Hugh Hefner (1926-2017)

Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner died at home September 27 of natural causes. He was 91. While the magazine’s primary appeal was nude pictures of women and sex-oriented features, Playboy was also known for its cultural and political articles, and for fiction.

If you carefully look through the wrong end of the telescope, you can focus on Hefner’s and Playboy’s impressive record of publishing science fiction.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction explains that as a young man Hefner was an avid reader of Weird Tales. Once he started Playboy, the editors responsible for selecting its fiction likewise had a taste for sf/f – particularly Ray Russell, Robie MacAuley, and Alice K Turner.

Playboy serialized Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in 1954, and over the years published short stories by Charles Beaumont, Robert Sheckley, Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter, Dan Simmons, Lucius Shepard, Terry Bisson, Robert Silverberg, Howard Waldrop, Joe Haldeman, J.G.Ballard, Frederik Pohl, and many others.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Nine Lives” (1969) was the first story by a woman published in Playboy, according to the Internet Science Fiction Database — although it appeared under the name U. K. Le Guin.

In 1998, Turner edited an anthology of science fiction published in the magazine, The Playboy Book of Science Fiction.

The Washington Post’s obituary documents Hefner’s reputation as a defender of First Amendment civil rights, and reproductive rights, and someone who believed gay rights were part of the sexual revolution he advocated, as shown early on by Playboy’s 1955 publication of Charles Beaumont’s “The Crooked Man” —

“The Crooked Man” depicted a dystopian future where homosexuality was the norm, heterosexuality was outlawed and angry anti-straight mobs marched through the street chanting “make our city clean again!” Even the relatively progressive Esquire magazine had rejected the piece because it was too controversial.

But Beaumont found a fan in a young Hugh Hefner, who agreed to run it in his Playboy magazine, then less than two years old.

Outraged letters poured in to Playboy. Even readers of the pioneering nude publication found Beaumont’s tale of straight people dressing in drag and sneaking into dark barrooms to find partners too offensive for their tastes.

Hefner responded to the backlash in a defiant note. “If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society,” he wrote, “then the reverse was wrong, too.”

Hefner was friends with Ray Bradbury. On Ray’s 90th birthday, Hefner hosted a party for him at the Writers Guild. Buzz Aldrin was there, too. John King Tarpinian helped get Bradbury back and forth. John took these photos, and wrote a little about the party in another post.

Ray Bradbury and Hugh Hefner

Ray Bradbury and Buzz Aldrin in 2010.

Tarpinian says, “Because of Ray, I did get to say I bought the magazine for the articles.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge and Greg Hullender for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 3/18/17 Your Mother Was A Scroller And Your Father Smelt Of Pixelberries

(1) CLARIFICATION. In my report about Sunil Patel the other day I conflated two separate social media comments that were each about two different newly-published Patel stories that came out very recently.

Just before Twitter started circulating angry anti-Diabolical Plots tweets (because of the story published there), there had been a complaint about Patel’s story “The Tragedy of the Dead Is They Cannot Cry” in Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge, view-able from the front page.

Whether or not Galaxy’s Edge can accurately be called “sad-puppy-adjacent,” it makes more sense that somebody might apply the label there than to David Steffen, who published the Long List anthologies as a very deliberate middle finger to the Puppies.

(2) MORE THAN HEY YOU. Steven Brust on “Fantasy Writing and Titles of Nobility”.

For Americans there is an element of the romantic and the exotic about titles of nobility, about Baron Soandso, or Count Thisandsuch, that I suspect is missing, or at any rate different, for who were raised in places where a feudal aristocracy was part of history..  In reality, the feudal landlords were vicious bloodsuckers—when not for personal reasons, than simply because of the nature of the property relations that ultimately defined everyone’s life.  What I am not about to do is suggest is that American fantasy writers ignore the exotic and romantic elements—your readers have them in their heads, and unless you see your job is primarily pedagogical (which I do not), what is in the reader’s head is key: it is easier to play with the reader’s head if you work with what you know is rattling around in there.

(3) RACISM TAKES EXTRA WORK. Justina Ireland offers one more reason why “Writing is Hard: Racism in a Fantasy Landscape”. The excerpt covers the first of her four points.

I touched on the idea of dismantling racism within a fantasy setting on twitter earlier this week.  Authors, especially white authors, like to tackle ideas of racism within fantasy settings by creating fake races for the point of view characters to be racist against.  This seems like a good idea in theory, but it is actually harder than just writing fantasy cultures that have a correlation to real world cultures and deconstructing real world racism within a fantasy setting.

Here’s why:

  1. You have to teach a reader about the power structures in your fantasy world. And then deconstruct them.  Part of writing fantasy is about teaching a reader how to read your book.  This involves setting up scenes that illustrate the possible outcomes that can exist in your fantasy world.  Can your characters use magic? Great, now you have to show the reader the price of that magic, or the societal ramifications of that magic.  But you also will have to do that for the racism against the made up races within your book.  So creating a made up race creates more work to be done on the page.

(4) A BETTER TANGLED WEB. Aidan Doyle begins his explanation of the Twine program in “Writer’s Guide to Twine” at the SFWA Blog.

Twine was created by Chris Klimas in 2009 and is “an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories.” Simply put, it’s a program that makes it easier for writers to make their own “Choose Your Own Adventure” style fiction. There are a number of tools for writing interactive fiction, but Twine is one of the simplest and most popular.

Interactive Fiction (IF) comes in many forms, including text-based parser games such as Zork where the player types in commands (Go north. Eat chocolate. Talk to green wizard). If you want to make this style of game, then Inform is probably your best option. Ken Liu’s Clockwork Soldier is an example of a traditional story which has IF-like commands embedded within it.

In contrast, stories written in Twine generally present the reader with choices in the form of hypertext links. Although there are many systems available for writing IF, Twine in particular has been celebrated for its ease of use. Twine is more focused on stories as opposed to games and produces HTML files, allowing anyone with a modern browser to read your story.

(5) BERRY OBIT. Rock’n roll legend Chuck Berry passed away today.

(6) THE FORCE IN ARIZONA. Phoenix public radio station KJZZ had a six-minute piece about Jedi-ism’s rise. (Listen at the link.)

The Star Wars universe has been a vital part of popular culture for more than 40 years, and that passion was renewed by the box-office smash “The Force Awakens.”

And thousands of people have decided that they want the force to be with them, even when they’re not watching one of the films.

They have decided to practice Jedi-ism. And here with me to explain its tenets and more is Jodie Vann, an instructor in ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

(7) MONOPOLY BROKEN. Or improved. It alll depends on how you feel about the change.

The boot has been booted, the wheelbarrow has been wheeled out, and the thimble got the thumbs down in the latest version of the board game Monopoly. In their place will be a Tyrannosaurus rex, a penguin and a rubber ducky.

More than 4.3 million voters from 146 countries weighed in on which tokens they wanted to see in future versions of the property-acquisition game, which is based on the real-life streets of Atlantic City. Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based Hasbro announced the winners Friday morning.

(8) QUANTUM OF STROLLERS. Bruce Arthurs came across some of these “quantum physics for babies” books by Chris Ferrie listed on Goodreads Giveaways and thought they might be quirky enough for a Pixel Scroll mention: Books.

Quantum Physics for Babies is a colorfully simple introduction to the principle which gives quantum physics its name. Baby will find out that energy is “quantized” and the weird world of atoms never comes to a stand still. It is never too early to become a quantum physicist!

The author, Chris Ferrie, is an actual quantum theorist who self-published the original Quantum Physics For Babies; surprise, it took off well enough Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (childrens books division of Sourcebooks) will be coming out with an entire series starting in May.

Ferrie’s recently-started blog is fun too. Here’s an excerpt from “Milking a new theory of physics”:

For the first time, physicists have found a new fundamental state of cow, challenging the current standard model. Coined the cubic cow, the ground-breaking new discovery is already re-writing the rules of physics.

A team of physicists at Stanford and Harvard University have nothing to do with this but you are probably already impressed by the name drop. Dr. Chris Ferrie, who is currently between jobs, together with a team of his own children stumbled upon the discovery, which was recently published in Nature Communications*.

The spherical theory of cow had stood unchallenged for over 50 years—and even longer if a Russian physicist is reading this. The spherical cow theory led to many discoveries also based on O(3) symmetries. However, spherical cows have not proven practically useful from a technological perspective. “Spherical cows are prone to natural environmental errors, whereas our discovery digitizes the symmetry of cow,” Ferrie said.

(9) MORE MARS BUZZ. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the Moon, has launched a virtual reality movie detailing his plan to get humans to Mars. The BBC has the video — Buzz Aldrin takes you to Mars in VR.

The film – Cycling Pathways to Mars – lasts just under 10 minutes and features the astronaut as a hologram narrating the experience.

Mr Aldrin’s plan involves using the moons of Earth and Mars essentially as pitstops for people travelling to and from the Red Planet – a trip that will take about six months each way.

(10) FOR THE ROUND FILE. Chip Hitchcock says, “If you thought the jet-boarder wasn’t extreme enough, somebody pushing circular runways. He says it’s to prevent crosswind landings — but airports that could afford such a mishegoss can certainly afford enough runways to avoid this hazard, and as a former lightplane pilot (who had to learn about heavy ops to get an instrument rating) I see so many things wrong with this idea.”

(11) IN A COMMA. The BBC notices the Oxford-comma case, and provides several other examples of expensive errors in comma use.

(12) FROM BBC TO BB-8. “Droids Interrupt Darth Vader Interview” is a parody of the “Children Interrupt BBC Interview” viral video.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Bruce Arthurs, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Gregory N. Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 2/4/17 Scroll Was Born With A Gift Of Pixel And A Sense That The World Was Mad

(1) SINCE THERE’S NOTHING ON TV TOMORROW. MeTV has located several downloadable designs for making Star Trek ships from paper that you can use to keep yourself busy on Sunday if football is not your thing.

In Japan, the art of paper modeling is commonplace. Companies like Sankei sell miniature papercraft kits for building everything from cartoon creatures to houses and vehicles. Here in the West, it has started to catch on, as fans use two-dimensional paper to recreate three-dimensional models of their favorite characters, props and even spaceships.

In the Sixties, you might recall, we had rather simple coloring books, sticker books and paper dolls. Now, this has gone to a whole new level. Better yet, fans have created patterns anyone can print up and assemble for free. (We recommend spending for some high quality photo paper, though.)

As fans find new ways to engineer this craft, no subject is left out of the mix. Star Trek, naturally, remains a mainstay of the craze, but just about any classic sci-fi show you can think of has papercraft models available for download. We found Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea submarines and the Jupiter 2 from Lost in Space….

We hunted down some favorites, if you are so inclined to give it a try. You can print and build:

The Galileo II Shuttle (instructions, template)

USS Enterprise NCC-1701

Kirk and Spock (template)

(2) MARS MY DESTINATION. Abraham Sherman of The John Carter Files tells why Elon Musk has him feeling more optimistic about reaching the Red Planet – “Home Sweet Mars”.

…Currently, the next milestone on SpaceX’s path to Mars is for them to finish and launch the Falcon Heavy (FH) rocket, the first of their rockets that will have sufficient power to get spacecraft to Mars.  After the FH gets off the ground late this year, the next milestone will be in 2018, when the unmanned Red Dragon capsule is to be launched atop a FH, and sent to test propulsive landing on Mars – a technique which forgoes parachutes and airbags and is entirely dependent on the built-in boosters of the capsule.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Pm8ZY0XJI  The Red Dragon mission is the small tip of a much larger spear which was described in detail during Musk’s presentation at the IAC.

The SpaceX flagship for Mars colonization will be the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qo78R_yYFA  It will be the largest rocket ever built, and will be able to take one hundred Mars colonists at a time to the Red Planet.  It is in the design phase, and is currently scheduled to make its maiden voyage in 2024.  Once the colony is up and running and can accommodate massive numbers of new colonists at a time, the plan is to send dozens, or even hundreds of ITS spacecraft simultaneously to Mars.  SpaceX has proven to be uniquely motivated and situated to get to Mars several years ahead of any other organization, public or private….

(3) MOONWALKING. Famous astronaut “87-Year-Old Buzz Aldrin Slays The Runway At New York Fashion Week” reports The Huffington Post.

Buzz Aldrin took to the catwalk Tuesday in a New York Fashion Week debut he said was “as easy as walking on the moon.”

The 87-year-old astronaut ? who in 1969 became the second person to walk on the moon ? sported a metallic bomber jacket in designer Nick Graham’s show, aptly titled “Life on Mars.”

