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.]

Pixel Scroll 5/26/16 You Got Your Scroll In My Pixel Butter

(1) CAPTAIN SPOILED. At The Mary Sue “Comics Fans Respond to Captain America’s ‘Big Secret’”.

Um … whut? **SPOILERS FOR CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1**

If you read the new Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 that came out today, you already know: Steve Rogers and his mother had been recruited by HYDRA when he was a boy, and he’s apparently been a secret operative for HYDRA this whole time. Again, I say: Uh … whut?

Apparently, issue #2 will give us a better idea of what actually happened with Cap, and how he’s managed to be a HYDRA operative for this long. Naturally, fans were unnerved, and Breevoort’s already started getting emails:

“The idea of Captain America means something very primal and very strong to the people of this nation, and they have a very visceral reaction when you get to something like that,” Brevoort explains. “You want people to feel and react to your story. So far, so good.”

Sure, you want them to feel and react to your story … but what exactly do you want them to feel? A good writer knows exactly what they want to say and evoke, and it isn’t just strong feels for the sake of strong feels.

Whatever writer Nick Spencer and the folks over at Marvel are trying to evoke, Captain America fans are not having it….

Actor Chris Evans doesn’t like it either.

(2) I SCREAM YOU SCREAM. Scott Edelman enjoys a serendipitous dinner with Maria Alexander in Episode 9 of his podcast Eating the Fantastic.

During the recent StokerCon in Las Vegas, I did what I always do during conventions—slip away as often as possible to chow down and catch up with friends. One of those meals took place in old-timey ice cream parlor Serendipity 3, and was recorded (as so many convention meals will be from now on) as an episode of Eating the Fantastic.

My dinner companion this time around was Maria Alexander, whose debut novel, Mr. Wicker, won the 2014 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. But in addition to being a novelist, Maria’s also a poet, screenwriter, games writer, swordswoman, and so much more—and I attempted to explore all those facets in this episode.

 

Maria Alexander

Maria Alexander

(3) HERE’S MY NUMBER AND A DIME. According to The Verge, “Samsung made a Batman-inspired Galaxy S7 Edge”, though it’s only for sale in a limited number of countries.

Samsung has made a Batman-inspired smartphone … really. In true ludicrous Samsung fashion, it’s called the Galaxy S7 Edge Injustice Edition, and it features the superhero’s logo in gold on the back. The device is commemorating the third anniversary of Injustice: Gods Among Us, and it’s being produced in partnership with Warner Bros. The package appears to include a Samsung Gear VR headset, as well as a real gold-plated Batarang and a rubber phone case modeled after Batman’s armor.

 

(4) UNDERSTANDING THE TINGLE. “Satirical erotica author Chuck Tingle’s massive troll of conservative sci-fi fans, explained” at Vox (the megasite, no relation to VD.)

Tingle announced that if he won his category, Quinn would accept the award on his author persona’s behalf. This was undoubtedly anathema to many members of the SFF community who overlap with Gamergate; Quinn is essentially Gamergate enemy number one, and one of the women who has experienced the most harassment at the hands of angry men on the internet.

And now TheRabidPuppies.com is the latest volley in Tingle’s game. Realizing the domain was up for grabs, Tingle snapped it right up.

Tingle didn’t just seize the opportunity and the sudden spike in attention to taunt the Puppies, though; he’s using the new website to drive traffic to three of the Puppies’ most reviled enemies and their projects:

  1. Quinn’s support network for online harassment victims, Crash Override
  2. Jemisin’s acclaimed novel The Fifth Season, which is currently nominated for the Hugo for Best Novel
  3. Fantasy writer Rachel Swirsky’s crowdfunding campaign to raise money for LGBTQ health resourcesTingle’s inclusion of Swirsky is significant. Her short story, “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love,” is a surreal, jarring allegory for dealing with identity-motivated hate crime and violence. Its inclusion as a 2014 Hugo nominee was widely touted by the Sad/Rabid Puppies as being the ultimate example of how “SJWs” — the shorthand for “social justice warriors,” a derogatory term many in the “alt-right” use to refer to progressives and intersectional feminists — had invaded SFF culture.

(5) GRANDFEMMES FATALE. “Five Fantasy Grannies You Don’t Want To Fool With” at Suvudu.

Augusta Longbottom, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter

You’ve got to be a bad-ass to stand up to the Death Eaters, and Augusta Longbottom isn’t anyone’s chump. She is stern and demanding, but she isn’t heartless, as her grandson Neville eventually learns.

(6) SHORT ORDERS. At the upcoming Bonhams/Turner Classic Movies Drawn to Film auction, says a Hollywood Reporter story, “’Snow White’: Rare Concept Art of Rejected Dwarfs to Be Auctioned”.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) was Disney’s first feature-length animated film and the animators worked to give each of the seven dwarfs a distinct personality. The concept sketches (see above) include such familiar ones as Doc, Grumpy, and Dopey, and the not so surprisingly dropped dwarfs, Deafy and Baldy. Other unused dwarf names included Jumpy, Wheezy, Tubby, and Sniffy. The estimate for the sketches is $3,500-$4,500.

(7) REAL ESTATE CLICKBAIT. Every so often there’s a speculative article like this – “Macmillan Publishers weighs leaving Flatiron Building for a new HQ”. (In 2009 there was a story that an Italian investor was going to turn the building into a hotel….) By implication, if Macmillan ever gives up the space, Tor Books will be moving to a new home —

Macmillan Publishers, the sole office tenant in the Flatiron Building, is considering relocating its headquarters when its lease expires in a few years.

Should that happen, it would give the property’s owners a blank slate to work with for the first time since the building was completed more than 100 years ago.

Macmillan, parent company to publishers like St. Martin’s Press and Henry Holt & Co., has been in the iconic tower in some shape or form for about half a century. Now, it occupies all of the office space — nearly 176,000 square feet — in the roughly 180,000-square-foot building at 175 Fifth Avenue.

The publisher’s longtime broker, Leon Manoff of Colliers International, said the company is considering all options for when its lease expires in a few years, including staying put or relocating elsewhere in Manhattan to a new, 150,000-square-foot headquarters.

Andrew Porter adds, “Admittedly the office space is constrained by the unique shape of the building. Doherty’s office is in the ‘prow’ of the building, with windows on the east, west, and north. Here’s my admittedly not well-lit photo of Doherty in his office:”

Tom Doherty in Flatiron office. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Tom Doherty in Flatiron office. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

(8) RAMBO INTERVIEWED. Rachel Swirsky conducts a “Silly Interview with Cat Rambo Who Plays in the MUD”.

  1. Although you write stories in other venues, you have at least two persistent worlds. One is Tabat where your novel takes place. Can you talk about the world and how it came to be?

