Pixel Scroll 5/14/17 Ain’t Any Ivory Soap Deal

(1) TOMORROW’S NEWS TODAY: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction will be Wikipedia’s featured article of the day on May 15. Thanks to Gordon Van Gelder for the hot tip.

And if you’d like to amaze your friends by predicting what the featured articles will be for some number of days into the future — just change the digits in the URL….

(2) VOICE OF EXPERIENCE. Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist completes its questioning in “Tad Williams Interview, part 2”.

With your wife Deborah, you have an in-house editor perusing everything you write. Then, at Daw Books you have Betsy Wollheim and Sheila Gilbert editing your novels. With that many editors having you under the microscope (and I reckon that your British editor also has something to say before anything goes into print), some would think that it could become a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. And yet, this approach obviously works well for you. Why is that?

Well, for one thing, I’m stubborn. As much as I love and respect all those folks, including my overseas editors, ultimately the complaints and/or suggestions have to make sense to me before I’ll make any large changes. I’ve been doing this writing gig for quite a while now and I don’t think you get to the point I have — making a living at it for decades — without trusting your own instincts. So if one person says they don’t like something, I’ll look at it and consider it but won’t necessarily change it unless the complaint strikes a chord for me. However, if all or at least several of them say that such and such a section is boring or confusing or whatever — well, I’m not stupid. On the other hand, because I have intelligent, skilled readers and editors like the three you mentioned, I also feel I can try new and unusual things and they are all clever enough to understand what I’m trying to do, which gives me a certain sense of freedom combined with the reassuring feeling that if I screw up too badly, they have my back and will help me fix it.

(3) OCTAVIA BUTLER EXHIBIT AT THE HUNTINGTON. It would be commonplace to start an item like this, “I wonder if Octavia Butler would have been surprised to hear that one day she’d be the subject of an exhibit at the Huntington Library?” But after viewing some of the ambitious notes to herself shown in this article, I don’t think it would have surprised her that much. “At the Huntington, see the inspirational note black sci-fi writer Octavia Butler wrote to herself” in the LA Times.

Octavia E. Butler was a powerful and pioneering voice in science-fiction. The first black woman acclaimed as a master of the genre, she was known for vivid, expertly crafted tales that upended conventional ideas about race, gender and humanity.

Although her creations were bold, Butler, who grew up poor in Pasadena, was “a private, reflective person who struggled with shyness and self-doubt,” said Natalie Russell, curator of a new exhibition at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino.

How such struggles influenced her life and art is one of the themes explored in “Octavia E. Butler: Telling My Stories.” Russell said the show uses an invaluable resource — the author’s archive — to examine both her published work and “who she was as told through her personal papers.”

(4) CASE STUDY. Paul Linebarger may have written the military classic Psychological Warfare, but don’t assume he didn’t need some shrinkage himself — “Remembering Cordwainer Smith: Full-Time Sci-Fi Author, Part-Time Earthling” in The Atlantic.

One hot June day, probably in the late 1940s or early 1950s, psychoanalyst Dr. Robert Lindner received a phone call from a physician who wanted to refer a troubling case to him for treatment: “The fellow I’m calling you about is a man in his 30s, a research physicist with us out here. As far as I can tell, he’s perfectly normal in every way except for a lot of crazy ideas about living part of the time in another world—on another planet.”

This famous case study, which Lindner shared in his 1955 book The Fifty-Minute Hour, is now believed by some to be a real-life account of Paul Linebarger (1913-1966)—better known to science-fiction fans under the name of Cordwainer Smith, a writer who still retains a strong cult following in this year of his centenary. The accumulated evidence suggests that Smith, who published more than two dozen short stories and a single sci-fi novel during the 1950s and 1960s, may have drawn on his personal experiences, broadly defined, in crafting his peculiar and visionary tales of intergalactic life. Brian Aldiss first reported the possible linkage between Smith and Kirk Allen—the name used by Lindner for his patient—in 1973, and subsequent research by Alan Elms and Lee Weinstein has tended to substantiate, although not definitely prove, the connection.

(5) WONDER WOMAN HEALTH FOOD. Forget those protein bars —

Ahead of the release of the new Wonder Woman movie, Cold Stone Creamery is releasing a fierce new flavor. The promotional flavor is called Dark Chocolate Triple Berry Ice Cream, and the new Creation is called the Wonder Woman Berry Bold, which has the Dark Chocolate Triple Berry Ice Cream plus chocolate shavings, raspberries, and gold glitter. And that’s not all. The ice cream shop is also releasing a new cupcake called Triple Berry Wonder, which has layers of moist Red Velvet Cake and Dark Chocolate Triple Berry Ice Cream, topped with chocolate frosting, gold glitter, and a Wonder Woman logoed Chocolate Medallion.

(6) FAN MAIL. Be part of Worldcon 75’s postcard exhibit –

(7) GOLDEN AGE. “Science fiction’s new golden age in China, what it says about social evolution and the future, and the stories writers want world to see” in the South China Morning Post.

…Some 104 original sci-fi titles were published in China in 2016, compared to 75 the previous year, and 461 novelettes were released last year.

Author Regina Wang Kanyu, 27, a long-time sci-fi fan, has witnessed its growth in recent years. “It’s the golden age of Chinese science fiction,” she says.

Wang is a co-founder of AppleCore, a group of mostly university students who get together in Shanghai to read science fiction. It grew from an alliance of several university clubs into a community, and organises film screenings, visits to virtual reality labs and annual festivals.

