Pixel Scroll 2/1/18 Five Little Pixel Scrolls, Argued On The Floor, One Used A Fallacy, And Well, There Were Still Five

(1) HORROR POETRY. At the Horror Writers Association blog: “The Word’s the Thing: An Interview with Michael Arnzen”

Q: How important is language in poetry? I realize the question is a bit open ended and hints of a “duh” question. However, there is something that distinguishes the many genre poets from a Marge Simon, Linda Addison or Bruce Boston. The subject matter may be similar but the language of poets of that caliber is just different. You can read many imitations of Poe or The Graveyard Boys, but the handful of poets that truly stand out seem to have this almost magical way of using language.

A:  There’s no poetry without language, obviously, but you make a really good point about what distinguishes one poet from another – I’d call it their “voice.” Poetry is a kind of music; the sound matters and it should reverberate in the body and fetch the ear when spoken in a way that narrative fiction cannot. Words are as important as the “notes” in music, but every poet might have an instinctive, experienced and individual way of “singing” or giving shape to those words. But genre poetry is not opera and it doesn’t require a reader to be schooled in anything special; it’s more like pop music. Remember, although we can trace the legacy of genre back to Beowulf, through the Graveyard Poets of the Romantic Period and then Edgar Allan Poe, horror poetry as we think of it today really got its start as filler — a way for pulp magazine editors to put content in the blank spaces on the page of early magazines and fanzines.  So some of the best horror genre poets in my opinion are more accessible and reaching readers with more easy to swallow language, perhaps using lyrical forms but not in an overbearing way, while still retaining a unique voice.  I’ve read hyper-literary genre poetry, but no matter how interesting it might be, it often feels like its pretending to be something it’s not, and rings false when it taps the emotional chords. So in my opinion language matters, but it really can’t get in the way of the emotional connection in this field. Music is the instinctive part of poetry that just “feels” right, and the best genre poets are the kind who know how to reach the audience — they sing in a way that reaches new fans and experienced readers/viewers/lovers of horror alike.

(2) UNSTOPPABLE MONSTER. Forbes’ Ian Morris says “Hulu Is Gaining On Netflix, But Star Trek Discovery Is An Unstoppable Monster”.

What’s interested me though is the Star Trek: Discovery “Demand Expressions” or, better known as the number of people talking about a show. According to Parrot Analytics – video below – Star Trek: Discovery has more than 53 million people talking about it in the US. That beats The Walking Dead which has around 46m expressions. Netflix’s Stranger Things also has a staggering 33m of these within the US.

(3) IRONCLAD PROMISE. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak reports “BBC is making a Victorian-era War of the Worlds TV series”.

Earlier today, the BBC announced a number of new shows, including a three-part series based on H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds. The show is scheduled to go into production next spring, and it appears that, unlike most modern adaptations, it will be set in the Victorian era.

The series will be written by screenwriter Peter Harness, who adapted Susanna Clarke’s Victorian-era fantasy novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell for the network, as well as a handful of Doctor Who episodes.

(4) APEX MAGAZINE THEME ISSUE TAKING SUBMISSIONS. This summer, award-winning author and editor Sheree Renée Thomas (“Aunt Dissy’s Policy Dream Book,” Apex Magazine, Volume 95 April 2017 and Volume 101 October 2017, Sleeping Under the Tree of Life, Shotgun Lullabies, and the Dark Matter anthologies) will guest edit a special Zodiac-themed issue. Sheree seeks short stories that explore the heavenly cosmos and unveil mysteries, tales that reimagine Zodiacal archetypes and/or throw them on their heads.

As the stars align themselves above, write bold, fun, weird, scary, sensual stories that heal, frighten, intrigue, amuse.

Length: 1500-5000 words

Genres: Science fiction, fantasy, horror, interstitial, etc.

Deadline: May 1, 2018

Email submissions to: sheree.apexmag@gmail.com

Payment:  Original fiction $.06/word; Solicited Reprint fiction: $.01/word; Podcast $.01/word

(SFWA-certified professional market)

No simultaneous submissions. No multi-submissions for short fiction.

Publication: August 2018, Apex Magazine

(5) MEREDITH MOMENT. John Joseph Adams’ anthology HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! and Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects is discounted to $1.99 on Kindle from now until Feb. 7 (11:59pm PT).

Includes stories by Seanan McGuire, Daniel H. Wilson, Chuck Wendig, Tobias S. Buckell, Carmen Maria Machado and many others.

(6) TWISTED OPEN. Editors Christopher Golden and James A. Moore are taking submissions for their horror anthology The Twisted Book of Shadows until February 28.

  • Will have zero spaces reserved for marquee names.
  • Will use a blind submissions program (we won’t know who wrote the stories until we’ve selected them).
  • Will pay professional rates — a minimum of six cents per word, with a cap on advances of $300 per story.
  • Will pay royalties — a pro rata share of 50% of all royalties earned.
  • Will make our best efforts to spread the word, so that marginalized communities of horror writers will be aware of the call for stories.
  • Will employ a diverse Editorial Committee. In recognition of the possibility of inherent bias in our reading, the editors have engaged an astonishing team of diverse writers and editors who will read submissions alongside us and will offer their input and aid in the selection process. These authors and editors have a breadth and depth of experience that has transformed this project into THE horror anthology for the coming year.

Golden told Facebook readers:

PLEASE share this far and wide, but I’d ask that you make a special effort to share with authors interested in horror who also happen to be women, people of color, non-binary, LGBTQ, or part of any commonly marginalized community. Anyone who has ever felt discouraged from submitting is actively ENCOURAGED to submit to this. If the work isn’t great, there’s nothing we can do about that, but we can guarantee you a fair process, blind to any identity other than the quality of your story. All we care about is what you write.

(7) RECOGNIZING ROMANCE. Awards news at Amazing Stories — “Science Fiction Romance Awards Announced”.

This is a big week in science fiction romance as the SFR Galaxy Awards for 2017 were announced on January 31st. Judged by respected book bloggers and reviewers in the genre, the Award has the following theme per their website: The theme of the SFR Galaxy Awards is inclusiveness. Instead of giving an award to a single book, this event will recognize the worth of multiple books and/or the standout elements they contain.

(8) AT 45. Megan McArdle says“After 45 Birthdays, Here Are ’12 Rules for Life'” at Bloomberg. There’s a familiar name in the first rule:

  1. Be kind. Mean is easy; kind is hard. Somewhere in eighth grade, many of us acquired the idea that the nasty putdown, the superior smile, the clever one liner, are the signs of intelligence and great personal strength. But this kind of wit is, to borrow from the great John Scalzi, “playing the game on easy mode.” Making yourself feel bigger by making someone else feel small takes so little skill that 12-year-olds can do it. Those with greater ambitions should leave casual cruelty behind them.

(9) HOW THEY STACK UP. Rocket Stack Rank has posted its “Annotated 2017 Locus Recommended Reading List for short fiction”, sorted by score to highlight the stories that made it into the “year’s best” anthologies so far (Gardner Dozois, Jonathan Strahan, Neil Clarke) and the “year’s best” lists from prolific reviewers (Gardner Dozois, Rich Horton, Greg Hullender [RSR], Sam Tomaino [SFRevu], Jason McGregor, and Charles Payseur).

Annotations include time estimates, links to the story on the author’s website (if available), author links with Campbell Award-eligibility marked (superscript for year 1 or 2), blurbs for RSR-reviewed stories, links to reviews, and links to digital back issues (of print magazines) at eBookstores and library websites.

RSR reviewed 96 out of the 123 stories in the Locus list (78%). Of the 27 not reviewed by RSR, 10 were stories from horror magazines and horror anthologies. The rest were from other science fiction & fantasy sources, some of which might be reviewed by RSR as time permits.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 1, 1970 Horror of the Blood Monsters, starring John Carradine, premiered.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 1, 1908 – George Pal

(12)COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock asks, “What are they doing in there?” — Nonsequitur.

(13) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Could be even worse than yesterday’s! Fox News reports “China is building a laser 10 trillion times more intense than the Sun that could tear space apart”.

According to the Science journal, this laser would be so powerful it “could rip apart empty space”.

The idea is to achieve a phenomenon known as “breaking the vacuum”, whereby electrons are torn away from positrons (their antimatter counterparts) in the empty vacuum of space.

Right now, it’s possible to convert matter into huge amounts of heat and light, as proved by nuclear weapons. But reversing the process is more difficult – although Chinese physicist Ruxin Li believes his laser could manage it.

“That would be very exciting. It would mean you could generate something from nothing,” he explained.

The team has already created a less powerful version called the Shanghai Superintense Ultrafast Laser, which is capable of a 5.3-petawatt pulse

(14) NO UNIVERSES WERE HARMED. Meanwhile — “Simulation of universe provides black hole breakthrough”.

The most detailed simulation of the universe ever created has provided a breakthrough revealing how the most powerful and mysterious forces interact on an enormous scale.

Scientists said the detail and scale provided by the simulation enabled them to watch how galaxies formed, evolved and grew while also nursing the creation of new stars.

Dr Shy Genel, at the New York-based Flatiron Institute’s Centre for Computational Astrophysics (CCA), said: “When we observe galaxies using a telescope, we can only measure certain quantities.”

But “with the simulation, we can track all the properties for all these galaxies. And not just how the galaxy looks now, but its entire formation history”, he added.

He said the simulation is the most advanced ever developed.

(15) CRUSADING JOURNALISM. Florida Man has been heard from again: “Man Prefers Comic Books That Don’t Insert Politics Into Stories About Government-Engineered Agents Of War”The Onion has the story.

APOPKA, FL—Local man Jeremy Land reportedly voiced his preference Thursday for comic books that don’t insert politics into stories about people forced to undergo body- and mind-altering experiments that transform them into government agents of war. “I’m tired of simply trying to enjoy escapist stories in which people are tortured and experimented upon at black sites run by authoritarian governments, only to have the creators cram political messages down my throat,” said Land, 31, who added that Marvel’s recent additions of female, LGBTQ, and racially diverse characters to long-running story arcs about tyrannical regimes turning social outsiders into powerful killing machines felt like PC propaganda run amok….

(16) BANGING ROCKS TOGETHER. To go with the recent Pixel about early humans ranging more widely, “Discovery In India Suggests An Early Global Spread Of Stone Age Technology”.

Somewhere around 300,000 years ago, our human ancestors in parts of Africa began to make small, sharp tools, using stone flakes that they created using a technique called Levallois.

The technology, named after a suburb of Paris where tools made this way were first discovered, was a profound upgrade from the bigger, less-refined tools of the previous era, and marks the Middle Stone Age in Africa and the Middle Paleolithic era in Europe and western Asia.

Neanderthals in Europe also used these tools around the same time. And scientists have thought that the technology spread to other parts of the globe much later — after modern humans moved out of Africa.

But scientists in India recently discovered thousands of stone tools made with Levallois technique, dating back to 385,000 years ago. These latest findings, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, suggest the Levallois technique spread across the world long before researchers previously thought.

(17) BIRDS DO IT. Everybody’s doing it: “Luxembourg PM sees his country’s satellite launched”.

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, has just watched one of his country’s satellites go into orbit.

He was at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to see the launch of GovSat-1, which will be providing telecommunications services to the military and institutional customers.

The Luxembourg government has a 50-50 share in the project.

Its partner is SES, the major commercial satellite operator that bases itself in the Grand Duchy.

GovSat-1 is another example of Luxembourg’s burgeoning role in the space sector.

Its deputy prime minister, Etienne Schneider, who was also at the Cape, has recently positioned the country at the forefront of plans to go mine asteroids.

GovSat-1 rode to orbit on a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket. It will try to forge a new market in satellite communications.

(18) EARLY WARNING. With this it may be possible to detect dementia before it ravages the brain — “Blood test finds toxic Alzheimer’s proteins”.

Scientists in Japan and Australia have developed a blood test that can detect the build-up of toxic proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

The work, published in the journal Nature, is an important step towards a blood test for dementia.

The test was 90% accurate when trialled on healthy people, those with memory loss and Alzheimer’s patients.

Experts said the approach was at an early stage and needed further testing, but was still very promising.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Dann, Andrew Porter, John Joseph Adams, Greg Hullender, Jason Sizemore, StephenfromOttawa, ULTRAGOTHA, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 1/13/18 The Man Who Scrolled Christopher Columbus Ashore

(1) THE FIRE THIS TIME. The Paris Review tells about “Staging Octavia Butler in Abu Dhabi”. This really is the best article about the opera I’ve seen so far.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel, opened in November after years of delay and a cost rumored to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The same weekend as LAD’s grand opening, the NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center hosted the world premiere of Parable of the Sower, an opera composed by the singer/songwriter Toshi Reagon, a queer Brooklyn-based activist, and based on the prophetic novel by Octavia Butler. At first glance, it seems unlikely that a “starchitect” museum in Abu Dhabi, where gas is cheap and water is expensive, would stage an opera about a fiery, drought-ridden apocalypse. And yet, taken together, the museum and the opera initiate a set of conversations—about art and culture and change—that upend stereotypes about the Gulf.

