MAC II Statement on Data Release for EPH Testing

The Sasquan and MidAmeriCon II committees responded to File 770’s query about the transfer of anonymized raw 2015 Hugo nominating ballot data for use in testing the proposed E Pluribus Hugo vote tallying method.

Linda Deneroff, Sasquan’s WSFS (World Science Fiction Society) Division Head, wrote:

Sasquan passed its nominating data to MidAmeriCon II for analysis in the EPH process. Neither Glenn [Glazer], John [Lorentz], Ruth [Lorentz] nor I were involved in the analysis.

Tammy Coxen. MidAmeriCon II WSFS Division Head, explained what was done with the data:

After EPH passed at Sasquan, the MidAmeriCon II Hugo Administration team publicly committed to testing the system so that real data about its efficacy could be made available to WSFS members before the business meeting where ratification would take place. As part of that testing, MidAmeriCon II was collaborating with two researchers (Bruce Schneier and Jameson Quinn) in evaluating the system. As previously announced, it was determined that the data was unable to be sufficiently anonymized for a general release, so the researchers were provided data under a non-disclosure agreement.

There was to have been a coordinated release of the research findings between MidAmeriCon II and the researchers, which would have made clear the circumstances under which the data had been shared. Planning was already underway regarding that release, but as noted, analysis is still occurring. Our intention is to jointly share the research findings when they are complete, which will be well in advance of the business meeting at MidAmeriCon II.

The previously announced concerns that Coxen refers to were discussed here in a September 2015 post, “Hitch in Sasquan Nominating Data Turnover”.

Ghostwords TV Launches

Steve Green 2016-01-05 screen test COMPChrissie Harper and Steve Green have released the first episode of Ghostwords TV, a fortnightly vidcast devoted to horror, dark fantasy, science fiction, comics and telefantasy.

The opening installment offers a lengthy chat with author Ramsey Campbell, including a discussion of the recent controversy over the World Fantasy Award and reminiscences of the late David Hartwell.

Other topics covered are the TV series Ash vs Evil Dead, the latest releases from comics legend Steve Ditko, personnel changes at Doctor Who, Graham Humphreys’ new artbook (including a discount offer for UK viewers) and a tribute to David Bowie.

The show is available via Rose of Eibon’s YouTube channel (where you can subscribe to all their vidcasts).

Ghostwords logo 720p_screen COMP

Pixel Scroll 2/9/16 The Pixels That Bloom In The Scrolls (Tra La)

(1) DOC MARTIN. Texas A&M will give George R.R. Martin an honorary degree reports the Houston Chronicle.

Texas A&M University is set to give “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin the latest link in his maester’s chain this week, as the school offers up an honorary degree to the author.

Martin has a long history with A&M, which has been home to his writings since long before his books were picked up by HBO.

Martin, who calls himself a pack rat, regularly sends copies of just about everything he’s written, produced or been given, from games and calendars based on the series to replica swords and war hammers, to Texas A&M University’s Cushing Memorial Library and Archives. The library boasts a world-renowned sci-fi and fantasy collection and Martin’s works are its crown jewel.

Martin last year gave A&M a first-edition copy of “The Hobbit,” saying at the time that the Cushing library has one of the best science fiction and fantasy collections in the nation. The author acknowledged that A&M — “a place where people shout ‘yeehaw’ a lot, and of course lately (was) known for Johnny Football” — might seem like a strange place for such a collection.

(2) THE MEDIUM IS THE MIXED MESSAGE. Variety reports Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller has been named showrunner and co-creator of CBS’ new Star Trek series. Who suspected Hannibal would be the proving grounds for the next executive at the helm of the Trek franchise?

The new series is set to bow on CBS in January 2017, then move to CBS’ All Access digital subscription service. It will be the first original series to launch on a broadcast network but air primarily on an SVOD service.

“Bringing ‘Star Trek’ back to television means returning it to its roots, and for years those roots flourished under Bryan’s devoted care,” said Kurtzman. “His encyclopedic knowledge of ‘Trek’ canon is surpassed only by his love for Gene Roddenberry’s optimistic future, a vision that continues to guide us as we explore strange new worlds.”

The creative plan is for the series to introduce new characters and civilizations, existing outside of the mythology charted by previous series and the current movie franchises.

(3) WHO COUNTS. The Den of Geek tells us Steven Moffat has confirmed the length of the runs for the next seasons of his two BBC shows.

Speaking after receiving his OBE the other day, Steven Moffat confirmed that Doctor Who series 10 will have 13 episodes. And Sherlock series 4 will have three episodes.

(4) HMM. Anthony at the Castalia House Blog puts his finger on a problem with the Potterverse in “So You Made It Into Hufflepuff”.

Hufflepuff is noteworthy in the Harry Potter series for being supremely un-noteworthy (“A Very Potter Musical” famously lampshades this after the end of its opening number “Gotta Get Back to Hogwarts” with the immortal line “What the hell is a Hufflepuff?”). The Hufflepuff we know the best is Cedric Diggory. Diggory is a fine character, but he probably doesn’t even rank in the series’ top twenty most interesting. Even in “Goblet of Fire” we just don’t learn that much about him, except that he’s apparently an honorable man, a hard worker, and a capable wizard. Besides that – nothing.

Vox Day, pointing to the post in “The Shortchanging of House Hufflepuff”, extended the critique —

I could never figure out what Hermione was doing in Gryffindor when she was an obvious Ravensclaw. I mean, being intelligent and studious to the point of being annoying about it was the primary aspect of her personality.

(5) SORT YOURSELF. Moviepilot reports “Harry Potter Fans Are Officially Being Sorted Into Hogwarts Houses & They’re Not Happy About It!”

