Pixel Scroll 7/26/17 Fifth File At Scrollory Towers

(1) CAPTAIN’S LOG. Actor John Barrowman had his appendix out the other day.

(2) MARCH. After a Saturday panel about the March comics, fans followed the history-making co-author in a re-enactment: io9 has the story — “Rep. John Lewis Leads March for Civil Rights Through Comic-Con”.

Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) was at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday discussing his award-winning graphic novel, March, which resulted in a real march for civil rights awareness.

After Lewis’ panel ended, he led a group of over 1,000 people through the San Diego Convention Center, with some shouting “No justice, no peace” as they marched past cosplayers and attendees. According to the Associated Press, Lewis made sure to stop and shake hands with people who recognized him as he passed.

(3) HELSINKI DINING TIPS. Worldcon 75 has posted its Restaurant Guide [PDF file].

Helsinki is currently undergoing a “fun dining” wave. It seems not a day goes by without a new street food restaurant being opened on one corner or another, from Mexican burrito shops to a boom of high-quality burger joints. At the same time, many Helsinki restaurateurs are opening casual fine dining restaurants, where the food is top-notch but the atmosphere is laid-back. Helsinki also has many restaurants with long histories and traditions…

(4) 2017 NASFiC REPORT. Evelyn Leeper’s NorthAmeriCon ’17 / NASFIC 2017 con report is online at Fanac.org.

This is a convention report for NorthAmeriCon ’17 (NASFIC 2017, and henceforth referred to as just NASFIC), held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, July 6-9, 2017, with a little bit of sightseeing thrown in (because a separate report would not be worthwhile).

It is with some trepidation I start this report. We had never attended a NASFIC before. For a long time we always went to Worldcon, and for the recent years where we skipped the overseas Worldcon, the NASFIC seemed like a misguided attempt to be a substitute. But a NASFIC in Puerto Rico was very appealing for a couple of reasons: I am half Puerto Rican, and we could take a tour of the Arecibo Telescope. And of course, I figured it was a chance to connect with authors and old friends and all that….

(5) THE GOOD, THE WEIRD, AND THE SCROLLY: Over at Featured Futures, Jason comments on the month in webzine fiction with a list of links to remarkable tales — “Summation of Online Fiction: July 2017”.

Aside from a two-part novella from Beneath Ceaseless Skies (which was just a flash away from counting as a novel), July was a relatively light month in the webzine world. The number of noteworthy stories is also light, but Clarkesworld continued its resurgence with a July issue that was probably even better overall than the June (though each had a standout story), Ellen Datlow picked another for Tor.com, and some other zines also contributed particularly good work.

(6) HITTING THE TARGET. Having seen some make the wrong choice, Sarah A. Hoyt advises indie authors to find “The Right Slot” – to be sure they’re marketing their work in its proper genre. In her latest column for Mad Genius Club she takes a cut at defining several genres, beginning with fantasy.

The SUBJECT determines genre.  A non exhaustive list of genres and subgenres and subjects (this is off the top of my head and I’ll miss some.  If you guys want an exhaustive list it will take a long time.)

Fantasy – Anything that is technically impossible in our reality, by our physical rules, including but not limited to supernatural beings, all the creatures of Tolkien, etc.  Often draws on the myths and legends of mankind.

Has subgenres: High Fantasy – Tolkien-like.  Also often known as heroic fantasy.

Alternate history – usually where magic works, but still related to our world.

Urban fantasy, which might of might not be a subgenre of alternate history.  It’s not just “fantasy in a city.”  Although both F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack and Larry Correia’s monster hunters are technically urban fantasy, as is my Shifter series, it would be more honest to call it “contemporary fantasy.”

Urban fantasy has a structure added to the theme and location, and that often involves a young woman with powers, a love interest on the dark side, etc.  Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Paranormal Romance – Like Urban Fantasy but way more in the romance and sex side.  In fact, it’s more a subgenre of romance, really.

(7) SF WORTH WAITING FOR. T.W. O’Brien declares “The Future Library Is a Vote of Confidence Humanity Will Make It to 2114” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

The work of Scottish artist Katie Paterson is nothing as mundane as oil on canvas or carved marble. Her works includes  Timepieces—nine clocks showing the time on the planets of our solar system, plus the Earth’s moon (Pluto still loses out); Fossil Necklace—170 beads carved from fossils, each representing a major event in the 3 billion year history of life on Earth; and Campo del Cielo, Field of Sky—a 4.5 billion year old meteorite, melted then recast into a replica of its original form, and finally returned to space by the European Space Agency.

In May 2014, Paterson planted 1000 Norwegian spruce trees in a forest north of Oslo, Norway. The plan is to harvest them in 2114 for paper to print a limited edition anthology of books. Each year, starting in 2014, an author was to be invited to write a book for Paterson’s project, Future Library; he or she will have one year to complete the work, which then won’t be read  until well after the turn of the next century. 

The completed manuscripts will be kept in a specially designed room on the fifth floor of the New Deichmanske Library in Oslo. The authors’ names and the book titles will be on display, but the manuscripts themselves will be unread until the anthology is published in 2114.

(8) THE ELVISH SPECTRUM.

Key: First row vertical: Hugo Weaving, Lee Pace, Cate Blanchett from The Hobbit as Elrond, Thranduil, and Galadriel. Second row vertical: Marvel: Red Skull (Captain America: The First Avenger), Ronan the Accuser (Guardians of the Galaxy), Hela (Thor: Ragnarok)

(9) JORDIN KARE. Paul Gilster mourns the astrophysicist and filker in two excellent posts at Centauri Dreams, “Remembering Jordin Kare (1956-2017)”, and “SailBeam: A Conversation with Jordin Kare”.

Looking around on the Net for background information about Jordin Kare, who died last week at age 60 (see yesterday’s post), I realized how little is available on his SailBeam concept, described yesterday. SailBeam accelerates myriads of micro-sails and turns them into a plasma when they reach a departing starship, giving it the propulsion to reach one-tenth of lightspeed. Think of it as a cross between the ‘pellet propulsion’ ideas of Cliff Singer and the MagOrion concept explored by Dana Andrews.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born July 26, 1894 – Aldous Huxley
  • Born July 26, 1928 – Stanley Kubrick

(11) A LIST TOP DC MOVIES. Io9 gives you “All 28 DC Animated Original Movies, Ranked”. Why isn’t the new Wonder Woman movie #1? Because, like the title says, this is a list of their animated movies. Cancel the heart attacks…

This list contains the 28 DC Animated Original movies released so far, ranked from worst to best on the quality of their story, characters, and adaptation of the source material….

(12) STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST. Wil Wheaton heartily endorses

Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon, is essential reading for all artists.

It’s a quick read that you can finish in one sitting, but the ideas and advice it contains will stay with you long after you’ve put it down. Some of Austin’s suggestions will validate what you’re already doing, some will challenge you to fundamentally change a creative practice, others will inspire you to grab a notebook and get to work immediately.

Because it’s such a small and accessible book, you’ll want to go back to it from time to time. Just like Stephen King’s On Writing, as you change and grow as an artist, it reveals new ideas and inspirations to you that you may have missed on a previous read.

This is a fantastic addition to your library, and a wonderful gift for any creative person in your life.

(13) WIELD THE POWER. I can’t possibly resist reading an item headlined “Wow, the Iron Throne Makes an Excellent Phone Charger!” – at Tor.com.

YouTube crafters Natural Nerd have a new video up showing viewers how to make their own custom Iron Throne phone charger. It’s marvelously simple, and could make for a good starter project if you’re interested in exploring nerd crafts. Basically, make a throne out of blocks of wood, glue on a ton of cocktail swords, coat in metallic paint, and thread in the charger cord, and you’re there!

(14) SUPERMAN WITH A ‘STACHE. Henry Cavill’s upper lip is a story: “Justice League’s telling reshoots involve Joss Whedon, more banter, absolutely no mustaches”.

Superman can do anything, it seems, but have a mustache. Or to be more accurate, it’s Henry Cavill’s mustache that’s reportedly causing some problems for Warner Bros.’ upcoming Justice League movie, which is due to be released on November 17 but is nonetheless currently undergoing extensive reshoots (which are generally filmed to fix or replace scenes that aren’t working). After initial filming on Justice League was complete, it seems that Cavill reasonably assumed he was done playing the smooth-jawed Man of Steel for a minute and grew out his facial hair for a part in the next Mission: Impossible movie. According to a new Variety report, however, Justice League is being retooled so much — with an assist from The Avengers’ Joss Whedon, no less, now that director Zack Snyder has stepped away from the project to cope with his daughter’s recent death — that Warner Bros. has agreed to just digitally remove Cavill’s mustache from any reshot Justice League scenes rather than lose any more time.

But Jon Bogdanove thinks it would make a great addition.

(15) MARVEL VALUE STAMPS. The publisher is bringing them back:

Who saved them? Who clipped them? Who collected them? This fall, the Marvel Universe returns to an untapped corner of its expansive history for MARVEL LEGACY with the return of the Marvel Value Stamps. Just as Marvel Legacy is bridging the past and the future of Marvel’s iconic universe, this nostalgia-based program is designed to excite new readers. Comic fans may remember these fondly, while new fans and the uninitiated will be able to enjoy them without destroying their prized possessions!

Inspired by the classic 1970’s program where different stamps could be clipped from the letters page of Marvel books, fans will be able to collect stamps featuring all their favorite Marvel characters. These stamps will be on inserts within the regular cover editions for all first issue Marvel Legacy titles, beginning with titles debuting in October. And a proper homage to these collectible stamps wouldn’t be complete without a collectible stamp album – to be revealed!

(16) THE OLDS. At Galactic Journey, Victoria Silverwolf leads into her review of the latest (August 1962) issue of Fantastic with a survey of the news — “[July 26, 1962] The Long and Short of It (August 1962 Fantastic)”.

…AT&T launched Telstar, the first commercial communications satellite (which we’ll be covering in the next article!)

The world of literature suffered a major loss with the death of Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner.

In Los Angeles, young artist Andy Warhol exhibited a work consisting of thirty-two paintings of cans of Campbell’s Soup….

(17) GAZE INTO THE FUTURE. And don’t forget to sign up for Galactic Journey Tele-Conference #2, happening Saturday, July 29, where they’ll present their predictions for the 1962 Hugo Science Fiction Awards.

(18) THE PLAY’S THE THING. A local community theater in Urbana, IL is staging Jordan Harrison’s 2014 play Marjorie Prime, recently produced as a movie. It runs July 27-August 12. An interview with the director is here. Get tickets here.

Marjorie Prime, written by Jordan Harrison and directed for the Station by Mathew Green, is a near-future play where technology has gone just a little farther than today. In the show, Tess is caring for her elderly mother, and Tess’ husband Jon advocates for the use of an artificial intelligence companion called a “Prime”. Primes are designed to help a particular person, in this case Marjorie, record and retain their memories, often taking the form of someone close to the subject.

(19) LIFE UNPLUGGED. Gareth D. Jones discusses “The Real Town Murders by Adam Roberts (book review)” at SF Crowsnest.

….One of the consequences of Alma’s divorce from the on-line Real Town is that she can no longer check references and definitions and she quickly realises that everyone’s speech is littered with literary and historical references. This makes an interesting game for the reader, too, attempting to parse and divine all of the little jokes and quotes that Adam Roberts has thrown in along the way. To add to the interest, characters who spend much of their time on-line find real-life speech difficult so that several conversations consist of stammering and stuttering and the breaking of words into individual syllables replaced with homophonous single-syllable words. It’s quite fun to follow the convoluted and sometimes rambling speech.

The basic plot of the book follows Alma’s investigations into the miraculously-appearing dead body, with a secondary investigation into a mysteriously skinny man…..

(20) A BOY CALLED PERCY. At Black Gate, Derek Kunsken tells when he learned the true theme of a famous YA series: “Crappy Parents All Around: A Look At Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson Series”

…Eventually, I recommended it to a friend for his kids, who were complaining about their road-tripping. When my friend got back, he thanked me for the rec and said “It’s all about shitty parents.”

For some reason, I hadn’t clued into this as the theme. Perhaps I’d taken it as straight-on adventure. Maybe I hadn’t considered how lucky I am to have the parents and extended family I did. Then it occurred to me what a giant strategic advantage it was to Riordan to have linked crappy parents to the Greek myths.

Percy is of course pretty miffed at times about having Poseidon essentially be a dead-beat dad whom he doesn’t meet until he’s twelve and who really doesn’t meaningfully interact with him even after that. He has a crappy step-dad to boot, but he’s not the only one with parental issues….

(21) IN VINO. Martin Morse Wooster has sent File 770 lots of beer label stories. Now he tries to even the score by reporting that Australian wine lovers can enjoy Some Young Punks‘ vintage “Monsters Monsters Attack!”

A full 750ml of Monster Mayhem bottled up for far too long breaks and takes over the unsuspecting city. Trixie and Tessa’s middle names are danger and adventure but is the maelstrom released by the raging beast too fierce to be calmed by their charms? Will they arrive in time or will a deadly rage be realised.

Variety / Vintage     2015 Clare Valley Riesling

Vineyards     We sourced fruit from two sites in the Clare Valley; Mocundunda and Milburn. All the fruit was whole bunch pressed before fermentation in a mixture of stainless and neutral oak by a mixture of cultured and indigenous yeast. Post ferment the wine is merely stabbed and filtered prior to bottling.

(22) ONCE TOO OFTEN. Adam-Troy Castro files a grievance: “’What if I Told You’ There Was Another Way to Impart Exposition?”

Thing that I am getting awfully sick of, in dramatic presentations of sf/fantasy works.

Honestly, if I ever see this again, it will be too soon.

The exposition-sentence that begins with, “What if I told you–”

Usually followed by something that sounds batshit insane to the person who’s been living a normal life until that moment.

I first became aware of this with Laurence Fishburne in THE MATRIX, but it has become the go-to form, and I just saw it with the trailer for the new TV series, THE INHUMANS. I think but cannot be sure that it was in DOCTOR STRANGE too. But it’s certainly all over the place….

(23) YOU COULD ALWAYS TRY THE AUTOGRAPH LINE. Here are the places George R.R. Martin will not be signing at Worldcon 75:

For those of you who want books signed, please, bring them to one of my two listed autograph sessions. I will NOT be signing before or after panels, at parties, during lunch or breakfast or dinner, at the urinal, in the elevator, on the street, in the hall. ONLY at the autograph table. If the lines are as long as they usually are, I’ll only be signing one book per person.

You can also find his programming schedule at the link.

(24) LAUGH WARS. Martin Morse Wooster says Star Wars Supercuts:  Parodies of The Trench Run is “a really funny four-minute mashup from IMDB of lots of parodies of the Death Star Trench Run. I particularly liked the Family Guy bit where Red Leader is followed by Redd Foxx, Red Buttons, and Big Red chewing gum…”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Jason, Evelyn Leeper, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Jim Meadows, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]

Pixel Scroll 7/17/17 All Along The Scrolltower Pixels Kept The View

(1) BY PIXEL AND PAPER. The Dublin in 2019 Worldcon bid tells what its publications policy will be for PR’s and the Souvenir Book.

So what should we do about our progress reports?

I note that for some people this is an access issue, and therefore, we will be having hard copies available for anyone who selects them as an access issue. To be clear, Progress Reports are complimentary and we’d like to send them to anyone who needs them for an access issue. Just tick the box please.

We will be sending them out electronically of course if you allow us to.

I noted that some people still liked them, as a historical document or just because they enjoy reading hard copy, and that is very cool, and the Dublin 2019 team will be making sure that anyone who wants a hard copy progress report can get one. There will be a charge of €10 Ten Euro for this.

I hope all of you are OK with this decision and support us in it.

This does not affect our plans for our Souvenir book which we plan to offer in hard copy to all members, full and supporting, and which we are happy to mail to anyone who doesn’t pick it up at con.

