Pixel Scroll 2/14/17 Whoops! Forgot To Pull The Handle!

(1) CLARKE AWARD-ELIGIBLE BOOKS. The director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award has released the complete submissions list of eligible books received.

…I need to be clear, this is not a long list. Rather this is a list of every eligible title officially submitted to us by its publisher or creator for consideration for this year’s award.

…Ten or so years ago, when I first started doing this, it had become apparent that some of the ‘why the heck has that been shortlisted?’ reaction we tended to enjoy on releasing a new shortlist stemmed from the fact that many of the books put forward to our judges might not have been part of the general SF books conversation.

As such, their sudden arrival on a science fiction award list might have taken even some of the keenest award watchers somewhat by surprise, and we all know how much critics love having someone else discover something first…

Solution: put the full submissions list out there in advance of any official shortlist announcement so its there for everyone to see and discuss and even attempt some amateur prognostication on what the actual, official, top six list would look like….

This year we received 86 books from 39 publishing imprints and independent creators.

This is down somewhat from last year’s total of books, where we received 113 titles, and is the first drop below the 100 mark for several years….

(2) SHADOW CLARKE. Members of the Clarke Shadow Jury have begun posting at the official site.

Until relatively recently, the only SFF awards I knew were those mentioned on book covers: the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Clarke. The first Clarke winner I ever read was probably either The Handmaid’s Tale or Take Back Plenty, but those were older editions that didn’t mention it on the covers, so at that time I didn’t know. So the first time I realized there was such a thing as a Clarke Award was when I saw it on the cover of Paul McAuley’s Fairyland, the 1996 mass market paperback with the big blue face on the cover, with “Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award” on its forehead.

It’s almost funny that I hadn’t heard of the award by that time, given that Clarke was a local celebrity. If there were ever any local announcements of the original 1987 grant or of any of the subsequent winners, I missed it. I don’t think there were any, though. Things were a lot more disconnected in those days, and the award was firmly rooted somewhere else. And anyway, Clarke lived in a different version of Colombo than I did. A few years before I was born (and not long after Elizabeth II finally stopped being our head of state, nearly a quarter-century after independence from the Empire) the Sri Lankan government brought into law an entire new immigration status, the non-citizen Resident Guest, to accommodate Clarke personally. Apparently even as late as 1982 this was still being called “the Arthur Clarke Law,” which we might call that a fourth law on top of the better-known three already named for him (and the only one which is actual law.)

I have written about the Clarke Award in Foundation and I was also part of the panel which discussed ’30 Years of the Arthur C. Clarke Award’ at the 2016 Eastercon (an edited transcript of which is due to appear in Vector this year). I see participation in this shadow jury as offering the possibility of connecting such kinds of critical activity with my typical informal  approach to the Clarke of inaccurately predicting the shortlist, reading it, arguing about it, guessing the winner and attending the ceremony to find out how wrong I was. All in all, this is an unmissable opportunity to expose simultaneously the idiosyncrasies of my personal taste and the foundations of my critical thought.

And Maureen Kincaid Speller comments on her own blog in “Shagreen, or chagrin: the shadows begin to gather”.

…I’ve been a Clarke judge myself and it is no picnic. I’m sure a lot of people imagine it’s all ‘wow, free books’, but a look at the submissions list will tell you that the jewels are accompanied by a lot of dross – and yes, let’s be blunt about this, dross. This is not unique to the Clarke Award, by any means. I’ve been a Tiptree judge, and witnessed a Campbell Award judge at work; it goes with the territory. But while it’s worth being mindful of the fact that one woman’s dross is another man’s treasure, some dross is just dross …

If there is a problem, with the Clarke and other juried awards, it’s that … actually, there are two problems. One is that the jury’s deliberation is private, and indeed it should be, but as a result we have no access to the debate and can never know what prompted them to make certain decisions. There is probably horse-trading some years, and publishers are not always willing to have their titles submitted if they’re trying to market a book a certain way that is emphatically not science fiction. We don’t know, we can only guess, and it makes things difficult when a book doesn’t appear on a shortlist, and we ask ‘why didn’t they put that on?’ not knowing that the publisher couldn’t or wouldn’t submit. Judges can ask for books but that doesn’t mean they’ll arrive.

But the other problem is that when the shortlists roll out, ‘what were they thinking?’ is a quick and easy response, because it’s really hard to come up with anything else, in the absence of prior debate. And too often this becomes a veiled attack on the competence of the judges, which is not fair on them. They were asked to judge and they did their best in the circumstances. The one thing I will say is that it has seemed to me in recent years that the organisations who nominate judges have tended not to nominate practising critics, which means that one particular approach to sf has been neglected. And that may look like special pleading, but critics have their place in the ecosystem too, alongside the readers….

(3) APEX APOLOGY. Apex Magazine editor Jason Sizemore has revised his “Intersectional SFF – Response” piece from the version excerpted in yesterday’s Scroll.  The main part now reads –

Editor’s note: In my rush to take down the “Intersectional SFF Round Table” and to immediately assure our readers that they were being heard, I shared a hastily-written non-apology that was defensive when I didn’t meant it to be, and shut down the very conversation I wanted to have. I am sorry for that. My revised explanation of the decision to remove the round table is below. – Jason Sizemore

Dear Readers,

On Friday, we posted an “Intersectional SFF Round Table” in support of the Problem Daughters campaign and anthology. Though the post was put together by the Problem Daughters staff without input from us, we made the editorial decision to share the post exactly as it was delivered, without considering the implications of who was (and who wasn’t) included in that discussion. Almost immediately, we were made aware of multiple issues with that post, and removed it.

