Octocon 2017

James, Dublin 2019 GOH Diane Duane, Peter Morwood and Dublin 2019 treasurer JC.

By James Bacon: After the ceol and the craic of Friday night at Irish DiscWorldcon, I slept well and made an early breakfast with Vanessa, before heading to Kent Station, Cork for the 10.40 departure, but as we go we are wished warm and pleasant farewells from Siobhan the Irish DiscWorldcon Chair.

Octocon beckoned and once we arrived in Dublin, the trip from Heuston Station to the Camden Court Hotel, in the City centre, on the south side of the Liffey was quick in a taxi. The warm welcome at Octocon was amazing and as we walked in we are greeted, and soon joined other committee members at the Dublin 2019 table. We were also met by Janet O’Sullivan the chair of a Octocon and Sakura Perez the programme director as we receive our memberships and I hear that membership has hit 350 people, which is a fine figure for Octocon.

Pair of chairs. Janet O’Sullivan and James Bacon

I thought that I’d get into some programme but suddenly I’m catching up with so many folk that over two hours passes by, our table is strategically placed near the bar and I encounter many friends and new fans, and also pleased to listen and hear the excitement for the Dublin 2019. I look to hand out some ribbons, which are popular here, but new, and so any are well accepted, I have a variety of old ones, and they are eagerly received.

Mike Carroll busy signing comics.

I take a moment to catch up on a presentation, one by Michael Carroll. Mike is a writer and long-time fan here in Dublin, who has written prose, script and comic. He has written over 100 episodes of Judge Dredd for 2000AD, amongst a wide variety of work. After talking a little bit about one of his recent stories in that comic, he begins an incredible motivational and pragmatic presentation about writing. I am fascinated, his sound bites and ideas, make so much sense. Simple things like “Finish the work” and  “No one cares what you’re ‘going to write’ only what you have written” — the point being that the thing you’ve not yet written doesn’t actually exist, so people can’t evaluate it. “Start,” it all makes such wonderful sense.  His positive encouragement and forthright honesty is quite fantastic. His sensible and achievable down to earth advice is amazing and he has the whole room enrapt, and indeed it is compelling, I am wondering myself about the idea of a story, and how, well, I haven’t actually followed his rules and sure isn’t it a wonder that I am nowhere near writing it. He offers five rules of writing which somehow seem very basic, but with consideration filled with crucial points.

It is a wonderful programme item, and I really enjoyed it. Overall feedback at Octocon is that the programme is exciting and interesting and indeed, I note that I am challenged for choices. The programme booklet is visible here.

I get to meet Paul Trimble who runs Enniskillen Comic Fest [Facebook link].  I am looking forward to this event next year, and really enjoyed it this year and it is vital for the Dublin 2019 team that we connect across the country here, and Vanessa from promotions is chatting with Paul, as well as the team from WexWorlds.

The chat and laughter never stops, and it is just brilliant to be home. This is home you know, my science fiction fannish home, my first convention, my first piece of purchased artwork, my first book signed, so many firsts happened at Octocon for me, and it is a vital part of my makeup and I love it. It has had many venues, shapes, committees and guests, and now in its twenty-seventh year, it is an amazingly well spirited and friendly convention. The attendance includes a lot of new fans. Indeed, I smiled when Janet pleasantly informed me that they ran out of ‘first time attendee’ ribbons when they gave out their 42nd, such a science fictional significance.

The feeling of celebration continues as the Dublin 2019, An Irish Worldcon promotions team of Vanessa May, Marguerite Smith and Sara Felix have worked closely with Janet O’Sullivan chair of Octocon and the team and so have sponsored the nights entertainment here. The promotions team have a new Iain Clarke poster, which I really like, and magic green wands that are multi-functional, and so the evening’s  entertainment has a theme.

Vanessa, James, Marguerite, Esther and Ruth

As the dancing continues, the Octocon arrange Guerilla DJ Phil Dyson to extend the disco into the early hours, alleging that a ‘post party, party’ is occurring during clean up and so dancing continues, and indeed the music by Phil is excellent.

Dance floor shenanigans. (Fia doing the peace sign)

I attended a Fan Fund discussion and was well pleased to engage with Fia Karlsson the current NOFF delegate from Sweden. The Nordic Fan Fund happily sending Fia here to Dublin. Previous fan fund winners Tobes Valois and James Shields engaged with loser Douglas Spencer under the keen moderation of Fiona O’Sullivan. I made good mention of bursaries and other elements that are out there to help fans.

Listing off future cons is a thing at Octocon, and David Ferguson of Irish Comic News and Carol Connolly listed all the events that would be taking place in the next twelve months and beyond. Much mention was made of many cons including the Dublin Comic Con which got a lot of positive comment and was nice, I had to miss this years one, Dublin 2019 had a strong presence with other cons, handing out thousands of free books and comics as part of an outreach initiative.(http://forbiddenplanet.blog/2016/dublin-comic-con-report/). There is quite a lot going on in Ireland right now.

Future vista of conventions and events in Ireland is positive but it was a special moment as Carol skipped forward a little bit to August 2019.

I was courteously allowed some time to speak at the closing ceremony, and thanked the Octocon Committee and previous committees, as well as the members. They, a huge amount of people have been collectively hugely supportive. It was five years ago that I stood up, and the chair asked for recording devices to be turned off, and shared the secret that a Irish bid for a Worldcon was in the offing. Now to thank everyone as we are a seated Worldcon was an amazing thing. I made mention of our ‘First Worldcon’ rate of €100 and also of the Fantastic Dublin Fund, which is there to help people who need some help. I said that it would pain me greatly to work on something like this for many years, to find that some regular fan, just could not get to it. My sentiments were noted, and as I finished off by thanking everyone, my brief moment at the top of the room ended with ripping applause and cheering. A good bunch here, the noise from the closing ceremony was rapturous at the right times, that is for sure.

I’ll be heading to the con next year of course, although a venue change is on the cards, and dates will need to be confirmed, but at the end of the closing ceremony, after Janet had announced this news, the queue to join up for next year, was as long as ever, if not longer.

The evening continued, and later I found myself introducing many foreign fans to a ‘Spice Bag’ later at my Mom’s up the road on Black Horse Ave, ending the evening with a unique Dublin dish, and more talk, everyone having loved the con. Seven Spice bags please!

I admit it, I missed so much, The Blasters, the Vault of Horror, the amazing Guests of Honour, Dan Abnett and Nik Abnett, the variety of guests, the wondrousness of home-made foods in the dealer’s room, next to great books and comics. There was so much, and all the while the spirit was fantastic.

Dublin street furniture.

Pixel Scroll 10/16/17 Three Times Pixel Filer Dreamed Of The Marvellous Scroll

(1) CORE FOR RAVENCLAWS. At BookRiot, Rachel Brittain offers “A Hogwarts House Reading List: 20 Books for Ravenclaws”.

