Pixel Scroll 6/15/16 Great Sky Pixel

(1) DEFENDING SELF-DEFENSE. Larry Correia covers a lot of ground in “Self-Defense Is A Human Right” at Monster Hunter Nation. Here’s a representative excerpt.

Orlando is yet another example that Gun Free Zones are vile, stupid ideas. The intent is to prevent people from getting hurt. The reality is the opposite. Your feelings on the matter don’t change the results. The vast majority of mass shootings have taken place in areas where regular citizens are not allowed to carry guns.

I’ve seen a lot of people over the last few days saying that the “random good guy with a gun” is a myth. That is foolish simply because we have plenty of examples where a mass shooter was derailed or stopped by the intervention of a random person who happened to be near. Just in my home state alone, which is relatively peaceful, with low crime, a low population, and above average police response time in our urban areas, I can think of several instances where a killer was interrupted or stopped entirely by somebody other than the responding officers.

Sometimes these were regular citizens with concealed weapons permits (KSL shooting, mass stabbing at Smiths) and others they were off duty police officers in regular clothing going about their daily lives who responded first (Trolley Square, Salt Lake Library hostage situation) or even a parole officer who just happened to be at a hospital (Cache) for unrelated reasons, and ended up saving lives.

The identity of the responder doesn’t matter, just that there is one as soon as possible. The important thing is how much time elapses between the beginning of the massacre and the violent response, because that is time the killer is allowed to work unimpeded. In some cases the attack was in a gun free zone and the responders had to leave, go to their vehicles, retrieve a weapon, and then return (Pearl Mississippi, and if I recall correctly the Appalachian School of Law).

Traditionally the gay community has trended overwhelmingly statistically liberal in their politics, with a correspondingly low number of gun owners. But being unarmed also makes you easier victims for evil people. This has to change.

I don’t care what your personal beliefs are, or what your lifestyle is, self-defense is a human right. Take advantage of it. Please.

(2) EUROCON HITS MEMBERSHIP LIMIT. Eurocon 2016 Barcelona has sold out four months ahead of the event.

The committee is creating a waiting list where members who no longer want their memberships can arrange an exchange with people who wish to join—email info@eurocon2016.org

Perhaps unexpectedly, the committee is also publicizing on its Facebook page things that people who don’t have memberships can do at and around the con:

Even if you are not lucky, there are several activities you can enjoy without a membership. Our DEALERS ROOM will be awesome! Bring your wallet and cards, we will make sure you keep on using them. You can also enjoy the EXHIBITIONS (three, but allow us our secrets for the moment), and there will be a number of presentations of books in the LIBRARIES of Barcelona.

Also, our friends at GIGAMESH bookstore will have special activities during the days before Eurocon, and CHRONOS bookstore has several surprises in the oven, too.

For a bit of money, if you have some left after the Dealers Room, there will be THREE PANELS open for the general public at CCCB. We are doing this in order to attract people from outside fandom, but that doesn’t mean these events can’t be enjoyed by true fans who, ahem, forgot to buy their memberships in time.

Last but not least, FILMOTECA DE CATALUNYA will project a few movies with panels afterwards featuring some of our celebrities. The tickets will not be expensive, we promise.

(3) CLASS. Showrunner Ness is conflicted — “Doctor Who spin-off will have a gay lead character”: should he take credit, or say that’s how the world should work?

Doctor Who spin-off TV series Class will feature an gay lead character, it has been confirmed.

Celebrated author Patrick Ness is helming upcoming the BBC spin-off series, which features teenagers at a school set in the Whoniverse.

The show has been described as a British take on Buffy the Vampire Slayer; and Ness revealed this week that like Buffy, one of the main characters will be gay.

After recent events in Orlando, he tweeted: “Been asked if Class will have LGBT representation in it. Will a lead character with a boyfriend who he kisses & sleeps with & loves do?

“We were keeping that secret, but today that secret doesn’t seem very important. #lovewins”

The series stars Mr Selfridge’s Greg Austin, alongside  Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins and Vivian Oparah.

Ness added: “Kind of astounded that having a gay lead on Class has been such big news. One day it won’t be, one day soon.

(4) EYE ON SHORT FICTION. At Locus Online, “Rich Horton reviews Short Fiction, May 2016”.

