Pixel Scroll 11/13/17 And So Pixels Made Of Sand Scroll Into The Sea, Eventually

(1) TOWARDS ST. J.R.R. Supporters of sainthood for Tolkien have launched an appeal to crowdfund a 2018 conference in Oxford:

We’re raising £50,000 to fund a Conference for the formal opening of the Cause for Canonisation of J. R. R. Tolkien (1st-2nd September 2018) in Oxford.

This year has seen a special grace in the movement to Canonise J. R. R. Tolkien, with the first Mass being celebrated at the Oxford Oratory on the 2nd September 2017, calling for prayer for the cause for canonisation to be formally opened.

– The first Mass marked the 44th anniversary of Tolkien’s death. The cause is under the guidance of Fr Daniele Pietro Ercoli, a Salesian priest from the Diocese of Treviso (but as a Salesian belonging to the religious province of Triveneto).

The Conference would support a solemn Mass on the 2nd September 2018, and would last from Saturday 1st to Sunday 2nd. The purpose of the Conference would be to provide a cultural dialogue to advocate for the sanctity of Tolkien’s personal life, as well as how this was mediated through his artistic works. I have already secured as a keynote speaker Robert Colquhoun, the Vatican backed International Director of 40 Days for Life to speak on the theme of “The Conversion of England – Hobbits and grassroots activism: Fellowship will overcome the evil of abortion.” Linking Tolkien to the new evangelisation and the conversion of England in this way, I hope to situate Tolkien’s own faith as a creative response to the joys and sorrows of this generation and use the conference as means to seeing how Tolkien’s own faith can provide solutions.

(2) WHERE THE STREETS HAVE NO NAME. Turns out Google is in fact everywhere. On the tiny Faroe Islands, lacking many paved roads, they didn’t do “Street View” but instead “Sheep View”.

Last year, the Faroe Islands petitioned Google to be featured on Google Street View by creating our own version of the mapping system, using cameras mounted on the backs of sheep and calling it Sheep View. Now, just over a year later, we have succeeded in our aim – with Google announcing today that Google Street View now features the Faroe Islands.

The Sheep View campaign was launched in July 2017 by Faroes’ resident, Durita Dahl Andreassen, who wanted to share the beauty of her native islands with the rest of the world and, in turn, to petition Google to have the nation included on Google Street View. Together with a few friendly sheep equipped with solar-powered 360-degree cameras and the support of Visit Faroe Islands, Durita set out to collect images of the Faroe Islands that could be uploaded to Google Maps.

When the tech giant heard about the Sheep View project, they thought it was “shear brilliance” and, in August 2016, they supplied the Faroese with a Street View Trekker and 360-degree cameras via the Street View camera loan program so that residents and tourists alike could assist the sheep in capturing even more images of the beautiful archipelago, using selfie sticks, bikes, backpacks, cars, kayaks, horses, ships and even wheelbarrows.

Dave Doering sent the link with a note: “Despite being this tiny speck between Scotland and Norway, the place has two nice little bookstores. Just the place to pick up Lord of the Rings in Danish and relish the read amongst the sheep!”

(3) ORC VIEW.  Paul Weimer announced in comments, “In December, Alex ‘Tolkien Map killer’ Acks and I will be teaching one of Cat Rambo’s classes on fantasy maps” — “Mapping Fantasy with Alex Acks and Paul Weimer”. Here’s the description:

Fantasy maps can add extra dimensions to a work, showing the world the writer has created. But how do you create a map that both reflects that world and the basic laws of physics? Join Alex Acks and Paul Weimer as they talk about fantasy maps in order to give you the tools you need to create and map your world. Topics include basic geologic principles, common mistakes, forms maps can take, how maps reflect world view, and how maps change over time.

Saturday, December 16, 2017 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time

(4) THE CASH REGISTER RINGS. Variety’s Joe Otteson, in “‘Lord of the Rings’ Series Moving Forward at Amazon With Multi-Season Production Commitment”, says that Amazon Studios has made a deal with the Tolkien Estate and Tolkien Trust to have The Lord of the Rings as a multi-season series, based on events before The Fellowship of the Ring and with a possible spinoff as part of the deal.

Set in Middle Earth, the television adaptation will explore new storylines preceding “The Fellowship of the Ring.” The deal also includes a potential additional spin-off series. The series will be produced by Amazon Studios in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment.

“’The Lord of the Rings’ is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, head of scripted series for Amazon Studios. “We are honored to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television and are thrilled to be taking ‘The Lord of the Rings’ fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth.”

The Amazon deal does not cover “The Silmarillion,” the third major work taking place in Tolkein’s Middle Earth and adjacent worlds, published after the author’s death.

(5) IN NAME ONLY. Meanwhile, Kurt Busiek has been brainstorming titles for the new production.

(6) TEA AND LIMITED SYMPATHY. Larry Correia was inspired by the kerfuffle over Patrick Rothfuss’ complaint reported here the other day (item #3) to write a few thousand words in “A Capitalist Novelist’s Guide to Fan Expectations and How Not To Be A Douche” for the readers of Monster Hunter Nation.

This isn’t an all or nothing, one side is right, the other is wrong thing. Like relative douchiness, it’s on a spectrum. So this is what this discussion looks like to me.

FAN: I am disappointed that author X has not finished his next book yet.

CORREIA: Yeah, buddy. I feel your pain.

FAN: I feel betrayed and will not buy any more of his X’s books!

CORREIA: I’m sorry you feel that way, but that’s your choice.

FAN: He owes me!

CORREIA: Whoa. Hang on now.

FAN: X has broken our unwritten moral contract that I have imposed on him!

CORREIA: Fuck that. Where’d I put my shotgun?

But if you thought this was a post about sympathizing with a beleaguered writer, no, this is a post about Larry:

I don’t know Rothfuss, but six years a book, personally I would be embarrassed.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 13, 1992 Bram Stoker‘s Dracula premiered. This is the one starring Gary Oldman with the strange bouffant hairdo.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • JJ found these Transylvanian travel reviews in by Tom Gauld.
  • Chip Hitchcock discovered a new bit of Star Trek headcanon in Red and Rover.

(9) LAD GENIUS. Other people’s wounds are beneath Dave Freer’s notice. His way of proving it is by devoting a Mad Genius column to them.

Mind you, just going over the top – as tens of thousands of men did, well, they probably all needed kilts. This – the trenches of Somme – shaped JRR Tolkien. This, in its way, made the LORD OF THE RINGS what it is. It’s a far, far cry from the caliber of self-elected ‘elite’ of modern sf and Fantasy, having tantrums because someone was so terribly, terribly, horribly awfully insensitive and used the term evil ice-cream name ‘tutti-frutti’ in the title of con talk. You have to laugh. We’ve passed through micro-aggressions, down through nano-aggressions, into pico-aggressions. And they’re demanding ‘respect’. I had a few orificers who demanded respect, back when I was in the army. They didn’t get it: it’s not something you can ‘demand’. It’s given, when it is earned.

(10) NOBODY OBJECTED. Meanwhile, Richard Paolinelli explains why he thinks it’s okay for him to call his book a Nebula nominee:

Anyone as desperate for affirmation as that, how long will it be ‘til we’re reading about Paolinelli’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination?

(11) MORE HOLLYWOOD HARASSMENT. Buzzfeed reports: “DC Comics Fires Longtime Editor Following Sexual Harassment Claims”. The decision came two days after Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment launched a review into revelations that Eddie Berganza was promoted despite allegations he forcibly kissed and tried to grope colleagues.

Berganza, a 25-year veteran at DC Comics, was a group editor who oversaw production of major titles, including Superman, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman. Before he was fired, he was overseeing Dark Knights: Metal, a special series that is reportedly one of DC’s biggest-selling titles at the moment.

Two women who worked at DC told BuzzFeed News that Berganza either forcibly kissed them, or attempted to do so, in the early to mid 2000s. Several people complained to the company’s human resources department in 2010, when Berganza was up for a promotion to executive editor. Berganza still received the promotion, but was demoted to group editor in 2012 after another woman said he kissed her without her consent at a comics convention

(12) TAKING ORDERS. Contrary to what you may have heard — “The Answer To Life, The Universe — And Everything? It’s 63”.

When it comes to figuring out the nature of physical reality, part of that process starts at the absolute edge of the observable universe — the cosmic horizon, a distant layer from which light has only just, in this very instant, managed to reach us after more than 13 billion years of racing through space.

This intangible boundary between the knowable and the unknowable is, at present, roughly a thousand, trillion, trillion meters across — should you possess the means to measure it.

At the other end, in the deepest innards of every single speck of cosmos, is a scale of a hundred billion, trillion, trillionths of a meter. It represents the last meaningful physical scale within our present understanding of physics, a place where space-time itself gets choppy, uncertain, and decidedly problematic.

These two extremes span a jaw-dropping 63 orders of magnitude.

(13) AFROFUTURISM. At The Root, “A Guide to Fantasy and Science Fiction Made for Black People, by Black People”.

Since the beginning of time, when we have not been included, we have created our own. HBCUs, black-owned businesses, black houses of worship, black social organizations and The Root itself are fruits of our resilience and creativity in the face of adversity. The books Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-fi and Fantasy Culture and The Encyclopedia of Black Comics are fantastic evidence of this rich hub of black art. To further elaborate, here is an inclusive (and intersectional) guide to black art and artists in the genre to support, ranging from emerging to longtime favorites.

(14) BLACK PANTHER. ComicsBeat says “These Black Panther character posters will make you wish it was February” – see the full set at the link.

(15) BREATHING NORMALLY. Camestros Felapton begins “Review: Star Trek Discovery – Episode 9” with a lefthanded compliment:

I kind of suspected that the crew would pull their act together for the mid-season finale and they certainly did. Genuinely exciting and not once did I let out an exasperated sigh. This was actually good.

Oh so many spoilers below as I go through what went right this time…

(16) FOOD COURT IN SESSION. Is this the long-delayed revenge for introducing the rest of the world to haggis? “Taco Bell to open first Scottish restaurant next month”.

Fast food giant Taco Bell has announced it will open its first restaurant in Scotland next month.

The Tex-Mex chain will open its doors in Glasgow on December 7, with a new outlet on Sauchiehall Street in city centre.

The first 100 people through its doors on the opening day will receive a free limited edition Taco Bell t-shirt.

There will also be four prizes of a year’s supply of Taco Bell handed out to fans of the chain, with more information to be announced across the company’s UK social media channels in the coming weeks.

(17) THE ACCIDENTAL SANTA. Beware, your heart will be warmed by this Marks & Spencer Christmas ad with Paddington.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Dave Doering, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 1/9/17 Old King Cole Had A Merry Old Scroll

spectrum-24-call-for-entries

(1) SPECTRUM 24 CALL FOR ENTRIES. John Fleskes, Spectrum Director, has issued an invitation for professional and student artists, art directors, publishers and artists’ representatives to submit entries to the 24th Annual Spectrum International Competition for Fantastic Art.

All artworks in all media embracing the themes of science fiction, fantasy, horror and the surreal are eligible for this show. Fantastic art can be subtle or obvious, traditional or off-the-wall, painted, sculpted, done digitally or photographed: There is no unacceptable way to create art, and there are no set rules that say one piece qualifies while another does not. Imagination and skill are what matters. Work chosen by the jury will be printed in full color in the Spectrum annual, the peer-selected “best of the year” collection for the fantastic arts.

Entries will be accepted until January 25. Click here to submit.

The Spectrum 24 jury is a five member panel of exceptional artists working in the industry today, Christian Alzmann, Laurie Lee Brom, Mark Newman, John Picacio and Victo Ngai.