(2) HELP PABLO GO THE DISTANCE. Leigh Ann Hildebrand has launched a Generosity.com appeal to send Pablo Vasquez to Helsinki for Worldcon 75. The goal is $1,100. Here’s the pitch:

Bringing NASFiC to San Juan, Puerto Rico was great thing — and one of the prime movers behind that successful bid and con has been Pablo Vazquez. I was really looking forward to congratulating Pablo at the con in Helsinki and to hearing all about that NASFiC.

And then Pablo told me he wouldn’t be joining fans in Helsinki this year.

Money’s tight for Pablo; he’s been prioritizing travel and preparations for this historic and awesome NASFiC. Now he finds himself short of funds for his last travel expenses. He’s got accommodations and a membership covered, but his fixed-cost airfare and incidental expenses are beyond his means this summer.

This is where my fellow fans come in. Help me get Pablo to Helsinki! Here’s what he needs:

$600 for the air fare (it’s a fixed cost, ’cause he knows a guy.)

$500 for food, travel incidentals, walkin’ around money and buying a round. That may seem like a lot, but food in Finland is not cheap, and there’s no con suite this year, so he can’t live on Doritos and free sodas. 🙂

(3) SFF FILM FESTIVAL. Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in partnership with SIFF is now accepting entries for the 2018 Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival (SFFSFF).

The festival will accept animated or live-action submissions of original science fiction or fantasy stories (examples: futuristic stories, space adventure, technological speculation, social experiments, utopia and dystopia, sword and sorcery, folklore, urban fantasy, magic, and mythic adventure).

A nationally recognized panel of distinguished film, television, literature, and science fiction industry professionals, peers, and film critics will review qualifying submissions to determine the winners of the Grand Prize, Second Place, Third Place, and the Douglas Trumbull Award for Best Visual Effects. Festival films will also be eligible for the Audience Favorite award.

In order to qualify, submitted films must have been completed after December 31, 2012, and must not exceed 15 minutes. Films that exceed 15 minutes may still be considered for festival inclusion but will not be eligible for awards.

See the link for guidelines, deadlines and fees.

(5) WHAT ARE THEY WATCHING? Adam-Troy Castro sighed on Facebook:

Over the past few years I have encountered Harry Potter fans who were abusive bullies, Star Trek fans who were against diversity, and now Doctor Who fans who were close-minded and unkind.

It’s like none of them were paying any attention at all.

I am looking forward to the emergence of Batman fans who are in favor of crime.

Since the targets of Castro’s comment might miss the point, Matthew M. Foster restated the message more explicitly:

The second is that people don’t see theme. SF is about space ships and explosions. Fantasy is about swords. The actual thing trying to be conveyed is missed far more often than not. The light was brought to this in a “funny” way to our little lit community by Brad and the Pups a few years back when Star Trek was pointed out to be first and foremost, about adventure and action–about combat in space. From the same group, there was a great deal of discussion in which they confused the theme with something incidental to the story because the incidental thing was not part of their normal life. So, if a story happened to have someone gay in it, then the story must be about sexual preference. If the story had a Black lead, then the theme must be about race. These are people that are big fans of science fiction, and they couldn’t see the themes.

(6) MAD PENIUS CLUB. And right on time, here’s Dave Freer’s death-kiss for the Thirteenth Doctor.

The trouble with this is it’s a judgement call, and especially inside the various bubbles (New York Publishing, Hollywood, and in the UK the Beeb’s little Guardian-and-Birkenstock club) they’re often so distant and unconnected with audiences outside their bubble that they assume they think like them and will respond like them. Which is why they have flops like the Ghostbusters remake, because they assumed the audience for the movie was just dying for a feminist version, with lots of man-kicking. Dr Who is trying much the same thing with a female Doctor. It could work because that audience is already pretty much restricted to inside their bubble. Still, with a new writer, and female lead after 12 male ones… She’ll have to be a good actress, and he’ll have to be a better writer. I expect we’ll see a long sequence of designated victim minorities cast in the role in future, until the show dies. I doubt we’ll ever see another white hetero male, but maybe that’s just me being cynical.

(7) HEADWRITER CANON. Prospect’s James Cooray Smith declares: “Uncomfortable with a female Doctor Who? It’s time to admit your real motives”.

…Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s Executive Producer from 2010 to 2017, used to make a habit, when asked if there was ever going to be a female Doctor, of throwing the question back to the audience. He’d ask for a show of hands as to who did and didn’t like the idea. Even half a decade ago, those audiences would be roughly balanced into pros and antis—although, as he noted, the proportion of “likes” was exponentially increasing every time he passed the question back.

In the last few years, the idea has gone from almost universally disliked to “Why hasn’t this happened already?”

Laying the canonical foundations

Moffat has played no small part in that himself. The first lines of dialogue given to Matt Smith’s Doctor, the first lines of Moffat’s era, see the newly regenerated Doctor, who cannot see his own face, wondering if he’s now female. A year later in “The Doctor’s Wife,” produced by Moffat and written by Neil Gaiman, the Doctor comments of a dead Time Lord friend The Corsair, “He didn’t feel himself unless he had a tattoo. Or herself, a couple of times”.

Three years after that, Moffat cast Michelle Gomez as ‘Missy’, the Doctor’s oldest friend and arch enemy, a character previously only played by male actors and usually referred to as the Master. A year after that—just to make sure that no one regarded Missy as an exception that proves the rule—Moffat had Ken Bones’ recurring Time Lord character The General regenerate into T’Nia Miller, changing sex and ethnicity simultaneously. Other Time Lords in the series treated this as momentarily distracting but thoroughly routine.

It now seems daft to say that such groundwork needed to be done: after all, the character of the doctor is an alien who merely looks human. But the series itself had never hinted that the idea was possible before 2010. Now, any viewer who has seen an episode with Missy in knows the Doctor’s own people can, and do, change sex. No one can pretend the idea isn’t part of the series, no matter how much they may want to. Moffat’s careful layering over years shows up any objections to the series having a female lead for what they are.

(8) NEVERTHELESS. Alison Scott has a shirt she would love to sell you. I bought one for my daughter. (U.K. orders here; U.S. orders here.)

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 17, 1955 — Disneyland Park opened in Anaheim, California
  • July 17, 1967 — Contact with Surveyor 4 lost 2.5 minutes before Moon touchdown.
  • July 17, 1987 Robocop, released on this day
  • July 17, 1988 – Debut of the sci-fi telefilm Out of Time…starring Bill Maher…yes that Bill Maher.
  • July 17, 1992 — Honey, I Blew Up The Kid in theaters.

(10) COMIC SECTION. Andrew Porter noticed Zippy the Pinhead mentioned d Emshwiller.

(11) READING PLEASURE. Look for the SF pulps! Photos of old newsstands.

(12) ADAM WEST REMEMBERED. “Family Guy pays tribute to Adam West with nine-minute highlight reel” – from Entertainment Weekly.

As famous as he was for playing Batman — and he was very famous for that — Adam West was also known to another generation of fans for his wacky work on Family Guy. The late actor, who popped up and scored in more than 100 episodes as Mayor Adam West, left a colorful, indelible imprint on the animated Fox comedy — as well as on its producers and fans.

 

(13) WORLDCON PROGRAM. Worldcon 75 put its draft program schedule online today.

There are three ways to view the programme schedule DRAFT:

(14) HAUNTED HELSINKI. Adrienne Foster has arranged a “Ghost walking tour of Helsinki” for the convenience of Worldcon 75 members. It will be an English-speaking tour at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, 9 August 2017.

Once again, those interested in reserving a spot on the tour need to be a member of Meetup.com and join Bay Area Ghost Hunters. Joining is free on both counts, but the fee for the ghost walk is to cover the cost of the tour operator. Yes, it was deliberate putting the “prere…gistration” fee in U.S. dollars and the “at-the-door” cost in euros.

As the 75th World Science Fiction Convention (aka Worldcon 75) rolls around again, it gives me another opportunity to arrange a ghost walk of its host city, Helsinki. Yes, that’s in Finland. Ghost walks are one of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling and it’s always a lot more fun to do them with like-minded companions. To make it even more attractive to the many members who don’t speak Finnish, the tour operator has an English-speaking tour available.

Although this has been timed for the convenience of Worldcon 75 members, all BAGH members are welcome to participate. If anyone just happens to have coinciding travel plans to Helsinki, please join us.

In addition to ghost stories, guests on these tours learn a lot about the history of the locale, particularly some of its macabre past. It even starts at a hotel that is a converted prison.

(15) MINGLE LIKE TINGLE. Is this going to be an “I am Spartacus” kind of thing?

(16) AUREALIS AWARDS. The 2017 Aurealis Awards are now open for nominations. Eligible works must be created by an Australian citizen, or permanent resident, and published for the first time this year.

(17) VENUS AND MARS. David D. Levine’s second novel, Arabella and the Battle of Venus, sequel to the Andre Norton Award winning Arabella of Mars, comes out this week.

The thrilling adventures of Arabella Ashby continue in Arabella and the Battle of Venus, the second book in Hugo-winning author David D. Levine’s swashbuckling sci-fi, alternate history series!

Arabella’s wedding plans to marry Captain Singh of the Honorable Mars Trading Company are interrupted when her fiancé is captured by the French and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on swampy Venus. Now, Arabella must find passage to an enemy-controlled planet in the middle of a war, bribe or fight her way past vicious guards, and rescue her Captain.

To do this she must enlist the help of the dashing privateer, Daniel Fox of the Touchstone and build her own clockwork navigational automaton in order to get to Venus before the dread French general, Joseph Fouché, the Executioner of Lyon.

Once on Venus, Arabella, Singh, and Fox soon discover that Napoleon has designed a secret weapon, one that could subjugate the entire solar system if they can’t discover a way to stop Fouché, and the entire French army, from completing their emperor’s mandate.

Levine will be doing a book tour:

He is currently drafting the final book in the trilogy, currently titled Arabella and the Winds of Phobos but may end up being called Arabella the Traitor of Mars.

(18) NEWCOMERS TO THE HEARTH. Fireside Fiction is undergoing a change of management, with Brian J. White stepping down. Pablo Defendini is taking over as publisher and Elsa Sjunneson-Henry as managing editor. Julia Rios and Mikki Kendall are also joining the team.

White is leaving to focus on his work as a journalist.

As many of you know, I work at a newspaper. And that work has been consuming more and more of my time lately, with both the volume and the importance of the news rising in a way we’ve never experienced in this country. And it comes alongside a level of furious, violent antipathy toward the press that is somehow both wildly shocking and banally predictable.

Fireside has been the labor of love of my life, and it kills me to step away. But I am a journalist, first and always, and I need to focus my energy on the work we are doing. A lot of people have made fun of the earnestness of the Washington Post’s Democracy Dies in Darkness slogan, but it is true, and I won’t let the light go out.

Mikki Kendall has been signed on as editor to lead the follow-up to last year’s #BlackSpecFic report, which White says will be out soon. [Hat tip to Earl Grey Loose-leaf Links #43.]

(19) THE COOLEST. Arthur C. Clarke would be proud, as the search for extra-terrestrial life turns to ice worlds.

Chris McKay has fallen out of love with Mars. The red, dusty, corroded world no longer holds the allure it once did.

“I was obsessed with life on Mars for many years,” confesses the Nasa planetary scientist, who has spent most of his career searching for signs of life on the red planet.

“It’s seduction at the highest level,” he says. “I’m abandoning my first love and going after this other one that’s shown me what I wanted to see.”

The new object of McKay’s affections is Enceladus, the ice-encrusted moon of Saturn. Investigated by the joint Nasa and European Space Agency (Esa) Cassini space probe, the moon is spewing out plumes of water from its south pole – most likely from a liquid ocean several kilometres beneath the surface. Cassini has found this water contains all the vital ingredients for life as we know it: carbon, nitrogen and a readily available source of energy in the form of hydrogen.

“I think this is it,” says McKay. “From an astrobiology point of view, this is the most interesting story.”

(20) SO BAD IT’S GOOD. Marshall Ryan Maresca extols the antique virtues of the 1980s movie: “ELECTRIC DREAMS: A Bad Movie I’ve Watched Many, Many, MANY Times”.

The Eighties got a lot of mileage out of the idea that computers were magic.  I mean, the fundamental principle of Weird Science is that Wyatt has, like, a 386 with a 14.4 modem and a scanner, which he can connect to the Pentagon and make a goddamn genie with it.  Most Hollywood movies today still let computers be magical, but not to the same degree.  And few movies go as full out crazy with the idea as Electric Dreams.

For those not in the know, Electric Dreams is a relatively small, simple movie, in which an architect named Miles (he might be an engineer—something to do with buildings) lives in the downstairs part of a duplex, below gorgeous cellist Virginia Madsen.  And he gets himself a computer so he can design an earthquake brick.  So far, all normal.

It turns into a love triangle with Wyatt and a sentient PC as rivals.

(21) THE LATTER DAY LAFFERTY. Adri’s Book Reviews praises “Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty”.

As in any good mystery, it soon becomes clear that there are shady things lurking in the past of each and every crew member, as well as the traditional untrustworthy AI. Six Wakes builds its narrative through an omniscient third person narrator which switches between character viewpoints, as well as flashbacks to the crews’ lives in the lead up to being selected for the ship. Each crew member knows the others have volunteered for the mission because they are convicted criminals who will be pardoned upon arrival, but they have been told their crimes must remain confidential. From the ship’s doctor who was one of the original people cloned when the technology began, to the AI tech who has been on the verge of a breakdown since waking, to the shady machinations of the captain and the security officer, Six Wakes uses a small cast to great effect, with the world of the clones coming across as claustrophobic and restrictive even in background chapters set on Earth, thanks to both the Codicls as well as the inequalities and power struggles that arise from a society of functionally immortal beings. Six Wakes’ characters aren’t likeable in a traditional sense but I found them generally sympathetic, and the backgrounds go a long way towards making that balance work.

(22) A BOY AND HIS HORSE. The British Museum blog asks “The Dothraki and the Scythians: a game of clones?”

The Dothraki in Game of Thrones are represented as feared and ferocious warriors. Jorah Mormont describes their culture as one that values power and follows strength above all, and there is no greater way to demonstrate power and strength according to the Dothraki than through war. Like their fictional counterparts, the Scythians were pretty terrifying in battle. The Greek historian Herodotus writes that Scythians drank the blood of the men they killed and kept their scalps as trophies and skulls as drinking cups. While we should probably take Herodotus with a pinch of salt, by all accounts they were pretty brutal! The Dothraki also like decapitating their defeated enemies – guards known as the jaqqa rhan, or mercy men, use heavy axes to do this.

The Scythians and the Dothraki fight on horseback and are excellent archers. They both use curved (or composite) bows to maximise the range and the damage of their arrows. As Jorah Mormont says of the Dothraki, ‘they are better riders than any knight, utterly fearless, and their bows outrange ours.’

(23) THE NEXT STAGE. The Verge has learned that “The Twilight Zone is being adapted into a stage play” in London.

The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling’s landmark sci-fi anthology series about technological paranoia, creeping dread in 1960s America, and monsters and weirdos of all sorts, will be adapted as a stage play, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed this morning.

The play will debut in a limited run at London’s Almeida Theatre this December, with a script from Anne Washburn. Washburn’s best-known play is her 2012 Off-Broadway work Mr. Burns, which is about a traveling theater troupe in post-apocalyptic America that performs episodes of The Simpsons from memory. The play will be directed by Olivier-winner Richard Jones, who is best known for the 1990 London run of Sondheim’s Into the Woods, as well as the short-lived 1997 Titanic musical on Broadway, and has also directed several operas and Shakespeare productions.