She now works full time in the science fiction field – as a public relations manager for start-up Storycom by day and a sci-fi writer by night. Storycom purchases and publishes works by Chinese authors, and Wang’s task is to promote them in foreign markets. “We are not simply marketing the works owned by our company, but the entire genre of Chinese science fiction. We would like to increase its influence, outside China and especially beyond the field of literature, into arts and tourism.”

Last month, writers Regina Wang, Wang Yao and Hao Jingfang attended Melon Hong Kong, the city’s first science-fiction conference to bring together Chinese and Western writers….

Note that Wang Yao writes as “Xia Jia”. Regina Wang Kanyu is a contributor to Amazing Stories.

(8) TIME TRAVEL. A zoomable copy of Berenice Abbot’s photo “Newsstand, Southwest Corner of 32nd Street and Third Avenue, November 19, 1935” can be viewed at the Heritage Auctions site.

Travel back in time to the pulp era, when you could have bought a copy of Weird Tales Nov 1935, with a Conan story by R. E. Howard and a letter by Forrest Ackerman, for the original price!

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

(10) THE VIEW FROM ECBATAN. Rich Horton carries on with “Hugo Ballot Reviews: Short Story”.

My ballot will look like this:

1) “That Game We Played During the War“, by Carrie Vaughn

Easy pick for me. It was the only story on my nomination list to make the final ballot. (As I’ve noted before, that’s not unusual.) And it’s SF. More importantly, it’s really good. From my Locus review: “”That Game We Played During the War” is a moving piece about Calla, a woman who was a nurse for Enith during their war with the telepathic Gaant people. The war is over, and Calla is visiting Gaant, trying to meet and continue a game of chess she had been playing with Major Valk, whom she had encountered both in Enith and later after she was captured, in Gaant. This version of chess is unusual — because of the Gaantish telepathy — and it’s not so much the point — the point, of course, is how enemies can come to a peaceful meeting (and, too, how telepathy complicates that!)” So — a core SF idea used very well in service of a worthwhile moral point. With good writing and good characters. Works for me.

(11) BLASPHEMY. That’s what John King Tarpinian said when he spotted this LA Times headline: “So many books to help you get rid of stuff (like too many books)”. The related article, at least, does not single out books as targets of the de-cluttering process.

That stuff-to-happiness equation is at the heart of one of the hottest trends in publishing for the last few years. Publishers have been pumping out book after book celebrating the rewards of getting rid of stuff. Japanese author Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “Spark Joy” have sold over 7 million copies worldwide, and she’s got another coming next month: “The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story” a graphic novel which casts Kondo as a kind of joy-sparking Sailor Moon who helps a disorganized young woman get her life in order.

(12)  OLD BLUE EYES. He passed away 19 years ago today. Read Steve Vertlieb’s “Sinatra All The Way” tribute at The Gull Cottage.

On the night of Thursday May 14th, 1998, America and the world lost the most iconic, beloved entertainer of the twentieth century. Sadly, it has been nineteen years since the passing of The Chairman Of The Board. William B. Williams assigned that name to Francis Albert Sinatra on his WNEW Radio program a half century ago, and it stuck. No performer either before or since has had the cultural impact of Sinatra. Singer, Actor, Director, Dancer, Painter, Producer, and Social Activist, Frank Sinatra remains the single most influential multi media artist in show business history. On the anniversary of his passage into both history and legend, we take a look back at his remarkable career and commemorate more than one hundred years, as well as one of The Greatest Stories Ever Told, with this retrospective and one hundredth birthday celebration of the life and times of Frank Sinatra.

(13) BROTHER GUY IN THE NEWS. Fan favorite Brother Guy Consolmagno got some ink this week — “The Vatican Is Looking for God in the Stars”.

If you think faith and science can’t share common ground, think again. Experts in both realms met last week at the Vatican Observatory to prove their theory that you can’t have one without the other. “If you have no faith in your faith, that is when you will fear science,” said Brother Guy Consolmagno the Vatican’s chief astronomer, whose works include such titles as “Would you Baptize an Extraterrestrial?

Brother Consolmagno led the three-day conference called Black Holes, Gravitational Waves and Spacetime Singularities at the Vatican Observatory’s Castel Gandolfo labs outside of Rome, the former papal summer residence that is remote enough to allow for clear stargazing with minimal light pollution.

He challenged astronomers, cosmologists. and other experts in the field who also believe in God to “come out” and talk about the intersection of faith and fact. What he ended up with are talks like, “The Internal Structure of Spinning Black Holes” and “The Big Bang and its Dark-Matter Content: Whence, Whither, and Wherefore.” Not once in the whole program does the word “God” or “religion” even appear, which is rare for a conference sponsored by the Vatican.

(14) A SCRIBE IN KALAMAZOO. Heather Rose Jones has posted her extensive and fascinating notes about the paper sessions she attended at the Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo. For example –

What Did it Mean to Be a Magician in al-Baqillani’s Baghdad? The Social Implications of the Discourse on Magic – Mushegh Asatryan, Univ. of Calgary

(could not be present due to immigration status concerns, but sent paper to be read)

11th c Baghdad, implications of magical practice. Book concerns difference between saintly miracles, tirckery, soothsaying, magic, and ??.  Works to distinguish and offers examples. Clear case where theological speculation is informed by social context of author. Life experiences that led the author to compose the work. “Prophetic miracles” (only prophets can perform) vs. “saintly miracles”.

