Pixel Scroll 5/2/17 Pixel Packing Mama, Lay Your Pixel Down

(1) YOUNG AGAIN. James Davis Nicoll will be doing a Phase II of Young People Read Old SFF and asks — What short works published before 1980 would File 770 readers recommend?

(2) POTTERPOLOGY DAY. Following her tradition of apologizing for killing off a character on the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, J.K. Rowling tweeted today —

And as Katherine Trendacosta astutely observed at io9:

See? She knows she’s stirring shit up and she does it anyway.

For the uninitiated, Severus Snape is the third rail of Harry Potter fandom. One side has the completely valid argument that Snape was, despite happening to be on the same side as the heroes, horribly abusive to his students and, whatever Rowling’s intent, less “in love with” Lily Evans than a stalker with “nice guy” syndrome. The other side says that his very obvious flaws make him an interesting and nuanced character, and that, regardless of everything else, he died a hero. Plus, being played by Alan Rickman in the movies made Snape a lot more approachable than he is on the page.

(3) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. May 6 is Free Comic Book Day when participating comic book shops give away special sample comics free to anyone who comes into their shops. There are a lot of different issues involved – see the catalog.

(4) BEAGLE SUIT. Peter S. Beagle isn’t as broke as people are making him out to be says Snopes’ David Emery in “The Trials of ‘Last Unicorn’ Author Peter S. Beagle”.

Contrary to Internet rumor, the beloved science fiction and fantasy author Peter S. Beagle (perhaps best known for his classic 1968 novel The Last Unicorn) is neither destitute nor teetering on the brink of starvation.

A cry for immediate financial assistance went up shortly after the writer’s 78th birthday on 20 April 2017, in the form of tweets describing Beagle’s circumstances as “dire”:

Several posts repeated the claim that Beagle, who has been embroiled in a costly legal battle with his former manager since 2015, was having difficulty even meeting basic household expenses such as grocery bills. However, we spoke to Beagle’s lawyer, Kathleen A. Hunt of El Cerrito, California, who told us that her client’s money woes, albeit chronic, are not as acute as they have been portrayed:

It’s true that he doesn’t have lots of money, but it’s not true that his living situation is dire. Peter does need the help and support of his friends and fans, but it is not the case that he’s in danger of being on the street.

We also spoke with Beagle himself, who said he considers himself a lot better off than the average writer:

It’s always dicey, but anybody who makes a living as a writer learns to cope with lean times. Compared to so many other people, I’m fortunate.

The impromptu fund drive nevertheless resulted in a welcome infusion of cash, not to mention an outpouring of love and support from Beagle’s many online fans. “The response was pretty phenomenal,” Hunt said.

The writer’s ongoing money woes are due in part to court costs from a 2015 lawsuit he filed against Connor Cochran, owner of Conlan Press, who had managed the author’s creative and business affairs for fourteen years…

Cochran filed a counterclaim denying the allegations, and posted a series of statements on his web site alleging that Beagle was being unduly influenced by individuals close to him who seek personal gain from the suit…

At present, Beagle says he feels fine and endeavors to write every day (with varying levels of success, he admits), focused mainly on a novel he envisions as a semi-sequel to Two Hearts, which itself he describes as “kind of a sequel to The Last Unicorn.” He will appear at BayCon, the annual San Francisco Bay Area science fiction convention, in May.

The lawsuit is set to go to trial in January 2018.

(5) RHETORICAL VIOLENCE. In The Guardian, Jessa Crispin challenges a popular narrative: “The Handmaid’s Tale is just like Trump’s America? Not so fast”.

…If the television show based on the Margaret Atwood dystopia feels like propaganda, with its depiction of women raped, mutilated, and forced into shapeless cloaks and bonnets in the new American theocracy named Gilead, then it shouldn’t be a surprise viewers are responding to it as such.

There are dozens of thinkpieces claiming this show is all too real and relevant; Atwood herself called it “a documentary” of Trump’s America. Sarah Jones at The New Republic went so far as to compare Gilead to contemporary Texas and Indiana. Women are in peril. We must do something.

If this propaganda is not being used to sell us a war, we should be interested in what it is selling us instead. That so many women are willing to compare their own political situation living under a democratically elected president with no overwhelming religious ideology (or any other kind, for that matter, except for maybe the ideology of greed and chaos), with the characters’ position as sexual slaves and baby incubators for the ruling class, shows that it is always satisfying to position yourself as the oppressed bravely struggling against oppression.

The text and the thinkpieces make it clear who our enemies are: conservatives and Christians. (It shouldn’t be a surprise The New Republic piece was headlined “The Handmaid’s Tale is a Warning to Conservative Women.”)…

(6) IN JEOPARDY! Tom Galloway reports:

On Monday’s Jeopardy! episode, the defending champion Alan Lin (“a software engineer from Santa Barbara, CA”) was asked by Alex Trebek about his writing. Lin replied that he writes SF short stories, but hasn’t sold one yet. But last summer he went to this writing workshop…. Checking the Clarion site, he’s listed as an alumnus. He’s doing well; as of the end of Monday’s show, he’s a six-time winner at $123,600 and still going. But on Monday’s show, he was beaten to the buzzer by another player on the clue in the category The Book of Verbs of “‘The Cat Who ____ Through Walls’ by Robert A. Heinlein”

(Jeopardy! will be doing an uncommon midyear online tryout test at the end of the month (three nights, May 30, 31, June 1) for those others who want to tryout. See Jeopardy.com for details)

(7) SEVEN TIME STOKER LOSER. Scott Edelman has a story:

Saturday night, I was up for my seventh Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association, and emcee Jeff Strand took that opportunity to root for me … if you can call it rooting. Here’s what he had to say during his opening comments. Note that since the livestreamed video was so dark Jeff wasn’t even visible, I replaced that video with a photograph of me after I donned a new button once the results were announced in my category.

 

(8) DICK OBIT. Anne Dick died April 28 after surviving with congestive heart failure for many years. The former wife of Philip K. Dick published a biography about him in 2010, The Search for Philip K. Dick.

Tandy Ford, Anne Dick’s daughter and Philip Dick’s step-daughter, told a member of Facebook’s Philip K. Dick group, “She was still working away on her computer the night before her passing. She was a force of nature and her loss leaves a great void.”

In a 2010 profile by the New York Times’ Scott Timberg Anne Dick said:

“I think he’s what you might call a psychomorph,” Ms. Dick said recently, sitting in the boxy, modernist home she once shared with him. “He was quite different with each person. He had this enormous gift of empathy, and he used it to woo and please and control. I’m not saying he wasn’t a very nice person too; he was. He just had a very dark shadow.”

