Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #6

Stuff I’m Nominating for the 2017 Hugo Awards, Part One

By Chris M. Barkley:

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form

Blackstar by David Bowie,  ISO Records – Columbia, Music and Lyrics by David Bowie with Maria Schneider, Paul Bateman and Bob Bharma on “Sue (Or A Season of Crime)”.

Album Personnel

David Bowie – vocals, acoustic guitar, mixing, production, string arrangements, “Fender Guitar” (3), harmonica (7)

Length: 41 minutes 17 seconds.

It has been a year and a month since the passing of David Bowie. His final gift to us, Blackstar, is a testament to his musical sensibilities and genius.

In the fall of 2014, Bowie and his longtime producer Tony Visconti secretly gathered together a group of New York City jazz musicians and began to record this album. Although he knew his days were numbered, Bowie desperately wanted to add one last note to his majestic musical legacy.

Blackstar is not a conventional rock album by anyone’s standards. If anything, his use of the jazz ensemble more resembles a throwback to the jazz-fusion era of the 1970’s and ’80.

Besides showing Bowie was well aware of his fatal cancer diagnosis, he was also keen to show everyone that he would not let death get in the way of his artistic and creative endeavors.

Blackstar’s Hugo worthiness, in my opinion, rests on the title track, “Lazarus” and the accompanying ten-minute music video of “Lazarus.” Reading between the lines of his lyrics, Bowie’s symbolism and longing for something beyond death are there, even though he doesn’t know exactly what it might be or what form it might be in. There is no morbidity or fear in these musings, just a sense of wonderment.

You can view the full version of the “Lazarus” video here:

Two previously released songs, “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)” and “‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore”, were re-recorded for this album, replacing bridges that Bowie had originally played with new saxophone parts played on the latter song by Donny McCaslin.

Blackstar was released on January 8, 2016, coinciding with Bowie’s 69th birthday. David Bowie succumbed to liver cancer two days later.

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

Stranger Things (Eight Episodes, 395 minutes, Netflix) created and directed by Matt and Ross Duffer. Produced by Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen and the Duffer Brothers. Written by The Duffer Brothers, Jessica Mecklenburg, Justin Doble, Alison Tatlock, Jessie Nickson-Lopez and Paul Dichter.

Starring:  Mille Bobby Brown, David Harbour, Winona Ryder, Matthew Modine, Finn Wolfhard , Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp and Shannon Purser as “Barb” Holland.

When I first heard about the premise of Stranger Things, my eyes rolled so hard they nearly catapulted from my skull. And I have never been more wrong and delighted in my life.

The setting:  Hawkins, Indiana, November 1983. When young Will Myers (Noah Schnapp) goes missing , a nightmarish chain of events is set into motion that include a government conspiracy conducted by a local science facility, an unhinged mother’s (Wynona Ryder) desperate search for her child, an alcoholic sheriff (David Harbor) involved in an investigation that’s way over his head, mysterious deaths and other disappearances of citizens and three pre-teen boys (Finn Wolfhard , Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin,) who happen upon an unearthly young girl with paranormal abilities (Millie Bobby Brown).

And there’s a monster.  A BIG ONE! From ANOTHER DIMENSION!

If you haven’t seen this phenomenal blend of horror, sf, fantasy, conspiracy thrillers and cultural tropes of the 1980’s, it would be criminal of me to say anything else do actually describe it. To those of us who actually grew up in that era (and I am one of them, to be sure), Stranger Things nostalgically calls out our cultural past and its tropes in practically every scene; Stephen King novels, the films of John Hughes, John Carpenter, Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas among many, many others.

The cast is uniformly spectacular and earned them all the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series for 2016 against such world-class competitors like as The Crown, Downton Abby, Game of Thrones and Westworld.

So don’t count Stranger Things out if (or when, more likely than not) it goes up against heavyweights challengers like Star Wars: Rogue One, Doctor Strange, Star Trek Beyond and Deadpool on the final ballot.

Best Novel

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters, Mulholland Books, published 5 July 2016, 336 pages.

Victor, the narrator of this novel, is a clandestine US Marshal in contemporary America. His job is hunting fugitives. Victor does it and he does it well. But there are a couple of wrinkles to this situation:

Abraham Lincoln is assassinated before his inauguration and the Civil War never happens.

Slavery is kept viable through a series of political compromises by the ruling parties. By the 20th century though, only four southern states still have legalized slavery and the rest of the country is “civilly” segregated for everyone’s protection.

Victor is hunting African-American fugitive slaves under the Fugitive Persons Act.

Victor himself is black, is STILL a “Person Bound to Labor” and has the freedom to roam the country at will, but only at the brutal expense of the people he captures.

When Victor is sent to track down an outlaw abolitionist codenamed Jackdaw, he is forced to come to terms with his work, his life and the country he serves.

Even more daring than the plot of Underground Airlines is the fact that the author, Ben H. Winters, is white. A white author, even a well-meaning one, writing about such an explosive cultural topic today, with a black narrator, might seem to be professional suicide in the literary world. Winters, a skilled professional whose previous works have won the Edgar Award (The Last Policeman) and the Philip K. Dick Award (Countdown City) for Best Novel, has won over critics and readers with this brilliant alternate history thriller.

I will be very disappointed if Underground Airlines does not make the final Hugo Award ballot this year.

Pixel Scroll 12/8/16 Let It Scroll, Let It Scroll, Let It Scroll

(1) X-WING. Hollywood decorating the neighborhood for the premiere of Rogue One. Robert Kerr’s photo shows a prop now on display curbside near the theater.

photo-by-robert-kerr-resized_20161208_170203-01

Yahoo! Movies ran a series of photos taken while the fighter was being hauled into position.

Star Wars has definitely landed in Hollywood.

Preparations for Saturday’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story premiere have already seen some big road closures on Hollywood Blvd. — and on Tuesday, an X-Wing was spotted in the area where the stars of the film will gather in a few days.

Pictures quickly spread on social media, as apparently keeping an X-Wing secret is even trickier than keeping plans for the Death Star under wraps.

The red-carpet premiere itself also prompted major road closures in Hollywood, with the X-Wing now clogging streets up further. Road closures will last until 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13.

(2) JAM ON MARS. Will Curiosity need Tommy John surgery? Seeker says “Curiosity’s Mars Drill Is Jammed”.

The Mars rover’s robotic arm-mounted drill appears to have malfunctioned and NASA has instructed the rover to hang tight while they find a solution.

Having your drill break down while you’re millions of miles from the nearest hardware store would be a bummer, but that is exactly what’s happened to NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity.

The rover, which is currently located at the lower slopes of the 3.4-mile-high Mount Sharp (officially known as Aeolis Mons), was supposed to carry out a drilling operation on a geologically interesting location on Dec. 1 when mission controllers got word that Curiosity was unable to complete its commands. Early indications show that the rover detected a fault with the “drill feed” mechanism that lowers the drill piece to the rocky sample and aborted the operation.

(3) AT HOME. The Chicago Reader visited a  popular sf author in her new (since 2012) neighborhood — “Mary Robinette Kowal makes puppets and writes in a 1913 building in the Ukranian Village”.

A fire is roaring in the fireplace and sprays of bright red winterberry adorn a vase on the deco mantel. The scent of hot cider wafts through the air. What Victorian-era storybook scene have I stepped into on this chilly, gray day in late November? It’s the home of Hugo Award–winning author, audiobook narrator, and professional puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal, a spacious and stately 1913 apartment in Ukrainian Village that she shares with her winemaker husband, Robert, and their two cats.

 

(4) RETURN OF RUTLAND WEEKEND TV. The Guardian ran this feature in August — “Ex-Python Eric Idle and Brian Cox to take on The Entire Universe for the BBC”. But now the BBC broadcast date is nearing.

Written by Idle, the one-hour show will feature the return of Rutland Weekend Television, the haphazard station depicted in Idle’s sketch show of the same name during the 1970s.

Filmed in front of a live studio audience, The Entire Universe will feature an “explosion of comedy, music and dance” and will air on BBC2.

Davis plays The Big Bang and comedian Fielding is Einstein, while Game of Thrones actor Hannah Waddingham tackles time, and Robin Ince attempts to keep order.

Idle has written songs for the Christmas special, which will be choreographed by Arlene Phillips and combine “fascinating facts about the birth of the universe with larger-than-life comedy characters”.

Cox finds himself in a major musical at Rutland Weekend Television, after thinking he is booked to give a lecture.

The program will be broadcast in Britain on BBC2 on December 26.

(5) DO JAMES DAVIS NICOLL’S HOMEWORK. He’s lining up books to review in 2017, and feels there’s one writer demographic that requires more of his attention:

Don’t often tick the Other/Genderqueer/Non-Binary box in my site’s review gender fields. Can change that. What authors should I consider?

He emailed me the link asking, “Do the F770 people have suggestions?”

(6) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #12. The twelfth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for the four-book Twixt series from Dawn Metcalf.

Today’s auction is for a signed set of all four TWIXT books. But wait – there’s more! Metcalf also has a pile of “own voices” and books she’s offered to donate to a local shelter and/or children’s hospital in your name. The higher the bidding, the more books she’ll donate!

  • $25: Two books
  • $35: Three books
  • $45: Four books
  • $60: Five books
  • $75: Six books

About Book One: INDELIBLE:

Some things are permanent. Indelible. And they cannot be changed back.

Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room-right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world-a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep and a life that will never be the same. Now Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one-his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future … and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.

Somewhere between reality and myth lies … THE TWIXT!

(7) TINGLE’S SATIRICAL NEWS SITE. Chuck Tingle harpoons the “alt-right” with his most feared weapon – laughter — at a new website, Buttbart. At the bottom of the home page are links for donating to the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Billings Public Library Foundation

READER POLL: What is real?

We asked our readers if reality was a constantly shifting web of cosmic planes, blinking in and out of exhistence depending on our location in spacetime.

YES: %87

NO: %2

K’GULH-TUB KA: %11

(8) GLENN OBIT. Mercury astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn (1921-2016) died December 8 reports SF News Site.

Glenn was the last surviving member of the Mercury 7 astronauts and the first American to orbit the Earth, flying on the third Mercury mission on February 20, 1962 aboard Friendship 7. Following his flight and status as a national hero, Glenn was grounded by President Kennedy and eventually became a Senator from Ohio and ran unsuccessfully for President. The oldest of the Mercury astronauts, he flew a second time in 1998 about the space shuttle Discovery, becoming the oldest man to fly in space.

CNN’s obituary recounted the highlights of his 1962 mission:

….Glenn recalled in a Life magazine article a strange phenomenon that occurred during the mission: “There, spread out as far as I could see were literally thousands of tiny luminous objects that glowed in the black sky like fireflies. I was riding slowly through them, and the sensation was like walking backwards through a pasture where someone had waved a wand and made all the fireflies stop right where they were and glow steadily.”

The flight also featured a glitch that contributed to Glenn’s reputation for being cool under fire.

Because of an indicator light showing that the Mercury capsule’s heat shield was partly detached, mission controllers decided to bring Glenn home early and told him not to jettison his aft retro rockets, which allowed him to maneuver the craft in space. Because the retropack was strapped to the heat shield, it was thought it would provide an extra measure of security.

It would later be learned that the heat shield wasn’t damaged, but the fiery re-entry was made more spectacular by the scorching retropack in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Glenn’s first words when he stepped aboard the deck of the USS Noa were, “Boy, that was a real fireball of a ride!”

…More than 20 years after their historic missions, the team was immortalized in the 1983 movie “The Right Stuff.” Glenn — portrayed by Ed Harris — didn’t care much for the film, saying, “I thought it was dramatic enough without Hollywood doing its number on it.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born December 8, 1953 – Kim Basinger, Batman’s Vicki Vale.
  • Born December 8, 1964 – Teri Hatcher, Lois and Clark’s Lois Lane.

(10) TA-POCKETA-POCKETA

  • Born December 8, 1894 – James Thurber

(11) A GRAIL OF A TALE. A dinosaur tail was discovered trapped in amber in Myanmar.

The tail of a 99-million-year-old dinosaur has been found entombed in amber, an unprecedented discovery that has blown away scientists.

Xing Lida, a Chinese paleontologist found the specimen, the size of a dried apricot, at an amber market in northern Myanmar near the Chinese border.

The remarkable piece was destined to end up as a curiosity or piece of jewelry, with Burmese traders believing a plant fragment was trapped inside.

“I realized that the content was a vertebrate, probably theropod, rather than any plant,” Xing told CNN.