Aldrin couldn’t have looked cuter in his pants, sneakers and self-designed “Get your ass to Mars” shirt.

(4) JUST NEEDS A LITTLE SMACK. Ursula K. Le Guin took offense at a letter to the editor published by The Oregonian attempting to justify political “alternate facts” as akin to science fiction. Her rebuttal appeared on February 1:

A recent letter in The Oregonian compares a politician’s claim to tell “alternative facts” to the inventions of science fiction. The comparison won’t work.  We fiction writers make up stuff. Some of it clearly impossible, some of it realistic, but none of it real – all invented, imagined —  and we call it fiction because it isn’t fact. We may call some of it “alternative history” or “an alternate universe,” but make absolutely no pretense that our fictions are “alternative facts.”

Facts aren’t all that easy to come by. Honest scientists and journalists, among others, spend a lot of time trying to make sure of them.  The test of a fact is that it simply is so – it has no “alternative.”  The sun rises in the east.  To pretend the sun can rise in the west is a fiction, to claim that it does so as fact (or “alternative fact”) is a lie.

A lie is a non-fact deliberately told as fact.  Lies are told in order to reassure oneself, or to fool, or scare, or manipulate others. Santa Claus is a fiction.  He’s harmless. Lies are seldom completely harmless, and often very dangerous.  In most times, most places, by most people, liars are considered contemptible.

Ursula K. Le Guin, Northwest Portland

(5) NOW I UNDERSTAND. James Whitbrook of i09 explains “The Detailed, Depressing Reason Deep Space Nine and Voyager May Never Get Full HD Versions”.

…By the mid-1980s, video technology had advanced enough to the point that many TV shows—including Star Trek: The Next Generation—were no longer editing the 35mm film footage, but scanning it into computers, transforming it into the lower, TV-friendly resolution and edited from there to save money. In TNG’s case, that helped make the VFX work on the show easier, but it also meant there all the show’s film was left in separate pieces. Essentially, for the HD release of Star Trek, all people had to do was scan each episode. For The Next Generation, they would have to scan all those original pieces of film and then edit together each episode again, themselves. It’s more difficult, more expensive, and much more time-consuming.

What’s amazing is that they actually did this for TNG’s Blu-ray release, which was a radical, unprecedented, and incredibly daunting task. Following the edited tape versions that were originally broadcast, a new team painstakingly recreated every episode of the show from the 35mm film footage, a process that cost millions and millions of dollars. But as TNG is the jewel in the Star Trek crown for legions of fans, it was seen as worth it….

(6) NOT SCI-FI, BUT OH WOW! John King Tarpinian spied this item for sale —

(7) DON’T KNOW WHAT TO CALL THIS ONE. Atlas Obscura’s video about Wisconsin’s House on the Rock makes me want to visit. As a connoisseur of hoaxes, I wish I’d discovered it years ago!

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 4, 1940  Filmmaker and zombie auteur George A. Romero, in NYC.

(9) HORROR IN SPACE. Here is the Super Bowl TV Spot for the forthcoming movie Life. Looks interesting, in a menacing sort of way…

(10) URBAN WRIGHTS. Futurism shows six examples of what architects think “The City of the Future” will look like.

…Architects and urban planners are letting their imaginations run wild — after all, where else can we go but toward our most outlandish, exciting, and sometimes even dystopian imaginings of the future?

Artisanopolis

For five years now, the Seasteading Institute has been working toward building Artisanolopolis, a floating city that runs on solar and hydroelectric power.

To make food production sustainable, the entire city would feature greenhouses, and a desalination plant would be responsible for the production of safe drinking water. The floating island would be protected by a massive wave breaker designed to prevent water damage to the structure.

Last year, the Seastanding Institute signed a memorandum with the French Polynesian government to begin construction on this ocean domain by 2019. If everything goes according to plan, the world’s first floating city, operating with significant political autonomy, may be ready for habitation as early as 2020.

(11) MEMORY GAPS. Unlike me, the staff at MeTV seems to remember all “15 forgotten sci-fi and fantasy series of the 1970s”. The question is – which of us is better off?

Time Express

1979

Charlie’s Angels creators Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts failed to strike gold again with this nostalgic flop. Think of it as Fantasy Island with time travel. Vincent Price starred as the conductor of a time-traveling train that would take passengers to the past in order to relive important points in their lives. Only four episodes aired before it was canceled. The synthesizer-heavy theme song was cool, though, clearly inspired by Kraftwerk’s “Trans Europe Express.”

(12) NASFiC NEWS. NorthAmeriCon ’17, the NASfiC in San Juan, has opened Art Show registration.

NorthAmeriCon ’17 will have an Art Show! We welcome original art on science fiction, fantasy, astronomical, or fannish themes.

Registration for artists is now open through Jo Hogan’s website for managing artist data:

(13) AN ENCOURAGING WORD. NASA’s Kepler & K2 SciCon IV convention for scientists has a Code of Conduct, too. Thoughts?

Code of Conduct

The community of participants at astronomical meetings and in astronomical research is made up of members from around the globe with a diverse set of skills, personalities, and experiences. It is through these differences that our community experiences success and continued growth. We expect everyone in our community to follow these guidelines when interacting with others both inside and outside of our community. Our goal is to maintain a positive, inclusive, successful, and growing community.

As members of the community,

  • We pledge to treat all people with respect and provide a harassment and bullying-free environment, regardless of sex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, nationality, ethnicity, and religion. In particular, sexual language and imagery, sexist, racist, or otherwise exclusionary jokes are not appropriate. We will treat those outside our community with the same respect as people within our community.
  • We pledge that all discussions between members of the community should be done with respect, and we pledge to take proactive measure to ensure that all participants are heard and feel confident that they can freely express their opinions.
  • We pledge to help the entire community follow the code of conduct and to act accordingly when we note violations.

This code of conduct applies to all community situations, including conferences, associated social events, on social media, and one-on-one interactions….

(14) SEE PROPS OF THE EXPANSE. Adam Savage visits the props department of Syfy’s The Expanse, where armorists and propmakers engineer the weapons, helmets, and the gear that give weight and story to the universe of the show. Prop master James Murray shows Adam some of the unique props his team has made, revealing aesthetic and functional details.

[Thanks to JJ, Andrew Porter, David K.M. Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]

Pixel Scroll 12/10/16 The Scroll’s My Destination

(1) WIRE TOWN. The UK’s Daily Mail ran a photo gallery, “A city balancing on The Wire: Eerie pictures capture the lonely beauty of Baltimore’s Street corners at night revealing another side to its crime-ravaged neighborhoods”, and contrary to what you might expect from a collection with that title, the first picture is of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society clubhouse.

(2) MY LUNGS REMEMBER SASQUAN. The Darwin Award candidates responsible for the wildfires during Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon, have been sentenced. “Vancouver men who started wildfire ordered to pay state $2.3 million” reports The Oregonian.

Three Vancouver men responsible for setting fire to 110 acres of forest in southwestern Washington have been ordered to pay the state more than $2.3 million in firefighting costs.

The Daily News reports Nathan Taylor was sentenced Monday and all three defendants were ordered to pay damages the state Department of Natural Resources.

Court documents say the fire started July 19, 2015 after Taylor, his brother Adrian Taylor and Michael Estrada Cardenas used propane tanks and soda cans for target practice near Woodland.

(3) ESCAPE FROM SAN QUENTIN. The Public Domain Review has “Astral Travels With Jack London”, a lengthy discussion of Jack London’s great 1914 sf novel The Star Rover. Jack London died in November 1916.

London’s sole foray into the realm of science fiction and fantasy is simultaneously a hard-bitten, minimalist monologue about life in solitary confinement and an exuberant tour of the universe. The book’s narrator, Darrell Standing, moves disarmingly from the agony of his confinement in a strait-jacket to his travel amidst the stars equipped with a glass wand that allows him to access an infinity of past lives, including a fourth-century hermit, a shipwrecked seal-hunter, a medieval swordsman, and a confidant of Pontius Pilate. It is a novel about sensory deprivation in a shared reality, and sensory overload in a private one.

This is a deeply eclectic book. It borrows liberally from the forebears of the fantasy genre: fairy stories, Norse legend, Greek myths. But it also manages to include feuding UC Berkeley scientists, “dope fiends,” Neolithic hunter-gatherers, kimchi, and a journalistic exposé of the modern prison system. The bizarre multiplicity is precisely the point. London’s narrative does many things, but it always seems to circle back to the question of how the worlds encompassed within a single consciousness can interfere with the shared reality of modern society. As we hurtle towards a near future of immersive virtual reality and unceasing digital connectedness, The Star Rover has much to tell us.

(4) NEIL GAIMAN IS THE PRIZE. A reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” by Neil Gaiman is a Worldbuilders Fundraising Reward.

The Worldbuilders charity passed its stretch goal of a million dollars, so I lit a whole bunch of candles, put on a coat once worn by a dead brother in the Stardust movie, and I read Edgar Allan Poe’s poem THE RAVEN by candlelight. You can donate to Worldbuilders at worldbuilders.org. And you should.

 

(5) NUMBER FIVE. The Traveler at Galactic Journey marvels at the recent development of radio astronomy in “[Dec. 10, 1961] By Jove! (Jupiter, the Fifth Planet)”.

In the last ten years or so, a brand new way of looking at Jupiter has been developed.  Light comes in a wide range of wavelengths, only a very small spectrum of which can be detected by the human eye.  Radio waves are actually a form of light, just with wavelengths much longer than we can see.  Not only can radio be used to communicate over long distances, but sensitive receivers can tell a lot about the universe.  It turns out all sorts of celestial objects emit radio waves.

Jupiter is one of those sources.  After this discovery, in 1955, astronomers began tracking the planet’s sporadic clicks and hisses.  It is a hard target because of all of the local interference, from the sun, our ionosphere, and man-made radio sources.  Still, scientists have managed to learn that Jupiter has an ionosphere, too, as well as a strong magnetic field with broad “Van Allen Belts.”  It also appears to be the only planet that broadcasts on the radio band.

Using radio, we will be able to learn much about King Jove long before the first spacecraft probes it (perhaps by 1970 or so).  It’s always good to remember that Space Age research can be done from home as well as in the black beyond.  While I am as guilty as the next fellow of focusing on satellite spectaculars, the bulk of astronomy is done with sounding rockets and ground-based telescopes – not to mention the inglorious drudgery of calculations and report-writing, universal to every science.

(6) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #14. The fourteenth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed coy of Impulse by Steven Gould.

Today’s auction comes from award-winning author and former SFWA president Steven Gould, who’s offering an autographed first edition hardcover copy of his novel IMPULSE, which is currently being developed for a pilot on YouTube Red.

About the Book:

Steven Gould returns to the world of his classic novel Jumper in Impulse.

Cent has a secret. She lives in isolation, with her parents, hiding from the people who took her father captive and tortured him to gain control over his ability to teleport, and from the government agencies who want to use his talent. Cent has seen the world, but only from the safety of her parents’ arms. She’s teleported more than anyone on Earth, except for her mother and father, but she’s never been able to do it herself. Her life has never been in danger.

Until the day when she went snowboarding without permission and triggered an avalanche. When the snow and ice thundered down on her, she suddenly found herself in her own bedroom. That was the first time.

(7) TOBLER’S PICKS. The Book Smugglers continue their year-end theme: “Smugglivus 2016: Books That Surprised Me (In a Good Way) by E. Catherine Tobler”. They published Tobler’s short story “The Indigo Mantis” earlier this year.

Bloodline, Claudia Gray

I did not expect to read another Star Wars novel in my lifetime; the expanded universe of books was never wholly my thing. I liked the Han Solo novels (A.C. Crispin) well enough, but could not get into the Thrawn books, or anything tackling Leia. And then, Bloodline showed up. Bloodline spends some time with Leia after Jedi and before The Force Awakens and let me say, I never realized how much I missed not seeing Leia be allowed to grieve over the loss of Alderran. Gray gives us that and much more, unpacking and exploring Leia’s marriage with Han Solo, and yes, her relationship to Darth Vader. Such a satisfying read.

(8) DEBRIS WHACKER. Finally somebody’s cleaning up space. From NPR, “Japan Sends Long Electric Whip Into Orbit, To Tame Space Junk”

A cable that’s as long as six football fields has been launched into orbit — and when it’s deployed, it’ll test an idea to knock out orbital debris. Japan’s space agency sent the electrodynamic tether into space along with supplies for the International Space Station.

