Pixel Scroll 5/26/18 I’ve Got A Troll And He Hasn’t Got A Scroll

(1) NEBULA WEEKEND WITH THE QUEEN. Read “The Merqueen’s Report: Nebula Awards Weekend, 2018” by Cat Rambo.

…At five, the always cool Monica Valentinelli came to my hotel room and helped me begin the transformation into Mer queen. I had tweeted about the dress months before, at which point my friend Kris Dikeman said it needed a seashell tiara, Nick Hyle then volunteered a trident, and by the time of the Nebulas I was a little worried it would turn out to be a costume instead of an outfit and instead it was GLORIOUS and I felt like the belle of the underwater ball….

…Sunday morning was time for my favorite part and another one I will take full credit for implementing, unlike most of the other stuff: the volunteer breakfast. We had close to fifty people show up this time, which was the third so far, and people seemed to happy to get their fancy certificates (suitable for framing!) and get a chance to talk with each other. I told the joke I stole from Joe Haldeman about SFWA, like soylent green, being made of people once again and a good time was had by all….

(2) HEAR ABOUT SFF ARCHITECTURE. Henry Lien will be one of the participants in “Imagined Cities: Innovative Use of Architecture in Film and Literature” in LA on June 2.

Description

The Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles will host a conversation between renowned architect Jimenez Lai and children’s fantasy author Henry Lien entitled Imagined Cities: Innovative Uses of Architecture in Film and Literature at its gallery in Westwood on Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The conversation is in connection with the Taiwan Academy’s current exhibition Rooftops & Backyards: Expanding Taipei & L.A., which explores the construction of “architecture on top of architecture”, and multi-purpose use of properties as ways that cities deal with the issue of limited space in densely populated urban areas. The Imagined Cities event explores such themes in fictional depictions of cities.

“From Blade Runner to Howl’s Moving Castle, film and literature have historically embraced innovative uses of architecture,” says Henry Lien, the author of Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword. “Science fiction and fantasy are particularly effective in expanding notions of beauty in buildings and cities, which becomes relevant as cities experiment with new ways to solve population density issues.”

Jimenez Lai, the founding partner of Los Angeles-based studio Bureau Spectacular and the curator of Rooftops & Backyards: Expanding Taipei & L.A., hopes to explore the universal issue of limited space in densely populated urban areas through the dialogue and the exhibition.

According to Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles, the exhibition demonstrates an interesting comparison between Taipei and Los Angeles, discussing topics surrounding art, architecture, urbanism, and the way of life between the cultures of Taiwan and the United States

Rooftops & Backyards: Expanding Taipei & L.A runs through July 7, 2018, and is free and open to the public, as is Imagined Cities: Innovative Uses of Architecture in Film and Literature. To attend Imagined Cities, please RSVP through https://www.eventbrite.com/e/imagined-cities-innovative-use-of-architecture-in-film-and-literature-tickets-46236212757

(3) DOZOIS HOSPITALIZED. Christopher Casper posted on Facebook that Gardner Dozois is in hospital:

Friends of Gardner – He is currently in Pennsylvania hospital under medical sedation and intubated. While in the hospital for a chronic condition he had a serious and rapid deterioration causing some major systems to fail. He has an amazing team of doctors and the doctors are cautiously optimistic that his condition can be reversed!

I will do my best to keep everyone informed.

I am comforted and Gardner would be humbled by the hundreds of IM I received in the last 24 hrs expressing concern and love for my father. Due to the mere quantity, please forgive me if I am unable to respond personally to them all. Gardner is blessed to be so loved by so many.

Please continue to send good vibes, well wishes, and prayers his way. It is appreciated and thank you.

(4) THEY’LL BE MISSED. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have moved from the country town of Winslow, Maine to the city of Waterville, Maine, and that’s affected their summer travel plans. They tell how in the latest “Liaden Universe® Infodump No. 120”.

LEE AND MILLER WILL NOT ATTEND WORLDCON 76

We had intended to attend WorldCon; we had budgeted time and money; arranged schedules, and then — in late February, we looked at a house in town (we have long been looking to move into town, closer to services and conveniences), fell in love with the place, made an offer, and — the long and short of it is that, all the money and time we had budgeted for attending WorldCon instead went to moving into the new house.  We’re very sorry that we won’t be at the con with our friends and readers, old and new.  But we’re very happy with our new situation.

On the topic of conventions — this is the first time since 1997, that we haven’t had a convention, or three, on the schedule.  That feels. . .strange, indeed.

Everyone who is going to WorldCon — have fun!

(5) ICE STATION EUROPA. Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie dropped the 2010: Odyssey Two tagline “All these worlds are yours – Except Europa” when sending along this link to Nature’s article “Evidence of a plume on Europa from Galileo magnetic and plasma wave signatures” [PDF file].

The icy surface of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, is thought to lie on top of a global ocean1–4. Signatures in some Hubble Space Telescope images have been associated with putative water plumes rising above Europa’s surface5,6, providing support for the ocean theory. However, all telescopic detections reported were made at the limit of sensitivity of the data5–7, thereby calling for a search for plume signatures in in-situ measurements. Here, we report in-situ evidence of a plume on Europa from the magnetic field and plasma wave observations acquired on Galileo’s closest encounter with the moon….

(6) AT THE CANYONS OF MADNESS? BBC says “Giant canyons discovered in Antarctica”.

Scientists have discovered three vast canyons in one of the last places to be explored on Earth – under the ice at the South Pole.

The deep troughs run for hundreds of kilometres, cutting through tall mountains – none of which are visible at the snowy surface of the continent.

Dr Kate Winter from Northumbria University, UK, and colleagues found the hidden features with radar.

Her team says the canyons play a key role in controlling the flow of ice.

And if Antarctica thins in a warming climate, as scientists suspect it will, then these channels could accelerate mass towards the ocean, further raising sea-levels.

(7) THEY DUCKED. Here’s “How ancestors of living birds survived asteroid strike”

The ancestors of modern birds may have survived the asteroid strike that wiped out the rest of their kin by living on the forest floor.

The new theory, based on studying fossilised plants and ornithological data, helps explain how birds came to dominate the planet.

The asteroid impact 66 million years ago laid waste to the world’s forests.

Ground-dwelling bird ancestors managed to survive, eventually taking to the trees when the flora recovered.

“It seems clear that being a relatively small-bodied bird capable of surviving in a tree-less world would have conferred a major survival advantage in the aftermath of the asteroid strike,” said Dr Daniel Field of the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath.

(8) BEAN OBIT. Moon explorer and Skylab astronaut Alan Bean died May 26. NASA has posted a “Family Release Regarding the Passing of Apollo, Skylab Astronaut Alan Bean”.

Apollo and Skylab astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth human to walk on the moon and an accomplished artist, has died.

Bean, 86, died on Saturday, May 26, at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. His death followed his suddenly falling ill while on travel in Fort Wayne, Indiana two weeks before.

“Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew. He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly,” said Leslie Bean, Alan Bean’s wife of 40 years. “A native Texan, Alan died peacefully in Houston surrounded by those who loved him.”

A test pilot in the U.S. Navy, Bean was one of 14 trainees selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts in October 1963. He flew twice into space, first as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12, the second moon landing mission, in November 1969, and then as commander of the second crewed flight to the United States’ first space station, Skylab, in July 1973….

On Nov. 19, 1969, Bean, together with Apollo 12 commander Charles “Pete” Conrad, landed on the Ocean of Storms and became the fourth human to walk on the moon. During two moonwalks Bean helped deploy several surface experiments and installed the first nuclear-powered generator station on the moon to provide the power source. He and Conrad inspected a robotic Surveyor spacecraft and collected 75 pounds (34 kilograms) of rocks and lunar soil for study back on Earth.

(9) TODAY’S DAY

Of all of the monsters known to man, which one could possibly be considered more iconic than Count Dracula? The quintessential vampire, Count Dracula has inspired tens of films and stories the world over, not to mention the virtual immortality of the character during as a beloved Halloween character. For all of these reasons, it’s undeniable that this icon of horror more than deserves his own little holiday so the world can show its appreciation for his contributions to the worlds of cinema and literature over the centuries. So put on your fangs, and let’s sink out teeth right into this, shall we?

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 26, 1961The Twilight Zone aired “Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?” Jack Elam utters the words, “It’s a real Ray Bradbury.”

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born May 26, 1912 — Jay Silverheels (“Tonto” on The Lone Ranger TV series)
  • Born May 26, 1913 – Actor Peter Cushing
  • Born May 26, 1951  — Sally Ride, astronaut. First American woman in space

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock discovered the game of Monopoly roused surprisingly strong feelings in these Something Positive characters.

(13) SARTORIAL SPLENDOR. Indeed, it is a most absolute and excellent hat.

(14) HOLLYWOOD LAWYERS FIND WORK. Sesame Street production company Sesame Workshop (formerly known as Children’s Television Workshop) has sued distributor STX over Melissa McCarthy’s new movie The Happytime Murders.

Quoting The Hollywood Reporter: “’Sesame Street’ Sues STX Over New Melissa McCarthy Puppet Movie”

The makers of Sesame Street are suing the promoter of a new Melissa McCarthy movie, saying it’s abusing the famed puppets’ sterling reputation to advertise the film.

A judge Friday scheduled a hearing next week to consider a request for immediate relief by Sesame Workshop, which sued Thursday in federal court for unspecified damages.
The film, The Happytime Murders, is scheduled for release Aug. 17. McCarthy plays a human detective who teams with a puppet partner to investigate grisly puppet murders.
The lawsuit said the Sesame Street brand will be harmed by a just-released movie trailer featuring “explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating and even ejaculating puppets” along with the tagline “NO SESAME. ALL STREET.”

STX Productions LLC says in a statement it is confident in its legal position.

And Vanity Fair’s article “Sesame Street Sues Over Melissa McCarthy’s R-Rated Puppet Murder Movie” notes —

Apparently, the puppet-based entertainment industry is more divided than we knew. The people behind Sesame Street may not like it, but The Happytime Murders has the imprimatur of Muppet royalty: the director is none other than Jim Henson’s son, Brian Henson, who is also the chairman of the Jim Henson Company, and will feature a number of puppeteers from various Muppet movies.

Variety summarized Sesame Street’s complaint as follows:

But “Sesame Street” creators are incensed at the reference, arguing in the lawsuit that it will confuse audiences and harms the “Sesame Street” brand. The marketing campaign “seeks to capitalize on the reputation and goodwill of ‘Sesame Street,’” the suit says. “While the trailer at issue is almost indescribably crude, ‘Sesame’ is not trying to enjoin defendants’ promotion or distribution of their movie. It is only defendants’ deliberate choice to invoke and commercially misappropriate ‘Sesame’s’ name and goodwill in marketing the movie — and thereby cause consumers to conclude that ‘Sesame’ is somehow associated with the movie — that has infringed on and tarnished the ‘Sesame Street’ mark and goodwill.”

(15) IS REY BELIEVABLE? YouTuber MisAnthro Pony is skeptical about Star Wars’ Rey:

She knows how to swim even though she spent her entire life on a desert planet, she’s as powerful as Kilo Ren despite receiving no training from Luke, she’s as skilled of a swordsman as Obi Wan, and now she can gun the Millennium Falcon like a pro in a matter of minutes.  She apparently seems to know everything about stuff she should know nothing about.  OK, Rey doing things she shouldn’t have been able to do in The Force Awakens was stupid too.  But this is reaching it.  This is really reaching it.

Carl Slaughter defends the presentation of the character:

Oh I don’t know.  Luke blocks multiple gadget beams blindfolded with a light saber the first time he wields it.  After only a few hours of training in the Force, he pinholes the shot that takes out the Death Star.  After only a couple of months of training with Yoda, even Darth Vader is impressed.  Never mind that even the best Jedi are trained all their life from toddlership by a team of instructors in an academy.

 

(16) ON HIS GAME. And Chuck Tingle is skeptical about some gameplaying skeptics….

(17) SPOILERS AHEAD. If you’ve seen Deadpool 2, you may be ready for ScreenRant’s spoiler-filled “Deadpool 2 Pitch Meeting.”

(18) MULTIPLE DUNII. Consequences of Sound reports “Denis Villeneuve confirms his Dune adaptation will be split between two films”.

In what might prove beneficial, given the scope of Dune as a story, Villeneuve recently confirmed that he plans to split the adaptation into two films, still likely to be substantial in length each. While speaking to the Quebec publication La Presse, he mentioned the news while touching on the process of turning Herbert’s 896-page epic into a cohesive feature (or set of them): “Eric Roth wrote the first draft and I worked on my side afterwards… I have not had such fun on the creative side since Incendies! My wish would have been to make both films at the same time, but it will be too expensive. We will do them one at a time.”

(19) DESPITE POPULAR DEMAND. Borys Kit in The Hollywood Reporter story “‘Star Wars’: Boba Fett Movie in the Works With James Mangold”, says that James Mangold and Simon Kinberg, who last worked together on Logan (which Mangold directed and co-wrote and Kinberg produced) have been signed by Disney to develop a Boba Fett movie.

As N.K. Jemisin asked –

(20) KEEPING IT LEGAL. Like everyone else whose internet babblings are read in Europe, Timothy the Talking Cat is updating Cattimothy House security policy.

A message from our Legal and Compliance Department:

Dear User/Subscriber/Stranger/Prisoner

Due to the recent legislative changes in the European Union (a body not recognised by our founder and CEO, Timothy the Talking Cat), we have made several changes to our security policy.

… Our change in policy means that we will no longer:

  • Post lists of your names and misdeeds as a notice in the town square.
  • Maintain in a dark basement a wall with your photographs joined together with lines of red twine, with some faces circled in red marker and others defaced with a huge question mark….

Much more humor follows…

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Lis Carey, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Soon Lee, Jonathan Cowie, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contirebiting editor of the day microtherion.]

Pixel Scroll 5/25/18 The Prospect Of Incontinent Hobgoblins

(1) FANX FLOUNDERS ON. How long will FanX’s Bryan Brandenburg’s “indefinite leave” be?

FanX’s other leader, Dan Farr, now has added his own statement and apology.

I, Dan Farr, apologize fully for any instances in which a participant has felt unsafe. We do not condone these behaviors, from anyone.

It is not our role or responsibility to judge any individual nor to disparage or use inflammatory language about any participant in our conference. It is our role to do all within our power to keep our participants safe. Our conversation with the author resulted in a mutual agreement that he will not be participating in our future events. With this agreement, we consider the matter resolved.

