Pixel Scroll 9/30/17 Anyway For All The Things You Know Tell Me Why Does Appertainment Flow

(1) VERSUS ORVILLE. Nick Izumi conducts his own “Trek Off: Comparing ‘The Orville’ to ‘Star Trek: Discovery’” at Nerd & Tie.

Production Design:

The Orville‘s sets and costumes are also reminiscent of 90s Trek. The inside of the ship is well lit, the Bridge design is almost one-to-one with any Federation ship from Star Trek. Event the titular ship basically has a saucer section and light-speed engines in the back. It really doesn’t look bad, all things considered, just really derivative. We all know it wants to be Star Trek, it just legally isn’t. The show does still look very nice, and it’s not just the ins and outs of the ship — the alien make-up is on point. With some occasional cheesy exceptions, you can’t knock The Orville‘s look.

Discovery uses mostly familiar Trek design language, but the budget is clearly much higher than the TV Trek shows that came before it. This has its ups and downs. Some may not take to the very Kelvin Timeline inspired look of the interiors of the Starfleet ships. The new uniforms also seem to be a continuity hiccup, but they honestly look so snazzy, I personally can’t knock them.

What I will knock is the designs of everything Klingon. While Klingon fashion could easily be different in different parts of the universe, the look of the Klingon’s heads and the design language of their ships simply does not match with the established Klingon aesthetic. Frankly, these deviations are not the kind that are easy to overlook. Still, if it serves the story, there’s then I see it as very deal-with-able.

(2) NOT A FAN. NPR’s Glen Weldon dissects the new TV show: “Introducing … The Inept, Inert ‘Inhumans'”

…OK, that’s exactly what you just said abou-

The thing about mutants, see, is that their special abilities manifest, most often, in adolescence.


But with Inhumans, their special abilities only manifest when they’re exposed to a special substance called the Terrigen Mists!

“The Terrigen Mists.”

… Which happens, generally speaking, in their adolescence.


Generally but not exclusively! I hasten to point out!

Great. So this show is about a bunch of Not-Mutants. With special abilities.

… Who live on the moon, yes. In a city called Attilan, invisible to humans. They have a king named Black Bolt, played here by a pair o’cheekbones named, improbably enough, Anson Mount. Black Bolt’s voice is hugely destructive, so he never speaks. His queen is Medusa, played by Serinda Swan. She’s got long red hair with tresses that can punch and choke and, I don’t know, play the bass line to Primus’ “Jerry was a Race Car Driver,” probably.

There’s also Black Bolt’s brother Maximus, played by Game of Thrones‘ Iwan Rheon, adding another villain to his IMDB page, although this time a strangely joyless one. He didn’t get special powers when he was exposed to the Terrigen Mists as a kid, which happens sometimes. When it does, the little nonspecial Inhuman in question usually gets sent to the moon mines. But Maximus’ status as a member of Attilan’s royal family kept him free to plot and brood and generally skulk around like a low-key Loki….

(3) APEX MAGAZINE IN PRINT. Jason Sizemore says the “Exciting changes for Apex Magazine in 2018” include the availability of print-on-demand copies of each issue.

Beginning with the January, 2018 double issue (#104), the issue’s content will be published in a 5.5? x 8.5? paperback edition using a POD service and made available for sale from Amazon (and it’s affiliates). The price will be $6 to $8 for a single issue, depending on the size of the content month-to-month. It will only be available for purchase as single issues from Amazon (and possibly Apex–TBD).

When will the print edition become available? About 1 week after the digital release (first Tuesday of each month) of each eBook edition.

What about subscriptions? Subscriptions will only be available as a Patreon backer reward level. There will be a $10 a month backer level (for domestic US backers) that will insure you receive the print version every month. A level will be created for international backers to account for the difference in shipping costs.

Subscriber copies will ship about 2 weeks after the digital release.

Will it have all the short fiction that’s in the digital edition? Yes.

And the nonfiction? Yes.

What about the incredible cover art? Yes. In fact, this was our top priority.

Our January issue is filled with double the stories. Right now, we have original work by Nisi Shawl, Delilah S. Dawson, Nick Mamatas, and Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley.

(4) CBS TAX STATUS RESTORED. In July, the Carl Brandon Society announced that its IRS tax exemption was reinstated. Nisi Shawl wrote:

The Carl Brandon Society’s Steering Committee is very happy to announce that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has reinstated our organization as an official 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, tax- exempt group–and furthermore that this nonprofit status has been made retroactive to the date it was first revoked, back in 2013. Donations to us are now itemizable for those past years as well as for all years going forward.

Although we’ve been presenting our Octavia E. Butler Scholarships during this temporary revocation period, and also have been actively pursuing the selection of winners of the Kindred and Parallax literary awards, you may have noticed a lull in our fundraising activities. Now that we can safely guarantee the 501 (c) 3 classification applies to us and all your gifts to us, please feel free to help us out!

Of course this great news inspires us to put more energy into our many programs–the Scholarships, the awards, the panels and parties and online discussions and all the other work the Carl Brandon Society carries out to support the presence of POC in the fantastic genres. It also sharpens our commitment to preventing the unfortunate miscommunications that originally caused the temporary revocation of our nonprofit status. To that end we expect to put together annual reports on what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and where we stand financially and in terms of our programmatic goals. Look for the first of these reports by February 2018.

(5) FAUX KITSCHIES. The award was on hiatus last year, but a leading author helpfully filled the gap – “Adam Roberts Phantom Kitschies 2016”.

Adam Roberts, in typical overachieving fashion, managed to read enough books to populate a full and complete shortlist.

Adam Roberts

No Kitschies were awarded last year. 2016 was a Kitschless year—for one year only it was Nitch on the Kitsch. Which was a shame, since 2016 saw a wealth of (to quote the Kitschies’ remit) ‘progressive, intelligent and entertaining works containing elements of the speculative or fantastic’. So, [*clears throat*] in my capacity a former judge, I thought I’d post some speculative short-lists for the year the prize didn’t happen….

(6) SHEEP DREAMS. NPR’s Chris Klimek loves it: “‘Blade Runner 2049’: Even Sharper Than The Original”.

“I hope you don’t mind me taking a liberty” are the first words spoken in Blade Runner 2049, an unlikely sequel to the oft-revised Ridley Scott sci-fi sleeper that has confounded and divided normals — and been an object of adoration for nerds — for 35 years.

