Pixel Scroll 3/10/17 Anachronism of Green Gables

(1) SKULL SESSION. NPR doesn’t think much of King Kong: Skull Island, but compensates by adding interesting movie trivia to their review:

A noble beast gets shackled, ape-napped from his island home and dragged to America in:

  • Minute 84 of 1933’s landmark King Kong,
  • Minute 90 of 1976’s Jeff Bridge/Charles Grodin/”and introducing Jessica Lange”-starring King Kong, and
  • Minute 135 of Peter Jackson’s 2005 prestige pic King Kong — which, at three hours and change, qualifies as the most Kong-sized of the bunch.

In the new, comparatively unambitious Kong: Skull Island, the big guy finally claims a perk of his eight decades of stardom: He gets to do the entire picture from home.

Indeed, this new colon-ized, name-and-address-formatted Kong is at its mediocre best when it pretends to be a nature documentary about Skull Island’s bizarro flora and fauna. One of its most captivating scenes has the big ape bathing himself in a river — at last, computer animators have learned to make convincing water! But every time the movie threatens to get interesting, one of its hordes of ersatz, non-animated characters shows up and starts talking again.

There’s plenty of top-flight talent — Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, the Johns Goodman and C. Reilly, and the Jacksons Samuel T. and Marc Evan — so it’s no chore to sit through. But good luck being able to remember in two months whether you saw this thing or not.

By comparison, the Boston Globe thought it was fun and gave it 3 stars out of 4:

“Kong: Skull Island” isn’t a remake or a reboot or a re-anything. It’s just a Saturday matinee creature feature with a smart, unpretentious script, a handful of solid supporting players, and a digital Kong who feels big enough and real enough to provoke the necessary awe. This is all to the movie’s credit.

Better yet (and unlike [Peter Jackson’s 2005] film), the new movie understands the line between thrilling an audience and scaring it silly — between action-adventure awe and horror-movie gross-outs. The movie feels as if it has been made for a 10-year-old kid, either the one living in your house or the one living in your heart.

(2) COMIC SECTION. And Dan Thompson’s Brevity welcomes the movie with a punny cartoon.

(3) NAVIGATING THE AMAZON. Why did Amazon build a brick-and-mortar bookstore in the first place? Why is it now about to open number 10?

People were surprised when Amazon announced its first brick-and-mortar bookstore in November 2015. Then came No. 2, 3 and 4.

Sixteen months later, Amazon just confirmed to Recode that it is now working on store No. 10 — a location at the Bellevue Square shopping center across Lake Washington from Seattle. Plans for this new location were found in building permits flagged by the building contractor site BuildZoom.

“We are excited to be bringing Amazon Books to Bellevue Square in 2017, and we are currently hiring store managers and associates,” an Amazon spokesperson said.

If it wasn’t clear before, it is now: Amazon really likes the traction it has seen in the four stores that have opened so far and is committed to becoming a physical retailer at scale. New locations are opening in places like Chicago, New York City and the suburbs of New Jersey later this year.

That doesn’t mean the stores still aren’t puzzling. Why does Amazon — bookstore killer — want to become a physical book purveyor? One smart take has been that the stores are as much about selling Amazon devices like the Echo and Kindle as they are about selling books.

(4) NEW STOPS ON THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY. China’s Internet may be showing the way. British anthropologist Tom McDonald, who moved to Anshan, a small rural town between Beijing and Shanghai, has written a book about the Chinese internet, about which he is apparently very protective, and is the source of information for this BBC article.

Most writing about China’s internet had explored metropolitan elites living in the country’s huge cities – and had tended to focus on the issues of censorship and government control, painting a joyless place straight out of George Orwell’s 1984. Yet here in Anshan, McDonald was surprised to find a vibrant and innovative online world. “It is easy for us to assume that ‘the Chinese Internet’ ought to be a very drab and boring and constraining place, whereas actually, Chinese internet users are incredibly creative and the internet is incredibly lively,” he tells me. “It was more like an online carnival.”

….One of the core differences, from British social media use, was the fact that the people of Anshan tended to shy away from political pronouncements on their profile pages – “not because of censorship, but just because all the people around them would ask why are you posting that on here,” says McDonald. Instead, their updates tended to be centred on the family and relationships with somewhat saccharine images and messages – perhaps as a way of upholding some of the values at the heart of their rural community.

Chip Hitchcock sent this comment along with the link: “The writer seems especially taken with the way everything works together, which suggests the (possibly-mythical) computer scientist’s praise of cyberpunk (~’Sure, everybody’s doing terrible things to each other — but their computers all work together!’)”

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 10, 1972 — Killer-creature flick Frogs hops into theaters.
  • March 10, 1972 Silent Running premieres.
  • March 10, 1997 Buffy the Vampire Slayer premieres on television.

(6) THE BUFFYVERSARY. “20 Years Ago ‘Buffy’ Welcomed Us All To The Hellmouth (aka High School)” NPR reminds us.

Twenty years ago, on March 10, 1997, TV audiences were introduced to Buffy Summers, a pint-sized blonde who could hold her own against the undead. Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran for seven seasons from 1997 to 2003. It had witty dialogue and used monsters as a metaphor for everyday high school problems like bullies, catfishing and feeling invisible.

If that wasn’t enough to make high school seem hellish, the characters went to school on top of a literal Hellmouth. “So many people at the time sent us letters saying, ‘I’m only getting through high school because of Buffy,‘ ” says Buffy writer and producer Jane Espenson.

The BBC also cites Buffy’s influence on pop culture:

Without Buffy’s brilliant musical episode Once More, With Feeling would Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s movie ever have been green-lit?