March is science fantasy month at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which I always like. There’s something about mixing SF and fantasy that to my mind brings forth ideas wilder and more colorful than either genre provides alone. The best, which is to say, weirdest example comes from Jason Sanford (not surprisingly). ‘‘Blood Grains Speak Through Memories’’ (3/17) is set in a far future in which the environment is preserved by ‘‘anchors’’, humans en­hanced by ‘‘grains’’ on their land. ‘‘Normal’’ humans (called day-fellows) are forced to a nomadic life: if they stay too long anywhere, or interfere with the environment (use too high technology, or cut down a tree), the grains will compel the anchors to kill them. Frere-Jones Roeder is an anchor with doubts, some related to her now dead life-partner, some to an atrocity she committed at the behest of the grains long before, some expressed in her concern for her son, exiled to life among the day-fellows. When a day-fellow girl becomes infected by the grains on her territory, she is finally pushed to take a drastic step. It’s cool and strange stuff, almost gothic at times, thought-provoking and honest.

(5) DROP IN ANYTIME. Jeremy P. Bushnell selects “Five Books Riddled with Holes” for Tor.com.

I have a good friend who suffers from trypophobia, the fear of holes. (If you think you might have this, I don’t recommend Googling it, as right on top of the search results is a rather horrific array of “images for trypophobia.”) When my new novel, The Insides, came out, I had to apologize to this friend—going so far as to offer to personally hand-annotate her copy of the book with trigger warnings—because holes are at the very center of the narrative. The novel features a set of characters who use magic to cut holes into the fabric of time and space, and these holes don’t always behave as they should: sometimes they open or reopen unexpectedly, sometimes weird things come out of them.

(6) THERE’S THAT PESKY TAVERN AGAIN. Guess what shows up in “Juliette Wade takes a ridiculously close look at the worldbuilding of Ancillary Justice” on Ann Leckie’s blog?

Paragraph 1:

The body lay naked and facedown, a deathly gray, spatters of blood staining the snow around it. It was minus fifteen degrees Celcius and a storm had passed just hours before. The snow stretched smooth in the wan sunrise, only a few tracks leading into a nearby ice-block building. A tavern. Or what passed for a tavern in this town.

I’m going to start here with the word “The.” That little article has an important job, which is to tell you that “body” is something that someone already knows about. It’s as if someone just said “Wow, a body,” and then the story picked up an instant later. As readers, we are seeing it for the first time, but we can sense that observing someone outside the boundaries of the page. Thus, “the” implies the presence of a narrator. The first hint of a world comes with “the snow around it.” Our minds produce a snowy scene.

(7) PLANETARY SOCIETY. In the fifth installment of The Planetary Post, Robert Picardo and Bill Nye take a special tour of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to see the amazing new James Webb Space Telescope.

(8) EXTRA CREDIT. The Planetary Post webpage has additional links of interest.

Juno Orbit Insertion: The Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter on July 4-5 (orbit insertion is on the night of July 4 in the Americas, early July 5 in the Eastern Hemisphere). This groundbreaking mission will improve our understanding of the solar system’s beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Watch our CEO Bill Nye demystify the cutting-edge science behind NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter. Follow Emily Lakdawalla to learn when you will be able to see new Jupiter pictures from its camera, JunoCam.

Tanking It To The Streets: After an epic parade through the streets of Los Angeles, the last unflown space shuttle external tank arrived at the California Science Center to be displayed alongside the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The tank, known as ET-94, had quite an eventful journey—including a rescue at sea.

New Space Policy Podcast: Planetary Radio just launched a monthly podcast that looks underneath the hood of how NASA works. Join Space Policy Director Casey Dreier, Policy Advisor Jason Callahan, and Mat Kaplan in this new series exploring the history, politics, and process of how we get to space. A new episode will be released on the first Friday of every month. Subscribe to Planetary Radio on your favorite listening platform.

SpaceX’s Fantastic Four: Elon Musk and his team have done it again and landed a fourth first-stage booster. This makes three landings by sea and one by land. Be sure to watch the spectacular Falcon 9 landing from the side of the booster.

LightSail™ 2 Test Success: Our citizen-funded LightSail 2 spacecraft recently breezed through a major systems test. The CubeSat successfully deployed its antenna and solar panels, communicated with the ground, and unfurled its 32-square-meter solar sails in a lab setting. Read more in our full recap.

(9) JUST LIKE CLOCKWORK. Tor.com has posted the first chapter of David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars as a free read.