(24) LIADEN UPDATE. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s 81st joint project — Due Diligence (Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Book 24) – was released July 10. The pair was also recently profiled by Maine’s statewide newspaper the Portland Press Herald“Welcome to the universe of Maine writers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller”.

For Maine writers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, all it took to launch a brand-new universe was a single sentence.

The opening line for what would become “Agent of Change,” the inaugural volume of their Liaden Universe space opera series, was “The man who was not Terrence O’Grady had come quietly.”

It’s not quite “Call me Ishmael,” but something about typing those 10 words back in 1984 made Lee say to her husband, “I have a novel here.” And there was sufficient inspiration on the page for Miller to say, “I’m sorry, but I think you have a series.”

Both were right. Reached by phone at their Maine coon cat-friendly home in Winslow, surrounded by oil paintings, prints, book cover and other science fiction and fantasy artwork, Miller remembered, “We sat down that night and fleshed out the basic idea for the first seven books.” Four years later, in 1988, their collaborative debut was published in paperback by DelRey.

Since then, Lee, 64, and Miller, 66, have published 20 Liaden Universe novels and nearly five dozen related short stories. Baen Books published their latest hardcover novel, “The Gathering Edge,” in May.

.And they’ll be Guests of Honor at ConFluence from August 4-6.

(25) YOU WOULD BE RIGHT.

(26) PLASTIC IS NOT FANTASTIC. Jewish Business News has the story behind the commercial: “Mayim Bialik and Hodor From ‘Game of Thrones’ In New SodaStream’s Funny Viral Video”.

Following Jewish celebrity Scarlett Johansson’s campaign for the Israeli beverage company SodaStream, the Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik is the new face proudly representing the company new campaign in a Viral Video.

Features Mayim Bialik as an anthropologist, recalling her first encounter with the Homo-schlepien played by Kristian Nairn known as Hodor from “Game of Thrones.” The story reflects the devastating effect of single-use plastic bottles on Humanity. A habit that is hazardous to Earth and no longer exist in the future.

In this funny story, the Museum of UnNatural History features encounters between Mayim and the last tribe of plastic dependent species, the Homo-schlepien.

The shooting of the campaign was brought forward while Bialik had to rest her vocal chords for one month due to a medical advice. “This campaign has a powerful message and one that needed to be told before I went on vocal rest,” said Mayim Bialik.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Bill, Steve Miller, David Levine, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 6/19/17 Have Scroll, Will Pixel Reads The File Of A Man

(1) DISCOVERY PREMIERE SET. SciFiNow.uk has the headline story: “Star Trek: Discovery air date confirmed, beaming down in September”.

The show will launch on Monday 25 September. Which is actually not that far away when you think about it, we can be patient.

Another important detail is that the 15 episode series is going to be split into two chunks. So we’ll get weekly episodes from 25 September through to 6 November. Then there will be a break until it returns in January 2018. So, there will be more patience required, but not too much.

“Star Trek, one of the most iconic and influential global television franchises, returns 50 years after it first premiered with STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. STAR TREK: DISCOVERY will follow the voyages of Starfleet on their missions to discover new worlds and new lifeforms, and one Starfleet officer who must learn that to truly understand all things alien, you must first understand yourself. The series will feature a new ship, new characters and new missions, while embracing the same ideology and hope for the future that inspired a generation of dreamers and doers.”

(2) ON AN EVEN KEEL.  Adam-Troy Castro makes an important point about keeping things in perspective: “I Am Not Owed Awe”.

There’s a scene during the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon, the same work that introduced Hannibal Lecter, filmed twice for the movies and once for the TV series, where the serial killer known as the Tooth Fairy tells a captive, “You owe me awe.” This is megalomania, and one way you know the speaker is fucking crazy.

Nobody except a madman or a total asshole thinks he’s owed awe. Oh, you can make a certain exception to someone who occupies a position where awe is expected: a President, a Pope, a King, a legendary musician. In many cases, though, even they know that they receive awe because of what they are, not so much because of who they are. Get elected President, and even if you’re a total piece of shit you will expect to be greeted by orchestras playing “Hail to the Chief.” It’s part of the job description. Write Game of Thrones and you will receive awe because people are rapt. But that is not awe for you, the being who took a shit and didn’t quite manage to fully clean his ass this morning. You are still a flawed being.

Artists can earn awe. Artists can come to expect awe. The sane don’t think they’re owed awe. And the sane don’t get upset, to the point of rallying legions of single-minded asshole fans, to run amuck harassing people for the sin of not treating them with awe. That’s crazy. That’s tunnel-vision of the most insipid sort.

I am not owed awe. You are not owed awe. Nobody is owed awe.

(3) SF COSTUMING FANHISTORY. The International Costumers Guild has released a video about 16 People Who Defined Masquerade Costuming.

These artists helped to shape the art of Masquerade Costuming, which has been recognized as a legitimate art form by 4 English speaking countries and Japan as of 2014. The images are being collected for preservation by the Library of Congress.

 

(4) BOLLYHORRORWOOD. The BBC begins with some contrarian career advice in “The benign menace of Bollywood’s cult ‘monster'”.

“Don’t do a horror film unless you’re the monster. Horror audiences come to see the villains, and they come back again when those villains are in the sequels,” wrote The Economist magazine, listing things an actor should never do.

In India, many of the best-known Indian “villains” got into cinema hoping to be the hero. Things didn’t go to plan and they spent their screen-time plotting fantastic heists and murders, eyeing the heroine and getting beaten up. With some notable exceptions, like Vinod Khanna and Shatrughan Sinha – villains turned heroes – this was the norm.

What about monsters then?

In India, the movie monster became a staple of horror films made by a group of brothers called, simply, the Ramsay Brothers. Five of the seven brothers are still around, and one of them, Shyam, is still quite active.

Between 1972, when they made their first proper movie Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche, literally “six-feet under”, and 1994, when they made their last big movie, Mahakaal, the Ramsay brothers churned out movie after B-grade horror movie.

(5) LEIGHTON OBIT. Fanzine fan Rodney Leighton (1948-2017) died June 18. The SF Site News story says the Nova Scotia fan stayed with paperzines to the end. His titles included Life of Rodney, The Mail Carrier Brought It, and Rodney’s Fanac. His friends Steve George, and later Chuck Connor, put scans of these zines on eFanzines so he’d have some feedback from readers on the internet.

(6) BILL DANA OBIT. Comedian Bill Dana, famed for his Jose Jimenez character, died June 15 reports SF Site News. Dana was also a comedy writer – he created Don Adams’ “Would you believe…?” gags.

While Dana’s ethnic humor would not be accepted today, it was still in vogue sixty years ago. According to The Hollywood Reporter

The nation was introduced to Jimenez in a comedy sketch on [Steve] Allen’s variety show in November 1959. Struggling to speak English, Jimenez appeared in a Santa Claus outfit as an instructor at a school for wannabe Kris Kringles and interviewed by “Man on the Street” Pat Harrington Jr.

“I said, ‘My name … Jose Jimenez,’ and the [live] audience laughed,” Dana, a Massachusetts native of Hungarian-Jewish descent, recalled in a 2007 interview with the Archive of American Television. “I remember thinking, ‘This guy just said his name and everybody [went crazy] …’

…On Garry Moore’s variety program, Dana appeared as Jose the Astronaut, then recorded a comedy album with that material from a live show at the famed hungry i nightclub in San Francisco.

He sent a test pressing of the disc to the original seven Mercury astronauts — and they loved it. Alan Shepard took the code name “Jose,” and Jimenez became the astronauts’ “mascot,” Dana said. When they weren’t working, the pilots hung out at Dana’s house, and years later, he was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame. (Footage of him as Jimenez on The Ed Sullivan Show can be seen in the 1983 film The Right Stuff.)

…Though it seems hard to believe in this age of political correctness, Dana and his character were embraced by the Latino community. He was honored by the National Hispanic Media Coalition and worked, largely behind the scenes, as an activist. He gave up playing the character but later regretted that.

The José Jimenez character was also one of the figures who popped his head out the window watching Batman and Robin climb a building on Batman.

(7) TODAY’S DAY

Garfield the Cat Day

Garfield The Cat Day is celebrated annually on 19th June. The day is set aside to honor all things related to the ginger feline. Garfield was famously created by cartoonist Jim Davis and appeared in a cartoon strip on 19th June 1978. Garfield’s owner: Jon Arbuckle and his dog friend; Odie, also appear in the cartoon strip.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 19, 1958 — Wham-O filed to register Hula Hoop trademark
  • June 19, 1992 Batman Returns hit theaters.

Batman Returns, released June 19, 1992, featured less kid- friendly characters than its predecessor. Gone was Jack Nicholson’s The Joker, and in his place were the grotesque Penguin (Danny DeVito) and a sexy Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer), whose costume bore a striking resemblance to something that could be purchased at a BDSM shop.

These bold characters helped make the movie a classic, but also alienated corporations such as McDonald’s that had a newfound interest in the movie franchise business via promotional tie-ins – and complained loudly about the film’s darker tone.

(9) SINCE GAMERGATE. Keri Allan’s article “Fair play: How welcome are women in games design teams?”, in for Engineering & Technology, the on-line newsletter of the UK professional body, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, includes a quote from Brianna Wu and a mention of Rhianna Pratchett.

Sampat says it’s a mistake to believe that the furore of GamerGate ended sexism in the sector. “In a lot of ways it sucked being a female developer before GamerGate, and things are slowly getting worse because people treat ‘women in games’ as a solved problem – like GamerGate was a weird year-long blip and now sexism in our industry is gone. (But) the boots on the ground are still there being assholes to women.”

Having written about anonymous harassment of women in the industry during the height of GamerGate, Brianna Wu began to receive threats of her own. She believes there’s now a better sense of the issues out there, but policies aren’t necessarily changing in response. Feeling so strongly about equal treatment in the workplace, she’s now running for Congress.

“What makes me want to scream is that no one knows me for my engineering work, only my views on women’s equality. I’ve worked so hard to become an engineer, but the truth is you’re put in this impossible situation where you can smile, go along with the system and get fewer opportunities, or speak out and be put in this box. There’s a heightened awareness, but these congenital problems aren’t really solved. I believe women need to step up and run for office, and I hope to use my position to hold hearings on sexism in the tech industry.”

Other responses to GamerGate have included promoting the hashtag #OneReasonToBe. This was started by games narrative writer Rhianna Pratchett so women could share positive experiences about working in the industry and reasons why they love games. This has gone on to spawn a popular annual panel at the Games Developer Conference (GDC), highlighting great things the sector has to offer women.

(10) ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW. Catherynne M. Valente’s Refrigerator Monologues gets an 8/10 rating from Dina at SFF Book Reviews:

From the New York Times bestselling author Catherynne Valente comes a series of linked stories from the points of view of the wives and girlfriends of superheroes, female heroes, and anyone who’s ever been “refrigerated”: comic book women who are killed, raped, brainwashed, driven mad, disabled, or had their powers taken so that a male superhero’s storyline will progress….

Each gets to tell her story in turn and here’s where my love for this book begins. Because it may be fun figuring out which superhero you’re reading about, but it is even more fun how every woman tells her story in her own voice. Pretty Polly (the Harley Quinn of this universe) talks just like you’d imagine she would. Kind of sweet-ish and girly, with a fair bit of madness added to the mix. Blue Bayou sounds angry, Paige Embry is just totally endearing, and Julia Ash (whose villain’s is aptly named Retcon) felt kind of resigned. The voices always fit and the stories these women have to tell are engaging and intriguing for more than one reason. First of all, they’re just interesting stories. Secondly, they would have fit so beautifully into their respective universes – why isn’t there space in a Spider Man movie to show Gwen Stacy as more than just the hero’s girlfriend. She had a life before him and she had a life with him, just like all the others. Their demise was incredibly heartbreaking, although obviously we know from the start that they die and if you remember the original comic books how they die. To me, that’s just another sign of how amazing a writer Valente is. If you know what happens and how it happens, and all she does is give you a little background info, give the character who is about to die a little agency and personality, and it hits you deep in the guts anyway, then yeah… that’s a great writer!

(11) CYBERPUNK DAYS. Jesse at Speculiction looks back at Lewis Shiner’s 1984 novel Frontera.

As the title hints, Frontera is about a liminal zone.  Proverbially this would be between civilization and the wilds, but in the novel’s context, there are more specific terms.  One would certainly be between existent and breaking technology.  Another is locations possible to be inhabited by humanity; Mars can be altered for human life to survive, but it’s an unnatural existence.  And the last major frontier addressed is the personal.  Dislocated from home, the major characters on Mars all are dealing with existentialist angst.  Few, if any, live in a mental comfort zone.  Curtis, the colony leader, channels his uncertainty through rigid control in an attempt to mitigate his underlying fears.  Kane dreams wild dreams of Greek dramas by night and by day questions Pulsystems intents for him. (Given how strongly our solar system reflects contemporary civilization’s dependence on the Greeks, this is a nice parallel.)  Reese, the aging astronaut, can’t face up to certain realities, and takes comfort in drink.  And disaffected by the political scene, Marysia attempts to come to terms with her new life on Mars in balance with what she knew on Earth.

(12) STYLE MAVEN. Scott Edelman is preparing to make a fashion statement at the Worldcon.

(13) FROZEN DEITIES. Fantasy-Faction’s Laura M. Hughes praises The Blood-Tainted Winter by T.L. Greylock.

Speaking of gods: no doubt you’ll recognise a few of the names mentioned throughout this story. Odin, of course; Loki, too, as well as others such as Heimdall and the Valkyries. The Blood-Tainted Winter isn’t self-conscious of itself as a Norse fantasy, yet Raef’s tale evokes a vivid sense of place and time that thoroughly immerses the reader in a land of gods, battle and betrayal. Greylock doesn’t force the Norseness so much as nurture it, weaving familiar aspects of the mythology into the book in a way that doesn’t dominate or overshadow the story being told.

You could argue that the book’s beginning is a little too leisurely; however, I enjoyed having the opportunity to get to know the protagonist a little better – and to feel pleasantly surprised and intrigued when the following chapters have him reacting in a most unexpected manner. I will say that Greylock does a wonderful job of patiently unfolding the story through the eyes of its protagonist. Raef is distant and, at times, unfathomable (though not unlikeable), functioning more as a window onto events than as someone the reader can sympathise with or live vicariously through.

(14) EARL GREY TIME. Elizabeth Fitzgerald has her Australian National Convention report up – Continuum 13.

In keeping with the natures of the protagonists, Seanan had two different kinds of cake from Cake and Madness. One was a traditional cupcake with glittery frosting. And the other… well, the other was a bit disturbing.

Watching it be eaten was a little like finding myself in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.

She also has Storyfied the panels she livetweeted.

And to wrap up the night, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff discussed 1001 ways to die in space. They left the room crying with laughter, thanks to their morbid senses of humour.+

(15) BOTS. The BBC gets a JPL spokesman to tell about “Five robots that are changing everything”.

From robot simians that can clean up nuclear accidents, to powered exoskeletons that enable you to lift huge objects, robotic technologies are developing incredibly quickly. Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu, chief engineer at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, talks us through five robots that are changing the world.

(16) FUNNY COMMERCIAL. Sometimes people see an item and ask “Why’s that on File 770?” I have carefully searched this video without detecting any science fictional references. So when somebody asks that question, I am going to need to quickly change the subject.

Maybe I can change it with the help of an anecdote Cat Eldridge sent along with the link, about his own Coca-Cola experience.

True story. Well mostly. Once upon a time in a country where we had no intelligence assets I had a medical officer who insisted it was safer to drink coke than it was to drink the water, even the water hotels insisted had been boiled. This was the high octane stuff, full of real sugar. Drank at least three bottles a day while I was in country.