Tabat started with a game concept. A friend was working on a MUD (a text-based multi-player game) where each administrator would create their own city, and I decided to do a seaport. One of the cool things about the game engine was that you could add tags onto room, so there were bits of description that only appeared under certain conditions, including things like time of day, season, moon phase, tide, and so forth, including things like if the player was carrying a specific object or had particular spells on them.

I went nuts with it. I built a city where you smelled fish when the tide was high and the wind was coming from the south, and where the tiles of the great Moonway shifted in color depending on whether the moon was full or lean….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 26, 1913 – Peter Cushing
Peter Cushing

Peter Cushing

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 26 is World Dracula Day in honor of the publication date of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897.

(11) STAR TREK TOURIST TRAP. Dave’s Geeky Ideas recommends that the vacant Houston Astrodome be repurposed as a life-sized Deep Space Nine.

Right now the folks in Houston are trying to figure out what to do with the Astrodome, which has been sitting vacant for several years. Many plans for the dome have fallen by the wayside, including this multi-use approach which I really like. I’m going to throw my esteemed hat into the ring and declare that the Astrodome be converted into Deep Space Nine.

That’s right: a mega Star Trek tourist destination in the very city where the Space Program resides. This resort would look and feel like the space station seen in the show.

This is made possible by building the central hub and encircling promenade in the middle of the field, with three bridges that connect to the existing concourse in the Astrodome. The dome’s circular shape is quite handy here!

(12) MIXED MOTIVES. Andrew Liptak recalls the nomination of Hubbard’s Black Genesis in “Gaming the System: The 1987 Hugo Awards” at Kirkus Reviews.

Following the publication of Battlefield Earth, Bridge Publications had begun to heavily promote its author. Hubbard and his publisher were pointed in the direction of a flaw in the Hugo Award voting system, particularly by Charles Platt, a science fiction author and editor. In a 1983 issue of his publication, The Patchin Review, he plastered a banner on the front page: “Vote for L. Ron Hubbard!” In his introductory editorial, he lamented that the Best Novel Hugo was “merely a measure of how personally popular a writer is among a small clique of science-fiction fans.”

He also noted that there were things that fans could do to change this: “Hubbard is no hero to the people who usually vote for Hugos. If he won, would it bring about a reformation of the Hugo system, or even its abolition? There’s only one way to find out.”

He wrote to Hubbard and the Bridge, noting that “anyone may nominate and vote. All you have to do is become a supporting member of this year’s world Science Fiction Convention. You do not have to attend the convention itself.”

Hubbard and the Bridge seem to have followed this advice, either coming to this conclusion on their own, or through Platt’s suggestion. Hubbard had established a major story contest, Writers of the Future, and had begun heavily sponsoring science fiction conventions in the mid-1980s. Writing in a fanzine, David Langford authored an essay that described the efforts of the publisher, noting that “it seemed that a large number of fans had become similarly, cumulatively bothered by the grotesque scale of the L. RON HUBBARD promotions,” during the 1987 Conspiracy Convention. The organization had begun promoting the books and sponsoring covers to get Hubbard’s name out before readers.

(13) A HAPPILY DISSATISFIED CUSTOMER. Dr. Mauser claims credit for the Three-Stage Voting (3SV) idea but feels others who have embraced it lack his human touch.

The problem, and it’s a problem common to most folks of a particular political vein, is that they’re trying to counter human behavior with Mathematics. This never works. But the other problem is that they’re ignoring the SOURCE of the data they’re feeding into their formulae — the Fans. The Fans are an incredible resource, and a solution to their problem that they are afraid to make use of, because fans are a Wild Magic, and unpredictable, and hard to control. Math is Safe, math is predictable, but math can’t tell you what is good SF (The Cold Equations notwithstanding).

Even with the Three Stage Voting idea, they’re coming at it all wrong. Some proposals involve “Negative Voting” which they want as a way of getting a gang together to knock out entries they don’t like (They do love them some of that No Award veto power!). They propose empowering the administrators to add or remove entries, or even remove individual voters they don’t like. It’s like they still don’t trust the fans to vote the “right” way. And let’s not even think about the canned Medusa’s head of their mathematical Slate Detection dream, which they swear would NEVER generate a false positive….

(14) INFLATION STOPPED. The ISS expansion isn’t going smoothly. The BBC reports, “Flexi-space room expansion suspended”.

The deployment of a new, expandable “room” on the International Space Station was suspended on Thursday when it failed to open up as expected.

Astronaut Jeff Williams began inflating the module, but controllers eventually told him to stand down after 3.5 hours of extremely slow progress.

Installed in a compact form, the vessel is supposed to stretch to 4m in length with a volume of 16 cu m.

But as Williams squirted air into the module, it stretched only a few cm.

Engineers on the ground will now review the data with a view to resuming the expansion on Friday.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module is a demonstrator for the type of habitats that may be used to build future orbiting labs.

(15) ABIGAIL ON APOCALYPSE. If you’re looking for a nuanced review of X-Men: Apocalypse, Abigail Nussbaum delivers.

I promise, at some point I’ll go back to writing about things that aren’t superheroes.  Though that would require Hollywood to stop blasting superhero stories at us in such close succession (I haven’t even written anything about the second season of Daredevil, though you can get a sense of the existential despair it plunged me into from the thread starting at this tweet).  Coming at the end of that barrage, it’s perhaps understandable that the third (or sixth, or eighth) X-Men movie should be met with a muted, not to say exhausted, response.  And some of the reviews have gone further and been downright brutal.  I’m here to say that both of these reactions are unearned.  X-Men: Apocalypse is by no means a great movie, and it has some serious problems.  But I still found myself enjoying it a great deal more than any other work in this genre since Deadpool.  Perhaps this is simply the relief of a superhero story that is not about grim-faced men taking themselves very seriously, and which instead tells an unabashedly silly story in a totally committed way.  Or it might be because alongside the flaws, there are also things to praise in X-Men: Apocalypse, things that hardly any other superhero works are doing right now.

(16) 1975 HUGOS. Fanac.org has posted video of the AussieCon (1975) Hugo Awards Banquet on its new YouTube channel.

AussieCon, the 33rd Worldcon, was held in Melbourne, Australia in 1975. This video includes the Hugos Awards (presented by John Bangsund), the First Fandom Award, The Gandalf Award and the Big Heart Award. Bob Silverberg, Ben Bova, Fan Guests of Honor Susan Wood and Mike Glicksohn, Rusty Hevelin and others appear. Thanks to Kathi Overton for 2016 video editing.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 5/21/16 Pixel Shop of Scrollers

(1) TREKKIN’ WITH FILLION? Here’s some clickbait for you – “Rumor Mill: Nathan Fillion New Star Trek Captain?” asks SciFi Obsession.