It was our hope that the original post would help bring awareness to the Problem Daughters project, and spark a discussion about intersectional SFF with our readers. Frankly, by virtue of their lived experiences, the authors and editors working on that anthology have a greater wisdom on what is and is not intersectionality than I will ever possess, and I appreciated their contribution.

However, that doesn’t absolve our editorial team of the responsibility of vetting the content that appears on Apex Magazine, and no conversation like this should be presented as a complete picture of intersectionality or even SFF in general. Going forward, we will make a greater effort to listen to the voices of our community, to learn, and include….

(4) YOUTUBE STAR EMBARASSES THE FRANCHISE. Disney’s Maker Studios and YouTube have axed some of their projects with superstar PewDiePie after he posted an anti-Semitic video reports CBS News.

The content creator, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, posted a now-deleted video on Jan. 11 that showed him laughing while two men held up a sign that said “death to all Jews.” Kjellberg hired the two men on Fiverr, a site where users can hire people to complete tasks for $5.

It’s not the first time the YouTube star posted a video with anti-Semitic remarks. Since August 2016, he had posted nine videos with anti-Semitic jokes or iconography, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Kjellberg has a record-breaking 53 million subscribers on YouTube, and makes millions off of his videos. Last year, he was YouTube’s highest paid star, raking in $15 million in 2016, reports Forbes.

Though Kjellberg’s signature style has been to shock fans with silly and sometimes crude humor, Disney’s Maker Studios, the division who partnered with the creator, says his latest stunts are unacceptable.

Wired specifies the affected projects:

YouTube’s response was tepid at first: It reportedly pulled ads from only one of the videos in question. But this morning the company said it was cancelling the second season of PewDiePie’s show and dropping ads from all of the offending videos, as well as pulling PewDiePie’s channel from a premium advertising program called Google Preferred.

(5) DISCOVERY ADDS BRASS. Star Trek: Discovery has cast three new Starfleet membersSciFiNow.uk has the story.

Joining Michelle Yeoh’s Captain Georgious aboard the starship Shenzhou are Terry Serpico, Maulik Pancholy and Sam Vartholomeos. In an update on the official CBS page, the network also revealed details about the characters the three actors will be playing.

Serpico, who is best known for his role in Army Wives, is set to play Admiral Anderson, a high-ranking official of Star Fleet. Pancholy, who recurred as Jonathan in 30 Rock and Sanjay in Weeds, is Dr Nambue, the Shenzhou’s Chief Medical Officer. Vartholomeos will play Ensign Connor, a Junior Officer in Starfleet Academy who was assigned to serve on the Shenzhou.

Joining Michelle Yeoh and the new additions on the Star Trek: Discovery are Sonequa Martin-Green as Lieutenant Commander Rainsford, James Frain as Sarek, Doug Jones as Lieutenant Saru, Anthony Rapp as Lieutenant Stamets, Chris Obi as T’Kuvma, Shazad Latif as Kol and Mary Chieffo as L’Rell.

Star Trek: Discovery will be a semi-prequel to The Original Series, set ten years before the start of James T Kirk’s five-year mission.

(6) SPEAKING OF TRUNK MANUSCRIPTS. Heritage Auctions is offering a Stagecoach Trunk once owned by Samuel L. Clemens. To own it will cost you at least $25,000 plus a hefty buyer’s fee, but you can read about it for free.

[Mark Twain]. Stagecoach Trunk once owned by Samuel L. Clemens. St. Louis, Missouri: J. Barwick Trunk Manufacturer, circa 1865. Dome-top, single compartment stagecoach trunk, likely purchased by Clemens in 1867 while he was in St. Louis, with “Property of / Samuel L. Clemens” painted in black on the outside of the lid. Approximately 9500 cubic inches, measuring roughly 18 x 18 x 30 inches. Original leather covering, geometric patterns tooled in black, with six wooden slats and two center-bands and matching binding, four edge clamps, lock, hinges, handle caps; interior lined with patterned paper, original tray fitting, later woven strap affixed to right side of interior to prevent further over-opening. General wear, as expected, lacking original handles, latches and interior tray; large portion of paper lining removed from interior of lid, dampstain to the bottom interior. An astounding artifact from arguably the most important author in American literature.

This trunk served Twain during the sweet spot of his career, those prolific years from when he published his first major work, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches in the same year that this trunk was acquired, and right through Tom Sawyer in 1876 and Huckleberry Finn in 1885. One can’t help but think that such important manuscripts were likely housed in this trunk during his travels.

Though remembered today primarily for his literary efforts and association with the Mississippi River, some of the best-loved books of Twain’s career were his travel writings, including his first two book-length works, The Innocents Abroad, about his journey on the steamship Quaker City to Europe and the Holy Land, published in 1869, and his 1872 follow up, Roughing It, about his adventures in the American West. Alan Gribben inspected a similar trunk owned by Twain, also with the paper scraped away from the interior of the lid, and argued that he opened it to its fullest position and used it as a provisional writing desk, writing notes on the wood (“Mark Twain’s Travel Trunk: An Impromptu Notebook” with Gretchen Sharlow, published in Mark Twain Journal). Conceivably, this trunk similarly functioned as a desk, potentially during the composition of his early travel works. It appears the interior paper lining was deliberately removed at an early date with roughly ninety-degree angles and is approximately the size of notebook paper (before further wear extended the right edge).

(7) FOREIGN EXCHANGE. Deadbeat roommate Thor is back. In fact, you get a whole suite of scenes with — “Rogers & Barnes. Stark & Rhodes. Thor & Darryl.” – when you plunk down real money (not Asgardian buttons) for Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange on Digital HD. A bargain at twice the Asgardian price!

(8) HOLMES OBIT. Midlands (UK) artist and bookseller Dave Holmes died February 13. Many knew him from his days working at Andromeda, Birmingham’s main SF bookstore, or at The Magic Labyrinth in Leicester.

