By Carl Slaughter: Got a real treat for you. Under the east train station in Guangzhou, China, is the Po Park Mall. At the entrance to the Po Park Mall, next to the Food Republic food court, is a statue of Dr. Strange. One of the signs says in English and Chinese, “Photo only. Don’t damage me.” Another sign has the Marvel logo. Here are photos of the signs, a full body photo of the Dr. Strange statue, and a head shot of the statue.
By Carl Slaughter: Marvel actors have fun, sometimes in costume, sometimes in plainclothes, sometimes as their characters, sometimes as themselves, with Stan Lee joining the fun.
The Last Donut
Captain America and Ironman square off. Too tense for Scarlet Witch.
Stan Lee chooses between Captain America and Iron Man
In this Jimmy Kimmel-Benedict Cumberbatch comedy skit, Doctor Strange is hired to perform at a birthday party.
Avengers Family Feud
Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, and Jeremy Renner play Avengers Family Feud with Jimmy Kimmel.
Ryan Reynolds / Hugh Jackman comedy interview
Thor takes break, but wants back in the game.
In this superhero comedy skit starring Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo, Thor travels to Australia for some me time, hammer in hand. He visits a local elementary school and his roommate’s office. He offers to help Tony Stark resolve the conflict with Steve Rogers. Stark does not reply. Then Thor discovers that Stark has invited Bruce Banner, who has no interest in the brewing civil war, to join his team. Thor feigns to not be offended. I give up, who’s the guy sitting down in the purple suit?
Hugh Jackman applied for the wrong job.
Armed with 3 years of experience at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters and a recommendation from Steven Spielberg, Hugh Jackman applies for a job at Harlem Village Academies.
Black Widow spoof
Saturday Night Live Black Widow spoof, starring Scarlett Johansson herself, who throws herself into the part. Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and Nick Fury join the fun.
[Note: A few of these have been posted here before.]
(1) UNREALITY CHECK. Damien G. Walter loves the Doctor Strange movie but he believes it’s time to explain again that Buddhism wont give you magic powers.
But can we please clear something up here? BUDDHISM IS NOT THE GATEWAY TO SECRET MAGICAL POWERS. It doesn’t matter how many thousands of hours you spend in meditation, you’ll never be able to summon power from other dimensions, conjure cool looking glowing sigils with wavy hand movements, or indulge in the joys of astral projection. Got it?
“Oh Damo!” I hear one of you sigh, “You’re just taking this all too seriously! Nobody believes Buddhism can REALLY give them magical powers. Any more than they believe they can really upload their mind into a computer to achieve immortality! Oh, wait, loads of people do actually believe that…” As, in fact, do many people really genuinely believe Buddhism will give them magic powers. And much as I would like to blame this on Hollywood, it’s a much, much older problem.
While I’m lucky not to have had my hands crushed in an automobile accident, my own life took me into the Himalayan mountains, to study at the Buddhist temples in Dharamsala. I’ve been a student of Buddhism for eight years now. I stepped out of a successful, creative career that was killing me incrementally and Buddhism was part of what helped me transition to a different kind of life. Now I live in Thailand, a Buddhist nation, to study Theravada Buddhism. In 2015 I travelled across India, to the capital of the Tibetan government in exile, and home of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, to study Mahayana Buddhism.
(2) STRANGE THOUGHTS. Paul Weimer shares some thoughts about the Doctor Strange movie.
Tell me if you recognize this story from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
A brilliant, snarky, assholish rich person with amazingly skills strides through life blandly, confident that he knows everything, and often can back up his reputation with cold hard skills and knowledge. He is an endless deadpan snarker, always with a cutting jape or a quip for friend and rival alike. He has a long-suffering quasi love interest who clearly deserves better. We get to see him in his glory before an accident brings him low and nearly kills it. Worse, it doesn’t kill him, but gives him a permanent debility, changing his future plans forever. Said asshole learns to be better slowly and painfully in a period of retrenchment and regrowth, becoming a superhero in the process, and defrosting the heart of his love interest a bit whilst in the middle of battling the big baddie.
I could be describing Iron Man, but I am also describing Doctor Strange, and that is the core of one of the problems I found with the 2016 Marvel Cinematic Universe story.
(3) QUIZZING BUJOLD. Lois McMaster Bujold, who published a new novella this week, Penric’s Mission, is interviewed about her writing process (just in time for the National Novel Writing Month) — “Lois McMaster Bujold Answers Three (Okay, Four) Questions about the Writing Process”.
MD: So, National Novel Writing Month is basically about creating a first draft of at least 50,000 words. What’s your favorite thing about writing the first draft?
LMB: Finishing it. (-:
Starting it runs a close second, true. Then, probably, those moments when a sticky knot gets suddenly undone by some neat idea or inspiration that I didn’t have — often couldn’t have had — earlier.
I do rolling revisions — correcting, rewriting, re-outlining, and dinking as I go — because if I don’t get my edits in pretty early, my prose sets up like concrete, and it takes a jackhammer to pry it open. Also, by the end I will be tired and frantic and in no state of mind for careful polishing, still less major surgery. Since I’m usually doing novels or novellas, there’s too much to face, not to mention wrangle and just find, if I save all that till the finish.
This is a shift from earlier decades, when my method was to complete each chapter, print it out, run it past my test readers, and then do little more than make notes on the pages till I circled around for the final run/s. (There’s never only one.) In the past few years I’ve finally gone paperless, so I do a lot more micro-editing along the way now.