Miracles: something only God can perform, and not others including supernatural creatures. Breaks the usual custom of events. E.g., flying through the air, moving mountains. One test is claim of prophecy. If someone claims to be a prophet and can still perform the action, it’s a miracle not a trick/magic.

Tricks are manipulation of people’s perceptions.

Magic is considered to be real, and is otherwise similar to miracles in breaking the usual course of events.

The author considers these categories in the context of determinism and atomism. Things are considered magic/miracles only because their break the apparent habit of what God wills, but they are still in alignment with God’s will. A magician cannot effect change in an object but any change is due to God’s action. So a magician can’t prove his actions to be proof of prophecy., as God won’t coincidentally break his habits to create the appearance of the effectiveness of his actions. Unless he’s a prophet and they are actual miracles. So if a magician makes a false claim of prophecy, either he must be punished, or the apparent miracle must be made into a natural law (i.e., a habit of God).

While the author condemns Muslim magicians for this reason, he does not do so for Christian or Jewish magicians,. They post no threat to the Islamic power structure of Baghdad, while Muslim magicians did. Internal political conflicts may have been relevant, e.g., Shi’ites were associated with claims of magical powers. (There is discussion of the authority structure with regard to scriptural interpretation.) The author defends the concept/acceptability of magic in order to counter Shi’a magical claims.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Gordon Van Gelder, Bill Mullins, Cat Eldridge, Steve Vertlieb, John King Tarpinian, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor Raymond Chandler, with an assist from John A Arkansawyer.]

Pixel Scroll 1/19/17 She’s Got Electric Trolls, A Pixel Scroll

(1) READING ROPEMAKER IRONMONGER. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll has turned the panel loose on Cordwainer Smith’s “The Ballad of Lost C’Mell”

Smith’s best known work is set several thousand years in the future, when humans have colonized the galaxy under the benevolent or at least firm hand of the Instrumentality. For humans, it’s a utopia. For the artificial Underpeople, created to serve humans and without any rights at all, it is not. “The Ballad of Lost C’Mell” was deemed worthy of inclusion in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two, which honored noteworthy stories denied a shot at the Nebula Award because they predated that award. How does it stand up in the eyes of my young readers?

Here’s your first clue – I say, “Fire the panelists!”

(2) WRITING BUSINESS. Kristine Kathryn Rusch analyzes the summary business reports for 2016 and extracts the nuggets for indie writers. This is just one of many —

Readers still go to bookstores, yes, and some readers will go to the brick-and-mortar store first. But most readers go online first, even if they choose not to order the book there.

There’s an interesting piece from The International Council of Shopping Centers (which I found through the Marketing Land article). On January 3, the International Council of Shopping Centers released the results of a survey conducted after the holiday season ended. The survey had a relatively small sample size (1030 adults) , but the findings seemed to be backed up by the other data that’s coming in.

The survey found that 70% of the shoppers surveyed preferred shopping at a place with an online and a physical presence. That number was even higher for Millennials—81%. Part of the reason was the ability to compare prices, but some of it was—again—convenience. Since most shoppers waited until the last minute in 2016 to shop, they ended up looking online to see if what they wanted was at a store, and then they went to the store to pick it up.

Sixty-one percent of the people who went to the store to pick up the item they purchased online bought something else at that store (75% of Millennials.) Why am I harping on Millennials? Because they are the future of the next decade or so of retailing.

(And, like it or not, writers, you’re in the retailing business when it comes to getting your books in the hands of consumers.)

This, my friends, is why Amazon is opening brick-and-mortar bookstores. Because they’re seeing similar statistics, and they understand, perhaps better than any of us, that the consumer wants a blended experience.

(3) GAINING FAME. Matthew Kressel of Fantastic Fiction at KGB reveals “How to Run a (Successful) Reading Series” at Tor.com.

Give the Authors Something for Their Time

Let’s face it, even though the author is getting lots of free promotion by reading at your series, they still have to make the effort to travel to your city, book a hotel, and get to the event on the day itself. The absolute least you can do is give them something for their time. (Simply “allowing” them to read for you is not enough). Give them a stipend/honorarium. Buy them drinks and/or dinner. Give your guests something to show them that you appreciate their time and effort.

Promote the S**t Out Of Your Events

It goes without saying that in today’s glut of media, you have to rise above the noise to be heard, especially if you’re just starting out. Establish a social media presence. Make a website. Tweet, Facebook, Tumblr, and G+ the s**t out of your readings. Create an email list. Make a Facebook event. Ask the bar/venue to put it up on their website. Leave no promotional stone unturned. It will be really hard for people to come to your reading if they don’t know about it.