It’s also about creativity and individuality, originality and acceptance. All Ravenclaws value learning and curiosity, but not all Ravenclaws are traditionally book smart or love school. Like all the houses, Ravenclaw is home to a wide and diverse group of students. Admittedly, most of them have aced arithmancy, potions, transfiguration, care of magical creatures, DADA, and received OWLs so good it made Professor Flitwick cry, but still. No two Ravenclaws are alike. Except in one thing: Ravenclaws. Love. Books.

So set down your Self-Spelling Quill and your charms homework for just a moment, friends, and check out these twenty books for Ravenclaws that are sure to spark your imagination and make you a little smarter along the way.

Two of the books on the list are:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

About: the letters written between Juliet Ashton and a group of friends from Guernsey who survived the German occupation by concocting a fake book club after being caught breaking curfew.

Because: it’s all about books and the friends you can make because of them, even in the midst of chaos and crisis.

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

About: Naoki Higashida, who describes what it’s like to be autistic in his own words.

Because: learning how other people think and process the world around them is something you find endlessly fascinating and important.

(2) STAR CROSSED (OUT). Slate’s “Browbeat” blog tells how Kirkus Reviews changed their review after fierce criticism – from people who can’t have read the book yet: “YA Novel About ‘Mob Mentalities’ Punished After Online Backlash”.

American Heart won’t be published until January, but it has already attracted the ire of the fierce group of online YA readers that journalist Kat Rosenfield has referred to as “culture cops.” To them, it was an irredeemable problem that Moriarty’s novel, which was inspired in part by Huckleberry Finn, centers on a white teenager who gradually—too gradually—comes to terms with the racism around her. On Goodreads, the book’s top “community review,” posted in September, begins, “fuck your white savior narratives”; other early commenters on Goodreads accused Moriarty of “profiting off people’s pain” and said “a white writer should not have tackled this story, and neither should a white character be the center of it.”

The backlash escalated last week, when Kirkus Reviews gave American Heart a coveted “starred review,” which influences purchases by bookstores and libraries. Kirkus’ anonymous reviewer called the book “by turns terrifying, suspenseful, thought-provoking, and touching,” and praised its “frighteningly believable setting of fear and violent nativism gone awry.” The book’s critics were not pleased with the commendation.

Author Laura Moriarty commented on Facebook:

Dear friends, I write this with a heavy but hopeful heart. If and when you have time, I would appreciate your thoughts on this (longer than average) post. And feel free to share.

My new novel, American Heart, is a crossover novel (for both older teens and adults) that imagines a United States where American Muslims are deported to “safety zones” in Nevada. The main character is a young non-Muslim who believes the deportations are necessary until she meets an American Muslim headed to freedom. You may or may not have noticed, but even though the book isn’t due out until 1/30/18, it already has a very low rating on Goodreads. This is because a group, profiled in Kat Rosenfield’s “The Toxic Drama on YA Twitter” for Vulture, has been bombarding American Heart with one-star reviews because they don’t approve of the idea of the book and because they are assuming it is a white-savior narrative. (Actually the main character realizes, accurately, that she alone can’t save anyone, but you would only know that if you’d read the book.) Most of reviewers on Goodreads openly admit to not having read the book.

I was encouraged last week when Kirkus Reviews gave American Heart a starred review (starred as in ‘this is great!’ not one star like the mad people on Goodreads), calling it a “moving portrait of an American girl discovering her society in crisis, desperate to show a disillusioned immigrant the true spirit of America.” The Kirkus reviewer, an observant Muslim and a woman of color, called the book “sensible, thought-provoking, and touching . . and so rich that a few coincidences of plot are easily forgiven.” (Okay, okay, fine, I’ll take it.)

As one may have predicted, the book’s very vocal critics (again, this group is made up almost entirely of people who have not read the book) were outraged by the starred review. That’s fine. That’s their right to free speech. What has both surprised and disturbed me, and what I think would be surprising and disturbing to anyone concerned about censorship and free speech, was that this morning, Kirkus announced it was: retracting American Heart’s starred review.

Kirkus offered this explanation in “A Note From The Editor In Chief”.

It is a policy of Kirkus Reviews that books with diverse subject matter and protagonists are assigned to Own Voices reviewers—writers who can draw upon lived experience when evaluating texts. Our assignment of the review of American Heart was no exception to this rule and was reviewed by an observant Muslim person of color (facts shared with her permission). Our reviewer is an expert in children’s & YA literature and well-versed in the dangers of white savior narratives. She found that American Heart offers a useful warning about the direction we’re headed in as far as racial enmity is concerned.

The issue of diversity in children’s and teen literature is of paramount importance to Kirkus, and we appreciate the power language wields in discussion of the problems. As a result, we’ve removed the starred review from kirkus.com after determining that, while we believe our reviewer’s opinion is worthy and valid, some of the wording fell short of meeting our standards for clarity and sensitivity, and we failed to make the thoughtful edits our readers deserve. The editors are evaluating the review and will make a determination about correction or retraction after careful consideration in collaboration with the reviewer.

(3) INDIE. SFWA President Cat Rambo completes her series about what the organization has to offer indie writers: “SFWA and Independent Writers, Part Four: What Lies Down the Road”

Going forward, I expect more and more indies to enter the organization as it proves that it’s giving them solid valid for their membership in the form of:

  • Community
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Publications like the Bulletin and the Singularity
  • Chances attend and sell books at places like Baltimore Bookfest, ALA, and other book-related events
  • Marketing opportunities for themselves such as the Speakers Bureau
  • Promotional opportunities for their work such as the New Release Newsletter
  • Reading material (there’s a lot on those internal forums)
  • The wealth of networking and information available via the SFWA Nebula Conference
  • Existing programs like Griefcom, the Emergency Medical Fund, and the Legal Fund

(4) CHECKMATE. A recent episode of The Post Atomic Horror Podcast, which appeals to fans with an interest in filking and other poetic diversions, featured a guest who summarized the Enterprise’s episode “A Night In Sickbay” to the tune “One Night in Bangkok”. The summary begins about 2 minutes into the episode and proceeds for roughly 4 minutes.

Come for the filk, stay for the commentary!

(5) VIEW FROM A GANTRY. Rocket Stack Rank’s October 2017 ratings are live, and Jeremiah Tolbert’s novella The Dragon of Dread Peak was the highest-rated story.

(6) REMODELING COMPLETE. Locus Online’s lovely redesigned website went live today.

(7) HOT OFF THE PRESS. An institute for design in Holland has come up with an experimental edition of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 which requires you to nearly burn the book to read it: “Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: This edition can be read only if you apply heat to the pages”. See it in action —

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 16, 1995 Candyman was released in theaters in the U.S.

(9) EYE SPY. At Fantasy Book Critic, Tom Doyle considers “The Unreliability of Magical Surveillance”.