Additionally, my partner and cofounder, Bryan Brandenburg has made a personal and heartfelt apology for his remarks on social media that were insensitive about our attendees’ sexual harassment concerns.

However, continued postings in social media and the press have shown energy and anger to a level that Bryan has decided that his continued participation, for now, is a distraction from the goals we are striving to uphold.

Beginning immediately, Bryan Brandenburg is taking an executive leave that he hopes and believes will help to dispel the negative energy that is taking us away from our greater mission and goals. While he has not suggested a timeframe, this leave may not be permanent. We hope to see Bryan at our September event with his wife and new son.

As for Brandenburg stepping back from social media – well, he’s stepped back from where the public can see it, but he’s still busy posting – see the screencaps in this set of tweets.

Yesterday’s latest Salt Lake Tribune coverage quoted from one of the screencaps that showed Brandenburg justifying how FanX dealt with the Richard Evans harassment complaint:

The comments were later deleted, but not before screengrabs circulated on Twitter.

“We absolutely could not publicly ban [Evans],” Brandenburg wrote. “We had no proof. We would be sued for libel and defamation from Richard. Then it would get out that you would be banned and humiliated from FanX for kissing a guest on the cheek and touching her. We would be out of business. Nobody would care to read the details. We did not see it happen. It would be her word against his.”

Hale has questioned whether organizers attempted to talk to people who may have witnessed the interaction, and whether Brandenburg’s statement means that allegations won’t be looked into if they weren’t witnessed by FanX employees.

FanX’s new harassment policy promises that every report of harassment will be investigated.

Howard Tayler’s Twitter thread deconstructs the Brandenburg rationale, quoted in the Tribune. The thread starts here:

And includes these comments:

(2) OH, THE NONHUMANITY! Here’s an admirable idea for a listicle: “The 12 Most Gratuitous Robot Deaths in Sci-Fi” at Tor.com.

Sometimes it feels like robots only exist to be abused, you know? We love them and the window they provide on the human condition, but science fiction is usually pretty mean to them overall. It loves to torment robots (and when we say “robots” we’re really talking about any form of android or A.I. or sentient toaster or what-have-you) with the constant threat of obsolescence or deactivation or destruction. And some of these deaths are just plain gratuitous, leaving us betrayed, bewildered, and otherwise bereaved.

Here are the worst of them….

(3) MORE POOH. Here’s is Disney’s Christopher Robin Official Trailer. In theaters August 3.

In the heartwarming live action adventure Disney’s “Christopher Robin,” the young boy who shared countless adventures with his band of lovable stuffed animals in the Hundred Acre Wood is now grown up and living in London but he has lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin rediscover the joys of family life, the value of friendship and to appreciate the simple pleasures in life once again.

 

(4) NEWSLETTER SIGNUP INCENTIVE. Get to know seven authors and fill a shelf with science fiction and fantasy — The SFF Grand Newsletter Giveaway is a chance to win a dozen signed books. The seven writers in this international group range from debut to established, and from near-future thrillers to high fantasy — Aliette de Bodard, SL Huang, Beth Cato, Kate Heartfield, Jim C. Hines, Kate Elliott, and JY Yang.

Between May 25 and June 25, readers can enter the giveaway once for each author, for up to seven entries. For each author, entrants will have the choice of subscribing to that author’s newsletter to enter (signing up for the newsletter is not required to be entered in the giveaway). Existing subscribers to an author’s newsletter can simply choose the giveaway-only option to receive an entry for that author.

The contest is open worldwide. One winner (chosen at random) will receive signed, physical copies of all the books:

  • The first three Tensorate novellas by JY Yang
  • The complete Court of Fives trilogy by Kate Elliott if the winner has a U.S. address, or a choice of one of the following by Kate Elliott if the winner has a non-U.S. address: Court of Fives, Cold Magic, Black Wolves, or Spirit Gate
  • Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines
  • Breath of Earth by Beth Cato
  • Zero Sum Game by SL Huang and The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist (novelette) by SL Huang
  • The Tea Master and the Detective and The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
  • Armed in Her Fashion and Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield

Everyone who uses this page to sign up for ANY of our newsletters before June 25 will be entered into the giveaway! You can enter once for each author, for up to 7 entries. From among ALL entries we’ll draw ONE lucky winner — who will receive SIGNED BOOKS from every one of us! A chance to win a dozen or more signed books — a whole shelf of new SFF!

(5) WRITER V. CHARACTER. Ian Sales, in “His master’s voice”, defends his criticism of a Clarke Award finalist.

So, a couple of days ago I tweeted a short quote from the book I was reading, one of this year’s Clarke Award finalists, and remarked that I was surprised to find the position expressed in the quote in a genre novel published in 2017. Most people who saw my tweet were as dismayed as I was – although, to be fair, they saw only my quote.

Which changes things. Apparently.

The book in question is Sea of Rust by C Robert Cargill, and the exact quote was “Gender is defined by genitalia”, which is spoken by the book’s narrator, Brittle, a robot, in a paragraph in which “she” admits that robots have no gender, it is not something “she” has ever thought about, but she henceforth chooses to define herself as female.

Two people I consider friends – very smart people both, and genre critics whose opinions I respect* – decided to insult my intelligence by questioning by understanding of how narrative works. Because the offending phrase – and it is offensive – was spoken by a character, they stated, that does not mean it reflects the author’s sensibilities. As another friend pointed out, I have myself written fiction featuring Nazis – and I have: ‘Wunderwaffe’ – but that obviously does not make me a Nazi. This is indeed true. Cargill has written a novel about robots, in which the first person narrator is a robot… but obviously he is not a robot himself. I never claimed this.

But the people arguing against my comment were themselves making the same assumption about me they were accusing myself of making against Cargill. Except, I think my position is backed up by the narrative.

…So yes, I do understand how narrative works. I also understand how writing works. And while I may not be as accomplished at writing as others… and I may place a higher value on narrative rigour than most people… I stand my original position:

Unless the narrative evidences a foundation for a sensibility or attitude, then it’s reasonable to assume it is a sensibility or attitude of the author that has leaked through into the narrative.

(6) MARY SHELLEY BIOPIC. NPR’s Mark Jenkins says “‘Mary Shelley’ Is Less Than The Sum Of Its Parts”

Given the familiarity of the material, the makers of Mary Shelley would have been smart to find a new approach. Philosophically, they sort of do, giving Mary more credit than usual for both her work and her choices.

Stylistically, though, the movie is all too typical of the 19th-century British literary/romantic drama. It presents London circa 1815 as misery for the poor, the young, the female, and the liberal-minded — and yet picturesque enough for a tourist brochure, suffused with dappled sun-, lamp- and candlelight and swathed in yearning music.

(7) BAIN OBIT. Meredith marks the passing of “John Bain, also known as TotalBiscuit, the Cynical Brit, who died yesterday after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer in 2015. He was a popular gaming YouTuber and started out by covering the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion before moving on to wider coverage, including a lot of indie games. He championed games on the PC and was always honest about his opinions of games, beginning in a time when that was far less common.”

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 25, 1953 It Came From Outer Space appeared in theaters, a movie based on a story by Ray Bradbury.
  • May 25, 1977Star Wars premiered.
  • May 25, 1983Return of the Jedi opened in theaters.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY MUPPETEER

  • Born May 25, 1944 – Frank Oz

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Cat Eldridge says “I’ve had dozens of emails telling me about the organization and how it’s complying with GDPR.” And now Xkcd is getting in on the act.

(11) NATAL DAY. Steven H Silver celebrates: “Birthday Reviews: Vera Nazarian’s ‘Salmon in the Drain Pipe’” at Black Gate.

Nazarian was nominated for a WSFA Small Press Award for her short story “Port Custodial Blues” in 2007. The following year she received a nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Story of Love.” She also received a Nebula nomination in 2009 for her novella The Duke in His Castle. In addition to writing, Nazarian has worked as the editor and publisher of Norilana Books since the company’s founding in 2006.

(12) KNOWS ALL, HEARS ALL, TELLS ALL. The Guardian asks “Alexa, when did the Church of England become so tech-savvy?”

The Amazon assistant can now help you with your Anglican needs. Just don’t expect answers to the really big questions…

Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer was well ahead of its time when in 1549 it addressed “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be opened, all desires known, and no secrets hid” – but it would take nearly five centuries for the church to turn this vision into technology. For now there is a Church of England “skill” – a set of canned responses – on , Amazon’s virtual assistant which can give its answer to 30 religious questions. It doesn’t answer the interesting ones though. “Alexa, ask the Church of England how can I be saved?” produces a silence easily interpreted as baffled, and I don’t think this is because the Church of England long ago decided that I couldn’t be….

(13) SFF IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. Here’s another list to pick apart, BBC Culture’s “The 100 stories that shaped the world”. Homer’s Odyssey is number 1.

Chip Hitchcock celebrates that “SFF cracked the top 5,” and he tentatively identifies the stories with these rankings as SFF: 3, 4, 15, 16, 44, 67?, 71, 72, 73? 83?

(14) THEY WERE THERE. “How ancient DNA is transforming our view of the past” the “pots not people” (cultural exchange) view is giving way to knowledge that there were huge population shifts, e.g. Stonehenge builders disappearing under flood of Beaker People.

…Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, studies of ancient DNA from our own species were highly contentious because of observations that skeletal remains were easily contaminated by the DNA of living people.

As such, there were always nagging doubts about whether a genetic sequence belonged to the long-dead individual being studied or to an archaeologist involved in excavating the remains, a museum curator who had handled them, or a visitor to the lab where they were being analysed.

However, crucial progress in overcoming these obstacles began in the late 90s with the effort to sequence DNA from Neanderthals, which was led by Professor Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Pääbo’s group developed a set of protocols to prevent contamination slipping through, including having the same samples sequenced in two laboratories by different teams….

But the field experienced a revolution with the emergence of so-called next-generation sequencing technology. When an organism dies, the DNA in its cells begins to break down – over time it splits into smaller and smaller chunks, as well as accumulating other forms of damage.

It also gets contaminated with vast amounts of microbial DNA from the wider environment. The new sequencing machines could be used to isolate the human genetic material from bacterial DNA and then stitch together the tiny fragments into a readable sequence….

(15) ROADBLOCK. Traffic came to a standstill when….

(16) SFWA GAME CHAT. The inaugural episode of SFWA Game Chat aired this week on YouTube, hosted by Cat Rambo with Monica Valentinelli.

Did you know that SFWA now admits science fiction and fantasy game writers? Cat Rambo introduces a new show that discusses sci-fi/fantasy game writing!

 

(17) GAMING PIONEER. The Great Big Story has released a piece on the woman behind the design of the early 80’s text-based computer/adventure game, The Hobbit. Veronika Megler fell out of contact with the company that developed the game and went for many years without knowing how successful it was and how many lives it touched: “The Hunt for ‘The Hobbit’s’ Missing Hero”.

The six and a half minute video is great and the story of how (now) Dr. Megler has seized upon the lasting power of the game to help address gender balance in computer science is affecting.

 

(18) NOT AGENT 86. Missed out on this shoephone revival:

T-Mobile’s Sidekick gets a remake! Inspired by the past but stepping boldly into the future, it has revolutionary AI, headphones that double as chargers, personalized GPS guidance by John Legere, and more!

 

(19) SECOND OPINION. NPR’s Justin Chang calls Solo “A High-Speed, Low-Energy Intergalactic Heist”:

It was a good sign when Alden Ehrenreich, the terrific young actor from “Tetro” and “Hail, Caesar!” was cast as Han and also when Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the merry comic daredevils behind “The Lego Movie” and “21 Jump Street,” were hired to direct. But then Lord and Miller were fired last year due to apparently irreconcilable creative differences. And you could sense the iron will of Lucasfilm asserting itself. God forbid anyone should try to inject a little wit or personality into this surefire cash cow.

The directors were replaced by the much more risk-averse Ron Howard. And as a consequence, what might have once been a fresh and funny tour de force has devolved into bland, impersonal hackwork.

(20) CANTINA CHOW. Extra Crispy’s Tim Nelson was not impressed with the Solo/Denny’s promotional campaign, launched in April, that included trading cards and (not so) special menu items.

In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Obi Wan Kenobi warns Luke Skywalker that “you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy” than Mos Eiseley, home to the cantina where viewers first meet smuggler and scoundrel Han Solo. It’s also a fitting way to describe any Denny’s located within stumbling distance of a bar after 11 p.m.

…With proceeds from trading card purchases going to help fund nonprofit organization No Kid Hungry, the whole thing seems inoffensive enough. But if some leaked information posted on a Star Wars forum is true, some of the Solo-themed menu items seem a bit silly.

There’s the “lightspeed slam,” a healthy dish that looks more like something from a depressed nutritionist’s Instagram than a meal fit for the Star Wars universe. While Denny’s earns some points for the inclusion of “Crystal Crunch Rocks” in a milkshake and a stack of pancakes, that looks to be the closest the menu gets to anything outside the universe of the diner chain’s typical fare.

As with past Star Wars-food tie-ins, one has to wonder what purpose putting ghost pepper sauce on a bacon cheeseburger and passing it off as something Han Solo might eat ultimately serves. Why not at least serve pancakes shaped like Chewbacca’s face?

(21) NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS? Mad Genius Club’s Peter Grant made the point that “Writing books is not like frying shrimp”, inspired by the hilarious commercial linked below.

Trouble is, some new entrants into the book-writing and -publishing business think that their ambitions can be realized in a very similar fashion.  Just set up everything, add pre-set ingredients according to some arcane recipe, strike a spark, and voila!  It’s done!

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Meredith, Chip Hitchcock, SL Huang, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, JJ, IanP, and Daniel Dern for some of these stories, Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Elisa.]

Cats Sleep on SFF: Hearts of Tabat

Cat Rambo agreed with my idea for publicizing her new book Hearts of Tabat. As for her cat —

Taco says she is somewhat dubious about all of this.

Help convince Taco — pick up a copy soon!

In Tabat, Beasts — magical creatures like dryads, minotaurs, and centaurs — question a social order forcing them into its lowest level. Adelina Nettlepurse, scholar and secret owner of Spinner Press, watches the politics and intrigue with interest, only to be drawn into its heart by a dangerous text and a wholly unsuitable love affair with a man well below her station. When Adelina’s best friend and former lover, glamorous and charming gladiator Bella Kanto, is convicted of sorcery and exiled, the city of Tabat undergoes increasing turmoil as even the weather changes to reflect the confusion and loss of one of its most beloved heroes.


