Pixel Scroll 3/19/17 1984 Was Not Supposed To Be An Instruction Manual!

(1) FAKE REVIEWS FOR CHARITY. For Red Nose Day, March 24, 2017, “Pay a fiver to Comic Relief and TQF will review your book. (But we won’t read it.)”.

The Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction team have written for the most respectable reviewing publications in the world, including Interzone! Black Static! The BFS Journal! And the Reading University student newspaper! But on Friday, 24 March 2017, for one day only, they will cast aside their scruples and review books they’ve never read, all in aid of Comic Relief.

For authors and publishers, big and small, this will be a great way to publicise your books while supporting a good cause. And maybe it’ll help people to recognise fake reviews when they see them. The book doesn’t have to be yours. You could order a review for a friend’s book. Or your favourite novel. Or your least favourite. Or buy several reviews. Anything you like!

We are taking bookings in advance. Once you have made a donation of five pounds, email us with the cover and blurb, or just include an Amazon link to the book in your message when making the donation, and we’ll book you in.

(2) GRUMPY OR DOC? The Guardian’s Zoe Williams asks “Beauty and the Beast: Feminist or Fraud?”

Has Disney really turned Beauty and the Beast into a feminist fairytale? Or is it all just posh frocks and women’s work with a slice of Stockholm syndrome thrown in? We delve beneath the furry facade

1) Incomplete subversion of the genre

The main – indeed the only – stated piece of feminism is that Belle has a job, so escapes the passivity and helplessness that has defined heroines since Disney and beyond. Eagle eyed feminist-checkers noted even before the film’s release that Belle’s inventing is unpaid – so it’s not a job, it’s a hobby. I don’t mind that. The future of work is automation, and even feminists will have to get used to finding a purpose outside the world of money.

I do, however, feel bound to point out that Belle’s invention is a washing machine, a contraption she rigs up to a horse, to do her domestic work while she teaches another, miniature feminist how to read. The underlying message baked into this pie is that laundry is women’s work, which the superbly clever woman will delegate to a horse while she spreads literacy. It would be better if she had used her considerable intellect to question why she had to wash anything at all, while her father did nothing more useful than mend clocks. It’s unclear to me why anyone in this small family needs to know the time.

(3) WHAT IF THEY THROW ROCKS? Eavesdrop on the “Confessions of an asteroid hunter” in The Guardian.

Space physicist Dr Carrie Nugent talks about the chances of Earth being hit by a giant asteroid – and why she owes her job to a Bruce Willis movie

The New Scientist reported research that speculated that millions could die if an asteroid came down over a city. Or that a tsunami would kill 50,000 people in Rio de Janeiro if it landed in the sea off the coast of Brazil. How likely is that? An asteroid impact in the worst-case scenario is a terrifying thing. It seems very uncontrollable: in popular culture it’s often a metaphor for human powerlessness over the world. But when you actually look at the problem and you look at statistics, you realise that we can find asteroids, and we can predict where they are going incredibly accurately. That’s kind of unique for something that’s a natural disaster. And, if we had enough warning time, we could actually move one away. It’s a solvable problem.

And these include firing a nuclear missile at the asteroid? Certainly. I interviewed Lindley Johnson who’s got the coolest title in the world: planetary defence officer. He makes the point that nuclear is something that’s being considered, but he also says that it’s a last resort. One thing I found surprising is that the most effective thing might just be to get out of the way. If it’s a small asteroid – and depending on where it’s going to come down – you might just want to evacuate. In the same way you would deal with a flood.

(4) IT’S ACCURACY IN JOURNALISM. This past week George R.R. Martin and the Mayor Santa Fe helped launch The Stagecoach Foundation, whose assets include a small office building. Martin wrote immediately after the launch —

Stagecoach will be a non-profit foundation. Our dream is to bring more jobs to the people of Santa Fe, and to help train the young people of the city for careers in the entertainment industry, through internships, mentoring, and education.

Apparently news reports got significant facts wrong, even the nearest big city paper. When when he saw the news reports, GRRM wrote a list of corrections:

— the Stagecoach building is not 30,000 square feet. Someone pulled that number out of their ass, and dozens of other reports have repeated it. That’s a rough approximate figure for MEOW WOLF, an entirely different place on the other side of Santa Fe. The Stagecoach building is perhaps a third that size,

— I did not “build” Stagecoach. David Weininger did that in 1999, as the headquarters for his compnay, Daylight Chemical Information Systems,

— I am not “opening a film studio.” Stagecoach is a non-profit foundation dedicated to bringing more film and television production to Santa Fe, it is not a film studio,

— there are no sound stages at Stagecoach (though there are several here in town, at the Santa Fe Studios and the Greer Garson Studios). It’s an office building, and will be used primarily for pre- and post-production purposes,

— I am not going to be “running” a foundation, much less a studio. That task I’ve given to a dynamic young lady named Marisa X. Jiminez, who helped open Santa Fe Studios here in town, and who will have total charge of the day-to-day operations of Stagecoach, under a board of directors.

(5) OVER THE TRANSOM. Compelling Science Fiction editor Joe Stech says they’re once again open for submissions. He’s looking for stories to include in issue 7 (and beyond). The submissions window will remain open until 11:59pm MDT on June 1st, 2017. Full details on the submissions page.

(6) MONTAIGNE OBIT. An actor who appeared in two original Star Trek episodes, Lawrence Montaigne (1931-2017) has died.

StarTrek.com is saddened to report the passing of Lawrence Montaigne, the veteran actor who played the Romulan, Decius, in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Balance of Terror” in 1966 and returned a year later to portray Stonn, a Vulcan, in “Amok Time.” The actor died on Friday, March 17, at the age of 86.

(7) BERRY OBIT. Famed guitarist Chuck Berry (ob-sf — he was referenced Back to the Future) died March 18. The Guardian has the best obit says Cat Eldridge.

Chuck Berry, who has died aged 90, was rock’n’roll’s first guitar hero and poet. Never wild, but always savvy, Berry helped define the music. His material fused insistent tunes with highly distinctive lyrics that celebrated with deft wit and loving detail the glories of 1950s US teen consumerism.

His first single, Maybellene, began life as “country music”, by which Berry meant country blues, but was revamped on the great postwar Chicago label Chess in 1955. It was not only rock’n’roll but the perfect indicator of just what riches its singer-songwriter would bring to the form. Starting with a race between a Cadillac and a Ford, told from the Ford-owner’s, and therefore the underdog’s, viewpoint, this immeasurably influential debut record featured one of the most famous opening verses in popular music: “As I was motorvatin’ over the hill / I saw Maybellene in a Coupe de Ville …”

Berry’s recording of “Johnny B. Goode” was included on the disk attached to Voyager, per a birthday letter sent from Carl Sagan.

(8) WRIGHTSON OBIT. Swamp Thing co-creator Bernie Wrightson (1948-2017) died March 18 of brain cancer. He was 68.

Wrightson was best known for co-creating the DC Universe character Swamp Thing with writer Len Wein and for illustrating the Swamp Thing comic in the early ’70s. His many other projects included a comic book version of the 1982 Stephen King-penned anthology horror film Creepshow and a 1983 edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, for which he spent seven years creating around 50 illustrations. Wrightson also worked as a conceptual artist on a number of films including the original Ghostbusters, Galaxy Quest, and Creepshow director George A. Romero’s zombie movie Land of the Dead.

(9) TODAY’S DAY

History of International Read To Me Day International Read To Me day was established by the Child Writes Foundation to encourage the growth and spread of adult literacy. It became clear that in countries throughout the world adult literacy is a problem, and many adults simply lack the ability to read even for pleasure. When trying to find ways to help offset this, it became apparent that being read to as a child helped to encourage literacy and a love of reading in adults. The result of these findings was obvious! A holiday needed to be established to encourage the foundations of literacy by reading to our children, and thus was born “International Read To Me Day”!

(10) PORTALS OF DISCOVERY. Will you want to read the book after you play the game? “Joycestick: The Gamification of ‘Ulysses’” on the Boston College website.

A literary critic once asserted that the characters in James Joyce’s Ulysses – the sprawling, modernist opus that has bewitched or bedeviled readers for decades – were not fictitious: Through them, Stuart Gilbert said, Joyce achieved “a coherent and integral interpretation of life.”

Now, through a project titled “Joycestick,” Boston College Joyce scholar Joseph Nugent and his team of mainly BC students have taken this “interpretation of life” to a whole other realm.

Joycestick is Ulysses adapted as an immersive, 3D virtual reality (VR) computer game – a “gamification,” in contemporary parlance. Users don a VR eyepiece and headphones and, with gaming devices, navigate and explore various scenes from the book. Nugent, an associate professor of the practice of English, and his team are continuing to develop, refine and add to Joycestick with the hope of formally unveiling it in Dublin this coming June 16 – the date in 1904 on which Ulysses takes place, now celebrated as Bloomsday in honor of the book’s main character, Leopold Bloom.

(11) CAN’T BE FOUND. The author’s influence on pop culture is pervasive. So “Where Are All the Big Lovecraft Films?” asks this video maker.

H.P. Lovecraft is one of the most important horror and science fiction writers of all time, yet there really aren’t that many large scale adaptations of his work, and even fewer successful ones. So where are all the Lovecraft films?

 

(12) KEEPING UP THE RAY QUOTA. Just in case Camestros Felapton ever does another count….

FATHER ELECTRICO: RAY BRADBURY LIVES FOREVER! is a documentary film based on a collaboration between the author and sculptor Christopher Slatoff.

The frontal view of the sculpture depicts a young Ray’s father carrying him home from a very long day spent at two circuses. Turn the sculpture around and the image of the Illustrated Man and his tattoos come to life and tell their stories.

The other namesake, Mr Electrico, was a carnival magician who charged 12 year-old Ray to “live forever!” The budding author begin writing that day and never stopped.

The video can’t be embedded here, it has to be watched at Vimeo.

(13) NEITHER SNOW NOR SLEET. See Ellen Datlow’s photos from the March 15 KGB Reading.

Nova Ren Suma and Kiini Ibura Salaam read their stories (and parts of stories) the day after NYC’s mini-blizzard when the temperature was still icy

(14) EMAIL ASSAULT. “Shades of Langford’s ‘basilisks’,” says Chip Hitchcock — “US man held for sending flashing tweet to epileptic writer”.

A man accused of sending a flashing image to a writer in order to trigger an epileptic seizure has been arrested, the US justice department says.

John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Maryland, sent Kurt Eichenwald an animated image with a flashing light on Twitter in December, causing the seizure.

He has been charged with criminal cyber stalking and could face a 10-year sentence, the New York Times reports.

“You deserve a seizure for your post,” he is alleged to have written.

Mr Eichenwald is known to have epilepsy. He is a senior writer at Newsweek magazine, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a best-selling author of books including The Informant.

(15) HOW THEY DID IT. The Mummy (2017) Zero Gravity Featurette goes behind the scene of a stunt shown in the trailer.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, and Ellen Datlow for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day lurkertype.]

Pixel Scroll 12/12/16 There Are Old Pixels And There Are Scrolled Pixels, But There Are No Old Scrolled Pixels

(1) GOLDEN GLOBES. The Golden Globe nominees announced today include these items of genre interest. The entire list of nominees is available in the official press release.

