Pixel Scroll 4/24/17 Let Us Sit Upon The Ground And Scroll Sad Pixels

(1) UNORTHODOX APPROACH. Beginning July 18, a weekly podcast will be hosted by Sixth & I in Washington DC — “Harry Potter and The Sacred Text”.

What if we read the books we love as if they were sacred texts? What would we learn? How might they change us? Harry Potter and the Sacred Text is a podcast the reads Harry Potter, the best-selling series of all time, as if it was a sacred text.

Just as Christians read the Bible, Jews the Torah, and Muslims read the Quran, Harvard chaplains Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile embark on a 199 ­episode journey (one chapter per week) to glean what wisdom and meaning J.K. Rowling’s beloved novels have in store.

The chaplains read the beloved series through the lens of instructive and inspirational text and extract lessons that can be applied to our own lives.

At the end of 199 weeks will something more emerge from these readings?

(2) JUSTICE IS BLIND. At Sharps & Flatirons, Peter Alexander says blind orchestral auditions have leveled the playing field — “Women in Classical Music: Some Good News, Some Bad News” .

First the good news: professional orchestras are filled with women today, a vast contrast to 40 or 50 years ago when orchestras were almost entirely male. This is now a viable career for the most talented women instrumentalists.

The bad news is that the picture is not nearly as rosy for women composers, who are not well represented on orchestral programs. And women conductors are no better off than composers.

The growing numbers of women in professional orchestras at every level can be traced to a single innovation that began around 1970: “blind auditions,” where competing candidates for open orchestral jobs play behind a screen. The selection committee does not know if it is hearing a man or a woman. The rapid change in the makeup of orchestras since 1970—casually visible and backed up by the numbers—is compelling evidence of the opposition women orchestral players faced before that innovation.

… In an article titled “Orchestrating Impartiality,” published in 2000 in The American Economic Review, researchers Claudia Goldin and Cecilia Rouse concluded that “the screen increases—by 50 percent—the probability that a woman will be advanced from certain preliminary rounds and increases by severalfold the likelihood that a woman will be selected in the final round.” Their conclusion is backed up by 25 pages of charts, graphs and statistical studies.

(3) CON OR BUST AUCTION. The Con or Bust annual fundraising auction has begun and runs until May 7 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Con or Bust, Inc., is a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization that helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions.

The available items include a signed galley of Ann Leckie’s next novel Provenance (to be published in October.) When I last looked, bidding was already up to $120.

Here are a few examples of the wide variety of auction items –

The whole list of auction tags is here.

(4) EMOJI CODE. There are four summaries, and I didn’t understand even one. Your turn! “Can you guess the Doctor Who episodes told in emojis?”

Test your Doctor Who knowledge by deciphering these emoji plots and guessing the episode!

If you’re stuck, answers are at the bottom of the page…

(5) LOOK, UP IN THE SKY. Talk about timing! Carl Slaughter referenced Larry Page in the other day’s flying car roundup, and today the news is “Larry Page’s flying car will be available to buy before the end of the year”

The Kitty Hawk Flyer is an electric aircraft that, in its current version, looks a bit like a flying Jet Ski. Cimeron Morrissey, who test flew the aircraft, wrote in a review that the final version would look quite different from the prototype, which doesn’t look all that practical.

A New York Times profile of the Flyer describes it as “something Luke Skywalker would have built out of spare parts.” The vehicle weighs about 100 kilograms and, according to Morrissey, can travel up to 25 mph. She likened the Flyer to “a toy helicopter.”

(6) PETER S. BEAGLE. Initially Barry Deutsch was signal-boosting an appeal for funds — “Peter S Beagle, author of ‘The Last Unicorn,’ is in dire need! Here are three ways you can help.” However, Beagle’s fans immediately came through on the short-term goal, which still leaves two longer-term needs:

LONG-TERM:

Go to the Support Peter Beagle website and use the button there to contribute to a fund to help pay for Peter Beagle’s legal costs. You can leave a message for Peter in the paypal field; I am told he will receive and read all messages sent this way.

BUY THE HUMBLE BUNDLE!

Peter Beagle has curated a Humble Bumble of unicorn fiction, called “Save the Unicorns.” You can pay as little as $1 to get a ton of novels to read, and support Peter Beagle at the same time! Important: In “choose where your money goes,” pick 100% Tachyon Press. Peter Beagle will get royalties and such from Tachyon for these Humble Bumble sales.

To be kept up-to-date on Peter Beagle news, follow @RealPeterBeagle on Twitter.

(7) UNGRADED HATE MAIL. Margaret Atwood answers Patt Morrison’s questions in the LA Times.

I can imagine your fan mail. I can’t imagine your hate mail.

I’ve gotten lots of hate mail over the years. I’ll probably get more once the television series comes out. But I’m not advocating for one thing or the other. I’m saying that what kind of laws you pass — those laws will have certain kinds of results. So you should think carefully about whether you want to have those results or not.

If you’re going to ban birth control, if you’re going to ban information about reproduction, if you’re going to defund all of those things, there will be consequences. Do you want those consequences or not? Are you willing to pay for them or not?

Listen to the “Patt Morrison Asks” podcast and read the full interview at here.

(8) WHO’S THAT SHOUTING? Two writers here for the LA Festival of Books indulge in shenanigans. (Hm, just discovered my spellchecker has a different opinion of how shenanigans is spelled than I have – dang, it did it again!)

(9) CITIZEN SCIENCE. And they call the wind aurora whatever-it-is… Steve? “Aurora photographers find new night sky lights and call them Steve”

Relatively little else is known about the big purple light as yet but it appears it is not an aurora as it does not stem from the interaction of solar particles with the Earth’s magnetic field.

There are reports that the group called it Steve in homage to a 2006 children’s film, Over the Hedge, where the characters give the name to a creature they have not seen before.

Roger Haagmans of the ESA said: “It is amazing how a beautiful natural phenomenon, seen by observant citizens, can trigger scientists’ curiosity.

“It turns out that Steve is actually remarkably common, but we hadn’t noticed it before. “It’s thanks to ground-based observations, satellites, today’s explosion of access to data and an army of citizen scientists joining forces to document it.”

(10) A CERTAIN GLOW ABOUT THEM. If you don’t already know this story, you should: “Dark Lives Of ‘The Radium Girls’ Left A Bright Legacy For Workers, Science”,an interview with the book’s author Kate Moore.

In the early days of the 20th century, the United States Radium Corporation had factories in New Jersey and Illinois, where they employed mostly women to paint watch and clock faces with their luminous radium paint. The paint got everywhere — hair, hands, clothes, and mouths.

They were called the shining girls, because they quite literally glowed in the dark. And they were dying.

Kate Moore’s new book The Radium Girls is about the young women who were poisoned by the radium paint — and the five who sued United States Radium in a case that led to labor safety standards and workers’ rights advances.

(11) WHILE YOU WERE OUT: One big step for…. “Astronaut Peggy Whitson breaks new space record”.

Peggy Whitson has broken the record for most days in space by a US astronaut.

Dr Whitson already holds records for the most spacewalks carried out by a woman astronaut and is the first woman to command the International Space Station (ISS) twice.

Now she’s beaten the record previously set by Jeff Williams, who had a total of 534 days in space.

President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka have called Dr Whitson to congratulate her.

(12) AN EYEFUL. Forbes has a gallery of “The Top Cosplayers From Silicon Valley Comic Con”.

This weekend the second Silicon Valley Comic Con took place, featuring robotics, virtual reality and a wax statue of Steve Wozniak. But everyone knows that Comic Con is really about one thing, and that’s the jaw dropping cosplay. From menacing Jokers to an adorable Hatsune Miku costume, enjoy this roundup of some of the most eye-catching costumes at the show…

 

My cape means business 😬😎

A post shared by Melanie Rafferty (@songbird3685) on

(13) DOC WEIR AWARD. British Eastercon members voted the 2017 Doc Weir Award to Serena Culfeather and John Wilson.

The Doc Weir Award was set up in 1963 in memory of fan Arthur Rose (Doc) Weir, who had died two years previously. Weir was a relative newcomer to fandom, he discovered it late in life – but in the short time of his involvement he was active in a number of fannish areas. In recognition of this, the Award is sometimes seen as the “Good Guy” Award; something for “The Unsung Heroes”.

(14) SCIENCE QUESTION. I thought you could only get hit by a meteorite? (Unless it’s being smacked by a wet echinoderm he’s worried about.)

(15) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 24, 1184 B.C. – Traditional date of the Fall of Troy, calculated by Eratosthenes.
  • April 24, 1990 – Hubble Space Telescope launched.

(16) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY SCHLOCK MEISTER

  • Born April 24, 1914 – Filmmaker William Castle

(17) CARTOON OF THE DAY. “Cat City” by Victoria Vincent on Vimeo explains what happens when a cat runs away from home to become a hairdresser and drinks too much!