He is one of the people David Gemmell’s Last Sword of Power (1988) is dedicated to, and at least two writers, Mark Morris and Ian Edginton, credit Holmes’ influence on their careers.

He was a character, which had its good and bad sides. As Edginton says:

He lived life on his own terms and never apologised for it. He hurt people in his life but I can’t sit in judgement. I have done questionable things in my time, things I regret and would do over again differently if I could. None of us are angels. I’m not perfect and I don’t expect my friends to be either.

Incidentally, Holmes was the fellow Iain Banks asked to hold his glass before Banks set out – as legend tells it — to climb the exterior of the Metropole Hotel during the 1987 Worldcon. (As legend tells it is not necessarily what happened, although Banks was pleased to repeat the tale as the introduction to an autobiographical account of his real urban climbing exploits.)

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 14, 278 — Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed. Allegedly.
  • February 14, 1940 — Clayton “Bud” Collyer first portrayed the Man of Steel in this second episode of the Adventures of Superman radio series, broadcast on February 14, 1940. The episode (“Clark Kent, Reporter”) was the first of a serial involving a villain known as “The Wolf.”

(10) DAYS OF THE DAY. Being sf/f fans, you can easily kill these two birds with one stone —

  • International Book Giving Day

Devoted to instilling a lifelong love of reading in children and providing access to books for children in need, Book Giving Day calls on volunteers to share their favorite book with a young reader. Although the holiday originated in the UK, book lovers around the world now join in the celebrations every year.

  • Extraterrestrial Culture Day

An officially acknowledged day in New Mexico (Roswell), Extraterrestrial Culture Day celebrates extraterrestrial cultures, and our past, present and future relationships with extraterrestrial visitors.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born February 14, 1859 — George W. G. Ferris, Jr. (inventor of the ferris wheel).
  • Born February 14, 1919 – Dave Kyle
  • Born February 14, 1970 Simon Pegg

(12) TEA. Ann Leckie recommends a technological solution to a writerly dilemma in “On Tea”.

So! The first, most common pitfall in making tea: You heat the water, throw the bag (or the infuser full of leaves) into the cup, pour the water, set it on the desk beside you and…promptly forget about it as you dive into your work. Hours later you remember that tea, now cold– and bitter enough to strip paint.

Friends, there is a simple solution to this, provided you remember to implement it: a timer. This could be a voice assistant on your computer or your phone, an app made purposely for timing the steeping of tea, or a dollar store kitchen timer shaped like a strawberry. Really, it doesn’t matter, but this is a tea-hack that can cost very little and vastly improve your tea-drinking experiences.

(13) SOUND AND FURY. NPR Music interviews Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi about writing music for the screen.

So you have these early conversations, you come up with a general feel for the score, and then you start fine-tuning as you see the images and get to know the characters. Is that what you’re saying?

Correct. In the case of Game Of Thrones, before I started writing I sat down with [David Beinoff and D.B. Weiss]. We talked about the tone of the show, and I just listened to what their vision was. … They’ll say, “We really like this instrument, do you think you can make this work? We like the violin, we don’t like this.” All that information helps me, and then I go in and actually turn that into music and go from there.

What’s an example of something they might have said as you were collaborating?

One thing we always laughed about was that they said, “We don’t want any flutes.”

(14) ON THE AIR. A substitute for jetpacks? Passenger drones in Dubai.

A drone that can carry people will begin “regular operations” in Dubai from July, the head of the city’s Roads and Transportation Agency has announced at the World Government Summit.

The Chinese model eHang 184 has already had test flights, said Matt al-Tayer.

The drone can carry one passenger weighing up to 100 kg (220 pounds) and has a 30 minute flight time.

The passenger uses a touch screen to select a destination. There are no other controls inside the craft.

It is “auto-piloted” by a command centre, according to a video released by the government agency.

(15) IN THE BEGINNING. Andrew Porter draws our attention to his favorite scene in Gentlemen Broncos, the only part he likes —

Just saw the opening credits for this forgettable 2009 film on HBO. The opening credits are done as covers of SF paperbacks, using actual artwork from numerous SF magazine and paperback covers, including a lot of works by Kelly Freas.

Click through to watch a video of the credits, and read the interview with director Jared Hess.

Tell us about your initial ideas for this sequence.

JH: We had the idea when we wrote the screenplay that we wanted the opening credits sequence to be a bunch of science fiction book covers where the credits were embedded in place of the book titles. While we were shooting the film, my production designer, Richard Wright, and people on the production side were going through existing artwork to see what was available. The idea was to scan and tweak them and then print up new book covers and shoot them at the end of production.

We were first looking for stuff that looked right and helped set the tone but we quickly learned that it was going to be difficult to clear the rights since a lot were part of family estates. Luckily the artwork that I liked the most was from a guy named Kelly Freas and they were able to contact his wife — he had passed away — so most of the artwork in the title sequence is stuff he had drawn for different science fiction journals as well as books. What was weird was that a couple of the characters he’d drawn looked liked the people in our film, like Jemaine’s book. The one we have for Sam Rockwell (a piece by David Lee Anderson) also bears a striking resemblance. It was kind of uncanny.

(16) FREDDY’S FEELING BETTER. The Hollywood Reporter says Robert Englund is returning as his iconic horror movie character Freddy Krueger one final time for a documentary “focused on the special effects makeup that crafted his dream-invading youth murderer in the Nightmare on Elm Street series.”

Nightmares in the Makeup Chair will highlight the importance of practical makeup — with the help of special makeup effects artist Robert Kurtzman — in addition to Englund paying tribute to late director Wes Craven and sharing some stories from his time working on the slasher films.