(4) WORLDCON 75 NEWS. The Worldcon 75 International Film Festival is accepting entries.
Worldcon 75 international film festival is now open for submissions! Please read the official rules and send in your entry form and film by email or snail mail by June 1st, 2017: WORLDCON 75 INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL PDF (633 kB).
(5) OPERATION GONDOR. The Angry Staff Officer says Tolkien exemplifies sound Army doctrine, in “Warfighter: Middle-Earth”.
When I think of the six warfighting functions I always think of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
What, you don’t?
Let’s be honest, one does not immediately think of fantasy or science fiction when conversations turn to Army doctrine. Most vignettes that are used to make the subject understandable to the lowly minds of company grade officers are either historical or situational. And while there is nothing wrong with this technique, are we perhaps overlooking a missed opportunity for providing a broader understanding of our doctrine? …
Through utilizing the six warfighting functions, the Captains of the West were able to preserve their combat power, protect critical information nodes, deceive and confuse the enemy as to their true intentions, and finally mass key maneuver assets at critical points in the enemy lines. This led to an eventual tactical victory that reversed the course of ground operations in the War of the Ring.
Tolkien is assuredly cursing me profoundly in the afterlife.
(6) ON THE OTHER PAW. Rachel Neumeier decided that the B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog’s recent list of 25 cats in sf/f needed answering, so she listed the “Top ten dogs in SFF”.
- Barbara Hambly’s wonderful THE BRIDE OF THE RAT GOD actually made me fall a little bit in love with Pekingese, not ordinarily my favorite breed (sorry, Pekingese lovers; just a personal preference). Do NOT be misled by the title, which is deliberately B-movie campy. The story is delightful and the three Pekingese are real characters, real dogs, and also btw capable of hunting demons if any should turn up.
(7) SIGHTS SEEN AND UNSEEN. After being feted at Utopiales, Ann Leckie’s travels took her to Paris, as she tells in her latest post, “Utopiales”.
I did some very touristy things–the day I had to myself in Paris, the weather was clear and just chilly enough for a good walk, and the map told me the Louvre was only a few kilometers from my hotel, so I figured I’d go on foot. It was a nice walk! And the Louvre is just as full of looted antiquities as ever. Every now and then I’d see a familiar object–oh, hello Etruscan couple I’ve seen photos of you all over the place! Oh, that round hat looks familiar, could it be Gudea, King of Lagash? Why, yes, it is! The Dendera Zodiac I didn’t stumble across, though, I was actually looking for it. (And found it.)
I didn’t bother with the Mona Lisa. No doubt she was surrounded the way the Venus de Milo was. I found that kind of fascinating–there were dozens of other wonderful statues in the room, but everyone was just looking at her, taking pictures, and selfies.
A remark that brings to mind Art Buchwald’s famous column, “The Six-Minute Louvre” which begins:
Any sportsman will tell you that the only three things to see in the Louvre are the “Winged Victory of Samothrace,” the “Venus de Milo” and the “Mona Lisa.” The rest of the sculpture and paintings are just so much window dressing for the Big Three, and one hates to waste time in the Louvre when there is so much else to see in Paris….
(8) ANTIHARASSMENT ALLY PROJECT. Steven Saus has created #IWillBelieveYou, “An Ally Project To Support Those Affected by Sexual Harassment and Assault In Fandom and Elsewhere.”
After the revelations last month (reference one, two), those of us with enough energy, privilege, and resources have to do something. Something that shows both that we will support those who have been harassed and that we do not accept harassment in the places we gather. So, building on the example of Take Back The Night, as well as #IllRideWithYou and #IllGoWithYou, I created #IWillBelieveYou.
(9) ROALD DAHL’S TV SHOW. Atlas Obscura remembers that “In 1961, Roald Dahl Hosted His Own Version of ‘The Twilight Zone’” called Way Out.
Under the gun, some enterprising producers at the network began dreaming up a creepy drama show to fill the time slot, and they went right to Dahl. While he is best remembered today for his timeless works of children’s literature like Matilda and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, for a good portion of his writing career, he was better known as an author of twisted, devilish fiction. As explained in an article originally published in Filmfax Magazine, Dahl jumped at the chance to develop the series, spurred on by the fact that the show’s time slot (9:30 p.m. on Fridays) fell right before another thematically similar little CBS show, The Twilight Zone.
The black-and-white show would begin with what became its signature image, a slow pan over a series of mist-shrouded, disembodied hands, before resting on one which would burst into flames at the title came onscreen. Then, flexing his dry British charm like a more cosmopolitan Vincent Price, Dahl would give a short intro to each episode. The bulk of the program consisted of the main tale, usually a short morality play with an ironic or surprising ending or element, which often dipped into the supernatural. Then Dahl would close out the show with another direct epilogue, much like the Cryptkeeper of the later Tales From the Crypt.
(10) HELLO, I LOVE YOU. A Vintage News story tells how “Abandoned in space in 1967, a US satellite has started transmitting again”.
In 2013 in North Cornwall, UK, an Amateur Radio Astronomer picked up a signal which he determined to be the LES1 that was built by MIT in 1965. The satellite never made it to its intended orbit and had been spinning out of control ever since.
Phil Williams, the amateur radio astronomer from near Bude, picked out the odd signal which was transmitting due to it tumbling end over end every four seconds as the solar panels became shadowed by the engine. “This gives the signal a particularly ghostly sound as the voltage from the solar panels fluctuates,” Williams said.
