Pixel Scroll 3/14/18 Scroll Longa, Pixel Brevis

(1) HERSTORY. James Davis Nicoll, in “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, Part III”, continues his series for Tor.com.

…Clarion graduate P. C. Hodgell has been active since the late 1970s. She is the author of the long-running Chronicles of the Kencyrath (nine volumes since 1982). Readers of a certain vintage may have vivid memories of the twelve-year desert between the third book in the series, Seeker’s Mask, and the fourth, To Ride a Rathorn. Currently she has the active support of a publisher whose name escapes me. Since the series is continuity-heavy, you will want to start with the first volume, 1982’s God Stalk, in which an amnesiac woman of a race of staunch monotheists finds herself in a city of a thousand gods—none of whom seem to be particularly helpful gods…

(2) CROWDFUNDING AMAZING: AN UPDATE. The Amazing Stories Kickstarter has accumulated $7,811 of its $30,000 goal, with 23 days remaining. Steve Davidson has begun revealing the authors who will be in the first print issue:

We are pleased to announce the following writers have contributed stories; Kameron Hurley, Paul Levinson, Dave Creek, Shirley Meier, Drew Hayden Taylor, and Allen Steele.

While we’re excited about all our authors, let us tell you a little bit about Kameron Hurley and her story…

(3) ANALOG BLOG. From a Featured Futures’ links post I learned about The Astounding/Analog Companion, “the Official Analog Science Fiction and Fact blog.” Last month they published Gregory Benford’s background notes about a piece he wrote for the magazine: “Thinking About Physics a Century Hence”.

I’ve published over 200 short stories and over 200 scientific papers, reflecting a symmetry of sorts.

My career as a professor of physics at UC Irvine has taken most of my working life, with writing as a hobby that has surprised me by success. So I see SF through a scientific lens, focused on plausible futures. But sometimes I just wing it, and speculating on physics a century hence is a grand leap, indeed.

The mock future news report in the current Analog issue [“Physics Tomorrow: A News Item of the Year 2116,” March/April 2018 Analog, on sale now] came from a contest the journal Physics Today ran in 2016: to devise an entry for that journal in a century. I took the challenge, and produced this “story” because the physics intrigued me.

Physics Today did not select my essay, from 230 others. They published much more pedestrian stuff. Since then, I’ve worked with an old friend and general relativity physicist Al Jackson, to calculate in detail how to in fact make a “gravwave transmitter.”

Then I thought, why not try Analog? As a physicist and SF writer, both avenues are natural. Indeed, maybe writing future news items is a new way to think of SF….

(4) ASIMOV’S TOO. There’s also an Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine Author & Editor Blog called From the Earth to the Stars. They recently conducted a “Q&A with Mary Robinette Kowal” about her Asimov’s story “Artisanal Trucking, LLC.”

Asimov’s Editors: What is the story behind this piece?

Mary Robinette Kowal: I was at a conference in a round table discussion talking about automation and privilege. At some point, we were talking about how knitting, which used to be a necessary thing, became automated with knitting machines and now it is a luxury art. It’s expensive to buy wool. It takes time and leisure to make a garment. I said, “I imagine the hipsters of the future will totally do artisanal trucking.” I had more of a point but stopped talking as Story stampeded through my brain.

(5) USING SOCIAL MEDIA. Dawn Witzke begins a series of posts with  “On Professionalism: Part 1” at Superversive SF. No writer can go wrong following this piece of advice:

Social Media

Writers must be on social media, which means that everything, personal and professional is up for examination. How you present yourself online can affect what impression other authors, editors and publishers make of you.

Stick to arguing ideas, not making personal attacks. Most likely this will not be reciprocated. That’s okay. Let them look like the jerk.

Trolling is a whole other ball game. While it’s not seen as professional, some writers use it as a marketing tool (Milo Yiannopolus), which is all well and good if you publish in hotly debated subjects like politics. But in general, it creates as many enemies online as friends. Use with caution.

(6) HAWKING ON THE AIR. Watch Mojo has assembled the “Top 10 Unforgettable Stephen Hawking Cameos in Pop Culture.”