Reels aboard the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kounotori 6 craft will deploy the 700-meter (2,296 feet) tether, essentially unspooling a clothesline in space that could help clean up the roughly 20,000 pieces of potentially hazardous space debris that are tracked by systems on Earth.

Those pieces of junk are dangerous enough on their own — but they can also generate thousands more smaller pieces of debris if they collide, creating even more risk to the space station and satellites orbiting the Earth.

With the official acronym of EDT (for electrodynamic tether), the Kounotori’s cable “is a promising candidate to deorbit the debris objects at low cost,” JAXA says.

(9) ONE THOUSAND AND ONE IRAQI DAYS. At NPR, Amal El-Mohtar reviews the Iraqi SF anthology: “’Iraq + 100’ Is Painful, But Don’t Look Away”.

Though a few of the stories — Alhaboby’s “Baghdad Syndrome,” Hassan’s “The Here and Now Prison,” and Ibrahim al-Marashi’s “Najufa” — are warm and hopeful, focused on love, family, and friendship, overall the collection hurts. Underlying these pieces are exhaustion, disgust, contempt, disillusionment, all of which Western readers of speculative fiction will no doubt find alienating; built into our narrative of fiction’s usefulness is a sense of healing, catharsis, nourishment that this collection resists. Thoughts of the future are rooted in the recent past and present, leeching poison from its earth, and what grows can’t be separated from that soil, as when Alhaboby writes “I knew that soon my vision would start to go the way the lights once did over Baghdad all those years ago … You see, if you’re a sufferer of Baghdad Syndrome, you know that nothing has ever driven us, or our ancestors, quite as much as the syndrome of loving Baghdad.”

(10) THE LONG WATCH. Former LASFS President, now thriving commercial actor, Ed Green appears in this spot beginning at :14 —

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 10, 2009 Avatar makes its world premiere.

(12) ALDRIN LEAVES NEW ZEALAND. He’s recovered from what ailed him at the South Pole — “Astronaut Buzz Aldrin heads home after stay in Christchurch hospital”.

Mr Aldrin’s manager, Christina Korp, tweeted a photo of him on the flight home, saying they hoped to return again.

“But next time for vacation and not evacuation,” she wrote.

Mr Aldrin began showing signs of altitude sickness, including low oxygen levels and congestion in his lungs, after reaching the South Pole.

“Once I was at sea level I began to feel much better,” he said last Sunday.

(13) ENGLISH EVOLVING BEFORE YOUR EYES. Thanks to everyone at work in the File 770 comment laboratory….

(14) HIGHEST BIDDER. Black Gate says the sale happened Friday on eBay — “Original Woodgrain Edition Dungeons and Dragons Box Set Sells For $22,100”.

(15) CHRISTMAS HORROR AND SHATNER – TOGETHER! Hampus Eckerman, inspired by a link in the last Pixel Scroll, decided to check online for more Christmas Horror movies. And he found the most horrific of al – one starring William Shatner(!)

In A Christmas Horror Story, Shatner is the DJ who sets the scene —

Interwoven stories that take place on Christmas Eve, as told by one festive radio host: A family brings home more than a Christmas tree, a student documentary becomes a living nightmare, a Christmas spirit terrorizes, Santa slays evil.

christmas-horror-story

(16) STAR TREK CHRISTMAS. Here’s how the franchise paid tribute to the Christmas season.

  • Captain Sisko & the DS9 Ensemble sing “Wonderful Deep Space Nine”

In the grand tradition of Star Trek captains singing holiday standards, for your consideration: “Wonderful Deep Space Nine” sung by Captain Sisko, Major Kira, Constable Odo, Lieutenant Commander Worf, Chief O’Brien, Congenial Barkeep Quark, Plain Simple Garak, and the rest of the Star Trek: DS9 ensemble. Special appearances by Morn, Martok, Moogie, and Vorta Iggy Pop.

 

  • Star Trek Voyager – Christmas 2008

The Voyager crew give their take on the 12 days of Christmas.

 

(17) ANIMAL MAGNETISM. The Jimmy Kimmel Show ran videos in which “Pets React to Star Wars Rogue One Trailer.”

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

Pixel Scroll 12/8/16 Let It Scroll, Let It Scroll, Let It Scroll

(1) X-WING. Hollywood decorating the neighborhood for the premiere of Rogue One. Robert Kerr’s photo shows a prop now on display curbside near the theater.

photo-by-robert-kerr-resized_20161208_170203-01

Yahoo! Movies ran a series of photos taken while the fighter was being hauled into position.

Star Wars has definitely landed in Hollywood.

Preparations for Saturday’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story premiere have already seen some big road closures on Hollywood Blvd. — and on Tuesday, an X-Wing was spotted in the area where the stars of the film will gather in a few days.

Pictures quickly spread on social media, as apparently keeping an X-Wing secret is even trickier than keeping plans for the Death Star under wraps.

The red-carpet premiere itself also prompted major road closures in Hollywood, with the X-Wing now clogging streets up further. Road closures will last until 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13.

(2) JAM ON MARS. Will Curiosity need Tommy John surgery? Seeker says “Curiosity’s Mars Drill Is Jammed”.

The Mars rover’s robotic arm-mounted drill appears to have malfunctioned and NASA has instructed the rover to hang tight while they find a solution.

Having your drill break down while you’re millions of miles from the nearest hardware store would be a bummer, but that is exactly what’s happened to NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity.

The rover, which is currently located at the lower slopes of the 3.4-mile-high Mount Sharp (officially known as Aeolis Mons), was supposed to carry out a drilling operation on a geologically interesting location on Dec. 1 when mission controllers got word that Curiosity was unable to complete its commands. Early indications show that the rover detected a fault with the “drill feed” mechanism that lowers the drill piece to the rocky sample and aborted the operation.

(3) AT HOME. The Chicago Reader visited a  popular sf author in her new (since 2012) neighborhood — “Mary Robinette Kowal makes puppets and writes in a 1913 building in the Ukranian Village”.

A fire is roaring in the fireplace and sprays of bright red winterberry adorn a vase on the deco mantel. The scent of hot cider wafts through the air. What Victorian-era storybook scene have I stepped into on this chilly, gray day in late November? It’s the home of Hugo Award–winning author, audiobook narrator, and professional puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal, a spacious and stately 1913 apartment in Ukrainian Village that she shares with her winemaker husband, Robert, and their two cats.

 

(4) RETURN OF RUTLAND WEEKEND TV. The Guardian ran this feature in August — “Ex-Python Eric Idle and Brian Cox to take on The Entire Universe for the BBC”. But now the BBC broadcast date is nearing.

Written by Idle, the one-hour show will feature the return of Rutland Weekend Television, the haphazard station depicted in Idle’s sketch show of the same name during the 1970s.

Filmed in front of a live studio audience, The Entire Universe will feature an “explosion of comedy, music and dance” and will air on BBC2.

Davis plays The Big Bang and comedian Fielding is Einstein, while Game of Thrones actor Hannah Waddingham tackles time, and Robin Ince attempts to keep order.

Idle has written songs for the Christmas special, which will be choreographed by Arlene Phillips and combine “fascinating facts about the birth of the universe with larger-than-life comedy characters”.

Cox finds himself in a major musical at Rutland Weekend Television, after thinking he is booked to give a lecture.

The program will be broadcast in Britain on BBC2 on December 26.

(5) DO JAMES DAVIS NICOLL’S HOMEWORK. He’s lining up books to review in 2017, and feels there’s one writer demographic that requires more of his attention:

Don’t often tick the Other/Genderqueer/Non-Binary box in my site’s review gender fields. Can change that. What authors should I consider?

He emailed me the link asking, “Do the F770 people have suggestions?”

(6) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #12. The twelfth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for the four-book Twixt series from Dawn Metcalf.

Today’s auction is for a signed set of all four TWIXT books. But wait – there’s more! Metcalf also has a pile of “own voices” and books she’s offered to donate to a local shelter and/or children’s hospital in your name. The higher the bidding, the more books she’ll donate!

  • $25: Two books
  • $35: Three books
  • $45: Four books
  • $60: Five books
  • $75: Six books

About Book One: INDELIBLE:

Some things are permanent. Indelible. And they cannot be changed back.

Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room-right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world-a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep and a life that will never be the same. Now Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one-his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future … and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.

Somewhere between reality and myth lies … THE TWIXT!

(7) TINGLE’S SATIRICAL NEWS SITE. Chuck Tingle harpoons the “alt-right” with his most feared weapon – laughter — at a new website, Buttbart. At the bottom of the home page are links for donating to the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Billings Public Library Foundation

READER POLL: What is real?

We asked our readers if reality was a constantly shifting web of cosmic planes, blinking in and out of exhistence depending on our location in spacetime.

YES: %87

NO: %2

K’GULH-TUB KA: %11

(8) GLENN OBIT. Mercury astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn (1921-2016) died December 8 reports SF News Site.

Glenn was the last surviving member of the Mercury 7 astronauts and the first American to orbit the Earth, flying on the third Mercury mission on February 20, 1962 aboard Friendship 7. Following his flight and status as a national hero, Glenn was grounded by President Kennedy and eventually became a Senator from Ohio and ran unsuccessfully for President. The oldest of the Mercury astronauts, he flew a second time in 1998 about the space shuttle Discovery, becoming the oldest man to fly in space.

CNN’s obituary recounted the highlights of his 1962 mission:

….Glenn recalled in a Life magazine article a strange phenomenon that occurred during the mission: “There, spread out as far as I could see were literally thousands of tiny luminous objects that glowed in the black sky like fireflies. I was riding slowly through them, and the sensation was like walking backwards through a pasture where someone had waved a wand and made all the fireflies stop right where they were and glow steadily.”

The flight also featured a glitch that contributed to Glenn’s reputation for being cool under fire.

Because of an indicator light showing that the Mercury capsule’s heat shield was partly detached, mission controllers decided to bring Glenn home early and told him not to jettison his aft retro rockets, which allowed him to maneuver the craft in space. Because the retropack was strapped to the heat shield, it was thought it would provide an extra measure of security.

It would later be learned that the heat shield wasn’t damaged, but the fiery re-entry was made more spectacular by the scorching retropack in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Glenn’s first words when he stepped aboard the deck of the USS Noa were, “Boy, that was a real fireball of a ride!”

…More than 20 years after their historic missions, the team was immortalized in the 1983 movie “The Right Stuff.” Glenn — portrayed by Ed Harris — didn’t care much for the film, saying, “I thought it was dramatic enough without Hollywood doing its number on it.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born December 8, 1953 – Kim Basinger, Batman’s Vicki Vale.
  • Born December 8, 1964 – Teri Hatcher, Lois and Clark’s Lois Lane.

(10) TA-POCKETA-POCKETA

  • Born December 8, 1894 – James Thurber

(11) A GRAIL OF A TALE. A dinosaur tail was discovered trapped in amber in Myanmar.

The tail of a 99-million-year-old dinosaur has been found entombed in amber, an unprecedented discovery that has blown away scientists.

Xing Lida, a Chinese paleontologist found the specimen, the size of a dried apricot, at an amber market in northern Myanmar near the Chinese border.

The remarkable piece was destined to end up as a curiosity or piece of jewelry, with Burmese traders believing a plant fragment was trapped inside.

“I realized that the content was a vertebrate, probably theropod, rather than any plant,” Xing told CNN.

“I was not sure that (the trader) really understood how important this specimen was, but he did not raise the price.”

(12) POP CULTURE COINCIDENCE. Reuters reports a “Space oddity as Dr David Bowie treats ‘starman’ Buzz Aldrin in New Zealand hospital”.

In what can only be described as a space oddity, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin is being cared for in a New Zealand hospital by Dr David Bowie after being evacuated from the South Pole.

In a truly remarkable coincidence, Aldrin’s doctor shares the name of the late British singer whose greatest hits included songs such as “Starman” and others about space travel that could easily have been penned for the great American astronaut.

(13) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. Reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Livia Llewellyn and Sarah Pinsker on December 21 on Wednesday, December 21 at the KGB Bar in New York. Event starts at 7 p.m. Details at the linked post.

Livia Llewellyn is a writer of dark fantasy, horror, and erotica, whose short fiction has appeared in over forty anthologies and magazines and has been reprinted in multiple best-of anthologies, including The Best Horror of the Year series, Years Best Weird Fiction, and The Mammoth Book of Best Erotica. Her first collection, Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors received two Shirley Jackson Award nominations, for Best Collection, and for Best Novelette (for “Omphalos”). Her story “Furnace” received a 2013 Shirley Jackson Award nomination for Best Short Story. Her second collection, Furnace was published this year.

