Pixel Scroll 7/31/16 O You Who Turn The Wheel And Look To Scrollward, Consider Pixel, Who Was Once Handsome And Tall As You

(1) IT IS THE END MY FRIEND. My daughter went to the midnight Cursed Child book launch at her local store. She’d keep buying Potter novels if Rowling would keep writing them, but that is not in the works — “J.K. Rowling Says ‘Cursed Child’ Is the Last Harry Potter Story: ‘Harry Is Done Now’”.

The author, 51, spoke at the opening night of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage play in London’s West End theatre district on Saturday, July 30, where she told fans that she’s finished with the series.

“[Harry] goes on a very big journey during these two plays and then, yeah, I think we’re done,” Rowling told Reuters on Saturday night. “This is the next generation, you know. So, I’m thrilled to see it realized so beautifully but, no, Harry is done now.”

(2) BEAM ME – OH, NEVER MIND. Steven Murphy of ScienceFiction.com canna stand the strain – of Star Trek’s inconsistent and underimaginative use of the transporter. He makes his case in “Star Trek and the Optimization of the Transporter”.

Does it bother anyone else that the characters of ‘Star Trek’ regularly overlook the obvious solution? They’re not stupid. I’d understand if they were stupid. They are among the smartest collection of people in fiction. They just have a huge blindspot: the power of teleportation.

In ‘Star Trek,’ transporters can dematerialize people or things in one location and rematerialize them elsewhere. I wouldn’t be the first to point out that the functionality of the technology maddening varies based on the requirements of the plot.

Murphy develops three main themes:

  • The Federation Should Weaponize Transporters
  • The Federation Should Use Transporters Defensively
  • Transporters Should Be Used As A Warp-Alternative

(3) POLITICAL SF/F. Ilya Somin recommends “7 Fantasy/Science Fiction Epics That Can Inform You about the Real-World-Political Scene” at Learn Liberty.

Battlestar Galactica

The original 1970s TV series was remade in the 2000s. Both versions focus on the survivors of twelve human colony worlds that have been devastated by an attack by the Cylons, and both feature many of the same characters. Yet the original series and the remake are otherwise fundamentally different.

The former reflects a conservative response to the Cold War: the humans fall victim to a Cylon surprise attack because they were influenced by gullible peaceniks; the survivors’ military leader, Commander Adama, is almost always far wiser than the feckless civilian politicians who question his judgment. Concerns about civil liberties and due process in wartime are raised, but usually dismissed as overblown.

By contrast, the new series reflects the left-wing reaction to the War on Terror: the Cylon attack is at least partly the result of “blowback” caused by the humans’ own wrongdoing. The series stresses the importance of democracy and civilian leadership, and condemns what it regards as dangerous demonization and mistreatment of the enemy—even one that commits genocide and mass murder.

Both the original series and the new one have many interesting political nuances, and both have blind spots characteristic of the ideologies they exemplify. The sharp contrast between the two makes them more interesting considered in combination than either might be alone. They effectively exemplify how widely divergent lessons can be drawn from the same basic story line.

(4) DEL TORO COLLECTION. The Los Angeles County Art Museum exhibit “Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters” opens August 1.

DelToroMain_0

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters Guillermo del Toro (b. 1964) is one of the most inventive filmmakers of his generation. Beginning with Cronos (1993) and continuing through The Devil’s Backbone (2001), Hellboy (2004), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Pacific Rim (2013), and Crimson Peak (2015), among many other film, television, and book projects, del Toro has reinvented the genres of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Working with a team of craftsmen, artists, and actors—and referencing a wide range of cinematic, pop-culture, and art-historical sources—del Toro recreates the lucid dreams he experienced as a child in Guadalajara, Mexico. He now works internationally, with a cherished home base he calls “Bleak House” in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

Taking inspiration from del Toro’s extraordinary imagination, the exhibition reveals his creative process through his collection of paintings, drawings, maquettes, artifacts, and concept film art. Rather than a traditional chronology or filmography, the exhibition is organized thematically, beginning with visions of death and the afterlife; continuing through explorations of magic, occultism, horror, and monsters; and concluding with representations of innocence and redemption.

(5) SOMETHING MORE TO VOTE ON. Still on that adrenaline high after voting for the Hugos? You can help James Davis Nicoll – he’s looking for readers’ opinions about the books he should review. He explains, “That specific set of reviews is of books I read as a teen, so between 1974 and 1981.” Register your choices in a “non-binding” poll” at More Words, Deeper Hole.

(6) AN IMPONDERABLES REVIEW. Dave Feldman enjoyed playing Letter Tycoon.

Once you get started, game play is remarkably fast and hassle-free. Letter Tycoon is a combination word game and stock market game. You form words using your own letters combined with three “community cards.” The longer the words you form, the more assets (in the form of cash and stocks) you earn. If you accumulate enough cash, you can buy patents in the letter(s) you have used to form your words. These patents function like houses and hotels in Monopoly; you get paid every time another player forms a word using “your” patented letters. As you’d expect, it costs more to buy a patent on the most frequently-used letters, but some more obscure letters possess special powers that can make them valuable.

(7) TOOLS THAT CHANGE THE TOOL USER. Matthew Kirschenbaum, author of Track Changes, asserts “Technology changes how authors write, but the big impact isn’t on their style”.

