(1) IRON MAN. Gregg Van Eekhout was injured at “San Diego Cracked-it-Con 2016”. Before he was taken away on a cart he signed his fan’s books! Click the link for the whole story. The bottom line —
So, it’s going to be six weeks in a hard cast, and that’s my Comic-Con story. And I’d like to reiterate that I continued to autograph copies of my books even with a fractured fibula. That’s pretty metal, I feel.
(2) PROSECUTION FOR ONLINE THREATS. Ken White at Popehat reports on “A Rare Federal Indictment For Online Threats Against Game Industry”.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California has sought and obtained an indictment against a young man named Stephen Cebula for sending online threats to Blizzard Entertainment, the freakishly successful powerhouse behind the Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo games as well as many others. The case is notable because it’s so rare: there’s so much threatening behavior online, and so little of it is addressed by the criminal justice system.
Stephen Cebula seems overtly disturbed. The search warrant for his home and subsequent criminal complaint tell a tale of him engaging in bigoted trash talk with other players on the Blizzard game “Heroes of the Storm,” ranging from racial epithets to comments like “I will kill your family bitch” and fantasies about raping a child at Disneyland. Blizzard suspended Cebula’s ability to communicate with other players. Cebula — perhaps tutored in law and political theory on Reddit, or by Milo Yiannopoulos — saw this as an outrageous violation of his freedom. He used his Facebook account “tedbundyismygod1” to send two threatening messages to Blizzard:
Careful blizzard … I live in California and your headquarters is here in California …. You keep silencing me in Heroes of the STorm and I may or may not pay you a visit with an AK47 amongst some other “fun” tools.
You keep silencing people in heroes of the storm and someone who may live in California might be inclined to “cause a disturbance” at your headquarters in California with an AK47 and a few other “opportunistic tools” …. It would be a shame to piss off the wrong person. Do you not agree blizzard?
(3) SITE SELECTION, COMPARE AND CONTRAST. Petréa Mitchell delivered vital data in a comment:
In crucial last-minute Worldcon voting news AND Pokemon Go news, New Orleans in 2018 has published a map of Pokestops and gyms near its proposed facility. (San Jose in 2018 has mentioned Pokestops nearby but only vaguely.)
(4) THE ENDLESS DELIGHT OF POKÉMON GO. The Week reported —
“A Georgia woman became trapped in a graveyard while playing Pokemon Go. ‘The gate is f—ing closed,’ the indignant woman told a 911 dispatcher. ‘This is not cool.'”
(5) THE NEXT SFWA CHAT HOUR. Coming Monday, August 1 at 3 p.m. Eastern time. — SFWA Chat Hour Episode #5: Selling Your Book at Conventions.
Join Cat Rambo as she hosts a lively discussion on how to sell your books at conventions, featuring Quincy J. Allen, Jennifer Brozek, David John Butler, and Michael Underwood.
RSVP the event to get a reminder when it’s about to start. Afterwards, it’ll go up on YouTube as usual.
(6) BANDERSNATCH. Musician Andrew Petersen discusses an influence on his decision to create The Rabbit Room — “The Inklings, Diana Glyer, and the Art of Community”.
It’s easy for Americans like me, who are almost maddeningly intrigued by the romance of that famous fellowship, to idealize the Inklings—to imagine that the meetings were all chummy chortles and pipe smoke, pints of beer and chin-stroking, heady conversation and magical recitals of what are now classic works of literature. The Inklings were human, after all, and they lived in the same tired old world that we occupy, bearing the same weaknesses and wounds in varying degrees. The meetings were probably more sporadic and less inspired than we like to think. The story is a good one: Christians getting together in the name of friendship and good books. It piques an almost mythic longing in many of us. Who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall in one of those rooms? For that matter, who wouldn’t want to be a member of that inner ring?
Glyer’s thesis, contrary to some academic works that claim too much has been made of the Inklings’ influence on each other, is that the very nature of friendship, of nearness, of interaction, guarantees influence on their work. Like it or not, the famously grumpy and immovable Tolkien simply had to have been affected by his relationship with Lewis, and his work must have been affected, too. It was Glyer’s book where I first grasped the idea that The Lord of the Rings probably wouldn’t exist if not for C. S. Lewis. Yes, it was Tolkien’s God-given genius that wrote the masterpiece, but it was C. S. Lewis’s encouragement that nudged Tolkien along and convinced him that the public would care to read it. Friendship matters. Encouragement, resonance, accountability, and criticism were crucial ingredients that went into the feast of Middle-Earth.