Spectrum represents such a rich visual history and standard of excellence for what we collectively dream in the fantastic art field,” states John Picacio. “I’ve always been grateful any time my work was selected for inclusion in the annual, and it’s a profound honor and responsibility to give back to the book this year as a juror.”

(2) GOLDEN GLOBES. Although there were a lot of Golden Globe nominees of genre interest in the December announcement, all lost except one:

Best Motion Picture – Animated

  • Zootopia

(3) ERIC FLINT HEALTH. Flint did not get the best possible news from his medical tests:

I’ll have more to report by the end of the month, when all the tests and biopsy results finally come in. But here’s what definite:

I do have a form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, although they still don’t know exactly what type. (That’s what’s taking so long for the biopsy to be finished.) Once they know what kind it is, they’ll start me on a chemotherapy program.

Sadly, my hopes in the hospital that since the surgery had gone so well maybe the cancer was completely gone turned out to be childish delusions. (Which I suspected myself, but…) Lymphoma is what they call a systemic cancer, which means that surgery by itself can’t do anything but arrest the malignancy for a while and provide the material needed for a thorough biopsy. But to really fight lymphoma, you need chemotherapy.

The good news is that lymphoma generally responds well to chemo, and it’s not uncommon for people to be cured of the disease altogether. We’ll see what happens in my case, but even in the worst case scenario it looks as if I’ll have quite a few years to fend the cancer off.

However, he says frankly that after chemo he may live for years to come —

if you look at it the right way. I’ll be 70 in a month. I don’t have to fight off lymphona indefinitely. I just have to fight it off long enough for something else to bump me off.

(4) EYES WIDE WHAT? Myke Cole’s next tweet will explain how his stories are like radio except with no sound.

(5) HOMAGE. The late Gordon Archer did a lot of commercial art for Weetabix cereal involving Doctor Who, Star Trek, Asterix and other pop culture subjects which his son now has on display on a website[Corrected, because Archer is still with us, as his son states in a comment below.]

weetabix-dr-who

(6) HITLER UNBEARABLE. “A A Milne letter features in Imperial War Museum’s anti-war show”, from The Guardian.

Winnie the Pooh creator’s letter reflects moral dilemma of pacifists faced with rise of Hitler in interwar period

…The Milne letter has been retrieved from its vast collection of documents and reflects the conflict felt by many pacifists who had experienced the horrors of the first world war and earnestly hoped “never again”.

“It encapsulates the moral dilemma that a lot of pacifists had in the interwar period,” said curator Matt Brosnan. “Milne opposed war but increasingly saw Hitler and the Nazis as an evil that had to be met by force.”

In his letter, Milne declared himself a “practical pacifist”, writing: “I believe that war is a lesser evil than Hitlerism, I believe that Hitlerism must be killed before war can be killed.”

(7) KOWAL INTERVIEW IN LOCUS. An excerpt of Locus’ interview with Mary Robinette Kowal has been posted at Locus Online.

The moment I knew I was setting something during the First World War, I knew that darkness was going to be part of it, and that I would have to work really hard to keep the darkness from completely overwhelming Ghost Talkers. When you do any reading at all about the First World War, it becomes very clear why it made such a huge, permanent mark on Europe – and the US less so, because we were not directly touched by it. It wasn’t even the death tolls, because in England a lot of men actually came home, but everyone came home wounded in some way, either physically or emotionally. I read interview after interview of survivors saying, ‘I went over the top of the trench, and everyone in my platoon died. I don’t know why I lived.’ I knew going in that dealing with someone who deals with ghosts as her job, during WWI, would mean a darker book than people are used to from me. On the other hand, the last book in the Glamourist series, I jokingly refer to as ‘Regency Grimdark.’

(8) DIVERSITY DOESN’T JUST HAPPEN. Nalo Hopkinson’s advice “To Anthology Editors”.

But here’s where those voices have a point: if you wait till after you’ve put out your call for submissions to run around trying to fill in diversity slots for your anthology — you know, the “one of each so long as there aren’t too many of them” approach — you will more likely than not end up with a dog’s breakfast of a volume in which it’s clear that you selected writers for their optics, not their writing. That’s tokenism, not sound editorial practice. The time to be trying to make your anthology a diverse one is before submissions come in, not during or after.

On the other hand, if you just put your call for fiction out there and cross your fingers, you’ll end up with mostly the usual suspects. It’s not enough to simply open the door. Why? Because after centuries of exclusion and telling us we’re not good enough, an unlocked door is doing jack shit to let us know that anything’s changed. Most of us will continue to duck around it and keep moving, thank you very much. We’ll go where we know there are more people like us, or where there are editors who get what we’re doing.

So make up your mind that you’re going to have to do a bit of work, some outreach. It’s fun work, and the results are rewarding….

(9) RARA AVIS. Definitely not on my bucket list.

(10) CHRISTENSEN OBIT. Artist Jim Christensen died January 8 of cancer. He was 74.

Christensen saw himself not as the “fantasy artist” label given him, but rather as an artist who paints the fantastic.

“I paint things that are not real,” he told the Deseret News in 2008. “But fantasy often ventures into the dark and scary stuff. I made a decision long ago that I would not go to dark places. There’s a lot of negativity in the world. I try not to be part of it.”

His honors and awards include being named a Utah Art Treasure as well as one of Utah’s Top 100 Artists by the Springville Museum of Art and receiving the Governor’s Award for Art from the Utah Arts Council. He had won all the professional art honors given by the World Science Fiction Convention as well as multiple Chesley Awards from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Christensen had served as president of the National Academy of Fantastic Art, and he co-chaired the Mormon Arts Foundation with his wife, Carole.

christensen-art

Dave Doering paid tribute: “I loved this man. For various years he was our Artist GoH at LTUE but also quite well known in all fantasy art circles.”

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 9, 1493 — On this date, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, sailing near the Dominican Republic, sees three “mermaids”–in reality manatees–and describes them as “not half as beautiful as they are painted.”

(12) WORLDBUILDERS. At Tor.com, David Weber discusses five authors who he says are “great world-builders.” All five of the authors are women: Anne McCaffrey, Katherine Kurtz, Mercedes Lackey, Barbara Hambly, and Patricia McKillip:

“[McKillip] is, without a doubt, one of my two or three all-time favorite authors. When I first read The Riddle-Master of Hed in 1978, I immediately went out and found Heir of Sea and Fire and then waited impatiently for Harpist in the Wind. In many ways, the Riddle-Master’s world is less fully articulated than Pern or Gwynedd, but I think that’s because so much of the detail is cooking quietly away in the background behind the land rulers. There’s a sense of an entire consistent, coherent foundation and history/backstory behind all of it, but the struggles of Morgon, Raerdale, and Deth take front stage with an intensity that reaches out and grabs the reader by the shirt collar and shakes him or her to the bone. Patricia’s prose is absolutely gorgeous and evocative and her stories fully satisfy the deep love for the language my parents taught me as a very young reader. I literally don’t think it’s possible to over-recommend this series … and the rest of her stuff is pretty darn good, too.”

(13) ST. ELSEWHERE. But did it work? “This Brazilian Grandma Has Been Accidentally Praying to a ‘Lord of the Rings’ Statuette”  —

Saint Anthony of Padua’s the patron saint of Brazil, Portugal, pregnant women, and the elderly. He wears brown robes, and he usually holds baby Jesus and lilies. And – as one Brazilian woman discovered – a miniature figure of Santo Antônio also vaguely looks like Elrond, the elf lord of Rivendell from Lord of the Rings. Brazilian makeup artist Gabriela Brandao made the hilarious discovery last week and posted about it on Facebook for all to see. Brandao explained that her daughter’s great-grandmother prayed to the Elrond figurine daily, erroneously believing it was Santo Antônio.

(14) IMAGINARY HUGO RECOMMENDATIONS. There is no such work, except in your mind:

Well, and Chuck’s mind.

(15) BRIANNA WU’S CAMPAIGN. She’s already gaining media attention in Boston.

Brianna Wu was at the center of “Gamer-Gate” and received some horrific threats over social media. But instead of keeping a low profile, she tells Jim why she’s now planning on running for Congress.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Andrew Porter, Rob Thornton, Arnie Fenner, and Dave Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Pixel Scroll 2/17/16 Grandstand on Zanzibar

(1) THAT’S WHO. Paul Cornell has a few paragraphs about Gallifrey One, the Doctor Who convention he attended in LA last weekend.

An edition of The Cornell Collective recorded there will be going live in a few days, but in the meantime, you can find me guesting on another podcast from the convention, Doctor Who: The Writers’ Room, where myself, Graeme Burk, Stephen Schapansky and regular host Kyle talk about the career of Robert Holmes.

I also appear in this edition of Doctor Who: The Fan Show, recorded on the convention floor, and providing a wonderful snapshot of everything that makes ‘gally’ special.

 

Conrunner Shaun Lyon, Fifth Doctor Peter Davison, Paul Cornell, Laura Sirikul (Nerd Reactor), Sarah Dollard, and Steven Schapansky (Radio Free Skaro), all appear.

(2) GWEN COOPER R.I.P. ScienceFiction.com says it’s over: “’Torchwood’: Eve Myles Lays Gwen Cooper To Rest”.

The actress took to Twitter to respond to fan inquiries regarding the nebulous status of ‘Torchwood’ which aired its last episode in 2011, after the show was picked up by Starz and relocated to the U.S.  Fans have held out hope that the show would revert back exclusively to the BBC, but Captain Jack, Gwen and whoever was still alive haven’t materialized on ‘Doctor Who’ or anywhere else.  It’s been five years and at least Myles has given up hope and said goodbye to Gwen.

(3) YOUR WRITE. Joseph Bentz has an outstanding post about writing – “Don’t Let Them Squash Your Creativity”.

Growing up, I always felt vaguely embarrassed about wanting to be a writer. I feared that if I said too much about it, I was simply opening myself up to mockery. It felt so pretentious to want to write a novel. Who was I?

So I hid it. I wrote my first novel almost secretly. When I would go off to write, I would be vague with family and friends about what I was doing, telling them simply that I had work to do. In college, I was so paranoid about my roommates reading over my shoulder that I developed a secret coded language in which I could write when others were around, which I then had to decode later.

Today I am still tempted to let my creativity be squashed, not so much by naysayers, but by other enemies such as procrastination, the pressures of life, fear of rejection, weariness.

Yet the words, the ideas, keep bubbling up. When the ideas come, I think, I have to write this. Why is no one else saying this? I find myself writing as fast as I can, letting the momentum carry me. In those great moments, the creativity blasts right through the doubts, tiredness, discouragement, and second-guessing. I write. I create.

(4) TOCK OF THE WALK. From UPI: “Harry Potter fan builds working GPS replica of Weasley clock”

Tbornottb used a gutted broken clock that he purchased from an antique store as the base and had a friend illustrate the new face of the clock, which featured locations such as on the way, home, work, holiday, forest and mortal peril.

He then used a Particle Photon that would communicate with an application known as “If This Then That” that would move the clock’s hand depending on each family members GPS location.

Each family member then set the parameters for what each geographical location would be represented by on the clock.

“Most of the rules are location-based (setting me to WORK if I enter my university library, HOME if I enter my dorm), but you can set other triggers too (set me to HOLIDAY if the forecast calls for snow, set me to MORTAL PERIL if the stock of the company I’ll be working for next year drops too low),” tbornottb wrote.

 

View post on imgur.com

(5) VR. Steven Spielberg tries The VOID and declares, “Woah, that was a great adventure!”

