Pixel Scroll 3/16/17 Let’s Go Scrollin’ In Pixel Land

(1) YOUNG PEOPLE READ OLD SFF. The panel is getting younger. “This week actual high schooler (for about two more months) Raya joins the crew, says James Davis Nicoll. “Like most of the others, she’s familiar with recent genre but not the older material.”

Her first assignment: Joan D. Vinge’s “A View From A Height.”.

1978’s Hugo Nominee “A View From a Height” first appeared in the June 1978 issue of Analog. It was selected for Terry Carr’s The Best Science Fiction of the Year, #8, Gardner Dozois’ Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year: Eighth Annual Collection, Pamela Sargent’s Women of Wonder, the Classic Years: Science Fiction by Women from the 1940s to the 1970s, as well as other collections and anthologies. The theme of irreversible life decisions cast into doubt by new revelations seemed to me one that would have aged well. Let’s see if I was right.

(2) ORWELL PRIZE. The Orwell Prize for Books 2017 Longlist consists almost entirely of nonfiction, with one exception of genre interest —

The Power by Naomi Alderman (Viking)

It starts with teenage girls. At 14 or 15, the age when in our present world girls are waking to an awareness of their own sexuality tangled up in all the ways society will seek to stifle or exploit it, Alderman has them come alive to the thrill of pure power: the ability to hurt or even kill by releasing electrical jolts from their fingertips. “Something’s happening. The blood is pounding in her ears. A prickling feeling is spreading along her back, over her shoulders, along her collarbone. It’s saying: you can do it. It’s saying: you’re strong.”

The shortlist will be announced on May 15, and the winner on June 8.

(3) MAKING MUSIC. Sammy Cahn (“Come Fly With Me,” “Three Coins in the Fountain”) used to tell people he got his inspiration when the check arrived. Disney songwriter Alan Menken says he needs a little more.

“Where does it start and where does it end, and what’s the title and what song might it remind us of? …” Menken asks. “A million questions and only then will I sit and … start to play the piano.”

Menken’s musical chops were developed off-Broadway. He and lyricist Howard Ashman’s success with the 1982 comedy rock horror musical Little Shop of Horrors got Hollywood’s attention.

But when he first started working at Disney animation, he had some reservations. “I can’t tell you how many people said to me: Ugh, man, take a powder. Nobody takes animated musicals seriously,” he recalls.

Menken and Ashman’s first musical film — The Little Mermaid animation in 1989 — was a life saver for Disney. It lifted the studio out of a slump, and led to more big hits.

(4) UNSPOKEN MEETS UNSPEAKABLE. About a currently-running horror movie:

The new film, Get Out, defies easy classification. Though it has funny moments, it’s primarily a horror film, with racial anxiety at its center. Writer-director Jordan Peele tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that he thinks of Get Out as a “social thriller.”

The movie tells the story of a young black man named Chris whose white girlfriend, Rose, takes him to meet her parents for the first time — without first telling them he’s black. Rose’s parents go out of their way to show Chris how open minded they are, but there’s something suspicious in the liberal facade they present. The film takes several twists and turns (which we won’t spoil here) as Chris figures out what is going on.

Peele wanted the audience, regardless of race, to see the subtle racism through Chris’ eyes. “It was very important to me to just get the entire audience in touch in some way with the fears inherent [in] being black in this country,” Peele says. “Part of being black in this country, and I presume being any minority, is constantly being told that … we’re seeing racism where there just isn’t racism.”

(5) DOPPLEGANGERS. NPR’s “Movie Twins? Weirdly Similar Films That Came Out Within Months Of Each Other” cites many genre examples.

The new movie Life, which opens March 24, is about astronauts who discover an alien life form and live to regret it. You could say exactly the same thing about Alien: Covenant, which was originally scheduled to open the following Friday — until someone realized that was a recipe for box-office disaster. Alien: Covenant will now open in early May, and that close call, crazy as it is, isn’t uncommon in Hollywood.

Rival studios often stare each other down, refusing to blink, in showdowns that didn’t need to happen. In 1998, Earth-snuffing asteroids were blown up in the nick of time by nuclear warheads not once, but twice: with much electronic beeping and enormous special effects in Armageddon, and slightly higher beeping and enormous special effects in Deep Impact. That same year, animated insects skittered onto movie screens in both Antz and A Bug’s Life — and all of that just one year after dueling lava flows erupted in Dante’s Peak and Volcano.

(6) ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. Congressional candidate Brianna Wu was interviewed in New York Times Magazine.

Do you really think Democrats need to take pages from the Trump playbook? I would say we need to speak with our hearts more. The typical Democratic way of talking about, say, wealth inequality is to bring out Robert Reich, who will give a cute academic presentation. But at the core, wealth inequality is about people’s dreams for their families and their children. It’s friends my age who are dying to have a child and don’t know if they can afford to do that. The Democratic Party tends to have this hypereducated ruling-class mentality, and we need to realize that’s not making us connect with a lot of voters.

Considering the internet culture leading up to the election, some have said 2016 was a banner year for internet trolls. Do you think that’s accurate? Absolutely. I’ve rarely talked about Obama’s share of the blame for the rise of the alt-right and Gamergate. I had two separate calls with the White House, and they were telling me they had some ideas they were putting together to address Gamergate without needing to go through Congress, and nothing came of it. And what happened is a lot of people learned that there are no consequences to harassing women. If I play Grand Theft Auto and I decide to blow up a police helicopter, there are going to be consequences to that; eventually I’m going to go to jail and maybe pay 100 virtual dollars. We don’t even have that…..

In the aftermath of Gamergate, you said that you and the other women who were harassed “did everything right, and the system failed us.” Now you’re saying you want to be a part of that system. Do you think you can make changes inside of it? To me, the only way to get further gains on these issues is for more women to be represented in Congress. I don’t even care if it was a higher percentage of Republican women: I genuinely believe that if that number were closer to 50-50, we wouldn’t have ludicrous policies like the Hyde Amendment going through and devastating women’s access to reproductive health care. I want women out there to look at how incredibly unqualified Trump is and then ask themselves: “What on earth is holding you back? Do you think you don’t measure up with Donald Trump in the White House?”

(7) CHARACTERIZATION. Marko Kloos, whose Angles of Attack won two Rampant Manticore awards, explains how the novel came to have a gay Russian space marine.

Truth be told, when I wrote Dmitry, I didn’t know he was gay until I got to the scene in ANGLES OF ATTACK where Dmitry and young master Andrew have a drink together and show each other pictures of their main squeezes, as soldiers do when they have downtime and some alcohol in front of them. I’m not the kind of writer who claims that my characters have their own will—they do what I tell them to, goddammit, because I’m the master of their universe—but that was a moment where a character revealed a little detail that I hadn’t intentionally sketched out, but that felt natural and proper. Dmitry pulled out the picture of his spouse, and my brain just went, “He has a husband. Huh, Of course he does.”

So no, I don’t sit down with a character creation sheet and a checklist for Maximum Diversity(tm) and threw in a gay character to advance an agenda, score Social Justice Warrior brownie points, or engage in virtue-signaling. Dmitry is gay because he is, and with all the crap these soldiers have to deal with in their alien-besieged dystopia, I found it appropriate that at the very least, showing someone else a picture of your same-sex spouse is not worthy of special commentary above and beyond “Nice picture” in that version of the future.

(8) CHOOSING THE POWER. Abigail Nussbaum shares the Best Novel and Campbell Award categories on her Hugo nominating ballot. The first of her four novel picks is –

  • The Power by Naomi Alderman (review) – As I’ve said, this feels more like a Clarke award book than a Hugo award one, but nevertheless Alderman’s chilling, Handmaid’s Tale-esque story about a world in which women suddenly develop the ability to shoot bolts of electricity from their bodies, upending the world’s balance of violent potential, is one of the most interesting and thought-provoking works of science fiction I’ve read in some time.  What’s most interesting about The Power is that while it is undeniably a book about gender and the role that violence plays in maintaining gender roles, that’s not its main interest.  What Alderman is doing with her premise is using it to discuss the role that violence and the use of force play in organizing our society, even when we pretend to be beyond them.  That feels like a vital issue at this point in time.

(9) SIR POT. Mashable reports that Sir Patrick Stewart has announced that he has used medical marijuana for several years to help with his arthritis.  Stewart made this announcement to support an Oxford University proposal calling for more research into marijuana’s medical benefits. The piece is called “Patrick Stewart reveals that he uses medical marijuana every day”.

But Stewart isn’t rolling up a joint or hitting the bong, he says he typically uses sprays, ointments and edibles.

“I purchased an ointment, spray and edibles. The ointment, while providing some relief from the discomfort, was too greasy to use during daytime and so I only use it at night.”

Patrick went on to describe how he uses his medicine, later adding that he can now make a fist with his hand, which was impossible for him to do before using cannabis.

As the Captain might say, “Make it grow!”

(10) NEW PIXAR MOVIE. Coco, a Disney-Pixar movie, opens in US theatres in 3D on November 22.

(11) EYE-SEARING. Starz new American Gods trailer is violent and gory. Beware!

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

Pixel Scroll 3/14/17 Leather Goddesses Of Phobos And The Scratch And Sniff Card

(1) ROBOWATCH. Of course, I’ll understand if you don’t have any money left for this item after running out to buy yesterday’s featured rocket pen with the tiny astronaut. Which is okay! Because this post is from 2015 and the auction is long over.

MB&F has just announced that they will be donating a unique Melchior (co-created with L’Epée 1839) to the Only Watch auction taking place in November of this year. The Melchior, released at Baselworld earlier this year, is a highly functioning robot-form timepiece that was created in a limited series of 99 pieces. This is the 100th piece.

 

(2) LEARNING CURVE. Ann Leckie has been thinking about rejection.

…Hence my ambivalence–the difficulties are real, and I know every writer has to make their own decision about what to go through, how much rejection to deal with (and whether or not they can handle cluelessly–or maybe intentionally–hurtful comments along with that rejection, including offhand remarks about certain sorts of people not really existing or not being interesting or worthy of stories, when that would include you, yourself). At the same time–if you can do it, if you can stomach it, well, the chances may be really small, but you never know.

And there’s a thing that Mark Tiedemann said to me a while back that I thought was really smart. He said that really, when you submit to an editor over and over (we were mostly talking about shortfic here but still), you’re teaching them how to read your work.

Part of that systemic prejudice, part of what upholds it, is the way people are only familiar with certain kinds of stories. Other kinds feel off, weird, unrealistic (no matter how accurate and realistic they may be). It’s that incessant repetition of the “right” kind of story that keeps reinforcing itself. And this didn’t happen by accident–we’ve many of us been trained from small to appreciate certain kinds of stories, just like we’re taught from infancy to appreciate certain kinds of music. Most of the work, most of the training, is exposure to a high volume of work that fits the culturally approved model.

The way a reader learns to appreciate other sorts of stories, from other points of view, is to be exposed to them over and over. Editors and agents and slush readers–every time you submit, they are being exposed to your work.

(3) IT GOES AROUND. Atlas Obscura’s article about the world’s oldest globe is complete with photos and map recreations. Just about the time it was finished, Columbus was finding something unexpected that would fill the big empty space between Cipangu (Japan) and the Azores.

If the world’s oldest surviving globe has taught us anything, it’s that just when we think we’re starting to figure out how the world works, turns out we barely know anything at all.

Known formally as the Erdapfel (literally “Earth Apple,” or in some colloquial translations “potato”), the oldest globe is an impressive and beautiful artifact, even if its cartographic science is a little off. The Erdapfel dates back to 1492, and is far from the first globe ever created, but it is, so far, the oldest discovered terrestrial globe still in existence.

Round representations of the Earth go back to Ancient Greece, and the earliest spherical maps of the world were being created in the Islamic world in the 13th century or earlier. But none of those are thought to survive. Other than descriptions and flattened maps that would have covered earlier globes, the Erdapfel is the oldest remaining artifact of its kind.

(4) END OF DISCUSSION. At Chaos Manor Jerry Pournelle quotes what he had to say about required FDA drug testing and approval as part of a discussion in a SFWA Forum – which was shut down by a moderator.

That was too much. A SFWA moderator, backed by the officer who had requested that the discussion halt, locked the conference, and it sits in frozen silence. The reason given was that it was too personal, and I was privately informed that there were complaints about me. Since I named no one at any time, I mildly protested that I was unaware of what was personal about it that would be personally offensive to professional writers voluntarily reading a topic no one could possibly feel required to read.

The answer I got was that these discussions upset some members, and that a SFWA forum was no place for political discussions at all. And that’s the point: we have come to this, that a professional writers’ association finds that we can no longer have discussions that include politics because some members (who voluntarily read the topic) find it upsetting, and toxic, presumably because they disagree with the opinions expressed. For the life of me I cannot tell you what professional science fiction writer would find anything I said there personally offensive. Disagree, yes, of course; many disagree; that is to be expected, and it is those the FDA will rally to support the proposition that the FDA should insist that generic prescription of Name Brand drugs whose patents have expired be forbidden until double blind tests of the generic drug’s effectiveness have proved its effectiveness.

I think health care costs can be drastically lowered by letting doctors have more room to try different remedies; obviously only with informed consent of the patient, but medical associations I would suppose will work to assure that; but apparently the entire discussion can’t be discussed in a science fiction professional organization because some members are upset over encountering opinions contrary to their own – and if it can’t be discussed there, where the devil can it be discussed?

(5) WHY YOU CAN’T TELL A BOOK BY ITS COVER. Huffington Post picked up on Nnedi Okorafor’s discussion of a time publishers whitewashed her book cover.

Nebula Award-winning science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor wrote a book in 2007 called The Shadow Speaker. The story followed its protagonist ? a Muslim girl named Ejii, who the author described as “black skinned” ? through Niger in 2070.

So Okorafor was understandably unhappy when her publisher suggested putting a white woman on the book’s cover.

Today, the author shared the anecdote as part of a Twitter conversation about whitewashing in fiction. She tweeted the cover suggested by the publisher and the revised cover, updated to feature the story’s black protagonist, per the author’s request.

(6) HUGOS RECS. Abigail Nussbaum explains her 2017 Hugo ballot nominees in the media categories.