For now though, it seems that J.K. wants to take us back to basics. Over the weekend an official Sorting Hat quiz went live on Pottermore — and unlike the numerous ones you’ve probably taken over the years, this is the real deal because it was developed by the author herself.

 

The quiz determines whether you’re in Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, or Ravenclaw by asking you a series of personality questions and by placing you in a number of unique scenarios.

….Naturally, most Potter fans jumped at the chance to try out this new sorting utility — yet instead of uncontrollable excitement, many were overcome with a deep sense of despair. Indeed, when the quiz dropped, the Internet became awash with staunch criticism. Why? Well, because most people were mad they didn’t get into the house they felt they deserved to be in.

(6) A SECOND OPINION. Or if you think it’s too much bother to register at Pottermore, you can always take this quickie quiz at Moviepilot“The Ultimate Harry Potter Sorting Quiz Will Prove Which Hogwarts House You Belong In”.

“There’s nothing hidden in your head the Sorting Hat can’t see, so try me on and I will tell you where you ought to be!”

I took it and was identified as a Gryffindor. See what a reliable quiz this is?

(7) GERSON OBIT. Scriptwriter Daniel Gerson died February 6, age 49, of brain cancer. Genre credits include Monsters, Inc., Monsters University, and Big Hero 6.

(8) COOPER OBIT. Henry S.F. Cooper Jr., the author of eight books and a writer for The New Yorker, died January 31 at the age of 82.

Mr. Cooper celebrated scientific achievement, addressed scientific failure and demystified what was behind both.

Reviewing his book “Apollo on the Moon” in 1969 in The New York Times, Franklin A. Long, who was the vice president for research at Cornell University, said that Mr. Cooper’s description of an imminent mission to the moon was “remarkably evocative” and that a reader “gets the feel of what it is like to be a crew member in the lunar module.”

Mr. Cooper began his book “Thirteen: The Apollo Flight That Failed” this way: “At a little after 9 Central Standard Time on the night of Monday, April 13, 1970, there was, high in the western sky, a tiny flare of light that in some respects resembled a star exploding far away in our galaxy.”

The flare was caused by a cloud of frozen oxygen — a “tank failure,” as NASA engineers delicately described it — that would cripple the service module and jeopardize the crew’s return to Earth. The story was told in the 1995 film “Apollo 13,” starring Tom Hanks.

Brian Troutwine, in The Huffington Post, called Mr. Cooper’s book “one of the best technical explanations of a catastrophic failure and its resolution ever written.”

He was a descendant of famed author James Fenimore Cooper.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 9, 1928 – Frank Frazetta

(10) VISIT OTHER WORLDS. NASA has issued a new series of space tourism posters.

Final_Peg_51_Poster COMP

Each new poster mixes a bit of that reality with an optimistic take on what exploring our solar system might actually look like someday. The poster for Venus calls for visitors to come see the “Cloud 9 Observatory,” which isn’t far off from an idea that’s been thrown around at NASA. The poster for Europa advertises the ability to see underwater life — something that doesn’t feel so far-fetched considering the moon is home to a global subsurface ocean.

(11) RABID PUPPIES. Vox Day has advanced to Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Editor (short-form), and in this category has only one name for his slate, Jerry Pournelle, editor of There Will Be War, Vol. X.

(12) NUMEROUS SUGGESTIONS. George R.R. Martin gave his recommendations for Short Form in “A Rocket For The Editor, Part Two”. He covers quite a few names. Martin also emphasizes that he feels there is an equivalency between last year’s slate makers and advocates for No Award in the Best Editor (Short Form) category.

All that being said… the slates, by whatever means, did throw up some legitimate Hugo-worthy nominees in this category last year, though not as many as in Long Form. One of those stood well above the others, IMNSHO. The Hugo really should have gone to MIKE RESNICK. Resnick has a long and distinguished career as an anthologist, one stretching back decades, and while he has plenty of rockets on his mantle at home, and even more crashed upside down rockets on the shirts he wears at worldcon, he had never been recognized for his work as an editor before. In addition, Resnick had founded a new SF magazine, GALAXY’S EDGE; in an age when the older magazines are struggling just to keep going, starting up a new one is a bold act (maybe a little insane) that deserves applause. But even more than that, Resnick has been a mentor to generations of new young writers, featuring them in his anthologies and now his magazine, advising them, nurturing them, teaching them, even collaborating with them. His “writer babies,” I have heard them called. In a way, Resnick is a one-man Clarion. Finding and nurturing new talent is one of an editor’s most important tasks, and Resnick has been doing it, and doing it well, for decades.

He got my Hugo vote. He got a lot of other Hugo votes as well. But not enough to win. As with Long Form, this category went to No Award. The work that the Sad and Rabid Puppies began to wreck this Hugo category was completed by Steve Davidson of AMAZING, Deirdre Saoirse Moan, and the rest of the Nuclear Fans. Resnick was never part of the slates, fwiw. He took no part in the Puppy Wars on either side, preferring to stay above the fray. And he did deserve a Hugo. But guilt by association prevailed, and he was voted down with the rest. A real pity.

Now there are Nuclear Fans, to go along with the other names people get called? And, in the circumstances, a very unfortunate misspelling of Moen’s name?

(13) SHATNER ON NIMOY. Jen Chaney reviews Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship With A Remarkable Man by William Shatner (with David Fisher) in the Washington Post.

Leonard_Book_Jacket_William_Shatner COMPA few years before Leonard Nimoy died last February at age 83, he stopped speaking to William Shatner, his close friend since their many “Star Trek” adventures. As he explains in “Leonard,” his new book about that relationship, Shatner still isn’t sure what caused Nimoy to freeze out his Starship Enterprise other half. “It remains a mystery to me, and it is heartbreaking, heartbreaking,” Shatner writes. “It is something I will wonder about, and regret, forever.”