(4) HEAD FOR THE BORDERLANDS. Two signings coming up at Borderlands Books in San Francisco:

  • Laura Anne Gilman, THE COLD EYE (Hardcover, Saga Press, $27.99) on Sunday, January 22nd at 3:00pm
  • Ellen Klages, PASSING STRANGE (Trade Paperback, Tor.com, $14.99) on Saturday, January 28th at 3:00pm

(5) LITERARY HISTORY. You can bid on eBay for a copy of the issue of Mademoiselle containing Ray Bradbury’s first mainstream publication. And the story gets even better —

I believe that this will be one of the rarest and coolest Ray Bradbury collectibles you will see on ebay this year. In 1946, a year before the publication of Bradbury’s first book, Ray was just starting to break out of publishing only in the pulps and weird fantasy magazines and gain some traction with more highly respected mainstream publications. He submitted his classic story Homecoming to Mademoiselle magazine but it sat in their offices for months without being read. Truman Capote, then working at the magazine as an editorial apprentice, came across the story, loved it, and passed it along to his editor. This was not a typical story for Mademoiselle. So, amazingly enough, Bradbury found himself working closely with the magazine’s staff as the story became the centerpiece for a supernatural Halloween themed issue. Even the fashion spreads reflect the ghoulish theme. It is slightly bizarre. The story is accompanied with a double page Charles Addams illustration, the same picture that is ultimately used as the Cover of From The Dust Returned. Although the image there was flipped to accommodate the book jacket, so the picture in the magazine is as the artist originally intended….

So why do you almost never see one of these come up for sale? Keep in mind that this came out the year before Ray’s first book was published. Even if you were an avid Bradbury fan (and at this time there were few of them) and were on the lookout for Ray stories you are not going to look at Mademoiselle magazine, especially since Ray’s name is not on the cover. And who is going to hold onto this for 70 years? At 325 pages it is a tome. Women do not generally collect things like this, so most of these were probably discarded early on. These magazines are almost the definition of disposable. Try to find this anywhere at any price.

(6) THOSE WEREN’T THE DAYS MY FRIEND. The Traveler at Galactic Journey warns against reading the February 1962 Analog – advice most of you should find easy to follow: “[January 19, 1962] Killing the Messenger (February 1962 Analog)”

The problem is Analog’s editor, Mr. John W. Campbell.  Once a luminary in the field, really hatching an entire genre back in the late 30’s, Campbell has degenerated into the crankiest of cranks.  And since he offers 3 cents a word for folks to stroke his ego, he necessarily gets a steady stream of bespoke stories guaranteed to be published.

Want to know the secret to getting printed in Analog?  Just include psi powers and a healthy dose of anti-establishment pseudo-scientific contrarianism, and you’re in like Flynn.

Case in point: this issue’s lead story, The Great Gray Plague, by Raymond F. Jones.  Never have I seen such a cast of straw men this side of a cornfield.  The setup is that the snooty head of a government agency that oversees science grants refuses to consider the bucolic Clearwater College as a candidate because they rank so low on the “Index.”  Said “Index” comprises a set of qualifications, some reasonable like the ratio of doctorates to students and published papers per year, to the ridiculous like ratio of tuxedoes to sport coats owned by the faculty and the genetic pedigree of the staff.  Thus, the “Index” serves as a sort of Poll Tax for institutions, making sure only the right kind remain moneyed.  The Dean of Clearwater makes an impassioned argument to the government employee that such a narrow protocol means thousands of worthy scientists and their inventions get snubbed every year in favor of established science.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 19, 1990 — Natives of a small isolated town defend themselves against strange underground creatures in Tremors, seen for the first time on this date. The official scientific name of the Graboid worm is “Caederus mexicana“.
  • January 19, 1996  — Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez team up for From Dusk Till Dawn.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

(9) GREAT NEWS ABOUT GOOD OMENS. Coming to Amazon Video, SciFiNow reports “Good Omens TV series confirmed, Neil Gaiman will write every episode”.

It was confirmed last year that Neil Gaiman was working on a TV adaptation of his and the late Sir Terry Pratchett’s classic novel Good Omens, and now there’s some big news to get excited about.

Variety reports that Amazon has greenlit a six-episode series, and that Gaiman himself has written every script and will serve as showrunner.

So, that’s pretty brilliant.

Because of the tragic logistics of how long things actually take to get made, we won’t see Good Omens until 2018, but this is truly wonderful news.

Good Omens will be a co-production with the BBC and Rhianna Pratchett’s production company Narrativia, and it will air on the BBC after launching on Amazon Video.

This adaptation will be “set in 2018 on the brink of an apocalypse as humanity prepares for a final judgment. But follies ensue — Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a demon aren’t enthusiastic about the end of the world, and can’t seem to find the Antichrist.”

(10) PATROLLING THE BEAT. Hey there, what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down: “So Long, Mall Cop! Enter Silicon Valley Start-Up’s Robot Guards”.

The mall cop is going to have some company. Silicon Valley start-up Knightscope believes its security robots can help take a bite out of the crime that costs the American economy $1 trillion every year. Knightscope CEO William Santana Li says his robots are already on duty in several key California locations including the Sacramento Kings arena, the Microsoft campus and Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose. The robots are designed to detect and report anomalies, which help existing human security personnel perform better and stay safer.

Francis Hamit comments: “This will actually make human security officers more effective since it will increase their range. They have several accounts now in California and are raising additional funds through a Regulation A+ offering on their website. I bought some shares myself Yeah, it still looks like a Dalek. but they are not weaponized. They come in peace…”

(11) NO, I WON’T JUST SIT BACK AND ENJOY IT. Kate Paulk repeats a favorite talking point in “Making History is Messier than you Thought” at Mad Genius Club.