Actually, yes, it would have been. But if you enjoyed the singing dancing love letter to LA which didn’t win best film at this year’s Oscars, you could do worse than to check out Buffy’s musical extravaganza.

It’s exactly like La La Land, but with added demons.

It also set a trend for other TV shows to unexpectedly feature a musical episode halfway through a series, including medical comedy Scrubs and medical drama Grey’s Anatomy – and an upcoming Supergirl/The Flash crossover.

(7) TODAY’S DAYS. You get your choice.

  • Mario Day

Mario Day came about when it was noticed that when one marks the day Mar.10, it spells Mario. From then it just took off. Mario was first introduced in Nintendo’s game Donkey Kong. When he appeared in this game in the early 1980’s he was not the well-named plumber that would be recognized today. His name was Mr. Jumpman and he was a carpenter.

  • International Bagpipe Day.

The Bagpipe Society has been sponsoring the celebration of International Bagpipe Day since 2012. They have helped to bring the bagpipe to new players since 1986. It is important to them that the history and playing of the bagpipes is not lost. Putting this day together was with the hope of bringing awareness of the over 130 different types of bagpipe throughout the world.

(8) JEDI JOCULARITY. Mark Hamill tweeting as Trump —

(9) DANDELION WINE KICKSTARTER FAILS. Filmmakers ambitious to produce a movie of Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” attempted to crowdfund production with a Kickstarter campaign but they had received only $4,791 of the hoped-for $350K when the campaign ended in January.

In December, the Utah Independent profiled the men behind the effort.

RGI Productions filmmaker Rodion Nahapetov and producer Natasha Shliapnikoff, long-time friends and colleagues of Ray Bradbury, have launched their Kickstarter campaign for the “Dandelion Wine” movie.

“The Kickstarter campaign is so important to us because by receiving the support of Ray’s fans and friends, we will be able to make the movie the way Ray would have wanted it made independently, true to his vision and with love!” said Shliapnikoff.

(10) ELIGIBILITY POST. Adam Rakunas keeps voters informed —

(11) NATIONAL TREASURE. Maybe the original art for the cover of Action Comics #1, which introduced Superman to the world in June 1938, no longer exists, but in late 1938 or ’39, Joe Shuster re-drew that cover for use as a puzzle from the Saalfield Company of Cleveland, Ohio, which was manufactured in 1940. “I wonder what this piece of original art might be worth today?” asks John King Tarpinian. The search is on!

(12) OOPS! Meanwhile, we know what happened to these treasures — “Pulped fiction: Blundering artist destroys rare first edition of The Avengers and other valuable comics worth £20,000 to make papier-mache scultpture”. The Daily Mail has the story.

An artist made a papier-mâché sculpture from comics only to discover that the books were in fact first editions worth about £20,000.

The piece of artwork, called Paperboy, was created by Andrew Vickers, 49, from Sheffield, who found the comics for the man-sized statue in a skip.

However, after handing the sculpture over to an exhibition he was told the comics, which included a first edition of The Avengers, would have been worth a small fortune.

(13) THE NOT-SO-DREAD PIRATE GAME. The Digital Antiquarian remembers when Ron Gilbert made an adventure game that didn’t suck – Monkey Island.

The game casts you in the role of Guybrush Threepwood, a lovable loser who wants to become a pirate. Arriving on Mêlée Island, a den of piratey scum and villainy, he has to complete a set of trials to win the status of Official Pirate. Along the way, he falls in love with the island’s beautiful governor Elaine — her name sets the game up for a gleeful The Graduate homage — and soon has to rescue her from the villain of the story, the evil ghost pirate LeChuck.

The Disnefied piracy wasn’t hard to do, especially after Gilbert discovered a charming little historical-fantasy novel by Tim Powers called On Stranger Tides.

(15) SF IN LIVE THEATER. Alastair Reynolds tells about seeing Diamond Dogs in Chicago, a stage play based on his story.

The House Theatre team did a remarkable job with this undoubtedly challenging material, working with inventive stage and prop design to nonetheless evoke a series of settings many light years away, and hundreds of years in the future. All the cast are in the above photo, along with the crew behind the production, and it was a pleasure and privilege to see so much skill and imagination come together on stage.

My story takes place in a range of locales, from the bowels of Chasm City, to a starship, to the ravaged surface of an alien world, and ultimately the many-roomed interior of the enigmatic alien structure named Blood Spire, an enormous tower floating just off the surface of the planet Golgotha. Depicting all this in film would be a feat in itself, and quite beyond any reasonable notions of practical theatrical staging. The solution adopted by the House Theatre was to use artful minimalism and suggestion, trusting in the audience to employ their imaginations given the narrative cues provided the actors and the sound and lighting effects. I thought it worked tremendously well, and the later stages of the story – involving the passing through of the puzzle rooms in the Spire – achieved a strange, stark beauty, all with little on stage but the illuminated, moving doorways and the actors in their spacesuits. Later, as the story progressed to its grim conclusion, extremely effective use was made of the ingenious puppet designs of Mary Robinette Kowal, allowing us to follow the actors as they became something other than human. These latter scenes, aided by an unsettling score, had a truly surreal power.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/13/17 Scroll Me The Pixel Of Alfredo Garcia

(1) DOG DOESN’T BITE MAN. Can you believe it? Someone is not getting sued. His name is Wil Wheaton: “The library for Storytime With Wil just got a little deeper…”

For a few weeks (months?) I’ve been doing this silly and fun thing on Monday nights. I pick a random Choose Your Own Adventure book from my collection, and I read it on my Twitch channel, letting the audience make the choices for me…

So it’s pretty much a regular thing, now, and I seem to have settled upon 6pm Pacific time every Monday, unless there’s a Kings game or I have some other pressing engagement.