“I was not sure that (the trader) really understood how important this specimen was, but he did not raise the price.”

(12) POP CULTURE COINCIDENCE. Reuters reports a “Space oddity as Dr David Bowie treats ‘starman’ Buzz Aldrin in New Zealand hospital”.

In what can only be described as a space oddity, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin is being cared for in a New Zealand hospital by Dr David Bowie after being evacuated from the South Pole.

In a truly remarkable coincidence, Aldrin’s doctor shares the name of the late British singer whose greatest hits included songs such as “Starman” and others about space travel that could easily have been penned for the great American astronaut.

(13) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. Reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Livia Llewellyn and Sarah Pinsker on December 21 on Wednesday, December 21 at the KGB Bar in New York. Event starts at 7 p.m. Details at the linked post.

Livia Llewellyn is a writer of dark fantasy, horror, and erotica, whose short fiction has appeared in over forty anthologies and magazines and has been reprinted in multiple best-of anthologies, including The Best Horror of the Year series, Years Best Weird Fiction, and The Mammoth Book of Best Erotica. Her first collection, Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors received two Shirley Jackson Award nominations, for Best Collection, and for Best Novelette (for “Omphalos”). Her story “Furnace” received a 2013 Shirley Jackson Award nomination for Best Short Story. Her second collection, Furnace was published this year.

Sarah Pinsker is the author of the Nebula Award winning novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road” and the Sturgeon Award winning “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind.” Her fiction has appeared in magazines including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Uncanny, among others, and numerous anthologies and year’s bests. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her wife, dog, and a yard full of sentient vines.

(14) THE WORK THAT STORIES DO. Foz Meadows’ well-written piece “Unempathic Bipeds of Failure: The Relationship Between Stories and Politics” found a home at Black Gate:

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need stories to act as emotional dry-runs for caring about different types of people, because our empathy would already natively extend to everyone. But we don’t live in that world; because if we did, somewhat paradoxically, we’d have less urgent need of its empathy, as its unequivocal presence would make it much harder for us to discriminate in the first place.

Which is precisely why stories matter; why they’ve always mattered, and will continue to matter for as long as our species exists. Stories can teach us the empathy we otherwise lack, or whose development is railroaded by context, and yeah, it’s frustrating to think that another person can’t just look at you, accept what you are, and think, human, different to me in some respects but fundamentally as whole and as worthy of love, protection and basic rights as I am, but you’ve got to understand: we’re a bunch of bipedal mammals with delusions of morality, a concept we invented and which we perpetuate through culture and manners, faith and history and memory – which is to say, through stories, which change as we change (though we don’t always like to admit that part), and in that context, the value of the impossible – of SFF as a genre – is that it gives us those things in imaginary settings, takes us far enough out of the present that we can view them at a more objective remove than real life ever allows, and so get a better handle on them than our immediate biases might otherwise permit…

And so I think about the UKIP supporter who empathized with a fictional refugee [in Dragon Age 2] but voted to dehumanize real ones; about the millions of people who grew up on stories about the evils of Nazism, but now turn a blind eye to swastikas being graffitied in the wake of Trump’s election; of Puppies both Sad and Rabid who contend that the presence of politics in genre is a leftist conspiracy while blatantly pushing what even they call a political agenda; about fake news creators and the Ministry of Truth; about every f***ing dystopian novel whose evocation by name feels simultaneously on the nose and frighteningly apropos right now, because we shouldn’t have to cite The Handmaid’s Tale to explain why Mike Pence and Steve Bannon (to say nothing of Trump’s infamous comments) are collectively terrifying, and yet see above re: unempathic bipeds of failure, forever and always; and yet

(15) ORANGE CONE BY THE ROADSIDE. The discussion of Meadows’ main points, however, was drowned out by the reaction to several lines in her closing:

For the past few years, the Sad and Rabid Puppies – guided by an actual neo-Nazi – have campaigned against what they perceive as the recent politicization of SFF as a genre, as though it’s humanly possible to write a story involving people that doesn’t have a political dimension; as though “political narrative” means “I disagreed with the premise or content, which makes it Wrong” and not “a narrative which contains and was written by people.”

Vox Day reacted in a post titled “Please to remove the libel”:

I have written to John O’Neill, my former editor at Black Gate, asking him to remove this false, malicious, and materially damaging libel directed at me, and by extension, the Sad and Rabid Puppies. As I was a long-time contributor to Black Gate, Mr. O’Neill knows perfectly well that I am neither a neo-Nazi nor a National Socialist, I have never been a neo-Nazi or a National Socialist, I do not belong to, or subscribe to the tenets of, the German National Socialist Workers Party or any subsequent facsimile, and I do not appreciate the libelous attempts of Ms Meadows, to publicly and falsely assert that I am “an actual neo-Nazi”.

Vox Popoli commenters spent the day conspicuously scavenging the web for Meadows’ personal and financial details and lodging their finds as comments on Day’s post. Meadows Twitter stream also has been haunted by people unsuccessfuly trying to intimidate the author by sounding as if there could be ominous consequences.

Day made several updates to his post, one saying a resolution was in process.

UPDATE: As I expected, John was very reasonable about it and the matter is being resolved. Thanks for your support, everyone.

But in the hours since, Meadows’ text has remained unchanged nor has O’Neill added any comment.

(16) INVASION. In a New York Times article “California Today: Booksellers See a Threat in New Law”, the A.C.L.U. has an opinion.

A new law going into effect next month mandates that anyone selling a signed book for more than $5 must vouch for the autograph’s authenticity. That includes, among other things, identifying the previous owner.

“If you visit my bookstore to trade in that copy of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ you picked up at a book signing, I’ll need to take down your name and address and then provide it to whoever happens to buy the book from me,” said Scott Brown, who runs Eureka Books in Eureka.

The law was designed to protect consumers from the booming trade in fake collectibles. But it is written so loosely that some worry it might drag booksellers down.

“I can understand why booksellers are concerned,” said Michael Risher, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U. of Northern California. “The law is an invasion into privacy and should be amended.”

The legislation began with an effort by State Representative Ling Ling Chang to broaden a 1992 law about sports memorabilia. She joined forces with Mark Hamill, the “Star Wars” actor who kept seeing signed posters that were fake. Booksellers say they didn’t realize they were vulnerable until after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure in September.

Ms. Chang, who was unavailable for comment, has published on her Facebook page a statement that both “the letter and spirit of the law” do not apply to booksellers. Her reasoning is that the law is aimed at “dealers,” who are mostly in the business of selling signed collectibles. Since booksellers sell all kinds of books, many of them unsigned, Ms. Chang argues that leaves them off the hook.

But some booksellers worry that is not true….

(17) RATS! New Zealand’s 2017 national sf convention has opened a writing competition.

In our short story competition, you have the opportunity to channel your inner rodent, or world build a mischief of rats… Write us a short story which, in honour of our Ghost of Honour, Orville, includes a reference to a rat.

The competition is held in association with SpecFicNZ, who are generously contributing prizes, and judged by Guest of Honour Seanan McGuire. Get scratching!

We’re also running a drabble competition – 100 words of fiction based around a word you invented. If you’re new to writing, this could be a great place to start.

Find out more at www.lexicon.cons.nz/comps.php. Other competitions will be announced shortly; artists, filkers, and cosplayers, stay tuned.

(18) DEAL US IN. Tor.com’s Natalie Zutter has good news for Cards Against Humanity fans: “Patrick Rothfuss and Cards Against Humanity Release Special Sci-Fi Pack”.

For $5, this pack of 30 cards “poking fun at the Sci-Fi genre” (in Rothfuss’ words) will let you throw down the geekiest cards in your next game of CAH. All proceeds from the first two weeks of sales will go to Worldbuilders, Rothfuss’ nonprofit. What’s more, Rothfuss says, they’ll double that donation before passing it along to Heifer International, the organization that Worldbuilders supports.

Here’s everyone who contributed to the cards!

  • Delilah S. Dawson
  • Elizabeth Bear
  • Jim C. Hines
  • Myke Cole
  • Martha Wells
  • Catherynne M. Valente
  • Patrick Rothfuss

[Thanks to JJ, Xtifr, Bonnie McDaniel, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Redheadedfemme. (Yes, Bonnie, I held over a few you suggested last year.)]

Pixel Scroll 6/27/16 770 Sunset Scroll

(1) BREAKING IT DOWN. Damien G. Walter contemplates “Systems fiction: a novel way to think about the present” in The Guardian.

Weirdly enough, science fiction is not the best lens through which to examine science fiction. In the 80s, critic Tom LeClair came up with an alternative category for all the weird literary novels that veered into speculative territory: the systems novel. These books pick apart how the systems that keep society chugging along work: politics, economics, sex and gender dynamics, science, ideologies – all can be explored through fiction, especially experimental fiction. LeClair applied this tag specifically to Don DeLillo, but it can be expanded more widely: think Thomas Pynchon, Margaret Atwood, David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, Jennifer Egan and Umberto Eco, among others….

“The future is here,” William Gibson famously said. “It’s just not evenly distributed.” And in these difficult times, the visionary possibilities of the systems novel can be comforting. When we’re in the capable hands of guides like Atwood, DeLillo and Robinson, these novels can be a profound reminder of human progress and potential. In the wake of the EU result, and ahead of the US elections, if you are feeling at all unsettled about the future – go read these books today.

(2) POST-BREXIT FASHION. Jim Mowatt’s FB page displayed a “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted Remain” t-shirt, and I made an idle joke that the marathon runner should really be wearing a different slogan – which Alison Scott immediately made available (or that’s the impression I got).

i voted rhino

(3) WHAT’S UP WITH SFWA. Episode 3 of the SFWA Chat Hour features SFWA Board Members Jennifer Brozek and Matthew Johnson, CFO Bud Sparhawk, and President Cat Rambo.

Includes discussion of what the criteria for game writers will be like and when they’ll go out (hint: soon!). Also the usual books we like, writing advice, reports on the Locus Weekend, Stokercon and Origins, and ice cream vs. sherbet, in which we unanimously vote for ice cream.

 

(4) CAMESTROS FELAPTON. When not busily engaged arm-wrestling with Vox Day about their IQs, Camestros turns his talents to the visual arts.

(5) HORROR PODCAST. The Horror Writers Association recommends the Scary Out There podcast. The latest installment offers a dialog with Kaitlin Ward, the author of Bleeding Earth (Adaptive Books, February 2016). Listen to the episode here.

Hello Horror Fanatics! Today Scary Out There is sitting down with Kaitlin Ward, the author of Bleeding Earth (Adaptive Books, February 2016). Listen as Kaitlin discusses how she came up with the idea for Bleeding Earth, why it’s important for children and teens to read horror, what scary books she recommends, and more.

Kaitlin Ward grew up on a dairy farm in Monroe, New Hampshire, the same town where she lives today with her husband and son. Before settling back in her hometown, Kaitlin studied animal science at Cornell University. She co-founded the well-known blog, YA Highway, and by day she works at a company that sells coins. Bleeding Earth is her debut novel. Kaitlin’s new book, The Farm, will be released by Scholastic in 2017. Keep up with Kaitlin at kaitlin-ward.com and follow her on Twitter @Kaitlin_Ward.

Kaitlin recommends the following horror titles: Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics (Harlequin Teen, September 2016); Relic by Gretchen McNeil (HarperCollins/EpicReads Impulse, March 2016)

(6) FANS WHO SNORT. In the July/August Fantasy & Science Fiction, David Gerrold has a novelette called “The Thing on the Shelf” that begins as a report on the 2013 World Horror Convention, which hands out the Bram Stoker Award.

“The World Horror Convention was one of the better conventions I attended. Horror fans are clean, well-dressed, intelligent, polite, and enthusiastic. I have no idea why this is so. (Although I have to admit I was a little put off by the beautiful woman who came up to me and said she wanted to lick my Stoker. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that, and I’m not up on this year’s crop of new slang terms.)”

He adds the following:

“At one con, a young fan saw my badge had the ‘Pro’ ribbon attached, so he leaned forward and read my name.  ‘I never heard of you,’ he said. ‘What did you write?’

I replied, “I wrote the novelization of Battle of the Planet of the Apes. I said it with deadpan pride.

He snorted and walked off, his way of showing how unimportant I was.”

(7) DININ’ GAIJIN. Liz Braswell tells the readers of Eating Authors about a memorable meal in Japan. The best part follows this excerpt.

My husband, my crazy-blond toddler, my sister Sabrina and I were in Japan for work and fun — the vacation of a lifetime. One night Scott took the baby and a colleague of his took Sabrina and me for a night out on the town. Mutsumi asked us where we wanted to go and of course we answered someplace super obscure no Americans have been to Japanese only please we’ll behave.