(17) THE UNREDISCOVERED COUNTRY. Breaking news – London After Midnight is still lost! (You can always count on File 770 for these dramatic updates…)

Earlier today Dread Central reported rumors that a print of the long-lost 1927 movie had been discovered.  People got excited for a couple of hours. Why? John Squires explains in his post at Bloody Disgusting:

A few years before directing Dracula and Freaks, Tod Browning made a silent horror film titled London After Midnight. Starring Lon Chaney as “The Hypnotist,” the 65-minute film was distributed by MGM in December of 1927; though audiences saw it upon release, it’s likely that everyone who did is no longer with us. Sadly, the last known copy was destroyed in the infamous MGM vault fire of 1967, which tragically resulted in the loss of many silent and early sound films.

But then Dread Central had to quash its own report —

UPDATE 2: 3:40 PM PT – More info from Carey:

A film archive in The Canary Islands received what look to be nitrate frames from London After Midnight around 1995. They got these from a private collector.

In 2012, the archive opened a Flickr account and posted this image among others it was posted for about five years and nobody seemed to notice it until last month.

Then this image was posted shortly thereafter…”

These were both posted on the Facebook page Universal Monsters & More. I’ve contacted them and they have said they have more stills and that they will share them with us.

The school of thought seems to be that these were cut out of trailers for London After Midnight by a projectionist in the Canary Islands. But nobody is sure.

For now at least, it seems that LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT remains lost….

The hunt continues.

(18) GREEN SCREEN. Avengers: Infinity War has started production.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Andrew Porter, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day, the unsuspecting Kip W.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It shouldn’t be the first time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Mordor Second

  • Mars Second

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 2/12/17 Who Knows What Pixels Lurk In The Heart Of Scrolls?

(1) REFERENCE DIRECTOR. Chip Hitchcock writes, “Boston has declared a snow emergency, so I followed the email link for information. The front page, https://www.boston.gov/winter-boston, says –“

(2) AGAINST ALL ODDS. Seanan McGuire tweets her animal rescue stories. Worst houseguest, lemur or emu, YOU DECIDE!

(3) 2017 BAFTA WINNERS. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts announced the winners of the EE British Academy Film Awards for 2017 on February 12. Although there originally were items of genre interest in 14 categories, only a few took home the hardware —

ANIMATED FILM

  • KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS Travis Knight

PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM Stuart Craig, Anna Pinnock

SOUND

  • ARRIVAL Sylvain Bellemare, Claude La Haye, Bernard Gariépy Strobl

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS

  • THE JUNGLE BOOK Robert Legato, Dan Lemmon, Andrew R. Jones, Adam Valdez

(4) NOW BATTING FOR SUNIL PATEL. The Everyone: World Without Walls Kickstarter launched with a cover mockup featuring Sunil Patel’s name first among the story contributors. Today the publisher announced Patel is out, and most of the graphics have been changed to remove his name.

  • Before

  • After

No further explanation was given – the decision likely involves the reasons that other publications cut ties with Patel last October.

(5)  FLAMMABLE TOPIC. The cover of  the YA fantasy novel Before She Ignites, which features a black girl in a pretty ballgown, struck Justina Ireland as worthy of complaint, not because of the art, but the context.

Last night, someone sent me a link to Jodi Meadows’ new book, Before She Ignites.  I didn’t really understand the context until I saw the cover.

The cover, which is gorgeous, features a Black Girl in a pretty dress.  Awesome.

But the fact that the cover appears to be the first of it’s kind and it belongs to a white author serves to reinforce the absolute whiteness of publishing.  Because even when it wants to increase representation, publishers look to white authors to fill that need.

And that is the exact opposite of what should be happening…

(6) PUSHBACK. Mia Sereno (Likhain), a 2016 Tiptree Fellow, has published a letter to the editors of Apex Magazine complaining about their choice of Benjanun Sriduangkaew to host the “Intersectional SFF Roundtable”, posted on February 10.

I am deeply disappointed to find Benjanun Sriduangkaew, who previously also wrote under the pseudonym Requires Hate (RH), as a contributor to your roundtable on intersectionality in SFF.

It is not your choice to publish RH that I find appalling, but your specific choice to ask her to contribute to a roundtable on, of all things, intersectionality.

It is a well-known fact that RH caused harm to people in the SFF community, disproportionately targeting women of color; there was even a published report on it, which garnered its writer a Hugo. Whether you agree with the circumstances surrounding the publication of the report or not, it cannot be denied that women in the SFF community, among them women of color, spoke about the harm RH caused them.

This leads me to some questions: does intersectionality in SFF not include women, especially women of color? Is intersectionality only important enough that we must write about it, but not so important that we actively value it by considering how much further harm giving RH a platform to talk about intersectionality would cause? By this I mean that RH speaking about intersectionality, when she herself has harmed marginalized people — when she has caused harm by using people’s marginalizations against them — is a grievous injury.

I wonder whether you did not consider these things, or whether you did, but simply valued having RH’s contributions to your intersectional roundtable more than preventing harm. Neither bodes well for your commitment to marginalized people in the community.

I state again: it is not your decision to publish RH that appalls me; you have published her before, and I have simply not read the work. It is your decision to publish her in this specific, slap-in-the-face, salt-in-the-wounds context. Many of those harmed by RH — and the names attached to public reports or posts are not the entirety of them — are meant to be included by the idea of intersectionality; instead, you do worse than exclude.