In my American Craftsmen trilogy, psychic spies (farseers) can view intel across the distances of time and space (farsight). Their visions guide the missions of magical and mundane soldiers, and they play against the farseers of hostile powers. I want to look briefly at some of the popular stories of magical surveillance. The use of magical or psychic means to view across space and time is an old idea. Yet few of the stories that come immediately to mind view such power as an unambiguous good for the wielder. In the story of Snow White, the evil queen uses a magic mirror for scrying. Like many such devices, the mirror is a two-edged weapon. On the one hand, the mirror demonstrates what powerful surveillance can accomplish; for example, the attempt of Snow White and the huntsman to fake her death fails because of it. On the other hand, the mirror seems to be driving the queen to her eventual destruction by doling out only as much information as she requests and no more. In The Lord of the Rings, we have the Mirror of Galadriel, the palantíri, and the Ring itself. All of these are in their own way unreliable. The Mirror of Galadriel shows Sam a vision of an industrializing Shire that momentarily discourages him from his mission, when his mission is the one hope of Middle Earth. Denethor’s palantir gives him true intel, but only what Sauron wants him to see, and so he goes mad with despair. In turn, Aragorn is able to use Saruman’s palantir to nudge Sauron into rushing his attack. The Ring seems to serve as a sort of tracking device, but only when Frodo puts it on does it work well enough to zero in on him….

(10) SPEAKING UP. AudioFile is campaigning to get a Grammy Award nomination for Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Those eligible to vote will do so between October 16-19.

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and bestselling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in digestible chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

(11) BALLS. Motherboard takes readers “Inside the Most Exclusive High-Powered Rocketry Event in America”.

“We might be digging a hole to get at this thing, man,” Joshua Allen told me as we barreled across Nevada’s Black Rock Desert in the back of a covered pickup truck.

Allen and his peers from Oregon State University had just launched their homemade rocket at Big Ass Load Lifting Suckers (BALLS), an annual gathering of rocketeers that showcases the most powerful amateur rockets in the US. It was their first time at the event, held late in September, and they hoped that their two-stage rocket would fly to 100,000 feet, about one-third of the way to space proper. The Oregon State students, many of whom graduated in May, had spent the last year designing, building, and testing the rocket we were hunting from a pickup. Allen estimated that it contained over $20,000 of purchased and donated materials—and after a malfunction during its flight, he wasn’t sure they would recover it in one piece, if at all.

Every September for the last 27 years, the Tripoli Rocketry Association—one of the two amateur rocketry groups in the US—has hosted BALLS as a showcase of the rockets built by people like Allen that are too powerful to be safely flown anywhere but the middle of the desert. Black Rock is a well-worn stomping ground for amateur rocketry due to its expansive, barren lake bed that lacks any signs of life or flammable materials. This was the location that the first civilian team launched a rocket into space in 2004 and is frequented throughout the year by local high-powered rocketry groups in the southwest.

In order to bring hundreds of rocketeers together for a weekend of punching holes in the sky, Tripoli must obtain a flight waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration that allows the organization to fly over 100,000 feet. It’s the highest flight waiver granted to amateur rocketeers by a federal administration anywhere in the world.

(12) TOURIST ATTRACTION. Just how many tourists will be attracted is the question “A Giant Concrete Orb in Northern Iceland Moves With the Arctic Circle”. (Say what you like, it looks like Rover from The Prisoner to me.)

On Grímsey, a remote island 25 miles off the northern coast of Iceland, sits a massive orb of concrete that marks the Arctic Circle. The artwork, called Orbis & Globus (“Circle & Sphere”), weighs 8 metric tons (almost 9 tons US), and will be physically moved a short distance each year because the Arctic Circle is moving, too.

“The Arctic Circle marks a point where the Sun never sets in the summer and never rises in the winter,” Steve Christer, a partner with Studio Granda, which created the work in a partnership with artist Kristinn E. Hrafnsson, told me over the phone from Reykjavik. “It isn’t just a point on a map.” At 66.5 °N, the Arctic Circle moves a little bit each year as the Earth travels through space, shifting on its axis. (Earth’s axial tilt can vary by about 2° over the course of a 40,000-year cycle.) This giant orb will have to be repositioned every year by an average of 14.5 meters. Christer told me they’ll hire a contractor to do it.

The orb was commissioned by the nearby town of Akureyri, which was seeking “a symbol for the Arctic Circle on the island of Grímsey,” he said. Getting the work there was no easy feat.

(13) HALLOWEEN REVIVALS. Joel Ryan, in the Yahoo! TV piece “TV’s Lost Halloween Classics:  Six Specials From Beyond The Grave”,  introduces a new generation to “Mad Monster Party,” “Halloween is Grinch Night,” and the Cartoon Network adaptation of “The Halloween Tree.”

  1. The Worst Witch The Tim Curry Halloween movie for the whole family, about a boarding school for aspiring broomstick types, also boasts the fabulous Diana Rigg, Fairuza Balk (The Craft), the post-Facts of Life Charlotte Rae, and production design that screams HBO in the mid-1980s. (Yes, we know The Worst Witch was a British coproduction, but then again, that’s what HBO originals looked like in the mid-1980s: things that were not quite of Hollywood.) In any case, the movie is a charming reminder of those simple days before the Hogwarts Express rolled into the creative space.

(14) GULLIVER’S CREATOR. Nature’s Greg Lynall, in “In Retrospect: Gulliver’s Travels”, looks at the science in Gulliver’s Travels, in a piece commemorating the 350th anniversary of Jonathan Swift’s birth. (Apologies – I can’t make my computer pick up excerpted text.)

(15) HAMIT SCRIPT RACKS UP ANOTHER AWARD. Francis Hamit has won a third screenwriting contest with his screenplay for the forthcoming feature film Christopher Marlowe.

The Elizabethan-era historical thriller is slated to be produced primarily in the United Kingdom by famed Producer Gary Kurtz. On September 16, 2017 the screenplay won the “Best Thriller Screenplay” prize at the GO International Independent Film Festival in Washington, DC. Hamit’s previous awards for this work were at the 2016 Hollywood Book Festival and the 2017 New Renaissance Film Festival in London.

(16) WOKE-O-METER. Motherboard offers a solution: “Want More Diverse Entertainment? A New Site Has You Covered”

When it comes to movie reviews, there are plenty of resources that can tell you the most critically-acclaimed films and popular flicks. But what about when it comes to how woke they are?

Enter Mediaversity, a website that reviews TV and movies based on how well they represent diverse gender, race, and LGBTQ characters and stories, created by Li Lai, a graphic designer from New York.

“What really solidified this idea for me was last year when I was watching Oscar nominees and critically-acclaimed TV shows,” Lai told me over the phone. “Right in a row I watched Narcos, Game of Thrones, and The Revenant. All of them had awful portrayals of women.”