Sarah Pinsker is the author of the Nebula Award winning novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road” and the Sturgeon Award winning “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind.” Her fiction has appeared in magazines including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Uncanny, among others, and numerous anthologies and year’s bests. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her wife, dog, and a yard full of sentient vines.

(14) THE WORK THAT STORIES DO. Foz Meadows’ well-written piece “Unempathic Bipeds of Failure: The Relationship Between Stories and Politics” found a home at Black Gate:

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need stories to act as emotional dry-runs for caring about different types of people, because our empathy would already natively extend to everyone. But we don’t live in that world; because if we did, somewhat paradoxically, we’d have less urgent need of its empathy, as its unequivocal presence would make it much harder for us to discriminate in the first place.

Which is precisely why stories matter; why they’ve always mattered, and will continue to matter for as long as our species exists. Stories can teach us the empathy we otherwise lack, or whose development is railroaded by context, and yeah, it’s frustrating to think that another person can’t just look at you, accept what you are, and think, human, different to me in some respects but fundamentally as whole and as worthy of love, protection and basic rights as I am, but you’ve got to understand: we’re a bunch of bipedal mammals with delusions of morality, a concept we invented and which we perpetuate through culture and manners, faith and history and memory – which is to say, through stories, which change as we change (though we don’t always like to admit that part), and in that context, the value of the impossible – of SFF as a genre – is that it gives us those things in imaginary settings, takes us far enough out of the present that we can view them at a more objective remove than real life ever allows, and so get a better handle on them than our immediate biases might otherwise permit…

And so I think about the UKIP supporter who empathized with a fictional refugee [in Dragon Age 2] but voted to dehumanize real ones; about the millions of people who grew up on stories about the evils of Nazism, but now turn a blind eye to swastikas being graffitied in the wake of Trump’s election; of Puppies both Sad and Rabid who contend that the presence of politics in genre is a leftist conspiracy while blatantly pushing what even they call a political agenda; about fake news creators and the Ministry of Truth; about every f***ing dystopian novel whose evocation by name feels simultaneously on the nose and frighteningly apropos right now, because we shouldn’t have to cite The Handmaid’s Tale to explain why Mike Pence and Steve Bannon (to say nothing of Trump’s infamous comments) are collectively terrifying, and yet see above re: unempathic bipeds of failure, forever and always; and yet

(15) ORANGE CONE BY THE ROADSIDE. The discussion of Meadows’ main points, however, was drowned out by the reaction to several lines in her closing:

For the past few years, the Sad and Rabid Puppies – guided by an actual neo-Nazi – have campaigned against what they perceive as the recent politicization of SFF as a genre, as though it’s humanly possible to write a story involving people that doesn’t have a political dimension; as though “political narrative” means “I disagreed with the premise or content, which makes it Wrong” and not “a narrative which contains and was written by people.”

Vox Day reacted in a post titled “Please to remove the libel”:

I have written to John O’Neill, my former editor at Black Gate, asking him to remove this false, malicious, and materially damaging libel directed at me, and by extension, the Sad and Rabid Puppies. As I was a long-time contributor to Black Gate, Mr. O’Neill knows perfectly well that I am neither a neo-Nazi nor a National Socialist, I have never been a neo-Nazi or a National Socialist, I do not belong to, or subscribe to the tenets of, the German National Socialist Workers Party or any subsequent facsimile, and I do not appreciate the libelous attempts of Ms Meadows, to publicly and falsely assert that I am “an actual neo-Nazi”.

Vox Popoli commenters spent the day conspicuously scavenging the web for Meadows’ personal and financial details and lodging their finds as comments on Day’s post. Meadows Twitter stream also has been haunted by people unsuccessfuly trying to intimidate the author by sounding as if there could be ominous consequences.

Day made several updates to his post, one saying a resolution was in process.

UPDATE: As I expected, John was very reasonable about it and the matter is being resolved. Thanks for your support, everyone.

But in the hours since, Meadows’ text has remained unchanged nor has O’Neill added any comment.

(16) INVASION. In a New York Times article “California Today: Booksellers See a Threat in New Law”, the A.C.L.U. has an opinion.

A new law going into effect next month mandates that anyone selling a signed book for more than $5 must vouch for the autograph’s authenticity. That includes, among other things, identifying the previous owner.

“If you visit my bookstore to trade in that copy of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ you picked up at a book signing, I’ll need to take down your name and address and then provide it to whoever happens to buy the book from me,” said Scott Brown, who runs Eureka Books in Eureka.

The law was designed to protect consumers from the booming trade in fake collectibles. But it is written so loosely that some worry it might drag booksellers down.

“I can understand why booksellers are concerned,” said Michael Risher, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U. of Northern California. “The law is an invasion into privacy and should be amended.”

The legislation began with an effort by State Representative Ling Ling Chang to broaden a 1992 law about sports memorabilia. She joined forces with Mark Hamill, the “Star Wars” actor who kept seeing signed posters that were fake. Booksellers say they didn’t realize they were vulnerable until after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure in September.

Ms. Chang, who was unavailable for comment, has published on her Facebook page a statement that both “the letter and spirit of the law” do not apply to booksellers. Her reasoning is that the law is aimed at “dealers,” who are mostly in the business of selling signed collectibles. Since booksellers sell all kinds of books, many of them unsigned, Ms. Chang argues that leaves them off the hook.

But some booksellers worry that is not true….

(17) RATS! New Zealand’s 2017 national sf convention has opened a writing competition.

In our short story competition, you have the opportunity to channel your inner rodent, or world build a mischief of rats… Write us a short story which, in honour of our Ghost of Honour, Orville, includes a reference to a rat.

The competition is held in association with SpecFicNZ, who are generously contributing prizes, and judged by Guest of Honour Seanan McGuire. Get scratching!

We’re also running a drabble competition – 100 words of fiction based around a word you invented. If you’re new to writing, this could be a great place to start.

Find out more at www.lexicon.cons.nz/comps.php. Other competitions will be announced shortly; artists, filkers, and cosplayers, stay tuned.

(18) DEAL US IN. Tor.com’s Natalie Zutter has good news for Cards Against Humanity fans: “Patrick Rothfuss and Cards Against Humanity Release Special Sci-Fi Pack”.

For $5, this pack of 30 cards “poking fun at the Sci-Fi genre” (in Rothfuss’ words) will let you throw down the geekiest cards in your next game of CAH. All proceeds from the first two weeks of sales will go to Worldbuilders, Rothfuss’ nonprofit. What’s more, Rothfuss says, they’ll double that donation before passing it along to Heifer International, the organization that Worldbuilders supports.

Here’s everyone who contributed to the cards!

  • Delilah S. Dawson
  • Elizabeth Bear
  • Jim C. Hines
  • Myke Cole
  • Martha Wells
  • Catherynne M. Valente
  • Patrick Rothfuss

[Thanks to JJ, Xtifr, Bonnie McDaniel, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Redheadedfemme. (Yes, Bonnie, I held over a few you suggested last year.)]

Pixel Scroll 12/1/16 Is This A Tickbox Which I Scroll Before Me, The Pixel Toward My Hand?

(1) NO COUNTRY FOR OLD SPACEMEN. NBC News reports “Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Medically Evacuated From South Pole”.

Aldrin, 86, is in stable condition after “his condition deteriorated” while visiting Antarctica, according to White Desert, which organizes luxury tourism trips to the icy continent. The group said Aldrin was evacuated on the first available flight out of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to the McMurdo Station on the Antarctic coast under the care of a doctor with the U.S. Antarctic Program.

He then was flown to Christchurch, New Zealand, and arrived at about 4:25 a.m. local time Friday (10:25 a.m. Thursday ET), according to the National Science Foundation, which provided the flight for Aldrin.

 

(2) FIRST FANS OF STAR WARS. Skywalking to Neverland’s latest podcast features Craig Miller:

Craig Miller, former head of fan relations at Lucasfilm and ancillary producer, is back to give more insider info on The Star Wars Holiday Special. He tells us about how the small production kept growing to promote the stars of CBS and other fun-facts. We also talk about the 1976 MidAmeriCon WorldCon where Star Wars had its first panel and exhibit featuring the first actual props and costumes from STAR WARS. Cut to: 40 years later and the staff that organized that presentation is back to replicate that same panel.

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(3) MENACE APPRECIATION. James Davis Nicoll selected Heinlein’s “The Menace From Earth” to be the latest test for the panel at Young People Read Old SF.

Of all the authors name-checked in the post that inspired this project, the one I figured would be least appealing to younger readers would be Robert A. Heinlein. He’s one of the grand old men of the field: winner of multiple Hugos, architect of the Future History, over-user of the word “spung.” He may have been a giant in his day, long long ago, but time has not been kind to his books….

These old stories generally don’t get a warm reception, but some of the panelists actually liked this one:

So, how did this story stack up? Good. It shows that women are capable of balancing their career ambitions with their romantic relationships, and that there is often a conflict between the two… especially for women. So that’s pretty cool.

(4) TIPTREE SYMPOSIUM. The 2016 James Tiptree, Jr. Symposium runs December 2-3 at the University of Oregon in Eugene. This year’s theme is “A Celebration of Ursula K. Le Guin”. View the full schedule of events and speakers.

We are very pleased to learn that Ursula Le Guin, honoree of this year’s Tiptree Symposium, is planning to attend the events on Friday, December 2. However, due to recent health issues causing limited mobility and stamina, she will not be able to sign books. Thank you for your understanding.

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929- ) is a remarkable poet, essayist, critic, translator, and storyteller. In all these forms, she never ceases to challenge our expectations about “words, women, places,” as the subtitle to her essay collection Dancing at the Edge of the World puts it. Her many awards testify to her literary skill and deep humanity, and her work has inspired a generation of writers by showing how the unreal can comment on (and incorporate) the real, and how the future can serve as a powerful metaphor for the present. Her writing combines perspectives from anthropology, feminism, science, history, utopian thought, and Taoist philosophy, all wrapped up in convincing and compelling narratives of exploration and self-discovery.

(5) IT’S A WRAP. Birth. Movies. Death. harshes the squee about a forthcoming reboot: The Mummy Gets A Poster, A Brief Teaser And A Stolen Tagline”.

As you can see, The Mummy stars Tom Cruise as a guy who has to stop The Enchantress from Suicide Squad. Good luck to him, she’s p tough.

The biggest curiosity is robbing The Bride of Frankenstein of its “Welcome to a new world of gods and monsters” line. I suppose it’s not outright theft since it evokes the larger universe at play here, but it still seems weird. Is it a clue that we might see a little Frankenstein in this? Or his monster? That should be very exciting for those who haven’t seen Penny Dreadful!

 

(6) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #6. The sixth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions offers some of the author’s own stuff – the complete audio book set of the Goblin trilogy.

The audio books are full-cast recordings from Graphic Audio, and the trilogy retails for $60. Each book comes as six CDs, with a runtime of approximately six hours apiece. They’re new and shrink-wrapped, but I’ll be happy to open them up and autograph them to you before mailing them, if you’d like.

About book one:

Jig the goblin was the runtiest member of an admittedly puny race. Jig was scrawny, so nearsighted as to be almost blind, and had such a poor self-image that when he chose a god to worship it was one of the forgotten ones – after all, what other sort of god would have him as worshiper? He also had a cowardly fire-spider for a pet, a creature that was likely to set your hair on fire if it got into a panic. Made to stand tunnel watch by the goblin bullies who’d been assigned the job, it was just Jig’s luck to be taken captive by a group of adventurers – with the usual complement of a dwarf warrior, a prince out to prove himself, his mad wizard brother, and an elfin thief. Forced to guide this ill-fated party on their search for the Rod of Creation – though Jig had no more idea how to find it than they did – he soon had them stumbling into every peril anyone had ever faced in the fantasy realms. And they hadn’t even found the Necromancer or the Dragon yet!

Listen to an excerpt online.

(7) BANDERSNATCH. Goodreads hosts a page of Bandersnatch quotes, I just discovered.

“As Tolkien points out, the name is “a pleasantly ingenious pun,” referring to those who “dabble in ink.” It also suggests people “with vague or half-formed intimations and ideas.” ? Diana Pavlac Glyer, Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings

(8) FANTASY DESTROYED. Lightspeed’s  “People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy” issue is available.  