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • Deadpool

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama

  • Amy Adams in Arrival

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

  • Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

  •  “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana
  •  “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from Trolls

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

  • Jóhann Jóhannsson for Arrival
  • Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, and Benjamin Wallfisch for Hidden Figures

Best Motion Picture – Animated

  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Moana
  • My Life as a Zucchini
  • Sing
  • Zootopia

Best Television Series – Drama

  • Game of Thrones
  • Stranger Things
  • Westworld

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

  • Rami Malek in Mr. Robot

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

  • Caitriona Balfe in Outlander
  • Winona Rider in Stranger Things
  • Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • Christian Slater in Mr. Robot

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • Lena Headey in Game of Thrones
  • Thandie Newton in Westworld

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

  • Rachel Bloom in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

(2) INDIA’S NOT-SO-HIDDEN-FIGURES: Read about “The women scientists who took India into space” at the BBC.

Two years ago, as Indian scientists successfully put a satellite into orbit around Mars, a photograph that went viral showed women dressed in gorgeous saris with flowers in their hair celebrating at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) in the southern city of Bangalore.

It was reported that the ecstatic women were scientists and the photograph challenged the stereotype that rocket science in India was a male preserve.

Isro later clarified that the celebrating women were administrative staff, but it went on to add that there indeed were several women scientists who had worked on the mission and were in the control room at the time of the launch.

The BBC’s Geeta Pandey recently travelled to Bangalore to meet some of the women who have taken India into space.

(3) AS SEEN FROM EARTH. Great photos of stars: “Sparkling starscapes caught on camera”.

Chow says the first time he saw the Milky Way it was like seeing a special effect from a film.

“Being able to capture the real thing – the beauty of the night sky – is just amazing,” he says.

(4) NEWLY DISCOVERED KLINGONS. Variety reports Star Trek: Discovery has cast three actors as Klingons in the forthcoming series.

Chris Obi, Shazad Latif, and Mary Chieffo have joined the upcoming CBS All Access series, with all three set to play Klingons — members of the fan-favorite alien race that is fundamental to “Star Trek” lore. Obi will play T’Kuvma, a Klingon leader seeking to unite the Klingon houses. Latif will play Kol, commanding officer of the Klingons and protégé of T’Kuvma. Chieffo will play L’Rell, the battle deck commander of the Klingon ship.

(5) FOUNDING FATHER? Eric Flint uses the pronoun “we” when referring to the Dragon Award founders in his latest post “Literary Awards Are Not Competitions”. Did I know this? I don’t remember having that piece of information before.

The Dragon Award was not set up to compete with any of the existing awards. We didn’t launch this new award because we were dissatisfied or disgruntled with the existing awards, such as the Hugo or the Nebula or the World Fantasy Award.

Our attitude stems from a recognition of something that is all too often misunderstood about literary awards. And that is the notion that a literary (or any type of artistic) award in some way or another ratifies a competition. To put it another way, that an award establishes which story or author (or piece of art or artist, or song or singer) “won the competition” in the period of eligibility. According to this notion, what authors and other artists do is in some way analogous to what athletes do when they engage in sports competitions. And, thus, receiving a Hugo or a Nebula or a Dragon or any other award is equivalent to standing on a platform at the Olympics and being handed a gold medal, or being presented with the Stanley Cup.

This notion is wrong, to the point of being perverse. Writers—the same is true for all other artists—are not engaged in a competition in the first place. I will expand on this point as the blog progresses, but for the moment I will leave it at this:

No writer ever sat down to write a story in order to beat another story, or another writer. It’s enough to state the idea to realize how ludicrous it is.

(6) THE NEXT COURSE. Scott Edelman invites you to listen to Episode 24 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast and an interview with Sam J. Miller.

Sam J. Miller

Sam J. Miller

Still have the meat sweats thanks to my recent run of episodes centered around Kansas City BBQ? Then you’ll probably welcome a break for Eating the Fantastic’s first vegetarian episode, recorded at Baltimore’s One World Cafe during the Baltimore Book Festival.

My guest who stole away from the Inner Harbor to join me this episode is Sam J. Miller, a writer who’s been nominated for the Nebula, World Fantasy, and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards, and who won the Shirley Jackson Award for his short story “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides.” And who last shared a meal with me during the 2015 Nebula Awards weekend at Alinea, considered to be one of the Top 10 restaurants in the world. His debut novel, The Art of Starving, will appear from HarperCollins in 2017.

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

The 1985 movie Back to the Future was banned in China because of its time travel and “disrespectful portrayal of history.” In fact, many of the movies on Mental Floss list of “10 Movies That Were Banned in China” are sf/f.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 12, 1972 – Orange soil discovered by Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene A. Cernan and Harrison H. Schmitt during their second day of exploration on the lunar surface. Frank Zappa warned them not to eat it.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 12, 1893 – Edward G. Robinson, whose genre roles include Soylent Green.

(10) ROCK TO THE END OF THE WORLD. The Book Smugglers have the answer to a popular question — “N. K. Jemisin: ‘So what would you do if a Fifth Season happened for real?”.

A Runnysack Moment

I often get asked, “So what would you do if a Fifth Season happened for real?” …

This became sort of a double-edged thing with the other topic that I researched deeply for the Broken Earth, however, which was prepper communities.  I needed to get into the mindset of people who literally believe that civilization is going to end at any given moment.  So to that end, I watched some episodes of the TV show Doomsday Preppers, I bought a few issues of Offgrid Recoil Magazine, and visited some prepper forums online….

Now, I did end up meeting some people who live with the perpetual belief that civilization will end, and who have had rather more actual societal experience of Fifth Season-like events than most preppers.  When I went to Hawaii’s Big Island a few years ago, I met both some native Hawaiians and more recent comers who happily talked to me about what it’s like to live on top of an actively erupting hotspot that could turn into an Extinction Level Event at any moment.  Their philosophy was markedly different to that of the prepper communities I’d previously studied — much less stress and fear, a greater emphasis on preparing through skills and handed-down wisdom, and a general feeling of hey, if Pele’s pissed off, there’s really nothing you can do but deal with it in the moment.  It’s foolish to try and anticipate a goddess, after all.

(11) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #14. The fourteenth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed book from Laura J. Mixon.

Today’s auction is for an autographed hardcover copy of the book UP AGAINST IT, by Laura J. Mixon, writing as M. J. Locke.

About the Book:

Jane Navio is the resource manager of Phoecea, an asteroid colony poised on the knife-edge of hard vacuum and unforgiving space. A mishap has dumped megatons of water and methane out the colony’s air lock, putting the entire human population at risk.

Jane discovers that the crisis may have been engineered by the Martian crime syndicate, as a means of executing a coup that will turn Phocaea into a client-state. And if that wasn’t bad enough, an AI that spawned during the emergency has gone rogue…and there’s a giant x-factor in the form of the transhumanist Viridian cult that lives in Phocaea’s bowels.

Jane’s in the prime of her career?she’s only a bit over a century old?but the conflict between politics and life-support is tearing her apart. To save her colony and her career, she’s going to have to solve several mysteries at once?a challenge that will put her up against all the difficulties, contradictions, and awkward compromises entailed in the human colonization of outer space.

From Publishers Weekly (starred review): “Compulsively readable…Most of all, this smart, satisfying hard SF adventure celebrates human resilience.”

(12) YOU BETTER WATCH OUT. At this time of year we should all be getting to bed on time (remember “He knows when you’ve been sleeping/He knows when you’re awake”) but if Santa is not one of your worries, then viewing the annual Geminid meteor shower could be a late-night treat.

The Geminid meteor shower occurs every year from about December 4 to 16. The shower’s “maximum,” or time when the most meteors per hour fall, is usually on December 13 and 14. Get more information on our Meteor Shower Calendar.

(Note: In 2016, the meteors are battling a Full Moon, so it will be a bit of a hunt, but our observatory friends at Slooh predict that it “should still be one of the best, and most active, celestial shows of the year.”)

(13) THE EAGLE HAS LANDED. Foz Meadows’ post has moved into at its new home at Amazing Stories — “Guest Post by Foz Meadows: Unempathic Bipeds of Failure: The Relationship Between Stories and Politics”.

Steve Davidson has included his comments at the end about the definition of “neo-Nazi” and related questions.

(14) DUTY. Alexandra Erin, commenting on the Black Gate/Foz Meadows story: “The Banality of Banality”.

It’s part of the alt-reich’s standard operating procedure: you play at legalism and reference or even invent rules to get the other side, the side that cares about consequences and fairness, to abide by them, even while you don’t. He used these tactics to get Black Gate’s editor to back down, to blink, and now the text which correctly and accurately labels a neo-Nazi as a neo-Nazi politely redirects to another venue, to which it has deferred that duty.

And I look at this, and I look at what’s happening in Washington (well, mostly in New York and Florida, as our President-Elect sees the presidency as more of a side gig) and the way our national news media is covering things, and, I have to say… it doesn’t look nearly as pointless.

As above, so below.

(15) REINDEER SCIENCE. We’ve all heard the stories about dog owners who didn’t realize their pets were female ’til the puppies came. I’m just going to assume Santa is better informed than that…. The Farmers Almanac poses the question, “Is Rudolph a Girl?.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, both male and female reindeer grow antlers each summer. Male reindeer shed theirs from late November to mid-December, but females retain their antlers until after they give birth in the spring.

This is because the mating season occurs in the fall. Once the male reindeer have used their antlers to impress their mates, they no longer have use of them, and they shed them before Christmastime. This means that the image most of us have of Rudolph with his antlers at Christmastime is not scientifically accurate.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 11/4/16 A Squat Gray Scroll Of Only Thirty-Four Pixels

(1) ELECTION NIGHT HANDBOOK. Nicholas Whyte has been doing our homework for us: “I thought you might be interested in my preview of the US election on Tuesday – now available here: Apco’s Guide to Election Night 2016.

“Or to download from Slideshare here.”

As election day in the United States draws near, all eyes will be on early voting numbers and eventually official returns. Our resident election expert, Nicholas Whyte, prepared this guide to knowing what it will take to win and when we’re likely to know the outcome. Keep it handy!

(2) THAT CLOSE. Says John King Tarpinian, “Ray Bradbury missed landing on the moon by a month and Marty McFly missed the Cubs by one year.” From Entertainment Weekly, “Michael J. Fox congratulates the Cubs: ‘Only off by a year, not bad”.

Last year, Back to the Future writer Bob Gale explained to Sports Illustrated why he picked a Cubs win as a major plot point in the futuristic comedy.

“I’m from St. Louis originally,” he said at the time. “I’m a big baseball fan. You grow up in St. Louis, you automatically become a Cardinals fan. And of course I always followed the Cubs because how could you not? With the Cubs folklore of being the lovable losers that never get there, it was just a natural joke to say, ‘What is the most absurd thing that you could come up with?’”

(3) CARTOON MUSEUM LANDS IN CLOVER. A piece on the sfexaminer.com website by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez called “Recently Displaced Cartoon Art Museum Finds New Home in SF” discusses how the Cartoon Art Museum, which thought it was going to close in 2015 because of San Francisco’s ridiculous rents, has found a new one on Fisherman’s Wharf.

Kashar said the new space is “comparable” in size to the old one on Mission Street, though it’s one floor shorter. “We get to design it, too,” she said, which wasn’t an option with the old space.

“It’s got this really nice-looking facade,” she said, which is brick and looks similar to the nearby historic Cannery.

“For us, we wanted a place that was easy to get to, had street level visibility. It’s gorgeous,” she said.

The new space was made possible in part by a loan from San Francisco’s Nonprofit Displacement Mitigation Fund, which has helped keep nonprofits in San Francisco during the rental crisis.

Kashar said the museum will announce fundraising efforts for the new location soon.