Arabella-MarsA plantation in a flourishing 18th century British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby, a young woman who is perfectly content growing up in the untamed frontier. But days spent working on complex automata with her father or stalking her brother Michael with her Martian nanny is not the proper behavior of an English lady. That is something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.

However, when events transpire that threaten her home on Mars, Arabella decides that sometimes doing the right thing is far more important than behaving as expected. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company, where she meets a mysterious captain who is intrigued by her knack with clockwork creations. Now Arabella just has to weather the naval war currently raging between Britain and France, learn how to sail, and deal with a mutinous crew…if she hopes to save her family remaining on Mars.

Arabella of Mars, the debut novel by Hugo-winning author David D. Levine offers adventure, romance, political intrigue, and Napoleon in space—available July 12th from Tor Books. Read chapter one below, and come back all this week for additional excerpts!

(10) POWERED BY BELIEF. Kameron Hurley is a trusted interpreter of the career writer’s inner life — “Real Publishing Talk: Author Expectation and Entitlement”.

As I’ve had more interest in my work, and more opportunities have come my way, I’ve also learned how to say no to things that aren’t furthering my ultimate goal of building my work into its own powerhouse. This is another reason I still hold onto the day job, because it means I don’t have to take every deal or every opportunity. Still, it’s hard to say no. You’re always concerned about opportunities drying up. What if this is the best it ever gets? What if I don’t get an opportunity again?

And then I look at my career and I go, “We are just getting started.”

And it is this, this hope, this rally from the depths of doubt and despair, that keeps me going. You must believe in the future. You must believe you can create it. You must believe that endurance, and hard work, and persistence, will carry you through.

(11) YOON HA LEE. Aidan Moher was pleased he found a reason to persist, as he explains in “Stealing the Future: Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee”.

I have a confession to make. When I finished the first chapter of Ninefox Gambit, the debut novel from noted short fiction author Yoon Ha Lee, I thought that was all I would read. It wasn’t clicking with me. I found the world confusing, the action gruesome, and the pace difficult to keep up with. I could recognize that novel’s quality, and the originality that Lee is known for, but other books beckoned, and there was an easy, lazy whisper at the back of my head. “It’s just not for you,” it said. I listened, and moved onto another book.

Yet, here I am reviewing it.

(12) SEASON 10 SHOOTING BEGINS. CinemaBlend tells fans “Doctor Who Is Giving Fans Way More Of An Unexpected Character”.

It was announced today that Bridesmaids star Matt Lucas will reprise Nardole for the opening episode of Doctor Who Season 10, which begins filming in Cardiff on June 20. Reuniting with the Twelfth Doctor and meeting his new companion, Bill (played by Pearl Mackie), for the first time, Lucas’ Nardole will have a recurring role throughout the season. The episode is being written by showrunner Steven Moffat, and it was also revealed that Sherlock actor Stephanie Hyam will have a guest cast role this season.

(13) CYBERPUNK WOMEN. Before moving on to the positives, Geoff Willmetts starts with the shortcomings of “Cyberpunk Women, Feminism And Science Fiction by Carlen Lavigne (book review)” at SF Crowsnest.

I had slight misgivings with the preface to Carlen Lavigne’s book, ‘Cyberpunk Women, Feminism And Science Fiction’ when she starts describing the history of cyberpunk without mentioning Bruce Bethke’s 1983 short story but in the proper introduction, she clearly is well read on the subject and covers the history in the following chapter. She describes cyberpunk as belonging to the 4 C’s: corporation, crime, computers and corporeality (read that as corporations) and the changes to our world today as computer technology takes over our reality and taken to extremes. She also includes cyborgs as a near fifth C. Oddly, she misses out the meaning of ‘punk’. Not the original meaning which meant ‘prostitution’ but that of rebellion as given with the UK punk movement of the 1980s. The reason why ‘cyberpunk’ didn’t really last that long was because, unlike William Gibson’s assertion that people would rebel against computers, is because they embraced the technology instead. Many of you people reading here lived through that period and look what you’re reading this review on. Something else Lavigne misses out on is Gibson admitting that he doesn’t like computers and I suspect those who read his novels probably raised their own eyebrows as to how druggies could program computers when you really need all your attention when writing code.

(14) OUTSIDE OF A WALRUS. Camestros Felapton created a parody of Tran Nguyen’s Spectrum-winning art “Traveling To a Distant Day,” as it appeared on the cover of semiprozine Hugo nominee Uncanny.