The forces that have dominated civil (or uncivil) discourse of late are in the process of losing what was once a near-absolute grip on public expression, and they don’t like it. This is showing up in the Big 5 versus Amazon rolling arguments, the repeated attempts to delegitimize and other all things Indie, the Sad Puppies campaigns (and yes, the Rabids as well. Had the reaction to Sad Puppies 2 been less vitriolic, the whole thing would have likely faded off and been forgotten by now. Instead, well… Take note, folks. If you don’t like something, the best way to deal with it is to politely ignore it and let it rise or fall on its own merits. If it really is as bad as you think, it will sink. Of course, if there’s manipulation behind the scenes that’s a whole nother argument).

(12) ANIMATED LOVECRAFT. “Mark Hamill, Christopher Plummer Lead Voice Cast of ‘Lovecraft’ Feature”Deadline has the story.

Mark Hamill, the beloved Star Wars actor, is taking a little time out to voice an animated Lovecraft feature. He, along with Jeffrey Combs (Transformers Prime), Christopher Plumme and Doug Bradley (Hellraiser) have been set for the voice cast in the upcoming animated feature Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom from Shout! Factory and Arcana Studios. Written, directed and produced by Sean Patrick O’Reilly, the film is the adaption of Bruce Brown and Dwight L. MacPherson’s bestselling graphic novel of the same name, and marks the second installment of Howard Lovecraft animated film series.

(13) THE PLOTS HATCH. Tor.com’s Natalie Zutter, in “Disney All But Confirms Shared-Universe Fan Theories With Pixar Easter Eggs Video”, explains why you should watch it.

That is, by going super granular—freeze-framing and then panning over to a background character (or image) that you may not have noticed on first viewing, then jumping over to the movie it references. From Inside Out‘s Riley peering into the aquarium in Finding Dory to the shadow of Up‘s Dug chasing Remy in Ratatouille two years before the former came out… or even Skinner’s bright red moped showing up in the scrap pile in WALL-E… this is an Easter egg video to the nth degree.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Francis Hamit, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 10/7/16 You Keep Using That Pixel. I Do Not Thing It Scrolls How You Think It Does

.(1) NEW YORK COMIC CON. Tor.com’s Leah Schnelbach says fans packed the room to hear “You Can be Mythic!” Ta-Nehisi Coates, Steven Orlando, and Tee ‘Vixen’ Franklin Discuss Race, Sexuality, and Representation in Comics.

Gray kicked off by asking Coates about the reception of the Midnight Angels—Aneka and Ayo, two Dora Milaje warriors who have left their traditional roles and become fugitives together. While the crowd cheered at their mention, Coates self-deprecatingly joked, “If you see people on the internet who love it, you can’t tell if it’s the same 20 people.”

On why he was drawn to these characters, Coates said: “Many of the male figures in T’challa’s life had been killed. So the only people who were left in his life were women, like the Dora Milaje, and their story was told through his eyes. I was interested in what the perspective might be of a person who’d given up their entire life to protect one man—I mean, they address that man as “Beloved.” What about their love for themselves? What about their love for each other? Now that the social contract in Wakanda is fraying, what will happen to those feelings?” Coates further talked about Ayo and Aneka becoming lovers, and said “I think if you check yourself, you can open yourself to everybody’s worldview. You don’t have insert Black people, you don’t have to insert queer people, insert women—they’re already all around you.”

(2) TURNOVER AT WORLDCON 75. Dave Weingart is no longer running Music programming for Worldcon 75 for reasons he discusses at length at his LiveJournal.

(3) NORSTRILIAN VOICE. Walter Jon Williams expresses appreciation for “The What-He-Did: The Poetic Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith” at Tor.com.

She got the which of the what-she-did,
Hid the bell with a blot, she did,
But she fell in love with a hominid.
Where is the which of the what-she-did?

This cryptic verse opens “The Ballad of Lost C’mell,” by Cordwainer Smith, and may serve as emblematic both of some of the author’s persistent themes and his own rich and distinct strangeness. Smith was one of the Great Peculiars of science fiction, producing strong, intricate, highly-wrought, highly weird stories that will never be mistaken for the works of anyone else. No one else had a mind like Smith.

(4) BBC4 ART CONTEST. Get your crayons ready — “Competition – Draw Neil Gaiman’s Stardust for Radio 4”.

BBC4 will be coming out with a radio adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust in December. In conjunction with that, there’s a drawing contest open to 1) 16-and-unders, and 2) 17-and-olders. Winning images will be used as episode images. Deadline October 26th. More details here: Stardust – Competition – Draw Neil Gaiman’s Stardust for Radio 4 – BBC Radio 4

(5) NBA SHORTLIST. The finalists for the National Book Awards have been announced. One of them is one genre interest – Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railway. The winners will be announced November 16.

(6) IT GETS VERSE. Yesterday was National Poetry Day, prompting ULTRAGOTHA to revisit January’s epic post “Filers Destroy Poetry”.

(7) LAST HURRAH FOR PROF. X? CinemaBlend thinks this is the end, my friend – “New Wolverine 3 Image Reveals A Shocking Look At Professor X”.

Ever since it was announced that Patrick Stewart would be part of the last Wolverine film we’ve wondered exactly what his role would be. While the image doesn’t give us any hints toward answering that question, it does make us wonder if Hugh Jackman won’t be the only one saying goodbye to his famous role when the movie is over. With the Professor X role apparently in the capable hands of James McAvoy within the current X-Men timeline, there’s no specific need for Patrick Stewart going forward, and if Professor X were to pass away by the end of this movie, we wouldn’t be shocked.