The book Parable of the Sower (1993) was intended as the first of a trilogy. It’s set in a world where California is burning, rivers have dried up, and the president sells entire towns to the highest corporate bidder. Violence is everywhere, and not even houses of worship are safe. In the second book, Parable of the Talents (1998), a president is elected who promises to “make America great again.” The third book was never published. Given Butler’s prescience about America’s worst impulses, perhaps it’s best that the third book never came out: Do any of us really want to know how bad things might become?

The teenage heroine of the story, Lauren Olamina, flees her town on the outskirts of Los Angeles after the neighborhood is burned and looted by “pyros,” people addicted to a drug that makes fires better than sex. Along with two other survivors from the neighborhood massacre, Lauren decides to walk north, perhaps to Canada or to anywhere where “water doesn’t cost more than food.”

(2) COSMOS RENEWED. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak told readers that “Fox has renewed Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos for a second season”.

The networks made the announcement today during the Television Critics Association winter press tour, and deGrasse Tyson and producer Seth McFarland confirmed the news on Twitter, saying that the season will air in Spring 2019 on Fox and the National Geographic channel.

(3) SHARPENING CRITICS. Britain’s Science Fiction Foundation is taking applications for the “2018 Masterclass in Science Fiction Criticism”.

Applications are now open for the 2018 Science Fiction Foundation Masterclass in Science Fiction Criticism. The 2018 Masterclass, the Eleventh, will take place from Friday 29 June to Sunday 1 July. This year we will be at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. Three days of extremely enjoyable discussion and exchange of ideas in the delightful environment of the city of Cambridge, the Masterclass is highly valued by past students.

The 2018 Class Leaders are:

Nick Hubble (Brunel University) – Nick is co-editor of the Science Fiction Handbook (2013) and London in Contemporary British Fiction (2016)

John J. Johnston (Egypt Exploration Society) – John is co-editor of the mummy anthology Unearthed, his introduction for which was shortlisted for the BSFA Award for Non-Fiction.

Stephanie Saulter (author) – Stephanie is the author of Gemsigns and its sequels

(4) PKD SERIES CALLED WEAK. James Poniewozik of the New York Times finds the new series disappointing: “Review: In ‘Electric Dreams,’ the Future Seems Outdated”.

I can’t blame the weaknesses of “Electric Dreams,” whose first season arrives on Amazon on Friday, on the source material: The episodes’ writers had great leeway to stray from the originals. (The same happened with Amazon’s Dick adaptation “The Man in the High Castle.”)

Nor is a lack of star power at fault. The credits of the 10 self-contained episodes include Greg Kinnear, Anna Paquin, Bryan Cranston (one of 14 — 14! — executive producers) and Janelle Monáe (the actress-singer who recorded “The ArchAndroid” plays an arch android).

But this license and talent, plus the lavish scale of production, add up to little that feels freshly imagined or newly provocative.

(5) BUT CONTRARIWISE. The Daily Beast’s Karen Han takes the opposite view: “Philip K. Dick’s ‘Electric Dreams’ Showcases the Best of What Sci-Fi Can Offer”.

…That said, if Black Mirror is a nightmare, then Electric Dreams is… well, a gorgeous dream.

There’s plenty of darkness in Amazon’s new series, but it’s fundamentally geared toward the light. Like every anthology series, it’s a bit of a grab bag, but there’s something special to be found in each episode, and the heights reached by the best installments are more than worth the patience required to get through the less coherent entries.

(6) SMUGGLERS TREASURE. The Book Smugglers have a new volume out: “Announcing Gods and Monsters: The Anthology (and a Giveaway)”. They’re giving away three copies – see the post for details.

From a thief and a stolen goddess, to twin sisters more different than their fathers ever could have imagined. From a priestess fighting gods incarnate, to a cursed artifact and journal concealing a great evil. From a young boy discovering his godly lineage and power, to two trans boys falling in love and summoning demons. Gods and Monsters collects six tales of great and terrible powers, including:

  • “Beauty, Glory, Thrift” by Alison Tam
  • “The Waters and Wild of Winter Street” by Jessi Cole Jackson
  • “A Question of Faith” by Tonya Liburd
  • “It Came Back” by Samantha Lienhard
  • “Duck Duck God” by José Iriarte
  • “Avi Cantor Has Six Months To Live” by Sacha Lamb

All stories originally edited and published by The Book Smugglers.

(7) HAPPY FAIL SAFE DAY. This was a push-notice to every cellphone in Hawaii. It took them 38 minutes to push a notice of false alarm. No matter what they said, today will not be the day before the Day After after all.

(8) NATAL DAY. Steven H Silver continues his Black Gate series — “Birthday Reviews: Clark Ashton Smith’s “The Maze of Maal Dweb”.

Clark Ashton Smith was born on January 13, 1893 and died on August 14, 1961. Along with H.P. Lovecraft, he was one of the major authors at Weird Tales, writing stories which were similar to the dark fantasies Lovecraft wrote.

Smith maintained a correspondence with Lovecraft for the last 15 years of Lovecraft’s life. While Lovecraft wrote about Cthulhu, Smith wrote about the far future Zothique. Smith was named the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award winner in 2015.

(9) WEIRDER STILL. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett sent the link to this anecdote about E. Hoffman Price with the note: “Today we explore one of the more unexpected consequences of smoking. If this had happened to Kipling it’s possible that line about a good cigar being a Smoke might not have been written.” — Smoking, more dangerous than you ever knew..

So. Everybody has heard of Howard Philips Lovecraft I presume? Well of course you have, even Xbox playing preteens can tell you that Lovecraft is Cthulhu’s agent. How about Robert E. Howard then? Well of course you have, even Netflix watching preteens can tell you Howard is Conan’s agent. (Though you can confuse them by asking which Conan does he represent?)

So what about E. Hoffman Price? Hah, got you there, you thought I was going to ask about Clarke Ashton Smith next, didn’t you? No, Smith is for another day when I’m feeling a little more eldritch. Not that E. Hoffman Price couldn’t write a pretty effective weird story when he was in the mood. He started selling weird shorts back in the 1920s and didn’t stop until not long before he passed away in the 1980s. I doubt anybody keeps selling that long if they don’t have the knack for it….

(10) CHECK IT OUT. The ACME Corporation has an admirer:

(11) EMBERG OBIT. Bella Emberg (1937-2018): British actress, died 12 January, aged 80. Television work includes Doomwatch (two episodes, 1970-71), Doctor Who (three episodes, in 1970, 1974 and 2006), The Tomorrow People (one episode, 1977).

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 13, 1888 — National Geographic Society founded.
  • January 13, 1930 — Mickey Mouse comic strip debuted in newspapers.
  • January 13, 1957 — The Wham-O Company developed the first frisbee
  • January 13, 2008 — The Terminator franchise premiered Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock calls it “misapplying the supernatural” in this installment of Bizarro.
  • John King Tarpinian notes in Close to Home that one person’s sci-fi is another’s biography.

(14) BEWARE THE PEAR. Here’s a tweet of some RedWombat-inspired cosplay –

Know Your Meme’s explanation of “LOLWUT” includes this RedWombat reference —

The surrealist painting of the laughing fruit, titled The Biting Pear of Salamanca[1], was posted to deviantART on February 27th, 2006 by Ursula Vernon. Inspired by pop surrealism, she wrote that the pear “lives off low-flying birds, hand-outs, and the occasional unwary sightseer.”

(15) COMING TO VIDEO. The Hellraiser series continues on video:

Experience a terrifying new chapter in the legendary Hellraiser series when Hellraiser: Judgment arrives on Blu-ray (plus Digital), DVD, Digital, and On Demand February 13 from Lionsgate. The tenth film in the classic horror series tells the story of three detectives as they struggle to solve a horrifying murder, but instead find themselves thrust into the depths of Pinhead’s hellacious landscape. Including horror icon Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare), it was written and directed by Gary J. Tunnicliffe (Hansel & Gretel).

 

(16) SUPER BLUE BLOOD MOON. Apparently, January 31 brings four lunar events for the price of one. The Crescenta Valley Weekly covers that, JPL’s 60th anniversary, and tells about a forthcoming mission, in “Inspired by Past, JPL Looks to the Future”.

On Jan. 31, there are several things happening. That night will see a full moon, a super moon (when the Moon is full at its closest approach to earth in its elliptical orbit), a blue moon (the second full moon in a month), and a lunar eclipse blood moon (when the earth passes between the sun and moon, blocking out all of the light for a short while and giving the moon a reddish hue before and after). It’s a super blue blood moon. In addition, it is the 60th anniversary of the veritable birth of JPL.

“After Sputnik in 1957, the U.S. was just completely freaking out because the Soviets were the first into space. You’ve got this thing flying a couple hundred miles overhead beeping and it is a symbol of Soviet space technology and dominance. What people don’t realize is the U.S. response to Sputnik came from Caltech.

“The first satellite was Explorer I. So this Jan. 31 will be the 60th anniversary of the launch of Explorer I. It was designed, built and operated by Caltech and what would become JPL,” Gallagher said. “Our most iconic photo [at JPL] is of William Pickering, who ended up being the first director of JPL, James Van Allen, who discovered the Van Allen radiation belt that was named after him, and Wernher Von Braun. [The three] are standing at the National Academy of Science holding Explorer I over their heads. It is an amazing picture. And that is the birth of JPL, and how we got started. We are very excited about that.”

Moving further into the year there are missions that will look to explore space, but also those meant to look back at our home planet, to better understand our world’s behavior and our relationship to it.

“In spring 2018, there is something called GRACE Follow-On, or GFO, that will launch as an Earth Science mission. GRACE stands for Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment, so it is a follow-on to the first GRACE and it is going to continue that work,” Gallagher said.

GRACE operated for 15 years and eventually died long past its expected lifetime. It consisted of two spacecraft that made highly accurate measurements of the variation of Earth’s gravity. This provided all types of information about what was going on under the Earth’s surface in drought areas or big areas of subsidence that opened up. GRACE tracks changes caused by additional water in the ocean, because this all affects gravity.

“It’s something that has a lot of practical benefits to society,” said Gallagher. “There is also a smaller instrument that is going to be launched called Eco Stress in June 2018. That’s also an Earth Science mission.”

(17) EVEN OLDER. The “Rocket Research Institute, founded in Glendale, celebrates 75 years”.

When the Glendale Rocket Society was founded by students at Clark Junior High— the current site of Crescenta Valley High — the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II had just commenced and Dwight D. Eisenhower had not yet taken command of the Allied Forces in Europe.

The organization’s leader, George James, 14 years old at the time, brought the society to Glendale High, where it gained a small but devoted membership of students interested in the study of rockets.

“We have carefully avoided inviting those who have no other interest in the subject beyond idle curiosity,” James told the Glendale News-Press in 1946. “All of our members contribute something to the project.”

Now, 75 years later, the group has survived as the Rocket Research Institute, a nonprofit educational group staffed by engineering, space and safety professionals who contribute toward space- and rocket-education advocacy.

Originally inspired by a Buck Rodgers comic strip, James’ interest in rocketry during high school secured him a job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an assistant testing mechanic when the facility employed about 300 people.

(18) FIRSTS. Syfy Wire digs into the history of The Twilight Zone: “Firsts: The first episode of The Twilight Zone premiered in 1959”.

Syracuse, New York native and World War II combat veteran Rod Serling had been working as a freelance scriptwriter in radio and television for years, scoring his big breakthrough in 1955 with “Patterns,” broadcast live on Kraft Television Theatre. That led to more work and a string of acclaimed teleplays such as “Requiem for a Heavyweight” (1956), “The Comedian” (1957) and “A Town Has Turned to Dust” (1958).

But Serling, an activist at heart who dealt with many of his social and political concerns in his writing, had been increasingly frustrated with corporate censorship by small screen sponsors that continually forced him to change his scripts. He reckoned that a series in which he could hide commentary on the contemporary world inside science fiction and fantasy tales would get the censors off his back.

CBS gave Serling the green light to move forward with his idea for a half-hour science fiction anthology series, which he dubbed The Twilight Zone, after the success of “The Time Element,” a sci-fi script he sold to CBS for The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse in 1958. “The Time Element” was originally conceived as a pilot script for the program.

