Pixel Scroll 4/23/17 Scroll White And The Seven Pixels

(1) BORN ON THE SEVENTH OF JULY. In “Spinning a high-tech web”, the LA Times provides an elaborate, photo-illustrated preview of Tony Stark’s upgrade to the new Spider-Man suit that will be seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming, due in theaters July 7.

(2) FILK HALL OF FAME. The 2017 inductees to the Filk Halll of Fame were announced at FilkOntario this weekend:

(3) FAHRENHEIT 451 TO SMALL SCREEN? The Bradbury novel is on the road to development once more. “HBO to Adapt Fahrenheit 451, starring Michael B. Jordan”  — BookRiot has the story.

Now, HBO is “moving toward a production commitment” (via Variety) on a feature-length adaptation of Bradbury’s 1953 novel starring Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Chronicle, Fantastic Four) as the protagonist Guy Montag and Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Boardwalk Empire) as Montag’s boss, Captain Beatty.

The film will be directed by Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes, At Any Price), who is co-writing with Amir Naderi (99 Homes, The Runner). David Coatsworth (production manager on Underworld: Evolution, Ender’s Game, My Big Fat Greek Wedding) will serve as producer.

(4) THEY’RE HUUGE! “Black Holes Are Bigger Than You Thought” accuses Yahoo! News. (Just how big did you think they were? How did Yahoo! News find out?)

Now meet S5 0014+81.

It’s the largest black hole ever discovered and is heavier than our Sun by 40 billion times (40, 000, 000, 000) in the last observation.

If you plug in the equation above, you’ll find that this black hole has a Schwarzschild radius of about… 119 billion kilometers, along with a said diameter of about 236,39 billion km.

(5) THE TOUGHEST AROUND. Let Den of Geek point you at “17 really difficult LEGO sets”.

The Tower Of Orthanc

It may look simple enough on the box, but The Lord Of The Rings’ Tower Of Orthanc is actually a real tough cookie. Because most of its 2,359 pieces are jet black and slim, working out which bit goes where is the stuff of nightmares (in, um, a good way). The Treebeard that comes with it will make the struggle worth it… honest.

Buy The Tower Of Orthanc now for £348.07.

(6) TODAY’S DAY

  • April 23 — World Book and Copyright Day

Pays tribute to authors and books and their social and cultural contribution to the world

(7) DID YOU KNOW? Last year the International Costumers’ Guild participated in a “friend of the court” brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, joining Public Knowledge, the American Library Association, and others, asking the Court to protect the rights of clothing designers and costumers to freely practice their craft.

(8) AT HOME. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak reports “Netflix will invest billions to shoot its original content in California”:

Netflix is betting that filming closer to home will produce better content. In 2015, the streaming giant has announced that it would be doubling its output of original content, and it is aiming to have original productions make up half of its of its streaming catalog in the coming years. The goal is to entice users to come to the service by providing content that can’t be found elsewhere, but that goal is proving to be a strain on the existing film studio infrastructure. To cope, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos announced that the company would be investing $6 billion to expand infrastructure in California, rather than chase tax incentives offered by states.

Sarandos explained to The Wrap that the company determined that going after the incentives leads to diminishing returns when it comes to their final products. Filming out of state is hard on the actors and crew of a project, and the move will help bring projects back home to California. That could prove to be costly for the company, even as California has increased its own tax incentive program in recent years. While remaining in the state will likely cost Netflix more, Sarandos seems to think that the extra cost will be worth spending.

(9) SQUEAK UP. YouTube’s TheBackyardScientist set up 10 megaphones end-to-end to see how loud a noise he could make.

The video, posted to YouTube by TheBackyardScientist, features Kevin Kohler explaining he was inspired by Bart Simpson‘s prank in the season 8 Simpsons episode The Secret War of Lisa Simpson to place 10 megaphones end-to-end and test the results.

Bart’s experiment led to a shock wave that shattered all of the windows in town — as well as Homer’s fridge full of beer — but Kohler quickly ran into a problem Bart didn’t face: a feedback loop.