(18) WILL WORK FOR CLICKS. Camestros Felapton renders another much-needed public service: “See how your favourite Games of Thrones Characters are related”. Go there to see the family trees.

(19) NOVELLA INITIATIVE. The Book Smugglers published the first 2017 entry in their Novella Initiative last week, Dianna Gunn’s novella Keeper of the Dawn.

In Keeper of the Dawn, the first novella from Book Smugglers Publishing, author Dianna Gunn introduces readers to strong-willed Lai. All her life she has dreamed of following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother and becoming a priestess in service to her beloved goddesses. But even after lifelong preparation, she fails trials and her next instinct is to run away.

Off in the north kingdom of Alanum, as she works to recalibrate her future, Lai becomes the bodyguard of a wealthy merchant, who is impressed by her strength and bravery. One night she hears stories about a mountain city where they worship the same goddesses she does. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple and do whatever it takes to join their sacred order. Falling in love with another initiate was not part of the plan.

Keeper of the Dawn, rich with female empowerment, is a multi-layered LGBTQIA YA Fantasy story about fate, forgiving yourself, and the endurance of hope.

Gunn also wrote a post about her inspirations and influences.

In many ways Lai’s story also mirrors the story of my own career. I’ve dreamed about being an author since the age of eight, and as a child I stubbornly believed I would have my first novel published before my eighteenth birthday.

Well, my eighteenth birthday came and went some years ago, and only now is my first book coming out. But I have already been a working writer for six years, writing marketing materials for many different companies and non-profits. More importantly, my dream still came true—just a few years later than planned.

(20) CLARKE AWARD CONTENDERS. A couple of Shadow Clarke jurors take their turn discussing what have proven to be group favorites, while another visits less familiar ground.

Part of the way it reworks things is that it’s not about the Up and Out, but the ups and downs. The rigors of life are always present: people make decisions, those decisions impact life, and they rarely have anything to do with that giant monstrosity towering from the south that hurls people into outer space. The Central Station of Central Station is a mere landmark, an economic hub and cultural icon, but as Maureen K. Speller points out in her review, “…even in science fiction, that so-called literature of the future, nothing lasts forever. The symbolic tropes – space ships, robots, AIs – will all eventually be absorbed and become part of the scenery.” The Central Station of the future is the airport of today: not that big of a deal.

This is a difficult, intractable, Gordian knot of a novel, the kind you recommend to like-minded friends more out of curiosity to see what they’ll make of it than from any reasonable belief that they’ll enjoy the book. Whether this novel – formally and stylistically perfect though it is, a rare gem of a debut that hints at that rare beast, a writer who knows precisely where he’s going and what he wants – can be enjoyed on anything other than a purely intellectual level is a debatable point; whether it can be enjoyed as science fiction still more so.

The Underground Railroad is about as significant a novel as American literary culture is capable of producing in the first quarter of the 21st century.

If you care enough about books to be reading this kind of essay then chances are that you have either purchased or taken an interest in this novel. Far from being organic and spontaneous, your decision to purchase Colson Whitehead’s latest novel is the result of almost every facet of American literary culture coming into alignment and choosing to imbue a single work with as much cultural significance as those institutions can conceivably muster. Already a winner of many prestigious literary awards and a beneficiary of both the Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, Colson Whitehead has now seen his sixth novel celebrated not only by Pulitzer and National Book Award judges but also by the – arguably more influential and economically important – face of Oprah’s Book Club.

(21) DOCTOR TINGLE AI. Applied Digital Studies Project uses a twitter bot to form new titles based on novels by Dr. Chuck Tingle. Not surprisingly, there is a good deal of butt and pounding in these titles. Still, some of them are funny.

(22) MYTHIC FIGURE. Today Chuck Tingle is busy burnishing his legend.

(23) READERCON. Tracy Townsend announced she will be at Readercon in Quincy, MA from July 13-16.

Guests of Honor:

Naomi Novik & Nnedi Okorafor

Memorial Guest of Honor:

Tanith Lee

Although Readercon is modeled on “science fiction conventions,” there is no art show, no costumes, no gaming, and almost no media. Instead, Readercon features a near-total focus on the written word….

(24) MOVIE RESTORATION. The Verge says those who have heard of it should be pleased — “Andrei Tarkovsky’s sci-fi classic Stalker is getting an HD restoration”. And those like me, who haven’t, will be intrigued.

Cinephiles, rejoice! Criterion Collection will be adding a major science-fiction classic to its roster this summer: a restored version of Stalker, directed by Solaris filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky.

Based off the 1971 Russian science-fiction novel Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Stalker was originally released in 1979. The film follows a man known as “the Stalker” as he leads an expedition into a mysterious, forbidden area known as “The Zone.” In the book, the mysterious Zone is the location of an alien visitation decades before the story, littered with fantastic pieces of technology and dangers; in the film, its origins are more obscure. But in both cases, reality there is distorted, and somewhere inside is a room that will grant visitors’ innermost desires. The journey to get there is physically and philosophically arduous, and it tests the trio of men traveling there.

(25) SUBTITLES IN I KNOW NOT WHAT LANGUAGE. The Justice League Official International Trailer dropped today.

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.

 

(26) A VISIT TO MARVEL. SlashFilm leads readers on a “Marvel Studios Offices Tour: A Behind-the-Scenes Look”. (Photos at the site.)

The Marvel Studios offices are located on the second floor of the Frank G. Wells Building on the Walt Disney Studios lot. When you exit the elevators, you are greeted by a wall-to-wall mural featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy, and a big Marvel Studios logo.

Marvel Studios began in a tiny office in Santa Monica that they shared with a kite factory. After that, the company moved to an office above a Mercedes dealership in Beverly Hills. They were based out of Manhattan Beach Studios for a few years before Disney asked them to move onto the Burbank lot in 2014. But it wasn’t until a few months ago that Marvel fully decorated their offices….

(27) BOMBS AWAY. A new record for a domino toppling specialty was set in March.

A group of domino builders in Michigan created the world’s largest “circle bomb” using nearly 80,000 dominoes.

The Incredible Science Machine team broke the Guinness World Record for “Most dominoes toppled in a circle bomb/circle field” by creating a series of 76,017 dominoes that toppled from the center of a circle to its outer edge.

“The Incredible Science Machine Team is very passionate about domino art and sharing it with an audience to amaze and inspire them,” team leader Steve Price, 22, said.

A total of 18 builders from the United States, Canada, Germany and Austria spent 10 days constructing the domino formation at the Incredible Science Machine’s annual event in Westland, Mich.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mart.]

Pixel Scroll 2/17/17 In The End, The Real Hugos Were The Friends We Made Along The Way

(1) WHO WILL BE WHO? Would you put money on it? Bookmakers say Tilda Swinton is a favorite to become the next Doctor Who.

Actress Tilda Swinton is the frontrunner to become Doctor Who’s next Time Lord, according to the latest bookmakers’ odds.

The Oscar-winning British star would take over the role from departing actor Peter Capaldi, who recently announced he is stepping down from the series this year after entering the Tardis in 2013.

Ladbrokes has said Swinton, 56, has been the focus of a “huge gamble” from punters, with her odds now at 7/2 after initially having entered the market at 10/1.

Other names in the running include Death In Paradise’s Kris Marshall at 4/1, Broadchurch’s Olivia Colman at 5/1 and Maxine Peake, best known for Dinnerladies and Shameless, at 8/1.

(2) REACTION. In the Scroll two days ago I excerpted Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff’s Book View Café column, “There’s a Bimbo on the Cover Verse 8: Who Reads Reviews, Anyway?”, which humorously displays her scars from a Locus review of her fiction by Mark R. Kelly.

Kelly read the column and replied –

Odd. I haven’t reviewed short fiction for Locus since 2001. And the general comments about Analog that she quotes was from one of my first columns, in 1988!

(3) SUCCESS. Tony C. Smith’s Kickstarter for Everyone: Worlds Without Walls has funded.

I’m so pleased for all the writers involved. This is now a great showcase for them. This is a time to open doors and knock down walls not build them up. This anthology is my little answer to highlighting and showcasing just what this beautiful world has to offer.

Smith celebrated reaching this milestone by announcing he has added to the book “an amazing story from top speculative writer Lavie Tidhar!”

(4) DOUBLY FANTASTIC PODCAST. Once upon a time, Scott Edelman’s guest on the Eating the Fantastic podcast edited the prozine Fantastic. He is the celebrated (and at times controversial) Barry N. Malzberg.

My guest loves Ben’s more than any other NYC deli, and who am I to turn down Barry N. Malzberg, who among other things, was winner of the first John W. Campbell Award for his novel Beyond Apollo, and both a Hugo and Nebula Award finalist for stories I published when I was the editor of Science Fiction Age magazine?