(19) BE THE ART. Good Show, Sir reports Lee Moyer, artist, designer and illustrator, has created a gallery of sci-fi cover recreations on his website. For example –

(20)  DUCK TECH. Cat Eldridge sent the link with the warning, “This is heart-wrenching.”

My Special Aflac DuckTM, part of Aflac’s ongoing Aflac Childhood Cancer CampaignTM and developed by Sproutel, is an innovative, smart robotic companion that features naturalistic movements, joyful play and interactive technology to help comfort children coping with cancer. With a year of child-centered research behind it, My Special Aflac Duck is a part of Aflac’s 22-year commitment to providing care and support for children who have cancer. Aflac’s goal is to distribute this smart companion to the nearly 16,000 children in the U.S. who are newly diagnosed with cancers each year, free of charge.

 

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Einstein-Rosen —

Summer of 1982. Teo claims he has found a wormhole. His brother Óscar does not believe him – at least not for now.

[Thanks to JJ, Steve Green, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Will R., David K.M. Klaus, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Mark Hepworth, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 1/9/18 Scrolled Pixel’s Book Of Practical SJW Credentials

(1) CLASSIC KETTLE. True Rat: The Beast of Leroy Kettle collects and preserves the humorous writing of British fan Leroy Kettle. Edited by Rob Hansen, it’s available as a free download in the usual ebook formats plus PDF from Ansible Editions. Over 105,000 words.

Every issue of True Rat is included, plus much more comic autobiography and articles, speeches and scurrilous gossip columns published elsewhere. Only a very few passages that seemed almost funny in the 1970s are here omitted to protect the guilty (Leroy Kettle).

One included item is the transcript of a live interview with our hero by Simone Walsh – with audience participation – at Skycon, the 1978 UK Eastercon. Rob Hansen strongly recommends the audio version, available as an MP3 download from this linked page on his site.

(2)  BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. Wil Wheaton remembers his friend Stepto in a touching tribute, “who lives who dies who tells your story”. The excerpt comes from his remarks at the memorial. He follows them with a powerful and poetic vision.

“I want to tell you about the time Stepto and I had cigars in the Caribbean,” I say, “I want to tell you about how he saved my Xbox for me, about how he made me laugh and how much I miss him in my life.” I think, but don’t say, that I want to talk about how sad and angry I am that Stepto successfully kept his alcoholism a secret from me, and from everyone who was closest to him, for the more than ten years we were friends. I want to talk about how angry I am that he got a second chance, when he survived a coma last year. I want to say a lot of swears, because he convinced himself and me that it wasn’t alcohol that put him into a coma, but some kind of genetic thing and a virus and something else that was a bunch of bullshit. But I am coming up on two years of an alcohol-free life, myself, and even though I’m not an alcoholic, and even though I don’t do any recovery programs, I do know that addiction is powerful and all consuming. I know that it’s incredibly easy to convince yourself that you’ve got it under control, and that the rationalizations and justifications come as easily as opening another bottle after adding an empty one to the lie. Huh. I was going to write “line”, but my fingers made the first typo I think I’ve ever made that was more apt than what I intended. I want to be angry, but I can’t be. Stepto was sick, and he couldn’t get well, so he died. But while he was here, he was a good friend, and a magnificent human being. The world is better because he was in it, and the sun is not as warm or as bright as it was, now that he is gone.

(3) BOMBCON. Fanhistorian Rob Hansen has added the story of “Bombcon” (1941) to his THEN website. It happened in London during WWII. He’s assembled the text of two conreports plus supporting photos.

England’s biggest fan reunion for the last year was held over the weekend, September 20/21, when in spite of the manifold difficulties attending such a proposition – far in excess of anything the US fans encounter – a muster of some 14 was managed. At Saturday lunch time a party gathered to welcome Maurice Hanson, ex-editor of “Novae Terrae” who had wangled leave from Somerset. After some bookhunting in Charing X Road, the party saw the film “Fantasia”.

On Sunday, a crowd assembled in Liverpool St. stn. waiting room, and proceeded to convert it, in the approved manner of fan meetings, into a magazine mart. We rolled on to Holborn to meet author John Beynon Harris, nearly got arrested for taking photos of the gang, had tea, & held London’s first open air meeting of fans, in Lincoln’s Inn Fields….

(4) MEANING OF DECLINING NUMBERS OF STARS. John Scalzi’s “Four Views of the Same Short Story” uses reviews of his newly-published short story as the basis for an essay about how different readers perceive the same story differently and what authors should do about that.

…The text of the story is the same regardless of who reads it, but the experience of reading it is unique to the person reading.

This is a very important thing for writers (especially newer writers) to learn and build into their worldview: That everyone’s experience of your work, and any reviews they might then write, are inherently subjective, dependent on the person writing them, and there is nothing in the world you can do about that. That’s just the nature of putting work out into the world. Your job is to write the story as well as you can, and not worry overly much how it will be received. Because, as you can see above, it will be received well, and poorly, and everywhere inbetween.

And yes, learning to be okay with the fact everyone won’t love what you wrote is hard, because everyone has an ego, and everyone likes the validation of people enjoying their work…

(5) JOHN CARTER IS ALIVE! ALIVE! I09, in “John Carter Of Mars Is Getting an Action-Packed Romance RPG”, says –

Disney might have soured a few people on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic scifi saga, but John Carter and the world of Barsoom, Mars have been reborn with a new roleplaying game….

Modiphius Entertainment has announced its latest tabletop game, John Carter of Mars: Adventures on the Dying World of Barsoom. Working in cooperation with Burroughs’ estate, the pulp-action RPG lets players take on iconic roles like John Carter, Dejah Thoris, and Tars Tarkas (or a made-up character) “as they travel, battle, and romance their way across the wondrous and dangerous world known to its natives as Barsoom.” John Carter of Mars launched today on Kickstarter, and it’s already nearly tripled its fundraising goal.

The John Carter of Mars game rules are available on the Kickstarter page.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian liked Bizarro’s take on the Bard of Avon.
  • Tarpinian also recommends The Argyle Sweater, where they serve up some Transformer humor.
  • And I’m personally a fan of this cat joke at Bizarro.

(7) TRANSFORMATIVE WORK. The Washington Post’s John Kelly looks at the cheesy 1973 horror film Werewolf of Washington which he thinks has resonances with contemporary politics — “What a howl: Here’s the background story to ‘The Werewolf of Washington’”.

A few years later, one of that film’s producers asked Ginsberg whether he had anything else up his sleeve. As scandal was starting to engulf the Nixon White House — but before Watergate had exploded — Ginsberg went to New York’s Fire Island and in 10 days wrote “The Werewolf of Washington.”

Said Ginsberg: “I came back and the [producer] said, ‘Are you out of your mind? This is an attack on the president. The script is yours. Don’t ever show up here again.’?”

Another producer and some of Ginsberg’s friends stepped in to fund the movie, shot on a shoestring budget of $100,000. Somehow, they were able to get veteran actor [Dean] Stockwell to star. His career, Ginsberg said, “had fallen into eclipse at that time. He loved the script.”

(8) GAME CHANGER. NPR discusses “Fighting Bias With Board Games” — like Buffalo.

This is where Buffalo — a card game designed by Dartmouth College’s Tiltfactor Lab — comes in. The rules are simple. You start with two decks of cards. One deck contains adjectives like Chinese, tall or enigmatic; the other contains nouns like wizard or dancer.

Draw one card from each deck, and place them face up. And then all the players race to shout out a real person or fictional character who fits the description….

It’s the sort of game you’d pull out at dinner parties when the conversation lulls. But the game’s creators says it’s good for something else — reducing prejudice. By forcing players to think of people that buck stereotypes, Buffalo subliminally challenges those stereotypes.

“So it starts to work on a conscious level of reminding us that we don’t really know a lot of things we might want to know about the world around us,” explains Mary Flanagan, who leads Dartmouth College’s Tiltfactor Lab, which makes games designed for social change and studies their effects.

Buffalo might nudge us to get better acquainted with the work of female physicists, “but it also unconsciously starts to open up stereotypical patterns in the way we think,” Flanagan says.

In one of many tests she conducted, Flanagan rounded up about 200 college students and assigned half to play Buffalo. After one game, the Buffalo players were slightly more likely than their peers to strongly agree with statements like, “There is potential for good and evil in all of us,” and, “I can see myself fitting into many groups.”

(9) ALL GOOD THINGS. “End signalled for European Ariane 5 rocket” says the BBC — 82 straight successes, but Ariane 6 will be cheaper.

A final order for a batch of 10 Ariane 5 rockets has been raised.

The vehicle, which has been the mainstay of European launcher activity for the past 20 years, will be phased out once its successor is in place.

ArianeGroup, the French-led industrial consortium, expects its new Ariane 6 to be flying no later than mid-2020, and in full operational service in 2023.

At that point, Ariane 5 can be retired. The last order ensures sufficient rockets are available for the handover.

(10) BIGGER. How do you take away a crashed helicopter? With a bigger helicopter: “US Marines rescue their helicopter… with a bigger one” (video)

US Marines have rescued one of their helicopters after it made an emergency landing on a beach in Okinawa, Japan. The aircraft was airlifted back to base using an even bigger helicopter.

The US presence on Okinawa in southern Japan is a key part of the security alliance between the two countries. The base houses about 26,000 US troops.

(11) WITH FACTS UNCHECKED. It’s fascinating to see JDA start his post “I’m in Good Company” with the rhetorical fillip “I was wrong,”  then grandiosely “correct” himself by citing more misinformation.

It turns out I was wrong in saying WorldCon  made an unprecedented  move in banning someone over politics. It has happened — one time before. Today on the blog we’re going to take you all the way back to 1939, where WorldCon was, like in this year, all too proud of blackballing someone over their dangerous visionary ideas for science fiction. A reader wrote to me:

The Futurians were kicked out of the first Worldcon because organizers feared that they would distribute communist propaganda. The group included a number of luminaries including Asimov and Pohl.

Because  of their fear of not Asimov hurting anyone  (no one fears me hurting anyone by the evidence of how I’ve conducted myself at dozens of conventions in the past) — but spreading political ideas that they found too dangerous for the times  — WorldCon banned Isaac Asimov.

The implication is clear. The elites in science fiction believe I have the potential to be the next Asimov…

Asimov wasn’t kicked out of the first Worldcon. There are a lot of places you can learn who was (like this  Fancyclopedia entry.) Asimov wasn’t one of them — a fact he himself referenced when speaking at “Science Fiction’s 50th Anniversary Family Reunion” in 1989 (Noreascon 3), where he sounded less embarrassed than proud that he had not been turned back at the door with the six other Futurians.

(12) WHAT’S A MAP? Meanwhile, blogger The Phantom, determined to force a connection between the Worldcon and James Damore’s lawsuit against Google, performs this geographic sleight-of-hand:

What does this have to do with WorldCon? Well, this year’s WorldCon and Hugo award ceremony will be held in San Francisco. That’s where Google’s headquarters is, and where all the computer nerds who work at Google live.

Of course, Google’s headquarters is in Mountain View, and the Worldcon is in San Jose. Neither is in San Francisco.

(13) KING KONG. Steve Vertlieb’s 2014 Rondo-nominated article ”A Triple Life: King Kong’s Trinity of Reincarnation on Film” is “A published celebration of the enduring legacy, and profound cultural significance of Merian C. Cooper’s immortal 1933 motion picture masterpiece, King Kong, as well as its numerous cinematic incarnations, influences, and tributes throughout the past eighty five years.”

KING KONG related the remarkable tale of a giant beast, an impossible ape-ike creature whose imposing, horrifying shadow would follow the intrepid explorers whose heroic exploits had led them to its discovery.  Released by RKO Studios during the winter of 1933, the picture reunited Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong with Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack for yet another thrilling adventure in the lurid jungles of a primordial world.  They were joined by Bruce Cabot in, perhaps, the pivotal performance of his career.

(14) ADVERTISING ART. Andrew Liptak at The Verge recommended a documentary about a very rare collection:

The Collection is a short documentary (via Kottke) by Adam Roffman that chronicles a unique piece of Hollywood history: tens of thousands of plates and blocks used to create the newspaper advertisements used for nearly every film that hit theaters before the 1980s.

…The collection includes blocks used for films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Star Wars, Planet Of The Apes, and many others.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 12/16/17 The Hoboken Pixel Emergency

(1) #MAPPINGFANTASY. Alex Acks and Paul Weimer taught their “Mapping Fantasy” online class today. Cat Rambo tweeted the highlights – jump onto the thread here:

(2) PURINA ALIEN CHOW. Food & Wine investigates “How Hollywood’s Sci-Fi Food Stylists Create Futuristic Meals”.