 

(10) BITE ON. The number of people who give their smartphones to dogs as chew toys is probably smaller than the number of men who have walked on the moon, but for them — “There’s an anti-dog label inside the Galaxy S8 — here’s what it means”. Let The Verge explain it to you.

Basically, you don’t want Fido in a situation where a battery could hiss and explode in its mouth. It’s obviously possible that a child could bite through the battery as well, but the likelihood of him / her piercing through the battery is lower.

(11) ARTIFICIAL DOG INTELLIGENCE. Amazing. How is it mine doesn’t do that?

(12) FIX THE SLATING PROBLEM FOREVER. That’s what Greg Hullender would like to do. At Rocket Stack Rank he summarizes his views about the effectiveness of 3SV, EPH(+) and their combination. He says, “I  think it makes it really clear that we need both 3SV and either EPH or EPH+. Otherwise, even small slates (100 to 200 people) will be able to control a significant amount of the final ballot, including adding embarrassing nominees.”

For each year, we produced two theoretical maximum graphs. A “finalist graph,” which shows what percentage of finalists a slate could have captured for a given number of slate voters, and a “sweeps” graph, which shows what percentage of entire categories a slate could have captured.

Looking at those four pairs of graphs (2.1-2.4 below), we will draw the following conclusions;

  • Std (5/6) by itself is far too weak.
  • EPH doesn’t protect enough finalists, but it is excellent at preventing sweeps.
  • EPH+ is an improvement on EPH, but it’s still not enough by itself.
  • 3SV is much stronger for protecting finalists, especially for modest numbers of slate voters, but it’s vulnerable to sweeps, and it breaks down for slates above about 300 people.
  • The 3SV/EPH and 3SV/EPH+ combinations are far, far stronger than either component alone. Either combination is probably sufficient, but the second one is stronger.

Accordingly, we conclude that the Business Meeting should ratify both EPH+ and 3SV. That should protect the Hugos from slating interference for the nonce.

(13) DREAM CASTING. Enjoy “Miles To Go” hosted at Archive of Our Own. Note – Password = Vorkosigan (as it says at the post).

There once was a man who dreamt of the stars…

A fanvid based on the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold.

…Obviously, it’s not so easy to make a feast for a fandom with no existing visual source. But where there’s a will, or in my case an enormous and driving folly, there’s a way. It was always going to be an ensemble vid, with Miles as the star, but the question was how to cast it. I did eventually solve that problem, and I won’t discuss my solution in detail here because… spoilers.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Robin Reid, JJ, Doctor Science, Greg Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

Pixel Scroll 4/2/17 Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Pixel Scroller.

(1) FREE AT LAST. It will be a historic moment when Baen Books releases volume 1 of The Best of Gordon R. Dickson on April 4, because the collection will include the never before published “Love Story,” written for Harlan Ellison’s legendary, but never published anthology, The Last Dangerous Visions. 

The Best of Gordon R. Dickson, Volume I, gathers together fourteen stories, predominantly from the first half of legendary science fiction and fantasy writer Gordon R. Dickson’s career, ranging from the early 1950s through the 1960s, including tales dragons, dolphins, aliens, werewolves, mutants and humans trying to make sense of an infinitely bewildering universe.

A maiden aunt is suddenly given superpowers. An alien who looks like a large, sentient rabbit makes ominous announcement which make no sense from behind an impenetrable force shield. Humans besieged by an alien enemy refuse, against all reason, to give up fighting. And much more, in stories running the gamut from exciting adventure to stark tragedy to hysterical comedy.

This is the first of two volumes.

 (2) THE VERDICT. This is from an advice column by “Judge John Hodgman” in the December 11 New York Times Magazine.

Phil asks:  “”My wife and I have agreed on a name for our future daughter, but we disagree on the spelling.  She wants ‘Mira”; I want ‘Meera.’ She prefers her spelling because she says it looks better.  I prefer ‘Meera’ as a tribute t George R.R. Martin and his character of the same name–and because the name cannot be mispronounced.’

John Hodgman:  “As a fan myself, I can appreciate your desire to name your daughter after Meera Reed, the trident-weilding heir to Greywater Watch.  But I think there are many traumatized Bilbos who will want a word with you first.  As it happens, ‘Meera’ is actually a real Hindi name here on Earth.  You can try to sell your wife on that.  But we all know what you’re really doing.  This court rules: Mira, a name meaning ‘wonderful,’and one that has never been misrpronounced.”