(8) AUTHOR DISAVOWS GHOSTS IN POPULAR CULTURE. Richard Bleiler says to take his name off —

Some time ago I contributed essays to a work entitled “Ghosts in Popular Culture and Legend,” ed. by June Pulliam and Anthony J. Fonseca (ABC-Clio, 2016).

When I received my copy I discovered that my encyclopedic contributions were rewritten, egregiously so. Paragraphs and sentences were rearranged and dropped, continuity was disrupted and destroyed, and — worst of all — sentences that I did not write were added without attribution. At no time was I asked if these changes were acceptable. Likewise, at no time was I given any indication that there were any issues with my contributions or asked if I could revise them.

I do not believe that I am being overly sensitive. I am used to being edited, but what was done to my contributions to Ghosts in Popular Culture and Legend is beyond the pale. It is completely unacceptable.

I am therefore taking the (for me) unique step of disavowing the contributions in Ghosts in Popular Culture and Legend that were published under my name. They do not represent my scholarship; they should not have my name attached to them. I have thus asked ABC-Clio:

1. Not to use my name in any advertisements for Ghosts in Popular Culture and Legend;

2. To remove my name from any additional printings of Ghosts in Popular Culture and Legend;

3. To remove my name from all electronic editions of Ghosts in Popular Culture and Legend.

(9) THE MIGHTY KIRK. Matt Melia answers the question “Just How Heroic Is Star Trek’s ‘I Don’t Like to Lose’ James T. Kirk?” for PopMatters.

For this writer, Captain James T. Kirk, of the USS Enterprise, has always been the most iconic and quintessential of television heroes and furthermore, possibly the most recognisable and identifiable as such. From a casual perspective, Jim Kirk embodies the most normative of heroic values: bravery, romance, adventure, leadership, nobility, instinctiveness as well as a penchant for recklessness (in the Season 1 episode “The Corbomite Maneuvre” he is also shown to be something of a gambler, bluffing of the alien, Balok, that the Enterprise is loaded with the non-existent substance Corbomite). But how may we further understand and define “heroism” and unpack it in televisual terms? How does Star Trek, as a cultural text, frame and interrogate the problematic and often contradictory concept of heroism, filtering its inquisitions through the character of Captain Kirk?

(10) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. At the next installment of the New York-based reading series, hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present: Jack Ketchum & Caitlín R. Kiernan, October 19th. Starts 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

(11) WEEPING DEVILS. Joch McArthur delivers a rant about SF and “being political”.

… Or to clarify, to all the straight white cis dudes bitching and moaning about the blackness of Luke Cage or the PTSD discussion in Jessica Jones or Evan Rachel Wood talking about feminist aspects of Westworld or Wonder Woman’s queerness or any of the other white tears hot topics of the year that are constantly blowing up my social media feed (“why do they have to make everything political!!! It’s just a tv show!!!!!!!” *straight white cis male tears here*)

(12) HISTORIC COMICS APA SIGNING OFF. Capa-alpha, the oldest comics-fandom APA, started in October 1964, will close with its December mailing, #626. Fred Patten has the details.

CAPA-alpha, known as K-a for short, was one of the influences behind the startup of comics fandom in the early 1960s.  It’s been going for 52 years.  Some of the leading names in the comics industry began as comics fans in K-a.

Paper APAs are considered dinosaurs today, but the immediate cause of the APA’s cancellation is its long-running Central Mailer, Douglas Jones, having a foot amputated due to advancing diabetes.  Jones cannot continue as Central Mailer, and none of the current members (23, with a waiting list of 7) feel that they can replace him.

(13) STICK YOUR FOOT IN IT. Dangerous Minds knows where you can find Cthulhu Approved High-Heeled Tentacle Shoes.

chtulhu-high-heel

Totally insane-looking—and probably not practicable footwear—tentacle high-heeled shoes made by fashion designer, costume designer and shoe designer Kermit Tesoro. I can’t imagine walking in these. Hell, I can’t even walk in heels to begin with!

I just checked out Kermit Tesoro’s Facebook page to see if he had any other equally freaky high-heeled designs and it looks like he’s also got a Venus flytrap shoe.

[Thanks to Elusis, Fred Patten, Andrew Porter, Bruce D. Arthurs, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jameson Quinn.]

Pixel Scroll 5/21/16 Pixel Shop of Scrollers

(1) TREKKIN’ WITH FILLION? Here’s some clickbait for you – “Rumor Mill: Nathan Fillion New Star Trek Captain?” asks SciFi Obsession.

Many noticed how much weight Nathan lost for the final season of Castle. Now that it’s 8 year run is over, could he be sitting in the center seat for the new 50th Anniversary Trek series on CBS All Access?

(2) CAPT. JACK VAGUEBOOKS. And here’s a second helping of clickbait – Den of Geek quoted John Barrowman’s comments about coming back to Doctor Who.

Adding fuel to the fire that he could return to the live-action Doctor Who universe in the near future, John Barrowman has now instructed fans to “keep watching.”

Asked on The One Show whether he’d be returning to either Doctor Who or Torchwood, the Captain Jack Harkness actor said, “I’d love to, keep watching. Keep watching. I’d love to! I don’t know!”

“It’s not up to me,” he added, “but keep watching!”

(3) DOZOIS REVIEWS SHORT FICTION. Locus Online has posted an excerpt from the magazine edition, “Gardner Dozois reviews Short Fiction April 2016”, covering Clarkesworld 1/16, 2/16, Asimov’s 2/16, and Interzone 1-2/16. With the link, Greg Hullender passed along his theory that Dozois is Lois Tilton’s replacement.