Best Related Work: This is the category that I always feel most guilty about not nominating more widely in.  There’s a lot of great non-fiction being written in genre right now, on- and off-line, but since my threshold for substantiveness excludes most individual blog posts, I often end up with very little that I want to nominate here.  The solution, obviously, is to read more long-form non-fiction–UIP’s Modern Masters of Science Fiction is a great source that I somehow never get around to–but happily this year has been a good one for long-form online essays and blog series. (Not listed in this ballot, because he’s asked people not to nominate it, but still very much worth reading and remembering, is Jonathan McCalmont’s “Nothing Beside Remains: A History of the New Weird”, which delves into the short half-life of this genre, and the critical conversation that surrounded it.)

  • A People’s History of the Marvel Universe by Steven Attewell – The only criticism I can make of Attewell’s series is that it seems to be on permanent hiatus, just when we could use an independent history of this corner of pop culture, told from a decidedly leftist perspective.  Attewell delves into the origins of several key Marvel characters and concepts, from Magneto’s background as a Holocaust survivor, to the infamous “mutant metaphor”.  He describes both the evolution of ideas we’ve come to take for granted, and the pitfalls the Marvel writers fell into as they tried to grapple with social upheaval and the need to reflect it in their world of heroes and villains.  With superheroes currently one of the dominant forms in our pop culture, a perspective like Attewell’s is invaluable.
  • Boucher, Backbone, and Blake – the Legacy of Blakes 7 by Erin Horakova – One of the many remarkable things about Erin’s essay is how accessible and thought-provoking it is even to someone like myself, who has been hearing about Blakes 7 for years, but has seen almost nothing of it.  This is by no means an introductory piece or a guide to newbies.  Its focus is specific, one might almost say deliberately fannish.  And yet, by turning her eye on some very particular aspects of the show, and the people who were instrumental in achieving them, Erin builds a larger argument about the intersection between art and politics, about the capacity of popular entertainment to grapple with difficult, even radical ideas, and about the specific circumstances on the set of Blakes 7 that allowed it to do so, and how modern work would struggle to achieve the same effect.  It’s a brilliant piece of cultural commentary (as already acknowledged by the voters for the BSFA award’s non-fiction category) and one that absolutely belongs on this year’s Hugo ballot.

(7) A LINE IN THE CHROME. Scalzi does not object to award eligibility posts – he makes them – but he doesn’t want to be directly asked for a Hugo nominating vote. Does that mean an ethical lesson is being imparted here, or is this a lesson in netiquette?

(8) PRATCHETT BUSTED. The BBC has the story.

A bronze bust of Sir Terry Pratchett has been unveiled ahead of plans to install a 7ft (2.1m) statue of the author in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

It was created by Paul Kidby, who illustrated Sir Terry’s Discworld novels, before his death in 2015.

The statue of the author, who lived locally, is due to be erected in the marketplace or Elizabeth Gardens.

Mr Kidby said getting his expression right so “he’s not unhappy” but “not smiling too much” was the hardest part.

(9) THE GREEN FLASH. Skyboat Media’s Kickstarter has funded – so there will be an 11 hour digital audiobook of Lightspeed Magazine’s Queers Destroy Science Fiction.

(10) TODAY’S DAY

  • March 14 – 3.14 – is Pi Day.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 14, 1968 Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward, aired its last episode.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born March 14, 1887 — Sylvia Beach, founder of the Parisian bookstore Shakespeare and Co. “Ray Bradbury visited this bookshop every time he was in Paris, usually in July,” remembers John King Tarpinian. “They would save signed first edition Jules Vern books for Ray.”

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GENIUS

  • Born March 14, 1879 – Albert Einstein

(14) COMIC SECTION. John King Tarpinian was amused by another Star Wars reference in Brevity.

(15) STARDUST IN OUR POCKETS LIKE GRAINS OF SAND. AKA, The Mote In Your Eye. Because the New York Times says there are “Flecks of Extraterrestrial Dust, All Over The Roof”.

After decades of failures and misunderstandings, scientists have solved a cosmic riddle — what happens to the tons of dust particles that hit the Earth every day but seldom if ever get discovered in the places that humans know best, like buildings and parking lots, sidewalks and park benches. The answer? Nothing. Look harder. The tiny flecks are everywhere. An international team found that rooftops and other cityscapes readily collect the extraterrestrial dust…

(16) APPLY TO BE A HARPER VOYAGER.  The Harper Voyager line is putting out a call for any SFF-obsessed bloggers and social media “bigmouths” to apply to join their team of super-readers.

Harper Voyagers are granted special access to early review copies, private author chats, and more. The application period runs from now through May 4 – use the application form at Google Docs.

ARE YOU A HARPER VOYAGER?

Are you a fan of Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Fantasy or Horror? Would you like special access to e-galleys, author interactions, and swag? If so, the Harper Voyager US team invites you to apply to become a “Harper Voyager” super reader!

As a Harper Voyager super reader, you’ll get special access to early review copies, special entry to an exclusive online forum where they can post reviews and thoughts about the exclusive book previews, engage in private author chats, and special interactions with Harper Voyager authors at regional events.  Most of all, we hope our super readers will help generate excitement for our stellar authors!

Please Note: This program is asking super readers to post honest reviews on Goodreads and consumer sites, participation in online Voyager events; virtual support of Voyager authors across social media. If you chose to post these reviews online at consumer websites, you must disclose in the review that you received your copy for free and send us a link to the review.

(17) LISTEN IN. DMS says Ian Tregillis tells a pretty good story beginning at 8:25 of this interview.

Ian Tregillis is the son of a bearded mountebank and a discredited tarot card reader. He was born and raised in the Minnesota Territory, where his parents had settled after fleeing the wrath of a Flemish prince. (The full story, he’s told, involves a Dutch tramp steamer and a stolen horse.) He holds a Ph.D. in physics for his research on radio galaxies and quasars, and is an alumnus of the Clarion workshop.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Jerry Pournelle, DMS, Daniel Dern, JJ, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 3/7/17 I Will Play The Wild Pixel No More

(1) NEW SCIENTIST’S NEW REVIEWER. Congratulations to Abigail Nussbaum who is now writing a column for New Scientist.The first installment discusses three space operas: Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion, Joe M. McDermott’s The Fortress at the End of Time, and Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti: Home.

At the moment we are inundated with intriguing, often envelope-pushing space opera, and Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion is exemplary. Where most space opera, acknowledging its icy origins in Last and First Men, exists at a chilly remove from humanity, The Stars Are Legion is fleshy and messily organic.

(2) NAMIBIA. From the BBC, “The astonishing vision and focus of Namibia’s nomads”. Some of these names will ring a bell if you read Binti. The article analyzes whether people’s response to optical illusions is a cultural artifact.

Nestled in a grassy valley of north-eastern Namibia, Opuwo may seem like a crumbling relic of colonial history. With a population of just 12,000, the town is so small that it would take less than a minute to drive from the road sign on one side of town to the shanty villages on other. Along the way, you would see a hotchpotch collection of administrative offices, a couple of schools, a hospital and a handful of supermarkets and petrol stations.

For many of the people living in the surrounding valley, however, this small town is also the first taste of modern life. The capital of the Kunene region, Opuwo lies in the heartland of the Himba people, a semi-nomadic people who spend their days herding cattle. Long after many of the world’s other indigenous populations had begun to migrate to cities, the Himba had mostly avoided contact with modern culture, quietly continuing their traditional life. But that is slowly changing, with younger generations feeling the draw of Opuwo, where they will encounter cars, brick buildings, and writing for the first time.

How does the human mind cope with all those novelties and new sensations? By studying people like the Himba, at the start of their journey into modernity, scientists are now hoping to understand the ways that modern life may have altered all of our minds. The results so far are fascinating, documenting a striking change in our visual focus and attention. The Himba people, it seems, don’t see the world like the rest of us.

(3) WEIN OUT OF SURGERY. All those well-wishes and prayers did some good for Wolverine co-creator Len Wein. Sent from his Twitter account after he came out of the ICU —

(4) LONE WOLVERINE AND CUB. Daniel Dern sent along a mini-review of Logan:

A man re-unites with the daughter he hadn’t known he had, and they take a road trip, discovering shared interests en route.

Way bloody violent, but no infrastructure (e.g. NYC bridges) damaged. A

nd preceded by a Deadpool squib.

(5) EASTER COMES EARLY. “All the hidden eggs, ties  to ‘X-Men’ and more in ‘Logan’” from Good Morning America.

It goes without saying, spoilers ahead, don’t read if you haven’t seen the film!

Wolverine’s past as a cage fighter seen in 2000’s “X-Men” — When he gets angry, Charles brings up how the team took Logan in all those years ago, when Logan was lost and fighting for money. Hard to believe that was 17 years ago, and since then, we’ve not only had multiple films, but duplicate versions of Sabretooth, Professor X, Storm and Magneto, among others.

(6) K.O.’D. And for those of you needing a memory-jog, CheatSheet lists “10 Marvel Characters Who Have Defeated Wolverine”. First on the list –

Deadpool

Who can win in a fight between invincible fighters? Both Wade Wilson and Wolverine are blessed with healing powers that have made their many face-offs truly unpredictable. Each hero (or anti-hero?) has won his fair share of fights. But in one memorable instance, while Wolverine’s healing abilities were still recovering from an encounter with Magneto, Deadpool outlasted his handicapped opponent, and eventually defeated him by stabbing his lungs with a sword

(7) MYTHCON GUESTS. Mythcon 48 will celebrate 50 years of the Mythopoeic Society with the help of two newly announced GoHs:

The Mythopoeic Society and Mythcon 48 are pleased to announce that William Fliss, Archivist at the Marquette University Special Collections and Archives, and Laura Schmidt, Archivist at the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, will be our Guests of Honor for this very special conference. Mythcon 48 will be held July 28-31, 2017, in Champaign, Illinois. The conference theme is All That Is Gold.

Gold in fantasy:

  • Greed for gold:
  • Tolkien’s dwarves and gold lust, economic systems in fantasy and fantasy gaming
  • Gold as a color: color symbolism in fantasy and heraldry
  • Gold as an element: gold and other fantastic elements and materials like mithril, octarine, meteorite metal, unobtanium, or the list of semi-precious gems in Tolkien’s “Errantry”…
  • The Golden Age: in fantasy and myth, of fantasy as a genre

Digging for Gold in the Archives:

  • Primary and secondary materials about the Inklings and other fantasy authors in the archives at Marquette University, the Wade Center, Oxford University, and other locations
  • Fan material and society archives
  • Materials in collections at the University of Illinois, especially the Center for Children’s Books
  • Archives, libraries, writing, and research IN fantasy

(8) A SUCCESSFUL BOOKSELLER. Detroit Bookfest has a long interview with the owner of “John K. King Used & Rare Books in Detroit, internationally voted one of the World’s Best Bookstores!”. It’s just full of anecdotes like this —

“When we can, we try to shake each book to see if any stray ephemera falls out. Sometime in the late 1980’s, our employee Tom Schlientz was shaking out a book one day and some Mark Twain photos fell out. These ended up being personal unpublished photos that were taken by Twain’s friend. The photos featured Twain riding in a wagon with a little girl and a horse. They were taken sometime around the turn of the century in Hartford, Connecticut. We sold the photos.”

(9) PUT THIS ON YOUR MEDIEVAL RADAR. Steven H Silver heard that Michael Flynn would like more people to be aware Medieval Science Fiction edited by Carl Kears and James Paz and published in 2016 by Boydell and Brewer, an academic press in the UK. The site where it can be downloaded requires registration for a “one month trial account” — here – and I don’t know how many fans are going to want to do that.

(10) THE TOOLKIT OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION. Young Neil Gaiman was sure he could lift it — “Looking for Thor’s Hammer: Neil Gaiman On ‘Norse Mythology’”.

Neil Gaiman was 6 years old when he first met the Norse god Thor — although he wasn’t the red-bearded hammer-slinger of legend. “Marvel. Marvel’s Thor came first,” he says. “I was reading the reprints of Marvel’s Thor in an English comic called Fantastic. … Dr. Don Blake found this stick in a cave, banged it down and transformed into Thor, and the stick transformed into the hammer.” Gaiman says he spent a lot of his first decade looking for likely sticks, “just on the off chance that they might the Thor stick, and might transform into a mighty hammer. But none of them ever did.”

Not long after that, he picked Roger Lancelyn Green’s classic Myths of the Norsemen to learn more about his favorite characters — and found himself fascinated by a vision of Asgard that was nothing like Marvel’s sci-fi space palaces. “It was a bunch of huts with a wall round them. Thor was now red-bearded, irritable, muscly, zooming around the sky in a chariot pulled by goats, and not necessarily the brightest hammer in the bag.”

(11) FOLDING MONEY. A story at ecns,com, the official English-language website of China News Service, mentions the Hugo — “Hugo Award winner Hao Jingfang releases interactive fiction” – while publicizing the author’s new non-sf work.

Hao Jingfang, who won the last year’s Hugo Award, has released a piece of interactive fiction she composed with five other authors in Shanghai.

The story,”The Beginning of Han,” was uploaded to an interactive literature website qiaobooks.com late last week. It cost 9.9 yuan (about 1.4 U.S. dollars) to read.

With 400,000 characters, it is about Liu Bang, founder of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD). Through different option, readers can find their way to nearly 50 endings.

“Interactive literature is increasingly accepted by readers,” Hao said. “While we are talking about different possibilities, we acquire new knowledge.”

Hao won the Hugo Award with “Folding Beijing” in the category of best novelette at the 74th World Science Fiction Convention. She plans to donate the gains from the new fiction to a welfare project in Tibet.

The writer said she is interested in an earlier dynasty, the Qin (221 – 207 BC), and did not rule out the possibility of writing another interactive fiction based on that history.

(12) CAMPBELL OBIT. William Campbell (1920-2017) has passed away, reports Andrew Porter. Campbell was a freelance illustrator and cartoonist, the creator of the “Weird-ohs”, “Silly Surfers”, and “Frantics” plastic model kit series for the Hawk Model Company, which were popular in the early 1960s.

(13) COMIC SECTION. In Soonish, a character finds the safest place to announce his shameful secret: “Moonshot”.  

(14) WHAT TO SAY? Theodora Goss, in “Writing in Troubled Times”, says she’s been finding it difficult to write for social media.