One of the central tenets of the Rabbit Room is that art nourishes community, and community nourishes art. And to me the profound thing about that idea is that the friendships—the heart-shaping relationships, the Christ-centered community—will outlast the works themselves. Glyer’s book makes a strong case for the influence of the Inklings on one another, imperfect though it was. If you want to write good books, good songs, good poems, you need some talent, yes. You also need to work hard, practice a lot, cultivate self-discipline, and study the greats. But you also need good friends. You need fellowship. You need community…..
(7) HUTCHMOOT. And The Rabbit Room is planning a conference in October. Diana Pavlac Glyer will be the keynote speaker.
On October 6 – 9, the Rabbit Room will convene Hutchmoot 2016 at Church of the Redeemer in Nashville, Tennessee. You’re invited to come and enjoy a weekend of live music, delicious food and conversation, and a series of discussions centered on art, faith, and the telling of great stories across a range of mediums.
Speakers, sessions, and special events will be announced as they are confirmed.
(8) VERTIGO. Flashbacks to the right of them, flashbacks to the left of them, volleyed and thundered.
This election feels like I'm watching the Hugo awards all over again…but the Hugo awards are just about to happen all over again!
— Damien Walter (@damiengwalter) July 29, 2016
(9) FILE WORTHY PUN.
Ordering these in the wrong size could have huge reaper cushions pic.twitter.com/ZZxFdXLWBv
— Olaf Falafel (@OFalafel) July 28, 2016
(10) ON JEOPARDY! Steven H Silver says this was a Jeopardy entry —
Women Authors for $800.
“Nobody rang in,” said Silver.
(11) SUMMERTIME. “A summer book list like no other: Michael Dirda picks 11 hidden gems”, at the Washington Post.
One of the pleasures of summer holidays is choosing just the right books to pack along on the annual visit to the beach. I stress that word “books” because only the foolhardy would take an electronic device anywhere near sand, water, intense heat and — as one learns by experience — children predestined to spill their soda where it will do the most damage. Much better to pick one of the following recent titles in paperback or hardcover.
The Big Book of Science Fiction , edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (Vintage). How big is big? In this case, we’re talking nearly 1,200 double-columned pages, dozens of representative short classics of science fiction, and newly translated work from around the world. There are surprises, too: Did you know that W.E.B. Du Bois wrote sf? That’s just one indication that the VanderMeers hope to establish a more culturally diverse science fiction canon. Still, there are many old favorites here, some of mine being William Tenn’s “The Liberation of Earth,” J.G. Ballard’s “The Voices of Time,” Cordwainer Smith’s “The Game of Rat and Dragon” and Joanna Russ’s “When It Changed.”
(12) ARRIVAL. The Wikipedia tells us:
Arrival is an upcoming American science fiction drama film starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. The film is based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by author Ted Chiang. The film is scheduled for released on November 11, 2016 by Paramount Pictures.
Deadline Hollywood reported in June:
Paramount Pictures has set a November 11 wide release for Arrival, the Denis Villeneuve-directed sci-fi movie starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. This was the film that took the 2014 Cannes market by storm when the studio won a wild rights auction to the pic for a fest-record $20 million, earning it North American and China distribution rights.
(13) CLOUDY DAYS. Bob, Gordon, and Luis have been laid off from Sesame Street.
The changes keep on coming for Sesame Street. Last year, the controversial news broke that the show was packing its bags and moving on up to HBO from PBS—and now, most of the children’s show’s longtime (non-puppet) cast has been let go.
At Florida Supercon, original cast member Bob McGrath, known simply as “Bob” to his young audience, said that he and comrades for several decades Emilio Delgado (“Luis” on the show) and Roscoe Orman (“Gordon”) have had their last hurrah on Sesame Street.
“As of this season, I completed my 45th season this year,” McGrath said. “And the show has done a major turnaround, going from an hour to a half hour. HBO has been involved also. And so they let all of the original cast members go, with the exception of Alan Muraoka—who is still on the show, he is probably 20 years younger than the rest of us—and Chris Knowings, who is also young.”
(14) CLICKBAIT RATINGS. Entertainment Weekly rated all 13 Star Trek movies, offering its opinion of the good, the bad, and the why.