“Our writing instruments are also working on our thoughts.” Nietzsche wrote, or more precisely typed, this sentence on a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, a wondrous strange contraption that looks a little like a koosh ball cast in brass and studded with typewriter keys. Depressing a key plunged a lever with the typeface downward onto the paper clutched in the underbelly.

It’s well-known that Nietzsche acquired the Writing Ball to compensate for his failing eyesight. Working by touch, he used it to compose terse, aphoristic phrasings exactly like that oft-quoted pronouncement. Our writing instruments, he suggested, are not just conveniences or contrivances for the expression of ideas; they actively shape the limits and expanse of what we have to say. Not only do we write differently with a fountain pen than with a crayon because they each feel different in our hands, we write (and think) different kinds of things.

But what can writing tools and writing machines really tell us about writing? Having just published my book “Track Changes” on the literary history of word processing, I found such questions were much on my mind. Every interviewer I spoke with wanted to know how computers had changed literary style. Sometimes they meant style for an individual author; sometimes they seemed to want me to pronounce upon the literary establishment (whatever that is) in its entirety.

(8) LOCUS POLL COMMENTS. At Locus Online you can read voters’ Comments from the 2016 Locus Poll and Survey. For example:

I actually read a couple of first novels I liked, which surprised me! I don’t read those very often these days, but these were strongly urged on me and I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve been reading e-books for about a year now and they’re starting to form a large chunk of my “book” buying in general, though I still buy more genre in print form than e-book. I’m buying a lot of the old classics in e-book (i.e., Ye Olde Deade Whyte Guys, like Twain, Shakespeare, Mary Shelley (;)) and some of the older sf/f/h titles as well. The “Great Distemper of 2015” left me with a dull ache behind my eyes and reminded me why I ducked out of the fannish aspects of SF 20 years ago or so. I fervently hope it goes away soon. I read more and liked more of what I read last year. There must be something wrong with me! (innocentlookicon) I’m trying very hard to work up my inner “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!” attitude about the state of SF, but I can’t.

(9) FINAL CHAPTER. A Los Angeles Daily News story about several LA-area bookstores facing closure.

Adryan Russ slips behind the counter at Bookfellows/Mystery & Imagination in Glendale to say goodbye to co-owner Christine Bell, who recently announced that her long-standing used bookstore will be closing at the end of August.

With a hug, the longtime customer wishes her well.

“To see this store have to follow the trends of today’s world, where we won’t be holding books much longer, you can see the sadness in her eyes about it,” says Russ, a musical theater lyricist based in Glendale. “It’s like a whole era is fading.”

The shuttering of Bookfellows comes as economic pressures from an increasingly competitive online marketplace, rising rents and dwindling walk-in traffic make it hard for some Southern California independent used booksellers to keep their large storefronts.

(10) ONE NY BOOKSTORE IS STICKING AROUND. The New York Times found a bookstore with an edge on the competition — “Want to Work in 18 Miles of Books? First, the Quiz”.

As Jennifer Lobaugh arrived at the Strand Book Store to apply for a job this spring, she remembered feeling jittery. It wasn’t only because she badly wanted a job at the fabled bookstore in Greenwich Village, her first in New York City, but also because at the end of the application, there was a quiz — a book quiz.

She rode the elevator to the third floor, sat down at a long table and scanned the quiz: a list of titles and a list of authors. She matched “The Second Sex” with Simone de Beauvoir right away. But then she had doubts. “I thought I would have no trouble,” said Ms. Lobaugh, 27, who has an M.F.A. in creative writing and a background in French and Russian literature. “But I got nervous.”

The Strand is the undisputed king of the city’s independent bookstores, a giant in an ever-shrinking field. It moves 2.5 million books a year and has around 200 employees. While its competitors have closed by the dozens, it has survived on castaways — from publishers, reviewers, the public and even other booksellers.

For nearly a century, the huge downtown bookstore has symbolized not only inexpensive books, but something just as valuable: full-time work for those whose arcane knowledge outweighs their practical skills.

Can you pass the Strand’s literary quiz? Match each book with its author. Test Your Book Smarts.

With a score of 33/50, I probably won’t be working at Strand until they start hiring folks whose specialty is asking, “Would you like fries with that?”

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

It was the first time humans had experience driving on another world, and by all accounts, the LRV was awesome.

The LRV was used mainly to extend the astronauts’ travel range up to a few miles from the landing site (for Apollo 15, the LRV traveled more than 17 miles in total). This allowed the science-focused missions of Apollo 15, 16, and 17 far more reach than hoofing it around the moon’s surface.

Jerry Seinfeld also had something to say about driving on the moon:

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born July 31, 1965 – J. K. Rowling

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY WIZARD

  • Born July 31, 1980 — Harry Potter

(14) GIANT ROBOTS. Kevin Melrose of Comic Book Resources thinks “Glorious ‘Transformers’ fan film is better than any of Michael Bay’s”.

Called “Generation 1 Hero,” it’s directed by Lior Molcho and stars members of Arizona Autobots, a group of Transformers cosplayers who create their own costumes. “Y’know, it was a lot of fun having them punch each other,” Molcho said in a behind-the-scenes video. “It’s a boy’s dream come true, y’know: giant robots punching each other! This is pretty awesome!”