Many noticed how much weight Nathan lost for the final season of Castle. Now that it’s 8 year run is over, could he be sitting in the center seat for the new 50th Anniversary Trek series on CBS All Access?

(2) CAPT. JACK VAGUEBOOKS. And here’s a second helping of clickbait – Den of Geek quoted John Barrowman’s comments about coming back to Doctor Who.

Adding fuel to the fire that he could return to the live-action Doctor Who universe in the near future, John Barrowman has now instructed fans to “keep watching.”

Asked on The One Show whether he’d be returning to either Doctor Who or Torchwood, the Captain Jack Harkness actor said, “I’d love to, keep watching. Keep watching. I’d love to! I don’t know!”

“It’s not up to me,” he added, “but keep watching!”

(3) DOZOIS REVIEWS SHORT FICTION. Locus Online has posted an excerpt from the magazine edition, “Gardner Dozois reviews Short Fiction April 2016”, covering Clarkesworld 1/16, 2/16, Asimov’s 2/16, and Interzone 1-2/16. With the link, Greg Hullender passed along his theory that Dozois is Lois Tilton’s replacement.

(4) WHAT’S OPERA? Andrew Liptak recommends “15 Space Opera Books for Firefly Fans” at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

We don’t need to tell you that Firefly has transformed from failed TV series to cultural phenomenon in the years since its 2003 cancellation after an inauspicious 12-episode run on Fox. Joss Whedon’s Western-styled space opera might be missed, but in the years since, its fans have found ways to cope with its absence, turning to other TV shows, writing fan fiction—or searching out books that scratch their Big Damn Heroes itch. We always find ourselves reaching for a solid space opera novel during the summer months, so we’re offering up 15 space opera books for Firefly fans, each embodying one or more of the qualities that made that show so great.

(5) CHECK REJECTS. SJPA, the organization behind Anime Expo, has partially retracted its recently announced Youth Protection policy. Anime News Network has the story — “Background Checks Not Mandatory for Anime Expo, Except for Its Employees, Volunteers”.

The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA), the California-based non-profit organization behind Anime Expo, announced on Friday that the criminal background check requirement it introduced as part of its Youth Protection Program are now only mandatory for its own employees and volunteers. Background checks are optional but strongly encouraged for Artist Alley participants, exhibitors, press, Guests of Honor, performers and vendors.

SPJA is partnering with the Nonprofit Risk Management Center to launch the Youth Protection Program to protect young attendees at Anime Expo. The Nonprofit Risk Management Center began streaming an introduction video for the program on Tuesday. The organization also began streaming a video on April 29 that explains the responsibilities of being a partner to the Youth Protection Program.

SPJA noted the other elements of the program that will remain in place:

We are creating SafeSpace kiosks and other means for youth to report and receive immediate help. Significantly increased private security and LA Police officers will be present onsite. To protect minors from exposure to adult content, spatial separation and ID checks will be enforced at AX. Exhibitors will be required to keep adult materials behind closed pipe and drape, and to conduct ID checks at entrances to adult areas. Similarly, adult programming will be physically separated from other programming spaces and IDs will be required for access.

The policy originally required all employees, volunteers, panelists, performers, guests, members of a guest’s or performer’s entourage, and Artist Alley participants to consent to a background check, as well as completing certain online youth protection training courses. Exhibitors, press, and vendors were also required to affirm that all representatives complete a background check. Some exhibitors had already signed to agree with this previous policy and submitted information to comply.

2016 WISB Awards(6) WISB AWARDS. Shaun Duke of The World in the Satin Bag has distributed the 2016 WISB Awards – including some for File 770!

The fiction section is led off by Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s novel Signal To Noise. The Best Non-Fiction Work was Eric Flint’s “A Response to Brad Torgersen.”

Now that awards season is in full swing, it’s time to release the winners of the 2016 WISB Awards.  As with every year of the award, the winners are selected from my reading and viewing experiences throughout 2015 and during my annual Hugo Awards reading binge.  As such, the long list included works published decades ago.

Unlike previous years, the 2016 WISB Awards included a long list, which you should check out to see all the great stuff I enjoyed.  You might also check out the 2016 Hugo Awards Reading/Watching List, which includes works from my original list and works suggested by readers.

As with every year of the awards, these selections are based entirely on my own tastes, which are imperfect, narrow, and weird….

(7) ALPHA GAME. The Traveler at Galactic Journey found a classic in “this month’s” F&SF — “[May 21, 1961] Pineapple Upside-Down Month (June 1961 Fantasy and Science Fiction).

Cordwainer Smith’s Alpha Ralpha Boulevard is one of the best stories I’ve read in a long time.  Most tales of the future are either frustratingly conventional or completely opaque.  Not so in Boulevard, which features a world dominated by “Instrumentality”, an omniscient computer dedicated to the happiness of humanity.  16,000 years from now, after a placid, highly regulated existence, people are, at last, offered the luxury of uncertainty (or at least the illusion thereof).

(8) PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. I guess readers are supposed to be shocked and dismayed that if you leave a flag outside in the sun for 50 years it isn’t going to stay looking brand new.

On the other hand, nobody has any photos showing “The American flags on the Moon have all turned white”.

(9) OPPOSED BY MARS. But this story you can see with your own eyes. NPR tells you how easy it will be to view Mars this weekend.

Sometimes astronomy can be challenging, but spotting Mars this weekend should be a breeze.

Step 1: Head outside right after sunset and look toward the southeastern sky.

Step 2: Find the full moon. (So far, so good, right?)

Step 3: Look up and to the right, and find what looks like a bright red star.

That’s Mars, our planetary neighbor — getting up close and personal.

This weekend is the “Mars opposition,” when the planet shines most brightly; at the end of the month, in a related event, we’ll have the “Mars close approach,” when there’s the shortest distance between the two planets.

(10) YOUR ROBOTIC FUTURE. Robin Hanson’s The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth will be released by Oxford University Press on June 1.

Age of Em cover

Many think the first truly smart robots will be brain emulations or ems. Scan a human brain, then run a model with the same connections on a fast computer, and you have a robot brain, but recognizably human.

Train an em to do some job and copy it a million times: an army of workers is at your disposal. When they can be made cheaply, within perhaps a century, ems will displace humans in most jobs. In this new economic era, the world economy may double in size every few weeks.

Some say we can’t know the future, especially following such a disruptive new technology, but Professor Robin Hanson sets out to prove them wrong. Applying decades of expertise in physics, computer science, and economics, he uses standard theories to paint a detailed picture of a world dominated by ems.

The book, set 100-150 years in the future, is “speculative nonfiction” by an economist. The publicity blurbs come from David Brin, Vernor Vinge, Gregory Benford, and Hannu Rajshiemi, among others.