It’s more than likely the onboard batteries have disintegrated, and something else caused its 237Mhz transmission to resume when it was in sunlight.
The LES1 is about the size of a small automobile and should not cause any issues more than any other piece of space junk in orbit.
This proves electronics built around 50 years ago, 12 years before Voyager 1, and far before microprocessors and integrated circuits are still capable of working in the hostile environs of space. Phil refers to his hobby as “Radio-Archaeology”.
(11) TREACHEROUS HOME APPLIANCES. It’s great that Sixties electronics are still working in space, but look out for latest tech in your own home: the internet of things is a fertile environment for hackers, who can turn even the most innocuous thing to their purposes: “Why Light Bulbs May Be The Next Hacker Target” in the New York Times.
Now here’s the bad news: Putting a bunch of wirelessly connected devices in one area could prove irresistible to hackers. Researchers report in a paper made public on Thursday that they have uncovered a flaw in a wireless technology that is often included in smart home devices like lights, switches, locks, thermostats and many of the components of the much-ballyhooed “smart home” of the future.
The researchers focused on the Philips Hue smart light bulb and found that the wireless flaw could allow hackers to take control of the light bulbs, according to researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science near Tel Aviv and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. That may not sound like a big deal. But imagine thousands or even hundreds of thousands of internet-connected devices in close proximity.
Malware created by hackers could be spread like a pathogen among the devices by compromising just one of them.
And they wouldn’t have to have direct access to the devices to infect them: The researchers were able to spread infection in a network inside a building by driving a car 229 feet away.
The new risk comes from a little-known radio protocol called ZigBee. Created in the 1990s, ZigBee is a wireless standard widely used in home consumer devices. While it is supposed to be secure, it hasn’t been held up to the scrutiny of other security methods used around the internet. The researchers found that the ZigBee standard can be used to create a so-called computer worm to spread malicious software among internet-connected devices.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michaeline Duskova, Camestros Felapton, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]
(1) ELECTION NIGHT HANDBOOK. Nicholas Whyte has been doing our homework for us: “I thought you might be interested in my preview of the US election on Tuesday – now available here: Apco’s Guide to Election Night 2016.
“Or to download from Slideshare here.”
As election day in the United States draws near, all eyes will be on early voting numbers and eventually official returns. Our resident election expert, Nicholas Whyte, prepared this guide to knowing what it will take to win and when we’re likely to know the outcome. Keep it handy!
(2) THAT CLOSE. Says John King Tarpinian, “Ray Bradbury missed landing on the moon by a month and Marty McFly missed the Cubs by one year.” From Entertainment Weekly, “Michael J. Fox congratulates the Cubs: ‘Only off by a year, not bad”.
Last year, Back to the Future writer Bob Gale explained to Sports Illustrated why he picked a Cubs win as a major plot point in the futuristic comedy.
“I’m from St. Louis originally,” he said at the time. “I’m a big baseball fan. You grow up in St. Louis, you automatically become a Cardinals fan. And of course I always followed the Cubs because how could you not? With the Cubs folklore of being the lovable losers that never get there, it was just a natural joke to say, ‘What is the most absurd thing that you could come up with?’”
(3) CARTOON MUSEUM LANDS IN CLOVER. A piece on the sfexaminer.com website by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez called “Recently Displaced Cartoon Art Museum Finds New Home in SF” discusses how the Cartoon Art Museum, which thought it was going to close in 2015 because of San Francisco’s ridiculous rents, has found a new one on Fisherman’s Wharf.
Kashar said the new space is “comparable” in size to the old one on Mission Street, though it’s one floor shorter. “We get to design it, too,” she said, which wasn’t an option with the old space.
“It’s got this really nice-looking facade,” she said, which is brick and looks similar to the nearby historic Cannery.
“For us, we wanted a place that was easy to get to, had street level visibility. It’s gorgeous,” she said.
The new space was made possible in part by a loan from San Francisco’s Nonprofit Displacement Mitigation Fund, which has helped keep nonprofits in San Francisco during the rental crisis.
Kashar said the museum will announce fundraising efforts for the new location soon.
In the meantime, she hinted at one of the first new exhibits for the museum when it opens in 2017: the Summer of Love’s 50th anniversary.
That includes Wimmen’s Comix and Underground Comix, San Francisco staples from The City’s anti-establishment comics past.
(4) DAVE LALLY THAWING OUT. A few words about Icecon from Dave Lally.
Just back from freezing Reykavik (brrrrr!) and gosh is booze* (and indeed food) expensive there.
Tho the local fen, in the middle of their Gen Election to their Althing — whose building was just across the road from the main Icecon social bar! — were welcoming and very friendly.
Total number was about 120 (including overseas fen — giving them support and encouragement– from other Nordic countries and from US, UK, Ireland etc.)
Icecon 2 is scheduled for 2018. It will alternate with the every-two-years Icelandic Festival of Literature.
(*) 2nd highest tax on alcohol-exceed only by Norway!
Lally wrote this while on his way to the Eurocon in Barcelona, where the weather is warmer for smoffing.
(5) STOP OVERLOOKING HER! Sarah Gailey winds up the resentment machine and lets fly in the insightful and entertaining post “Women of Harry Potter: Ginny Weasley Is Not Impressed” at Tor.com.
Ginny let herself be impressed once. She let herself be impressed by Harry Potter—the Boy Who Lived, big brother’s best friend, Quidditch star. She let herself be impressed, and she let herself be infatuated, and she let herself blush and hide. She let herself be soft.