I certainly don’t mind. This inspired, expansive follow-up, for which Blade Runner screenwriter Hampton Fancher returned, though Scott handed the directorial reins to Sicario and Arrival‘s Denis Villeneuve, is less a generational iteration from its precursor than an evolutionary leap. It chews on the many existential questions introduced in Blade Runner — if our machines can think and feel, are they still machines? How do we know our memories can be trusted? Do androids dream of electric sheep, or unicorns or whatever? — more fully and more satisfyingly than Blade Runner did. Yes, even The Final Cut, which came out some 25 years after the original.

(7) CAMERA NOT SO OBSCURA. France strikes back against unreal body images: “Is she Photoshopped? In France, they now have to tell you”.

It’s no secret that images of models are often retouched to make their bodies look thinner or curvier in certain places, to lengthen their legs to mannequin-esque proportions, or to smooth out their skin and widen their eyes.

From Sunday, in France, any commercial image that has been digitally altered to make a model look thinner will have a cigarette-packet style warning on it.

“Photographie retouchée”, it will say, which translates to “edited photograph”.

Anyone flouting the new rule could be fined €37,500 (£33,000) or 30% of the cost of creating the ad.

(8) UNDERAPPRECIATED. In “FFB: Kit Reed, 1932-2017 and some of her peers”, Todd Mason has more to say about the late author, an early nominee for the Best New Author Hugo.

Reed, as noted here last year, started her writing career as a professional journalist, and made a mark, winning industry awards before selling her first short story to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1958, “The Wait”…one rather pathetic colleague at the New Haven Register, she recounted not too long ago, would make a point of pulling her office typewriter off her desk and taking over to a corner where he would type out his own attempts at stories, and claimed, upon learning of her F&SF sale, to have sold a story to The New Yorker, which would be appearing Real Soon Now. Reed continued to place fiction with F&SF, and branched out to the Yale Literary Magazine, Robert Lowndes’s  Science Fiction, Joseph Payne Brennan’s Macabre, and by 1960 Redbook…while her colleague had slunk off somewhere to await his further stories’ appearance in equally imaginary issues of The Dial and Scribner’s, no doubt.


  • September 30, 1953 — Mad science classic Donovan’s Brain debuts.
  • September 30, 1959 Men Into Space premiered on television.
  • September 30, 1960 – The day we met The Flintstones
  • September 30, 1988 Elvira, Mistress of the Dark premieres in theaters.


  • Born September 30, 1946 – Director Dan O’Bannon

(11) TAKING CARE OF NUMBER ONE. Yesterday marked a half-century since the show first aired in Britain: “Number Six At 50: The 50th Anniversary Of ‘The Prisoner'”.

As the series went on, and those symbolic elements kept piling up, it became clear that McGoohan — who created the show — was offering an extended, increasingly surreal allegory about the battle of the individual against society.

In the final episode, all that allegorical, Kafkaesque stuff bubbles over. Characters representing Youth and The State deliver monologues about Freedom and Rebellion.

Number Six escapes the prison of the Village but not the prison of himself — get it?

… No, yeah, lots of people didn’t. They wanted clear answers — Where WAS the village? Which side ran it? Who WAS Number One? — but McGoohan gave them symbols and speeches.

(12) DRAWN THAT WAY. At CBR.com, Kieran Shlach says “It’s Time For DC to Acknowledge HG Peter, Wonder Woman’s Co-Creator”.

This year has been a phenomenal year for Wonder Woman. The iconic Amazon has risen to new heights of popularity thanks to the instant-classic story told by Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp, Nicola Scott and Bilquis Evely as part of DC Rebirth, a blockbuster feature film which blew the doors off even the wildest of expectations, and a new biopic chronicling the life and times of Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marston, his wife Elizabeth and their lover Olive.

However, among all those works there’s one name that you won’t see: Harry George Peter, the artist who helped bring Wonder Woman to life along with Marston in the page of 1941’s All-Star Comics #8.

More often than not, comic books are a collaborative format, and everyone deserves credit for their role in that collaboration. The history of comics as an industry is riddled with horror stories of creators being mistreated by publishers when it comes to work-for-hire projects, but recent years has seen those same publishers attempt to make amends. HG Peter created Wonder Woman as much as William Moulton Marston did, and he deserves to be credited for that right alongside his collaborator.

(13) NOT SO SIMPLE MATH. Galactic Journey turns its spotlight to “[September 30, 1962] The Woman Pioneers of Space Exploration”.

But while the Journey has covered the Space Race in lavish detail, it has devoted little space to the woman scientists and engineers involved behind the scenes.  In part, this is because space travel is a new field.  In part, it’s because science is still a heavily male-dominated arena.  While women have risen to prominence as scientists for centuries, from Émilie du Châtelet to Marie Curie to Grace Hopper, it is only very recently that they have made their way to the top ranks of space science.

Times have changed, and there is now a vanguard of women leading the charge that will perhaps someday lead to complete parity between the sexes in this, the newest frontier of science.  To a significant degree, this development was spurred by the digital computer, which you’ll see demonstrated in several of the entries in this, the first installment of The Second Sex in Space Exploration….

(14) MONSTERS FROM THE ODD. At Camestros Felapton’s blog, Timothy the Talking Cat threatened France with a lawsuit in “Tim’s Legal Updates”.

Timothy: I’m going to sue FRANCE. France as the thing that is itself France. Not ‘the French’ not the French Government. Not any kind of the adjectival case of France but France strictly as a noun.

Camestros: Ah, you’ve been at the Krell machine again and given yourself a brain boost, haven’t you?

Timothy: I may have partaken a smidgen. How can you tell?

There followed an official (?!?) response from France channeled by the commenter known as KR:

RE: Cease and Desist – Harassment

Dear Sir:

This letter serves as notice to you and your id monster immediately to cease and desist all harassing activities towards my client the historico-geographic entity currently known as France, aka La Cinquième République, aka La Ve République.

Among your many unwanted gestures, I refer you to the time when you bombarded my client with thousands of documents and old VHS cassette tapes pretending to be Gérard Depardieu making an attempt to regain his citizenship. You sent the Ministre des Affaires sociales et de l’emploi 1848 copies of The Fountainhead with hopes of persuading them of the evils of unionized labour and long summer holidays. You gravely insulted la francophone mondiale by launching a YouTube channel in which you hire Jesse Watters to dress like a mime and throw “Freedom fries” at Antifa in the name of free speech….

And it goes on. As these things do.

(15) PUBLISHED DECISION. This is John Hodgman’s column from the September 17 New York Times Magazine, “Judge John Hodgman on Coerced Bedtime Stories”:

Morgann writes: I bring a case against my husband, Ben, who is an incredibly talented short-fiction writer. I struggle with falling asleep, especially after a stressful workday. I often ask Ben to tell me a short story to help me get sleepy. Ben absolutely refuses. He uses precious wind-down time arguing with me instead of just telling me a silly little story.