One unusual aspect to this episode is that it features as mere onlooker a writer deserving of his own episode someday—Paul Di Filippo, who felt compelled to come along and witness this recording. After all, the first of his more than 100 published stories was a Malzberg homage!

Barry and I discussed why being able to sell his first drafts was so important at the beginning of his writing career, how his debut short story collection came to be published under the pseudonym K. M. O’Donnell, what it was like to edit both Amazing and Fantastic magazines during the late ’60s, the identity of his greatest discovery during his years at the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, what’s up with the long-promised movie version of Beyond Apollo, how Harry Harrison could have (but didn’t) shut down the filming of Soylent Green, and more.

(5) EYEWITNESS. Zen Cho, inspired by Likhain‘s “Letter to Apex Editors Re: The Intersectional SFF Roundtable,” has written about her experiences with Requires Hate/Benjanun Sriduangkaew, in “Being an itemized list of disagreements”.

I am writing this for two sets of people. One set is the people who were targeted by RH/BS and friends or were otherwise made to feel that fandom was a hostile place because of her conduct and that of her friends and supporters.

The second set is the people of colour/non-white people who continue to interact with RH/BS. Those who participate in roundtables with her, include her stories in their anthologies, and boost her work and opinions as though she is a totally normal, OK person who has never indulged in public, worryingly detailed fantasies of violence against other human beings in her life.

To this second audience: you can talk to and work with anyone you want. We need to talk to people we disagree with, and hanging out with a person online doesn’t of itself mean you condone their behaviour. However, I want you to make sure you have thought carefully about what you are doing…

(6) WITH MANY OTHER WORDS. Adam Whitehead at The Wertzone lists the “Longest SFF Novels of All Time” in an epic post worthy of his topic. Note — after you get past #1 the titles should be more familiar.

  1. Varney the Vampire by James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest 667,000 words • 1845-47 This long novel was serialised in “penny dreadfuls” of the mid-19th Century and chronicles the adventures of Sir Francis Varney, a vampire. This book’s genre credentials have been disputed (with the suggestion that Varney is actually a madman rather than a real vampire), but there seems to be a general acceptance that the book is a genuine work of the fantastic, and the longest SFF work ever published in one volume (which it was in 1847). The book was also influential on Bram Stoker’s later Dracula(1897) and introduced many of the tropes of vampire fiction, including the “sympathetic vampire” protagonist.

(7) BRADBURY FILM FEST AT IU. “Ray Bradbury: From Science to the Supernatural” will be the focus of a special four-day film series at IU Cinema on Indiana University’s Bloomington campus beginning March 24. The series, which includes lectures and panel discussions, was programmed by the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies.

  • 7 p.m. March 24, “Bradbury TV and Shorts Program” — The series kicks off with a unique gathering of short subjects, including the 1962 Oscar-nominated “Icarus Montgolfier Wright,” scripted by Bradbury and George Clayton Johnson. This animated film showcases paintings by Joseph Mugnaini, the illustrator closely associated with Bradbury’s books. Other short items include Bradbury stories adapted for “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Twilight Zone.”
  • 7 p.m. March 26, “It Came From Outer Space” — Bradbury fans and scholars will have the opportunity to view the 1953 feature film based on an original Bradbury concept and screen treatment. Paper optic glasses will allow the audience to watch the film in 3-D — a unique opportunity to see this classic Jack Arnold-directed film as it was originally intended.
  • 6:30 p.m. March 27, “A Sound of Different Drummers” and 9:30 p.m. March 27, “Fahrenheit 451” — This double bill showcases two adaptations of Bradbury’s classic novel “Fahrenheit 451.” The evening begins with “A Sound of Different Drummers,” an uncredited television adaptation of Bradbury’s novel for the 1957 season of “Playhouse 90,” followed by a screening of the well-known 1966 film adaptation by François Truffaut. The intermission will include a panel discussion of the fascinating history surrounding these two landmark productions. Separate tickets are required for each film.
  • 3 p.m. March 28, “Moby Dick” — On its final day, the series closes with two films that showcase the broad range of Bradbury’s own screenwriting talents. The first is John Huston’s 1956 production of the classic novel, which was an early success that secured Bradbury’s Hollywood reputation. A panel discussion will be held following this film and before the evening screening of “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”
  • 6:30 p.m. March 28, “Something Wicked This Way Comes” — Directed by Jack Clayton, this is the result of a 30-year arc of creativity that transformed an original Bradbury short story into a script, a novel and finally a successful film production.

IU Cinema director Jon Vickers has worked closely with Bradbury Center director Jonathan Eller and the center’s senior advisor, Phil Nichols, to develop the program for the Bradbury film series.

“Every session has fascinating cultural connections,” said Eller, an IUPUI Chancellor’s Professor who is also the editor of Bradbury’s early collected stories and the author of two Bradbury biographies. “The Academy Award-nominated ‘Icarus Montgolfier Wright,’ a story of our quest to reach the moon, was screened in the Kennedy White House just as those dreams were beginning to move toward reality.”

(8) GETTING THERE. Con or Bust helps fans of color go to SFF cons. It is funded through donations and an online auction held annually. The group’s first newsletter includes a link to available memberships in upcoming cons, plus an account of how many donated memberships were used. For example —

Worldcon 75 donated 25 attending memberships and 25 hotel room nights, all of which have been claimed; three memberships donated by individuals have also been claimed.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born February 17, 1912 — Andre Norton

(10) LADY BUSINESS. The editors of Lady Business have provided their “2017 Hugo Nomination Recommendations”.

Another year, another Hugo nomination season! Once again, nominations for the Hugo Awards are open, to anyone who is currently a member of this year’s upcoming Worldcon in Helsinki, last year’s Worldcon in Kansas City, or next year’s Worldcon in San Jose, CA [“a.k.a., my neck of the woods. Come to San Jose! We’ll all hang out!! It’ll be great!!!” — KJ]. Nominations are open until mid-March (March 17th or 18th, depending on your time zone), so that’s plenty of time to read all those things you’ve been meaning to get to before nominations close… right?

Never fear, the editors of Lady Business are here to provide our suggestions as you decide what to prioritize on your TBR. Of course, this is by no means a comprehensive list of everything that might be worthy of a Hugo nomination, nor is it meant to be. It’s just a selection of some of the things we loved in 2016, and a few reasons why we loved them, along with some books, stories, and shows we’re still hoping to check out ourselves. Each editor’s opinions are their own, although we suspect you’d find a fair amount of agreement if we had sat down to discuss our picks.

Here’s an excerpt —

Best Short Story

“43 Responses to ‘In Memory of Dr. Alexandra Nako'” by Barbara A. Barnett — You might guess from my selections in this category that I enjoy short stories that take advantage of unusual storytelling formats, and you’d be right. A fascinating and creepy story that gets the feel of an Internet comments section just right. [KJ]

“The Fifth Gable” by Kay Chronister — This is a beautifully written and haunting and somewhat disturbing (I love it) story about creation and having children and loss. I’m not sure what more I can say about it that won’t spoil the reading experience, aside from that the language and imagery is lovely and haunting. Definitely worth a read. [Ira]

“From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review” by Marie Brennan — This story, told in the form of letters to the editor in a scientific journal, is set in the Lady Trent series but also stands alone. Great on its own, and it also gives a good taste of my favorite currently active series. [KJ]

(11) BATMAN TRIBUTE. In “Batman from beginning to retirement and beyond,” says Carl Slaughter, “The brooding knight broods in front of friends, foes, partners, himself, and time.”

(12) LARRY CORREIA’S BOOK TOUR. Baen Books announced that Larry Correia will tour the U.S. between July 28-August 10th in support of his latest novel, Monster Hunter Siege.

Monster Hunter Siege is the sixth novel in the Monster Hunter series. When Monster Hunter International’s top hunter was given a tip about some hunters who had gone missing in action, he didn’t realize their rescue mission would snowball into the single biggest operation in MHI’s history. This exciting series is urban fantasy with muscle—and guns!

 

City Store Confirmed
Friday, July 28, 2017 Tampa/St. Petersburg Books at Park Place 6:00-7:00PM
Saturday, July 29, 2017 Tampa Bay Comic Con Tampa Bay Comic Con
Monday, July 31, 2017 New Orleans Garden District Books 6:00-7:30PM
Tuesday, August 01, 2017 San Antonio Twig 6:00-8:00PM
Wednesday, August 02, 2017 Austin Half Price Books 7:00-8:00PM
Thursday, August 03, 2017 Dallas Half Price Books 7:00-8:00PM
Friday, August 04, 2017 Minneapolis Uncle Hugo 5:00-7:00PM
Saturday, August 05, 2017 Seattle University Books 6:00-7:00PM
Monday, August 07, 2017 Portland Powell’s Pending
Tuesday, August 08, 2017 San Diego Mysterious Galaxy 7:30-8:30PM
Wednesday, August 09, 2017 Phoenix Poisoned Pen 7:00-8:00PM
Thursday, August 10, 2017 Salt Lake City-Layton Barnes & Noble 7:00-8:00PM

Upcoming appearances by other Baen authors are listed on the publisher’s official calendar.