Anyway, I always point out that I am not doing this for money, and I don’t mean to infringe on Choose Your Own Adventure’s IP rights or anything like that. I always point out that I’d rather beg forgiveness than ask permission, and I hope that if CYOA ever stumbles upon my thing, they’ll treat it as free marketing and not a thing to throw lawyers at.

So last week, someone from CYOA emailed me … and it turns out a lot of them at the publisher are fans of my work, including my Storytime with Wil thing!! Not only do they not want to sue me to death, she offered to send me a care package, and it arrived today.

See what good things happen when, for a random example, you don’t raise half-a-million dollars on Kickstarter to turn a fan thing into a moneymaker?

(2) FIRST TIME. Jodi Meadows has written an addendum to her post Before She Ignites cover reveal” responding to comments like those made by Justina Ireland (reported in yesterday’s Scroll.)

A few people have mentioned they see this as an important cover, because it has a Black girl in a dress. That’s what I want to talk about. I didn’t realize when the cover was being designed (that’s my privilege), but this is the first time a big publisher has this kind of cover.

It shouldn’t be the first time.

The first time a major publisher designed a YA cover with a Black model in a gown, it should have gone to a Black author.

Again, me not realizing that hadn’t happened yet: that was my white privilege at work.

The fact that mine came first is a symptom of the problems in publishing, and who publishing is designed to work for. By the time I knew what was at stake with this cover and the timing, the model had already been hired and her photos taken. At that point, changing the cover would have meant telling a Black model that she couldn’t be on my cover because she’s Black.

I hope it’s obvious why I wouldn’t do that.

Dhonielle Clayton told me I should say all this upfront, but I resisted because I couldn’t think of a way to do that without seeming preemptively defensive or like I wanted a pat on the back. So I just didn’t talk about it. Now I see that was the wrong decision, because this hurts people. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.

Meadows also discusses a soon-to-be-published YA novel by a black author that will feature such a cover.

Some of the names involved in the Meadows story are also sources for Everdeen Mason’s recent Washington Post article, “There’s a new way for novelists to sound authentic. But at what cost?”, which reports how publishers are hiring “sensitivity readers… who, for a nominal fee, will scan a book for racist, sexist, or other offensive content.”  From Mason’s article, it appears these readers are used most often for YA fantasy novels.

For authors looking for sensitivity readers beyond their fan base there is the Writing in the Margins database, a resource of about 125 readers created by Justina Ireland, author of the YA books “Vengeance Bound” and “Promise of Shadows.” Ireland started the directory last year after hearing other authors at a writing retreat discuss the difficulties in finding people of different backgrounds to read a manuscript and give feedback about such, well, sensitive matters.

One reader for hire in Ireland’s database is Dhonielle Clayton, a librarian and writer based in New York. Clayton reviews two manuscripts per month, going line by line to look at diction, dialogue and plot. Clayton says she analyzes the authenticity of the characters and scenes, then points writers to where they can do more research to improve their work.

Clayton, who is black, sees her role as a vital one. “Books for me are supposed to be vehicles for pleasure, they’re supposed to be escapist and fun,” she says. They’re not supposed to be a place where readers “encounter harmful versions” and stereotypes of people like them.

(3) WHO’S SECOND? The “America First, <yourcountry/etc here> Second” meme (explained in this CNN news segment) has inspired at least two fannish responses –

  • Mordor Second

  • Mars Second

(4) HE’S ON THE FRONT. Cool cover by Tom Gauld for the Guardian Review:

(5) ROUNDTABLE REMOVED. Apex Magazine has pulled the “Intersectional SFF Round Table” that Mia Sereno (Likhain) protested in an open letter to the editors quoted in yesterday’s Scroll. Jason Sizemore passed responsibility to those who packaged the roundtable, who also are “Likhain’s publisher” (bolded in the original as shown).

…One correction I need to make regarding Likhain’s email since this is a discussion she chose to take public rather than giving Apex a chance to respond. She says: “It is not your choice to publish RH that I find appalling, but your specific choice to ask her to contribute to a roundtable on, of all things, intersectionality.”

This is not true. Djibril and Rivqa, Likhain’s publisher, invited Benjanun to be on the round table. The round table contains four other people with greater wisdom on what is and is not appropriate when it comes to intersectionality than I will ever possess: Cassandra Khaw, Vajra Chandrasekera, Miguel Flores Uribe, and Rivqa Rafael. Since they participated in the discussion I could only assume they had no issue including Benjanun. Djibril had no issue with Benjanun. Therefore, I felt it was okay to move forward.

In consideration to the concerns expressed by Likhain’s public post, our readers, and the counsel of several friends in the genre community, I have decided to remove the round table from our website….

(6) WHAT WATCH? James Gleick asks Guardian readers “Do we still need Doctor Who? Time travel in the internet age?”

Two generations of TV watchers have been schooled in temporal paradox by Doctor Who, and when one Doctor gives way to the next, as will happen in the next series, the reincarnation generates almost as much speculation as the royal line of succession. Who will follow Peter Capaldi? She will be a Time Lord, after all.

Nor does time travel belong solely to popular culture. The time-travel meme is pervasive. Neuroscientists investigate “mental time travel”, more solemnly known as “chronesthesia”. Scholars can hardly broach the metaphysics of change and causality without discussing time travel and its paradoxes. Time travel forces its way into philosophy and influences modern physics.