That revelation, both personal and laden with questions, is very much in keeping with the overall tone of Shatner’s book. At times, the actor recounts his connection to Nimoy with great candor and reverence, particularly when he discusses how that bond solidified after the death of Shatner’s third wife, Nerine Kidd, who drowned in the couple’s pool in 1999. But readers may wish they got a little more fly-on-the-wall perspective on the lengthy friendship born in a place where few are: on the set of an iconic sci-fi TV series. As Shatner says at one point, “When I think about Leonard, my memories are emotional more than specific.” His memories often read that way, too.

(14) TREK PARODY ON STAGE. Boldly Go!, a musical parody based upon Star Trek, opens February 26 at Caltech Theater in Pasadena, CA.

Boldly Go 35-captainkirk-sidebarBoldly Go! follows the intrepid crew of the Starship Enterprise, along with some new characters, on an exciting and hilarious adventure.

Assumptions will be confronted, paradigms challenged, alliances tested, and new contacts made – whether for good or ill as yet to be seen. And it’s all set to a side-splitting tour de force of musical mayhem!

While having fun with the sometimes farcical aspects of science fiction and parodying Star Trek, this new show also satirizes the musical theater genre. Boldly Go! is written by brothers Cole Remmen (University of Minnesota Theatre Arts Senior) and Grant Remmen (Caltech theoretical physics graduate student). The Caltech world premiere, featuring a talented cast from the Caltech and Jet Propulsion Lab communities, is being directed by Theater Arts Caltech director Brian Brophy (Star Trek TNG; Shawshank Redemption; PhD Comics 2).

A series of short videos about the production can be viewed at the site.

(15) HARRYHAUSEN CAMEO. John King Tarpinian enthused about Burke & Hare

Watched this Simon Pegg movie yesterday.  Even in period costume most of the actors were recognizable…except one who looked very familiar but I could not put my finger on who he was.  The ending credits identified him as Ray Harryhausen…a pleasant surprise.

Harryhausen can be seen in the closing credits at 1:03.

[Thanks to Brian Z., John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Michael J. Walsh and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Wright.]

2016 Audie Awards Finalists

The 2016 Audie Awards shortlist has been released. The award recognize distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association (APA). Finalists are announced in 25 categories.

Here are the categories of genre interest.

AUDIO DRAMA

  • Amok by Sebastian Fitzek, narrated by a full cast, published by Audible Studios
  • Christmas Eve, 1914 by Charles Olivier, narrated by a full cast, published by Audible Studios
  • Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book: The Mowgli Stories by Rudyard Kipling, narrated by a full cast, published by Audible Studios
  • The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt, Lara Pulver, Niamh Walsh, Adjoa Andoh, Peter Forbes, John Sessions, and Michael Maloney, published by HarperAudio.
  • The Starling Project by Jeffrey Deaver, narrated by Alfred Molina and a full cast, published by Audible Studios

AUTOBIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR

  • Born with Teeth by Kate Mulgrew, narrated by Kate Mulgrew, published by Hachette Audio
  • The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath by Ben S. Bernanke, narrated by Grover Gardner, published by Brilliance Audio
  • Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius, narrated by Simon Bubb, published by Thomas Nelson/HarperAudio
  • I Must Say by Martin Short, narrated by Martin Short, published by HarperAudio
  • Keep Moving by Dick Van Dyke, narrated by Dick Van Dyke, published by Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Travels by Michael Crichton, narrated by Christopher Lane, published by Brilliance Audio

BEST FEMALE NARRATOR

  • All the Stars in Heaven by Adriana Trigiani, narrated by Blair Brown, published by HarperAudio
  • The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant, narrated by Linda Lavin, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, narrated by January LaVoy, published by Listening Library/Penguin  Random House Audio
  • The Lost Landscape by Joyce Carol Oates, narrated by Cassandra Campbell, published by HarperAudio
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Polly Stone, published by Macmillan Audio
  • Wild Rover No More by L.A. Meyer, narrated by Katherine Kellgren, published by Listen & Live Audio

BEST MALE NARRATOR

  • Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, narrated by John Malkovich, published by Audible Studios
  • Classic Love Poems by various authors, narrated by Richard Armitage, published by Audible Studios
  • Dead Wake by Erik Larson, narrated by Scott Brick, published by Books on Tape/Penguin Random House Audio
  • The English Spy by Daniel Silva, narrated by George Guidall, published by HarperAudio
  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, narrated by Scott Brick, published by Brilliance Audio

FANTASY

  • Ascension: The Trysmoon Saga, Book 1 by Brian K. Fuller, narrated by Simon Vance, published by Podium Publishing
  • The Cycle of Arawn by Edward W. Robertson, narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds, published by Podium Publishing
  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, narrated by Robin Miles, published by Hachette Audio
  • Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron, narrated by Vikas Adam, published by Audible Studios
  • Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia, narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds, published by Audible Studios

FICTION

  • Citizens Creek by Lalita Tademy, narrated by Bahni Turpin and J. D. Jackson, published by Brilliance Audio
  • A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, narrated by Alex Jennings, published by Hachette Audio
  • Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal, narrated by Amy Ryan and Michael Stuhlbarg, published by Books on Tape/Penguin Random House Audio
  • The Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig, narrated by David Aaron Baker, published by Recorded Books
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Polly Stone, published by Macmillan Audio
  • The Sellout by Paul Beatty, narrated by Prentice Onayemi, published by Audible Studios

HISTORY/BIOGRAPHY

  • In Search of Sir Thomas Browne by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, read by Simon Vance, published by HighBridge Audio/Recorded Books
  • A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin and Tom Hanks, narrated by Bronson Pinchot, published by Audiobooks.com Publishing
  • Operation Nemesis by Eric Bogosian, narrated by Eric Bogosian, published by Hachette Audio
  • Pacific Pacific by Simon Winchester, narrated by Simon Winchester, published by HarperAudio
  • Texas Rising by Stephen L. Moore, narrated by P.J. Ochlan, published by HarperAudio