(13) THE MIDNIGHT HOUR. If Star Wars toys are your thing, get ready for you and your roll of hundred-dollar bills to stay up late. “Disney plans midnight ‘Star Wars’ event to unveil ‘Last Jedi’ toys”.

Walt Disney Co and major retailers will release the galaxy’s newest “Star Wars” toys at a Sept. 1 midnight event ahead of the holiday debut of the next film in the saga, “The Last Jedi,” company executives told Reuters.

The marketing push called “Force Friday II” is a sequel to an event Disney used to build buzz for merchandise tied to the 2015 movie “The Force Awakens.”

(14)  HE SAID… Are the writers for Beavis and Butthead now working for New Scientist? “Far-off asteroid caught cohabiting with Uranus around the sun”. Or maybe it’s just me….

A rare Trojan asteroid of Uranus has been found, following the same orbit as the planet. Its existence implies there could be many more of these companion asteroids, and that they are more common than we thought.

A Trojan asteroid orbits the sun 60 degrees ahead of or behind a planet. Jupiter and Neptune have numerous Trojans, many of which have been in place for billions of years. These primordial rocks hold information about the solar system’s birth, and NASA has just announced plans to visit several of them in the 2020s and 2030s.

But Saturn and Uranus live in a rougher neighbourhood: the giant planets on either side of them yank Trojans away through their gravitational pull. So Saturn has no known Trojan, and Uranus had only one.

(15) RELEASE PRESS. And while we’re in that news neighborhood. “At ease, future astronauts: NASA solving ‘space poop’ problem”.

…But what if they’re stuck in a spacesuit for days on end? Not so easy.

NASA has taken steps to address the problem and recently announced the winner of the Space Poop Challenge, a competition organized by its NASA Tournament Lab (NTL), hosted by the HeroX crowdsourcing initiative.

The winner of the prize was Thatcher Cardon, a family physician, Air Force officer and flight surgeon, whose system “MACES Perineal Access & Toileting System (M-PATS),” who utilized his knowledge of keyhole surgery to develop his design.

The competition was aimed at finding a safe, medically sound solution from taking waste away from astronauts’ bodies if confined for a long period of time.

…More than 5,000 proposed solutions from a total of 19,000 registered competitors from over 150 teams from “every country and continent on Earth (including Antarctica) participated, according to a press release.

(16) HE ROCKS IN THE TREETOPS ALL THE DAY LONG. Who among the 4 main Robins is the best?  Batman, Ra’s al Ghul, Nightwing, Red Hood, and the Robins provide insight and opinion.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]

Here Is Your Chance To Own a Piece of Literary History

By John King Tarpinian: A few months back File770 posted a piece about a charity auction for Con-or-Bust, an organization that strives to help people who otherwise might not be able to attend SFF conventions. Since Forry Ackerman helped Ray Bradbury attend his first convention I thought that Ray would appreciate posthumously paying-it-forward. To that end I have donated a brick taken from the outer wall of Ray’s study, where he wrote his last stories and held court in his final years.

Please take a look at the auction, be it for the Bradbury Brick or other items of interest. The auction closes Sunday, June 5, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

As a reminder, the 451 pairs of bookends made from Ray’s home sold out in less than 3 days.

Bradbury Brick

Bradbury Brick

Pixel Scroll 5/9/16 A Transatlantic Tunnel In The Sky, Hurrah!

(1) CONVERSATION. At Tor.com, Natalie Zutter tells about the appearance of N.K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, and Ibi Zoboi at the Brooklyn Museum’s Target First Saturday, in “Masquerade, Initiation, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy: N.K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor in Conversation”.

…Okorafor’s initiation was her experience with paralysis as a teenage athlete, a difficult period during which she had to relearn how to walk but during which she also turned to writing as a way to cope. Her first story was about a flying woman, “because when you can fly, you don’t have to walk.” She explained, “I know that that experience was my initiation into becoming a writer. When I look back, when it was happening, I didn’t know. I just knew that I was learning how to cope and going deep like that, being so distraught that the only way I [could] stay sane was to go into myself, was how I discovered that thing, that storytelling. From that point on, there is this mystical aspect to storytelling; I’ve had several times where I’m writing stories and I just go somewhere, and something is there. An hour will go by and I’ll look at what I’ve written and it will be new to me and I’m like, ‘Who wrote that?’ […] That actually is very scary to me, but over the years I’ve come to deal with that fear and be comfortable with it and expect it, and know to just sit back and let it happen.”

While Okorafor turned into herself, Jemisin’s initiation was the inverse—she went outward through countless adventures as a child and extensive traveling as an adult. Growing up in Mobile, Alabama, the kind of child who would make little books out of construction paper tied together with yarn, she would visit her father up in New York City (specifically, pre-hipster Williamsburg). “This was my wonderland,” she said, remembering how her father would give her a handful of money and mark a spot on the map, then send her out to traverse the subway system and find her way to her destination. “This was the place I came to become my true self,” she said, “where I shed the masks that I had to wear in Alabama in order to be safe, in order to fit in, to be accepted. I came here, and I could be my little nerdy self and be where I needed to be.” Those childhood adventures prepared her for adulthood as an author navigating the publishing industry: “I’ve always been the little black face, the little ink spot on the page. It did not feel to me like having to go into that space and ask for acceptance or fight to be understood. It felt like ‘You need to reshape yourselves. I am here, this is the industry that you claim to be, you need to be what you claim to be.’ And the industry has been changing in that way, in the last few years. I don’t think it’s me; it’s a lot of people. But the fact that I felt that has been built from that early-adapter stuff I had to do.” …

(2) DISCUSSING DISABILITIES. Today saw the launch of Our Words: Discussing Disabilities in Science Fiction.

The purpose of Our Words is to focus on disabilities in speculative fiction, and give the disabled a place to talk freely and openly about our experiences in the genre. Furthermore, I hope to educate genre fans, authors, publishers, and whoever else about disabilities in the genre, in a comprehensive, well-rounded sort of way. This website will eventually expand to do interviews, discuss and review books, have personal essays, highlight issues in the genre, at conventions, and so more.

Our Words is a website run by a disabled genre fan, for disabled genre fans. This is a place for us to all have a voice. A place for us to use our words, and be heard.

(3) HARRY DRESDEN CARD GAME. Jim Butcher’s Dresden-verse has spawned a cooperative card game that is in the midst of being lavishly funded by fans on Kickstarter. Asked for $48,000, supporters have pledged over $379,000 so far, with nine days to go.

Backers will be rewarded with many extras, including the first chapter of Peace Talks (mid May 2016). More details at: The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game. (Here’s a video that explains how the game is played.)

(4) OWN A BRICK FROM BRADBURY’S HOME. Con or Bust is gathering items for its 2016 fundraising auction. John King Tarpinian has donated a brick from Ray Bradbury’s home, which was demolished in January 2015.

Bidding opens on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern. It will close on Sunday, June 5, 2016 at 4:00 p.m.

(5) CAREER LAUNCH. Tina Jens at Black Gate mentions the magic number in “Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: Going to the Nebulas”.

I require the students in the more advanced course, the Fantasy Writing Workshop, to complete at least one story and submit it to a semi-pro or pro market. But the course aimed at writing majors and non-writing majors alike, Exploring Fantasy Genre Writing, has more than half the students ready to submit a poem or short story for publication, as well. There’s always a few, each semester, but more this semester, I think….

As part of the last week of classes, for both my courses, I’m having a representative from our department’s Publishing Lab (run by students, for students, to help them submit their poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction) come in. They help read proposed cover letters, find markets, and provide emotional support. The drill is this, with their laptops open and everyone tapped in to the school wi-fi, when a student author says they’re ready to submit, their finger hovering over the send button, the group does a mission-control countdown from five.

Five, four, three, two, one, SEND! When the button is pushed, we ring a bell and give them a cookie. An actual bell, and an actual cookie. We’ve found both help.….

(6) CARL BRANDON AWARD. Nominations are open for the 2014 and 2015 Carl Brandon Awards.

Two awards are given each year:

The Carl Brandon Parallax Award is given to works of speculative fiction created by a self-identified person of color. This Award includes a $1000 cash prize.

The Carl Brandon Kindred Award is given to any work of speculative fiction dealing with issues of race and ethnicity; nominees may be of any racial or ethnic group. This Award includes a $1000 cash prize.