How strange, then, to realise that the concept is barely a century old. The term first occurs in English in 1914 – a back-formation from HG Wells’s The Time Machine (1895). Somehow humanity got by for thousands of years without asking, what if I could travel into the future? What would the world be like? What if I could travel into the past – could I change history?

(7) REVISITING AN OLD FAVORITE. Cat Rambo walks the razor’s edge between a fisking and a fond reading of the Doc Savage novel Quest of Qui in her latest blog post.

Cassy, in the process of shedding a box of Doc Savage novels, found out I loved them and passed them along. I remember Doc and his men fondly; while at my grandparents for a Kansas summer when I was twelve or thirteen, I found my uncle’s old books, which included a pretty complete run of the Bantam reprints and reveled in them for years to come.

I’m going back and rereading while making notes because I loved and still love these books; my hope is that I’ll start to notice some patterns as I move through the books and that I’ll be able to talk about pulp tropes, gender assumptions, reading fiction aimed at a gender other than your own, and writerly techniques in an entertaining and (maybe) useful way….

You’d think Doc would train himself out of that tell, but even the Man of Bronze has limits. An alarm clock rings and a knife appears from nowhere and hits Doc in the back. At this point, we discover that he habitually wears a fine chainmail undergarment. The material of the undergarment isn’t specified. Neither Renny nor Doc can figure out where the knife came from; at least, Renny can’t. Doc’s a cagey dude and you’re never really sure what he knows and what he doesn’t. The knife is an ancient Viking relic.

The phone rings; it’s another of Doc’s men, Monk, aka Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Blodgett Mayfair (“Only a few inches over five feet tall and yet over 260 pounds. His brutish exterior concealed the mind of a great scientist,” the frontispiece helpfully informs us) What’s new, pussycat, he asks Doc, only not in those words. An alarm clock just rang in my office and then there was a knife out of nowhere, Doc retorts. Of course the phone goes dead at this point….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • February 13, 1923 – Chuck Yeager, the first man to travel faster than the speed of sound. Born in Myra, West Virginia.

(9) AVOID THE KISS OF DEATH. Leading up to Valentine’s Day, the Horror Writers Association blog presents Mac Child’s latest piece of writing advice, “Love is a Disease: Prevent the Romantic Storyline from Strangling the Scary”.

First, a caveat: There’s nothing wrong with paranormal romance; it’s simply a different genre from horror (and the two genres frequently have a substantial overlap in readers). A romantic storyline, in and of itself, is not a terrible thing at all. This argument is by no means a condemnation of love and the readers who love it.

Romantic fiction uses a different kind of tension—will the protagonist suffer heartbreak? Will the couple get together? End up together?—than the frequently external threats and emphasis on surviving found in horror. In a horror, too much ink spilled about love ends up replacing one tension with another, pulling focus away from whatever monster, human or not, is menacing your hapless heroes.

(10) NEXT CONRUNNER PLEASE. Steve Cooper discussed the latest Conrunner on Facebook and announced he and Alice Lawson will be organizing Conrunner 5.

…We even have a provisional theme – “new con-runners” and with that in mind Conrunner 5 will have a Y.A membership category for those who will be under 40. And we hope to provide bursaries to help members who are relatively new to con-running. We’ve already spoken with the chair of INNOMINATE who will try to find some money for this after pass-along to follow on from the generous donation by Satellite 4 to Conrunner 4. We’ll also be following this up with Follycon and the 2019 Eastercon. There will also be a 2nd Pete Weston memorial scholarship – but how that will be targeted has not yet been fixed.

But Alice and I don’t “Run” Conrunner – we provide the back-bone for others to put on a con-running programme. Claire [Brialey] & Mark [Plummer] did a stirling job this year. Now it could be your turn.

…But let me end by thanking the 70 con-runners who came to Nottingham, and participated in the convention especially the two thirds of members we managed to get on panels. (Next time join earlier and we’ll try and get that closer to 100%). We hope you had an enjoyable and instructive weekend and look forward to seeing you all and many others at Conrunner 5

(11) SELECTIVE EXCERPTS. That’s what Dave Freer always calls these representative quotes, but today I’m really doing it. Plucked from his typical stew of complaints against Puppy-kickers, Scalzi, Tor, and David Gerrold (as well as a big plug for Jon Del Arroz based on taking his story at face value) comes this spot-on statement about the movie Starship Troopers – “Truth in Advertising” at Mad Genius Club.

The other relevant aspect is you shouldn’t be just selling once. The key to success as an author is building a customer base, building a name. Now over on Tor.com they were busy displaying how not to understand this. You see –according to the genius on Tor.com (I hope he runs marketing for the company) – Paul Verhoeven’s STARSHIP TROOPERS was a work of genius satirically parodying that nasty evil Robert A Heinlein that the modern literati of sf love to hate.

(shrug) I don’t care if you agree, or disagree, adore the movie or hate it… the problem is one the writer of the article seems blind to, and yet, when you think about it, is behind almost all the adverse reaction the movie received.

…If Paul Verhoeven had called the movie I HATE HEINLEIN, or HUMAN FASCISTS KILL INNOCENT BUGS the same people now calling it ‘brilliant satire’ would still have loved it… (possibly less, because they enjoyed watching the Heinlein fans get furious), but it would have engendered almost no disparagement. It would also have lost a huge volume of sales to the suckers who believed the advertised name.

(12) LIFE INTERRUPTED. Is it dead or not? There’s a thematically appropriate question for a magazine about ghoulish movies, Fangoria, especially now with there being disputed claims that the magazine has produced its last print issue. Former editor-in-chief Ken W. Hanley announced on Twitter –

Today Fangoria officialdom issued a statement admitting that print publication has been “interrupted” but they hope to make a comeback –

These words are in no way excuses, more the bitter truth about the current circumstances involving our print publication and interruption of production. With time and continued patience from our fans, writers, artists and subscribers we will be working endlessly to make good on any funds owed for magazines and/or articles written. In the meantime, we’ll continue trying to conquer the uphill battle to restore our print issues that our fans urgently long for.