She was surprised that all of these highly-praised works were so tone deaf. Lai hopped online to look up reviews that might elucidate this aspect of media, as well as diverse representations of race and LGBTQ characters and stories. But she realized there was a dearth of information. There are plenty of resources if you want to know how entertaining a movie is, or how artistic, or how clever the dialogue is. But it’s a lot harder to find out whether or not the only time women appear onscreen is in rape scenes.

So, nine months ago, Lai decided to create Mediaversity, a labor of love which she said she currently has no plans to monetize. Though, like all reviews, the ratings are subjective, Mediaversity has a guideline for how Lai and her fellow reviewers—a diverse team of friends and bloggers—measure a show’s representation success, and uses a letter grading system from A+ to F.

(17) ANOTHER HALLOWED BREW. A gigantic “monster” IPA with just the right balance to bring palates back from the dead: “Stone Brewing’s Concoctions Go Wild and Dr. FrankenStone’s Monster IPA is Born”.

Late one evening, into the deepest vaults of Dr Frankenstone’s steaming lab – a monster IPA was born. This morbid creation was the result of our brewers pushing the hop limits (most of which are successful) to an insane level that would unleash an IPA like none other from the brewery. It was a creature that haunted our brewers for many nights, as this beaker-buster was something they could not explain, yet was such a balanced delight to taste. Unbeknownst to our brewers, the horrific beast of a beer was a result of their blending sessions that got out of hand! After the first taste of the fresh liquid, our brewing team of mad scientists knew they had to re-create this experiment for October only in draft form.

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Harold Osier, John A Arkansawyer, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Roy Dotrice (1923-2017)

Roy Dotrice played Hallyne the Pyromancer in Game Of Thrones

By Steve Green: Roy Dotrice, British actor, died October 16, aged 94. In his best-known genre role he played Jacob “Father” Wells in Beauty and the Beast (55 episodes, 1987-90).

Other genre appearances include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1959), Late Night Horror (one episode, 1968), Omnibus (one episode, 1969), Tales of Unease (on episode, 1970), Toomorrow (1970), Tales from the Crypt (1972), Space:1999 (two episodes, 1975; these were re-edited for release in 1976 as Alien Attack), Saturn 3 (1980), Stephen King’s Golden Tales (1985), The Wizard (three episodes, 1986), Eliminators (1986), Tales from the Darkside (one episode, 1987), Faerie Tale Theatre (two episodes, 1987), Nightmare Classics (one episode, 1989), Children of the Dark (1994), Earth 2 (two episodes, 1995), Babylon 5 (one episode, 1995), Batman: the Animated Series (one episode, 1995), Strange Luck (two episodes, 1995-96), Tales from the Crypt (one episode, 1996), Spider-Man (four episodes, 1997), Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (three episodes, 1998), Sliders (two episodes, 1999-2000), Touched by an Angel (one episode, 2001), Alien Hunter (2003), Angel (one episode, 2003), Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), Game of Thrones (as Hallyne, two episodes, 2012).

He won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play (A Moon for the Misbegotten) in 2000.

2017 Sunburst Award Winners

The Sunburst Award Society has announced the winners of the 2017 Sunburst Awards for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic in the Adult, Young Adult, and Short Story categories.

Adult Award

The winner of the 2017 Sunburst Award for Adult Fiction is Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey (Thomas Dunne Books).

The Sunburst Jury commented:

In her debut novel, Claire Humphrey shows us a world of magic existing in the shadow of Queen Street bars and down side streets lined with old houses in Toronto. When Lissa Nevsky’s grandmother dies, she inherits the old world magical practices and an old obligation that comes trailing a dark history of violence and bitterness. In cool, elegant prose, Humphrey’s novel gives us a fresh take on magic, exploring the gifts it can bestow and the price it exacts. Humphrey’s use of a real, contemporary Canadian setting and her refusal to allow her characters any easy victories set this novel apart from a field of strong competitors.

Claire Humphrey is a national buyer for Indigo Books. Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Apex, Crossed Genres, Fantasy Magazine, and Podcastle. Her short story “Bleaker Collegiate Presents an All-Female Production of Waiting for Godot” appeared in the Lambda Award-nominated collection Beyond Binary, and her short story “The Witch of Tarup” was published in the critically acclaimed anthology Long Hidden.

Young Adult Award

The 2017 winner of the Sunburst Award for Young Adult Fiction is Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier [Puffin Canada].

The Sunburst Jury commented:

Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard (volume two in the Peter Nimble series by Jonathan Auxier) is a surprisingly complex take on age-old themes. Intrepid heroes, vivid villains, and an array of fantasy characters interact in a plot that places the importance of storytelling at its heart. It’s a metafictional adventure about the power (and limits) of story that, despite its invocation of well-worn tropes and its echoes of classics of children’s fantasy, still manages to be both surprising and gripping (and very funny) in its long, intricately-plotted narrative. It celebrates pure storytelling pleasure and refreshingly avoids any didactic moralizing.

Jonathan Auxier is a Canadian-American writer of young adult literature. His debut novel Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes was an ABA New Voices pick and a BookPage Magazine Best Book of 2011. His novel The Night Gardener won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award, and was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award and the Governor General’s Award.

Short Story Award

The winner of the 2017 Sunburst Award for Short Story is “The Sailing of the Henry Charles Morgan in Six Pieces of Scrimshaw (1841)” by A.C. Wise (initially published in The Dark, Issue 14).

The Sunburst Jury commented:

In an ingenious twist on the “found manuscript” trope, the narrative develops through pictorial vignettes inscribed on whalebone, baleen, and a rib of mysterious origin, minutely described as if for a museum catalogue or forensic report. Wise’s story is eerie, subtle, and highly visual, with pleasurably chilling overtones of Lovecraft’s Innsmouth abominations. Although individual characterization is virtually eliminated by the unique form and the distanced, objective narrative, it still succeeds in frightening and engaging the reader.

A.C. Wise was born and raised in Montreal, and currently lives in the Philadelphia area. Her work has appeared in publications such as Clarkesworld, Tor.com, Shimmer, and The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2017, among other places, and has been a finalist for the Lambda and the Sunburst Awards. Her collections The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again and The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories are both published by Lethe Press.

Sunburst medallion.

Winners of the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic  receive a medallion that incorporates the Sunburst logo. Winners of both the Adult and Young Adult Sunburst Award also receive a cash prize of $1,000, while winners of the Short Story Sunburst Award receive a cash prize of $500.

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

SUNBURST JURORS. The 2017 Sunburst Award jury was comprised of Nancy Baker, Michel Basilières, Rebecca Bradley, Dominick Grace, and Sean Moreland.

Jurors for the 2018 novel awards will be Megan Crewe, Kate Heartfield, Dominik Parisien, Halli Villegas, and Heather Wood. Jurors for the 2018 short story awards will be Candas Jane Dorsey, Alexandra Renwick, and Emily Pohl-Weary.

[Based on a press release.]