Renowned scientist Stephen Hawking passed away March 14, 2018. But before Stephen Hawking died, he not only made some incredible scientific breakthroughs; there are also many hilarious Stephen Hawking cameos to remember him by. Whether he was supporting Monty Python, speaking to John Oliver or playing poker on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Stephen Hawking was a fabulous ambassador for science.

  • #10: “Monty Python Live (Mostly)” (2014)
  • #9: “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” (1993-2009)
  • #8: Pink Floyd’s “Keep Talking” (1994) & “Talkin’ Hawkin’” (2014)
  • #7: “Stephen Hawking’s New Voice” (2017)
  • #6: “Anyone Can Quantum” (2016)
  • #5: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (2014-)
  • #4: “Futurama” (1999-2013)
  • #3, #2 & #1???

(7) A BBC/HAWKING ROUNDUP.

The downside of my celebrity is that I can’t go anywhere in the world without being recognized. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away.

As the world mourns Prof Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, there has been a particular outpouring of emotion in China, where the visionary physicist was revered by scientists, students, the state and even boy band stars.

In 1982, I had responsibility for his third academic book for the Press, Superspace And Supergravity.

This was a messy collection of papers from a technical workshop on how to devise a new theory of gravity.

While that book was in production, I suggested he try something easier: a popular book about the nature of the Universe, suitable for the general market.

Stephen mulled over my suggestion.

(8) FLEISHER OBIT. Michael Fleisher (1942-2018): US comics writer and novelist; died February 2, aged 75. Titles he worked on include The Spectre, Jonah Hex, Shade the Changing Man (created and drawn by Steve Ditko). Famously sued The Comics Journal, publisher Gary Groth and Harlan Ellison over a 1979 interview in which the latter described Fleisher (tongue in cheek, Ellison later claimed) as a “certifiable (..) bugfuck (..) lunatic”; the court found for the defendants. [By Steve Green.]

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 14, 1994 Robocop: The Series premiered on television.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY RELATIVIST

  • Born March 14, 1879 – Albert Einstein

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian isn’t the only one who remembered this is Pi Day – The Argyle Sweater.
  • Off the Mark also has a subtle play on the day.
  • As a commenter says after reading today’s Lio, “Before buying a book, always check to see if the title is a typo or not.”

(12) THANKS AND PRANKS. CBR.com answers its own question about the Harlan Ellison references in Hulk comics of the Seventies: “Comic Legends: Did A Hulk Classic Pay Hidden Tribute to a Sci-Fi Great?”

Anyhow, amusingly enough, Thomas was so pumped about having Ellison work on these issues that he actually decided to go a step further and, since the issue came out on April 1st, he would do an April Fool’s prank of sorts by working the name of over 20 Ellison stories into the story!

I won’t list all of them here, but I’ll do a few (the great poster, ruckus24, has all of them here).

Most notably is the title of the story, which is an adaptation of one of Ellison’s most famous story collections…

(13) MAD, YOU SAY. At Galactic Journey, Rosemary Benton reviews the newly released (55 years ago) Vincent Price film Diary of a Madman: “[March 14, 1963] Rising Stars and Unseen Enemies (Reginald Le Borg’s Diary of a Madman)”.

It feels as though, no sooner had the curtain fell and the lights came up on February’s horror/fantasy gem, The Raven, that the film reel snapped to life with another genre-crossing macabre film. While last month’s movie was a light, dry and sardonic comedy with a vaguely medieval setting and a cast of horror movie icons, Diary of a Madman, steps forward with a much more sobering aesthetic.

(14) SEMIPRO AND FAN CATEGORIES. Abigail Nussbaum continues a discussion of her Hugo nominating ballot in “The 2018 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Publishing and Fan Categories”. Here’s Nussbaum’s picks to succeed her in a category she won last year.

Best Fan Writer:

(A brief reminder here that I have announced that I would decline a nomination in this category if I received enough votes to qualify this year.)