For Janice Poon, one of TV’s most popular food stylists and a frequent collaborator with Bryan Fuller (American Gods, Hannibal, Pushing Daisies), food styling for the future is as much about taking cues from the script or the world around you as it is about pushing your imaginary limits—within production capability, of course.

Poon refers to the script, pulling the tone and character motivations from a food scene, before brainstorming alongside her showrunner (and sometimes even a cinematographer) on how a spread will look. However, Poon says that “because it is sci-fi, you can do just about anything really.” To do just about anything, Poon uses conventional tools like wet wipes and syringes, but also “an ability to problem solve” and a four and a half inch white ceramic santoku knife that enables Poon to work in the darkness of a set

(3) STRAHAN CALLING. Even as Jonathan Strahan’s 2017 best of the year collection is being readied for publication, he’s looking ahead to 2018 — Call for stories: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Vol. 13.

I edit The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year anthology series for Solaris Books. The twelfth volume in the series will be published in April 2018, and the thirteenth volume will appear in March 2019.

I am currently reading for the 2018 volume, and am looking for stories from all branches of science fiction and fantasy: space opera to cyberpunk, fairy tales to the slipstream, or anything else that might qualify. If in doubt, please send it.

Eligibility

This is a reprint anthology. Stories must have been published for the first time between 1 January and 31 December 2018 to be considered.

Deadline

The submission deadline for this year’s book is:

1 November 2018

Anything sent after this deadline will reach me too late, as I  deliver the final book to the publisher in late December. If a magazine, anthology, or collection you are in or you edit is coming out before 31 December 2018 please send galleys or manuscripts so that I can consider the stories in time.

(4) GALACTIC STARS. Meanwhile, The Traveler recognizes the best sff of 1962 in See the Stars at Galactic Journey.

Best Novelette

The Ballad of Lost C’Mell, Cordwainer Smith (Galaxy)

The second time an Instrumentality tale has gotten a Star… and this one is better.

(5) CENTENARY PROJECT. The Clarke Award’s’ Kickstarter to fund “2001: An Odyssey in Words” has started. In this original anthology honoring Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s centenary year every story is precisely two thousand and one words long.

The Arthur C. Clarke Award is famous for its annual redefinition of that elusive term ‘science fiction,’ and Sir Arthur was always adamant that while the award may be named for him, it shouldn’t be styled on his work.

We wanted to make sure that the scope of the anthology was as broad as the fluid definition of science fiction for which the Clarke Award is renowned, while still retaining a direct acknowledgement of Sir Arthur’s own work.

The solution? A collection where every story has all the scope and freedom to imagine that an author might possibly want, but where the word count had to be precisely 2001 words (and we had rules about authors playing clever games with super-long story titles, just to make sure).

(5) CLARKE CENTENARY IN SOCIAL MEDIA. Here are tweets from some of the groups celebrating the day.

  • And I applaud Gideon Marcus for staying in character –

(6) RIVALRY. From 2015, Adam Rowe at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog fondly remembers “The Decades-Long Flame War Between Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov”.

While introducing his Asimov at an event in London, Clarke had plenty of time to prepare his choicest insults.

“Well, Isaac, I’ve lost my bet. There are more than five people here,” he opened. “I’m not going to waste any time introducing Isaac Asimov. That would be as pointless as introducing the equator, which indeed, he’s coming to resemble more and more closely.”

(7) SUPERBOOTS ON THE GROUND. Andrew Liptak combed through all sci-fi media and came up with a list of “18 suits of power armor from science fiction you don’t want to meet on the battlefield” in The Verge. Here’s one of them:

Goliath Mk ? Powersuit, James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse

In The Expanse, Mars possesses the most advanced military force in the solar system, and its elite Marines are trained to operate in deep space, onboard spaceships, and planetary surfaces. They come decked out in a powerful suit of armor called the Goliath Powersuit. This armor completely protects its wearer, providing life support and armor, as well as a heads up display to help soldiers with targeting. They also come equipped with guns mounted directly into their arms, and carry a small rack of missiles on their backs.

These suits will resist small arms fire, and are small enough that they can be used inside the narrow corridors of a spaceship. But they’re not invincible, as Bobbie Draper’s Marines discovered on Ganymede during the television show’s second season.

(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Lillian Disney (wife of Walt) came up with the name Mickey Mouse.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 16, 1901 — Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published
  • December 16, 1981 Beach Babes from Beyond premiered.
  • December 16, 2016Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born December 16, 1775 — Jane Austen
  • Born December 16, 1917 — Arthur C. Clarke
  • Born December 16, 1927 — Randall Garrett
  • Born December 16, 1927 — Peter Dickinson
  • Born December 16, 1928 — Philip K. Dick
  • Born December 16, 1957 — Lenore Jean Jones
  • Born December 16, 1981 — Krysten Ritter (aka Jessica Jones)

(11) SWORD OF LIGHT. In honor of the release of The Last Jedi, Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett sent along this quote from Kaldar, World of Antares written by Edmond Hamilton and originally published in 1933:

With the tunic went a belt in which were a sword and a tube such as he had noticed. Merrick examined these weapons of the Corlans carefully. The sword seemed at first glance a simple long rapier of metal. But he found that when his grip tightened on the hilt it pressed a catch which released a terrific force stored in the hilt into the blade, making it shine with light. When anything was touched by this shining blade, he found, the force of the blade annihilated it instantly. He learned that the weapon was called a light-sword, due to the shining of the blade when charged, and saw that it was truly a deadly weapon, its touch alone meaning annihilation to any living thing.

(12) BELIEVE IT OR NOT. The price is unbelievable! “Check out an original ‘Star Wars’ lightsaber valued at $450,000”.

Starting Saturday, and just in time for the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” visitors to Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum in Hollywood, California, will be able to see the iconic prop in person.

Ripley’s purchased the saber hilt for a whopping $450,000 at an auction last June held by Profiles in History. The auction house specializes in Hollywood memorabilia and acquired the prop from the collection of Gary Kurtz, a producer on “Star Wars: A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” It’s the first time the prop has been put on public display.

(13) LYRICAL MIRACLE. This thread started in 2013 but gets rediscovered every time a new Star Wars movie comes out – begins here:

(14) HURLEY. BEWARE SPOILERS in Kameron Hurley’s review “The Last Jedi: Promises, Pitfalls, and What Sticks With You”. (No spoilers in this excerpt.)

I came out of watching The Last Jedi, and was like, “Well, that was good, but I’m not blown away.” It had a lot of threads; it felt like three movies in one, and cramming all that story into one movie made it feel a little bloated. The story beats weren’t that clockwork structure that The Force Awakens and the original trilogy stuck to. There were a couple of massive emotional moments that needed to be paid off more than we got.

And yet.

And yet this morning I find that I can’t stop thinking about it. Stories are, at their heart, about characters. If I’m invested in the characters and their struggles, you can fall down on plot and no one cares….

(15) I DON’T KNOW IF THIS IS A SPOILER. If it is, don’t read it.

(16) MODERATE PRAISE. The Hugo Award Book Club concluded “The Stone Sky is the echo of a great book”, but they’d still like to give it an award:

The first book in the series, The Fifth Season, was innovative and unique. It offered a refreshing take on science fiction and fantasy that unquestionably deserved the Hugo Award. But The Stone Sky does not stand on its own. It is good, but mostly because it is an echo of a truly great book.

It might be more appropriate to honour N.K. Jemisin with a Best Series Hugo this year, rather than another Best Novel, because that would recognize how The Stone Sky works as part of a larger whole.

(17) SUMMATION. John Crowley’s Ka is a book-length historical fantasy about a crow. The author has been profiled by an area paper: “Conway author’s handwritten ode to birdwatching”.

The book was written while “looking out at Baptist Hill and watching people mow their lawns, and watching crows fly around.” Crowley explained in a recent interview about what went into the makings of “Ka” and how his living in Conway for nearly the last 35 years influenced his work.

The narrator of the novel, “feels like he is living in a country different from where he grew up,” after moving back home, he explained.

Crowley himself grew up in Brattleboro, Vt., moved to Indiana for college, and then New York City for some professional years, where he wrote his critically acclaimed, “Little, Big.” He eventually returned to New England.

Crowley said the narrator of the novel “says to himself that he is surprised by seeing kinds of birds that he doesn’t remember seeing when he was a child … the Canada geese use to fly overhead and still do, but they’re not going south anymore.”

Things like climate change, but also other elements that just sometimes change with generations, have thrown off this narrator.

“Things like that have changed his feelings about the world and saddened him … If I’m going to leave the world, it’s not the world I began in,” Crowley said about the protagonist.

(18) UNIDENTIFIED FLYING TRAILER. Avengers: Infinity War Reality Stone Trailer (2018). Is this a fan trailer or official?

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 10/4/17 A Hollow Voice Says “Pixel”

(0) WE INTERRUPT THIS SCROLL. I will be taking the train to New Mexico to attend my mother’s 91st birthday celebration over the weekend. I leave Thursday evening and get back Tuesday morning. The train won’t have wi-fi and once I get there I’ll be with the family, so I won’t be able to write Scrolls some of these days (any of these days?) I plan to set up in advance a daily stub with hope that some of you will do-it-yourself, as you did so magnificently when I was offline a year ago. Thanks also to Carl Slaughter who has also chipped in some short video roundups that will be unveiling each night.

(1) VANDERMEER DEAL. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak hears from “Annihilation author Jeff VanderMeer on how his next novel is inspired by our dystopian present”.

Annihilation and Borne author Jeff VanderMeer signed a “major deal” with publisher FSG for his next novel, Hummingbird Salamander, and an untitled short story collection. The deal is for over half a million dollars, and VanderMeer tells The Verge that it’s inspired in part by his concerns over the state the world when it comes to right-wing politics, climate change, and national security.

(2) BEHIND BARS CON. Utah author Brian Lee Durfee (with Simon and Shuster) works at the Utah State Prison. With strong support from the facility’s administration, Brian is launching a convention to be held at the prison for the prisoners. Maze Runner author James Dashner will be there. Durfee told his plans and hopes for it on Facebook.

Good idea? Bad idea? COMIC CON inside a prison. Yup! I arranged it. Not as easy as one might think either. I’m calling it PRISON CON…..I will give you a moment with that) . Anyway, as many of you know I’m a Sergeant at the Utah State Prison. I also teach creative writing inside the prison. I also write novels and meet other famous authors in my travels. And I also have WILD ideas that just take root & wont let go. So on Oct 17 all my various worlds will collide! James Dashner (author of the Maze Runner series) and I are putting on a little mini convention for the Inmates. I must thank Dashner for donating his time to this event and Warden Benzon for agreeing to the craziness of it all. Inmates will be Cosplaying as…well…DOC Inmates. I will be in a Darth Vader suit. Not really. But on a serious note, the inmates LOVE books and LOVE reading, and many are even talented writers. It might not seem like much, two writers discussing books and Maze Runner movies, but letting those who are locked up feel as if they are part of normal society for even an hour or two is a huge deal. They are excited for this. So lets hope its a success because I want PRISON CON to grow and become an annual thing. I truly believe going out of your way to make a difference and to give others hope (even if its just in your own small corner of the world) is important to the future of us all. Thanks also to Director Jensen and Sgt Preece and Officer Halladay and all the programming staff and SWAT guys that will be helping. I always wanna promote the positive things that are happening on the inside.

(3) IN MINNESOTA. Cory Doctorow and Charlie Jane Anders will appear together at the Twin Cities Book Festival. Also appearing are cartoonist Roz Chast, and the Lemony Snicket guy, Senator Al Franken and others.

Twin Cities Book Festival, Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Friday, October 13, 2017: 6-7pm Reception; 7-8pm Opening Night Talk

Saturday, October 14, 2017: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

(4) RECONSIDERED. I thank Nerds of a Feather, who took down the post that led off yesterday’s Scroll and issued an apology.

We made the editorial decision to pull a recent post on the video game Destiny. In the post, the author discusses at length the various weaponry used in the game and why some are more effective than others.

Like most of our pieces, this one was written more than a week ago and pre-scheduled by the author. And in normal times, this would just be another piece on video games. But these are not normal times. Two days before the Destiny piece posted, a man used an arsenal of real weapons to murder more than fifty people in Las Vegas, whose only “crime” was attending a music festival.

We do not believe that violence in video games has any more relationship to actual violence than violence in film, comics or pen-and-paper RPGs. But the timing of our post was nevertheless problematic. Like many of you, we are in deep shock and grief over what happened, and are angry that the US government does nothing to prevent these kinds of incidents. Thus we apologize for posting something that appears to treat these issues lightly, and just days after the massacre occurred.