(7) DAY OF THE DAY

  • February 12 – If you’re not living somewhere that celebrates Lincoln’s birthday, then naturally you’ll have to make the best selection you can —

We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities. still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin. – Charles Darwin

There was a pivotal moment in history when we began to look at ourselves, and at life, in a new way. It changed not just how we perceived ourselves, but how we were related to all the other life and species on Earth. We came to realize, along the way, that we were kin, however distant, of every lifeform on Earth, and that moment was both aggrandizing and humbling, all at once. That moment was when Charles Darwin brought the idea of Law of Natural Selection into the limelight of the scientific world, and we began to see with clear eyes how everything, absolutely everything, was connected.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 12, 1931 — Today marks the 86th anniversary of the release of Dracula starring the iconic Bela Lugosi.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY COMMANDER

  • February 15, 1915 – After he finished playing Pa Cartwright, today’s birthday boy Lorne Greene became Battlestar Galactica’s Commander Adama.

(10) CALHOUN NULLIFIED. Yale dumps slavery supporter’s name on “college”, replaces with computer hero.

Calhoun College will be renamed to honour Grace Murray Hopper, who helped transform the way people use technology.

Hopper earned Yale degrees in the 1930s and became a US Navy rear admiral.

Saturday’s announcement, which follows years of debate, reverses a decision made last year.

The Ivy League university said the move ends the controversy over the former politician and defender of slavery John C Calhoun, whose legacy led to campus protests in 2015.

Four people were arrested in a peaceful protest as recently as Friday after they blocked a road near the residential college.

Yale University president, Peter Salovey, announced in April that the school would keep Calhoun’s name. However he later appointed an advisory panel to determine whether the decision was correct.

Chip Hitchcock amplifies, “For those not familiar with this peculiarity: ‘colleges’ were nominally modeled after Oxbridge but are residential/social only; all undergraduates are enrolled in Yale College.”

(11) DON’T BUY THAT STAR BALONEY. Columnist John Kelly gets to play Snopes when someone asks him if “the Washington Post film critic was fired for giving Star Wars a bad review“; the critic, Gary Arnold, notes that his review of Star Wars was, in fact, highly favorable.

Arnold was quite prescient when it came to how “Star Wars” would be remembered, predicting that the film was “virtually certain of overwhelming popular and critical success. It has a real shot at approaching the phenomenal popularity of ‘Jaws.’?”

Although Arnold never heard the rumor that his “Star Wars” review cost him his job, he has heard another urban myth: that a top Post editor ordered his dismissal after his negative review of Robert Duvall’s “Tender Mercies.”

That’s not true, either. Well, it is true that Arnold didn’t like 1983’s “Tender Mercies.” Duvall played a glum country-western singer by the name of Mac Sledge — “more like Mac Sludge,” Gary wrote.

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

Apex Magazine 2016 Subscription Drive

The 2016 Apex Magazine subscription drive starts today and runs through November 15. Their goal is to raise $10,000.

As an incentive for people to chip in, more bonus content will be added the magazine’s January 2017 issue.

Pay attention, because one of these intermediate goals will fund a new Ursula Vernon story!

As an added incentive, they’ve set up rewards that will unlock additional content for the January 2017 issue of Apex Magazine, creating a double issue as a thank-you.

We already have an impressive lineup of original fiction scheduled for January. Stories by James Beamon, Lia Swope Mitchell, Iori Kusano, and J.J. Litke. The issue will feature two poems, a reprint, and interviews with an Apex author and our cover artist. Our cover artist for January will be Aaron Nakahara.

As Apex reaches its subscription drive goals, they will add the following to the January issue, as well as a couple of rewards that will continue in every issue all year long:

  • $500 – a third original poem will be selected by our poetry editor Bianca Spriggs
  • $1,000 – a second reprint will be added to the issue
  • $2,000 – a new story by Ursula Vernon.
  • $2,500 – a fourth original poem
  • $3,000 – an interview with Nisi Shawl
  • $4,000 – a new story by Nisi Shawl.
  • $4,500 – a third reprint
  • $5,000 – a second story podcast performed by Mahvesh Murad.
  • $5,500 – an interview with John Hornor Jacobs
  • $6,000 – a new novelette by John Hornor Jacobs.
  • $6,500 – an interview with E. Catherine Tobler about her circus universe
  • $7,000 – we will add an additional 2,000 words to each issue of Apex Magazine in 2017, bringing the total up to 14,000 words per issue.
  • $7,500 – increase pay rate for original fiction to 7 cents a word
  • $8,000 – a new story by E. Catherine Tobler set in her circus universe
  • $8,500 – increase cover artist rate to $100
  • $9,000 – we will add another additional 2,000 words to each issue of Apex Magazine in 2017, bringing the total up to 16,000 words per issue.
  • $10,000 – increase pay rate for original fiction to 8 cents a word

Ways to support Apex Magazine between October 24 and November 15 include:

  • Subscribe. Yearly subscriptions through Apex and Weightless will be only $17.95 during the drive. Monthly subscriptions are available through Amazon (US) and Amazon (UK).
  • Give a gift subscription to the scifi lover in your life.
  • Become a patron on Patreon. Pledge as little or as much as you want for each issue.
  • The tip jar. Chip in one-time to help them reach their goals.
  • Buy past issues of Apex Magazine.
  • Join their Thunderclap (http://thndr.me/m0Fve2) and help spread the news.

Apex Magazine #86 Released

ApexMag86

Apex Magazine Issue 86 features original stories by Jennifer Giesbrecht (“Lazarus and the Amazing Kid Phoenix”) and Christopher Shultz (“Starpower”), plus a reprint by C.S.E. Cooney (“The Big Bah-Ha”).

The poetry is by David Jibson, Rodney Gomez, Jon Olson, and Chris Phillips.

Michael A. Burstein supplied the nonfiction feature “Star Trek: The Official Guide to Our Universe: Interview with Andrew Fazekas.”

There are interviews with Jennifer Giesbrecht and cover artist Sunny Ray.