There is never a night when my wife asks me to write a short, judgy newspaper column — she knows that I get paid to do that. Also, it would not help her sleep, because I chisel all my first drafts into stone, loudly. (There are no second drafts.) Even if Ben does not write for money, it’s still the case that creativity is work and usually highly personal. Ben deserves as much wind-down time as you do.

(16) TEENIE WEENIE VIBRATION. With the help of colorful animations and graphics, a YouTuber explained “The Absurdity of Detecting Gravitational Waves” in a video released this past January.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

Anne Jeffreys Dies

By Chip Hitchcock: Anne Jeffreys (January 26, 1923 – September 27, 2017), age 94; played Marion Kerby in Topper (1953-1955 TV version), and soap opera character Amanda Barrington (General Hospital, Port Charles), who (says the New York Times) came under the spell of a vampire. Count me among the 10,000; I never knew soap operas other than Dark Shadows had vampires….

Her Wikipedia entry highlights some of her other genre credits:

She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her work in The Delphi Bureau (1972)….

In 1979, she guest starred as Siress Blassie in the Battlestar Galactica episode “The Man with Nine Lives” as a love interest of Chameleon, a part played by Fred Astaire. She was the last person to dance with him onscreen. She also guest starred as Prime Minister Dyne in the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode “Planet of the Amazon Women” as the leader of the titular planet.

2017 Lord Ruthven Awards

The winners of the 2017 Lord Ruthven Awards, presented for the best fiction on vampires and the best academic work on the study of the vampire figure in culture and literature, were announced at this year’s International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts.

Lord Ruthven Award: Non-Fiction

  • 2017: David J. Skal, Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula

Lord Ruthven Award: Fiction

  • 2017: Anne Rice, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis

Lord Ruthven Award: Media/Popular Culture

  • 2017: Vamped / The Vampire Historian

The awards take their name from the vampire antagonist in John Polidori’s “The Vampyre” (1819) and are given by the Lord Ruthven Assembly, an organization affiliated with the IAFA whose objectives include the serious pursuit of scholarship and research focusing on the vampire/revenant figure in a variety of disciplines.

Star Wars: My Force Awakens

Steve Vertlieb and Daisy Ridley

By Steve Vertlieb: Among the many highlights of my recent pilgrimage to Hollywood was an entirely unexpected, nearly miraculous, accidental “close encounter” with the current star of one of the most lucrative and beloved movie franchises in motion picture history. I’m still amazed, weeks after this most astonishing occurrence, that our meeting actually occurred, as these remarkable photographs will happily attest.

While waiting backstage to speak with composer John Williams at the venerable Hollywood Bowl, I noticed that Daisy Ridley’s name was posted on one of the dressing room doors. She hadn’t appeared on stage with Maestro Williams during the Star Wars concert selections, and so I wondered why. I turned to my brother to mention the strangeness of the occurrence when I inwardly gasped at the realization that the young star of both Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi was standing just inches in front of me. Hearing her British accent in conversation with the director of the latest sci-fi epic, I nudged my brother Erwin, and whispered “I think that Daisy Ridley is standing right in front of me.” Hearing my admittedly excited observation to my little brother, she turned toward me with a big smile and said hello. She was as delightfully adorable in person as she is as “Rey” on the big screen in the spectacular continuation of the cherished science fiction franchise. I couldn’t help but recall John Williams’ own wonderfully charming admission, upon receiving his A.F.I. Life Achievement Award last year, that he didn’t want any other composer but himself writing music for this lovely young actress. I completely understood his feelings upon meeting Miss Ridley.

Take Two: Steve Vertlieb and Daisy Ridley

Pixel Scroll 9/29/17 Like The Best And Worst Of Typos That Lose Control

(1) TASTING SESSION. James Davis Nicoll feeds his test subjects “Ugly Chickens” by Howard Waldrop at Young People Read Old SFF.

With so many works to choose from, which of Waldrop’s stories to pick? “The Ugly Chickens” seemed like a safe bet; the setting is comfortably mundane and it won both the Nebula and World Fantasy Award, as well as garnering nominations for the Hugo, the Locus and the Balrog. I’ve been wrong before; what did the Young People actually think?

Some say yay. Not Mikayla:

I’m not generally a fan of this style of story anyway, but it didn’t matter because I was pretty much done by the third paragraph.

(2) HOME COOKING. Aaron Pound has launched the “The Ad Astra Cooking Project” at Dreaming About Other Worlds.

I recently acquired Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook, a collection of recipes from members of the Science Fiction Writers of America edited by Cat Rambo and Fran Wilde. As with all things, I intend to review it, but reviewing a cookbook poses a challenge that most other books do not: There is really no way to accurately review the book based upon reading it. Cookbooks are interactive – you can only appreciate them if you cook the recipes and eat them. So that is exactly what I am going to do….

The book was created to raise funds for the SFWA Legal Fund to support writers in need. The overall theme of the recipes in the book is supposed to be “party”, working on the theory that writers know how to throw a party. A lot of the recipes were solicited for this work, but some were originally collected by Astrid and Greg Bear for a cookbook that was never published. The introductory material includes Connie Willis passing on some excellent cooking advice from Charles Brown, and Carrie Vaughn explaining how to create a cocktail laboratory, including a couple of recipes for some classic cocktails to try. Larry Niven contributes a chapter on how to serve hundreds of cups of Irish Coffee to eager convention-attendees, an essay that is clearly informed by lots of experience….

First out of the oven is — “Ajvar by K.V. Johansen”.

The first recipe in Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook is one that K.V. Johansen discovered when some of her books were translated into Macedonian and she began traveling to the Republic of Macedonia, presumably to promote her work. Ajvar is an eggplant and bell pepper concoction flavored with garlic, cider vinegar or lemon juice, and hot sauce that can be served as a spread on naan or bread….

(3) CHANGING COLORS OF THE SEASON. It’s time for Petréa Mitchell’s “Fall 2017 SF Anime Preview” at Amazing Stories. Here’s one example of what you have to look forward to –

ClassicaLoid 2

The premise: More surreal comedy about characters patterned on famous composers using musical powers to bend reality. And Antonín Dvo?ák will be a pygmy hippopotamus.

Derivative factor: Sequel

The buzz: The first ClassicaLoid was a surprise hit in Japan, but there’s less enthusiasm about it in English-speaking fandom.

Premiere: October 7

(4) ALL FALL. Meanwhile, back on American TV — “Your Guide To (The Many, Many) Sci-Fi And Fantasy TV Premieres And Returns In October” from Creators.