MIDDLE GRADE

  • Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan, narrated by Mark Bramhall, David deVries, MacLeod Andrews, and Rebecca Soler, published by Scholastic Audio
  • The Enchanted Files: Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville, narrated by various people, published by Listening Library/Penguin Random House Audio
  • The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book V by Maryrose Wood, narrated by Katherine Kellgren, published by HarperAudio
  • Jump Back, Paul: The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Sally Derby, narrated by Dion Graham and Bahni Turpin, published by Brilliance Publishing
  • Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper, narrated by Heather Alicia Simms, published by Simon & Schuster Audio

NARRATION BY THE AUTHOR or AUTHORS

  • The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, narrated by Amanda Palmer, published by Hachette Audio
  • Born with Teeth by Kate Mulgrew, narrated by Kate Mulgrew, published by Hachette Audio
  • Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, narrated by Jenny Lawson, published by Macmillan Audio
  • I Must Say by Martin Short, narrated by Martin Short, published by HarperAudio
  • Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann, narrated by Colum McCann, published by Books on Tape/Penguin Random House Audio

ORIGINAL WORK

  • Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, narrated by Rose Leslie and David Tennant, published by Audible Studios
  • Drunken Fireworks by Stephen King, narrated by Tim Sample, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Locke & Key by Joe Hill, narrated by Haley Joel Osment, Tatiana Maslany, and a full cast, published by Audible Studios
  • NPR American Chronicles: First Ladies by National Public Radio, narrated by Cokie Roberts, published by HighBridge Audio/Recorded Books
  • The Starling Project by Jeffery Deaver, narrated by Alfred Molina and a full cast, published by Audible Studios
  • StoryCorps: Outloud: Voices of the LGBTQ Community from Across America, by David Isay, narrated by Ari Shapiro and a full cast, published by HighBridge Audio/Recorded Books RB

PARANORMAL

  • The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich, narrated by Charlotte Parry and Christian Coulson, published by Hachette Audio
  • Hounacier by Seth Skorkowsky, narrated by R.C. Bray, published by Audible Studios
  • Lycan Fallout 2: Fall of Man by Mark Tufo, narrated by Sean Runnette, published by Podium Publishing
  • Seven Years by Dannika Dark, narrated by Nicole Poole, published by Tantor Media
  • White Trash Zombie Gone Wild by Diana Rowland, narrated by Allison McLemore, published by Audible Studios

SCIENCE FICTION

  • Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie, narrated by Adjoa Andoh, published by Hachette Audio
  • Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson, narrated by Ali Ahn, published by Hachette Audio
  • Golden Son: Book II of the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown, narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds, published by Recorded Books
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, narrated by Scott Brick, published by Brilliance Audio
  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! by Tom Angleberger, narrated by Marc Thompson, published by Listening Library/Penguin Random House Audio

YOUNG ADULT

  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, narrated by Kirby Heyborne, Ariadne Meyers, and Jennifer Niven, published by Listening Library/Penguin Random House Audio
  • Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, narrated by January LaVoy, published by Listening Library/Penguin Random House Audio
  • The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman , narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt, Lara Pulver, Niamh Walsh, Adjoa Andoh, Peter Forbes, John Sessions, and Michael Maloney, published by HarperAudio
  • Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation) by Laura Hillenbrand, narrated by Edward Herrmann, published by Listening Library/Penguin Random House Audio
  • The Winter Horses by Philip Kerr, narrated by James Langton, published by Tantor Media
  • X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon, narrated by Dion Graham and Ilyasah Shabazz, published by Brilliance Audio

YOUNG LISTENERS (up to age 8)

  • Appleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan, narrated by Dustin Hoffman, published by Listening Library/Penguin Random House Audio
  • Brother Hugo and the Bear by Katy Beebe and S.D. Schindler, narrated by Gildart Jackson, published by Dreamscape
  • Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon, narrated by Suzy Jackson, published by Recorded Books
  • The Eloise Collection by Kay Thompson, narrated by Bernadette Peters, with music by Anthony de Mare, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Little Shop of Monsters by R.L. Stine and Marc Brown, narrated by Jack Black, published by Hachette Audio
  • Nino Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales, narrated by Adriana Sananes, published by Dreamscape

Still Time To Nominate for Rondos

Nominees for the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards are selected from suggestions by horror fans, pros and enthusiasts offered all year at the Classic Horror Film Board. Each year’s nominees are finalized by classic horror fan David Colton, with the help of more than 20 classic horror fans from around the world, and with expertise in all parts of fandom.

The year’s worth of columns by frequent File 770 contributor James H. Burns are up for a nomination for the Rondo Awards in the category of Best Column. Also, his File 770 essay, “The Geography of Eden,” is up for Best Article.

File 770 readers can support Jim and add their own recommendations in the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards forum.

Pixel Scroll 2/8/16 One Scroll I Sing, A Simple Separate Pixel

(1) WHEN GRAVITY DOESN’T FAIL. NDTV headline: “Announcement Thursday On Albert Einstein’s Gravitational Waves”:

“My earlier rumor about LIGO has been confirmed by independent sources. Stay tuned! Gravitational waves may have been discovered!! Exciting,” said a message on Twitter from Arizona State University cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, who does not work with LIGO.

His words sparked a firestorm of speculation.

An announcement will be made Thursday at 10:30 am (1530 GMT) at the National Press Club in the US capital Washington.

The event brings “together scientists from Caltech, MIT and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration to update the scientific community on efforts to detect them,” a National Science Foundation statement read.