  • Nina Allan – Nina had a great 2017, with her second novel The Rift gaining wide acclaim and attention.  She also continued to do good work as a critic and reviewer, on her personal blog, at Strange Horizons, and in the Shadow Clarke project.
  • Vajra Chandrasekera – We didn’t see as much of Vajra’s nonfiction writing in 2017 as I would have liked–his focus these days seems to be on his own fiction and on being a fiction editor at Strange Horizons.  But his writing at the Shadow Clarke site was some of the most insightful writing that project offered up, in particular this review of Aliya Whitely’s The Arrival of Missives.
  • Erin Horáková – After nominating Erin’s magnum opus for Best Related Work, you’re probably not surprised to find me nominating her in this category.  As well as that magnificent essay, Erin did other writing for Strange Horizons in 2017, covering movies, plays, and board games.
  • Samira Nadkarni – A lot of Samira’s best work is happening on twitter, where in 2017 she made some incisive comments about works like Star Trek: Discovery or Thor: Ragnarok (she had some equally interesting things to say last month about Black Panther).  In longer writing, some standouts include her review of Deserts of Fire, an anthology about “modern war” whose project Samira argues with vociferously, and of the Netflix show Crazyhead, in which she discusses the genre trope of conflating mental health problems and superpowers.

(15) NEWS TO ME. Those who wish to enhance their terminological education can start the thread here –

Just remember – once you know, there’s no going back!

(16) INFOGALATIC. Did you forget about Vox Day’s intended Wikipedia replacement, Infogalactic? Camestros Felapton hasn’t. He gives a status report in “Revisiting Voxopedia”.

Actor Robert Guillaume is alive and well on Voxopedia despite dying in October 2017 in Wikipedia: https://infogalactic.com/info/Robert_Guillaume as is (for all you Swap Shop fans out there) Keith Chegwin https://infogalactic.com/info/Keith_Chegwin who on Wikipedia died in Decemeber 2017. More famous people are more likely to have their deaths recorded but it is hit and miss.

The majority of pages remain as out-of-date Wikipedia pages from 2016 and the basic issue with Voxopedia remains the same: not enough editors and the editors it does have are mainly working on fringe projects. These are supplemented by one-off vanity pages (e.g. https://infogalactic.com/info/Richard_Paolinelli )

In comments, Camestros says Paolinelli wrote most of his own entry for Infogalactic. I’m fine with that. Never depend on others to make you famous, as Elst Weinstein and I concluded 40 years ago. (You probably wondered why there’s a copy of Weinstein & Glyer’s Discount Hoaxarama in every hotel room.)

(17) UP IN THE AIR. From the BBC: “Archaeopteryx flew like a pheasant, say scientists”. A synchrotron scan shows that the bones were hollow enough to allow short bursts of flight.

The famous winged dinosaur Archaeopteryx was capable of flying, according to a new study.

An international research team used powerful X-ray beams to peer inside its bones, showing they were almost hollow, as in modern birds.

The creature flew like a pheasant, using short bursts of active flight, say scientists.

Archaeopteryx has been a source of fascination since the first fossils were found in the 1860s.

(18) OFF THE SHELF. Our hero: “‘Boaty McBoatface’ sub survives ice mission”. The popular-choice name was passed on to autonomous submersible operating from the officially-named RSS David Attenborough. Boaty is just back from 48 hours exploring under an ice shelf.

The nation’s favourite yellow submarine swam under a near-600m thick ice shelf in the Antarctic, returning safely to its launch ship after 48 hours away.

It was an important test for the novel autonomous vehicle, which was developed at the UK’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

Boaty’s handlers now plan even more arduous expeditions for the sub in the years ahead.

This includes a traverse under the sea-ice that caps the Arctic Ocean.

(19) FANTASTIC DESTINATION. David Doering declares, “This Miyazki-inspired ad for Oregon travel is stupeyfyingly gorgeous!” — “Only Slightly Exaggerated | Travel Oregon”.

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

More and More To Evermore

By David Doering: I had a chance to walk around the fantasy-themed Evermore Park on construction here in Utah. The park is scheduled to debut later this year (I could see work continuing feverishly on the site even though it was Saturday). I wish I could share more pictures, but I can’t. But in a word, though, this place will be AWESOME.