The entire issue will be released over the month on the Apex Magazine website see the release dates belowor can be purchased for only $2.99 as a nicely formatted eBook. Subscriptions are also available direct from Apex, Weightless Books, and Amazon.

The linked items are available immediately.

WEEK ONE

WEEK TWO

WEEK THREE

WEEK FOUR

Podcast Fiction

This month’s podcast will be delayed until July 12. Episode #37 will be the first with new producer and narrator, Mahvesh Murad, and will feature “Lazarus and the Amazing Kid Phoenix” by Jennifer Giesbrecht.

Subscribe to the monthly podcast via Subscribe to the Apex Magazine podcast via iTunes.

Cover art by Sunny Ray.

Apex Magazine #85 Released

ApexMag85 COMP

Apex Magazine Issue 85 is filled with unsettling fiction and an excerpt from Apex Publications’ next release The Kraken Sea.

The original fiction is by Mary Pletsch (“Folk Hero”) and Douglas F. Warrick (“Cuckoo Girls”). There is a reprint from Aliette de Bodard (“Memorials”).

The poetry is by Tina Parker, Tina Jens, and Cullen Groves.

The nonfiction entries are interviews of Andrea Johnson by Mary Pletsch, and cover artist Joe Badon by Russell Dickerson.

And in a special feature, Betsy Phillips delves into the mysteries of the Black Tapes and Tanis podcasts!

The entire issue will be released over the month on the Apex Magazine website – see the release dates below — or can be purchased for only $2.99 as a nicely formatted eBook. Subscriptions are also available direct from Apex, Weightless Books, and Amazon.

The linked items are available immediately.

WEEK ONE

WEEK TWO

  • Cuckoo Girls by Douglas F. Warrick (Short Story, June 13th)
  • SEEKING TANIS. Runner Available. by Betsy Phillips (Feature, June 15th)
  • Ghost Plague by Tina Jens (Poetry, June 17th)

WEEK THREE

  • Memorials by Aliette de Bodard (Novelette, June 20th)
  • Interview with Cover Artist Joe Badon by Russell Dickerson (June 22nd)
  • By Payette Lake by Cullen Groves (Poetry, June 24th)

WEEK FOUR

  • The Kraken Sea by E. Catherine Tobler (Novel Excerpt, June 28th)

Podcast Fiction

Apex Magazine #84 Released

ApexMag84 COMP

Apex Magazine Issue 84 includes original fiction by Stephen Cox (“1957”), David K. Yeh (“Cottage Country”), and Maggie Slater (“The Behemoth Beaches”).

There is a reprint by Lavie Tidhar, and an excerpt from Chris Bucholz’s upcoming novel Freeze/Thaw.

Poetry editor Bianca Spriggs has selected four poems for the issue, written by FJ Bergmann, Ken Poyner, Janna Layton, and Christina Sng.

The nonfiction entries are two interviews, an essay by managing editor Lesley Conner, and an editorial from Jason Sizemore

The entire issue will be released over the month on the Apex Magazine websitesee the release dates below — or can be purchased for only $2.99 as a nicely formatted eBook. Subscriptions are also available direct from Apex, Weightless Books, and Amazon.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

WEEK ONE

WEEK TWO

  • Cottage Country by David K. Yeh (Short Story, May 9th)
  • Gender Equality in Apex Magazine by Lesley Conner (Essay, May 11th)
  • Before the Empire Goes Inter-Galactic by Ken Poyner (Poetry, May 13th)

WEEK THREE

  • Freeze/Thaw by Chris Bucholz (Novel Excerpt, May 17th)
  • The Behemoth Beaches by Maggie Slater (Short Story, May 19th)

WEEK FOUR

  • The Drowned Celestial by Lavie Tidhar (Novelette, May 23rd)
  • Mammon’s Cave by Janna Layton (Poetry, May 25th)
  • Interview with Robert Carter, Cover Artist by Russell Dickerson (May 27th)

WEEK FIVE

  • The Perfect Planet by Christina Sng (Poetry, May 31st)

Podcast Fiction Download Apex Magazine Podcast #35 (“1957” by Stephen Cox) (30:05 in length)

Apex Magazine #83 Released

ApexMag83

Apex Magazine issue 83 offers two pieces of original short fiction: “The Laura Ingalls Experience” by Andrew Gray and “The Teratologist’s Brother” by Brandon H. Bell. The poetry selections are by John Yu Branscum, Michael VanCalbergh, Jeremy Paden, and Craig Finlay.

Andrea Johnson interviews Andrew Gray about writing “The Laura Ingalls Experience,” as well as its themes, and they also talk about his work as a program coordinator at a Canadian university.

Russell Dickerson sits down with cover artist Sarah Zar to discuss art and “Hurricane Woman” her cover on this month’s issue.

The issue’s two reprints are Catherynne M. Valente’s “The Quidnunx” and “Collecting James” by Geoffrey Girard.

The entire issue will be released over the month on the Apex Magazine website, or can be purchased for only $2.99 as a nicely formatted eBook. Subscriptions are also available direct from Apex, Weightless Books, and Amazon.

WEEK ONE

WEEK TWO

  • The Laura Ingalls Experience by Andrew Neil Gray (Short Story, April 11th)
  • Interview with Andrew Neil Gray by Andrea Johnson (April 13th)
  • Collecting James by Geoffrey Girard (Short Fiction, April 15th)

WEEK THREE

  • The Farmer’s Milk by John Yu Branscum (Poetry, April 18th)
  • The Quidnunx by Catherynne M. Valente (Novelette, April 20th)
  • Myth of the Mud God by Michael VanCalbergh (Poetry, April 22nd)

WEEK FOUR

  • Song of the Encantado by Jeremy Paden (Poetry, April 26th)
  • Interview with Sarah Zar, Cover Artist by Russell Dickerson (April 28th)

Podcast Fiction Download Podcast #34 (“The Teratologist’s Brother” by Brandon H. Bell)

Apex Magazine #81 Released

ApexMag81

Apex Magazine #81 features original fiction by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Daniel Rosen, and Betsy Phillips.