Then he shared his analysis: “Hugo Choices 8: Best Semiprozine – Sci-Phi beats No Award” — and for a moment I panicked because I thought that meant it was the only nominee he placed above the event horizon. But no, he means all the nominees deserve to be ranked above No Award.

What Sad Puppies (particularly SP4) has inadvertently demonstrated, is that the lack of authentic conservative voices in modern science fiction lies less with sinister conspiracies or SJW gate-keepers but rather a genuine lack of conservatives writing SF/F of any great depth. Sci-Phi journal hasn’t fixed that problem but at least it is attempting to do something constructive about it.

(15) GAIMAN ON STAGE. In the Baltimore Sun Tim Smith reviews a production of Neverwhere, the fantasy novel and BBC television series by Neil Gaiman adapted for stage by Robert Kauzlaric and performed by the Cohesion Theatre of Baltimore.  He says “this theatrical version…is well worth visiting.”

Whatever the influences, Gaiman spins a good, fresh yarn. And Kauzlaric’s adaptation does a mostly smooth job of cramming in characters and incidents, while maintaining a coherent thread.

Likewise, director Brad Norris proves adept at keeping the Cohesion production cohesive, drawing nicely delineated portrayals from the actors (accents are respectably achieved), and keeping the pace taut enough to make a long play feel almost speedy.

Some of the dry wit in the script could use brighter delivery; that may emerge as the run continues. But the violent bits — the story gets pretty dark at times — are well in hand, deftly guided by fight choreographer Jon Rubin….

(16) ABOUT FEYNMAN. In a 2011 TEDX talk called “Leonard Susskind: My Friend Richard Feynman”, Stanford physicist Susskind tells Feynman stories.  Sidney Coleman is mentioned starting at about 4:06 and continuing for a minute as Feynman, Susskind, and Coleman, take on some clueless philosophers over the nature of artificial intelligence.

Richard Feynman was a very complex man. He was a man of many, many parts. He was, of course, foremost, a very, very, very great scientist. He was an actor. You saw him act. I also had the good fortune to be in those lectures, up in the balcony. They were fantastic. He was a philosopher; he was a drum player; he was a teacher par excellence. Richard Feynman was also a showman, an enormous showman. He was brash, irreverent — he was full of macho, a kind of macho one-upmanship. He loved intellectual battle. He had a gargantuan ego. But the man had somehow a lot of room at the bottom. And what I mean by that is a lot of room, in my case — I can’t speak for anybody else — but in my case, a lot of room for another big ego. Well, not as big as his, but fairly big. I always felt good with Dick Feynman.


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

Pixel Scroll 1/9/16 To Flail Beyond the Sunset

(1) USE THE FARCE. Entertainment.ie says this Twitter spat between Emo Kylo Ren and Very Lonely Luke is what the internet was made for. Here are the first two tweets in the exchange —

(2) BEWARE FAUX SPOILERS. Will R., who says Hobotopia is a long-running web comic, and one of the nicest things in all of the Internet, draws attention to its ostentatious Spoiler Alert for what turns out to be a pretty obscure The Force Awakens spoiler.

(3) ACTION FIGURES. Here are your prototype action figures for the Ghostbusters reboot. There wasn’t much chance Mattel would repeat the mistake Hasbro made with The Force Awakens of leaving out the female characters, was there?

Amanda Kooser at CNET already has play suggestions.

The action figures come from toy company Mattel and will be 6 inches (about 15 centimeters) in height. That’s a pretty standard size for action figures, so you should be able to fold them into imaginative play along with your Star Wars and Star Trek collection. The crossover possibilities are endless. I can’t wait to see what a proton pack does against Kylo Ren.

(4) STABBY WINNERS. Reddit’s r/Fantasy group has chosen the winners of the 2015 Stabby Awards. Here are the top vote-getters in 3 of the 15 categories:

Stabby Award

Stabby Award

  • BEST NOVEL OF 2015 Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
  • BEST SELF-PUBLISHED / INDEPENDENT NOVEL OF 2015 The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer
  • BEST DEBUT NOVEL OF 2015 The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

Click on the link to see the rest.

(5) MEAN STREETS. Tobias Carroll at Literary Hub introduces a review by reminding everyone of the time Raymond Chandler mocked science fiction.