I’ve never found it this hard to write before. Oh, I’m writing . . . I have a book due, and I work on that! I’m working on it as fast and hard as I can. But I’ve always found it easy to write, and to write all sorts of things. Now, all I want to do is work on the book, which allows me to go in deep, to disappear into another time and place, to spend time being my characters rather than myself. All I want to do is escape into my own writing. Not communicate.

Perhaps the problem is, I don’t feel as though I have any particular wisdom to offer.

The sorts of problems I see in the news, I can’t fix, and have no fix for. I’m not the right person to tell you, call your congressman. Yes, call your congressman, but what I write about, what I think about, are deeper systems of values. I write about trees, and rocks, and birds. I write about fairy tales. I write about schools for witches. My writing is about what we should value, about the deeper magic of life. Not political positions, or not immediate ones, although I think politics infuses my writing. How could it not, when I was born behind the Berlin Wall, when my parents lived through 1956 in Hungary, when my grandparents lived through World War II? It’s always there . . . but I have little of value to say on current legislation.

(15) FORERUNNER. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one reason we have a Best Dramatic – Short Form Hugo. But its impact was far greater than that — the BBC says “We should thank Buffy for today’s ‘Golden Age of television’”.

But Buffy had another destiny as well – as the harbinger of the current ‘Golden Age of Television’. When the show premiered in 1997, it seemed at worst a joke, at best a novelty destined for a short life. Instead it contained the seeds of a startling number of trends to come for the medium. Of course, Buffy was a watershed moment for the portrayal of young women on television, giving us a witty, smart heroine uniquely equipped to do no less than save the world. And it brought vampires back well before the age of Twilight. But it also innovated in more artful ways: combining fantasy and grounded realism in a way that prefigured everything from Alias and Lost to Jane the Virgin and the many superhero shows we have today; displaying a postmodern self-consciousness that’s ubiquitous in current programming; and experimenting with the form of television itself via a silent episode and a musical episode. In short, Buffy showed us what television could do, and was about to do.

(16) TONGUE TWISTERS. John Boyega raises suspicions that star gibberish will make a comeback in the next Star Wars movie — “John Boyega Hints ‘The Last Jedi’ Carries On ‘Star Wars’ Tradition of Making Actors Wrestle With Awkward Dialogue”.

Judging by star John Boyega‘s latest tongue-in-cheek Instagram post (see below), the tradition of saddling its actors with serious mouthfuls of sci-fi-speak promises to continue with The Last Jedi, this winter’s highly anticipated sequel to 2015’s The Force Awakens:

 

(17) BRINGING BOOKS TO THE UNSUSPECTING. Well, I guess we all do that. But we don’t all get on TV. Emma Watson tells about her work as a “book ninja” on The Jimmy Kimmel Show.

(18) HELP UNWANTED. It was one thing for Hermoine to help Harry and Ron with their homework, and quite another to help Dan and Rupert with their lines. Kimmel razzed Watson about an embarrassing habit she had as a kid, as illustrated in an old outtake of her shooting a scene for Harry Potter.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Mark-kitteh, Steven H Silver, John King Tarpinian, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Pixel Scroll 2/26/17 That Hideous Scroll

(1) EUROFANDOM. Fandom Rover launched today, a new blog focused on Polish sf conventions.

Hello, I’m Marcin, but my fandom nickname is Alqua. I created this blog to write about conventions and fandom in different countries. I live in Poland, so you will probably find a lot of posts about Polish conventions here, but you can expect some information about European fandom, too, as I try to attend cons in other countries as well.

The first post is “Understanding Polish conventions”

We have a lot of conventions. Depending on what events one will count, they may get numbers reaching even 100 per year. If you will be more picky about what you may call a convention, you will still have around 40 or 60 events every year. This means that there should be at least 1 convention per week (maximum 2 weeks). This is partially true, however, most of the conventions take place around summer months, and winter is much less popular for conrunners. Of course not all of the events are SF conventions – some are devoted to SF/F or to manga & anime, some are big LARPs, some are furry conventions and others are devoted to specific franchises (like Doctor Who or Star Wars).

(2) THE WATER WE SWIM IN. The Washington Post’s Zachary Pincus-Roth, in “Aliens as immigrants: How ‘Arrival’ became the latest political sci-fi film”, interviews Arrival producer Shawn Levy, District 9 screenwriter Terri Tatchell, and Tufts University political scientist Daniel Drezner, author of Theories of International Politics and Zombies, about the role politics plays in science fiction films.

“It’s turned out to be loaded with political commentary,” “Arrival” producer Shawn Levy says of the movie’s reflection of the immigration issue, “something our filmmaking team doesn’t regret, but this was largely unanticipated.”

The film’s political themes were intended to be more timeless. “The movie was always a commentary on a world that is often prone to fracturing,” Levy says. “It invests in the faith that cooperation among nations beyond borders can lead to global benefits.”

(3) GENERAL SEMANTICS AND SF. A panel on “Science Fiction, Language and General Semantics” will be hosted by the New York Society for General Semantics on March 1. Free to the public, but registration is required.

Science fiction has long been associated with spaceships, alien beings, futuristic technologies, and the like. But the genre has also provided an opportunity to speculate about the future of human consciousness, about modes of perception and communication, and about language and symbols.

Not surprisingly, general semantics, as a discipline based on applying a scientific approach to thought and action, has influenced science fiction in a number of ways. Science fiction writers such as A.E. van Vogt, Robert Heinlein, and Frank Herbert were familiar with general semantics and incorporated concepts learned from Alfred Korzybski and S.I. Hayakawa into their novels and short stories. Through them, the influence of general semantics spread to the fiction of Philip K. Dick, and the films of George Lucas. Moreover, novelists William S. Burroughs and L. Ron Hubbard were students of general semantics, while a fictional (and less than flattering) version of the Institute of General Semantics appears in the Jean Luc-Godard film, Alphaville.

More generally, questions concerning language, meaning, and consciousness have been incorporated into science fiction narratives, for example the presence of Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation in The Matrix, references to Julian Jaynes in HBO’s remake of Westworld, and in the problematic nature of translation in stories such as Samuel R. Delaney’s Babel-17, Stanslaw Lem’s His Master’s Voice, and the recent film, Arrival.

Clearly, this is a topic for discussion that is, in many ways, out of this world. so come join us for a panel featuring:

  • Marleen S. Barr, Science Fiction Critic and Novelist
  • Paul Levinson, Past President of the SFFWA and Novelist
  • Lance Strate, NYSGS President and Professor of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University
  • Ed Tywoniak, Editor of ETC: A Review of General Semantics and Professor of Communication, Saint Mary’s College of California

(4) HOLE IN THEIR POCKETS. Jim C. Hines continues slicing and dicing his data in “2016 Novelist Income Results, Part 5: Miscellaneous Data”.

Who Lost Money in 2016?

One thing I found interesting — of the 371 people who provided gross income and expenses data, 63 ended up with a net loss in 2016. In other words, roughly one out of six published novelists lost money last year.

17 of these identified as full-time writers, with the other 46 being part-time. Looking at the overall number of full- and part-time respondents, the part-time authors were disproportionately more likely to end up in the red.

(5) BEEN THERE. An Apollo 11 Space-Flown U.S. Flag went for $25,623 (including buyer’s premium) in an auction by the Nate D. Sanders firm this week.

(6) USING THE OLD BEAN. Baseball’s Hall of Fame is honoring “Homer at the Bat” and ‘inducting’ Homer Simpson into Cooperstown. Cut4.com has the story.

The Hall will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the episode on May 27 during Hall of Fame Classic Weekend. Festivities will include appearances by Wade Boggs and Ozzie Smith — both of whom guest-starred in the episode — at a discussion featuring members of The Simpsons team who put the episode together.

 

(7) PAXTON OBIT. Actor Bill Paxton died suddenly today due to complications of surgery. He was 61. Although better known for his non-genre performances in Titanic and Twister, his resume is studded with roles in high-profile sf movie and TV productions such as The Terminator, Aliens, Weird Science, Predator 2, Future Shock, Apollo 13 (as astronaut Fred Haise), Mighty Joe Young, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Thunderbirds, The Colony, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (as John Garrett), and Edge of Tomorrow.

(8) FINGLETON OBIT. Game of Thrones star Neil Fingleton has died at the age of 36. The story in The Guardian says —

Once named as Britain’s tallest man, the 7ft 7in star played Mag the Mighty in the fantasy series and also took on roles in X-Men: First Class and Jupiter Ascending. According to reports, he passed away following heart failure on Saturday.

(9) WAPNER OBIT. Judge Joseph Wapner died February 26 reports the Washington Post. I was going to run this item anyway, but a check of IMDB revealed he actually has a genre credit. Wapner appeared in the pilot episode of Sliders in 1995.

Joseph A. Wapner, a retired California judge whose flinty-folksy style of resolving disputes on the show “The People’s Court” helped spawn an entire genre of courtroom-based reality television with no-nonsense jurists and often clueless litigants, died Feb. 26 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 97….

Within a few years of its debut, the program regularly attracted 20 million viewers. One measure of its success was a Washington Post survey in 1989 that showed that 54 percent of Americans could identify Judge Wapner compared with 9 percent who could name the chief justice of the United States, William H. Rehnquist….

Disputes centered on nonpayment for goods and services, unwise lending of money to shady friends and family members, purchases in which the buyer did not beware and altercations between people and their neighbors’ animals.

(10) TODAY’S DAY

Tell A Fairy Tale Day is all about exploring myths and stories, old and new. From grim(m) tales to urban legends, tap the dark corners of your subconscious.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 26, 1963 — NASA announced that Venus is about 800 degrees F.
  • February 26, 2005 — The Razzies held their 25th annual ceremony at Hollywood’s historic Ivar Theatre. Making a surprise appearance was Halle Berry, an Oscar winner for Best Actress in Monster’s Ball (2001), who showed up to accept that year’s Razzie for Worst Actress for the title role in the poorly received action extravaganza Catwoman.

(12) NEATNESS COUNTS.

(13) PUB QUIZ. The Sci-Fi London Pub Quiz will happen Tuesday, May 2. The Clarke Award’s Tom Hunter explains —

[W]e’re again joining forces with the team at the SCI-FI-LONDON film festival, and we’re aim to celebrate Sir Arthur’s centenary year and raise some money for two excellent causes in the best way we know how, with an EPIC PUB QUIZ.

Tickets are on sale now and already selling well, but we’ve plenty of tables left and we’re looking for teams to compete.

Tickets cost £5 per head (in a team of 6, that’s £30 a table!) and all proceeds go to two amazing charities.

Science Fiction fans, authors, artists, agents, publishers and enthused newbies, we want you all!

GET TICKETS >>

Here are the two great organisations we’re aiming to support with this year’s quiz:

STEMettes, who inspire the next generation of females into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields by showing them the amazing women already in STEM via a series of panel events, hackathons, exhibitions, and mentoring schemes. http://www.stemettes.org

Rebuilding Sri Lanka. The Asian tsunami on the 26th December 2004 killed over 40,000 people in Sri Lanka.Over a million people were left homeless. Thousands were destitute. Rebuilding Sri Lanka has been active since the day of the disaster and continues to provide support, rehabilitation, nutrition, education and shelter to those affected by the disaster. http://www.rebuildingsrilanka.org.uk

(14) LOOKING FOR IDEAS. Black Gate has compiled Rich Horton’s recent blog posts in “Hugo Nomination Thoughts, 2017”, including numerous recommendations in the fan categories which few people discuss.

Best Fan Writer

The first thing I’ll do here is mention myself. I am a fan writer (at least my blog writing and my stuff for Black Gate qualifies, if perhaps not my work for Locus, which I guess is now officially professional). I would note in particular my reviews of old magazines at Black Gate, particularly Amazing and Fantastic in the Cele Goldsmith Lalli era, and my various reviews of Ace Doubles (and other SF) at Strange at Ecbatan (and often linked from Black Gate.) I would be greatly honored if anyone thought my work worthy of a Best Fan Writer nomination.

But of course there are many wonderful fan writers out there. For years I have been nominating Abigail Nussbaum, especially for her blog Asking the Wrong Questions, and I see no reason not to do so again this year. I will note in particular her review of Arrival, which captured beautifully the ways in which the movie falls short of the original story, but still acknowledges the movie’s strengths.

Another fan writer who has attracted my notice with some interesting posts is Camestros Felapton. Some of the most interesting work there regarded (alas) the Puppy Kerfuffles, and I was quite amused by this Map of the Puppy Kerfuffle. But the blog is much more than Puppy commentary – indeed, it’s much more than SF commentary. In the more traditional fanwriting area, I can point to the most recent entry (as I write), a well-done review of Greg Egan’s Diaspora.

Another possibility is Greg Hullender at Rocket Stack Rank. The site is run by Greg along with his partner Eric Wong, and both deserve a lot of credit – I mention Greg in particular because of articles like his analysis of the effect of slate voting on the 2016 Hugos.

One of my favorite fan writers does a lot of his stuff in a place relatively few people see, but he has begun to review Amazing Stories for Galactic Journey. This is John Boston, and his work can be found here. The conceit at Galactic Journey is that magazines from 55 years ago are reviewed, with an attempt to make the reviews reflect only knowledge up to the point of publication of the magazine. (It will be obvious to anyone who reads my stuff at Black Gate that this sort of thing is right up my alley, and in particular that reviews of Amazing from the early ‘60s are of special interest, as I am (in a somewhat less disciplined fashion) trying to look at and write about as many issues of Amazing and Fantastic edited by Cele Goldsmith Lalli as I can.)) A couple of years ago John (along with Damien Broderick) published a series of books reviewing every issue of New Worlds and Science Fantasy from the Carnell era, which gives another look at his credentials as a fan writer.

And finally I think there are a number of people at Black Gate worthy of a look. Too many to mention, perhaps, but one who definitely deserves recognition is the editor, John O’Neill, who also does a great deal of writing for the site.

(15) BACK TO MIDAMERICON II. Melanie Marttila continues her series of posts about programs at MidAmeriCon II with “WorldCon 2016: The dark side of fairy tales”.

Panellists: Ellen Datlow, Brooke Johnson, Erin Wilcox (moderator), Sandee Rodriguez, Dana Cameron

Joined in progress …

DC: Fairy tales are the intersection between the known and the unknown in a way that other stories aren’t.