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Funded as a stretch goal of LIGHTSPEED’s People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction! Kickstarter campaign, we’re happy to present a special one-off issue of our otherwise discontinued sister-magazine, FANTASY (which was merged into LIGHTSPEED in 2012), called People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy!: an all-fantasy extravaganza entirely written—and edited!—by POC creators. The People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy! special issue exists to relieve a brokenness in the genre that’s been enabled time and time again by favoring certain voices and portrayals of particular characters. Here we bring together a team of POC writers and editors from around the globe to present fantasy that explores the nuances of culture, race, and history. This is fantasy for our present time, but also—most of all—for our future. People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy! is 100% written and edited by people of color, and is lead by guest editor Daniel José Older, with editorial contributions from Amal El-Mohtar, Tobias S. Buckell, Arley Sorg, and others. It features four original, never-before-published short stories, from N.K. Jemisin, P. Djèlí Clark, Darcie Little Badger, and Thoraiya Dyer. Plus, there’s four classic reprints by Shweta Narayan, Leanne Simpson, Celeste Rita Baker, and Sofia Samatar. On top of all that, we also have an array of nonfiction articles and interviews, from Justina Ireland, Ibi Zoboi, Erin Roberts, Karen Lord, John Chu, Chinelo Onwualu, and Brandon O’Brien, as well as original illustrations by Reimena Yee, Emily Osborne, and Ana Bracic.

(9) LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. What John Scalzi has to say to those who complain when he writes about politics is pretty much what every fanzine editor thinks, whether the gripe is about politics or another favorite topic, but not all of us are as bold about saying so out loud as Mr. Scalzi.

  1. The Short Points About Me Writing On Politics

If you tell me you’re tired of me talking about politics, or tell me to shut up about them, I’ll tell you to kiss my ass. I’ll write about what I want, when I want, where I want, which in this case happens to be about politics, now, here.

(10) HI-TECH PRACTICAL JOKE. I’m speechless. But they’re not.

(11) CALLING FLINT FANS. Eric Flint asked readers of his blog to nominate his novel for a Dragon Award. I looked up Flint at the Science Fiction Awards Database and was shocked to discover that in a long and distinguished career he’s never won any of the multitude of awards tracked on that site. Maybe this will be his year.

I would like to ask for a personal favor. The Dragon awards are now open for nominations and I would appreciate it if as many of you as are so inclined would nominate THE SPAN OF EMPIRE, by Eric Flint and David Carrico, in the category of “Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel.” I will stress that you should only do so if you actually liked the novel, but most of the people I know who’ve read the novel liked it a lot.

Flint received two nominations in the first year of the Dragon Awards, both in the Best Alternate History category which was won by Naomi Novik’s League of Dragons.

(While fact-checking, I discovered the Dragon Awards website still has Novik’s name misspelled as “Novak”.)

(12) CLARKE CENTER PODCAST. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination’s new podcast, Into the Impossible, has released is second episode — “Becoming a Galactic Wonder”.

On this month’s episode of Into the Impossible – a podcast of stories, ideas, and speculations from the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination – we’re looking at wonder and imagination. We’ll get there through the plays of Herbert Siguenza (playwright, actor, and director; founding member of Culture Clash) that take us from Pablo Picasso in 1957 to a post-apocalyptic California, and the art (and green thumb) of Jon Lomberg (astronomical artist), who worked with Carl Sagan on the original Cosmos and has created a garden that can help us imagine our place in the universe. Both ask, as Herbert does in the persona of Picasso himself, “How can we make the world worthy of its children?”

(13) MIGHTY BURGER. The creator of the Big Mac has died and Hogu fans everywhere mourn…. Michael “Jim” Delligatti was 98.

The menu was pretty simple back in those early days — hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries and shakes. But Delligatti saw that his customers wanted something bigger, so in 1967 at his restaurant in Uniontown, Pa., he put together two hamburger patties, topped it with cheese, lettuce, onions and pickles, and he developed a special sauce for the burger. He called it the Big Mac.

The early Big Macs were marketed with a paper collar around them. Pop culture scholar Dave Feldman said that sent customers the message that a Big Mac was  “A sandwich so mighty it needs a harness to restrain it!”

(14) BACK TO THE BREW-TURE. Of greater concern to our cousin fans across the Pond: when and how did Brits first brew?

Meanwhile, large pots and evidence of heat-cracked stones have been found at Skara Brae, a 5,000-year-old settlement in the Orkney islands just north-east of Scotland.

Local archaeologist Merryn Dineley believes that bits of the pottery were once used for heating malt – the germinated and heated cereal grains that ferment to produce alcohol. Dineley has experimented with Neolithic-style equipment and argues that malting of grains could have occurred in this period.

(15) CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. Entertainment Weekly invites you to “Watch these exclusive Star Trek: The Original Series clips from The Roddenberry Vault”.

If there’s a Star Trek obsessive in your family, their Christmas present will be released on Dec. 13. That’s when Star Trek: The Original Series – The Roddenberry Vault, a massive new Blu-ray treasure trove of footage left on the cutting room floor, goes on sale. The Roddenberry Vault draws directly from film cans stored for decades by the Gene Roddenberry estate, and includes deleted scenes, alternate takes, and other behind-the-scenes look at the making of the series that launched the Trek franchise 50 years ago.

EW is excited to share two exclusive clips from The Roddenberry Vault, one of them focused on the making of the maddeningly cute Tribbles, the other a short and mesmerizing clip of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner filming the “Transporter” effect.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/30/16 Two Pixels Diverged In A Scroll, And I – I Took The One That Had The Most Bacon

(1) ALWAYS TO CALL IT RESEARCH. An appeals court affirmed that Luc Besson’s Lockout plagiarized John Carpenter’s Escape From New York.

The French filmmaker will have to fork over nearly half a million dollars

An appeals court has ruled that French filmmaker Luc Besson is guilty of plagiarizing from John Carpenter’s 1981 classic “Escape From New York” and must now pay the fellow filmmaker nearly half a million dollars.

As Yahoo reports, Besson has long denied that his 2012 thriller, “Lockout,” was a copy of Carpenter’s Kurt Russell-starring actioner. In Carpenter’s film, Russell plays a former government agent who is tasked with retrieving the U.S. president from the island of Manhattan — which has been turned into a massive prison — after his plane crashes there (thanks, Air Force One, thanks a lot). In “Lockout,” Pearce is a convict sent to a giant space jail who is given the chance to win back his freedom if he can rescue the U.S. president’s daughter, who is trapped in said giant space jail.

The court ruled that Besson’s film had “massively borrowed key elements” of Carpenter’s feature…

[Via Ansible Links.]

(2) MIDAMERICON LOSES HOTEL. The MidAmeriCon II committee announced on Facebook that one of its hotels will be unavailable, and members who reserved there are being shifted elsewhere:

HOTEL UPDATE: The Courtyard/Residence Inn has let us know that their construction has run over schedule and they will not be open in time for MidAmeriCon II. We have been working with their staff and Passkey to contact those displaced to advise them of the situation and to find our members a hotel room with one of our other contracted properties. Please be aware that the new reservations will not be in the individual hotel systems until later this week. Once that occurs, the affected members will be contacted with information on where they have been relocated and provided new confirmations. Any questions can be sent to hotel@midamericon2.org.

(3) FURNISHING THE NEXT STAR TREK. iDigital Times learned that “’Star Trek: Discovery’ Ship Has Its Captain’s Chair”.

Star Trek: Discovery showrunner Bryan Fuller revealed the captain’s chair aboard the starship U.S.S. Discovery NCC-1031. It’s very much in line with classic captains’ seats, with the swept open armrests of Jean-Luc Picard’s luxurious, tan cathedra.

 

(4) THE PRICE OF FAME. Of course, by “the price of fame” we mean what price the fans will pay. CNN Money has the going rates: “Want a picture with Captain Kirk? That’ll be $100”.

Star Trek’s massive 50th anniversary convention starts next week in Las Vegas, and celebrities have posted their prices for photos with fans.

…Resistance is, of course, futile.

Older actors who starred in Star Trek: The Original Series from the 1960s charge higher prices. And the clairvoyant Whoopi Goldberg tops the charts.

(5) OWL SERVICE. A gig on Fiverr: “I will design a Harry Potter Hogwarts Personalized Acceptance Letter for $5”.

acceptance letter

Have you been waiting forever for your special letter to come? OMG! Don’t wait anymore! You can receive your very own letter, stating that you’ve been accepted to Hogwarts and feel the magic! Makes the perfect Hogwarts gift for anyone of any age and it is fully personalised with their very own name and address.!

What you get is a PDF file – when you pay only $5, you have to provide your own bells and whistles….

(6) THE DISNEY-TOLKIEN INTERSECTION. The original story is on Cracked, but this Hello Giggles writer explains it more clearly. Maybe that’s because she’s sober. “This insane theory says ‘Snow White’ is a sequel to ‘Lord of the Rings’”

While Snow White’s dwarfs seem pretty standard—they’re short, unsocial, and obsessed with treasure—Diplotti explains that Tolkien took many of the names of his dwarves from a centuries-old Norse epic called the Voluspa, which has a section devoted to dwarf names and their meanings. Durin? That’s “Sleepy,” thank you very much. Dwalin, or “Dvalinn” in the “Voluspa,” is torpid, lazy, or sleepy. Oin? That would be “shy,” a.k.a. “bashful.” Well, that’s creepy!

(7) LIFE IS NOT A REHEARSAL. As Kameron Hurley frees herself, she offers hope to other writers: “You Don’t Owe Anyone Your Time”.

Certainly one in a position of privilege does have a moral imperative to state, “This atrocity is wrong.” But when you buckle down to engage the haters on any issue, consider what your end goal is in having that conversation, and consider what other valuable work you could be doing with that time. I can pretty much guarantee you that, say, writing The Geek Feminist Revolution and getting it into people’s hands was worth about a billion times more than spending that time arguing with dudes on the internet who were just there to distract me. They aren’t here to change minds. They are here to keep us from doing the work that changes the world.

We all have a finite amount of time on this earth. Those of us with chronic illness or who have had near-death experiences appreciate that more than others. I feel that it’s my moral imperative to remind you that you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. And if you did, would you regret how you’d spend the hour, the day, the week, the month, the year before?

My goal is to live the sort of life where I won’t feel I’ve wasted my time if I die tomorrow. It has kept me on target through a lot of bullshit. The truth is that all this shit is made up, and because it’s made up, it can be remade. But only if we focus our efforts on creating the work that moves the conversation forward, instead of letting ourselves get caught up in the distraction.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 30, 1932 — Walt Disney released his first color cartoon, “Flowers and Trees,” made in three-color Technicolor.
  • July 30, 1999Blair Witch Project released

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY TERMINATOR

  • Born July 30, 1947 — Arnold Schwarzenegger

(10) BANG THE GAVEL SLOWLY. Frank Darabont is auctioning off rare Hollywood memorabilia. The Hollywood Reporter explains:

Frank Darabont, the filmmaker behind The Shawshank Redemption who helped launch The Walking Dead on AMC, is parting ways with some of his most prized possessions.

The director is putting more than two dozen rare items up for the gavel Saturday as part of Profiles in History’s art and movie memorabilia auction — including plenty of items that would make fanboys and fangirls weak in the knees.

“One thing I’ve always known is this amazing art wouldn’t be mine forever. It couldn’t be. We don’t own these things. We can only be their caretakers for a time, enjoying them as much as possible until inevitably they must pass on to the next caretaker” Darabont said in a statement. “For me, that time has come. I won’t lie to you and say that parting with these things is easy. Trust me, it really, really isn’t. But the time for everything passes, and so has my position as caretaker. I will be ever grateful for the joy these wonderful pieces of art have brought me. I can only hope that they will bring their next caretakers (and all caretakers after that, ad infinitum) equal or greater joy.”

And Art Daily has more details about the items going up for auction.

Following the hugely successful sale of Frank Frazetta art from the collection of Dave Winiewicz, this unique auction will be presented in two sessions. Session One, The Frank Darabont Collection, includes original works by master artists Bernie Wrightson, Mike Mignola, Sanjulian, Jack Davis, Will Eisner, Eric Powell, Bob Peak, Rich Corben, Vaughn Bode, a bronze of the “Cyclops” creature by Ray Harryhausen, and rare movie posters including the only known Frankenstein 1941 Italian 4-fogli, and much more.

Session Two comprises a superb collection of vintage comic and illustration artwork featuring the finest original oil paintings by Frank Frazetta ever offered at auction, including “Sea Witch” (pre-sale estimate of $1,000,000 – $1,500,000) and “Bran Mak Morn” (pre-sale estimate of ($450,000 – $550,000), the most expensive Frazetta paintings ever offered at auction. These two paintings have never been offered for sale. The sale also features a wealth of works by “The Studio” artists Bernie Wrightson, Mike Kaluta, Jeffery Jones, and Barry Windsor-Smith, as well as Spider-Man art by John Romita, a Golden Age cover by Jack Kirby, horror and fantasy art by Richard Corben, an important work by John Buscema, among many other pieces by notable masters of the comic medium. Most of these works have been hidden away in private collections for decades, and this sale represents the first and likely only chance to obtain them.