They will provide “a status report on the effort to detect gravitational waves — or ripples in the fabric of spacetime — using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO),” it said.

LIGO is a dual set of identical detectors built by scientists at MIT and Caltech to pick up “incredibly tiny vibrations from passing gravitational waves,” said the statement.

(2) CHINESE STAR WARS. “Red ‘Star Wars’: How China used pirate comic to promote science in 1980s”  at Japan Times.

Song Feideng

Song Feideng

A long time ago in a country far, far away, Chinese authorities managed to obtain a copy of America’s ultimate cultural weapon: a blockbuster movie with enough special effects to wow an entire planet.

Summoned to a small theater in the southern city of Guangzhou in 1980, artist Song Feideng was shown “Star Wars” and instructed to transform it into a traditional Chinese comic book, known as a “lianhuanhua,” to promote scientific achievement in China.

Song was one of the first people in China to see George Lucas’ magnum opus at a time when it was still banned — a marked contrast to the status of the series’ most recent installment in a market that Hollywood increasingly sees as crucial to success.

“The objective was to take the world’s advanced science and popularize it in China,” Song, who worked for a state-owned publisher at the time, said in an interview.

He replaced the movie’s X-wing spacecraft with Soviet rockets and jet fighters. In one illustration, Luke Skywalker wears a cosmonaut’s bulky spacesuit and rebel leaders are dressed in Western business suits. Darth Vader appears alongside a triceratops.

(3) AND YOU CAN READ IT IN ENGLISH. The whole comic has been translated by Nick Stember — Star Wars comic part 1-6.

Chinese_star_wars_comic_manhua_llianhuanhua6-1024x792

(4) GENIUS CLUSTER. “Alice Cooper on His Dinner With David Bowie and Ray Bradbury” at Rolling Stone.

After Cooper’s initial meeting with Bowie in the late Sixties, they later forged a friendship. Once, they even had dinner together with Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury. “It was really interesting, because these guys were in outer space somewhere,” he says. “They were talking about quantum physics, and I’m going, ‘So … what kind of car are you driving?'” Cooper laughs.

Does Cooper know how funny that question really was? Despite living in LA, Bradbury famously didn’t drive.

(5) NUMBERS THAT MATTER. What File 770 reader can resist a series titled “Five Books About”? Marc Turner’s contribution is “Five Books Where Dragons Are Put In Their Place” at Tor.com.

Dragons may be a trope of the epic fantasy genre, but they are a trope I suspect I will never tire of. My new book, Dragon Hunters, might just have one or two of the creatures lurking within its pages.

Whenever you encounter a dragon, it’s usually the apex predator of its world. But invincible? Certainly not. There’s a quote I recall from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (paraphrasing G.K. Chesterton) that goes: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

His first choice is Smaug.

(6) WHERE SAWYER BEGAN. Robert J. Sawyer’s first SF publication was in The Village Voice in 1981.

I’d had an earlier fantasy publication (“The Contest,” in the 1980 edition of White Wall Review, the literary annual of my alma mater, Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, edited by Ed Greenwood, who created the “Forgotten Realms” for Dungeons & Dragons), and I’d sold a science-fiction story to be produced as a a planetarium starshow), but that was my first science-fiction publication — and it came out exactly 35 years ago today.

That story appeared in the 14-20 January 1981 issued of The Village Voice: The Weekly Newspaper of New York, as a winner in a ten-week contest they were running called “Sci-Fi Scenes,” featured in the “Scenes” column by Howard Smith & Lin Harris.

The rules required a story of exactly 250 words — no more, no less (title words didn’t count, a fact I took full advantage of).

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 8, 1828 – Jules Verne.

(8) EVEN BAT DURSTON LOST? Charlie Jane Anders tells the story of “That Time When a Fake Science Fiction Author Won a Major Novel-Writing Prize” at io9.

Back in 1953, Galaxy Science Fiction and Simon & Schuster launched a huge contest to find a great new science fiction novel. The prize was $6,500 (a lot of money in those days). The winner? A brand new writer named Edson McCann. Except for one thing: Edson McCann did not exist.

It was a pretty disgraceful scam, everything considered.

(9) PUPPIES MARCH ON. Vox Day announced the next addition to his slate – “Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Editor (Long-form”).

  • Anne Sowards, Penguin
  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt, independent
  • Mike Braff, Del Rey
  • Toni Weisskopf, Baen Books
  • Vox Day, Castalia House

(10) LURKER REQUEST. People are welcome to ask questions like this in a comment on the Scroll. I received this one as an e-mail query:

I was wondering if you recognized this summary, or would be willing to post it (a long shot, I know), to see if someone recognizes it and can give title or author.

Our main character is a women who is involved in a profession that shows a lot of skin; I don’t recall if it’s actress, dancer, sex worker, or what. One day she wakes up in a thick, gray, sack-dress with no recollection of how it could have gotten on her. She can’t take it off and, when she tries to bathe, it sheds material but doesn’t wash away. It turns out that a Moral Majority opponent of hers has figured out how to program nanobots to turn out this cloth, and has set it in a cloud around her. He and his congregation wear it as well, I think? I know that the climax of the story involves that as a plot-point, along with some clever reverse-engineering on what wavelengths the nano-cloth passes or reflects…

Sound familiar to anyone?

(11) HIS FIELD OF EXPERIENCE. Never let it be said that Neil deGrasse Tyson missed a chance to talk science.

(12) SPORTS JOKE. For those who are interested enough in US sports to get the joke, a parody of a series of NFL promos aired during yesterday’s Super Bowl broadcast.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Alan Baumler for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Henley.]

2016 Annie Awards

Annie-Awards-asifa-hollywood1The International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, announced the winners of the 43rd Annual Annie Awards on February 6.

The award was given in 36 categories. Juried Awards honoring career achievement and exceptional contributions to animation also were presented.