She very nicely obliged and led us through the labyrinth of streets, around and around and deeper and deeper into Tokyo. Most of the city doesn’t follow a grid system and buildings are addressed by age rather than specific location; were my sister and I by ourselves we never would have found our way in or out of the tiny neighborhood we eventually wound up in. And forget about stumbling upon the tiny, unmarked, second-floor restaurant where we were, indeed, the only gaijin.

Everything about the place was perfect: from the rustic tables and wooden shutters to the little button one presses to ring for a waiter—otherwise diners are left in perfect privacy. The sake came in hand-thrown cups, Mutsumi ordered for us, we behaved.

We wanted to stop drinking at one point, but apparently that would not have been behaving, so we continued….

(8) EXIT POLL. Nicholas Whyte ranks his Retro and regular Hugo picks in “My Hugo and #RetroHugos1941 votes: Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)”. In second place on his Retro Hugo ballot —

2) The Adventures of Superman: “The Baby from Krypton”

The only radio play in the mix (as opposed to two years ago, when we had four radio plays and a TV play than nobody had seen), it’s the origin story of Superman, and does what it says on the tin perfectly competently. Lara, Kal-El’s mother, is played by Agnes Moorehead, later Endora in Bewitched.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • June 27, 1927 — “Captain Kangaroo” Bob Keeshan
  • June 27, 1966 — J.J. Abrams

(10) SKIFFY AND FANTY. I tend not to cover podcasts — even with hearing aids I’m not able to listen to them effectively. I will say the blurb for this episode of The Skiffy and Fanty Show makes it sound pretty irresistible: 298. Sphere (1998) — A Torture Cinema “Adventure”.

Eggs, squid, and bad dreams, oh my!  Our latest listener-directed Torture Cinema episode has finally arrived.  This time, we discuss the infamous adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Sphere starring Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, and more!  At least two of us have a bit of a rant about this movie, so you should expect some pure, unadulterated Skiffy and Fanty rage in this episode!

(11) AND SOMETHING BUT THE TRUTH. Alexandra Erin is right on the money about “Sad Boner Confessionals”.

You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when the language suggests a high wire act where the author is trying to achieve some delicate balance between “I’m a sensitive man” and “BUT I’M A MAN” and wants you to sympathize with the contortions he puts himself through as  a result. You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when a man is describing the worst trauma of a woman’s life purely in terms of what it means about him. You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when a man is telling you everything he’s learned from the mistakes he’s made but none of those things are accountability or personal responsibility. You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when all admissions of past sins have a sheen of humblebragging about them.

(12) LABYRINTH. The BBC article “Why Labyrinth is so memorable” talks about the advantages of real-time puppetry over computer animation. Chip Hitchcock comments, “They don’t discuss how/if the gap has been narrowed by motion capture; would be interesting to see discussion of this — or any input by Mary Robinette Kowal, who has done fascinating convention talks about the practice of puppetry and the theory behind it.”

Jim Henson’s beloved 1986 movie musical Labyrinth, one of only two non-Muppets films the legendary puppeteer directed, is famous for several reasons.

Fans of David Bowie will recall visions of the late musician wearing extremely tight trousers that fail to obscure an enormously large codpiece. Bowie wrote and performed all the songs, including the iconic Dance Magic Dance. He plays a nefarious, all-singing, all-dancing king of a fantasy world of goblins, castles and all manner of strange colourful creatures.

One of Labyrinth’s best-known scenes is a sensational finale that takes place on a set modelled on Escher staircases. It is also the production that brought a then-unknown, then-15-year-old Jennifer Connelly to the public’s attention.

… One of the first creatures she encounters in the Goblin King’s fantastical world is a dwarf named Hoggle: a morally dubious, Sméagol-esque character whose motives and allegiances are unclear. With a huge lumpy nose, spurts of shoulder-length white hair and a crinkled, finely detailed face, Hoggle is an amazing puppet, at once both magical and realistic.

His seemingly effortless facial and body movements required the collaboration of six people working in real time. The character’s large face contained 18 motors, which were manipulated off-frame by four crew members using remote controls. Diminutive actor Shari Weiser controlled Hoggle’s body and Brian Henson, Jim’s son, provided his voice.

(13) STOPWATCH. Are you worried about how long Suicide Squad will run? ScreenRant is going to tell you anyway.

Collider has heard from their sources that Suicide Squad runs approximately 130 minutes with credits. Its DCEU predecessors were both in the range of 2.5 hours, meaning Suicide Squad will be about 20 minutes shorter than either Man of Steel or Dawn of Justice. Considering the sheer amount of characters Ayer is working with, some may be concerned that Squad is actually too short, but a shade over two hours gives him plenty of time to flesh everything out. After all, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had a lot on its plate and accomplished it all in 136 minutes.

(14) A DIFFERENT DICTIONARY. John G. Hartness, in Magical Words’ “Making Money Mondays” post, uses a commercial definition of “Fans v. True Fans”.

Now on to our main topic – fans. Now I’m not ever going to bash fans, because I love my fans. Hell, I love everybody’s fans, because I’m a fan myself. But what we want to talk about today is the concept of the True Fan, what they are, how best to interact with them, how to find them, how to keep them. Looking at that, it’s going to take more than one post, so this week we’ll talk about what a True Fan is, then later on ee’ll look at how to cultivate them, how to deal with them, and how to convert a Lesser Fan into a True Fan.

For the record, exactly ZERO of this material is anything I came up with. The concept of 1,000 True Fans was first put forth by Kevin Kelly in 2008 on his blog post here. He later references a couple of other folks who had similar ideas a little earlier, unbeknownst to him, but his site, with a tip of the hat to Seth Godin, who wrote the blog post that first turned me on to Kevin’s work.

Kelly postulates that any independent artist, that is any artist outside the big machine of superstar entertainment, needs to cultivate only 1,000 True Fans to survive. BTW, this whole blog post came out of a late-night conversation with AJ Hartley, where I claimed the number was 100. I’m bad at math. He defines a True Fan as someone who spends $100 per year on your work, and those thousand people then contribute to a $100,000 annual income, which is a pretty comfortable living in most places. At least that’s the rumor. I’m a writer, I don’t make anywhere near that kind of money.

So what’s a True Fan, and how do I get their hundred bucks? I assume that’s what you’re all asking. In this case, it’s usually a lot easier to show you than tell you….

(15) DON’T BE ALARMED. George R.R. Martin expressed gratitude about winning a Locus Award together with Gardner Dozois, and he couldn’t resist adding a punchline.

All kidding aside, I am very proud of OLD VENUS, and I know Gardner is as well. There are some terrific stories in there, and one that in any normal year would have been a surefire Hugo finalist. This is the third year in a row that one of the original anthologies that I’ve done with Gardner has won the Locus Award, and I can’t tell you how gratifying that is. Gardner and I both began our careers (a long time ago) with short fiction, and it pleases me no end to be able to provide a showcase for some of the extraordinary short stories, novelettes, and novellas still being written in this age of the series and the meganovel. If you don’t read anthologies, friends, you are missing out on some great stuff.

Oh, and before the crazy internet rumors start flying, I had better say that I was only kidding about OLD URANUS….

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peter J.]

Pixel Scroll 4/19/16 You’ve Lost That Scrollin’ Feelin’

(1) OPENING DAY. The PKDFest is three days long — I posted about the Friday and Saturday sessions at Cal State Fullerton. The party starts Thursday, April 28 on another campus — at UC Irvine.

PKD IN OC CROP

Philip K. Dick in the OC: Virtually Real, Really Virtual

Thursday, April 28, 2016, 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Humanities Gateway 1030)

Philip K. Dick spent the last decade of his life from 1972 to 1982 in Orange County, having fled the Bay Area convinced he was the target of various malevolent forces, ranging from governmental agencies to religious groups. In Orange County, PKD experienced the anonymity of everyday life in suburbia. He also experienced a divine vision that, as he explained in later writings, permitted him to glimpse the “trans-temporal constancy” of the universe. During his decade in Orange County, he produced some of his most enduring and enigmatic works, including novels like A Scanner Darkly and VALIS that reflect a pervasive sense of paranoia and also PKD’s attempts to make sense of his life-altering spiritual experience.

Schedule:

Opening Remarks & Welcome – 10:30am

  • Jonathan Alexander

10:45am-12:00pm

  • Interviewing Phil, Charles Platt
  • PKD in Perspective, Gregg Rickman
  • PKD on the Couch, Barry Spatz

Lunch Break – 12:00pm-1:00pm

Living with Phil – 1:00pm-2:00pm

  • Tessa Dick, Grania Davis, Gregory Benford (moderator)

Visualizing Phil (in the High Castle and Otherwise) – 2:00pm-3:00pm

  • Sherryl Vint, Jonathan Alexander, Antoinette LaFarge

Coffee break – 3:00pm-3:15pm

PKD and Privacy – 3:15pm-4:30pm

  • David Brin, Gregory Benford

Closing Reception – 4:30pm

Please RSVP to icruse@uci.edu to confirm your attendance.

(2) B.C. Things Kelly Link did before being announced as a Pulitzer finalist yesterday now appear in a strange new light….

(3) VENDORS IN SPACE. Russ Ault told Facebook readers merchants are getting a bum deal at Worldcons.

Some of us out here in the world of convention merchants have, for some time now, been getting increasingly disenchanted with the opportunity presented by the typical Worldcon. (For those unfamiliar, that’s the annual “World Science Fiction Convention”, held in a different place each year, and nominally staffed and run by a different group each year as well.) In a space that is typically similar to that occupied by a Wizard World event, at a cost of more than twice as much per attendee, they end up hosting a crowd that is just 10% to 25% of the size of the typical media or comic con – but the rates they want for vendor space (when you include the price of the separate membership) end up being commensurate with the worst of the WW shows in terms of per-live-body-square-foot results. An eight-foot table and one membership will cost you over $400, with the prospect of having a crowd of as few as 3500 to 4000 people. (Compare that to a 10×10 booth for $1500 with a delivered head count that’s typically in the area of 20,000 – which is not really a very good deal either.)

And they wonder why we bristle when they say things like “The Worldcon doesn’t owe the dealers anything.”

(4) ARTIFICIAL CHARM. Hugh Hancock foresees the “Rise of the Trollbot” in a guest post on Charles Stross’ blog.

… In “Accelerando”, Charlie posited the idea of a swarm of legal robots, creating a neverending stream of companies which exchange ownership so fast they can’t be tracked.

It’s rather clear to me that the same thing is about to happen to social media. And possibly politics.

What makes me so sure?

Microsoft’s Tay Chatbot. Oh, and the state of the art in Customer Relationship Management software….

2: On The Internet, No-one Knows Their Friend Is A Dog.

In many ways, the straightforward trollswarm approach is the least threatening use of this technology. A much more insidious one is to turn the concept on its head – at least initially – and optimise the bots for friendliness.

Let’s say you wish to drive a particular group of fly-fishers out of the fishing community online for good.

Rather than simply firing up a GPU instance and directing it to come up with the world’s best fly-fishing insults, fire it up and direct it to befriend everyone in the fly-fishing community. This is eminently automatable: there are already plenty of tools out there which allow you to build up your Twitter following in a semi-automated manner (even after Twitter clamped down on “auto-following”), and Tay was already equipped to post memes. A decent corpus, a win condition of follows, positive-sentiment messages and RTs, and a bot could become a well-respected member of a social media community in months.

THEN turn the bot against your enemies. Other humans will see the fight too. If your bot’s doing a half-decent job – and remember, it’s already set up to optimise for RTs – real humans, who have actual power and influence in the community, will join in. They may ban the people under attack from community forums, give them abuse offline, or even threaten their jobs or worse.

For even more power and efficiency, don’t do this with one bot. One person starting a fight is ignorable. Twenty, fifty or a hundred respected posters all doing it at once – that’s how things like Gamergate start.

(And of course, the choice of persona for the bots, and how they express their grievances, will be important. Unfortunately we already have a large corpus of information on how to craft a credible narrative and cause people to feel sympathy for our protagonist – storytelling. If the bot-controller has a decent working knowledge of “Save The Cat” or “Story”, that’ll make the botswarm all the more effective…)

(5) A NUMERICAL LACK. From the Dictionary of Fantastic Vocabulary, ”a compendium of imaginary words and their uses,”comes —

Anquintan, n.

a person without five

That’s what happens when someone uses double share!