 

(11) AUSTRALIA IS ON THE MOVE – LITERALLY. The BBC tells why “Australia plans new co-ordinates to fix sat-nav gap”

Because of the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates, these local co-ordinates drift apart from the Earth’s global co-ordinates over time.

“If you want to start using driverless cars, accurate map information is fundamental,” said Mr Jaksa.

“We have tractors in Australia starting to go around farms without a driver, and if the information about the farm doesn’t line up with the co-ordinates coming out of the navigation system there will be problems.”

The Geocentric Datum of Australia, the country’s local co-ordinate system, was last updated in 1994. Since then, Australia has moved about 1.5 metres north.

So on 1 January 2017, the country’s local co-ordinates will also be shifted further north – by 1.8m.

Chip Hitchcock commented, when he sent the link: “A fascinating reminder that the world we live on is still changing. (I’d love to see comparable numbers for the US, cf the Grand Canyon docent snarking ‘If you want to go to Europe this is the year, because it will never be any closer.’) The story also quotes a claim that this inaccuracy affects self-driving cars, but I’d hope such cars would rely on immediate observation rather than stored memories of coordinates of fixed objects like curbs.”

(12) THE SHARK, DEAR. The Wrap reviews the sequel a day before it airs on SyFy: “’Sharknado 4’ Review: This Joke Has No Teeth Anymore”.

A joke might be funny the first time, but by the fourth time you hear it, the punchline gets tired.

“Tired” is a good description for “Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens,” which premieres Sunday on Syfy. Although the parody movie is as absurd and silly as the first three installments were, this time around the whole thing feels forced.

On one hand, you can tell stars Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and David Hasselhoff are having fun. Ziering even manages to mock his stint as a Chippendales dancer. But the novelty of this campy killer-shark franchise has clearly worn off, and now the nudges and winks from the made-for-TV flick’s cast and writers border on punishing.

(13) SOUTH KOREA’S GAMERGATE? NPR raises the spectre that “South Korea Is Contending With A ‘Gamergate’ Of Its Own – Over A T-Shirt”.

An online controversy over a South Korean voice actress’s tweeted image of a T-shirt has escalated into what is now being called East Asia’s version of Gamergate — a reference to the vitriolic controversy that pitted gamers, largely men, against women in tech.

Twelve hours after posting a photo of a shirt reading “Girls Do Not Need A Prince,” Kim Jayeon — who had been providing a voice for the popular video game Closers — was out of her job.

Part of the problem was the source of the shirt. It’s put out by Megalia4, a South Korean feminist group.

When Kim’s tweet surfaced on July 18, scores of male gamers demanded that she apologize for supporting what they call a “anti-man hate group.” When Kim refused to budge, they bombarded Nexon, her employer and publisher of Closers, with complaints and refund requests, and soon, she was out.

“We have to be responsive to our customers’ opinions,” Nexon told The Hankyoreh, a South Korean news outlet. “The voice actress exacerbated the issue by posting inflammatory tweets such as ‘what’s wrong with supporting Megalia?'”

(14) HANDICAPPING THE HUGOS: This reader predicts Chuck Tingle will get a rocket.

(15) MACII ONLINE PRE-REG ENDS AUGUST 5.

MidAmeriCon II will be closing online pre-registration for all classes of membership on Friday, August 5, 2016.  Fans planning to attend the convention are encouraged to buy their membership before this date, both to take advantage of the best membership rates and for maximum convenience when they arrive at the convention. Full (five-day) Adult Attending Membership rates will increase from $210 now to $240 at the door, while Young Adult and Military Attending Membership rates will increase from $100 now to $120 at the door. Pre-registered members may collect their badges and other membership materials from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, August 15 and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 16.  Members who can collect their materials on these days can expect to benefit from reduced waiting times.

Full details of all MidAmeriCon II membership categories and rates, as well as at-con opening hours, can be found on the convention website at http://midamericon2.org/home/registration-hotel-member-information/registration/.

(16) YELLOW F&SF DAYS. Paul Fraser at About SF Magazines provides a retro review of “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction #5, December 1950”.

(17) TREK BREW. The Nerdist relays plans to “Celebrate 50 years of Star Trek with golden anniversary beer”.

Trek Pale Ale

A quote:

“Star Trek Golden Anniversary Ale: The Trouble With Tribbles” will debut at the premiere of Star Trek Beyond, at the IMAX Embarcadero Marina Park on July 20, and Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center on July 21 – 24. It will also available at the “Star Trek Las Vegas” convention at the Rio Hotel & Casino from August 3 – 7, 2016. Then in the fall, Shmaltz will bring Voyage to the Northeast Quadrant to the Mission New York Convention at the Javits Center from September 2 – 4, 2016.

(18) JULES VERNE MOVIE. The Galactic Journey crew was among the first to see what they dubbed “[July 30, 1961] 20,000 Leagues in a Balloon (Jules Vern’s Mysterious Island)”.

Perhaps the most famous of Verne’s protagonists is Captain Nemo, skipper of the magnificent submarine, the Nautilus.  In 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, adapted to film in 1953, Nemo led a one-man crusade against war, sinking the world’s warships in the cause of pacifism.

My daughter and I just came back from the premiere of Mysterious Island, the latest translation of a Verne novel.  It is a sequel of sorts to 20,000 Leagues, though this is not immediately apparent from the beginning.  The initial setting is the siege of Richmond at the end of the American Civil War.  Four Yankee prisoners make a daring escape in a balloon along with an initially wary, but ultimately game, Confederate prisoner.  The film begins with no indication of where it’s going other than the title (and the mention of Nemo in the cast list – an unfortunate spoiler).

(19) APOLLO TREK. Space.com’s Leonard David has a piece about how George Takei and Buzz Aldrin got an assist from William Shatner to celebrate the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing and the 50th anniversary of Star Trek at Cape Canaveral.

An audience of some 250 people took part in the evening event, which was dominated by a huge Saturn 5 moon rocket perched overhead. The occasion raised funds for Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring children to be passionate about science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.

The anniversary gala was hosted by George Takei, best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the original “Star Trek” TV series and movies….

Takei had a special surprise video beamed in from one of his “Star Trek” crewmates — William Shatner, who played USS Enterprise Capt. James T. Kirk.

Shatner said he wished he could be present at the Apollo 11 anniversary event. He was in Los Angeles, tied to a previous engagement with the other starship captains of “Star Trek” celebrating the past 50 years, Shatner said.

(20) UNSPARING CHANGE. Black Gate’s Derek Kunsken experiences “A Tremendously Disappointing Re-Read: The Soaked-in Misogyny of Piers Anthony’s Xanth”

How bad is the sexism and misogyny? I mean, can we cut it some slack because it was published in 1977?

Um. No. The 1970s were the 1970s, but there were still lots of remarkable writers creating compelling stories with well-rounded characters back then.

All the female characters in the first two novels occupy a narrow range of man-created stereotyped roles that were already fossils in the 1970s. Anthony has:

  1. the dumb love interest,
  2. the smart love interest,
  3. the nagging love interest, and
  4. the cautionary tales for Bink’s choice of love interest.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Keith Kato, Martin Morse Wooster, Dawn Incognito, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 3/26/16 Who Killed Morlock Holmes?

(1) WHERE THE DEER AND ANTELOPE PLAY. BBC’s report “Grand Theft Auto deer causes chaos in game world” includes a video clip.

More than 200,000 people have tuned in to watch the deer via a video stream on the Twitch site.

Best version

The project uses a modified version of GTA V that let Mr Watanabe change the player to look like a deer. The animal wanders around the virtual 100 square miles of the San Andreas world in which the game is set.

“The most difficult thing during the creation of the project was simply teaching myself to modify GTA V,” Mr Watanabe told the BBC. “There is an incredibly active modding community and I figured out how to programme the mod through a lot of forum searches and trial and error.

“The biggest difficulty was getting it stable enough to run for 12-14 hours at a time without crashing,” he said.

He made the deer impervious to harm so it can keep on wandering despite being regularly shot at, beaten up, run over by cars and trucks, shelled by tanks and falling off buildings.

The trouble it has caused on military bases, beaches and on city streets led, at one point, to it having a four star wanted rating.

The deer regularly teleports to a new position on the game map so it does not get stuck in one part and to make sure it samples the games’s many different environments and meets lots of its artificial inhabitants.

(2) JEDI EVANGELISM. Darren Garrison wanted to be sure I knew about “Jedism in the Wisconsin State Capitol”. I enjoy running Jedi religious stories more when the concept hasn’t been appropriated for the culture wars.

Around Easter every year, the Capitol rotunda becomes cluttered with numerous religious displays, mostly of a Christian nature. This year’s the rotunda features a large wooden cross, several Christian posters promoting Jesus’ death, and pro-life displays, among many others. This time, the Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (AHA) have added a Jedism poster to the mix.

The poster, designed by AHA, is based on a modern, newer religion called Jedism. Its followers worship Jedis such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, from the Star Wars movies. Their poster reads “One Man Died for All”, referring to the Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The poster displays a portrait of Obi-Wan Kenobi as a Jedi, but is oftentimes confused as a portrait of Jesus. Their poster asks the following questions with respective answers: “Who is this man?” “Obi-Wan Kenobi”, “Why is it important that we remember him?” “To escape the death star”, and “How does his death help us?” “Because he comes back as a ghost at times and it can be quite surprising”.

(3) ORIGIN STORY. Andrew Liptak praises “The Innovative Jim Baen” at Kirkus Reviews.

Baen returned to Ace Books in 1977, where he began working with publisher Tom Doherty. Doherty had grown up reading Galaxy, and “I had kept reading both of those magazines,” He recalled, “I thought [Baen] was doing an exceptional job, and brought in him to head up our science fiction [program].”

At Ace, Baen continued his streak of discovering new and interesting authors. “He brought in a number of strong authors,” Doherty recalled. His time at Ace was short-lived, however: Doherty decided to venture out into the publishing world on his own, setting up Tor Books. Baen, along with Harriet McDougal, joined Tor Books, where he continued his work under Doherty editing science fiction

Baen followed “the same pattern that had revived Ace,” Drake wrote in his remembrance, “a focus on story and a mix of established authors with first-timers whom Jim thought just might have what it took. It worked again.”

In 1983, rival publisher Simon & Schuster began having some problems with their paperback division, Pocket Books. Their own SF imprint, Timescape Books, run by David G. Hartwell, wasn’t doing well, and was being closed down. They reached out to Baen, asking him if he’d like to run the imprint.

Doherty remembered that Baen wasn’t keen on joining Simon & Schuster: “Look, Jim doesn’t want to join a big corporation,” he told Ron Busch, Simon & Schuster’s president of mass-market publishing. “But he’s always dreamed of having his own company. How about we create a company which you will distribute. We’ll take the risk and make what we can as a small publisher, and you’ll make a full distribution profit on our books?” Busch agreed to the deal: he would get his science fiction line.

Baen formed his own publishing house, Baen Books, with Doherty as a partner, and began to publish his particular brand of science fiction.

(4) KEN LIU INTERVIEW. Derek Kunsken has “The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories: An Interview with Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award-Winner Ken Liu” at Black Gate.

You play with a lot of myths. Good Hunting and The Litigation Master and the Monkey King pull in Chinese myth. The Waves weaves the creation myths of different cultures into the narrative. State Change creates its own mythology of souls and famous people. What are your favorite myths? When writers use myth, do they only borrow that cultural and thematic gravitas, or do you think that writers today can bring to the table a new way of looking at older myths?

All cultures are founded on myths, and modern life hasn’t changed that at all. It’s important to remember that living myths are not static, but evolving, living tales we craft.

Our sense of what it means to be American, for example, depends on contesting and re-interpreting the foundational myths of America—our “Founding Fathers,” our original sins of slavery and conquest, our exceptionalism, our self-image as the city on the hill, the crucibles of the wars that gave us birth, the gods and heroes who laid down our republican institutions and democratic ideals like the bones and sinew of a giant upon whose body we make our home.

Or look at the myths that animate Silicon Valley: the idea that a single person, armed with a keyboard (and perhaps a soldiering iron), can transform the world with code; the belief that all problems can be reduced down to a matter of optimization, disintermediation, and “disruption”; the heroes and gods who founded the tech colossi that bestride the land while we scurry between their feet — some of us yearning to join them in a giant battle mecha of our own and others wishing to bring them down like the rebels on Hoth.

