Pixel Scroll 10/11/17 A Scrolling, OverCommenting, Tin-Pixeled Fifth-tator With Delusions Of Godstalkhood

(1) WHAT DID HE SAY? Scott Edelman hopes you will eavesdrop on his breakfast with the award-winning Chen Qiufan in Episode 49 of Eating the Fantastic.

Chen Qiufan

Chen Qiufan has published more thirty stories in venues such as Science Fiction World, Esquire, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Interzone, and F&SF. His 2013 debut novel, The Waste Tide, was praised by Liu Cixin as “the pinnacle of near-future SF writing.” He’s the most widely translated young writer of science fiction in China. He has won Taiwan’s Dragon Fantasy Award, China’s Galaxy and Nebula Awards, and a Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Award with Ken Liu.

We discussed why his favorite character from all of science fiction is Mr. Spock, what kept him going during the seven years between the sales of his first and second stories, the reasons H. G. Wells is a genius, why he believes science fiction is the greatest realism, the differences in reading protocols between Chinese and non-Chinese readers, why he hopes his own upcoming science fiction movie will defy his prediction there’ll be many bad SF movies to come in Chinese cinema, and more.

(2) SPACE AGING. Every TV viewer has heard about the problems of overweight – it turns out being weightless isn’t good for your health, either. The Brisbane Times has the story: “Astronaut Scott Kelly on the devastating effects of a year in space”.

I make it to my bedroom without incident and close the door behind me. Every part of my body hurts. All my joints and all of my muscles are protesting the crushing pressure of gravity. I’m also nauseated, though I haven’t thrown up. I strip off my clothes and get into bed, relishing the feeling of sheets, the light pressure of the blanket over me, the fluff of the pillow under my head.

All these are things I’ve missed dearly for the past year. I can hear the happy chatter of my family behind the door, voices I haven’t heard for a long time without the distortion of phones bouncing signals off satellites. I drift off to sleep to the comforting sound of their talking and laughing.

A crack of light wakes me: Is it morning? No, it’s just Amiko coming to bed. I’ve only been asleep for a couple of hours but I feel delirious. It’s a struggle to come to consciousness enough to move, to tell her how awful I feel. I’m seriously nauseated now, feverish, and my pain has gotten worse. This isn’t like how I felt after my last mission. This is much, much worse.

Kelly’s article ends with a comment about prospects for an interplanetary mission.

…I also know that if we want to go to Mars, it will be very, very difficult, it will cost a great deal of money and it may likely cost human lives. But I know now that if we decide to do it, we can.

(3) INDIES ADMITTED. SFWA President Cat Rambo, in “SFWA and Independent Writers, Part Three: Launches and Lurches”, continues her four-part series about the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s decision to admit independently published writers.

Some statistics for the number-minded:

  • We admitted twelve new members in that first wave, and there’s been a steady influx since. At the same time, existing members that had independent published experience felt more empowered to step forward and share their knowledge.
  • According to the recent membership survey, 14.10% of the current membership identifies as indie, with another 37.57% considering themselves hybrid.
  • Only a small percentage (less than 5%) derives more than 50% of their income from crowdfunding.

All My Expectations of Indie SFWA Members Confirmed As I and others had argued repeatedly, the change did not result in an influx of unqualified, affluent hobbyists trying to buy their way into SFWA, and we could, finally, put that particular straw man to rest and play taps while other straw folk were being assembled in the background.

As you can see by the numbers, it wasn’t a massive surge, but a solid number. For some people it was part of a lifelong dream. For others, it was a cautious exploration of just what SFWA had to offer them. More than anything else, these were pragmatic, working writers. In a thread on the discussion boards, people began to share their sales number in a revelatory and instructive way that emphasized what a smart move for SFWA this had been. I still insist one of the smartest moves that happened during my time with the board.

The balance of the post discusses specific ways that indie members benefit from SFWA membership. It ends with hints about a forthcoming awards-oriented project….

Next time, in Part Four (the final one) — what does the future hold in store? Includes talking about data from the recent SFWA member survey as well as revelation of at least one cool project designed to help people reading novels for all yearly awards, including the Nebulas, Hugos, Dragon, World Fantasy, among others. *cue mysterious music and exit*

(4) LIBRARIES ENJOY COPYRIGHT EXCEPTION. The Internet Archive reports “Books from 1923 to 1941 Now Liberated!”

The Internet Archive is now leveraging a little known, and perhaps never used, provision of US copyright law, Section 108h, which allows libraries to scan and make available materials published 1923 to 1941 if they are not being actively sold….

If the Founding Fathers had their way, almost all works from the 20th century would be public domain by now (14-year copyright term, renewable once if you took extra actions).

Some corporations saw adding works to the public domain to be a problem, and when Sonny Bono got elected to the House of Representatives, representing part of Los Angeles, he helped push through a law extending copyright’s duration another 20 years to keep things locked-up back to 1923.  This has been called the Mickey Mouse Protection Act due to one of the motivators behind the law, but it was also a result of Europe extending copyright terms an additional twenty years first. If not for this law, works from 1923 and beyond would have been in the public domain decades ago….