And into that moment of softness—of weakness—she wound up vulnerable. And look at how that turned out.
Ginny Weasley is angry. She’s angry because she let her mind become a chew toy for a sociopath. She’s angry because she hurt people, and she doesn’t care that she was just a puppet for Tom Riddle, that doesn’t matter, she still hurt people. She’s angry because nobody noticed. She’s angry because everyone forgets. She’s constantly having to remind them that she went through it, she spoke to him, he spoke back. And when he spoke back, it wasn’t just an endless deluge of taunts about her parents or jabs at her youth or threats to kill her. Harry’s never had a conversation with Voldemort, never really talked to him.
(6) ALLERGIC TO WORK. Camestros Felapton’s post “A Tale of an Encyclopedia in Graphs” analyzes how much work all those new members are doing on the Voxopedia (which is to say, Infogalactic). The answer? They’re doing squat.
Adding more members isn’t impacting on the number of new pages being added because the new members aren’t doing anything.
The problem with becomes clearer when looking at the proportion of edits per person.
Two people alone account for nearly 70% of all the edits in the data set.
And Mark-kitteh points out in a comment:
According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Statistics , wikipedia gets 800 new articles per day. (No word on how many then fail notability checks, so the real figure may be lower). Based on that Voxipedia needs an couple of orders of magnitude more activity just to keep up.
I wonder how much editing activity you need to just keep up with really basic facts, like people dying?
(7) JUMPER OBIT. Fans recently learned of the death of Joyce Potter McDaniel Jumper (1937-2013). Her death notice is posted here.
Lee Gold shared the news, and her husband Barry added, “We lost track of Joyce in 2013. She called to tell us she was moving to Minneapolis-St. Paul, but never followed up with her new address. Former Long Beach fan Vic Koman posted on Facebook about SFWA looking for the rights to republish some of Dave’s works, so Vic wanted to help find Joyce. After Lee sent him a few bits of information (DOB, maiden name), he tracked down the unfortunate information: Joyce Potter McDaniel Jumper: born January 12, 1937; died December 20, 2013.”
Information about David McDaniel here.
(8) BIG HERO 6. “Big News for Disney’s BIG HERO 6” from Scifi4me.com.
If having Disney XD creating an animated series for Big Hero 6 is not exciting enough, then the news that most of the original voice cast will return for it should get the fans revved up. The Mouse House had confirmed working on a project based off the 2014 Academy Award winning box office hit (over $650 million) this spring. This sweetens the deal.
Inspired by the Marvel comic of the name, Big Hero 6 will continue where the film ended with the continuing adventures of 14-year-old tech genius Hiro, his lovable, cutting-edge robot Baymax and their friends Wasabi, Honey Lemon, Go Go, and Fred as they protect their city from scientifically enhanced villains. At the same time, they are also balancing out regular life as new students at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology.
Returning actors are: Maya Rudolph (Aunt Cass); Jamie Chung (Go Go); Scott Adsit (Baymax); Alan Tudyk (Alistair Krei); Ryan Potter (Hiro); Genesis Rodriguez (Honey Lemon); David Shaughnessy (Heathcliff); and, of course, Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee (Fred’s dad). Damon Wayans, Jr and T.J. Miller have left the cast. Khary Payton (The Lion Guard) will take over Wasabi and Brooks Wheelan (Saturday Night Live) will play Fred.
(9) SEVENTIES SF IS BACK. Its publication derailed over 40 years ago, Gordon Eklund’s Cosmic Fusion is touted as a breakthrough book that never happened. You can see what you missed by shelling out a few bucks to Amazon.
Cosmic Fusion was originally written between January 1973 and September 1982, a mammoth 300,000-word epic novel of “science fiction, sex, and death.” Unpublished due to an editorial change at the original publishing company, Eklund has now revised it for its first publication. As he writes in his introduction: “Cosmic Fusion was intended to be the book that broke me out of [science fiction’s midlist]. It was the Big Ambitious Novel I was going to write because I wanted to write it…” So here it is, a vintage tale written by Gordon Eklund at the peak of his power as a writer, never before seen…until today!
(10) ESCHEW SURPLUSAGE. Here’s part of the writing advice C. S. Lewis sent to a fan in 1956, from Letters of Note.
What really matters is:–
- Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
- Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
- Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
(11) MORE AWARDS. Matthew Bowman says two awards were started in reaction to the controversy about the Hugos. We all know about the Dragon Awards, which he discusses at the beginning of his post “A Tale of Two Awards” at The Catholic Geeks. Here’s Bowman’s introduction to the second.
The Rampant Manticore
The Rampant Manticore, as I said, was also in large part a reaction to what happened with the Hugos; but it takes a very different focus and a very different way of handling the problem.
For one, the Manticores will be presented at HonorCon, but — like that convention — they are adminstered by the Royal Manticoran Navy. The RMN, named after the military in the books they honor (no pun intended), is the Official Honor Harrington Fan Association. It’s sanctioned by the author, David Weber, and beloved by the publisher for how this organization of several thousand members gets people to read (and buy) this bestseller among bestsellers. The RMN is of course chiefly concerned with the Honor Harrington series, but cheerfully encompasses all military genre fiction. As a result, the Manticores have a heavy focus on military science fiction and fantasy.
The Manticores are also taking an opposite tack from the Flight of Dragons; instead of opening it up to everyone (or even just supporting memberships like Wordcon and the Hugos), they put very particular limits on who can vote. You have to either attend HonorCon itself, or have been a member of the fan association for a full year and taken at least two exams (these are really easy exams, don’t worry).