(13) JOCULARITY. Adam Rakunas and Patrick S. Tomlinson have a plan for boosting author revenue – let’s see if this starts trending.

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Lex Berman, Daniel Dern, Paul Weimer, John King Tarpinian, and an untipped hat for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Adam Rakunas: Windswept and Like A Boss

Adam Rakunas

Adam Rakunas

By Carl Slaughter: Adam Rakunas’ 2015 debut novel, Windswept from Angry Robot, won the Philip K. Dick Award. In June, he released a sequel, Like a Boss.

WINDSWEPT

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Labor organizer Padma Mehta is on the edge of space and the edge of burnout. All she wants is to buy out a little rum distillery and retire, but she’s supposed to recruit 500 people to the Union before she can. She’s only thirty-three short. So when a small-time con artist tells her about forty people ready to tumble down the space elevator to break free from her old bosses, she checks it out — against her better judgment. It turns out, of course, it was all lies.

As Padma should know by now, there are no easy shortcuts on her planet. And suddenly retirement seems farther away than ever: she’s just stumbled into a secret corporate mission to stop a plant disease that could wipe out all the industrial sugarcane in Occupied Space. If she ever wants to have another drink of her favorite rum, she’s going to have to fight her way through the city’s warehouses, sewage plants, and up the elevator itself to stop this new plague.

PRAISE FOR WINDSWEPT

  • “This twisty David-and-Goliath tale is clever, fast-paced, and frequently funny, taking plenty of well-deserved potshots at corporate greed.” –Publishers Weekly
  • Windswept is a classic noir story shot full of space-rum and rocketed into the future. It’s not anything so simple as a thriller with a layer of chrome and some plastic ray guns tacked on; this isn’t a Chandler pastiche in nerd-drag. The future tech is integral to the story, and Rakunas clearly enjoys building out a science fiction world.” – Paul Constant, The Seattle Review of Books
  • “Adam Rakunas is one funny SOB, and now everyone’s going to know it. Windswept is a zippy, zany ride, with more fast turns than a Wild Mouse rollercoaster. There’s more witty banter and laughs per page than anything I’ve read in years, making this, my friends, the rarest kind of science-fiction-comedy novel: one that’s actually funny. Buckle the hell up.” – Daryl Gregory, Award-winning author of Afterparty and We Are All Completely Fine
  • “This melange of fast-paced action, character study, social study and witty dialogue makes up a thoroughly enjoyable narrative treat.” – SF and F Reviews
  • “The world building was fantastic and characters so well developed as to be defined by their short comings. Padma is gritty, stubborn and a bit slutty. She drives the novel hard, with constant movement through a world built on the byproducts of sugar cane.  The societal structures that involve Freeborn and Breaches and the clashes that ensue with the corporate structures is entertaining in its complexity. The story line begins to become steeped in mystery, deceit and betrayal while being rendered with humor in all the right places.” – Koeur’s Book Reviews
  • “Seriously, this book is just plain funny. Even so, it manages to present an interesting perspective on politics, consumerism, and unionizations. So if you want to read about Co-Ops, giant crab attacks, sewer chases, and the inadvisability of copying techniques from the movies, Windswept is definitely worth a look.” 4/5 stars. – Bookaneer
  • Windswept is a fast-paced action thriller that delivers multiple twists and turns and an unrelenting pace. Padma is a tough, no-nonsense heroine, among a cast of interesting and diverse women (which is, sadly, still rare enough to be delightful). It’s a perfect rum-fuelled thrill ride.”– Astounding Yarns
  • “It’s very rare for a book to grab my attention on the first page, then proceeds to drag me through a fast-paced, action packed SF romp. The book is irreverent and zany and I heartily recommend picking it up.” – Ted Mahsun
  • “Part action-adventure, part space opera, part farce, Windswept follows Padma, Jilly and the escapees through complicated legal, company-vs-union conflict and violent struggles in a post-diaspora-heading-towards-collapse science fiction universe. Recommended for Star Trek fans who loved stories like ‘The Bell Riots’.” – Dark Matter Zine
  • Windswept fuses edge of your seat action with thought provoking speculation – a perfect blend for an unforgettable science fiction read.” – The Mutt Cafe
  • “This grunge world science fiction adventure is one of the best debut SF adventure novels Your Humble Reviewers have read recently.” –Bull Spec’s Exploding Spaceship Reviews

LIKE A BOSS

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In this breathless and hilarious followup to Windswept, former labor organiser Padma Mehta’s worst nightmare comes true: she gets yanked out of early retirement.

After buying her favourite rum distillery and settling down, she thought she’d heard the last of her arch nemesis, Evanrute Saarien. But Saarien, fresh out of prison for his misdeeds in Windswept, has just fabricated a new religion, positioning himself as its holy leader. He’s telling his congregation to go on strike, to fight the system. And unfortunately, they’re listening to him.