Photos of other felines resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com

Pixel Scroll 5/19/18 For Once A Goof In A Pixel I’ve Provided Wasn’t Introduced By Me

(1) #NEBULAS2018. Cat Rambo is ready for the banquet:

(2) #NEBULAS2018. Tell me this doesn’t send a shiver down a writer’s spine:

That comes from a thread with livetweeted highlights of a Nebula Conference panel.

(3) #NEBULAS2018. Pin at the Nebula banquet.

(4) UNWASHED MASSES. Don’t tell this to writers, but Jimmy Kimmel has been prowling the streets asking strangers, “Can You Name a Book? ANY Book???”

According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, almost one in four Americans has not read a book in the past year. So to find out if that is true, we sent a team to the street to ask pedestrians to name a book, and here are the very sad results.

 

(5) STARSHIP TROOPERS AS SPAGHETTI WESTERN. Fabrice Mathieu has done an incredible job with his new mashup called Far Alamo (Vimeo Staff Pick) in which John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and other Sixties western stars meet the world of Paul Verhoeven when the Alamo is attacked by BUGS!

(6) LATE ARRIVAL. Jeb Kinnison wants to convince you “Why ‘Arrival’ is Bad Science Fiction”.

The value of science fiction: narratives predicting science and technology and effects on future society. Stories enabled by the new, that help readers grasp what is to come and where they might place themselves to affect the outcome of their own stories. These can be more or less inherently entertaining, but the fascination of young people (especially young men) for them is in dreaming of mastery: to understand and control Nature, to vanquish enemies and nurture their families through something other than brute force and violence (though a blend of both is often very popular!)

“Junk science” is those beliefs promoted to persuade or entertain that have either been shown to be false or are simply unsupported by empirical tests. The media world is flooded with it, with sober studies making one small data point on some topic oversimplified and promoted as a breakthrough, to get clicks or publicity for research funding. “Junk science fiction” is therefore a story that borrows the authority of science to make unsupported or frankly false claims as part of a narrative, which nonscientists will accept as plausible or possible. And Arrival is junk science fiction.

(7) NOT EASY BEING GREEN. Tor.com’s Brandon O’Brien says “It’s Time to Talk About Marvel’s Gamora Problem”. Were you running out of things to criticize about Avengers: Infinity War? This will restock your cupboard.

To be clear, this is not me saying that that the movie is bad, or unenjoyable in a general sense. The action was engaging for the most part, and there are some character progressions that I think elicited real dramatic effort from the film. I like how it sets up Tony Stark’s pained, traumatic franchise-long journey from selfish, egotistical brat to responsible, self-sacrificing, if conflicted leader, which I hope they go all in on in upcoming installments. Thor, being my absolute favourite character from the franchise in general, has one really committed throughline, from losing everything that ever mattered to him in two back-to-back genocides to literally taking a beam of white-hot suffering through his body just to regain trust in his own heroic potential. Individual moments, like when Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon have their first fight with Thanos’ Black Order goons in Scotland, are delightful to look at, visually. And some of the more unlikely on-screen team-ups, like Tony with Doctor Strange, or Thor with Rocket, actually make room for really interesting dialogue.

But ultimately, there’s one aspect of the film that I simply can’t get past. We need to talk about what happens to Gamora….

(8) CAPTAIN MARVEL. The promise of Carol Danvers – What Culture makes a case for “Why Thanos Should Fear Captain Marvel.”

She is one of Marvel’s all time most beloved and powerful characters, especially in more recent years.  Since then, she’s had a new look, gone in various new directions, and has been at the absolute forefront of everything the company has tried to do.  A transition into the MCU was inevitable.

…Even Kevin Feige has said Danvers is as powerful a character as we’ve ever put in a movie.  Her powers are off the charts, and when she’s introduced, she will be by far the strongest character we have ever had.”

 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY

  • Born May 19, 1944 – Peter Mayhew

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mike Kennedy learned from Pearls Before Swine how bookstores can compete against Amazon. Turns out it may be hard on the customers, though.

(11) DON’T STEAL THAT SMELL! Apparently they just got around to this, 62 years after the product went on the market: “Hasbro officially trademarks Play-Doh smell”.

Toy maker Hasbro announced it has trademarked one of the most recognizable aspects of one of its most iconic products: the smell of Play-Doh.

The Pawtucket, R.I., company announced Friday that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has officially recognized the distinctive Play-Doh smell as a registered trademark of the brand, which first hit stores in 1956.

(12) CURIOSITY. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination presents “Why: What Makes Us Curious, with Mario Livio” on June 11.

June 11, 2018
6:00pm
Roth Auditorium
Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine
UC San Diego

The ability to ask “why?” makes us uniquely human. Curiosity drives basic scientific research, is the engine behind creativity in all disciplines from technology to the arts, is a necessary ingredient in education, and a facilitating tool in every form of storytelling (literature, film, TV, or even a simple conversation) that delights rather than bores.

In a fascinating and entertaining lecture, astrophysicist and bestselling author Mario Livio surveys and interprets cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience that aims at exploring and understanding the origin and mechanisms of human curiosity.  As part of his research into the subject, Livio examined in detail the personalities of two individuals who arguably represent the most curious minds to have ever existed: Leonardo da Vinci and Richard Feynman. He also interviewed 9 exceptionally curious people living today, among them Fabiola Gianotti, the Director General of CERN (who is also an accomplished pianist), paleontologist Jack Horner, and the virtuoso lead guitarist of the rock band Queen, Brian May (who also holds a PhD in astrophysics), and Livio presents fascinating conclusions from these conversations.

(13) GRANDMASTER’S TRADING CARD. Walter Day presented SFWA Grandmaster Peter S. Beagle with his souvenir trading card during tonight’s Nebula ceremony.

(14) A CHARMING CONVENTION.

(15) GAIMAN ADAPTATION. NPR’s Chris Klimek says it’s OK: “London Calling (Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft): ‘How To Talk To Girls At Parties'”. Last year at Cannes this was being called a disaster; no word on whether it’s been reworked.

Men Are From From Mars, Women Are From Venus, a best-selling early-’90s relationships guidebook argued. How to Talk to Girls at Parties, a sweet, slight comic fantasy expanded from an early-aughts Neil Gaiman short story, knows the truth is far more complex: Men and Women Are from Earth, Members of an Advanced Extraterrestrial Species on a Reconnaissance Mission Here While Temporarily Wearing the Bodies of Men and Women are from…. well, we never find out where they’re from, exactly. But every planet has its misfits.

(16) STILL READY PLAYER ONE. Did I already link to Glen Weldon’s review of this movie? Just in case: “Arcade Firewall: ‘Ready Player One’ REALLY Loves The ’80s”.

There will be grunts.

Grunts of recognition, that is. If you watch Steven Spielberg’s solidly built sci-fi phantasmagoria Ready Player One in a crowded theater, there will be grunts aplenty, so prepare yourself for them.

You can’t, you won’t — but try.

Every time any beloved or at least recognizable nugget of 1980s popular culture turns up onscreen, one or (likely) more of your fellow audience members will let out a low, pre-verbal phoneme, a glottal unh, to signify that they do, in fact, recognize said nugget and wish to inform those around them of this key development. This grunt, by the way, is a subspecies of the one heard at live theater, whenever a given patron wishes to express their comprehension of, and/or amusement at, some passage of dialogue they find particularly trenchant (that one’s more an amused hm!).

(17) VEGGIES IN ORBIT. GeekWire headline: “Small seeds could lead to a giant leap in space farming”.

The next Orbital ATK delivery to the space station will carry several strains of seeds for Arabidopsis, a flowering plant that’s closely related to cabbage and mustard. These will be grown in the Final Frontier Plant Habitat which was delivered on an earlier mission. The same genetic variants will be grown on Earth and used as baselines to compare harvested specimens sent back from the space station. You may recall that an earlier experiment in the overall mission to test growing of plants (including crops) in space involved lettuce, which was actually consumed by astronauts onboard the station.

When Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket launches a robotic Cygnus cargo spaceship toward the International Space Station, as early as Monday, it’ll be sending seeds that could show the way for future space farmers.

The Antares liftoff is currently set for 4:39 a.m. ET (1:39 a.m. PT) on Monday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, with an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather. NASA’s live-streaming coverage of the countdown begins at 1 a.m. PT Monday.

More than 7,200 pounds of supplies, equipment and experiments will be packed aboard the Cygnus. One of the smallest payloads consists of seeds for the Final Frontier Plant Habitat — part of a $2.3 million, NASA-funded initiative that involves researchers from Washington State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the University of New Mexico and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The automated habitat was delivered during previous cargo resupply missions and set up for planting. Once the Cygnus’ cargo arrives, astronauts can proceed with the habitat’s first official science experiment, which is aimed at determining which genetic variants of plants grow best under weightless conditions.

(18) STAND BY TO SCORCH YOUR CREDIT CARD. Ars Technica delivers a “Peek at LEGO’s upcoming sets: Star Wars crafts, Hogwarts, Ninjago city, and more”, sharing pics of LEGO’s upcoming summer and holiday 2018 sets, including:

  • Jedi Starfighter ($19)
  • Collector Series Y-Wing Starfighter ($199)
  • Snoke’s Throne Room ($69)
  •  Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter ($79)
  • Sandcrawler ($139)
  • Kessel Run version of the Millenium Falcon ($169)
  • Hogwarts Express ($79)
  • Hogwarts Great Hall ($99)
  • Quidditch Match ($39)
  • Ninjago City Docks ($229)
  • Ninjago Destiny’s Wing ($19)

Non-genre sets pictured include:

  • Arctic Supply Plane ($79)
  • Cargo Train ($229)
  • LEGO City Passenger Train ($159)
  • Creator Expert: Roller Coaster set ($379)
  • Mobile Stunt Show ($49)

(19) CATS SITTING WITHIN SF. Cory Doctorow discovered “Bandai is manufacturing armored cats”. Here’s an example. More photos at the link.

(20) DEADPOOL’S HISTORY. ScienceFiction.com explains how “‘Deadpool 2’ Mocks Marvel’s 10-Year Anniversary Video” in “Deadpool 2 – The First 10 Years.”

The clip chronicles the history of the ‘Deadpool’ franchise from 2008 to 2018, also giving it a 10-year history like Marvel Studios’ MCU – it even has the same format, aesthetic, as well as the use of dramatic background music. Clocking in at just over a minute, the clip features only Deadpool, unlike the MCU’s version which had commentaries from several key players in the film series, as he narrates what happened in the last decade that led to the creation of the upcoming sequel. The clip is filled with the character’s signature brand of humor as he honestly speaks about Reynolds’ starring in ‘Green Lantern’ and ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine,’ which certainly didn’t help their cause, as well as Fox’s multiple rejections of the project

 

(21) DEADPOOL IS HISTORY. Mark Kermode’s review of Deadpool 2, “…not as bad as Kick Ass 2” ouch.

Main problem in his view is it has tried to be more than the first and lost what he liked about the first one.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/17/18 The Furry With the Kzin On Top

(1) #NEBULAS2018. Tonight SFWA held a reception for its latest Grandmaster Peter S. Beagle.

(2) THE SWAG IS OUT THERE. Cat Rambo reveals cool SFWA stuff.

(3) GENRE TV UPDATES. Deadline reports “‘Siren’ Renewed For Season 2 By Freeform”.

Ahead of the May 24 season 1 finale, Freeform has picked up a second season of its hit mermaid thriller Siren. The network ordered a 16-episode Season 2, up from 10 episodes this season. The renewal was announced just ahead of the network’s upfront presentation today in New York City.

Siren has been a ratings success for Freeform, debuting as the No. 1 new cable drama with young women 18-34 and 12-34.

Rev. Bob provides background:

If you’re not familiar with Siren, it’s an hour-long drama in which (a) mermaids and sirens are the same thing, (b) a fishing boat catches one in a net, and (c) the military swoops in and takes her before even the crew can get a good look, so (d) her sister comes ashore to find her and get her back. Naturally, this being a prime-time cable show, hot twenty-somethings, brooding guys, and romantic entanglements ensue. It’s actually rather well done, forgoing the usual “sanitized, waist-down” transformation for a more visceral full-body transformation more reminiscent of werewolf effects.

A commercial during tonight’s episode advertised SIREN Season 2 as “Coming 2019,” with next week’s episode as the Season 1 finale. This clears the decks for the June 7 two-hour premiere of Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger. Both shows air on Freeform (formerly known as ABC Family).

Cloak & Dagger are well-established Marvel characters. For some reason, the TV show moves them from their usual NYC to New Orleans.

“Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger” is the story of Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph) – two teenagers from very different backgrounds, who find themselves burdened and awakened to newly acquired superpowers which are mysteriously linked to one another. Tandy can emit light daggers and Tyrone has the ability to engulf others in darkness. They quickly learn they are better together than apart, but their feelings for each other make their already complicated world even more challenging.

 

(4) WORLDCON 76 PROGRESS REPORT. The San Jose Worldcon has issued Progress Report #3 [PDF file].

Hugo voting has begun, and much more stuff is on the way. Check out our latest Progress Report for stories on past Worldcon, local places to visit when you’re here, and an interview with Artist Guest of Honor John Picacio about his #Mexicanx Initiative.

(5) WORLD FANTASTY CON PR. And the 2018 World Fantasy Convention has posted its own Progress Report Three [PDF file].

(6) VORKOSIFLORIST. Lois McMaster Bujold’s novella “The Flowers of Vashnoi” is now available for purchase. There are links to various sellers in her Goodreads Post.

Still new to her duties as Lady Vorkosigan, Ekaterin is working together with expatriate scientist Enrique Borgos on a radical scheme to recover the lands of the Vashnoi exclusion zone, lingering radioactive legacy of the Cetagandan invasion of the planet Barrayar. When Enrique’s experimental bioengineered creatures go missing, the pair discover that the zone still conceals deadly old secrets.

This novella falls after Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance in the Vorkosigan series timeline, but may be read entirely independently. The Vorkosigan saga was the recipient of the first Hugo Award for best science fiction series in 2017.”

(7) KGB PHOTOS. Ellen Datlow posted photos from their latest reading — “Fantastic Fiction at KGB May 16”.