BJ: Tone is the defining quality. It’s a sense of magic realism or normalized magic. I’m currently reading the Turnip Princess. It’s meant to be read. Oral storytelling. Fairy tales are mythic, grand and meaningful, larger-than-life, and yet the things that happen are everyday occurrences to the characters of the story.

SR: Folk tales have the element of reality. Fairy tales have no sense of history.

DC: Domesticity is addressed in fairy tales….

Find the rest of her series here.

(16) MARTIAN SCIENCE. At NPR, Jacqueline Miller and Thomas Max Roberts discuss “Science Is Cool In ‘The Martian.’ Can It Be Compelling In The Classroom, Too?”

Can learning science be as compelling as applying science is in the movie? Yes. Giving our science students frequent and ongoing opportunities to investigative and problem-solve in the classroom is a start. Students thrive when they are allowed to focus on a problem in depth, apply their learning to real-world situations, and experiment, transferring new knowledge to address a challenge or answer a question.

Reviewers have called “The Martian” a “love letter to science.” It should be required viewing for all middle and high school students, and it should serve as a call to action for improving science education.

How exciting would it be to hear your student, when confronted with a challenge in science, exclaim, “We’re going to have to science the s— out of this!”

(17) FELGERCARB! But in a new edition of The Martian nobody is sciencing the “s—“ out of anything. Bad language has been modified to make the book usable in schools: “Andy Weir’s Best Seller ‘The Martian’ Gets a Classroom-Friendly Makeover”.

After getting dozens of inquiries from teachers, Mr. Weir, who describes himself as “a lifelong space nerd,” asked his publisher, Crown, if they could release a cleaned-up edition of the book.

The novel was pretty easy to amend, by simply replacing the foul language with tamer words like “screwed,” “jerk” and “crap” (Mr. Weir said there were “occasional squabbles” when he tried to lobby the censors to keep some of the less offensive swear words in.) A kid-friendly version came out last year, and it is now being used to help teach science in classrooms around the country.

At Synergy Quantum Academy, a public charter high school in South Los Angeles, students are conducting experiments based on the novel. In physics class, students will build miniature solar-powered cars, and during astronomy next month, they will try to grow potatoes as Watney did, using a chamber modeled on NASA’s Lunar Plant Growth Chamber.

(18) FUTURE SCIENCE. David Winnick looks ahead to technological predictions that haven’t happened yet at Quirk Books.

Penfield Wave Transmitter – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Depression and loneliness can be tough sometimes, even for Rick and Iran Deckard. While most people know Rick from Blade Runner, the famous Ridley Scott film adaption of the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the original Rick Deckard is quite different. Deckard wakes up in the morning and dials in the emotion he wants for the day on his Penfield Wave Transmitter, a device which controls feelings. Unfortunately for Deckard, he and his wife, Iran, have different ideas about how he should be feeling.

As countless speculative fiction works have shown us, controlling emotions almost always gets people into sticky territory (we’re thinking of The Stepford Wives and shuddering). As useful as the Penfield Wave Transmitter could be, maybe it’s best to leave that tech idea on the shelf.

(19) STONE AGE MUSIC. “The Flintstones Variations for Piano Solo” performed by Ilan Rechtman.

(20) SPACE AGE MUSIC. The LA experimental hip-hop group Clipping is suggesting that their sci-fi oriented album Splendor & Misery be submitted for a Hugo:

Even if voters take their subtle hint, Clipping would not be the first group to have a nominated music album. That was Jefferson Starship with Blows Against the Empire (1970). True, not many musical performances have made the Hugo ballot – the most recent was Rachel Bloom’s music video, F*** Me, Ray Bradbury (2010). And I don’t remember any in between.

According to the Wikipedia, Splendor & Misery

…follows the story of a person in outer space referred to as Cargo #2331. The musical instrumentations being a mix of futuristic and classical, tells the story of a slave in the future in outer space.

(21) FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. George R.R. Martin is also beating a drum for some candidates in “Hugo Thoughts: Best Professional Editor, Long Form”.

JANE JOHNSON

Jane is the editor and publisher of HarperCollins Voyager, one of the leading publishers of SF and fantasy in the United Kingdom. British editors are eligible for the Hugo, just like their American counterparts, but they are NEVER nominated, no matter how great their accomplishments… and that’s bollocks, as the Brits might say. Jane is one of the towering figures in our field across the pond, yet she’s never been recognized, and it is bloody well time that she was.

It would be useful if Martin went back and added the titles of the 2016 books these editors worked on, as this is not a lifetime achievement award.

[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 2/16/17 This Scroll Is Spelt Raymond Luxury Pixel, But It’s Pronounced ‘Godstalker Manfile’

(1) TINGLE ON TV. SORT OF. I’m told Chuck Tingle appeared live via remote camera on Comedy Central’s @Midnight last night and that the video is “definitely NSFW.” And that Tingle was disguised (face covered) each time he appeared. I haven’t had a chance to watch the show yet, I’d better mention…

(2) TRAD V. INDIE. Jim C. Hines isn’t trying to referee the debate about which business model works best for writers. However, people selling their work in a variety of ways shared their income data with him and he has compiled it in “2016 Novelist Income Results, Part 2: The Large/Small/Indie Breakdown”.

Indie authors still have the largest median income, which was predicted by only 19% of the folks in our informal Twitter Poll. The large press authors once again take the highest average. (I think this is mostly because of one large press author whose income was significantly higher than any others.)

(3) BEST IN SF ROMANCE. Veronica Scott lists the nominees for the 2017 SFR Galaxy Awards at Amazing Stories.

First a word about the awards themselves – a panel of well-regarded scifi romance book bloggers and reviewers make the selections, with each judge naming five or six novels, graphic novels or anthologies that they found memorable during the preceding year. The formal description of the awards’ intent, as taken from the website: “The theme of the SFR Galaxy Awards is inclusiveness. Instead of giving an award to a single book, this event will recognize the worth of multiple books and/or the standout elements they contain. The basic philosophy behind this approach is to help connect readers with books.”

Although the awards are serious, each judge gives their reasons for selecting the books, as indicated a bit light heartedly in the title of their short essays…

(4) A KIND WORD. James Davis Nicoll sets Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Rule of Names” before the panel at Young People Read Old SFF. And this time butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths….

(5) WHY CLARION. Nancy Jane Moore rhapsodizes about her experience as “A Tricoastal Woman: Clarion West 1997” at Book View Café.

There are lots of reasons to go to Clarion West or Clarion. Yes, you will learn a lot about writing. Yes, you will get to know writers and editors. And yes, the intensity of the workshop will push you to do your best work. I’m glad for all those things.

But what really made me happy was living in a community of writers for six weeks. There is nothing like pacing the hall at two in the morning, trying to figure out how to fix a scene, and finding that someone else is also up struggling with a story.

By the end of the workshop, I wanted to figure out how to live permanently in a community of writers. I’d gladly have spent the rest of my life at Clarion West. Well, OK, with a bit less intensity, because I couldn’t have kept up with the lack of sleep and exercise much longer.

Alas, I have never figured out how to do it, though I still have fantasies about getting together to buy an apartment building with a bunch of other writers. Hell, I’d probably even be willing to live in a dorm room with the bathroom up the hall as I did at Clarion West.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 16, 1923 — In Thebes, Egypt, English archaeologist Howard Carter enters the sealed burial chamber of the ancient Egyptian ruler.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born February 16, 1953 – Mike Glyer
  • Born February 16, 1957 LeVar Burton

(8) MOVING ON. There’s a difference between being interested in the Hugos and feeling a sense of stewardship about them. I still feel that we’re seeing through the completion of unfinished business. On the other hand, Abigail Nussbaum, in “The 2017 Hugo Awards: Why Hugo?”, explains why she feels the award doesn’t command the same level of interest for her as last year.

The issue, therefore, is this: it’s not just that the Hugos are trivial, but that the Hugos are solved.  If last year and the year before, we had a strong argument for seeing participation in the Hugos as an important and even progressive act, this year it seems largely meaningless, precisely because the difference between the best-case and worst-case outcomes is so small.  Let’s say the Rabid Puppies come back for a third try this year, and manage to get their trash on a lot of ballots.  So what?  They’ll just get knocked down in the voting phase again, and the only people it’ll really matter to will be the ones who lost out on a nomination–and I say that as someone who did lose out on a Hugo nomination, twice, as a result of the Rabid Puppies’ actions.  Given the current state of the world, lousy Hugo nominations are pretty far down my list of things to get upset over.  And on the other hand, if the Puppies have given up (or, more realistically, moved on to greener pastures, of which there sadly seems to be an abundance), I think we all know by now that the result will not be some progressive, radical-lefty shortlist.  The Hugo will go back to what it has always been, a middle-of-the-road award that tends to reward nostalgia and its own inner circle.  Yes, there has been progress, and especially in the shadow of the Puppies and their interference–2015 best novel winner Cixin Liu was the first POC to win in that category, and 2016 winner N.K. Jemisin was the first African American.  But on the other hand, look at the “first”s in that last sentence, consider that they happened a decade and a half into the 21st century, and then tell me that this is something to crow about.

After having said all this, you’re probably now expecting me to make some huge turnaround, to explain to you why the Hugos still matter, and why it’s still important to talk about them and nominate for them.  But the thing is, I can’t….

(9) GET TO KNOW YOUR GUFFERS. Voting on the Get Up-and-over Fan Fund (GUFF) delegate to Worldcon 75 contiues until April 1.’ The candidates’ platforms and general information about voting is here. The online ballot is here. Voting is open to all interested fans, regardless of nationality.

Elizabeth Fitzgerald is interviewing the candidates online — Donna Maree Hanson, Sam Hawke, Belle McQuattie, and the tandem of Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein. Her first two interviews are up —

You’re currently working on a PhD focused on feminism in romance. How have you found this has impacted on your SFF writing?

The PhD studies so far have benefited my writing. Part of the study involves reading widely–French philosophers, feminist theory, queer theory–and I find that all mind-expanding. I’m not free to write as much as I’d like but I find with a bit of discipline (say an hour a day, at least) I can do both the PhD and write. I take a writing day once a week too. I don’t think you can study romance without touching on feminism and gender, and that is interesting to say the least. As I’m undertaking a creative writing PhD, l will be writing a novel. That novel is going to be an SF novel, post-human, focussing on gender equality and romance too. To write that novel I have to read SF dealing with that topic as well as straight romance, which is part of my research. Lots of reading. I read Left Hand of Darkness aloud to myself so I could experience it at a deeper level. So it’s a journey that I can bend to include both sides of my interests in genre.

What are you most looking forward to about Worldcon 75?

Is it cheating to say everything? I’m really looking forward to talking to fans and learning more about other areas of SFF that I don’t get exposure to normally, especially because I don’t know much about European SFF. I’m really excited to explore Finland and see another part of the world. I’m also a super huge fan of moose, and I’m hoping to see some … from a very safe distance.

(10) FAKE KNEWS. NakedSecurity tells how everyone, including members of Congress, can spot a fake twitter account. Personally, I don’t think the problem is that they are that hard to spot, but that want to believe the messages and don’t stop to ask the question.

When was it created?

As the Washington Post notes, the fake Flynn account was created a day after the authentic @GenFlynn went offline. Suspicious timing, eh? The creation date can be helpful in spotting bogus accounts, particularly when they’re created at the same time as major news breaks about whatever parodied/spoofed person they’re based on.

(11) ZETA OVER BUT NOT OUT. Mothership Zeta announced plans to go on hiatus four months ago, and the new issue of the magazine confirms that it will be the last issue for now. Here’s a quote from Mur Lafferty’s editorial.

The discussion you hear from nearly every short fiction publication is the worry about money. We are an experiment from Escape Artists, the awesome publisher of free audio fiction; we knew we were taking a risk with creating an ezine that you had to pay for.

We’re fiercely dedicated to paying our authors, our nonfic writers, our artists, and our editorial team. We did our best with the budget we had, but once the money ran out, we had to take a hard look at ourselves. So we are taking some time to figure out a new way of delivering this publication.

We have no current plans to shutter the magazine for good. We are going to take the next few months and look at our options. We may come back with a crowdfunding effort through Patreon, Kickstarter, or IndieGogo. We may come up with other solutions. But we all believe in this magazine, and believe that the world needs satisfying, fun science fiction now more than ever. We want to bring that to you.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Mark-kitteh, David K.M.Klaus, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester.]

Pixel Scroll 2/7/17 I Will Set My Scrolls of Silver And I’ll Sail Toward The Pixel

(1) GET IN ON THE ART. Many museums are offering free downloadable coloring books this week, February 6-10, as part of the #Color Our Collections event. There is quite a lot of fantastic imagery of interest to fans — indeed, one item literally is fan art.

Orycon. (October 30, 1981 – November 1, 1981). A review of Orycon ’80 – Document 1, Page 1 Fritz LeiberScience Fiction & Fantasy Convention Flyers & Programs. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries,

From February 6-10, 2017, libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions around the world are sharing free coloring sheets and books based on materials in their collections. Users are invited to download and print the coloring sheets and share their filled-in images, using the hashtag #ColorOurCollections.

All content is sourced from the collections of participating institutions. With participants from around the globe, this campaign offers an opportunity to explore the vast and varied offerings of the library world, without geographical constraints. Last year’s campaign included over 210 institutions and featured coloring sheets based on children’s classics, natural histories, botanicals, anatomical atlases, university yearbooks, patents, and more.

Here is a list of participating institutions.

(2) THE ECHOING GREEN. Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings reviewed by Donald T. Williams at The Five Pilgrims.

Glyer’s detective work is not only intriguing; it is also often insightful.  Her readers will gain useful perspectives on two things: many of the Inklings’ works that they already love, and the writing process itself, especially the role of collaboration and encouragement in it.  Judged by their longevity and their output, the Inklings were surely the most successful writers’ group ever assembled.  There are reasons why.  Each chapter of Bandersnatch ends with a sidebar entitled “Doing What They Did.”  People interested in starting their own writers’ groups, or those already involved in one who want to make it work better, will find a gold mine of practical wisdom there.

(3) WHO WINS. The BBC Audio Drama Awards, shortlisted here last month, were presented on January 30. Just one item of genre interest won this year —

Best Online Only Audio Drama

Dr Who – Absent Friends Big Finish Productions

 

(4) CLARKE CONVERSATION. The first in a series of interviews exploring themes of science fiction and STEM, sponsored by the Arthur C. Clarke Award, is online at Medium, a conversation between Anne Charnock and Ada Lovelace Day founder Suw Charman-Anderson.