In the meantime, she hinted at one of the first new exhibits for the museum when it opens in 2017: the Summer of Love’s 50th anniversary.

That includes Wimmen’s Comix and Underground Comix, San Francisco staples from The City’s anti-establishment comics past.

(4) DAVE LALLY THAWING OUT. A few words about Icecon from Dave Lally.

Just back from freezing Reykavik (brrrrr!) and gosh is booze* (and indeed food) expensive there.

Tho the local fen, in the middle of their Gen Election to their Althing — whose building was just across the road from the main Icecon social bar! — were welcoming and very friendly.

Total number was about 120 (including overseas fen — giving them support and encouragement– from other Nordic countries and from US, UK, Ireland etc.)

Icecon 2 is scheduled for 2018. It will alternate with the every-two-years Icelandic Festival of Literature.

(*) 2nd highest tax on alcohol-exceed only by Norway!

Lally wrote this while on his way to the Eurocon in Barcelona, where the weather is warmer for smoffing.

(5) STOP OVERLOOKING HER! Sarah Gailey winds up the resentment machine and lets fly in the insightful and entertaining post “Women of Harry Potter: Ginny Weasley Is Not Impressed” at Tor.com.

Ginny let herself be impressed once. She let herself be impressed by Harry Potter—the Boy Who Lived, big brother’s best friend, Quidditch star. She let herself be impressed, and she let herself be infatuated, and she let herself blush and hide. She let herself be soft.

And into that moment of softness—of weakness—she wound up vulnerable. And look at how that turned out.

Ginny Weasley is angry. She’s angry because she let her mind become a chew toy for a sociopath. She’s angry because she hurt people, and she doesn’t care that she was just a puppet for Tom Riddle, that doesn’t matter, she still hurt people. She’s angry because nobody noticed. She’s angry because everyone forgets. She’s constantly having to remind them that she went through it, she spoke to him, he spoke back. And when he spoke back, it wasn’t just an endless deluge of taunts about her parents or jabs at her youth or threats to kill her. Harry’s never had a conversation with Voldemort, never really talked to him.

Ginny has.

(6) ALLERGIC TO WORK. Camestros Felapton’s post “A Tale of an Encyclopedia in Graphs” analyzes how much work all those new members are doing on the Voxopedia (which is to say, Infogalactic). The answer? They’re doing squat.

Adding more members isn’t impacting on the number of new pages being added because the new members aren’t doing anything.

The problem with becomes clearer when looking at the proportion of edits per person.

Two people alone account for nearly 70% of all the edits in the data set.

And Mark-kitteh points out in a comment:

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Statistics , wikipedia gets 800 new articles per day. (No word on how many then fail notability checks, so the real figure may be lower). Based on that Voxipedia needs an couple of orders of magnitude more activity just to keep up.

I wonder how much editing activity you need to just keep up with really basic facts, like people dying?

(7) JUMPER OBIT. Fans recently learned of the death of Joyce Potter McDaniel Jumper (1937-2013). Her death notice is posted here.

Lee Gold shared the news, and her husband Barry added, “We lost track of Joyce in 2013. She called to tell us she was moving to Minneapolis-St. Paul, but never followed up with her new address. Former Long Beach fan Vic Koman posted on Facebook about SFWA looking for the rights to republish some of Dave’s works, so Vic wanted to help find Joyce. After Lee sent him a few bits of information (DOB, maiden name), he tracked down the unfortunate information: Joyce Potter McDaniel Jumper: born January 12, 1937; died December 20, 2013.”

Information about David McDaniel here.

(8) BIG HERO 6. “Big News for Disney’s BIG HERO 6” from Scifi4me.com.

If having Disney XD creating an animated series for Big Hero 6 is not exciting enough, then the news that most of the original voice cast will return for it should get the fans revved up. The Mouse House had confirmed working on a project based off the 2014 Academy Award winning box office hit (over $650 million) this spring. This sweetens the deal.

Inspired by the Marvel comic of the name, Big Hero 6 will continue where the film ended with the continuing adventures of 14-year-old tech genius Hiro, his lovable, cutting-edge robot Baymax and their friends Wasabi, Honey Lemon, Go Go, and Fred as they protect their city from scientifically enhanced villains. At the same time, they are also balancing out regular life as new students at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology.

Returning actors are: Maya Rudolph (Aunt Cass); Jamie Chung (Go Go); Scott Adsit (Baymax); Alan Tudyk (Alistair Krei); Ryan Potter (Hiro); Genesis Rodriguez (Honey Lemon); David Shaughnessy (Heathcliff); and, of course, Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee (Fred’s dad). Damon Wayans, Jr and T.J. Miller have left the cast. Khary Payton (The Lion Guard) will take over Wasabi and Brooks Wheelan (Saturday Night Live) will play Fred.

(9) SEVENTIES SF IS BACK. Its publication derailed over 40 years ago, Gordon Eklund’s Cosmic Fusion is touted as a breakthrough book that never happened. You can see what you missed by shelling out a few bucks to Amazon.

Cosmic Fusion was originally written between January 1973 and September 1982, a mammoth 300,000-word epic novel of “science fiction, sex, and death.” Unpublished due to an editorial change at the original publishing company, Eklund has now revised it for its first publication. As he writes in his introduction: “Cosmic Fusion was intended to be the book that broke me out of [science fiction’s midlist]. It was the Big Ambitious Novel I was going to write because I wanted to write it…” So here it is, a vintage tale written by Gordon Eklund at the peak of his power as a writer, never before seen…until today!

(10) ESCHEW SURPLUSAGE. Here’s part of the writing advice C. S. Lewis sent to a fan in 1956, from Letters of Note.

What really matters is:–

  1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
  2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
  3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

(11) MORE AWARDS. Matthew Bowman says two awards were started in reaction to the controversy about the Hugos. We all know about the Dragon Awards, which he discusses at the beginning of his post “A Tale of Two Awards” at The Catholic Geeks. Here’s Bowman’s introduction to the second.

The Rampant Manticore

The Rampant Manticore, as I said, was also in large part a reaction to what happened with the Hugos; but it takes a very different focus and a very different way of handling the problem.

For one, the Manticores will be presented at HonorCon, but — like that convention — they are adminstered by the Royal Manticoran Navy. The RMN, named after the military in the books they honor (no pun intended), is the Official Honor Harrington Fan Association. It’s sanctioned by the author, David Weber, and beloved by the publisher for how this organization of several thousand members gets people to read (and buy) this bestseller among bestsellers. The RMN is of course chiefly concerned with the Honor Harrington series, but cheerfully encompasses all military genre fiction. As a result, the Manticores have a heavy focus on military science fiction and fantasy.

The Manticores are also taking an opposite tack from the Flight of Dragons; instead of opening it up to everyone (or even just supporting memberships like Wordcon and the Hugos), they put very particular limits on who can vote. You have to either attend HonorCon itself, or have been a member of the fan association for a full year and taken at least two exams (these are really easy exams, don’t worry).

(12) UNCLE 4E. Forry Ackerman’s 100th birthday is coming late this month. Here’s a placeholder, from the last print issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland.

del-toro-4e-quote-min

(13) EVERYBODY EXAGGERATES HIS RESUME. Jimmy Kimmel hires Doctor Strange.

(14) BACK HOME IN THE JUNGLES OF INDIANA. Han Solo and Indy reunited in the same film! Raiders of the lost Dark.

[Thanks to Gregory Benford, Lee Gold, Andrew Porter, Janice Gelb, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day M. C. Simon Milligan.]

Pixel Scroll 7/19/16 Dropkick Me Pixel, Through The Scrollposts Of Life

(1) WHEN LAST HEARD FROM. Rachael Acks, your life is calling. Confessions of a Pokémon Go player.

I wasn’t going to play Pokémon Go. Seriously. I’ve never played Pokémon in my entire life. I still have zero desire to pick up any of the other games, because I am not interested in that kind of grind.

But then my friend Corina wanted to go for a long walk and catch all the local Poké Stops. Which are in the same location as Ingress portals, so I thought what the hell, I might as well get back into playing Ingress. I haven’t done that since getting back to Colorado. Oh and fine, I’ll download Pokémon Go while I’m at it and try, since I’ll be out there anyway. It’s probably dumb and I won’t like it.

And now I find myself out there, sitting on a picnic table in a park at midnight, farming Pokémon, and once a day reminding myself to log on to Ingress and keep my hacking streak going. What the hell happened? I don’t even go here.

(2) GHASTLY NEWS. The trolls and haters have driven Leslie Jones off Twitter with their racist abuse. 🙁

According to Salon, Twitter administrators are working to deal with the problem.

It all seemed to be going well for a while. Over the weekend, the actress and comic was tweeting out photos sent by happy fans attending screenings of her film, and praise for colleagues. Then on Monday, she issued a warning, saying, “Some people on here are f__king disgusting. I’m blocking your filthy ass if retweet that perverted s__t. Just know that now bitches!!” And then she proceeded to demonstrate just how bad it really is to be a woman of color — even more gallingly for the ignorant trolls, a successful woman of color — on Twitter. She shared tweets from a variety of low-functioning cretins, too many to list here but several with the theme of comparing Jones to a gorilla.

…But as fans and supporters have come forward to report the abuse, either Twitter administration actually has done something or the trolls themselves haven’t been able to stand the attention. By Tuesday morning, at least some of the more revolting posters seem to have disappeared — gee, was the reference to the KKK in your user name, bro? At least one racist troll has been suspended. Fun fact: You will not find too many on Twitter who think it’s funny to call a stranger a racial slur who use their own name or image on their account….

(3) INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST. Alexandra Erin reports: “Ghostbusters Enjoys $46m Opening Weekend Entirely On Strength of Guys From The Internet Sitting Alone In Empty Theaters With Their Phone Cameras”.

As reported on breitbart.com, Sony’s Ghostbusters opened this weekend to a slew of empty seats in empty theaters, taking in an impressive $46 million dollars from the men of various Gamergate-affiliated internet forums, who all bought tickets for the sole purpose of taking pictures of otherwise empty auditoriums to post on Twitter in order to prove that the movie really was a bomb, no matter what the feminist conspiracy is making the biased left-wing media say about it.

The journalistic zeal of these amateur photographers was enough to bump the reboot into second place for the weekend, finishing just behind the family entertainment powerhouse The Secret Life of Pets (first, at $50 million). The multitudes of men sitting alone in empty theaters gave seasoned director Paul Feig and hit comic actor Melissa McCarthy their biggest openings yet, as well as making Ghostbusters the most successful debut for a live-action comedy all year….

(4) CRITICAL CAT. At Camestros Felapton’s blog, Timothy the Talking Cat weighs in on the day’s most important cultural issue: “Review: Ghostbusters Versus Timothy”.

CF: So Ghostbusters, what did you think?
Timothy: Overall I felt the  duffel bag could have been larger.
CF: Seriously, it was the only way to get you into the cinema.
Timothy: Ah, the ‘No Cats’ rule again.
CF: Specifically the ‘No cats called Timothy because he keeps shouting at the characters in the movie’ rule again.
Timothy: I believe my fellow patrons enjoy my ad-hoc commentary.….

(5) CHAT WITH A DOCTOR EMERITUS. The Guardian hosted the “Matt Smith webchat – fear, football and a female Doctor Who”. Highlights:

  • “I think a Lady Doctor could be close”

How does my daughter become the Doctor? She wants to know. Thanks!

“Well, she has a chance. I think a Lady Doctor could be close. And would be fun. So practise, practise, practise. And talk really fast. And think really fast. And be really brave. And mad. And silly. And good luck maybe it will be you!”