Steve Spielberg headed into The VOID’s unique brand of free-roaming, mixed-reality VR experience at TED 2016, and it seems he was pleasantly surprised.

“Woah, that was a great adventure!”, was Steven Spielberg’s exclamation after stepping out of the bespoke, made-for-TED mixed-reality, VR experience constructed by the team behind the VOID.

Spielberg, who recently co-founded the immersive production startup The Virtual Reality Company, stepped through the specially constructed, Raiders of the Lost Ark-style VR experience, which has players exploring ancient ruins, avoiding traps and snakes and, we understand, some clever heart-quickening physical stage manipulation to coincide with some worrying virtual events.

David Doering says, “The Void’s scenarios will come from the pen of master storyteller Tracy Hickman, our own hometown hero of fantasy fame.”

(6) MORE VR. The New York Times has its own VR story — “Virtual Reality Companies Look to Science Fiction for Their Next Play”. Ready Player One’s Ernest Cline gets more ink, and so does Neal Stephenson –

Magic Leap, based in Dania Beach, Fla., and which counts Google as one of its big investors, has gone even further than most companies by hiring three science fiction and fantasy writers on staff. Its most famous sci-fi recruit is Neal Stephenson, who depicted the virtual world of the Metaverse in his seminal 1992 novel “Snow Crash.”

In an interview, Mr. Stephenson — whose title is chief futurist — declined to say what he was working on at Magic Leap, describing it as one of several “content projects” underway at the company.

More broadly, Mr. Stephenson said science fiction books and movies are often useful within tech companies for rallying employees around a shared vision.

“My theory is that science fiction can actually have some value in that it gets everyone on the same page without the kind of expensive and tedious process of PowerPoint,” he said. But the influence of the genre within tech companies is “surprising and mysterious to me as well,” he added.

(7) A MIGHTY OATH. George R.R. Martin pledged to a Not A Blog commenter yesterday:

I am not writing anything until I deliver WINDS OF WINTER. Teleplays, screenplays, short stories, introductions, forewords, nothing.

And I’ve dropped all my editing projects but Wild Cards.

(8) CON OR BUST DONATION. Crystal Huff, Worldcon 75 Co-Chair, announced —

Worldcon 75 [the 2017 World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in Helsinki, Finland] has donated 25 memberships and hotel room nights to Con or Bust to help People of Color attend our convention. We appreciate any assistance in spreading the news to interested fans. More details can be found at the Con or Bust website, including their application process: http://con-or-bust.org/2016/02/con-or-bust-now-accepting-requests-for-assistance-9/

(9) CREATIVITY DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT. Jim C. Hines has a good post “My Mental Illness is Not Your Inspirational Post-it Note”  that doesn’t lend itself to out-of-context excerpts… so just go read it anyway.

(10) LAUNCHING MADE SIMPLE. How To Go To Space (with XKCD!) was posted last November but I don’t recall linking to it, and in any event, these things are always news to somebody!

(11) MARK JUSTICE OBIT. Horror author and radio host Mark Justice (1959-2016) passed away February 10 from a heart attack. Brian Keene discussed his writing in a memorial post.

Mark’s books included Looking at the World with Broken Glass in My Eye and (with David Wilbanks) the Dead Earth series. He also ran one of the first — and best — horror fiction-centric podcasts, Pod of Horror [with Nancy Kalanta].

He was also a long-time morning show disc jockey in Ashland, Kentucky. He occasionally used that morning show to promote horror fiction, featuring friends and peers like Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, F. Paul Wilson, Joe R. Lansdale, J.F. Gonzalez, and myself. I’ve signed in Ashland numerous times throughout the last twenty years, and Mark was always happy to have me on the show anytime…

He was generous and genuine, and very, very funny. He knew this genre’s history like few others. He will be missed.

(12) HELP BY BUYING BUD’S BOOKS. ReAnimus Press has a plan to benefit the late Bud Webster’s wife, Mary:

To help Mary with the financial burden, I wanted to announce that ReAnimus Press will be donating our publisher’s share of sales from all sales of Bud’s book back to Mary, so sales of those titles will be entirely to help Mary. We’ve published the ebook editions of Bud’s ANTHOPOLOGY 101 (http://reanimus.com/store/?i=1256 ) and THE JOY OF BOOKING ( www.reanimus.com/1409 ). We have PAST MASTERS in process.

I would also note that, if you can, purchasing through those links is of almost 50% more benefit to Mary, since there’s no chunk being paid to Amazon. (FYI this is for the ebook editions only; another publisher, Merry Blacksmith, has the print editions.)

Also, anyone know who I can contact who’s handling the Marscon donations? I’d like to offer copies of the ebooks to donors to sweeten the pot, say, one ebook for a $25 donation, all three for $50, and all three plus any three other ebooks from the ReAnimus store for $100+. (Retroactive to anyone who’s already donated, so don’t wait to donate.)

(13) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 17, 1922 — Terrified audiences gaze upon FW Murnau’s Nosferatu for the very first time.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born February 17, 1912 — Andre Norton

(15) THEY SWEAR THESE ARE GOOD IDEAS. In Comic Riffs at the Washington Post, Michael Cavna and David Betancourt attribute Deadpool’s huge success to its attracting both superhero fans and people who enjoy R-rated snark such as is found in Judd Apatow films. Then they say — “These are the ‘R-rated’ comics that Hollywood should put on the screen next”.

MICHAEL CAVNA: So you and I knew that “Deadpool” would do reasonably well, but these monster box-office numbers that practically rival “The Dark Knight’s” debut certainly speak to a thirst for R-rated comics adaptations that don’t feel like the same old tales of origin reboots and capes-vs.-urban apocalypses. So if you were a Hollywood executive, what’s the first “mature content” comic you’d now try to option and adapt?

DAVID BETANCOURT: The top two that come to my mind are American Vampire and Y: The Last Man. Last Man [which was adapted in 2011 in short form] has been in movie limbo for a while now, and I’m surprised someone hasn’t scooped up American Vampire. Fox has somewhat of a fun dilemma on their hands. “Deadpool” literally made twice what most folks were thinking it would for its opening weekend. So if you can spawn X-Force out of “Deadpool,” given Deadpool’s connection with Cable, do you continue the “R” momentum and make an X-Force movie rated R as well? If X-Force was in development [prior to “Deadpool’s” release], Fox must have been thinking PG-13 — just like the X-Men films. But now, seeing the success of “Deadpool,: maybe Fox executives have more than one R-rated franchise. They have to at least be thinking about it. And because of “Deadpool’s” success, if that character [now] appears in an X-film, does he [himself[ seem diluted if he’s in a PG-13 movie?

(16) HE WAS THERE. Matthew Surridge looks back on “The Great Hugo Wars of 2015”, and devotes many paragraphs to how he decided to decline his Hugo nomination.

Then the next night I opened my email to find a message from the Worldcon administrators congratulating me for being nominated for a Hugo. If I wouldn’t be at Worldcon, could I please select someone who’d be able to pick up the award for me if I won?

I emailed Black Gate editor John O’Neill, and asked him if he’d be in Spokane. He said he wouldn’t, and also mentioned that Black Gate had been nominated for a Fanzine Hugo. That meant I’d now heard of three Puppy picks who’d gotten nominations. I poked around some message boards and found speculation from various people plugged into the field guessing that the Puppies would do spectacularly well when the full list of nominees was made public. One (non-Puppy) editor said that he’d heard that the Puppies had three of the nominations for Best Novel—the most prestigious category. I began to wonder if I wanted to be nominated for an award that was being shaped by the Puppy tactics. If nothing else, what kind of backlash would this create?

Over the next few days I did more research on the Puppy program. Beyond politics, it was clear I didn’t share the Sad Puppy sense of what was good and bad in fiction. Beale only spoke about “the science fiction right,” but Torgersen was putting forward an aesthetic argument about the value of adventure writing over “message fiction.” I like good pulp fiction, but prefer experimental writing. More: it became clear to me that Torgersen and Beale knew that what they were doing was a slap in the face of the SF community—the people who attended events like Worldcon and administered the Hugos. As far as they were concerned, many of the existing institutions of science fiction fandom were not only dominated by liberals, but corrupt, and therefore had to be either reformed or burned down. The Puppies were looking for a fight.

Black Gate put up a link to the post as well, which led to an exchange of comments between Surridge and his former admirer, Wild Ape.

(17) GRAPHIC ARTS. Camestros Felapton in “SP4 Book Families” proves Hugo voters and Sad Puppies 4 recommenders are equally innocent. Or equally guilty. Never mind, look at the pretty graph.

Another stray observation from SP4 Best Novel data partly inspired by an odd claim at Mad Genius that ‘weak correlations’ in Hugo2015 nomination data was evidence of secret-slate/cabals/whatever (um, nope it is what you’d expect).

I looked at which books had nominators in common and how many nominators in common they had. I then tabulated those books with more than 2 in common and drew a pretty picture.

(18) NEBULA PREDICTION. Chaos Horizon looked at the SFWA Recommended Reading List data from 2011-2014.

3/4 times, the top vote getter from the Recommended List went on to win the Nebula. Schoen must be dancing right now for Barsk, which topped the 2015 list with 35 votes (Gannon did get 33, and Wilde 29, so Schoen shouldn’t start celebrating yet). The only exception to this rule was Kim Stanley Robinson in 2012. Maybe KSR, who had 11 prior Nebula nominations and 2 prior wins, was just so much better known to the voting audience than his fellow nominees, although that’s just speculation. That KSR win from the #4 spot does stand out as a real outlier to the other years.

The Top 6 recommended works got nominated 19/24 times, for a staggering 79.1% nomination rate. If you’re predicting the Nebulas, are you going to find any better correlation than this? Just pick the top 6, and bask in your 80% success rate.

(19) LEGO. This year Lego will release 25 Star Wars-themed sets. The “Assault on Hoth” set, coming May 1, has 2,144 pieces and costs $250.

the-assault-on-hoth-set-will-be-available-may-1

(20) MONOPOLY UPDATE. No paper money in Hasbro’s “Ultimate Banking” version of the Monopoly game – bank cards only, fortunes are tracked electronically, and that’s not all —

The latest version of Monopoly adds a new spin to the debate over who gets to be the banker. The decades-old board game, a Hasbro Inc. brand, is getting a modern upgrade this fall with an “Ultimate Banking” version that does away with the game’s iconic paper money in favor of bank cards.

Transactions, including purchasing property and paying rent, will be handled as they are in modern-day real life, with the tap of a card on the “ultimate banking unit.”

And for the real-estate mogul in the making, the bank cards also track wealth and property values, which can rise and fall. Rents for properties on the board also fluctuate, according to Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of the gaming division of Hasbro

(21) OVER THE TRANSOM. Alan Baumler sent this in email – a bit long to use as a Scroll title, so I’ll quote it here:

In place of a pixel, you would have a scroll!

Not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the dawn!

Treacherous as the sea!

Stronger than the foundations of the earth!

All shall love me, and despair!

(22) KYLO REN’S TEEN ANGST. Mamalaz has a whole series of ridiculous “Modern Solo Adventures”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mark-kitteh, and Dave Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 2/7/16 The Bold and the Recusable

(1) INSIDE UTAH’S EXTRAORDINARY SF FANDOM. Provo’s Daily Herald interviewed Dave Doering and learned the answer to “Why Utah’s literary Big Bang? ‘Life, the Universe & Everything’ symposium, for one”.

When you name your symposium “Life, the Universe, & Everything,” and that symposium is in the heart of Mormon country, outsiders can get a little suspicious.

“I often had to cajole guests to come because they feared this was an indoctrination boot camp for Mormonism,” Dave Doering recalled.