But there is an exemption from this extension of copyright, but only for libraries and only for works that are not actively for sale — we can scan them and make them available. Professor Townsend Gard had two legal interns work with the Internet Archive last summer to find how we can automate finding appropriate scanned books that could be liberated, and hand-vetted the first books for the collection. Professor Townsend Gard has just released an in-depth paper giving libraries guidance as to how to implement Section 108(h) based on her work with the Archive and other libraries. Together, we have called them “Last Twenty” Collections, as libraries and archives can copy and distribute to the general public qualified works in the last twenty years of their copyright….

(5) FROM PAGE TO SCREEN. Paste Magazine listed “The 25 Best Comic Book TV Shows of All Time (Live-Action)” – how do their picks line up with yours?

The trend shows no signs of slowing—we count at least 20 shows from DC and Marvel alone, including such ambitious projects as a Damon Lindelof-helmed Watchmen on HBO, the long-awaited Y: The Last Man series on FX, The Punisher spinoff on Netflix and Hulu’s Runaways, whose pilot screening hooked me enough to at least keep watching. This list may look a lot different in a few years.

Number six is the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman series of the Sixties.

(6) LACE OBIT. The SFWA Blog reports the organization’s former secretary (2002-2003) ElizaBeth A. Gilligan (Lace) died October 9 after a battle with cancer.

Gilligan published her first short story, Evolution,” in 1990 and began writing as a columnist for Midnight Zoo in 1991.

Subsequent short stories appeared in Witch FantasticSword and SorceressBlack Gate, and other anthologies.  Her story “Iron Joan” made the Nebula preliminary ballot in 2002.  Gilligan’s Silken Magic trilogy was published by DAW Books, with the first volume, Magic’s Silken Snare, appearing in 2003 and the second volume The Silken Shroud showing up the next year.

The final volume, Sovereign Silk, was delayed until earlier this year due to chronic illness.  She edited the anthology Alterna-Teas in 2016….

SFWA President Cat Rambo said, “I had the pleasure with working with Beth as a volunteer the past couple of years and got a chance to interact with her in person at the Spokane Worldcon. This year has had a lot of losses; this one hits particularly hard.”

Locus Online says she is survived by her husband Douglas (married 1982), their two children, and two grandchildren.

Tom Whitmore, one of the fans who forwarded the story, added “She was a remarkably nice person, and a really good panelist at the cons I saw her at.”

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 11, 1984 — Space Shuttle astronaut, Kathy Sullivan, became the first American woman to walk in space.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

John King Tarpinian selected this one for Filers who are not fans of Twilight The Argyle Sweater.

(9) ICONOCLASTIC INFUNDIBULUM. It’s said: “You can pick your friends. You can pick your nose. But you can’t pick your friends’ noses.” John Scalzi disagrees —

(10) A COMING ATTRACTION. Disney theme parks will be offering a pioneer VR adventure, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire – ILMxLAB and The VOID – Immersive Entertainment Experience

A galaxy far, far away needs your help. In teams of four, be transported with family and friends in a brand new hyper-reality experience from Lucasfilm, ILMxLAB and The VOID. Under the orders of the budding rebellion, your team will travel to the molten planet of Mustafar. Your mission is to recover Imperial intelligence vital to the rebellion’s survival. Alongside the pragmatic droid K-2S0, your team must navigate through an enemy facility walking into danger at every turn. Disguised as stormtroopers, grab your blaster, solve puzzles, and fight giant lava monsters in an effort to fulfill your team’s orders. Pushing the boundaries of location-based virtual reality, The VOID and ILMxLAB bring the Star Wars universe to life through a multi-sensory, untethered story. See Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire only on location at Disney Springs in Orlando, FL, and Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CA – coming this winter.

 

(11) OPEN AND CLOSED. David Steffen’s SFWA Market Report for October tells the changing status of many sff magazines and publishing projects.

(12) WHAT’S THE MATTER? New Scientist says “Half the universe’s missing matter has just been finally found”.

The missing links between galaxies have finally been found. This is the first detection of the roughly half of the normal matter in our universe – protons, neutrons and electrons – unaccounted for by previous observations of stars, galaxies and other bright objects in space.

You have probably heard about the hunt for dark matter, a mysterious substance thought to permeate the universe, the effects of which we can see through its gravitational pull. But our models of the universe also say there should be about twice as much ordinary matter out there, compared with what we have observed so far.

Two separate teams found the missing matter – made of particles called baryons rather than dark matter – linking galaxies together through filaments of hot, diffuse gas.

(13) MONEY ROLLS IN FOR ALTHERO. “AltHero raises $100k to fight social justice in comics,” says the subject line of an emailed press release, which sounds about right.