Tina Connolly and Caroline Yoachim read stories — Caroline’s was nominated for the Nebula Award. Tina’s is forthcoming in a couple of months. They were both excellent readers and left us all wanting desperately to know the ends of their stories.

Caroline Yoachim and Tina Connolly

(8) STAN’S FAVORITE AUTHOR IS SHAKESPEARE. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett proves some ephemera is valuable: “So here’s an article about the surprising things one can find in a collection and the day I encountered the unexpected Stan Lee. If you thought Marvel films were the only place that Mr Lee made cameos well have I news for you” — “The Unexpected Stan Lee”.

One tip towards owning a collection.

Despite the title above this story doesn’t start with Stan Lee. Well get get to him in due course don’t worry, Stan Lee is inevitable after all, but first there needs to be some scene setting.

Like any profession the folk who deal in the buying and selling of second-hand books can recite a litany of peeves and dislikes in regards to their work. Not surprisingly most of these complaints revolve around the behaviour of the general public. Not you, I hasten to add, I’ve no doubt that if you’re reading this then you are the thoughtful and discerning type who wouldn’t dream of adding to a book dealer’s woes. Even so it’s possible for the average collector to miss a few tricks, some of which may surprise you. Consider for example the following complaint lifted from a private mailing list:

You need to add to that list the frustration of being offered a recently inherited collection only to discover that before calling the seller has thrown away everything they assumed was irrelevant rubbish. Why somebody not familiar with a collection and who usually has little or no interest in the subject the collection is built around assumes they are the best qualified person to decided what is valuable and what is not is beyond me. People don’t understand about ephemera!

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 17, 1957 Monster From Green Hell premiered in theaters.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY COMPOSER

  • Born May 17, 1961—Enya. An Academy Award nominee and a Golden Globe Award winner for “May It Be”, a song she wrote for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

(11) END OF AN ERA. Romantic Times and the related convention are going away. “’This is the last RT’ – Kathryn Falk Announces End of Romantic Times”Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has the story.

At a breakfast this morning at the 2018 RomanticTimes BookLovers Convention, Kathryn Falk and her husband Ken Rubin announced that they are retiring, and that this year is the last year for the RT Convention. While there had been rumors before the announcement, her words, delivered at the end of a farewell speech that focused on what she would be doing next, were met with gasps and audible shock.

Shortly afterward, the following email went out to RT Subscribers and newsletter members announcing that the convention as well as the RT Magazine online and the RT VIP Lounge would all be closing effective immediately…

… No mention was made regarding the new 2019 BookLovers Convention, which will be run by current RT Convention coordinator Jo Carol Jones. BookLovers Con will be held in New Orleans, May 15-19 2019.

JJ adds, “There are lots of fond comments, but take particular note of comments # 8, 11 and 20.”

(12) MARVELOUS SURPRISE, MAYBE. CNN declares “‘Captain Marvel’ won’t be what you might expect”. (Did any of you tell CNN what you expect?)

“That’s a lot of times what a typical origin movie is structured like, but as we introduce new characters moving forward, we want to find ways to subvert that structure, so at least the experience of the film feels new to audiences,” [Marvel producer Nate] Moore added. “We’re very conscious of making sure that audiences don’t get things that feel like they’ve seen them before.”

(13) KOMINSKY-CRUMB. The New York Times profiles “The Yoko Ono of Comics, on Her Own Terms”:

Among the few women making underground comics in 1970s San Francisco, the feminist infighting was fierce. Aline Kominsky (who would soon take the name of her famous and infamous boyfriend, Robert Crumb) was berated for drawing strips that female cartoonists in her collective thought were too crude and confessional, not uplifting enough, wallowing in the depths of self-loathing — about being too fat, too sexually voracious, too loud, too neurotic. This was not the work of an “evolved feminist consciousness,” she was told.

When she broke off and started her own comic book, Twisted Sisters, the first issue’s cover made it clear just how little she cared about anyone’s judgment: It was a drawing of her sitting on the toilet, underwear around her ankles, wondering, “How many calories in a cheese enchilada?”

“She specialized in outgrossing anyone who was going to call her gross,” said Diane Noomin, Ms. Kominsky-Crumb’s co-conspirator in Twisted Sister.

She didn’t care — and hasn’t for a long time now. For over four decades, Ms. Kominsky-Crumb has been shining an unabashedly unflattering light on her own life. It’s the theme that runs through “Love That Bunch,” a new book gathering her solo comics from her mid-20s until these past few years, as she turns 70 this summer.

(14) SEVENTIES SFF. James Davis Nicoll’s series continues with the letter L: “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, Part VI”.

J.A. Lawrence may be best known as an illustrator, but she is also an author. She is perhaps best known for “Getting Along” (featured in 1972’s Again, Dangerous Visions) as well as for the collection Star Trek 12, which was part of a long-running series adapted from scripts of the original Star Trek. While many of her works were co-authored with her then-husband, the late James Blish, 1978’s Mudd’s Angels is a solo work by Lawrence.

(15) YOUR 451 SCORE. B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog writer Jeff Somers thinks he found “10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Eh. I scored 8 out of 10, and one of them I “missed” is dubious (about a “prequel”). Good post all the same. Here is the one that was news to me:

There’s a video game adaptation, and it was written by Bradbury

If you’re jonesing for a sequel, you can find the nearest approximation if you can track down a copy of the 1984 video game Bradbury developed—and an old computer to play it on. It’s a direct continuation in which you play as Guy Montag, former Fireman, now seeking to make contact with the underground resistance working to save books. An interactive text adventure with some graphics, the game relies on quotes from famous written works that Montag must collect and pass on to resistance members to memorize them for posterity.

(16) SF WHERE IT’S LEAST EXPECTED. Narrative online magazine has a reputation for being very, very literary. Bruce D. Arthurs says, “So I was quite croggled to see that their latest ‘Poem of the Week’ was titled ’Alderaan’ by Maria Hummel.”

You can only read the first half of the poem at the link. To read the last half, you have to sign up and login.

Bruce read the whole thing and his verdict is, “Not particularly impressed by the poem, myself. But seeing it appear in a high-falutin’ literary mag like Narrative was quite the surprise. Maybe science fiction really is taking over the world.”

(17) GAS HISTORY. The earliest O2: “Scientists detect oxygen legacy of first stars”.

Astronomers have made the most distant ever detection of oxygen.

They observed it in a galaxy of stars that existed just 500 million years after the Big Bang.

But what is really fascinating is that this oxygen can only have been produced in an even older group of stars that would have dispersed it when they died and blew themselves apart.

That means we could be witnessing the traces of events that occurred a mere 250 million years after the Big Bang.

(18) IT’S ABOUT TIME. Southwestern solar calendar: “Arizona’s mysertious clock of ancient times” is traceable to past tribes, not space aliens.

In 2005, Zoll, then 57 and a volunteer at the forest’s V Bar V historical ranch site, detected a pattern to the shadows cast on the park’s huge rock art panels, which are covered with more than 1,000 petroglyphs.

Could this, he wondered, be an ancient calendar?

He shared his observation with a forest service archaeologist, who wasn’t particularly impressed. Archaeo- or cultural astronomy, the study of how ancient peoples tracked the seasons and studied the cosmos, has fought for respectability. It’s hard to prove that alignment with the sun, moon or stars isn’t mere coincidence. And in the past, some advocates haven’t helped their case, suggesting that prehistoric sites could have been fashioned by space aliens.

(19) WOULDA COULDA WAKANDA. HISHE gives us “How Black Panther Should Have Ended.”

(20) COLBERT. Live For Live Music explicates a Late Show comedy bit: “Kids Pitch A New TV Show: ‘Strangest Things: The Golden Mysteries'”.

On last night’s edition of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the late-night host recruited a slew of prominent actors and entertainers to help bring the ideas of a panel of “the most influential minds in the prized 6-8-year-old demographic” to life in a hilarious sketch dubbed “Kids Pitch.”

After an exhaustive session with the kids, Colbert’s focus group came to the conclusion that the new TV show they wanted to pitch would need to feature “very famous group band,” The Beatles (one kid, a young Beatles superfan, stuck to his Revolver when challenged on what their best album was). The focus group also came up with various thematic criteria including fighting and music (which, of course, means “rap battle”) as well as creepiness, aliens, Nick Cannon and Brooke Shields, among other things.

Playing three of The Beatles are John Oliver (Paul McCartney), David Tennant (George Harrison), and Michael Shannon (Ringo Starr).

[Thanks to ULTRAGOTHA, JJ, Bruce D. Arthurs, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Kim Huett, James Davis Nicoll, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 5/7/18 The File And The Pixel-Scroll Went To Space In A Runcible Manxome File

(1) LUKE CAGE CONTINUES. From Netflix, “Marvel’s Luke Cage – Season 2 Official Trailer.”

After clearing his name, Luke Cage has become a celebrity on the streets of Harlem with a reputation as bulletproof as his skin. But being so visible has only increased his need to protect the community and find the limits of who he can and can’t save. With the rise of a formidable new foe, Luke is forced to confront the fine line that separates a hero from a villain.

 

(2) NICHELLE NICHOLS’ HEALTH. “’Star Trek’ Star Nichelle Nichols Is Living With Dementia”Madamenoir has the story,

Nichelle Nichols, who is known for her iconic role as Uhura in “Star Trek” is living with severe dementia.

Nichols’ son Kyle Johnson says that his 85-year-old mother needs protection to prevent people from taking advantage of her.

According to TMZ, Johnson filed documents nominating 4 fiduciaries to become his mother’s conservators—giving them control of her finances and authority to make decisions regarding her health.

(3) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. At the next Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Tina Connolly & Caroline M. Yoachim. Date and time: Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

  • Tina Connolly

Tina Connolly’s books include the Ironskin trilogy (Tor), the Seriously Wicked series (Tor Teen), and the collection On the Eyeball Floor and Other Stories (Fairwood Press). Her books have been finalists for the Nebula, Norton, and World Fantasy awards. She is one of the co-hosts of Escape Pod, and runs the flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake. Find her at tinaconnolly.com.

  • Caroline M. Yoachim

Caroline M. Yoachim is the author of over a hundred short stories. Her fiction has been translated into several languages, reprinted in best-of anthologies, and is available in her debut collection Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World & Other Stories. Her 2017 short story “Carnival Nine” is a Nebula and Hugo finalist. For more about Caroline, check out her website at carolineyoachim.com

The KGB Bar id st 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.), New York, NY.

(4) NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER. David Grinspoon, an astrobiologist who studies climate evolution and habitability of other worlds, and Alan Stern, the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper belt, say “Yes, Pluto is a planet” in  Washington Post op-ed.

Three years ago, NASA’s New Horizons, the fastest spaceship ever launched, raced past Pluto, spectacularly revealing the wonders of that newly seen world. This coming New Year’s Eve — if all goes well on board this small robot operating extremely far from home — it will treat us to images of the most distant body ever explored, provisionally named Ultima Thule. We know very little about it, but we do know it’s not a planet. Pluto, by contrast — despite what you’ve heard — is.

Why do we say this? We are planetary scientists, meaning we’ve spent our careers exploring and studying objects that orbit stars. We use “planet” to describe worlds with certain qualities. When we see one like Pluto, with its many familiar features — mountains of ice, glaciers of nitrogen, a blue sky with layers of smog — we and our colleagues quite naturally find ourselves using the word “planet” to describe it and compare it to other planets that we know and love.

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced an attempted redefinition of the word “planet” that excluded many objects, including Pluto. We think that decision was flawed, and that a logical and useful definition of planet will include many more worlds….

 

(5) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Because the International Space Station does not have a way to wash dirty clothes, astronauts shoot their laundry into the Earth’s atmosphere to be incinerated. Consequently, a crew of six can go through 900 pounds of clothing per year. (Source: Smithsonian.com)

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 7, 1950 Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles became the first new work of science fiction ever noted in the New York Times Book Review, breaking that glass ceiling via Rex Lardner’s “Fiction in Brief” column. As John King Tarpinian tells it, “Ray was not happy with Martian being described as Science Fiction but heck, who cares now…”

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lise Andreasen says the lesson learned from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal’s “Soulmate” is never build a dating website.

(8) AFROFUTURISM. A BBC profile: “Afrofuturism: Why black science fiction ‘can’t be ignored'”.

Afrofuturism is perhaps best summed up by the queen of contemporary afrofuturism herself — Janelle Monae.

Her futuristic music videos and radical aesthetic (she even calls her fans “fAndroids”) are seen by some as a key force for pushing afrofuturism into the mainstream.

“Afrofuturism is me, us… is black people seeing ourselves in the future,” she explains in a 30-second video clip for Spotify.

It is no surprise then that Janelle cites the movement as the inspiration for her new narrative film, Dirty Computer: Emotion Picture, a visual accompaniment to her latest album (which is currently trending on YouTube).

(9) CATCHING UP. Here are “Some Pragmatic Picks by Foz Meadows” a 2018 Shadow Clarke juror.

In compiling my personal Shadow Clarke shortlist, I’ve opted to forego the pressures of dutiful or adventurous reading, and have stuck to a selection of books which, for various reasons, I’d already planned to read. Partially, I’ve done so out of pragmatism: it’s hard enough at the best of times to force myself to read something in which I have little to no existing interest and whose premise doesn’t appeal to me, and if I can’t actually bring myself to read my selected works, there’s little point in being a shadow judge at all. At the same time, I’d argue that the parameters of the Clarke Award are such that the final selection of any judge or judges, whether shadow or otherwise, is always going to hinge on personal taste. The submissions list, as the name suggests, does not come pre-curated: in order to be in contention for the award, eligible works need only be submitted for consideration by their publishers. While there’s invariably a fascinating conversation to be had about which of their titles particular houses either forget, neglect or actively decline to submit in the first place, the impact of those choices is at best a process of curation by collective omission. That being so, the contents of the submissions list as is become something of a crapshoot, running the gamut from obvious, big-name contenders to self-published indies to midlist titles flung at the wall to see what sticks. But then, science fiction, when not broken down into subgenres, is a spectacularly broad mandate – how else can it be honestly navigated except through personal preference?

(10) WHERE DO THEY ALL COME FROM. “Cat Rambo’s Ideas For The Asking: A Guest Post!” at Sue Bursztynski’s blog.

Where do you get your ideas, my youngest brother asked as we were driving to dinner. I shrugged and said, Everywhere. He eyed me sideways, as though to say, it has to be harder than that.