The same day, Rotten Tomatoes published “Every Star Trek Movie, Ranked From Worst To Best”. The Rotten Tomatoes list looked like this:
- STAR TREK (reboot)
- FIRST CONTACT
- THE WRATH OF KHAN
- INTO DARKNESS
- THE VOYAGE HOME
- THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY
- THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK
- STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE
- THE FINAL FRONTIER
(15) ST:WTF! Adam Whitehead decided there was also clickbait potential in criticizing EW’s “gratuitous list”. And my linking only helps prove him right.
The point of Gratuitous Lists is that the things on it are not listed in order of excellence, but are just on there so people can talk about the shows/games in question rather than argue about the order, which is often arbitrary. But sometimes arguing about the order is just too much fun. After Entertainment Weekly issued a list of Star Trek movies ranked by quality that is simply objectively wrong (how high up is Nemesis?), here’s my riposte…
(16) TODAY IN HISTORY
- July 29, 1958 — The U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
- July 29, 2002 — M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. Shyamalan cited The Birds, Night of the Living Dead and Invasion of the Body Snatchers as the influences for this film.
(17) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born July 29, 1972 – Wil Wheaton
(18) BELATED BIRTHDAY GIRL
- Born July 28, 1866 — Beatrix Potter, British author/illustrator of the Peter Rabbit stories.
(19) FIRST TREK CON. Stu Hellinger announced he’ll be part of a fan panel at Star Trek Mission New York over the September 2-4 weekend.
On September 2 – 4, at the Javits Center here in NYC, ReedPOP is running a 50th Anniversary Star Trek Convention called Star Trek: Mission New York.
One of the program items is titled: “The First Convention and How it Helped Resurrect Star Trek”.
The panel description: The first Star Trek Convention, in New York City, began as a crazy idea with a shoestring budget that created ripples all the way to the Klingon Empire and helped put the Enterprise back in space. A panel discussion with members of the original organizing committee.
The participants on this panel are Linda Deneroff, Devra Langsam, Elyse Rosenstein, Joyce Yasner and myself as the moderator.
We have not been informed, as yet, what date and time the panel will be, but I will post the information as soon as I know.
Join us to reminisce or to learn more about what we did that helped create the ongoing phenomena that is Star Trek.
(20) JEFF STURGEON. Fascinating work at “Welcome to the Art of Jeff Sturgeon” —
After his long time friend and art collaborator artist Jeff Fennel ( www.Jefffennel.com ) convinced him to try painting on aluminum Jeff left the game business behind and went to painting full time with aluminum his new canvas. Through the new millennium Jeff’s work became nationally known with increased appearances as a exhibitor,guest,panelist and guest of honor at conventions around the country and as a illustrator and cover artist. Jeff’s work is much sought after by art collectors whether one of his classic SF/ astronomical pieces or his beautiful renderings of the american west. Jeff’s newest project is Jeff Sturgeon’s last Cities of Earth as his much anticipated shared world project comes to fruition with an anthology with the top writers in the field, an art book of Jeff’s city paintings and concept art., other platforms are in negotiation to try and bring this amazing world Jeff has created to life. Jeff lives in great pacific NW with wife and artist Leslie Kreher and sons Duncan and Corwin.
(21) WALL OBIT. SF Site News has learned Canadian fan Alison Wall died on March 5. More information at the link.
(22) WILSON OBIT. SF Site News reports Toronto fan Ian Wilson, a past Ad Astra chair, died July 28.
(23) STRACZYNSKI TRIBUTE TO DOYLE. “Babylon 5 Creator J. Michael Straczynski On the Death of Jerry Doyle” in Epic Times.
When it came to politics, Jerry Doyle and I disagreed on, well, pretty much everything. Politically, Jerry was just to the right of Attila the Hun. There is a line in Babylon 5 where his character, Michael Garibaldi, suggests that the way to deal with crime is to go from electric chairs to electric bleachers. That line is quintessential Jerry Doyle. I say this with confidence because I overheard him saying it at lunch then stole it for the show.
Despite our differences, when Jerry ran for congress as a Republican not long after Babylon 5 ended, I donated to his campaign. Not because I agreed with him, but because I respected him; because there was one area in which we agreed: the vital intersection between the arts of acting and storytelling. In that respect, Jerry was a consummate professional. Regardless of whatever was going on in his life, whether it was marital issues, a broken arm, forced couch-surfing with Bruce and Andreas or other problems, he never once pulled a prima donna on us; he showed up every day on time, knew his lines, and insisted that the guest cast live up to the standards of the main cast, to the point of roughing up one guest star who showed up not knowing his lines. Trust me when I say that after Jerry got done with him, every day he showed up, he knew his lines. And then some.