The website includes a TEDx talk Hanson did which got 2.2 million hits.

(11) GOOD, IF YOU LIKE ADS. “Goodreads has found a new way to get money from authors while annoying their use base,” says Dawn Sabados. “Opt out of ads features are just so wonderful.”

“Goodreads Deals: A New Way to Promote Your Ebooks to Millions of Goodreads Members (U.S. Market)”

With the launch of Goodreads Deals in the U.S., we’re now offering authors and publishers a new way to amplify ebook price promotions to our millions of members. The Goodreads Deals program comes with built-in personalization options based on members’ Want to Read shelves, the authors they follow, and the genres they prefer—all designed to help your deals reach the readers with the highest interest in buying your books. Goodreads Deals is unique because we’ll enable you to reach existing fans and introduce your ebooks to new readers:

  • Existing Fans: Every second, our members add 6 books to their Want to Read shelves—that’s 15 million books per month that have captured the interest of readers. With Goodreads Deals, you can now tap into that interest. We’ll email members when a book on their Want to Read shelf has a price promotion. We’ll also email any members who follow the author on Goodreads.

(12) IT IS SO. Writer and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fan Emily Spahn, after learning that MLP is up for a Hugo because of the Rabid Puppies slate, wrote “I Have a Pony in this Race” to tell Hugo voters why the show (and that particular episode) are good sci-fi worthy of serious consideration rather than being just a troll nomination:

You know, it’s kind of appropriate that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was nominated for a Hugo in order to troll people. Our entire fandom was built on some trolling.

Way back in 2011, some guys on 4Chan started posting My Little Pony pictures and memes from the then-new series, Friendship is Magic. Other people complained, and being 4Chan, they responded by flooding the site with pictures of ponies.

But somewhere in there a strange thing happened. People checked out the show, whether because they thought the characters were cute or because they thought it would be dumb and wanted to mock it, and they liked it. Not ironically, and not because it was subversive or slipped adult humor in under the radar. They just really liked the simple stories about Twilight Sparkle and her pony friends. And Bronies were born.

Three weeks earlier a post written by Horizon, “MLP’s Hugo Award nomination: Into the culture wars”, provided historical context and  got picked up by Equestria Daily, MLP fandom’s biggest website.

It is ambiguous whether the nomination was serious and ideological (the episode in question is about Starlight Glimmer’s “equality cult”, making it a potential political statement), or whether it was a “joke” nomination in the same vein as short-story finalist Space Raptor Butt Invasion, but in either case it was pretty transparently proposed as a slap in the face to Hugo voters.

If you don’t give a crap about SFF or American culture wars, that should be all the context you need to understand what has other people upset, and help you avoid falling into the drama if you stumble into someone slamming MLP.

(13) SCHOOL’S IN! SF Crowsnest points to this Eighties-style trailer for the new X-Men movie. Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters is now open for enrollment… (X-Men: Apocalypse in theaters May 27.)

[Thanks to Dawn Sabados, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Petrea Mitchell, Paul Weimer, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 5/13/16 Stop, Drop, And Scroll

(1) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. Ann Leckie’s train delivered her to Chicago on time for Nebula Weekend, unlike last year when she was delayed by a bacon-related catastrophe.

(2) FREE ALLEGED BOOK. Timothy the Talking Cat’s amanuensis Camestros Felapton reports:

Now available from Smashwords, until they decide it is too embarrassing even for them, There Will Be Walrus First Volume V.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/636378

There Will Be WALRUS final

Crafted from the finest pixels and using exquisite fonts and typographical metadata, There Will Be Walrus is the ground breaking anthology series from Cattimothy House – the world’s leading publisher of feline edited military science fiction anthologies.

The book comes with additional bonus content and includes features such as:

  • clauses
  • sentences
  • paragraphs
  • chapters

Spelling and punctuation are used throughout and in many cases radical new and exciting approaches have been taken. Copy-editing has been applied at industry standards as found in top flight Hugo nominated publishers such as Castalia House or Baen Books.

(3) ZINES ONLINE. The University of New Brunswick Library has posted complete scans of a number of classic old fanzines from their collection, Algol, Luna, Amra, Mimosa, four  issues of Tom Reamy’s Trumpet, the earliest issues of Locus, and others. Click here.

(4) BETTY OR VERONICA? CW has given series orders to Greg Berlanti’s live-action Archie Comics series Riverdale. Entertainment Weekly says it will look like this:

Set in present-day and based on the iconic Archie Comics characters, Riverdale is a surprising and subversive take on Archie (KJ Apa), Betty (Lili Reinhart), Veronica (Camila Mendes), and their friends, exploring the surrealism of small town life — the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome façade.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa will write and executive-produce with Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, and Jon Goldwater. Cole Sprouse, Ashleigh Murray, Luke Perry, Madelaine Petsch, Marisol Nichols, and Mädchen Amick will also star.

(5) I COME NOT TO PRAISE THEM. ABC has axed The Muppets. Entertainment Weekly ran its obituary.

The comedy series lasted one 16-episode season on the network after launching to tremendous buzz last fall.

The beloved franchise was given a modern-day, adult-themed makeover by producers Bob Kushell (Anger Management) and Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory). The show also some criticism for trying to make the classic family characters more contemporary, including focusing on their love lives. Midway through the season run, falling ratings prompted ABC to make a major change behind the scenes, replacing showrunner Kushell with Kristin Newman (Galavant), who pledged to bring “joy” to the series. Yet the changes didn’t alter the show’s fate.

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman has posted Episode 8 of his podcast Eating the Fantastic, in which he dines and dialogs with dual guests, Lynne Hansen, and Jeff Strand.

Jeff Strand and Lynne Hansen

Jeff Strand and Lynne Hansen

Lynne is a horror novelist turned filmmaker whose recent short, Chomp, received 21 nominations at a variety of film festivals, winning 7 times, including the Fright Meter Awards Best Short Horror Film of 2015, and Jeff Strand is not only the author of the wonderfully titled horror novels I Have a Bad Feeling About This and The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever (and many others)—he’ll also be the emcee Saturday for the Stoker Awards banquet.

Next episode of Eating the Fantastic, which will go live in approximately two weeks, will feature Maria Alexander, whose debut novel, Mr. Wicker, won the 2014 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel

(7) WOMEN FEATURED AT GENCON. Anna Kreider points out “GenCon’s Featured Presenters are 52% female, and that’s a huge deal”.

[Before I start – full disclosure, I am one of the Industry Insider Featured Presenters for this year’s GenCon. So I’m sure that there are those who will say that me writing this post is self-serving arrogance and/or egomania, but whatever.]