…After the breakup of their marriage, Ms. Dick said she endured seeing herself reflected in several evil-wife characters in his later novels. Yet when he died in 1982, after a series of strokes, “everything changed,” she said.

“You see a person in the round,” she continued. “I started writing this after he died, because I was still so confused by what had happened.”

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. When screenwriter William Goldman first tried to get The Princess Bride made into a movie in the 1970s, he wanted the relatively unknown actor and bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger to play the role of Fezzik. By the time the film was made in 1987, Schwarzenegger was a too big star. The part instead when to former wrestler Andre the Giant.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 2, 1933 — Although accounts of an aquatic beast living in Scotland’s Loch Ness date back 1,500 years, the modern legend of the Loch Ness Monster is born when a sighting makes local news on May 2, 1933. The newspaper Inverness Courier related an account of a local couple who claimed to have seen “an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface.” The story of the “monster” (a moniker chosen by the Courier editor) became a media phenomenon, with London newspapers sending correspondents to Scotland and a circus offering a 20,000 pound sterling reward for capture of the beast.

(11) THEIR STEELY KNIVES. Mark Lawrence explains how his Stabby Award finally arrived after some difficulty, and treats fans to a photo gallery of all the daggers and double-headed axes his work has won:

And finally here they are with my growing collection of pointy literary awards, along with the books responsible. My quest to win the Fluffy Bunny award for Friendliest Fantasy continues in vain.

(12) VIVA MAX. I can’t stay away from “five things” posts any more than a dog can avoid noticing a squirrel. Today Max Florschutz blows the myths away in “Five Things Non-Writers Should Know About Writers and Writing”.

1) Writing is a Lot of Hard Work This is one of the most common misconceptions I hear about writing. That it’s not work. That’s it’t not hard. That it’s not a “real” vocation (Yes, I hear all of these all the time).

This just plain isn’t true. Writing is a dedicated effort that takes hundreds, thousands of hours worth of both practice, planning, and devotion. Unfortunately, most people don’t think of it as something that does, because after all, they can write. They do it all the time! Text messages, letters, Facebook posts … they write all the time. How hard could it be to write a story?

The truth is that it’s very hard to write a story. It requires a very different set of tools to writing a text message, copying down the minutes of a meeting, or writing someone a letter. These things are straightforward and simple because they’re personal. Writing a story, however, is very impersonal. It has to be written from a perspective outside the writer’s own, and convey it’s tale to a vast audience of varying talent, comprehension, and capability. Writers must figure out how to paint a picture in each and every reader’s mind—a challenge considering that all of them will be very different people, and yet the same words the author pens must in each case create the same vision.

(13) AMAZON AUTHOR. Amanda S. Green continues her Mad Genius Club series with a lesson in Amazon marketing — “It’s really a business, pt. 2”.

Today, let’s talk about the Amazon author page and one or two related topics.

First of all, if you have released anything on Amazon and haven’t set up your Amazon author page, do so now. Don’t finish reading this post. Hie thee off to Author Central. You will sign in with the same user name and password that you have set up for your KDP account. Once you have, the first page you encounter is a general information page. Review everything there because there is some interesting information, especially if you haven’t been publishing for long.

(14) SHADOW CLARKE JURY FINISHES. Tomorrow the real Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist will be revealed. Today, the Shadow Clarke Jury issued its collective decision about who belongs on that list.

My final shortlistee is another popular novel among the Sharkes: the reality-bending investigation of light and perception, A Field Guide to Reality by Joanna Kavenna. While Jonathan approves of its class consciousness in the form of a cynical satire of academia, Maureen is intrigued by the alt-Oxford setting and intricate unfolding of universes, while Nina finds it good for “bust[ing] wide open” the science fiction envelope. The Sharke reviews, so far, have demonstrated just how malleable and diaphanous this novel is.

…Too often in the past, we agreed, Clarke shortlists had tended to feel weighted towards two or at the most three contenders that immediately looked stronger than the others, with the remainder simply making up the numbers. We wanted to avoid that scenario if we could, to present a genuine six-horse race.

And so the discussion proper was soon underway. The first two slots were filled very quickly – indeed, I think we all came to the meeting in the knowledge that Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station? were scoring high marks with just about every juror. Paul Kincaid called The Underground Railroad ‘essential’, and even went so far as to say he would judge this year’s Clarke Award on whether or not the official shortlist included it. Those who read the comments on the Sharke reviews here will know that I am not The Underground Railroad’s strongest advocate myself – and if the book makes it through to the official shortlist I will do my best to write in greater detail about why that is – but as I said to my fellow Sharkes I wasn’t about to step in front of a juggernaut. And as for Central Station, I was only too happy to see this very special book go through, especially since if the Clarke made any sense Tidhar would have been shortlisted twice already in previous years, for Osama and for A Man Lies Dreaming.

With two down and four to go, the question was then asked of each Sharke: of all the novels on your personal shortlist, are there any that you would say, absolutely, should be in the Sharke Six…

(15) THE GHOST BRIGADIER WHO WALKS. So why is the first thing that pops into my mind The Phantom comic strip? It’s not as if John goes around punching people in the jaw. (But if he ever did!)

(16) EVERYBODY LOOK WHAT’S GOIN’ DOWN. Galactic Journey gets another letter of comment from 1962 — “[May 02, 1962] A Good Lie (Letter Column #2)” – by a writer who wonders what the heck the U.S. is doing in Indochina.

Anyway, I thought of something I didn’t write about in my first letter to you.  (Thanks for sending some back issues of your publication.) I see that you are aware that there is something going on in Indochina that involves the US (March 31, 1961), but now, a year later, yes, it is clear that we as a nation are involved in war, but are just being sort of secretive about it.

(17) SOMETHING FOR MOTHERS’ DAY. Now on eBay, it can be yours for $28,000 – Bride of Frankenstein Movie Novel Signed by Elsa Lanchester & Forrest J Ackerman”.

First Edition. Signed and inscribed on the half-title by the film’s star, Elsa Lanchester, to Philip J. Riley, the editor of the book ‘The Bride of Frankenstein. Screenplay by William Hurlbut & John L. Balderston.  Introduction by Valerie Hobson. Foreword by Forrest J Ackerman’ which reprinted the film’s screenplay. Inscribed: “To Phil, From THE Bride of Frankenstein! Elsa Lanchester. With all my very best wishes.” Additionally signed and inscribed to Riley from Forrest J Ackerman on the front free endpaper: “Phil – Aunt Beeze is fine and here’s The Bride of Frankenstein. What else? Forry, at 59.” Ownership signature dated 1938 on the front pastedown…

(18) MIDNIGHT SEUSS. The Tennessean apprises locals of a chance to see “Dr. Seuss’ secret ‘Midnight Paintings’ at the Factory at Franklin”.