Well, it’s certainly not that. Rather, LTUE is about science fiction and fantasy literature. The annual three-day symposium ushers in its 34th year on Thursday at downtown Provo’s Marriott Hotel. At this point, those early boot camp suspicions have waned: LTUE has become one of the premier symposiums of its kind, drawing more than 1,000 attendees and renowned sci-fi/fantasy authors each year, and covering a wide range of subjects pertinent to that industry. Not bad for an event that had only 30-40 attendees in 1983….

It worked. BYU’s small sci-fi/fantasy community grew as students started coming out of the woodwork. Within five years the symposium was drawing 300-400 attendees. That amount stayed somewhat stable through the years. Five years ago, though, things really blew up. Utah-bred authors like Shannon Hale (“Princess Academy”), Stephenie Meyer (“Twilight”) and James Dashner (“The Maze Runner”) put Utah on the map for young adult fantasy literature. New York City publishers now regard Utah as fertile literary ground.

“No one, I think, would have believed that Utah writers would make as big an impact as we have now in the young adult and fantasy areas,” Doering said. “Four of the top five writers in that field are from Utah, and you think for the population, that’s ludicrous! How did that happen?”

The Wasatch front, Doering said, has a particular storytelling culture that mainstream audiences have come to crave.

“We grow up with stories, and we are a very positive people. And I think that resonates,” he said. “By and large, the authors on the coasts that had been big names in the past, their dystopian view or manner of treating characters and situations, I think it got to be so repetitious that people were hungering for something different. And the kind of storytelling that we do here, and the worldview we have, people were just very hungry for. So it’s blossomed.”

Life, The Universe & Everything begins Thursday, February 11.

(2) IN LIVING B&W. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler just can’t turn off the tube the night that Twilight Zone is on. For one reason, this being 1961, if he misses one he won’t have another chance to see it until summer reruns begin.

It’s certainly not as if TV has gotten significantly better.  Mr. Ed, My Sister Eileen, the umpteenth season of the Jack Benny Show, none of these are going to win any awards.  On the other hand, The Twilight Zone has already won an award (an Emmy last year), and I’m hoping that my continued watching and review of that show excuses my overindulgence in the others.

(3) INCREASED INTEREST. Fantasy Faction has advice for putting your loot to work “A Guide To Banking In Fantasyland”. (Beware mild spoilers.)

These are tough times, and everyone needs a little help with the big decisions. Not sure which bank to choose? Sure, the Charity and Social Justice Bank [1] has an impressive name, but those offers at Valint and Balk [2] are really tempting. Perhaps Gringotts’ [3] goblin efficiency has caught your eye, or the great interest rates at the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork? [4] Then again, the long standing stability of the Iron Bank of Braavos [5] is looking pretty good right now…

Hard decisions? Never fear! We are here with a handy guide to finding the RIGHT bank for YOU!

(4) DEL TORO TWEETS. Guillermo del Toro had this to say —

(5) TRANSTEMPORAL PIZZA PARADOX. A NASA scientist questioned the scientific veracity of a situation John Scalzi’s Redshirts. It seems John forgot to science the shit out of the pizza.

As you can see from the above embedded tweet and picture, a reader (who also appears to be a NASA scientist) asked me a question about the atoms in the pizza eaten in Redshirts, consumed by the heroes of the story, who had also traveled back in time.

Why would this matter? Because as a plot point in the book, time travelers had about six days to get back to their own time before they began to disintegrate — the atoms of their bodies from the future also existed in the past they’re visiting, and the atoms (eventually) can’t be two places at the same time and would choose to “exist” in the positions where they were in the current frame of reference.

Which is fine as long as you don’t mix atom eras. But when the characters ate pizza, they were commingling atoms from the book’s 2012 with their own atoms several centuries later — and what happens to those atoms from the pizza when the characters return to their own time? Because the atoms gained from the pizza would simultaneously be present elsewhere, and, as already noted, the atoms default to where they were supposed to be in their then-current frame of reference. Right?

As you can see from the tweet above I avoided the answer by giving a completely bullshit response (and then bragging about it). I’m delighted to say I was immediately called on it by another NASA scientist, and I responded appropriately, i.e., by running away. I’m the Brave Sir Robin of science, I am.

(6) TEE IT UP. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog – “That Time the NFL Paid Jack Kirby to Design an Intergalactic Super Bowl”.

At the height of his power in the 1970s, Kirby was commissioned for a feature in the October 21, 1973 issue of Pro! Magazine, the official publication of the National Football League. At the time, Kirby had switched to DC comics from Marvel, and presumably had a little spare time to pick up extra commissions. Hyperbolically titled “Out of Mind’s Reach,” Kirby’s collection of art depicted a future pro football match and debuted bizarre new costume designs for four different teams.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 7, 1940 — Walt Disney’s movie Pinocchio debuted.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born February 7, 1812 – Charles Dickens
  • Born February 7, 1908 – Buster Crabbe, who played Flash Gordon in serials.

(9) HARASSING PHOTOGRAPHER. Lauren Faits, who writes Geek Girl Chicago, broke a years-long silence in “Zero tolerance: Naming my cosplay harasser”.

I want to publicly thank C2E2, Chicago’s premiere comic convention, for action they took this afternoon. I was not going to attend their Mardi Gras event tonight due their affiliation with a traumatic figure from my past. Now, I enthusiastically will, and encourage everyone else to support C2E2 as well.

I am going to share my story before anyone else does.

Thirteen years ago, I was under 18- a minor. I was attending an anime convention in the Chicago area. A group of cosplayers, including myself, headed up to a hotel room to change out of our costumes. We were followed. While we were undressing, a photographer began slamming into our room’s locked door in an attempt to break in. The room had one of those sliding locks, which broke open under the force. The photographer rushed in with a camera, attempting to get nude photos and/or video of underage cosplayers.

This photographer’s name was Ron “Soulcrash” Ladao….

C2E2 is the first organization thus far to take me seriously. They are no longer professionally affiliated with my harasser, and thanked me for helping provide a safe environment for all. I encourage everyone to attend their party tonight, the convention, and other affiated events.

A lesson for everyone: If someone is making you or a loved one uncomfortable, don’t ignore it. It is easy to brush off someone’s disconcerting actions as “just their sense of humor,” but acts like these are no joke. We should not be laughing at predators. In fact, several people told me I should “talk” to Ron, to see if he’d apologize. Absolutely not. If someone broke into your home, or mugged you on the street, would you follow them later to seek an apology? No. We should believe and support one another, and let our actions show zero tolerance for harassment. We don’t owe harassers anything.

(10) NOT SORRY. Stephanie S. at The Right Geek justifies last year’s actions in an extensive post, “Dear SJW’s: We Sad Puppies CAN’T Repent”.

Lastly – and most importantly – there is no such thing as a “natural vote.” This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions that under-girds our opposition’s argument: the idea that, before we philistines got involved, the Hugos highlighted works that were genuinely the best in the field — which were selected by a group of high-minded, pure, and totally impartial fans. Ha. Ha ha. And again: ha. Do you know how many works of science fiction are published in a typical year? Many thousands. There is no one on God’s green earth who is capable of reading them all. In reality, modern fandom (like any other large group of human beings) has always had its aristoi — in this case, a small group of influential bloggers, reviewers, publishers, and magazine editors that routinely has an outsized impact, intentional or not, on what gets the hype and what doesn’t. The only thing that’s changed here is that some “politically objectionable” people have proven themselves to be a part of that aristoi and have decided not to play pretend. My suggestion? Make peace with the fact that factions will forever be with us. Man is inherently a political animal. Instead of denying this state of affairs, try to manage its effects by increasing overall participation on both ends of the Hugo process.

(11) TITANIC DISCOVERY. Futurism reports “The Mystery of Pluto’s ‘Floating Hills’ Solved : They’re Icebergs!”

NASA’s New Horizons mission keeps astonishing us with new images and new revelations about the mysterious, demoted dwarf planet, Pluto.

The most recent discovery is this little gem: Pluto has hills and small mountains that literally float across its surface.  It’s weird and unearthly, but we’re dealing, after all, with a very alien world on the outskirts of the Solar System.

And things are bound to get even weirder.

The newly discovered hills are mostly small, typically a few kilometers across, and were discovered in the immense frozen ocean of the so-called “Sputnik Planum,” which represents the western lobe of the famous heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio, the most prominent feature on Pluto

It seems these hills are composed of familiar water ice (so they really are icebergs, just like their terrestrial counterparts); since water ice is less dense than nitrogen ice, these hills are literally bobbing in a vast glacier or frozen ocean of nitrogen.

(12) SUPER BOWL ADS. Here is the Independence Day Resurgence trailer that aired during the Super Bowl.

And the X-Men Apocalypse trailer, too —

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

Pixel Scroll 2/4/16 “Who Nominated J.R.?”

John Hodgman

John Hodgman

(1) HODGMAN TO PRESENT NEBULAS. SFWA has picked comedian John Hodgman to emcee the 50th Annual Nebula Awards in Chicago at the SFWA Nebula Conference on May 14.

John Hodgman is the longtime Resident Expert on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the host of the popular Judge John Hodgman Podcast. He has also appeared on Conan, The Late Late Show, @midnight, and This American Life. The Village Voice named his show Ragnarok one of the top ten stand up specials of 2013. In 2015, he toured his new show Vacationland. He has performed comedy for the President of the United States and George R.R. Martin, and discussed love and alien abduction at the TED conference.

In addition to the Nebula Awards, SFWA will present the Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award, the Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award, and the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.

(2) BYE BYE BABBAGE. Chris Garcia is mourning the withdrawal of the Babbage machine from exhibit from the Computer History Museum.

Babbage Difference Engine No 2

Babbage Difference Engine No 2

After eight years at the Computer History Museum (CHM), the Babbage Difference Engine No. 2 is bidding farewell and returning to its owner.

The Difference Engine No. 2 has had a wonderful home at the Museum. Our Babbage demonstrations have amazed more than 500,000 visitors, providing them with the unprecedented opportunity to see and hear the mechanical engine working—a stunning display of Victorian mechanics.

People will have to content themselves with CHM’s online Babbage exhibit.

Dave Doering said:

I figure they knew the price would one day come due for the chance to host it there for eight years. I mean, everyone today knows about “excess Babbage fees.”

(3) ASTEROID BELT AND SUSPENDERS. The government of Luxembourg announced it will be investing in the as-yet-unrealized industry of asteroid mining in “Luxembourg Hopes To Rocket To Front of Asteroid-Mining Space Race”. An NPR article says there are both technical and legal hurdles to overcome.

First, of course, there are technical challenges involved in finding promising targets, sending unmanned spacecraft to mine them and returning those resources safely to Earth.

Humans have yet to successfully collect even a proof-of-concept asteroid sample. …

The second issue is a legal one. Asteroids are governed by the Outer Space Treaty, nearly 50 years old now, which says space and space objects don’t belong to any individual nation. What that means for mining activities has never been tested in international courts because, well, nobody’s managed to mine an asteroid yet.

But there’s a fair amount of uncertainty, as Joanne Gabrynowicz, a director at the International Institute of Space Law, told NPR’s Here & Now last February.

“Anybody who wants to go to an asteroid now and extract a resource is facing a large legal open question,” she said.

The U.S. passed a law near the end of last year, the Space Act of 2015, which says American companies are permitted to harvest resources from outer space. The law asserts that extracting minerals from an extraterrestrial object isn’t a declaration of sovereignty. But it’s not clear what happens if another country passes a contradictory law, or if treaties are arranged that cover extraction of minerals from space.