Now that the two female staffers who decided to mix and eat a salad and not soak it in iodine had a very unpleasant outcome when they discovered most explosively that it was grown in night soil… Need I tell you what night soil is? There’s a good reason the Viet Cong dipped their pungee sticks in it…

(17) NEW MEDIA CON. At VikingsCon, “Meet the cast of the History show Vikings”. They promise Amy Bailey (“Kwenthrith”) and Alexander Ludwig (“Bjorn”) will be on hand October 21-22 at the site in Maryland.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Bill Burns, Cat Eldridge, David K.M. Klaus, Lex Berman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 3/12/17 The Band Played Scrolling Matilda

(1) ALL WISDOM, Last October, The New Yorker’s Sheelah Kolhatkar interviewed Talmon Marco, CEO of Juno, a ride-hailing app that is trying to take business from Uber and Lyft by offering its drivers more pay and stock options.

When I asked Marco why he was so sure that Juno would still be around, he said, half jokingly, that he had acquired all the wisdom he needed by reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. “Oh, my God,” he said. “It’s the Bible.  Everything is there.”

…I asked Marco to share what he had learned from the book, and he hesitated.  “Now you’re really putting me on the spot,” he said.  After thinking for a few seconds, he went on, “It claims the math never works in a restaurant, which explains why the bill never adds up.” He wasn’t sure if that was still true, because, he said, he stopped looking at restaurant checks a long time ago — preemptively handing your credit card to the server saves the five minutes it takes to get the bill, look at it, and send it back with the payment.

“It was a very popular book, especially when I was growing up, among geeks in the eighties and nineties,” Marco went on.  “You have to ask the founders of Snapchat.”

(2) A BOOK OF HER OWN. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Gabby Rivera, whose “Latina, queer, superpowered and superpopular character” America Chavez has made appearances in the Marvel books Young Avengers and The Ultimates and has now appeared in her own comic book from Marvel, America.

 “Superhero comics seemed so out of my league that I never even imagined it as something I could do. But the second the opportunity came my way, it felt so right,” Rivera told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “I’ve always dreamt up wild, powerful and carefree superheroes that look like me and my family: thick, brown, goofy, beautiful. And now I get to see them come to life. ‘America’ is going to be all those things and it’s [going to] be wild.”

Before beginning to write “America,” the new solo series (illustrated by Joe Quinones) that debuted in print and digitally last week, Rivera dived into stacks of comic books featuring the superstrong heroine who can fly and punch star-shaped dimension-hopping holes into the air. Rivera called it her “crash course” on all things America.

(3) PODCASTING TIME LORD. Scott Edelman writes, “I was very pleased to have gotten live on the second weekend of March 2017 an episode of Eating the Fantastic recorded the second weekend of March 1995! How? You’ll see.”

Episode 31 is a 1995 World Horror Con Flashback:

So prepare to time travel back to a 1995 mall food court lunch as I talk about my first job at Marvel Comics, how I broke into writing for Tales from the Darkside, and the beginnings of Science Fiction Age magazine, while Adam-Troy Castro reveals how he created the first story in the first issue of that magazine, as well as how a cab ride he feared he wouldn’t survive turned into one of his most memorable works of fiction.

(4) AS THE TWIG IS BENT. Crooked Timber is running one of their seminars on Ada Palmer’s “Terra Ignota” books — Too Like the Lightning, and the just-released Seven Surrenders. So far they have posted –

Ada Palmer’s new book – Seven Surrenders – is out today. So too is our seminar….

Almost all science fiction, as J.G. Ballard remarked in the introduction to Vermilion Sands, is really about the present day. This is certainly less true today than it was in 1971, but it is still often the case that the relationship between our present and the future world that is depicted – or between the present of the imagined world and that future’s past, when anyone inside the story decides to look back – is oddly straightforward and uninteresting. This is certainly not something that can be said of Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota books.

In the genres of science fiction and fantasy, when a book is written in an unusual mode, it’s usually either a gimmick or window-dressing. Window-dressing is when for instance a Victorian feeling book has a faux Victorian style as part of that feel. An example of this would be Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, where Heinlein doesn’t have to tell us that the English spoken on the moon is heavily influenced by Australian and Russian, he gives us a first person narrative devoid of articles and peppered with Russian borrowings and Australian slang. It’s great, but really it’s just scenery, everything else would be the same if he’d chosen to write the book in third with just the dialogue like that. It’s quite unusual to read something where the mode is absolutely integral to what the book is doing. In Womack’s Random Acts of Senseless Violence, the decaying grammar and vocabulary of the first person narrator, Lola, mirrors the disintegration of society around her, and we the reader slowly move from a near future with a near normal text to a complete understanding of sentences that would have been incomprehensible on page one, in a world that has also changed that much.

Too Like the Lightning and Seven Surrenders tell the story of beautiful, brilliant, compassionate people who are also terribly vulnerable. They are Eloi who have convinced themselves Morlocks do not exist; they are victim-beneficiaries of two hundred years of willful ignorance of growing rot. Like the dragon Smaug, they’ve rested on their hoard for centuries, adding layer after layer to their invulnerable bejeweled armor—but they cannot see the armor’s chink, the soft space waiting for Bard the Bowman’s arrow.

The arrow is shaped like God.

(5) AMERICAN GODS. The creators of the American Gods TV series told attendees at a SXSW panel the show has new meaning in “a climate that vilifies immigrants”.

When Neil Gaiman’s American Gods comes to television next month, it’s going to look a little different than fans of the book remember — and its creators hope they’ll take away a subtle political message alongside the myths and magic.

“Our first task of adapting is to make the show that we wanted to see as an audience member,” said Bryan Fuller, one of the showrunners. But “it’s definitely a different show than we set out to make, because the political climate in America shat its pants,” he said. “We are now telling massive immigration stories in a climate that vilifies immigrants. And so we have a strange new platform to start a different kind of conversation.” Fellow showrunner Michael Green agreed. “The book is joyful, it celebrates a lot of things that we love about America, and have since become weirdly odd about America,” he said.

Neil Gaiman echoed the sentiment on Twitter after the panel. “I don’t think we preach,” he told a fan. “And we didn’t think we were making a politically relevant show, just adapting a book about immigrants and America.”

(6) POLITICAL ACTION FIGURES. You may or may not ordinarily be interested in a review and photos of Pinhead Hellraiser III 1/6th action figure by ThreeZero, but Cat Eldridge predicts many readers will be entertained by the political statement at the very end of the review…

(7) NAFF. The National Australian Fan Fund, to send one Australian fan to the Natcon, has opened voting. The winner will attend Continuum 13 in Melbourne, June 9–13.

There are four candidates from three states:

  • Jason Fischer (SA)
  • Talitha Kalago (QLD)
  • Fe Waters (WA)
  • Jay Watson (WA)

More details available here. Voting ends April 16.

(8) AT THE BACK OF THE PACK. Rolling Stone has ranked all the cast members from Saturday Night Live since the beginning of the show in the 1970s. Although he went on to have a hugely successful acting career in the Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man movie franchises, this fellow came in last place —

  1. Robert Downey Jr.

Era: 1985-1986

Robert Downey Jr. is a comic genius. Making him unfunny stands as SNL’s most towering achievement in terms of sucking. How do you fuck up a sure thing like Downey? He’s funny in anything. I mean, dude was funny in Weird Science. He was funny in Johnny Be Good. He was funny in Iron Man. But he met his Kryptonite, and it was SNL, where he spent the 1985-1986 season sucking up a storm. His greatest hit? A fart-noise debate with Anthony Michael Hall. In a perverse way, the Downey Fail sums up everything that makes SNL great. There are no sure things. No rules. No do-overs. No safety net — when you flop on SNL, you flop big. And that’s the way it should be. The cameras roll at 11:30, ready or not. Live from New York — it’s Saturday Night.

(9) COSTUMING HISTORY. A video compilation of Kat Bushman’s convention masquerade entries from 1967-2000.

(10) LONG-LASTING HORROR. On Fivebooks, Darryl Jones, who teaches at Trinity College in Dublin, is asked to recommend the best horror stories. He turns to 1897 and reminds us why The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Great God Pan are still worth reading.

Can you give some examples?

One of the best places to look for examples is late-Victorian England. Think of 1897, the year of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, which marks the zenith of the British Empire.

1897 also saw the publication of a number of landmark works which were very anxious about the status and lasting power of the British Empire. These works often envisage colonial or intergalactic Others coming to invade London, the imperial metropolis. London gets invaded, London gets destroyed.

(11) KEEP ON TINGLING. A reworking of a popular meme —

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, David K.M. Klaus, Standback, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 11/26/16 And Pixel,  When You Call Me, You Can Call Me Scroll

(1) ELLISON KICKSTARTER FULLY FUNDED. The Harlan Ellison Books Preservation Project Kickstarter has blown past its $100,000 goal. The total raises at this time is $102,409, with four days to go.

(2) TELL ME YOU’RE KIDDING. CinemaBlend says Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 may give us more Howard the Duck.

In case you’ve somehow forgotten about Howard the Duck’s surreal appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy, he was briefly spotted in a display case during the main movie as part of The Collector’s…well, collection. Later in the post-credits scene when The Collector sat by his destroyed museum, Howard (voiced by Seth Green) sat nearby and criticized the eccentric entity for letting Cosmo the Spacedog lick his face. Funny enough, James Gunn didn’t originally plan on including Howard the Duck in Guardians of the Galaxy because the original post-credits scene was supposed to tease Avengers: Age of Ultron. When Captain America: The Winter Soldier “stole” that, Gunn and editor Frank Raskin noticed in their existing footage that Beneicio del Toro looked to the side at a box, thus providing a way to sneak Howard in and redeem the character a little bit for that movie of his that still occasionally haunts our dreams.

With or without Howard the Duck’s participation, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters on May 5, 2017.

(3) BRUCE SCHNEIER. What’s he been doing since he worked on E Pluribus Hugo? The Daily Dot reports on his recent testimony before Congress — “Bruce Schneier: ‘The Internet era of fun and games is over’”

Internet pioneer Bruce Schneier issued a dire proclamation in front of the House of Representatives’ Energy & Commerce Committee Wednesday: “It might be that the internet era of fun and games is over, because the internet is now dangerous.”

The meeting, which focused on the security vulnerabilities created by smart devices, came in the wake of the Oct. 21 cyberattack on Dyn that knocked Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, and other major web services offline….

Here’s how he framed the Internet of Things, or what he later called the “world of dangerous things”:

As the chairman pointed out, there are now computers in everything. But I want to suggest another way of thinking about it in that everything is now a computer: This is not a phone. It’s a computer that makes phone calls. A refrigerator is a computer that keeps things cold. ATM machine is a computer with money inside. Your car is not a mechanical device with a computer. It’s a computer with four wheels and an engine… And this is the Internet of Things, and this is what caused the DDoS attack we’re talking about.

He then outlined four truths he’s learned from the world of computer security, which he said is “now everything security.”

1) ‘Attack is easier than defense’

Complexity is the worst enemy of security. Complex systems are hard to secure for an hours’ worth of reasons, and this is especially true for computers and the internet. The internet is the most complex machine man has ever built by a lot, and it’s hard to secure. Attackers have the advantage.

2) ‘There are new vulnerabilities in the interconnections’

The more we connect things to each other, the more vulnerabilities in one thing affect other things. We’re talking about vulnerabilities in digital video recorders and webcams that allowed hackers to take websites. … There was one story of a vulnerability in an Amazon account [that] allowed hackers to get to an Apple account, which allowed them to get to a Gmail account, which allowed them to get to a Twitter account. Target corporation, remember that attack? That was a vulnerability in their HVAC contractor that allowed the attackers to get into Target. And vulnerabilities like this are hard to fix. No one system might be at fault. There might be two secure systems that come together to create insecurity.

3) ‘The internet empowers attackers’

4) ‘The economics don’t trickle down’

The engineers at Google, Apple, Microsoft spent a lot of time on this. But that doesn’t happen for these cheaper devices. … These devices are a lower price margin, they’re offshore, there’s no teams. And a lot of them cannot be patched. Those DVRs are going to be vulnerable until someone throws them away. And that takes a while. We get security [for phones] because I get a new one every 18 months. Your DVR lasts for five years, your car for 10, your refrigerator for 25. I’m going to replace my thermostat approximately never. So the market really can’t fix this.

Schneier then laid out his argument for why the government should be a part of the solution, and the danger of prioritizing surveillance over security.

We’re now at the point where we need to start making more ethical and political decisions about how these things work. When it didn’t matter—when it was Facebook, when it was Twitter, when it was email—it was OK to let programmers, to give them the special right to code the world as they saw fit. We were able to do that. But now that it’s the world of dangerous things—and it’s cars and planes and medical devices and everything else—maybe we can’t do that anymore.

That’s not necessarily what Schneier wants, but he recognizes its necessity

(4) BIG DATA. Mark R. Kelly spent a busy day updating the Science Fiction Awards Database, that indispensable research tool —

Latest Updates

2016 Anlab, Asimov’s Readers, and Dell Magazine results

— posted Saturday 26 November 2016 @ 5:33 pm PST

More 2016 results: the readers’ polls from Analog and Asimov’s magazines, and the Dell Magazine Undergrad Awards, reported in Asimov’s magazine.

AnLab: 93 new and updated pages

Note the Analog readers’ poll now has a poetry category. Also, first page in this index for Alvaro Zinos-Amaro.

Dell Magazines Awards: 37 new and updated pages

Note these awards have a new dedicated website: http://www.dellaward.com/

Asimov’s Reader Awards: 91 new and updated pages.

Also updated: 2016 Results

Assorted 2016 results

— posted Saturday 26 November 2016 @ 3:37 pm PST

Updated today:

Big Heart 2016
First Fandom 2016
WSFA Small Press 2016
Dwarf Stars 2016
Elgin 2016
Copper Cylinder 2016

(5) REACHING A MILESTONE. Adam Whitehead celebrates a decade of blogging in “10 Years of the Wertzone: Listing the Classics”.

Occasionally I award a particularly special book, video game, movie or TV show the honour of being a “Wertzone Classic”. To be a classic, the work has to both be excellent and also to have withstood the test of time and emerged as a true defining work in its field. The following is a complete list of all works to be awarded a “Classic” award since the start of the blog in 2006. I would strongly recommend all of these works to anyone interested in science fiction and fantasy, be it in print or on screen.

The list includes 30 books.

(6) VISITS WITH ROBERT SILVERBERG. At Locus Online, “Russell Letson reviews Alvaro Zinos-Amaro”.

Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-63-7, $16.99, 274pp, tp) August 2016. Cover by Patrick Swenson.

Robert Silverberg’s career has spanned more than half the history of modern American science fiction: he began reading SF magazines in 1948, during the ‘‘Golden Age,’’ and by 1954 was writing for the pulps, producing the first entries in a bibliography that now runs to 600-plus items of fiction and booklength nonfiction alone. Between receiving a Hugo Award for ‘‘Most Promising New Author’’ in 1956 and attaining SFWA Grand Master status in 2004, Silverberg has been in a position to meet nearly everyone of consequence in the SF field, sell to nearly every editor (and do plenty of editing himself), and explore nearly every market niche, while also (for a while) carrying out parallel careers turning out carefully-researched nonfiction and pseudonymous, non-SF yard-goods.

(7) A THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” — W. Somerset Maugham

(8) BOB FELICE OBIT. Cynthia Felice told her Facebook readers, “My beloved and much-loved husband of 55 years, Bob Felice Sr. died yesterday. While his death was sudden and swift, it was not unexpected, not even by him.”

Cat Rambo says of Cynthia, “[She] is an SF writer and was the SFWA ombudsman (currently the position’s held by the amazing Gay Haldeman) for years, solving member problems with serenity and grace.”