The Fall season launched in September with over a dozen returns and premieres, but things really kick into gear in October. At current count there are 23 (!) shows returning to the schedule or starting their freshman seasons this month, and that means you have quite a lot of #scifi and #fantasy shows to pick from. Below is a rundown of the October entries and you can see the full Fall schedule here.


(5) CLASSIC SF BOUND FOR TV. Deadline has a blast of genre news: “Amazon Developing ‘Ringworld’, ‘Lazarus’ & ‘Snow Crash’ In Genre Series Push”.

Amazon has set up three high-profile drama series for development: Ringworld, based on Larry Niven’s classic science fiction book; Lazarus, based on the comic book by Greg Rucka (Jessica Jones); and Snow Crash, based on Neal Stephenson’s cult novel.

The streaming platform has been ramping up its slate with new projects as part of a programming strategy overhaul in search of big, buzzy shows. A major emphasis has been put on fast-tracking big-scope genre drama series in the mold of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, with Sharon Tal, brought in earlier this year as Head Of Event Series, tasked with spearheading efforts. The deals for Ringworld, Lazarus and Snow Crash are part of that push….

More discussion at the link.

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman beckons his audience to “Ruminate over reindeer with Johanna Sinisalo in Episode 48 of Eating the Fantastic.

Johanna Sinisalo

Joining me this episode was Johanna Sinisalo, who was one of this year’s Worldcon Guests of Honor. Her first novel, Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi (Not Before Sundown) won the Finlandia Prize for Literature in 2000 and the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial award in 2004. Her novel Enkelten vert (Blood of Angels) won the English PEN Award. She was a Nebula Award nominee in 2009 for “Baby Doll.” Her novel Auringon ydin (The Core of the Sun) recently won the 2017 Prometheus Award for Best Novel. She has won the Atorox award for the best Finnish-language SF short story seven times.

We discussed what she learned in advertising that helped her be a better writer, how Moomins helped set her on the path to becoming a creator, why she held off attempting a novel until she had dozens of short stories published, the reason the Donald Duck comics of Carl Barks were some of her greatest inspirations, the circuitous way being an actor eventually led to her writing the science fiction film Iron Sky, and more.

(7) KINGS GO FORTH. Daniel Dern says, “This NPR segment gives a good sense of what the King father/son event I went to was like – some of the readings and the schmoozing, including many of the same points and anecdotes I heard them do in person. (hardly surprisingly).” — “Stephen And Owen King On The Horror Of A World Without Women In ‘Sleeping Beauties’, Author interview by Mary Louise Kelly”, initially on NPR’s Morning Edition.

(8) CAVEAT EMPTOR. These are supposed to be Top 10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Star Trek Discovery. If it turns out you knew them, I don’t know where you go for a refund.


Chip Hitchcock and John King Tarpinian send this warning about a peril for Filers, in yesterday’s Bizarro.

(10) SAFETY FIRST. John Scalzi’s question elicits a thread of entertaining answers….

(11) HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, WESLEY. Teresa Jusino is giving orders at The Mary Sue: “Star Trek: TNG at 30: Here’s Why Wesley Crusher Was Awesome, So You Just Shut Up.”.

Basically, the moral of so many episodes of TNG was basically Hey adults! Maybe if you’d listen to Wesley instead of telling him to shut up all the time, you might learn something! In “The Naked Now,” the entire Enterprise crew is infected with a Polywater intoxication that makes everyone all primal and horny and totally into their own deepest desires. So, naturally, what’s the oft-ignored Wesley’s deepest desire? (Besides Ashley Judd?) That’s right, he makes himself the Acting Captain of the ship thanks to a doohickey that he made for fun that can replicate Captain Picard’s voice.

And yet, even while under the influence, he’s such a genius that he’s able to figure out how to quickly turn the ship’s tractor beam into a repulsor beam when the adult Chief of Engineering tells him it would be too hard. He uses the repulsor beam to propel the disabled Enterprise away from another ship, narrowly avoiding the fragments of an exploding star that would’ve hit them. This is the kind of thing Wesley Crusher was capable of on a bad day….

(12) THE MONEY KEEPS ROLLING IN. Vox Day’s crowdfunded Alt*Hero raised $37,000 of its $25,000 goal in about a day. Three donations account for $10,000 of the receipts, however, the site reports 426 backers so far.

A new alternative comic series intended to challenge and eventually replace the SJW-converged comics of DC and Marvel.

(13) AVENGERS GO BOOM. But he may not be able to keep pace with Marvel’s effort to replace itself —

It’s the end of an Avengers Era as we know it! And in the team’s final days, a change has come to the Marvel Universe in the form of a story that’s filled with so much action and so much drama, Marvel had no choice but to make it a weekly epic!

Beginning this January, Marvel will unleash the epic AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER with AVENGERS #675, a weekly saga that unites the casts and creative teams of three titles into an epic tale of heroic action, jaw-dropping cliffhangers, and drastic adventures! The AVENGERS, UNCANNY AVENGERS and U.S. AVENGERS come together in a powerhouse of an event that will be unleashed in a story as spectacular and epic as the Marvel Universe itself.

Featuring one of Marvel’s biggest collaborations to date, each issue will be co-written by superstar writers Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub with art by Pepe Larraz for the first month, Kim Jacinto for the second month, and Paco Medina for the third month.

(14) REMINDS ME OF HEINLEIN. More dreams: “Elon Musk says rockets will fly people from city to city in minutes”.

Mr Musk made the promise at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia.

A promotional video says the London-New York journey would take 29 minutes.

Mr Musk told the audience he aimed to start sending people to Mars in 2024. His SpaceX company would begin building the necessary ships to support the mission next year.

He says he is refocusing SpaceX to work on just one type of vehicle – known as the BFR – which could do all of the firm’s current work and interplanetary travel.

(15) SURF’S UP. The BBC reports a journal article: “Tsunami drives species ‘army’ across Pacific to US coast”.

Scientists have detected hundreds of Japanese marine species on US coasts, swept across the Pacific by the deadly 2011 tsunami.

Mussels, starfish and dozens of other creatures great and small travelled across the waters, often on pieces of plastic debris.

Researchers were surprised that so many survived the long crossing, with new species still washing up in 2017.

The study is published in the journal Science.

(16) GENE FIXING. Beyond CRISPR: “DNA surgery on embryos removes disease”.

Precise “chemical surgery” has been performed on human embryos to remove disease in a world first, Chinese researchers have told the BBC.

The team at Sun Yat-sen University used a technique called base editing to correct a single error out of the three billion “letters” of our genetic code.