(6) DO AS I SAY. Dr. Mauser says “Don’t Pirate Indies”. (But dude, your blog is named Shoplifting in the Marketplace of Ideas!)

…. Now, I understand a bit of what’s going on, there’s an awful lot of piracy going on out there, and yeah, in strictest terms, virtually every picture you’ve got on your phone or hard drive that you didn’t take yourself is some kind of copyright violation. I’m not going to go down that puritan road. But let me go through the usual excuses and explain why they don’t apply to indy books….

But I’m broke! – No, you’re not, you just can’t prioritize, or childishly can’t manage your budget. We’re talking an e-book in the $2.99 to $5.99 range. Hell, Comic books are about that much apiece these days. You just bought the latest video game for enough to buy TEN eBooks. You could stock a library for what you spent on that Con. Give up ONE Latte? (Furries are particularly notorious for pleading poverty when their favorite artists put out a $10 portfolio, then drop $50 for a single commission of their personal character in some sexual position – go fig.)

Hey, I’m doing you a favor, it’s free publicity! – Bullshit. In my friend’s case, it’s costing him plenty – hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Free publicity is writing reviews, having discussions, all that stuff they call “Word of Mouth”, and actually BUYING the book so that its Amazon Rankings go up. If you actually Love the author’s work, why are you destroying it?

(7) CAT’S PICTURES. Cat Rambo tells “How I Use Instagram”.

Still working frantically on the update for the Creating an Online Presence for Writers book, plus prepping for this weekend’s online class. One big change since the last version is Instagram‘s rocket upward in popularity. Here in 2016, it is the number two social media network in number of users, second only after Facebook.

It lets you post pictures, often with some sort of caption, and see what other people are posting. Unlike Facebook, it doesn’t play fast and loose with what you see, but gives you a stream composed of everyone you’re following.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 19, 1987 — The Simpsons first aired on The Tracey Ullman Show.

(9) MORTALITY. Rachel Swirsky has revised her essay “On Writing and Mortality”. “It was originally published in 2011. I had recently had a death scare.”

A year or two ago, an article made the rounds which had asked a number of famous authors for ten pieces of writing advice. Some of the advice was irritating, some banal, some profound, and some amusing.

One piece of advice that got picked up and repeated was the idea that if you were working on a project, and found out that you had six weeks to live, if you were willing to set the project down then it was the wrong project for you to be writing.

I dislike that advice. It seems to come from the same place that makes writers say things like “a real writer has to write” or “any writers who can be discouraged should be.” (A convenient excuse for acting like a jerk.)

(10) GOOGLE BOOK SCANNING UPHELD. “Supreme Court rejects challenge to Google book-scanning project”. As David Klaus puts it, “The court says ‘to Hell with your ownership of the books you write.’”

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge by a group of authors who contend that Google’s massive effort to scan millions of books for an online library violates copyright law.

The Authors Guild and several individual writers have argued that the project, known as Google Books, illegally deprives them of revenue. The high court left in place an October 2015 ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in favor of Google.

A unanimous three-judge appeals court panel said the case “tests the boundaries of fair use,” but found Google’s practices were ultimately allowed under the law.

The individual plaintiffs who filed the proposed class action against Google included former New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton, who wrote the acclaimed memoir “Ball Four.”

Several prominent writers, including novelist and poet Margaret Atwood and lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim, signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief backing the Authors Guild.

The authors sued Google, whose parent company is Alphabet Inc, in 2005, a year after the project was launched. A lower court dismissed the litigation in 2013, prompting the authors’ appeal.

(11) WICKED AUTOGRAPH. Abe Books has a special Something available for Bradbury fans.

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. (SIGNED)

BRADBURY, Ray, [ Christopher Lee ].

Published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 1962 Second Edition. Hardback. Dust Jacket. (1962)

Used Hardcover Signed

…Signed presentation from the author on the front endpaper to Christopher Lee, ‘For Christopher Lee, who is Mr. Dark! With the admiration of his fan – Ray Bradbury, Mar. 21st 1964’. Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, CBE,(1922–2015) was an English actor, singer, author, and World War II veteran. He was notably in ‘The Wicker Man’ and ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ but is best known for his role as Count Dracula in a sequence of Hammer Horror films and later as Saruman in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy.

(12) SPOCK AT TRIBECA. Yahoo! Movies’ Seth Kelley has the story: “’For the Love of Spock’ Q&A Remembers Leonard Nimoy, Talks Future of ‘Star Trek’ Franchise”.

Adam Nimoy remembered his late father, Leonard, during a Q&A that followed a screening of his documentary “For The Love of Spock.” The discussion took place on Monday as part of the Tribeca Film Festival where the film first screened two days earlier.

Variety‘s Gordon Cox moderated the conversation, which also included Zachary Quinto, EP David Zappone and film critic and self-proclaimed Trekker Scott Mantz.

Adam Nimoy, who wrote and directed the film, said that he had plenty of material. “A lot of things got left on the cutting room floor, unfortunately,” he said. But he added that his father would have approved of the final cut. “I think he would be very pleased and proud.”

(13) IMMURED. “Elizabeth Banks Unrecognizable As Power Rangers Reboot’s Rita Repulsa” says Yahoo! News.

People magazine has lifted the lid on 2017?s live action ‘Power Rangers’ reboot by revealing the film’s villain Rita Repulsa as played – beneath layers of costume and prosthetic make up – by Elizabeth Banks.

The ‘Hunger Games’ star is channelling her dark side to play the mean green witch – her first villain role – describing the character as “a modern and edgy re-imagining of the original Rita”.

(14) CROWDSOURCED BOWIE TRIBUTE. Unbound’s project Fill Your Heart: Writers on Bowie will be an anthology of writers inspired by the musician.

Our mourning isn’t over, but we want to write, we’ve got to write: to him, for him, about him. Fill Your Heart: Writers On Bowie is an anthology by some of our greatest contemporary writers. It is an anthology celebrating David Bowie with creativity. Whether a short story, a poem, a piece of memoir, psychogeograhy or creative non-fiction, these pieces will be personal responses to Bowie, to his shaping work and influence.

Edited by the novelist Tiffany Murray, this will be an important celebration, possibly a strange, mad celebration, but it is for anyone who was and is inspired by David Bowie and his work.

Fill Your Heart will be creating something new, a bold anthology that in some way shows us all how Bowie sparked each generation’s imaginations: how he made us.

Let’s spark together.

The collection is 11% funded so far.

(15) GUARDIANS. A Russian Marvel-esque superhero flick. It’s called Zaschitniki (Russian) or Guardians (English).

Set during the Cold War, a secret organization named “Patriot” gathered a group of Soviet superheroes, altering and augmenting the DNA of four individuals, in order to defend the homeland from supernatural threats. The group includes representatives of the different nationalities of the Soviet Union, which each one of them have long been hiding their true identity. In hard times, they settled down to business and gather to defend their homeland.

 

[Thanks to Kendall, JJ, Will R., Gregory Benford, David K.M. Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 2/8/16 One Scroll I Sing, A Simple Separate Pixel

(1) WHEN GRAVITY DOESN’T FAIL. NDTV headline: “Announcement Thursday On Albert Einstein’s Gravitational Waves”:

“My earlier rumor about LIGO has been confirmed by independent sources. Stay tuned! Gravitational waves may have been discovered!! Exciting,” said a message on Twitter from Arizona State University cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, who does not work with LIGO.

His words sparked a firestorm of speculation.

An announcement will be made Thursday at 10:30 am (1530 GMT) at the National Press Club in the US capital Washington.

The event brings “together scientists from Caltech, MIT and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration to update the scientific community on efforts to detect them,” a National Science Foundation statement read.

They will provide “a status report on the effort to detect gravitational waves — or ripples in the fabric of spacetime — using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO),” it said.

LIGO is a dual set of identical detectors built by scientists at MIT and Caltech to pick up “incredibly tiny vibrations from passing gravitational waves,” said the statement.

(2) CHINESE STAR WARS. “Red ‘Star Wars’: How China used pirate comic to promote science in 1980s”  at Japan Times.

Song Feideng

Song Feideng

A long time ago in a country far, far away, Chinese authorities managed to obtain a copy of America’s ultimate cultural weapon: a blockbuster movie with enough special effects to wow an entire planet.

Summoned to a small theater in the southern city of Guangzhou in 1980, artist Song Feideng was shown “Star Wars” and instructed to transform it into a traditional Chinese comic book, known as a “lianhuanhua,” to promote scientific achievement in China.

Song was one of the first people in China to see George Lucas’ magnum opus at a time when it was still banned — a marked contrast to the status of the series’ most recent installment in a market that Hollywood increasingly sees as crucial to success.

“The objective was to take the world’s advanced science and popularize it in China,” Song, who worked for a state-owned publisher at the time, said in an interview.

He replaced the movie’s X-wing spacecraft with Soviet rockets and jet fighters. In one illustration, Luke Skywalker wears a cosmonaut’s bulky spacesuit and rebel leaders are dressed in Western business suits. Darth Vader appears alongside a triceratops.

(3) AND YOU CAN READ IT IN ENGLISH. The whole comic has been translated by Nick Stember — Star Wars comic part 1-6.

Chinese_star_wars_comic_manhua_llianhuanhua6-1024x792

(4) GENIUS CLUSTER. “Alice Cooper on His Dinner With David Bowie and Ray Bradbury” at Rolling Stone.

After Cooper’s initial meeting with Bowie in the late Sixties, they later forged a friendship. Once, they even had dinner together with Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury. “It was really interesting, because these guys were in outer space somewhere,” he says. “They were talking about quantum physics, and I’m going, ‘So … what kind of car are you driving?'” Cooper laughs.

Does Cooper know how funny that question really was? Despite living in LA, Bradbury famously didn’t drive.

(5) NUMBERS THAT MATTER. What File 770 reader can resist a series titled “Five Books About”? Marc Turner’s contribution is “Five Books Where Dragons Are Put In Their Place” at Tor.com.

Dragons may be a trope of the epic fantasy genre, but they are a trope I suspect I will never tire of. My new book, Dragon Hunters, might just have one or two of the creatures lurking within its pages.

Whenever you encounter a dragon, it’s usually the apex predator of its world. But invincible? Certainly not. There’s a quote I recall from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (paraphrasing G.K. Chesterton) that goes: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

His first choice is Smaug.

(6) WHERE SAWYER BEGAN. Robert J. Sawyer’s first SF publication was in The Village Voice in 1981.

I’d had an earlier fantasy publication (“The Contest,” in the 1980 edition of White Wall Review, the literary annual of my alma mater, Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, edited by Ed Greenwood, who created the “Forgotten Realms” for Dungeons & Dragons), and I’d sold a science-fiction story to be produced as a a planetarium starshow), but that was my first science-fiction publication — and it came out exactly 35 years ago today.

That story appeared in the 14-20 January 1981 issued of The Village Voice: The Weekly Newspaper of New York, as a winner in a ten-week contest they were running called “Sci-Fi Scenes,” featured in the “Scenes” column by Howard Smith & Lin Harris.

The rules required a story of exactly 250 words — no more, no less (title words didn’t count, a fact I took full advantage of).

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 8, 1828 – Jules Verne.

(8) EVEN BAT DURSTON LOST? Charlie Jane Anders tells the story of “That Time When a Fake Science Fiction Author Won a Major Novel-Writing Prize” at io9.

Back in 1953, Galaxy Science Fiction and Simon & Schuster launched a huge contest to find a great new science fiction novel. The prize was $6,500 (a lot of money in those days). The winner? A brand new writer named Edson McCann. Except for one thing: Edson McCann did not exist.

It was a pretty disgraceful scam, everything considered.

(9) PUPPIES MARCH ON. Vox Day announced the next addition to his slate – “Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Editor (Long-form”).

  • Anne Sowards, Penguin
  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt, independent
  • Mike Braff, Del Rey
  • Toni Weisskopf, Baen Books
  • Vox Day, Castalia House

(10) LURKER REQUEST. People are welcome to ask questions like this in a comment on the Scroll. I received this one as an e-mail query:

I was wondering if you recognized this summary, or would be willing to post it (a long shot, I know), to see if someone recognizes it and can give title or author.

Our main character is a women who is involved in a profession that shows a lot of skin; I don’t recall if it’s actress, dancer, sex worker, or what. One day she wakes up in a thick, gray, sack-dress with no recollection of how it could have gotten on her. She can’t take it off and, when she tries to bathe, it sheds material but doesn’t wash away. It turns out that a Moral Majority opponent of hers has figured out how to program nanobots to turn out this cloth, and has set it in a cloud around her. He and his congregation wear it as well, I think? I know that the climax of the story involves that as a plot-point, along with some clever reverse-engineering on what wavelengths the nano-cloth passes or reflects…

Sound familiar to anyone?