Presented by Ann Jackson Gallery (Roswell, Ga.), the exhibition on view May 5-7 charts the wider reaches of Geisel’s prolific artistic imagination, featuring nearly 100 limited edition reproductions of his work that have been largely unseen by the public. In addition to sketches, illustrations, and political cartoons he created during World War II, the major highlight of the exhibition are the selections from “The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss,” a collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures that Geisel created late at night for his personal enjoyment.

… The paintings and drawings, detached from a narrative, are more formally sophisticated and experimental.

Though they depict familiar Seussian settings populated by flamboyant characters and animals rendered in the same waggish visual vernacular as his storybook illustrations, they are more detailed, diversely colored, and at times more wondrous.

His sculptures, which comprise their own sub-collection of his secret art called, “Unorthodox Taxidermy,” are also remarkable. Using plaster, metal, and taxidermied animal parts, Geisel sculpted what look like the heads of his own outlandish animal creations — a “Goo-Goo-Eyed Tasmanian Wolghast” or “The Carbonic Walrus” — and mounted them on wood like hunting trophies.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, Tom Galloway, Cat Eldridge, Scott Edelman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 4/11/17 There’s A File, Over At The Pixel Scroll Place…

(1) GIVE ‘EM HELL HARRY! Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the new record-holder for winning the most Olivier Awards.

The Broadway-bound “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” shattered records at the Olivier Awards for London theater here on Sunday night, picking up nine prizes, including best new play, and honors for the actors playing Harry, Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius.

The previous record was seven awards for one production.

Jamie Parker took best actor for his portrayal of Harry, while Noma Dumezweni won supporting actress honors as Hermione and Anthony Boyle supporting actor honors as Scorpius.

Harry Potter” also won for best director (the Tony winner John Tiffany) and for its lighting, sound, costumes and set design. The production had tied the record for the most nominations for any show in Oliviers history, with 11.

The play is expected to open at the Lyric Theater on Broadway in 2018.

(2) BILLIE PIPER TOO. And walking away with the Olivier Award for Best Actress was Billie Piper. The former Doctor Who companion (as Rose Tyler) won for her performance in Yerma.

The extraordinary Billie Piper plays Her, a woman driven to the unthinkable by her desperate desire to have a child. Simon Stone creates a radical new production of Lorca’s achingly powerful masterpiece.

(3) PULITZER WINNING OPERA. Rob Thornton points to another sff work that took a Pulitzer Prize yesterday.

Du Yun’s opera “Angel’s Bone,” about a couple who rescues two angels, clips their wings and exploits them for money, has won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music. The jury stated that the work “integrates vocal and instrumental elements and a wide range of styles into a harrowing allegory for human trafficking in the modern world.” According to the website NewMusicBox, the opera features a “disturbing supernatural story” by librettist Royce Vavrek.

(4) EARLY ADOPTING. How new tech is showing up first in slums:

Cities need new ways to create energy and cut down on waste, and some of the most innovative – and low-tech – solutions may well be found in the parts of town the city authorities are least likely to talk about.

While some bemoan crowded commutes, for slum-dwellers it is access to basic services such as running water or electricity that is the real issue.

And where there is need, there is often innovation.

So can the technology being rolled out in the world’s most deprived urban areas offer not just hope for those who live there but also lessons for the richer parts of the city?

(5) FURRY CONVENTION LOSES ITS PELT. Furry fan news site Flayrah bids adieu: “Rocky Mountain Fur Con canceled following neo-Nazi associations, tax irregularities”.

Colorado furry convention Rocky Mountain Fur Con has been canceled. Funds collected in advance of this August’s event are to be spent on existing liabilities, and refunding attendees and dealers where possible; any remainder will go to the convention charity.

While their official statement cites rising security costs, the closure follows the controversial issues surrounding CEO Kendal Emery (Kahuki Liaru), and the “Furry Raiders” group. It has also been discovered by Flayrah that the convention’s parent company’s Federal tax-exempt status, obtained in 2009, had lapsed, and it had not filed taxes for a period of seven years, while still claiming to be a registered 501(c) non-profit. In this investigative report we can identify the issues that have contributed to the end of Denver’s furry convention.

(6) CALL OF THE WILD CAFFEINE. This conversation sounds familiar.

(7) STAR WARS CHARITY CONTEST. Deadline Hollywood reports “’Star Wars: Force For Change’ & Omaze Kick Off 40th Anniversary Of Sci-Fi Franchise With New Charity Campaign”.

Over the course of four weeks between April 11– May 11, fans may enter at Omaze.com/StarWars for a chance to win once-in-a-lifetime Star Wars experiences including the chance to appear in the upcoming Han Solo movie, tickets to the world premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in Hollywood, or, an overnight stay at Skywalker Ranch. The grand prize is winning all three of these experiences.

Starlight Children’s Foundation is the newest charity to benefit from Star Wars: Force for Change. Through a $1 million grant, Star Wars: Force for Change supports the foundation’s core programs at 700-plus children’s hospitals, clinics, and camps. Over the last three years, Star Wars: Force for Change and UNICEF have raised more than $9M together and saved the lives of 30K-plus children suffering from severe acute malnutrition through the distribution of over 4M packets of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food Packets (RUTF) around the world.

The contest is here.

(8) DUNNING OBIT. Washington State fan Karrie Dunning died April 11. Dunning had been in fandom since the Seventies. She emceed the masquerade at the first Norwescon in 1978. She was part of the Seattle in 1981 Worldcon bid that lost to Denver, and involved with the city’s Vanguard group.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 11, 1939  — Buck Rogers first aired on radio.
  • April 11, 1970 — Apollo 13 was launched, manned by astronauts James Lovell, John Swigert, and Fred Haise.

(10) WARNING, TANNED PECS AHEAD. Erin Horáková deconstructs Captain Kirk, interstellar oinker, in “Freshly Remember’d: Kirk Drift” at Strange Horizons.

I’m going to walk through this because it’s important for ST:TOS’s reception, but more importantly because I believe people often rewatch the text or even watch it afresh and cannot see what they are watching through the haze of bullshit that is the received idea of what they’re seeing. You “know” Star Trek before you ever see Star Trek: a ‘naive’ encounter with such a culturally cathected text is almost impossible, and even if you manage it you probably also have strong ideas about that period of history, era of SF, style of television, etc to contend with. The text is always already interpolated by forces which would derange a genuine reading, dragging such an effort into an ideological cul de sac which neither the text itself nor the viewer necessarily have any vested interest in. These forces work on the memory, extracting unpaid labour without consent. They interpose themselves between the viewer and the material, and they hardly stop at Star Trek.