 

(15) AN EDITOR’S ADVICE. Amanda S. Green’s post “It is a business”, quoted here the other day, attracted comment from the publisher of Castalia House, Vox Day in “Submissions and so forth”. His counsel begins —

  1. Most of the stuff that is submitted isn’t anywhere near ready. Seriously, we’re talking “WTF were you thinking” territory. Don’t submit just to submit, practice, then file it away if it’s not genuinely on par with what the publisher publishes and move on to the next work.
  2. You have VERY little time to impress the slush reader, who is wading through large quantities of writing that ranges from barely literate to mediocre. Make it count.
  3. Keep the cover letter short and to the point. No one is going to be impressed by how BADLY you want to be published or HOW MUCH you want to work with the publishing house. What you want has nothing to do with how good your book is.

(16) LARPOLOGY. The thirtieth installment of Marie Brennan’s Dice Tales column for Book View Café has the irresistible headline: “Every Title I Can Think of for This Post Sounds Like Spam”.

When you introduce a new character to an ongoing campaign, narrative integration is only one of the problems you face. The longer the game has been underway, the more you need to think about mechanical balance.

(17) LAST DAY OF VOTING. Peter J. Enyeart makes a fascinating assessment of Neal Stephenson while explaining how he ranked the nominees in the Best Novel category, but here’s who he thought should win —

  1. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie In the closing novel of the trilogy, Breq faces ever greater challenges as she finds herself a high-value target in the Radchaai civil war. I feel a little bad about picking this one for the top spot, since it’s a sequel to a book that won two years ago, but it was definitely my favorite. It’s the only nominee I had read before the nominations were announced, and the only nominee that I actually nominated. I read the whole thing in about 24 hours, the week it came out. It even makes me feel more charitable towards the second installment in the series, which I liked less, because it serves as a nice set up for this satisfying conclusion. Breq is one of my favorite characters in fiction. So cold, aloof, detached, and calculating, and yet so empathetic, observant, devoted, and inspiring. It’s a tall order for a writer to pull off that combination, but she did it. Breq provides a model for leadership that seems like something a person like me could aspire to, and I’m very appreciative. (I like the Presger Translators a lot, too.) Well done, Ann Leckie.

(18) ANOTHER COUNTY HEARD FROM. Charon Dunn, on the other hand, put Stephenson’s novel first on her 2016 Hugo Ballot.

Seveneves

Earnestly focusing on books as they linearly progress from beginning to end is for noobs and editors and people like that. Sometimes you just want to dive into a ballpit of words and mosh around. Seveneves is one of those, hard science flavored, where humanity reaches the mostly dead state before seven intrepid spacewomen start cranking out babies, thus founding seven distinct races, each one bioengineered per their founding mother’s will. Setting the scene for future highjinks.

Many of the reviews I have read make a pointed effort at informing readers that the bioengineering in Seveneves is hogwash. A lot of my generation feels the same way about bioengineering that the Victorians did about sex, which makes it a fun taboo to read and write about. Sure it’s hogwash, so are Death Stars, who cares. The science in Seveneves follows this soothing cycle of looming disaster; implement solution; new looming disaster. I’m a fan of this method of plot organization.

(19) A NEW LEAF. And if you assumed that someone writing for a blog called Books & Tea would pick the book by the tea-loving Leckie, then Christina Vasilevski will surprise you with her choice, in “What I’m Voting for in the 2016 Hugo Awards”.

  1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin — As I mentioned when I read and reviewed this book last yearThe Fifth Season blew me away. I’m so glad this one ended up on the ballot. Jemisin’s writing is lyrical and her willingness to put her politics front and centre in her stories is great.

(20) FAN ARTISTS. Doctor Science posted an overview of the Fan Artist nominees. Earlier, the Good Doctor covered Pro Artist.

(21) HOW DO YOU GET THIS OUT OF SECOND GEAR? Forbes’ infographic contrasts Star Trek’s warp drive with what scientists are working on today.

If you want to experience the thrill of travelling faster than the speed of light, all you need to do is hitch a ride on the Starship Enterprise and engage the ‘warp drive’. You’ll be able to enjoy a cup of hot Earl Grey while visiting countless worlds through interstellar travel, all thanks to the power of warp drive! Easy peasy.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, and Steven H Silver for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ann Leckie.]

Vegas Tributes For Joyce Worley Katz

By Jacq Monahan & John Wesley Hardin: Joyce Worley Katz , High Priestess of fandom, fanzine fan, beloved wife and friend, died peacefully on July 30, 2016 after complications from a stroke. The co-chair of 1969’s St. Louiscon was a pioneer in video game journalism and educational software. She was once accused of destroying science fiction, which charge she wore with pride. She was also proud of her Native American heritage; she loved sparkly, oversized rings, a succession of indoor and outdoor cats, her vast amount of friends, and fellow fan and husband of 46 years, Arnie Katz. Known for her warmth, hospitality and welcoming spirit, Joyce Katz was the heart of Las Vegas fandom. She will be sorely missed.

Click the links above for an in-depth bio and fanac.

By Jacq Monahan: She was generous, warm, witty, and welcoming, hostess to the Vegrants, a bi-monthly fannish gathering, and to many a TAFF delegate.  She was gracious and wise, supportive and caring, at home in the kitchen or at the keyboard.  For her friends, home was wherever she was at the moment.  She was Joyce Katz, one of fandom’s finest (and Earth’s).  A brilliant star has had its supernova.  Now she belongs to the galaxy, which, even in its great expanse, is not nearly large enough to contain her heart, nor the love we had for her.     –Jacq Monahan (who speaks here for many others)

Cult Movie Bracket: Semifinal

Cult Movie Bracket Logo SMBy Hampus Eckerman: For each pair, vote for the top cult movie. Vote for what is memorable, what is fun, what is interesting, what is cult. You will have at least 24 hours to answer, but after that it depends on when I have time to count the votes.