Heather Morris, Mike Jewett, Crystal Lynn Hilbert, and Laurel Dixon have contributed four poems.

Andrea Johnson interviewed Benjanun Sriduangkaew about her story and writing. Russell Dickerson talked with cover artist David Demaret about his work.

Also in the issue is a reprint of Nick Mamatas’s novelette “On the Occasion of My Retirement.”

Over the course of the month all of the issue’s content will be made available free online. The immediately available material is linked below and, for the rest, the release schedule is shown.

The full issue can be purchased now for $2.99, in PDF, ePub, or mobi formats direct from Apex of through one of their online retailers. Subscriptions are also available.

WEEK ONE

WEEK TWO

  • Anabaptist by Daniel Rosen (Short Fiction, February 8th)
  • Interview with David Demaret, Cover Artist by Russell Dickerson (February 10th)
  • Little and Red by Crystal Lynn Hilbert (Poetry, February 12th)

WEEK THREE

  • The Four Gardens of Fate by Betsy Phillips (Short Fiction, February 16th)
  • Arrhythmia by Heather Morris (Poetry, February 18th)

WEEK FOUR

  • On the Occasion of My Retirement by Nick Mamatas (Novelette, February 22nd)
  • Glitch Rain by Alex Livingston (Novel Excerpt, February 23rd)
  • Paper Unicorn by Laurel Dixon (Poetry, February 25th)

Podcast Fiction Download Podcast #32 (“The Four Gardens of Fate” by ) or listen using the player at the Apex website. (26:30 in length)

Pixel Scroll 1/12/16 Have Starship Trooper Power Suit, Will Travel

(1) NOT MY CUPPA. The Traveler at Galactic Journey found the January 1961 issue of Galaxy filled with well-done short stories that didn’t personally appeal to him. Of course, he was younger in those days.

(2) MISS FIT. Liwella at Astounding Yarns was enjoying the Cosmonauts exhibition at the Science Museum right up to the moment she discovered their souvenir t-shirts weren’t available in a women’s fit.

I loved the exhibition so much that I wanted to take home some souvenirs.  Particularly one of the range of awesome tshirts that were for sale, given that I love wearing geeky tshirts.  I wear them round the house with jeans.  I wear them with skirts and funky tights when I’m out and about.  Perhaps I should buy one featuring the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova.  Or one inspired by those glorious Russian propaganda posters, with their instantly recognisable design aesthetic.  But it turns out that the Science Museum only offered one tshirt in a woman’s fit – a rather dull design based on a spacewalk motif.  When I asked the assistant on duty if there were any woman’s fit tshirts available he seemed surprised I’d even asked.

(3) KEEP YOUR MONEY HANDY. “Hasbro, Disney Launching new Rey ‘Star Wars’ Toys” reports the Wall Street Journal.

“One of the biggest surprises that filmmakers wanted to keep under wraps was that the Force awakens in Rey and she carries a lightsaber,” said Paul Southern, head of licensing for Lucasfilm. “We always planned a second wave of product after the movie’s release that would include secrets revealed in the movie.”

Hasbro’s new Rey toys will be based more on her action scenes later in the film, including a climactic one in which she wields a lightsaber.

There have been products including toys, T-shirts and costumes featuring Rey available for months, but to date virtually all have featured her only as she appears in the movie’s earliest scenes.

Nonetheless, some fans were upset about three toys in which the Rey character was notably absent, including the Monopoly game and a set of action figures, sold exclusively at Target, that excluded her entirely.

The movie’s director, J.J. Abrams, has supported those fans.

“It seems preposterous and wrong that the main character of the movie is not well represented in what is clearly a huge piece of the ‘Star Wars’ world in terms of merchandising,” he said that the Television Critics Association’s press tour Saturday, according to Entertainment Weekly.

(4) BALMORAL-ICAN GRAFITTI. J. K. Rowling celebrated the ninth anniversary of finishing Deathly Hallows with a tweet, says Mashable.

Rowling placed the finishing touches on the seventh Harry Potter book at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, the city where she lives. After finally completing her manuscript, she indulged in a little friendly vandalism to commemorate the occasion, a photo of which she tweeted Monday.

 

(5) AXANAR UPDATE. Now Alec Peters has written his own FAQ – “Captain’s Log – Jan. 7th, 2016”.

Q:  How can you be non-profit and pay salaries?

A:  Non-profit does not mean “volunteer”.  Just like the CEO of The Red Cross gets $400K a year in salary, non-profits can pay salaries.  Payroll is an expense.

Q:  Why did Alec Peters get paid $ 38,000 as noted in the annual report?

A: Because Alec (as well as Diana) worked full time at Axanar, certainly 60 hours a week not including conventions on the weekends.  That means Alec and Diana probably got paid minimum wage.  And Diana deferred all her salary.  Now go compare that to any Hollywood studio exec putting out medicore content, and tell us Alec and Diana were paid too much!  That doesn’t even cover their expenses.  We don’t expect full time employees to work for free.

Q:  Is Ares Studios a for-profit studio?

A:  Ares Studio is the term we use to describe the warehouse we have built our sound stage to make Axanar.  There is no profit being made, and in fact Alec personally guaranteed the 3 year lease, so the last two years are a $ 250,000 liability he is responsible for.  Axanar Productions has been paying for the building while we build sets and prepare the make the movie.  Would we like to make movies after Axanar?  Sure would, but that is all speculative.  We don’t have any revenue from the studio and so such talk is nonsense.