Now Padma’s summoned by the Union president to help stop this strike from happening. The problem is, she’s out of practice. And, the more she digs, the more she realises this whole strike business is more complicated than the Union president let on…

PRAISE FOR LIKE A BOSS

  • Like a Boss is one of those rare, perfect novels that somehow packs huge ideas into a story that is simultaneously wildly speculative and completely digestible. Like a Boss lives up to its name. A masterwork of big ideas, perfectly executed.” – Ted Kosmatka, author of The Flicker Men
  • “The moment I began reading this, I immediately had to put the book down. I was simply too sick with envy at Adam’s talent.” – Madeline Ashby, acclaimed author of vN and iD
  • “Fierce, funny, and fast-paced. This is sci-fi in a world as rich, detailed, and diverse as our own. It’s about fighting for what’s right, about fixing what’s broken, about cheering for the underdog, against all odds. Read it, love it, and then read it again.” – Ramez Naam, Winner of the Promethues and Philip K. Dick Awards and author of the Nexus series
  • “The story ramps the stakes up gradually, but never seems to stop doing so – and ties the grander global game with a more personal struggle for Padma in a way which makes for an eminently enjoyable read. A cracking read, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Padma and Rakunas  take us next.” – Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviews
  • “The series has everything that makes for a scifi classic – a richly imagined world, a plot that is thrilling and thought provoking while successfully commenting on current issues, a diverse well developed cast of characters, and that touch of magic that comes from an author gifted with eloquence and imagination.” – Stephanie Sasse of Muttcafe.com
  • Like A Boss is a laugh-in-your-face rejection of grimdark cynicism and cyberpunk dystopia. It’s a flag-waving, singing-out-loud celebration of people doing the right thing even though it will be hard (and conscious of the cost to themselves), because they know it’s the right thing to do, damn it.  It’s a celebration of hope and trust and community. I loved it.” – X + 1
  • “Fast-paced, funny, and full of action. Once again Rakunas writes a winner. Regarding modern science fiction, there is certainly a new voice that needs to be heard.” – Eyes and Books

Pixel Scroll 7/12/16 Boys! Raise Giant Pixels in your Cellar!

(1) RAMBO REPORT. “SFWA is Many Things, But Not a Gelatinous Cube” insists Cat Rambo, the organization’s President, in a 3,800 word update published halfway through her two-year term in office.

I was looking at Twitter the other day and reading through mentions of the Nebula Conference Weekend, including celebration of our new Grandmaster C.J. Cherryh, when I hit a tweet saying something along the lines of, “I hope SFWA doesn’t think this excuses the choice of picking (another author) in the past”. The way the sentence struck me got me thinking about the sort of perception that allows that particular construction.

No, SFWA, aka the organization known as The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America doesn’t think that. Because SFWA isn’t a person. It doesn’t think. Sometimes I like to imagine that SFWA. It lives in a basement somewhere and looks much like a pale green gelatinous cube, covered with lint and cat hair, and various unguessable things lurk in its murky depths, like discarded typewriter ribbons, empty Johnny Walker Black Label bottles, and that phone charging cable you lost a few weeks ago.

In actuality, SFWA — at least in the sense they’re thinking of — is an entity that changes from year to year, most notably through the leadership, but also through the overall composition of the 200+ volunteers and handful of staff that keep it running. The President makes a lot of choices for the organization; others are made for them. The President gets to pick the next Grandmaster, for example, although every living past President weighs in on the choice, as well as things like the Service to SFWA Award and the recipient of the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. ….

  • I have worked to facilitate the amazing and hard work that CFO Bud Sparhawk and comptroller Oz Drummond have been doing behind the scenes wherever I can, but I cannot take credit for any of that. Nonetheless, SFWA is moving towards a scrupulously-maintained financial state that can go beyond just sustaining itself, but can allow it to grow at a slow but steady pace. When I came on board we were highly dependent on a revenue source that is rapidly diminishing; I’m pleased to say that we are recovering from that and will not be similarly dependent in the future. I hope to replenish what was taken from the reserves within the next few years….
  • Via the efforts of volunteer wrangler Derek Künsken, volunteers are finding roles where they can use and expand existing skills, acquire new ones, and know that they are working to benefit SFWA. At the same time that we’re using more volunteers, we’re being much better about acknowledging their efforts. A few weekends ago I was at the volunteer breakfast at the Nebulas, passing out certificates of appreciation (created by Heather MacDougal) for the second year in a row, and we are making that event an integral part of our annual celebration from now on. When I came onboard, the volunteer situation was bad enough that we were losing members because of it — again, no malice, no intent to hurt people’s feelings or make them feel unvalued, only good desires and intentions that got overwhelmed due to a lack of communication and a team to back up the volunteer coordinator.
  • The SFWA Bulletin, that notoriously troubled and erratic entity, is back on schedule and rapidly proving itself capable of representing SFWA’s mission to the world at large. Editor Neil Clarke has been working to create covers and content that reflect the professional nature of the organization and which are useful to working writers. Among other things, we’ve got writers guidelines up for both it and the SFWA blog, and some members have covered their fees via a couple of blog posts or a Bulletin article. Jaym Gates, John Klima, and Tansy Rayner Roberts did the initial work of digging what seemed like a mortally-wounded Bulletin out from under a pile of criticism and ill-feeling, and deserve much praise for performing that rescue. Both Bulletin and the Blog have writers guidelines available online for what I believe is the first time….

SFWA exists for professional F&SF writers. We can talk about the mission to inform, defend, advocate for and all of that, but it boils down to this: if you are a professional genre writer, you should be able to join the organization and know that you are getting your money’s worth. Recently while researching, I counted ten ways SFWA can help a member promote their work; half of those were created in the past two years. ….