They altered lab-made embryos to remove the disease beta-thalassemia. The embryos were not implanted.

The team says the approach may one day treat a range of inherited diseases.

(17) DANGER UXB. Neat video: “WW2 bombs blown up at sea in Japan”.
US-made shells have been destroyed in a controlled underwater explosion in Japan.

(18) KILLING GROUND. Real-life source of some “Call of Duty” scenery: “The deadly germ warfare island abandoned by the Soviets”.

That expert was Dave Butler, who ended up going with them. “There was a lot that could have gone wrong,” he says. As a precaution, Butler put the entire team on antibiotics, starting the week before. As a matter of necessity, they wore gas masks with hi-tech air filters, thick rubber boots and full white forensic-style suits, from the moment they arrived.

They weren’t being paranoid. Aerial photographs taken by the CIA in 1962 revealed that while other islands had piers and fish-packing huts, this one had a rifle range, barracks and parade ground. But that wasn’t even the half of it. There were also research buildings, animal pens and an open-air testing site. The island had been turned into a military base of the most dangerous kind: it was a bioweapons testing facility.

(19) THANKS, DONORS. David Steffen’s Long List Anthology is getting longer — “3 Novellas Added! All 3 Print Copies Reward!”

9 days left to go in the campaign, and we’ve reached another stretch goal to add 3 novellas which adds another 58,000 words to the book!  All 3 excellent science fiction stories by S.B. Divya, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Gu Shi with translation by Ken Liu and S. Qiouyi Lu.

I’ve also added a reward level that includes a print and ebook copy of each of the 3 volumes of the anthology for $80–if you’ve already pledged but you’d like print copies of all 3 you can choose to upgrade.

There are still a couple of stretch goals left.  The next one’s just a short hop of $58 from where we are now to add “We Have a Cultural Difference, Can I Taste You” by Rebecca Ann Jordan.  And another $300 beyond that to add one more novella “Hammers on Bone” by Cassandra Khaw.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

An Evening With (As In, They’re On Stage, I’m In The Audience) Stephen and Owen King, On Tour Promoting “Sleeping Beauties”

By Daniel Dern: One of the many great things about attending science fiction conventions — regional ones like Arisia, Boskone and ReaderCon, and, where schedule and budget permit, Worldcons — is getting to see/hear, and with luck, planning, and more luck, even getting autographs, perhaps even the chance to chat.

For example, I’ve had, over the years, the privilege of seeing many of my faves (your list will of course vary) like Larry Niven, Anne Leckie, Jerry Pournelle, Samuel R. (“Chip”) Delany, Patricia McKillip, Harlan Ellison, Kit Reed, Barry Malzberg… you get the idea, and, I’m sure, have your own list, and perhaps also stack of autographed books.

But I haven’t seen Stephen King at any of the cons I go to. I became a fan when I encountered his remarkable short story, “Quitters, Inc.” in an anthology. Since then, my King faves include Different Seasons (novellas, including “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”), Firestarter, 1963, The Dome, and his two books of essays on/about writing.

(Although he clearly does go some places: Here’s an hour of King with George, in 2016.)

So back in June when my SO forwarded me an announcement that he was going to be doing an event IN THE TOWN WHERE I LIVE — within reasonable walking distance, no less — as one stop of a book tour that he and his younger son Owen King would be doing for their new (available starting September 29) book, Sleeping Beauties ,you can be I quickly checked my schedule for conflicts and then webbed in my $35 for a ticket.

Note, this event was sponsored or otherwise run by/with Newtonville Books, a local (to me) independent bookstore.

That day has come, I went, I’m back, here’s my report.


Even before the event proper, it was clear this was done by folks who knew what they were doing. The ticket sales process (using Brown Paper Tickets) was clear and seamless. About a week before, they sent out two or three emails, advising/reminding us how things would go, e.g.:

• The schedule times for “lines start” (5PM), “doors open” (6PM), “event starts” (7PM)”

People were invited to email questions for the Kings, from which a few would be selected and read.

• There would not be any public autographing. (Although I did hedge my bets, bringing my copy of King’s On Writing… just in case a legitimate opportunity arose.)

• Everybody gets a hardcover copy of the new book — at the end of the event. Some would have been pre-autographed.

I got there around 5:15 PM, and there were a fair number of people already. There were two lines, A-L and M-Z. (I assume that was last name, although for me, same difference anyway.) I didn’t see anybody I knew. Some people were wearing or carrying King-themed shirts, handbags, etc. I didn’t see anybody in costume. Everybody was cheerful and well-behaved. (It didn’t hurt that we had perfect New England fall weather.)

Like any experienced fan, I had come prepared — i.e., I’d brought a book. In my case, my library reserve-request of Ann Leckie’s brand-new Provenance, which I’d picked up earlier in the day. I did schmooze some with my fellow in-liners, one of whom had a carry-bag whose design was images of King’s book covers.

The venue was full (the tour’s web site shows all the events SOLD OUT). I’ll guesstimate between 700-800 seats. The background music while we were waiting (once seated) was interesting. I couldn’t hear it clearly, but one cut sounded like the Jefferson Airplane doing a concert version of “Somebody To Love” (i.e., not from their original Surrealistic Pillow album), and later, Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen.”


Stephen and Owen King began by talking briefly about the book. (Per the book’s website: “Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men.”)

They then each read a page or two. Then they dialogued with each other, talking about growing up, becoming writers, how this book happened.

This segued to a Q&A, where they took turns asking each other questions, including Owen asking his dad two questions from the Shawshank Redemption section of The Stephen King Quizbook, which Owen said he’d found in their attic. Then one of the organizers read several of the pre-submitted questions, and they took one from the audience.

The book’s tour web site includes a video of the Kings talking about their new book:

and here they are on Good Morning, America:

One thing that stood out for me is that as part of one of his answers, Stephen King quoted a line from Alfred Bester on the writing process. I’ve always been impressed by King’s familiarity with the canons (the pulps, early sf, comics, etc. — authors and works) and his acknowledgements and citations of them in his essays.

I’m looking forward to reading Sleeping Beauties.

It’s not the first with this premise; the one that springs to mind is The Disappearance by Philip Wylie (Within SFdom, Wylie is/was probably best-known for Gladiator, considered to be one of the influences/predecessors for Superman, and co-authoring When Worlds Collide/After Worlds Collide. Within popular culture, Wylie is (well, was) probably best known for “momism” in his Generation of Vipers. Other Wylie to check out: Finnley Wren. And my fave, the stories of Florida fishermen Crunch & Des, there’s one or more collections available.

But the world has changed (some) since Wylie’s 1951 take on this kind of event. Plus the “event” is different here. And Wylie and the Kings are, well, very different authors.