Nominations open through July 16, 2016

(7) KEN MACLEOD. The Herald of Scotland profiled “Science fiction writer Ken MacLeod on his Free Presbyterian childhood, his time as a Communist Party member and the future of humanity”.

“I got disillusioned with my early Trotskyism and joined the Communist Party at exactly the wrong time in the mid-1980s.” You join us as Ken MacLeod, a man once described as “the greatest living Trotskyist libertarian cyberpunk science-fiction humourist,” is recalling his political history. “I think I left in 90 or 91,” he continues, “a few months before it dissolved itself.

“The CP at that time was certainly a very interesting place to be because they were having their terminal crisis as it were. So it was certainly intellectually stimulating.”

He stops and sips his coffee, looks out through the window of the South Queensferry café where we are sitting at the looming Forth rail bridge. For a moment Scotland’s industrial past and service sector present are invisibly united in the eyesight of one of the country’s most entertaining, politically engaged futurists.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

…My wife, Emily, has joined me to help out with the freelancing. So the business has grown. We haven’t killed each other yet being home all the time.

I almost died just a few years into freelancing. Found out I had a heart defect. Spent years recovering and learning how to manage a whole new life.

Had twins. Still trying to figure out this dad thing. Very much a learn as you go.

I have published 9 novels in that 10 years, 2 under a pseudonym. There are two more written as of yet unsold as well. I’ve also done 4 collections, 5 novellas, and sold 36 short stories….

(9) COSPLAY ORIGINS. Jennifer Culp invites everyone to “Meet the Woman Who Invented Cosplay” in her article for Racked.

Myrtle Rebecca “Morojo” Douglas Smith Gray Nolan was a Gemini, born in June 1904. She was an atheist, an active member of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society, and a proponent of the 19th-century constructed auxiliary language Esperanto, meant to foster communication and understanding between people of all cultures. (Obviously, she was a big nerd.)

Between the years of 1938 and 1958, she edited three separate long-running sci-fi fanzines (“editing” including all of the typing, mimeo, and physical work required to manufacture the zines, naturally) and wrote editorials for several major early sci-fi “pro”-mags in the early ‘40s. Basically she was the mid-20th century equivalent of a prolific, influential blogger. She married three times, had one son, and shared a decade-long romantic and creative relationship with fellow fan Forrest J Ackerman, with whose help she sparked off a phenomenon that would develop into costume-loving fan culture we know today. In the decades following her death, her memory has largely been resigned to footnotes designating her a mere “girlfriend,” and that’s a damn shame, because both with and without Ackerman Morojo was a badass….

Following her death in 1964 at the age of 60, Morojo found herself in an unenviable posthumous predicament: the most detailed and accessible record of her life and work exists in the form of eulogies written by two of her ex-boyfriends. (Hold up, just take a second here: can you freakin’ IMAGINE what a hell that could be???) Amazingly, her old flames Elmer Perdue and, of course, Forrie, seem to have done pretty damn right by her memory, publishing (of course!) a fanzine in her honor.

Ackerman comes across as — frankly — a self-absorbed ass in his brief essay “I Remember Morojo,” openly acknowledging his surprise at being asked to contribute. He had barely spoken to the woman since he “got mad at her about half my life ago,” as he puts it. But in spite of the teeth-grindingly irritating paragraph he spends speculating about her position in his own imaginary hierarchy of female sci-fi fandom and the insulting description of 17 years of dedicated work on Guteto as “her own little” zine, Forrie gives Morojo what he surely perceived as the ultimate in (awkward nerd) respect, meticulously listing all of the fannish achievements he could recall to ascribe to her. It is through Ackerman’s remembrance that we know that Morojo was responsible for the world’s first fan costumes, which he specifically notes that she “designed and executed.”

You can download a scanned copy of Ackerman’s I Remember Morojo at eFanzines. Here’s FJA’s quote about her leading role in early costuming —

“She designed & executed my famous ‘futuristicostume’ – and her own – worn at the First World Science-Fiction Convention, the Nycon of 1939. In 1940 at the first Chicon she and I put on a skit based on some dialog from THINGS TO COME, and won some kind of prize. In 1941 at the Denvention she wore a Merrittesque AKKA-mask (frog face) devised by the then young & as yet unknown master filmonster model maker & animator, Ray Harryhausen. In 1949 at the Pacficon in LA, I understand she created a sensation as A. Merritt’s Snake Mother…”

Although Ackerman surpassed all others at drawing fannish attention to himself, as you can see he gave the credit in this case to Morojo. Nor was he the one who gave himself the title the inventor of cosplay. That was masquerade fans of an earlier era who named Ackerman the father of costuming, a move that may have been designed to catch some of his reflected glory for costumers, who at times have felt pushed to the margins by conrunners and fanzine fans. Just the same, Morojo – the actual creator of the costumes – was never treated as the primary historical figure before now.

(10) BRITISH MILIARY SF. SFFWorld has an “Interview with Tim C. Taylor author of The Human Legion series”.

The first book in the series, Marine Cadet has been released as part of the Empire at War collection. How has it been to join forces with fellow British authors and promote British military SF like this?

It’s been wonderful to meet a few fellow military SF authors in the flesh at the recent British convention called Eastercon, because writing can at times be a lonely profession. To begin with, I had a lot of doubts. Can really do this? I had the idea of putting together a box set of military SF books, and hit upon British military SF as a theme, but I was treading new ground. American readers might find this strange, but to the best of my knowledge there has never been such a thing as a ‘British military SF scene’. I mean, the Warhammer 40K novels have been enormously successful, and one of the most successful of all British science fiction authors of recent years is Karen Traviss with her four Halo military SF novels that were all New York Times bestsellers. So it’s not a new thing for British authors to write military SF, but Warhammer 40K and its Black Library publishing arm seems to sit in a splendid and psychotic isolation, and Karen Traviss seems to be largely ignored by much of British fandom, as if writing the tie-in novels where she has seen greatest success so far means that she is not a ‘proper’ writer.

To be honest, I haven’t previously placed a lot of interest in where an author was based, but when I looked at the bios of the new wave of military SF authors I had read in recent years, I was astonished to find how many were British.

So when I started inviting authors (and an artist for the cover and interior illustrations) and saying, “Let’s do something together and call it British military SF”, I don’t think anyone had ever used that term before. Now that I’m more attuned to where people are based, I realize there are many more British authors I could have invited.

By the way, I want to point out that although I kicked off ‘The Empire at War’ project, it was far from just myself doing the work, and it is a good feeling to create something as a group that we can all be proud of.

(11) DAMN RIGHT. Here’s the wisdom Sigrid Ellis serves between two slices of Hamilton and Burr:

…I so often feel this way about Wiscon. It feel like the big things, the stuff everyone talks about later, are always taking place somewhere I am not. In some other panel, some other party, some other room. Never the room I am in.

But I gave this some serious thought and realized that I’ve actually been IN “the room” while “it” is happening at some points in the past. At Wiscon, or other events. I’ve been there. I’ve been, from time to time, the insider. It just never felt that way at the time.

And that made me think how utterly stupid I am being. I mean, way to proactively ruin a great convention, being upset about whether or not the “important” things are happening where I can see them. It’s my convention experience, dammit! I can and will enjoy it for my friends, the conversations I have, the sleep I’ll get, the people I’ll meet, the dinners I’ll have! …

(12) THE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL CAT. Ursula K. Le Guin continues “Annals of Pard: My Life So Far, by Pard, Part II” at Book View Café.

I cried very loudly in the roaring moving room-thing on the way here, because I thought the awfulness and strangeness was all happening over again forever. I still always think that when they put me in box that smells of fear and the roaring moving room-thing. But except for that I have hardly cried at all since coming here.

The aunty human went away and left me with the old queen and an old tom. I was distrustful of him at first, but my fears were groundless. When he sits down he has an excellent thing, a lap. Other humans have them, but his is mine. It is full of quietness and fondness. The old queen sometimes pats hers and says prrt? and I know perfectly well what she means; but I only use one lap, his. What I like to use about her is the place behind her knees on the bed, and the top of her head, which having a kind of fur reminds me a little of my Mother, so sometimes I get on the pillow with it and knead it. This works best when she is asleep.

(13) FREE COMICS. James Bacon tells about spending Free Comic Book Day with the creators signing at Forbidden Planet, in  “Fiends of the Eastern Front: Fodder by Hannah Berry and Dani at FCBD in Orbital”.

It is rare that so many cool things could align so nicely.

A free copy of 2000 AD is pretty much a boon, but finding that it contains a ‘Fiends of the Eastern Front’ story was really rather exciting. Entitled ‘Fodder’ the artwork is by Dani and is really quite lovely, but apart from it being on the paper pages, the originals are concurrently on display as part of Orbital comics Danistrips ‘Stay Cool’ exhibition on now until the 31st of May.