Sci-Fi Video Roundup for October 16

Compiled by Carl Slaughter: (1) The case for Gul Dukat

(2) Honest Trailers:  Next Generation series

(3) Discovery: Spore travel technology explained

(4) Discovery is really about Section 31

(5) Discovery is being heavily pirated  — Ars Technica says the first two episodes of Discovery are both among the 20 most pirated TV shows.

(6) Orville is Star Trek

(7) Majel  Roddenberry

(8) Batman’s greatest failures

(9) Honest Trailer:  Burton’s first Batman movie

(10) How McDonald’s got Tim Burton fired from Batman

(11) Marvel’s seeming plot holes

(12) Dark side of Star Wars

(13) Why we will never see an Ender’s Game sequel

Atwood Wins Peace Prize of the German Book Trade

Margaret Atwood has been awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, one of Germany’s most prestigious cultural prizes, at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Margaret Atwood’s full acceptance speech is here.

Every country, like every person, has a noble self – the self it would like to believe it is – and an everyday self – the good-enough self that gets it through the mundane weeks and months when everything is going on as expected – and then a hidden self, much less virtuous, that may burst out at moments of threat and rage, and do unspeakable things.

But what causes these times of threat and rage – or what is causing them now? You will have heard many theories about that, and you will doubtless hear many more. It is climate change, some will say: floods, droughts, fires, and hurricanes affect growing conditions, and then there are food shortages, and then there is social unrest, and then there are wars, and then there are refugees, and then there is the fear of refugees, because will there be enough to share?

It is financial imbalance, others will say: too few rich people control too much of the world’s wealth, and they are sitting on it like dragons, and causing large financial disparities and resentments, and then there will be social unrest, and wars, or revolutions, and so forth. No, say others: it is the modern world: it is automation and robots, it is technology, it is the Internet, it is the manipulation of news and opinion that is being done by an opportunistic few for their own advantage: the army of Internet trolls and astroturfers, for instance, who took such pains to influence the German election, and, it seems, the similar Russian efforts in the United States via Facebook. But why are we surprised? The Internet is a human tool, like all others: axes, guns, trains, bicycles, cars, telephones, radios, films, you name it – and like every human tool it has a good side, a bad side, and a stupid side that produces effects that were at first not anticipated.

Among those tools is possibly the very first uniquely human tool: our narrative capability, enabled by complex grammar. What an advantage stories must once have given us – allowing us to pass along essential knowledge so you didn’t have to find our everything for yourself by trial and error. Wolves communicate, but they do not tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood.

Stories, too, can have a good side, and bad side, and a third side that produces unanticipated effects. As a writer of stories I am supposed to say how necessary they are, how they help us understand one another, how they build empathy, and so forth – and that is true. But because I am a writer of stories, I am also aware of their ambiguities and dangers. Let us just say that stories are powerful. They can change the way people think and feel – for better or for worse.

So what is the story we are telling ourselves about this present moment and its tribulations? Whatever the cause of the change we are living through, it is the kind of moment when the rabbits in the meadow perk up their ears, because a predator has entered the scene.

Along will come a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or even a wolf in wolf’s clothing, and that wolf will say: Rabbits, you need a strong leader, and I am just the one for the job. I will cause the perfect future world to appear as if by magic, and ice cream will grow on trees. But first we will have to get rid of civil society – it is too soft, it is degenerate –– and we will have to abandon the accepted norms of behaviour that allow us to walk down the street without sticking knives into each other all the time. And then we will have to get rid of Those people. Only then will the perfect society appear!

Those people vary from place to place and from time to time. Maybe they are witches, or lepers, both of whom were blamed for the Black Death. Maybe they are Huguenots, in eighteenth century France. Maybe they are Mennonites. (But why Mennonites? I asked a Mennonite friend. You seem so harmless! We were pacifists, he answered. In a continent at war, we set a bad example.)

Anyway, the wolf says:  Do as I say and all will be well. Defy me, and snarl snarl, gobble gobble, you will be crunched into tiny bits.

The rabbits freeze, because they are confused and terrified, and by the time they figure out that the wolf does not in fact mean them well but has arranged everything only for the benefit of the wolves, it is too late.

Yes, we know, you will say. We’ve read the folktales. We’ve read the science fictions. We’ve been warned, often. But that, somehow, does not always stop this tale from being enacted in human societies, many times over….

The official site of the award also has an English translation of the introductory remarks by Heinrich Riethmüller, head of the German Booksellers’ Association.

Several weeks ago, when we visited Margret Atwood in Canada to discuss today’s ceremony, we very quickly came to the topic of the extraordinary political developments in the USA. At that point, she said with a sigh, “I’m probably the only person in the world profiting from Donald Trump”. Of course, she was referring to the surprising and sudden success of a novel she had written several decades ago, one that was undergoing not only a renaissance but also a frighteningly renewed relevance in many countries. Indeed, many readers are drawn to the visions Atwood sets forth; they discover parallels to our own social order and uncover similarities in today’s power structures and power holders.

The fact that people continue to turn to literature for guidance – especially when seeking answers to urgent questions in an age of insecurity, danger and fear about the future – is a truly amazing phenomenon. When we sense that our world is losing its equilibrium, that is, when we feel our trusted environment is being threatened, we reach out to books in hopes of confirmation, consolation and new insight. Books are escape vessels, buoys we hold onto in times of uncertainty. They help us reflect upon where we stand. They synthesise and store the knowledge and experience of thinkers and poets who portray the world as it is or might soon become, often in the hopes of bringing about some sort of change in their readers….

A laudatory speech was given by Austrian writer Eva Menasse, whose older brother Robert just won the German Book Award.

What a joy and an honour it is to deliver a speech in praise of Margaret Atwood! She has long been a role model and a source of motivation for me, first and foremost thanks to her literary oeuvre. This makes it all the more painful to have so little time today, since I cannot possibly do justice to her body of work in the few minutes I have. Indeed, I would much prefer to give several hour-long lectures about the knife-thrower’s precision with which she sketches her characters and renders them utterly unforgettable in the space of only three or four sentences. I would much prefer to delve deeply into the dramaturgical genius with which she sashays from one temporal level to the next, especially in her short stories. And, of course, I would much prefer to spend hours elucidating her famous x-ray vision – that unique perceptive faculty that compels her to leave no stone unturned amongst the wealth of human subterfuge and ignominy, only then to provide us with some comfort via her trademark mischievous humour.

Equally as worthy of praise and admiration is Margaret Atwood’s political voice. This voice speaks directly out of her literature, but it can also be heard time and again outside of her fiction, that is, in pointed interviews and, most recently, in Payback, her intelligent and entertaining piece on the subject of financial debt. In this book, she shows how economic missteps have often enough precipitated a hero’s downfall in works of literature, too. Indeed, she proves that this fall is not always brought about by moral failings alone. And yet, somehow, we neglect the fact that Madame Bovary – to name just one example – was not only deep in despair, but also deeply in debt. Who knows what might have happened to her otherwise? Might she have survived? No doubt as a heavily damaged soul, but still. In novels, we tend to overlook these things – the complicated and poisoned relationship between creditor and debtor, the whole budgetary disaster of it all, etc. – preferring to focus our attention on the emotional drama taking place. This is precisely what Margaret Atwood – an almost frighteningly well-read writer – examined with Cassandra-like prophecy in this outstanding series of non-fiction essays written in the summer of 2008, that is, only months before the collapse of Lehman Brothers sparked the global financial crisis….