Vox Day’s crowdsourced appeal on the Freestartr platform to fund his new comics line has raised $102,156.00 from 1,133 backers, more than 4 times its original $25,000 goal. The appeal runs for another 18 days.

After reaching its initial funding goal in only four hours, a new right-wing comic series, Alt*Hero, exceeded the rare $100,000 mark in just 12 days, with more than 1,000 backers signing on to help the alternative comic wage cultural war on the social justice-converged comic duopoly of Marvel and DC Comics. It is being written by prolific Marvel and DC Comics veteran writer Chuck Dixon and six-time Hugo Award Finalist Vox Day.

The press release makes a point of quoting derogatory remarks about the appeal to motivate donations from culture warriors on the right.

…The reaction to the announcement of Alt*Hero was decidedly mixed. While support has been strong on the right side of the ideological spectrum, left-wing comics fans denounced the new comic on Twitter and other social media platforms. “As awful as you’d expect,” reported LGBTQ Nation. “Vox Day is literally to the right of Genghis Khan, with two feet planted firmly in the Reichstag… the type of punk-ass feeb whose jaw Batman was born to break,” declared Jason Yungbluth, a cartoonist for MAD Magazine.

(14) MEANWHILE, BACK IN SJW LAND. No money in it, but some good laughs for those of you who enjoy stories of mistaken SJW credential identity.

(15) MILEHICON. The 49th annual MileHiCon takes place at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center from October 27-29. More than 100 science fiction/fantasy/horror authors, artists and other speakers will participate. MileHiCon’s guests of honor include authors Eric Flint, Jane Lindskold, and artist Carrie Ann Baade. Local author Jason Heller will preside as toastmaster.

  • The largest SF/fantasy art show and auction in Colorado
  • Round-the-clock gaming
  • Vendors room full of science fiction, fantasy and horror-related items
  • CosPlay (costume) contest
  • Critter Crunch (robotic sumo wrestling)
  • Mass author autograph session with over 60 authors participating (no extra fees)
  • Literacy Auction with hundreds of donated items. All proceeds donated to a Denver based charity literacy program.
  • During the weekend over 200 different programs will be offered on subjects ranging from Writing * Publishing * Artist demonstrations * Hands-on Workshops * Science presentations * Autograph sessions * Kids’ programming * Costuming * Gaming * and much more!

A three-day membership will be $48 at the door. Full weekend memberships can also be purchased in advance at https://milehicon49.planningpod.com/.

(16) TAG TEAM ROBOTS. Pacific Rim Uprising trailer. In theaters March 23.

(17) MOUNT TBR CALLING. Broaden your horizons: “The great writers forgotten by history” at the BBC is a discussion of The Book of Forgotten Authors, by sometime-genre author Christopher Fowler.

What do Agatha Christie’s favourite mystery novelist, the winner of the 1973 Booker Prize, and a writer who reputedly bashed out 100 million words, creating an archetypal schoolboy antihero along the way, have in common?

The answer will cause even the most successful author’s ego to wilt a little. Despite enjoying ample sales and plentiful esteem in their lifetimes, the names of this formerly starry trio – Elizabeth Daly, JG Farrell, and Billy-Bunter-creator Charles Hamilton (pen name Frank Richards) – are today largely unknown, their works under-read or out of print altogether. Now, they’re among the figures filling a thought-provoking new guide, The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler.

(18) BEFORE ALAN TURING. The BBC celebrated Ada Lovelace Day (October 10) with a look at “The female code-breakers who were left out of history books”.

According to some of the researchers and writers who have revealed these stories, along with setting the record straight, there is an opportunity to encourage the technically gifted women of today.

Fagone points to the controversial discussions of whether women can equal men in certain fields, such as mathematics or computer programming.

“There are all these debates – is there a biological difference?” he says.

“We don’t need to have that debate because we have the history – when you go to the history, women have been there, they’ve been doing this work all along.”

(19) TEST YOUR BUDS. Identify the flavor and you have a chance to win big money.

OREO has launched a brand new cookie with an exciting twist that will put its fans taste buds to the ultimate test.

Cookie lovers across the U.S. who correctly guess the flavor of the new Mystery OREO Cookies can enter for a chance to win $50,000.

John King Tarpinian’s guess is, “Broccoli!”

(20) ELECTRIC DREAMS TRAILER. Amazon Video is bringing out a 10-episode series, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, Dave Doering, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Alan Baumler, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Rambo, Tom Whitmore, Joel Zakem, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 2/8/17 With Many Alternative Facts About The Square Of The Hypotenuse

(1) TOUGHER THAN IT LOOKS. Sue Duff thought it would be easy to destroy the Earth, but noooo! She explains the difficulties in a guest post for SFFWorld.

When I plotted out my five-book series a couple years ago, I knew that by book four, it would be time to give my characters a break and began to torture my worlds. I needed to increase the stakes across both dimensions for the big finale in book five. It took quite a bit of research, in spite of my amateur earth and space science interests, and found that it’s not easy to make reality align with your imagination! The challenge was to have my antagonist destroy Thrae, Earth’s mirror dimension, while salvaging enough of the planet to support life. Luckily, I sat on a panel with two NASA scientists at Denver Comic Con and cornered them afterwards to verify my research. I was thrilled, and more than a little relieved, to discover that the details were accurate!