(5) COVERS UP. John Scalzi answers readers’ questions about writing at Whatever.

Listhertel: There’s an adage not to judge a book by its cover, but we all know people do. I know authors get little to no say in the cover art, but do you have any preferences? Painting versus digital, people versus objects, a consistent look versus variety? Are there any of your covers you particularly love or hate (including foreign editions)?

The book cover of mine I like least is the one on The Book of the Dumb, but inasmuch as BotD sold over 150,000 copies, meaning that the cover art worked for the book, this might tell you why authors are not generally given refusal rights on their covers. Cover art is advertising, both to booksellers and to readers, and that has to be understood. I’m at a point where if I really hate a cover, I’ll be listened to, but I also know what I don’t know, so I rarely complain. But it also helps that, particularly with Tor, the art director knows her gig, and they do great covers. I would probably complain about oversexualized covers, or characters not looking on the cover they way they’re described in the book, but in neither case has this happened to me.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 26, 1969 — Rod Steiger stars as Carl, The Illustrated Man.

(7) TWO SPACEMEN. From George Takei:

Crossed paths Thursday with Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, at Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Experience, where I am appearing Friday and Saturday. Buzz walked on the moon 47 years ago, back in 1969. Isn’t it time someone set foot on Mars?

 

Takei Aldrin COMP

(8) MORE FROM SALT LAKE. “Doctors and River reunite to celebrate the infinite possibilities of ‘Doctor Who’” in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Actors from “Doctor Who,” including Alex Kingston, left, Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy and Matt Smith fielded fan questions and discussed the popular show among the Salt Lake Comic Con’s FanX 2016 at the Salt Palace Convention Center on Friday….

Even a fleeting moment is going to follow Smith for the rest of his life. A fan in Friday’s audience asked Smith if he would do the Drunk Giraffe. The Drunk Giraffe is a dance move Smith’s iteration of The Doctor does, during which he throws his arms over his head and waves them around like noodles of spaghetti.

Fans count the moment — which takes up just 3 seconds of screen time — as a favorite of Smith’s run. Smith, to uproarious cheering, obliged.

“For the rest of my life, I’m going to have to do that,” Smith said. Kingston joked that McCoy and Davison should join him; alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

(9) NEEDS MORE KATSU. BBC Magazine remembers “The octopus that ruled London” at the Crystal Palace in 1871. Several stfnal references.

“It would have been a bit like a freak show for the Victorians,” says Carey Duckhouse, curator of the Brighton Sea Life Centre, as the aquarium is known today. “They would have featured models of ships in the cases for the octopus to grab hold of. They would probably have loved that, as they enjoy playing.”

One possible visitor to Crystal Palace aquarium was the writer HG Wells, who was just five years old when it opened and lived in Bromley, four miles away. Several octopus-like creatures appear in his stories.

In his 1894 essay The Extinction of Man, Wells pondered a “new and larger variety” that might “acquire a preferential taste for human nutriment”. Could it, he asked, start “picking the sailors off a stranded ship” and eventually “batten on” visitors to the seaside?

More famously, the invading Martians in Wells’s War of the Worlds have tentacle-like arms.

(10) UPSIDE DOWN IS UPRIGHT FINANCIALLY. The Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling Kickstarter appeal has successfully funded. A total of $23,206 was raised from 1,399 backers.

The anthology, edited by Monica Valentinelli and Jaym Gates, is an anthology of short stories and poems that highlights the long-standing tradition of writers who identify tropes and cliches in science fiction, fantasy, and horror and twist them into something new and interesting.

(11) SANS SHERLOCK. “WonderCon 2016: HOUDINI & DOYLE Screening and Q&A” at SciFi4Me.com.

During this year’s WonderCon, there was a preview screening of the first episode of the new Fox show Houdini & Doyle, “The Maggie’s Redress”, followed by a short Q&A with Michael Weston, who plays Harry Houdini, and executive producers David Shore, David Ticher, and David Hoselton.

The series follows the two men in 1901 as they go about investigating cases that involve supposed paranormal events. Houdini, riding high on his celebrity as a magician, is the doubter, wanting to bring reason and expose those who would take advantage of people who are looking for comfort from the great beyond. Doyle, on the other hand, has just killed off Holmes and is trying to get out of that shadow, and is the believer, wanting proof that there is something more to this life beyond death. We will be recapping the series when it premieres.

 

(12) GRAPHIC PREFERENCES. Barry Deutsch completed review of “2015 Science Fiction and Fantasy Graphic Novel Recommendations, Part 3: Crossed + One Hundred, and, Stand Still, Stay Silent”.

….Moore returns to the reinvention game with Crossed + One Hundred, a new graphic novel set in Garth Ennis’ awful Crossed universe. Crossed was Ennis’ attempt to make the zombie genre more disturbing and violent: the premise is that most of humanity population gets infected with a mysterious disease that turns them into torturing, murdering, rape-happy idiots. In many ways Crossed is the comics equivalent of the Saw movies; cheap, gratuitous, and compelling…..

(13) VOLTRON WILL RETURN. Engadget has the story and a gallery of images — “Here’s your first look at Netflix’s ‘Voltron’ series”.

As Netflix expands its suite of original programming it’s going to the nostalgia well once again. The good news here is that instead of another sitcom spinoff like Fuller House, we’re getting Voltron: Legendary Defender. Today at Wondercon 2016 its partner Dreamworks Animation showed off a teaser trailer and some artwork that confirm everything at least looks right to children of the 80s.

(14) BACK TO BASIC. The video “How to Send an ‘E mail’–Database–1984” is an excerpt from a 1984 episode of the ITV series Database where viewers learned how to send emails. Major retro future action is obtained where they get onto the net through a phone modem with a dial on the telephone… (Yes, I’ve done that, and I have the white beard to prove it…)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Darren Garrison, JJ, and Barry Deutsch for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 1/20/16 Splendiferous Bastion of Finely-Tuned Nuance

(1) BIG PLANET. New evidence suggests a ninth planet is lurking at the edge of the solar system.

Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology announced Wednesday that they have found new evidence of a giant icy planet lurking in the darkness of our solar system far beyond the orbit of Pluto. They are calling it “Planet Nine.”

Their paper, published in the Astronomical Journal, describes the planet as about five to 10 times as massive as the Earth. But the authors, astronomers Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin, have not observed the planet directly.

Instead, they have inferred its existence from the motion of recently discovered dwarf planets and other small objects in the outer solar system. Those smaller bodies have orbits that appear to be influenced by the gravity of a hidden planet – a “massive perturber.” The astronomers suggest it might have been flung into deep space long ago by the gravitational force of Jupiter or Saturn.

Accompanying the Post article is a short video with the delightfully hideous title “Planet Nine from outer space.”

(2) IN WORDS OF MORE THAN ONE SYLLABLE. Read the paper here.

3. ANALYTICAL THEORY

Generally speaking, coherent dynamical structures in particle disks can either be sustained by self-gravity (Tremaine 1998; Touma et al. 2009) or by gravitational shepherding facilitated by an extrinsic perturber (Goldreich & Tremaine 1982; Chiang et al. 2009). As already argued above, the current mass of the Kuiper Belt is likely insufficient for self-gravity to play an appreciable role in its dynamical evolution. This leaves the latter option as the more feasible alternative. Consequently, here we hypothesize that the observed structure of the Kuiper Belt is maintained by a gravitationally bound perturber in the solar system.

(3) WORLDCON LODGING. MidAmeriCon II hotel reservations open January 25.

(4) FAKING IT. According to The Digital Reader, the “Number One Book Brits Pretend to Have Read is 1984, But for Americans, It’s Pride and Prejudice”.

A recent survey of 2,000 Brits has revealed that 62% of respondents had pretended to have read  one book or another in order to appear smart. The top ten books that people pretend to have read are an impressive list of books, with Orwell’s 1984 and War and Peace taking the top 2 spots.

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is sixth.

(5) HARLAN SAVES. Elon Musk described the influence of Harlan Ellison on his thinking during this interview. The reference comes at about 13:20 into the video.

It’s possible that Harlan will save the human race. Elon has funded research on A. I.’s with the idea that when they emerge that they will be friendly to us humans. “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” frightened Elon enough to get him to fund the research therefore, if that research helps avoid an unfriendly A. I., then Harlan saved all of us

In the second part of this interview, Elon Musk talks about Artificial Intelligence and the deep concerns its causing him. But first he talks about Tesla building an affordable car, Apple’ rumoured electric vehicle and the future of autonomous driving.

 

(6) REMEMBERING HARTWELL. Dozens of deeply moving and historically fascinating tributes to David G. Hartwell are appearing at this hour. Representative is Michael Swanwick’s memorial:

I was in Chicago a couple of years ago for Gene Wolfe’s induction into the literary hall of fame there when the phone rang and David Hartwell said, “I’m sitting in Fred Pohl’s kitchen with him, going through J. K. Klein’s photos, looking for pictures of old time writers. Do you want to join us?” You bet I did. I think back to that brief call and I can hear him grinning. The joy in his voice was infectious. That was the key to David G. Hartwell: he loved science fiction, he loved work, he loved making worthwhile things happen….

(7) SARTORIAL SPLENDOR. Here’s the David G. Hartwell Necktie Exhibit that celebrates his garish neckties.

(8) VIEW TIPTREE SYMPOSIUM. The first in a series of videos from December’s James Tiptree, Jr. Symposium at the University of Oregon is now online.

It shows Professor, Carol Stabile convening the symposium, welcome remarks by UO Dean of Libraries, Adriene Lim and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Doug Blandy, and the keynote talk by Tiptree biographer Julie Phillips, followed by Q&A.

(9) LIVED EXPERIENCE. Sarah A. Hoyt pays it forward in a column of mentoring for indie and other fledgling writers. In a few places I was nodding my head, especially section 3.

However, with the proliferation of indie, I’m seeing a lot more kid writers running around the net (and conferences) with their metaphorical pants around their metaphorical ankles and fingerpainting the walls in shades of brown.

I would hate for that to happen to one of mine, even if just one who follows my lessons here or over at PJM and as such, I’d like to at least ward off some of the worst behavior….

3- Speaking of marking you as a newbie:

Just a few years ago, I realized either a lot of people were naming their kids Author, Writer or Novelist, or the newbies in my field had got off their collective rocker.

This used to be advice given to us before social media: don’t put writer on your card.  If you’re doing it right, they’ll remember that.

I guess it’s more needful than ever for people’s egos to affirm their real writerness (totally a word) now that there are no gatekeepers.

Look, the way to affirm you’re a writer is to write, and to take it seriously.  Putting “writer” or novelist, or author on your card, your facebook page or your blog isn’t going to make you any more “real” than you are.

But Sarah, you’ll say, how will people know it’s me, and not another Jane Smith?

Well, if they’re looking for you, they’ll know.They’ll know because of your friends, your place of origin, the stuff you post.  Fans are amazing that way.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • January 20, 1920 – DeForest Kelley.
  • January 20, 1930 — Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon.

(11) SHOW HIM THE MONEY. Stephen Harper Piziks on Book View Café doesn’t work for free anymore.

“We just don’t have the money to pay you,” say the moochers.  “We’re barely making our other expenses as it is.  Even our president is a volunteer!”

Then maybe you should charge more for admission.  Or get some sponsors.  Or just realize that you can’t have speakers at such a low-budget event.

“But you’ll get exposure,” goes more whining.

Tell you what.  You talk to the grocery store, the electric company, and the mortgage people and get them to accept exposure instead of cash, and I’ll speak for exposure.

I once showed up at a local convention where I’d been scheduled to speak on five panels (that’s five hours of public speaking) and was informed that I owed =them= $30 to cover my admission.  It was only when I turned to walk out that they grudgingly allowed me free entry.  Later, the con chair denigrated me by name on Twitter.  I thanked him for the exposure.

And that brings me to final reason I charge.  No one, including event organizers, values something they get for free.  You get what you pay for, and an author who speaks for nothing is worth nothing.  Certainly they’re treated that way.  At festivals and conventions where I spoke for free, I’ve been ignored, pushed around, insulted, and denigrated.  This has never happened at places that paid me.