(11) HIS FIELD OF EXPERIENCE. Never let it be said that Neil deGrasse Tyson missed a chance to talk science.

(12) SPORTS JOKE. For those who are interested enough in US sports to get the joke, a parody of a series of NFL promos aired during yesterday’s Super Bowl broadcast.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Alan Baumler for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Henley.]

Pixel Scroll 1/18/16 The 770 Horsemen of the Apocalypse

(1) USED BOOK LOVE. Eric Flint weighs in: “How Should An Author Look On Used Book Sales”.

I ran across this blog by the author Kristen Lamb:

PAY THE WRITER

…while reading this article by Rachel Kramer Bussel in Salon magazine:

Don’t feel guilty

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or who has read any of the essays I’ve written in the past on copyright laws and online piracy that I generally agree with Bussel’s stance and disagree with Lamb’s. But there are some issues involved that Bussel doesn’t address which I think are actually more important than the ones she does. Another way to put it is that I don’t think she goes far enough. The essence of her argument is that the situation is more complicated than Lamb presents it as being, and is not an either/or situation. While it is true that a book sold in a used book store may represent an immediate loss to an author, it can be made up for in the long run by exposing more people to that author….

To make a living as a full time writer, or even to derive a significant income from writing, an author has to constantly recreate their readership base. The process is dynamic, not static. And the main way an author does so is by having that huge penumbra of free books—“free,” at least, from the author’s standpoint—surrounding the much smaller number of books which get sold in a way that brings direct income.

That’s why Lamb’s view of the matter is so skewed. She’s right that it’s an either/or situation, but she doesn’t understand that the relationship between “either” and “or” is a necessary and beneficial one.

(2) MARKETING TO “FANGIRLS”. Her Universe Press drew the attention of the New York Times in “Narrowing a Gap in the Sci-Fi Universe: One Fangirl Giving a Voice to Others”.

Ashley Eckstein, a self-described sci-fi fangirl, believes women like her are often overlooked. So several years ago she started a company to sell apparel featuring brands like Doctor Who, Star Trek and Star Wars to other fangirls. Now, believing those same women need a voice, she is expanding into publishing….

“Liking Star Wars is not a trend; it’s part of who you are,” she said, adding that she was disturbed to see women harassed for liking sci-fi and fantasy. “It was troubling to me; it was painful for fangirls.”

Mrs. Eckstein started her company, Her Universe, in 2009 after searching for a Star Wars T-shirt at a comic book convention. Unable to find anything suited for women, she instead saw an opportunity to target an overlooked consumer. Her company has since expanded from convention and Internet sales to include retail partners like Hot Topic and, starting in March, Kohl’s, which will sell a line of Her Universe active wear.

Now, Mrs. Eckstein sees another opportunity, this time as a publisher of sci-fi novels written by women. She said she got the idea after receiving unsolicited manuscripts at conventions. “Fans would hand me a book and say, ‘I wrote a story and could not get it published,’ ” she said. “I would come home with stacks of books.”

(3) NOR-CON GETS A REMATCH. Norwich’s local science fiction convention is back after a year’s hiatus.

The annual science fiction spectacular was missing from the calendar last year, but details have been announced for a revamped event in October at a larger venue and with the promise of even more for sci-fi fans to look forward to…

Mark Dean, director of Nor-Con Events Limited, said: “We’ve had a year’s break to restructure and rebrand. Due to demand we’ve moved to a larger venue at the Norfolk Showground, which will allow us to have more people, more exhibits and exhibits that will be able to move around like the Daleks and R2-D2s because we’ve got the space.”

As well as celebrities signing autographs and taking part in question and answer sessions, there will be exhibitions, demonstrations, trader stands as well as the Norwich Star Wars Club UK, comic artists and cosplay – “costume play” – groups.

This con made the “crime news” in 2013

When police arrived at the Norwich Sci-Fi and Film Convention on May 12 they found around a dozen fans belonging to two rival groups involved in a bitter exchange outside. The convention’s hosts, members of the Norwich Star Wars Club of the University of East Anglia, had refused entry to some fans from the rival Norwich Sci Fi Club.

The BBC reported this story under the misleading headline “Star Wars and Doctor Who fans clash at Norwich convention”

(4) CRITICS’ CHOICE. The 2016 Critics’ Choice Awards were presented at a ceremony broadcast by A&E on January 18.

Mad Max: Fury Road dominated the Film division. It was the winner in nine categories including Best Action Movie, Best Actor (Tom Hardy), Best Actress (Charlize Theron) Best Director (George Miller), and Best Visual Effects.

Inside Out won Best Animated Feature.

Ex Machina was named Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie.

In the Television division, Mr. Robot was named Best Drama Series, and its cast members won Best Actor in a Drama Series (Rami Malek) and Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Christian Slater).

Outlander was selected as the Best Binge-Worthy Show.

Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik received the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

Also, Rachel Bloom of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend won Best Actress in a Comedy Series. (File 770 keeps track of her successes because of the Hugo-nominated Ray Bradbury music video she did back in the day.) Popsugar reports:

After the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards, you should know who Rachel Bloom is. The star of The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend took home the Critics’ Choice Award for her role on the musical comedy on Sunday. She was clearly shocked to be taking home yet another award,…

(5) ADAMS OBIT. Television’s Grizzly Adams, actor Dan Haggerty, died January 15 at the age of 73. His New York Times obituary lists horror movies he made late in his careerTerror Night (1987), Elves (1989) — playing an alcoholic mall Santa — and Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan (2013).

(6) SCOTTY WOULD APPROVE. A Guardian story tells us, “Star Trek stars endorse SNP’s bid to establish Europe’s first spaceport”.

The Star Trek stars William Shatner and George Takei have backed the Scottish National party’s ambition to establish Europe’s first spaceport in the UK.

The SNP MP Philippa Whitford led a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday on the future of the UK space industry, which she concluded by giving the Vulcan salute. The MP made the case for a spaceport to be established in her constituency of Central Ayrshire….

Welcoming the SNP debate, the actor William Shatner, Star Trek’s Captain James T Kirk, issued a statement that was read out to MPs: “Space is one of the last known frontiers mostly untouched by mankind and his politics. In opening a debate on this subject, my hope is you take the tenets of Star Trek’s prime directive to universally and peacefully share in the exploration of it. I wish you all a wonderful debate. My best, Bill.”

George Takei, Star Trek’s Lieutenant Sulu, tweeted his support: “I wish the SNP and the House of Commons well on their debate about their space program tomorrow. #WhereNoBritHasGoneBefore

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 18, 2008 — After much secrecy, Cloverfield makes its theatrical debut.  An Easter egg in the movie has the sea monster from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, which was based on Ray Bradbury’s short story The Foghorn appearing in the driver side mirror of one of the cars.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 18, 1882  — A.A. Milne.

(9) TRUE BLUE. The Cirque du Soleil is doing a new show in the Avatar universe.

It’s been six years in the making, and now Cirque du Soleil’s “Toruk” is setting up camp in North American stadiums, bringing audiences the magical world of the moon Pandora and its inhabitants from James Cameron’s blockbuster “Avatar.” …

The story of “Toruk” is set 3,000 years before “Avatar,” long before humans set foot on Pandora.  It tells of a quest to find the mysterious creature Toruk, the only one who can save the sacred Tree of Souls from destruction

(10) THE SIMPSONS. Despite the Huffington Post’s clickbait headline, neither David Bowie nor Alan Rickman appeared in this 2013 episode of The Simpsons, however, what Benedict Cumberbatch does in the clip makes it worth 60 seconds of your time —

In the parody film Bart watches, a Hugh Grant-version of the Prime Minister, who is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, proclaims his love for a lower class lady named Eliza Commonbottom.

The two kiss, and a Pandora’s box of silly British pop cultural references is opened, which includes one of Rickman’s most famed portrayals, Snape (whom Cumberbatch also voiced), and a Bowie-penned song ‘All the Young Dudes’.

Oh, and there’s a ‘Doctor Who’ reference in the form of a TARDIS for good measure too – obviously.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Andrew Porter, and David Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day, myself…]

Pixel Scroll 1/17/16 Kaiser Scroll, Hold The Pixel

(1) HONEST POSTERS. “If 2016’s Oscar-nominated movie posters told the truth” they’d be very funny. Courtesy of Shiznit.

MARTIAN COMP

(2) A TOP TEN WITH FANGS. Here’s Fantasy Faction’s ingenious list – “Top Ten Wolves In Fantasy”. How come I never do Top 10 Lists for File 770? People love them. Ah well, there isn’t enough time to do everything that’s a good idea.

  1. Maugrim (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, by C.S.Lewis)

Maugrim was the head of The Witch’s Police in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and relished the dirty work that had to be done. Seen by many as an agent of the Devil, he is the ugly face of evil in Narnia and makes no bones about it. He is instrumental in the coming of age of Peter who eventually slays him, earning the name Sir Peter Wolfsbane.

(3) BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Gustaff Behr tries to work out “How Much Does It Cost Being A Doctor Who Fan?”

Fred starts where all new fans start. He wants to go back and take a look at how Doctor Who came back in 2005 which means, including Series 9 which he will definitely get; Fred needs 9 seasons of complete box sets which costs on average $65.00. That’s $585.00 in total for Chris, David, Matt, John and Peter.

Being a Who fan costs at least $585.00 if you buy all nine New Who seasons of Doctor Who.

And after watching nine seasons of Doctor Who, barely sleeping, bathing or eating, Fred craves more. He needs to see how Doctor Who started all the way back in 1963. He also has to see the celery Doctor, the scarf Doctor, the pullover one and all the other past Doctors he’s heard so much about. He knows there are 156 classic stories of Doctor Who which range between $13.99 and $16.99 so we’ll budget for $15.49 as a rough average. That’s $2416.44 for the whole of the Classic Era of Doctor Who.

Being a Who fan costs at least $3001.44 if you want to have the entire television collection of Doctor Who from William Hartnell all the way up to Peter Capaldi.

And then he moves on to the merchandise….

(4) FUNICELLO OBIT. [CORRECTION — Turns out the source has taken an old story and given it a 2016 timestamp. But it might still be news to somebody….] Annette Funicello (1942-20162013) died January 11, 2013 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. She was 70. Funicello was a child star as a Mousketeer on the original Mickey Mouse Club, and as a teenager starred opposite Frankie Avalon in several beach movies. Her genre work included Babes In Toyland (1961), and quasi-genre movies like The Monkey’s Uncle, and Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine.

(5) GEORGE CLAYTON JOHNSON TRIBUTE. The Girl George & the Dragons Radio Show talked about George Clayton Johnson with his son, Paul Johnson, and others on January 17.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 17, 1605 Don Quixote was published.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY SITH

  • Born January 17, 1931 — James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader (and an actor renowned for many other roles.)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 17, 1962 – Jim Carrey, of Hugo-winner The Truman Show, The Mask, and other quasi-fantasy films.

(9) MEET KYLO. Joseph Pimentel reports in the Orange County Register that Kylo Ren will replace Darth Vader in the “meet-and-greet” section of Disneyland’s Star Wars area in Tomorrowland where people stand in line to get autographs and photos with Disney characters.

Guests will be able to mingle with Kylo Ren, a central character from the smash hit “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” in Tomorrowland, Disney announced Friday. The company declined to say when the light-saber-wielding dark warrior and Jedi slayer will debut.

Ren will join Chewbacca, and Boba Fett as characters from the “Star Wars” franchise available for visitors to meet and take photos with at the Star Wars Launch Bay. There’ll also First Order Stormtroopers roaming around.

The upper floor of the building, the Tomorrowland Expo Center formerly known as Innoventions, houses the Super Hero HQ where guests meet Spider-Man and Thor.

Ren will replace Darth Vader, the original “Star Wars” villain, in the meet-and-greet. The Sith Lord Vader will continue to be in the show “Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple.”

Meet-and-greets with various Disney characters have become one of Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s signature attractions, drawing long lines of visitors wanting autograph, pictures and hugs.

(10) KYLO ON SNL. Saturday Night Live sent Kylo Ren (guest star Adam Driver) undercover as Matt, a radar technician, in Star Wars Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base.

(11) ABOUT SPECTRAL PRESS. Simon Bestwick has written a lengthy, heavily-documented post about issues with Spectral Press, publishers of his book Black Mountain.