In a 1953 letter to his agent H.N. Swanson, Chandler indulges in a brilliantly entertaining, paragraph-long parody of sci-fi writing, which hits every trope and cliché of the genre. Oh, and he namedrops Google some 45 years before Larry and Sergey registered the domain.

Did you ever read what they call Science Fiction? It’s a scream. It is written like this: “I checked out with K19 on Adabaran III, and stepped out through the crummaliote hatch on my 22 Model Sirus Hardtop. I cocked the timejector in secondary and waded through the bright blue manda grass. My breath froze into pink pretzels. I flicked on the heat bars and the Bryllis ran swiftly on five legs using their other two to send out crylon vibrations. The pressure was almost unbearable, but I caught the range on my wrist computer through the transparent cysicites. I pressed the trigger. The thin violet glow was ice-cold against the rust-colored mountains. The Bryllis shrank to half an inch long and I worked fast stepping on them with the poltex. But it wasn’t enough. The sudden brightness swung me around and the Fourth Moon had already risen. I had exactly four seconds to hot up the disintegrator and Google had told me it wasn’t enough. He was right.”

They pay brisk money for this crap?

In the case of Adam Christopher, Chandler’s rivalry with science fiction gave rise to literary inspiration. In the acknowledgements to his new novel Made to Kill, Christopher writes that “what I really wished did exist was Raymond Chandler’s long-lost science fiction epic.” He describes himself as “amused” by “the way Chandler hated science fiction.” There are a handful of nods to Chandler’s infamous riff on the genre peppered throughout Christopher’s novel, including as its epigraph. Made to Kill can be read as a science fiction-laced detective story and as a way of using the detective story template to investigate more archetypally science fictional themes of memory and identity.

The setting of Made to Kill is an altered 1965: John F. Kennedy is president, the Cold War rages on, and American society has had an unsuccessful dalliance with incorporating robots into everyday life. The last survivor of this program, narrator Ray Electromatic, is the detective at the center of this novel, drawn into a conspiracy involving Hollywood stars, radioactive material, and Soviet spies. Ray makes for an interesting protagonist in a number of ways: as robots go, he has an unexpected moral compass, and the fact that his memory only lasts for a day does a good job of establishing him as a less-than-reliable narrator from the outset.

(6) YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. David Gerrold says he’s learned from (bad) experience to avoid feuds, as he explains on Facebook.

Here are 5 of his 10 points:

4) “Forgive and forget” does not apply here. Everyone in a feud, no matter what side they’re on, has already succumbed to self-righteousness, simply by being in the feud. Self-righteousness is terminal.

5) A really spectacular feud, if it goes on long enough, if it gets loud enough, if it gets ferocious enough, will not only destroy the participants, it will destroy the community in which the feud occurs. (I have seen this happen multiple times, where whole forums evaporated because the toxicity reached armpit level.)

6) Sociopaths and attention whores enjoy feuds. People who have not yet learned a modicum of restraint or self-awareness are the biggest victims.

7) Screechweasels and harangutans will outlast everyone and declare the victory of getting the last word. It’s a hollow victory, because most of the other participants will have walked away in disgust.

8) Reconciliation of any kind is almost always impossible — because there is always at least one person who needs to recap the past in one last attempt to prove the other side wrong.

(7) CALL FOR PAPERS. “Reframing Science Fiction”, a one-day conference on the art of science fiction, will be held in Canterbury (UK) on March 21. Keynote speakers: Dr. Jeannette Baxter (Anglia Ruskin University) and Dr. Paul March-Russell (University of Kent).

From William Blake and John Martin to Glenn Brown and The Otolith Group, artists have been producing works of art that are science fiction. And artists and their works have been incorporated into many works of sf.

Meanwhile, on countless book covers and in magazine illustrations, a visual language of science fiction has evolved: bug-eyed monsters; spaceships; robots and so on.

Art in the comic strip and the graphic novel has been the means of telling stories in visual form – whilst artists such as Roy Lichtenstein have made comic panels into art.

The call for papers (which opened some time ago) has a January 15 deadline.

We invite 300 word proposals for twenty minute papers on the intersection of art and sf across the media – painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, photography, film, performance, prose, dance, architecture and so on…

(8) ONE ISLAND’S OPINION. Colleen Gillard’s article “Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories” in The Atlantic is high-brow click-bait.