Luxembourg hopes to address this issue, too, with a formal legal framework of its own — possibly constructed with international input — to ensure that those who harvest minerals can be confident that they’ll own what they bring home.

(4) WRITERS WHO THINK UP STUFF. Steven H Silver points out, “Of the authors listed in 8 Things Invented By Famous Writers at Mental Floss, Heinlein, Wolfe, Clarke, Atwood, Carroll, Dahl, and arguably Twain are SF authors.”

  1. THE PRINGLES CHIP MACHINE // GENE WOLFE

Prior to beginning his contributions to the science fiction genre with The Fifth Head of Cerberus in 1972, Wolfe was a mechanical engineering major who accepted a job with Procter & Gamble. During his employment, Wolfe devised a way for the unique, shingle-shaped Pringles chips to be fried and then dumped into their cylindrical packaging. (Despite his resemblance to Mr. Pringle, there is no evidence the chip mascot was based on him.)

(5) POLAR BOREALIS PREMIERES. The first issue of R. Graeme Cameron’s semipro fiction magazine Polar Borealis has been posted. Get a free copy here. Cameron explains how the magazine works:

Polar Borealis is aimed at beginning Canadian writers eager to make their first sale, with some pros to provide role models.

In Issue #1:

  • Art by Jean-Pierre Normand, Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk, and Taral Wayne.
  • Poems by Rissa Johnson, Eileen Kernaghan, and Rhea Rose.
  • Stories by Christel Bodenbender, R. Graeme Cameron, Steve Fahnestalk, Karl Johanson, Rissa Johnson, Kelly Ng, Craig Russell, Robert J. Sawyer, T.G. Shepherd, Casey June Wolf, and Flora Jo Zenthoefer.

(6) A RATHER LARGE SCIENCE FAIR. The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair, to be held March 16-19 in Birmingham, “is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK.”

Held at the NEC, Birmingham 16-19 March 2016, The Big Bang Fair is an award-winning combination of exciting theatre shows, interactive workshops and exhibits, as well careers information from STEM professionals.

We aim to show young people (primarily aged 7-19) the exciting and rewarding opportunities out there for them with the right experience and qualifications, by bringing classroom learning to life.

Having grown from 6,500 visitors in its first year (2009) to nearly 70,000 in 2015, The Big Bang Fair is made possible thanks to the collaborative efforts of over 200 organisations

(7) JUST NEEDS A LITTLE SMACK. Michael Swanwick, in the gracious way people do on the internet, expressed his bad opinion of the movie I, Robot (2004) in these terms:

Just watched I, ROBOT. I want to punch everybody involved in the face. Very, very hard. Dr. Asimov would approve.

[Okay, to spare people’s feelings, I want to punch THOSE RESPONSIBLE in the face. Still hated the movie.]

This ticked off Jeff Vintar, who wrote the original spec script and shared credit for the screenplay. Vintar posted a 1,200 word comment telling how his original script got turned into an “adaptation” and how these links of Hollywood sausage got made.

Having been one of the film’s biggest critics, I have watched over the years — to my surprise — as many people find quite a bit of Asimov still in it. I’m always glad when I read a critical analysis on-line or a university paper that makes the case that it is more Asimov than its reputation would suggest, or when I get contacted by a real roboticist who tells me they were inspired by the movie and went on to a career in robotics. And then of course there are the kids, who love it to death…

But I never go around defending the film or talking about it, because although I still believe my original script would have made a phenomenal ‘I, Robot’ film, there is no point. That any film gets made at all seems at times like a miracle.

But your stupid, yes stupid, ‘punch in the face’ post compelled me to write. I love Asimov as much as you do, probably more, because of all the time I spent living and breathing it. I also wrote an adaptation of Foundation that I spent years and years fighting for.

So, you want to punch me in the face? My friend, I would have already knocked you senseless before you cocked back your arm. I have been in this fight for more than twenty years. You’re a babe in the woods when it comes to knowing anything about Hollywood compared to me, and what it’s like fighting for a project you love for ten years, some for twenty years and counting.

Yet this exchange did not end the way most of these Facebook contretemps do.

Michael Swanwick answered:

I feel bad for you. That must have been an awful experience. But I spoke as a typical viewer, not as a writer. The movie was like the parson’s egg — parts of it were excellent, but the whole thing was plopped down on the plate. For my own part, I’d love to have the Hollywood money, but have no desire at all to write screenplays. I’ve heard stories like yours before.

Then Vintar wrote another long reply, which said in part:

Other writers are not our enemies. We are not fighting each other, not competing with each other, although that is a powerful illusion. As always the only enemy is weakness within ourselves, and I suppose entropy, the laws of chance, and groupthink. Ha, there are others! But I stopped throwing punches a long time ago. (Believe me, I used to.) You guys are great, thanks Michael….

And the love fest began.

(8) OGDEN OBIT. Jon P. Ogden (1944-2016), devoted Heinlein fan and member of the Heinlein Society, died January 27, Craig Davis and David Lubkin reported on Facebook. [Via SF Site News.]

(9) ALASKEY OBIT. Voice actor Joe Alaskey, who took over performing Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck after actor Mel Blanc died in 1989, himself passed away February 3. CNN reports the 63-year-old actor had been battling cancer.

Mark Evanier’s tribute to Alaskey on News From Me also tells about one of his vocal triumphs outside the realm of animation —

When [Jackie] Gleason’s voice needed to be replicated to fix the audio on the “lost” Honeymooners episodes, Joe was the man.

A few years after that, Joe was called upon to redub an old Honeymooners clip for a TV commercial. When he got the call, Joe assured the ad agency that if they needed him, he could also match the voice of Art Carney as Ed Norton. He was told they already had someone to do that — someone who did it better. Joe was miffed until he arrived at the recording session and discovered that the actor they felt could do a better job as Art Carney…was Art Carney. Joe later said that playing Kramden to Carney’s Norton was the greatest thrill of his life, especially after Carney asked him for some pointers on how to sound more like Ed.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

cranky-snickers_0

  • February 4, 1930 – The Snickers bar hits the market.
  • February 4, 1938 — Disney releases Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (Did Disney miss a product placement opportunity by naming a dwarf Grumpy instead of Cranky?)

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY CLUB

  • February 4, 1976 – Sfera, the oldest SF society in former Yugoslavia, was founded.

[Via Google Translate] On this day in 1976, a group of young (and less young) enthusiasts launched as part of the astronautical and rocket club Zagreb “Section for science fiction”…

(12) TODAY’S BITHDAY BOY

(13) WEIRD AL CAST. “Weird Al” Yankovic will voice the title character in Milo Murphy’s Law, Disney XD’s animated comedy series, reports Variety.

The satirical songwriter will provide the voice of the titular character Milo Murphy, the optimistic distant grandson of the famed Murphy’s Law namesake. In addition to voicing the main character, Yankovic will sing the show’s opening theme song and perform other songs throughout the duration of the series….

“Milo Murphy’s Law” will follow the adventures of Milo and his best friends Melissa and Zack as they attempt to embrace life’s catastrophes with positive attitudes and enthusiasm.

(14) RABID PUPPIES. Vox Day posted four picks for the Best Fancast category today.

(15) SAD PUPPIES. Damien G. Walter japed:

(16) PUPPY COMPARISON. Doris V. Sutherland posted “2014 Hugos Versus 2015 Sad Puppies: Novellas”, the third installment, the purpose of which she explains in the introduction —

In this series on the Sad Puppies controversy, I have been comparing the works picked for the 2015 Sad and Rabid Puppies slates with the stories that were nominated for the Hugo in 2014. Were the previous nominees truly overwhelmed with preachy “message fiction”? What kinds of stories had the Sad Puppies chosen to promote in response?

Having taken a look at the Best Short Story and Best Novelette categories, I shall now cover the Hugo Awards’ final short fiction category: Best Novella, the section for stories of between 17,500 and 40,000 words in length. Let us see how the two sets of stories compare…

At the end of her interesting commentary, she concludes:

…Let us take a look through some of the previously-discussed categories. Aside from Vox Day’s story, only one of the 2014 Best Novelette nominees can be read as “message fiction”: Aliette de Bodard’s “The Waiting Stars,” which has an anti-colonial theme. I have also heard the accusation of propaganda directed at John Chu’s “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, a story about a gay couple. But once again, I see nothing clumsy or poorly-handled about de Bodard’s exploration of colonialism or Chu’s portrayal of a same-sex couple. So far, the accusation of preachiness appears to be based largely Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, which has the straightforward message that hate begets hate.

None of these stories push a specific message as strongly or as directly as John C. Wright’s One Bright Star to Guide Them. This raises an obvious question: exactly which group is rewarding message fiction here…?

[Thanks to Gary Farber, JJ, David K.M. Klaus, Brian Z., Steven H Silver, Jumana Aumir, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Dave Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 12/18 Voxura vs. Scrolljira

(1) INCREASED THEATER SECURITY. “’Star Wars’ Theaters Tighten Security Due To Heavy Crowds And Suspicious Activity” reports Deadline.com.

“A majority of the reason why we’re beefing up security is because it’s the biggest movie ever,” said the security expert. He said he might assign one guard in any given weekend at an average 12-plex. Deadline has learned that in a venue, say, in downtown L.A., theaters normally employ about three to four security guards. However, those same locations through the holiday will now get as much as three times that. Disney, Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ distributor, is also said to be providing some security.

Dave Doering asks, “I actually expect to see mock light saber battles, odd costumes and aliens. Anything suspicious about seeing aliens in LA? And for that matter, what is ‘suspicious’ for LA?”

Oh, anybody walking instead of driving. Things like that.

(2) MOST NUTS. LA’s enthusiasm for the movie is apparently only a pale reflection of Dave’s home state of Utah. Or so says the Washington Post, in “This is the state where people are most nuts about Star Wars

That is according to Google Trends, at least. During the past week, Utahns have done more Star-Wars related Googling than people in any other state. People in Utah are about 25 percent more likely to Google “Star Wars” than their nearest competitors in fandom, Californians. And they are more than twice as likely to Google the topic as people in Oregon and Mississippi, the two least Star Wars-crazy states.

(3) BOX OFFICE. The new Star Wars movie killed on Thursday night. Uh, figuratively speaking.

J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens awoke to a record-breaking $57 million in Thursday night previews at the North American box office.

The previous champ was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ Part 2, the final film in the franchise, which earned $43.5 million in Thursday previews in July 2011. The Dark Knight Rises took in $30.6 million in 2012, and Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 took in $30.4 million, also in 2012.

(4) RETURN OF THE LINE. And here are some of the customers, in line at Hollywood’s El Capitan theater at 1:30 this morning. Photo by Robert Kerr.

El Capitan line at 130 12 18 15 ph by Robert Kerr

Photo by Robert Kerr.

(5) NO WAITING. At the International Space Station, the line to watch Star Wars was much shorter.

“I am told that ‘Star Wars’ will be waiting for us up there,” British astronaut Tim Peake wrote on Twitter on the eve of his launch to the International Space Station on Tuesday (Dec. 15). “What a place to watch it!”

The space station’s six-person crew, which includes the newly-arrived trio of Peake, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and NASA’s Tim Kopra, as well as commander Scott Kelly of NASA and cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergei Volkov, will be able to watch “The Force Awakens” thanks to Mission Control and a recently-installed theater system on board the orbiting outpost.

(7) FORD RAMPAGE. By now you’ve probably overdosed on Star Wars coverage and are in the mood to see “Harrison Ford continues his ‘Star Wars’ toy path of destruction on ‘Conan’”. The payoff is just after 2:10 in the video.