But the truth is that I’ve always tried to look at the world in different ways. As a child, a favorite activity was looking at the ceiling and imagining what it would be like to live from that angle — not so different from our own life, but with much more inconvenient doors, for one. Or later, looking at public spaces to imagine what a superhero battle would be like staged there — where was cover, where the blind spots or perches? …

(11) RAMBO TRIVIA. Time to cram for the quiz:

(12) FAAN STATS. Click on the link to download Nic Farey’s FAAn Awards voting statistics and analysis publication.

(13) MINIATURE WORLDCON BID. Kate Secor (bid chair) and Michael Lee (bid treasurer) have announced a bid for “Worldcon 84: The Minimal Viable Worldcon” to be held in Charlottesville, VA in 2026. This is probably supposed to be funny.

W84 is targeting lovely Charlottesville, Virginia as a site. We will be capping attending memberships at 125 (not including staff) in order to fit in our chosen venue, the Charlottesville CitySpace. …

We are currently looking at dates in early October, so as to take advantage of Virginia’s long fall season and lovely natural scenery. We expect there to be sufficient hotel rooms to accommodate all our members at various price points. There will be no official con hotel, although W84 may be able to work with Charlottesville’s Visitor Bureau to change this.

…W84 will be administering the Hugos entirely online and via postal mail, and announcing the results via press release. Trophies will be mailed to the winners. W84 will be administering Site Selection largely via mail, but will accept hand-carried ballots and also allow on-site voting for all members even if they do not have attending memberships.

(14) MODERN WARRIOR. James Breakwell reporting:

(15) READY PLAYER THREE. And right after —

(16) GOOD DOG. At Middle-Earth Reflections, Olga Polomoshnova a series of posts finishes with “Reading Roverandom /// Chapter 5”.

The closing chapter of Roverandom is a good example of a happy turn of events when you least expect it. Moreover, it is where we can see the results of Rover’s moral journey and how he has changed over the course of the story.

Once out of the sea depths, Rover again addresses Artaxerxes with his request: to change him into his proper size and shape. He does not hesitate to use the word “please” abundantly. The wizard is happy to help the dog as he has become wiser and kinder, too, following his failure as PAM and the anger of mer-people.  But, alas, all his spells were destroyed at the bottom of the ocean. Artaxerxes is truly miserable, and he really means it being eager to change Rover back into his normal self. Things would have been pretty bad had it not been for the wizard’s shrewd wife. She kept some spells and now has exactly the one he needs to grant Rover’s request.

(17) DECODING HEINLEIN. Does the BBC know this was the source of the ship name in Citizen of the Galaxy? — “Sisu: the Finnish art of inner strength”.

“Sisu will get you even through granite,” my Finnish mother-in-law used to say. If you look at the enormous grey outcrops of granite scattered since the ice age through the Finnish countryside and forests, you’ll realise that getting through them is not just difficult, it is pretty well impossible.

‘Sisu’ in Finnish means strength, perseverance in a task that for some may seem crazy to undertake, almost hopeless. My mother-in-law experienced the bombings of the Winter War (1939-1940) when Finland was attacked by the much superior Soviet army but managed to mount a resistance to remain independent. The New York Times ran an article in 1940 with the headline “Sisu: A Word that Explains Finland”.

So, what is this almost mythical quality that appears to be so Finnish? “It is a special thing that is reserved for especially challenging moments. When we feel that we came to the end point of our preconceived capacities. You could say that sisu is energy, determination in the face of adversities that are more demanding than usual,” says Emilia Lahti, a researcher of sisu from Aalto University in Helsinki.

(18) CELEBRATING HEINLEIN’S BIRTHDAY.  A Barcelona club plans to celebrate Heinlein’s birthday on July 7. Juan Miguel de la Torre Quesada, Vice-President of Barcelona’s Otium Club sent out an English translation of their press release with the schedule. Here are a few highlights.

H-Day – Heinlein’s Day

Saturday, July 7nth, 2018 – from 10: 00 to 14:00.

Civic Center Joan Oliver “Pere Quart”

C/ Comandante Benítez, 6 – Barcelona (Spain)

About the event:

On the day of his 111nth birthday, this July, the seventh, we’re gathering to celebrate the life and work of Robert Anson Heinlein in a event we have baptised as “Dia H – Heinlein’s Day”. With this activity we wish to present to the greater audience, beyond the limits of fandom, this seminal autor and his influence within the genere of SF as well as in the cultural fabric of our times.

Robert Heinlein is considered one of the greatest and most essential writers in the SF cannon, not only because of his excellent narrative and literary qualities, but as a pioneer in the field, a paladin of critical thinking and of rational pragmatism, owing perhaps to his formation as an engineer, whose ideas and reflections, poured into a hundred Works, remain relevant today and are worth debating.

10:00 Introduction.

Ángel.F. Bueno, founder and President of the Otium Club will welcome the attendees with a brief exposition about the activities, presneting the author and his work, and then introducing the main guest speaker, Salvador Bayarri.

10: 20 – 11:40 Conference : “Robert Heinlein: a libertarian in science fiction”.

Salvador Bayarri, Doctor in Physics and Master Degree in Philosophy, as well as an SF writer, will expound on a complete exploration and biographical analysis on the thought, themes and work of the autor, in a light and humorous manner.

11:40 – 11:45 “The attendees will be invited to blow the candles on a birthday cake customised for the occasion”.

11:45 – 13:13 Screening of “Predestination” (2014) , The Spierig Brothers.

Salvador Bayarri and Ángel F. Bueno will introduce this excellent movie based on the short story “All you zombies!” (1958) by Robert A. Heinlein….

(19) TAGGING ALONG. The latest Mars mission has company: “WALL-E and EVE on their way to Mars with InSight”.

NASA’s InSight lander is on its way to Mars, after a successful launch on Saturday morning.

The lander was launched by an Atlas V rocket taking off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California shortly after 4 a.m. local time. It successfully separated from the upper stage more than an hour later.

Because InSight is a lander — not a rover — it will stay put on Mars as it carries out “an $813.8 million mission to study the interior of the Red Planet.”

Two CubeSats, or miniature satellites about the size of a briefcase, were launched by the same rocket, basically hitching a ride with the Insight. Named after the characters in the 2008 animated movie, WALL-E and EVE are each about the size of a briefcase or large cereal box. They popped out from the rocket’s upper stage after liftoff and are hightailing it to Mars, right behind InSight. This is the first time CubeSats have set sail for deep space.

[Thanks to Keith G. Kato, JJ, Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, John King Tarpinian, Mark Hepworth, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Lise Andreasen, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 4/13/18 Soylent Scroll is Pixels

(1) ARTEMIS IS NOT THE EXPANSE. Ioannis Kokkinidis gives an analysis of how realistic Andy Weir’s Artemis is in “The polis of Artemis on the Moon” at Centauri Dreams.

Over the years many rationales have been given to colonize the Moon. This is the only story I have read – granted I have not been able to read that much science fiction – where tourism is the primary driver of colonization. Andy Weir has said that he first created an economy of the town and then went on to write the novel. His description of a tourist dependent city though has several assumptions that, while mostly true for some American destinations, are quite odd for tourist destinations outside the US. This is an analysis by a person who comes from a country whose economy is highly dependent of tourism, has visited some 30 countries and lived in 5 of them. I am trying to keep this review as spoiler free as possible so as not to ruin the enjoyment of the book to anyone who has not read it, though I hope that those that have not read the book will be able to follow my arguments and form their own opinions.

Kokkinidis’ article includes the surprise that Andy Weir and James S.A. Corey (aka Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) have agreed that his stories are set in the same universe as The Expanse series.

Or not, says Greg Hullender, who sent the link along with his own research into the matter.

There was a tweet from Corey back in 2015 that said the stories were part of the same continuity —

But a few months ago, Weir denied it during a  Reddit AMA session:

I love The Expanse – fantastic stories. But no, The Martian and The Expanse are not in the same continuity. They just threw in the reference for fun. I’m honored.

And a month later, Daniel Abraham admitted it was just a joke:

It was a friendly joke at SDCC a few years back. Andy’s awesome, and we’re fans. I think we can keep the copyright lawyers in their cages for the time being.

Ah well. It was a pretty idea while it lasted.

(2) DOCTOR STRANGEMIND. Kim Huett of Doctor Strangemind takes the recent controversy over Terry Goodkind’s criticism of cover srt on his new book as a starting point for a dive into sff art history, “Author Vs Art”.

In 1973 Dennis Stocks organized a science fiction convention in Brisbane. At this convention there was a panel titled: “SF Illustration… A Dying Art?” In preparation for this panel he asked various authors their opinions. He received some fascinating answers:

….Perhaps we’ll have more luck with Robert Bloch:

About science fiction illustration being a dying art – I’d be more inclined to regard the patient as not dying but merely partially crippled. My diagnosis is as follows:

His skin – that is to say, cover illustrations in both magazines and paperbacks – has a good, healthy tone and radiates a high degree of vitality,

His insides – i.e. interior illustrations in the magazines are ailing. And have been for many a long year. Much black-and-white is crude, hastily-executed and poorly reproduced, and necessarily limited as to size by the digest format of the pages on which it appears.

(3) FELAPTON PIRATED! Camestros Felapton real life is far more exciting than mere fiction: “Avast! And Splice the Epub Me Hearties! Pirates Off the Starboard iBook!”

So 2018 has so far been a strange year for the Felapton brand, aside from a being a Hugo finalist, being reported to the Federal Police for running a blog and not forgetting being accused of secretly lecturing in philosophy in Aberdeen, I’ve now been pirated!

The Apple iBooks store has two version of The Felapton Digest available. One is the correct one distributed by Smashwords and is free. The other is…I’m not sure, I haven’t looked inside it because whoever is selling it is charging $39.99!

(4) NEW BAT CHANNEL. George R.R. Martin has moved his blog off of LiveJournal. Here’s the link to the new URL for Not A Blog.

(5) FREE COMICS. Free Comic Book Day is coming May 5.

(6) REAL LIFE PODCASTING. Cat Rambo shares a… pro tip? Confession?

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Cat Eldridge agrees with xkcd’s Narnian punchline about Turkish Delight.

(8) NIHIL NECCO? Meanwhile, the fate of another candy hangs in the balance — “Necco wafers may disappear forever due to candy factory shutdown”:

Still, Necco Wafers are not as flashy as more modern confections, like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Baby Ruths. Naysayers have complained that Necco Wafers taste like drywall or chalk; time and again, the wafers have topped lists of America’s most hated candy.

Be that as it may, Necco Wafers are suddenly having a huge revival. Why? Because the candy factory — the New England Confectionary Company, or Necco — that makes these deliciously despised candies may shut down.

In March, Necco CEO Michael McGee told the Boston Globe that the failing company would be closing down — and laying off nearly 400 people — if it could not find a buyer.

(9) A REAL SPACE MUSEUM. The BBC tells about : “The ambitious proposal to create a space ‘museum’ in orbit” — preserving the Hubble as an exhibit now that there’s no shuttle to keep refurbishing it.

One of the most significant scientific endeavours of all time, Hubble is destined to burn apart as it re-enters the atmosphere in the early 2030s. It will go the same way as many other historic space objects – from the first satellite and Laika the space dog, to Skylab and the Mir space station.

But there may be an “impossible” alternative.

“It seems an ignominious end for such a celebrated object,” says Stuart Eves, chair of the Space Information Exchange – a UK government and industry forum for space security and infrastructure – who is a satellite engineer and expert on space debris. “Instead, in the same way we preserve historic ships, aircraft, cars and trains in museums,” he says, “we ought to look after Hubble and preserve it for posterity.”

Rather than bring it back to Earth – a costly and challenging mission (successfully attempted by the Space Shuttle in 1984 with two communications satellites) – Eves is urging the US to preserve the telescope in space.

(10) THE GOAL. Greg Hullender explains the reviewing philosophy of Rocket Stack Rank in “A Word for Authors”. “It tries to give authors some guidance on when they ought to engage with us about a review they had problems with,” he says. “The key thing is that it separates our reviews, which are matters of opinion, from our index, which should be a matter of fact. We have an adversarial relationship with authors regarding reviews, but we ought to be cooperative when it comes to the index. It’s the one place where we have the same goal: to attract readers to stories that might interest them.” Here’s an excerpt —

Honest Doesn’t Mean Cruel

Some authors can’t handle any amount of criticism of their work. One author complained about five negative words in thousand-word 5-star review which otherwise gushed over how great the story was. Another complained that a 5-star review praised their story for the wrong reasons. We can’t make everyone happy, and we aren’t going to try.

But there’s no reason to be cruel either. Nothing I post is ever meant to hurt an author’s feelings. If I’ve overstepped the line, anyone (readers, authors, editors, etc.) should feel free to let me know. In particular:

  • A review should never be personal. “This story suffers from a weak plot” is okay. “This author can’t plot his way out of a paper bag” is not.
  • A review should not pile on. Once I’ve cited enough reasons to explain why the story got a 2-star review, I should stop. There’s no point in trying to list 50 things that bothered me if 5 will do.
  • A review should never use the race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion, or disability of an author or the characters portrayed as factors for or against a story. (Unrealistic portrayal is a different story, of course. “But a Mainer would neverbe best friends with a New Yorker!”)

Beyond that, if an author believed I was unnecessarily harsh, he or she should feel free to let me know. If I somehow wrote “This was the most awful thing I’ve ever read,” I’d almost certainly be willing to soften that to “I didn’t enjoy this story at all.”

(11) YANG AT HIGH TIDE. Joe Sherry covers three books in “Nanoreviews: Good Guys, Penric’s Fox, The Black Tides of Heaven” at Nerds of a Feather.

He really likes this one –

Yang, JY. The Black Tides of Heaven [Tor.com Publishing]

Have you ever read a book and midway through you’re actively angry at yourself for not reading it sooner? That was me after maybe twenty pages of The Black Tides of Heaven. By the end of the book my jaw was on the floor in amazement at just how spectacular this novella is. Told over the course of more than thirty years, The Black Tides of Heaven is not quite the story of revolution, but it is more a story of politics, of family, of personal choice, with a bit of revolution in the mix. All of that, and more, is woven together to something that is far superior than any facile description I could possibly give. I’m not sure I am up to the task of properly reviewing thie novella. I can only give The Black Tides of Heaven my highest possible recommendation.
Score: 10/10 

(12) THE U.S. ARMY’S OWN MILSF. The IEEE Spectrum says “To Illustrate the Dangers of Cyberwarfare, the Army Is Turning to Sci-fi”.