(3) INCOMING. Because Mount TBR is never high enough, allow me to refer you to The Verge’s list of “39 science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels to read this April”.

For example, coming April 11 –

Tender by Sofia Samatar

Sofia Samatar won widespread praise for her novels A Stranger in Olondria and The Winged Histories. She’s now releasing her first collection of short fiction, Tender. The collection’s 20 stories include letters, supernatural beings, Middle Eastern fairy tales, and quite a bit more. The book has also since earned a coveted starred rating from Kirkus Reviews, which called the book “an impressive collection of stories that excite the imagination.”

(4) COOL STUFF. The Washington Post tells how “One of America’s foremost rare-book appraisers hangs on in the digital age”.

Stypeck is an impossible character, the kind of larger-than-life raconteur people say doesn’t exist inside the button-down Beltway. He’s the impresario of Second Story Books, one of the nation’s foremost appraisers of rare books and manuscripts, and a regular on “Chesapeake Collectibles” on Maryland Public Television.

Over his four-decade career, this “wanna see something cool?” gambit might have referred to an $11 million copy of John J. Audubon’s “Birds of America”; the mummified corpse of Gold Tooth Jimmy, a Detroit gangster; Henry Kissinger’s papers; dinosaur eggs; or a first edition of “The Great Gatsby,” complete with the telltale error “sick in tired,” on Page 205, which would let you know the book you’re holding is likely worth $100,000 or more.

(5) SCAM ALERT. Scholar Douglas A. Anderson adds to yesterday’s discussion of Routledge’s buck-a-page Tolkien book:

What you didn’t notice about this book is that it is supposed to be printed in a 50-copy edition.  This publisher did a similar critical set for James Joyce a couple of years ago.  Basically, they are out to soak money out of 50 large libraries.

Routledge announced this table of contents in December 2016.  I and several other Tolkien scholars were never contacted about the reprint rights of our works, and I checked with my publishers too, who told me they hadn’t been approached either.  I have told Routledge twice that I emphatically refuse permission to reprint my work (and I asked my publishers to refuse permission as well), and asked that my name and works be removed from their contents page.  So far, this has not happened.

As far as I can tell, this is an academic publishing scam of the worst type, and it should be called out for what it is.

(6) COMIC SECTION. John King Tarpinian found a cartoon that combines references to sf and the impending tax return deadline at Frank and Ernest.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 2, 1513 — Juan Ponce de Leon discovered Florida and claimed it for the King of Spain

A number of years ago, maybe a dozen, Ray Bradbury had just done an appearance at the Woodland Hills library branch.  Afterwards, we went across the street for dinner.  There were about a dozen of us, Ray’s entourage (including me) plus the library staff.  Ray sat at the head of the table, sipping wine, as the rest of us were sharing stories and laughing.

All of a sudden Ray turned to me and asked for a pen and paper.  He jotted down a few notes.  I, jokingly, asked Ray if he had just written a new story.  Sure enough a story had just came to him, fully formed.  Ponce de Leon came to the new world looking for the fountain of youth.  He discovers that the true fountain of youth is laughter.  The story came to him because of the rest of us sitting around and laughing

  • April 2, 1971 — The final episodes of Dark Shadows aired.

Dark Shadows’ Jonathan Frid

(8) TODAY’S BELATED BIRTHDAY

  • Born April 1, 1942 – Samuel R. Delany

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born April 2, 1914 – Alec Guiness – from The Man in the White Suit to Obi-Wan Kenobi.

(10) MEDICAL AND OTHER EXPENSES. Atlanta fan Lewis Murphy, a long-time member of ASFS, needs help and has started a GoFundMe appeal to raise $5,000.

This is to defray costs of my medical treatments, transportation, and living expenses. I currently try to live on disabilty and a part-time job. I live alone. I am in congestive heart failure and require a replacement defib/pacemaker in the next month.