(2) LOCUS AWARD POLL IS OPEN. John Scalzi has beaten me to a pair of headlines today – I’m lucky he spends most of his time on books. John was first with the Audie Awards, and now this —

(3) SHADOW CLARKE. Paul Kincaid tells how he thinks the shadow Clarke jury will operate.

I have never been involved with a shadow jury before, so I’m probably going to be making it up as we go along. But my take on it is that the Clarke Award has become central to the way we see science fiction in Britain, so the shadow jury will use it as a jumping off point from which to expand the discussion of science fiction.

We’ll be starting with the submissions list, which is due to be published shortly and which is probably the best and most convenient way to discover what science fiction has been published in Britain during any particular year. From this we will each, individually, draw up our own preferred shortlists, based on what we’ve read and what we want to read. (No plan survives an encounter with the enemy, so I assume that as we read through our chosen books our views about what should or should not be on the shortlist will change. In many ways, I suspect that will be the most interesting part of the exercise.) We will also, of course, be reading the actual shortlist when that is announced, so the whole exercise will be a scaled-up version of Maureen Kincaid Speller’s wonderful Shortlist Project from a few years back.

(4) THE RIGHTS. Read “SFWA Statements on Register of Copyright and Copyright Reform” at the SFWA Blog.

On January 31, SFWA submitted two sets of copyright-related commentary (authored by SFWA’s Legal Affairs Committee) — one to the Librarian of Congress offering recommendations for choosing the new Register of Copyrights, and one to the House Judiciary Committee regarding its first proposal for copyright reform. SFWA also signed onto a submission from the National Writers Union to the US Copyright Office concerning Group Registration of Contributions to Periodicals.

(5) HEAR THIS ONE BEFORE? From the “Traveler” essay in Larry Niven’s Stars and Gods collection:

Lost luggage? Air France lost a passenger in the Soviet Union, because he annoyed them. They dropped Tom Doherty in Moscow when he only had an internal passport for Leningrad.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY PUPPETEER

  • Born February 8, 1969 – Mary Robinette Kowal

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GARÇON

  • February 8, 1828 — Jules Verne

(8) SQUEE. Walter Jon Williams has signed the contract for three more books in the Praxis series. He discusses the deal in “Unto the Breach”.

And so (I hear you ask) why seek publication by the Big Five after all?  Because (1) they offered me money, and (2) I don’t want to put all my career eggs into a single basket.   Ebook sales are volatile, many sales are generated by gimmicks that quickly grow obsolete, and I’m in competition with a couple million self-published authors who can’t write their way out of a paper bag, but who get just as much shelf space as I do.  If you’re published by a traditional publisher, it demonstrates that someone cared enough for your work to pay more than taxi-fare money for it.

And if the books fail, I’ll get them back, and then I’ll market them myself.  Win/win.

The headline was JJ’s reaction to the news.

(9) CONGRATULATIONS. Jason Sanford’s short story collection Never Never Stories has been translated and released in China by Douban Reads.

The collection is being released as two separate books with similar but different covers. Here’s the link to Never Never Stories Book 1 and here’s Book 2.

(10) MAKE YOUR OWN KESSEL RUN. Graeme McMillan at The Hollywood Reporter says Disney has announced that Star Wars Land will open in Disney World’s Hollywood Studios section in 2019, with a smaller one in Anaheim. They’re mum about what will be in it, but it’s 14 acres!

It’s like ‘La La Land,’ but with less dancing and more Jedi.

Disney is planning something big to mark the conclusion of the current Star Wars trilogy. How big? The size of a theme park.

On a call with investors, Disney CEO Bob Iger on Tuesday revealed that the 14-acre Star Wars Land attraction at Walt Disney World in Orlando will open in 2019, the same year as Star Wars Episode IX, the final chapter in the current “Skywalker Saga” arc of the beloved space opera.

Construction started on the Hollywood Studios attraction last April, following its August 2015 announcement. Until Iger’s statement on Tuesday, Disney had remained quiet about the attraction — which will be paired with a similar one in Disneyland Anaheim — beyond the release of concept artwork last summer. While it’s still unconfirmed just what the attraction will include, a Disney Parks blog post promised “guests will get the opportunity to pilot the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy” after climbing on board a full-size replica of the Millennium Falcon.

(11) THE BOX SCORE. These are the authors who wrote the most short fiction in 2016 that was published in any of the eleven publications or eleven anthologies Rocket Stack Rank reviewed last year. — “2016 Prolific SF/F Short Fiction Authors”

Here are Rocket Stack Rank’s 35 most prolific science fiction & fantasy short fiction authors of 2016. Click on their names in the two tables below to see their stories, and use the Score and AvgScore columns to try some authors you might not have read before. They were selected from the 818 original stories reviewed by RSR in 2016, which include 568 authors who wrote 5.8 million words published in 11 SF/F magazines and 11 SF/F anthologies. (RSR does not read horror magazines or horror anthologies.)