Graphic novelettes issued by the U.S. Army Cyber Institute aim to educate soldiers about digital threats…

The books grew out of the ACI’s collaboration with the Threatcasting Lab at Arizona State University, in Tempe. Brian David Johnson is the director of the Threatcasting Lab and Intel’s former in-house futurist. He wrote the books—Dark Hammer, Silent Ruin, Engineering a Traitor, and 11/25/27—with Sandy Winkelman as creative director.

“We do two-day threatcasting events where we…model possible threats 10 years in the future,” Johnson says. “Threats to national security, threats to the economy, threats to civilization. And once we’ve established those, then we look backward and say, ‘How do we disrupt and mitigate those threats?’ ” he says.

The ACI decided they wanted more than just the lab’s traditional reports, Johnson says. “They wanted something that was much more visceral, that could be put in front of an 18-year-old cadet and also in front of a three-star general. They chose a process of mine called science fiction prototyping. You write science fiction stories based on science facts to explore possible futures. We used the threatcasting reports as the science facts, and we developed these four comic books as a way to illustrate these possible threats.”

(13) THE NEXT JOB FOR ROBOTS. Never mind hamburgers: “Could a robot pip people picking peppers?” [Video]

A pepper-picking robot named Harvey is being developed by Queensland University of Technology with the aim of reducing crop waste.

Moving between crop rows autonomously, the robot can detect when the fruit is ripe and picks the pepper with the aid of a suction grip and an electric saw.

(14) WINTER IS COMING. Europe could get colder: “Climate change dials down Atlantic Ocean heating system” — “the Atlantic Ocean circulation system is weaker now than it has been for more than 1,000 years – and has changed significantly in the past 150.”

The study, in the journal Nature, says it may be a response to increased melting ice and is likely to continue.

Researchers say that could have an impact on Atlantic ecosystems.

Scientists involved in the Atlas project – the largest study of deep Atlantic ecosystems ever undertaken – say the impact will not be of the order played out in the 2004 Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow.

But they say changes to the conveyor-belt-like system – also known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc) – could cool the North Atlantic and north-west Europe and transform some deep-ocean ecosystems.

(15) PAY THE WRITER. The BBC article “Dealing with clients who expect you to work for free” is a collection of sleazy lines turned into cartoons — not specifically genre, but a common concern in the field. (Cartoons at the link.)

She calls this a “graphic survey” approach –  drawing illustrations that put a face with the crowd-sourced quote – that would create a space for creatives to share their experiences.

“It’s fun to create that in-joke where people have experienced these things,” she says. “But the other people [who aren’t in on the joke] are like, ‘What’s going on, am I getting made fun of?’ It creates awareness, and hopefully it gets shared.”

The goal of For Exposure, beyond creating a platform for frustrated creatives? It’s not only to arm them to be savvier – it’s also hold the people they work for accountable.

“I want artists to learn to recognise red flags,” Estrada says. “And I want clients to learn how not to be insulting.”

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Greg Hullender, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cora Buhlert.]

Pixel Scroll 3/23/18 It’s A Beautiful Day In The Pixel Scroll. Won’t You Be My Filer?

(1) SPIT TAKE. All you short fiction fans pay attention: “Short Story Dispenser to spit out free stories at three locations around Philadelphia” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Like picking up a pack of Oreos from the cafeteria vending machine, a new kiosk concept in partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia will allow visitors to obtain short stories at the touch of a button.

Announced Thursday as part of the Public Library Association’s 2018 conference, Philadelphia was selected as one of four cities to receive a grant for Short Story Dispensers. The thin, sleek 5-foot-tall kiosks will be at three yet-to-be-determined locations throughout the city.

Each will offer one-, three-, and five-minute stories from a range of 20 genres. Stories will be spit out like an ATM receipt to users — and for free — on eco-friendly paper.

(2) IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN. “Time for a new episode of my Eating the Fantastic podcast,” says Scott Edelman, “And time to test the Internet gods!” Episode 62 invites you to chow down on calamari with Paul di Filippo:

Paul Di Filippo has published more than than 200 short stories—which as you’ll hear, I teased him about as conversation began—and has appeared in such magazines as Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,  Interzone, and many others. Some of those stories have been collected in The Steampunk Trilogy, Ribofunk, Fractal Paisleys, Lost Pages, Little Doors, Strange Trades, Babylon Sisters, and many, many others. And then there are the novels, such as Ciphers, Joe’s Liver, Fuzzy Dice, A Mouthful of Tongues, and Spondulix. He’s been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction Association, Philip K. Dick, Wired magazine, and World Fantasy awards. He was also my go-to reviewer back when I edited Science Fiction Age and then, for the Syfy Channel’s Science Fiction Weekly.

Paul’s the one who suggested Angelo’s Civita Farnese as our venue. The Italian restaurant was opened in Providence 1924 by Angelo Mastrodicasa. Paul’s entree of french fries with meatballs, a combination I’ve never seen before, turned out to be one of Angelo’s signature dishes, started during the Depression as a way for customers to fill up without emptying their wallets.

We discussed why the first story he ever wrote was Man from U.N.C.L.E. fan fiction, the pact he made with a childhood friend which explains why he owns none of the Marvel Comics he read as a kid, what caused the editor who printed his debut story to make the bold claim it would be both his first and last published piece of fiction, how his life changed once he started following Ray Bradbury’s rule of writing at least 1,000 words per day, why he’s written so much alternate history and for which famous person he’s had the most fun imagining a different life, why after a career in science fiction and fantasy he’s begun a series of mystery novels, what happened to the never-published Batman story he sold DC Comics which we never got to see, and much more.

(3) KURT BUSIEK OPTION. Todd Allen has the details: “Kurt Busiek Working on an Astro City Pilot With FreemantleMedia – Another Super Hero Universe License Acquired”.

If memory serves, Astro City has been under option of some kind since at least the early-to-mid ’00s.  Back then, super hero movies were just starting to heat up with Spidey and X-Men, but Marvel hadn’t gotten their own studio together yet.  These days, TV is arguably as needy as the film studios when it comes to comics licenses. (See: Netflix)  And so, FreemantleMedia North America has come into possession of the film rights for Astro City.

FreeMantle is actually pretty big.  They produce everything from The Price is Right to American Gods.  What’s a bit more interesting is that Kurt Busiek, himself, is co-writing the pilot….

(4) THE UNFORGOTTEN. Pulp Librarian (@PulpLibrarian) ran a retrospective on Laser Books today. Mark Hepworth’s comment accompanying the link ended, “…complete with some really bad covers!” Since one of my favorite artists, Kelly Freas, did every Laser Book cover, I’m not going to print that…. Jump on the thread here —

(5) STORYBUNDLE. Time is running out on The Feminist Futures Bundle curated by Cat Rambo.

Rosemary Kirstein, one of the contributors (The Steerswoman), describes the bundle as “10 authors with novels that simply assume that their female protagonists are equal participants in society and able to pursue their goals — no preaching or excoriating involved!” The Storybundle is in its last week and ends March 29. You’ll find several posts with more info about the bundle at Kirstein’s blog.

Nicole Kimberling, another of the bundle authors, wrote a piece for The Mary Sue on “Why We Still Need Feminist Science-Fiction”.

When Cat Rambo first approached me about including my novel, Happy Snak, in a StoryBundle, I thought it would be representing the “outer space” niche in a collection of genre-based comedies. So when I realized my story would be included in “Feminist Futures,” I was taken aback. Happy Snak is about a woman who owns a dinky snack bar in space. She fraternizes with aliens and refuses to comply with arbitrary regulations but is otherwise largely apolitical. Why, I wondered, would anybody consider this feminist? Then, thinking further, I realized that for many women, just being themselves and making (and spending) their own money is still considered a threatening and subversive act. (I’ve got my eye you, Quiverfull.)

And Cat has two video interviews of the authors included in the bundle:

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 23, 2012 — The first installment of The Hunger Games made its theatrical premiere.

(7) OVERTIME. JonnyBaak’s video takes a behind-the-scenes look at the 1966/67 Irwin Allen hit The Time Tunnel.

(8) LEGO IDEAS WINNER ABOUT TO HIT MARKET. io9 advises “Start Saving Your Quarters Because Lego’s Tron: Legacy Light Cycles Set Finally Arrives Next Week”.

Originally approved for production back in late November of last year, the light cycle design that BrickBros UK submitted to the Lego Ideas site looks significantly updated and streamlined by Lego’s own designers for the production version of this set. But the changes certainly seem to benefit fans of Tron: Legacy, as the set now includes two light cycles, and three minifigure versions of Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), Quorra (Olivia Wilde), and Rinzler (Anis Cheurfa), complete with identity discs.

(9) ABOUT THOSE SJW CREDENTIALS. Dogs and cats – never the twain shall mark.

(10) UNBELIEVABLE. A professional cartographer makes fun of real-world map of New Orleans: “A guy who makes Role-playing games has criticised a map of New Orleans for being “unrealistic” and it’s gone viral”. Start the thread here:

(11) BRADBURY’S WRITING TIPS. Tripwire has rediscovered “Ray Bradbury’s 12 Rules For Writers”. Here are the first two —

  • Don’t start out writing novels. They take too long. Begin your writing life instead by cranking out “a hell of a lot of short stories,” as many as one per week. Take a year to do it; he claims that it simply isn’t possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row. He waited until the age of 30 to write his first novel, Fahrenheit 451. “Worth waiting for, huh?”
  • You may love ’em, but you can’t be ’em. Bear that in mind when you inevitably attempt, consciously or unconsciously, to imitate your favorite writers, just as he imitated H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle and L. Frank Baum.

(12) ACCESSIBLE EMOJIS. Proposed emojis for various disabilities: “Apple proposes 13 new emoji that represent people with disabilities”

The original Apple submission to the Unicode Consortium [PDF file] (the ruling body for emoji selection and all things else Unicode) states (in part):

  • Completeness Does the proposed pictograph fill a gap in existing types of emoji?

The proposed set in itself provides a significant advance in coverage to depict various forms of disability, and fills a significant gap in representation and inclusiveness among existing emoji. We welcome other considerations that can help complete the set.

Mike Kennedy sent the link with a note: “It occurs to me that people who work Access for cons might have some ideas for additional emojis to “help complete the set.”

(13) SETTLEMENT IN TREK ACTOR’S DEATH. “Anton Yelchin: Star Trek actor’s parents settle legal case with car firm”: The rollaway that killed the new Chekov led to 11,000,000 cars recalled; damages will support a foundation.

Gary Dordick, the lawyer for Yelchin’s parents, said the money would go to the Anton Yelchin Foundation. The amount hasn’t been disclosed.

The money will also help fund a documentary about Yelchin’s life.

The actor was born in Russia and played Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek films released in 2009 and 2013.

He died when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee pinned him against a concrete mailbox at his LA house in June 2016.

His parents filed a wrongful death case against Fiat Chrysler in August that year, saying the gear changer was defective.

In April 2016, the company had recalled 1.1 million vehicles across the world because of concerns that they could roll away after drivers exit.

(14) STAY FROSTY. “Thrills and chills at Broadway’s Frozen musical” — a hit with the audience, and the critic.

The puppet design provided for Sven and Olaf the snowman is a highlight of this Frozen, which had its official opening night on Thursday.

Credit for this goes to puppet designer Michael Curry, who previously made magic as Julie Taymor’s collaborator on The Lion King, Disney’s longest-running Broadway hit.

Yet for all the clever design elements involved in the production, it’s the performances, guided with wit and tenderness by acclaimed British director Michael Grandage, that propel the story.

That story is spun by librettist Jennifer Lee, adapting her own screenplay, and composer/lyricists Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez – Academy Award winners both for Frozen and, more recently, Coco.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. I can’t resist this video of the “Flaming Tomb on Easter Sunday.” People begin to see the light at the 1:18 mark.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mark Hepworth, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Bill, Rosemary Kirstein, Scott Edelman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lenora Rose, with an embellishment by OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 3/9/18 Now Scroll It! Into Shape! Pixel Up! File Straight!

(1) SUBTITLE THIS. Not very sff, but the replies to John Hornor’s tweet are absolute gold.

Among other responses –

(2) WRINKLE IN TIME REACTIONS. Two NPR views: the straight by Linda Holmes: “Oprah In The Sky, With Wisdom: The Earnest, Imaginative ‘A Wrinkle In Time'”

There is a part of a filmgoer who is exhausted by an avalanche of stuff — much of it forgettable, much of it created by committee, much of it branded within an inch of its life and all of it subject to commercial expectations that are either indifferent or hostile to art — that says, “I cannot get on board with a film that delivers wisdom through a giant, glowing Oprah.”

Is that cynicism? Perhaps, but it’s cynicism that is earned. What Ava DuVernay’s adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time asks is that this cynicism be temporarily laid down so that you can, in fact, be deeply moved by wisdom delivered by a giant, glowing Oprah.

If you do, it’s a profoundly satisfying, imaginative and beautiful film.

And the slant by Bob Mondello: “‘A Wrinkle In Time’ Will Delight Target Audience That Doesn’t Have Too Many Wrinkles”.

Director Ava DuVernay has a light touch with these early scenes, though she gets seriously bogged down in special effects as the film goes on. In 1962 when “A Wrinkle In Time” was published, critics noted the Christian theology of author Madeleine L’Engle, comparing her to “Narnia” creator C.S. Lewis and wondered if the book’s challenge to conformity could be read as a Cold War allegory about communism. No one’s likely to do that this time.

(3) MORE WRINKLES. The Verge’s Tasha Robinson also isn’t a fan: “A Wrinkle in Time isn’t for cynics — or adults”.

The new Disney film adaptation A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava DuVernay (an Oscar nominee for the 2015 historical feature Selma and the 2017 documentary 13th), pays a lot of lip service to that awkwardness but never convincingly captures it. L’Engle’s brand of weirdness can be ugly and unsettling, as her characters suffer physical abuse, fight their own uncontrollable rages, or just spout oddball jargon, oblivious to the ways they’re alienating or offending other people. The film is unmistakably the Disney version of the story, with anything potentially problematic or offensive sanded off and replaced with soft, pastel CGI. It’s a pretty take on the story, but it’s also a frustratingly safe and squishy one. It’s infinitely well-intentioned, full of warm self-affirmation and positivity, and absolutely nothing about it feels emotionally authentic enough to drive those messages home.