1. ESSENCIAL CULT
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Dr. Strangelove or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

2. BATTLE OF BRITAIN
Rank the films from 1 to 3, 1 being best.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
The Princess Bride (1987)
Time Bandits (1981)

Joyce Katz (1939-2016)

Joyce [Worley Fisher] Katz died July 30, succumbing to an array of serious medical problems that followed a stroke in May. She’s survived by her husband of 45 years, Arnie Katz.

She spent the past 25 years, after she and Arnie moved to Las Vegas, helping organize and host fan groups and conventions.

They published numerous fanzines, and participated in Corflu, an annual con for fanzine fans. Joyce chaired Corflu 29 and was on the committee for Corflu 25, as well as several local conventions, Silvercon 1-4.

Joyce was named “past president of fwa (fan writers of america)” for 2003 at the 2004 Corflu, an affectionate honorific. Her fan memoirs were published in Hard Science Tales, and her fanwriting was collected in The Sweetheart of Fanac Falls.

Joyce was born in Poplar Bluff, Missouri (according to Arnie, also the birthplace of Claude Degler). She discovered sf after marrying Ray Fisher in 1956. Fisher had been active as a fanzine publisher but became alienated from the scene and, as a result, it was not until the mid-1960s that Joyce connected with other fans. Once having done so they immediately co-founded the Ozark Science Fiction Association.

She worked on five Ozarkons. Ray Fisher resumed publishing Odd, which was nominated for a Hugo in 1968. And with plenty of prodding from New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis fandoms, Joyce found herself spearheading a St. Louis Worldcon bid after only three years as an actifan.

She and Ray split up the year after they co-chaired St. Louiscon. Joyce moved to New York. In 1971 she and Arnie married. She was a member of New York’s two faannish groups, the Fanoclasts and the Brooklyn Insurgents.

After moving to Las Vegas in 1989, Joyce and Arnie eventually resumed fan activity, helped found two fan groups — the Southern Nevada Area Fantasy Fiction Union (SNAFFU) and the Vegrants – and once again became prolific fanzine publishers. Joyce and Arnie were Fan GoH’s at the 1996 Westercon in El Paso.

[Thanks to Deb Geisler for the story.]

Malcolm Cross, MilSF, and Piracy

By Carl Slaughter: Malcolm Cross does military science fiction. He also gets pirated.

His novel Extinction Biome: Invasion, co-authored with Anne Tibbets and published under the house name Addison Gunn), was released in five eBook novellas earlier in 2016, culminating in a collected print edition in June. His novel Dog Country came out in the spring. “Dangerous Jade” won the Ursa Major Award for best anthropomorphic short fiction.

“Pavlov’s House”, published by Strange Horizons, was pirated by the now notorious Hungarian sf magazine Galaktika. File 770 has been providing ongoing coverage of the Galaktika investigation.

Extinction Biome Invasion

Extinction Biome

The Earth was never ours…

Alex Miller trained for years in the Army, waiting for a war that never came. Now a corporate bodyguard and driver, he’s about to bear witness to the end of the human race.

An ancient ecology has reawakened, and like a Biblical plague it threatens to consume all life on Earth. Hordes of parasite-infected humans riot in the streets, as vast fungal blooms destroy our crops and fast-evolving horrors stalk our cities.

The last time this happened, T-Rex found itself on the menu. But mankind’s got more than teeth – it’s got guns. Miller and the men and women of COBALT, the Schaeffer-Yeager Corporation’s elite security team, are pressed into service to fight the onslaught, but they have no idea how cut-throat their company masters can be…

Praise for Extinction Biome:

“Ruthless and fast-paced, Extinction Biome is a planetary gut-punch.”

— Weston Ochse, award-winning author of Grunt Life and Seal Team 666

Dog Country cover

Dog Country

A crowdfunded civil war is Azerbaijan’s only hope against its murderous dictatorship. The war is Edane Estian’s only chance to find out if he’s more than what he was designed to be.

He’s a clone soldier, gengineered from a dog’s DNA and hardened by a brutal training regime. He’d be perfect for the job if an outraged society hadn’t intervened, freed him at age seven, and placed him in an adopted family.

Is he Edane? Cathy and Beth’s son, Janine’s boyfriend, valued member of his MilSim sports team? Or is he still White-Six, serial number CNR5-4853-W6, the untroubled killing machine?

By joining a war to protect the powerless, he hopes to become more than the sum of his parts.

Without White-Six, he’ll never survive this war. If that’s all he can be, he’ll never leave it.

Praise for Dog Country:

“Very much informed by 1980s cyberpunk fiction. The richly staccato narration and dialogue-heavy scenes carry the distinctive generic DNA of sexualised, late-modern (and postmodern) cityscapes fed through Raymond Chandler, Ian Fleming and Jack Kerouac.”

— Dr. Robin Stoate (co-author, BFI Film Classics: Back to the Future)

“Cross shows an extremely distinctive voice, staying so much in the viewpoint character’s head that it borders on stream of consciousness. … there are few genuine stylists among furry authors and even fewer this good.”