No, really. I toured the site with its creator, Ken Bretschneider, He describes Evermore as “an Experience Park.” (Ken created The Void, a super-popular VR attraction at Disneyland, so he knows about how to immerse people in a new world.) To get you there, Evermore has not just period gardens, buildings and a 1/2 scale railroad. It will have exotic animals, creatures, and character players to make this like a live-action role-playing adventure. (And these themes change with the seasons!)

It’s weird, finding a latter-day Disneyland right here in little old Pleasant Grove, Utah. In the “creative studio”, I saw dozens of characters and creatures, costumes and constructs filling the place and a cast of great artists making them. It was also packed to the gunwales with antiques to add authenticity to the buildings.

it’s clear in talking with Ken hat he is absolutely focused on the details. He points out leatherwork with tiny engravings and detailed, handcrafted etchings in armor–all of which you might just miss in a casual glance. But not Ken. The antiques from Europe, the marble sculptures and stained glass are there all to ensure those buildings are as real as the originals.

I was thrilled–this is no budget spook alley for fright night–no way. This is an over $20 million dollar fan destination that can’t get here soon enough for me.

  • Ken looking like Walt Disney building Disneyland.

  • Showing off his passion for detail on various drawings.

  • Ken explaining creatures to fan Micheal Johnson. See how intense and focused he is?

  • Here Ken describes an early version of Evermore.

  • Where the village and train will be…shortly.

  • What will this be??

  • Hundreds of mature trees are going in.

  • Dozens of period houses and buildings

And here’s more coverage in the Evermore Vlog:

Evermore Park: a place of exploration, wonder, and discovery. Evermore is not a theme park, nor is it an event, discovery, theatrical, or thrill park. It is a blend of all of these and more. Evermore is an Experience Park. It’s designed to immerse guests into a world of adventure where they can live in an incredible story, and even build their own.

 

Sanderson Draws Huge Crowd to Oathbringer Launch

The man himself holds the crowd in thrall.

By David Doering: Over 1300 fans turned out for the Oathbringer Midnight Release Party in Provo, Utah on November 13. To be accurate, Brandon Sanderson interpreted “midnight ” as meaning midnight at Tor in NYC. So he started distributing books right at 10 p.m. Mountain Time

This was partly to give himself a break, as he figured the autograph line of 1200 would take till 5 a.m. to finish even with a 10 p.m. release.

Interestingly, there’s a cottage industry surrounding Brandon and his works. There were four or five dealers in the hallways selling shirts, jewelry, henna tattoos, and a variety of artists who’ve done illustrations in his works.

When Brandon spoke, he said he would rather have his novels as TV shows and not movies. He is worried what Hollywood would do to get even one of his novels into two hours.

He told that when his first Wheel of Time succeeded so well, Tom Doherty readily, eagerly agreed to taking Brandon ‘s own novel with lots of illustrations inside and maps on the endpapers. (Brandon says if kids’ books can have lots of illos why can’t adult books?) Only Tom bemoaned later about taking on such expense…

For me, the best part was the reminiscences he had of trying to get started as a writer, stalking editors at World Fantasy.

Best technique? Don’t tell an editor you want to discuss your novel. That’s a quick way to the exit.

Instead, tell the editor that “I have this friend who wants to be an editor.”

Guaranteed face time for an hour.

Then pitch your novel.

Some of the 1300-1400 on hand to be part of the “SanderCon”

Utah Launches 2019 Westercon and Prospective NASFiC Bid

A bid to bring Westercon back to Utah in 2019 has gone live. A placeholder Tempe bid, created when no one else filed, has stepped aside to give them a clear field.

The new bid proposes to hold Westercon 72 from July 3-7, 2019 at the Davis Conference Center and adjacent hotels in Layton, Utah. (Reportedly a barber shop quartet convention has locked up the rooms in Salt Lake City on the required dates, which is the reason for not going back there.)

Bid chair Ben Hatcher is supported by experienced leaders from the 2014 Salt Lake City Westercon committee, including Vice-Chair Kate Hatcher, and Bid Advisor/Treasurer Dave Doering.