Readers may wish to pour themselves a large, stiff drink before continuing. This is going to be a long post.

I’ve thought long and hard before blogging on this topic, but there is a great deal of confusion and misinformation out there, and I believe it’s important that the facts be made available. There is also an issue of transparency to customers regarding Spectral Press in its past or present incarnations….

7) The Short Version  Spectral Press has published books, which sold. A share of the money from their sales is, contractually, their authors’. Their authors have not received it, and yet Spectral do not have it. Spectral Press has taken money from customers from books that have gone undelivered and, in some cases, unpublished. Many of these customers want their money back, and yet Spectral do not have it. I would just like to close by reminding anyone who feels Spectral’s critics are being unreasonable, that this situation has persisted for over a year; that the amount owed is a very large sum for a small press to owe, and that the individual in whose hands this situation has been placed has responded to polite and factual criticism with insults and blocking critics on social media, and whose own history should be cause for concern.

(12) ENOUGH IS TOO MUCH. Anne Wheaton tells her blog readers why she bid Twitter goodbye.

In real life, I stand up for myself. If someone says or does something to me or someone around me, I do something about it. As my online presence grew, there were people who don’t follow me showing up to say something horrible about me, my husband, or my children. Yes, they can be muted, blocked, or reported, and I was doing that all the time, every day. Sometimes I responded because like I said, in real life I stand up for myself so occasionally, I will do that online. But after a while, it’s like trying to smile and have a pleasant conversation with a kind person in a room full of people screaming hateful things in your face. You can ignore it but eventually, it just isn’t worth even talking at all and you just have to walk out of that room to protect yourself.

I chose to be on Twitter. I am not a celebrity. I am a middle-aged woman who’s a retired hairdresser who now runs a non-profit, is on the Board of Directors at Pasadena Humane Society, has a house FULL of rescue animals, and has two wonderful boys. I do not have a job I need to promote, nor am I looking for a job to take on. I have a full life with an amazing husband and family, wonderful friends, and a successful business I run. If something I choose to do on the side isn’t fun, I need to walk away from it because my free time is pretty scarce. Twitter used to be the fun thing I did on the side, and for the most part, it just isn’t fun anymore, so I need to walk away from it and that’s okay.

(13) ANOTHER TWITTER MAELSTROM. Neil Gaiman’s tweet endorsing Clarion set off a wave of complaints. Brad R. Torgersen was as surprised as Gaiman himself by the controversy, but did a better job of understanding the reaction.

I guess Gaiman upset people with this?

…Second, Gaiman is simply expressing what all of us have expressed — from time to time — about our favorite learning experiences. I have evangelized for the Kris Rusch and Dean Smith workshops, the Dave Wolverton workshops, the Writers of the Future workshop, the Superstars Writing Seminar, the “Life, The Universe & Everything” symposium, and so on, and so forth. All of them have been very valuable to me, and remain valuable long after attendance and participation….

It would be great if a Clarion-type experience were free. But running a workshop with that kind of scope and scale, is not cheap. And the truth is, there are people who will argue that it shouldn’t be cheap. That the high cost weeds out the dilettantes. So that only serious students, who are dedicated, will apply for acceptance. Clarion isn’t designed for wannabes. Clarion is for budding professional artists, who want to flower in an environment that will feed and nurture their professional artistry. Or at least that’s the ideal. And I definitely think Gaiman had the ideal in mind, when he wrote what he wrote.

Still, there is no royal road to publication and acclaim. I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I suspect Clarion’s success rate is probably on par with just about every other workshop going. Which means two-thirds of Clarion’s graduates, won’t make it. They won’t sell. Or at least, they won’t sell well. They will find that life has other work for them, and they will move on.

(13) ONE THUMB DOWN. Fran Wilde’s tweets, 10 of which are Storified here, illustrate the negative response.

(14) ANOTHER THUMB DOWN. Alex Bledsoe, in “Thoughts on Clarion, Privilege and Gaiman”, is one of many other writers sounding off about how they launched professional writing careers without the help of a workshop.

Now, I don’t for a moment believe that Gaiman literally meant need, as in you can’t consider yourself a real writer unless you have Clarion on your CV. But at the same time, I understand the outrage of those who see his statement as an unthinking beacon of privilege. Who the hell is Neil Gaiman, who will never again have to worry about paying bills, or child care, or taking time off from work, or any of the day-to-day struggles that most of his readers experience, to tell us what we need? It’s in the same ballpark as Gwyneth Paltrow’s famous statements about her being a “typical” mother.

Like a lot of writers, I never went to Clarion, or any professional writing workshop. I learned to write via journalism, both from studying it and working at it. I like to say it’s one reason my books are so short, but in another very important way, it taught me to approach writing as a job. A reporter is no special snowflake: if he or she can’t do the work, there’s always someone waiting to eagerly step up. So you get on with it, and do the best you can with what you have. That lesson has been incredibly useful as a fiction writer, too.

(15) GAYLACTIC SPECTRUM AWARDS. The winners and recommended short list for the 2014/2015 Gaylactic Spectrum Awards in the Best Novel category were announced at Chessiecon in November 2015.

(16) DAVIDSON ON THE FINE POINTS. Steve Davidson discusses “How To Recommend Without Slating” at Amazing Stories.

As it has evolved, an acceptable Eligibility Post is limited to the following elements:

  • A statement that a work is, under the rules in play, eligible for a particular category of award.
  • Information on where and when the story was made available (so that others can verify its eligibility)
  • A suggestion that those voting for the award in question might be interested in checking it out
  • An Eligibility Post may also include an opportunity for others to add other works that are eligible

An Eligibility Post does not contain:

  • reasons why someone ought to vote for the work
  • begging for votes in any manner
  • discussion of external politics that are somehow related to voting for the work
  • discussion of the “messages” that will be sent by voting for the work
  • plays for sympathy, or authorial love, mentions of career status

The Eligibility Post was soon joined by the “Recommended Reading” list…..

(17) POSTCARD FROM THE EDGE. In 2004, soon after meeting Howard Waldrop, Lou Antonelli succeeded in selling his first story.

I wrote Howard and told him meeting him had brought me good luck. He later dropped me this postcard. I recently found it in a drawer while cleaning up a messy storage shed, and thought I’d share it. If you have trouble reading Howard’s handwriting, this is what it says:

“Dear Lou,
“Congratulations on the sale to Gardner. (You were already getting rejection letters – it was only a matter of time, whether you came to Austin or not!) You’ve sentenced yourself to a life of bitterness and frustration, like me..
“Way to go!
“Yer pal,
“Howard”

Howard is a great writer, a nice guy, and it also seems, a clairvoyant.

(18) BOWIE MOVIE SCREENINGS. The Vista Theatre in LA sold out its Labyrinth 30th Anniversary midnight screening (for obvious reasons) and has scheduled another.

In January we’re going to celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of our favorite fantasy films- LABYRINTH, featuring everyone’s favorite goblin king Jareth and his Bowie-bulge! Feel free to join us in costume and dance, magic dance! Response to this event was larger than we expected- we were trending towards a sell out by show night, but with the tragic passing of David Bowie yesterday we sold out in 6 hours of the news breaking. We want all our friends and Bowie fans in our nerd circle to be able to grieve in the manner they chose and if celebrating his life with Labyrinth on the big screen is what they want than we’re here to help. We’ve added this SATURDAY NIGHT midnight screening for those that were unable to catch tickets for Friday night. We will have a costume contest both nights, and hope everyone enjoys the hell out of this film and Bowie’s incredible performance on the big screen

(19) ONE BUSY HOMBRE. Today’s mandatory Guillermo del Toro news is that he will develop to potentially direct Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark for CBS Films. The film is based on the trilogy by Alvin Schwartz.

He is such a big fan of the books that he owns ten of the original illustrations by Gammell.
In addition to potentially directing, del Toro will also produce the film alongside Sean Daniel, Jason Brown and Elizabeth Grave. Alvin Schwartz’s trilogy of short story collections have sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. Even though, from the moment it was published in 1984, the Scary Stories series was one of the most banned from placement by the American Library Association, as the collections were considered to be too scary for children. The ensuing controversy only helped to fuel sales, and the trilogy has remained a cultural phenomenon ever since.

(20) RAINBOW BATMAN. DC Comics invites fans to “Brighten your batcave with Rainbow Batman figures”

Why should the criminals of Gotham get all the colorful costumes? Now you can have the Caped Crusader in pink, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

 

rainbowbatmanclip 2Where did these come from? According to Yahoo! Movies

A year ago, DC Collectibles opened up their vault to reveal prototypes of statues, action figures, and busts that were never produced and allowed fans to vote on which item from the collection should be produced and sold. A colorful line of Batmen figures based on “The Rainbow Batman” cover of Detective Comics #241 (1957) won the poll.

(21) JACK KIRBY DRAMATIZED. Now on stage in Seattle (through January 23), “’King Kirby’ play profiles the artist behind the superheroes, overshadowed by Stan Lee”.

“King Kirby” opens with the canonization of its subject at a high-level sale, where an auctioneer recounts the artist’s pictorial achievements and begins the bidding on each Kirby illustration at thousands of dollars.

From somewhere in the beyond, Kirby (who died in the 1990s, and is portrayed with vigor and conviction by Rick Espaillat) looks on disgustedly at the pretentious upscaling of his work.

In a pungent Brooklyn accent and with a defensive edginess, Kirby takes us back to his humble beginnings growing up in a rough neighborhood, where he had to use his fists to fend off attackers.

No wonder he invented heroic protectors and epic rescuers. Fascinated by mythology and quick with a sketchbook, Kirby starts out doing grunt work in a cartoon sweatshop, forms a partnership with a business-savvy pal, and comes into his own working under a series of amusingly irate moguls. In collaboration with head honcho and collaborator Stan Lee, he’s a big reason why Lee’s Marvel Comics still thrill the masses with spinoffs of characters created in the 1940s and ’50s.

Lee is portrayed as a marketing maestro and idea man, who not only stiffed his top artist out of franchise deals and royalties but also presented himself as the sole inventor of superheroes co-created and fleshed out by Kirby.

(22) STAN THE MAN. CBS Sunday Morning program featured “The Marvelous Life of Stan Lee” on January 17.

The comic starts out, as Stan started out, as Stanley Martin Leiber, born to Jewish immigrants in 1922. He grew up poor in a tiny Bronx apartment during the Depression.

When Stan was old enough, he started looking for jobs to help pay the bills, and in 1939 he landed at a publishing house which just happened to have a small division called Timely Comics.

“I’d fill the ink wells — in those days they used ink!” he said. “I’d run down and get them sandwiches at the drug store, and I’d proofread the pages, and sometimes in proofreading I’d say, ‘You know, this sentence doesn’t sound right. It ought to be written like this.’ ‘Well, go ahead and change it!’ They didn’t care!”

Characters like Destroyer, Father Time and Jack Frost soon had Stan’s fingerprints all over them.

He got so caught up in the battles of good vs. evil that after Pearl Harbor, it seemed only natural he join the Army.

“Oh hell, how could you not volunteer for the Army?” he said. “Hitler was over there doing all those horrible things.”

But instead of fighting, Lee found himself drawing. His best work: a poster telling soldiers how NOT to get VD.

“I drew a little soldier, very proudly,” he recalled. “And he’s saying, ‘VD? Not me!’ as he walks in. They must have printed a hundred trillion of those! I think I won the war single-handedly with that poster!”

 [Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Tom Galloway, Steve Lieber, Andrew Porter, and Kendall for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 1/14/16 I’m Not A Pixel, I’m A Free Scroll

(1) SPEAKING OF FREE SCROLLS. R. Graeme Cameron will start a “SciFi Fiction Magazine” for Canadian writers if his GoFundMe appeal generates $1,500. Issues will be a free read.

When I was a teenager I decided I wanted to be a Science Fiction Writer. Fifty years later I’m a curmudgeonly pensioner who never sold a darn thing, not one novel, not one story. Del Rey books rejected one of my novels with the comment “We don’t like your main character and we don’t think anyone else will either.”

As a life-long beginning writer I know your pain. Always dreaming of that first sale. That’s why I’m starting up POLAR BOREAL, a Canadian SF&F fiction magazine actively encouraging beginning Canadian writers to submit short stories (3,000 words or less) and/or poems. The magazine will be free to anyone who wants to download it, yet all contributors will be paid on acceptance (if I can get the money) at one cent a word for short stories and $10 per poem.