(2) WARNING. Kameron Hurley didn’t set out to write this in an especially tearjerking style. Just get your tissues ready anyway: “Drake the Dog has Passed Away”

As two people with chronic problems, my spouse and I know that you can’t always save everyone. But after dealing with the things we have in our lives, we sure as hell were going to try. Drake put up an incredible effort, and we shuffled our entire lives around his care, but Drake could never catch a break. Not once. Like so many things in life, it was wickedly unfair and cruel in the way that only life can be. You always think hey, if we can just be great caregivers, and come up with the money for the drugs and surgeries, we can save him. But the infection was stronger than us, and stronger than Drake, and it makes me incredibly angry and sad to type that, because it’s an admission that the world is bigger and scarier than we are, and sometimes when the train is moving, you can’t stop it.

(3) FIRST FANDOM NEWS. Steve Francis and Keith W. Stokes will present the Hall of Fame and Moskowitz Awards on August 18th as part of the Retro Hugo Awards

(4) POKEMON GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. The Washington Post passes on a request: “Holocaust Museum to visitors: Please stop catching Pokemon here”.

The Museum itself, along with many other landmarks, is a “PokeStop” within the game — a place where players can get free in-game items. In fact, there are actually three different PokeStops associated with various parts of the museum.

“Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism,” Andrew Hollinger, the museum’s communications director, told The Post in an interview. “We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game.”

The Holocaust Museum’s plight highlights how apps that layer a digital world on top of the real one, or so-called augmented reality games, can come with unforeseen consequences and raises questions about how much control the physical owner of a space can exert as those two worlds intersect.

(5) WILLIS DOES WALES. Connie Willis begins “Notes From Wales I: Buckland and Westmarch and Elves, Oh My!”

My family and I just got back from England, where we spent two weeks touring Cornwall and Wales. We saw Doc Martin’s village, Tintagel Castle, Dartmoor, Tintern Abbey, the shop of the Tailor of Gloucester, and lots of other fascinating things, which I hope to be writing posts about in coming weeks….

(6) BARROWMAN BRANCHING OUT. SciFiNow has big news for his fans: “John Barrowman Signs Multi-Show Deal at the CW”.

Malcolm Merlyn will pop up in all of The CW’s shows

It certainly seems as though The CW is doing its best to bring their various shows together. Now that Supergirlis officially part of the Network’s small-screen superhero universe, much of the buzz surrounding the upcoming new seasons has centred around crossovers – or the potential for them. To this end, the first seeds seem to have been sown, with John Barrowman (aka Malcolm Merlyn in Arrow) signing a multi-show deal at The CW.

Following in the footsteps of studio co-star Wentworth Miller (aka Leonard Snart/Captain Cold), the deal will in theory see him appear in CW stablemates The Flashand Legends Of Tomorrow, as well as new addition Supergirl. Quite how Barrowman will fit in remains to be seen, but we’re sure that whatever he has planned isn’t good. He has burned his bridges with pretty much every character he’s come across since debuting in Arrow’s first season, so it’ll be interesting to see how he bounces off his counterparts in other shows. We’re particularly intrigued to see an encounter with Supergirl‘s Maxwell Lord.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • July 12, 1923 – James E. Gunn,
  • July 12, 1912 — Joseph Mugnaini

(8) SCI-FI INK. Get yer Temporary Literary Tattoos. In the sf/f department they’ve got slogans from Peter S. Beagle, Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells and Franz Kafka.

(9) MONSTER HUNTER SEEKS COMPATIBLE DRAGON. Larry Correia is turning out the vote: “WRONGFANS UNITE! Only a week left to nominate for the Dragon Awards”. Remember, it’s not just Wrongfans who are allowed to vote – you can vote too!

This weekend I was at LibertyCon, and I ran into one of the organizers of the Dragon Awards. He said that he was kind of surprised that he hadn’t seen me talk about them online much. I told him that was because of Sad Puppies, I’m a controversial figure, there are just too many bitter harpies and poo flingers from fandom’s inbred pustulent under-choad who automatically flip out about anything I do, so I didn’t want to rock the boat for them.

But his response? Screw that. This award is for ALL FANS. And you have fans. So GO BUG THEM! We want so many people voting in this thing that no little clique or faction can sway it. The more fans involved, the better.

(10) IQ MARKET REPORT. Camestros Felapton was in another dogfight (well, Timothy wasn’t involved) with the Red Baron: “@voxday gets it wrong on IQ (again)”.

The other day Vox was disparaging about the value of scientific evidence. I’m not entirely sure if he is clear himself about what he means but when it comes to IQ he is happy to post anything that he feels supports his case.

This time, it is a pair of studies that point to a 4 point decline in IQ in France in a 9-10 year period. Vox quotes a second study that was an analysis of the first. This second study was an attempt to discern the cause of the decline by looking at the magnitude of the changes at a subtest level. This second paper concluded that the decline ‘likely has a primarily biological cause’. Vox declares it was due to immigration.

This is a very good example of studies that, while not necessarily wrong, aren’t really saying much at all. To see why you have to track back from Vox’s claim (immigrants somehow making whole countries less intelligent), to what the actual paper he quoted said, to the original paper that the second paper analysed and from there to what the actual original study was.

(11) BOKANOVSKY BLUES. Vox Day indignantly responded in “Wounded Gamma loses again”.

This behavior is so predictable that I not infrequently find myself able to correctly anticipate when a previously wounded Gamma is going to think he sees an opening and launch what I am coming to think of as a restorative rebuttal. However, I did not see this one coming; I did not think that Camestros Felapton was dumb enough to launch what is either his third or his fourth attempt to repair his delusion bubble since being so publicly humiliated about his lack of knowledge concerning rhetoric in Of Enthymemes and False Erudition. Apparently the sting of his repeated defeats at my hands has become more than he can bear, because he is really grasping at straws now.

Running out of brickbats to throw, Vox even resorted to sharing his score from an online vocabulary rating test.