Anyhoo, now I can add Stephen King to my (mental) checklist of authors I’ve seen, and heard read.

And oh yeah, my copy of the book from the event includes the authors’ autographs. Whoohoo!

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #16

An Amicus Brief for The Dragon Awards

By Chris M. Barkley:

To the Dragon Con Committee,

I am willing to bet that this year’s Dragon Awards ceremony was barely over before the fannish naysayers and provocateurs began to bray that the Dragon Awards went to dismal writers and creators, and thank maker our own awards aren’t tainted like theirs…

What a load of BS.

Well, I want to assure all of you that I do not hold the same opinion as that rabble; I am here to offer some advice, not to slay the Dragon Awards.

And believe me, I KNOW how hard it must have been for your committee to start a set of awards from scratch; selecting categories, setting up a voting system and eligibility rules.

Since 1998, I have been at the forefront of nearly all of the changes to the Hugo Awards categories. I urged the splitting of the Best Dramatic Presentation and Best Editor categories, helped established of the Best Graphic Story category, co-sponsored the Best Fancast category and, over various and numerous objections of the more conservative elements in fandom, spearheaded the effort to recognize Young Adult books in the Hugo Awards ceremony starting next year.

I’m not reeling off these accomplishments as just braggadocio; I just want you to understand that I’ve gone through years of email exchanges, online taunts, face to face arguments, compromises and interminable hours of parliamentary procedures, pointless points, haggling and compromise at numerous Worldcon Business Meetings in order to keep the Hugo Awards fair, honest and relevant.

I admit that even though I have never attended Dragon Con, your convention has several enviable attributes over the Worldcon that I (and others I’m sure) have admired from afar.

You are based in a populous, major metropolitan area. You are not burdened by moving Dragon Con from year to year and your committee is a stable, fixed entity. And most importantly, you have the flexibility to change the structure of your awards on a dime from year to year as needed.  As you may have noted, it took the World Science Fiction Convention’s Business Meeting cabal SEVERAL YEARS of contentious debate before they could effectively block various miscreants from interfering with or gaming the Hugo Awards.

My own personal obsession about awards started when I began watching the Emmys and Academy Awards broadcasts of the late 1960’s and early 70’s. My earliest and most vivid memory was watching the 1972 Oscar show as Liza Minnelli presented Gene Hackman with his Best Actor award and the simple, halting and eloquent speech he gave afterwards.

As the decades have gone by, my interest in the process has deepened; it’s easy to follow most movie, tv and literature award shows and ceremonies, either being streamed or online. I cheer when someone I know or like wins and commiserate when they lose.

(Note to self: Ann Dowd, who won a Best Supporting Actress Emmy Award for The Handmaid’s Tale is a fine actress but there’s no way in hell she was better than Millie Bobby Brown was in Stranger Things. You’ll get over this. Eventually. Just Sayin’… )

Since Dragon Award nomination period is opening up later in next month, I want to offer you the following recommendations:


I have a confession to make: I really dislike the Australian ballot system that the World Science Fiction Convention has been using since the mid 1970’s. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Australian ballot process, you can see a simplified explanation of how it works here: http://www.chickennation.com/2013/08/18/you-cant-waste-your-vote/)

The Hugo Award voters (and administrators) seem to prefer to rank their preferences but frankly, going through the tabulations and rows of figures every year make my eyes roll around in my skull like a pair of out of control dice. In fact, I try to vote for one nominee on my Hugo ballot if I find a single story or work deserves the honor.

I must say that it is quite refreshing to sit down and actually make a single choice on the Dragon Award ballot for a change. (And yes, I did participate in the voting this year.) The only thing I do regret is that the eligibility period, which runs from July 1st  to June 30th of this year, meant that I had to choose between Arrival, Logan, Rogue One and Wonder Woman for Best SF film on this year’s ballot. But since Arrival had already won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation this year, I was happy to acknowledge Wonder Woman with a vote (and a win) this year. This brings me to my next point:

  • Use the 5% rule to focus choices:

I don’t know what criteria your award administrators use to finalize the number of nominees on the final ballot, but if Dragon Con is going to continue with the single vote system for the foreseeable future, I recommend that they be named on at least five percent of the nominating ballots. The World Science Fiction Society Constitution had a rule until recently:

No nominee shall appear on the final Award ballot if it received fewer nominations than five percent (5%) of the number of ballots listing one or more nominations in that category, except that the first three eligible nominees, including any ties, shall always be listed.

(This was taken directly from a previous version of the World Science Fiction Convention Constitution.)

Please note that this would allow for the same number nominees IF they meet the five percent rule. The rule also insures that you are putting the most popular things on the ballot and will also give you an indication that a category is not working out well enough to continue on the ballot. If you’re doing this already, great! Also, you might want to list NO AWARD on your ballots as an option for voters.

  • Divide Best SF and Fantasy-Horror film and television categories:

Spread the wealth; with dozens of film and television projects coming out annually, I think you can afford to be more generous in with these categories. I am quite certain that the voters would appreciate it as well. Another major plea; PLEASE list the writer of the film or television episode with each nomination. This is a personal pet peeve of mine; I don’t buy the auteur theory (that the director is the ‘true author” of a work) so unless the director was also the author of the work, it’s just common courtesy to list writers, too. After all, this stuff doesn’t write itself, you know.

  • Establish a Best Artwork Category:

I applaud the number of awards for the creators of comics but I am quite sure that you realize that artists who render book covers, art books and other illustrations and  are a BIG part of the sf and fantasy community. Establishing an award for a body of yearly work would be quite a nice gesture towards them.

  • Special/Life Achievement Awards:

This is a versatile award that can truly express the appreciation of the committee, and by extension, fandom itself, than a special or lifetime achievement award to some of the more notable members of the fantasy and sf community. Also, it might be fun to include the attendees in on the selection as well.

  • Restrict voting to Members Only!

Once upon a time, I thought it might be a great idea for the Hugo Awards to have voting open to the public OR voting with a small fee that was lower than obtaining a supporting membership. I think that the slating efforts of both set of Puppies have put an end to that sort of utopian thinking. Thus, bringing me to my last point:

  • Make the voting process MORE transparent:

Publishing and the nomination and voting results annually and publicly naming a rotating set of administrators would be immensely helpful to Dragon Awards. Starting an award is hard work. Establishing and maintaining high standards of a new award in the modern information age is even harder.

In any event, I wish you all the best of luck with the Dragon Awards and with Dragon Con.

Cheers (or Seinfeld),
Chris B.