(2) THE CLASSICS. Alexander Dane makes it sound like every day is Black Friday…

(3) NOT EGGSACTLY SURE. TV Guide promises “The 15 Coolest Easter Eggs from Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. SPOILER WARNING, naturally, but my question is – how many of these are really Easter Eggs as opposed to simple casting reveals? Do I not understand what an Easter Egg is? Straighten me out here….

(4) WILD GUESS. Umm, maybe look at the MidAmeriCon II committee list and use the contact information?

(5) HOW AUTHORS DON’T GET PAID. Philip Pullman has resigned as Patron of the Oxford Literary Festival the organization has announced. The reason is very simple.

Our President, Philip Pullman, has resigned as a Patron of Oxford Literary Festival because they do not pay authors.

He explained his decision:

My position as President of the Society of Authors, which has been campaigning for fair payment for speakers at literary festivals, sat rather awkwardly with my position as Patron of the Oxford Literary Festival, because (despite urging from me and others over the years) it does not pay speakers. So I thought it was time I resigned as a Patron of the OLF.

The principle is very simple: a festival pays the people who supply the marquees, it pays the printers who print the brochure, it pays the rent for the lecture-halls and other places, it pays the people who run the administration and the publicity, it pays for the electricity it uses, it pays for the drinks and dinners it lays on: why is it that the authors, the very people at the centre of the whole thing, the only reason customers come along and buy their tickets in the first place, are the only ones who are expected to work for nothing?

(6) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT. Y-3 creates spacesuits for Virgin Galactic pilots on world’s first commercial space flights

(7) BUGS, MISTER RICO! The newly-christened “Las Vegas of ants” is visible on Google Earth.

Not far from the Grand Canyon, near a landmark called Vulcan’s Throne, the ground is dotted with strange, barren circles, visible from orbit.

Evidence of an alien encounter? Nope. The likely culprit is actually ants — a lot of them. So many that the scientists who discovered them are referring to the area as “the Las Vegas of ants.”

Physicist Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, a specialist in image processing and satellite imagery analysis at the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy, noticed the bizarre polka- dot features while studying the dimensions of the Grand Canyon rim in Google Earth.

(8) VOX DAY COLLECTIBLES. Vox Day devoted a post to Camestros Felapton’s “Hugo”/Lego “Sad Larry” trading card.

While they, apparently, are occupied with making Lego figures of us. It seems that is what they do when they are not obsessing over what they think we are thinking. Even in light of how poorly they anticipated me last time, it’s mildly amusing to see that they still don’t understand my perspective at all.

The Dread Ilk commenters, however, were more concerned that Vox get a “Hugo” trading card of his own, so Felapton reassured them in “Vox links to the Larry pic”

Vox appeared in an earlier post and has a new figure in a couple of days – with a flaming sword no less!

So it looks like we won’t get to riff off Lucy’s “Was Beethoven ever on a bubblegum card?” after all.

(9) GRABTHAR’S HAMMER OF LOVING CORRECTION. Steve Davidson’s self-imposed moratorium on writing about Sad Puppies at Amazing Stories has ended in the only way it could. Here are a few salient paragraphs.

In moving forward, I believe it is important that the message sent last year be reinforced this year. We’ve already seen at least one author declaring that begging for votes is no longer a problem.  If we do not want that mindset to take hold, we will continue to repudiate slate voting this year.

Fans who discover a loophole in the voting rules don’t seek personal advantage – they bring it to the attention of other fans and make proposals at the business meeting and generally use their new found knowledge for the benefit of the whole.  (Or, if unhappy with the process, they go off and do their own thing, which is then rewarded or ignored based on the merit of the accomplishment, not a tally of internet one upsmanship points.)  Hugo voting actions this year should send that message.  Therefore –

I will be nominating and voting for the Hugo Awards this year in the same way I voted last year:  I’ll read and watch and listen to everything I can on the final ballot, will vote my conscience and will make sure that any work that appears on a slate (a voting list with a political agenda behind it) will be below No Award and off the ballot.

(10) RATINGS TIME. Gregory N. Hullender of Rocket Stack Rank says:

We analyzed all the RSR data to come up with a list for Best Editor (short form) Hugo nominations.

We construct several different lists, using different assumptions, and urge fans to use our data to make their own lists, so I don’t think this amounts to a slate.

This should be fun reading for anyone who’s really into short fiction, since I don’t believe anyone has ever done this kind of analysis before.

If anyone feels to the contrary — there are any slate-like tendencies in play here — please share your analysis.

(11) WE ALL DREAM IN GOLD. Since we always try to cover Guillermo del Toro’s doings on File 770 whenever we can, John King Tarpinian was disgustipated (I think that’s the technical term) that I overlooked this golden opportunity in my post about the 2016 Oscar nominations.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Guillermo del Toro, John Krasinski and Ang Lee will announce the 88th Academy Awards® nominations in all 24 Oscar® categories at a special two-part live news conference on Thursday…

(12) SHRUNKEN HEADS. Cass R. Sunstein at Bloomberg News breaks down “How Facebook Makes Us Dumber”.

Why does misinformation spread so quickly on the social media? Why doesn’t it get corrected? When the truth is so easy to find, why do people accept falsehoods?

A new study focusing on Facebook users provides strong evidence that the explanation is confirmation bias: people’s tendency to seek out information that confirms their beliefs, and to ignore contrary information.

I thought so. Or is it just confirmation bias at work if I agree that Facebook lowers my IQ?

(13) FOREVER DIFFERENT. Tobias Carroll checked with “28 Authors on the Books That Changed Their Lives”. The New York Magazine article has contributions from SF authors Elizabeth Hand, Ken Liu, Cathrynne M. Valente, Kelly Link, Jeff VanderMeer, and Jo Walton, among others.

Maria Dahvana Headley, author of Magonia and The Year of Yes “This question is both easy and difficult! I grew up a very rural and very gluttonous reader, in Idaho, about ten miles outside a town of 500 people. Essentially, I spent my reading childhood playing with other people’s imaginary friends, and I’ve grown into the kind of writer who does the same thing. So, in that regard, everything I’ve ever read has been life-changing. The first massive Rock My World book, though, was Toni Morrison’s Beloved, which I read when I was 17. Not only was I clueless about race in America at that point, coming from where I came from, I was also clueless about living female genius writers. I didn’t know there were any. Up to that point, I’d read almost entirely white men. KA-BAM. I got blasted out of the universe of dead white boys, and into something much more magnificent. Morrison’s way of flawlessly entwining her haunting with her history left me dazzled, sobbing, and bewildered. Morrison is obviously a genre-leaping master of style, and reading her not only made me aware of what was possible as a writer, it led me to all of the poets, songwriters, playwrights, and librettists who continue to influence my work today.”

(14) BOWIE AND SF. Jason Heller’s Pitchfork article “Anthems for the Moon: David Bowie’s Sci-Fi Explorations” is one more list of SF parallels and influences on Bowie’s work. Moorcock, Heinlein, Bradbury, Dick, Burgess, and others are mentioned.

In its celebration of androgyny, glam also lined up with Ursula K. Le Guin’s visionary 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness, which takes place on an alien planet where transitions between genders are as routine as any other biological process—a concept that certainly resonates with Bowie’s aesthetic. “Androgynous sexuality and extraterrestrial origin seemed to have provided two different points of identification for Bowie fans,” notes Philip Auslander in Performing Glam Rock: Gender and Theatricality in Popular Music. “Whereas some were taken with his womanliness, others were struck by his spaciness.”

(15) MARS MUSIC I. Matthew Johnson adds another number to that award-winning musical, The Martian.

(With apologies to David Bowie)

Hello, I feel I have to remind
You that you kind of left me behind
Is there life on Mars?

 

Four years alone could be a slog
I guess I ought to keep a log
Is there life on Mars?

 

On Mars a man dies by his wits
He even has to science his shit
Is there life on Mars?

 

The greatest scientist on the planet
I can plant it and grow it and can it
Is there life on Mars?

 

Disco hell is kind of groovy
Matt Damon plays me in the movie
Is there life on Mars?

 

Four years is a long time to be alone
There might be a new Game of Thrones when I’m done
Is there life on Mars?

(16) MARS MUSIC II. And Seth Gordon likewise swings and sways to a melody in his head

As I walk through the valley with the sand so red
I take a look at my suit and realize that I’m not dead
’Cause I’ve been science-ing this shit for so long that
Even Houston thinks that my ass is gone…

[Thanks to Bret Grandrath, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Will R., and Nick Mamatas for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Pixel Scroll 1/12/16 Have Starship Trooper Power Suit, Will Travel

(1) NOT MY CUPPA. The Traveler at Galactic Journey found the January 1961 issue of Galaxy filled with well-done short stories that didn’t personally appeal to him. Of course, he was younger in those days.

(2) MISS FIT. Liwella at Astounding Yarns was enjoying the Cosmonauts exhibition at the Science Museum right up to the moment she discovered their souvenir t-shirts weren’t available in a women’s fit.

I loved the exhibition so much that I wanted to take home some souvenirs.  Particularly one of the range of awesome tshirts that were for sale, given that I love wearing geeky tshirts.  I wear them round the house with jeans.  I wear them with skirts and funky tights when I’m out and about.  Perhaps I should buy one featuring the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova.  Or one inspired by those glorious Russian propaganda posters, with their instantly recognisable design aesthetic.  But it turns out that the Science Museum only offered one tshirt in a woman’s fit – a rather dull design based on a spacewalk motif.  When I asked the assistant on duty if there were any woman’s fit tshirts available he seemed surprised I’d even asked.

(3) KEEP YOUR MONEY HANDY. “Hasbro, Disney Launching new Rey ‘Star Wars’ Toys” reports the Wall Street Journal.

“One of the biggest surprises that filmmakers wanted to keep under wraps was that the Force awakens in Rey and she carries a lightsaber,” said Paul Southern, head of licensing for Lucasfilm. “We always planned a second wave of product after the movie’s release that would include secrets revealed in the movie.”

Hasbro’s new Rey toys will be based more on her action scenes later in the film, including a climactic one in which she wields a lightsaber.

There have been products including toys, T-shirts and costumes featuring Rey available for months, but to date virtually all have featured her only as she appears in the movie’s earliest scenes.

Nonetheless, some fans were upset about three toys in which the Rey character was notably absent, including the Monopoly game and a set of action figures, sold exclusively at Target, that excluded her entirely.

The movie’s director, J.J. Abrams, has supported those fans.

“It seems preposterous and wrong that the main character of the movie is not well represented in what is clearly a huge piece of the ‘Star Wars’ world in terms of merchandising,” he said that the Television Critics Association’s press tour Saturday, according to Entertainment Weekly.

(4) BALMORAL-ICAN GRAFITTI. J. K. Rowling celebrated the ninth anniversary of finishing Deathly Hallows with a tweet, says Mashable.

Rowling placed the finishing touches on the seventh Harry Potter book at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, the city where she lives. After finally completing her manuscript, she indulged in a little friendly vandalism to commemorate the occasion, a photo of which she tweeted Monday.

 

(5) AXANAR UPDATE. Now Alec Peters has written his own FAQ – “Captain’s Log – Jan. 7th, 2016”.

Q:  How can you be non-profit and pay salaries?

A:  Non-profit does not mean “volunteer”.  Just like the CEO of The Red Cross gets $400K a year in salary, non-profits can pay salaries.  Payroll is an expense.

Q:  Why did Alec Peters get paid $ 38,000 as noted in the annual report?

A: Because Alec (as well as Diana) worked full time at Axanar, certainly 60 hours a week not including conventions on the weekends.  That means Alec and Diana probably got paid minimum wage.  And Diana deferred all her salary.  Now go compare that to any Hollywood studio exec putting out medicore content, and tell us Alec and Diana were paid too much!  That doesn’t even cover their expenses.  We don’t expect full time employees to work for free.

Q:  Is Ares Studios a for-profit studio?

A:  Ares Studio is the term we use to describe the warehouse we have built our sound stage to make Axanar.  There is no profit being made, and in fact Alec personally guaranteed the 3 year lease, so the last two years are a $ 250,000 liability he is responsible for.  Axanar Productions has been paying for the building while we build sets and prepare the make the movie.  Would we like to make movies after Axanar?  Sure would, but that is all speculative.  We don’t have any revenue from the studio and so such talk is nonsense.

(6) MAJOR TOM. Bowie lyrics on the marquee of the closed Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena.

Rialto marquee

(7) DANGEROUS. Forbes writer Ron Salkowitz analyzes “David Bowie’s Dangerous Visions: Sci-Fi Touchpoints For The Thin White Duke”.