….Besides, if Star Trek is going to be part of the conversation whether or not the Left wants to claim it (and look at how SFnal texts are being deployed in the discourse for conversation surrounding the Reprise of Fascism—look at how authoritarian forces are deploying the grammar of Star Trek, and at Nu!Trek’s imperial subtexts), then our memory of the text should not actively derange said text to suit political projects we do not necessarily consent to participate in. For these projects live in us and through us, like parasites that make us their unwitting and unwilling hosts. Like dybbuks that possess and consume us, taking our thoughts, our very eyes, and making them their own.

(11) BRAND NAME COMICS. John Carpenter of movie fame is starting a comics series:

Carpenter and his wife and collaborator Sandy King are bringing us Tales of Science Fiction, a monthly anthology series that will show us the darkness and wonder of everything the genre has to offer. The first three-issue arc is called “Vault” and has been written by James Ninness with art by Andres Esparza. The first issue will be available in July, and we’re waiting with baited breath.

(12) THE ONES FANS’ MOTHERS DIDN’T BURN. Drum roll, please. Here is ScreenRant’s list of “The 18 Rarest and Hard To Find Comic Books”.

  1. Detective Comics #27

Of course, this comic had to make it onto the list. While no single issue of Detective Comics is particularly rare, there’s no denying the appeal of the very first appearance of the character described on the cover as “The Batman” – the inclusion of the word “the” in the hero’s title dates back long before Ben Affleck was set to direct a movie of the same name, and even before the animated series The Batman.

There are less than two hundred copies of Detective Comics #27 remaining in the world today, which would mean that it’s actually fairly common compared to some books on this list. In spite of that, though, thanks to its impressive place in the annals of comics, this is one book that you’re unlikely to ever own, as each of the surviving copies of the book are worth at least a six figure sum

(13) GAME THERAPY. Post-trauma visual games may prevent PTSD.

But it turns out the particular brand of disconnection provided by Tetris may reflect a mental state long sought by healers to treat patients who have lived through a trauma.

I’m referring to the idea that some combination of facing negative memories, but also being distracted from them, might help alleviate the vivid psychological scars of trauma. Clinicians and philosophers have tried countless ways of treating trauma and anxiety through the years — of finding, as Roman stoic philosopher Seneca called it, tranquillitas, or peace of mind. And many of them were, in all likelihood, bunk. But the science now shows that activities as simple as playing distracting video games or focusing on eye movements can help patients cope with a tragic experience.

(14) PROFESSIONAL HELP. Remember SFWA’s resources for topics like event accessibility.

(15) SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WRITING CLASSES. Cat Rambo is increasing the number of Plunkett scholarships she offers for her writing classes.

Something I’m trying to do this year is pay things forward as much as possible. Recent technological upgrades means I can now fit more than 8-9 people in a class (can now handle up to twice that many, which is more suited to some classes than others), so I figured one way to do that is to make more class slots available to people who couldn’t otherwise afford the class.

So, each class now has three Plunkett scholarship slots, the third of which is specifically reserved for QUILTBAG and POC applicants. Everyone is encouraged to apply, but I want to make sure it’s getting to a diverse range. The only qualification for a Plunkett is this: you would not be able to afford the class otherwise. Just mail me with the name/date of the class and 1-3 sentences about why you want to take it.

Classes Offered April-June 2017

(16) PUTTING A CAP ON HIS CAREER. If this is what traditional publishers are making writers do, indie authors have one more reason to be thankful.

(17) TAFF FINAL CALL. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund voting ends April 17 at midnight GMT. Curt Phillips – TAFF Administrator, North America and Anna Raftery – TAFF Administrator, UK/Europe encourage you to participate.

The Loooong 2017 TAFF voting season is finally approaching a conclusion as voting ends this coming Sunday, April 17 at Midnight GMT (that’s UK time), which time marks the end of this year’s Eastercon.  Voting had been extended to allow in-person voting at Eastercon; a longstanding tradition for TAFF and that convention.  UK TAFF Administrator Anna Raftery will be on hand at the convention to take those votes, so please do keep her busy!  And as a special attraction for Eastercon attendees there will be a League of Fan Funds auction during the convention.  Rare and valuable artifacts of fannish loot and booty have been gathered to entice your pounds from your wallets and purses to benefit TAFF, GUFF, and other fan funds including a new one which hopes to benefit fandom in Brazil!  But there’s room for more, so *please* bring along a little loot and booty of your own to donate to the fan fund auction at Eastercon.  *Many* fans will benefit from your generosity!   On-line and postal voting will continue through that time as well both in North America and in the UK/Europe – and all around the planet, for that matter and you can find a link to the ballot and the candidate platforms at David Langford’s excellent TAFF website found at http://taff.org.uk/

No matter who you vote for, thank you for supporting TAFF.  You are contributing to a life changing experience for a fan, and a very noble and worthwhile tradition for all of Fandom.

(18) PRO RATES. Here’s the SFWA market report for April, compiled by David Steffen.

(19) TRACK RECORD. ComicsBeat brings word that a pair of successful moviemakers will shepherd Invincible to the big screen.

First they kicked things off co-writing the 2011 Green Hornet film.

Then they took on the task of adapting and showrunning the current adaptation of Preacher for AMC.

After that, they opted to bring another Garth Ennis-written comic, The Boys to Cinemax.

And today? Variety reports that writing and directing duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg will be writing/directing/producing a big screen adaptation of the Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker superhero saga, Invincible for Universal.

(20) STREAMING SF. Netflix released the SENSE8 Season 2 – Official Trailer

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, lurkertype. Cat Rambo, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 11/18 Count Hero

(1) John Picacio’s thoughts about “The New World Fantasy Award: What’s Next”.

  1. THE FIRST QUESTION NEEDS TO BE THE RIGHT ONE. In this case, I would offer that the first question should not be, “Hey, World: what do you think this award should look like?” The first question should be, “Who are the best sculptors and who is the sculptor that can best elevate this award toward a new timeless icon? Who can carry this responsibility? Who can take us to a place we could not have imagined on our own?” The same respect that is given to a great novelist should be given to a great sculptor here.

The sculptor of this award needs to be an artist, first and foremost — someone who solves problems, conceives original thoughts, has unique insights, and visually communicates those thoughts, insights, emotions and intangibles into tangible form. If the plan is to take a straw poll of the most popular and familiar symbols and word pictures, or to concoct a preordained vision and then hire some poor sap to carefully sculpt to that prescription, then please hire a pharmacist, not a professional artist. However, the World Fantasy Award can do better than that, and I’m hoping it will. If I were a decision maker in this process, I would be sky-high excited about the amazing creative (and branding) opportunity ahead, and I would be vigorously searching for the right sculptor to cast a new icon, rather than casting a fishing line praying to hook an idea.