He was funny, and dangerous, and loyal, and a prankster, and a pain in the ass; he was gentle and cynical and hardened and insightful and sometimes as dense as a picket fence…and his passing is a profound loss to everyone who knew him, especially those of us who fought beside him in the trenches of Babylon 5. It is another loss in a string of losses that I cannot understand. Of the main cast, we have lost Richard Biggs, Michael O’Hare, Andreas Katsulas, Jeff Conaway, and now Jerry Doyle, and I’m goddamned tired of it.
So dear sweet universe, if you are paying attention in the vastness of interstellar space, take a moment from plotting the trajectory of comets and designing new DNA in farflung cosmos, and spare a thought for those who you have plucked so untimely from our ranks…and knock it off for a while.
Because this isn’t fair.
And Jerry Doyle would be the first person to tell you that. Right before he put a fist in your face. Which is what I imagine he’s doing right now, on the other side of the veil.
(24) PROFESSIONALISM. Amanda S. Green reminds readers “It is a business. . .” at Mad Genius Club. It’s a good point in its own right, and a lesson that can be expanded to apply to fan activities as well.
So treat it as one. Yesterday, as I was looking at FB, I came across a post from someone I respect a great deal. He also has one of the most unverifiable jobs there is in publishing. No, not reading the slush pile, although that is part of his job. He has taken it upon himself to do what so many publishers don’t do. He responds to those who send something in, letting them know whether or not their work has met the minimum threshold to be passed up the line for further consideration. Believe me, that is definitely more than a number of publishers do. Too many simply never get back to you unless they are interested.
What caught my eye with his post was how unprofessional someone had been in response to his email letting them know their story had not been passed up the line. Now, I know how it stings when you get a rejection. It’s like someone telling you your baby is ugly. But it happens and we have to accept it with grace and move on. Yes, we can kick and scream and curse in public but you do not send a note back telling the editor how wrong they were. Nor do you tell them that the title has been published during the time the editor was considering it, especially if the editor has gotten back to you in less than half the time they say it normally takes.
And that is where this particular author screwed up. Not only did they send back an unprofessional note to the editor, insuring he will remember the author and not in a good way, but he went ahead and self-published the book without removing it first from consideration by the publishing house. That is two very big strikes and, in this case, the author doesn’t get a third strike before he’s out….
(25) WAGON TRAIN IN SPACE. BBC Radio 4’s “Caravans in Space” investigates space habitats and visits the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Chattanooga. Stephen Baxter makes a brief comment in the program.
Is the Earth too perfect? The Moon too grey? Mars too dusty? Then how about setting up a human colony in the depths of space?
Richard Hollingham travels to the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee to meet scientists, engineers, doctors and anthropologists planning human colonies in space and spaceships that will take humanity to the stars.
These are not dreamers – although they all have an ambitious dream – but well qualified experts. Several work at Nasa, others have day jobs at universities and research institutes.
Richard hears of proposals to build giant space stations and worldships – vessels packed with the best of humanity. These caravans in space might be lifeboats to escape an approaching asteroid or perhaps the first step to colonising the galaxy.
The programme features conference chair and Technical Adviser to Nasa’s Advanced Concepts Office, Les Johnson. He is keen that any discussions about our interstellar future are rooted in reality, not Star Trek.
We also hear from John Lewis, Director of the Space Engineering Centre at the University of Arizona, who advocates mining asteroids and suggests the first space colonies would be like lawless frontier towns.
Other contributors include architect Rachel Armstrong, who is engineering soils for living, breathing organic spaceships and anthropologist Cameron Smith.
As the programme is recorded on location in Chattanooga, it would be remiss of us not to make some reference to trains. Fortunately, our spacefaring future is being discussed in a railroad-themed hotel and on the local tourist train passengers are surprisingly open to living life permanently away from Earth.
(26) STATE FAIR FOOD. When I saw that bacon-wrapped churros were among the semifinalists in the State Fair of Texas annual fried food contest, I hastened to bring this to John Scalzi’s attention. It wouldn’t have surprised me to be the five hundredth person to send him the news, but he said I was actually number seven.
If you read the entire list of semifinalists, you’ll understand why I’m tempted to run a set of brackets and let people pick which sounds most deadly.
Next to “Lollipop Fried Bacon Wrapped Quail Breast on a Stick,” a bacon-wrapped churro sounds like health food….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Rambo, JJ, Dawn Incognito, Michael O’Donnell, David K.M. Klaus, Carl Slaughter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]