“Opening with a powerful, visceral chapter, Dog Country is a novel that grips your imagination from the start and doesn’t let go. … Both in terms of the larger, fractured political situation as well as the immediate, intense military action, Cross has created a remarkable novel.”

SOCIAL MEDIA

Website: http://www.sinisbeautiful.com/
Twitter: @foozzzball
Amazon Author Page: Malcolm-F.-Cross

Pixel Scroll 7/30/16 Two Pixels Diverged In A Scroll, And I – I Took The One That Had The Most Bacon

(1) ALWAYS TO CALL IT RESEARCH. An appeals court affirmed that Luc Besson’s Lockout plagiarized John Carpenter’s Escape From New York.

The French filmmaker will have to fork over nearly half a million dollars

An appeals court has ruled that French filmmaker Luc Besson is guilty of plagiarizing from John Carpenter’s 1981 classic “Escape From New York” and must now pay the fellow filmmaker nearly half a million dollars.

As Yahoo reports, Besson has long denied that his 2012 thriller, “Lockout,” was a copy of Carpenter’s Kurt Russell-starring actioner. In Carpenter’s film, Russell plays a former government agent who is tasked with retrieving the U.S. president from the island of Manhattan — which has been turned into a massive prison — after his plane crashes there (thanks, Air Force One, thanks a lot). In “Lockout,” Pearce is a convict sent to a giant space jail who is given the chance to win back his freedom if he can rescue the U.S. president’s daughter, who is trapped in said giant space jail.

The court ruled that Besson’s film had “massively borrowed key elements” of Carpenter’s feature…

[Via Ansible Links.]

(2) MIDAMERICON LOSES HOTEL. The MidAmeriCon II committee announced on Facebook that one of its hotels will be unavailable, and members who reserved there are being shifted elsewhere:

HOTEL UPDATE: The Courtyard/Residence Inn has let us know that their construction has run over schedule and they will not be open in time for MidAmeriCon II. We have been working with their staff and Passkey to contact those displaced to advise them of the situation and to find our members a hotel room with one of our other contracted properties. Please be aware that the new reservations will not be in the individual hotel systems until later this week. Once that occurs, the affected members will be contacted with information on where they have been relocated and provided new confirmations. Any questions can be sent to hotel@midamericon2.org.

(3) FURNISHING THE NEXT STAR TREK. iDigital Times learned that “’Star Trek: Discovery’ Ship Has Its Captain’s Chair”.

Star Trek: Discovery showrunner Bryan Fuller revealed the captain’s chair aboard the starship U.S.S. Discovery NCC-1031. It’s very much in line with classic captains’ seats, with the swept open armrests of Jean-Luc Picard’s luxurious, tan cathedra.

 

(4) THE PRICE OF FAME. Of course, by “the price of fame” we mean what price the fans will pay. CNN Money has the going rates: “Want a picture with Captain Kirk? That’ll be $100”.

Star Trek’s massive 50th anniversary convention starts next week in Las Vegas, and celebrities have posted their prices for photos with fans.

…Resistance is, of course, futile.

Older actors who starred in Star Trek: The Original Series from the 1960s charge higher prices. And the clairvoyant Whoopi Goldberg tops the charts.

(5) OWL SERVICE. A gig on Fiverr: “I will design a Harry Potter Hogwarts Personalized Acceptance Letter for $5”.

acceptance letter

Have you been waiting forever for your special letter to come? OMG! Don’t wait anymore! You can receive your very own letter, stating that you’ve been accepted to Hogwarts and feel the magic! Makes the perfect Hogwarts gift for anyone of any age and it is fully personalised with their very own name and address.!

What you get is a PDF file – when you pay only $5, you have to provide your own bells and whistles….

(6) THE DISNEY-TOLKIEN INTERSECTION. The original story is on Cracked, but this Hello Giggles writer explains it more clearly. Maybe that’s because she’s sober. “This insane theory says ‘Snow White’ is a sequel to ‘Lord of the Rings’”

While Snow White’s dwarfs seem pretty standard—they’re short, unsocial, and obsessed with treasure—Diplotti explains that Tolkien took many of the names of his dwarves from a centuries-old Norse epic called the Voluspa, which has a section devoted to dwarf names and their meanings. Durin? That’s “Sleepy,” thank you very much. Dwalin, or “Dvalinn” in the “Voluspa,” is torpid, lazy, or sleepy. Oin? That would be “shy,” a.k.a. “bashful.” Well, that’s creepy!

(7) LIFE IS NOT A REHEARSAL. As Kameron Hurley frees herself, she offers hope to other writers: “You Don’t Owe Anyone Your Time”.

Certainly one in a position of privilege does have a moral imperative to state, “This atrocity is wrong.” But when you buckle down to engage the haters on any issue, consider what your end goal is in having that conversation, and consider what other valuable work you could be doing with that time. I can pretty much guarantee you that, say, writing The Geek Feminist Revolution and getting it into people’s hands was worth about a billion times more than spending that time arguing with dudes on the internet who were just there to distract me. They aren’t here to change minds. They are here to keep us from doing the work that changes the world.

We all have a finite amount of time on this earth. Those of us with chronic illness or who have had near-death experiences appreciate that more than others. I feel that it’s my moral imperative to remind you that you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. And if you did, would you regret how you’d spend the hour, the day, the week, the month, the year before?

