan, Conn., among the customers who took a turn under the turret on a recent Saturday and flattened a car in an explosion of glass.

Owner Tony Borglum, a construction and heavy equipment contractor, opened the tank park three years ago after seeing similar attractions during a visit to England. He said he knew it would fit nicely into American culture – a more visceral version of what millions of guys are doing in video games anyway.

He began buying up old Cold War-era surplus and now has 11 armored vehicles available for use on a 20-acre site near this town 50 miles southwest of Minneapolis. Customers spend hours churning up and down a hilly, wooded course, getting a firsthand sense of what armored warfare might be like….

A basic package that includes driving a tank and shooting a machine gun costs $399, with more expensive options for driving several models and shooting other weapons such as assault rifles. Drivers who want to smash a car pay an additional $549; for about $3,500, a customer can drive a tank through a trailer house.

(15) Those of you seeking gifts for more sedentary friends should consider the Gauntlet Press edition of The Best of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Scripts.

In 2004, publisher Gauntlet Press embarked on an ambitious new book series, AS TIMELESS AS INFINITY: THE COMPLETE TWILIGHT ZONE SCRIPTS OF ROD SERLING. This ten-volume, limited edition run of signed hardcovers collected all 92 of the Twilight Zone scripts written by Serling, reprinted from the writer’s personal copies. Running for a full decade, the series was edited by writer and Rod Serling Memorial Foundation board member Tony Albarella with direct input from Serling’s wife, Carol. Contributors included Serling’s family, friends, contemporaries who worked with the writer, and current talents who were inspired by him.

Now, Gauntlet Press makes THE BEST OF ROD SERLING’S TWILIGHT ZONE SCRIPTS available for the first time in paperback. By contract these will be the ONLY scripts from AS TIMELESS AS INFINITY to appear in paperback. They have been selected by Carol Serling and editor Tony Albarella.

This collection presents ten of Serling’s most iconic scripts, along with analysis commentaries, rare photos, and interviews with Twilight Zone actors, writers, producers, and directors. THE BEST OF ROD SERLING’S TWILIGHT ZONE SCRIPTS includes the following scripts: “Walking Distance,” “Time Enough at Last,” “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” “A Stop at Willoughby,” “A Passage for Trumpet,” “The Eye of the Beholder,” “The Obsolete Man,” “The Shelter,” “Death’s-Head Revisited,” and “To Serve Man.”

(16) Nicholas Whyte and the staff of the excellent Loncon 3 press office handled every request for help in a timely manner – except this one:

On the very morning that we were setting up, we received an email from a TV production company who are making a new show “offering expert advice to singletons, who are unlucky in lust. [We] will help both single men with their pulling problems & send them back in the world of pulling – armed with new techniques.” They wanted to come to Loncon 3 to recruit potential participants in the show; but, do you know, I’m afraid that we may not have replied to them in time. Apologies to any singletons, unlucky in lust, who were actually at the convention and might have relished the chance to get televised advice on their pulling problems.

[Thanks for these links goes out to Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian and John Mansfield.]

See Gleeson’s “Fantastic!!!” Art Exhibit

Eye_of_Cat_lrA solo show of Tony Gleeson’s art spotlighting classic science fiction and fantasy themes will be displayed in the upstairs gallery at Pasadena’s Century Books from September 20 through October 3.

Century Books is located at 1039 E. Green St, Pasadena, CA

As Gleeson says in the poster, “Many of these pieces haven’t been seen in years and there may not be another opportunity to see them again!”

Gleeson will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his first pro art sale in September, an illustration that was published in the December 1974 issue of Amazing Stories. Coincidentally, two readers of this blog had work in that issue, author Gregory Benford and artist Dan Steffan. (George R.R. Martin also had a novelette, which he probably wrote between chess tournaments…)

Mowatt Pubs TAFFworld #1

Twin Planets by Bob Shaw

Twin Planets by Bob Shaw

Auctions and other activities at Loncon 3 helped replenish the coffers of the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund — read all the details in Jim Mowatt’s TAFFworld #1 [PDF file] hosted on eFanzines.

Bob Shaw’s stained glass drew throngs to the Fan Funds Auction. The three pieces on offer inspired fierce bidding, bringing in a total of £790. Mowatt says “Twin Planets 2″ (above) was the most sought after.

Talking Past Each Other

Larry Correia and Tor.com are whatever is the opposite of pals, and after spending a weekend as special guest at GenCon Correia had all the incentive he needed to loose his rhetorical artillery on Tor.com’s post “Gaming’s Race Problem: GenCon and Beyond” by A. A. George.

In “No, Tor.com, GenCon Isn’t Racist. A Fisking”, Correia does everything he can think of to discredit the allegations of racism.