(4) BETRAYAL BY DESIGN. The Washington Post’s Michael O’Sullivan, in “Beloved books can turn into terrible movies. Will ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ beat the odds?”, interviews A Wrinkle in Time screenwriter Jennifer Lee, who explains how she updated Madeleine L’Engle’s novel to appeal to contemporary sensibilities.

Ritesh Batra put it best. When I interviewed the director of “The Sense of an Ending,” the 2017 film based on Julian Barnes’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel, the filmmaker told me that the best — and most liberating — advice he ever got was what Barnes told him: “Go ahead and betray me.”

The real question for anyone adapting a book, Batra explained, is not to ask, “What do I want people to see on-screen?” — i.e., plot, action, etc. That’s the easy part. Rather, it’s “What do I want people to feel?”

I proposed the theory — that feeling trumps seeing — to Jennifer Lee, whose “Wrinkle” screenplay (co-written with Jeff Stockwell) forms the basis of director Ava DuVernay’s new film. “It’s funny,” Lee said. “That’s exactly what I say about the approach we took.” Lee’s previous credits include co-directing and writing the Oscar-winning movie “Frozen,” based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen.

The challenge of book adaptation, Lee explained over the phone — particularly when the book’s audience is children, who carry attachments to favorite books for years — is that readers fill in missing details with their imaginations and that a movie “chooses for you.” An additional problem is the fact that film is collaborative: a product not just of words on a page, but also of makeup artists, costumers, casting agents, production designers and, if you’re lucky, a director with the vision to unify it all. There is only so much that a writer can nail down.

(5) STOP STEALING, PLEASE. Looks like it’s time for Disney to write someone a big check: “Artist claims Disney stole his work on a series of album covers and used them for the new Han Solo movie posters”.

An artist has accused Disney of stealing artwork he did on album covers and using it for the posters for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

The retro-styled character posters for the latest Star Wars movie came out in February along with the trailer and feature vintage pop-art style that also include shots of the different characters.

But the posters look almost completely identical to album covers created by Hachim Bahous, who shared the comparisons on his Facebook.

(6) LIBRARIANS WHACKED.  The Hollywood Reporter says “‘The Librarians’ Canceled at TNT” but the series might show up again somewhere else.

TNT is closing the book on The Librarians.

The Turner-owned cable network has canceled the drama from showrunner Dean Devlin. Devlin broke the news Thursday, noting that he would look to find a new home for the series that originally started as a TV movie on the cable network.

“Just got the official call. TNT has canceled #TheLibrarians— I will immediately begin the process of trying to move the show elsewhere. Please keep your fingers crossed for us!” he wrote.

The fantasy-adventure drama was developed by John Rogers and based on The Librarian by David Titcher. Rebecca Romijn starred in the drama with Noah Wyle recurring and executive producing the series alongside Devlin, Mark Roskin and John Rogers.

(7) IT COULD BE YOU. Applications for new HSS/NASA Fellowships are being taken until April 1 – see “Fellowships in Aerospace History”

Pending renewal of funding, the Fellowships in Aerospace History are offered annually by the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) to support significant scholarly research projects in aerospace history. These fellowships grant the opportunity to engage in significant and sustained advanced research in all aspects of the history of aerospace from the earliest human interest in flight to the present, including cultural and intellectual history, economic history, history of law and public policy, and the history of science, engineering, and management. NASA provides funds to the American Historical Association, the History of Science Society, and the Society for the History of Technology to allow each association to award a fellowship. Applications will be entered into consideration for all three fellowships.

(8) GALACTIC PHILADELPHIA. The next Galactic Philadelphia event on April 10 will  feature Sam J. Miller and Samuel Delany.

(9) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to polish off a Persian dinner with David Mack in Episode 61 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

David Mack

David’s written more than 30 novels, including the Star Trek Destiny and Cold Equations trilogies. He was also responsible for several episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His newest novel is The Midnight Front, a World War II-era epic fantasy which is the first book in the Dark Arts series of secret-history novels.

The venue for our dinner was Orchard Market and Cafe, a wonderful Persian restaurant recommended by recent guest of the show Norman Prentiss. Norman had told me that the Chicken Fesenjune was one of his favorite things in the whole world, and now that I’ve been there, I can can tell you—he had good reason to say that. Believe me, the food there was wonderful, and I’ll be going back whenever I can.

David and I discussed the weird ways his life entwined with the famed comic book artist who shares his name, how worrying about the details of Star Trek canon helped him when it came time to unravel the secret history of WWII, the way a near-death experience led to him working for the Syfy Channel, why it was so important for necromancers to pay a heavy price for the magic they choose to wield in his new novel The Midnight Front, how not making a pitch to a book editor resulted in him selling TV scripts to Star Trek, his unabashed love for the Beat author Richard Brautigan, the reason that after 27 Trek novels and a ton of other tie-in work he’s chosen to publish his non-franchise breakout book now, and much more.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 9, 1979 — Roger Corman’s film Starcrash debuted.
  • March 9, 1984:  Stephen King adaptation Children of the Corn premieres in theaters.
  • March 9, 2007:  Comic adaptation of the 300 opens.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • JJ finds a familiar figure visiting the shrink in Bizarro.
  • And in another Bizarro, sees an unexpected way to hack Alexa.
  • Chip Hitchcock passes along a real groaner from Rhymes With Orange.

(12) FORGET THAT LONELY GARRET. Jeff Goins’ podcast The Portfolio Life hosts “123: How Community Will Help You Become a Better Writer with Diana Glyer”.

In this episode, Diana and I discuss:

  • Who the Inklings are, and why this group still matters today.
  • The dynamics and quirks of literary groups.
  • How community can positively influence your work.
  • Why people believed the individuals within the Inklings were immune to influence from each other.
  • The pervasive myth of the solitary genius.
  • How great art and writing is forged in community.
  • Why writing is not a momentary flash of genius, but a slow and steady work of art.
  • What you need to know about the transactional nature of writing.
  • Steps you can take to build your own literary group.

Quotes and takeaways

  • We are mesmerized by the end of the story, but we forget about the beginning.
  • To build community, you have to take a risk and share your work with others.
  • Start small when you build a community of support.
  • Loneliness will leave you feeling empty, but community will help you sustain your work.

(13) HITCHHIKER AT 40. The BBC is celebrating Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with a new series based on Eoin Colfer’s Hitchhiker novel Hexagonal Phase. Catch the first episode here.

Ars Technical’s Jonathan M. Gitlin says give it a listen:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy deserves a special place in the geek pantheon. It’s the story of hapless BBC radio editor Arthur Dent, his best friend Ford Prefect, and the adventures that result when Prefect saves Dent when the Earth is unexpectedly destroyed to make way for a galactic bypass. Written by the late, great Douglas Adams, HHGTTG first appeared as a radio series in the UK back in 1978. On Thursday—exactly 40 years to the day from that first broadcast—it made its return home with the start of Hexagonal Phase, a radio dramatization of the sixth and final book of an increasingly misnamed trilogy.

… So I’m happy to report that this latest installment doesn’t disappoint. And even better, unlike the BBC’s TV content, it’s not geoblocked or behind any kind of paywall. So go on, what are you waiting for—the coming of the Great Prophet Zarquon?

(14) CLASS IS IN SESSION. Cat Rambo has been working on promotional graphics lately —

(15) COMPASS CASTING. From Andrew Liptak at The Verge we learn: “Logan star Dafne Keen will play Lyra in the BBC’s adaptation of The Golden Compass”.

The BBC has lined up its star for its upcoming adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel, The Golden Compass: Logan star Dafne Keen, reports Deadline (via io9). The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper will also helm the 8-part series.

(16) A TANGLED WEB. Dr. Janelle Shane is at it again: “SkyKnit: How an AI Took Over an Adult Knitting Community” in The Atlantic.

Janelle Shane is a humorist who creates and mines her material from neural networks, the form of machine learning that has come to dominate the field of artificial intelligence over the last half-decade.

Perhaps you’ve seen the candy-heart slogans she generated for Valentine’s Day: DEAR ME, MY MY, LOVE BOT, CUTE KISS, MY BEAR, and LOVE BUN.

Or her new paint-color names: Parp Green, Shy Bather, Farty Red, and Bull Cream.

Or her neural-net-generated Halloween costumes: Punk Tree, Disco Monster, Spartan Gandalf, Starfleet Shark, and A Masked Box.

Her latest project, still ongoing, pushes the joke into a new, physical realm. Prodded by a knitter on the knitting forum Ravelry, Shane trained a type of neural network on a series of over 500 sets of knitting instructions. Then, she generated new instructions, which members of the Ravelry community have actually attempted to knit.

(17) BLOWN UP, SIR! Peter Blumberg, in “‘Zombie Go Boom’ Attack on YouTube Ad Policy Is Ruled a Bust”, on Bloomberg, says that the owners of the YouTube Zombie Go Boom channel, in which as many as ten million people a month delight in watching imaginary undead creatures explode, tried to sue Google when they declared that ad revenue for the site would fall from $500 a day to $20 because some advertisers declared the site offensive.  But Judge Edward Chen said that Google was under no legal obligation to share any ad revenue with the site.

The freedom to produce a YouTube channel dedicated to bashing the undead doesn’t come with a guarantee of steady income.

So said a judge in ruling Wednesday that Google’s video-sharing website isn’t responsible for taking a big bite out of the revenue that was flowing to the owners of the wildly popular “Zombie Go Boom” channel.

(18) GRINCH TRAILER. Benedict Cumberbatch will voice The Grinch, due in theaters at Christmas.

For their eighth fully animated feature, Illumination and Universal Pictures present The Grinch, based on Dr. Seuss’ beloved holiday classic. The Grinch tells the story of a cynical grump who goes on a mission to steal Christmas, only to have his heart changed by a young girl’s generous holiday spirit. Funny, heartwarming and visually stunning, it’s a universal story about the spirit of Christmas and the indomitable power of optimism. Academy Award® nominee Benedict Cumberbatch lends his voice to the infamous Grinch, who lives a solitary life inside a cave on Mt. Crumpet with only his loyal dog, Max, for company. With a cave rigged with inventions and contraptions for his day-to-day needs, the Grinch only sees his neighbors in Who-ville when he runs out of food.

 

(19) FLYING CARS. Here’s your flying car (finally) — if you have the money: “Have you ever dreamed of flying in your car?” This BBC video shows Transition and other cars live.

(20) SPEED OF FRIGHT. MIT researchers find fake news ‘travels faster’:

A study of 126,000 rumours and false news stories spread on Twitter over a period of 11 years found that they travelled faster and reached more people than the truth.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also found that fake news was more commonly re-tweeted by humans than bots.

They said it could be because fake news tends to be “more novel”.

The most common subject matter was false political news.

Other popular topics included urban legends, business, terrorism, science, entertainment and natural disasters.

(21) UNDER CONSTRUCTION. This video at the Disney Blog takes you on a flyover of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge construction site at Disney World.

While the highly anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands won’t debut to Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort guests until 2019, eager fans can take a voyage over the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge construction site – right now!

At Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, guests will be transported to the planet of Batuu, a remote outpost on the galaxy’s edge that was once a busy crossroads along the old sub-lightspeed trade routes. Here, guests will find themselves in the middle of the action at two attractions that take detail and immersion to the next level: one that lets guests take the controls of Millennium Falcon on a customized secret mission, and an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.

(22) BUCKMINSTER FULLER. The once well-known futurist makes a comeback, sort of, in The House of Tomorrow, in theaters April 27.

16-year-old Sebastian Prendergast has spent most of his life with his Nana in their geodesic dome home tourist attraction where she raises him on the futurist teachings of her former mentor Buckminster Fuller in hopes that one day Sebastian will carry Fuller’s torch and make the world a better place. But when a stroke sidelines Nana, Sebastian begins sneaking around with Jared, a chain-smoking, punk-obsessed 16 year old with a heart transplant who lives in the suburbs with his bible-thumping single father Alan and teenage sister Meredith. Sebastian and Jared form a band and with his Nana’s dreams, his first real friendship, and a church talent show at stake, Sebastian must decide if he wants to become the next Buckminster Fuller, the next Sid Vicious, or something else entirely.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Juliette Wade, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mlex, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 3/8/18 Stay Tuned For Pixels As They Break

(1) ELVES FOREVER. Olga Polomoshnova explores Elves’ immortality in “Who wants to live forever?” at Middle-Earth Reflections.

By their nature the Elves are bound to Arda, with their bodies being made of  “the stuff of Earth”. They live as long as the world endures….

What Men crave for and desire with all their hearts is, in fact, a burden. More accurately, this serial longevity becomes a burden with time. The Elves age very slowly, but during the course of their long lives they know death of wounds or grief, though not, like Men, of old age, and they fear death, too. Elvish ageing shows in their ever-growing weariness of the world. One of the best descriptions of this state was provided by the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who experienced such longevity due to his possession of the One Ring. He compared his unnaturally long life with being “all thin, sort of stretched, […] like butter that has been scraped over too much bread” (Fellowship of the Ring, p. 42). So probably that is exactly how the Elves could feel many thousand years into their lives.

(2) HAMILL’S WALK OF FAME STAR DEDICATED. Star Wars icon Mark Hamill is now a star in the Hollywood firmament: “Mark Hamill Gets ‘Overwhelming’ Support From Harrison Ford & George Lucas at Walk of Fame Ceremony”.

On Thursday, some of the actor’s closest friends and colleagues came out to honor him as he was immortalized in Hollywood with the recognition befitting a cultural icon like himself.

Hamill got some sweet support from his former Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford, Star Wars creator George Lucas, recent Last Jedi co-star Kelly Marie Tran, as well as a pair of Storm Troopers and the iconic droid R2-D2. His wife of nearly 40 years, Marilou York, was also to celebrate the honor.

(3) CROWDFUNDING WILL REVIVE AMAZING. Steve Davidson has launched a Kickstarter to hasten “The Return of Amazing Stories Magazine!”

Amazing Stories is an institution. It is an icon of the field. Over the years it has represented both the best and the worst that this genre has to offer. It has inspired the careers of authors, artists, editors, academics, scientists and engineers. Its presence proved that there was a viable market for this kind of literature, a fact not lost on other publishers who quickly followed suit. By 1930 there were four magazines in the field, eventually many more. And the fans? They bought every single one of them.