The group has also declared that if a 2019 NASFiC becomes available (which seems likely, given Dublin’s unopposed Worldcon bid) they will bid for that as well, with the intention of holding a combined Westercon/NASFiC. (Note: Under the rules, a North American Science Fiction Convention — NASFiC — is held when the Worldcon is hosted outside the continent.)

As they explain on their website:

Side Note: The question of bidding for a NASFiC (North American Science Fiction Convention) came down to the fact if a Worldcon is voted overseas, then there would be two conventions, Westercon and the NASFiC, with similar goals, competing for space and members in the same year while dodging the dates of the overseas Worldcon.

The options are sexy for Worldcon 2019. This is an opportunity to solidify membership, expand awareness of all three conventions, and teach what has made these honored conventions great for so many years.

Utah for 2019 does not push for any particular bid, Worldcon will vote what is best for their convention. We only wish to be up front, and declare if a NASFiC becomes open due to an overseas bid, that we will bid for that as well, and run/combine both for a unique experience.

Wrap-up of Life, The Universe & Everything #34

By David Doering: LTUE—affectionately pronounced “lootee” despite the spelling, is a great hybrid of con, symposium, and workshop. Author Dan Wells calls it “the learning con” to differentiate it from the “spectator cons” like the Comic Con-type.

Here’s the logo—notice the ingenious design combining SF, Fantasy, and the fannish feline “Luna” in the negative space. Neat, huh?

LTUE logo

This year set new records:

  • Up to 10 events in each hour
  • Over 220 hours of programming (not including gaming, filking, film festival or the autograph party)
  • Over 1700 in attendance

LTUE continues to be the largest writers and creators conference in the Intermountain West.

Attendees from around the globe—as far as Saudi Arabia and Australia.

Guests of honor were Kevin J Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, and Shannon Hale. Other notables were the Writing Excuses team: Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and Mary Robinette Kowal (our Toastmaster); L.E. Modesitt, Dave Farland, Larry Correia, editors Stacy Whitman and Lisa Mangum, artist Brian Hailes, Eric James Stone, and Michaelbrent Collins.

United Airlines needed 3 planes to get GoHs Kevin J Anderson and Rebecca Moesta to Salt Lake from Denver…Not only does United break guitars but it also breaks planes. Two had mechanical issues half way and had to turn back. (Wait. If you’re half way and have to turn around, wouldn’t it just be easier to fly the rest of the way to Salt Lake than turn around?? It’s only 400 air miles.)

(Despite this, KJA had a kind word to summarize his visit to LTUE:

KJA tweet

Kevin J Anderson also introduced a new measurement for writer productivity: the “Sanderson”. Based on Brandon’s 10K average word count of writing a week, Kevin jocularly says he only does about .1 Sanderson a week. (Which makes me feel like I only do like .005 sandersons.)

[Another term I heard for the first time, but likely is common amongst fantasy writers, was “horse dragon”—a dragon you can ride. Dd]

KJA’s main address was his life story on becoming a writer. Afterwards, Kevin complimented the LTUE audience as attentive and appreciative. “I give this talk at comic cons and the audience does politely laugh at the right parts. Here it was like I was speaking to a roomful of people like me 30 years ago eager to become writers.”

Todd Gallowglass, probably the finest professional live storyteller in fandom, gave a wonderful 15 tale of Scottish bravery to the LTUE banquet on Saturday night. (Yes, we still do a banquet to meet the hotel’s request for a food function.) After Todd’s storytelling with active audience participation, he thanked everyone because everyone really _wanted_ to participate when he signed to have them do cheers, oohs and aahs.

A real highlight was Shannon Hale’s main address on diversity. Shannon, though, didn’t stand up and be a firebrand to castigate. Instead, she noted how few boys come to her autograph sessions and, if they do, they say “well, my sister really likes your books”. She says she writes her books for human beings, so why does her being female or the title have “princess” in it make boys uncomfortable? Even young boys. Where does this start? This should be something we can fix today.