This allows fans to get a closer look at the original work, which is always a pleasure to behold.

Added to this, Dani the artist, and the writer, Hannah Berry were doing a signing with Peter Milligan, Matt Smith, Clint Langley and Alec Worley in the same location, to celebrate Free Comic Book Day.

(14) CENSUS OF SF REVIEWERS. Strange Horizons has posted “The 2015 SF Count”.

Welcome to the sixth Strange Horizons “SF count” of representation in SF reviewing. The goal of the count is straightforward: for the last calendar year, for a range of SF review venues, to calculate the gender and race balance of books reviewed, and of reviewers….

A number of limitations should be taken into account when interpreting these data. For gender, the limitations include limited accounting for pseudonyms and, more generally, a reliance on public presentation of gender. The count divides individuals into “men” or “women and non-binary.” However, reliable information about gender identity for the vast majority of people counted is not accessible through our methodology, which means it is probable that some individuals have been misrepresented. We will continue to review our methodology each year, and welcome suggestions. (For instance, we are considering changing our terminology to “women and genderqueer,” based on feedback from genderqueer individuals and the inclusion of that term in the Merriam-Webster dictionary this year.)

For race, our categories were “white” and “person of color.” These are crude, and such a binary division is arguably only valid here (as opposed to more specific categorisation) because the total number of POC is so low. Since race is difficult to determine reliably using only names and Google, it is probable that here, too, some authors, editors, or reviewers have been incorrectly allocated. We nevertheless believe that the count is worth publishing because the number of incorrect allocations is likely to be small compared to the overall number of individuals counted….

(15) GRRM IN GE. This month’s Galaxy’s Edge features short fiction by, and an interview with, George R.R. Martin.

(16) JOE ABERCROMBIE. A week before he placed two novels as finalists in the Locus Awards, Joe Abercrombie participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session.

Hi Joe, can you tell us about your day to day writing process? How much do you outline scenes and how many words do you tend to write a day? Are there any tricks that help you get into it? – Actevious

It depends a lot what stage of the process you’re at, so the workflow is very different depending on whether you’re planning something, drafting something, or revising and editing. There’s always a fair bit of work to do that’s not actually writing – emails, interviews, dealing with the business side. When I’m drafting new stuff I try to make sure I actually write, uninterrupted, for 3 hours each day. That doesn’t sound like much but you can cover a lot of ground if you’re focused. 1,200 words in a day I consider acceptable. 2,000 would be good. 3 or 4,000 would be a great day. But then when you’re revising you might measure progress by how many words you cut. If there’s a trick I’m aware of, it’s just to make sure you put in the time even when you’re not feeling inspired. Sometimes you feel like you’re writing real junk, but just get it down, when you come back maybe you cut a lot of it, but there’ll still be stuff that’s worthwhile in there.

A theme I notice you write quite a lot about is war, vengence and the endless circle of misery and horror they create. How did you come to write about this? – TheOtherWhitman

Well war is certainly a fundamental of epic fantasy – Lord of the Rings is all about a war, likewise the Belgariad, Dragonlance, Wheel of Time, etc., etc. I guess I felt the fantasy I read as a kid had come to show the shiny and heroic side of warfare a bit too much, and the dark actions and dark characters were somewhat overlooked. Not a lot of trauma or PTSD. I wanted to look at the other side of it.

(17) GLADIATOR JOINS MUMMY. CinemaBlend reports Russell Crowe has joined the cast of The Mummy.

It seems like everyday a new reboot or long awaited sequel gets announced. We’ve seen streaming services like Netflix bring back previously cancelled series, and even movies like Independence Day get their sequel after 20 years. One of the most recent of these sequels is the upcoming Mummy reboot, starring Tom Cruise. Now it appears that the film has booked another huge star for its already impressive cast. Collider recently sat down with actor Russell Crowe, where they asked him to confirm or deny the rumors of his involvement in the sequel. He had to say the following:

Yeah, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna play Dr. Henry Jekyll, Fellow of the Royal Society. It’s very interesting, what they’re gonna do with that stuff. I’ve had a couple of chats about it with the director (Alex Kurtzman).

There you go, ladies and gents. Russell Crowe will officially be freaking us all out in The Mummy.

(18) KIP THORNE IN SOCAL. The OC Breeze announced “Astrophysicist Kip Thorne to give free talk on intersection of arts and science” at Chapman College on May 12.

Noted astrophysicist Kip Thorne, Ph.D. knows a lot about the weird phenomena of time and space: black holes, wormholes, time travel and more. As one of the world’s leading experts on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, Dr. Thorne has collaborated with many of the top names in science, including Stephen Hawking, and served as science advisor and executive producer on the recent blockbuster movie “Interstellar.” His multi-faceted interests in art, science and the universe know no bounds – and it is precisely this intersection of big ideas that Dr. Thorne will discuss in a free talk at Chapman University on Thursday, May 12, 7:30 p.m. in Musco Center for the Arts.

Admission is free and open to the public, but a ticket is required for entry and can be obtained online at www.muscocenter.org or by calling 844-OC-MUSCO (844-626-8726).

(19) CHEAP SEATS. They aren’t that cheap. Neil Gaiman and Audrey Niffenegger will join forces at a London event on May 31. Break your piggy bank.

Author Neil Gaiman will do a rare public event in London to celebrate his new non-fiction collection, “The View from the Cheap Seats” (Headline), together with Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife (Vintage).

The event, run in association with Headline Publishing Group, Penguin Random House, Waterstones and video streaming agency Streaming Tank, will take place at The Union Chapel, Islington, on Tuesday, 31st May. The two US-based writers will discuss Gaiman’s latest work, with “a couple of surprises” also in store, according to publishers.

Tickets are £20 each, and include a free signed copy of The View from the Cheap Seats for every ticket-holder. The books will be distributed on the night by Waterstones, which will have a pop-up bookshop in place on the evening.

The event will be live-streamed across the globe by Streaming Tank, via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, so anyone unable to attend can also enjoy the “one-off” event.

Gaiman and Niffenegger will be answering audience questions, both from within the chapel and viewers at home or in bookshops tuning in. Questions can be submitted via Twitter ahead of the event too using the hashtag #CheapSeats.

[Thanks to robinareid, Xtifr, Andrew Porter, Will R., James David Nicoll, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Con or Bust Creates Its Own Nonprofit Corporation

Con or Bust, which “helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions,” is now being run by its own newly-created not-for-profit corporation in New York. (Search the NY database). And they are seeking items for their annual online auction, with bidding to take place from May 25 through June 5.

Con or Bust’s fundraising activities formerly were part of the Carl Brandon Society (CBS). However, it came to public attention last year that the Society had lost its federal tax-exempt status, meaning Con or Bust donations would not be deductible until certain steps were taken by CBS to regain that status, which have yet to be completed.

Kate Nepveu announced that Con or Bust, Inc. filed a certificate of incorporation with the state on April 6, 2016. Its inaugural Board of Directors is:

Con or Bust followed by submitting an application for federal tax-exempt status under 501(c)(3) on April 17. Once approved, the tax-exempt status will be retroactive to the date that Con or Bust, Inc., was created. (The IRS says they should expect to hear within 90 days.) As a small charity, Con or Bust, Inc., is exempt from registration with New York State, but Nepveu says they will also be submitting an application to confirm that exemption. All of their corporate documents can be read online at the updated About page.

Meanwhile, the Carl Brandon Society is filing the tax returns necessary for its re-application for tax exempt status. Nepveu says CBS looks forward to having that in place later this year.

Auction: Con or Bust is principally funded through its annual online auction, and they are looking for donations.

Anyone can offer something for auction, by filling out a form on the website – all you need is an email address. Pictures of the item(s) can be uploaded at the same time

Full details are at the main auction information page. Click here for the Submit an Auction form.

Due the auction starting later, the next period for fans of color to request monetary assistance will be May 27-June 6.

Pixel Scroll 2/18/16 Pixel Bell Rock

(1) INTERNET HIGHWAY ROBBERY. Chuck Wendig tees off on a Huffington Post UK editor who preens about not paying their 13,000 contributors.

Because it isn’t “authentic.” To pay writers.

You toxic tickledicks.

You venomous content-garglers.

You thieves, you brigands, you media lampreys.

Let us expose this hot nonsense for what it is: a lie meant to exploit writers and to puff up that old persistent myth about the value of exposure or the joy of the starving artist or the mounting power of unpaid citizen journalism.