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 26, 1862 — Oxford mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson sends a handwritten manuscript called Alice’s Adventures Under Ground to 10-year-old Alice Liddell.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born November 26, 1909 — Eugene Ionesco
  • Born November 26, 1922 — Charles Schulz
  • November 26, 1926 – Poul Anderson
  • Born November 26, 1853 — William “Bat” Masterson. (John King Tarpinian sent this one in because, “The theme song from the TV show still reverberates between my ears.”)

(11) ANIMAL ASTRONAUTS. The art is irresistible and the story is cute. Krypton Radio tonight will air an interview with STEM children’s book author Andrew Rader.

Buckle up, space fans, for an intriguing conversation with Andrew Rader, author of the upcoming children’s book Mars Rover Rescue, and its predecessor, MC Longneck’s Epic Space Adventure. Andrew has a PhD in human space flight from MIT, and works professionally as an aerospace engineer. This gives him a unique perspective when it comes to creating educational children’s books that can ignite the imaginations of young budding future scientists. The new book has already blown past its goal on Kickstarter, and now the second book about the self-assured “giraffestronaut” is well into stretch goal territory….

Tune in this evening at 9 pm PT / Midnight ET for the first broadcast of this fascinating interview with Andrew Rader. Your hosts this evening are Susan Fox and Gene Turnbow….

 

(12) NEXT STEPS. Cat Rambo begins her blog post “Nattering Social Justice Cook: Prepare to Ride, My People” with a list of links to disturbing post-election news, then tells how she plans to move forward.

The world is broken. Love isn’t enough to fix it. It will take time and effort and blood and sweat and tears. It will stretch some of us almost to the breaking point and others past it. We must help each other in the struggle, must be patient and kind, and above all hopeful. We must speak out even when we are frightened or sad or weary to the bone….

In my opinion. You may disagree, and that’s fine. This is what I think and what’s driving my actions over the next four years. I am going to speak up and object and point things out. I am going to support institutions that help the groups like the homeless, LGBT youth, and others whose voting rights have been stolen and whose already too-scant and under threat resources are being methodically stripped away.

I am going to continue to insist that honesty, tolerance, and a responsibility for one’s own words are part of our proud American heritage, the thing that has often led us along the path where, although there have been plenty of mistakes, there have been actions that advanced the human race, that battled the forces of ignorance and intolerance, and that served as a model for the world. That “liberty and justice for all” are not hollow words, but a lamp lifted to inspire us and light our way in that direction.

I will continue to love in the face of hate, to do what Jesus meant when he said hate the sin while loving the sinner. I will continue to teach, formally and by setting an example of what a leader, a woman, a good human being should do, acknowledging my own imperfections so I can address them and keep growing and getting better at this human existence thing. If I see a fellow being in need, I will act, even if it means moving outside my usual paths.

(13) DOGGONE IT. Adam-Troy Castro sees no reason for feudin’ and fussin’ over awards:

I have won a few significant (if in prestige second-tier) awards at this gig, and on those occasions, I won because some folks thought that I had written the best story, and by God, that is less complicated, and more satisfying than AGITATING FIGHTING COMPLAINING CAMPAIGNING FRETTING RAGING AND DECLARING ENEMIES FOR MONTHS ON END could possibly be. It certainly was. I don’t have a Hugo or a Nebula or a Stoker, and may never get one, but by God I came close a bunch of times, and each time it was without the help of a carefully-managed campaign by hundreds of yahoos screaming bile. It was just me, putting words down, getting what acclaim I got all on my own, and that was *it*. Again, it feels better.

Since Gustav Gloom, I have gotten that feeling just being beamed at by kids.

And on top of that? Typing THE END at the close of work of fiction, and knowing, *knowing*, that it’s a superior piece of work, is where that great feeling comes first.

(14) CANCEL THE CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS. Now we know what the Sad Puppies are waiting on –

(15) IT’S ON THE BAG. Fan artist Jose Sanchez – who provided the back covers of my past two paperzines – announces his online shop http://www.shopvida.com/collections/jose77sanchez, which he touts as a place “where you can find my artwork on new apparel products that can make great gifts-especially now in the holidays!”

sanchez-tote

(16) RON GLASS’ TWILIGHT ZONE EPISODE. You can watch “I of Newton” on YouTube. Teleplay by Alan Brennert based on a short story by Joe Haldeman.

[Thanks to Steve Green, Cat Rambo, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 10/14/16 The Pixels, My Friend, Are Scrollin’ In The Wind

(1) BEYOND ELDRITCH. Jason Sanford revisits a controversial writer, distinguishing between Lovecraft’s his ideas and personal beliefs: “Disturbed by Lovecraft, whose racism and hate weren’t merely a product of his times”.

Some Lovecraft fans complain about such re-examinations of Lovecraft’s racism, believing it is an attempt to remove Lovecraft from his place in the genre he helped build. But this view is nonsense. Lovecraft’s influence on dark fantasy and horror isn’t going to disappear merely because people are aware of the troubling aspects of his life and writing.

No, Lovecraft’s legacy is secure because of all the authors and creators who took his ideas and ran with them. Most people are able to appreciate Lovecraft’s influence on horror and dark fantasy while also acknowledging the negative aspects of his life and work.

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. All aboard for another of Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic podcasts — “Adam-Troy Castro is NOT faster than a speeding locomotive”.

When it came time for dinner at Fiorella’s Jack Stack, we were given the choice of a table either in the main dining room or out on the patio, and because I was afraid the loud music combined with the conversation of other customers would create an ambient noise you’d find distracting, I decided we should eat al fresco … not realizing there were railroad tracks nearby, which meant an occasional locomotive would pass. But don’t worry—I think you’ll find the result more amusing than annoying, especially when (as you’ll hear) one overly loud engine caused my guest and me to break into song.

My guest this episode is Hugo, Nebula, and Stoker Award nominated writer Adam-Troy Castro. Adam has published more than 100 short stories, some of which I was privileged to buy back when I edited Science Fiction Age magazine, plus a story someone else had the honor of purchasing—my all-time favorite zombie story.

We talked about the epiphany caused by his first viewing of Night of the Living Dead, how he handled a heckler during his early days doing stand-up comedy, the history behind the novel he almost wrote spinning off from the classic TV show The Prisoner, and much more. We even, for reasons you will learn, had cause to sing a few bars of the Johnny Cash classic “Folsom Prison Blues.”

adamtroycastrocarrotcake-768x768

(3) OUR NEXT NOBEL LAUREATE? Gabrielle Bellot tells “Why Calvin and Hobbes Is Great Literature”.

Calvin and Hobbes feels so inventive because it is: the strips take us to new planets, to parodies of film noir, to the Cretaceous period, to encounters with aliens in American suburbs and bicycles coming to life and reality itself being revised into Cubist art. Calvin and Hobbes ponder whether or not life and art have any meaning—often while careening off the edge of a cliff on a wagon or sled. At times, the strip simply abandons panels or dialogue altogether, using black and white space and wordless narrative in fascinating ways. Like Alice, Calvin shrinks in one sequence, becoming tiny enough to transport himself on a passing house fly; in another, he grows larger than the planet itself. In “Nauseous Nocturne,” a poem in The Essential Calvin and Hobbes that reads faintly like a parody of Poe, Watterson treats us to lovely art and to absurd yet brilliant lines like “Oh, blood-red eyes and tentacles! / Throbbing, pulsing ventricles! Mucus-oozing pores and frightful claws! / Worse, in terms of outright scariness, / Are the suckers multifarious / That grab and force you in its mighty jaws”; the “disgusting aberration” “demonstrates defenestration” at the sight of Hobbes. In one gloriously profane strip, Calvin even becomes an ancient, vengeful god who attempts to sacrifice humanity. Nothing, except perhaps the beauty of imagination, is sacred here. Watterson dissolves the boundaries of highbrow and lowbrow art. The comic’s freedom is confined—it’s not totally random—yet the depths it can go to feel fathomless all the same. Few other strips allow themselves such vastness.

(4) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 14, 1926 — A.A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh” was published.
  • October 14, 1947 — Chuck Yeager flew the friendly skies at Mach 1. He landed, and on the way home got some AC-Delco auto parts for a weekend project on Glennis’s chevy

(5) POTUS PICKS SCI-FI. WIRED Magazine published President Obama’s list of essential sci-fi TV and films.

Beyond telling a story, science fiction should make you think deeply. To that end, WIRED guest editor President Obama offers this list of essential films and TV shows that will expand your mind. His selections include groundbreaking classics and contemporary hits, each taking you to the farthest reaches of the galaxy and the depths of the human psyche.

(6) AN UNGRATEFUL MEDIA REACTS. io9 wasted no time in declaring the list lame:

People may disagree on Barack Obama’s accomplishments or the legacy he will leave when he exits the Oval Office, but there’s one way he has truly earned the nickname “Obummer”—and that’s in his list of what he considers essential scifi viewing.

It’s not that Obama’s list of seven scifi films and TV series—which he revealed as part of that special Wired issue he guest-edited—is wrong. Far from it! It’s just so… boring.

(7) SCARY CLOWN NEWS. The Hollywood Reporter has a story called “Man Dressed as Batman is Chasing Off Frightening Clowns in North England”, which is about some British guys telling kids not to be terrified of random clowns walking in the neighbo(u)rhood.

There is an issue with people dressing up and frightening people in England, but they pissed off the wrong person: Batman.

Someone in Cumbria, in North West England, has been chasing off those dressed as clowns in the hopes of making children feel safe, The Telegraph reported.

A photo of Batman in action and a video surfaced of the British Caped Crusader telling kids it’s safe.

A group calling itself Cumbria Superheroes is behind the effort. According to The Telegraph, the group didn’t form to act as vigilantes so much as to reassure children there is nothing to be scared of concerning the clowns.

“As for you clowns, if you want to scare someone, why don’t you try and scare me,” the man dressed as Batman says in a video posted to Facebook.

(8) GENERIC WIZARD. What John King Tarpinian likes to call the “Barry Spotter Costume” coincidentally looks a little like a copyrighted character, but presumably costs a lot less.

mystery-magician-boy

(9) PROOF OF LOVECRAFT’S CONTINUING INFLUENCE. I don’t know if this is enough to satisfy S. T. Joshi that Lovecraft’s ideas still permeate the culture, but you can’t beat the price. The Inflatable Cthulhu Arm is only $8.99 from Archie McPhee.

  • One vinyl inflatable tentacle
  • Tentacle is 3′ long & 7″ diameter when inflated
  • Better than a normal arm
  • Makes your arm unspeakably horrible

(10) BIG BANG THEORY LEGO. From Lego Idea to product in a year – the Big Bang Theory Lego set costs $59.99.

Indulge your inner genius and build this LEGO® version of Leonard and Sheldon’s living room as seen in the hit American sitcom The Big Bang Theory! This set was created by two LEGO fan designers—Ellen Kooijman from Sweden and Glen Bricker from the USA—and selected by LEGO Ideas members. Featuring loads of authentic details to satisfy all The Big Bang Theory devotees and including minifigures of all seven main characters from the show, it’s ideal for display or role-play fun. Includes 7 minifigures with assorted accessory elements: Leonard, Sheldon, Penny, Howard, Raj, Amy and Bernadette.

big-bang-theory-lego

(11) SAILOR MOON REANIMATED. Crunchyroll tells how the “Sailor Moon” Fan Project Returns to Remake Full Episode with Over 300 Animators.

It’s been a little over two years since the first Moon Animate Make-Up Sailor Moon fan project debuted, but now a sequel is here with even more fan participation. The second crowd-sourced group animation project has over 300 animators coming together to re-animate season 2, episode 68 of the classic Sailor Moon anime, “Protect Chibi-Usa: Clash of the Ten Warriors!”

Contributors cracked away at their respective shots from October 2015 to July 2016, and you can see the wide variety of styles on display in the finished episode below.

 

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Steven H Silver, JJ, Bill, John King Tarpinian, Dawn Incognito, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob.]

Pixel Scroll 7/9/16 Snort, Harlequin, Said the Ear, Nose, Throat Man

(1) HEARTS MADE OF TIN. David Brin says robots will be so charming they won’t have to conquer us physically, in “Endearing Visages”.

I’ve been pondering Artificial Intelligence or AI a lot, lately, with several papers and reviews pending. (Indeed, note who is one of the ‘top ten people followed by AI researchers.’) One aspect that’s far too-little discussed is how robots are being designed to mess with human emotions.

Long before artificial intelligences become truly self-aware or sapient, they will be cleverly programmed by researchers and corporations to seem that way. This – it turns out – is almost trivially easy to accomplish, as (especially in Japan) roboticists strive for every trace of appealing verisimilitude, hauling their creations across the temporary moat of that famed “uncanny valley,” into a realm where cute or pretty or sad-faced automatons skillfully tweak our emotions.

Human empathy is both one of our paramount gifts and among or biggest weaknesses. For at least a million years, we’ve developed skills at lie-detection (for example) in a forever-shifting arms race against those who got reproductive success by lying better!  (And yes, there was always a sexual component to this.)

But no liars ever had the training that these new, Hiers or Human-Interaction Empathic Robots will get, learning via feedback from hundreds, then thousands, then millions of human exchanges around the world, adjusting their simulated voices and facial expressions and specific wordings, till the only folks able to resist will be sociopaths. (And sociopaths have plenty of chinks in their armor, as well.)

(2) READERCON. A lot of good tweets coming out of Readercon this weekend. Here’s a small sampling.

(3) THE TWINKIE OFFENSE. Hostess has marketed two new Twinkie flavors to celebrate the release of the new Ghostbusters movie — Key Lime Slime and White Fudge Marshmallow.

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man wouldn’t be able to contain himself! Or maybe he would — isn’t that kind of like cannibalism? Either way, if you like marshmallows, you are going to like these Twinkies.

Key Lime Green Slime Twinkies

GBWhiteFudgeMarshmallowTwinkiesByHostessSc01 COMP(4) FEZ CLAIM TO FAME. Closed for renovation in 2012, the world’s oldest library in Morocco reopened this year.

A wealthy Tunisian merchant’s daughter, Fatima al-Fihri, founded al-Qarawiyyin University as a mosque in 859 CE. By the 10th century, Atlas Obscura reports, it grew into a full-fledged university with a library. Today, it’s considered to be the world’s oldest existing and continually operating institute of higher education, as well as the first degree-awarding educational institution. Eventually, the University of al-Qarawiyyin moved to another location in Fez, but the mosque and library remained at the original site.

(5) CROTCHETY DOESN’T MEAN WRONG. Steve Davidson has a point – “Pay for the Privilege” at Amazing Stories.

…sometimes a new way of doing things comes along and it is Just. Not. Right.

Take the internet as a perfect example.

Why are we all still individually paying for it?

It watches and records us without our consent.  Data miners have found all manner of ways to entice us into revealing even more behaviors and data through the internet of things.  Those useful, free apps and games aren’t really free, are they?

Aggregated data and its derivatives are both earning and saving business concerns billions of dollars annually.  And we’re just in the infancy of this technology.

(6) MONKEYING AROUND. Those with Facebook accounts might get a kick out of the Turner Classic Movies video of Dr. Zaius sharing stories about working with Charlton Heston on the set of Planet of the Apes.

Dr. Zaius

Dr. Zaius

(7) NOT AS ANIMATED AS THEY USED TO BE. How old are your favorite cartoon characters? Artist Andrew Tarusov has created a gallery of favorites who show their age.

(8) PHYSICIST WHO DID FANAC. Sidney Coleman remembered on the Not Even Wrong blog.

A couple months ago there was a session at an APS meeting with the topic Sidney Coleman Remembered. Slides are available for talks by Coleman’s student Erick Weinberg and colleague Howard Georgi. Georgi has recently posted a written version of the talk here. He also a few years ago wrote this biographical memoir about Coleman for the National Academy of Sciences.

David Derbes and collaborators [see comment section for details] are putting together a book version of Coleman’s famous lectures on quantum field theory, hope to be finished with this by the end of the summer.