The most egregious example was of one school (of the 100 or so she visits each year) which said that boys didn’t need to attend her assembly—overtly indicating that either her books or her as an author would not be of interest to boys.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s toastmaster speech at the banquet was a sidesplitting recounting of her working with a malfunctioning marionette during a live performance of Sleeping Beauty(?) with recorded dialog. The ambiguous dialog suggested a whole different meaning to the scene when the maiden encounters the witch where the witch could only perform one action: a stroking movement with her hand.

Programming at LTUE primarily focuses on creators—writers, screenwriters, or artists—but there’s plenty of serious academic content. I loved the last presentation on Saturday “Time Travel” presented by surprisingly enough Salt Lake Comic Con’s own Bryan Brandenburg (who serves as their head of marketing). This was an intense, Einsteinian discussion with lots of “meat”:

Einstein

Okay, yes, that was one of his slides, but the rest of the content was in fact very scientific:

Einstein’s well accepted relativity physics states that time travel is possible, when one object is traveling faster than another object, especially as one object approaches the speed of light, relative to the other.

The earth and all of its inhabitants are traveling near the speed of light relative to a number of other objects in the universe. So has our future already happened, relative to some other observer in the universe?

HIGHLIGHTS (And Lowlights)

Here’s a dreadful picture of me during setup. Looks like the baby’s due in about three months. Egads. Smile’s pretty good. And the t-shirt with the Steve Keele-designed logo for Westercon 67 looks great! (Some are still available!)

David Doering

David Doering

Here’s Shannon Hale, author of fantasy series like the Princess Academy books, doing her main address. Note one of our mascot “Douglas” the dragon on the podium. (Wonder why LTUE would choose the name “Douglas”?)

Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale

Here’s some of the main guests discussing writing natural dialog. Notice how Brandon doesn’t need to have a nameplate. (Yes, we did record some events with permission to share on our Youtube channel.)

Sanderson no sign

Here’s the Writing Excuses podcast recording six sessions live at LTUE. Another super great event, and sadly one I didn’t get to hear or see. So I don’t know what the headbands are all about.

Panel 2

Yes, there’s gaming at LTUE. And with Brandon Sanderson involved, it’s quite a tournament!

Sanderson gaming

Expanded dealers room—like most cons, its books with some jewelry and a massage parlor. More unusual is that Barnes and Noble has four tables full of hardcovers and paperbacks and do a brisk business. Great support from our local B&N.

Kelly Olson

Even our libation station got kudos!

Bowman tweet

I missed this one. Dang, our first “official” after party too. (Keeping with fannish tradition, it was held the first night of the con.)

After Party

New this year is a full Professional Development track. LOTS of great feedback on this!

LTUE plug

Something very unique to Utah cons:

Meeks tweet

Another unique aspect at LTUE? Actual full rooms for 9AM panels:

Other good wrap-ups:

Drew Gerken

I was able to hang out my dearest friends for three days and talk the craft of writing – what else does a boy need? If you get the opportunity to go next year, please do so – you will not regret it.

Max Florschutz

LTUE 2016 was, as each LTUE before it, well worth attending. Over the years I’ve started to see it as the writing convention to attend, and I have no reservations in saying that if you want to attend a convention to help with your writing, this one should be it. Dozens of high-profile, A-list authors, all offering as much advice as they can while still having fun.

Rampant Coyote

Me? I’m definitely signing up for next year. I learned a lot, met a lot of great people, and had an absolute blast.

Kevin J. Anderson offered a really great analogy with respect to writing…there are a couple of ways to make popcorn: you can take a clean pan, put it on the oven burner, add exactly 1 tablespoon of oil and evenly spread the oil across the entire surface of the pan. You then turn the burner up to get the pan to exactly the right temperature – no more, no less. Then you select the perfect kernel of popcorn from your container of popcorn, and place it in the exact center of the pan where the heat is perfect. Then wait as the ripples form, and then (hopefully) when the kernel pops you immediately remove it to a paper towel to soak up the excess oil. Then you turn off the burner, let the pan cool, and then wash it and clean it so the pan is in pristine condition. Then you repeat the entire process all over again.

Or, of course, you can just dump all the popcorn in, not really be able to predict in advance which kernel will pop or which direction it will pop. In the end, you’ll have a whole bowl full of popcorn either way, but in the first case you may starve to death before you get there.