Being a Phi (770) I couldn’t refuse the implicit challenge and rushed off to take the same quiz.

I got an identical score and wondered is that as high as it goes? I only had to guess once, so I either got a perfect score, or missed just one.

English Vocabulary Size

Vox Day shared notes. It seems we each missed one – the same one, in fact, both having got “avulse” wrong.

(12) MEANWHILE, BACK AT TIMOTHY THE TALKING CAT’S BLOG. Camestros followed up with “@voxday declares me beneath his consideration, again”.

“Considering that neither paper addresses the USA at all, it would be absolutely remarkable if either of them had.”

Sorry Vox but the first paper does discuss the USA – it is the second paper that doesn’t. Lynn & Dutton discuss the US saying “However, there remains the problem that phenotypic intelligence has continued to increase in recent years in the United States (Flynn, 2012, Table A11i, p.238), despite evidence for dysgenic fertility reviewed in Lynn (2011) and confirmed by Meisenberg (2014). This inconsistency remains one of a number of un- resolved problems.” and cite the gains in WISC-III and WISC-IV scores in table 1 (IQ gains in USA and Britain).

So, where the researchers find a decline it isn’t attributable to immigration because of the relatively small impact immigration could have and where immigration could have a larger impact the ‘declines’ are more ambiguous (or possibly rises).

Meanwhile, the brilliant counter-argument from Vox is him posting an estimate of his vocabulary size from a free internet quiz.

Heck yeah, who would fall for that?

(13) HORTON’S SHORT STORY RANKINGS. Rich Horton explains his ballot entries for the Hugo short story category – after pointing out only one of his real preferences made the final ballot.

So, only one story from this long list of stories I considered – less than I might have hoped. But easily explained – this is clearly the category Vox Day chose to make a mockery of. His nomination choices in the longer fiction categories (Novel, Novella, Novelette), were actually all readable stories, and some quite plausible Hugo nominees. That’s not at all the case in Short Story. And, indeed, the only good story on the list was only added after one of the original nominees withdrew.

(14) THE TRUTH WILL OUT. Adam Rakunas makes a big confession in “Writing Women Characters (Wait, Aren’t You A Dude?)” at SFFWorld.

Earlier this year at the Emerald City Comicon, I was on a panel with my fellow Angry Robot authors Peter Tieryas, Danielle Jensen, Patrick Tomlinson, and K.C. Alexander. As the panel wound down, K.C. turned to me and asked, “How do you write a realistic woman, being a male author?” I did the only sensible thing: I ducked under the table and curled up into a fetal ball.

Now, in my defense, it was the last panel of the last day of the con, and I’d been on my feet for most of that time. A question like this was one that required care and thoughtfulness, and I was in limited supply of both. If I gave any answer, I would not be doing K.C.’s question justice. Also: I am a gigantic wimp.

However, I’ve had a full night’s sleep and a bunch of tacos, so I feel comfortable and confident enough to say this: I fake it and hope I got it right.

It helps that I have a lot of kickass women in my life. I married a woman who grew up in four different countries, went overseas on her own to make her fortune, and now tells people who run companies how to act in a way that won’t make their shareholders panic (which, considering how fragile the economy is these days, is a really important job). Oh, and she also runs triathlons and skis black diamonds and scuba dives. I married an action hero, so it wasn’t too hard to write about one….

(15) EARTHSEA NEWS. From Suvudu, “Ursula K. Le Guin to Publish Two Story Collections and an Earthsea Omnibus with Simon & Schuster’s Saga Press”.

Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, announced today that it will publish two story collections and a special illustrated edition of the Earthsea novels with exclusive new material by legendary science fiction and fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin.

Titles publishing in Fall 2016 include The Found and the Lost, a group of novellas collected for the first time; and The Unreal and the Real, a selection of short stories. A boxed set of both collections will also be available.

For the first time, the complete novels and short stories of Earthsea will be compiled in one volume titled The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition. Stories will include the new, never-before-published in print Earthsea story “The Daughter of Odren,” along with the novels A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu, Tales from Earthsea, and The Other Wind, in addition to the stories “The Word of Unbinding” and “The Rule of Names.” This omnibus will also include a new introduction by Le Guin as well as the essay “Earthsea Revisioned.” With color and black-and-white illustrations by award-winning illustrator Charles Vess, The Books of Earthsea will publish in Fall 2018 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of A Wizard of Earthsea.

Bartimaeus sent this news with a note, “I’d like to add that ‘The Daughter of Odren’ isn’t a new story – it was e-published in 2014. Also, I’m particularly happy that they’re including all the shorts – this is the first time all 8 Earthsea shorts will be collected in one volume.” The eight stories are: “The Rule of Names” (1964), “The Word of Unbinding” (1964), the 5 shorts in Tales from Earthsea (1998 – 2001) and “The Daughter of Odren” (2014).

(16) ARITHMANCY FROM WIRED. Also courtesy of Bartimaeus: “Here’s How Fast Harry Potter’s Treasure Trap Would Kill You”.

Each item makes four copies of itself (so one item is now five). Each of these new items then also replicates making four more items. You might think this would be an awesome way to get rich, but the amount of items increases rapidly. I assume the goal is for the explosion of treasure to kill any potential robbers by drowning and crushing them.

You probably know what is going to happen next. I’m going to try to model this treasure replication trap. Yes, that’s what I will do.

The link comes with Bartimaeus’ comment – “But they seem to have forgotten that the coins burn you on touch, so you’d actually die sooner.”

[Thanks to Bartimaeus, Janice Gelb, Martin Morse Wooster, Robert Whitaker Sirignano, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John King Tarpinian.]