Coleman was a long-time Boston fan and a founder of Advent:Publishers.

Sidney, Dave Kyle and James White at the 1987 Worldcon in Brighton. Photo taken and copyright by Andrew Porter.

Sidney, Dave Kyle and James White at the 1987 Worldcon in Brighton. Photo taken and copyright by Andrew Porter.

(9) FEYNMAN TALES. Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek writes in Quanta Magazine “How Feynman Diagrams Almost Saved Space”. The story begins in 1982 when Wilczek asked Feynman, “Why doesn’t empty space weigh anything?”

I asked Feynman the most disturbing question in physics, then as now: “There’s something else I’ve been thinking a lot about: Why doesn’t empty space weigh anything?”

Feynman, normally as quick and lively as they come, went silent. It was the only time I’ve ever seen him look wistful. Finally he said dreamily, “I once thought I had that one figured out. It was beautiful.” And then, excited, he began an explanation that crescendoed in a near shout: “The reason space doesn’t weigh anything, I thought, is because there’s nothing there!”

(10) BEAGLE COMING TO SDCC. Peter S. Beagle will be at Comic Con 2016, participating in a panel entitled “Creating Your Own Universe”, in addition to signing autographs and meeting fans at his table.

His first novel in well over a decade, Summerlong, will be released September 15 on Tachyon.

(11) SULU STILL BEING DEBATED. Adam-Troy Castro answered a reply to his post about Sulu being revealed as a gay character in Star Trek Beyond.

Concerned STAR TREK fan in a thread, on the revelation of Sulu’s sexuality:

“It is also pointless for the story to just make the character gay for no other reason than to be so. Is important to the plot? Does it advance the story somehow? This is ultimately the only way it would make sense.”

What you’re talking about is the principle of Chekhov’s Gun. Not Pavel Chekov, but Anton Chekhov, who held that if you put a gun on the mantelpiece in one scene, then at some point somebody was going to have to take it down and fire it.

What perplexes is just how any STAR TREK character’s homosexuality could possibly “be important to the plot” or “advance the story somehow.”….

In the original series, one crew member being Asian, another being Scottish, another being a southern gentleman, another being Russian, another being African, was all texture. It was there, and then for the most part unremarked-upon, because Gene Roddenberry wanted to establish, within the boundaries of his time, that in the far future he wished to present, this was nothing unusual. (And even then, we had manifestations of his time’s near-sightedness, as when Janice Lester bitterly complains that the profession of starship captains is closed to women.)

Similarly, that brief shot of Sulu’s husband does not “advance the plot;” chances are that there will be no action climax where the ship can only be saved by the two of them having sex atop the warp nacelles. It does, however, provide more texture to the hypothetical universe around them, by establishing for the first time ever that Sulu has a personal life, that he must leave his family behind every time he goes on some mission for Kirk’s glory, that in the utopian world where he lives a marriage like his is just something that exists and that it is not remarked-upon as unusual, by anyone.

Texture….

(12) ALL’S QUIET ON THE DRAGON FRONT. Nominations for the inaugural Dragon Awards close on July 25, just a little over two weeks from now. If anybody’s excited about that, they’re mostly keeping it a secret from the internet.

Declan Finn wrote a long post about what to vote for so that he could ask people to nominate his book Honor at Stake (which is absolutely fine under the rules). Then he used the Sad Puppies list as a memory prompt for the rest of his suggestions.

Alfred Gennesson’s picks for the new Dragon Awards led off with John C. Wright, Larry Correia, and Rod Walker (published by Castalia House). Then he signed off with these thoughts —

I like the Dragon Awards already. Quality indicators for the year are going to be more honest than Hugo/Nebula, just in nomination process. And those ignore games. When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Two other writers are looking for support on Twitter —

However, since June 1, the only tweets about the Dragon Awards other than from people already mentioned were generic calls to vote from Larry Correia and Daddy Warpig.

(13) FELAPTON SPEAKS. Camestros Felapton reviews all five Hugo-nominated Novellas.

I think this is one of the most interesting categories this year. Each one of the nominees is a plausible candidate as a finalist but there isn’t a real stand-out winner. Three out of the five are by well-established writers and two are by newer writers. The least good (IMHO) has some excellent writing and made me want to read more by the same author. The best felt lacking in places and didn’t hit knock-your-socks-off great.

(14) STATE OF MIND. The Publishers Weekly story poses the question “Was Philip K. Dick a Madman or a Mystic?”, but do we really have to ask?

In The Divine Madness of Philip K. Dick, Kyle Arnold delves into the complicated psyche of one of the 20th century’s most important writers. At the center of the subject is the profound vision Dick experienced in 1974, which he referred to as “2-3-74.” Arnold, a psychologist at Coney Island Hospital and Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, explains the experience and its significance.

In February of 1974, Philip K. Dick was home recovering from dental surgery when, he said, he was suddenly touched by the divine. The doorbell rang, and when Dick opened the door he was stunned to see what he described as a “girl with black, black hair and large eyes very lovely and intense” wearing a gold necklace with a Christian fish symbol. She was there to deliver a new batch of medications from the pharmacy. After the door shut, Dick was blinded by a flash of pink light and a series of visions ensued. First came images of abstract paintings, followed by philosophical ideas and then, sophisticated engineering blueprints. Dick believed the pink light was a spiritual force which had unlocked his consciousness, granting him access to esoteric knowledge.

(15) ASIMOV SINGS! Fanac.org has uploaded a third segment of  sound recording of the 1971 Hugo Banquet at Noreascon.

Banter and badinage from Robert Silverberg and Isaac Asimov, and the awarding of the Hugos. Asimov sings!

 

(16) RENT LONG AND PROSPER. Treknews featured this movie-related promotion.

In the commercial, entitled “Business Is Going Boldly,” Enterprise employees are shown beaming, speaking Klingon in the break room and renting the Starship Enterprise to customers.

Remember, the Romulans always get the damage waiver.

As we’ve previously reported, select Enterprise locations will have Star Trek related signage, plus Enterprise airport shuttle buses in New York City and Philadelphia will be wrapped with images of the U.S.S. Enterprise and the phrase: “Until We Can Beam You Up, We’ll Pick You Up”.

The dialect jokes are amusing, but should Enterprise Rent-A-Car really be renting starships to Klingons?

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson. (OK Steve – now it’s up to you whether you record a hat trick.)]

Pixel Scroll 7/8/16 Scrolled Pixels Are All Alike; Every Unscrolled Pixel Is Unscrolled In Its Own Way

(1) BRIANNA WU’S BOSTON GLOBE OP-ED. “We can all do something to stop this cycle of violence”.

It feels obscene to stare at these videos of black Americans being killed by police. It feels obscene to ignore them. It’s also vital to honor the police who were gunned down in Dallas, and yet I worry that retaliation will cost even more black lives. I feel overwhelmed by conflicting emotions — a sense of powerlessness and an urge to somehow stop this wave of violence.

But the stakes are too high to indulge in white guilt. This isn’t about our feelings, it’s about our responsibility. As noted feminist Ijeoma Oulo said, white people have to act today, and we have to act tomorrow. We have to act like our lives depend on it, because black lives actually do.

Given the carnage in Dallas, it’s important to note that the vast majority of police are willing to give their lives to protect the communities they serve. Rather than disparage law enforcement as a profession, our anger should be levied at the political systems that continually erase the wrongdoing of the small minority of police who dishonor their badge. Police operate in the framework we the citizens have built. They act in our name, according to the laws we ask them to enforce.

(2) COMMENT ON DALLAS. If not for the title, “4GW in Dallas”, would you have guessed the author of this analysis is Vox Day?

As of November, 1024 people were killed by police in 2015, 204 of them unarmed. For all that the police almost uniformly claimed to have been fearing for their lives, only 34 police were shot and killed during the same period. The public may be collectively stupid, but they’re not incapable of recognizing that statistical imbalance or that the police are trained to lie, obfuscate, and pretend that they are in danger when they are not.

Unless and until the police give up their military-style affectations, “us vs them” mentality, and most of all, their legal unaccountability, they’re going to find themselves fighting a war against the American people. And it is a war they simply cannot win.

What happened in Dallas may be shocking, but it isn’t even remotely surprising. Many people have seen it coming; what will likely prove the most surprising aspect of this incident is how many people will remain utterly unsympathetic to the Dallas police and their bereaved families. The police may consider themselves above the law, but they are not beyond the reach of an increasingly outraged public.

(3) I’M SORRY, I’LL READ THAT AGAIN. However, the post evidently didn’t set well with a lot of his followers, so Vox wrote a follow-up characterizing his position as merely a prediction fulfilled.

In the aftermath of the Dallas police shooting, it is understandable that many Americans are shocked, scared, and upset. The post-Civil Rights Act America has not turned out to be the society they thought it was, indeed, it is becoming increasingly obvious that those terrible racist Southern segregationists were correct all along. Targeted assassinations of authority figures are not a sign of a stable, well-ordered society.

But I have neither patience nor sympathy for those who have been emailing, commenting, and Tweeting to say that they are shocked by my comments with regards to Dallas and the overly militarized US police. I have said nothing I have not said many times before. My position has not changed one iota on the subject for over a decade. I have repeatedly predicted such events would take place, nor am I alone in that, as William S. Lind repeatedly warned about it as a consequence of 4GW coming to America in his book of collected columns, On War.

(4) THE SULU REVEAL. Adam-Troy Castro makes a case for “Why George Takei, Of All People, Is Now Wrong about Hikaru Sulu”.

George is absolutely right to have his preferences, ironic as they are. And I absolutely understand why he takes it so seriously. For an actor to do his job well, the role must hijack some of his gray matter, becoming a virtual person inside the real one; a person who may be evicted when the role goes away and another one must be prepared for. Part of George Takei has been Hikaru Sulu for decades; it is likely impossible, and to a large degree undesirable, for the scrutable helmsman he imagined to be evicted, in any real way, now. This is why he famously took a genuine, personal pride in the revelations over the years that Sulu’s first name (never mentioned on the original series) was officially Hikaru, or that he had advanced in his career to become Captain in the Excelsior, or that he had a daughter who also joined Starfleet. This is why Jimmy Doohan felt violated when the screenplay of a late STAR TREK film required Scotty to do a slapstick head-bonk in the corridor. The actors know the difference between reality and fantasy, but characters that near and dear to their hearts blur that line mightily, and this is for the most part a good thing.

However, he’s wrong on this, and this is why….

(5) CANON VOLLEYED AND THUNDERED. Peter David affirms the idea of making Sulu gay, while offering a lighthearted explanation why that fits the canon.

Some fans are crying foul, including George himself, declaring that it flies in the face of Trek continuity. Well, as the guy who wrote “Demora” in which Sulu is most definitely not gay, I’m here to say:

The fans are wrong. Even, with all respect, George is wrong.

In 79 episodes and all the movies, there is simply nothing to establish that Sulu is hetero. Yes, he has a daughter. Neil Patrick Harris has kids, too, so so much for that argument. He only displayed hetero leanings in exactly one episode: “Mirror Mirror” in which he is coming on to Uhura. But that wasn’t our Sulu. That was the Sulu of the mirror universe, and if the mirror Sulu is aggressively straight, then I suppose it makes sense that our Sulu would be gay, right? He’s the opposite, after all.

(6) A FORCE FOR GOOD? Peter Grant argues against “Publishing’s scary self-delusion” at Mad Genius Club.

I wasn’t surprised (but I was disappointed) to read this statement from Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle:

“Publishing is undeniably a force for good. But working in an industry that is inherently a service to society, we risk subscribing to the notion that this is enough. It’s not. We ought to do more—and we can—by taking advantage of our capacity as Penguin Random House to drive positive social, environmental, and cultural change, locally and globally.”

The statement was accompanied by a video message to PRH employees.

The scary thing is, Mr. Dohle undoubtedly believes his statement – yet, equally undoubtedly, it’s catastrophically wrong…..

There’s also the question of why PRH (and, by extension, other publishers) should do more.  Surely their emphasis, their focus, should be on increasing their profitability, and thereby the returns to their shareholders and investors?  The latter could then use some or all of the profits on their investments to support causes, activities and individuals  with whom they agree or are in sympathy.  For a corporation to play fast and loose with its owners’ money, in order to undertake or promote activities that have little or nothing to do with its core commercial activities, is, to put it mildly, disingenuous…..

(7) THE MAP OF LOST DISNEY ATTRACTIONS. Yahoo! Movies has a gallery of “22 Lost Disney Rides, From the Maelstrom to Mission To Mars”.

When the new Disney World attraction Frozen Ever After opened at Epcot Center recently in Orlando, eager families waited in line for up to five hours for their turn to see Anna and Elsa in the animatronic flesh. But sprinkled in amongst the jubilant throngs were some unhappy faces mourning the loss of the ride that the Frozen gang replaced: the Maelstrom, a log flume that had entertained visitors since 1988. It’s a reminder that almost every time a new ride debuts at the Happiest Place on Earth, another one twinkles out of existence. From Phantom Boats and Flying Saucers to a World of Motion and an ExtraTERRORestrial Encounter, we’ve assembled this gallery of some rides that are no longer in operation at Disney World and/or Disneyland in Anaheim.

(8) PORTRAIT COMPETITION. Nick Stathopolous points out that critic Christopher Allan of The Australian predictably hated his entry in the annual Archibald Prize competition. (Can’t figure out why Nick’s link from FB to The Australian works, and the direct link hits a paywall, so I’ll link to him.) Nick has been a finalist several times, and anyway has a thick hide.

At least the massively oversized heads remain, like last year, in retreat. There are a few horrors, such as massive works by Abdul Abdullah, Nick Stathopoulos and Kirsty Neilson, which also reveal the nexus between size and the other bane of the Archibald, the reliance on photography. Stathopoulos’s work is suffocating in its obsessive rendering of the inert photographic image, and Neilson in her portrait of actor Garry McDonald has painstakingly rendered each hair in her sitter’s beard while failing to deal adequately with the far more important eyes.

(9) MY GOSH SUKOSHI. Another conrunner-for-profit has bit the dust, reports Nerd & Tie.

Sukoshi Con’s “Louisville Anime Weekend” was originally scheduled for July 29th-31st at the Ramada Plaza Louisville Hotel and Conference Center in Louisville, KY. With less than a month to go before the convention though, on Tuesday Sukoshi Con deleted their Facebook pages, pulled down their websites, and announced via Twitter that the event (and all future Sukoshi Con events) were cancelled.

https://twitter.com/sukoshicon/status/750419804234756096

It’s been a strange year and a half for James Carroll’s Sukoshi Con. Some of you may remember the weird saga of their Anime Southwest convention (in Denver oddly enough), where the con had to relocate hotels, multiple guests cancelled, and drama abounded — but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the last year and a half, the organization has cancelled four of their eleven planned events — including last years Louisville Anime Weekend.

We’ve heard rumblings of financial issues within the convention, though they have yet to be confirmed. It’s safe to say though that none of Sukoshi Con’s events are likely to come back.

(10) TWO HERMIONES. Emma Watson posted photos of her with Noma Dumezweni on Facebook of the two Hermiones meeting at a preview of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stageplay.

Yesterday I went to see the Cursed Child. I came in with no idea what to expect and it was AMAZING. Some things about the play were, I think, possibly even more beautiful than the films. Having seen it I felt more connected to Hermione and the stories than I have since Deathly Hallows came out, which was such a gift. Meeting Noma and seeing her on stage was like meeting my older self and have her tell me everything was going to be alright, which as you can imagine was immensely comforting (and emotional)! The cast and crew welcomed me like I was family and Noma was everything I could ever hope she would be. She’s wonderful. The music is beautiful

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 8, 1947 – The first press reports were released on what has become known as the  Roswell UFO incident.