(12) THE SECRET OF TIMING. Vox Day, while reporting this morning that David G. Hartwell was not expected to recover, identified him as part of this history:

Hartwell was John C. Wright’s editor at Tor Books; he was also friendlier to the Puppies than any of the SF-SJWs are likely to believe. I had the privilege of speaking with him when he called me last year after the Rabid Puppies overturned the SF applecart; he was the previously unnamed individual who explained the unusual structure of Tor Books to me, using the analogy of a medieval realm with separate and independent duchies. He wanted to avoid cultural war in science fiction even though he clearly understood that it appeared to be unavoidable; it was out of respect for him that I initially tried to make a distinction between Tor Books and the Making Light SJWs before Irene Gallo and Tom Doherty rendered that moot.

(13) IT’S A THEORY. Scholars told the BBC why they believe some fairy tales originated thousands of years ago.

Using techniques normally employed by biologists, academics studied links between stories from around the world and found some had prehistoric roots.

They found some tales were older than the earliest literary records, with one dating back to the Bronze Age.

The stories had been thought to date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Durham University anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani, said Jack and the Beanstalk was rooted in a group of stories classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure, and could be traced back to when Eastern and Western Indo-European languages split more than 5,000 years ago.

Analysis showed Beauty And The Beast and Rumpelstiltskin to be about 4,000 years old.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/10 The nine and sixty ways of constructing Pixel Scrolls

(1) Oscar handicappers have The Martian running second for Best Picture says Variety.

In the Oscar race for best picture, “The Martian” has taken off like a rocket among the predictions by media experts at Gold Derby. One month ago, it wasn’t even in the top 10, but now it’s tied for second place with “Joy,” both sharing 17 to 2 odds. “Spotlight” remains out front and has picked up support as it debuts in theaters.

(2) J. K. Rowling tweeted her favorite fan art of Sirius and James Potter:

https://twitter.com/lilymydeer/status/653257716232757248

(3) Auditioning to be the next Doctor?

(4) “Future’s Past: The astronauts of 2001: A Space Odyssey at The Space Review covers actors Keir Dullea’s and Gary Lockwood’s appearance at Dragon Con.

Lockwood also said that they got to meet the Apollo 11 crew, and then he paused and said, “I liked Neil… I don’t like Buzz.” He added that often when he and Dullea do joint appearances at film showings, somehow Buzz Aldrin always seems to appear and people want to introduce Aldrin to him. Lockwood drolly replies that he already knows the moonwalker. He implied that he had a similar low opinion of William Shatner, with whom he appeared in the second television pilot for Star Trek.

Lockwood also told a great story about working on the centrifuge set, which he thought was brilliantly designed. He joked that he realized that Kubrick hired him for the job because of his previous experience as a cowboy stuntman. One day Lockwood found himself strapped into his chair, eating goop from his food tray—upside down. Keir Dullea was supposed to climb down the ladder at the center of the set and then the whole set would rotate as he walked over to where Lockwood was sitting. Kubrick called “action” and told Lockwood to take a bite, and Lockwood then watched as the three squares of goop slowly peeled off his tray… and fell nearly 70 feet to the floor below, splattering everything on the pristine white set. They didn’t shoot for the rest of the day.

The actors took some questions from the audience and had some really interesting answers. For instance, somebody asked if they knew that the film would be a classic. Dullea said that he had his doubts because the early reviews were so poor. In particular, he mentioned New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael’s infamous devastating review, where she referred to 2001 as “trash masquerading as art” and “monumentally unimaginative.” Kael later recanted upon seeing the film a second time, but 2001 received numerous other lackluster and even harsh reviews. Considering that 2001 was released way behind schedule and over budget, expectations had been high, and presumably many critics were waiting to pounce.

(5) Entertainment Weekly has the good word — “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Is Returning”.

Next year, TV viewers will be able to relive all manner of classic ’90s shows, with new episodes of The X-FilesTwin Peaks, Gilmore Girls, and Full House on the horizon. Add one more returning series to that list, as Joel Hodgson is announcing Tuesday that his beloved cult creation Mystery Science Theater 3000 is coming back after 15 years of dormancy.

For those unaware, the premise of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is brilliantly simple: A mad scientist has launched a man into space, and he torments said subject with psychological experiments that involve him watching some of the worst movies ever made. In order to keep it together, the poor marooned host talks back at the screen, aided by a pair of pop culture-obsessed robots. The MST3K crew may not have invented talking back to the screen, but they certainly brought it to the masses.

(6) Gray Rinehart finds connections between running for local office and his experience as a Hugo nominee in “Political Lessons and… the Hugo Awards?”

I ran for elective office this year, and lost. (For the record, I spent about 0.41% of the total that all four candidates in my district spent up until the election, and I got 3.5% of the vote. Not close to winning, but a good return on my meager investment.)

I was also nominated for a Hugo Award this year, and lost. The story behind that has been chronicled on this blog and elsewhere, and I won’t go into it in this post. (For the record, and as nearly as I can tell from trying to figure out the preferential voting numbers, about 9% of the 5100 novelette voters selected my story as their first choice. I ended up in fourth place . . . two spots below “No Award.”)

I introduce the fact of my being on political and literary ballots this year because I observed two things in the recent Town Council election process that seem pertinent to this year’s Hugo Awards. Specifically, that the political parties inserted themselves deeply into what was supposed to be a nonpartisan race, and other players also wielded considerable influence; and that a lot of voter information was readily available for the candidates to use.

A lot of food for thought. Among Rinehart’s many points:

And as long as we divide ourselves, or in the case of fandom subdivide ourselves; as long as we separate ourselves into (virtual or actual) walled-off enclaves and echo chambers, and associate only with those who look like us, act like us, and believe the things we do; we will find it harder to understand, relate to, and get along with one another — in civil life as well as in the SF&F community.

I think we would be well-served as a fannish community if we talked more about what we love and why we love it, without implying that those who do not love it as we do are ignorant or contemptible. And I think we would be better off if we recalled another RAH observation, also from Friday (emphasis in original): “Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms . . . but a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.”

(7) A fascinating installment of Robert W. Weinberg’s memoirs published by Tangent Online in 2011, “Collecting Fantasy Art #5: Lail, It Rhymes With Gail”

Six months later, Victor grew tired of the Freas and traded it to me.  The impossible had happened.  So much for my predictions. I now owned the original cover paintings for the first and second serial installments of Robert Heinlein’s novel, The Door Into Summer.  Immediately, I contacted Al, the guy I had met at the 1976 World SF Convention in Kansas City, to see if he still owned the third and final cover painting for the serial.  I had passed on that cover, though it had been priced cheap, because I had felt certain at the time I would never obtain the second cover painting for the novel.  Now that I had that piece, I really wanted the third cover so I would have all three paintings for the novel.

No such luck.  Al had sold the Freas painting at the convention.  He didn’t remember who bought it, and he didn’t even remember how much they had paid for it.  The painting was long gone.  I had had a chance to buy it back in Kansas City and had passed it by.

I learned my lesson that day.  Only too well.   Never pass up a painting of minor importance because someday that minor meaning might explode.  It was a difficult lesson to learn, but an important one.  It’s one I have never forgotten.

(8) No other writer handles one-star reviews this badly. “British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle” at Gawker.

A 28-year-old British man, most notable for his 2006 victory on the quiz show Countdown, tracked down a Scottish teenager who’d written a negative review of his self-published novel and shattered a bottle of wine on the back of her head. The aspiring author pleaded guilty to the 2014 assault in a Scottish court Monday, the Mirror reported.

Brittain claimed the early reception for The World Rose was strong, blogging that “The praise I received was remarkable and made me feel great; I was compared to Dickens, Shakespeare, Rowling, Raymond E Feist and Nora Roberts.”

…But he also complained about bad reviews from “idiots” and “teenagers.”

One of those teenagers was Paige Rolland, the eventual victim of Brittain’s savage bottle attack. Her entire harsh (but fair) review has been preserved on Amazon, but this passage really sums up her criticism:

As a reader, I’m bored out of my skull and severely disappointed in what I might have paid for. As a writer (albeit an amateur one) I’m appalled that anyone would think this was worthy of money.

Not only does it begin with “once upon a time” which you could argue is perfect as this is a fairytale (and it doesn’t work, it’s incredibly pretentious), but it’s filled with many writing no-nos. Way too much telling, pretentious prose, and a main character that I already hate. Ella is the perfect princess (true to fairytales, so we can at least give him a little credit despite how painfully annoying this is coupled with a complete lack of real personality shining through).

Rolland also noted that Brittain “has gained a bit of infamy on Wattpad where he’s known for threatening users who don’t praise him (pray for me),” which turned out to be quite portentous.

(9) Here’s a word I’m betting you haven’t in your NaNoWriMo novel yet.

(10) Strange poll.

It’s a perennial question. I remember at the 1995 Lunacon that Mordechai Housman, an Orthodox Jew, was having fun circulating copies of his provocative arti­cle Hitler’s Crib, which tries to determine wheth­er religious law would permit time travel and, specifically, wheth­er it would permit travel­ing in time to kill Hitler.

(11) You know this guy: “Plane” at The Oatmeal.

(12) Today In History

  • November 10, 1969Sesame Street debuts.
  • November 10, 1969 — Gene Autry received a gold record for the single, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 20 years after its release.

(13) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • November 10, 1960 – Neil Gaiman

(14) James Whitbrook presents “The 7 Least Subtle Political Allegories on Doctor Who. His pick at number one (most lacking in subtlety) is “The Happiness Patrol.”

But it’s the despot herself who is the most obvious pastiche. Sheila Hancock openly plays the leader Helen A as a satirical take on then-Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady” who dominated British politics. At the time, this barely made ripples, but a 2010 story in the British newspaper The Sunday Times about the connection—featuring a quote from Sylvester McCoy describing Mrs. Thatcher as “more terrifying than any monster the Doctor had encountered”—saw Conservative politicians in uproar at the anti-Conservative bias this revealed on the part of the BBC. Ex-script editor Andrew Cartmel was brought onto the BBC news program Newsnight to answer claims that the 1980s Doctor Who creative team had been a source of left-wing propaganda in the wake of the “revelation”… despite the story having been no particular secret, 22 years earlier.

Always remember – science fiction is never about the future….

(15) A previously unpublished Leigh Brackett story is one of the lures to buy Haffner Press’ tribute book, Leigh Brackett Centennial.

SF and mystery author Leigh Brackett (1915-1978) – who also wrote screenplays for The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo and The Empire Strikes Back —?is represented by an array of nonfiction pieces by and about here, as well as the previously unpublished story “They,” which Haffner describes as “a mature science fiction tale of power and intrigue, of homegrown xenophobia versus stellar exploration, with an answer to the ultimate question: ‘Are we alone?’” The volume collects the majority of Brackett’s nonfiction writings, supplemented with vintage interviews and commentaries/remembrances from such luminaries as Ray Bradbury, Michael Moorcock, Richard A. Lupoff and more.

Brackett writes of bringing Philip Marlowe into the 1970s for Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye in “From The Big Sleep to The Long Goodbye and More or Less How We Got There.”

SF-author and NASA employee Joseph Green records the time he hosted Brackett at the launch of Apollo XII . . .
Midwest bookseller Ray Walsh documents the day he escorted Brackett to view a new groundbreaking space-fantasy film in the summer 1977…

Order the book at this link: http://www.haffnerpress.com/book/lb100/

(16) John Scalzi gives his take on balancing awards and mental health:

I’ve won and lost enough awards to know an award is not The Thing That Changes Everything. An award is fun, an award is nice, an award may even be, at times, significant. But at the end of the day, whether you win or lose, you still go home with yourself, and you don’t change — at least, not because of an award. It’s perfectly fine to want an award (I’ve wanted them from time to time, you can be assured) and it’s perfectly okay to be disappointed if you don’t get one. But ultimately, putting the responsibility for your happiness onto an award, which is, generally speaking, a thing over which you have absolutely no control, is a very fine way to become unhappy. Which will not be on the award, or any of the people who voted for it. It will be on you, whether you want to own that fact or not.

(17) Luna Lindsey reviews two competing online tools in “Panlexicon vs. Visual Thesaurus — Who Will Win?” at the SFWA Blog.

I kept Visual Thesaurus on retainer as my go-to onomasticon until I stumbled upon Panlexicon.com in all of its simple, elegant magic.

The power of Panlexicon lies in its ability to search on multiple terms, which will bring up a larger spectrum of metonyms than most thesauri (including Visual Thesaurus). So it’s perfect for finding that just-out-of-reach expression when all you can remember are remotely-related numinous approximations of what you’re going for. Simply type two or more related words or phrases, separated by a comma, and voilà. (And of course, you can always search a standalone word.)

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., Mark-kitteh, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Jim Meadows for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]