(2) Many others continue to discuss what it should look like, including Charles Vess on Facebook (in a public post).

Ari Berk (friend & folklorist) suggested this idea. Going back to the original story that it seems all cultures around the world share: the hand print on the cave wall. “I am here and this is my story”.

vess wfa idea

(3) Frequent commenter Lis Carey is looking for financial help. Her GoFundMe appeal asks for $3,000, of which $400 has been donated so far.

I’m in a major fix. I don’t have an income right now, but I do have some major expenses. The tenant’s apartment has no heat, and a leaky kitchen sink, and needs a plumber. I have outstanding gas,and electric bills, and water bills for both apartments. I’m looking for work and trying to hold things together, but I’m desperate and need some breathing space. Help!

(4) Sarah Avery delves into some reasons for the success of multi-volume fantasy in “The Series Series: Why Do We Do This To Ourselves? I Can Explain!” at Black Gate. It’s a really good article but not easy to excerpt because it is (unsurprisingly!) long. This will give you a taste, anyway:

I love an ensemble cast. Reading, writing, watching, whatever. In my imaginative life as in my personal life, I’m an extrovert. The struggles of a main character connect with me best when that main character is part of a community. The solution to the existential horror Lovecraft’s protagonists face had always seemed so obvious to me that I’d never articulated it fully, even to myself. The cosmos as a whole doesn’t prefer you over its other components? Of course not. Unimaginably vast forces that would crack your mind open if you let yourself understand them are destroying your world, and you are entirely beneath their notice? Well, that would explain a lot. So what do you do?

You take comfort in the people you love, you go down swinging in their defense, and you live your mammalian values of compassion and connection intensely, as long as it does any good — and then longer, to the last breath, if only in reproof of whatever in the universe stands opposed to them.

Or maybe that isn’t obvious. But I’m pretty sure it’s not just me.

For whatever reason, Lovecraft was not a person, or an author, who could go there.

But the man could write a shorter story than I could. I’ll go to school on anyone who knows something I don’t, including authors who stretch me beyond the bounds of easy sympathy. What could the thing that appeared to me to be a malady in Lovecraft teach me about the gap in my craftsmanship?

First, I tried sharpening the distinction between the main character and the secondary characters. Simplifying the supporting cast, making my protagonist the only one who got to be as vivid and three-dimensional as I prefer for every significant character to be, got me out of novella territory. I could get my stories down to about 10,000 words and still feel that my work hit my own sweet spots.

What about getting the count lower? Magazine editors tend to set their cutoffs at 4,000 words or 7,000 words. What kind of cast size can you fit into that length, and what can you do with it?

I really don’t think you can squeeze in much of a supporting cast, unless those secondary characters are functioning more as props than as people. At most, you can have two realized characters, but that second can only be squeezed in if you’ve got serious writing chops. More characters than that, and you’re down to tricks that, as Elizabeth Bear likes to put it, hack the reader’s neurology: one telling detail that leads the reader to do all the work filling in a character around it. Okay, that’s a cool skill, one worth having, especially if you can do it so that the reader forgets s/he did all the work and remembers the story as if you’d written the character s/he filled in for you. I think I’ve pulled that trick off exactly once. Man, that was strenuous, and not in the ways I find exhilarating.

Avery’s subtopics include “Is It Enough to Call a Novel Community-Driven When It Sprawls across Two Continents, Seven Kingdoms, Three Collapsed Empires, a Passel of Free Cities, and Two Migrating Anarchic Proto-Nations?” Her short answer is, “Nope.”

(5) Mary Robinette Kowal seeks to lock in real progress to keep pace with conversation since the World Fantasy Con with the “SF/F Convention Accessibility Pledge”.

Over the last few years, there have been numerous instances of SF/F conventions failing to provide an accessible experience for their members with disabilities. Though accessibility is the right thing to do, and there are legal reasons for providing it in the US thanks to the 25-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act, many conventions continue to have no trained accessibility staff, policies, contact information, or procedures for accommodating their members with disabilities. As Congress said in the opening of the ADA, these “forms of discrimination against individuals with disabilities continue to be a serious and pervasive social problem.”

…We the undersigned are making a pledge. Starting in 2017, to give conventions time to fit this into their planning, the following will be required for us to be participants, panelists, or Guests of Honor at a convention:

  1. The convention has an accessibility statement posted on the website and in the written programs offering specifics about the convention’s disability access.
  2. The convention has at least one trained accessibility staff member with easy to find contact information. (There are numerous local and national organizations that will help with training.)
  3. The convention is willing and able to make accommodations for its members as it tries to be as accessible as possible. (We recommend that the convention uses the Accessibility Checklist for SFWA Spaces as a beginning guideline. Other resources include Fans for Accessible Cons, A Guide for Accessible Conferences, and the ADA rules for places of public accommodation, which apply to US conventions.)

Many people have co-signed.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden also observed, “…When you put in the work on these issues, you find out how many people out there have been staying home.”

(6) Michael Kurland’s autobiographical essay “My Life as a Pejorative” is featured on Shots Crime & Thriller Ezine.

At fourteen I discovered mystery stories and couldn’t decide whether I was Rex Stout, Dorothy Sayers or Dashiel Hammett. Or maybe Simon Templar. Not Leslie Charteris, but Simon Templar. How debonaire, how quick-witted, how good looking.

I was 21 when I got out of the Army, enrolled at Columbia University and began hanging out in Greenwich Village. There I fell into bad company: Randall Garrett, Phil Klass (William Tenn), Don Westlake, Harlan Ellison, Bob Silverberg, and assorted other sf and mystery writers. This was my downfall, the start of my slide into genre fiction. I wrote a science fiction novel, Ten Years to Doomsday, with Chester Anderson, a brilliant poet and prose stylist who taught me much of what I know about writing, and followed that up with The Unicorn Girl, a sequel to Chester’s The Butterfly Kid, a pair of fantasy novels in which the two main characters were ourselves, Chester Anderson and Michael Kurland. These books, and The Probability Pad, a continuation written by my buddy Tom Waters, have become cult classics, known collectively as the Greenwich Village Trilogy, or sometimes The Buttercorn Pad.

(7) Today In History

  • November 18, 1963 – Push-button telephones made their debut.

(8) Today’s Birthday Boys and Girls

  • Born November 18, 1928: Mickey Mouse
  • Born November 18, 1939: Margaret Atwood
  • Born November 18, 1962: Sarah A. Hoyt

(9) John Scalzi makes “An Announcement Regarding Award Consideration for 2015 Work of Mine”. He asks people not to nominate him, and in comments indicates he will decline nominations that come his way.