(12) UNCLE 4E. Forry Ackerman’s 100th birthday is coming late this month. Here’s a placeholder, from the last print issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland.
(13) EVERYBODY EXAGGERATES HIS RESUME. Jimmy Kimmel hires Doctor Strange.
(14) BACK HOME IN THE JUNGLES OF INDIANA. Han Solo and Indy reunited in the same film! Raiders of the lost Dark.
[Thanks to Gregory Benford, Lee Gold, Andrew Porter, Janice Gelb, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day M. C. Simon Milligan.]
(1) CODES OF CONDUCT. Dave McCarty and Helen Montgomery share thoughts about administering Codes of Conduct (CoC) in “The Shield or the Weapon” at Copious Free Time. These excerpts encompass some of their more challenging points, but only a reading of the post can do justice to all the nuances they bring out.
DAVE McCARTY: …As another example, there was a time a few years ago where Bob(2) brought a new CoC for their convention to a fairly public convention runner forum (presumably for review and input). As with most CoCs, there was a lot there that was good but at least a few people had some push back on some of the policies. One of the pieces of feedback about one or two specific policies was that they were worded in a way that made them overly broad…almost everyone attending Bob(3)con would be in violation of these sections of the CoC.
In response to the feedback, Bob(2) stated that they didn’t believe these parts of the CoC were problematic since the organizers knew who they would enforce them against.
Selective enforcement is *absolutely* a weapon and it’s a heinous one. It’s one of the larger issues disenfranchised groups have in regular life…it’s one of the preferred tools of racism and sexism and I would *bet* almost any other “ism” folks can throw at me.
If we are going into something with the thought of “how do we safeguard our member’s enjoyment”, I find it exceedingly unlikely that we ever work our way to policies designed to be used against *specific* people or even *narrow* groups.
This is the soul of the issue on CoC issues for me. Are we trying to protect or are we trying to remove. Is this about preventing harm or seeking retribution?…
HELEN MONTGOMERY: …About 10 years ago I was involved in writing the CoC for Bob(6)con. The group decided early on that we didn’t want just an anti-harassment policy, because there were a lot of other behaviors that can make a convention less safe and less fun. So we went with the broader CoC. The intent is a shield – here’s how to act and not act so that everyone has a good time. It’s a much longer version of Wheaton’s Law – don’t be a dick. We went in with the assumption that most of our attendees didn’t want to violate Wheaton’s Law. We incorporated what attendees should do if there are problems, starting with “try talking to them if you feel comfortable doing so” and we listed that consequences of violating the CoC included but were not limited to X, Y, and Z. We recognized that behaviors and circumstances are made up of shades of gray, and we gave ourselves flexibility to work with that reality.
Fast forward to a recent Bob(6)con. There’s a guy, Bob(7), who has become well-known in the larger community as being someone who has sexually harassed women. At least one convention has banned him, albeit with much Sturm und Drang in the process. He then shows up on our membership list. He’s never been accused of causing any problems at Bob(6)con. What’s a con to do?
As luck would have it, I was Board President at the time. (Pardon me whilst I wipe away the sarcasm that just dripped from that sentence.) There was much internal discussion, and ultimately we stood by what has been our stance from the beginning with our CoC – we do not pre-emptively ban people from Bob(6)con….
(2) LIST KICKER. Looking over “The Ars Technica science fiction bucket list – 42 movies every geek must see” I came away convinced the list could have been a lot shorter – they may be good, but are Enemy Mine and WALL*E indispensable viewing? — and yet it does bring to people’s attention previously unsuspected gems:
Shot on the cheap in and around Austin, this 2004 film about a pair of engineers who accidentally discover time travel in their garage is not easy to follow the first time you see it. The characters mumble dialog into their chests just like how real humans talk, the narrators telling the story might be lying, and the same events are shown from multiple points of view—we’re never sure what’s really real. But the joy, they say, is in the journey, and trying to piece together exactly what the hell happens in this story of unexplained paradoxes is part of the fun. Primer is that rare kind of film that not only benefits from repeat viewings but also manages to show you something new every time you watch it.
(3) UNPLANNED OBSOLESCENCE. John Scalzi was spun off onto an alternate timeline last night. Did you notice? — “The Cubs, the 108-Year-Long Streak, and Old Man’s War”.
This year, as the Chicago Cubs came closer and closer to winning a World Series, people wondered what that might mean for the Old Man’s War series of books. After all, in several places I had people in the books discussing the Chicago Cubs and their inability to win a World Series, and in The Human Division, it’s actually a plot point. So what happens to those books, now that the Cubs, after 108 years, have won a World Series?….
Now the Old Man’s War books suffer from the same problem as all the science fiction stories before 1969 that named a first man on the moon, or the ones that imagined canals on Mars. The real world caught up to them and passed them by, waving as it did so.
And that’s okay. This is the risk you take when you put a plot point in your books that’s contingent on the real world….
(4) TRUNK STORIES. James Davis Nicoll at Young People Read Old SFF unleashed his test audience on Fritz Leiber’s “A Pail of Air” this time.
(…)”So right then and there,” Pa went on, (…) “I told myself that I was going on as if we had all eternity ahead of us. I’d have children and teach them all I could. I’d get them to read books. I’d plan for the future, try to enlarge and seal the Nest. I’d do what I could to keep everything beautiful and growing. I’d keep alive my feeling of wonder even at the cold and the dark and the distant stars.”