Three Winsor McCay recipients selected by the ASIFA-Hollywood Board of Directors: Joe Ranft, Phil Roman and Isao Takahata for their career contributions to the art of animation. (The Ranft award was made posthumously.)

The June Foray recipient was Don Hahn, for his significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation. For the first time, Foray, 98, who came up with the idea for the Annie Awards in 1972, didn’t attend the ceremony, but gave her congratulations via video.

PRODUCTION CATEGORIES

Best Animated Feature

  • Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios

Best Animated Special Production

  • He Named Me Malala – Parkes-MacDonald / Little Door

Best Animated Short Subject

  • World of Tomorrow – Don Hertzfeldt

Best Animated Television/Broadcast Commercial

  • Man and Dog – Psyop

Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production For Preschool Children

  • Tumble Leaf – Episode: Mirror – Amazon Studios and Bix Pix Entertainment

Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production For Children

  • Wander Over Yonder – Episode: The Breakfast – Disney Television Animation

Best General Audience Animated Television/Broadcast Production

  • The Simpsons – Episode: Halloween of Horror – Gracie Films in Association with 20th Century Fox Television

Best Animated Feature-Independent

  • Boy and the World – Filme de Papel

Best Student Film

  • ed – Taha Neyestani

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT CATEGORIES

Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects in an Animated Production

  • The Good Dinosaur – Pixar Animation Studios – Effects Supervisor: Jon Reisch, Effects Lead: Stephen Marshall Volumetric Clouds Architect: Magnus Wrenninge, Development & Effects Artist: Michael Hall, Effects Technical Lead: Michael K. O’Brien

Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects in a Live Action Production

  • Marvel’s Avengers : Age of Ultron – Sokovia Destruction – Marvel Studios – Creature Sim Supervisor: Michael Balog, Creature Simulation Lead: Jim Van Allen, Effects Simulation Supervisor: Florent Andorra, Effects Lead: Georg Kaltenbrunner

Outstanding Achievement, Character Animation in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production

  • Dragons: Race to the Edge – Episode: “Have Dragon Will Travel, Part 1” – DreamWorks Animation Television, Character Animator: Chi-Ho Chan, Character: Heather, Windshear, Dagur, Savage, Hiccup, Toothless, Berserkers

Outstanding Achievement, Character Animation in a Feature Production

  • Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios – Animator: Allison Rutland, Character: All Characters

Outstanding Achievement, Character Animation in a Live Action Production

  • The Revenant – The Bear – Regency Enterprises, New Regency Pictures, Anonymous Content, M Productions, Appian Way, RatPac-Dune Entertainment – Animation Supervisor: Matthew Shumway, Lead Digital Artist: Adrian Millington, Digital Artist: Blaine Toderian, Digital Artist: Alexander Poei, Digital Artist: Kevin Lan

Outstanding Achievement, Character Animation in a Video Game

  • Evolve – 2K Games – Character Animator: David Gibson, Character: Daisy, Goliath, Kraken

Outstanding Achievement, Character Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production

  • Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas – Episode: Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas – Screen Novelties Warner Bros Animation, Character Designer: Craig Kellman, Character: Buddy, Jovie, Walter Hobbs, Michael Hobbs, Mr. Greenway, Chadwick & Matthews, Santa Claus, Background Characters

Outstanding Achievement, Character Design in an Animated Feature Production

  • Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios – Character Art Director: Albert Lozano, Character: All Characters, Character Artist: Chris Sasaki Character: All Characters

Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production

  • Gravity Falls – Episode: Northwest Mansion Mystery – Disney Television Animation – Director: Matt Braly

Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated Feature Production

  • Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios – Director: Pete Docter

Outstanding Achievement, Music in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production

  • Disney Mickey Mouse – Episode: ¡Feliz Cumpleaños! – Disney Television Animation – Composer: Christopher Willis

Outstanding Achievement, Music in an Animated Feature Production

  • Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios – Composer: Michael Giacchino

Outstanding Achievement, Production Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production

  • The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show – Episode: “Peabody’s Parents/Galileo” – DreamWorks Animation Televsion – Production Design: Kevin Dart Production Design: Sylvia Liu, Production Design: Chris Turnham, Production Design: Eastwood Wong

Outstanding Achievement, Production Design in an Animated Feature Production

  • Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios – Production Design: Ralph Eggleston

Outstanding Achievement, Storyboarding in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production

  • Disney Mickey Mouse – Episode: ¡Feliz Cumpleaños! – Disney Television Animation – Storyboard Artist: Alonso Ramirez Ramos

Outstanding Achievement, Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production

  • Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios – Storyboard Artist: Tony Rosenast

Outstanding Achievement, Voice Acting in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production

  • Bob’s Burgers – Episode: Hawk & Chick – Twentieth Century Fox Television Bento Box Entertainment – Starring: Kristen Schaal Character: Louise, Belcher

Outstanding Achievement, Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production

  • Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios – Cast: Phyllis Smith Character: Sadness

Outstanding Achievement, Writing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production

  • Bob’s Burgers – Episode: The Hauntening – Twentieth Century Fox Television Bento Box Entertainment – Writer: Steven Davis, Writer: Kelvin Yu

Outstanding Achievement, Writing in an Animated Feature Production

  • Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios – Writer: Pete Docter, Writer: Meg LeFauve, Writer: Josh Cooley

Outstanding Achievement, Editorial in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production

  • Disney Mickey Mouse – Episode: Coned – Disney Television Animation – Nominee: Illya Owens

Outstanding Achievement, Editorial in an Animated Feature Production

  • Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios – Nominee: Kevin Nolting

JURIED AWARDS

Winsor McCay Award – for their career contributions to the art of animation

  • Joe Ranft
  • Phil Roman
  • Isao Takahata

June Foray Award – for their significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation

  • Don Hahn

E Pluribus Hugo Tested With Anonymized 2015 Data

By Jameson Quinn: [Originally left as a comment.] So, Bruce Schneier and I are working on an academic paper about the E Pluribus Hugo (EPH) proposed voting system. We’ve been given a data set of anonymized votes from 2015. I don’t want to give all the results away but here are a few, now that people are actually voting for this year’s Hugos:

  • A typical category had around 300 ballots which voted for more puppies than non-puppies, and about half of those ballots were for puppies exclusively. There were few ballots which voted for half or fewer puppies (typically only a few dozen). The average number of works per ballot per category was around 3.
  • There were some weak correlations among non-puppies, but nothing that remotely rivals the puppies’ coherence. In particular, correlations were low enough that even if voting patterns remained basically dispersed, raising the average works per ballot per category from 3 to 4 (33% more votes total) would probably have been as powerful in terms of promoting diverse finalists (that is, not all puppies) as adding over 25% more voters. In other words: if you want things you vote for to be finalists, vote for more things — vote for all the things you think may be worthy.
  • EPH would have resulted in 10 more non-puppy finalists overall; at least 1 non-puppy in each category (before accounting for eligibility and withdrawals).
  • SDV(*) would have resulted in 13 more non-puppy finalists overall.
  • Most other proportional systems would probably have resulted in 13 or 14 more.
  • The above numbers are based on assuming the same ballot set; that is, that voters would not have reacted to the different voting system by strategizing. If strategizing is not used unless it is likely to be rational, that is a pretty safe assumption with EPH; less so with other proportional systems. Thus, other systems could in theory actually lead to fewer non-puppy nominees / less diversity than EPH.

Feel free to promote this to a front page post if you want. Disclaimer: EPH is not intended to shut the puppies out, but merely to help ensure that the diversity of the nominees better reflects the diversity of taste of the voters.

(*) Editor’s note: I believe SDV refers to Single Divisible Vote.

Update 02/08/2016: Added to end of second bullet missing phrase, supplied by author. Corrected footnote, based on author’s comment.

Pixel Scroll 2/7/16 The Bold and the Recusable

(1) INSIDE UTAH’S EXTRAORDINARY SF FANDOM. Provo’s Daily Herald interviewed Dave Doering and learned the answer to “Why Utah’s literary Big Bang? ‘Life, the Universe & Everything’ symposium, for one”.

When you name your symposium “Life, the Universe, & Everything,” and that symposium is in the heart of Mormon country, outsiders can get a little suspicious.

“I often had to cajole guests to come because they feared this was an indoctrination boot camp for Mormonism,” Dave Doering recalled.

Well, it’s certainly not that. Rather, LTUE is about science fiction and fantasy literature. The annual three-day symposium ushers in its 34th year on Thursday at downtown Provo’s Marriott Hotel. At this point, those early boot camp suspicions have waned: LTUE has become one of the premier symposiums of its kind, drawing more than 1,000 attendees and renowned sci-fi/fantasy authors each year, and covering a wide range of subjects pertinent to that industry. Not bad for an event that had only 30-40 attendees in 1983….

It worked. BYU’s small sci-fi/fantasy community grew as students started coming out of the woodwork. Within five years the symposium was drawing 300-400 attendees. That amount stayed somewhat stable through the years. Five years ago, though, things really blew up. Utah-bred authors like Shannon Hale (“Princess Academy”), Stephenie Meyer (“Twilight”) and James Dashner (“The Maze Runner”) put Utah on the map for young adult fantasy literature. New York City publishers now regard Utah as fertile literary ground.

“No one, I think, would have believed that Utah writers would make as big an impact as we have now in the young adult and fantasy areas,” Doering said. “Four of the top five writers in that field are from Utah, and you think for the population, that’s ludicrous! How did that happen?”

The Wasatch front, Doering said, has a particular storytelling culture that mainstream audiences have come to crave.

“We grow up with stories, and we are a very positive people. And I think that resonates,” he said. “By and large, the authors on the coasts that had been big names in the past, their dystopian view or manner of treating characters and situations, I think it got to be so repetitious that people were hungering for something different. And the kind of storytelling that we do here, and the worldview we have, people were just very hungry for. So it’s blossomed.”

Life, The Universe & Everything begins Thursday, February 11.

(2) IN LIVING B&W. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler just can’t turn off the tube the night that Twilight Zone is on. For one reason, this being 1961, if he misses one he won’t have another chance to see it until summer reruns begin.

It’s certainly not as if TV has gotten significantly better.  Mr. Ed, My Sister Eileen, the umpteenth season of the Jack Benny Show, none of these are going to win any awards.  On the other hand, The Twilight Zone has already won an award (an Emmy last year), and I’m hoping that my continued watching and review of that show excuses my overindulgence in the others.

(3) INCREASED INTEREST. Fantasy Faction has advice for putting your loot to work “A Guide To Banking In Fantasyland”. (Beware mild spoilers.)

These are tough times, and everyone needs a little help with the big decisions. Not sure which bank to choose? Sure, the Charity and Social Justice Bank [1] has an impressive name, but those offers at Valint and Balk [2] are really tempting. Perhaps Gringotts’ [3] goblin efficiency has caught your eye, or the great interest rates at the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork? [4] Then again, the long standing stability of the Iron Bank of Braavos [5] is looking pretty good right now…

Hard decisions? Never fear! We are here with a handy guide to finding the RIGHT bank for YOU!

(4) DEL TORO TWEETS. Guillermo del Toro had this to say —

(5) TRANSTEMPORAL PIZZA PARADOX. A NASA scientist questioned the scientific veracity of a situation John Scalzi’s Redshirts. It seems John forgot to science the shit out of the pizza.