But this year, when it comes to awards, I want to take a break and celebrate the excellent work that other people are doing, and who deserve attention for that work. My year’s already been, well, pretty good, hasn’t it. I’ve had more than enough good fortune from 2015 and I don’t feel like I need right now to ask for another helping…

But for work that was put out in 2015, please look past me. Find the other writers whose work deserves the spotlight you can put on them with your attention, nomination and vote. Find the works that move your heart and your mind. Find the writers whose work you love and who you feel a nomination can help in their careers and their lives. Look past your usual suspects — including me! — and find someone new to you whose stories and effort you can champion to others. Put those people and works on your ballots. 2015 has been genuinely great year for science fiction and fantasy; it won’t be difficult to find deserving work and people for your consideration.

(10) Bigger than your average bomb shelter. “Czech out the Oppidum, the ultimate apocalypse hideaway” at Treehugger.

We do go on about the importance of resilient design, the ability of our buildings to survive in changing times and climates. We are big on repurposing, finding new uses for old buildings. And if the greenest brick is the one already in the wall, then surely the greenest bomb shelter is the one that’s already in the ground. That’s why the Oppidum is such an exciting opportunity; it’s a conversion of a classified secret facility built in 1984 by what were then the governments of Czechoslovakia and The Soviet Union. Now, it is available for use as the ultimate getaway, deep in a valley in the Czech Republic. The developer notes that they don’t make’em like they used to:…

It has a lovely above-grade modestly sized 30,000 square foot residence, which is connected via secret corridor to the two-storey, 77,000 square foot bunker below, which has been stylishly subdivided into one large apartment and six smaller ones for friends, family and staff, all stocked with ten years of supplies.

(11) Former child actor Charles Herbert died October 31 at the age of 66. The New York Times obit lists his well-known roles in movies like The Fly and 13 Ghosts.

Mr. Herbert was supporting his parents by the time he was 5. He appeared in more than 20 films and 50 television episodes, in which he fended off all kinds of adversaries, from a robot to a human fly.

He shared the limelight with Cary Grant, Sophia Loren and James Cagney. He played a blind boy in a memorable episode of “Science Fiction Theater” in 1956, and appeared in a 1962 “Twilight Zone” episode in which a widowed father takes his children to choose an android grandmother.

(12) SF Signal’s latest Mind Meld, curated by Rob H. Bedford, asks Andrew Leon Hudson, Stephenie Sheung (The BiblioSanctum), Richard Shealy, Michael R. Fletcher, Mark Yon, and Erin Lindsey

Q: Who is your favorite animal companion (pet, familiar, etc) in SFF?

A significant number of genre stories features character’s pets or animal companions. From Loiosh of Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos books to Snuff from Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October to Hedwig from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, animals can be companions, pets, or near equals to their “owners.” Who is/are your favorite(s)?

(13) Bruce Gillespie invites fans to download SF Commentary 90, November 2015 — over 100 contributors and 70,000 words.

(14) A Christopher Reeve-worn Superman costume is available for bid until November 19 at 5 p.m. Pacific in a Nate D. Sanders auction.

Superman lot COMP

(15) Heritage Auctions reports a menu from the Titanic fetched a high price in a recently closed auction.

Ironically, the top two lots related to a major disaster and a national tragedy. The first was a first class dinner menu from the last supper on the R.M.S. Titanic, the evening of April 14, 1912. Five salesmen and retailers shared a meal, each signing a menu with their place of residence. Of the five, all but one managed to survive the sinking which occurred in the wee morning hours. We believe this to be the only signed example and the only one from the “last supper”. It sold for $118,750.

The second lot was the license plates from the limo President Kennedy was in when he was shot — which went for $100,000.

(16) And this weekend, Heritage Auctions will take bids on Neal Adams’ original cover art for Green Lantern #76, “one of the most important and influential comic books ever published,” as part of the company’s Nov. 19-21 Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auction where it is expected to bring $300,000+.

Adams’ iconic cover is striking and symbolic. This issue broke more than just the lantern on the cover! Adding Arrow’s name to the title and logo of the book was genius. It created the first “buddy book” in the comic industry… the equivalent to the “buddy movie” genre. It also allowed writer Denny O’Neil to launch into a 13 issue run that dove into political and sociological themes like no comic had before.

 

Green lanter green arrow

(17) Lovecraft’s mug has already been saved from awards obscurity (or permanently guaranteed it, depending on your view) by the administrators of the Counter Currents and the administrators of its H. P. Lovecraft Prize for Literature. (Which can also be reached using this handy Donotlink link.)

Last year, we at Counter-Currents saw this coming. Thus we have created the Counter-Currents H. P. Lovecraft Prize for Literature, to be awarded to literary artists of the highest caliber who transgress the boundaries of political correctness. Our first laureate is novelist Tito Perdue, who received the award at a banquet in Atlanta on March 7, 2015.

The prize bust is by world-famous porcelain artist Charles Krafft, whose own defiance of political correctness has just led to the cancellation of an exhibition in London.

Wikipedia has an entry on Tito Perdue.

More details about Krafft’s exhibit being pulled by a Whitechapel art gallery from Jewish News:

A fashionable Whitechapel art gallery has pulled the plug on an exhibition by an artist who has been described as a “Holocaust denier” and a “white supremacist,” after complaints and threats were made.

Charles Krafft, who denies both charges, was due to show his work at StolenSpace for the second time, but gallery bosses said they pulled out after receiving “both physical and verbal threats”.

Krafft’s controversial ceramics include busts of Hitler, swastika perfume bottles with the word “forgiveness” emblazoned upon them and plates covered in drawings of Nazi bombings. His work and attributed comments has led to him being labelled a white supremacist, a Nazi sympathiser and a Holocaust denier.

(18) Triple-threat interview with Ken Liu, Lauren Beukes and Tobias S. Buckell at SFFWorld.

Ecotones are the points of transition that occur when two different environments come into contact, and almost inevitably conflict. Can you describe for us an ecotone that has had personal significance for you?

Ken Liu: We’re at a point in our technological evolution where the role played by machines in our cognition is about to change qualitatively. Rather than just acting as “bicycles for the mind,” computers, transformed by ubiquitous networking and presence, will replace important cognitive functions for us at an ever accelerating pace. Much of our memory has already been outsourced to our phones and other devices—and I already see indications that machines will be doing more of our thinking for us. Not since the invention of writing has technology promised to change how we learn and think to such an extent.