The sequence of events was triggered by the crash of a Project Mogul balloon near Roswell. On July 8, 1947, the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) public information officer Walter Haut, issued a press release stating that personnel from the field’s 509th Operations Group had recovered a “flying disc”, which had crashed on a ranch near Roswell.

The military decided to conceal the true purpose of the crashed device – nuclear test monitoring – and instead inform the public that the crash was of a weather balloon.

(12) STUNT DOUBLE BUILDINGS. “Ivan Reitman Looks Back at the Original Ghostbusters ‘ L.A. Locations”in LA Weekly.

There’s no doubt that the attitude of the original Ghostbusters is inherently New York (though you could certainly imagine the scenario at Tavern on the Green playing out that way at certain Los Angeles restaurants). The truth, however, is that only about 35 minutes of what appears on screen in Ghostbusters was filmed in Manhattan. The remaining 1 hour and 10 minutes of screen time of the beloved movie that asked “Who Ya Gonna Call?” was shot on a Burbank studio lot and at practical downtown L.A. locales, including one of the most famous movie locations of all time: the Ghostbusters firehouse.

Now, before you start thinking, Wait a minute, I’ve visited that firehouse in New York. Yes, you may have stood outside Hook & Ladder 8, that mecca of movie locations on N. Moore Street in Lower Manhattan. The interior of the Ghostbusters firehouse, however, is old Fire Station No. 23, a decommissioned firehouse located at 225 E. Fifth St. in downtown Los Angeles.

(13) THE FUNNIES. The Wizard hits the celebrity autograph line at Wizardcon in yesterday’s Wizard of Id comic strip.

And today, the Wizard got taken in the dealer’s room.

(14) NONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER. Critic Jon Jon Johnson’s review implies a play aimed at the general public mentioned the Puppies. “The Greatest Science Fiction Show (No One’s Ever Seen)” was produced for the 2016 Capitol Fringe.

The Greatest Science Fiction Show (No One’s Ever Seen) provides no shortage of giggles, paired with some heartwarming moments. Part love letter to a old-school science fiction, part middle finger to the Sad Puppies of the Hugo awards, and part affection for geek culture, Grain of Sand’s show serves as a pleasant Fringe offering to delight fans of the genre and fans of the theatre.

(15) VANDYKE REPLIES. Peter J. Enyeart ranks the Hugo-nominated novelettes on the Stormsewer LiveJournal. Number Five wrote back.

  1. “What Price Humanity” by David VanDyke Space pilots fighting a war against invading aliens wake up in a strange simulation. Well, these military SF stories start to blur together after a while, don’t they? This was very Ender’s Gamey, with stylistic hallmarks reminiscent of Brad Torgersen (I’m thinking specifically of “The Exchange Officers,” which has a female character named “Chesty;” this one has a black character named “Token” (just because it was funny in South Park doesn’t mean it will work for you, bud)). It does have a bit of twist- a twist that you can see coming an astronomical unit away. And having an infodumpy prologue to a story this length is just narrative sloth. Boo.

David VanDyke, author of “What Price Humanity,” responded in a comment.

Kudos for you noticing “Token,” which is meant as a piece of deliberately painful, somewhat underhanded satire. My son-in-law of African ancestry, who flies fighters for the U.S. military, was given that nickname in training, as the only person of color in his class.

It’s both an indication of how far our society has come (the class members were well aware of the irony and were supportive, in the usual needling manner of combat operators) and an indictment of how far we have to go (if we could find 992 Tuskeegee Airmen, why can’t we recruit more minorities into the elite strata of today’s military?).

Placing such a subtle and unexplained item in a shorter story has its risks, particularly if a reader is predisposed to believe ill of an author, especially one that happens to have been published through Castalia House, but I try to start from a position of faith in the intelligence, imagination and good will of the reader, and hope for the best.

(16) COMPUTER-ASSISTED COMICS. M. D. Jackson’s wonderful series on comic book publishing technology continues at Amazing Stories — “Why Was Early Comic Book Art so Crude? Part 5: The Digital Revolution”.

Apple’s Macintosh was immediately adopted by graphic artists. With such programs as MacPaint and MacDraw, computer assisted art and design was born. The next year saw the introduction of the very first major comic book to be produced on a computer.

First Comic’s Shatter was created by writer Peter B. Gillis and artist Mike Saenz. Shatter was the story of a cop named Sadr al-Din Morales. The storyline of the comic was much in-line with works like Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner and Gibson’s Neuromancer. Threads of the story, such as distrust of corporations, the Film Noir feel of the project, and especially the artwork, would place it firmly in the genre of ‘cyberpunk.’

More importantly, the comic title, however much of a gimmick it may have started out as, showed that the potential for computer assisted comic book art was real. Using MacPaint and a mouse (this was before the invention of the tablet and stylus interface) artist Mike Saenz created each image as well as the lettering. The resulting pages were printed on a dot-matrix printer and then colored in a traditional way, but only because at the time the Macintosh was strictly a black and white machine.

(17) THE ARABELLA TRAILER. David D. Levine’s new novel, unveiled in a one-minute video.

Since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, he proved that space travel was both possible and profitable. Now, one century later, a plantation in a flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby, a young woman who is perfectly content growing up in the untamed frontier. But days spent working on complex automata with her father or stalking her brother Michael with her Martian nanny is not the proper behavior of an English lady. That is something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England. However, when events transpire that threaten her home on Mars, Arabella decides that sometimes doing the right thing is far more important than behaving as expected. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company, where she meets a mysterious captain who is intrigued by her knack with clockwork creations. Now Arabella just has to weather the naval war currently raging between Britain and France, learn how to sail, and deal with a mutinous crew…if she hopes to save her family remaining on Mars. Arabella of Mars, the debut novel by Hugo-winning author David D. Levine offers adventure, romance, political intrigue, and Napoleon in space!

 

[Thanks to Steven H Silver, Michael J. Walsh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]

Pixel Scroll 4/29/16 Dr. Strangelist

We’ll split the Scroll again today. Guess which part this is!

(1) NOMINEE STATEMENT. For those who are interested, Cora Buhlert sent a link to “What Price Humanity?” author David VanDyke’s statement regarding his nomination at Kboards.

Re: KBoarder David VanDyke is a Hugo Award Finalist

Thanks everyone.

I wrote this bit and posted in the other thread before I saw this one, so I’ll copy-paste it here:

As we poker players say, I’ve tried to put myself into a position to get lucky, and it seems I have. Or, as another quote goes, it takes years to become an overnight success. I submitted a story to a Jerry Pournelle anthology (There Will Be War X), got accepted, then suddenly got nominated for a Hugo in a relatively easier category (novelette – novels, novellas and short stories seem much more competitive), and boom, somebody notices me after 4 years and 25 books as an indie…

I’ll be going to WorldCon in KC, but I don’t think I have a snowball’s chance of winning…not with a Stephen King novelette in there. But the nom is nice, and the networking will be nice.

…and for those who might wonder, I’m apolitical about the whole Hugo process and on nobody’s side. I just submitted a story to one of the grand masters of military sci-fi and it got picked up for the anthology, and then nominated. That’s it. No investment in puppies, kitties, gerbils, tortoises or other animals. I’m not really a joiner of special interest groups or parties anyway. Hopefully my work stands on its own.

Thanks again for all the well-wishing.

(2) MORE VOTING ADVICE. WTF Pancakes makes a modest suggestion in “Hugo Awards 2016: Geez, not this shit again”.

I’ve read suggestions that this year’s troll-fest was a direct response to the Hugo voters’ failure to reward the Puppies to force the voters to give them trophies even if the voters didn’t actually believe they were deserved. No, really, that’s the argument (although it was phrased slightly differently.) The desire, then, is to receive an award, regardless of merit. The sort of thing that Puppy authors might call “affirmative action.”

Fortunately, I have a solution which I think every reasonable person will agree is wise and just: If what the Puppies really want is recognition, then simply reward every Puppy candidate with a “participant” award. You know, the kind they give to grade school children when you don’t want anyone to feel bad. This way, the Chuck Tingles and John C. Wrights of the world can have their recognition without having to try to abuse the nomination process. Then, simply discard any nominations which match the slate proposed by the Rabid Puppies. Problem solved…for a little while at least…maybe.

(3) IT’S DEAD JIM. Joe Follansbee conducts the autopsy in “The Hugo Awards are dead, and the xPuppies killed them”.

All this wouldn’t matter, except for the fact that science fiction readers worldwide depend on the Hugo Awards as a mark of quality. While some of the xPup-inees are worthy, such as Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, and sci-fi master Jerry Pournelle for his editing, the nomination ballot-stuffing by the xPuppies has permanently damaged the Hugos’ credibility. How can any discerning reader look at the phrase “Hugo Award-nominated” or “Hugo Award-winning,” not think of Butt Invasion, and not drop the potential purchase like a hot potato?

Likewise, how can any publisher associate itself with these kinds of brand-threatening shenanigans? They’re risk-averse enough as it is. Why take the chance with printing the Hugo rocket ship logo on its project without thinking of two years’ worth of Hugo train wrecks?

A second year of “No Award” winners will put the final nails into the Hugos’ coffin because it would demonstrate readers’ lack of faith in the award.

Hope is not completely lost, however. WorldCon, which manages the Hugos, has a chance to fix the problem with proposed nominations rules changes, though they won’t take effect until 2017, assuming they’re approved. If not, they might as well kill the awards program altogether. No one will believe in it anymore.

(4) TOO GRAPHIC. GamerGate Life responds to its nomination.

(5) AH SWEET. Russell Newquist boosts the Castalia House signal in “The Perversion of Science Fiction and Fantasy Fandom”.

The 2016 Hugo Awards are important, and not for any of that. There is a critical message this year that far exceeds anything else to do with the Hugos. It boils down to two specific works, both of which have been nominated in the “Best Related Work” category:

The first is “Safe Space as Rape Room: Science Fiction Culture and Childhood’s End.” Written by Daniel Eness for the Castalia House blog. The second is “The Story of Moira Greyland” by Moira Greyland.

These two works are not just the most important published works of the science fiction community of 2015. They are the most important works of this millennium….

(6) DEJA HUGO. Jim C. Hines presents his thoughts about the Hugos, and the difference between anger and abuse, in “A Few Hugo Requests”.

2. No asterisks, please.

I did make a crack about asterisks and the Hugo last year after the trophy was released. And I think a lot of people had a mental asterisk over the whole thing, because let’s be honest, last year was anything but normal for the Hugo awards. So yeah, I definitely get it.

But at last year’s Hugo award ceremony, they handed out wooden asterisk plaques, and later sold additional wooden asterisks.

I don’t believe this was done with malicious intent (though I obviously can’t read anyone’s minds). Maybe it was an attempt at humor, and/or to acknowledge the elephant in the room. I appreciate that the sale of the asterisks raised several thousand dollars for a good cause.

Whatever the intentions, it resulted in a lot of people feeling hurt and attacked. I know from experience how nerve-wracking a Hugo ceremony can be in a normal year. Last year, and this year, tensions and anxieties and fears are exponentially higher. And for many of the people in attendance, the asterisks felt like a big old slap in the face.

Like I said, I don’t think that was the intention. (Others will disagree, and have gleefully pointed to the asterisks as “proof” that “the other side” is evil and nasty.) In this case, I don’t think intention matters so much as the impact it had, including hurting some good, talented people.

(7) THE ESTIMATE. Rocket Stack Rank’s Gregory N. Hullender attempts an “Analysis of Slate Voting for the 2016 Hugos”.

Overview

I estimate there were about 205 “Rabid Puppies” this year, essentially identical to the estimated 204 Sad+Rabid puppies last year. The reason they did so well despite a doubling of the number of “organic” votes is that they managed much better slate discipline this year; last year, not everyone voted for all five candidates nor in every category, but this year it seems they did….

(8) THOUGHTS THUNK WHILE THINKING. How come nearly everybody titles their post “Thoughts on the Hugo Nominations”? Like Anthony M at the Hugo-nominated Superversive SF blog who is thoroughly okay with the reason that happened, so why should you have any problem?

Does this bother anybody? It shouldn’t. It doesn’t bother me. We’ve been growing a fanbase since we started, and the fact that the Sads AND the Rabids both had us on their lists does mean we’re leaving a mark. I don’t believe we were picked as a parody, for the simple reason that Castalia likes our work enough to give us a weekly column on their increasingly popular blog. An anthology unassociated with us recently opened up submissions for superversive stories. We’re doing very well, and this only gets us more exposure. This is great!

And yet, if we weren’t on the Rabid Puppies slate, we still probably wouldn’t be on the Hugo shortlist. So why doesn’t this bother me? My answer is simple: I agree with what Vox Day is doing.

(9) MY HUGO NOMINATED PONY. At anthropomorphic fiction blog Fayrah, Brendan Kachel reacts: “’My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’ episodes nominated for 2016 Hugo Awards as part of ‘Rabid Puppies’ slate”.

However, furries and bronies perhaps shouldn’t celebrate so soon; last year’s Hugo Awards were pretty controversial, and this year is apparently the sequel.

Looks like the ponies are actually Trojan horses. For puppies.

The Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies are “slates” of nominees designed to abuse a loophole in the Hugo Awards rules by which a group of voters can assure nominations for a pre-approved set of nominees by agreeing to vote for them. These slates were begun in order to fight what they describe as “political correctness” (and opponents would describe as “progressive social stances”) in the works nominated and winning at the Hugos. The politics of those running the “puppies” slate are frequently described as “neo-conservative;” the founder of the Rabid Puppies, Vox Day, is described by Wikipedia as a “white supremacist.” And the My Little Pony episodes were on his list.

The obvious question is how a children’s television show like My Little Pony (one created by feminist Lauren Faust known for its progressive themes, no less) came to be associated with someone like Vox Day. Part of the answer may be that Day is looking to further embarrass the Hugo Awards, especially after none of his slate won an award last year (even in categories where his slate swept the nominees, “No Award Given” received the most votes, leaving many categories unrewarded), and perhaps figured a nomination for a cartoon about magical horses was an embarrassment. This year, one of his short story selections was “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” by Chuck Tingle, a story of what Wikipedia delicately calls “niche erotica” (and, yes, is exactly what it sounds like). Or perhaps Day is just a legitimate fan of both ponies and “niche erotica”, after all.

However, the two episodes in question were praised by conservative sources as “anti-Marxist”, which may be on point about the episodes in question (and, admittedly, the show, being based on a toy line, can hardly be called anti-capitalist), but hardly holds up as a valid interpretation of the show’s ethos overall.

(10) DEDUCTIONS. Barry Deutsch at Alas! A Blog has his thinking cap on, too: “Hugo Nominations Are Out, And The Rabid Puppies Dominated The List. A Few Thoughts”.

1) My guess is that we’ll see Noah Ward win on at least a couple of categories this year, but most categories will have a named winner.

2) Next year, assuming the voters at this year’s Worldcon agree to this, there will be a change in the Hugo vote-counting rules – E Pluribus Hugo – which might reduce the ability of a minority of slate voters to game the process and unfairly dominate Hugo nominations. Early data may indicate that EPH won’t make as large a difference as people are hoping. If further changes are necessary to prevent the Rabid Puppies from gaming the system to dominate nominations, I expect further changes will be made.

3) By a wide margin, more people voted to nominate works for the Hugos in 2016 than in any prior year. And the Rabid Puppies still dominated the outcome. If there are hundreds of possible nominees, and if most nominators vote honestly, then a small group of slate voters can overpower the large majority of honest voters. I hope that this result will persuade people who have been saying “all’s that’s needed is for more people to nominate” to change their minds.

(11) PATRICK NIELSEN HAYDEN.

(12) ALTERNATE AWARDS. Adam-Troy Castro told his Facebook readers what else they can do for writers.

The Hugos are broken. These people broke them. I don’t see them going away and I don’t see it getting any better.

This is a sad thing, but you know what?