“Conan” associate producer Jordan Schlansky is a “Star Wars” superfan. Jordan Schlansky is also Jordan Schlansky, so when he got a chance to meet Harrison Ford and J.J. Abrams, he spent most of it boring them to tears asking about the grips on Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. Then he asked Ford to sign his Millennium Falcon. And not just any Millennium Falcon — it’s the Lego Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon, which is worth thousands of dollars, according to a quick glance of eBay.

Ford took the Millennium Falcon in his arms and immediately tossed it over his shoulder “accidentally.” As it is a Lego set, it was promptly destroyed. Ford did end up signing a piece of it, but Jordan Schlansky had already walked off by that point, so Ford threw the piece back in the pile and then threw the pen offstage, presumably at Jordan Schlansky’s sad face.

(8) THE FORTE AWAKENS. The mischievous James Langdell asked on Facebook

No spoilers please… but could anyone who has actually seen the movie let me know if it was done as a musical?

All the commenters are pulling his leg so hard it’ll be surprising if it doesn’t come off…

(9) IN TUNE WITH THE TIMES. Cultural commentator Martin Morse Wooster does know where you can find some Star Wars music.

If you go to blackcatdc.com, you will find that Ms. Cherry Pitz and the Hotsy Totsy Burlesque review are doing their “Tribute to the Star Wars Holiday Special” tonight at the Black Cat Backstage in Washington,

“If you want to see Wicket the Ewok in pasties, now’s your chance,” Kristen Page-Kirby says in the Washington Post. “(And if you really want to see Wicket the Ewok in pasties, get some help.)”

You know–and you can quote me on this–“Cherry Pitz” is NOT a good burlesque name.

My goodness, I forgot to include the link!

(10) OVER THE AIR. In the UK, Sian Welby’s weather report on 5 News made 10 Star Wars puns in 40 seconds, all delivered with a straight face.

True, the wordplay varies in quality, ranging from the excellent “A Leia of cloud covering the UK” and “If you’re forced to awaken early tomorrow morning it will be on the dark side” to the groansome “If you Luke father west you will be seeing a glimmer of sunshine – if you’re Wookie” but you certainly have to admire the effort.

 

(11) BOX SCORE. I had to include Mark Lawrence’s new post for obvious reasons: “A Year in Numbers… Five!”

The blog had its millionth hit in 2015 and got almost 70,000 hits in one month!

And finally, Twitter, where at last I broke the 10,000 follower barrier!

(12) ALTERNATE AWARDS. Kary English, who hadn’t posted on her blog for almost six months, has briefly commented on Sasquan and thanked the people responsible for her having  “Rockets in my pocket”.

DuckieRocket-206x300

Shahid Mahmud, my wonderful publisher at Galaxy’s Edge, who made sure I didn’t go home rocketless no matter what happened at the awards ceremony. The lovely red rocket he gave me now has a place of honor on my brag shelf.

Her other rocket is one of Ken Burnside’s Crashlander Awards.

(13) FUNDRAISER. SFWA is auctioning a George R.R. Martin-signed Game of Thrones 2016 calendar on Ebay.

This is a twelve month wall calendar with thirteen paintings (one for each month, plus a centerfold) by artist Magali Villeneuve depicting scenes from each of the published volumes of A Song of Ice and Fire as well as a scene from the forthcoming The Winds of Winter.  The calendar is signed on the front cover by George R. R. Martin.

Auctioned off by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. All proceeds from this auction will be given to the SFWA Givers’ Fund.

The SFWA Giver’s Fund combines non-restricted charitable donations to SFWA and will use these funds to provide needed grants to genre-related organizations and/or individuals and will also disburse funds to the SFWA Emergency Medical and Legal Funds as needed.

(14) GAIMAN READS. From last year, the New York Public Library recording “Neil Gaiman Reads ‘A Christmas Carol’”. (Via ScienceFiction.com.)

Acclaimed author Neil Gaiman performs a memorable dramatic reading from NYPL’s own rare copy of “A Christmas Carol,” which includes edits and prompts Charles Dickens wrote in his own hand for his unique public readings 150 years ago. Dressed in full costume and joined by writer and BBC researcher Molly Oldfield, Gaiman performs the classic tale as its great author intended.

(15) REACTION. Adam-Troy Castro shared his highly negative response to Daniel Enness’ latest Castalia House blog post in a public Facebook post. Some good lines, but you’ll need to read them there. They only work in context with direct allusions to material I’ve chosen not to excerpt here.

(16) IN HIS STALKING FEET. From the BBC: “Author Richard Britain jailed for ‘bad review’ attack”. [Via Ansible Links.]

A former Countdown champion who travelled 400 miles to attack a teenager who gave his book a bad review has been jailed for 30 months.

Richard Brittain, 28, used Facebook to track victim Paige Rolland, 18, to the Asda store in Glenrothes where she worked.

He then smashed a full wine bottle over her head – knocking her unconscious.

Warning – from here it’s turtles Star Wars all the rest of the way down!

(17) CONSPIRACY THEORY. Camestros Felapton explains it all to you in “The True History of R2D2 – Sith Lord”.

In the films we know of five Sith lords, in addition there is one other character who:

  • is directly linked to the dark side in the film
  • appears to use force powers including using a ‘force jump’ to move
  • appears to us the ‘Jedi mind trick’ to manipulate minds
  • shoots lighting
  • holds a lightsaber

(18) HOT STOVE LEAGUE. Cut4, a Major League Baseball blog, has the baseball/Star Wars mashup of your dreams.

Yes, MLB has “Star Wars” fever, but did you know that “Star Wars” has MLB fever, too? In a world as big as the Expanded Universe, did you really think there was no baseball? Life in the Empire can’t be all battling with light sabers and zooming around in TIE fighters. Sometimes, you just want to watch the game. So here’s your introduction to ELB (Empire League Baseball)…

padmeslogo2_xinkz7kd

(19) PLANET POLL. “See the ‘Star Wars’ Worlds Exoplanet Scientists Can’t Help But Love” at Space.com.

Last week, close to 350 exoplanet scientists gathered in Hawaii for the American Astronomical Society’s Extreme Solar Systems III conference. Space.com took the opportunity to ask 20 of these folks about their favorite “Star Wars” worlds.

The scientists we polled were almost evenly split among three worlds from the “Star Wars” original trilogy: Hoth (from “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back,”), Tatooine (from “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,”), and the moon of the planet Endor (from “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.”).

(20) DON’T BE ROOKED. Chesshouse doesn’t seem to have updated the Star Wars chess set in time for Christmas – but there is still time to make your own.

(21) BOY TOY. “Sith lord or samurai lord? Darth Vader becomes decorative doll for Boys’ Day in Japan” at Rocket News 24.

A long, long time ago, in a country far, far away (from English-speaking territories, anyway), Yoshitoku Taiko made its first doll. Founded in 1711, the company’s history goes back to a time when Japan was ruled by a shogun, and the country sealed off from the rest of the world.

More than three centuries later, Yoshitoku Taiko is still in business, but Japan is now part of the global community. That’s why the company’s latest offerings are two exquisitely crafted dolls of Darth Vader in samurai armor.

 

Vader doll

(22) CONTENT WARNING. Boing Boing brings us Star Wars medical merch from Scarfolk, the horror-town stuck in the 1970s”. A few of the others have a certain “ewww” factor….

Darth pacemaker

 [Thanks to JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Steven H Silver, David Doering, John King Tarpinian, and Brian Z. for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 10/30 The Stainless Steel Hedgehog Has A Harsh Mistress, Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That

(1) Larry Smith is out of the hospital reports Marcia Kelly Illingworth on Facebook.

Please forgive the lack of recent updates. As they say, no news is good news. Larry is back out of the hospital, and appears to be doing well. He was finally able to attend a convention last weekend, and held up remarkably well. At this point, he is hoping to make all of his November commitments. Clearly, he is not exactly on top of his game, and has had to make some adjustments to his activity level and routine, but he is improving.

Larry and Sally asked me to try to convey the enormous gratitude they feel to everyone who has come to their aid through this very trying time. I say *try* to convey, because there just are not enough words to adequately express how thankful and humbled they feel. And let me just add my thanks as well. These are some very special people, and my heart swells when I see this wonderful family that we call fandom come together to help them like you have.

They are currently still trying to find a replacement van. The one they had was a 15 passenger model, with a long wheelbase and extra suspension to handle the weight of the books. They have found a couple of possibilities (of course, none local), so they hope to find one soon. Give yourselves a much – deserved pat on the back for making this possible for them. Please share this update on any list or social media that you have available to you

(2) David Langford proudly displayed his “Sausage Maker To Fandom” badge ribbon in the new issue of Ansible.  It was given to him at LonCon 3.

(3) Thursday night’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert had Seth MacFarlane and Neil DeGrasse Tyson as guests. Stephen is convinced that star KIC 8462852 is evidence of the alien life predicted in one of his favorite books. In the final interview segment, Colbert goes off on a seriously detailed Ringworld rant, including crediting Larry Niven.

“Just because you don’t understand what you’re lookin’ at doesn’t mean it’s alien,” countered Tyson…

In this YouTube clip, the Ringworld bit starts just after the 1:50 mark.

(4) CNN reports “Orbiting bacteria: Space Station may need some tidying up”.

The next time NASA picks an astronaut to live in the International Space Station, it might want to send Mr. Clean. That’s because scientists using a kind of high-tech white glove test found something in the space dust there.

The astronauts are not alone, it turns out. They share tight quarters with some previously undetected, opportunistic bacterial pathogens.

Nothing unusual here. The Sasquan guest of honor left his hotel room in the same condition as every other fan at this year’s Worldcon. A generous tip ordinarily covers these things. In this case, two or three million dollars should do it…

(5) Grantland, ESPN’s pop culture site founded by Bill Simmons, is shutting down. I’ll miss genre-themed coverage like Brian Phillips’ ”50 Scenes That Do Not Appear in the Fox ‘X-Files’ Revival”.

  1. It does not, at any point, transpire that Assistant FBI Director Walter Skinner joins Kickstarter to seek funding for his “elegantly bound novelization” of Infocom’s Leather Goddesses of Phobos.
  2. The word “copyleft” — that doesn’t get thrown around a lot.
  3. Jonathan, who is not making churros, does not tell Scully that “it’s about the cinnamon” and then gasp, “I’ve said too much,” and then get shot in the head by a sniper from Venus.

(6) Charle Jane Anders acknowledges “The Difference Between a Great Story and a Shitty Story Is Often Really Tiny” at io9.

To some extent this is a “Devil in the details” thing: It’s the little details that will trip you up. Small inconsistencies can make your world feel flimsy. But, too, tiny character moments and little bits of emotional resonance, in between the big incidents, can do a ton to make people buy stock in your world and its people.

The difference between a shitty story and a great story is often just one of clarity, also. A great story sets up its premises early on, then builds on them and deepens them, until finally you reach some kind of crisis. Going back to the topic of movies, I’ve been amazed by how many movies I’ve seen lately where the first 20 or 30 minutes are compelling and fascinating (the “first act”) and then what follows is a dull morass. It’s like the “building and deepening” part of the recipe just got thrown out.

(7) That lunar rover that went to the junkyard?

“Although Mr. Clueless opted to dispose of the moonlander for scrap, not so the junkyard owner!” reports David Doering.

Motherboard has an interview with the anonymous buyer.

Tuesday, we told the sad story of a prototype NASA lunar rover that was sold by an Alabaman to a scrap yard. That is true, but there’s a twist: A heroic scrap dealer has saved the buggy, which appears to be in good condition.