2017 Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction

The winner of the inaugural Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction was announced September 27. The new short story award is intended to “promote science fiction and related genres of writing in Pakistan.”


  • Firuza Pastakia for her story The Universe is a Conscientious Gardener


The two other finalists were:

  • Saniya Kamal for her story The Last Interview of Lara Khalid
  • Nur Ibrahim for her story Against the Dust

Honorable Mentions

  • Jawziya Zaman  – Contagion
  • Taimoor Ahmad – Noor
  • Laila Kasuri  – Balochi Bots – The Adventures of Omar Jamshed
  • Maira Asaad – Rootless
  • Faraz Talat – Symptoms of Prejudice
  • Zain Rashid Mian – The Short Life of Ali Lakri
  • Saadia Pathan – Sunless

The Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction is named for Dr. Albus Salam, one of the pioneers of science in Pakistan.

Dr. Abdus Salam

Eligible for consideration were original, previously unpublished English-language stories of 10,000 words or less by persons residing in Pakistan, or of Pakistani birth/descent. The initial award announcement said the winner will receive a cash prize of Rs 50,000, a review by an established literary agent, a review from a professional editor, with the potential for publication by Tor.com.

The 2017 award judges were Jeff VanderMeer, Usman Malik, and Mahvesh Murad.

Malik wrote after the winner was announced, “We received a robust number of entries and were quite impressed by the quality of the longlist we ended up with. The stories were blinded (none of the judges knew the names or genders of the writers).”

Next year’s editor and agent reviewers will be Diana Pho of Tor and Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary respectively. The judges for 2018 will be announced later this year.

Pixel Scroll 9/28/17 The Night They Scrolled Old Pixel Down

(1) A HATCHLING. The Book Smugglers conduct “A Chat With Ann Leckie” about Provenance.

The Book Smugglers: Yeah, and there’s scope for that, there’s so many different worlds and so many different things and the set-up is already there, so…

Ann Leckie: I put in the glass bridges in Nilt, which you may have noticed. And this is not a spoiler per se but an easter egg – There’s a moment in Ancillary Justice when Breq says the tourists come to Nilt and they buy these rugs that they think are handmade by the nomads, but in fact they’re made in a factory and they’re overpriced in the giftshops. So there’s a moment in Provenance, where Ingray meets Zat, and Zat says that she went to Nilt, and she saved up extra to buy this wonderful handmade rug, that was in beautiful colors, that was made by the nomads on Nilt, and that’s a couple of people who got advanced copies. I got a direct message from one person like “Ohh she got cheated!” [laughs] I’m like that’s – that’s just a little tiny easter egg!

(2) CATCH THE NEXT WAVE. The evidence is piling up: “Scientists record a fourth set of gravitational waves”.

Last year, researchers confirmed the existence of gravitational waves with two Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors. Shortly thereafter, they detected twoadditional gravitational wave-causing events that sent ripples through the universe. Well, we can now add a fourth to that list, as astronomers announced another set of waves. And for the first time, they observed the waves with a third detector — the Italy-based Virgo.

(3) CODICIL. Good luck to Delilah S. Dawson on her surgery:

(4) CROWDSOURCED SUCCESS. The Unbounders has announced that Farah Mendelsohn’s Heinlein book has funded.

(5) KEEP ON PITCHING. Francis Hamit reminds everyone about this appeal for books for s North Carolina school.

Here is a worthy cause: Hoke County High School has put out an online appeal for books; almost any books, for their school library. Hoke County, North Carolina, is a poor rural community where times have been hard and there has been no money for school library books since 2009. The appeal was specific, for writers to donate copies of their own books but we all have a pile of review or other books that have been consumed and can now be repurposed. (Time to attack the clutter people!). We put together three boxes of these yesterday. If you look at the Facebook page for Hoke County High School you will see that they encourage enlistments in the US military, so that’s another reason to donate books. Can’t stand to part with your hoard? Send money so they can buy books they really need.

Here is the address:

Hoke County High School
c/o Rebecca Sasala
505 Bethal Road
Raeford, NC 28376.

(6) NOWHERE NEAR REMULAC. ScreenAnarchy shares a French import: “MISSIONS: Watch This Exclusive Clip For French Sci-fi Series Coming to Shudder”.

Shudder, AMC Networks’ premium thriller, suspense and horror streaming service, will launch the first season of Missions, France’s critically praised OCS Signature sci-fi series, on September 28, 2017 across its territories. Shudder will also co-produce the second season, slated to air in 2018.

With the funding of an eccentric billionaire, the crew of a manned craft aims to be the first to land on Mars. Much to the dismay of all on board however, just before the culmination of their 10-month journey to the Red Planet, they are made aware of a video sent by a rival ship that has overtaken them and already landed on the planet thanks to a revolutionary engine. The bad news doesn’t end there however, as the tape contains a cryptic warning from the Americans pleading with the crew not to land as something far too dangerous is happening on the surface. After a chaotic landing on Mars, the crew finds a survivor — but he’s not from their rival mission. His name is Vladimir Komarov. He is Russian. And he is the first man who died in space…in 1967.


(7) THIRTY-EIGHT STORIES HATH SEPTEMBER: Jason, of Featured Futures, is back with the “Summation of Online Fiction: September 2017” with its list of recommended stories and honorable mentions.

With Compelling off, Apex doing a lot of reprints, and Tor.com worryingly publishing a single story, September would have been an extremely light month, but a double issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies and the return of a lost zine helped compensate, resulting in thirty-seven stories of 149K words (plus one I skipped). Regardless, it was a very light month in terms of the proportion of the good stuff (though there was plenty of readable stuff). I’m not sure what happened beyond it being one of those freaky streaky webzine things. Speaking of, the returning lost zine is Terraform.

Ralan.com declared it defunct a few months ago and, after waiting awhile to “make sure,” I declared it dead on April 27th and stopped looking at it. Recently, I happened to take another look and, naturally, they’d published another story on April 29th. But, other than excerpts, interviews, graphic stuff, etc., they did quit producing anything after that until August 24th. Since then, they have managed to publish a story coupled with an article every seven or eight days (two in August and three in September though, to keep the irony ironing, they don’t seem to be doing anything but another excerpt this week). So perhaps they’re back. Only one story was at all noteworthy but, since I gave Terraform‘s death an explicit notice, I feel like I ought to do the same for its rebirth. Now, on with the very short (or “little”) list…


  • September 28, 1951 — The original The Day The Earth Stood Still was released on this day.

(9) STAND-UP COMIC. As Vox Day prepares to launch his Alt*Hero comics line, he’s running the customary anti-SJW setups to fire up his customers. His mockery of Jack Kirby predictably upset people in the comics field.