Fisking is defined by Eric S. Raymond as

a point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or handwaving is considered poor form.

So first Correia quotes a line or two from Tor.com. Then he delivers his retort. The piece is very long. These points and counterpoints from near the end of the post are typical. George’s lines are in regular script, Correia writes his in boldface. (“SJW” means “Social Justice Warrior” and is used disdainfully. Not that you wouldn’t have figured that out.)

Do not use people of color as a form of marketing.

Another double edged sword of Social Justice. So you’ve got an RPG. Let’s say you put some non-white looking characters on the art. You could easily be praised for this, or you could somehow anger them and be attacked for “tokenism” or “cultural appropriation”. Flip a coin. Either way, I’m sure Tor.com will run an article about how you’re racist.

  • Reach out to minority groups and invite them personally to conventions. Your neighbors, your co-workers, the people at your church, all of them.

Holy crap yes. In this entire thing I finally found something I agree whole heartedly agree with!

However George left something off. After you invite them MAKE IT FUN. Sadly, SJWs can even suck the fun out of Guardians of the Galaxy, so it is up to us people who aren’t total psychopaths to invite more people, because if a regular person goes with a SJW then the whole con is going to be Diversity Panels, until the guest escapes out a window.

The tragedy of all the posturing is that Correia’s readers go away satisfied there’s “nothing to look at here” while the Tor.com readers probably won’t even look at Correia’s post, much less read between the lines to see his (possibly unintended) recipe for making gaming conventions more diverse.

(Y’know, there might be a panel in this for Smofcon. And since I happen to be doing programming for this year’s Smofcon. Hmmm.)

Auction Comics Number One

Action Comics No. 1

Action Comics No. 1

Action Comics No. 1, where Superman first appeared in 1938, set a new record today when a pristine copy sold for $3,207,852 in an eBay auction.

This copy surpasses in value the one formerly owned by Nicolas Cage that sold for $2.16 million in 2011.

Both are graded as 9.0 (out of 10) by the Certified Guaranty Company, but the one sold today is described as having “perfect white pages.”

Around 100 copies of the issue are thought to be in existence, and only 7 unrestored copies are graded over 6.0.

Shamrokon Miscellany

Shamrokon, the 36th Eurocon, came to an end today in Dublin, the ”city that helped Bram Stoker work out how to describe what a vampire’s skin would look like”.

GUFF delegate and Tim Tam smuggler Gillian Pollak said the candy was key to the success of the Shamrokon auction which raised “an extra 555 euros.”

Legendary Irish fanzine fan Thomas Ferguson handed out copies of Götterdämmerung Redux, the best writing from 11 issues of the Belfast SF fandom fanzine.

And throughout the weekend some of the bids campaigning at Shamrokon have been drawn into the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I’m not going to make an exhaustive list, but in my favorite two fans get the works – Helsinki in 2017 bidder Eemeli Aro is doused by a one-boy bucket brigade then, on the other side of the world, Adam Beaton gets deluged before calmly replacing his trademark red porkpie hat on his soggy head.

2014 ESFS Awards Given at Shamrokon

ESFS logo

The winners of the 2014 European Science Fiction Society Awards were announced August 24 at the 36th Eurocon, Shamrokon, in Dublin.

European Grand Master
Jim Fitzpatrick – Ireland

Hall of Fame
Best Author: Wolfgang Jeschke – Germany
Best Artist: Jim Fitzpatrick – Ireland
Best Publisher: Angry Robot – United Kingdom
Best Magazine: Cosmoport – Belarus
Best Translator: Ms. Kersti Juva – Finland
Best Promoter of Science Fiction: Dave Lally – Ireland

These one-time awards are chosen by the European Committee by secret ballot based on nominations submitted by the National Delegates.

Spirit of Dedication:
Artist: Alexander Prodan – Ukraine
Best Performance: Adaption of Dr. Horribles Sing-along blog – Croatia
Best SF Website: Geek Ireland – Ireland
Best Fanzine: Darker – Russia
Best creator of children’s Science Fiction or fantasy books:
(tie)
Oisín McGann – Ireland
Vladimir Arenev – Ukraine

Encouragement Awards
Marco Rauch – Austria
Victor Martinovich – Belarus
Genoveva Detelinova – Bulgaria
Irena Hartmann – Croatia
Míla Linc – Czech Republic
Anthea West – Ireland
Robert M. Wegner – Poland
Rui Alex – Portugal
Eugen Cadaru – Romania
Roman Shmarakov – Russia
Lenka Štiblaríková – Slovakia
Igor Silivra – Ukraine

These Awards are granted according to the suggestions from the National Delegates to a young writer or artist from each European Country.