-G, Vance and Joe

(5) WORKADAY WORLD. Galactic Journey, in “[October 4, 1962] Get to work!  (The Mercury Flight of Sigma 7)”, notes that excitement about space missions seems to decline in proportion to their frequency and successes.

Five years ago, satellite launches were quarterly events that dominated the front page.  Now, the Air Force is launching a mission every week, and NASA is not far behind.  The United Kingdom and Canada have joined the U.S. and U.S.S.R. in the orbital club, and one can be certain that Japan and France aren’t far behind.  It’s truer than ever that, as I’ve said before, unmanned spaceflight has become routine.

Yesterday, the same thing happened to manned missions.\

39 year-old Navy Commander Walter M. “Wally” Schirra blasted off early the morning of October 3, 1962, flew for six orbits, and splashed down safely in the Pacific near Midway Island less than half a day later.  His Sigma 7 capsule was in space twice as long as Glenn and Carpenter’s Mercury ships and, to all accounts, it was a thoroughly uneventful trip.  Aside from the whole nine hours of weightlessness thing.

While the newspapers all picked up the mission, radio and television coverage was decidedly less comprehensive than for prior flights.  Part of it was the lack of drama.  Shepard was the first.  Grissom almost drowned.  Glenn’s mission had the highest stakes, it being our answer to the Soviet Vostok flights, and his capsule ran the risk of burning up on reentry.  For a couple of hours, Carpenter was believed lost at sea.

(6) CATNIP. John Scalzi spent a busy day telling trolls how he feels about them, a series of tweets now collected in “A Brief Addendum to ‘Word Counts and Writing Process'”.

Although I can see why Solzhenitsyn would come to mind, writing about oppression is the very reason Solzhenitsyn’s name is known. Wouldn’t it have been a comparative loss if he’d been, say, an untroubled but prolific creator of musical comedies?

(7) PURLOINED PARAGRAPHS. Lou Antonelli, the gift that keeps on taking! After File 770 announced a Storybundle with his book in it this afternoon, Lou ganked the text and put it on his blog without attribution. Admittedly all I had to do was write a frame for Kevin J. Anderson’s description of the project, but I guess a Dragon Award nominee like Lou couldn’t spare five minutes away from his next contender to write a frame of his own.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 4, 1961 Attack of the Puppet People premiered in Mexico.
  • October 4, 1985The Adventures of Hercules premiered and staring Lou Ferrigno.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY SATELLITE

  • Launched October 4, 1957 – Sputnik 1

(10) MORE ON SPUTNIK. NBC says “Soviet satellite embarrassed America but also gave U.S. science education a big boost.” — “Sputnik Shook the Nation 60 Years Ago. That Could Happen Again”.

It was the size of a fitness ball, but its effect was bigger than that of any bomb.

Sixty years ago, on Oct. 4, 1957, the world awoke to learn that the Soviet Union had launched a satellite into orbit — the first nation to do so. Sputnik 1 was nearly two feet in diameter and weighed as much as a middle-aged insurance salesman. Most people were stunned.

Why was this so disturbing? The idea of artificial satellites had been around for a while. Indeed, sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke had written up a prescient scheme predicting the use of geosynchronous satellites for communications as early as 1945.

The shock, of course, was because Sputnik was launched at the height of the Cold War.

(11) COMICS SECTION

John King Tarpinian found a space fashion statement in today’s Speedbump.

(12) FROM BINTI TO MARVEL. Nnedi Okorafor will be writing for Marvel’s Black Panther.

(13) A BUNDLE THESE COST. On eBay, golden Yoda cufflinks, baby! A mere $3,999.95! (Tax and shipping mumble).

(14) CANADIAN SFF HALL OF FAME. The Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association (CSFFA) added three inductees to the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame for 2017: Charles de Lint, Lorna Toolis, and Elisabeth Vonarburg. The announcement was made September 23 at Hal-Con. [H/T Locus Online.]

(15) I INHALED. Fast Company profiles Beyond the Castle: A Guide to Discovering Your Happily Ever After by Jody Jean Dreyer, who worked for the Walt Disney Studios and Disney Parks Division for 30 years in “The Secrets Of Disneyland: A Company Vet Explains How The Magic Happens”. I knew there was an artificial “new car smell” but I didn’t know Disneyland had similar concepts for its attractions.

Provide A Complete Experience—Aromas Included

Think back to your favorite Disneyland ride. Maybe it’s the dusty rock-filled Indiana Jones Adventure, or the rickety, open-air Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Whatever your attraction of choice, your memory of it might include a smell: the stuffy, musty attic air of the Haunted Mansion or the leathery dampness of the Pirates of the Caribbean, with just a hint of gunpowder and sea salt.

“That is on purpose,” says Dreyer.

Disneyland’s Imagineers–the creative force behind Walt Disney Parks and Resorts–rely on a scent-emitting machine known as the Smellitzer (patented by Imagineer Bob McCarthy), which produces specific sweet, savory, or mundane smells to accompany various park attractions. Imagineers understand that smell is hardwired to our brain, specifically the area that handles emotions. In her book, Dreyer writes, “That’s why smell can transport us to a time and feeling that we’d long forgotten.”

So whether you’re shopping for a stuffed Donald Duck or clutching your safety bar on Space Mountain, you’ll get a whiff of whatever the Smellitzer crafted to make your experience complete. Even the wafts of popcorn along Main Street U.S.A. are by design.

(16) GOING PUBLIC. Regardless of whether they will be attending, some fans are upset that YaoiCon is letting a Vice Media crew shoot video at the con. The thread starts here.

(17) OUR PAL. Two days next week the Turner Classic Movie channel will run a series of George Pal movies.

(17) FOR YOUR FILES. How could I fail to mention a new product called Pixel Buds? Put them in your ears and they control your mind! Wait, that’s something else.

Loud, proud, wireless.

Google Pixel Buds are designed for high-quality audio and fit comfortably in your ear.

(18) CAT PICTURES. This clever design is available on a variety of products: Cat’s Eye of Sauron (Barad-pûrr).

“The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat’s, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.”- The Fellowship of the Ring

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Dave Christenson, Tom Galloway, and Dave Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Dragon Awards Reverse Decision: Littlewood Withdraws, But Scalzi Stays

Dragon Con, has informed Alison Littlewood and John Scalzi they now have the option to withdraw from the Dragon Awards, after initially informing them that they would not be allowed to. However, Scalzi surprisingly has decided to leave his book on the ballot.

Littlewood tweeted —

Littlewood’s book has now been removed from the 2017 Dragon Awards nominee list.

John Scalzi told his Twitter followers —

And the statement he gave to The Verge’s Andrew Lipkin says —

After I contacted the Dragon Award administrators regarding my intention to withdraw, the administrators got back to me and asked if I would consider staying on the ballot. They were hearing the community’s feedback and criticism and were acting on it. Their decision to honor Ms. Littlewood’s request to withdraw is a first example of what I see as their willingness to listen and learn, and is an action I applaud. To honor that action, and in sincere appreciation of the readers and fans who placed me on the Dragon Awards finalist list, I have agreed to remain on the ballot this year. I encourage everyone to vote for their own favorite works on the Dragon Awards finalist list.

And at the Dragon Awards website, they have posted their justification for both the original refusal and the subsequent change in policy, A New Day and a Fresh Perspective, which says in part —

Alison Littlewood, the author of The Hidden People, was nominated for a Dragon Award, which asks ordinary fans what they like to watch, read, and play. It’s a fan’s choice award, plain and simple. And it ought to be a good thing.

Though she clearly has a fan base of her own, Ms. Littlewood’s book was also included on a “slate” proposed by an individual/group she didn’t want to be associated with. She worried that she couldn’t trust the nomination was fairly won. And so, she asked if her book could be pulled from the ballot.

It put us in a jam. We have strong faith in the integrity of the Dragon Awards ballot because it was created by fans, the everyday people who actually read the books and nominate them. In seven categories for literature, there were 53 different novels that represented the broad spectrum of fandom and there was something for everybody. It made an excellent reading list for fans everywhere.

So we told her no.

And then, over the last couple of days, we got an earful from our fans and others. We’ve reconsidered and changed our mind. This is what’s happening next.

We will remove Ms. Littlewood’s book from the 2017 Dragon Awards ballot and re-issue ballots to those people who voted for her book. We believe that fans who voted for The Hidden People should have a second chance to vote for a favorite horror work. No new title will be added to the ballot.

We are extending all voting for this year’s Dragon Awards by two days, to midnight on Sept. 1st, so that everybody who wants a chance to vote will have a chance. Register for a ballot at awards.dragoncon.org.

After this year’s awards, which will be conferred on Sunday, Sept. 3, we’re going to take a hard look at the way we do things at the Dragon Awards. It will still be the “fan’s choice” award, with fans nominating the works and fans voting on the winners. But, we also need to do a better job of listening to the authors and creators of these works. One of the things we will look at is how best to give them a chance to opt off a ballot before its finalized.

John Scalzi has also written an explanatory post at Whatever, Update on the Dragon Awards and Me, part of which is in a Q&A format addressing hypothetical reader questions like these —

I still have issues with the Dragon Awards.

That’s fair. They’re new and still figuring this out, which is not an excuse but is an explanation. In my discussions with the folks running them, my sense is that they really do want to make the awards something that is viable and useful (and fun) for fans of the genre. They have a lot of work to do (this is, I suspect, in the nature of awards in general). Hopefully they’ll get there. As I noted, some of the steps they’re taking now indicate to me they want to get it right. Your mileage may vary. In the meantime, with this as with anything, you’re perfectly within your rights to have issues and criticism. Fire away.

So are you going to the awards ceremony now?

Nope, I’m still counter-scheduled in Washington DC that weekend.

[Thanks to Andrew Liptak, David Langford, and Cat Rambo for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 4/23/17 Scroll White And The Seven Pixels

(1) BORN ON THE SEVENTH OF JULY. In “Spinning a high-tech web”, the LA Times provides an elaborate, photo-illustrated preview of Tony Stark’s upgrade to the new Spider-Man suit that will be seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming, due in theaters July 7.

(2) FILK HALL OF FAME. The 2017 inductees to the Filk Halll of Fame were announced at FilkOntario this weekend:

(3) FAHRENHEIT 451 TO SMALL SCREEN? The Bradbury novel is on the road to development once more. “HBO to Adapt Fahrenheit 451, starring Michael B. Jordan”  — BookRiot has the story.

Now, HBO is “moving toward a production commitment” (via Variety) on a feature-length adaptation of Bradbury’s 1953 novel starring Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Chronicle, Fantastic Four) as the protagonist Guy Montag and Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Boardwalk Empire) as Montag’s boss, Captain Beatty.

The film will be directed by Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes, At Any Price), who is co-writing with Amir Naderi (99 Homes, The Runner). David Coatsworth (production manager on Underworld: Evolution, Ender’s Game, My Big Fat Greek Wedding) will serve as producer.

(4) THEY’RE HUUGE! “Black Holes Are Bigger Than You Thought” accuses Yahoo! News. (Just how big did you think they were? How did Yahoo! News find out?)

Now meet S5 0014+81.

It’s the largest black hole ever discovered and is heavier than our Sun by 40 billion times (40, 000, 000, 000) in the last observation.

If you plug in the equation above, you’ll find that this black hole has a Schwarzschild radius of about… 119 billion kilometers, along with a said diameter of about 236,39 billion km.

(5) THE TOUGHEST AROUND. Let Den of Geek point you at “17 really difficult LEGO sets”.

The Tower Of Orthanc

It may look simple enough on the box, but The Lord Of The Rings’ Tower Of Orthanc is actually a real tough cookie. Because most of its 2,359 pieces are jet black and slim, working out which bit goes where is the stuff of nightmares (in, um, a good way). The Treebeard that comes with it will make the struggle worth it… honest.

Buy The Tower Of Orthanc now for £348.07.

(6) TODAY’S DAY

  • April 23 — World Book and Copyright Day

Pays tribute to authors and books and their social and cultural contribution to the world

(7) DID YOU KNOW? Last year the International Costumers’ Guild participated in a “friend of the court” brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, joining Public Knowledge, the American Library Association, and others, asking the Court to protect the rights of clothing designers and costumers to freely practice their craft.

(8) AT HOME. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak reports “Netflix will invest billions to shoot its original content in California”:

Netflix is betting that filming closer to home will produce better content. In 2015, the streaming giant has announced that it would be doubling its output of original content, and it is aiming to have original productions make up half of its of its streaming catalog in the coming years. The goal is to entice users to come to the service by providing content that can’t be found elsewhere, but that goal is proving to be a strain on the existing film studio infrastructure. To cope, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos announced that the company would be investing $6 billion to expand infrastructure in California, rather than chase tax incentives offered by states.