The lie is this: writing is not work, it is not fundamental, it is a freedom in which you would partake anyway, and here some chucklefuck would say, haw haw haw, you blog at your blog and nobody pays you, you post updates on Twitter and nobody pays you, you speak words into the mighty air and you do it for free, free, free. And Huffington Post floats overhead in their bloated dirigible and they yell down at you, WE BROADCAST TO MILLIONS and DON’T YOU WANT TO REACH MILLIONS WITH YOUR MEAGER VOICE and THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU.

But it is an opportunity for them, not for you.

But it seemed to me after a strong start Wendig’s rant winds down and loses headway:

Writing is work. Most things begin with writing. Though I find writing a pleasure, it is also a thing that requires great mental effort. It is not mere content — that word said almost dismissively, as if it is a synonym for styrofoam peanuts. (And by the way: you actually have to buy styrofoam peanuts. They aren’t free unless you rob them from boxes shipped to you.) Content is not slurry. It’s not protein goo. It’s not mud or air or some readily available resource…

Intrinsic value and market value are different things. While I don’t think Chuck Wendig believes all writing has the same market value, or necessarily any market value, it seems to me he has conflated spiritual and economic value in this paragraph.

Wendig is right that Huffington Post capitalizes on uncompensated labor, of course. If HuffPo is making money, that establishes that the content collectively has some market value. Since none of that value flows through to the contributor, you can argue an injustice.

But are all these contributors trying to launch writing careers? I do agree that if somebody is trying to be a pro writer, which not all HuffPo contributors necessarily are, they should be working on material that has a paying market.

(2) THAT GETTING PAID THING. In a series of tweets, John Scalzi thanked Wendig for doing the heavy lifting today, and tossed in a few more points:

(3) WRITING VS. WIDGETS. Elizabeth Bear tells about detoxing as a writer, metaphorically speaking, in “if you live for something, you’re not alone”.

One of the things I’ve realized that I need to work on in order to develop a healthier relationship with my job involves certain toxic aspects of the professional writing/publishing culture that I’ve done an overly good job of internalizing. And I’m trying to scrape it out of my soul, because in the long term it winds up being the opposite of productive when dealing with a creative career.

Some of that is a competition thing: “Writer X turns in three books a year and I’m a slacker if I don’t, too!” And that’s not great, honestly, and the sheer pressure to produce isn’t great, either, and doesn’t necessarily lead to good work. One has to think up new things to say between books, after all, or one ends up writing the same book over and over again. No use in that.

I think there’s a certain bravado of culture among may writers that is actively toxic in a lot of ways. And it’s tied to the NaNoWriMo kind of mode of “produce a bunch of stuff really fast, lather rinse repeat” pressure, and also the “THIS JOB SUCKS AND WE’RE WARRIORS FOR DOING IT” thing. It’s this weird Puritan machismo in suffering.

I mean, you don’t learn to write well by turning out 50K in a month once a year. It’s the two pages a day or whatever that get you there. Constant practice, as with any art. And mammals don’t respond well to punishment for performance. If we do a thing and the result is horrible, we generally avoid doing that thing again

(4) STARSHIPPING. From the Initiative for Interstellar Studies, Principium, Issue 12, February 2016 [PDF file]. The overview begins —

In this edition our guest introduction is by Gill Norman. Gill is a former director of i4is. She has helped us become the reasonably well organised body that we now are. Her thoughts here are on the necessity of human engagement in Interstellar Studies and space in general, Space: It’s all about people. She tells us how we need to engage resources and talents from all who feel our outward urge. Scientists and engineers are essential but so are entrepreneurs, PR experts and, of course, the best administrators we can find!

(5) FRAUD AT ICE CREAM COUNTER. “Astronaut ice cream is a lie”!

Astronaut ice cream — did it really fly? Vox’s Phil Edwards investigates, with the help of the Smithsonian and an astronaut.

 

(6) MOVING DAY. “China displaces nearly 10,000 humans for huge telescope in search for aliens” reports Asia One.

China will move nearly 10,000 people to make way for the world’s largest radio telescope which promises to help humanity search for alien life, state media reported on Tuesday.

It’s compensating them less than $2,000 each to relocate.

(7) CONGRATULATIONS: Becky Thomson and Tom Veal, friends for over 45 years, have announced they are engaged to be married. The wedding will be on June 25, in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

(8) SIGNALLING THE BEST. At SF Signal, “Top 15 Sci-Fi Comics of 2015 (Becky Cloonan, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Greg Rucka, More” .

We don’t write many articles about comics here at SF Signal. That’s not to say that we dismiss comics as literature, though. Many of the contributors to this blog are huge fans of the medium, but sites devoted the field abound, and whether superheroes are actually science fiction or a form of fantasy that simply employs sci-fi conventions as convenient MacGuffins is debatable. The one notable exception to our comic freeze out is our annual list of the top science fiction comics of the year… which number exactly one, because last year’s list was our first.

To my surprise, though, last year’s list of the Top 14 Sci-Fi Comics of 2014 turned out to be one of our top ten most popular articles of 2015. So, back by popular demand, here’s a rundown of the best on-going science fiction comics to hit stands in 2015. It’s not exhaustive, because there were a LOT of great sci-fi series this year, but it’s what we consider these to be the cream of the crop. Feel free to debate or contribute your own suggestions in the comments below….

(9) KENYON/CLARE ARTICLE. Laura Miller at Slate writes with a fannish slant about “The Shadowhunters vs. the Dark-Hunters”.

A lawsuit between two best-selling authors involves fantasy, romance, charges of plagiarism, and fan fiction gone mainstream….

I have friends with deep roots in fandom—albeit without much connection to this particular sector of it—who believe that this is the true source of the undying animosity toward Clare: She left fandom “badly,” or, worse yet, she seemed to be repudiating her own origins in that community by changing the spelling of her name. Fan-fiction writers are routinely and viciously ridiculed and shamed for their hobby, which makes their communities especially insular and self-policing. “Back in the day,” Cleolinda Jones, a onetime regular at Fandom Wank, wrote to me, “we used to say, ‘The first rule of fanfic is, do not take money for your fanfic.’ Because the overriding fear was intellectual property holders would sue everybody and shut fandom down.” Rights-holders that once issued cease-and-desists against fan sites for using promotional photos now encourage fan art and other tributes, Jones says, but in the early 2000s, “I just really cannot overstate the sense of living on borrowed time by the grace of the IP holders.” This would explain why word-for-word plagiarism, as opposed to the transformative appropriation of another creator’s characters and setting, would seem a catastrophically reckless sin against the entire community.

Of course, Clare was reviled—and adored—in Harry Potter fandom even before the plagiarism charges against her came to light. And fan fiction itself has come a long way, spawning numerous real-world stars, fan writers such as E.L. James who move on to publish best-sellers. Clare was among the very first to do this. But the prospect of going pro and striking it rich seems to many fan-fiction writers like a serpent in the garden, corrupting what once felt like an idyllic, egalitarian gift-economy of like-minded dabblers. Once, fandom was a destination in itself; now it’s just another stepping stone for ambitious writers with their eyes on a richer prize. Like so much of the idealism of the early Internet, this, too, has become an offshoot of the marketplace. “I think what you don’t understand,” one friend told me when I expressed bafflement that Clare’s fellow fan-fiction writers didn’t view the popularity of her books as a feather in their collective cap, “is that a lot of them just feel used.” When I admitted that didn’t make sense to me, she added, “It’s hard to explain, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”

(10) CON OR BUST. MidAmeriCon II has also pitched in:

MidAmeriCon II, August 17-21, 2016, Kansas City, MO, USA. MidAmeriCon is the 2016 WorldCon; its Guests of Honor are Kinuko Y. Craft, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Tamora Pierce, and Michael Swanwick, and its Toastmaster is Pat Cadigan.

MidAmeriCon has donated four memberships to Con or Bust, either in full or as upgrades to supporting memberships (if the recipient already has one).

(10) TAKING ART IN NEW DIRECTIONS. “Best Fan Artist?” asks Steven H Silver. GPS Doodles’ Stephen Lund creates figures by riding his bike in meatspace on routes tracked by Strava. Some are Star Wars-themed.

GPS Yoda

“Doodle a Jedi I must”

Wasn’t it Yoda, Grand Master of the Jedi Order, who said “Doodle. Or doodle not. There is no try”?

Well, doodle I must. And on May the 4th, there’s little choice but to doodle the Jedi Order’s most disciplined master of the Force. Good ol’ Yoda.

“Take a ride on the dark side”

Subject: ride along I’d like to request one. Can you come up with a suitable topic? Vader and his young apprentice perhaps?

It sounded like fun – not just the Star Wars theme but the idea of having someone along for the ride.

Kudos to Geoff, who stuck with me for the entire 4.5+ hours with no inkling whatsoever about what we were doodling. He was completely in the dark (“on the Dark Side,” I suppose you could say) until he got home afterward and downloaded the ride to Strava.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 18, 1930 – Clyde Tombaugh discovered planet Pluto, before it became a dwarf.
  • February 18, 1977 – First unmanned test flight of space shuttle Enterprise mounted on another aircraft.