The transition between the environment we used to live in and the environment we’re about to live in is going to be exciting as well as threatening, and we’re witnessing one of the greatest transformations in human history.

Tobias Buckell: Last year a deer walked on down through Main Street and then jumped through the window of the local downtown bar. They got it on security camera.

Lauren Beukes: The shared reality of overlapping worlds I live through every day – the schism in experience between rich and poor where everything works differently, from criminal justice to the food you eat, how you get to work, schooling, the day-to-day you have to navigate.

I saw this most clearly and devastatingly when I tried to help my cleaning lady get justice for the scumbag who fatally assaulted her daughter. The cops didn’t care. The hospital put it down as “natural causes”. The prosecutor had to throw the case out because there was so little evidence. This compared to an incident when a friend’s motorbike was stolen at night in the nice suburbs and five cops ended up on his balcony drinking tea, having recovered the vehicle.

(19) Sarah Chorn at Bookworm Blues wonders if her conflict of interest should bar her from reviewing two books.

I feel pretty weird about doing this, but I also think it has to be done. This year I was a beta reader for two books that are currently published (a few more that have upcoming publication dates). I have struggled a little bit with how to approach these novels. While I feel obligated to review them (and I want to review them), I feel like being a beta reader for them takes my objectivity out of it, which is a problem for me. Is it really a review if I can’t objectively judge it?

Am I pondering my navel?

I’m surprised her desire to ask the question didn’t lead to a built-in answer.

(20) The Ant-Man Gag Reel has a few bloopers, though it’s not all that funny.

(21) Marvel’s Agent Carter Season 2 premieres January 5 on ABC.

[Thanks to Kate Savage, Will R., Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Comic Book America on ConTV

By James H. Burns: There has been an abundance of shows trying to take on the success of Pawn Stars and American Pickers, the series where essentially folks can turn their collectables to cash, and in the case of the latter, we see collectables dealers scouring the nation for values…  (I suppose it all goes back to PBS’ Antiques Road Show.)

But never, until now, has one of the hosts of these shows been someone many of us have known for decades, someone who’s been around science fiction conventions, in fact, since he was a kid.

Comic Book AmericaMichael Carbonaro popped up on the New York scene in the early 1970s, when he was a teen, as a comic book dealer. He wound up owning one of the first comics shops in America, and decades later, took over the mantle of the New York comic book conventions, producing the Big Apple Comic Convention, in Manhattan, for the last twenty years.

And yes, we’ve known each other since 1976, so I’m prejudiced.

But it’s great fun to see him doing Comic Book America on the new internet TV platform, ConTV.

They have a whole bunch of programming of genre interest, and if you look for the icon that says you don’t mind watching commercials, it’s FREE.

(And no, do not get this confused with the magician of the same name, who has a rather popular reality series, on TruTV cable…  It’s never quite fair, when someone comes along, with the same monicker!)

Mike’s show has four short episodes now, and the best is probably with the Dr. Strange collector, who even has a full replica costume of the Master of the Mystic Arts.

And, there will be more to come!

Pixel Scroll 7/22

An auction, eight stories and a tease in today’s Scroll.

(1) Attention collectors! Somebody’s flipping Ray Bradbury’s original caricature from the Brown Derby Restaurant today on eBay. Jack Lane’s portrait once hung on the wall at the famed Hollywood & Vine tourist trap with hundreds more of the artist’s sketches of Hollywood stars.

Ray Bradbury by Jack Lane. Once displayed at the Brown Derby.

Ray Bradbury by Jack Lane. Once displayed at the Brown Derby.

(2) The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will hold three special events next month celebrate Ray Bradbury’s 95th birthday, which is on August 22.

From Aug. 3 to 28, the center will present a free exhibit, “Miracles of Rare Device: Treasures of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies,” in the Cultural Arts Gallery on the first floor of the IUPUI Campus Center…. The exhibit will feature art, artifacts, books and rare magazines from Bradbury’s own collection, gifted to the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI in 2013 by the Bradbury Estate and by Donn Albright, Bradbury’s close friend and bibliographer.

Two related public events will coincide with the exhibition’s run.

On August 19, Jonathan R. Eller, Chancellor’s Professor of English and director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies will deliver the Second Annual Ray Bradbury Memorial Lecture in the Riley Meeting Room at Indianapolis Public Library’s Central Library.

The lecture, “Ray Bradbury’s October Country,” reveals the timeless creativity and somewhat controversial publishing history of one of Bradbury’s most popular story collections on the 60th anniversary of its original publication.

On August 27, the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies will host a reception followed by another Eller lecture, on the collection’s amazing journey from California to IUPUI and the importance of Bradbury’s legacy in the 21st century. Both the lecture and reception are free and open to the public.

(3) James Artimus Owen is offering for sale his illustrations for Diana Pavlac Glyer’s forthcoming book about the Inklings, Bandersnatch, and has posted the images on Facebook. [Note: Despite being set to “Public”, the material can only be viewed if you have a Facebook account.]

Each illustration is drawn on 11″ x 14″ Bristol board, and includes an appearance by the Bandersnatch somewhere in the picture. Prices are as listed, ranging from $450 to $750, although I am willing to entertain offers from people I like. First request, first choice. Message me to reserve your favorite and to arrange payment and shipping.

Sharkado 3

(4) Everybody knows Sharknado 3 airs today on SyFy. But it came as a surprise for me to read that George R.R. Martin plans to show the movie at his Jean Cocteau Theatre in August.

“Check it out,” writes Martin. “Next year’s Hugo favorite, for sure.”

William Reichard says in honor of that crack, the movie should be renamed, “Snarknado 3.”

(5) SF Signal’s latest Mind Meld proposes this interesting premise —

A recent Guardian article about Tokyo awarding Japanese Citzenship to Godzilla got me to wondering: If you could pick a genre fictional character, from any media, and offer them honorary citizenship and residence in your city, county, state, country, who would it be, and why?

Responses from — Kelly Robson, Jenny Goloboy, Galen Dara, Anne Leonard, Patrick Tomlinson, Julie Czerneda, Alyx Dellamonica, Django Wexler, Jesse Willis, Diana Pharoah Francis, Mikaela Lind, Rhonda Eudaly, Gillian Philip, Ardi Alspach, and Laura Anne Gilman.

(6) Interested in stories read aloud? Open Culture has found another seam of the motherlode, 88 hours of free audio fiction original aired on Wisconsin public radio.

Listen to enough episodes of Mind Webs, and you may get hooked on the voice and reading style of its host Michael Hanson, a fixture on Wisconsin public radio for something like forty years. Back in 2001, just after wrapping up his career in that sector, Hanson wrote in to the New York Times lamenting the state of public radio, especially its program directors turned into “sycophantic bean counters” and a “pronounced dumbing down of program content.” Mind Webs, which kept on going from the 70s through the 90s, came from a time before all that, and now its smart storytelling has come available for all of us to enjoy.