My goal is to live the sort of life where I won’t feel I’ve wasted my time if I die tomorrow. It has kept me on target through a lot of bullshit. The truth is that all this shit is made up, and because it’s made up, it can be remade. But only if we focus our efforts on creating the work that moves the conversation forward, instead of letting ourselves get caught up in the distraction.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 30, 1932 — Walt Disney released his first color cartoon, “Flowers and Trees,” made in three-color Technicolor.
  • July 30, 1999Blair Witch Project released

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY TERMINATOR

  • Born July 30, 1947 — Arnold Schwarzenegger

(10) BANG THE GAVEL SLOWLY. Frank Darabont is auctioning off rare Hollywood memorabilia. The Hollywood Reporter explains:

Frank Darabont, the filmmaker behind The Shawshank Redemption who helped launch The Walking Dead on AMC, is parting ways with some of his most prized possessions.

The director is putting more than two dozen rare items up for the gavel Saturday as part of Profiles in History’s art and movie memorabilia auction — including plenty of items that would make fanboys and fangirls weak in the knees.

“One thing I’ve always known is this amazing art wouldn’t be mine forever. It couldn’t be. We don’t own these things. We can only be their caretakers for a time, enjoying them as much as possible until inevitably they must pass on to the next caretaker” Darabont said in a statement. “For me, that time has come. I won’t lie to you and say that parting with these things is easy. Trust me, it really, really isn’t. But the time for everything passes, and so has my position as caretaker. I will be ever grateful for the joy these wonderful pieces of art have brought me. I can only hope that they will bring their next caretakers (and all caretakers after that, ad infinitum) equal or greater joy.”

And Art Daily has more details about the items going up for auction.

Following the hugely successful sale of Frank Frazetta art from the collection of Dave Winiewicz, this unique auction will be presented in two sessions. Session One, The Frank Darabont Collection, includes original works by master artists Bernie Wrightson, Mike Mignola, Sanjulian, Jack Davis, Will Eisner, Eric Powell, Bob Peak, Rich Corben, Vaughn Bode, a bronze of the “Cyclops” creature by Ray Harryhausen, and rare movie posters including the only known Frankenstein 1941 Italian 4-fogli, and much more.

Session Two comprises a superb collection of vintage comic and illustration artwork featuring the finest original oil paintings by Frank Frazetta ever offered at auction, including “Sea Witch” (pre-sale estimate of $1,000,000 – $1,500,000) and “Bran Mak Morn” (pre-sale estimate of ($450,000 – $550,000), the most expensive Frazetta paintings ever offered at auction. These two paintings have never been offered for sale. The sale also features a wealth of works by “The Studio” artists Bernie Wrightson, Mike Kaluta, Jeffery Jones, and Barry Windsor-Smith, as well as Spider-Man art by John Romita, a Golden Age cover by Jack Kirby, horror and fantasy art by Richard Corben, an important work by John Buscema, among many other pieces by notable masters of the comic medium. Most of these works have been hidden away in private collections for decades, and this sale represents the first and likely only chance to obtain them.

 

(11) AUSTRALIA IS ON THE MOVE – LITERALLY. The BBC tells why “Australia plans new co-ordinates to fix sat-nav gap”

Because of the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates, these local co-ordinates drift apart from the Earth’s global co-ordinates over time.

“If you want to start using driverless cars, accurate map information is fundamental,” said Mr Jaksa.

“We have tractors in Australia starting to go around farms without a driver, and if the information about the farm doesn’t line up with the co-ordinates coming out of the navigation system there will be problems.”

The Geocentric Datum of Australia, the country’s local co-ordinate system, was last updated in 1994. Since then, Australia has moved about 1.5 metres north.

So on 1 January 2017, the country’s local co-ordinates will also be shifted further north – by 1.8m.

Chip Hitchcock commented, when he sent the link: “A fascinating reminder that the world we live on is still changing. (I’d love to see comparable numbers for the US, cf the Grand Canyon docent snarking ‘If you want to go to Europe this is the year, because it will never be any closer.’) The story also quotes a claim that this inaccuracy affects self-driving cars, but I’d hope such cars would rely on immediate observation rather than stored memories of coordinates of fixed objects like curbs.”

(12) THE SHARK, DEAR. The Wrap reviews the sequel a day before it airs on SyFy: “’Sharknado 4’ Review: This Joke Has No Teeth Anymore”.

A joke might be funny the first time, but by the fourth time you hear it, the punchline gets tired.

“Tired” is a good description for “Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens,” which premieres Sunday on Syfy. Although the parody movie is as absurd and silly as the first three installments were, this time around the whole thing feels forced.

On one hand, you can tell stars Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and David Hasselhoff are having fun. Ziering even manages to mock his stint as a Chippendales dancer. But the novelty of this campy killer-shark franchise has clearly worn off, and now the nudges and winks from the made-for-TV flick’s cast and writers border on punishing.

(13) SOUTH KOREA’S GAMERGATE? NPR raises the spectre that “South Korea Is Contending With A ‘Gamergate’ Of Its Own – Over A T-Shirt”.

An online controversy over a South Korean voice actress’s tweeted image of a T-shirt has escalated into what is now being called East Asia’s version of Gamergate — a reference to the vitriolic controversy that pitted gamers, largely men, against women in tech.

Twelve hours after posting a photo of a shirt reading “Girls Do Not Need A Prince,” Kim Jayeon — who had been providing a voice for the popular video game Closers — was out of her job.

Part of the problem was the source of the shirt. It’s put out by Megalia4, a South Korean feminist group.