The GenCon Industry Insider Featured Presenters for 2016 have been announced, and holy shit is this year’s lineup amazing! Seriously, take a look:

That’s right, folks. There are 13 female IIFPs and only 12 men. This means there are MORE WOMEN THAN MEN, and that is a HUGE FUCKING DEAL, because that is a HUGE amount of change in a really short period of time. To prove it, let’s look at the numbers:

(8) MEDICAL UPDATE. It was announced on his blog that Darwyn Cooke is being treated for cancer.

It is with tremendous sadness that we announce Darwyn is now receiving palliative care following a bout with aggressive cancer. His brother Dennis and I, along with our families appreciate the outpouring of support we have received. We ask for privacy as we go through this very difficult time

(9) BLOG LAUNCH KEEPS UP MOMENTUM. Our Words’ rollout includes Sarah Chorn’s list of future plans

Anyway, things I envision for this website, so you know what to expect in the near future-ish:

1. I am continuing the guest posts. I love them. I think they are interesting, and I love getting diverse perspectives about many, many facets of disabilities in the genre.

2. I have a few interviews out. Yay! And I really want to keep interviews going.

3. I have a few giveaways in the works.

4. I have launched the book club, which I really, really want to take off.

5. I am currently working on doing a series of questions and answers. The idea behind this actually came from a few convention panels I was on, focusing on the topic of disabilities in the genre. After each panel, a host of authors would stand up and ask a ton of very good, very important questions about writing disabilities. So I figured maybe I can try to bring something like that to my website. I’m not exactly sure the format yet, but the idea is that I will get questions about writing disabilities from people who wish to ask said questions, and then I will send those questions to a few disabled genre authors to answer in a panel sort of format. That will take time to figure out, but it will happen eventually.

6. I have received a handful of books this week to review for this website, so start expecting book reviews.

7. I am trying to drum up a bunch of people willing to write about accessibility issues at conventions. There was some noise about this topic last year, but con season is upon us, and I’d like to get some people over here who are willing to write about it. We need to make some more noise about this. It is so important. 8. I am working on getting some people who are willing to write/do regular features over here.

(10) DAN WELLS. Our Words reposted “Dan Wells on Writing Mental Illness”, which originally appeared on SF Signal in 2015.

One in five people in America has a mental illness. One in twenty has a mental illness so serious it inhibits their ability to function. Look around the room you’re in: do you know who they are? Do you know how to help them? Maybe that one in five is you: do you know how to help yourself? The most depressing statistic of all is that no, none of us do. In 2015, Americans with mental illness are more likely to be in prison than in therapy. As a nation and as a culture we are absolutely terrible at recognizing, treating, and coping with mental illness. This needs to change.

(11) JAY LAKE. Our Words has also republished “Jay Lake on Writing With Cancer”, which the late author wrote for Bookworm Blues in 2012.

Cancer is not a disability in the usual sense of that term. It’s not even really a chronic disease, like lupus or MS. Rather, it’s an acute disease which can recur on an overlapping basis until one is cured or killed. Some cancers, such as indolent forms of prostate cancer or lymphoma, can be lived with until one dies of other causes. Other cancers such as pancreatic cancer can move like wildfire, with a patient lifespan measured in weeks or months from diagnosis to death.

My cancer falls somewhere in the mid range between the two. And though I wouldn’t think to claim it as a disability in either the social or legal senses of that term, it has a lot in common with disabilities.

Cancer has affected my writing in two basic ways. First, the disruptions of treatment. Second, the shifts in my own thoughts and inner life as I respond to the distorting presence of the disease in my life.

The treatments are brutal. Surgeries are rough, but they’re fairly time constrained. I’ve had four, a major resection of my sigmoid colon, a minor resection of my left lung, and two major resections of my liver. In each case, I spent three to six days in the hospital, followed by several weeks at home in a fairly serious recovery mode. I was back to writing within a month every time. These days, when I contemplate future surgery (far more likely than not, given the odds of recurrence for my cancer cohort), I budget a month of time lost and all it good.

(12) FIND YOUR OWN INKLINGS. Rachel Motte tells “Why C.S. Lewis Would Want You to Join a Writing Group” at Catholic Stand.

When J.R.R. Tolkien retired from his post at the University of Oxford in 1959, he intended to spend his new-found free time finishing The Silmarillion. Though this book is less well-known than his Lord of the Rings, Tolkien considered it his real work—the work he’d spent decades trying to get back to.

One can easily imagine the newly retired professor, still in his tweeds, bent over his desk, glad to at last avoid the professional obligations that had long kept him from the literary project he loved best. Instead, writes Inklings scholar Diana Pavlac Glyer, he found that the increased solitude hampered his ability to move forward with his favorite project. Glyer explains,

He quickly became overwhelmed by the task. He found himself easily distracted, and he spent his days writing letters or playing solitaire… Tolkien had become increasingly isolated, and as a result, he found himself unable to write. (Diana Pavlac Glyer, Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings, p. 117)

You probably think of writing as a solitary activity—and, to some extent, you are right. “Many writers do little else but sit in small rooms recalling the real world,” notes Annie Dillard in The Writing Life. “One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.”

In the best of circumstances, however, that’s not where the story ends. Although we’re right to think of writing as partly a solitary activity, it’s also true that writers—like other artists—benefit from meeting regularly with other creative people.

(13) CRITICAL THEORY. “Russell Letson reviews Judith Merril” at Locus Online.

The Merril Theory of Lit’ry Criticism: Judith Merril’s Nonfiction, Judith Merril (Aqueduct Press 978-1-61976-093-6, $22.00, 348pp, tp) March 2016.

…Her critical work was more practical than theoretical, but nonetheless systematic and precise. She was a commentator who was also a practitioner, an analyst who was also a fan, with a broad-church sensibility that could not disentangle SF from the cultures that surrounded it.

In The Merril Theory of Lit’ry Criticism, editor Ritch Calvin has gathered and condensed thirteen years’ worth of material into a single vol­ume that includes the introductions and ‘‘sum­mation’’ essays from her long-running series of annual ‘‘Best SF’’ anthologies; book reviews for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction; and a single long, reflective essay written for the Science Fiction Research Association’s journal Extrapolation. The chronological arrangement allows us to follow Merril as she explores the shape and extent of the modern fantastic, locates particular writers and works in that geography, and develops an aesthetic and historical-social framework for making judgments. (The full texts of all the items are available as an e-book, which is nearly twice as long as the print version. Omitted material consists mainly of individual story introductions from the annual anthologies.) …

(14) LAST YEAR, WHEN WE WERE YOUNG. Matt interviews Andrew J. McKiernan  at Smash Dragons.

The title story for your collection is a fascinating tale about survival amidst a strange and very disturbing apocalypse. I’m curious, how did this particular story come about? Where did you draw your inspiration from? 