But will this resonate with younger people? Let’s find out!
The responses as a whole are some of the best Nicoll has received to date.
(5) RODDENBERRY. Gene Roddenberry will be inducted into the New Mexico Museum of Space History’s International Space Hall of Fame on November 12.
“Mr. Roddenberry was chosen because of his vision of what space exploration could, be his commitment to promoting the future of space exploration and his work that inspired people worldwide to believe in the reality of the “final frontier”,” said museum executive director Christopher Orwoll, adding that, “Roddenberry’s leadership brought to the forefront social, political and cultural issues that impacted the world then and continue to do so now.”
The Museum’s new exhibit will showcase Roddenberry’s vision.
The introductory panels for the exhibit highlight Roddenberry himself, his history as a filmmaker and the legacy of his Star Trek series, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Exhibit cases throughout the gallery document just how widespread the Star Trek phenomenon has become. Collectibles of just about every kind are represented, from Barbies to stuffed bears to pizza cutters, and everything in between. The series, although relatively short-lived in the beginning, touched on many social and moral issues particularly how women were viewed. One exhibit case is dedicated to “The Women of Star Trek”. Another pays homage to the various “Starships of Star Trek” and a third features photos, videos and other images from the series.
But the smallest exhibit cases may be the ones that hold the real treasures, straight from the vault of the Smithsonian. The Star Trek episode The Trouble With Tribbles, written by David Gerrold who will be a special guest on opening night, revolves around furry little critters that multiply at an incredible rate and who also have a serious dislike for Klingons. Although the Starship Enterprise was overrun by tribbles at the time, only a very few remain in existence today. The tribble visitors will admire inside its eight inch case was actually used in that episode and is on loan to the museum from the Smithsonian.
The champion of the original Star Trek postage stamp will attend the induction.
In 1985, Kraft started and led a thirteen year campaign to have Star Trek emblazoned on a stamp. His efforts, and those of his Star Trek Stamp Committee, paid off in 1999 when the stamp was created as part of the Post Office’s “Celebrate the Century” series of commemorative stamps.
This year, the U.S. Postal Service issued four commemorative Star Trek stamps celebrating the 50th anniversary of the famous television show which first aired on September 8, 1966. It didn’t take an act of Congress or over a dozen years of letter writing and campaigning, or, as Kraft might say, even a letter from God. The original 1999 stamp campaign and the amazing effort that went into it, is documented by Kraft in his book, Maybe We Need A Letter From God.
(6) MY BAD. Ken Liu noticed more people are buying his anthology than The Complete Works of Confucius.
Never thought I’d be able to claim that an anthology of Chinese SF I edited and translated outsells Confucius. Sorry, Great Sage! ?? pic.twitter.com/8FmAYSpv1S
— Ken Liu (@kyliu99) November 1, 2016
(7) WHO REY! Amanda Hess’ “How Female Fans Made Star Wars Their Own” in the New York Times talks about how lots of female Star Wars fans are excited by Rogue One because it’s about a woman leading a bunch of men around and that there are now more women in Star Wars than “Leia, Leia, Leia and Rey, Rey, Rey.”
The dominant cultural image of a “Star Wars” fan may be a lightsaber-wielding fanboy, but women have always been essential creators in the fan universe. They started early fan clubs and mailed out fanzines like Skywalker and Moonbeam, packed with fiction, essays and art. In 1982, Pat Nussman published an essay in the zine Alderaan that described a female fandom so rich and vast that she was prompted to ask, “Where are the men?” She continued, “Male names are rare in columns or fanzine order lists, male faces scarce at media conventions, and the number of men writing or drawing or editing in media fandom so minimal as to be practically nonexistent.”
(8) IN PLAIN SIGHT. Via Galleycat and Leah Schnelbach at Tor.com I learned —
Emma Watson has been participating in the Books On The Underground movement. According to The Telegraph, the actress and founder of the Our Shared Shelf book club, dropped off copies of Dr. Maya Angelou’s Mom & Me & Mom all around the London Tube.
Here’s more from the BBC:
“The star left the novels as part of the Books On The Underground movement which sees ‘book fairies’ leave their favourite reads for people to enjoy. Watson left about 100 books with some including a hand-written note….Books on the Underground started in 2012 and leave about 150 books in stations across London each week.”
(9) BENEDICTION. Doctor Strange extended movie clip.
(10) NOTHING FAZES NEW YORKERS. The PrankvsPrank YouTube crew sent a man dressed as Marvel’s Silver Surfer on a motorized surfboard through the streets of New York City.
[The video] showed Jesse Wellens donning the elaborate costume, featuring comic book-style paint and metallic silver shoes, as he glided about Manhattan.
Wellens turned several heads and received audible cheers as he rode his motorized silver surfboard through traffic and down a nearby boardwalk.
He even drew attention from police officers and a hot dog vendor who stopped to pose for a picture with him.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster,. and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Aziz Poonawalla.]
(1) THE WAY TO LIVE IN FANDOM. In “A few post-Wiscon thoughts on being an ally” Sigrid Ellis covers several topics, and this segment speaks to fans far beyond the environs of WisCon.
Here’s the thing: if the fates are kind, all of us will one day be old in fandom. Two, three, four generations will pile in after us, building on what we have fostered. We, too, will be pushed to the margins and passed by.
Yet my heart and head are with the youth. With the future. I cannot bring myself to condemn change that spreads power among more people. I cannot argue against hearing more people tell their own stories. I cannot stand against representation, inclusion.