I’ve been a little taken aback by the sheer vituperation of the SJWs triggered by the mere existence of the Alt*Hero concept, at least at this very early stage. And, I confess, I have been more than a little surprised by their apparent confusion between the late Marvel/DC artist Jack Kirby and the superheroes that he drew.>

Some responses — I think a bunch of comics type only just found out that he exists. They are not especially impressed…

(10) RETRENCHMENT. Nerd & Tie’s Trae Dorn reports some shrinkage in the convention calendar.

Dayton, OH based Time Lord Expo has officially been called off just two weeks before the con’s scheduled date. Convention organizer Patrick Baumgardner took to the con’s official Facebook page and announced the cancellation earlier today…

In a press release yesterday, Wizard World announced that they were “postponing” five of their remaining seven 2017 shows. While their Austin and Oklahoma City shows will still take place as scheduled, their events in Biloxi, Peoria, Springfield, Montgomery, and Winston-Salem won’t be taking place this year.

Now a normal person would refer to these events as “cancelled,” but I guess saying they’re “postponed” reads better from a PR perspective.

Considering the financial difficulties Wizard World has had over the last few years, it’s hard to be all that surprised…

(11) GHOST WRITER. Twain’s long gone, so NPR talked to his self-appointed co-authors: “A Modern Collaboration With Mark Twain In ‘Prince Oleomargarine'”.

This week Mark Twain has a new book out.

Yes, we know. He’s been dead for more than a century, but that hasn’t stopped him — or more accurately, his collaborators — from publishing a children’s book, called The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine. It’s based on 16 pages of notes, handwritten by Twain and discovered in an archive, in Berkeley, Calif.

Philip and Erin Stead took it from there; the Caldecott Award-winning author-illustrator duo picked up Twain’s trail and finished the story.

“It was never entirely clear to us if there was never an ending, or if Twain just never got around to writing it down,” Philip Stead says. “That said, we had to make a book, so we had to provide an ending to the story.”

(12) NOT BINDING. Margaret H. Willison of NPR discusses “In ‘Dear Fahrenheit 451,’ Loving Books Both Wisely And Well”

The truest testament to the quality of Dear Fahrenheit 451, Annie Spence’s ingratiating collection of love letters and breakup notes to the books in her life, is that my enjoyment of it was, in the end, great enough to outweigh my fury that someone other than me had written it.

It’s lucky that she manages this feat, as anyone who loves books well enough to enjoy reading Spence’s letters is likely to relate so closely to her thoughts that they’ll struggle with that same sense of resentful ownership — particularly librarians. “What are you doing,” they will think, “writing out my life like it’s your own, Annie Spence? Who do you think you are? What makes you special?” Thankfully, Spence’s voice is ultimately so warm, funny, and specific that it answers the question handily — she’s special because she has a unique ability to capture the thoughts and feelings of book lovers, both professional and otherwise, on the page.

(13) THESE ARE THE JOKES, FOLKS. Martin Morse Wooster tells me: “I know Filers spend too much time staring at screens and need to go outside and soak up some crisp fall air.  Why not go to a corn maze?  In The Plains, Virginia, you can go to Pirates of the Corn-ibbean.’”

The website is http://cornmazeintheplains.com. Here’s a review of this year’s theme:

The giant 5 Acre maze with the theme “Pirates of the Corn-ibbean”, has a pirate’s flag, parrot, and a chest full of treasure.  The cornfield comes alive when it is filled with maze goers who enter the 2.5 miles of “cornfusing” pathways. They soon find themselves facing countless choices, while attempting to answer the trivia clues en route to the elusive victory bridge. Whether it is during the night or day, each maze wanderer is armed with a survival guide and flag on a mission to collect puzzle pieces of the maze design and test their trivia skills to help them find their way out.  If one gets “udderly cornfused”, they can always wave their teams flag frantically, to signal the “corn cop” to come to their rescue.

Last’s year’s maze looked like this:

Martin adds, “I know in the UK the word for ‘corn’ is maize.  So do they have maize mazes over there?

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Nigel, Jason, and NickPheas for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Hugh Hefner (1926-2017)

Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner died at home September 27 of natural causes. He was 91. While the magazine’s primary appeal was nude pictures of women and sex-oriented features, Playboy was also known for its cultural and political articles, and for fiction.

If you carefully look through the wrong end of the telescope, you can focus on Hefner’s and Playboy’s impressive record of publishing science fiction.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction explains that as a young man Hefner was an avid reader of Weird Tales. Once he started Playboy, the editors responsible for selecting its fiction likewise had a taste for sf/f – particularly Ray Russell, Robie MacAuley, and Alice K Turner.

Playboy serialized Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in 1954, and over the years published short stories by Charles Beaumont, Robert Sheckley, Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter, Dan Simmons, Lucius Shepard, Terry Bisson, Robert Silverberg, Howard Waldrop, Joe Haldeman, J.G.Ballard, Frederik Pohl, and many others.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Nine Lives” (1969) was the first story by a woman published in Playboy, according to the Internet Science Fiction Database — although it appeared under the name U. K. Le Guin.

In 1998, Turner edited an anthology of science fiction published in the magazine, The Playboy Book of Science Fiction.

The Washington Post’s obituary documents Hefner’s reputation as a defender of First Amendment civil rights, and reproductive rights, and someone who believed gay rights were part of the sexual revolution he advocated, as shown early on by Playboy’s 1955 publication of Charles Beaumont’s “The Crooked Man” —

“The Crooked Man” depicted a dystopian future where homosexuality was the norm, heterosexuality was outlawed and angry anti-straight mobs marched through the street chanting “make our city clean again!” Even the relatively progressive Esquire magazine had rejected the piece because it was too controversial.

But Beaumont found a fan in a young Hugh Hefner, who agreed to run it in his Playboy magazine, then less than two years old.

Outraged letters poured in to Playboy. Even readers of the pioneering nude publication found Beaumont’s tale of straight people dressing in drag and sneaking into dark barrooms to find partners too offensive for their tastes.

Hefner responded to the backlash in a defiant note. “If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society,” he wrote, “then the reverse was wrong, too.”

Hefner was friends with Ray Bradbury. On Ray’s 90th birthday, Hefner hosted a party for him at the Writers Guild. Buzz Aldrin was there, too. John King Tarpinian helped get Bradbury back and forth. John took these photos, and wrote a little about the party in another post.

Ray Bradbury and Hugh Hefner

Ray Bradbury and Buzz Aldrin in 2010.

Tarpinian says, “Because of Ray, I did get to say I bought the magazine for the articles.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge and Greg Hullender for the story.]