  • “I miss time travelling. But it’s Peter’s Tardis now”

There were rumours that you would return for the 10th season. Is this true?

“No it’s not true…. I miss everything. I miss Steven, I miss Karen, I miss Arthur, I miss Jenna. I miss time travelling. And I miss my friends in Cardiff. BUT onward goes the march. It’s Peter’s Tardis now. And I love what he does. So I watch as a fan.”

(6) SNEAK PEEKS. Cnet invites you to “Check out these two set photos from ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’”.

Director Rian Johnson posted some set photos from his upcoming movie. Maybe you’ve heard of it….

All the photos really tell us is that the upcoming Star Wars film has both spaceships and oddly shaped black helmets, which I think most of us would have put money on already.

(7) STEPHANIE CLARKSON (1971-2016). Laurie Beth Brunner reported on Facebook that Boston area fan Stephanie Clarkson passed away today.

Stephanie died peacefully this morning at 5:30 a.m., with her mother keeping her company and holding her.

I like to think that her body was simply inadequate to the task of containing her spirit, and so it let her go free. 🙁

Thank you all so much for all the love and support you have shown to Stephanie, to her family, and to me as well. I know that she loved you all and was so grateful for everything everyone did for her, even when she was sometimes unable to express it.

Good night, Stephanie, and flights of Muppets sing thee to thy rest.

(8) MISSION OVERACCOMPLISHED. There’s a Kickstarter raising funds to reproduce NASA’s manual for the 1969 Moon landing — “Apollo 11 Flight Plan Re-Issue”.

We are starting from the beginning and reproducing every single page, using accurate fonts, colors, spacing and paper, as well as reproducing all vector graphics based on very high resolution scans of the original Apollo 11 Final Flight Plan.

A lot of people think this is a good idea. So many, that it’s raised $59,369, far in excess of its original goal of $11,274. And there are still 26 days left to go.

(9) NEIL CLARKE, IMPOSTOR? That’s the title of his post – “Impostor”. Fortunately, he sounds like he’s on his way to recovery.

It’s easy to start something when people have little or no expectations from you. I can’t tell you how many people told us Clarkesworld would be “dead within a year.” Somewhere around the third year, that changed. Being taken seriously was intimidating. Success felt great, but I was always ready for the rug to be pulled out from under us.

And then, four years ago, I had a near-fatal heart attack. It’s the sort of thing that reshapes your priorities and forces you to examine what you’ve been doing. I think that might have been the first time I honestly admitted to myself that I was a professional editor and deserved to be paid for my work, no matter how much I enjoyed it. That said, I’m still very good at ignoring the voice that says “you earned this.” That list of accomplishments… that’s what my childhood heroes did. In that light, it’s often a case of “I’m not worthy.”

That brings us to today. I can’t quite say that I’m a recovered impostor, but that I can blog about it is a promising sign. I can see why hiding behind the magazine has worked for me and I also understand why others feel I should “own my brand.” Perhaps I can step out periodically and see what happens. As I said, frightening, but maybe I’m ready.

(10) KEEP ON TRUCKING. Gareth D. Jones reviews The End Of The World Running Club by Adrian J Walker” for SFCrowsnest.

This sounds good, I thought. A post-apocalyptic tale about a man who has to run the length of Britain to find his family. The cover does not look like a Science Fiction book, though, it looks like a ‘literary’ book. More worryingly, when it arrived, it had a sticker on the front cover advertising the ‘BBC Radio 2 Book Club’. My dad used to listen to Radio 2. Technically, I am now in the right age bracket to listen to Radio 2 myself, but do I really want to put myself in that bracket and read that kind of book? Too late. The book was in my possession and I was committed to reading it.

Within a few pages I was hooked….

(11) LOVE THE HEADLINE. At SF Site News, Steven H Silver showed some flair in his title: “Muppets” Take Ankh-Morpork:

The Jim Henson Company has announced they are developing a film based on Sir Terry Pratchetts Wee Free Men, with a script to be written by Pratchett’s daughter, Rhianna Pratchett. The project is a collaboration between the Jim Henson Company and Narrativia, a company set up to promote Pratchett’s works. Rhianna Pratchett and Sir Terry’s assistant, Rob Wilkins, will serve as Executive Producers on the project. For more information…

(12) OPEN MOOSE SURGERY. I missed this at the time in 2015 – a thorough restoration of the iconic Rocky and Bullwinkle statue that used to be in front of the Jay Ward Studios.

In a post on Vintage Los Angeles on Saturday, Martino recalled meeting Ricardo Scozzari, who restored the sculpture. “I tracked down the brilliant restoration genius who put our friends back together and lovingly restored them,” she said. “THEY ARE BASICALLY BULLET PROOF NOW! And it wasn’t easy! The statue was falling apart when it was removed from its iconic location on the morning of July 22, 2013. Meet the man who rescued our local landmark! Ricardo Scozzari!”

“I restored the statue twice,” said Scozzari. “Once on the Sunset Strip and the final time as you see it now. It was a fun project. Bullwinkle had ‘open heart surgery’ — literally. I had to open his chest to strengthen his internal structure. Oh the pictures I have. He looks just like he did back in 1961. Same number of strips on his bathing suit and everything.”

bullwinkle and rocky

(13) WAILING AWAY. Plonk your magic twanger, Marty — “Michael J. Fox and Coldplay Recreate ‘Back to the Future’ at NJ Concert”.

On Saturday night (July 16), Coldplay kicked off the North American leg of its Head Full of Dreams tour just outside New York in East Rutherford, NJ’s MetLife Stadium. They were back in the same venue the following night, so what did they do to break the mold? Stage an iconic scene from American cinema. Did you ever doubt Chris Martin’s dramatic flair?

During the show’s final encore, Coldplay brought out Michael J. Fox, Gibson Les Paul in hand. Together, they transported the crowd to Back to the Future‘s Enchantment Under the Sea dance, with a couple of ‘50s classics. First, they played a little of the Penguins’ “Earth Angel” and after that — of course — Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” The homage came as a request from Martin’s son, Moses, who was hoping to get a real life taste of his favorite movie.

Fox (who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991) has been known to reprise the famous scene at the annual benefit for his Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. For the 2013 benefit, he performed alongside Chris Martin in New York City.

(14) ROAD WARRIOR. Pornokitsch presents “Gail Carriger on ‘The Traveling Writer: A Tip Sheet’”.

I started attending conventions as a fangirl long before I was a professional writer. I knew what to expect and when I got my first Guest of Honor invitation I was over the moon. I still get a little thrill at the very idea that someone wants me to attend a convention… as a guest!

But it’s not the same thing. Whether heading out on a book tour or invited as a guest to a small local sci-fi convention, attending programming at a larger conference, or visiting one of those monster book festivals or comicons there are some things I think a professional writer should always keep in mind.

So here, for your amusement (and perhaps education) are my highly subjective… Tips for the Traveling Writer

  1. Thou shalt follow the 6, 2, 1 rule

What’s that? At least six hours sleep, two full meals, and one bath.

Actually, I usually try for 8, 3, 2. I recommend a morning swim (at most cons I get an AM pool to myself) plus a hot tub mini soak and shower. People often forget about the hotel pool when there is a major event, so if you like to swim don’t forget the bathing suit and goggles.

(15) SUFFERING FROM THRONE WITHDRAWAL? ScreenRant recommends 15 Fantasy Worlds to Explore While You Wait for the Next Season of Game of Thrones.

1. The Kingkiller Chronicles, Patrick Rothfuss 2. The Gentlemen Bastard Cycle, Scott Lynch 3. The Dark Tower, Stephen King 4. Saga, by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples 5. The Passage Trilogy, Justin Cronin 6. Bone, by Jeff Smith 7. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman 8. Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson 9. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke 10. The Stormlight Archives, by Brandon Sanderson 11. Paper Girls, by Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang 12. The Magicians, by Lev Grossman 13. Rat Queens, by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Various Artists 14. The Wheel Of Time, by Robert Jordan 15. The First Law Universe, by Joe Abercrombie

(16) WE HAVE A WINNER. You never know where the next title is coming from…

(17) BACK IN TIME. The New Yorker presents an interesting video – “A Split-Screen Tour of Los Angeles, Seventy Years Ago and Today”.

Bunker Hill, an area of roughly five square blocks in downtown Los Angeles, holds a place in city lore similar to that of the water wars or the construction of Dodger Stadium: beginning in 1959, it was the subject of a massive urban-renewal project, in which “improvement” was generally defined by the people who stood to profit from it, as well as their backers at City Hall, at the expense of anyone standing in their way. In the early part of the twentieth century, the neighborhood had been home to some of the city’s most elegant mansions and hotels; by the nineteen-fifties, these had mostly been subdivided into low-income housing, and the area was populated by a mix of pensioners, immigrants, workers, and people looking to get lost—a period memorialized in several noir films and the realist gem “The Exiles.” The Bunker Hill Redevelopment Project was adopted in 1959 and somehow lasted an astonishing fifty-three years. The result, and what it means, are the subject of this short film by Keven McAlester, which compares what the same streets in downtown Los Angeles looked like in the nineteen-forties and today.

[Thanks to Bartimaeus, Dawn Incognito, JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Sciphideas.]

Pixel Scroll 7/5/16 Scrollamagoosa

Radio SFWA(1) RADIO SFWA OFFICIAL VIDEO. Henry Lien has released the video of Radio SFWA as performed on stage at the Nebula Banquet in May.

Lien, who wrote the song as a recruiting anthem for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, sang as Emperor Stardust backed by the brilliantly-choreographed Eunuchs of the Forbidden City doing SFWA spellouts and other routines. They received a well-deserved standing-O at the end.

Click CC (Closed Captioning) to view the lyrics.

Click Settings to watch it in 1080 HD.

Emperor Stardust

  • Henry Lien (Nebula Nominee, SFWA Member)

The Eunuchs of the Forbidden City

  • Liz Argall (SFWA Member)
  • Tina Connolly (Norton Nominee, SFWA Member)
  • Alyx Dellamonica (SFWA Member)
  • Patrice Fitzgerald (SFWA Member)
  • Fonda Lee (Norton Nominee, SFWA Member)
  • Reggie Lutz (Future SFWA Member)
  • Kelly Robson (Nebula Nominee, SFWA Member)

(2) MIDWESTERN MIGHTINESS. “Marvel reveals New Great Lakes Avengers Series”Nerdist has the story.

They’re not Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. They’re not even the West Coast Avengers. At one point, they received a cease-and-desist order to prevent them from using the Avengers name. But their tenacity could not be stopped and their inherent silliness endeared them to readers all around the world. And that is precisely why Marvel is announcing today, exclusively on Nerdist, that they are bringing back the Great Lakes Avengers in an all-new monthly ongoing comic book series….

Let’s begin with the obvious question: why is now the right time to revive the Great Lakes Avengers?

“Now is the time for Great Lakes Avengers to return, one, because I simply want to do it,” [editor Tom] Brevoort joked. “They need to give me perks to keep doing the comics that people like and that sell really well,” he added with a laugh.

Great-Lakes-Avengers-Cover

(3) SALTIRE. At another spot on the map, BBC reports a “Scottish superhero challenge to Marvel and DC Comics”.

Glaswegian [John] Ferguson, who set up Diamondsteel Comics with his Lancashire-born wife Clare, said other elements of Scotland’s past and folklore also feature.