Much of Bowie’s work throughout his career is a dialogue with New Wave SF, refracting it through his own sensibility and bringing the concepts to a mass audience via the medium of rock and roll. As I’ve been listening to the Bowie catalog for the past day, I’m reminded of a few specific connections and patterns of inspiration.

The Jerry Cornelius Novels (Michael Moorcock). Moorcock, the quintessential New Wave author, is better known for his sword and sorcery character Elric, but in 1968, he unleashed the sexually ambiguous secret agent Jerry Cornelius on an unsuspecting public in a novel called The Final Programme. An acid-drenched mashup of James Bond and Doctor Who, the dapper Cornelius hopscotches around space and time foiling plots against reality, assuming new identities and dazzling people with his avant gard aesthetics as he goes. Three further novels followed, each stranger than the next. Jerry Cornelius is less a specific inspiration for Bowie’s work than a template for his entire persona.

(8) GREETINGS GATES. The passing of David Bowie prompted Mental Floss to remind fans that “Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher) Choreographed ‘Labyrinth’”. A photo and video clips there, too.

Most geeks like me know Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation. But before her Trek role, McFadden was Director of Choreography and Puppet Movement on a bunch of Jim Henson films, including The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and even The Muppets Take Manhattan. As a choreographer, she’s typically credited as Cheryl McFadden — Cheryl is her first name, Gates is her middle name.

(9) DRAWN THAT WAY. The Slipper says farewell to David Bowie the comics reader and reproduces many images that characterized him or were influenced by his appearance.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

In 1695, aged 67, he wrote Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals, a series of moral tales designed to prompt the reader to reflect on the dilemmas presented to the protagonist, which were well-known from folklore even then.

The volume contained the story now known as Mother Goose, alongside perrenially recognised titles such as Puss in Boots, Blue Beard and Cinderella, and less famous stories Ricky of the Tuft and Little Thumb

(12) MEESA QUITS. You won’t have Jar-Jar Binks to kick around anymore. Try not to let it get to you.

Issa bad news from Naboo… Ahmed Best, the actor who played Jar Jar Binks will never return to the ‘Star Wars’ movies, even if he was asked, adding ‘I’ve done my damage’.

Binks, perhaps the most reviled character in all of ‘Star Wars’ history, was the Gungan soldier know initially for his cack-handed clumsiness, and then, appropriately, his latter career as a politician in George Lucas’s prequel movies.

But in a rare interview, Best said that he has no intention of ever reprising the character.

(13) HUGO CAMPAIGNER. Robin Wayne Bailey would hate for you to miss a chance to vote his story a Hugo. On Facebook, he’ll tell you how to get a free copy.

Last month, November, saw the release of the very excellent science fiction anthology, MISSION: TOMORROW, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. The anthology is chock-full of great stories, and my own “Tombaugh Station,” I’m honored to say, leads it all off.

I believe strongly that “Tombaugh Station” is one of the best science fiction stories I’ve ever written, strongly enough that I’d love to see it make the 2016 Hugo Awards ballot next August right here in my own hometown.

However, that November release, late in the year and only a month before the ballot was released (a week ago) is the very definition of what’s known in this business as an “end of the year handicap,” that is, few voters will have had the chance to see the story before voting begins. Now, I don’t particularly want to quietly fall victim to that handicap.

So I’ve just asked and received permission from Baen Books to give my story away. That’s right — I’m actively campaigning for a place on the 2016 Hugo ballot. I used to frown on such shenanigans, but that stigma obviously has melted away.

LOL! Sure, it’s understandable why a Baen Books author might think that…

(14) AFROFUTURISM & OTHER TOPICS. “The State of Black Science Fiction Convention” will be held June 11-12 in Atlanta, GA.

(15) SHERRY’S LONGLIST. Joe Sherry has posted “My 2016 Hugo Awards Longlist Recommendations” at Adventures In Reading, which is both interesting in its own right, and as an index of where recused creators and works might belong.

With all of the shenanigans regarding groups putting together slates to directly influence what gets on the final ballot, what I’m going to do instead is post a growing long list of stuff I thought was awesome in 2015. This list will likely grow and change as I continue to discover stuff published in 2015 that I likewise think is awesome. I’m listing everything alphabetically either by title or author, so don’t view anything listed at the top of a category as being my ranked order. It’s not.

(16) INSIDE BASEBALL. Lesley Conner’s guest post at Far Beyond Reality tells how several stories got selected for Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1.

From Slush Pile to Magazine to Anthology: The Making of Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1

I came on board as the managing editor of Apex Magazine in October, 2014. I’d been involved with Apex for a while before that, but it wasn’t until then that I was let into the shadowed world of the slush pile and started sifting through to find stories to bring into the light. Because of this, and the fact that Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1 covers the first six years of Apex Magazine, I missed that magical moment of discovery for many of the stories that ended up in the anthology. But not all of them.

Today I’d like to give you a peek behind the publishing curtain and share the journey that some of the stories in Best of Apex Magazine took from the slush pile to the anthology.

(17) IT’S A MYSTERY. Vox Day says the count is now up to four of people following his author page who have been banned from Goodreads. What the rest of their Goodreads activity consisted of he doesn’t say.

(18) BB-8. Here are two videos starring science fiction cinema’s latest Small Cute Robot.

Unlike some, BB-8 is too shy to come out of its shell…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., and James H. Burns for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/11/16 Pixels For Nothin’ And Your Scrolls For Free

(1) GALLO WINS ART DIRECTOR AWARD. The Society of Illustrators has named Irene Gallo the recipient of the 2016 Richard Gangel Art Director Award. The linked site includes a wide range of examples.

Society of Illustrators

Society of Illustrators

The Richard Gangel Art Director award was established in 2005 to honor art directors currently working in the field who have supported and advanced the art of illustration…

Irene Gallo is the Associate Publisher at Tor.com and the Creative Director at Tor Books.  She has art directed countless illustrators and her work has received numerous awards, including this year’s Gold Medal winning image by Sam Weber for The Language of Knives.

Gallo’s shared her reaction in a four-part tweet.

(2) WIBBLY-WOBBLY MUSIC. Open Culture tells “The Fascinating Story of How Delia Derbyshire Created the Original Doctor Who Theme”.

What we learn from them is fascinating, considering that compositions like this are now created in powerful computer systems with dozens of separate tracks and digital effects. The Doctor Who theme, on the other hand, recorded in 1963, was made even before basic analog synthesizers came into use. “There are no musicians,” says Mills, “there are no synthesizers, and in those days, we didn’t even have a 2-track or a stereo machine, it was always mono.” (Despite popular misconceptions, the theme does not feature a Theremin.) Derbyshire confirms; each and every part of the song “was constructed on quarter-inch mono tape,” she says, “inch by inch by inch,” using such recording techniques as “filtered white noise” and something called a “wobbulator.” How were all of these painstakingly constructed individual parts combined without multi track technology? “We created three separate tapes,” Derbyshire explains, “put them onto three machines and stood next to them and said “Ready, steady, go!” and pushed all the ‘start’ buttons at once. It seemed to work.”

(3) SPACESHIP SALESMAN. Interviewer Lauren Samer learned “John Scalzi Thinks Nerd Gatekeeping Is Complete Nonsense”, posted at Inverse.

[John Scalzi] Science fiction and fantasy is becoming more diverse in who writes it and what is represented — and I, for the life of me, cannot see what the problem is. I mean, come on. I write meat-and-potatoes classic science fiction. I’ve got spaceships, I’ve got lasers, I’ve got aliens. To suggest that there’s not a market for that type of science fiction is absolutely ridiculous. I’m doing great!

It just also happens that there’s lots of other cool stuff out there that is not like the sort of stuff that I write, and I think that’s great. Not everybody is going to be interested in the stuff I write — and not everybody should be. There should be science fiction and fantasy of all genres. It should be as inclusive as possible about the possibilities of the future and the possibility of alternate worlds and alternate setups. Otherwise, it’s fundamentally missing the point of what science fiction and fantasy can achieve.

(4) PACIFIC RIM 2 IS FEELING BETTER. No sooner did I relay the news that there would be no Pacific Rim sequel than its director, Guillermo del Toro, took to Twitter with this reassurance —

(5) PAY IT FORWARD. Kevin Standlee asks for help finding European references to the Hugo.

The WSFS Mark Protection Committee is assembling citations of usage of The Hugo Award in Europe (including the UK) in support of our application for registering it as a service mark in the EU. Things that could be useful include mentions of a being a Hugo Award winner (or nominee) on the cover of a work published within the EU and references to the Hugo Awards in EU-based publications, including fanzines. Mentions in non-EU publications aren’t as useful, because we’re working on backing the claim that The Hugo Award has been used in Europe for a long time. British references are just fine; the UK is part of the EU.

If you have material you think might be useful for this, write to Linda Deneroff (lindandee@gmail.com), Secretary of the WSFS MPC. She’ll let you know how to get the material to her for our compilation.

(6) CLASSIC SF RERUNS. In the middle of 2015 the Comet TV network came into existence. It specializes in showing old sf TV episodes, and selected movies. Among its offerings is my childhood favorite – Men Into Space, which was on the air for one season in 1959.

According to Wikipedia, Comet has affiliation agreements with television stations in 78 media markets encompassing 33 states and the District of Columbia. The nearest station to me airing this content is KDOC in Orange County.

MenIntoSpace_front-500x500

(7) BOWIE TRIBUTE 1. Molly Lewis and Marian Call (both singers of nerdy songs and frequent performers at Wil Wheaton, Adam Savage and Paul and Storm’s W00tstock variety show) cover “Space Oddity,” but only using the thousand most common words in the style of Randall Munroe’s Up Goer 5 and Thing Explainer:

(8) BOWIE TRIBUTE 2. Laurel and Hardy dance to “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie.

(9) CLOTHING THE IMAGINATION. Ferrett Steinmetz does not miss George Lucas’ input to the franchise, for reasons explained in “A Brief Discussion of Star Wars Costumes”.

So I was thinking about the lack of imagination in the prequels versus the Force Awakens.  And some of that’s evident in the costumes.

Because I just saw a picture of Obi-Wan… and he’s wearing basically the same outfit in the prequels that he wears in A New Hope.  Which implies that Obi-Wan basically has dressed the same for, well, his entire fucking life.  He retreated to Tatooine as part of a secret mission, wearing what are clearly fucking Jedi robes in retrospect, and Lucas didn’t care because, well, the characters weren’t what he cared about.

How ridiculous is it that someone would wear the same outfit for seventy years if he wasn’t some sort of bizarre cartoon character or performer?  Especially if he went into hiding?

(10) KICKER PUPPY. Joe Vasicek’s headline says “George R.R. Martin may not be your bitch, but I am”, however, this is not exactly an exercise in humility.

This discussion is not new, even with regard to Mr. Martin. Way back in 2009, Neil Gaiman addressed this issue in a blog post where he stated quite memorably that “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch”:

People are not machines. Writers and artists aren’t machines.

You’re complaining about George doing other things than writing the books you want to read as if your buying the first book in the series was a contract with him: that you would pay over your ten dollars, and George for his part would spend every waking hour until the series was done, writing the rest of the books for you.

No such contract existed. You were paying your ten dollars for the book you were reading, and I assume that you enjoyed it because you want to know what happens next.

So that’s one end of the spectrum: that writing is an art, that it can’t be forced, that trying to force it is wrong, and that writers have no obligation to their readers to force anything. …

So George R.R. Martin may not be your bitch, but I most certainly am. Writing is not something that happens only sometimes: it’s my job, and I do it every day. And as for accountability, I absolutely feel that I’m accountable to my readers. They are the whole reason I am able to do this in the first place. If that makes me their bitch, then so be it.

(11) SAD MUPPETS 4. The start of a groundswell?

(12) WALTZING POTATO. They’re called YouTubers, and I’d bet 98% of them never hear the intrinsic pun. UPI reports — “YouTuber builds 6000 piece Star Wars AT-AT from Legos”.

[Charlie of the BrickVault channel,] a Lego-loving YouTuber followed instructions posted online to build a more than 6,000-piece Star Wars AT-AT in 26 hours and posted time-lapse footage online….

The BrickVault team said it took thousands of dollars to procure all of the supplies from website BrickLink, far more than the $218.99 price tag for Lego’s official 1,137-piece AT-AT kit.

 

(12) BUT CAN YOU TUNA FISH? This has been rightly captioned a “Bizarre Star Wars Japanese Commercial.” Aired in 1978, it shows galactic peace being achieved with canned tuna fish.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, Steven H Silver, James H. Burns, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Wendy Gale, and Lorcan Nagle for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]