Sarandos explained to The Wrap that the company determined that going after the incentives leads to diminishing returns when it comes to their final products. Filming out of state is hard on the actors and crew of a project, and the move will help bring projects back home to California. That could prove to be costly for the company, even as California has increased its own tax incentive program in recent years. While remaining in the state will likely cost Netflix more, Sarandos seems to think that the extra cost will be worth spending.

(9) SQUEAK UP. YouTube’s TheBackyardScientist set up 10 megaphones end-to-end to see how loud a noise he could make.

The video, posted to YouTube by TheBackyardScientist, features Kevin Kohler explaining he was inspired by Bart Simpson‘s prank in the season 8 Simpsons episode The Secret War of Lisa Simpson to place 10 megaphones end-to-end and test the results.

Bart’s experiment led to a shock wave that shattered all of the windows in town — as well as Homer’s fridge full of beer — but Kohler quickly ran into a problem Bart didn’t face: a feedback loop.

 

(10) BITE ON. The number of people who give their smartphones to dogs as chew toys is probably smaller than the number of men who have walked on the moon, but for them — “There’s an anti-dog label inside the Galaxy S8 — here’s what it means”. Let The Verge explain it to you.

Basically, you don’t want Fido in a situation where a battery could hiss and explode in its mouth. It’s obviously possible that a child could bite through the battery as well, but the likelihood of him / her piercing through the battery is lower.

(11) ARTIFICIAL DOG INTELLIGENCE. Amazing. How is it mine doesn’t do that?

(12) FIX THE SLATING PROBLEM FOREVER. That’s what Greg Hullender would like to do. At Rocket Stack Rank he summarizes his views about the effectiveness of 3SV, EPH(+) and their combination. He says, “I  think it makes it really clear that we need both 3SV and either EPH or EPH+. Otherwise, even small slates (100 to 200 people) will be able to control a significant amount of the final ballot, including adding embarrassing nominees.”

For each year, we produced two theoretical maximum graphs. A “finalist graph,” which shows what percentage of finalists a slate could have captured for a given number of slate voters, and a “sweeps” graph, which shows what percentage of entire categories a slate could have captured.

Looking at those four pairs of graphs (2.1-2.4 below), we will draw the following conclusions;

  • Std (5/6) by itself is far too weak.
  • EPH doesn’t protect enough finalists, but it is excellent at preventing sweeps.
  • EPH+ is an improvement on EPH, but it’s still not enough by itself.
  • 3SV is much stronger for protecting finalists, especially for modest numbers of slate voters, but it’s vulnerable to sweeps, and it breaks down for slates above about 300 people.
  • The 3SV/EPH and 3SV/EPH+ combinations are far, far stronger than either component alone. Either combination is probably sufficient, but the second one is stronger.

Accordingly, we conclude that the Business Meeting should ratify both EPH+ and 3SV. That should protect the Hugos from slating interference for the nonce.

(13) DREAM CASTING. Enjoy “Miles To Go” hosted at Archive of Our Own. Note – Password = Vorkosigan (as it says at the post).

There once was a man who dreamt of the stars…

A fanvid based on the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold.

…Obviously, it’s not so easy to make a feast for a fandom with no existing visual source. But where there’s a will, or in my case an enormous and driving folly, there’s a way. It was always going to be an ensemble vid, with Miles as the star, but the question was how to cast it. I did eventually solve that problem, and I won’t discuss my solution in detail here because… spoilers.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Robin Reid, JJ, Doctor Science, Greg Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

Pixel Scroll 3/5/17 I Could Not Scroll Thee (Dear) So Much, Scroll’d I Not Pixels More

(1) WEIN SCHEDULED FOR SURGERY. Wolverine co-creator Len Wein has made a public appeal for your good thoughts when he’s in surgery on Tuesday:

Hey, Gang–

I am about to impose on our online friendship for what I pray will be the final time. Then I can go back to posting endless videos of cute Golden Retriever puppies, of which there can never be too many.

Okay, so here’s the deal: About six weeks ago, I took a header while leaving my foot doctor’s office and bounced my head off the floor, which I may have talked about here. At first, they thought the damage was minimal, but further testing revealed I had fractured/broken my upper neck in several places, which need repair immediately or I run the risk of becoming a planter with a head on it. I’m going into the hospital tomorrow morning (March 6) for prep, with major all-day surgery scheduled for Tuesday (March 7) at 11AM PST.

So here’s where you come in. At that time on Tuesday morning, I’d really appreciate it if you just think good healing thoughts about me. I asked the same of you two years ago when I had my quintuple bypass heart surgery, and I believe to this day that’s a major reason I survived it.

So, if you think you can, please do. On the other hand, if you think I drink runny eggs through a straw, I’d rather you not think of me at all. After that, the rest is up to my talented surgeons and whatever Higher Powers That Be.

Thanks for listening, and I hope to see you on the other side.

(2) SPACEMAN SPIFF’S FRIEND. On The Verge, Andrew Liptak introduces readers to Brian Kesinger’s Tea Girls, which includes a series of  Calvin and Hobbes-style Star Wars cartoons.

(3) GANYMEDE BORNE ALOFT BY DEVELOPERS. “Tolkien’s favourite watering hole in line for a makeover: St Giles pub The Eagle and Child in major redevelopment bid”. The Oxford Mail has the story.

HISTORIC Oxford pub The Eagle and Child is in line for a major revamp.

Pub company Young’s and St John’s College plans to redevelop the Grade-II listed watering hole in St Giles.

Known as ‘The Bird and Baby’, it was the favourite meeting place of the 1930’s Inklings’ writers group, which included Lord of the Rings and Hobbit author JRR Tolkien and Narnia creator CS Lewis.

The makeover will span numbers 49-51, including Greens café next door and space above, which is vacant.

Under proposals submitted to Oxford City Council, the Eagle and Child will be expanded and upgraded, with distinctive eating and drinking zones created.

The two upper floors will be converted into seven hotel rooms, with en-suite bathrooms.

Leaseholder Young’s is working with St John’s College, which owns the building and both say they expect the redevelopment to be completed by 2018.

Young’s chief executive Patrick Dardis said: “The Eagle & Child is an iconic pub with huge potential and we are very excited to be working with St John’s on its redevelopment.

(4) THE HOME STRETCH. Radio Times says these three stars have a shot at becoming the next Doctor Who.

Former Death in Paradise star Kris Marshall may be the clear favourite to be the next Doctor – but he still has competition from two women according to one firm of bookies.

William Hill says money is still being taken on Tilda Swinton and Olivia Colman suggesting that the battle for the keys to the Tardis could now be a three-horse race.

(5) SUGGESTED READING. The SFWA Blog has posted the “2016 Andre Norton Award Jury Recommended Reading List” of young adult and middle grade fiction recommended by jurors Ellen Klages, Leah Bobet, Eugene Myers, Jei D. Marcade, and Fran Wilde. I have indicated 2016 award finalist with as asterisk (*).

2016 Andre Norton Award Jury Recommended Reading List

(in alphabetical order by author)

  • Kelly Barnhill – The Girl Who Drank the Moon (Algonquin) (*)
  • Frances Hardinge – The Lie Tree (Macmillan) (*)
  • A. J. Hartley – Steeplejack(Tor Teen)
  • Heidi Helig – The Girl From Everywhere (Greenwillow)
  • David D. Levine – Arabella of Mars (Tor) (*)
  • Katharine McGee – The Thousandth Floor (Harper Collins)
  • Philip Reeve – Railhead (Switch Press) (*)
  • Lindsay Ribar – Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies (Kathy Dawson Books) (*)
  • Patrick Samphire –  Secrets of the Dragon’s Tomb (Henry Holt)
  • Delia Sherman – The Evil Wizard Smallbone (Candlewick) (*)
  • April Genevieve Tucholke – Wink, Poppy, Midnight (Dial Books)
  • Diane Zahler – Baker’s Magic (Capstone Young Readers)

(6) NEWSWEEK TOLKIEN TRIBUTE. “The Road Goes On – The Making of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Silmarillion’” is an article from Newsweek’s Special Edition: J.R.R. Tolkien—The Mind of a Genius.

The story of Bilbo Baggins and his quest to the Lonely Mountain was originally conceived with no connection with his vast and epic mythology. The Lord of the Rings, which began as a simple sequel to the immensely successful The Hobbit, also lacked concrete ties to The Silmarillion (at least in the book’s early stages). But the grip of Tolkien’s earliest tales on the rest of his oeuvre proved inescapable, and the author found himself adding references to his myths within The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, especially because several characters from the latter work, such as Galadriel, hailed from the time period described in The Silmarillion. Tolkien added these characters into his larger legendarium, and in doing so couldn’t resist the temptation to delve deeper into the myths he created and their implication for his world.

“He became more and more interested in what you might call the metaphysical aspects of his secondary invention,” Christopher Tolkien said. “Above all with the nature of the Elves.” The result was that Tolkien died with what he regarded as his most important work, the urtext of a universe loved by millions, in a state of frozen transformation.

Fortunately, Christopher Tolkien was intimately familiar with his father’s vision for Middle-earth’s mythology and proved capable of sorting through the reams of notes and journals the professor left, containing everything from the genealogy of Elf kings to poems to the details of life in Aman. Working with Guy Gavriel Kay (who later went on to become an accomplished fantasy writer in his own right), the younger Tolkien crafted the final version of The Silmarillion for publication in 1977. For the first time, fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings learned of the titanic clashes between good and evil and feats of heroism only hinted at in their favorite fiction.

(7) TOLKIEN, THE PSYCHIC PAPER EDITION. And for those of you with no intention of ever reading the book, eBay is offering the perfect collector’s first edition of The Silmarillion – a publisher’s pre-sale dummy copy – for a mere $945.  It has everything but that bothersome text.

TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Silmarillion. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1977. First Edition. Publisher saleman’s dummy copy used in advance of the book’s publication. This sample book prints the half-title, title pages, copyright page and the first 32 pages of the text followed by a couple of hundred blank pages to fill out the book. With a long blank folded sheet at the rear as a mockup for the map that would be in the finished book. Bound in blue cloth with the stamping and decoration the same as that of eventually used in the finished book. Fine copy in a fine proof state dust jacket.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 5, 1943 Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man is released.

(9) THE FROZEN CHOSEN. As I reported earlier today, Vox Day released the Rabid Puppies 2017 slate. The slate comes with a brand-new logo.

Matt Y accepted the challenge of interpreting the new art.

Techgrrl1972

And could someone decode that logo?

I’ll try:

What you have is a title using a Heavy Metal font, giving it the look of a Def Leppard concert T-shirt. There’s a lot of ice, obviously a clear signal refuting climate change. There’s the castle from Frozen ironically in that they’ll never let it go. There are three puppies. The one on the left is sporting a ladies fur lined parka which might be seasonal however would seem odd to be wearing fur over fur. Not just in a PETA way but just in general. That puppy appears to be playing fetch with Mjolnir and is on it’s way to return it. The husky in the middle has it’s head cocked in stupefied confusion in a mirror image of how most people look when someone tries to explain Rabid Puppies to them. The one on the right didn’t get the melee weapons memo and is trying not to show the others how much that hurt it’s feelings.

The three of them will defend Elsa against the Duke’s evil plans, while desperately seeking a participation trophy once again.

(10) MAGICAL THINKING. Camestros Felapton, in “Tired Puppies 2017”, deconstructs Brad Torgersen’s latest column for Mad Genius Club.

In the comments, Brad even manages to have his cake and eat it by complaining about more ‘literary’ SF *not* having traditional SF covers (his specific example is All the Birds in the Sky) because that is a bad thing too for some reason. Yes, yes, you’d think that he would WANT non-nuggety SF to have non-nuggety covers but that would be applying far too much logical consistency to what is a fundamental objection to wrongbooks having wrongfun in the bookshop.

I think the best, most recent example of this, is All The Birds In The Sky. It’s packaged deliberately as a lit book. It desperately wants to escape the SF/F shelves and go live on the mainstream shelves where the “important” books live. (chuckle) I blame Irene Gallo, who is very much responsible for this trend at TOR. She wants the field as a whole to stop looking like it did during the high period. Because making all that amazing money with space art that actually looks like space art, and swords’n’sorcery art that actually looks like swords’n’sorcery art, was just so gauche.

Note how there is no ground for compromise here. If publisher market SF to a less-SF audience then for Brad this is bad, if they market the same SF to a SF audience then to Brad this is also bad. Would Brad *seriously* be happy if ALl the Birds in the SKy had a cover featuring space rockets (in the book), people descending from ropes from helicopters (in the book) and magical people casting spells (in the book)? Goodness no! That would be the other evil of somehow tricking the honest-SF-reader into reading a book with cooties.