(6) MAJOR TOM. Bowie lyrics on the marquee of the closed Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena.

Rialto marquee

(7) DANGEROUS. Forbes writer Ron Salkowitz analyzes “David Bowie’s Dangerous Visions: Sci-Fi Touchpoints For The Thin White Duke”.

Much of Bowie’s work throughout his career is a dialogue with New Wave SF, refracting it through his own sensibility and bringing the concepts to a mass audience via the medium of rock and roll. As I’ve been listening to the Bowie catalog for the past day, I’m reminded of a few specific connections and patterns of inspiration.

The Jerry Cornelius Novels (Michael Moorcock). Moorcock, the quintessential New Wave author, is better known for his sword and sorcery character Elric, but in 1968, he unleashed the sexually ambiguous secret agent Jerry Cornelius on an unsuspecting public in a novel called The Final Programme. An acid-drenched mashup of James Bond and Doctor Who, the dapper Cornelius hopscotches around space and time foiling plots against reality, assuming new identities and dazzling people with his avant gard aesthetics as he goes. Three further novels followed, each stranger than the next. Jerry Cornelius is less a specific inspiration for Bowie’s work than a template for his entire persona.

(8) GREETINGS GATES. The passing of David Bowie prompted Mental Floss to remind fans that “Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher) Choreographed ‘Labyrinth’”. A photo and video clips there, too.

Most geeks like me know Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation. But before her Trek role, McFadden was Director of Choreography and Puppet Movement on a bunch of Jim Henson films, including The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and even The Muppets Take Manhattan. As a choreographer, she’s typically credited as Cheryl McFadden — Cheryl is her first name, Gates is her middle name.

(9) DRAWN THAT WAY. The Slipper says farewell to David Bowie the comics reader and reproduces many images that characterized him or were influenced by his appearance.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

In 1695, aged 67, he wrote Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals, a series of moral tales designed to prompt the reader to reflect on the dilemmas presented to the protagonist, which were well-known from folklore even then.

The volume contained the story now known as Mother Goose, alongside perrenially recognised titles such as Puss in Boots, Blue Beard and Cinderella, and less famous stories Ricky of the Tuft and Little Thumb

(12) MEESA QUITS. You won’t have Jar-Jar Binks to kick around anymore. Try not to let it get to you.

Issa bad news from Naboo… Ahmed Best, the actor who played Jar Jar Binks will never return to the ‘Star Wars’ movies, even if he was asked, adding ‘I’ve done my damage’.

Binks, perhaps the most reviled character in all of ‘Star Wars’ history, was the Gungan soldier know initially for his cack-handed clumsiness, and then, appropriately, his latter career as a politician in George Lucas’s prequel movies.

But in a rare interview, Best said that he has no intention of ever reprising the character.

(13) HUGO CAMPAIGNER. Robin Wayne Bailey would hate for you to miss a chance to vote his story a Hugo. On Facebook, he’ll tell you how to get a free copy.

Last month, November, saw the release of the very excellent science fiction anthology, MISSION: TOMORROW, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. The anthology is chock-full of great stories, and my own “Tombaugh Station,” I’m honored to say, leads it all off.

I believe strongly that “Tombaugh Station” is one of the best science fiction stories I’ve ever written, strongly enough that I’d love to see it make the 2016 Hugo Awards ballot next August right here in my own hometown.

However, that November release, late in the year and only a month before the ballot was released (a week ago) is the very definition of what’s known in this business as an “end of the year handicap,” that is, few voters will have had the chance to see the story before voting begins. Now, I don’t particularly want to quietly fall victim to that handicap.

So I’ve just asked and received permission from Baen Books to give my story away. That’s right — I’m actively campaigning for a place on the 2016 Hugo ballot. I used to frown on such shenanigans, but that stigma obviously has melted away.

LOL! Sure, it’s understandable why a Baen Books author might think that…

(14) AFROFUTURISM & OTHER TOPICS. “The State of Black Science Fiction Convention” will be held June 11-12 in Atlanta, GA.

(15) SHERRY’S LONGLIST. Joe Sherry has posted “My 2016 Hugo Awards Longlist Recommendations” at Adventures In Reading, which is both interesting in its own right, and as an index of where recused creators and works might belong.

With all of the shenanigans regarding groups putting together slates to directly influence what gets on the final ballot, what I’m going to do instead is post a growing long list of stuff I thought was awesome in 2015. This list will likely grow and change as I continue to discover stuff published in 2015 that I likewise think is awesome. I’m listing everything alphabetically either by title or author, so don’t view anything listed at the top of a category as being my ranked order. It’s not.

(16) INSIDE BASEBALL. Lesley Conner’s guest post at Far Beyond Reality tells how several stories got selected for Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1.

From Slush Pile to Magazine to Anthology: The Making of Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1

I came on board as the managing editor of Apex Magazine in October, 2014. I’d been involved with Apex for a while before that, but it wasn’t until then that I was let into the shadowed world of the slush pile and started sifting through to find stories to bring into the light. Because of this, and the fact that Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1 covers the first six years of Apex Magazine, I missed that magical moment of discovery for many of the stories that ended up in the anthology. But not all of them.

Today I’d like to give you a peek behind the publishing curtain and share the journey that some of the stories in Best of Apex Magazine took from the slush pile to the anthology.

(17) IT’S A MYSTERY. Vox Day says the count is now up to four of people following his author page who have been banned from Goodreads. What the rest of their Goodreads activity consisted of he doesn’t say.

(18) BB-8. Here are two videos starring science fiction cinema’s latest Small Cute Robot.

Unlike some, BB-8 is too shy to come out of its shell…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., and James H. Burns for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]