Greg Hullender adds, “Not a surprise to see Rick Larson and Robert Reed at the top in terms of number of stories. The counts by number of words are strongly affected by novella writers, but still interesting.  Could be a useful resource to people looking for a new author to try out.”

(12) THE BOOKS YOU LOVE. Biblio.com has tips on “Storing A Book Collection”.

We routinely hear from customers who want to know the best way to store collectible books. Sadly, even more commonly, we hear from customers who have inadvertently stored their books improperly, eroding the value of their beloved book collection.

We thought we’d take an opportunity to share with you some tips for proper storage of books, gleaned from not only our own personal experience, but that of seasoned professional booksellers. But before we dive right in to the stacks, let’s preface the whole thing by reminding you that:

CONDITION IS EVERYTHING!

Even the most scarce of titles is rarely worth much when it is in poor condition or beyond repair. Mildew, broken spines, torn or faded dust jackets, cocked bindings and similar issues can conspire to move a desirable book from the display case to the bargain bin.

Ok, that said, let’s learn how we can keep your book collection from ruin when you need to put it in storage for a period of time…

(13) OB SF. The Washington Post’s Michael E. Ruane, in “An American filmed the German army in WWI — until they became the enemy”, has an interesting article about the Library of Congress’s restoration of On the Firing Line with the Germans, a documentary Wilbur H. Durborough did on the Eastern Front in Germany in 1915.

The sf connection is that Durborough’s cameraman, Irving G. Ries, had a long, distinguished career in Hollywood capped by an Oscar nomination for his work on the special effects in Forbidden Planet in 1956.

(14) THE MATRYOSHKA TWEETS. It began when Cat Rambo reminded SFWA members to make their Nebula nominations.

(15) DISBELIEF SUSPENDERS. College Humor poses the question — Which Is Nerdier: Star Wars or Star Trek?

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster,JJ, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/29/16 “–We Also Stalk Gods”

(1) THERE’S A SKILL I’D LIKE TO HAVE. It sounds like something you’d see in a movie about dope dealers, says The Hollywood Reporter, but it’s behind the scenes at for-profit fan conventions — “Stars Getting Rich Off Fan Conventions: How to Take Home ‘Garbage Bags Full of $20s’”.

Fan conventions, where stars can take home hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for a few hours of time, once were the domain of has-beens and sci-fi novelties. But the business has become so lucrative — think $500,000 for Captain America‘s Chris Evans or The Walking Dead favorite Norman Reedus to appear — that current TV and film stars are popping up at events like Salt Lake City Comic-Con and Heroes and Villains Fan Fest. The demand has become so overwhelming that agencies including WME, CAA, UTA, ICM, APA, Paradigm and Gersh have in the past three years added “personal appearance” agents to sift through the hundreds of annual events, book talent and (of course) score their 10 percent commission….

Here’s how it works: Actors typically ask for a price guarantee — often paid up front — to show up, sign autographs, pose for photos and sometimes take part in a panel discussion or two. Most conventions charge an entry fee, collect $5 for every autograph and $10 per photo (with a photographer taking another $10). The stars — who receive luxury travel and accommodations — pocket the rest. Anything over the guarantee is icing on the cake….

According to multiple sources familiar with convention deals, the basic guarantee rate for genre stars is in the $5,000 to $10,000 range per appearance — with leads on such current TV series as The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Netflix’s Marvel shows and The CW’s DC Comics fare commanding anywhere from $35,000 to $250,000 and up, depending on their popularity and the frequency with which they appear. At top conventions, it’s not uncommon for a star to earn anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 on top of their guarantee (more if they spend extra time signing)…..

As if the conventions weren’t already lucrative enough, many stars also are contacted independently by autograph dealers looking to arrange meet-ups outside of events and can score anywhere from $6,000 to $250,000 to sign a few hundred items that will wind up on eBay. That’s one reason why Hamill and other stars are especially sensitive about fakes and are backing a new California bill that would require autographed collectibles sold in the state to come with a certificate of authenticity (yet another extra charge at conventions)….

Three big companies dominate the paid-convention space: Wizard World, Informa and ReedPop (each with about 20-plus events set for 2017), all of which are publicly traded. But while conventions are rewarding for attendees and talent, the financial picture for those running them often is less rosy.

(2) ALWAYS TO CALL IT RESEARCH. From A.V. Club we learn that Timeless creators are being sued for allegedly stealing premise for their show”.

Now it’s NBC’s turn to deal with the litigious, as Deadline reports that the creators of Timeless are being sued for allegedly absconding with the idea for their show, not unlike how Goran Visnjic does with a time machine in said show. NBCUniversal and Sony have also been named as defendants.