We are back to the unspoken logic of much of what has consumed the right for decades. It is unspoken and avoided, an incomplete argument leads people to a conclusion that they would reject if spoken. By not following the logic they can retain a belief that they are moderate and reasonable. However, their argument always leads to the same spot. Brad would just rather these wrong books DID NOT EXIST. He doesn’t want to ban them or burn them or imprison their authors (although how else can his wish come true?) he just wants them to magically not be there.

(11) THUMBS DOWN. BBC calls live Beauty and the Beast overlong and pointless.

There are two obvious differences between the two versions, however. The first difference is that the current film is live-action, so there are lots of rococo sets and intricate digital creations to look at. And yet, despite the zillions of dollars that must have been spent on the Hogwarts-ish production design, the sad fact is that neither of the showstopping numbers, the title song and Be Our Guest, is as magical or imaginative as it was in a cartoon which came out over a quarter of a century ago.

Few of the actors live up to their predecessors, either. Buried as he is under layers of computer-generated imagery, Dan Stevens manages to make the Beast his own by finding the pathos in his aristocratic awkwardness. Ewan McGregor puts some oomph and ooh-la-la into Lumiere the candelabra. As for the rest of the cast, Emma Watson is prim and petulant as Belle; Emma Thompson’s Mrs Potts is no match for Angela Lansbury’s, who was as warm and soothing as the tea she brewed; and Kevin Kline is painfully mannered as Belle’s wittering father. In many cases, what it comes down to is that the voices in the cartoon were provided by musical and opera veterans who could really sing, whereas the same characters in the live-action film are played by movie stars who really can’t.

(12) DON’T BUILD THIS IN YOUR BASEMENT. The UK military misplaced what?

A north Wales town has a cold war thriller on its hands after nuclear submarine plans were found in a charity shop suitcase.

Staff at a Barnardo’s store in Porthmadog, Gwynedd, were amazed to discover the document showing details of the former £200m HMS Trafalgar.

“Someone said that if the phone rang and it was someone with a Russian accent, I should put it down,” joked manager, Stella Parker.

The plans will be auctioned off.

Charity store staff say the suitcase was donated anonymously and filled with books.

But hidden in the lining of the luggage was the impressive 6ft (1.8m) drawings of the former Royal Navy vessel.

Chip Hitchcock suggests, “Dave Langford is probably snickering at anyone who foolishly thought The Leaky Establishment was fiction….”

(13) VIRTUAL EXHIBITS. Twilight Zone Museum is celebrating 15 years online by hawking video from two TZ conventions held at the beginning of the century. (Remember when the 21st Century was the future?)

For those who missed our two Los Angeles-based TZ Conventions, you’re in luck! We have the 3 panel discussions done in 2002 available on DVD. The actor panel featured actors Cliff Robertson, Jean Carson, Jonathan Harris, Arlene Martel, Wright King, William Windom, Suzanne Lloyd, Kevin McCarthy, James Best, Anne Francis, and Suzanne Lloyd. The writer panel featured George Clayton Johnson, Earl Hamner, John Tomerlin (“Number 12 Looks Just Like You”), and Marc Zicree. The directors panel featured James Sheldon and Eliot Silverstein plus actors Susan Gordon and Ben Cooper (who appeared in their episodes). George Clayton Johnson’s historic keynote address at the VIP Dinner Celebration, which can be viewed for free right here on this page, is also available on DVD. The 2004 panels: Actor panel with George Takei, H.M. Wynant, Shelley Berman, Gail Kobe, Bill Mumy, and Lloyd Bochner. Director/Producer panel with Ted Post and Del Reisman (both of these panels were hosted by Tony Albarella). Writer panel hosted by Andrew Ramage, with Gloria Pall (TZ actor and writer of her own TZ scrapbook plus 14 other books), Sandra Grabman (author of “The Albert Salmi Story”), Chris Beaumont (son of Charles Beaumont, TZ writer extraordinaire), Roger Anker (biographer of Beaumont), and George Clayton Johnson. There was a fourth panel of folks involved with “The New Twilight Zone” (from the 80s), led by Alan Brennert and including Harlan Ellison, Rockne O’Bannon, and others. The charge is $60 for all four of the 2002 panels and the charge for all five of the 2004 panels is also $60. Shipping cost is $6 within USA; if you buy both sets, it’s still $6 total for shipping. Outside USA shipping – please inquire for cost, as we will have to look it up online. These are high quality Region 1 DVDs. Payment methods accepted are Paypal, cash, or USPS money order ONLY! If paying by Paypal, there is a surcharge of $6 if purchasing both sets, or $3 if purchasing only one set, due to Paypal’s processing fees. Note: it costs you nothing to send money by Paypal, but there is a fee for us to receive your money and a 2-3 day waiting period before it hits our bank account. Please email oceanave@usa.net to place your order or if you have further questions!

(14) DEADPOOL 2. A teaser for the next Deadpool movie is making the rounds.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

Pixel Scroll 10/10/16 You Know How To Pixel, Don’t You? You Just Put Your Lips Together And Scroll

(1) COMICS PORTRAYALS. Peter David has changed his tune — “Final Thoughts on the Romani”.

So now that the dust of the convention has settled, I’ve had a good deal of time to assess my behavior regarding the Romani and my conduct during the convention. I’ve read many of the links that were sent my way and really thought about what I witnessed two decades ago back in Bucharest. And I’ve been assessing my actions during the panel that lead to all this.

After all that, I have to conclude that I’m ashamed of myself.

I want you to understand: when the Romani rep tried to shift the focus of the panel from gays and lesbians to the Romani, suddenly I was twenty years younger and the trauma of what I saw and what I was told slammed back through me. What screamed through my mind was, “Why should I give a damn about the Romani considering that the Bucharest Romani are crippling their children?” And I unleashed that anger upon the questioner, for no reason. None. There is no excuse.

But the more I’ve read, the more convinced I’ve become that what I saw was indeed examples, not of children crippled by parents, but children suffering from a genetic disorder. The pictures are simply too identical. I cannot come to any other reasonable conclusion.

(2) ALIENIST. The BBC profiles H. R. Giger, “The man who created the ultimate alien”:

At that time, HR Giger was already a successful painter whose bleak visions in a style that he termed biomechanics were widely distributed: in the form of popular poster editions that appeared in the late 1960s; in the large-format illustrated book Necronomicon, which he designed himself; and on album covers such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s 1973 release Brain Salad Surgery. But the project he was now working on would make him both a worldwide cult figure and an Oscar winner. Director Ridley Scott had hired Giger to create the monster in the movie Alien. So the artist went to the Shepperton Film Studios near London to realize his designs for the world of the alien with his own hand.

One painting had immediately convinced Scott to get Giger involved in shaping the alien creature: Necronom IV (1976). It shows in profile the upper body of a being with only remotely humanoid traits. Its skull is extremely elongated, and its face is almost exclusively reduced to bared teeth and huge insect-like eyes. Hoses extend from its neck and its back is dominated by tubular extensions and reptilian tails. In order to turn this painted creature into a monster for a movie, the artist had to submit it to a complex transformation. Giger developed a complete “natural history” of the alien based on the screenplay, which ultimately produced the final monster of the film. The process results in a unique mixture of fascination and disgust. Giger’s monster represents a turning point in science fiction and horror movies, to which Alien brought a deadly lifeform from space that had never been seen before.

(3) VOICES IN HIS HEAD. Andrew Liptak discusses “How writing an audio-first novella changed John Scalzi’s writing process” at The Verge.

The Dispatcher is firmly urban fantasy, which had its own particular challenges for Scalzi. Science fiction comes out of a tradition of realism, where everything is explained. “To sit there and write something and know that I’m not going to assign it a rational basis made me itchy,” he says. “Part of my brain went ‘you should try and explain this!’ It goes against everything I believe.”

Writing an audio-first story also had its challenges. “It makes you pay attention to things like dialogue where you really do want to make sure [it sounds] reasonably like humans speaking,” Scalzi says. One of the changes he made was in how he used dialogue tags such as “he said / she said,” which work in written books but aren’t necessarily useful for a listener. “It sounds like a small thing, but when someone is speaking what you’re writing, those small things add up.”

Scalzi also focused on making sure each character had their own distinctive voice.

(4) IT’S CLOBBERIN’ TIME. The Traveler at Galactic Journey is smack in the middle of the Silver Age of Comics — “[Oct. 7, 1971] That’s Super! (Marvel Comics’ The Fantastic Four)”.

The other day at the local newsstand, a new comic book caught my eye.  It was a brand new one from Marvel Comics, the spiritual successors of Atlas Comics, which went under late last decade.  Called The Fantastic Four, and brought to us by the creator of Captain America (Jack Kirby), it features the first superheroes I’ve seen in a long time – four, in fact!  We are introduced to the quartet in media res on their way to answer a call to assembly: Sue Storm, who can turn invisible at will; her brother, Johnny Storm, who bursts into flame and can fly; Ben Grimm, a hulking, orange rocky beast; and Dr. Reed Richards, who possesses the power of extreme elasticity.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born October 10, 1924 — Ed Wood (Plan 9 from Outer Space)
  • Born October 10, 1959 — Bradley Whitford (The Cabin in the Woods)

(7) ED WOOD FICTION. Incidentally, O/R Books has published Blood Splatters Quickly, the collected short stories of Edward D. Wood Jr.

Even if you think you don’t know him, you know him. Few in the Hollywood orbit have had greater influence; few have experienced more humiliating failure in their lifetime. Thanks in part to the biopic directed by Tim Burton, starring Johnny Depp and bearing his name, Ed Wood has become an icon of Americana.

Perhaps the purest expression of Wood’s théma—pink angora sweaters, over-the-top violence and the fraught relationships between the sexes—can be found in his unadulterated short stories, many of which (including “Blood Splatters Quickly”) appeared in short-lived “girly” magazines published throughout the 1970s. The 32 stories included here, replete with original typos, lovingly preserved, have been verified by Bob Blackburn, a trusted associate of Kathy Wood, Ed’s widow. In the forty years or more since those initial appearances in adult magazines, none of these stories has been available to the public.

ed-wood-birthday

(8) SMOFCON SOUTH. Conrunners of the Antipodes, you are summoned to SmofCon South, to be held in Wellington. New Zealand December 3-4, 2016.

Announcing SmofCon South!

Come one, come all! We will be running SmofCon South in Wellington. New Zealand from December 3rd to 4th, 2016. This is run at this time to try to hook into the resources and people of SmofCon 34, taking place the same weekend in Chicago, USA. A Smofcon is a convention about running conventions. It’s an excellent opportunity to meet other con runners, and to learn from them. SmofCon South will be primarily focused on running Worldcons or other large events. This event will be very valuable for people who have volunteered to help run a New Zealand Worldcon. We want to encourage you to come along and meet other people you may be working with, and gain insights and knowledge about how Worldcons work.

Details

Smofcon South will be held 3-4 December (with a meetup dinner for those who arrive on Friday).

Venue is the same as Aucontraire 3, the CQ Hotel complex, 223 Cuba St, Te Aro,  Wellington.

We are skyping in with Smofcon 34, being held in Chicago, for a few sessions. Breaking News: Also a hook up with Japan.

(9) MORE RADCHAAI LOOT. This charm bracelet is perfect for the Ancillary fan in your life. Bring the Fleet Captain, Translator, First Lieutenant, and themes of the series, like tea, magic bullets, spaceships, and music into your daily life with this charm bracelet.

(10) BETTER USE OF TIME. Steven H Silver writes, “Last night, instead of watching the debate, Elaine and I watched the Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor movie See No Evil, Hear No Evil. A couple of early scenes are set at a newstand run by Wilder’s character. In the background I could make out Frederik Pohl’s The Coming of the Quantum Cats, Greg Bear’s The Forge of God, and Piers Anthony’s Faith of Tarot.”

Also recognizable:

A.A. Attanasio’s Radix, Jack Chalker’s Dance Band on the Titanic, and Cllifford D. Simak’s Highway to Eternity.

wilder-newsstand-min

(11) HE PEEKED. One of Satchel Paige’s rules to live by was, “Don’t look back. Something may be gaining on you.” Dave Langford didn’t follow Satchel’s advice when he had a strange feeling he was being followed….

For a moment, when I saw the part-obscured back of a coffee-vending van in Reading town centre, I felt F770 was following me around. But it was all a quaint illusion.

vanf770-1

vanf770-2

[Thanks to Dave Langford, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Steven H Silver, Jeffrey Smith, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 7/3/16 All Blogs Go To Heaven

(1) CENTURIES. Marcelo Rinesi at Tactical Awareness offers an unusual free read – 100 Stories in 100 Words.