Though I can drive, my car broke down almost 2 years ago and the company responsible refused to honor the warranty. I had to sell the car and now rely on public transportation for everything, which is much more expensive than a cheap car.

People have donated $1,755 of the $5,000 target in the first five days.

(11) CRASH COMING. Tom Galloway predicts the Internet could go down on April 8 because San Diego Comic-Con,  New York Comic-Con, Gallifrey One (LA), and Blizzcon (Anaheim) tickets will go on sale that day.

(12) BUTLER TRIBUTE. The lineup of writers for Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler has been announced. The collection of original letters and essays will be published by Twelfth Planet Press in June 2017.

There are letters from people who knew Butler and those who didn’t; some who studied under her at the Clarion and Clarion West workshops and others who attended those same workshops because of her; letters that are deeply personal, deeply political, and deeply poetic; and letters that question the place of literature in life and society today.

Essays include original pieces about Butler’s short story “Bloodchild” and whether we should respect Butler’s wishes about not reprinting certain works. All of these original pieces show the place that Octavia Butler had, has, and will continue to have in the lives of modern writers, editors, critics and fans…. Luminescent Threads will also include reprints of articles that have appeared in various forums, like SF Studies, exploring different aspects of Butler’s work.

Here’s the lineup: Rasha Abdulhadi, Raffaella Baccolini, Moya Bailey, Steven Barnes, Michele Tracy Berger, Tara Betts, Lisa Bennett Bolekaja, Mary Elizabeth Burroughs, K Tempest Bradford, Cassandra Brennan, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Stephanie Burgis, Christopher Caldwell, Gerry Canavan, Joyce Chng, Indra Das, L Timmel Duchamp, Sophia Echavarria, Tuere TS Ganges, Stephen R Gold, Jewelle Gomez, Kate Gordon, Rebecca J Holden, Tiara Janté, Valjeanne Jeffers, Alex Jennings, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Kathleen Kayembe, Hunter Liguore, Karen Lord, ZM Qu?nh, Asata Radcliffe, Aurelius Raines II, Cat Rambo, Nisi Shawl, Jeremy Sim, Amanda Emily Smith, Cat Sparks, Elizabeth Stephens, Rachel Swirsky, Bogi Takács, Sheree Renée Thomas, Jeffrey Allen Tucker, Brenda Tyrrell, Paul Weimer, Ben H Winters, K Ceres Wright, and Hoda Zaki.

(13) SLAUGHTERDOGHOUSE 451? That will not be the title of the book Doris V. Sutherland plans to write about Puppy history using her series of blog posts as the core.

A while back I contributed a series of articles to Women Write About Comics where I compared the stories nominated for the 2014 Hugo Awards with the stories on the 2015 Sad/Rabid Puppies slates; the total word count was around 40,000. I followed the articles up by reviewing the 2016 nominees, which took about 11,000 words.

I was surprised when I did the sums: had I really written that much? Had the combined word count of my Hugo reviews actually surpassed that of Slaughterhouse-FiveFahrenheit 451 and The Great Gatsby? As hard as it was to believe, it was true. I had written a book’s worth of material.

Which made the next stage obvious: rework my articles into a book!

… While my WWAC articles divided the stories by Hugo category, I want to try something more organic in Monster Hunters, Dinosaur Lovers. Certain chapters will focus on the work of key authors, such as Larry Correia and John Scalzi, while others will cover genres and subgenres: military SF, horror fiction, space opera and so forth. My intention is to rework my WWAC posts from a pile of reviews into a set of cohesive essays that locate the stories within a more precise cultural context.

One of the topics that I would like to examine is how the Puppies have evolved from a pressure group focusing on the Hugos at the behest of an established author (that is, Larry Correia) to a brand that unites multiple authors, some of them newcomers who have made their names as Puppies. By joining the Puppy movement, new writers such as Declan Finn, Rawle Nyanzi and J. D. Cowan have benefited from a pre-existing readership eager to consume fiction written by an outspoken anti-SJW; whatever one makes of the ideology behind all this, it will be a potentially rewarding case study in regards to modern indie publishing. And so, I plan to include a chapter that looks at the world of Puppy publishing: Sci Phi Journal, Cirsova magazine, Superversive Press (publisher of the recent Forbidden Thoughts) and the concept of a “pulp revolution” championed by Jeffro Johnson.