As you can see from the above embedded tweet and picture, a reader (who also appears to be a NASA scientist) asked me a question about the atoms in the pizza eaten in Redshirts, consumed by the heroes of the story, who had also traveled back in time.

Why would this matter? Because as a plot point in the book, time travelers had about six days to get back to their own time before they began to disintegrate — the atoms of their bodies from the future also existed in the past they’re visiting, and the atoms (eventually) can’t be two places at the same time and would choose to “exist” in the positions where they were in the current frame of reference.

Which is fine as long as you don’t mix atom eras. But when the characters ate pizza, they were commingling atoms from the book’s 2012 with their own atoms several centuries later — and what happens to those atoms from the pizza when the characters return to their own time? Because the atoms gained from the pizza would simultaneously be present elsewhere, and, as already noted, the atoms default to where they were supposed to be in their then-current frame of reference. Right?

As you can see from the tweet above I avoided the answer by giving a completely bullshit response (and then bragging about it). I’m delighted to say I was immediately called on it by another NASA scientist, and I responded appropriately, i.e., by running away. I’m the Brave Sir Robin of science, I am.

(6) TEE IT UP. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog – “That Time the NFL Paid Jack Kirby to Design an Intergalactic Super Bowl”.

At the height of his power in the 1970s, Kirby was commissioned for a feature in the October 21, 1973 issue of Pro! Magazine, the official publication of the National Football League. At the time, Kirby had switched to DC comics from Marvel, and presumably had a little spare time to pick up extra commissions. Hyperbolically titled “Out of Mind’s Reach,” Kirby’s collection of art depicted a future pro football match and debuted bizarre new costume designs for four different teams.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 7, 1940 — Walt Disney’s movie Pinocchio debuted.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born February 7, 1812 – Charles Dickens
  • Born February 7, 1908 – Buster Crabbe, who played Flash Gordon in serials.

(9) HARASSING PHOTOGRAPHER. Lauren Faits, who writes Geek Girl Chicago, broke a years-long silence in “Zero tolerance: Naming my cosplay harasser”.

I want to publicly thank C2E2, Chicago’s premiere comic convention, for action they took this afternoon. I was not going to attend their Mardi Gras event tonight due their affiliation with a traumatic figure from my past. Now, I enthusiastically will, and encourage everyone else to support C2E2 as well.

I am going to share my story before anyone else does.

Thirteen years ago, I was under 18- a minor. I was attending an anime convention in the Chicago area. A group of cosplayers, including myself, headed up to a hotel room to change out of our costumes. We were followed. While we were undressing, a photographer began slamming into our room’s locked door in an attempt to break in. The room had one of those sliding locks, which broke open under the force. The photographer rushed in with a camera, attempting to get nude photos and/or video of underage cosplayers.

This photographer’s name was Ron “Soulcrash” Ladao….

C2E2 is the first organization thus far to take me seriously. They are no longer professionally affiliated with my harasser, and thanked me for helping provide a safe environment for all. I encourage everyone to attend their party tonight, the convention, and other affiated events.

A lesson for everyone: If someone is making you or a loved one uncomfortable, don’t ignore it. It is easy to brush off someone’s disconcerting actions as “just their sense of humor,” but acts like these are no joke. We should not be laughing at predators. In fact, several people told me I should “talk” to Ron, to see if he’d apologize. Absolutely not. If someone broke into your home, or mugged you on the street, would you follow them later to seek an apology? No. We should believe and support one another, and let our actions show zero tolerance for harassment. We don’t owe harassers anything.

(10) NOT SORRY. Stephanie S. at The Right Geek justifies last year’s actions in an extensive post, “Dear SJW’s: We Sad Puppies CAN’T Repent”.

Lastly – and most importantly – there is no such thing as a “natural vote.” This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions that under-girds our opposition’s argument: the idea that, before we philistines got involved, the Hugos highlighted works that were genuinely the best in the field — which were selected by a group of high-minded, pure, and totally impartial fans. Ha. Ha ha. And again: ha. Do you know how many works of science fiction are published in a typical year? Many thousands. There is no one on God’s green earth who is capable of reading them all. In reality, modern fandom (like any other large group of human beings) has always had its aristoi — in this case, a small group of influential bloggers, reviewers, publishers, and magazine editors that routinely has an outsized impact, intentional or not, on what gets the hype and what doesn’t. The only thing that’s changed here is that some “politically objectionable” people have proven themselves to be a part of that aristoi and have decided not to play pretend. My suggestion? Make peace with the fact that factions will forever be with us. Man is inherently a political animal. Instead of denying this state of affairs, try to manage its effects by increasing overall participation on both ends of the Hugo process.

(11) TITANIC DISCOVERY. Futurism reports “The Mystery of Pluto’s ‘Floating Hills’ Solved : They’re Icebergs!”

NASA’s New Horizons mission keeps astonishing us with new images and new revelations about the mysterious, demoted dwarf planet, Pluto.

The most recent discovery is this little gem: Pluto has hills and small mountains that literally float across its surface.  It’s weird and unearthly, but we’re dealing, after all, with a very alien world on the outskirts of the Solar System.

And things are bound to get even weirder.

The newly discovered hills are mostly small, typically a few kilometers across, and were discovered in the immense frozen ocean of the so-called “Sputnik Planum,” which represents the western lobe of the famous heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio, the most prominent feature on Pluto

It seems these hills are composed of familiar water ice (so they really are icebergs, just like their terrestrial counterparts); since water ice is less dense than nitrogen ice, these hills are literally bobbing in a vast glacier or frozen ocean of nitrogen.

(12) SUPER BOWL ADS. Here is the Independence Day Resurgence trailer that aired during the Super Bowl.

And the X-Men Apocalypse trailer, too —

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]