[Charman-Anderson] …The first of my cherished books was Stranded at Staffna by Helen Solomon. Mrs Solomon was my English teacher and when I was nine she gave me a signed copy of her book:

I hope you enjoy reading this story about Morag MacDonald, Susan, and that you agree with me?—?that she was a real heroine. With love, Helen Solomon. December 1980.

Mrs Solomon was right?—?I did enjoy it and I did agree with her that Morag was amazing. It’s the first book I remember crying at the end of, not least because it’s based on the true story of Mary MacNiven, who rescued a horse from a shipwreck in 1940.

I was already an enthusiastic reader, but Mrs Solomon was the person who helped me understand that books didn’t just appear out of nowhere, that someone sat down and wrote them. It was around this time, I think, that I wrote my first complete story, about a girl who lost her sight when she was hit on the head, and who entered into a parallel world when she slept. It was a complete rip-off of Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr, of course, but I structured it properly and even had character development! It was then that I started to think that I would become a writer when I grew up.

(5) AUTHORITY DIES, Professor Irwin Corey, the comedian, died February 6 at the age of 102.

It’s impossible to provide a short explanation of Corey’s surreal brand of comedy, which was most potent when delivered in his seemingly nonsensical stream of non sequiturs. But the breadth of his career hints at his creative genius: Who else could have appeared in the 1976 film Car Wash, two years after accepting a National Book Award on behalf of the reclusive Thomas Pynchon?

Billed as “the World’s Foremost Authority,” Corey’s guise as an absent-minded professor offered a way to poke fun at multisyllabic jargon and those who use it. When political or scientific authorities seemed to annex a chunk of language, there was Corey to claw it back — a very human antidote to our complicated modern times.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

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

(7) FAN WRITER, FANZINE, EDITOR: Rich Horton posted the final installment of his recommendations, — “Hugo Nomination Thoughts — Other Categories” — which included some very kind comments about Filers, such as the fan writing of Camestros Felapton and Greg Hullender’s Rocket Stack Rank.

But of course there are many wonderful fan writers out there. For years I have been nominating Abigail Nussbaum, especially for her blog Asking the Wrong Questions (http://wrongquestions.blogspot.com/), and I see no reason not to do so again this year. I will note in particular her review of Arrival, which captured beautifully the ways in which the movie falls short of the original story, but still acknowledges the movie’s strengths.

Another fan writer who has attracted my notice with some interesting posts is Camestros Felapton (https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/). Some of the most interesting work there regarded (alas) the Puppy Kerfuffles, and I was quite amused by this Map of the Puppy Kerfuffle: https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/the-puppy-kerfuffle-map/. But the blog is much more than Puppy commentary – indeed, it’s much more than SF commentary. In the more traditional fanwriting area, I can point to the most recent entry (as I write), a well-done review of Greg Egan’s Diaspora.

Another possibility is Greg Hullender at Rocket Stack Rank (http://www.rocketstackrank.com/). The site is run by Greg along with his partner Eric Wong, and both deserve a lot of credit – I mention Greg in particular because of article like his analysis of the effect of slate voting on the 2016 Hugos (http://www.rocketstackrank.com/2016/09/reanalysis-of-slate-voting-in-2016-hugo.html)

(8) THE REAL ESTATE. Curbed reports a bit of literary history is for sale — “A.A. Milne’s Real-Life ‘House at Pooh Corner’ Hits the Market”.

Christopher Robin Milne, the son of Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne, grew up in this quaint brick manse in the English countryside. Christopher Robin inspired the young boy of the same name in Milne’s iconic children’s stories and, so too did the bucolic setting of the family home serve as the backdrop. Known as Cotchford Farm, and on the market for the first time in more than 40 years, the Grade II listed estate spans 9.5 acres of lawns, forest, and streams. The six-bedroom main house, the quintessential English country house if there ever was one, is listed for $3.22M. There’s more to the Milne house than just Pooh, as it was also later owned by Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, who reportedly died on the property.

The best part of the news item might be that the author’s name is “Rob Bear.”

(8) HEAVENS TO MURGATROYD. Cartoon Brew has the story — “Warner Bros. Reboots Snagglepuss As A Gay Playwright Being Hunted By The U.S. Government”.,

The eight-page story will debut this March in the Suicide Squad/Banana Splits Annual #1, before turning into a regular DC series this fall. “I envision him like a tragic Tennessee Williams figure,” writer Marc Russell told HiLoBrow.com. “Huckleberry Hound is sort of a William Faulkner guy, they’re in New York in the 1950s, Marlon Brando shows up, Dorothy Parker, these socialites of New York from that era come and go.”

The sexual orientation was never affirmed in the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, but Russell, who has also done an updated take on The Flintstones for DC Comics, is making Snagglepuss’ sexuality a key part of the story, in which the pink mountain lion is dragged before the Communist-hunting House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He’s accused of being a pinko, get it?

This is the first I’ve heard that Snagglepuss was pink. I watched those cartoons when I was really young — the station they were on was still broadcasting in black-and-white.

(9) THE CAT’S MEOW. Naomi Kritzer is releasing her collection Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories” in July 2017.

Table of Contents:

  • “Cat Pictures Please” (Clarkesworld) (Hugo Award-winning story)
  • “Ace of Spades” (not previously published)
  • “The Golem” (Realms of Fantasy)
  • “Wind” (Apex)
  • “In The Witch’s Garden” (Realms of Fantasy)
  • “What Happened at Blessing Creek” (Intergalactic Medicine Show)
  • “Cleanout” (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)
  • “Artifice” (Analog Science Fiction and Fact)
  • “Perfection” (not previously published)
  • “The Good Son” (Jim Baen’s Universe)
  • “Scrap Dragon” (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)
  • “Comrade Grandmother” (Strange Horizons)
  • “Isabella’s Garden” (Realms of Fantasy)
  • “Bits” (Clarkesworld)
  • “Honest Man” (Realms of Fantasy)
  • “The Wall” (Asimov’s Science Fiction)
  • “So Much Cooking” (Clarkesworld)

(10) BACK TO WORK. The Hugo Nominees 2018 Wikia site has gone live. Not to early to list the 2017 works you love that might deserve an award next year.

(11) BIG BROTHER WAS WATCHING WHAT YOU WERE WATCHING. The FTC found that Vizio’s TVs were reporting moment-by-moment viewing, plus location info, back to a server.

TV maker Vizio has agreed to pay out $2.2m in order to settle allegations it unlawfully collected viewing data on its customers.

The US Federal Trade Commission said the company’s smart TV technology had captured data on what was being viewed on screen and transmitted it to the firm’s servers.

The data was sold to third parties, the FTC said.

Vizio has said the data sent could not be matched up to individuals.

It wrote: ” [The firm] never paired viewing data with personally identifiable information such as name or contact information, and the Commission did not allege or contend otherwise.

“Instead, as the complaint notes, the practices challenged by the government related only to the use of viewing data in the ‘aggregate’ to create summary reports measuring viewing audiences or behaviours.”

(12) HOLY PUNCHOUT. Netflix is bringing Marvel’s Iron Fist to television in 2017.

[Thanks to John Lorentz, Bruce D. Arthurs, Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Gregory N. Hullender, John King Tarpinian, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 1/5/17 But You Scroll One Lousy Pixel….

what-would-carrie-do

(1) WWCD? Cody Christensen of Cedar City, Utah has a petition on Change.org  called “Make Leia an Official Disney Princess” which requests that Disney induct Princess Leia into the pantheon of princesses and that some sort of ceremony for Carrie Fisher be held at a Disney theme park.  He has over 40,000 signatures.

After the tragic lose of Carrie Fisher, we feel that it is only fitting for Disney to do away with the rule that an official Disney princess must be animated and make Leia a full-fledged princess. This would be a wonderful way to remember Carrie and a welcoming to one of Disney’s new properties that is beloved by millions.

What we are asking is that the Walt Disney Corporation hold a full ceremony inducting Leia as the newest Disney princess as well as a special service in memory of Carrie Fisher.

Christensen told Geek how he got the idea for the petition.

“I started the petition because it was something that bugged me since Disney bought the property. Disney had princesses and Leia was a Princess. Then I found out that Disney had set rules for who could and couldn’t be a princess. (Supercarlin brothers video) With Carrie’s death, I think that it’s time to change the rules.”…

“I actually have 5 daughters and there are constantly princess movies playing in the background.” he said “We are big fans of the current Princess line-up, but I think that Leia is a really strong, positive, awesome role model for my girls, and she would make a great addition.”

(2) SPEAKING OF DISNEY PRINCESSES. Abigail Nussbaum reviews Moana, The Lobster, Star Trek Beyond and Lalaland at Asking the Wrong Questions.

Moana – Disney’s latest attempt to reinvent the princess movie takes two novel approaches: drawing on Polynesian folklore and mythology for its story, and recruiting Hamilton wunderkind Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the film’s songs.  Heroine Moana (Auli’l Cravalho) is torn between her duties as the daughter of the village chief and her desire to roam the seas, but finds herself able to gratify both desires when she’s tasked with restoring the heart of creation goddess Te Fiti, aided by Maui (Dwayne Johnson), the demigod who originally stole it.  The plot is thus a picaresque, in which Moana and Maui encounter various dangers and challenges on their journey to Te Fiti, during which they also bond and help each other overcome their hang-ups.  It’s a similar structure to Tangled–still, to my mind, the best of the modern princess movies–but Moana lacks that film’s multiple intersecting plot strands and broad cast of characters, and ends up feeling simpler and more straightforward.  What it does have is genuinely stunning animation, especially where it draws on the scenery of the Pacific islands and the iconography of Polynesian cultures, and some excellent songs by Miranda, which pay homage to both the Disney and musical theater traditions while still retaining entirely their own flavor–I’m particularly fond of a scene in which Moana and Maui encounter a giant, jewel-encrusted lobster (Jemaine Clement), who sings a David Bowie-inspired glam-rock ballad, and then complains that no one likes him as much as The Little Mermaid‘s Sebastian.  But pretty much every song here is excellent and memorable in its own right.

(3) TAIL-GUNNER LOU. “Is there a blacklist?” asks Lou Antonelli, because the rejection slips he gets now are not quite as warm as they once were.

A colleague asked me the other day if I felt there is a blacklist in literary s-f against non-PC writers.

I replied I don’t know, there’s no way to tell for sure; that’s the nature of a blacklist – it’s a conspiracy.

I will say that before 2015, when I was a double Sad Puppy Hugo nominee, my rejections almost always included invitations to submit to that market again.

Now, that is very uncommon, and in fact almost all my rejections now end with “best of luck” or “good luck with your writing” – and no encouragement to submit again.

Someone wrote anonymously to encourage Lou’s suspicions, inspiring a follow-up post decorated with a photo of Senator Joe McCarthy:

I don’t often approve anonymous comments, but I did in this one case, since it sounded true, and given the subject matter, it’s completely understandable why someone would prefer to remain anonymous:

“Day after the election, when I posted a picture of myself with a Trump hat, a famous editor of whom almost anyone would know her name, had her assistant message me to tell me how awful I am, that I’m not going to be invited to write in anthologies again, coupled with the threat that the publishing industry is small and word travels fast.

“Blackballing is real. But you are not alone.”

(4) BUMPER CROP. Mark-kitteh noticed that after SFCrowsnest’s brutal review of Uncanny Magazine #14 yesterday, Uncanny’s editors made some lemonade:

(5) UTES READ GEEZERS. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll has set the table with Miriam Allen DeFord’s “The Smiling Future”.

Miriam Allen de Ford was a prolific author of both mysteries and Fortean-flavoured science fiction stories. She was also an active feminist, disseminating information about family planning in a time when that was illegal in many regions. Although widely anthologized while alive , since her death she seems to have lapsed into obscurity, at least on the SF side of thing. A pity.

“The Smiling Future” is perhaps not de Ford’s best known science fiction work but it does have the advantage of being on the internet archive, not true of much of her work (because her work was mainly for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, none of which is on the archive). Also, it has dolphins and who doesn’t like dolphins? Selecting it out of all the de Fords I could have selected is therefore something of a calculated risk. Will the risk pay off?

There was enough of a positive reaction to get a good discussion going.

(5) WARNING. It takes a long time to stop laughing at Camestros Felapton’s “A Poster for Timothy”.

(6) SECOND WARNING. Not that Camestros Felapton won’t be a nominee for his work published in 2016, but the first thing he should put in his Hugo eligibility post from 2017 is “A Cat Reviews LaLaLand. Quite funny, though beware, spoilers abound! …I read it anyway.

(7) PUPPY THOUGHTS. Brian Niemeier  L.Jagi Lamplighter is delighted to be part of SuperversiveSF’s new collection Forbidden Thoughts, which boasts a foreword by Milo Yiannopoulos.

But what can you do with a super controversial story in this age of safe spaces and trigger warnings?

Then, in the midst of the Sad Puppy fervor, I caught a glimmer of an answer. Jason Rennie, editor of Sci Phi Journal and the brilliant mind behind SuperverisveSF, suggested in the midst of a flurry of Sad Puppy emails, that the authors involved get together and do an anthology of anti-PC stories, kind of a modern Dangerous Visions–putting into story form all those thoughts that the SJWs don’t want people to think. Basically, doing what SF is supposed to do, posing difficult questions.

Those of us on the email chain decided on the title: Forbidden Thoughts.

I LOVED this idea. Here was my answer to what to do with my controversial story.

So, I kept on Jason about this, and I kept on the other authors. When a few were too busy to be able to fit writing a new short story into their schedule, I convinced them to submit incendiary blog posts.

So we now had a volume with stories by, among others, John, Nick Cole, Brian Niemeier, Josh Young, Brad Torgersen, Sarah Hoyt, and, a particularly delightful surprise for me, our young Marine fan friend, Pierce Oka. Plus, non fiction by Tom Kratman and Larry Correia submitted some of his original Sad Puppy posts–the thing that started it all!