Like pretty much every story I write, it starts with a title. That’s where I thought Last Year, When We Were Young came from. Just a title that popped into my head that I ran with and a story emerged from it. It is always my wife who points out the real life inspirations for my stories, when here I am thinking they’re just stories, fictions. In this case, my father-in-law had just been diagnosed with a brain tumour and the operation to remove it didn’t go too spectacularly for him. At the same time, my own father had a heart attack and I’d just entered my 40s and my eldest son had turned 18. So, the title story is me trying to deal with the fact that we all age, and that it happens so goddamn quickly. We get older, and yet a lot of the time we still feel like we’re kids and teenagers. The first 20 years of our life seem so long and so important and our mind dwells on those times. I’m 45 now, and yet a part of me still feels like I’m 18 and should be out there playing in a band and getting drunk and enjoying myself. Age creeps up on us so quickly. We’re adults before we know it. Mid-life crisis, I guess, the realisation that I had aged and that I really would die one day, and this story was my subconscious way of examining that.

(15) MARK YOUR CALENDAR. George Donnelly will be having a sale a week from today.

Today’s top libertarian fiction authors bring you 99-cent fiction books May 18-20 only. Some are even free. Read on your phone, tablet, browser or kindle

(16) PLANETARIUM PANEL FEATURES CLARKE FINALIST. Spaceships: Above and Beyond at the Royal Observatory Planetarium”, Greenwich, Thursday, May 26 (18.30-20.30). Click the link for full details and tickets. Here’s the line up:

  • Libby Jackson, Former ESA Flight Director now working for the UK Space Agency
  • Dr. Adam Baker, Senior Lecturer in Astronautics at Kingston University
  • Dr. Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich
  • James Smythe, Science Fiction author – shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2016
  • The panel discussion will be hosted by Tom Hunter, Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

(17) PANAMA GOLD. At The Toast, Mallory Ortberg has posted “Every Fan Fiction I Have Started Writing Once I Found out Emma Watson Was Named In The Panama Papers”.

“Mustn’t complain, though,” Harry said after an odd silence. “That’s what our taxes are for, after all.”

“We don’t pay taxes,” Hermione said. “Taxes are for Muggles.” She extinguished her cigarette in the last slice of cake.

“But you’re –” Harry started.

“I used to be a lot of things,” Hermione said decisively. “I have money now instead.”

Harry stopped at every bar on the way home, until he could no longer remember the look that had entered her eyes as she said it.

(18) PIXAR PRAISE. Kristian Williams’s YouTube video “Pixar–What Makes a Story Relatable” explains why Pixar films work — because at their core, they’re great stories.

(19) ADDRESSEE KNOWN. Not everybody Andrew Liptak outs was very far undercover to begin with: “Guess Who? 15 Sci-Fi Authors Who Used Pseudonyms—and Why” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

U.K. Le Guin, Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the most famous living science fiction authors, but when she sold her story “Nine Lives” to Playboy, her editors asked her to change her name to U.K. Le Guin, fearing that a female author would make their readers “nervous.” Le Guin remembered it as the only time, “I met with anything I understood as sexual prejudice, prejudice against me as a woman writer.” She’s never used a pseudonym again, and “Nine Lives” appears under her own name in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters.

(20) THE NEBULA ON CHAOS HORIZON. Brandon Kempner calls his shot in “2016 Nebula Prediction”.

I’ve spun my creaky model around and around, and here is my prediction for the Nebulas Best Novel category, taking place this weekend:

N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season: 22.5%
Ann Leckie, Ancillary Mercy:22%
Naomi Novik, Uprooted: 14.7%
Ken Liu, The Grace of Kings: 13.3%
Lawrence Schoen, Barsk: 10.7%
Charles Gannon, Trial by Fire: 9.5%
Fran Wilde, Updraft: 7.3%

Remember, Chaos Horizon is a grand (and perhaps failed!) experiment to see if we can predict the Nebulas and Hugos using publicly available data.

(21) A PICTURE AND A THOUSAND WORDS. Defenestration, for reasons that will become obvious, made sure we didn’t miss this Hugo humor.

Andrew Kaye (known in some circles as AK) is the creator of Ben & Winslow and other questionable comics, many of which can be found in his deviantART gallery and his Tumblr. He’s also the editor-in-chief of this magazine. Duh.

I realize a lot of the folks who read Ben & Winslow might not be familiar with the drama that’s surrounded the Hugos lately–you can find plenty of articles and blogs discussing it in more detail than I can spare here. Basically, unlike other major awards, the Hugos are chosen by science-fiction and fantasy fandom. Last year a subset of that fandom got angry with the growing diversity among the award nominees and the subject matter they wrote about (or in other words, the nominees weren’t all straight white men writing adventure stories). They took advantage of the Hugos’ fan-based voting  and hijacked the list of nominees with their own choices. The 2015 Hugo ballot was a shambles–many nominees dropped out, and most Hugo voters chose to vote for “No Award” rather than vote for what actually made it to the ballot.

Well, the same thing has happened this year. The same people are trying to control the award. Trying to destroy the award. And if they’re allowed to continue, they’ll succeed. Needless to say, a lot of people are upset about this. To someone unfamiliar with the award, the whole thing looks like a big joke.

http://www.defenestrationmag.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/04292016-Hugo-Boss.jpg

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Matthew Davis, and Tom Hunter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 5/5/16 The Barnacles of Narnia

(1) LOST SIGNAL. John DeNardo shocked fans and writers alike by revealing today that SF Signal is shutting down.

When we started SF Signal in 2003, it was because we loved speculative fiction. Having a blog allowed us to share that love with other fans. We never dreamed it would have grown like it has. In these past 12 years and 10 months, we’ve shared our love of genre, we’ve provided a forum for other fans to come on board as contributors to also share their genre love, we gave authors a place to tell us about the exciting new worlds they’re creating, and I like to think we’ve made a ton of new friends. We even picked up a few Hugo Awards along the way. It’s been quite a ride.

But all good things come to an end.

It was a very hard decision to make, but we have decided to close down SF Signal. The reason is boringly simple: time. As the blog has grown, so has its demands for our attention. That is time we would rather spend with our families. We considered scaling back posts, but it felt like SF Signal would only be a shadow of its former self. So yes, it feels sudden, but a “cold turkey” exit seems like the right thing to do.

(2) GAMES OF FAME. Six classic games are being inducted into video game hall of fame – CBS News has the story.

game hall of fame

A video game that had players zapping space aliens with lasers and another that put them in covered wagons in 1848 have been inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame, along with four other games recognized for their influence on gaming and pop culture.

“Space Invaders” and “The Oregon Trail,” along with “Grand Theft Auto III,” ”Sonic the Hedgehog,” ”The Legend of Zelda” and “The Sims,” make up the class of 2016 honored Thursday at the hall inside The Strong museum in Rochester.