The scrap dealer spoke to Motherboard on the condition of anonymity because he says he wants to speak to his lawyer about his next steps, but he did send me the recent photo of the buggy above to confirm it’s in his possession. The rover matches a historical NASA image we believed to be the rover in question. It also matches the description given by NASA in its investigatory documents.

“The man who originally bought it, from my understanding, he bought it at an auction. He was a road conditioner [in Alabama],” the junkyard owner told me. “I can’t confirm this is true, but he bought it at a NASA auction many years ago. NASA just discarded a lot of that stuff back then. When it was brought to my scrap facility, I set it aside because I knew what it was. The unit does exist today. It is not scrapped. I have that unit in storage.”

“I’ve done quite a lot of research on the unit and it’s an artifact that needs to be saved,” he added.

David Doering says, “Sure looks like an easy cut-and-dried Kickstarter campaign to buy the rover!”

(8) Speaking of space exploring antiques, NASA needs a programmer fluent in 60-year-old computer programming languages to keep the Voyager 1 and 2 crafts going. The new hire has to know FORTRAN and assembly languages.

(9) Although written before the revised WFC 2015 harassment policy came out, Alasdsair Stuart’s post on the issue remains revelant for making points like these:

In the last two years I’ve been part of a team asked to deal with a single incident. I saw my colleagues treat the individual who had been harassed with compassion, patience and respect. I saw them be given the space they needed to collect themselves and make decisions rather than be pressured into a choice they might later regret. I have rarely been prouder of the teams of volunteers I’ve worked with over the last few years than I was on that day.

And that’s why the mealy mouthed legal tapdance WFC’15 was throwing up wasn’t just bullshit, it was and still is actively harmful. This event, that proudly lays claim to being the definitive convention for industry professionals, was not bothering to do something that events with a tenth its status and a hundredth its reach have baked into their procedures. The obvious defense here is of course the tiny size of the community and ‘we’ choosing to deal with it ‘in house’.

That’s not even in the same time zone as ‘good enough’.

No one on Earth WANTS to have a harassment policy. Even in building one you’re forced to imagine the absolute worst of the people around you, and in doing so, work out how to minimize the damage they may cause. These people have to, by definition, include your friends and colleagues. It’s an inherently cautious, inherently cynical piece of work that codifies the worst potential human behaviour and how to deal with it. No one wants that, least of all members of a community that likes to pay lip service to inclusion and diversity. But we all need it precisely because of that inclusion and diversity.

(10) John Holyoke reviews Stephen King’s new short story collection Bazaar of Bad Dreams in the Bangor Daily News.

bazaar of bad dreams cover COMP

For loyal King fans who devour anything the author produces, these collections are tiny desserts: sweet morsels that can be consumed rapidly, without guilt. Like some? Fine. Love ’em all? Better. Hate a few? Oh, well — move on. Take a bite out of another.

For those who are new to King and unsure whether they’ll like what they find, “The Bazaar of Bad Dreams” provides a tasty sampler that, like his other short story collections, showcases the master’s array of talents.

King said a year ago that he was confident he could still “write stories that are sleep-with-the-lights-on scary.” And he can. (Try his novel “Revival” on for size, if you’re in doubt.)

But “The Bazaar of Bad Dreams” is a collection of a different flavor and seems to reflect the maturing — and aging — of a writer who likely has left far more tales in his rear view mirror then he has remaining in front of his headlights. Recurring themes this time around include aging, dealing with aging and death itself.

And while that isn’t surprising in itself — there’s often a hefty helping of dying going on in a King book or story — the tone is different, almost melancholy at times, as characters face their mortality and battle with questions like the age-old unanswerable: What’s next?

(11) Lisa Morton, Horror Writers Association president, tells the true, highly commercial origins of today’s Halloween holiday.

The next time somebody tries to tell you that Halloween is a ghoulish tradition that goes back to Druid priests practicing pagan rituals, tell them that companies like Hershey, Coors and Dennison had a lot more to do with the modern Halloween we revere than the Celts from 2,000 years ago.

And that’s a good thing, because these companies have largely created the holiday we now love.

While it is likely that Halloween owes much of its macabre character to the Irish Celtic harvest celebration, Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”), there’s no proof whatsoever to suggest that the Celts dressed in costumes, begged candy from neighbors or staged elaborate haunted scares (although they probably did hold major feasts complete with alcohol).

(12) The Horror Writers Association website has a fine array of posts about the holiday by its members. Today’s entry is “Halloween Haunts: Souled” by Tonya Hurley.

We almost drove past it until I noticed the line snaking around the side of the nondescript-looking Dutch Colonial house on the canal. It hardly looked like the scene of any crime let alone that crime — The Amityville Horror. “112 Ocean Avenue.  That’s it!” I shouted with half excitement and equal parts guilt. The latest family to own the house was moving out and this was hyped as a yard sale guaranteed to top them all.  Shoppers and rubberneckers from miles around gathered to land a piece of horror history, joking with each other, retelling tall tales, mixing myths with fact about the house and the crime like a demonic game of telephone as they waited. A quick walk through the home yielded little contents owned by the DeFeo family, the original owners, who were famously murdered there…

(13) Amy Wallace has updated her Wired article “Sci-Fi’s Hugo Awards and the Battle for Pop Culture’s Soul”.

It is August 2015, and things are looking up for Team Humanity. Or are they? A record 11,700-plus people have bought memberships to the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington, where the Hugo winners are soon to be announced. A record number have also forked over dues of at least $40 in time to be allowed to vote, and almost 6,000 cast ballots, 65 percent more than ever before.

But are the new voters Puppies? Or are they, in the words of Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin, “gathering to defend the integrity of the Hugos”? Just before 8 pm on August 22, in a vast auditorium packed with “trufans” dressed in wizard garb, corsets, chain mail, and the like, one question is on most attendee’s minds: Will the Puppies prevail?

The evening begins with an appearance by a fan cosplaying as the Grim Reaper, and that turns out to be an omen for the Puppies. By evening’s end, not a single Puppy-endorsed candidate takes home a rocket. In the five categories that had only Puppy-provided nominees on the ballot—Best Novella, Best Short Story, Best Related Work, and Best Editors for Short and Long Form—voters choose “No Award.”

Earlier, Beale explained to me that his plan was a “Xanatos gambit”—“that’s where you set it up so that no matter what your enemy does, he loses and you win.” No surprise then, that in an email he sends after the awards ceremony, Beale is crowing. “The scorched-earth strategy being pursued by the SJWs in science fiction is evidence that we hold the initiative and we are winning,” he writes. The number of major categories in which no awards are given “demon­strates the extent to which science fiction has been politi­cized and degraded by their far left politics.”

Quotes from pro writers only – Kloos, Bellet, Correia, Torgersen, Vox Day, George R.R. Martin, N.K. Jemisin.

Zero quotes from fans, who merely run and vote for the awards. Yet Brad R. Torgersen is outraged that still another pro, Sarah A. Hoyt, wasn’t interviewed.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh,Tom Galloway, David K.M. Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster, David Doering, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/29 – Scrolls and the Art of Blog Maintenance

(1) Rob Cottingham’s “Ancillary Stapler” at Medium.com is highly recommended.

I am lost in thought when Coffeemaker speaks to me, timidly, to say she is almost empty.

Not the emptiness of a depleted urn; it is still half full. No, this is the emptiness that strikes at Coffeemaker’s soul: there are no beans in her hopper. When Coffeemaker dreams, this is how her nightmares end.

Marketing Six checks the bean level regularly, even though that isn’t in her job description, but Marketing Six isn’t here this morning, is she? Off sick. I reach out, and find her iPhone’s location coordinates.

“Address Book, where does Marketing Six live?” I ask silently.

“Not at a Starbucks in Eastgate Square Shopping Mall,” she says. I didn’t know Address Book could be wry.

(2) A previously unsuspected musical subgenre – Vulcabilly.

(3) Prowse Still Grumpy, Film at 11.

The original Darth Vader actor, asked about his interest Star Wars: The Force Awakens, told the Guardian:

“It depends,” he said. “It depends if I’m playing the part of Darth Vader in it … Yes – then I’d be very interested. But if they’re putting somebody else in Darth Vader’s mask, then I’m not the slightest bit interested.”

(4) At SF Signal – “SF/F Crowdfunding Roundup: Familiar, ZILF!, Spanish Women of Wonder”.

(5) It will be even harder to be a “dirt farmer” on Mars. Jim Bell, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University, will discuss how hard in a lecture titled “Soils of Mars: Keys to Understanding the Habitability of the Red Planet” at the Soil Science Society of America’s annual meeting on November 18.

(6) The “Journey To Space” exhibition opened today at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

journey-to-space-the-exhibition COMP

Of the more than 7 billion people on Earth, less than 600 have ever left our home planet to experience the beauty, wonder, and danger of space.

Now it’s your turn….

In the harsh, airless environment of space, peril is everywhere. Meteoroids soar by at speeds that can make them deadly to astronauts. Temperature fluctuates from burning hot to unbearably cold. It’s up to scientists to develop the technology that keeps astronauts safe. Journey to Space: The Exhibition’s hands-on exhibits and immersive experiences give you a chance to not only see that amazing technology (including Neil Armstrong’s glove), but to try handling some of the challenges of space travel yourself.

Take a turn managing the energy of a simulated orbiting space station, operate a robotic arm, and find out how astronauts eat, sleep, and even go to the bathroom in space. See if you have “the right stuff” to deal with the disorienting environment of zero gravity as you step into a rotating chamber, inspired by the International Space Station’s Destiny Module, and feel what it’s like to be in a place where there is no up and no down. Designed with the help of astronauts and space scientists, Journey to Space: The Exhibition will inspire the astronaut, engineer and scientist in all of us.

(7) Juliet McKenna appeals for donations to the GoFundMe benefitting Rochita Loenen Ruiz

Rochita Loenen Ruiz is a brave, generous and talented author and all round lovely person. She has suddenly, tragically lost her beloved husband, the father of her two young children, to an ultimately fatal heart attack.

We cannot comprehend her bereavement. But we can understand the practical challenges she and her family will face in the next little while. That at least is something we can help with.

A fundraising campaign has been set up by her closest friends via GoFundMe

As you will see on clicking through, an array of writers and publishers are offering rewards by way of thanks to those offering their support.

(8) Tom Knighton applauds Wil Wheaton’s refusal to let HuffPo post his stuff gratis.

Wheaton declined because he didn’t figure he needed the exposure.  Frankly, I’m proud of him.

Any kind of creative type gets these “offers” all the time.  Someone likes what you’re doing.  They like it so much they want to utilize it in some way, either have your band play in their bar or run your blog post or something.  “What do you pay?” you ask.

“Oh, we just pay in exposure,” they reply.

My reply?  “Son, people die from exposure.”

Huffington Post is one of the biggest news websites out there.  They can afford to pay for content.  Yet they don’t.  You know why?  Because people will give it to them for free.

(9) Melinda Snodgrass will be executive producer overseeing the writing of Star Trek: Renegades.

Okay, so now I can talk about the work I’ll be doing for Star Trek: Renegades. As many of you probably know there has been a tradition of fans of the show making their own episodes and putting them up on-line. They range in quality, but some are produced by people in “the Industry” as we call it. Renegades is one of those.

I was approached by executive producer Sky Conway and asked if I would come on board. I said I would have to look at the pilot they had produced and also that they had to be a WGA signatory. I don’t work outside of my guild. I then went and watched Renegades and was very impressed.

A Kickstarter to fund production of Star Trek: Renegades episodes 2 and 3 is in progress. So far they have raised $100,535 of their $350,000 goal.