(8) THE FORBIDDEN ZONE. There probably are a few things The Book Smuggler would like to forbid: “The Airing of Grievances – Smugglivus 2016”

In publishing and on Twitter, advocates for equality, feminists, poc readers and authors were attacked left and right every time they called out racism and sexism in publishing. And folks, there was a lot of that this year. Like that one time when a publisher had a book of “parody” covers that was so racist it almost made our eyes bleed. White authors continued to be awful and show their asses, like that one who said that those who call out cultural appropriation are getting “too precious.” And just a few days ago, we all found out that racist nazi piece of shit Milo Yiannopoulos got a huge book deal with a major publishing house…

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

Born January 5, 1914 — George Reeves, TV’s first Superman.

(10) SOMETHING TERPSICHOREAN. Sparknotes explains Bradbury’s dedication of Something Wicked This Way Comes.

In “A Brief Afterword,” Bradbury explains why Something Wicked This Way Comes is dedicated to Gene Kelly and describes how the book was written. Bradbury met Gene Kelly in 1950 and they became friends shortly thereafter. In 1955 Kelly invited Bradbury and his wife, Maggie, to a private screening of his “collection of musical dance numbers with no connecting plotline,” Invitation to the Dance, at MGM studios. Bradbury and his wife walked home and along the way he told his wife that he desperately wanted to work with Kelly. She suggested that he go through his stories until he found something that would work, turn it into a screenplay, and send it to Gene Kelly. So Bradbury looked through many of his short stories and found The Black Ferris, a ten page story about two young boys and a carnival. For a little over a month he worked on the story and then gave Gene Kelly the eighty page outline of a script that he had created. Mr. Kelly called Bradbury the next day to tell him that he wanted to direct the movie and asked for permission to find financing in Paris and London. Although Bradbury gave his assent, Gene Kelly returned without a financer because no one wanted to make the movie. Bradbury took the partial screenplay, at the time titled Dark Carnival, and over the next five years turned it into the novel Something Wicked This Way Comes that was published in 1962. As Bradbury writes at the end of his afterword, the book is dedicated to Gene Kelly because if he had not invited Bradbury to that screening of his movie, then Something Wicked This May Comes may never have been written. When the book was published, Bradbury gave the first copy to Gene Kelly.

(11) CALLING ALL CARLS. An emergency session of internet scholars has convened at Camestros Felapton’s blog to help him identify “That difficult first novel”.

I was stumped by a trivia question which asked: “What was the first novel in English?”

The problem with the question is one of setting boundaries, specifically:

  • What counts as a novel? Do legends count? What about Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur? Is it a novel, a retelling or a purported (if fanciful) attempt at history?
  • What counts as ‘in English’? Does Chaucer’s middle English count? What about Malory’s middle English (which is more like modern English than Chaucer?)
  • Do translations count? Don Quixote is very like a novel, so might the first translation of that into English count?

(12) LOUDSPEAKER FOR THE DEAD. ScienceFiction.com has the story behind this particular effect — “Raising Cushing: New Video Shows Off CGI Work Done To Create ‘Rogue One’ Grand Moff Tarkin”.

Now, for those interested in how exactly they managed to bring Tarkin to life in the film, ABC News has released a new video on Twitter courtesy of ILM (check it out below) showcasing some of the work that went into building Tarkin, that shows in a handful of seconds what clearly took MONTHS of effects work to accomplish, giving us in brief all of the steps necessary to get the character right. They cast a man that already bore a striking resemblance to Peter Cushing, then digitally enhanced his features until he was Peter Cushing, animating all of his moments from that point onward to carry on the illusion.

 

(13) WHEN SHALL WE THREE MEET AGAIN? A reboot of Charmed is in the works.

The story hails from Jessica O’Toole, Amy Rardin and Snyder Urman with O’Toole and Rardin penning the script.

The original Charmed starred Alyssa Milano, Holly Marie Combs, Shannen Doherty and Rose McGowan. Combs has already tweeted her reaction, saying “We wish them well.” Milano also took to Twitter. “#Charmed fans! There are no fans like you. You’re the best of the best,” she said.

(14) THEY CAME FROM SPACE. Here’s another job that pays more than yours — “These guys hunt for space rocks, and sell them for enormous profit to collectors”.

These ancient meteorites can be older than the Earth itself. The price tag is high: Just 100 grams of Mars rock, enough to fit in the palm of a hand, can demand $100,000.

For help tracking down such rare rocks, private collectors turn to professional meteorite hunters. These adventurers earn their living by crisscrossing the globe, searching for astronomic treasures. The risks are real, including prison and death, but so are the potential rewards — rocks that can be flipped quickly for fortunes.

The man who sold Jurvetson his Mars rock is 44-year-old Michael Farmer. Since the late 1990s, Farmer has traveled to some 80 countries looking for these precious rocks. Perhaps his best-known find is a nearly 120-pound meteorite discovered in Canada, which he and his partners sold to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto for $600,000.

“Any time you dig up a treasure worth more than half a million bucks, it’s a good day,” said Farmer, who works closely colleagues around the world tracking meteorite showers.

This work is not for the faint of heart. In 2011, Farmer was kidnapped, beaten and nearly killed by Kenyan thieves. That same year, he was charged with illegal mining in Oman and imprisoned for two months. Farmer says his motivation is not purely monetary, but rather the thrill of the chase.

(15) GETTING THE POINT ACROSS. After seeing this cover some of you will find it hard to believe I am not the Washington Post’s copyeditor:

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Rose Embolism, JJ, Mark-kitteh, John King Tarpinian, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Pixel Scroll 12/31/16 We All Know That The Pixel Never Scrolls Twice

(1) ON ITS WAY TO BEING DEADJOURNAL? LiveJournal was purchased by a Russian company in 2007 but continued to operate on U.S.-based servers until this month. According to Metafilter

As of a few days ago, the IP addresses for blogging service LiveJournal have moved to 81.19.74.*, a block that lookup services locate in Moscow, Russia. Now users — especially those who do not trust the Russian government — are leaving the platform and advising others to leave.

For years, the online blogging community LiveJournal — popular in Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine — has served as a key communications platform for Russian dissidents (the Committee to Protect Journalists earlier this month called on Russian authorities to release a LiveJournal user who has been sentenced to 2 years in prison for a critical blog post). Even after Russian company SUP bought it from California-based Six Apart in 2007 (previously), the fact that SUP continued to run the servers in the US meant that users felt relatively safe; a 2009 press release specifically said that LiveJournal, Inc.* would continue to run technical operations and servers in the United States (and claimed that 5.7 million LiveJournal users were Russia-based).

(2) REANIMATION NOW A HOLLYWOOD ISSUE. “Actors seek posthumous protections after big-screen resurrections” – Reuters has the story.

California law already gives heirs control over actors’ posthumous profits by requiring their permission for any of use of their likeness. As technology has improved, many living actors there are more focused on steering their legacy with stipulations on how their images are used – or by forbidding their use.

Robin Williams, who committed suicide in 2014, banned any use of his image for commercial means until 2039, according to court documents. He also blocked anyone from digitally inserting him into a movie or TV scene or using a hologram, as was done with rapper Tupac Shakur at Southern California’s Coachella music festival in 2012 – 16 years after his murder.

Virtual characters have been used when an actor dies in the middle of a film production, as when Universal Pictures combined CGI and previous footage for Paul Walker’s role in 2015’s “Furious 7” after Walker’s 2013 death in a car crash.

But “Rogue One” broke new ground by giving a significant supporting role to a dead star. A digital embodiment of British actor Peter Cushing, who died in 1994, reprised his role from the original 1997 “Star Wars” film as Tarkin.

Walt Disney Co recreated Tarkin with a mix of visual effects and a different actor.

A Disney spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Princess Leia would appear in films beyond “Episode VIII,” set for release in 2017. Fisher had wrapped filming for the next “Star Wars” episode before she died. She suffered a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles.

(3) ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS CLOSES. Quoting from JJ in a comment on yesterday’s Scroll:

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has made a public posting on Patreon: “All Romance Ebooks and its sister website Omnilit did something incredibly awful on December 28, 2016. It sent out a handful of emails, letting writers, publishers, readers, and others know that it was shutting its doors four days later.”

This is a really well-thought-out and helpful piece. The TL;DR is: 1) if you’re an author who was using them as a distributor, get your rights reverted immediately; 2) if you’re a reader who bought books through them, get them copied to your computer immediately.

There’s a lot more helpful advice for affected authors in there. I really hope that no Filers are affected by this, and I feel bad for all authors who were involved with that business; they are almost certainly not going to get any money they are owed.

Part of what Rusch explained:

ARe is a distributor, mostly, and so it is dealing with its writers as suppliers and unsecured creditors. I’ve been through a bunch of distributor closings, many in the late 1990s, with paper books, and they all happen like this.

One day, everything works, and the next, the distributor is closed for good. In some ways, ARe is unusual in that it gave its suppliers and creditors four days notice. Most places just close their doors, period.

I’m not defending ARe. I’m saying they’re no different than any other company that has gone out of business like this. Traditional publishers have had to deal with this kind of crap for decades. Some comic book companies went out of business as comic book distributors collapsed over the past 25 years. Such closures have incredible (bad) ripple effects. In the past, writers have lost entire careers because of these closures, but haven’t known why, because the publishing house had to cope with the direct losses when the distributor went down.

The difference here is that ARe wasn’t dealing with a dozen other companies. It was dealing with hundreds, maybe thousands, of writers individually, as well as publishers. So, writers are seeing this distribution collapse firsthand instead of secondhand.

To further complicate matters, ARe acted as a publisher for some authors, and is offering them no compensation whatsoever, not even that horrid 10 cents on the dollar (which, I have to say, I’ll be surprised if they pay even that).

(4) NZ ORDER OF MERIT. Professor Anthony Phillip Mann,  a Sir Julius Vogel winner whose novel The Disestablishment of Paradise was a finalist for the Clarke and Campbell Awards, has been named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to literature and drama.

(5) NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR SIR JULIUS VOGEL. Nominations for the 2017 Sir Julius Vogel awards are being accepted until 8.00 p.m. on March 31, 2017.

The awards recognise excellence and achhievement in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents, and first published or released in the 2016 calendar year.

We are using a web-based system for nominations this year to aid our administrative processes. Full information about the awards, including the rules and criteria for the Sir Julius Vogel Award, can be found here.

Anyone can make a nomination and it is free! To make a nomination, go to http://www.sffanz.org.nz/sjv/sjvAwards.shtml  and fill out the web-based nomination form.

Get busy reading NZ authors and watching NZ movies to find work to nominate. We have a list of New Zealand works that may be eligible for nomination here.

(6) CAMPBELL AWARD. Mark-kitteh reports, “Writertopia have set their Campbell Award eligibility page to 2017 mode. It’s obviously very sparse on 1st year eligibility at the moment, but there are a few new entries already.”

The John W. Campbell Award uses the same nomination and voting mechanism as the Hugo, even though the Campbell Award is not a Hugo.

Like the Hugo Awards, the Campbell Award voting takes place in two stages. The first stage, nomination, is open to anyone who had a Supporting or Attending membership in the previous, current, or following year’s Worldcon as of January 31. For Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, this means members of MidAmeriCon II, Worldcon 75 itself, and Worldcon 76 can nominate any eligible author. This web page helps identify eligible authors for the Campbell Award.

The official nomination page will be posted when it is available on the Worldcon 75 website. Nominations will likely close on March 31, 2017.

To be able to vote for the award, you must be a member of Worldcon 75 in Helsinki. If you are not a member of Worldcon 75 and wish to vote, you must purchase a supporting membership or an attending membership before January 31.

(7) COVERS REVEALED. Greg Ruth’s cover art for Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch  and Akata Warrior has debuted online. Ruth wrote —

We often in art mistake race for color, and what this taught me was a way to skip past those initial assumptions and get right to the heart of her structure rather than her tone. This meant a lot of research into what physical features are distinctively Nigerian, and bringing those to bear on this young woman. She had to, without leaning on skin color, be authentically Nigerian and herself as a true native of her culture in every bit as much the same way in which I might need to address and accomplish the same for a Cambodian scientist, or an Icelandic luthier. We all within our tribes carry specific physical marks that stem from our localized familial genetics. Folks of a Rwandan Tutsi heritage have different physical features even from Rwandan Hutu people due to the way we as people form our tribes via family and region. Whether or not my own self-aware whiteness drove me to paying especial attention to these subtle but significant differences, or whether it was just about cleaving close to that aforementioned ethic of art making to be its best and truly objective self, I can’t say. But I do confess to feeling as someone coming from a  different cultural experience, I owe a lot to research as a means to be the best scribe for the cultural truths and realities of one that is not mine. That means, int he case of INDEH, years of research, tracking tribal origins, genetic traits and societal issues so that the Apaches look like Apaches, especially to actual real Apaches. If I had done this first as part of this ongoing series, I am not sure I would have been able to if I were being honest. I think I needed to do the other three to fully grok what it was this pair of images needed to have done. It was entirely essential to this potential hubris that Nnedi had been so excited about the previous three- and particularly to have been so spot on with them both culturally and inherent in her mind to the characters as she see saw them. Her words brought great comfort to me in times of doubt- (Thanks Nnedi!).

(8) HINES AUCTION RESULTS. Jim C. Hines’ fundraiser for Transgender Michigan brought in $1,655.55.

We know transgender youth are at a higher risk of depression and suicide, and these coming months and years could be very difficult. So I’m proud and grateful to announce that with the help of some SF/F friends and the generosity of everyone who bid and donated, we raised a total of $1,655.55 to help Transgender Michigan continue their important work.

I wanted to pass along this thank you from Susan Crocker of Transgender Michigan:

Transgender Michigan would like to thank everyone involved with the fundraiser auctions run by Jim C. Hines. All of you are helping us provide services to the transgender communities of Michigan and beyond. This will help our help line, chapters, referral system, community building, and advocacy.

(9) RULES VARIATION. Cheryl Morgan has “Arabian Nights Questions”:

Something else I did over Christmas, as a bit of a break from the Wagnerthon, was remind myself of the rules for Arabian Nights, just in case I should end up in a game at Chance & Counters. There are solo play rules, and it didn’t take long to get back into the swing of things (not to mention crippled, enslaved, and ensorcelled). However, a couple of questions occurred to me along the way and I was wondering if anyone out there could enlighten me.

First up, I remember from playing the original version that you were not allowed to win if you were gender-swapped. Indeed, I wrote a whole blog post about that a couple of years ago. Checking the rules of the new edition it appears that rule has been dropped. The card for Geas still says you can’t win while you have that status, but no other statuses seem to have that effect. Can anyone confirm this, or have I missed something?