When Kim’s tweet surfaced on July 18, scores of male gamers demanded that she apologize for supporting what they call a “anti-man hate group.” When Kim refused to budge, they bombarded Nexon, her employer and publisher of Closers, with complaints and refund requests, and soon, she was out.

“We have to be responsive to our customers’ opinions,” Nexon told The Hankyoreh, a South Korean news outlet. “The voice actress exacerbated the issue by posting inflammatory tweets such as ‘what’s wrong with supporting Megalia?'”

(14) HANDICAPPING THE HUGOS: This reader predicts Chuck Tingle will get a rocket.

(15) MACII ONLINE PRE-REG ENDS AUGUST 5.

MidAmeriCon II will be closing online pre-registration for all classes of membership on Friday, August 5, 2016.  Fans planning to attend the convention are encouraged to buy their membership before this date, both to take advantage of the best membership rates and for maximum convenience when they arrive at the convention. Full (five-day) Adult Attending Membership rates will increase from $210 now to $240 at the door, while Young Adult and Military Attending Membership rates will increase from $100 now to $120 at the door. Pre-registered members may collect their badges and other membership materials from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, August 15 and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 16.  Members who can collect their materials on these days can expect to benefit from reduced waiting times.

Full details of all MidAmeriCon II membership categories and rates, as well as at-con opening hours, can be found on the convention website at http://midamericon2.org/home/registration-hotel-member-information/registration/.

(16) YELLOW F&SF DAYS. Paul Fraser at About SF Magazines provides a retro review of “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction #5, December 1950”.

(17) TREK BREW. The Nerdist relays plans to “Celebrate 50 years of Star Trek with golden anniversary beer”.

Trek Pale Ale

A quote:

“Star Trek Golden Anniversary Ale: The Trouble With Tribbles” will debut at the premiere of Star Trek Beyond, at the IMAX Embarcadero Marina Park on July 20, and Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center on July 21 – 24. It will also available at the “Star Trek Las Vegas” convention at the Rio Hotel & Casino from August 3 – 7, 2016. Then in the fall, Shmaltz will bring Voyage to the Northeast Quadrant to the Mission New York Convention at the Javits Center from September 2 – 4, 2016.

(18) JULES VERNE MOVIE. The Galactic Journey crew was among the first to see what they dubbed “[July 30, 1961] 20,000 Leagues in a Balloon (Jules Vern’s Mysterious Island)”.

Perhaps the most famous of Verne’s protagonists is Captain Nemo, skipper of the magnificent submarine, the Nautilus.  In 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, adapted to film in 1953, Nemo led a one-man crusade against war, sinking the world’s warships in the cause of pacifism.

My daughter and I just came back from the premiere of Mysterious Island, the latest translation of a Verne novel.  It is a sequel of sorts to 20,000 Leagues, though this is not immediately apparent from the beginning.  The initial setting is the siege of Richmond at the end of the American Civil War.  Four Yankee prisoners make a daring escape in a balloon along with an initially wary, but ultimately game, Confederate prisoner.  The film begins with no indication of where it’s going other than the title (and the mention of Nemo in the cast list – an unfortunate spoiler).

(19) APOLLO TREK. Space.com’s Leonard David has a piece about how George Takei and Buzz Aldrin got an assist from William Shatner to celebrate the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing and the 50th anniversary of Star Trek at Cape Canaveral.

An audience of some 250 people took part in the evening event, which was dominated by a huge Saturn 5 moon rocket perched overhead. The occasion raised funds for Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring children to be passionate about science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.

The anniversary gala was hosted by George Takei, best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the original “Star Trek” TV series and movies….

Takei had a special surprise video beamed in from one of his “Star Trek” crewmates — William Shatner, who played USS Enterprise Capt. James T. Kirk.

Shatner said he wished he could be present at the Apollo 11 anniversary event. He was in Los Angeles, tied to a previous engagement with the other starship captains of “Star Trek” celebrating the past 50 years, Shatner said.

(20) UNSPARING CHANGE. Black Gate’s Derek Kunsken experiences “A Tremendously Disappointing Re-Read: The Soaked-in Misogyny of Piers Anthony’s Xanth”

How bad is the sexism and misogyny? I mean, can we cut it some slack because it was published in 1977?

Um. No. The 1970s were the 1970s, but there were still lots of remarkable writers creating compelling stories with well-rounded characters back then.

All the female characters in the first two novels occupy a narrow range of man-created stereotyped roles that were already fossils in the 1970s. Anthony has:

  1. the dumb love interest,
  2. the smart love interest,
  3. the nagging love interest, and
  4. the cautionary tales for Bink’s choice of love interest.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Keith Kato, Martin Morse Wooster, Dawn Incognito, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Heinlein Society Awards Scholarships

Heinlein Society logoThe Heinlein Society announced on Robert Heinlein’s 109th birthday, July 7, the winners of its three annual $1,000 undergraduate scholarships: Elias Anderson, Carson Butler, and Charles Hanson.

Elias Anderson is a repeat winner from 2015; the first ever multi-year winner. He is enrolled at St. Vincent College in Pennsylvania as a sophomore majoring in Engineering and Mathematics, He hopes to pursue a career in the space industry.

Carson Bulter is the inaugural winner of the Virginia Heinlein Memorial Scholarship for a woman undergraduate major in a STEM subject. She will be attending the University of Virginia’s College of Arts and Sciences as a freshman, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. She envisions herself working with NASA in the future, and has already taken an eight-week online course as a NASA Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholar, as well as a resident course at Langley Research Center.