(10) If Alice Cooper has a middle name, it’s not “Humility.” Three of his own songs are in his Halloween Top 10.

There were monsters in rock songs before Alice Cooper surfaced in the early ‘70s with songs like “The Ballad of Dwight Fry,” “Dead Babies,” and “Killer,” But there weren’t monsters in rock. Cooper changed all that.

Yet despite his violence and gore, Cooper’s style of horror has always been akin to a carnival ride or a monster movie. The thrills are real, but the terror is not, which makes Cooper the ultimate character for Halloween tricks and treats.

Cooper recently talked to Yahoo Music about his 10 favorite Halloween songs, 30 percent of which happen to be his own. “I’m going to have a lot of songs in this top 10,” he explained, “because I’m the only one that really writes scary songs.”

(11) Today In History

  • October 29, 1998 — In 1998, U.S. Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, who in 1962 became the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth, returned to space aboard the shuttle Discovery. At 77, he became the oldest person to travel in space.
  • October 29, 1969 — The first connection on what would become the Internet was made when bits of data flowed between computers at UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute.

(12) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born October 29, 1947 — Actor Richard Dreyfuss, made famous by starring roles in American Graffiti, Jaws, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, is born in Brooklyn.

(13) Vox Day, in collaboration with artist Red Meat, has a new cartoon that explains the difference between the Ilk, the Dread Ilk, and the Vile Faceless Minions of Vox Popoli.

(14) Emperor Palpatine has been elected to a Ukranian city council; Chewbacca was arrested for campaigning for him…

A candidate who dresses as Star Wars villain Emperor Palpatine has been voted on to a Ukrainian city council despite standing as a joke.

According to fellow candidate Aleksandr Borovik, the man posing as Sheev Palpatine, the Emperor of the Galactic Empire, won a place on Odessa City Council, in the south west of the country.

It comes after the local electoral commission revealed that 48 candidates from the Darth Vader Block political party were registered to stand in the local election.

It has been reported that Emperor Palatine won 54.4 per cent of the poll, causing Mr Borovik to speak of his disbelief, despite respecting the choice of voters

He told RT.com: ‘This is beyond my understanding. People, what’s wrong with you?’

(15) If you’re an optimist about there ever being a Pacific Rim 2, you’ll be glad to know that Guillermo del Toro has finished the script. He’s still looking for somebody to greenlight production, of course.

(16) According to “The definitive list of werewolf-friendly cities”  Gregory Benford should beware – Irvine is #4 on this list. David Doering will be shocked to see which city is #1….

Werewolves, the cursed humans that turn into enormous beasts at the full moon, date back to the 15th century. Of old English folklore, supposed shapeshifters were put on trial in Switzerland in the 15th century, much like those believed to practice witchcraft.

In the spirit of Halloween, FindTheHome and FindTheCompany wanted to see where werewolves would live (if they do indeed exist) in the United States today. We looked at the following criteria to map likely werewolf haunts.

Cities deemed dog-friendly. Low number of gun shops and gunsmiths. Low prevalence of silver-producing companies (silver is rumored to be able to kill wolves).Low population density (where werewolves would be less easily found).

(17) Today is the day to see Son of Frankenstein at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

Alex marquee son of frankenstein COMP

[Thanks to Arnie Fenner, Will R., Mark-kitteh, Jonathan Olfert, Janice Gelb, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 10/23 Gilligan’s File

(1) A sweet new image for science fiction loving dogs!

Cool Corgi Dresses Up As All 13 Doctors From ‘Doctor Who’ —

(2) What brand of cigarettes did Godzilla smoke? I never wondered before. See behind-the-scenes photos from the Japanese movie productions, including the fellow who wore the monster suit taking a smoke break. At Dangerous Minds.

Actor Haruo Nakajima (pictured above) spent nearly 25 years inside the rubber Godzilla suit that he gleefully trampled over mini-Tokyo in for various Godzilla or monster-themed films from the early 50s through the 1970s.

(3) James Lileks’ satire for National Review, “The Twitterverse Strikes Back against the Phantom Menace of Anti-Star Wars Racists!”, begins –

According to my Twitter feed, gullible people are complaining –

I should just stop right there and wrap it up, right? After breaking news like that, where could I possibly go?

…Anyway. If Luke comes out in the new film wearing the Leia slave bikini; if Chewie marries Groot; if Han makes a big speech about how the end of the Empire means they can rebuild the galaxy along the lines of, say, Denmark; if the main villain is named Ben-Ghazi — then you might complain that you’re being Force-fed some political drivel. Even then it wouldn’t matter.

(4) A pretty fancy bookmark. A map of Middle-Earth annotated by J.R.R. Tolkien for illustrator Pauline Baynes is being sold by Blackwell’s for 60,000 reports the Guardian.

A recently discovered map of Middle-earth annotated by JRR Tolkien reveals The Lord of the Rings author’s observation that Hobbiton is on the same latitude as Oxford, and implies that the Italian city of Ravenna could be the inspiration behind the fictional city of Minas Tirith.

The map was found loose in a copy of the acclaimed illustrator Pauline Baynes’ copy of The Lord of the Rings. Baynes had removed the map from another edition of the novel as she began work on her own colour Map of Middle-earth for Tolkien, which would go on to be published by Allen & Unwin in 1970. Tolkien himself had then copiously annotated it in green ink and pencil, with Baynes adding her own notes to the document while she worked.

Blackwell’s, which is currently exhibiting the map in Oxford and selling it for £60,000, called it “an important document, and perhaps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years at least”.

It shows what Blackwell’s called “the exacting nature” of Tolkien’s creative vision: he corrects place names, provides extra ones, and gives Baynes a host of suggestions about the map’s various flora and fauna. Hobbiton, he notes, “ is assumed to be approx at latitude of Oxford”; Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University.

David Doering argues, “I feel that such artifacts need to be in public, not private, hands. This is a critical piece of our cultural history and is of immense value. It should not allowed to disappear into private hands.”

(Fifth 4) John C. Wright explains how “My Elves are Different; Or, Erlkoenig and Appendix N”.

When calculating how to portray the elves in my current writing project (tentatively titled Moths and Cobwebs) I was thinking about Erlkoenig and Appendix N, and (of course!) about GK Chesterton. There is a connected train of thought here, but it meanders through some ox-bows and digressions, so I hope the patient reader enjoys the scenic route of thought.

First, Erlkoenig. I had noticed for some time that there was many a younger reader whose mental picture of the elves (those inhabitants of the Perilous Realm, the Otherworld, whose ways are not our ways) was formed entirely by JRR Tolkien and his imitators. They are basically prelapsarian men: like us in stature and passions, but nobler, older, and not suffering our post-Edenic divorce from the natural world. This is not alien to the older themes and material on which Tolkien drew, but there is alongside this an older and darker version.

(5) Nancy Fulda outlines “What To Expect When You Start An Internet Kerfuffle” for the SFWA Blog.

And so you write a blog post.

It is the most difficult and most magnificent thing you’ve ever written, pure words of truth sucked directly out of your soul. You feel triumphant. Liberated. (Terrified, too, but that doesn’t matter now.) You have said the Thing That Must Be Said, and you have done so with courage and clarity. You click a button, and send your words winging toward humanity.

And then, of course, the internet does what the internet does best.

It starts kerfluffling….

Day 2: Negative feedback.

Your post has reached people with opposing viewpoints. Many of them. Blog posts pop up across the internet, criticizing and often misrepresenting your stance. Angry comments multiply like weeds. Email conversations ensue. You become embroiled in a number of difficult and confrontational exchanges, often with people who seem incapable of understanding what you’re trying to say.

You may get hate mail. Depending on what you’ve said and who you’ve said it to, the content of those emails may be very, very ugly indeed. Your hands are trembling by the time you click the delete button.

By the end of the day, you’re afraid to check your email. Comments are still rolling in, and somehow, even the positive messages only make you more aware of the bad ones. You wonder whether this was all a mistake. At the same time, you can’t stop refreshing your screen. The rest of your life has ground to a screeching halt; deadlines missed, meals skipped, loved ones neglected. Even when you’re not online, your thoughts are spiraling around what’s happened there.

And people are still retweeting your post.

(6) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • October 23, 1942 – Michael Crichton

(7) Last weekend the Iron Hill brewery chain in Pennsylvania offered Harry Potter-themed fare reports Philly.com.

The pub will serve Dumbledore’s Dubbel, a sweet Belgian ale; and Voldermort’s Wrath, a West-Coast style IPA with an intense bitter hop flavor. In addition to the limited brews, a Harry Potter-themed menu will be served for those hungry wizards. Items include:

  • Aunt Petunia’s Mulligatawny Soup
  • Slytherin Smoky Pumpkin Salad
  • Ron’s Corned Beef Toasts
  • Hogwart’s Express Pumpkin Pastry
  • Dumbledore’s Cauldron Beef Stew
  • Butterbeer-Braised Pork Loin
  • Pan-Seared Chinese Fireball (salmon)
  • Mrs. Weasley’s English Toffee Crumble

For the non-beer drinker: Butterbeer and autumn-themed mixed drinks will be available.

(9) Details about J.K. Rowling’s new Harry Potter play are online. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will pick up 19 years after the seventh book, and it will focus on Harry and his youngest son, Albus. Here’s a brief about the plot play’s website:

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

(10) Here’s some artwork from the forthcoming production.

Here's a sneak peek at our brand new artwork for Harry Potter and the #CursedChild!

A post shared by HarryPotterAndTheCursedChild (@hpplayldn) on

(11) The pilot and second episode of Amazon’s original series The Man In The High Castle can be viewed for no-charge here through  11:59 PM PST on Sunday, October 25 in the U.S. and UK.

The season launch of all episodes will be November 20.

(12) Andrew Liptak recalls the history of science fiction in Playboy magazine at Kirkus Reviews.

(13) Alastair Reynolds covers his trip to Russia on Approaching Pavonis Mons.

My wife and I are big on art, and we’d long wanted to visit the Hermitage. I can safely say that it was everything we’d hoped it would be, times about ten, and although we went back for a second day, you could cheerfully spend a month in the place and not see enough.

(14) Zombie George R.R. Martin will soon be on the air:

For all you Z NATION fans out there, and those who aren’t (yet) too, my long-anticipated guest starring role as a rotting corpse is scheduled for the October 30 episode, “The Collector.”

(15) At Teleread Chris Meadows pays tribute to prolific Amazon reviewer Harriet Klausner, who was an important part of the growth of online book sales via Amazon.

Harriet Klausner, at one time one of the most recognizable names on Amazon, passed away on October 15, at the age of 63. Klausner was a speed-reader who was one of the most prolific customer reviewers on Amazon, with over 31,000 reviews to her credit at the time of her death. According to a 2006 Time profile of her, she read an average of 4 to 6 books per day. Although the details of her death were not disclosed, it must have happened fairly quickly—the last review on her Amazon.com reviewer page is dated October 12.

(16) Jonathan R. Eller speaks about Fahrenheit 451 at Wisconsin Lutheran College on October 26.

Eller at wisc luth coll

(17) The wisdom of the Fred!

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Robotech Master, Phil Nichols, Steven H Silver, David Doering, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day the indefatigable Will R.]

A Hot Time In The Old Fandom Tonight

File 770 has a Clipping Service category, however, this may be the first time it has ever featured a literal clipping.

David Doering’s fanhistory searches on Google yielded the newspaper article reproduced below, which inspired him to comment —

First, gone are the days of such colorful journalism. Second, MSFS meetings in Saginaw in 1949 sure were a blast! How come the LASFS didn’t have such fun?

 

Art Rapp in paper