Amazing Stories deserves to be an ongoing part of our community. It may be a bit worn around the edges, the spine may be cracked a little and it may shed bits of pulp here and there, but those are love scars. Amazing Stories is not just our progenitor, it is the embodiment of the heart and soul of the genre.

We love it. We love what it’s done for us, what it represents, what it created. How can we not, when we love Science Fiction?

We know you share that love. Please show that love. It’s time for Amazing Stories to live again.

On the first day Steve’s appeal brought in $5,079 of its $30,000 goal.

Here’s how the money will be used. (Experimenter Publishing is Steve’s company.)

Experimenter plans to publish its first new issue for a Fall 2018 release and will be distributing the magazine at Worldcon 76 in San Jose CA. Professional, SFWA qualifying rates of 6 cents per word will be paid and Experimenter intends to become a fully SFWA qualifying market within its first year of operation. Several stories by well known authors have already been contracted, as has cover art by a highly respected artist.

Following five years of growth and development as an online multi-author blog serving the interests of science fiction, fantasy and horror fans, the publication of well-regarded articles produced by over 175 contributors, read by over 40,000 registered members, and following the publication of three special editions, a comic book and a growing selection of anthologies, classic novels and facsimile reprints, Experimenter believes the time is right to launch the quarterly magazine.

(4) ABOUT THE BARKLEY PROPOSAL. What were signers of Chris Barkley’s YA Award name proposal told? One of them, Shawna McCarthy, wrote in a comment on Facebook:

I was a signatory and do not feel misrepresented to other than not knowing the name of the award had already been decided. It’s possible the sponsor thought I was more up on the state of WC business committee work than I was.

(5) COMIC-CON’S QUASI-MUSEUM. Kinsee Morlan, in “Don’t Call Comic-Con’s Balboa Park Digs A museum–At Least Not Yet” for Voice of San Diego, says that Comic-Con International is upholding its nonprofit status by building a museum in San Diego’s Balboa Park (which will replace the San Diego Hall of Champions) and is hiring British museum designer Adam Smith to create it.

Smith said specifics are still hazy, but a few things are starting to become clear. For starters, he’s not ready to dub the new space a museum just yet. He’s toying with calling it a center or something else that better communicates its mission of showcasing contemporary exhibits that focus on what’s happening now or in the future — think virtual reality demos or participatory immersive television experiences (yeah, that’s a thing).

Smith also obliterated the traditional curator-led exhibition model. Instead of experts organizing most of the shows, he said, super fans will be likely be generating exhibitions and events. That’s a move taken from Comic-Con’s convention playbook, where fan-generated panels have always been a big part of the offerings.

David Glanzer, Comic-Con’s director of communications who’s been with the nonprofit for decades, fielded some of my questions, too.

Civic leaders are perpetually terrified that Comic-Con will pack up its bag and head to Los Angeles or another city if San Diego doesn’t expand its Convention Center soon. Glanzer said folks should not assume that won’t happen now that Comic-Con’s new center is opening in Balboa Park. He said they’re two separate projects and the convention could still relocate in the future if its space problems start impacting the quality of the convention.

(6) LOVED THE BOOK, HATED THE FILM. LitHub list of “20 Literary Adaptations Disavowed by Their Original Authors” has plenty of sff:

  • Earthsea (2004) – Based on: Ursula K. Le Guin, Earthsea cycle (1968-2001)

Le Guin hated the Sci-Fi Channel’s adaptation of her books, and she had quite a lot to say on the subject, but the biggest problem was that the miniseries completely whitewashed the original text. Early on, she was consulted (somewhat) but when she raised objections, they told her that shooting had already begun. “I had been cut out of the process,” she wrote at Slate.

Also:

  • Mary Poppins (1964) – Based on: P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins (1934)
  • Hellraiser: Revelations (2011) – Based on: Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart (1986)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (2003) – Based on: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (1962)
  • Charlotte’s Web (1973) – Based on: E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (1952)
  • Solaris (1972, 2002) – Based on: Stanis?aw Lem’s Solaris (1961)
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964) – Based on: Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (1954)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971) – Based on: Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (1962)
  • The Shining (1980) – Based on: Stephen King’s The Shining (1977)
  • The NeverEnding Story (1984) – Based on: Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story (1979)
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) – Based on: Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)

(7) LOPATA OBIT. Steve Lopata’s daughter announced that he passed away March 5, peacefully, at the hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. Sammi Owens said:

…I deeply regret to inform you that his heart was failing and Worldcon 75 Helsinki was his last trip. He had heart surgery and despite valiant efforts he succumbed to his heart disease on March 5, 2018…. My mom Frances and I want the scifi community and all his friends to know how much he dearly loved you all. His all time favorite activities were working Ops for Worldcons and having an audience for his tales- umm, I mean true stories…. Peace be with you all and thank you for your friendship to our beloved man.

Patrick Maher was one of many fans who worked Ops with Steve with good words about him:

I didn’t know Steve very long, only since he walked into Shamrokon in 2014 and offered to help out. We didn’t know who he was but, as he said he had just come from Loncon III, we asked James Bacon who he was. James described him as Steve ‘Awesome Ops Guy’ Lopata. He sat in Ops all weekend and offered sage advice. When I took over Ops for Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, he was the first person I went to for advice.

Lopata also did volunteer work with big cats, as he explained in an article for Mimosa in 2001.

One of the first questions I am asked when I tell people about working with lions and tigers is, “How did you get involved?” There are two answers. First the short, “I like kitties;” and the longer one, “I was at a convention and saw this guy walking a tiger on a leash. I asked if I could pet the tiger and about half an hour later, I was a volunteer at the breeding park.”

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock calls this too bad not to share: Arlo and Janis.
  • And here’s an International Women’s Day item from Bizarro.

(9) INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY. Headstuff’s Aoife Martin celebrated the day by analyzing “Author Pseudonyms” used by women. A couple of instances came from sff —

Closer to modern times we have the case of Alice Bradley Sheldon who wrote science fiction under the pen name of James Tiptree Jr. In an interview she said that she chose a male name because it “seemed like good camouflage. I had the feeling that a man would slip by less observed. I’ve had too many experiences in my life of being the first woman in some damn occupation.” It’s interesting that Sheldon should have felt the need to do this but she was a successful science fiction writer – so much so that she won several awards including a Hugo for her 1974 novella, The Girl Who Was Plugged In and several Nebula awards. Her secret wasn’t discovered until 1976 when she was 61. Throughout her career she was referred to as an unusually macho male and as an unusually feminist writer (for a male). Indeed, fellow writer Robert Silverberg once argued that Tiptree could not possibly be a woman while Harlan Ellison, when introducing Tiptree’s story for his anthology Again, Dangerous Visions wrote that “[Kate] Wilhelm is the woman to beat this year, but Tiptree is the man.” Suitably, the James Tiptree Jr. Award is given annually in her honour to works of science fiction and fantasy that expand or explore one’s understanding of gender.

(10) A NEW KIND OF BARBIE. The Huffington Post reports Mattel is honoring a few living legends this International Women’s Day: “Frida Kahlo And Other Historic Women Are Being Made Into Barbies”. Genre-related figures include Katherine Johnson and Patty Jenkins.

Kids around the world will soon be able to own a Barbie doll bearing the likeness of Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart or Katherine Johnson.

All three women made herstory in different industries: Earhart was the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean; Mexican artist Kahlo was known for her unique painting style and feminist activism; and Johnson, who was highlighted in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” broke boundaries for black women in mathematics and calculated dozens of trajectories for NASA, including the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon.

The dolls, which are part of Mattel’s new series called “Inspiring Women,” will be
mass produced and sold in stores….

(11) ANOTHER STAR WARS SERIES. A well-known name in superhero movies will be responsible for a Star Wars series to appear on Disney’s new streaming platform: “Jon Favreau hired for ‘Star Wars’ series: Why fans have mixed feelings”.

The director whose film launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe is coming to a galaxy far, far away. Jon Favreau, the filmmaker behind Iron Man, Elf, and Disney’s live-action Jungle Book and Lion King, will write and executive-produce a live-action Star Wars series for Disney’s new streaming platform. Lucasfilm announced today that Favreau, who is also an actor with roles in the Clone Wars animated series and the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story,  will helm the new show. While Favreau has a strong fanbase (going all the way back to his 1996 debut film Swingers), many on social media are wondering why Lucasfilm has hired yet another white man to steer the diverse Star Wars universe — and announced it on International Women’s Day, no less.

(12) STORYBUNDLE. Cat Rambo curated The Feminist Futures Bundle, which will be available for the next three weeks.

In time for Women’s History Month, here’s a celebration of some of the best science fiction being written by women today. This bundle gathers a wide range of outlooks and possibilities, including an anthology that gives you a smorgasbord of other authors you may enjoy.

I used to work in the tech industry, and there I saw how diversity could enhance a team and expand its skillset. Women understand that marketing to women is something other than coming up with a lady-version of a potato chip designed not to crunch or a pink pen sized for our dainty hands. Diversity means more perspectives, and this applies to science fiction as well. I am more pleased with this bundle than any I’ve curated so far.

In her feminist literary theory classic How to Suppress Women’s Writing, science fiction author Joanna Russ talked about the forces working against the works of women (and minority) writers. A counter to that is making a point of reading and celebrating such work, and for me this bundle is part of that personal effort, introducing you to some of my favorites. – Cat Rambo

The initial titles in the Feminist Futures Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • Happy Snak by Nicole Kimberling
  • Alanya to Alanya by L. Timmel Duchamp
  • Code of Conduct by Kristine Smith
  • The Birthday Problem by Caren Gussoff

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular titles, plus SIX more!

  • Starfarers Quartet Omnibus – Books 1-4 by Vonda N. McIntyre
  • The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein
  • Spots the Space Marine by M.C.A. Hogarth
  • The Terrorists of Irustan by Louise Marley
  • Queen & Commander by Janine A. Southard
  • To Shape the Dark by Athena Andreadis

(13) FAIL HYDRA. Cory Doctorow updated BoingBoing readers about a publisher accused of questionable practices: “Random House responds to SFWA on its Hydra ebook imprint”

Allison R. Dobson, Digital Publishing Director of Random House, has written an open letter to the Science Fiction Writers of America responding to the warning it published about Hydra, a new imprint with a no-advance, author-pays-expenses contract that SFWA (and I) characterize as being totally unacceptable. Dobson’s letter doesn’t do much to change my view on that:

(14) BEARING WITNESS. Lavie Tidhar has tweeted a noir Pooh adventure. Jump on the thread here:

(15) ANDROIDS AT 50. Here’s a clipping from Nature: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Ananyo Bhattacharya toasts Philip K. Dick’s prescient science-fiction classic as it turns 50.” [PDF file.]

When science-fiction writer Peter Watts first opened Philip K. Dick’s 1968 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, a word caught his eye. It was “friendlily”. How had Dick got that past an editor? As Watts told me: “I knew at that point that Dick had to be some kind of sick genius.”

(16) CURRENT EVENTS. This sounds like a job for Doctor Who: “A Political Dispute Puts A Wrinkle In Time, Slowing Millions Of European Clocks”.

For the past few weeks, something strange has been happening in Europe. Instead of time marching relentlessly forward, it has been slowing down imperceptibly, yet with cumulatively noticeable results, so that millions of clocks the Continent-over are now running behind.

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity released a statement Tuesday saying that since mid-January, Europe’s standard electrical frequency of 50 hertz has fallen ever so slightly to 49.996 hertz.

For electric clocks that rely on the frequency of the power system — typically radio, oven and heating-panel clocks — the cumulative effect was “close to six minutes,” according to the agency.

(17) TAINT FUNNY MCGEE. The BBC says “Amazon promises fix for creepy Alexa laugh”.

Amazon’s Alexa has been letting out an unprompted, creepy cackle – startling users of the best-selling voice assistant.

The laugh, described by some as “witch like” was reported to sometimes happen without the device being “woken” up.

Others reported the laugh occurring when they asked Alexa to perform a different task, such as playing music.

“We’re aware of this and working to fix it,” Amazon said.

(18) CUBE ROUTER. Meanwhile, at MIT, they’re wasting their time saving time: “Rubik’s robot solves puzzle in 0.38 seconds”.

Ben Katz, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, collaborated with Jared Di Carlo to create the robot.

“We noticed that all of the fast Rubik’s Cube solvers were using stepper motors and thought that we could do better if we used better motors,” said Mr Di Carlo in a blog post.

Mr Katz said in his blog the 0.38 seconds included “image capture and computation time, as well as actually moving the cube”.

Their contraption used two PlayStation Eye cameras from the old PS3 console to identify the configuration of the cube.

However, mistakes often resulted in a cube being destroyed.

(19) DARK MATTER. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination released a video of a recent guest presentation: “Sir Roger Penrose: New Cosmological View of Dark Matter, which Strangely and Slowly Decays”.

Sir Roger Penrose joined the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination on January 19, 2018, to give a talk on his latest research and provide an insight into the thinking of a modern day theoretical physicist. Is the Universe destined to collapse, ending in a big crunch or to expand indefinitely until it homogenizes in a heat death? Roger explains a third alternative, the cosmological conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC) scheme—where the Universe evolves through eons, each ending in the decay of mass and beginning again with new Big Bang. The equations governing the crossover from each aeon to the next demand the creation of a dominant new scalar material, postulated to be dark matter. In order that this material does not build up from aeon to aeon, it is taken to decay away completely over the history of each aeon. The dark matter particles (erebons) may be expected to behave almost as classical particles, though with bosonic properties; they would probably be of about a Planck mass, and interacting only gravitationally. Their decay would produce gravitational signals, and be responsible for the approximately scale invariant temperature fluctuations in the CMB of the succeeding aeon. In our own aeon, erebon decay might well show up in signals discernable by gravitational wave detectors.

 

(20) HANDY HINTS. And in case you ever have this problem: “Here’s How You Could Survive Being Sucked Into a Black Hole”. The article is honestly kind of useless, but I love the clickbait title.

OK, so maybe you aren’t going to get sucked into a black hole tomorrow. Or ever. Maybe even trying to imagine being in such a situation feels like writing yourself into a Doctor Who episode. But, for mathematicians, physicists, and other scientists attempting to understand cosmic strangeness in practical terms, these thought experiments are actually very useful. And they may be more practical in and of themselves than we’d realized.

At least, that’s what a team of researchers led by Peter Hintz at the University of California, Berkeley found through their study of black holes, recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters

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