The small island of Great Britain is an undisputed powerhouse of children’s bestsellers: The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie-the-Pooh, Peter Pan, The Hobbit, James and the Giant Peach, Harry Potter, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Significantly, all are fantasies. Meanwhile, the United States, also a major player in the field of children’s classics, deals much less in magic. Stories like Little House in the Big Woods, The Call of the Wild, Charlotte’s Web, The Yearling, Little Women, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer are more notable for their realistic portraits of day-to-day life in the towns and farmlands on the growing frontier. If British children gathered in the glow of the kitchen hearth to hear stories about magic swords and talking bears, American children sat at their mother’s knee listening to tales larded with moral messages about a world where life was hard, obedience emphasized, and Christian morality valued. Each style has its virtues, but the British approach undoubtedly yields the kinds of stories that appeal to the furthest reaches of children’s imagination.

And it works – people are coming unglued in the comments.

(9) FX. Doctor Science formulates a TV production axiom in “How special effects eat characterization”. The Doctor’s last paragraph says it best, but you should read it there. Here is the first paragraph:

I don’t think this trend is mostly an artistic or marketing choice, even though that’s what people in Hollywood usually say. I think “more explodey” is driven by the need to justify budgets, and by the individual interests of the people who have to do it.

(10) UNEMPLOYED KAIJU. They won’t be needing any special effects for Pacific Rim 2 — it’s dead, Jim.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the follow-up to director Guillermo Del Toro’s monsters-versus-robots epic is “off the table indefinitely” – and in its place, del Toro has entered talks with 20th Century Fox to helm a rather different sci-fi spectacular.

Del Toro is reportedly gearing up to take the helm on ‘Fantastic Voyage,’ a remake of the 1966 sci-fi classic which starred Raquel Welch and Donald Pleasance as members of a team who are miniaturized in a submarine and injected into the body of a dying scientist in order to save his life.

(11) CLASS. The Doctor Who spinoff Class will air on BBC America in 2016. It was already on BBC Three’s schedule in the UK.

The eight-part series is from young-adult author Patrick Ness, who is known for writing the “A Monster Calls” books. The series is exec produced by “Doctor Who’s” Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin and is a co-production between BBC America and BBC Cymru Wales. It is filmed in Cardiff in the U.K.

“I’m astounded and thrilled to be entering the Doctor Who universe, which is as vast as time and space itself,” said Ness. “I can’t wait for people to meet the heroes of ‘Class,’ to meet the all-new villains and aliens, to remember that the horrors of the darkest corners of existence are just about on par with having to pass your exams,” he joked.

(12) BESTSELLER SNARK. Diana Gabaldon zinged George R.R. Martin – The Hollywood Reporter has the quote:

When asked by a reporter whether her work on the Starz drama [Outlander] — she penned a season two episode — would interfere with her meeting the deadline for the ninth installment in her saga — in light of Game of Thrones’ George R. R. Martin’s recent announcement that, of course, his next book will be delayed — Gabaldon didn’t miss a beat. “No. Unlike George, I write no matter where I am or what else I’m doing,” she said, adding: “He admits it himself that he likes to travel and he can’t write when he travels. That’s just the way he works. Everybody’s got their own writing mechanism. When I began writing, I had two full-time jobs and three small children.”

(13) TENTACLE TIME. Matthew Dockrey, designer of Sasquan’s Hugo base, made news with his new piece of public art in Vancouver (WA).

A newly installed tentacle sculpture is seen on Main Street in Vancouver Wednesday January 6, 2016. (Natalie Behring/The Columbian)

A newly installed tentacle sculpture is seen on Main Street in Vancouver Wednesday January 6, 2016. (Natalie Behring/The Columbian)

A giant steel tentacle bristling with saucer-sized suckers is slithering from the sewer in Uptown Village at Main and West 23rd streets.

Does it belong to an enormous octopus? A sea monster? Is it the tail of a dragon?

The imagination reels with possibilities.

The sculpture, created by Seattle metal artist Matthew Dockrey, is Vancouver’s newest piece of public art. Called “The Visitor,” the 5-foot-tall appendage cradling a genuine city manhole cover was installed Saturday. It will be dedicated at a celebration at noon Friday by the Uptown Village Association, Arts of Clark County, Vancouver’s Downtown Association and the city.

Karen Madsen, chairwoman of the nonprofit Arts of Clark County, said the artwork selection committee had sought a piece that was whimsical and interactive and that would endure over time. The sculpture, which Dockrey specifically created for the site in front of the old Mission Theatre, fits within the Steampunk art movement, she said.