(4) WHAT’S OPERA? Andrew Liptak recommends “15 Space Opera Books for Firefly Fans” at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

We don’t need to tell you that Firefly has transformed from failed TV series to cultural phenomenon in the years since its 2003 cancellation after an inauspicious 12-episode run on Fox. Joss Whedon’s Western-styled space opera might be missed, but in the years since, its fans have found ways to cope with its absence, turning to other TV shows, writing fan fiction—or searching out books that scratch their Big Damn Heroes itch. We always find ourselves reaching for a solid space opera novel during the summer months, so we’re offering up 15 space opera books for Firefly fans, each embodying one or more of the qualities that made that show so great.

(5) CHECK REJECTS. SJPA, the organization behind Anime Expo, has partially retracted its recently announced Youth Protection policy. Anime News Network has the story — “Background Checks Not Mandatory for Anime Expo, Except for Its Employees, Volunteers”.

The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA), the California-based non-profit organization behind Anime Expo, announced on Friday that the criminal background check requirement it introduced as part of its Youth Protection Program are now only mandatory for its own employees and volunteers. Background checks are optional but strongly encouraged for Artist Alley participants, exhibitors, press, Guests of Honor, performers and vendors.

SPJA is partnering with the Nonprofit Risk Management Center to launch the Youth Protection Program to protect young attendees at Anime Expo. The Nonprofit Risk Management Center began streaming an introduction video for the program on Tuesday. The organization also began streaming a video on April 29 that explains the responsibilities of being a partner to the Youth Protection Program.

SPJA noted the other elements of the program that will remain in place:

We are creating SafeSpace kiosks and other means for youth to report and receive immediate help. Significantly increased private security and LA Police officers will be present onsite. To protect minors from exposure to adult content, spatial separation and ID checks will be enforced at AX. Exhibitors will be required to keep adult materials behind closed pipe and drape, and to conduct ID checks at entrances to adult areas. Similarly, adult programming will be physically separated from other programming spaces and IDs will be required for access.

The policy originally required all employees, volunteers, panelists, performers, guests, members of a guest’s or performer’s entourage, and Artist Alley participants to consent to a background check, as well as completing certain online youth protection training courses. Exhibitors, press, and vendors were also required to affirm that all representatives complete a background check. Some exhibitors had already signed to agree with this previous policy and submitted information to comply.

2016 WISB Awards(6) WISB AWARDS. Shaun Duke of The World in the Satin Bag has distributed the 2016 WISB Awards – including some for File 770!

The fiction section is led off by Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s novel Signal To Noise. The Best Non-Fiction Work was Eric Flint’s “A Response to Brad Torgersen.”

Now that awards season is in full swing, it’s time to release the winners of the 2016 WISB Awards.  As with every year of the award, the winners are selected from my reading and viewing experiences throughout 2015 and during my annual Hugo Awards reading binge.  As such, the long list included works published decades ago.

Unlike previous years, the 2016 WISB Awards included a long list, which you should check out to see all the great stuff I enjoyed.  You might also check out the 2016 Hugo Awards Reading/Watching List, which includes works from my original list and works suggested by readers.

As with every year of the awards, these selections are based entirely on my own tastes, which are imperfect, narrow, and weird….

(7) ALPHA GAME. The Traveler at Galactic Journey found a classic in “this month’s” F&SF — “[May 21, 1961] Pineapple Upside-Down Month (June 1961 Fantasy and Science Fiction).

Cordwainer Smith’s Alpha Ralpha Boulevard is one of the best stories I’ve read in a long time.  Most tales of the future are either frustratingly conventional or completely opaque.  Not so in Boulevard, which features a world dominated by “Instrumentality”, an omniscient computer dedicated to the happiness of humanity.  16,000 years from now, after a placid, highly regulated existence, people are, at last, offered the luxury of uncertainty (or at least the illusion thereof).

(8) PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. I guess readers are supposed to be shocked and dismayed that if you leave a flag outside in the sun for 50 years it isn’t going to stay looking brand new.

On the other hand, nobody has any photos showing “The American flags on the Moon have all turned white”.

(9) OPPOSED BY MARS. But this story you can see with your own eyes. NPR tells you how easy it will be to view Mars this weekend.

Sometimes astronomy can be challenging, but spotting Mars this weekend should be a breeze.

Step 1: Head outside right after sunset and look toward the southeastern sky.

Step 2: Find the full moon. (So far, so good, right?)

Step 3: Look up and to the right, and find what looks like a bright red star.

That’s Mars, our planetary neighbor — getting up close and personal.

This weekend is the “Mars opposition,” when the planet shines most brightly; at the end of the month, in a related event, we’ll have the “Mars close approach,” when there’s the shortest distance between the two planets.

(10) YOUR ROBOTIC FUTURE. Robin Hanson’s The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth will be released by Oxford University Press on June 1.

Age of Em cover

Many think the first truly smart robots will be brain emulations or ems. Scan a human brain, then run a model with the same connections on a fast computer, and you have a robot brain, but recognizably human.

Train an em to do some job and copy it a million times: an army of workers is at your disposal. When they can be made cheaply, within perhaps a century, ems will displace humans in most jobs. In this new economic era, the world economy may double in size every few weeks.