The winners were chosen from among 15 finalists culled from thousands of nominations from around the world. Contenders that missed the final cut were: “John Madden Football,” ”Elite,” ”Final Fantasy,” ”Minecraft,” ”Nurburgring,” ”Pokemon Red and Green,” ”Sid Meier’s Civilization,” ”Street Fighter II” and “Tomb Raider.”

(3) IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. Abigail Nussbaum, in Captain America: Civil War, launches her review with this lede:

It’s a bit of a strange thing to say, but I might have liked Captain America: Civil War better if it were a less good movie.  When films like The Dark Knight Rises or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice deliver rancid political messages wrapped in equally rancid plots and characterization, the reviewer’s job is made easier.  We can point to how a failure to recognize the actual complexity of a situation, or to imbue characters with full humanity, both informs and reflects the simplistic, quasi-fascist message of the movie.  Civil War is a trickier customer.  It tries–and on some level, manages–to be more intelligent and more thoughtful than something like Batman v Superman.  Its characters take the film’s central conflict seriously, discussing it rationally and trying to find a way to resolve it without descending into fisticuffs.  But even as they do so, they reveal the inherent impossibility of their project, the way the core assumptions of this entire genre combine to form a black hole that it can never escape.  I’ve said it before, but the minute you start taking superheroes seriously, and debating the rights and wrongs of them, only one conclusion is possible: that superheroes are a really bad idea, and that any fictional world that houses more than a handful of them will inevitably devolve into a horrifying dystopia in which the rule of law and the authority of democratic government are meaningless.

(4) SINGING IN THE SHOWER. Space.com told readers “Meteor Shower Spawned by Halley’s Comet Peaks This Week”.

Dusty debris that Halley’s Comet has shed on its 75-year-long laps around the sun slams into Earth’s atmosphere during the first week of May every year, creating an annual meteor shower known as the Eta Aquarids. (Another Halley-spawned shower, the Orionids, occurs every October.)

(5) SWIRSKY INTERVIEWS KOWAL. At Rachel Swirsky’s blog: “Silly Interview with Mary Robinette Kowal, intermittently teal storyteller”.

RS: A lot of novelists let short stories lapse when they embark on their novelling careers. You keep publishing strong short fiction, like last year’s “Midnight Hour” in Uncanny Magazine. How do you make time for short stories, and what do you get from them that you don’t get from longer fiction?

MRK: Honestly, these days I start a lot of the short stories while I’m teaching my Short Story Intensive. Part of the process is that I write along with the students in order to demonstrate how to start from a story seed and then develop it into a story. I often have a market in mind when I’m doing these, so the demonstration does double duty. The thing that I love about short fiction as a writer is that I get to experiment with a lot of different styles and ideas without the huge time investment of a novel. Plus, as a reader, I find that a short story can often deliver more of a sucker punch to the emotions and I kinda like that.

(6) SMACK ATTACK. J. R. R. Tolkien is pitted against George R. R. Martin in the latest installment of Epic Rap Battles of History. Tolkien’s shots include: ”You’re a pirate, you even stole my RR!”

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 5, 1961 — Astronaut Alan Shepard became the United States’ first man in space in a brief sub-orbital flight from Cape Canaveral.
  • May 5, 2002 Spider-Man is the first movie to top $100 million on opening weekend. (Remember when $100 million was a lot of money?)

(8) RARE ENDORSEMENT. John Picacio gave a strong boost to nominee Larry Elmore in an April 27 post “The 2016 Best Professional Artist Hugo Award”.

Larry Elmore is a legendary and deeply influential fantasy illustration icon, who has had a huge impact on generations of Dungeons & Dragons fans — game players, writers, artists, editors, publishers, designers, filmmakers, convention organizers — and beyond. More to the point, he has a major body of published eligible work in 2015 and that work doesn’t take extensive sleuthing to discern whether it’s eligible. His book The Complete Elmore Volume II contains over 700 drawings from a career dating back to 1981, and was produced and first published in the fall of 2015.

Was Larry Elmore amongst my nomination selections? No. He wasn’t.

Do I believe that ‘No Award’ is an option this year? It’s the Hugos. It’s always an option.

No disrespect to the other finalists, but Larry Elmore winning a Hugo would not be a lifetime achievement award but it would recognize a lifetime of professional art achievement by someone who is legitimately eligible this year.

The history of that winners list would be shinier with his name on it.

Larry Elmore responded in the comments –

thank you for all your nice words, I am honored to be nominated. I never, in my wildest dreams, ever thought of being nominated. I came from the gaming industry (my first big breaks) and it seems like that type of art has been ignored for many years, but I agree that game art has had a large influence on a couple of generations…and still does. Because I take the award seriously, I feel more than honored to be nominated. I have had a career that has spanned over 40 years, I have loved it. I am 67 and I paint or draw every day…I am obsessed I guess…..but I love it, I keep trying to get one good painting!!!!

(9) DIVE! DIVE! If you’re having this problem, Fred Kiesche offers a technological solution.

(10) DAMAGED. Kukuruyo, the artist behind Hugo nominee #GamerGater Life, is under attack. Like some of last year’s slated nominees he’s unwillingly become a ball in the game —

Since i publicy became a gamergate supporter, the ammount of reports i’ve gotten on art sites have increased, many times in very underserved cases (i got a drawing pulled because the characters had sweat. Yes, sweat…) as well as the amount of people lying about me on blogs and such. And i don’t mean making critiques of me, i mean outright lies (one guy even wrote about how i voted for some candidate in the past US elections, which is interesting considering i’m a spaniard living in Spain). Not only that, but my website began to have attemps to break in. At some point i was receiving more than 50 attempts to break in each day, until i upgraded my security.

But this broke into a new level when i was announced as a finalist for best Fan artist at the Hugo awards. Then people in the social justice circles discovered that i support gamergate, and since then, interesting things have been happening one after the other (aside from the wave of verbal attacks, of course).

First one of my gamergate related works got reported and banned from deviantart. Then someone picked a cheap fanart that i was commissioned to do, about a half nude Ms.marvel, and tried to frame me as a pedophile, because aparently the character has 16 in the original canon (something i even didn’t know), ignoring the fact that the character body was adult. This story was writen about in (as far as i know) a blog and then in a comic news article, expanding the idea that i’m a pedophile for an anime style fanart thats no different than the millions upon millions of anime character fanarts out there, and that i was somehow a terrible threat for teenagers out there who have their heroes destroyed by evil me. I was reported in devianart for “pedophilia” and the drawing was taken down. I got reported on twitter. The attemps to break into my website have come arround again. Then they contacted my advertising affiliates, telling them i was hosting child pornography, so they would cease to advertise with me. They acepted a middle ground solution at first, but then they changed their policies, and now i can no longer receive their service. Yes, and advertising website changed their policies just because of me… and just yesteday some guys where trying to get MARVEL to SUE ME because of a fanart!