The playlist above will let you stream all of the stories — roughly 88 hours worth — from start to finish. Or you can access the audio at Archive.org here.

(7) Of course they knew those comic books were stolen! The Verge has the goods on the great Texas comic book heist.

Whoever was after the Sub-Mariners and All Star Comics at the Heritage Auction wasn’t a collector. Their bids were too erratic, they didn’t know the market, and chances were, they weren’t terribly smart. It was also clear that they had a lot of money on their hands — too much money, maybe — and they were eager to spend it. Through months of interviews and hundreds of pages of public documents, The Verge reconstructed what they were seeing: a multi-million-dollar embezzlement scheme that would ensnare a crooked lawyer, a multinational corporation, and some of the most sought-out comics in the world….

$40,000 split between nine checks. The investigator said he was going through a nasty divorce, and was worried his ex-wife might raise trouble over any checks for more than $10,000.

But what about that foxing? When the buyers took their comics home, they noticed something strange: the All Star #3 that had sold in February had the same imperfections. In fact, it was the same book. But that book was slabbed — it had a barcode and provenance, sold to a private buyer who wouldn’t have deslabbed it without a reason. Had they bought stolen property?

It was worse. They had bought stolen evidence. The book had come direct from Chiofalo’s storage unit, smuggled out under the nose of the Harris County DA — and according to prosecutors, Blevins and Deutsch worked together to smuggle them out. More than $150,000 in comics had disappeared from the storage unit, and Blevins had spent the summer selling them at comics conventions across the country. The books were deslabbed to throw investigators off the trail, but even without the barcode, the cover gave it away. Collectors search for flawless comics, but it’s the imperfections that give them an identity, and this imperfection placed Blevins at the scene of a crime.

(8) Did Tolkien visit the Bouzincourt caves while on Army service during the Battle of the Somme?

In 1916, a 24-year-old British soldier named J.R.R. Tolkien went off to fight in World War I. He was stationed near the village of Bouzincourt, took part in the nearby Battle of the Somme and writes about the area in his diaries.

Jeff Gusky, an explorer and photographer who maintains a site called “The Hidden World of World War I,” believes Tolkien may have visited Bouzincourt’s caves, places where hundreds of soldiers took refuge during the Somme — and that some of his impressions ended up in “The Lord of the Rings.”

“I feel that this is the place,” Gusky said. “It’s so raw and unchanged from a hundred years ago.”

Tolkien scholar John Garth isn’t so sure.

“On the Somme, he certainly spent time in deep trench dugouts, and he would have been aware of the subterranean world of the army tunnelers — all of which would, I believe, have given his descriptions of Moria and other Middle-earth underworlds some of their vitality,” Garth, the author of “Tolkien and the Great War,” wrote in an email….

Regardless of whether Tolkien knew of the caves, there’s no question that the author’s experience at the Somme influenced “The Lord of the Rings.”

“The Dead marshes and the approaches to the Morannon owe something to Northern France after the Battle of the Somme,” he wrote in a letter, according to a story on the Green Books portion of TheOneRing.net.

(9) “Stick a fork in the pup’s Tor boycott because their hushpuppy is done” says Jason Sanford.

Earlier this month I tracked the sales of a sample of ten book titles published by Tor Books. My desire was to see if the puppies’ boycott of Tor was having any effect on the publisher’s sales.

You can see the titles I tracked, and how I tracked the sales, in my original post or by looking at the endnote below.

But the flaw in my analysis was that I could only present two weeks of sales data since the boycott began on June 19. As a result, some people rightly said it was too early to tell if the boycott was failing or succeeding.

After examining two additional weeks of sales data it appears my initial analysis was correct. This new data shows that for the five weeks prior to the boycott starting on June 19, the weekly sales average for these Tor titles was 1652 books sold per week. For those same Tor titles, their weekly average sales for the last four weeks of the boycott has been 1679 books sold per week.

So on average, Tor’s sales for these titles are up slightly since the boycott started.

(10) Vox Day’s “Hugo Recommendations: Best Professional Artist” post is up. Don’t try and kid me, you know you want to read it.

[Thanks for these stories goes out to Dave Doering, Michael J. Walsh, William Reichard, Jim Meadows and John King Tarpinian as the Beaver.]

Free Comics 10/25

Halloween Comic Fest 2014A month from today – on Saturday, October 25 – many local comic shops will be celebrating the Halloween Comic Fest by giving customers a free Halloween ComicFest comic.

Click the link for information and to search for your nearest participating shop.

STK649686 COMPLA County shops on the list include the fannish folk at Blastoff Comics, 5118 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood.

A list of all the free comics is here, and many have free preview pages available.

I saw one titled Afterlife With Archie. Remembering how, earlier this year, Archie died taking a bullet for his gay friend I was dubious. Then I scanned the preview and was relieved to discover Afterlife With Archie tells a completely unrelated story. Whew.

Superman Comic Breaks Record

When I was a boy and Action Comics No. 1 was selling for only a little more than the cost of my parents’ house I couldn’t afford it. Now that it just sold for a record $1.5 million I still can’t afford it. Why do they even call this news?

The record price for a comic book, already broken twice this year, has been shattered again.

A copy of the 1938 edition of Action Comics No. 1 sold Monday for $1.5 million on the auction Web site ComicConnect.com. The issue, which features Superman’s debut and originally sold for 10 cents, is widely considered the Holy Grail of comic books.

The same issue sold in February for $1 million, though that copy wasn’t in as good condition as the issue that sold Monday.

[Via the Associated Press and David Klaus.]

New Jetpack Startup

Martin Jetpack

Whether the Martin Jetpack even deserves the name is controversial:

The fact that the device reached no more than 6 ft. of altitude during its various test runs at Oshkosh could indicate that it’s not achieving true flight, but a limited amount of lift, due to a phenomenon called “ground effect.” Spinning blades can create a cushion of air below a vehicle, which is how hovercrafts glide across the water.

That, and other abuse is being heaped on the startup by its competitors, in a Popular Mechanics article.

David Klaus forwarded the link along with his own comments:

More breathy coverage of the fledgling commercial jetpack industry. I remember Linda Bushyager once saying about the NASFiC, “It was an idea whose time should never have come.” Whether that applies here, further deponent sayeth not. Best comment I ever saw about jetpacks: comic book scene in which the Atom stares, jaw-dropped, as the villain escapes and says, “Wow. Jetpack Hitler. Reality has jumped the shark.”