He said: “The Stone of Destiny, the Blue Stanes, the Loch Ness Monster and the Caledonian Fae traditions all have a significant place in the Saltire universe.

“Saltire’s origin is built from myth and legend so a comparison might be Marvel’s Thor although perhaps a bit darker and grittier. He does have an iconic visual appeal similar to the famous American superheroes.”

A year in the making, Saltire: Legend Eternal, the first comic book in a new series of the comics has been “meticulously inked, coloured and lettered” to compete with the high standards set by Marvel and DC Comics, said Ferguson.

(4) WHO NEEDS A DEGREE? Recently, David Tennant and Steven Moffat each received honorary degrees from different schools in Scotland.

Dr Who star David Tennant has travelled back in time to his old acting school to pick up an honorary degree.

The Broadchurch actor has been awarded an honorary drama doctorate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

The 46-year-old was recognised during a ceremony in Glasgow.

Tennant studied drama at the Royal Conservatoire between 1988 and 1991, then known as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, before enjoying success on stage and screen.

He said: “I’m honoured and rather humbled to be here – it’s all quite overwhelming but lovely to be back. It evokes some very vivid memories.

“It was a very important time for me. I don’t think I would have survived without my time here – for me it was essential. Three years of getting to practice in a safe environment.

“I was quite young, quite green, and I did a lot of growing up here and learned an enormous amount. They were very formative years that I look back on very fondly.”

Dr Who writer Steven Moffat also received an honorary degree from the University of the West of Scotland in Paisley.

(5) TRUDEAU. In Yanan Wang’s story for the Washington Post, “How Canada’s prime minister became a superhero”, about Justin Trudeau’s appearance in the Marvel comic Civil War II: Choosing Sides  she explains that writer Chip Zdarsky (who writes as “Steve Murray”) put Justin Trudeau in the comic book because his father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, made an earlier appearance with the Alpha Flight team (who are Canadian superheroes) in the 1980s.

She also unleashes this quote from Peter C. Newman, a prominent Canadian business journalist:

“If God had meant for us to be heroic, he wouldn’t have made us Canadians.  This is the only country on Earth whose citizens dream of being Clark Kent, instead of Superman.” To regard themselves as heroes would be “boastful,” Newman observed, which Canadians were decidedly not.

(6) CONTROVERSY. “In His New Novel, Ben Winters Dares to Mix Slavery and Sci-Fi”, a New York Times article, covers a lot of ground about a book whose reception is all over the spectrum.

In Ben H. Winters’s chilling new thriller, “Underground Airlines,” a bounty hunter named Victor tracks fugitives for the United States Marshals Service. But his mission, like his past, is complicated: The people he’s chasing are escaped slaves. Their main crime is rejecting a life of forced servitude. And Victor himself was once one of them.

From the moment he started writing it, Mr. Winters knew that “Underground Airlines” was creatively and professionally risky. The novel tackles the thorny subject of racial injustice in America. It takes place in a contemporary United States where the Civil War never happened, and slavery remains legal in four states, and it’s narrated by a former slave who has paid a steep moral price for his freedom.

“I had reservations every day, up to the present day, because the subject is so fraught, and rightfully so,” Mr. Winters said. “It isn’t as if this is ancient history in this country.”

Mr. Winters, 40, has pulled off high-wire acts before. As one of the early literary mash-up artists, he churned out zany best sellers like “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” and “Android Karenina.” His best-selling trilogy, “The Last Policeman,” is a genre-defying blend of crime writing and science fiction, starring a stoic police officer trying to solve crimes as the world braces for a catastrophic asteroid collision….

“He’s taking a direct whack at one of the main critical things that’s happening in this country right now,” said Lev Grossman, a book critic and author of the fantasy series “The Magicians.” “This is a white writer going after questions of what it’s like to be black in America. It’s a fearless thing to do.”

(7) WORLDCON IN MEMORIAM LIST. Steven H Silver announced that the deadline for getting names onto the In Memoriam list for the MidAmeriCon II program book is Friday, July 8.  Names currently under consideration can be found at http://www.midamericon2.org/home/general-information/memoriam-page/. Suggestions for additional names can be made there as well.  Any names suggested after July 8 will make it into the Hugo scroll, but not the program book.

(8) TODAY IN SILLY HISTORY

  • July 5, 1935 — Hormel Foods introduced the canned meat product SPAM.

(9) DID YOU PAY ATTENTION? Den of Geek put the Back to the Future movies under a microscope and came up with “The Back to the Future Trilogy: 88 Things You Might Have Missed”. The most I can say is that I hadn’t missed all of them. Take number one, for example:

  1. The Doc’s clocks (I)

As the first film opens and we pan across Doc Brown’s incredible assortment of clocks – all previously synchronized to be exactly 25 minutes slow – the eagle-eyed may notice that one of the clocks features a man hanging from its hands. It’s actually silent comedy star Harold Lloyd, dangling from a clock in perhaps his most famous turn in 1923’s Safety Last. Aside from being a cool little nod to a past movie, it also prefigures the later scene in which Doc hangs from the Hill Valley clock in near-identical fashion.

(10) FUTURE WARFARE. Jeb Kinnison will be on the “Weaponized AI and Future Warfare” panel at LibertyCon, and is preparing by organizing his thoughts in a series of highly detailed blog posts.

In Part I of Weaponized AI: My Experience in AI, Kinnison shares details of his professional background in technology, which informs the rest of his discussion.

Autonomous control of deadly weaponry is controversial, though no different in principle than cruise missiles or smart bombs, which while launched at human command make decisions on-the-fly about exactly where and whether to explode. The Phalanx CIWS automated air defense system (see photo above) identifies and fires on enemy missiles automatically to defend Navy ships at a speed far beyond human abilities. Such systems are uncontroversial since no civilian human lives are likely to be at risk.

DARPA is actively researching Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). Such systems might be like Neal Asher’s (identity) reader guns, fixed or slow-moving sentries equipped to recognize unauthorized presences and cut them to pieces with automatic weapons fire. More mobile platforms might cruise the skies and attack any recognized enemy at will, robotically scouring terrain of enemy forces:…

Many of the readers of Mil SF have had experience in the military themselves, which makes platoon-level fighting stories especially involving for them. The interpersonal aspects are critical for emotional investment in the story — so a tale featuring a skinny, bespectacled systems operators fighting each other by running AI battle mechs from a remote location doesn’t satisfy. Space marines a la Starship Troopers are the model for much Mil SF — in these stories new technology extends and reinforces mobile infantry without greatly changing troop dynamics, leaving room for stories of individual combat, valorous rescue of fellow soldiers in trouble, spur-of-the-moment risks taken and battles won by clever tactics. Thousands of books on this model have been written, and they still sell well, even when they lack any rationale for sending valuable human beings down to fight bugs when the technology for remote or AI control appears to be present in their world.

One interesting escape route for Mil SF writers is seen in Michael Z Williamson’s A Long Time Until Now, where the surrounding frame is not space travel but time travel — a troop from today’s Afghanistan war find themselves transported back to paleolithic central Asia with other similarly-displaced military personnel from other eras and has to survive and build with limited knowledge of their environment.

(11) KRUSHING IT. At secritkrush, Chance Morrison has launched a review series about Hugo-nominated short fiction. Still looking for one that Morrison liked…

Novella it a tough length. Most of the time Novellas feel like they are either bloated short stories which could benefit from an edit or a story which really ought to be expanded into a novel to do it justice. Binti is one of the latter….

Why, given this setup, was the book not a comedy, even a dark one because I really cannot take it seriously but it is really not funny?

One day Google (the search engine) develops consciousness and decides that it doesn’t want to be evil, unlike Google the company….

Writing stories under 1000 words is exceedingly difficult. Writing one of the five best (allegedly) SF short stories of the year in less than a thousand words? Highly unlikely.

Data and River Tam/Jessica Jones together at last! They fight crime commit crimes….

(12) ON THE TRAIL. Lisa Goldstein feels a little more warmly about “’And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead’” – at least room temperature.

“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander is the only novelette on the Hugo ballot that was not also on the Rabid Puppies’ slate.  To get that far, against all the Puppies voting in lockstep, means that it’s probably a very popular story.  I liked it as well, but I had some reservations.  Which puts me in a minority, so you should definitely read it and make up your own mind.  Hey, I don’t claim to be infallible here.

(13) WORLDCON ANNOUNCES FILM FESTIVAL. The 2016 Worldcon will host the MidAmeriCon II International Film Festival.

The Festival will showcase the best film shorts, features and documentaries from around the world, spanning the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic genres. Many film makers will also be in attendance and taking part in Q&A sessions to provide a unique behind the scenes perspective on their work.

The MidAmeriCon II International Film Festival is being led by Nat Saenz, whose extensive track record in the field includes the Tri-City Independent/Fan Film Festival (www.trifi.org) as well as events at the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 World Science Fiction Conventions. Nat continues to bring a truly global perspective to his audience, with the 2016 programme including films from Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Spain, Greece, France, Italy, and the UK, as well as the USA and Canada.

The Film Festival will run through all five days of the convention, starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17 and concluding at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 21.  All films are open to full and day attending convention members (subject to relevant age restrictions in line with film classifications). All screenings will take place at the Kansas City Convention Center.

A full screening schedule can be found at www.midamericon2.org/home/whats-happening/programming/film-festival/.

[Thanks to Henry Lien, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dawn Incognito.]

Pixel Scroll 2/23/16 The Lurker at the 5% Threshold

(1) THE PUPPET’S INSIDE STORY. Mary Robinette Kowal livestreamed “Ask a puppet about publishing” today. The answer to the old standby “Where do you get your ideas?” got perhaps the truest answer that has ever been given to this question.

(2) GREG KETTER MAKES NEWS. The legendary Minneapolis bookstore is featured in Twin Cities Geek — “From the Stands: DreamHaven Books Is Still Standing”.

Dreamhaven

A later memory I have of the store is hearing Neil Gaiman read his book The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish there upon the book’s rerelease in 2004. I remember maybe 35 or 40 people in the store, which can’t be correct—there must have been more than that to see Neil Gaiman—though I’m certain it was a number far smaller than you’d expect to see today, in the age of expanded cons, fandom, and the Internet social-media grapevine. Except for running into Gaiman a few weeks later at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival (and a few other places, actually—that was a weird summer), I wouldn’t see him again in the flesh until an MPR Wits show last year, crammed into the Fitzgerald Theater with over 1,000 other fans. That show was a little closer to what one would expect of a Gaiman sighting, where Neil is a smudge, his pale face and customary black clothes treating us to an impromptu and sparsely populated Mummenschanz show against the stage’s dark backdrop, not at all the mild, T-shirted man with the roiling mind, reading to us about the best deal you could get in a trade for your dad.

… Last April, DreamHaven returned to normal store hours with the help of Alice Bentley, a former business partner of Ketter’s. The two co-founded the Chicago bookstore The Stars Our Destination in 1998, which Bentley ran by herself from 1994 until 2004, when she closed the store, moved to Seattle, and got out of the book business. Says Ketter of Bentley, “She had been out of books for a while, and she really wanted to get back in. So, she moved to [Minneapolis] from Seattle and she’s partnering with me . . . She’s very knowledgeable; in the last 11 or 12 years since she left, things have changed a great deal [but] she’s been very happily relearning the book business.” The two now run the business as partners, with Ketter as the “go-to guy for questions” and Bentley employing her “love of spreadsheets” to keep the business on track.