This books is a free collection of a hundred SF short stories (we live, as Warren Ellis remarks, in the Science Fiction Condition), each of them exactly one hundred words as reported by my text editor — if a piece of software says it, it must be true —, a self-imposed constraint I chose out of the same worrisome tendencies that made me need to do it in the first place.

It’s very weird, this world we’re building, with no overarching plot, some very unsettling corners, and no other moral lesson than with hindsight, it does look like something we would do, doesn’t it? If this book reflects at least part of it, I’ll think myself well rewarded for the time I put in it, and I hope you will too.

Here’s an example:

The Collectors

There’s a storm of happy notifications coming from your phone.

Somebody’s buying every last one of your paintings, so quickly that markets haven’t adjusted.

Quickly enough that they’ll have bought all of them before the ambulance gets to your cabin. The gunshot wound will have killed you before that anyway.

Maybe it’s the shock, but what enrages you is that they are going to destroy all of your paintings. All but one, which will become valuable enough to pay for the whole schema, assassin included.

You hope they at least pick the right one.

Click the link to access the PDF file.

(2) STELLAR IDEA. James Davis Nicoll’s line on Facebook was, “I can see no way that deliberately bombarding the Earth from space could go horribly wrong.”

National Geographic says “Get Ready for Artificial Meteor Showers”.

Natural meteor showers occur when Earth plows through trails of debris shed by passing comets. When this celestial schmutz slams into our atmosphere at breakneck speeds, the debris burns up and creates fiery streaks of light.

Now, if a Japanese start-up called ALE has its way, a satellite capable of generating artificial meteor showers will be in orbit sometime in the next two years. From 314 miles (500 kilometers) above Earth’s surface, the orbiter will shoot metal spheres the size of blueberries into the upper atmosphere.

As these particles move across the sky at roughly 17,400 miles (28,000 kilometers) an hour, the spheres will burn into brilliant crisps—painting the night with colorful streaks on demand….

(3) THE TRUTH IS NOT OUT THERE. Don’t rely on what you’re hearing, says the director. “Fuller: Trek Gossip Rated ‘Pants On Fire’”.

Bryan Fuller won’t share too many details of the new Star Trek series, reportedly saving them for San Diego Comic-Con next month. But what he can say is all that gossip originating from a blog with unverified and uncorroborated information? Totally not true.

Fuller, the former “Star Trek: Voyager” writer who will serve as showrunner for the CBS All Access series, says reports that circulated over the spring that set his show after “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” and before “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is false. Also false? The fact that the new series would be an anthology show.

In fact, Fuller said reading the various reports online about the show makes him almost wish there was a Politifact for rumors. Then he could check the accuracy and rate them on a varying scale between true and false.

“It’s interesting to see those suggestions, and seeing the truth mixed in with them, and going like, ‘Oh, they got that part right,'” Fuller told Moviefone’s Scott Huver. “But it’s sort of on the Truth-o-Meter on Politifact. It’s sort of like some truth, and a lot of like, ‘No, pants on fire! That’s not true.'”

(4) LEGION. Yahoo! Style reveals – “Another Marvel character just got their own TV show and we have our first look”.

Legion, a new series coming FX, centers around a character struggling with mental illness — and his own mutant powers. In the comics David Haller, played in the new series by Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens, is the son of Professor Charles Xavier and shares his father’s telepathic abilities.

In the television series, Haller will think the voices in his head are a symptom of mental illness, likely because in this universe (which is not the same as the universe of the X-Men films, but a parallel one) the public doesn’t know mutants exist. In fact, the U.S. government is only just becoming aware of them — so it’s natural for Heller not to realize he has superhuman powers.

(5) FINNCON. GoH Catherynne M. Valente at Finncon 2016. The committee says they drew 4000 visitors this weekend.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 3, 1985 — George Romero’s Day of the Dead is seen for the first time.
  • July 3, 1985 Back to the Future released, features 1981 DeLorean DMC-12

(7) UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE. You can admire photos of Kevin Standlee in character as Col. Chinstrap, with his aide (Lt. Hayes) and orderly (Pvt. Bear), in his Livejournal post about the second day of Westercon.

Here we are in full outfits. As we went by the SJ in 2018 bid table, a person (we don’t remember who and don’t want to remember) came over and insisted that the little bronze cannon on the Colonel’s pith helmet was a “representation of a weapon” and thus prohibited by the hotel weapon’s policy and that we would have to take the hat back to our room.

(8) ASCENT OF MAN. Lou Antonelli ponders his recent history as a user of social media in a “Causerie on reaching 3,000 Facebook Friends” at This Way To Texas.

First off, Facebook is a necessary evil. There are a myriad of social platforms today, the proliferation of which is leading America towards a collective nervous breakdown. People are too distracted and have the attention span – maybe – of a cocker spaniel. And as I have said before, we knew in the past men did not possess telepathy because if we knew what we were thinking about each other, we’d be at each other’s throats. Well, the internet has accomplished that anyway, and we are indeed at each other’s throats – figuratively. Only time will tell if we implode into a full scale shooting civil war, in which case the figurative will have become the literal.

It’s not my strategy to quote entire posts, so let me assure you of finding many other lively opinions therein.

(9) FUTURE UNGUESSED. At SF Crowsnest, Geoff Willmets returns to a perennial question: “Editorial – July 2016: Can Science Fiction go any further than it is today”.

Reading ‘Cyberpunk Women, Feminism And Science Fiction by Carlen Lavigne’ last month made me realise once again that it’s been a long time since the last major attempt at change or addition to Science Fiction. My observations there that the real failure of cyberpunk, itself marketed since 1984, was because Ian Gibson took the tactic that young people would eventually rebel at computer tech taking over their lives when, as reality has shown, they have not only embraced but now can’t live without it. No major dissenters. No rebellion. No attacks on authority, be it corporation or government for privacy invasion, let alone taking over their lives. SF put up the markers and both sides are a little cautious or haven’t totally strayed into that area, with maybe the exception of China and some other dictatorial states. Well, not yet, anyway and the security services elsewhere don’t admit how much they can access so people tend to forget it. Those that fall into that category are either lone wolves or some rogue government wanting to stir things up but I doubt if it’s done for the dislike of computer software.

(10) PREDICTING THE PRESENT. Andrew Liptak seems to agree with Willmets about the arrangement of the literary map, but he is not disappointed with it — “How science fiction writers predicted virtual reality”.

What has set these novels apart from their peers is the ability of their authors to comprehend not the underlying technology itself, but how it is utilized by its users. Moreover, these authors have largely imagined not just their virtual worlds, but the real world that supports their use, depicting bleak, corporate-driven universes that feel not too unlike our own.

(11) NINEFOX. At Lady Business, renay reviews Ninefox Gambit in “Let’s Get Literate! Don’t Trust a Fox (Unless it’s a Robot Fox)”.

The society and political structure in Ninefox Gambit, known as the hexarchate, is one formed and held together by a version of advanced, far-future mathematics (i.e. magic) that allows a large society to create their own version of reality through a rigid belief system. And, okay, it’s not exactly math. But it has rules, like math has rules, so it’s a lot easier for me to think of it as mathematical. The book calls this system a calendar. Calendrical rot, which we’re introduced to in the first chapter, is what happens when another large group grows big and influential enough to create their own reality by believing something different. This creates a situation in which reality itself (depending on which calendar you’re standing in) doesn’t work right. Things go all wonky, weapons don’t work, and it’s a great big mess. The hexarchate is very interested in ensuring their dominance so their calendar and the six factions that operate under it remain the greatest calendar in all the universe. It’s an old story: people in power want to stay in power or want more power.

But wait! There’s a twist! There’s a heretical calendar afoot and it comes in the form of democracy and the captured-by-heretics Fortress of Scattered Needles.

For me, this is hard science fiction, because Ninefox Gambit is playing with how reality is formed and how we relate to one another on a system of time and in space. Ignoring the fact that the math and science in this novel are currently impossible, that’s enough for me to go, “well, this is a challenge to HOW WE PERCEIVE REALITY as a concept, that’s a logical problem, logic is math, there’s also sociology and psychology and philosophy mixed in, OMG THIS IS HARD SCIENCE FICTION.” Ask someone who didn’t fail every math class after 4th grade, and this is science fantasy, especially if you read “actual” hard science fiction. I don’t, because it’s often written by cisgender straight men who are like “women are people who can do things in novels besides be objects? That sounds fake but okay.” So yeah, I don’t read a lot of “proper” hard science fiction, with “real” math and science and that influences my reading of this novel. Bias disclosed!

(12) EAST MEETS WEST. Charles Stross and Cat Rambo at Westercon.

Had to get a pic with Charlie's shirt!

A post shared by Cat Rambo (@specfic) on

(13) GAIMAN ON LATE NIGHT. A couple weeks ago, Neil Gaiman was on Late Night with Seth Meyers and they talked about the American Gods TV adaptation.

(14) THE FLAMING C. Conan O’Brien will return to San Diego Comic-Con again this year, and interview the cast of Suicide Squad.

Last year O’Brien’s “Conacon” trip to SDCC produced some big laughs as he spoofed popular titles like Mad Max: Fury Road and brought his signature style of sarcastic, self-deprecating humor to everything from interviews with the cast of Game of Thrones to getting his own Conan superhero, The Flaming C, courtesy of Warner Bros. animator Bruce Timm. This year will likely boast even more laugh-out-loud moments as well as a huge amount of attention, given the comedian’s intention to interview the cast of Suicide Squad. Billed as social media’s most talked about movie of 2016, O’Brien’s sense of humor should provide an interesting and undoubtedly hilarious boost to Suicide Squad’s hype.

(15) THE PERMANENT THRONE CAMPAIGN. Emily Nussbaum tells why the just-ended season of Game of Thrones fits in so well with the election coverage in “The Westeros Wing”.

In the colossal, bloody, flawed, exhausting, occasionally intoxicating phenomenon that is “Game of Thrones,” the best bits are often moments like this: seductive mini-meditations on politics that wouldn’t be out of place in “Wolf Hall,” if “Wolf Hall” had ice zombies, or “Veep,” if “Veep” featured babies getting eaten by dogs. Season 6, which ended on Sunday, to the usual celebration and fury, and with the usual viral memes, and with corpses mangled (I assume, since HBO didn’t give me a screener), felt perversely relevant in this election year. It was dominated by debates about purity versus pragmatism; the struggles of female candidates in a male-run world; family dynasties with ugly histories; and assorted deals with various devils.

(16) BREWERS WITH SECRET IDENTITIES. David Mulvihill’s column about Southern California beers in the June/July Celebrator Beer News discusses Unsung Brewing, which is in Tustin but because of weird California reasons has their tasting room in Anaheim. The brewery was founded by Michael Crea.

Crea, an avid comic book fan when he was growing up. has incorporated the comics theme in his brewery’s branding and point of view. Beer nerd meets comic book nerd, as each beer takes the name of an unsung hero. Each backstory is created around the hero’s ingredients and its namesake’s alter ego or super power.  Look for quarterly releases of comics telling their heroes’ full stories, with artwork from local artists. See how Propeller-Head travels the world in search of the best coffee. How about the adventures of Buzzman’s battles with the yard beast?  Learn also about two female IPA heroes: Sylvan’s quest to save forests decimated by  big business and oil, and Anthia’s mission to help pollinate the earth’s fruit trees because of pesticide-related diminishment of bee and insect populations,  A prominent wall mural of Buzzman fighting the yard beast will be displayed in Unsung’s tasting room, which will be expected to open in early June.

The Unsung Brewing website has a section called “Credo” in which they explain why they’re all comics geeks.

We were raised on Batman. We came of age with the Incredible Hulk. We wore out our Spidey Super Stories LP. Hero mythology runs through our veins and flows through our glycol chiller. Digging deeper, we see super-traits in the unsung heroes of everyday life. From service men and women, firefighters and doctors, to friends and family who practice small acts of kindness and sacrifice– real life heroes surround us. We are dedicated to honoring these unsung heroes through philanthropy, and hope to inspire the hero in all of us.

(17) BY JUPITER 2. Lost in Space is getting rebooted by Netflix.

It’ll be interesting to see just how the new incarnation of the story is adapted on Netflix, especially with one of the executive producers behind Prison Break. Other rebooted science fiction television shows such as Battlestar Galactica have returned with a far more serious take than their original source material, and Netflix noted that this new version would be ready to please fans of the original show while bringing in modern audiences. A dark, modern drama is certainly something Netflix can deliver to viewers, but hopefully, they’ll keep the classic phrase “Danger, Will Robinson,” somewhere in there.

“I wonder if they will get John Williams to do the score?” asks John King Tarpinian.

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