[Thanks to Cora Buhlert for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 10/15/17 Like Pixels Through A Monitor, These Are The Scrolls Of Our Hive

(1) A FANTASY MAP THAT WORKS. Literature Map, The Tourist Map of Literature is a lot of fun. Seems accurate, too. Plug in a name and give it a whirl.

The Literature-Map is part of Gnod, the Global Network of Discovery. It is based on Gnooks, Gnod’s literature recommendation system. The more people like an author and another author, the closer together these two authors will move on the Literature-Map.

(2) NEW HELMSMAN FOR STARLINE. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association announced a change in editorship for its official poetry publication — “Introducing StarLine’s new editor, Vince Gotera”

With the upcoming 40.4 issue of Star*Line we welcome its new editor Vince Gotera, and thank F.J. Bergmann for her exemplary service and vision in what a journal of speculative poetry can be. We look forward to the approach Vince Gotera will take in the years ahead, especially with the arrival of the 40th anniversary of the SFPA in 2018.

Vince Gotera is an award-winning member of the international Science Fiction  and Fantasy Poetry Association, and he has been nominated for Rhysling Awards.

Vince was born and raised in San Francisco and lived in the Philippines for part of his childhood. He completed undergraduate studies at City College of San Francisco and Stanford University, where he earned a BA. He earned an MA at San Francisco University and both an MFA and a PhD at Indiana University.  He is the author of the poetry collections Dragonfly (1994) , Ghost Wars (2003) and Fighting Kite (2007) and the critical volume Radical Visions: Poetry by Vietnam Veterans (1994).  His upcoming volume of poetry is Pacific Crossings. 

He is also a former editor of North American Review and was the poetry editor of the journal Asian America.

(3) ELECTRIC SHEEP DREAMER. The argument continues: NPR’s Adam Frank asks, “Is Harrison Ford An Android In ‘Blade Runner’?”

But it has gotta be the last director’s cut.

That is where you get to see exactly why director Ridley Scott’s movie is considered so important and so influential. His vision of a future Los Angeles that is all torrential rain, steam and blue searchlights piercing through ruin is nothing short of jaw-dropping.

But it’s also in this final cut that Scott reinserts two scenes the studio removed. They hold the key to Deckard’s status. Near the end of the film, Deckard has a dream about a unicorn. Later, he is escaping with Rachael — the beautiful next-generation replicant whom he has fallen for. Just as they walk out the door of his apartment, he finds an origami figure in the shape of a unicorn that was left by his former police partner Gaff. This signals that Gaff (who has a major origami habit) knows about Deckard’s dream because it’s not really Deckard’s. It’s an implant. Every replicant’s memories and dreams are fake. They are implanted to give a “back story” needed to stabilize the replicant’s artificial personality.

So the unicorn dream is central to the “Deckard as replicant” argument….

(4) AMBISCAREDSTROUS. The Los Angeles Times interviews “Horror master Guillermo del Toro on how scaring people is different on TV and in the movies”.

“There is a big difference when the mediums are different,” Del Toro says during a recent interview on the phone from Toronto, where he lives part time and also where “At Home With Monsters,” the traveling museum exhibition of his memorabilia, artwork and ephemera, recently opened.

In explaining the distinctions between the different methods of storytelling, be it movies, television, books or graphic novels, Del Toro also points out the ways in which they interrelate.

“TV now you have to plan it, you structure it for binge watching,” he says. “Meaning, you structure the whole season like a three-act play. You have a first act, the first third of the season, second act is the middle third and you structure it like that. Whereas a movie you’re dealing with a continuous experience that’s going to last around two hours, so it’s more traditional.

“The other mediums, like video games or books, may follow different sets of rules,” he continues. “But what I find really interesting as a storyteller is that each of those mediums informs the other. You find yourself applying tricks that you learned developing a video game in telling a movie. Little tricks that you learn structurally working in TV, you apply them to a movie and so forth.”

(5) PUMPKINSTEIN. Here’s what was scaring people in 2014 — this price for a pumpkin: “Pumpkinstein Is The Only Halloween Pumpkin You’ll Ever Need”.

People never believe it’s real the first time they see it; they all want to touch it to make sure,” Tony Dighera of Cinagro Farms in Fillmore, Calif., told The New York Times.

Dighera told the Tri-Valley Dispatch that it took four years and $500,000 to develop the technique and find the perfect pumpkin for the job.

“When you try something for four years of your life, people really start to think you’re wacko,” he told the Times.

What some people may find “wacko,” however, is the price. Dighera is selling Pumpkinsteins for about $75 wholesale, with retailers marking them up to $100 and even $125.

For a pumpkin. A very cool pumpkin that looks like Frankenstein, but still a pumpkin.

(6) THE BEST. Now available, The Best of Richard Matheson, edited by Victor LaValle from Penguin.

Where Matheson shines is in his depictions of ordinary horror, the way strange goings-on affect everyday people, and his ambiguous endings leave plenty of room for further thought. As a bonus, editor LaValle offers an enlightening introduction that discusses Matheson’s influence on his own work and even offers up the story behind what he calls his “Matheson moment,” giving more heft to the stories that follow.

(7) DON’T BE KNOCKIN’. Victor LaValle pays homage to the horror master with a real-life story from his own past — “My Favorite Richard Matheson Story Is the One I Lived Through” at Electric Lit.

Anyway, I’m standing there and Tasha and Lianne are coming through the doorway and then I heard it, a sound in the kitchen. Knocking. Not all that loud, but I was close to the kitchen and getting closer. By that I mean that Tasha and Lianne were taking off their coats and I ran away. Later I told Cedric I went to “get them water,” but there’s no other way to say it: I fled.

As soon as I entered the kitchen the knocking stopped. I figured it might be their boiler kicking in. It was winter after all. I knew I’d run away though so I came up with the water idea and went scrounging for cups. This led me on a chase through the cupboards as, in the other room, Cedric called for me. And then I reached their pantry door. This style of one-family home had a separate little pantry, about the size of a small walk-in closet. I found the door there and, still hunting for glasses, I tried the handle and found it locked. Then Cedric walked into the kitchen.

“Cheese,” he said. “You making me look bad.”

(8) TAINT BY NUMBERS. Junot Diaz’ introduction to Global Dystopias, “To Map, to Warn, to Hope”, from the Boston Review.