(10) WONG OBIT. Tyrus Wong (1910-2016) who worked on Disney’s Bambi, died December 30 according to the New York Times.

When Walt Disney’s “Bambi” opened in 1942, critics praised its spare, haunting visual style, vastly different from anything Disney had done before. But what they did not know was that the film’s striking appearance had been created by a Chinese immigrant artist, who took as his inspiration the landscape paintings of the Song dynasty. The extent of his contribution to “Bambi,” which remains a high-water mark for film animation, would not be widely known for decades

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 31, 1931 — A doctor faces horrible consequences when he lets his dark side run wild in Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, seen for the first time on this day. This was the first horror movie ever to win an Academy Award, it was for Best Actor. The movie was also nominated for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography.

dr-jekyll

  • December 31, 1935 — C. B. Darrow received a patent for his Monopoly game.
  • December 31, 1958Cosmic Monsters, aka The Strange World of Planet X, opens.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY AMPHIBIAN

  • Born December 31, 1955  — Michigan J. Frog, pictured with his dad, Chuck Jones.

frog-and-chuck-jones

(13) PROGRAM BREAKERS. The BBC discusses examples of names that break computer systems.

Some individuals only have a single name, not a forename and surname. Others have surnames that are just one letter. Problems with such names have been reported before. Consider also the experiences of Janice Keihanaikukauakahihulihe’ekahaunaele, a Hawaiian woman who complained that state ID cards should allow citizens to display surnames even as long as hers – which is 36 characters in total. In the end, government computer systems were updated to have greater flexibility in this area.

Incidents like this are known, in computing terminology, as “edge cases” – that is, unexpected and problematic cases for which the system was not designed.

I remember cracking up when I read an Ann Landers column about the soldier who didn’t have a regular name, just two initials, and once the military had processed him he was legally stuck with the name “Bonly Nonly.”

(14) PRESTIDIGITIZATION. Rich Lynch announces, “From out of the mists of nearly 30 years past, the third issue of the fanzine Mimosa is now online.  You can view it here: Mimosa #3.”

“Like everything else on the Mimosa website, the issue has been put online in eye-friendly HTML format.  This will make it easier to view, as it was originally published in two-column format and you do not need to turn pages to read an article in its entirety.”

Rich has also launched the 17th issue of his personal fanthology My Back Pages at eFanzines.com.

Issue #17 is a year-end collection that starts with a long and at times strange journey, and includes essays involving teetering glass display cases, sweaty dinner expeditions, accusations of spying, protected sanctuaries, icy traverses, well-attired mountain climbs, earthquake epicenters, frigid hitchhikes, altitude-challenged terrain, river confluences, photography challenges, clear skies, city park pow-wows, employment outsourcing, focal-point fanzines, woodland views from on high, Viennese composers, good and bad winter weather, entertaining musicals, minimalist paintings, subway mosaics, and the New York City street grid.  This issue also, for the first time in the run, includes a previously unpublished essay.”

(15) LEGENDS OF THE FALL. Jo Lindsay Walton’s blog has an impressive origin story, but he may be throttling back in 2017.

Superadded to this general siege of opinion, I had started to feel that those closest to me would sometimes, in a real casual way, slip into conversation a chance remark, not obviously aimed at me, which intimated that to hide one’s l33t under a bushel might itself be construed as vanity, and that in a way wouldn’t you say that, like, the most ostentatious blog you can have as a white middle class western cis man is no blog at all — the eyes flick anxiously to mine, linger an unsettling instant, flick away. I caved. My caving is all around you. In the end it was probably the dramatis personae itself that did it: what was reiterated strategum by strategum, however laughable the local strategic design, was this bald provocation: if so many millions of entities, living, dead, exotic, imaginary, could draw together under this one bloggenic banner, if Alex Dally MacFarlane, Alice Tarbuck, and Aliette de Bodard, if Amal El-Mohtar, Amy Sterling Casil, and Ann Leckie, if Anna MacFarlane, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, and Brad R. Torgersen?, if Carol Emshwiller, Catherynne M. Valente, and China Miéville, if Christina Scholz, Chuck Tingle, and Connie Willis, if Elizabeth Jones, George O. Smith, and George RR Martin, if Gillian Anderson, Harlan Ellison, and Jack Vance, if Jim Butcher, John C. Wright, and John Scalzi, if Jonah Sutton-Morse, Joseph Tomaras, and Kate Paulk, if Kathy Acker, Kevin J. Anderson, and Kim Stanley Robinson, if Kir Bulychev, Lois McMaster Bujold, and L. Ron Hubbard, if Larry Correia, Laura J. Mixon, and Lavie Tidhar, if Margaret Cavendish, N.K. Jemisin, and Nalo Hopkinson, if Naomi Novik, Nick Mamatas, and Paul Weimer, if R.A. Lafferty, Renay, and Robert Heinlein, if Robert Jordan, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, and Saladin Ahmed, if Sarah Hoyt, Sofia Samatar, and Sophie Mayer, if Steven Gould, Tricia Sullivan, and Vox Day, if countless others, could all make cause together to beg this one blog of me, if even Alice Bradley Sheldon and James Tiptree Jnr. could set aside their differences to ask this one thing, why then could I not set my false modesty aside, look into my historically-determined and socially-constructed heart, and blog? But now the PhD is kinda done, so … well, this will probably go a bit dormant now.

A volcano puffing out the odd mothball.

(16) PAGES TURNED. Abigail Nussbaum closes out with “2016,  Year in Reading: Best Reads of the Year” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar (review) I wrote several thousand words about Samatar’s second novel, the companion piece to her equally wonderful A Stranger in Olondria, earlier this year, and yet I still don’t feel that I’ve fully grappled with how special and revolutionary this book is.  This despite the fact that Histories initially feels a great deal more conventional, and much easier to sum up, than Olondria.  Its use of familiar epic fantasy tropes and styles is more pronounced than the previous novel, and whereas Olondria circled around the edges of a fantasyland civil war, Histories sets its story almost in the middle of it.  What ultimately becomes clear, however, is that just like the hero of A Stranger in Olondria, the four women who tell the story of The Winged Histories are trying to give shape to their lives by casting them into literary forms–in this case, the forms of epic fantasy, even if none of them are aware of that genre or would call it that.  And, one by one, they discover the limitations of those forms, especially where women and colonized people are concerned.  Not unlike Olondria, The Winged Histories is ultimately forced to ask whether it is even possible for people to tell their own stories using the tropes and tools left to them by their oppressors.  If the entire purpose of your existence is to be the Other, or the object, in someone else’s story, can you ever take their words, their forms, and make it a story about yourself?  For most of the novel’s characters, the solution is ultimately to fall silent, and yet The Winged Histories itself rings loudly.  As much as it is a rebuke of the fantasy genre, it is also a major work within it, and one that deserves more discussion and attention than it has received.

(17) KYRA LOOKS BACK AT 2016. In comments, Kyra sketched some mini-reviews of what she read this past year.

(18) SOME GOOD IN 2016 AFTER ALL. Creature Features, the Burbank collectibles store, put together a tribute to 2016 sff.

[Thanks to JJ, Andrew Porter, Kip W, Joe Rico, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ken Richards.]

Pixel Scroll 12/27/16 I Want To Read Books Till I’m Out Of My Mind

(1) THE MORE BEST THE MERRIER. Gregory N. Hullender explains, “Now that three of the four big ‘Best of’ SFF anthologies have released their tables of contents, Rocket Stack Rank has produced a combined list, ranked according to which stories were included in the most anthologies or otherwise recommended.

“As usual, the table includes information on how to find/borrow/buy copies of the stories, as well as story descriptions and links to reviews.

“When Neal Clarke publishes the table of contents for his anthology, we’ll update the table to incorporate it.”

(2) NASFiC ’17. If you’re thinking about buying a membership in NorthAmeriCon ‘17, to be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, keep in mind that rates are going up on January 22.

(3) ICONIC MOVIE CASTING. Imagine Wil Wheaton as Ralphie in A Christmas Story. It could have happened.

So. For the five of you who don’t know, Peter Billingsley played Ralphie in A Christmas Story. We both auditioned for the role, and even went to final callbacks together. I wrote about it way back in 2001:

I think that A Christmas Story is the greatest Christmas movie ever made. Each year, I watch it, over and over, on TNN or TNT or TBS, or whatever T-channel does that marathon, and I never, ever, get tired of it. Every year, when I watch it, I am reminded of the time, when I was about 10 or so, that I auditioned for it. The auditions were held on a cold, rainy day in late spring, down in some casting office in Venice, I think. I saw the same kids that I always saw on auditions: Sean Astin, Keith Coogan, this kid named “Scooter” who had a weird mom, and Peter Billingsley, who was very well known at the time, because he was “Messy Marvin” in those Hershey’s commercials. I sort of knew Peter, because we’d been on so many auditions together, but I was always a little star struck when I saw him. (One time, I saw Gary Coleman on an audition…now, this was HUGE for all of us kids who were there, because we’re talking 1982 or 83…and he was Arnold freakin’ Jackson, man…wow). [tangent] Whenever I see Sean Astin, I sob at him that he got to be in Goonies, and I didn’t, and he always says, “Hey, man, you got Stand By Me. I’d trade all my movies for that.” I haven’t seen him since he did Lord of the Rings…but something is telling me that he wouldn’t be so keen to trade that.

(4) CARRIE FISHER R.I.P. The actress passed away today. One of the most interesting tributes is this collection — “15 of Carrie Fisher’s Best, Most Honest Feminist Quotes” from NYMag.com.

“Oh! This’ll impress you – I’m actually in the Abnormal Psychology textbook. Obviously my family is so proud. Keep in mind though, I’m a PEZ dispenser and I’m in the abnormal Psychology textbook. Who says you can’t have it all?”

(5) RUBIN OBIT. Vera Rubin, who confirmed the existence of dark matter, has died at the age of 88.

“It was Vera Rubin’s famous work in the 1970s that showed pretty much all spiral galaxies were spinning way too fast to be accounted for by the gravitational pull of the their ‘luminous’ matter (the stuff we see in a telescope). Rubin and others reasoned there had to be a giant sphere of invisible stuff surrounding the stars in these galaxies, tugging on them and speeding up their orbits around the galaxy’s center.”

(6) ADAMS OBIT. Richard Adams, author of Watership Down, died Christmas Eve at the age of 96.

The novel, first published in 1972, became one of the best selling children’s books of all time and was made into an animated film in 1978.

Adams did not begin writing until 1966 when he was 52 and working for the civil service. While on a car trip with his daughters, he began telling them a story about a group of young rabbits escaping from their doomed warren.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 27, 1904 Peter Pan, the play, by James Barrie, opens in London.
  • December 27, 1947 — The first Howdy Doody show, under the title Puppet Playhouse, was telecast on NBC.
  • December 27, 1968 — Apollo 8 astronauts — Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, William Anders — returned to Earth after orbiting the moon 10 times in a flight that helped open the way for moon-landing missions.

(8) LONG JOURNEY AUTHOR. The Book Smugglers continue their personal holiday season with a guest post from a popular author — “A Happy Smugglivus with Becky Chambers”. Chambers discusses the movie Arrival and the book Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal, among other things.

Smugglivus greetings from California! While most of my home state is badly in need of a drink, winter up here on the Redwood Coast means rain, and lots of it. It’s the sort of weather that lends itself well to hiding away with a good story or some old-fashioned book learnin’. Now, since most of my brainspace is used for writing sci-fi, I tend to reach for other stuff in my free time. I read a lot of non-fiction, I binge-watch with the best of them, and I love video games more than is reasonable. Happily, this year provided me with plenty to sustain me through these dark and soggy days.

2016 was also a gauntlet of suck in a great many ways, and I know I’m not the only one leaving it feeling ill at ease and overwhelmed. To that end, I’ve cherry-picked five of the best things I cozied up with in the past twelve months, things that filled me with curiosity and joy. In these times, we need those qualities more than ever. Whether you’re after some real-world science, mind-bending puzzles, or pure escapism, I’ve got you covered.

(9) SUBSTANTIAL CONVERSATION. Abigail Nussbaum reviews six books in “Recent Reading Roundup 42” at Asking the Wrong Questions (including The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin and Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee.).

Infomocracy by Malka Older – If nothing else, a reader turning the last page of Older’s debut novel has to tip their hat to her for her prescience.  Or perhaps a better way of putting it is that Older, while she was writing this book, had her finger on the pulse of issues and problems that have only recently come to dominate the conversation about how democracy in the 21st century functions, and of how it fails.  Set in a near-future, Infomocracy imagines a world in which the familiar geopolitical rules have been replaced by “micro-democracy”, with the world divided into “centenals”, each containing one hundred thousand residents who are free to vote for any government they wish, be it nationalistic, ideological, or corporate.  Different governments can thus have citizens all over the world, which can mean that neighboring streets can have different laws and government services.  Every ten years, the world holds an election, in which the governments try to win over new centenals in order to cement their power, and hopefully make a bid for the coveted “supermajority”. There are, obvious, some glaring problems with this system that Older never fully address–we don’t, for example, learn what the supermajority actually gives the government that holds it, and more importantly, it’s never made clear how this system supports itself economically.  But the focus of Infomocracy is less on these issues, and more on using its micro-democracy system to reflect on the problems of sustaining democracy in any form….

(10) WEST PACIFIC RIM. Reminds us of a Guillermo del Toro movie — “Giant Avatar-style robot takes first steps in South Korea”.

A giant South Korean-built manned robot that walks like a human but makes the ground shake under its weight has taken its first baby steps.

Designed by a veteran of science fiction blockbusters, the four-metre-tall (13-foot), 1.5 ton Method-2 towers over a room on the outskirts of Seoul.

“Our robot is the world’s first manned bipedal robot and is built to work in extreme hazardous areas where humans cannot go (unprotected),” said company chairman Yang Jin-Ho.

While its enormous size has grabbed media attention, the creators of Method-2 say the project’s core achievement is the technology they developed and enhanced along the way.

“Everything we have been learning so far on this robot can be applied to solve real-world problems,” said designer Vitaly Bulgarov on his Facebook page.

He has previously worked on film series such as Transformers, Robocop and Terminator.