(3) SPURNING PASSION. Andrew Porter recalls, “I wanted to reprint a Tolkien poem first published in the 1940s, and Tolkien refused me permission — and then he refused a whole bunch of other people including Ballantine Books, and it’s still not been ‘officially’ published. But some people got tired of waiting for “official” publication, and here it is, on the web: “The lay of Aotrou and Itroun” (1945).

A witch there was, who webs could weave
to snare the heart and wits to reave,
who span dark spells with spider-craft,
and as she span she softly laughed;
a drink she brewed of strength and dread
to bind the quick and stir the dead;
In a cave she housed where winging bats
their harbour sought, and owls and cats
from hunting came with mournful cries,
night-stalking near with needle-eyes.

(4) TELL ME IF YOU’VE SEEN THIS BEFORE. At MeTV, “7 reused props on television that will make you do a double-take”.

Neosaurus Disguise:

Lost in Space’s creator Irwin Allen liked to recycle props, but one of his most notable ones was reused by another iconic ’60s TV show. The neosaurus disguise first appeared in Lost in Space:

(5) NEW SAWYER NOVEL. Robert J. Sawyer’s 23rd novel Quantum Night will be released March 1 in hardcover, ebook (all formats), and as an audiobook from Audible.

Robert-J-Sawyer-novel-Quantum-Night

What if the person next to you was a psychopath? And that person over there? And your boss? Your spouse? That’s the chilling possibility brought forth in bestselling author Robert J. Sawyer‘s new novel Quantum Night. Psychopaths aren’t just murdering monsters: anyone devoid of empathy and conscience fits the bill, and Sawyer’s new science-fiction thriller suggests that there are as many as two billion psychopaths worldwide.

A far-out notion? Not at all. As Oxford Professor Kevin Dutton, the bestselling author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths, says, “Sawyer has certainly done his homework about psychopaths and he understands well that, far from being just the occasional headline-grabbing serial killer, they’re everywhere.”

Sawyer says: “Reviewers often call me an optimistic writer — one of the few positive voices left in a science-fiction field that has grown increasingly dystopian. I like to view my optimism as a rational position rather than just naïveté, and so I felt it was necessary to devote a novel to confronting the question of evil head on: what causes it, why it flourishes, why there seems to be more and more of it — and what we can do about it. The theme is simple: the worst lie humanity has ever told itself is, ‘You can’t change human nature.’”

Click to read the opening chapters. Details of the Canadian and U.S. stops on Sawyer’s book tour can be found here.

(6) OSHIRO STORY CONTINUES. Here are links to new posts dealing with Mark Oshiro’s published harassment complaint.

The Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, Inc. (KaCSFFS) is the sponsor of ConQuesT, the oldest convention in the central states region. The KaCSFFS Board of Directors oversees ConQuesT, but the day-to-day operations of the convention are done by the volunteer chairs and convention committee, who change from year to year.

In light of recent issues we feel that more oversight of the convention committee as a whole is necessary by the KaCSFFS Board of Directors. This is being addressed by the current Board of Directors as we speak.

KaCSFFS is profoundly sorry that these issues arose, and the policies in place were not followed through to completion. We are taking steps to ensure that future complaints are addressed appropriately and in compliance with current policies and procedures in place.

Posted by Jan Gephardt

The KaCSFFS Board of Directors is: Margene Bahm, President, Earline “Cricket” Beebe, Treasurer, Kristina Hiner, Secretary, Jan Gephardt, Communications Officer, Keri O’Brien, ConQuesT Chairperson for 2016, and Diana Bailey, Registered Agent.

From SFF and romance convention attendees alike. To the point that I’ve applied some probably unfair stereotyping of my own, in deciding that media and writers’ conventions in Those Four States (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri) are probably off limits to me. If I won a lottery tomorrow and travel costs were not an issue…I probably wouldn’t change my decision.

I get told, rightfully so: ‘That’s unfair. We have lovely, diverse people at X convention or Y festival! By not attending, you are letting the bad people win!”

True. I know some good people in those places. I’d love to visit them. There is a large romance convention in Texas and an even bigger SFF gathering in Kansas City that I *should* attend for career reasons. (Except that the romance con has a dismal record respecting M/M romance authors, and I’m not sure I’m at the professional level to go to the SFF con yet.)

By not attending, I’m not validating some indefensible behavior from con committees who keep getting away with this shit, and use fans and sane staffers as their human shields. I’m not paying into the tax coffers of hotels, cities, and corrupt hypocritical legislatures who still seem to be stuck in Pre-Civil Rights America. By myself, I’m a nobody, and I only have power over what I personally spend and buy.

I was unlucky enough to get tapped for a self-pub panel at CONQuest (Kansas City 2013) that consisted of me and two gatekeepers who bloviated the entire time, talking over anything I had to say. Lawrence M. Schoen was the moderator who opened his introductory email to me with a declaration that nobody should self publish unless they’d already been vetted by the publishing industry. He also used the term “politically correct” which prompted the following response from me:

“Please do not use the term ‘politically correct’ in my presence. My colleagues and mentors include survivors of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Soviet GULag. Current American usage of this term trivializes these mass atrocities in the service of defending lazy-minded reflexive bigotry.”

In response, he doubled down on his insistence on right to say anything he liked.

On the panel, Silena Rosen was particularly notable for her crude, hostile manner as well as rant about how self-pub was shit, fanfic was public masturbation, yadda yadda yadda. Schoen wasn’t so much a moderator as a partner in the pile-on. I had quality assurance experience from multiple industry jobs, and a whole list of suggestions for editorial collectives and the like. They talked right over me as loudly as they could. None of that stuff even got said.

I felt the whole time as if I were fighting with both hands tied behind my back. I was there to give the audience new ideas and perspectives and to present myself with courtesy and professionalism; they were there to beat me up in public.

I don’t know anything about the Oshiro thing. Is that the one where the guy was the GoH at a con and didn’t get treated well? I’ve seen that in passing is all. I can only assume that if File 770 is upset over it, they’re either on the wrong side, or just plain stupid.

A bunch of comments from File 770 are reproduced in that same thread. Which is great, because it proves how many of Larry’s fans find this blog despite his refusing to allow pingbacks from my posts, and how they force the rest to read the material anyway.

(7) REASONS WHY DOING NOTHING IS WORSE. Jim C. Hines reviews the recent history of convention antiharassment policy enforcement in “The Importance of Having and ENFORCING Harassment Policies at Cons”

I get it. It’s one thing to write up policies on harassment and appropriate behavior for a convention. It’s another to find yourself in the midst of a mess where you have to enforce them.

Emotions are running high. The person accused of violating the policy isn’t a mustache-twirling villain, but someone who’s been attending your con for years. They’ve got a lot of friends at the con — possibly including you. If you enforce the consequences spelled out in your policies, someone’s going to be upset. Someone’s going to be angry. Someone’s going to feel hurt. It feels like a no-win situation.

And it is, in a way. There’s nothing you can do to make everyone happy. But we’ve seen again and again that there’s a clear losing strategy, and that is to do nothing. To try to ignore your harassment policy and hope the problem goes away on its own.

It won’t. As unpleasant as it is to be dealing with a report of harassment, doing nothing will make it worse. Here are just a few examples from recent years.

(8) THE F IN SF IS NOT FILLET. Seeing a comment on File 770 about all the fiction with “bone” in the title, Fred Coppersmith recommended:

(9) HENCEFORTH THEY WILL BE CALLED FUCHSIA HOLES. Gazing at black holes – “What does a black hole actually look like?” at Vox.

Impossibly dense, deep, and powerful, black holes reveal the limits of physics. Nothing can escape one, not even light.

But even though black holes excite the imagination like few other concepts in science, the truth is that no astronomer has actually seen one….

We do have indirect images of black holes, however

Some of the best indirect images of black holes come from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, where Edmonds works. “The friction and the high velocities of material forming out of a black hole naturally produces X-rays,” he says. And Chandra is a space telescope specially designed to see those X-rays.

For example, the Chandra observatory documented these X-ray “burps” emanating from the merger of two galaxies around 26 million light-years away. The astrophysicists suspect that these burps came from a massive black hole: …

Similarly, the fuchsia blobs on this image are regions of intense X-ray radiation, thought to be black holes that formed when two galaxies (the blue and pink rings) collided: …

Be sure to check out the fuzzy but fascinating video showing the proper motion of stars around an apparent black hole.

(10) YES THERE IS A DRAGON. Pete’s Dragon official teaser trailer.

(11) FARTHER BACK TO THE FUTURE. TechnoBuffalo declares “This fan-made Back to the Future prequel trailer is amazing”.

There’s never going to be a Back to the Future sequel or reboot—at least as long as director Robert Zemeckis is alive. With that in mind, what if there was a prequel? Didn’t think of that, did you? I sure didn’t, but after seeing the trailer above, I’d totally be on board.

If you’ve never seen BTTF (what’s wrong with you?), it begins with Doc Brown revealing to Marty that the only way to produce the 1.21 Gigawatts necessary to time travel is to use plutonium. The prequel would be a story about how Doc Brown gets hands on the plutonium, which he only mentions in passing in the original film.

The prequel trailer was brilliantly edited together by Tyler Hopkins, who used footage from various movies featuring Christopher Lloyd (the actor who played Dr. Emmett Brown).

 

(12) HE’S A MARVEL. “Stan Lee Makes a Cameo During Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 30th Anniversary Panel”. (Check out the photo at the post — Stan looks younger than Frank!)

In Los Angeles to celebrate the 30th Anniversary Edition of the book’s release, Miller sat down with IGN to talk about The Dark Knight Returns’ enduring legacy, what makes Batman relevant, and why he keeps coming back to the character. He then took the stage for a Q&A moderated by DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, where he discussed his initial apprehension at reinventing such an established character, the impact he’s had on future creators, and who would win in a fight between Batman and Captain America.

The evening took an unexpected turn right out the gate as Miller’s panel was interrupted by an audience heckler. That heckler turned out to be none other than Marvel Comics legend/cameo king Stan Lee, who was on hand to celebrate pal Miller’s accomplishments. Lee of course demanded to know who would win in a showdown between publisher mainstays Batman and Captain America, to which Miller slyly responded “Robin.”

(13) THE ICON’S IMAGE. Abraham Riesman profiles the icon in “It’s Stan Lee’s Universe” at Vulture.

A comic-book Methuselah, Lee is also, to a great degree, the single most significant author of the pop-culture universe in which we all now live. This is a guy who, in a manic burst of imagination a half-century ago, helped bring into being The Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers, The X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, and the dozens of other Marvel titles he so famously and consequentially penned at Marvel Comics in his axial epoch of 1961 to 1972. That world-shaking run revolutionized entertainment and the then-dying superhero-comics industry by introducing flawed, multidimensional, and relatably human heroes — many of whom have enjoyed cultural staying power beyond anything in contemporary fiction, to rival the most enduring icons of the movies (an industry they’ve since proceeded to almost entirely remake in their own image). And in revitalizing the comics business, Lee also reinvented its language: His rhythmic, vernacular approach to dialogue transformed superhero storytelling from a litany of bland declarations to a sensational symphony of jittery word-jazz — a language that spoke directly and fluidly to comics readers, enfolding them in a common ecstatic idiom that became the bedrock of what we think of now as “fan culture.” Perhaps most important for today’s Hollywood, he crafted the concept of an intricate, interlinked “shared universe,” in which characters from individually important franchises interact with and affect one another to form an immersive fictional tapestry — a blueprint from which Marvel built its cinematic empire, driving nearly every other studio to feverishly do the same. And which enabled comics to ascend from something like cultural bankruptcy to the coarse-sacred status they enjoy now, as American kitsch myth.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Moshe Feder, Paul Weimer, Andrew Porter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 1/28/16 Groundhugo Day

Enterprise taken apart

(1) QUITE THE MODEL KIT. “USS Enterprise Conservation Begins Phase II” at The Smithsonian’s Airspace Blog gives full details.