(12) ARE YOU SHOCKED? Kate Paulk’s award overview series continues with “Hugo Categories Highlight – The Short Fiction Categories”.

The problems of the Hugo voting/nominating population being relatively small and to a large extent long-term fans who could be termed the science fiction “establishment” (in the sense that many of these people have been to the same conventions for twenty and more years and helped each other run quite a few of them) have probably had years where they actually could read everything eligible with the result that they’ve seen practically everything.

This leads to a kind of weird inversion of killer mailbox syndrome (what happens to your marvelous tale about a killer mailbox when the slush reader has just read the third killer mailbox piece in the slush dive and the other three were horrible. The horrible gets imputed to your story because of the human mind’s extreme pattern-making and association ability) where something that isn’t all that great seems the freshest, most wonderful piece of the year because it’s sufficiently unlike the rest of the entries it stands out. This gets good-but-not-extraordinary works nominated and winning awards because they aren’t like everything else.

There’s no need for a conspiracy to explain some of the “winning the future” selections in recent years – this effect will do just as nicely, particularly since many of said voting group have very similar opinions about what constitutes a desirable message and from what I’ve seen are honestly shocked that their views of what is right and proper are not shared by the rest of fandom (two rules that we fans have to remember: sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice; and highly intelligent people are capable of extremely advanced stupidity).

(13) THE REBUTTAL. Vox Day at Vox Popoli makes additional arguments supporting his contention that he is a better editor than David Hartwell.

The SF-SJWs at File 770 are appalled at the fact that Tor Books and Castalia House author John C. Wright is willing to go on the record and state that, in his opinion, I am a better editor than the late, Hugo Award-winning editor David Hartwell:…

You see, I have perspective that they do not. Unlike them, I have seen Mr. Wright’s unedited prose. I know exactly what it looks like. And as it happens, it looks very much like the prose that appears in Mr. Wright’s novels that are published by Tor Books. John is an excellent writer; he is one of the greatest SF/F writers alive. But he writes very, very quickly and he is prone to what one might describe as an exuberant approach to writing. Last year, Castalia House offered him a contract for a 60k-word book. I am now reading the manuscript, which clocks in at nearly 200k words. Even those authors who don’t like Mr. Wright or his style might well contemplate suicide if they truly understood how speedily and effortlessly the man writes… and writes well. When I say he is a great writer, I do not do so lightly, nor do I do so because I am fortunate enough to publish some of his works. I say it out of pure envy and awe.

…. UPDATE: It appears my surmise about the extent to which Mr. Wright’s books were edited at Tor Books was correct, as per L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright

Just in case anyone wondered: John has tremendous respect for Mr. Hartwell, whom he admired, appreciated working with, and liked as a person. But Mr. Hartwell almost never made any changes to John’s manuscripts.

(14) ADMIRATION. John C. Wright’s contributions to the foregoing discussion included this compliment to another author:

I would have trouble editing George RR Martin’s books. Most of the comments here mock him, but he is an exquisitely skilled writer, a consummate writer. His writing is a little dark for me, but reread the opening prologue of GAME OF THRONES: the text establishes a fullfledged three dimensional character, a man who is realistic yet sympathetic, and who is snuffed out as a redshirt a few paragraphs later to show you how the monster works — and it comes as a surprise because usually the redshirts are not given a backstory. What in other hands would have been a boring B-movie horror scene in Martin’s is a masterful, and even moving, establishing scene. Now, to be frank, I have not read his last two volumes, and I may never, because he has killed off too many likable characters and is taking too long to get anywhere: but once the series is done, and I know it reaches a satisfying conclusion, I may revisit that decision. So Mr. Martin may be suffering from the victory disease, where some of his discipline lapses due to his popularity. Or he may be, as I am, an exuberant writer who likes his digressions.

(15) TROPE TRAP. At The Book Smugglers, Carlie St. George “examines the Sexy Douchecanoe trope” in “Trope Anatomy 101: Reader, I Didn’t Marry Him – I Kicked His Jerk Ass to the Curb”.

The Sexy Douchecanoe isn’t an official trope, as such; at least, it’s not one that I often find people analyzing, subverting, and/or railing against. It is one, however, that I run into constantly because, while they’re often unfairly associated with strapping, half-dressed men on paperback covers, Sexy Douchecanoes actually pop up in every medium and every genre. The first time I remember coming across one, I was maybe 20 and reading Naked in Death by JD Robb. At the time, I’d been interested in giving romance a go, but as I hadn’t read much of the genre, I wasn’t entirely sure where to start. I figured the best plan was to pick a romance that was also a murder mystery set in the future.

And maybe that plan would have been successful, if I hadn’t hated the love interest with the power of a thousand suns.

(16) MONSTER HIGH NOTE. Lady Gaga and Mattel are teaming to create a Monster High doll.

You know you’ve made it big when you’re commissioned by a major toy manufacturer to design a doll. That’s exactly what’s happened to Lady Gaga. The singer/actress is adding “toy designer” to her resume now with a forthcoming Monster High doll. Is there anything she can’t do? She’s designing the doll with her sister, costume designer Natali Germanotta. Which is totally fitting, given Gaga’s Mother Monster moniker.

 

https://twitter.com/LGMonsterFacts/status/698251609860485120

(17) THIRD MILLENNIUM. Part three of “Who Are Millennial Fans: An Interview with Louisa Stein” by Henry Jenkins at Confessions of an Aca-Fan.

[Louisa Stein] I mentioned above the TV series Supernatural’s ambivalent depictions of female fans over the years. Supernatural is a series that has a dynamic and rich transformative fandom, and the majority of those participating in the fandom are women. Supernatural fans, while expressing love for the series and its characters and potential, have long been critics of its gender and racial politics, and have spoken out at times about how they have felt misrepresented and even attacked by the series and its metatexts, for example, in response to a preview that declared the teenage girl the “ultimate monster.”

(18) STUBBY ON SPUDS. At Tor.com Stubby the Rocket says, “Matt Damon Has Replaced Sean Astin as the Face of Pop Cultural Potato Enthusiasm”. Yes, I guess he has…. (It’s a reference to this antique video from the dawn of YouTube.)

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Brian Z., Dave Doering, Will R., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day redheadedfemme.]

Sasquan’s Donations

Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon, announced today that it has distributed some surplus funds from the convention.

KEY

Pass-On Funds

Worldcon-Related Donations

  • The Hugo Awards (MPC) Grant: MPC is the Mark Protection Committee, an adjunct of the World Science Fiction Society that registers and monitors usage of the Worldcon’s service marks.
  • Worldcon History Organization: The Worldcon Heritage Organization, incorporated in 2012 as a Colorado nonprofit, acquires, maintains, stores, and displays the Worldcon History Exhibits.

Other Donations

  • ASFA: The Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists.
  • Con-or-Bust helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions.
  • DUFF: The Down Under Fan Fund, created to increase the face-to-face communication between science fiction fans in Australia and New Zealand, and North America.
  • Efanzines hosts fanzines online.
  • FANAC.org is “is devoted to the preservation and distribution of information about science fiction and science fiction fandom.” It hosts an extensive online archive of fanhistorical material.
  • International Costumers Guild: anaffiliation of amateur, hobbyist, and professional costumers dedicated to the promotion and education of costuming as an art form in all its aspects.”
  • Westercon 69: The 2016 Westercon in Portland, OR.
  • Westercon 70: The 2017 Westercon in Tempe, AZ.

Donation amounts were not stated in today’s announcement, although it is known that DUFF received $2,000as did TAFF.

Makes You Think

The 2014 Worldcon has just issued a two-part press release.

First, Loncon 3, seeking “to represent the diversity of both our host borough and city and the sf genre as a whole,” will work with Con or Bust, a U.S.-based nonprofit that assists people of color to attend conventions such as Worldcons.

Loncon 3 has donated five attending memberships to Con or Bust, and will match up to another 20 donations from Worldcon members.

I expect that after this news is posted it will not be difficult to find comments here and there in the sf blogosphere that this initiative provides an unfair benefit – comments actually motivated by antagonism to diversity – because that’s what typically happens. And although Loncon 3 is bound to be familiar with the trend, I’m sure any connection between that and the second part of the press release exists only in my imagination —

2014 is the 75th anniversary of the first Worldcon, held in New York in 1939. To commemorate the history of the sf genre, Loncon 3 is offering a free Attending membership to anyone who was a member of either Nycon 1 in 1939 or the first British Worldcon, Loncon 1 in 1957.

Obviously most – possibly all — potential beneficiaries of the second policy will be old white men….  

I just had to confess how ironic I find this.

The full press release follows the jump.

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