William Gibson has famously declared, “The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Gibson’s words have been much on my mind of late. How could they not be? The president is a white nationalist sympathizer who casually threatens countries with genocide and who can’t wait to build a great wall across the neck of the continent to keep out all the “bad hombres.” After a hurricane nearly took out Houston, the country’s most visible scientist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, stated that the effects of climate change may have grown so severe that he doubts the nation will be able to withstand the consequences.

For me, literature, and those formations that sustain it, have ever been a eutopic enclave against a darkening dystopian world.

Then, as if on cue, Puerto Rico, a U.S. colony almost completely bankrupt by neoliberal malfeasance, was struck by Hurricane Maria with such apocalyptic force that it more or less knocked the island into pre-modernity. Earlier today a former student informed me that more skin bleaching is consumed in India than Coca-Cola, and on the edge of my computer a new site is announcing that the Chinese government has made it nearly impossible for its 730 million Internet users to express opinions online anonymously. Plus this little cheery gem from the Federal Reserve: the top 1 percent of the U.S. population controls 38.6 percent of the nation’s wealth, an inequality chasm that makes the Middle Ages look egalitarian. Whether we’re talking about our cannibal economics or the rising tide of xenophobia or the perennial threat of nuclear annihilation, it seems that the future has already arrived.

(9) GONE VIRAL. These hitchhikers are along for the evolutionary ride: “Ancient Viruses Are Buried in Your DNA”, in the New York Times.

In July, scientists reported that a strange protein courses through the veins of pregnant women. No one is sure what it’s there for.

What makes this protein, called Hemo, so unusual is that it’s not made by the mother. Instead, it is made in her fetus and in the placenta, by a gene that originally came from a virus that infected our mammalian ancestors more than 100 million years ago.

Hemo is not the only protein with such an alien origin: Our DNA contains roughly 100,000 pieces of viral DNA. Altogether, they make up about 8 percent of the human genome. And scientists are only starting to figure out what this viral DNA is doing to us.

(10) HISTORY IS BUNK. Once again, an appealing theory is murdered by a few lousy facts: “Sinister ‘Secrets’ of Easter Island’s Doomed Civilization Begin to Unravel With Rapa Nui Genetic Discovery”.

Recently, Rapa Nui has become the ultimate parable for humankind’s selfishness; a moral tale of the dangers of environmental destruction. In the “ecocide” hypothesis popularised by the geographer Jared Diamond, Rapa Nui is used as a demonstration of how society is doomed to collapse if we do not sit up and take note. But more than 60 years of archaeological research actually paints a very different picture—and now new genetic data sheds further light on the island’s fate. It is time to demystify Rapa Nui.

The ‘ecocide’ narrative doesn’t stand up

The ecocide hypothesis centres on two major claims. First, that the island’s population was reduced from several tens of thousands in its heyday, to a diminutive 1,500-3,000 when Europeans first arrived in the early 18th century.

Second, that the palm trees that once covered the island were callously cut down by the Rapa Nui population to move statues. With no trees to anchor the soil, fertile land eroded away resulting in poor crop yields, while a lack of wood meant islanders couldn’t build canoes to access fish or move statues. This led to internecine warfare and, ultimately, cannibalism….

…Perhaps, then, the takeaway from Rapa Nui should not be a story of ecocide and a Malthusian population collapse. Instead, it should be a lesson in how sparse evidence, a fixation with “mysteries,” and a collective amnesia for historic atrocities caused a sustainable and surprisingly well-adapted population to be falsely blamed for their own demise.

(11) WE HATES IT. How much does the New York Times’ Jeannette Catsoulis dislike Goodbye Christopher Robin? This much:

As predictable as mermaid frocks at the Oscars, Hollywood greets the end of the year by suddenly noticing that roughly a third of moviegoers (and three-quarters of art-house audiences) are over 50, most of them women. This annual phenomenon can lead to theaters clogged with old-lady bait, which usually means something British and upper-crusty, preferably with literary roots. A dollop of war, a death or two, and it’s off to the awards races. “Goodbye Christopher Robin” checks all the boxes. Drenched in dappled light and Carter Burwell’s honeyed score, Simon Curtis’s glowing picture dangles the story of how the author A. A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) created the Winnie-the-Pooh tales using the stuffed animals of his son, Christopher Robin (beautifully played by little Will Tilston). What we’re really watching, though, is no less than a stiffly depressing portrait of toffee-nosed child abuse….

(12) WEIN’S LAST SWAMP THING. Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly we know “New Swamp Thing Winter Special #1 to feature posthumous story from co-creator Len Wein”.

Wolverine co-creator Len Wein, who died in September at the age of 69, was one of the most influential comic book writers and editors ever, leaving his mark on the DC and Marvel Universes. At the time of his death, he was hard at work on a new story about the iconic DC Comics character he co-created with Bernie Wrightson: Swamp Thing, the avatar of the Green.

Before he died, Wein had completed the script for the first issue of a new series about the vegetation-covered monstrosity formerly known as Alec Holland, which would be illustrated by his 2016 Swamp Thing  miniseries partner Kelley Jones. While we won’t ever see this series come to fruition, EW can exclusively reveal that fans will get a chance to read the first issue of the planned series in 2018 when DC Comics releases Swamp Thing Winter Special #1 (on sale Jan. 31), which will present the story in both its original script form with art by Jones.

(13) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 15, 2003 — China launched its first manned space mission becoming the third country in history to send a person into orbit.

(14) SEXUAL COURSE CORRECTION. Trae Dorn, at Nerd & Tie, reports “On ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ TV’s Constantine Will Finally Be Allowed to Smoke, Be Into Dudes”.

When Matt Ryan first played the title role on NBC’s Constantine, the peacock network was a little nervous about acknowledging two things about the character: his bisexuality and his chain smoking. And while they let John Constantine occasionally hold a cigarette, his being into guys was kind of a sore spot steadfastly avoided by the show. Ryan has since reprised the part on The CW’s Arrow, which merged the continuities. With the addition of a forthcoming CW Seed animated series, many fans of the comics’ version of the character have hoped his sexuality would be finally addressed.

And we’re happy to say, it will be.

It’s been announced that Matt Ryan’s Constantine will guest star on a Legends of Tomorrow two parter this season, and when he does his bisexuality will be directly acknowledged….

(15) BRANCH OFFICES. If the government did this for employees, it would be a scandal. A private company did it, so it’s a nice feature article, “Microsoft built tree houses for its employees”. The Verge has the story.

The tree houses are a part of Microsoft’s “outdoor districts” which are connected to buildings around its Redmond campus. They feature weatherproof benches, hatches that hide electricity sockets, rustproof rocking chairs, a fireplace, wood canopies, and an outdoor Wi-Fi network. There are ramps built in for those who need them. If you get hungry, there’s also an indoor cafeteria that’s extended outside and a barbecue restaurant built into a shipping container.

Microsoft said it had been planning renovations and surveyed employees to see what they cared about the most. Employees said if they were given the opportunity, they would work outside more.