The final painting of the Enterprise model will begin in April, using newly discovered reference photos from our appeal to Trek fans in the fall. The team will also build new nacelle domes with LED lights to mimic the spinning effect seen on television. For reference, they will first build a 1:1 mock-up of the original mechanism, which utilized mirrors, motors, nails, and Christmas lights. Conservator Ariel O’Connor explains, “Although the original nacelle dome lights did not survive, we can replicate the original effect in a way that is safe to install on the model.  The LED lights can be programmed to match the original VFX footage while eliminating the burnt-out bulbs, extreme heat, and motor problems that troubled the original lights. It is a wonderful solution to re-light the nacelles while ensuring the model’s safety and longevity.”

(2) OCTAVIA BUTLER. Radio Imagination celebrates the life and work of Pasadena science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006). Organized by Los Angeles-based arts nonprofit Clockshop, the program centers on ten contemporary art and literary commissions that explore Butler’s archive at the Huntington Library. New work will premiere alongside performances, film screenings, and literary events throughout the year.

(3) THERE IS NO NUMBER THREE. The Guardian link to a news item about 500 new fairytales being discovered in a German archive proved to be infested with some kind of code that could not be seen with the text editing tools at my disposal, but overwrote the rest of the post with a busted survey question….! After deducing which entry was causing the problem, I chopped it out. And I’m ready to be done for the night!

(4) WALTON SEMINAR. Out of the Crooked Timber is hosting a “Jo Walton Seminar” using her books The Just City and The Philosopher Kings. (A third book in the sequence, Necessity, comes out in June).

Several posts are already online.

One of the great appeals of the Thessaly series is the implicit invitation: join us in Socratic dialogue beneath the lemon tree, arguing practical philosophy with the best company from all of history.  But I am not a philosopher king, and definitely not a Gold of the Just City. As evidence, between the first and second sentences of this paragraph, I took ten minutes to reassure a baby who’d pinched her finger in a dresser drawer. Over the past couple of days I’ve engaged in crafts and cleaning, cooking and political argument and snarky write-ups of old horror stories.

All of which speak to my soul, and all of which feel like part of The Good Life even if I sometimes wish the temporal ratios were different.

“It was the most real thing that had ever happened.” – Jo Walton, The Just City

Thanks to Jo Walton for writing an SF novel in which people, including a pair of gods, try to realize Plato’s Republic. (I’ve only read the first Thessaly novel, The Just City. So if what follows is premature? That sort of thing happens.)

This is an experimental novel. Succeed or fail, you learn from an experiment. But even well-constructed experiments can be failures. That’s the risk.

Logically such a thing should exist. A novelization of Plato’s Republic, I mean. How can no one have written this already? But can such a damn thing be written ? Surely it will fail as a novel, somewhat, at some point. But how? Only one way to find out.

So Walton’s literary endeavor might be said to parallel Athene’s serene, mortal-bothering, bookish Utopian progress, in the novel. Like Athene, Walton doesn’t crack a smile. (There are some cracks at the end – in Athene’s exterior – but let’s leave those out. Don’t want to spoil the ending.)

Walton’s work is a mash-up: of genres, most obviously, with elements of science fiction (time travel and robots), fantasy (gods), historical fiction (recreation of past society) and the novel of ideas – but also of temporalities. Time-travelling Athene gathers together a bunch of dedicated Platonists from across the following 2500-odd years, helps them collect children and works of art from a more restricted period (unaccountably, no one bothers collecting some Canova or Alma-Tadema), gives them some robots from the future for the heavy work, and dumps the whole lot back in the bronze age, where (in theory) they’re not going to disturb anyone else. In theory (again), this farrago will be held together by a shared dedication to the ideals of Plato’s Republic, whether voluntary (the generation of Masters brought together from across time and space) or instilled (the Children and their descendents). In practice…

One of the reasons this is a neat trick from the novelist’s point of view is that it side-steps most of the boring questions of authenticity that bedevil most fictional engagements with the classical world.

More to come from  Ada Palmer, Leah Schnelbach, Sumana Harihareswara, and Crooked Timber bloggers Maria Farrell, Henry Farrell, and Belle Waring.

Crooked Timber’s past seminars on genre literature have been —

And in May 2015, Crooked Timber organized a seminar on the work of Ken MacLeod with contributions from Farah Mendlesohn, Cosma Shalizi, Sumana Harihareswara, Jo Walton, and Henry Farrell, with a response by Ken MacLeod.

(5) MINI INTEGRAL TREES. Have you seen the Air Bonsai?

Great if you’re wanting to recreate The Hallelujah Mountains from “Avatar” (or a Roger Dean painting) as a diorama.

(6) THE FUTURE IS BACK. Following years of waiting, the DeLorean car made memorable by Back to the Future has returned to production.

After more than 30 years, the DeLorean Motor Company will resume production of the iconic 1982 model DeLorean, made famous by the “Back to the Future” film trilogy.

This marks the first time that the car will be manufactured in America, according to an NBC affiliate.

The car company was previously prohibited from producing the famed model because the futuristic designs belonged to John DeLorean’s estate and not the auto business, which went bankrupt in 1982.

The company was revitalized by CEO Stephen Wynne and moved to Humble, Texas, in 1987. The company operated as a refurbishment facility, repairing and replacing parts for older DeLorean models for consumers around the world.

(7) ZICREE CLASS. Marc Scott Zicree, is running a one-day Supermentors Class – Life Lessons from Rod Serling, Ray Bradbury & Guillermo Del Toro.

Many of you know that with my books The Twilight Zone Companion and Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities and my friendship with Ray Bradbury, I’ve had some of the greatest mentors who ever worked in film, TV and books.

Life Lessons From Rod Serling, Ray Bradbury & Guillermo Del Toro — a One-Day Class I’ll be teaching Sunday, February 21st, both in person here in L.A. and via Skype and audio download, drawn from what I’ve learned from my great mentors. Just $99 (normally $199) if you sign up by the end of the month. Log onto www.paypal.com and indicate you want to pay marc@zicree.com Here’s a video describing the class.

 

(8) MUMY OUT AS OSCAR VOTER. Actor Billy Mumy says he has been purged as an Academy Awards voter under the new rules, and his ”to whom it may concern” protest letter has been posted online.

Like so many other Academy members who have a long history in the film industry, you are now punishing me for a lack of consistent employment, when it is beyond my own ability to cast myself or even find representation who can get me into the meetings and auditions these days for quality roles and films in the first place.

I have careers in music and writing and I chose to stay home for several years when my two children, who have both worked as actors in major studio feature films, were young. I don’t see why that should now render my vote unworthy.

I’m deeply saddened and disappointed by the actions the Academy has taken, without any discussion first amongst the members, to capitulate to a handful of whiners who threaten to “boycott” by not dressing up, walk the red carpet and sit in the audience because they feel the actors branch didn’t do our jobs of nominating candidates for Oscars this year to their personal satisfaction.

The nomination process is not racist. Surely you realize that members of the Academy don’t get together in clandestine meetings to discuss who they’re going to nominate or not nominate. Personally, I was shocked that neither Michael Caine or Harvey Keitel received a nomination for their excellent work in “Youth”, but I certainly don’t consider it a deliberate slight because they’re senior citizen Caucasians.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 28, 1813 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen was published.
  • January 28, 1977 – Stephen King’s The Shining is published.
  • January 28, 1986 – The space shuttle Challenger blew up shortly after launch, killing all seven crew members: Christa McAuliffe, a New Hampshire high school teacher, Ronald McNair, Hughes Aircraft Co. satellite engineer Gregory Jarvis, commander Francis “Dick” Scobee, pilot Michael Smith, flight engineer Judy Resnik and Ellison Onizuka.

Soon afterwards, Ray Bradbury discussed the disaster with Nightline host Ted Koppel.

 

Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted a poetic memorial.

https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/692776305411096577/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

A memorial service was held today at the Kennedy Space Center. The “Time of Remembrance” will mark the 49th anniversary of the 1967 Apollo launch pad fire that killed Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee on Jan. 27, 1967; the 30th anniversary of Challenger’s loss on Jan. 28, 1986; and the 13th anniversary of the Columbia shuttle disaster on Feb. 1, 2003, that killed commander Rick Husband, pilot William McCool, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, David Brown, Michael Anderson and Israeli flier Illan Ramon.

(10) NEITHER SNOW NOR SLEET. “How ‘Arrow’ Actor Stephen Amell And His Costars Handled A Canceled Convention”

The “Arrow” cast knows how to make the best out of a bad situation. The snowstorm forced Heroes and Villains Fan Fest to cancel the Saturday portion of their event, but many people were already at hotels near the Meadowlands Convention Center in Secaucus, New Jersey — including several celebrity guests. Cast members from “Arrow” and “The Flash” were nearby, so they didn’t let the snow stop them from meeting with fans.

In the afternoon, the stars wandered down to the lobbies of their hotels to meet their snowed in fans. John Barrowman (Malcolm Merlyn on “Arrow”) posted a video on Facebook with fans in his hotel and said that he and Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen on “Arrow”) were doing the same thing at separate hotels.

(11) WHO SAID THAT? “The Voice Actors of The Force Awakens” identifies the actors’ specific contributions. SPOILERS PROBABLE.

You may have seen a section in the credits of The Force Awakens titled “Additional Voices,” with some familiar names listed. But who or what did all those familiar names play? I’m happy to finally reveal everyone below, running through the film chronologically. (There are also a couple of actor cameos in there that shall remain nameless (for now).)

(12) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Kate Paulk told Mad Genius Club readers “The List” will be out in March. She also previewed a coming attraction:

Tune in tomorrow for a guest post by the fascinating Ben Yalow with more information about the history of the Hugo categories.

(13) KNOW THE SHADOW. Ricky Whittle of “The 100” has been cast as Shadow in Starz TV’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

Gaiman said in a statement, “I’m thrilled that Ricky has been cast as Shadow. His auditions were remarkable. The process of taking a world out of the pages of a book, and putting it onto the screen has begun. ‘American Gods’ is, at its heart, a book about immigrants, and it seems perfectly appropriate that Shadow will, like so much else, be Coming to America. I’m delighted Ricky will get to embody Shadow. Now the fun starts.”

(14) HOLY CERTIORI! “Supreme Court asked to consider Batmobile copyright case” reports Comic Book Resources.

A manufacturer of unlicensed Batmobile replicas has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether Batman’s signature vehicle is indeed protected by copyright.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mark Towle of Gotham Garage filed a writ of certiorari today asking the justices to review his nearly five-year-old dispute with DC Comics.

Towle, who produced replicas of  the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles that sold for as much as $90,000 each, was sued in 2011 by DC, which claimed copyright and trademark infringement, trademark counterfeiting and unfair competition.

[Thanks to Brian Z., Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Soon Lee, and Steven H Silver for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 10/22 No Certain Elk

(1) Nick Skywalker’s touch of genius —

(2) Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow is teasing plans for a sequel. Cinema Blend says here’s what to expect:

It all has to do with what B.D. Wong’s Dr. Wu said in this summer’s blockbuster: “We’re not always going to be the only ones who can make a dinosaur.” In an interview with Wired U.K., Trevorrow said he found that to be an interesting idea:

What if this went open source? It’s almost like InGen is Mac, but what if PC gets their hands on it? What if there are 15 different entities around the world who can make a dinosaur?