(14) THE FRONT. Cedar Sanderson has pulled together the Mad Genius Club’s considerable wisdom about cover creation for self-published books into one post.

First and most important: before you start designing a cover, creating art intended for book covers, or even thinking about a book cover, you need to look at book covers. A lot of them. Specific book covers to your genre is even better, as there are subtle cues you need to know and recognize, even if you aren’t doing your own covers. So first, before anything else, go to Amazon and search for your sub-genre (space opera, paranormal romance, werewolf stories, historical military fiction, whatever it is) and look at the top 100 selling books. Not the freebies (unless you are looking at what not to do). Make notes of elements you like, things you hate, and the consistent notes that many of the covers have in common. When you’re done with this, you are ready to begin.

(15) HUGO PREP WORK. Shaun Duke has posted a crowdsourced list – “The 2016 Hugo Awards Reading/Watching List (or, My Next Few Months)”.

Last month, I asked for recommendations for my annual Hugo Awards reading bonanza.  A bunch of you responded with books, movies, TV shows, cookbooks, and so on.  The form will remain open for the next month or so, so if you haven’t submitted anything or want to submit some more stuff, go for it!

So, without further delay, here is the big massive monster list of stuff I’ll be reading or watching for the next few months…

(15) IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR. Doris V. Sutherland resumes her analysis of the comparative quality of Puppy and non-Puppy Hugo nominees in the past two races in “2014 Hugos Versus 2015 Sad Puppies: Novelettes” at Women Write About Comics.

Breaking down the above ten works, we have two stories from the 2014 Sad Puppies slate, four from the 2015 Sad Puppies slate, one from the Rabid Puppies and three that were not Puppy picks. In terms of numbers, this is a strong showing from the Puppies. In terms of quality, well…

Before I go on, I should—in the interests of balance—remind my readers that I generally liked the Puppy choices for Best Short Story; some had their flaws, but I felt that the only out-and-out dud was the Rabid slate’s “Turncoat.” Looking at the Puppy novelettes, on the other hand, I find myself decidedly unimpressed.

(16) ROCK ENROLL. NASA’s new Planetary Defense Coordination Office will coordinate asteroid detection and hazard mitigation.

NASA has formalized its ongoing program for detecting and tracking near-Earth objects (NEOs) as the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO). The office remains within NASA’s Planetary Science Division, in the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The office will be responsible for supervision of all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that pass near Earth’s orbit around the sun. It will also take a leading role in coordinating interagency and intergovernmental efforts in response to any potential impact threats….

NASA’s long-term planetary defense goals include developing technology and techniques for deflecting or redirecting objects that are determined to be on an impact course with Earth. NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission concept would demonstrate the effectiveness of the gravity tractor method of planetary defense, using the mass of another object to pull an asteroid slightly from its original orbital path. The joint NASA-European Space Agency Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission concept, if pursued, would demonstrate an impact deflection method of planetary defense.

Even if intervention is not possible, NASA would provide expert input to FEMA about impact timing, location and effects to inform emergency response operations. In turn, FEMA would handle the preparations and response planning related to the consequences of atmospheric entry or impact to U.S. communities.

(17) AFRICAN SF. There are six African authors on BSFA Awards Longlist.

Sarah Lotz has been nominated in the Best Novel category for Day Four, the follow-up on her bestseller The Three.

Chinelo Onwualu of Nigeria has been nominated in the Best Non-fiction category for her essay “Race, Speculative Fiction And Afro SF”, published by the New Left Project.

The Best Short Fiction category features four other African nominations:

Unfortunately Samatar’s story won’t be eligible for the award as she announced hers is a reprint of a 2012 story.

(18) ANIMAL FARM. The extended trailer for Disney live-action movie The Jungle Book looks pretty good.

(19) WUV. Matthew Johnson contributed these instant classic parody lyrics in a comment.

Star Base… LOVE.”

Love, at Warp Factor Two

Beam aboard, we’re expecting you

Love, it’s a captain’s reward

Make it so, it warps back to you


The Love Base

Soon we’ll be plotting a different course

The Love Base

You’ll learn a new way to use the Force


Won’t stun anyone

It’s fruity drinks ‘neath the double suns

It’s the Love

It’s the Love

It’s the Love

It’s the Love Base

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., Will R., Standback, and Alan Baumler for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]