Charles Hanson is the first scholarship recipient from outside the United States.  He is enrolled as a freshman at the University of Alberta, majoring in Mathematics. He plans to declare a second major in astrophysics when he has the requisite credits to do so. His dream is to become an astronaut, and last year he attended Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama and has been invited back to attend the Advanced Space Camp.

The winners’ checks will be mailed on August 1. For further details, including the recipients’ schools and majors, see The Heinlein Society Scholarship Program.

The entries were evaluated by a committee composed of Dr. Pauline Bennett, Dr. Marie Guthrie, Dr. Keith Kato, Dr. Jerry Pournelle, Geo Rule, Michael Sheffield, and Betsey Wilcox.  A total of 81 entries were submitted, and the committee commented several times during the evaluation process about the difficulty of selecting the Top-10, let alone the Top-3.

[Thanks to Keith Kato for the story.]

Harlan Ellison, Frequent Jeopardy! Flyer

JeopardyIt’s reliably reported on Harlan Ellison’s forum that he was featured as a Jeopardy! game show answer on July 21. According to Brian Phillips it was an answer worth $2,000:

The answer was something along the lines of, “An evil supercomputer named AM features in Harlan Ellison’s story, “I Have No Mouth, And I Must ____”

And that’s good for business —

While trying to find a link to that for the Scroll, I discovered the J-Archive has unexplained gaps. One of the missing shows is July 21.

In the meantime, I found nine other times that Harlan Ellison factored into a Jeopardy! answer. It’s interesting that almost all of them are about the same two works.

harlan with bird

#3196, aired 1998-06-22 — AUTHOR, AUTHOR $800: Last name shared by “Invisible Man” author Ralph & “A Boy and His Dog” author Harlan

  • Ellison

#4208, aired 2002-12-11 — PEN NAMES $1600: “I have no mouth, and I must scream” that this science fiction writer has been Jay Solo & Paul Merchant

  • Harlan Ellison

#5182, aired 2007-03-06 — AT THE MOVIES $1200: Don Johnson & a talking pooch were the stars of this 1975 film based on a Harlan Ellison story

  • A Boy and His Dog

#5544, aired 2008-10-16 — COMPLETE THE HUGO AWARD-WINNING TITLE $1600: 1968: “I Have No Mouth, and I Must _____ ” by Harlan Ellison

  • Scream

#5611, aired 2009-01-19 — SCIENCE FICTION $600: This 1969 novella by Harlan Ellison tells the story of Blood, a telepathic canine who teaches his master to read

  • A Boy and His Dog

#5815, aired 2009-12-18 — LITERARY “EL” MEN $1200: Surname of authors Ralph & Harlan

  • Ellison

#6608, aired 2013-05-15 — NOVELLAS $800: Harlan Ellison won a Best Novella Nebula Award for his story about “a boy” & his intelligence-enhanced this

  • a dog

#6969, aired 2014-12-25 — NOT TO BE CONFUSED $200: Harlan Ellison is a sci-fi writer; he is the founder & CEO of Oracle

  • Larry Ellison

About that last one — knowing how Ellison dislikes being tagged “a sci-fi writer” (generally, and that he particularly loathes the term “sci-fi”) I visualize him flinging a shoe at the TV screen. But that’s my imagination at work, he probably never watches at all…

Just A Few More Hours To Vote on Hugos

Time is running out to vote online or make last-minute changes to your Hugo ballot.

Hugo Voting Closes Sunday July 31 at 11:59 PM PDT

You will need your membership number and PIN.

The Hugo Administrators warn that the website will be quite busy as the deadline approaches. They plead, “Don’t wait until the very end or you may encounter delays that could keep some or all of your choices from being properly recorded.”

They also say that the system will automatically send voters an email confirmation of your ballot. However: “When many people are voting at the same time these email confirmations get backed up and may arrive delayed, out of order, or not at all. But don’t worry – your votes have been recorded.”

The Hugo Voter Packets for both the 2016 Hugo  and 1941 Retro Hugo works will remain accessible by Worldcon members until voting closes.

Alex Shvartsman Anthology Update

Alex Shvartsman

Alex Shvartsman

By Carl Slaughter: Alex Shvartsman is a busy guy. He’s been editing so many anthologies, his writing for such magazines as Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge has been on hold.

He’s still cranking out the Unidentified Funny Objects series. UFO #5 goes to the press next month and will be released in October. He’ll start taking submissions for #6 in a few months and is working on Funny Science Fiction, Funny Fantasy, and Funny Horror.

The Table of Contents for UFO #5 comes out next week. After doing comedy for a while, now he’s delving into hard science with Humanity 2.0, also out in October.

And what’s that secret project he’s been working on?  Now we know – last week Shvartsman announced The Cackle of Cthulhu anthology:

I’ve been sitting on this news for months. It’s the secret project I was hinting at in my anthology update a few weeks ago. But now that the contract is signed, I can finally announce that I will be editing an anthology for Baen!

The Cackle of Cthulhu will be an anthology of Lovecraftian humor, half reprints and half original fiction.

Website: https://alexshvartsman.com/

 Interviewed by Carl Slaughter for SF Signal in March 2016: “Alex Shvartsman, Editor of the UNIDENTIFIED FUNNY OBJECTS Anthology Series, on Funny Fiction and His New Kickstarter Project”