The suit was filed by Onza Entertainment for breach of contract and copyright infringement. The Spanish company that claims its idea for a government-backed team of time-machine-thief hunters was pinched, if you will, by Timeless creators Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Eric Kripke (Supernatural and Revolution). The suit lays out Onza’s premise for the show, and how it “relates to the adventures of a three-person government team (consisting of one woman and two men) traveling through time to thwart undesired changes to past events.” Timeless does feature its own group of timeline monitors, similarly comprising one woman and two men, though they have more academic backgrounds. Abigail Spencer plays a history professor, Matt Lanter her muscle, with Malcolm Barrett rounding out the ensemble as an engineer.

(3) THE PRICE FOR MARS. In “Musk’s Mars moment: Audacity, madness, brilliance – or maybe all three” on Ars Technica, Eric Berger says that Elon Musk’s plan to put a million people on Mars is actually technically plausible provided Musk raises $30 billion, which he isn’t going to be able to do without substantial government help.

Elon Musk finally did it. Fourteen years after founding SpaceX, and nine months after promising to reveal details about his plans to colonize Mars, the tech mogul made good on that promise Tuesday afternoon in Guadalajara, Mexico. Over the course of a 90-minute speech Musk, always a dreamer, shared his biggest and most ambitious dream with the world—how to colonize Mars and make humanity a multiplanetary species.

And what mighty ambitions they are. The Interplanetary Transport System he unveiled could carry 100 people at a time to Mars. Contrast that to the Apollo program, which carried just two astronauts at a time to the surface of the nearby Moon, and only for brief sojourns. Moreover, Musk’s rocket that would lift all of those people and propellant into orbit would be nearly four times as powerful as the mighty Saturn V booster. Musk envisions a self-sustaining Mars colony with at least a million residents by the end of the century.

Beyond this, what really stood out about Musk’s speech on Tuesday was the naked baring of his soul. Considering his mannerisms, passion, and the utter seriousness of his convictions, it felt at times like the man’s entire life had led him to that particular stage. It took courage to make the speech, to propose the greatest space adventure of all time. His ideas, his architecture for getting it done—they’re all out there now for anyone to criticize, second guess, and doubt.

It is not everyday that one of the world’s notables, a true difference-maker, so completely eschews caution and reveals his deepest ambitions like Musk did with the Interplanetary Transport System. So let us look at those ambitions—the man laid bare, the space hardware he dreams of building—and then consider the feasibility of all this. Because what really matters is whether any of this fantastical stuff can actually happen.

 

(4) FREE EVERYTHING. In an article at Democracy, a liberal public policy journal, Joshua Holland reviews Manu Saadia’s Trekonomics, which explains what Star Trek has to say about economic principles, particularly automation and the idea that while we won’t have replicators we may be at an era where a lot of goods are costless — “Can We Live Long and Prosper?”

Saadia doesn’t believe we’re likely to achieve a future that looks like Star Trek. For one thing, hyperspace travel, he says, is incredibly costly, and will offer humanity little reward for the effort. So he doesn’t see us exploring strange new worlds, or seeking out new life and new civilizations in the next few hundred years.

Thus tethered to Earth, Trekonomics is ultimately an argument that economic growth and good governance can lead us to enjoy a standard of living that’s almost unimaginable today. At its heart is the concept of “post-scarcity economics”—a world where technology is an unalloyed good that meets all of our material needs. Competition for finite resources has been a constant since early humans started scratching out a living. It’s shaped not only our economic systems, but our cultures and societies in really fundamental ways. The core argument of Trekonomics is that technology will eventually allow us to produce goods and services in excess of what we need, and that freedom from want will, in turn, lead to a radically different social contract—and new norms of governance—that are difficult to imagine today. In a Trekonomics economy, those at the top would have no incentive to grab an ever-larger slice of the pie because the pie would be infinitely large.

(5) SUPPORT LEGISLATION TO PROTECT COPYRIGHT. Francis Hamit has made a video to generate support for proposed legislation to create a copyright small claims court, HR 5757 or The CASE Act of 2016.  He adds, “There are many ways to support passage of this important legislation.  One way is to buy and wear this t-shirt that you can get from Tfund by following this link.” — http://www.tfund.com/CASEAct

As Hamit explained in a post here:

Now a bill is before the House called the CASE Act (or Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement Act of 2016.)

It is not law yet, and it needs your support. Write and/or call your Congressional Representative and urge a favorable vote. It is not a perfect solution to the problem, but it’s pretty good.

The CASE Act establishes a Copyright Claims Board with three claims officers and a minimum of two full-time attorneys to examine small cases. Cases must be brought within three years of the infringement, and the plaintiff(s) must have a copyright registration certificate in hand. If the registration was within or before 90 days of publication, the maximum damages are $15,000. If not, then $7,500. No single case will generate statutory damages of more than $30,000. Or, you can roll the dice and go for the actual damages, which may be very hard to prove. You pay your own attorney’s fees. Hardly a bonanza in other words. You can still move the case to a Federal District Court, but my own experience tells me that copyright cases are considered a complicated horror show there.