 

(11) A MODEST PODCAST PROPOSAL. Dann has compiled “The Indispensable Podcast Listing” for his blog Liberty At All Costs. He admits —

It isn’t really a list of indispensable podcasts, but what’s life without a little hype.  Given the number of SFF and writing-related podcasts mentioned, I thought it might be of some modest interest to you.

And it was, thanks to Dann’s introductory notes about each one.

(12) YEAR-END MISSES. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler is burning the winter solstice oil to make sure he doesn’t miss a single potential award-winner — of 1961. “[December 27, 1961] Double And Nothing (The Phantom Planet And Assignment: Outer Space)”.

Our effort at the Journey to curate every scrap of science fiction as it is released, in print and on film, leaves us little time for rest.  Even in the normally sleepy month of December (unless you’re battling Christmas shopping crowds, of course), this column’s staff is hard at work, either consuming or writing about said consumption….

The Phantom Planet is a typical first-slot filler movie.  Spaceships launched from the moon keep getting intercepted by a rogue asteroid.  Only one crewmember of the third flight survives, a beefcake of a man who shrinks to just six inches tall when exposed to the asteroid’s atmosphere.  What’s stunning is not the lack of science in this movie, but the assiduous determination to avoid any scientific accuracy in this movie.  However, I the sets are surprisingly nice…and familiar.  They look an awful lot like the sets from the short TV series Men in Space….

(13) THE YEAR 2016. Chuck Tingle captures what some people are feeling about the year gone by.

(14) NUTRITION NATURE’S WAY. Casse-Croute is a very short cartoon about brightly colored animals in the forest and all the shiny bugs they eat!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann, Taral, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Sylvia Sotomayor.]

Pixel Scroll 11/29/16 In A Scroll On The Web There Lived A Pixel

(1) FURTHER DISCOVERIES. Two more Star Trek: Discovery cast members have been announced reports Variety.

Doug Jones and Anthony Rapp have joined Michelle Yeoh as the first official cast members of “Star Trek: Discovery.”

Jones will play Lt. Saru, a Starfleet science officer and a member of an alien species new to the “Star Trek” universe. Anthony Rapp will play Lt. Stamets, an astromycologist, fungus expert, and Starfleet science officer aboard the starship Discovery. Yeoh, whose addition to the cast was reported last week by Variety, will play Captain Georgiou, the Starfleet captain aboard the starship Shenzhou.

(2) IT IS WHAT IT AINT. Mike Resnick, in “What Science Fiction Isn’t”, says the history of science fiction is littered with discarded definitions of the genre. The creator of the field, Gernsback, SFWA founder Damon Knight, critic James Blish, all were sure somebody else was doing it wrong.

And what’s driving the purists crazy these days? Just look around you.

Connie Willis can win a Hugo with a story about a girl of the future who wants to have a menstrual period when women no longer have them.

David Gerrold can win a Hugo with a story about an adopted child who claims to be a Martian, and the story never tells you if he is or not.

I can win Hugos with stories about books remembered from childhood, about Africans who wish to go back to the Good Old Days, about an alien tour guide in a thinly-disguised Egypt.

The narrow-minded purists to the contrary, there is nothing the field of science fiction can’t accommodate, no subject – even the crucifixion, as Mike Moorcock’s Nebula winner, “Behold the Man”, proves – that can’t be science-fictionalized with taste, skill and quality.

I expect movie fans, making lists of their favorite science fiction films, to omit Dr. Strangelove and Charly, because they’ve been conditioned by Roddenbury and Lucas to look for the Roddenbury/Lucas tropes of movie science fiction – spaceships, zap guns, cute robots, light sabres, and so on.

But written science fiction has never allowed itself to be limited by any straitjacket. Which is probably what I love most about it….

(3) A PRETTY, PREDICTABLE MOVIE. Abigail Nussbaum’s ”(Not So) Recent Movie Roundup Number 22” includes her final verdict on Doctor Strange.

Marvel’s latest standalone movie has a great opening scene, and a final battle that toys with some really interesting ideas, finally upending a lot of the conventions of this increasingly formulaic filmic universe.  In between these two bookends, however, there’s an origin story so tediously familiar, so derivative and by-the-numbers, that by the time I got to Doctor Strange‘s relatively out-there conclusion, all I wanted was for the thing to end.  As noted by all of its reviewers, the film is very pretty, positing a society of sorcerers who fight by shaping the very fabric of reality, causing geography and gravity to bend in on themselves in inventive, trippy ways.  The film’s opening scene, in which bad guy Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and Dumbledore-figure The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) stage such a battle in the streets of London, turning buildings and roads into a kaleidoscope image, is genuinely exciting.  For a brief time, you think that Marvel might actually be trying something new. Then the story proper starts, and a familiar ennui sets in….

(4) THE CASH REGISTER IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD, Fanartists have been doing this all along – so Mr Men thought to himself, “I should get paid!” — “Mr Men to release a series of Doctor Who themed books”.

dr-twelfth

In a fun new partnership, BBC Worldwide and Mr Men publishers Sanrio Global have got together to create a series of Mr Men books based on each of the 12 Doctors….

The books be published by Penguin Random House and will combine “the iconic storytelling of Doctor Who” with the Mr Men’s “whimsical humour and design”.

And, of course, there will also be a series of related merchandise released to coincide with the first four books’ release in spring 2017.

They will follow stories based on the First, Fourth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, played by William Hartnell (1963-1966), Tom Baker (1974-1981), Matt Smith (2010-2013) and Peter Capaldi (2013-present). The remaining Doctors’ stories will follow on an as-yet unconfirmed date.

(5) NORTHERN FLIGHTS. Talking Points Memo says the Internet is fleeing to Canada. Well, okay, I exaggerated….

The Internet Archive, a digital library non-profit group that stores online copies of webpages, e-books, political advertisements and other media for public record, is fundraising to store a copy of all of its contents in Canada after Donald Trump’s election to the presidency.

Five hundred years from now will somebody be writing “How the Canadians Saved Civilization” like that book about the Irish?

(6) STOP IT OR YOU’LL GO BLIND. Gizmodo found out “Why Spaceflight Ruins Your Eyesight”

Astronauts who return to Earth after long-duration space missions suffer from untreatable nearsightedness. Scientists have now isolated the cause, but finding a solution to the problem will prove easier said than done.

The problem, say researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has to do with volume changes in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) found around the brain and spinal cord. Prolonged exposure to microgravity triggers a build-up of this fluid, causing the astronauts’ eyeballs to flatten, which can lead to myopia. A build-up of CSF also causes astronauts’ optic nerves to stick out, which is also not good, as the optic nerve sends signals to the brain from the retina. This is causing nearsightedness among long-duration astronauts, and it’s problem with no clear solution in sight (so to speak).

(7) APPLAUSE. Congratulations to JJ – her post about Walter Jon Williams’ Praxis series got a shout-out in Tor.com’s newsletter —

Your Praxis Primer Impersonations is the latest book in Nebula Award winning author Walter Jon Williams’ Praxis series, a standalone story that fits into the bigger arc of Williams’ ongoing space opera adventure. For a helpful rundown on the series, check out this guide to the Praxis universe, with links to excerpts for each installment! If you enjoy fast-paced, fun military science fiction like David Weber’s Honor Harrington books, pick up Impersonations, or start with The Praxis: Dread Empire’s Fall, the first book in the series.

(8) CARTER OBIT. Author Paul Carter has died at the age of 90 reports Gregory Benford. “I wrote a novella with him about Pluto and had many fine discussions at the Eaton and other conferences. A fine man, historian, fan.”

David Weber in his introduction to The Year’s Best Military SF & Space Opera (2015) credited C. L. Moore & Henry Kuttner’s “Clash by Night” (Astounding, March 1943) and Paul Carter’s “The Last Objective” (Astounding, August 1946) as two of the earliest examples of military science fiction (by which he means something a bit more cerebral than all the space opera that preceded them):

The Last Objective by Paul Carter appeared in 1946, but Carter wrote the story while he was still in the Navy; his commanding officer had to approve it before it could be sent to Astounding. It’s just as good as [Moore & Kuttner’s] Rocketeers, but it’s different in every other fashion.

Carter describes wholly militarized societies and a war which won’t end until every human being is dead. Rather than viewing this world clinically from the outside, Carter focuses on  a single ship and the varied personalities who make up its crew. (The vessel is tunnelling through the continental plate rather than floating on the sea, but in story terms that’s a distinction without a difference.)

Carter is pretty sure that his CO didn’t actually read the story before approving it. My experience with military officers leads me to believe that he’s right, though it’s also possible that his CO simply didn’t understand the story’s horrific implications.

Carter also wrote a book about sf history. The Science Fiction Encyclopedia says his The Creation of Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Magazine Science Fiction (anth 1977) “demonstrated an intimate and sophisticated knowledge of the field.”

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 29, 1948 — Kukla, Fran and Ollie debuted on television. (And a couple of years later, my father worked as a cameraman on the show)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born November 29, 1898 – C. S. Lewis

(11) HINES AUCTIONS KRITZER CRITIQUE. In the fourth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions, the item up for bid is a story critique from award-winning author Naomi Kritzer.

Attention writers: Today’s auction is for a critique of a short story, up to 7500 words, by Hugo award-winning author Naomi Kritzer.

Kritzer has been writing and selling her short fiction since before the turn of the century, and she’ll use that experience and expertise to help you improve your own story.

Disclaimer: Winning this auction does not guarantee you’ll win a Hugo award — but you never know, right?

(12) WE INTERRUPT THIS NOVEL. George R.R. Martin will attend a book fair in Mexico. Then he’s going to finish Winds.

My first real visit to Mexico starts tomorrow, when I jet down to Guadalajara for the Guadalajara International Book Fair: https://www.fil.com.mx/ingles/i_info/i_info_fil.asp I’m one of the guests at the conference. I’ll be doing interviews, a press conference, a live streaming event, and a signing. I expect I will be doing some tequila tasting as well. I am informed that Guadalajara is the tequila capital of Mexico. I am looking forward to meeting my Mexican publishers, editors, and fans. This is my last scheduled event for 2016. My appearance schedule for 2017 is very limited, and will remain so until WINDS is completed. So if you want to meet me or get a book signed, this will be the last chance for a good few months…

(13) THEIR TRASH IS HIS TREASURE. Artist Dave Pollot’s business is improving old, clichéd, mundane art prints and selling them to fans through his Etsy store:

holy-seagulls-batman

This is a print of repurposed thrift store art that I’ve painted parodies of Batman and Robin into….

The Process: This is a print of one of my repurposed paintings. I find discarded prints and paintings (ones you may have inherited from great grandma and brought to your local donation bin), and make additions. Sometimes I paint monsters, other times zombies, and most times some pop culture reference- Star Wars, Futurama, Ghostbusters, Mario Brothers…the list goes on. I use oil paints and do my best to match the style of the original artist. My hope is to take these out of the trash can and into a good home; full-circle- from a print that proudly hung on your Grandma’s wall, to a print that proudly hangs on yours.

(14) BANZAI LAWYERS. SciFiStorm reduces the bad news to basics: “MGM sues Buckaroo Banzai creators over rights; Kevin Smith exits project”.

Let me see if I can sum this up, as it seems a lot has happened very rapidly…MGM and Amazon struck a deal to develop a series based on the 1984 film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, and signed on Kevin Smith, the creator of Clerks and all the other Jay and Silent Bob movies and the guy I’d most like to just hang out and have a beer with, as the showrunner. But original writer Earl Mac Rauch and director Walter D. Richter claim they have the rights to a TV series. So MGM preemptively filed a lawsuit to have a court to seek declaration of the rights.

Telling fans in a Facebook video…that the lawsuit was “news to me,” Smith announced that he has dropped out of the project.

(15) PLAQUE. Gregory Benford sent along a photo of the plaque he received as a Forry Award winner last weekend at Loscon.

forry-award-min

(16) TREE FULL OF TENTACLES.  Archie McPhee is working desperately hard to sell you this seasonal abomination:

While her Cthulhumas Wreath Creature guards the entrance to the house, this year there’s a bright red Cthulhumas tree watching everyone and everything and it never, ever sleeps.

‘Twas a week before Cthulhumas, when all through the house every creature was trembling, in fact so was the house. Not one stocking had been hung by the chimney this year, for fear that Dread Cthulhu was already near.

The cats were nestled all snug in their beds, completely indifferent to our cosmic dread. And mamma in her robes and I in my mask, had just steadied our minds for our infernal task, when from deep in the basement there arose such a din, at last we knew the ritual was soon to begin.

Down to the cellar I flew like a flash, lit all the candles and sprinkled the ash. Light on the altar came from no obvious point, it soon became clear time was all out of joint.

When what to my cursed bleeding eyes did appear, but a fathomless void, then I felt only fear. With a wriggle of tentacles and shiver of dread, I knew in a moment I was out of my head.

Then a nightmarish god, with his eight mewling young, burst forth from the dark and shrieked, “Our reign has begun!“

christas-cthulhu

(17) SPEED TYPIST. Just the other day File 770 lined to a clip from Chris Hardwick’s Almost Midnight all about Chuck Tingle.

Looks like it took no time at all for Tingle to write a book commemorating the occasion: Hard For Hardwick: Pounded In The Butt By The Physical Manifestation Of My own Handsome Late Night Comedy Show.

tingle-hard-for-hardwick

(18) ONE STAR REVIEWS. One-star reviews were a weapon used by some in last year’s literary fracas, though never with any sense of humor. But a Chicago Cubs blogger just put out a book about their World Series season — and it is getting the funniest bunch of one-star reviews I’ve ever read. Read this sample and it will be easy to guess why the author received such a hostile reception….

I know this author from the Internet. He runs a website and routinely posts opinions and people comment on those opinions.

Ín real life he routinely bans commenters on his website that disagree with him. This leads to one of the bad features of this book. If you think a bad thought about the book, it shuts close and you are unable to read it until you contact the author by email and apologize. This is an annoying feature.

Also in real life when one of the author’s website opinion posts are disliked by the majority of readers he deletes the post and comments like it never happened. This book has a similar feature in that the words disappear from the pages over time and eventually you are left with 200+ blank pages that really aren’t good for anything but the bottom of a bird cage. This decreases the value of the book and does not make it suitable for archiving.

Overall, I can’t recommend.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Andrew Porter, and Harold Osler for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]