(16) SHORTCHANGED. SF Bluestocking says — “Star Trek: Discovery – A long, poetic episode title is no substitute for real depth”:

After a strong two-part premiere and a decent transitional episode last week, “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry” is a bit of a disappointment. After cramming a ton of set-up and plot into its first three episodes, what the show needs now is to establish a new normal and give the characters a reprieve from the constant barrage of Events! Happening! so the audience can get to know these people we’re supposed to care about. This is a needle that was successfully threaded in “The Vulcan Hello” and “Battle at the Binary Stars,” where we were given a nice prologue and several flashbacks to establish Burnham’s character and her friendship with Captain Georgiou, and this gave weight to the events at the end of the second episode, setting up Burnham for a redemption arc over the rest of the series. Last week’s episode contrived to get Burnham onto the Discovery and introduced a new cast of characters, so the next logical step would be to show us more of how these characters interact with each other, what makes them tick, or even just how Burnham settles in to the normal rhythm of life on the ship. Instead, this episode features another crisis, but it struggles throughout to convey why any of these events should matter to the viewer….

Warning: SPOILERS FOLLOW.

(17) IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU IF YOU’RE YOUNG AT HEART. Now Creation Entertainment is running a cycle of Once Upon A Time conventions. The next is in Burbank, CA in November.

Every once in a blue moon a television series captures the hearts of viewers who become passionate about their love of the storyline, the look and feel of the show, and the actors that breathe life into the characters we come to cherish. ABC’s Once Upon A Time certainly fills that rare bill as fans worldwide have made this show one that is the talk of the Internet and eagerly followed by viewers, much in the tradition of other series that Creation Entertainment has been involved with in its 45-year history.

 

(18) WENDIG BOOK IN DEVELOPMENT FOR TV. Yesterday, Chuck Wendig called the internet to attention:

*ahem*

I have an announcement to make.

*opens mouth*

*ants pour out*

*ants collectively spell a message*

FBI Drama From Jerry Bruckheimer TV & ‘MacGyver’ EP David Slack Set At CBS

*ants return to mouth*

*maw snaps shut*

So, if you click that link, you’ll see a couple notable paragraphs:

CBS has put in development Unthinkable, an FBI crime drama from Jerry Bruckheimer Television and MacGyver executive producer David Slack. CBS Television Studios, where both JBTV and Slack are based, is the studio.

Written and executive produced by Slack, Unthinkable, based on Chuck Wendig’s 2016 novel Invasive, is about a brilliant futurist, trained to see danger around every corner, who’s recruited by an uncharacteristically optimistic FBI Agent to identify the threats only she can see coming – and stop them before it’s too late.

(19) NOT JUST A COMIC CON. Japanese pop culture will be celebrated at Youmacon2017 in Detroit from November 2-5.

Downtown Detroit is filled with people in costumes, and it has nothing to do with Halloween. Thousands of Japanese pop culture fans have come from all over the country to Youmacon…

Youmacon is a popular culture event similar to most “Comic Cons”, however instead of focusing on comic books, Youmacon is a celebration of Japanese popular culture and its influence on our own culture over the past few decades. Common themes throughout the event are Anime (Japanese animation), Video Games, Japanese style artwork and comics, and the rising internet culture influenced by all of the above.

Youmacon brings a unique all-ages mix of interactive events, celebrity guest panels, and live musical performances to Downtown Detroit. One of its most popular events, “Live Action Mario Party”, emulates the video game experience – often filling the room to fire code capacity. Players participate in gameshow-like mini-games to help their teams advance and win.

Wearing costumes, or “Cosplay” as it’s known at conventions, is very popular with attendees of Youmacon.

(20) FRIGHTFULLY TASTY. He was a terror on the screen but a sweetheart in the kitchen, and his recipes are making a comeback: “Dish up some scary-good eats with new expanded Vincent Price cookbook”.

Vincent Price might have been the Merchant of Menace in classic fright films like House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, and House of Wax, but he was also quite the Renaissance man. Besides being a familiar face in horror films, Price was renowned for his impressive collection of fine art (even selling tasteful paintings for Sears!) and his wizardry in the kitchen as a master chef.

One of Price’s best-selling cookbooks is getting an expanded makeover by Dover’s Calla Editions and being re-released in a deluxe volume, which includes additional material, memories, and comments by his daughter, Victoria, and son, V.B.

(21) IF YOU WANT IT DONE RIGHT. Here’s s link to Archive.org’s recording of Patrick Magee reading Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman originally aired by the BBC in 1997. One reviewer said:

This is a unique work by Flann O’Brien – funny, oblique,odd, beguiling, and horrific by turns. It’s got a peculiar, pastoral, otherworldly quality, yet at the same time you can believe that it really is taking place in some deranged Irish backwater town. To give you an example something that made me howl with laughter, the central character falls foul of the law, and is sentenced to be hanged, on a trumped up charge, so they build a gallows in the police station yard, but the chippie is scarcely competent, so he prevails on the narrator to give him a hand….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Lace, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, David K.M. Klaus, Cat Eldridge, Nigellicus, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.. Title credit goes to  File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Science Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter: (1) Black hole pairs: “Scientist Find Treasure Trove of Giant Black Hole Pairs”.

For decades, astronomers have known that Supermassive Black Holes (SMBHs) reside at the center of most massive galaxies. These black holes, which range from being hundreds of thousands to billions of Solar masses, exert a powerful influence on surrounding matter and are believed to be the cause of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN). For as long as astronomers have known about them, they have sought to understand how SMBHs form and evolve.

In two recently published studies, two international teams of researchers report on the discovery of five newly-discovered black hole pairs at the centers of distant galaxies. This discovery could help astronomers shed new light on how SMBHs form and grow over time, not to mention how black hole mergers produce the strongest gravitational waves in the Universe.

(2) It’s for you: “Scientists made the first ‘unhackable’ quantum video call”.

Traditional methods of digital communication rely on certain mathematical functions, which can be hacked with the right tools and know-how. Quantum communications, however, send information embedded in entangled particles of light, in this instance by a satellite named Micius, in a process which is said to be completely unhackable. It’s so secure that anyone even attempting to infiltrate the communication without authorization will be uncovered. As Johannes Handsteiner from the Austrian Academy of Sciences explained, “If somebody attempts to intercept the photons exchanged between the satellite and the ground station and to measure their polarization, the quantum state of the photons will be changed by this measurement attempt, immediately exposing the hackers.”

(3) NASA / Russia moon station: “NASA and Russia agree to work together on Moon space station”.

This is part of NASA’s expressed desire to explore and develop its so-called “deep space gateway” concept, which it intends to be a strategic base from which to expand the range and capabilities of human space exploration. NASA wants to get humans out into space beyond the Moon, in other words, and the gateway concept would establish an orbital space station in the vicinity of the Moon to help make this a more practical possibility.

(4) I like ?. Pi, the Golden Number, impossible engineering, and the Egyptian pyramids..