This court will be centralized as an office at the Library of Congress. While you might make a personal appearance, the emphasis is in resolving claims by mail and/or telephone. You may be able to do this without an attorney, or certified law student, but it’s probably not a good idea.

 

(6) TWILIGHT ZONE TRIVIA. I learned all kinds of new things while reading “11 Timeless Facts About The Twilight Zone . The first is funny —

There were almost six dimensions.

While recording the opening to the pilot episode in 1959, Serling exclaimed there was a sixth dimension to explore. When a network executive overheard the introduction, he asked Serling what happened to the fifth dimension. Serling assumed there were already five dimensions, not four. Luckily, the mistake was corrected before the episode aired.

(7) X-15. Here’s a BBC article about the X-15 program and efforts to restore the B-52 that ferried the experimental craft to launch altitude – “The bomber that paves the way for the Moon missions”. (One of the cool things I got to do as a kid was attend a science-themed event on the aircraft carrier Kearsarge where X-15 pilot Scott Crossfield was on the program).

Joe Walker could be one of the greatest astronauts you have never heard of.

On 22 August 1963, Walker strapped into the cockpit of an X-15 experimental rocket plane for his final flight. He took off into the clear skies above Edwards Air Force base in sou thern California, his needle-shaped aircraft strapped beneath the starboard wing of a B-52 bomber.

At around 50,000ft, the X-15 dropped from the wing, Walker lit his engine and rocketed into the sky. When the plane ran out of fuel two minutes later, he was travelling at 5,600ft-per-second and the sky had turned from blue to black.

In another two minutes, Walker had reached 354,200 feet – 67 miles – above the Earth and beyond the air we breathe. He was no longer flying a plane but a spacecraft. 11 minutes and eight seconds after release, he was back on the ground – having glided at hypersonic speeds to a perfect landing on a dried-up lake bed

(8) IT IS GETTING TO LOOK LIKE HALLOWEEN AT DISNEYLAND. The Halloween Tree, inspired by a Ray Bradbury story, is back in season at Disneyland.

The four masks on the plaque are artwork done by Joseph Mugnaini. The oak tree is in front of the saloon in Frontierland.

dedication-min

disneylandhalloweentree-min

(9) COMIC BOOK TRICK OR TREAT. Comic publishers invite fans to the Halloween ComicFest on October 29.

Celebrating its fifth year, Halloween ComicFest is an annual event where participating comic book specialty shops across North America and beyond celebrate the Halloween season by giving away comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their shops. The event takes place on Saturday, October 29th and is the perfect opportunity to introduce friends and family to the many reasons why comic shops are a great destination for Halloween themed comic books, products and merchandise. From zombies, vampires, monsters and aliens to costumes and more, comic shops have it all when it comes to Halloween fun!

Click here to see the offerings – and to download free sample pages.

(10) THE MIND BEHIND THE MASK. Popular Mechanics tries to argue “Why Westworld Matters” in an entertaining little article, however, my memory is rather different – I don’t think it had much influence because sf writers were already feverishly turning out warning stories of this type – anything from Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” to Bradbury’s “Downwind From Gettysburg.”

The Line Between Human and Android Keeps Shrinking

Crichton told American Cinematographer at the time of the film’s 1973 release that he was inspired by going to Disneyland and watching an animatronic Abraham Lincoln recite the Gettysburg Address. “It was the idea of playing with a situation in which the usual distinctions between person and machine—between a car and the driver of the car—become blurred, and then trying to see if there was something in the situation that would lead to other ways of looking at what’s human and what’s mechanical,” he said.

In Westworld, even the park’s administrators aren’t quite sure what their robots are capable of. Ominously, one overseer announces, “These are highly complicated pieces of equipment, almost as complicated as living organisms. … We don’t know exactly how they work.” It becomes clear that Brynner’s gunslinger has gone rogue at least in part because he’s tired of letting park patrons shoot him full of holes just to satisfy their he-man cravings. He’s not a piece of furniture. He’s become sentient, and he wants a say in what happens to him.

Everything from Blade Runner (based on the late-’60s Dick novel) to A.I. (based on the late-’60s short story from Brian Aldiss) has grappled with the ethical questions inherent in making computers that duplicate human characteristics. How will we be able to tell if it’s man or machine?

(11) ISLAMIC SF COLLECTION. Islamicates Volume I: Anthology of Science Fiction short stories inspired from Muslim Cultures is available as a free download in many electronic formats.

Better late than never I always say, the wait is over, I give you the Science Fiction short story anthology based on the first Islamicate Short Story contest. There are a total of 12 stories in the anthology and the first three stories are also the ones which won the best story awards. The anthology is titled Islamicates: Volume I Science Fiction Anthology of Short Stories inspired by Muslim Cultures. It is titled Volume I because we hope to continue this series in the future. It was eight years ago that the first anthology based on Science Fiction inspired by Islamic cultures was released. Not only has the Geek Muslim community increased in numbers considerably but interest in Islam and Muslim cultures has increased to a great extent in pop media in general. We hope that our readers will greatly enjoy the anthology. As always comments, suggestions, questions and feedback in general will be greatly appreciated.