But hey, i’m sure all of this is just a coincidence! this has nothing to do with the Hugo awards or gamergate. I’m sure it’s just that a whole lot of people randomly decided the same week to try to fuck me up in every way they could, right? this can’t possibly be related with people from a particular ideology, pissed off because someone with the wrong opinions got a Hugo nomination.

(11) TINGLE IS HARD TO TROLL. The Daily Dot compiled the nominee’s tweets to show how “Chuck Tingle counter-trolls the Gamergaters who nominated his erotica for a Hugo Award”.

As hilarious and thorough as these VOXMAN owns are, mere Twitter owns aren’t enough to defeat a campaign whose main goal seems to be attention for Day. He’s expressed, in so many words, that hate can only make him stronger.

That’s where the third prong of Tingle’s trolling makes a difference. As the Daily Dot’s April Siese discussed in her recent profile of Tingle, the hard and sexy author’s true identity remains a mystery. He cannot very well reveal himself by showing up to an award ceremony. So, in his place, he has invited perhaps the one person internet alt-rightists and Gamergate-adjacent agitators hate most.

Zoe Quinn, game developer and anti-harassment activist, was the original target of Gamergate after an ex-boyfriend revealed alleged details of her sex life online. She’s the boogeyman (boogeywoman?) Gamergate frothingly rose up to “defeat,” their imaginary platonic ideal of a “Social Justice Warrior.”

(12) WHAT YOU KNOW V. WHAT YOU CAN PROVE. Andrew Liptak finds a great deal of hearsay to repeat in “Gaming the System: The 1987 Hugo Awards” at Kirkus Reviews. On the other hand, it’s hearsay that a lot of people haven’t read before.

During the lead-up to this convention, Hubbard’s interests seemed to have helped beyond mere sponsorship of convention booklets and workshops. Fans have alleged that Hubbard’s followers worked as a block and voted in such numbers that Black Genesis, the second of the Mission Earth series, found itself a Hugo finalist for Best Novel.  Ian Watson, writing in Conspiracy Theories, noted that the presence of the book as a finalist, was suspect.

“Did all those who nominated [Black Genesis] in the first place merely have supporting memberships — suggesting that the only reason for buying the membership was to nominate BG? Furthermore, how many of the people who nominated BG only nominated BG and nothing else? If we could discover this information from Paul Kincaid [Award Administrator] then we might have an indicator of whether BG was in fact “bought” on to the ballot.”

(13) CURING AWARD FATIGUE. Joe Sherry at Nerds of a Feather, in “Other Genre Awards: Or, So You’re Tired of the Hugo Awards”, suggests awards alternatives to revitalize your jaded taste buds.

So, you’re tired of reading about the Hugo Awards, are you? All the fighting and arguing and gnashing of teeth got you down? Do you still like Awards and the recognition of good things? We have some awards for you! If you’re newer to this whole genre awards scene, the first place I would recommend you start (besides this article) is the Science Fiction Awards Database. There’s quite a bit to peruse and a full directory of all the genre awards.While it is certainly possible that they are missing something, it does seem pretty darn exhaustive. Since there are a horde of genre awards out there, the real question, then, is “What are you looking for from a literary award?”

(14) RULES IDEA. Kevin Standlee’s next proposal – “Plus 2”.

Here’s yet another proposal to try and counteract bad actors (I call them “Griefers”) trying to disrupt the Hugo Awards by deliberately nominating works that they expect will be disliked by the majority of the membership as a whole, taking advantage of the “first-five-past-the-post” nature of the nominating round. The other proposals I’ve written up depend on the entire membership participating in a second round of voting, either with 3-Stage Voting (members vote down potential finalists) or Double Nominations (members select finalists from a list of top 15 semi-finalists).

This proposal invokes the subjective judgment call of the Worldcon Committee (in practice, of the Hugo Awards Administration Subcommittee), hereafter just “the Committee” or “the Administrators,” to add works to the final ballot. This proposal would authorize the Committee to add up to two additional works to the final ballot. The Committee’s selection would be limited to adding not more than two works from among those works that were among the top 15 nominees or that appeared on at least 5% of the nominating ballots cast in that category.

(15) THE VIEW FROM SP4. Kate Paulk catches up on her Hugo commentary in “Not An Action Report”.

Let’s just say I do not have much patience or goodwill for those who seem to think that I wasn’t sincere in congratulating the Hugo finalists last week. Sweetheart, just because you can’t lie straight in bed doesn’t mean that other people aren’t capable of honesty.

As for the charming specimen who wants to chase up the ballots of all puppy-aligned voters and throw them out (presumably without refunding memberships – even though every one of those ballots was cast by someone who paid for the privilege, no mention of this little issue was made that I saw (although I freely admit that I could have missed it even if it was in huge flashing neon letters)), mine bears very little resemblance to anyone’s lists, including the Sad Puppies 4 list.

Why? Because SP4 collated a whole lot of people’s preferences. My preferences don’t look like anyone else’s. There might be some overlap here and there, but I’m weird even by geek standards.

The second paragraph doubtless is a response to ideas discussed in Facebook’s Journeymen of Fandom group thread, as quoted by Vox Day this week.

(16) DESIGNATED DRIVER. How did this sober advice get on the internet?

(17) INSEUSSANCE. RedWombat made a metrical prediction in a comment.

“Pooh-pooh to the fans!” he was grinchily humming.
“They’re finding out now that No Award is coming!

They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
Their blogs will be blogged and their cries will be cried
My Xanatos Gambit will not be denied!

That’s a noise,” grinned the Grinch, “that I simply must hear!”
He paused, and the Grinch put a hand to his ear.

And he did hear a sound rising out of a tweet
It started in sour but then it went sweet!

And this tweet wasn’t sad!
Why this tweet sounded glad!

Every fan down in Fanville, (well, not quite all)
(Getting fans to agree is an order quite tall)
Was laughing at Tingle’s great big brass…fortitude.

He hadn’t stopped fans from enjoying the Hugo, just the same!
He tried to stop fandom, but fandom still came!
(Though not quite like in books with Chuck Tingle’s name.)

And what happened next? Well, on Twitter they say
The Grinch’s gall bladder grew three sizes that day.

And so the Grinch stands, while elk snivel and whine
Claiming “Don’t you all get it?! Victory’s mine!

Stop thinking it’s funny! Stop having fun!
Why won’t you acknowledge that I’ve really won?!”

But in Fanville it’s Christmas, and fans know it is true–
That this time the Grinch lost to…Literally Who.

 [Thanks to Doctor Science, JJ, Mark-kitteh, Hampus Eckerman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]