And yet, and yet, and yet …
What I want, what a crave, is for people to LISTEN to each other. To empathize. I want the young’ns to thank those who came before for their victories, however incremental. I want the founders and established folks to respect the anger and impatient demands for change. I want the next generation to not throw out everything just because it was done before. I want the previous generation to avoid “because we always do it this way” as a reason.
When I hear some Old Fart say something dismissive and intolerant, I wince. I want to prevent my respected elders from showing their ass in public, I want to cover for them, I want to protect them from being overheard.
When I hear some Young Turk calling to burn it all to the ground and start again, I wince. I want to run interference, I want to soften their demands, I want to compromise and meet them halfway.
(2) WHAT IT’S ABOUT. In a piece for Bloomberg, “’Star Wars’ Is Really About Feminism. And Jefferson. And Jesus”, Cass Sunstein has excerpts from his book The World According to Star Wars.
….Like a great novel or poem, Star Wars doesn’t tell you what to think. You can understand it in different, even contradictory ways. Here are six of those ways.
From the feminist point of view, is Star Wars awful and kind of embarrassing, or actually terrific and inspiring? No one can doubt that “The Force Awakens” strikes a strong blow for sex equality: Rey is the unambiguous hero (the new Luke!), and she gets to kick some Dark Side butt. Just look at the expression on her face when she has a go at Kylo Ren.
By contrast, the original trilogy and the prequels are easily taken as male fantasies about both men and women. The tough guys? The guys. When you feel the Force, you get stronger, and you get to choke people, and you can shoot or kill them, preferably with a lightsaber (which looks, well, more than a little phallic — the longer, the better).
But there’s another view. Leia is the leader of the rebellion. She’s a terrific fighter, and she knows what she’s doing. She’s brave, and she’s tough, and she’s good with a gun. By contrast, the men are a bit clueless. She does wear a skimpy costume, and she gets enslaved, kind of, by Jabba the Hutt. But isn’t everything redeemed, because she gets to strangle her captor with the very chain with which he bound her? Isn’t that the real redemption scene in the series?
(3) SISMAN OBIT. Publisher and novelist Robyn Sisman (1955-2016) died May 20 of cancer reports The Bookseller.
She began her career in publishing at Oxford University Press where she worked her way up to become an editor.
She later became an editorial director at J M Dent and created two publishing imprints – Everyman Fiction, a list of contemporary fiction; and a classic crime line, which included writers such as Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis), Margery Allingham, and Kingsley Amis.
Malcolm Edwards believes she commissioned the first Interzone anthology at Dent.
Sisman then joined Hutchinson, part of the Random House group, via a stint at the newly established UK arm of Simon & Schuster.
She oversaw publication of Robert Harris’ wartime novel Fatherland, but also such books as Kim Newman’s The Night Mayor and Brian Stableford’s Empire of Fear brought to her attention by an sf advisor.
Sisman’s career as a writer began with her debut novel, Special Relationship, published in 1995 by Heinemann. She wrote five other romantic comedies, Just Friends (Penguin), Perfect Strangers (Penguin), Weekend in Paris (Penguin), A Hollywood Ending (Orion) and The Perfect Couple? (Orion).
She was married to author Adam Sisman.
(4) TOP DRONE. I don’t know what Luke will go shooting womp-rats with now – “The U.S. Air Force May Have Just Built Its Last Fighter Jet” reports The Daily Beast.
In the direst scenario, Air Force fighters simply won’t survive over enemy territory long enough to make any difference during a major war. In that case, the penetrating counterair system, or PCA, might not be a fighter jet as we currently understand it.
Instead, it could be a radar-evading drone whose main job is to slip undetected into enemy air space and use sophisticated sensors to detect enemy planes—and then pass that targeting data via satellite back to other U.S. forces. “A node in the network,” is how the strategy document describes the penetrating system’s main job.
The Air Force could start work on the penetrating counterair system in 2017, according to the new air-superiority plan. The document proposes that this possible stealth drone could team up with an “arsenal plane”—an old bomber or transport plane modified to carry potentially hundreds of long-range missiles
(5) AERIAL SNACKAGE. Richard Foss was up early to guest on a TV show called Food: Fact or Fiction and wrote a great post about his experiences.
One segment was about the history of food aboard commercial aircraft, the other about food in space, and each had their humorous moments. As part of one I had to eat some airline peanuts, and unfortunately they had brought the sweet kind that I detest. I managed to fake enjoyment when the camera was on, but must have made an interesting face as soon as it stopped, because the cameraman asked if I was choking. When I told him the situation, he complimented me on my acting, because he had thought I loved peanuts as long as the camera was on. The annoying part? They had to shoot the scene three times, so I ate a whole bag of the nasty things.
(6) UP THE AMAZON. John Scalzi delivered “A Tweet Spree on Amazon Authors and Envy” — 17 tweets and a kitten picture. Here’s number 6.
6. I've had single digit Amazon Author rankings in SF/F; I've been off the list of 100 entirely. As far as I can see, no impact on sales.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) June 7, 2016
(7) AUGUST BRADBURY SHINDIG. Steven Paul Leiva signal boosted a call for submissions for this summer’s Ray Bradbury Read in LA.
On August 22, 2016, in celebration of the ninety-sixth anniversary of the birth of American and Angeleno literary great Ray Bradbury, the Ray Bradbury Read will take place in downtown Los Angeles from twelve noon to three p.m.