(12) PYTHON-RELATED PROJECT. Matthew Davis recommended a video: “Reading about the recent death of the actor Terence Baylor (who appeared in assorted Monty Python-related projects) reminded me that he was in a Terry Gilliam-directed advert for Orangina which was only ever broadcast in France.”

(13) RIDLEY SCOTT ADS. Davis also pointed out some other advertising history.“While Ridley Scott’s 1984/Apple commercial is famous with film and sf fans I don’t think his very Blade-Runner-esque series of adverts for Barclays bank in 1986 are remembered at all.”

[Thanks to Matthew Davis, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Sherlock Holmes Free At Last

The pre-1923 Sherlock Holmes stories are no longer covered by U.S. copyright law a federal judge has ruled. Anyone may use elements from them without seeking a license from the Conan Doyle estate.

Or, as The Guardian put it —

Prospective authors of Sherlock Holmes fan fiction take heed: under a new court ruling, you may write that Sherlock Holmes was a cocaine-addicted martial arts aficionado cohabiting occasionally at 221B Baker Street, with a friend called Dr Watson.

You may not, however, freely describe Dr Watson’s own athletic background, the juicy fact of his second marriage or the circumstances of Holmes’s retirement.

The estate had argued Conan Doyle continually developed the character therefore, because his final Holmes story was published in 1927, copyright protection should extend until the last story enters the public domain in 2022. The judge treated this view with polite disdain, calling it a “novel legal argument.” However, he agreed that details first created in stories remaining under copyright could not be freely used — Watson’s second wife, for example.

The ruling came in response to a civil complaint, reported here in March, filed by Leslie Klinger, editor with Laurie R. King of In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of new Holmes stories. They had paid $5,000 licensing fee for an earlier collection of latter-day Holmes stories but had balked when the estate threatened to keep their new book from being sold unless they paid another fee.

Judge Ruben Castillo cited a 1989 decision in which CBS tried to stop a Broadway adaptation featuring Amos ‘n’ Andy, characters in a once-popular radio comedy that debuted in 1928 and in a 1950s TV series. The characters were ruled to be in the public domain, but some “increments of expression” that further “delineated the characters and story” remained under copyright.

The ruling applies to the United States – in Britain, the entire Sherlock Holmes canon has been in the public domain since the end of 2000.

A Future for Small Copyright Claims?

The U.S. Copyright Office is studying how the current legal system hinders or prevents copyright owners from pursuing low-dollar copyright infringement claims with an eye to reducing existing barriers to litigaton.

While the Act offers the possibility of statutory damages and attorney fees, these benefits are not available in all cases and parties cannot recover them until after the copyright owner has engaged in a potentially long court battle that requires up front costs.

The Copyright Office has been asked by Congress to study the obstacles facing small copyright claims disputes, as well as possible alternatives. Specifically, the Office is to undertake a study to: (1) assess the extent to which authors and other copyright owners are effectively prevented from seeking relief from infringements due to constraints in the current system; and (2) furnish specific recommendations, as appropriate, for changes in administrative, regulatory and statutory authority that will improve the adjudication of small copyright claims and thereby enable all copyright owners to more fully realize the promise of exclusive rights enshrined in our Constitution. The initial notice of inquiry seeks comment on how copyright owners have handled small copyright claims and the obstacles they have encountered, as well as potential alternatives to the current legal system that could better accommodate such claims.

Francis Hamit, who sent along the link, comments:

Not that I’m bragging or anything, but I believe that I was the first to suggest this with my essay in the September/October 2006 issue of the Columbia Journalism Review entitled “Stop Thief”.

This is the link to the full Notice of Inquiry [PDF file].

Muscling in on Popeye

It’s been 70 years since Popeye creator Elzie Segar died, and on January 1 the spinach-eating sailor will fall into the public domain in Britain under an EU law that sets the limit on copyright. News reports encourage the belief that beginning Thursday anyone can print and sell Popeye art and paraphernalia without paying any royalties.

Then again:

The Popeye trademark, a separate entity to Segar’s authorial copyright, is owned by King Features, a subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation — the US entertainment giant — which is expected to protect its brand aggressively.

Mark Owen, an intellectual property specialist at the law firm Harbottle & Lewis, said: “The Segar drawings are out of copyright, so anyone could put those on T-shirts, posters and cards and create a thriving business. If you sold a Popeye toy or Popeye spinach can, you could be infringing the trademark.”

My musical instincts tell me:

Lawyers will fight to the finish
Over rights to the spinach
From Popeye the Sailor Man (toot-toot!)

[Thanks to Taral Wayne for the link.]