Though Trevorrow admits this isn’t really covered in the original movie, it’s something in which he sees potential for growth. Looking back to the first Jurassic Park film, we saw Wayne Knight’s Dennis Nedrey attempt to steel the genetic material from dinosaurs and smuggle them off the island for a third party. While he didn’t succeed, this seems to be along the same lines that Trevorrow is talking about.

(3) Tom Galloway: “Seems Mark Zuckerberg’s project for this year was to read a lot of books (for values of “lot” that amounts to one every two weeks. Well, he is busy). There’s a Facebook page to serve as an online book club for them, and the latest choice is the Hugo-winning Three Body Problem.”

(4) David Gerrold has made his novelette “Entanglements,” published in the May/June issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, a free read via Dropbox. [PDF file]

(5) Aya de Leon’s article “Space Babe Fantasies: On Geoff Marcy and Sexism in Science and Sci-Fi” for The Toast begins with a headline example of harassment, and moves on to comment about the genre, including three paragraphs about Sad Puppies.

Last Thursday, my colleagues and I received an email from the Chancellor of UC Berkeley informing us that Marcy had resigned. A panel had found that he had sexually harassed female students for nearly a decade. According to Azeen Ghorayshi, the reporter who broke the story for BuzzFeed, Marcy’s great success was part of the reason why his pattern of harassment went unchallenged. As Ghorayshi explained, “Marcy’s is the rare ilk of scientific research that is capable of both reaching the peak of his field and capturing the public imagination.”

Ghorayshi lays out in painful detail how Marcy’s behavior was both widespread and well known; her article documents incidents of alleged misconduct with female colleagues dating back to the 1980s. BuzzFeed also noted that “UC Berkeley is currently under federal investigation for its handling of dozens of sexual violence complaints on campus.”

(6) Adam-Troy Castro offers an analogy in “Enough With the Fershlugginer Chocolate Cake, Already”.

Look, I’m going to explain this in terms you might be able to understand.

I like chocolate cake just fine.

I think chocolate cake is one of the things that makes life worth living.

As a fat guy, I not only return to chocolate cake more often than is healthy for me, but can actually wax rhapsodic about great slices of chocolate cake from my past.

I’m perfectly capable of sitting down with you and geeking out over chocolate cake.

But I can’t eat just chocolate cake.

(7) And apparently you can’t drink Pepsi Perfect either.

“Back to the Future” fans had hoped to be sipping a Pepsi Perfect by now, but most of them are making sad eyes at their computers after facing a fast sellout of a special release of the bottles.

Fans have been waiting for this day ever since the 1989 sequel, when Marty McFly and Doc Brown arrived in the future on October 21, 2015. In honor of the film, Pepsi decided to make 6,500 limited-edition bottles of Pepsi Perfect available.

Pepsi Perfect makes a cameo appearance at an ’80s-theme cafe in the future. Fans got extra-excited about the prospect of owning it because it feels both iconic and attainable (selling for $20.15, about £13, AU$28). The release date? October 21, 2015, naturally.

Now imagine the stress when Back to the Futurites discovered that some of the Pepsi Perfect bottles went on sale early and that other people had snapped them up. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it. Here’s a selection of what they said:

Amazon reviewer Pissed AF wrote: “I am SO upset!! This didn’t even pop up in the search! And you released it a whole hours early? Are you kidding me?????????” This is currently the top most-helpful review on the Pepsi Perfect Amazon page.

(8) Notes Adweek: “During his stay in the future, McFly often references a copy of USA Today, which was created specifically for the movie. To celebrate the occasion, USA Today wrapped its paper in a replica of the movie edition.”

(9) Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd rolled onto the set of Jimmy Kimmel Live in a classic DeLorean and got a standing ovation just for showing up.

(10) Today’s Birthday Boys

  • October 22, 1938 — Christopher Lloyd
  • October 22, 1952 — Jeff Goldblum

(11) Now for something completely different. Entertainment.ie names its “Top 10 Time Travel Movies That Aren’t Back To The Future”

(12) How It Should Have Ended – why Big Hero 6 should have been a lot shorter.

(13) James H. Burns praises the Mets’ broadcast crew:

Another reason for those who admire near Hall of Fame first baseman Keith Hernandez (famous for his stints with the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets), now a long time Mets broadcaster, to like him:  In the local post game after the Mes clinched the National League title, when talking about first baseman Luca Duda, “We’ve seen him go from the depths of Mordor, to the heights of the Swiss Alps…”

Frequently, during unusual moments in Mets seasons past, Hernandez and lead broadcaster Gary Cohen, and former Mets pitcher Ron Darling (also a broadcaster with TBS), will discuss ancient Saturday mornings, and cartoons; CHILLER THEATRE; Kurt Vonnegut, and puppet shows….

(14) An artist used Google Street View to visit all the places in Around the World in 80 Days and created postcards of those places.

(15) Mark Kelly in Part 4 of his “Rereading Isaac Asimov”  series comments —

“Nightfall” is still, I would guess, Asimov’s most popular story, though it was one of his earliest stories, and one which Asimov came to resent — he felt that he must have improved as a writer over the subsequent decades (the story was published in 1941, just two years after his first-published story) — and was perplexed by how fans kept gravitating to this early story.

(16) Gregory N. Hullender touts a new article, “The Locus Reading List and Hugo Awards” at Rocket Stack Rank.

This new article looks for selection bias in Locus Recommended Reading List short fiction over the past fifteen years. We found that although stories from the reading list regularly make up about 70% of Hugo-nominated stories, there doesn’t seem to be any actual bias, either in terms of which sources they come from or in terms of the authors.

So while we can’t speak for how good a job Locus does with novels, we don’t find any obvious problems with their recommendations for short fiction.

(17) Really funny compilation of comics bloopers from Mental Floss.

Here are some classic screw-ups, printing errors, and unfortunate coincidences that have graced the pages of comic books and newspaper strips over the years.

(18) We end with a serious fan edit of what Han Solo sees before his eyes when he tells Rey and Finn about the past in the new trailer for The Force Awakens.

[Thanks to Tom Galloway, Steven H Silver, James H. Burns, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Back to Another Future

Mets and Cubs COMPBy James H. Burns: With all this talk of Christopher Lloyd and Back To The Future,  I’m reminded of a story.

And besides, today is the supremely talented actor’s seventy-seventh birthday.

Eight years ago, I met Lloyd, but it was a hardly a flux capacitor moment…

Or perhaps it was!

Some years prior, theatre veteran Jeff Gardner had the idea to turn the movie Grumpy Old Men into a musical. The producer enlisted composer Neil Berg, lyricist Nick Meglin, and book writer Dan Remmes to adapt Mark Steven Johnson’s original screenplay.

(Mad Magazine fans will find it fun to remember that Meglin had been on the humor publication’s editorial staff for forty-eight years!)

The musical had two early backers auditions in November of 2007, with something of an all star-cast:  legendary Broadway star George Hearn and Lloyd as the leads, with Adrienne Barbeau, Carol Kane, Conrad John Schuck and Garrett Morris. The cast performed a “reading” of the new musical, in what is essentially known as a concert setting, with no costumes or props, in a large room at the New 42nd Street Studios.

Grumpy Old Men Cast

I don’t think, under usual circumstances, I would have sought Lloyd out, after the performance.  I generally don’t visit actors backstage after a Broadway or Off Broadway play.  I think it’s an imposition upon their time, unless they’re a friend.

(There are theatre people who highly disagree with me about this policy, and actually believe it’s also a good career move to be seen backstage after a show.)

There is one caveat to all this:  IF you’re pretty sure an acquaintance has spotted you in the audience, from the stage, then you have to visit, even if you have the best of intentions of not wanting to otherwise bother them!  (After one rendition of Hamlet, at a nice, but small Off Broadway space, I had to wait for a while to say hi to the production’s Ophelia…  She had smiled, “Hello,” if I recall correctly, just before her mad scene….)

But something odd had happened, after The Grumpy Old Men reading finished. George Hearn, who I’d run into at the erstwhile, and wonderful, Barrymore’s Broadway restaurant bid welcome, and some folks I knew from the theatre scene  came over to chat, as well as one gentleman whom I’d be stunned if he actually  remembered me:

Suddenly, Garrett Morris had me in the greatest, and friendliest and happiest of embraces!

Now, I HAD interviewed Garrett, twenty-eight years earlier, when he was starring on Saturday Night Live, in his dressing room at NBC, on a Saturday evening, at around 5:30… We had a nice time, and even chatted about Star Trek which, he said, would usually be on his TV, in repeats…

(“Jim, there’s a planet where women are in charge?” he asked me, laughing.  “That doesn’t sound like a particularly good idea…”)

I don’t think there’s any way he actually knew me.  I thought it was just another one of those situations where my having a familiar face had prompted a nice response!

(Morris, by the way, has had the most remarkable of second careers, guest-starring on a number of series, and appearing as a regular on Two Broke Girls.)

But there was some interesting mojo and charisma going on in the New 42nd Street Studios, perhaps simply from an excitement over what many felt had been a terrific musical, and performance.

The door to the side room that was being used as an informal gathering spot for the cast opened, and I decided to compliment Christopher Lloyd.

I walked in, said, “Hello,” and Lloyd looked speechless, absolutely stunned.

I talked about the show, and Lloyd continued to look flabbergasted.  He may have mumbled a few words, but he was seemingly so uncomfortable that with as much cheer and good will as I could express, I wished him a great rest of the day.

He hadn’t been rude.

It was just an odd encounter!

About a year later, the musical had a developmental workshop in New York, with some cast changes, including F. Murray Abraham and Marilu Henner in the Lloyd and Barbeau roles. The musical, which still has its sights set on Broadway, got its world premiere at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg in 2011, starring John Rubinstein and Susan Anton, with Shuck now “promoted” to the other top part.)

But there was an interesting denouement to the Lloyd tale…..

About a year later, I finally read Walter Koenig’s autobiography. I had known Walter since 1976, but had been out of touch for a number of years.  I was about to discuss some business and film ideas with him, and figured I should refresh my memory.

Koenig, it turns out, went to acting school, with Christopher Lloyd, at the Neighborhood Playhouse, in Manhattan.   (Another of their classmates was James Caan…)

Koenig and Caan some years after the Neighborhood Playhouse, starring in Harlan Ellison's "A Memo From Purgatory," on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, in 1964

Koenig and Caan some years after the Neighborhood Playhouse, starring in Harlan Ellison’s “A Memo From Purgatory,” on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, in 1964

Lloyd and Koenig had been compadres, but hadn’t seen each other in ages.

After a performance, somewhere, Koenig went to say hello to his old “college friend.”

And got essentially the same reaction I had received, some years later

(Perhaps this was somewhere on the set of Star Trek III in which Lloyd played Klingon Commander Kruge, although the actors shared no scenes together.)

I told Walter what had happened, and suggested that perhaps the otherwise amenable Lloyd just possessed an odd quirk.

Koenig still didn’t seem happy. Not everyone, of course, has a sharp memory, or perceives in the way one would presume.

But it’s intriguing to ponder an overhead shot, of those acting school days on New York City’s Upper East Side, with the future Mr. Chekov and Doc Brown hobnobbing, and Rollerball’s Jonathan Eden (not to mention Alien Nation’s Detective Matthew Sykes)  somewhere on the block.

Happily, all the actors had many other roles of note, as well.