The Ray Bradbury Read will feature three hours of short readings from the works of Ray Bradbury; from his short stories, novels, poems, and essays…
The readers of Bradbury’s work will be members of the public selected by the process described below. There will also be guest celebrity readers….
To be considered as a reader you must submit a proposal for a reading of a five-minute-or-under excerpt from one of Bradbury’s many works. The excerpt can come from any of Ray’s published prose and verse writings and should have a central theme, coherence, and completeness about it. More than one excerpt or poem can be read, as long as their reading time does not exceed five minutes. Excerpts from plays and screenplays will not be accepted.
(8) WALK THROUGH MGM. Marc Scott Zicree, Mr. Sci-Fi, visits the former MGM, where Twilight Zone was shot.
(9) DO ANYTHING ELSE IF YOU CAN. William F. Nolan wrote on Facebook:
A major misconception: that all famous, successful writers find it easy to bring in vast amounts of money and have always enjoyed big bucks, right from the start of their fabled careers. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Stephen King had his phone cut off for non-payment and had to use a gas station phone to receive calls while sweating for low pay in an industrial laundry. Ray Bradbury lived on tomato soup for years as his stories were rejected. Charles Beaumont had to hock his typewriter for food. Richard Matheson nearly starved trying to live on random, penny-a-word sales. Just a few examples from many. It takes talent, hard work and a LOT of years to “make it big” as a writer. And most writers never do. A tough game, people. Very, very tough indeed. Write if you must — but ONLY if you must.
(10) NOT A STRANGER. ScienceFiction.com shares “Strange Opinion: Bob Gale Of ‘Back To The Future’ Is Not Happy About ‘Doctor Strange’”.
In a recent interview with MoviePilot, Bob Gale let his opinion be known about Marvel’s upcoming ‘Doctor Strange’ movie, a film that he is not looking forward to. While you might think “Who the hell is Bob Gale?” and “Why does his opinion matter on this?” let me tell you, I had similar thoughts. I knew he was a writer/producer on the ‘Back to the Future‘ movies back in the 80?s (and has done little else since, except for ‘Back to the Future’ video games and promos, and the ride at Universal Studios), and I thought it was very strange that years later the man would pop up again with comments on a Marvel movie. However, Bob Gale having an opinion on the matter is not as strange as I originally thought, as it turns out that back in the 80s (at the height of his relevancy) the man wrote a screenplay for ‘Doctor Strange,’ which unfortunately never got made. Apparently Bob Gale is a huge ‘Doctor Strange’ fan and an expert on the character, which is why he tried to get his movie made, and also why he feels so strongly about Marvel’s upcoming film featuring the character.
Of course I’d listen to Bob Gale’s opinion. He majored in film at USC. More important, that’s how he happened to take me (a fellow USC student) to the first LASFS event I ever attended, the club’s 1970 anniversary dinner, where Harlan Ellison read aloud “Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World.” He can say anything he likes about Doctor Strange as far as I’m concerned. 😉
(11) FANTASY TOURISM. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog has “Rough Guides to Getting Around Single-Climate Planets”.
Ursa Beta Minor (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, by Douglas Adams) Introduction: The Pleasure Planet Ursa Beta Minor was designed, manufactured, and terraformed to be the ultimate vacation destination. The planet is comprised completely of warm oceans and thin strips of beach front. It is always Saturday afternoon, and the bars are always open. In fact, as you read this, you’re wondering why anyone would travel to any other single-climate planet, and frankly we have to agree with you.
Where to Go: Aside from the beaches and the bars, there is only one other destination: Light City, the capital city. While in Light City, visit the headquarters of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which will be very disappointing, but afterwards you can stroll down Life Boulevard and walk past the shops that literally no one is wealthy enough to afford.
Getting There and Getting Around: You’ll need a ship equipped with some sort of Infinite Improbability Drive, or at least a Bistromatic Drive. Once in orbit, you can only arrive by air, as the owners really want you to see Light City from up there, or else the whole trip is a waste.
(12) APPERTAIN YOURSELF A LIBATION. Stoic Cynic in a comment:
Apropos of nothing in this thread (yet), and with apologies to Johnny Mandel, Mike Altman, the cast of MASH, and various posters toasting world peace:
Through early morning fog I see
Another troll post on the screen
Their words that are meant to rile me
I realize and I can see
That scrolling past is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it
If I please
Games of trolls are a loss to play
Not gonna feed it today
That losing card I’ll some day lay
But right now though I have to say
That scrolling past is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it
If I please
Their words are time we’ll not see again
It doesn’t hurt when it begins
But engage and get all drawn in
The loss grows stronger, watch it grin
Scrolling past is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it
If I please
Sea Lions once demanded me
To answer questions they thought key
Is it to be, or not to be?
And I replied, oh why ask me?
Scrolling past is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it
If I please
And you can do the same thing
If you please
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Stoic Cynic, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]
By James H. Burns: Some weeks ago, we ran the opening theme songs (and all the lyrics!) for the rather memorable themes from the 1966 Marvel Super Heroes syndicated cartoon television series…
And with all this talk of the Doctor Strange movie, it got me thinking, and I began noodling, what could have been an of-its-era tune for the Master of the Mystic Arts segment of the show….
Master of the mystic arts!
It’s where the doctor’s wisdom starts!
To realms eternal,
And dreams within,
This Doctor Strange, is always in!
With his amulets and charms,
Brave words and a wave of his arms,
He protects dimensions,
A universal range!
Ascetic medic: Doctor Strange!
(ECHO; Doctor Strange!)