Some say we can’t know the future, especially following such a disruptive new technology, but Professor Robin Hanson sets out to prove them wrong. Applying decades of expertise in physics, computer science, and economics, he uses standard theories to paint a detailed picture of a world dominated by ems.

The book, set 100-150 years in the future, is “speculative nonfiction” by an economist. The publicity blurbs come from David Brin, Vernor Vinge, Gregory Benford, and Hannu Rajshiemi, among others.

The website includes a TEDx talk Hanson did which got 2.2 million hits.

(11) GOOD, IF YOU LIKE ADS. “Goodreads has found a new way to get money from authors while annoying their use base,” says Dawn Sabados. “Opt out of ads features are just so wonderful.”

“Goodreads Deals: A New Way to Promote Your Ebooks to Millions of Goodreads Members (U.S. Market)”

With the launch of Goodreads Deals in the U.S., we’re now offering authors and publishers a new way to amplify ebook price promotions to our millions of members. The Goodreads Deals program comes with built-in personalization options based on members’ Want to Read shelves, the authors they follow, and the genres they prefer—all designed to help your deals reach the readers with the highest interest in buying your books. Goodreads Deals is unique because we’ll enable you to reach existing fans and introduce your ebooks to new readers:

  • Existing Fans: Every second, our members add 6 books to their Want to Read shelves—that’s 15 million books per month that have captured the interest of readers. With Goodreads Deals, you can now tap into that interest. We’ll email members when a book on their Want to Read shelf has a price promotion. We’ll also email any members who follow the author on Goodreads.

(12) IT IS SO. Writer and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fan Emily Spahn, after learning that MLP is up for a Hugo because of the Rabid Puppies slate, wrote “I Have a Pony in this Race” to tell Hugo voters why the show (and that particular episode) are good sci-fi worthy of serious consideration rather than being just a troll nomination:

You know, it’s kind of appropriate that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was nominated for a Hugo in order to troll people. Our entire fandom was built on some trolling.

Way back in 2011, some guys on 4Chan started posting My Little Pony pictures and memes from the then-new series, Friendship is Magic. Other people complained, and being 4Chan, they responded by flooding the site with pictures of ponies.

But somewhere in there a strange thing happened. People checked out the show, whether because they thought the characters were cute or because they thought it would be dumb and wanted to mock it, and they liked it. Not ironically, and not because it was subversive or slipped adult humor in under the radar. They just really liked the simple stories about Twilight Sparkle and her pony friends. And Bronies were born.

Three weeks earlier a post written by Horizon, “MLP’s Hugo Award nomination: Into the culture wars”, provided historical context and  got picked up by Equestria Daily, MLP fandom’s biggest website.

It is ambiguous whether the nomination was serious and ideological (the episode in question is about Starlight Glimmer’s “equality cult”, making it a potential political statement), or whether it was a “joke” nomination in the same vein as short-story finalist Space Raptor Butt Invasion, but in either case it was pretty transparently proposed as a slap in the face to Hugo voters.

If you don’t give a crap about SFF or American culture wars, that should be all the context you need to understand what has other people upset, and help you avoid falling into the drama if you stumble into someone slamming MLP.

(13) SCHOOL’S IN! SF Crowsnest points to this Eighties-style trailer for the new X-Men movie. Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters is now open for enrollment… (X-Men: Apocalypse in theaters May 27.)

[Thanks to Dawn Sabados, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Petrea Mitchell, Paul Weimer, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Cordwainer Coincidence

The short description of Pacific Rim says it “chronicles the battle between giant alien monsters who invade our world and the enormous robots — called Jaegers — which humans build and pilot to defeat the alien threat.”

Seeing the word “Jaegers” immediately made me think of Cordwainer Smith, whose fictional manshonyaggers feature in several stories, referring to the war machines that prey on all men except for those they can identify as Germans. The word is compounded from the German words menschen, people, and jäger, hunter.

In “Mark Elf” the wise Middle-Size Bear, the sort of character Smith would later term one of the underpeople, reveals the mystery behind the neologism:

Said the bear in perfect German, “… You have stopped a Menschenjäger very mysteriously. For the first time in my own life I can see into a German mind and see that the word manshonyagger should really be Menschenjäger, a hunter of men.”

Manshonyaggers (spelled various ways) also appear in “Scanners Live in Vain” and “Queen of the Afternoon.”

Other sf writers than Smith have called things or named characters jäger, some under the influence of German military terminology. Del Toro should be free to do the same, I just thought it was an interesting coincidence.

Cordwainer’s Fan Crotchety

The Crotchety Old Fan Steve Davidson says be on the lookout for his weekly piece in the Cordwainer Smith website blog starting January 21.

Rosana – Cordwainer’s daughter – graciously accepted my proposal, so now I’ll be writing a weekly piece for that website. It looks like it’s scheduled for Wednesdays…

I just did a little something on collecting his works and a bit of background on his first story – “Scanners Live in Vain.” We’ll all get to see where it goes from there.

Return of C’Mell?

Readers of the Bastion, the Yahoo group for science fiction and fantasy cat-lovers, recently heard from Cordwainer Smith’s daughter, Rosana Hart. She had updated her website about her father and wanted them to know it includes “a piece about a telepathic experience I had with one of my own cats, ‘The Return of C’Mell,’ sort of.”

The gallery of family photos also has one of Cordwainer Smith with Melanie, the cat after whom C’Mell was named.

The site update has already been praised on The Crotchety Old Fan.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Melanie the cat