The Hugos were once fandom’s way of honoring that which touched them.

Today, the readership is more balkanized. Nobody reads everything published in fantastic fiction. Some of you only read novels about women in tight pants fighting vampires. Some of you only read novels about spaceships going pew-pew-pew in the asteroids. Some of you only read literary sf. Whatever gets honored in any particular year will leave the partisans of one kind of fiction feeling left out. The Puppies are nothing if not folks saddened by a couple of years of awards going to more diverse choices: people going boo-hoo-hoo because of not enough love for pew-pew-pew.

You want to honor your favorite authors with awards?

Telling others about their great books is an award.

Telling them you loved their books is an award.

Expressing your enthusiasm with online reviews is an award.

(13) THE OTHER HUGO. James H. Burns points out this ’70s toy that later was featured as “a guest” on both The Uncle Floyd Show, and Pee Wee Herman’s first stage show and HBO special!

hugo-man-of-a-thousand-faces-movieHugo

(14) GALACTIC STARS. The Traveler at Galactic Journey decided over 50 years ago that the Hugos were not the answer, and started giving out his own Galactic Stars every year. The latest set were announced last December.

The chill of winter is finally here, heralding the end of a year.  It’s time for eggnog, nutmeg, presents, pies, and family.  But more importantly, it’s time for the second annual Galactic Stars awards.

Forget the Hugos–here’s what I liked best in 1960.

In a tradition I began last year, I look back at all fiction that debuted in magazines (at least, The Big Four) with a cover date of this year as well as all of the science fiction books published.  Then I break down the fiction by length, choose the best by magazine, and finally the best overall.  All using the most modern and sophisticated scientific techniques, of course.

Last year, my choices mirrored those chosen at the Labor Day Worldcon for the Hugo awards.  We’ll see if my tastes continue to flow in the mainstream.  I break my length categories a bit finer than the Hugos, so there are bound to be some differences from that aspect, alone.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Jim C. Hines, and James H. Burns for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 3/31/16 The One They Pixel, The One You’ll Scroll By

(1) IT’S BIG. At Entertainment Weekly, “Jeff VanderMeer explains what it’s like to edit The Big Book of Science Fiction”.

During one part of our research, we even had to contact the Czech ambassador to the Philippines for intel on particular authors; in another life this man had been the editor of a Czech science-fiction magazine that, before the Wall came down, paid Western writers in items like books of surreal erotic photography. He had become an expert, due to his travels, on fiction in many countries. From him we received a flurry of photocopies and advice that will likely inform future projects. It’s a small world, but also a big, complex one, too.

(2) ENOUGH PI? NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory answers the question “How Many Decimals of Pi Do We Really Need?”

We posed this question to the director and chief engineer for NASA’s Dawn mission, Marc Rayman. Here’s what he said:

Thank you for your question! This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a question like this. In fact, it was posed many years ago by a sixth-grade science and space enthusiast who was later fortunate enough to earn a doctorate in physics and become involved in space exploration. His name was Marc Rayman.

To start, let me answer your question directly. For JPL’s highest accuracy calculations, which are for interplanetary navigation, we use 3.141592653589793. Let’s look at this a little more closely to understand why we don’t use more decimal places. I think we can even see that there are no physically realistic calculations scientists ever perform for which it is necessary to include nearly as many decimal points as you present. Consider these examples:

  1. The most distant spacecraft from Earth is Voyager 1. It is about 12.5 billion miles away. Let’s say we have a circle with a radius of exactly that size (or 25 billion miles in diameter) and we want to calculate the circumference, which is pi times the radius times 2. Using pi rounded to the 15th decimal, as I gave above, that comes out to a little more than 78 billion miles. We don’t need to be concerned here with exactly what the value is (you can multiply it out if you like) but rather what the error in the value is by not using more digits of pi. In other words, by cutting pi off at the 15th decimal point, we would calculate a circumference for that circle that is very slightly off. It turns out that our calculated circumference of the 25 billion mile diameter circle would be wrong by 1.5 inches. Think about that. We have a circle more than 78 billion miles around, and our calculation of that distance would be off by perhaps less than the length of your little finger….

(3) WHICH GHOST WROTE THE MOST? “Houdini manuscript ‘Cancer of Superstition’ divides opinion over Lovecraft, Eddy ghostwriting”. The Chicago Tribune has the story.

…Potter & Potter lists Lovecraft as the ghostwriter, in part citing “An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia” by S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, a 2001 anthology of Lovecraft’s work. The book says, however, Houdini approached Lovecraft and Lovecraft’s fellow Providence, R.I., author C.M. Eddy Jr. “jointly to ghostwrite a full-scale book on superstition.”

But how much of “The Cancer of Superstition” was the work of Lovecraft vs. Eddy is up for debate.

Douglas A. Anderson, co-founder of Wormwoodiana, a blog dedicated to researching and discussing the work of Lovecraft and his peers, said one needs to look at “The Dark Brotherhood and Other Pieces,” a 1966 Lovecraft anthology edited by August Derleth that published a detailed outline and the project’s first chapter. Derleth, who had exchanged letters with Eddy prior to the book’s publication, listed Lovecraft as the author of the outline but Eddy as the author of the chapter….

(4) CASSIDY IN GALLERY SHOW. Kyle Cassidy’s photos from Toni Carr’s Geek Knits book will be part of an art show opening April 1 at the Stanek Gallery in Philadelphia. The book, subtitled Over 30 Projects for Fantasy Fanatics, Science Fiction Fiends, and Knitting Nerds, has been mentioned here in the Scroll before. Cassidy is known in sf for his photographs of fans taken at the Montreal Worldcon in 2009.

EPSON MFP image

thread of art exhibit

(5) LOSE THE RECUSE. Kevin Standlee says Cheryl Morgan ”Talked Me Into It”.

I am quite obviously eligible for the Best Fan Writer Hugo Award for the stuff I write on this LJ plus a whole lot of writing elsewhere, possibly most notably on Mike Glyer’s File 770 news site. But as people were talking me up for a Hugo Award nomination, I was uneasy, given that I’m Chairman of the WSFS Mark Protection Committee and possibly the most visible member of the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee. While I’m not required to recuse myself from consideration, I thought it possible that it would be unseemly and that I’d be considered using undue influence. But Cheryl Morgan wrote yesterday about this subject, and I found her argument persuasive. So if you should in fact think that my writing is award-worthy, don’t think that you’re throwing your vote away to mention me.

(6) INFLUENCE VS PERFORMANCE. Or as Cheryl Morgan said it in “Kevin and the Hugos”

My view on this is that it is one thing to have a high position and get nominated for something else (in my case being on the staff of Clarkesworld). It is quite another to have a high position and get nominated for doing that job. In my case, if my WSFS job was getting me votes for my Clarkesworld work, that could be construed as unfair. (I think it is silly to suggest that it was, and the Business Meeting agreed, but that’s not relevant here.) In Kevin’s case the job and the work are the same thing. So yes, having the job makes him noticed, but he’s being nominated for doing the job. That seems entirely reasonable to me.

(7) YOUTUBE STARS. Here’s a trailer for Electra Woman & Dyna Girl, which will be “available on all major digital platforms” on June 7.

(8) COME CORRECT. Adam-Troy Castro says “No, You Have Not Been Nominated For a Hugo This Year”.

Attention to a certain self-published author: no, you have not been nominated for a Hugo this year. Now, I don’t know whether you’ve made an honest mistake, have fallen prey to wishful thinking, or are actively lying, but in any event, you are wrong; just because some folks have filled out the name of your magnum opus on the online Hugo nomination form, doesn’t mean you are “nominated;” certainly not before the nomination period closes, this Thursday.

(9) IT’S GREAT TO BE A GENIUS OF COURSE. Kate Paulk holds forth on “The Problem of Being Too Good” at Mad Genius Club.

One of the things I learned was that in pretty much any creative endeavor the really good ones don’t look like they’re making any effort. They’re so good they make it look easy. They make it feel easy, and they appear to effortlessly produce the effect they’re aiming for, be it a gem of a musical performance or a story that’s a perfect or near perfect example of its art – and it’s so apparently effortless and clear that those of lesser understanding can too easily fail to see the work the author or musician or artist has carefully concealed behind the appearance of easy. That is why seeing the writer sweat is annoying.

Of course, this leads to those of lesser understanding (many of whom think they’re the bees knees and – to paraphrase Douglas Adams – the every other assorted insectile erogenous zone in existence) thinking that a book (or performance or whatever) that looks effortless actually is effortless and therefore is easy. Simply put, they mistake sweat and visible exertion for skill.

What this reminds me of is my favorite Robert Moore Williams quote. Williams was a self-admitted hack sf writer. He was leery of losing sales by being too literary. He said, “You have to stink ’em up just right.”

(10) WHERE THE ROCKS ARE. An amazing map of prehistoric stone structures in the United Kingdom can be found at http://m.megalithic.co.uk/asb_mapsquare.php.

This map of Britain and Ireland, is divided into 100 kilometre squares. Locations of prehistoric stone circles and stone rows are indicated by the red dots. Click on a grid square to see that map sheet in greater detail. Many of the pages have images and links to information elsewhere on the web, making this a master index of Britain and Ireland’s Prehistoric sites.

(11) MEOW WOW.  “George R.R. Martin Spent $3.5 Million to Make This Sci-Fi Art Utopia a Reality” – at Vice.

Perhaps the only thing more disorienting than visiting the art collective Meow Wolf’s permanent art installation, the House of Eternal Return, is getting a Skype tour of the place, which is what I recently received. Labyrinthine and almost hallucinatory, the sprawling former bowling alley has been transformed to a freak-out art mecca, funded by $3.5 million from Game of Thrones creator George R. R. Martin and another $2.5 million from Kickstarter and other fundraising.

The 20,000-square-foot art space, the size of Gagosian’s Chelsea gallery, opened on Friday with a cavalcade of 5,500 visitors in the first three days, including Martin himself and Neil Gaiman. Described by 33-year-old CEO Vince Kadlubek as the “inside [of] a sci-fi novel,” the House of Eternal Return is many things: a psychedelic art space, a bar, an educational center, a ceramics studio, and an elaborate music venue (with a half school-bus upper deck), featuring a slew of dream-like elements such as black-light carpeting, a laser harp, pneumatic doors, and a 20-foot climbable lookout tower.

(12) COLE’S HEART. I was very impressed with Myke Cole’s contribution to “The Big Idea” feature at Whatever – but I didn’t want to pick an excerpt that would dilute the reading experience, so here is a comparatively bland quote…

When I did my Big Idea post for Gemini Cell, I straight up owned the PTSD allegory. Schweitzer’s undead status kept him permanently apart from the living. He was among them, but not of them, anymore. The resultant isolation was pretty much the same thing many returning veterans feel.

(13) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 31, 1969 — Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse Five, published.

(14) SUPER BOOKS. Random House Books for Young Readers announced the acquisition of four DC Comics YA novels, with bestselling young adult authors: Wonder Woman will be written by Leigh Bardugo, Batman will be written by Marie Lu, Superman will be written by Matt de la Peña, and Catwoman will be written by Sarah J. Maas.

Wonder Woman will release first at the end of August 2017.

(15) CURSES VERSUS. “Superman And The Damage Done” at Birth.Movies.Death.

There have been other Supermans since, and while none have, in my opinion, reached the heights of Christopher Reeve, all have imparted a similar sense of decency, humbleness and grace. From Brandon Routh to various animated incarnations, children growing up over the past 40 years have found new Supermans they could look to as inspirational models of how heroes act.

But what do the children of today have? Warner Bros, custodian of the Superman legacy, has handed the keys of the character over to Zack Snyder, a filmmaker who has shown he feels nothing but contempt for the character. In doing so they have opened the character to an ugly new interpretation, one that devalues the simple heroism of Superman and turns the decent, graceful character into a mean, nasty force of brutish strength.

Where Superman was originally intended as a hopeful view of strength wielded with responsibility, Snyder presents him as a view of strength as constant destructive force; where Christopher Reeve’s Superman would often float and flit away, Snyder’s version explodes like a rocket at all times, creating sonic booms above city centers in fits of pique, such as after his scene of moping on Lois Lane’s Washington DC hotel balcony. He is a constant weapon of destruction, often smashing concrete when he comes to earth. There are no soft landings for this Superman.

(16) CROWD PLEASER. “SciFi Author Alan Dean Foster Draws Largest Science Speaker Series Crowd in Prescott Campus History” reports the Embry-Riddle Newsroom.

Hundreds of students, staff and faculty filled the AC-1 lecture hall to capacity to hear internationally acclaimed science fiction author Alan Dean Foster talk about “Science in Science Fiction” as part of the College of Arts and Science Speaker Series last Friday.

Foster has written over 100 novels but is best known for authoring the novel versions of many science fiction films including “Star Wars”, the first three Alien films, “The Chronicles of Riddick”, “Star Trek”, “Terminator: Salvation”, and two Transformers films.

Foster believes science is the foundation of science fiction. If the work is not grounded in science then it’s not science fiction, it is fantasy or science fantasy.

“Science fiction sets you on other worlds where you have to create entire environments. Maybe it’s a world with seven different layers or an entirely frozen world. You have to look at a problem and say what’s the best solution here, even if it’s not been created yet,” said Foster. “That solution should still be reasonable. As an author of science fiction, and especially with novel adaptations from movies, I try to fix the science as best as I can. Sometimes they let me and sometimes they don’t.”

(17) BREAKING GAME SHOW NEWS. The March 31 episode of Jeopardy! had a Hugo Award-Winning Novels category – but I haven’t found out what the titles were yet.

(18) SAD NUMBERS. Brandon Kempner spends the last voting day “Estimating the 2016 Hugo Nominations, Part 4” at Chaos Horizon.

What we do know, though, is that last nomination season the Sad Puppies were able to drive between 100-200 votes to the Hugos in most categories, and the their numbers likely grew in the finally voting stage. I estimated 450. All those voters are eligible to nominate again; if you figured the Sad Puppies doubled from the nomination stage in 2015 to now, they’d be able to bring 200-400 votes to the table. Then again, their votes might be diffused over the longer list; some Sad Puppies might abandon the list completely; some Sad Puppies might become Rabid Puppies, and so forth into confusion.

When you do predictive modelling, almost nothing good comes from showing how the sausage is made. Most modelling hides behind the mathematics (statistical mathematics forces you to make all sorts of assumptions as well, they’re just buried in the formulas, such as “I assume the responses are distributed along a normal curve”) or black box the whole thing since people only care about the results. Black boxing is probably the smart move as it prevents criticism. Chaos Horizon doesn’t work that way.

So, I need some sort of decay curve of the 10 Sad Puppy recommendations to run through my model. What I decided to go with is treating the Sad Puppy list as a poll showing the relative popularity of the novels. That worked pretty well in predicting the Nebulas. Here’s that chart, listing how many votes each Sad Puppy received, as well as the relative % compared to the top vote getter.

(19) FROM TEARS TO CHEERS. Dave Hogg is basically a happy voter tonight.

(20) NOT AN APRIL FOOL? From the Official Gmail Blog: “Introducing Gmail Mic Drop”.

Friends and family have been testing Gmail Mic Drop for months, and the response so far has been awesome:

  • “Sending email is so much easier when you don’t have to worry about people responding!”
  • “Mic Drop is a huge improvement over Mute! I can finally let everyone know I’m just not interested.”
  • “My team solves problems so much faster with Mic Drop. In fact, we stopped talking to each other entirely!”

Gmail Mic Drop is launching first on the web, but mobile updates are on the way. So stay tuned, and stay saucy.

Will R. asks me, “Will you be introducing a similar feature? It would make the flounce a whole lot easier.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, A Wee Green Man, Daniel Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Swanwick, Will R., Rich Lynch, and Reed Andrus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day StephenfromOttawa.]