(14) MARTIAN CHRONICLES. Bill Mullins points out that the 1980 NBC miniseries of Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles is available on YouTube, and can be binge-watched in its 4 hour 37 minute entirety at the link, or one episode at a time — Part I: The Expeditions; Part II: The Settlers; Part III: The Martians.

The miniseries starred Rock Hudson, Darren McGavin, Bernadette Peters, Roddy McDowall, Fritz Weaver, Barry Morse and Maria Schell. It was adapted to the screen by Richard Matheson.

And the miniseries is currently under discussion on Metafilter.

(15) STEPHEN HAWKING’S NEW VOICE. From Comic Relief Originals:

Stephen Hawking has had the same trademark voice for 30 years and has now decided it’s time for a change. Watch him view the audition tapes from hopeful celebrities…

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Andrew Porter, Bill Mullins, Martin Morse Wooster, and Douglas A. Anderson for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 1/11/17 Ask Not What Your Pixel Can Scroll For You; Ask What You Can Scroll For Your Pixel

(1) 21ST CENTURY AIRPORT SECURITY. The Atlantic gives you an overview of the preparations, including a pair of anti-terrorism officials on-staff, at an airport with twice the police force of Pasadena — “Inside LAX’s New Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Unit”.

Today’s threats, whether terrorist or merely criminal, are increasingly networked and dispersed; it only makes sense that an institution’s response to them must take a similar form. It might sound like science fiction, but, in 20 years’ time, it could very well be that LAX has a stronger international-intelligence game than many U.S. allies. LAX field agents could be embedded overseas, cultivating informants, sussing out impending threats. It will be an era of infrastructural intelligence, when airfields, bridges, ports, and tunnels have, in effect, their own internal versions of the CIA—and LAX will be there first.

…[Stacey] Peel currently works in central London, where she is head of the “strategic aviation security” team at engineering super-firm Arup. She explained that every airport can be thought of as a miniature version of the city that hosts it. An airport thus concentrates, in one vulnerable place, many of the very things a terrorist is most likely to target. “The economic impact, the media imagery, the public anxiety, the mass casualties, the cultural symbolism,” Peel pointed out. “The aviation industry ticks all of those boxes.” Attack LAX and you symbolically attack the entirety of L.A., not to mention the nerve center of Western entertainment. It’s an infrastructural voodoo doll…

(2) OVER THE AIR. Bill Campbell of Rosarium Publishing was a guest today of Georgia Public Radio program On Second Thought, speaking about “The Women Who Pioneered Sci-Fi”. You can listen to the segment at the link.

A problem with some fantasy fiction narratives is the misogynistic treatment of female characters. The sci-fi world may still be very much dominated by men behind the scenes, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been female trailblazers. A new book explores some of those unsung heroines. It’s called “Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction.” We talked with the author, Georgia Tech professor Lisa Yaszek. We also spoke with Bill Campbell of Rosarium Publishing, which focuses on bringing more diversity to science fiction.

(3) TINY DANCER. Two-time Nebula winner Catherine Asaro is profiled in the Washingtonian: “She’s a Harvard PhD and Author of 26 Novels. She’ll Also Get Your Kids to Like Math”.

Washington’s suburbs are rich with overachieving kids and anxious parents, ambitious college goals and lengthy extracurricular commitments—and of course, supplementary-education programs and afterschool tutors. You can sign your kid up for soccer instruction by a women’s Premier League coach or for Lego robotics taught by engineering grad students. But even in this hothouse environment, Catherine Asaro stands out.

If math were a sport, she’d be its Morgan Wootten. For more than a decade, the brightest STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) prodigies in the area have taken classes from her in cinder-block-lined community rooms or cluttered spaces in her home. Her students have qualified for the USA Mathematical Olympiad and, in 2014, placed first and second at the University of Maryland High School Math Contest. In 2015, her team was named top program in the country by the Perennial Math Tournament. An entire wall in her living room is filled with trophies from MathCounts competitions. Asaro’s students have earned scholarships to the University of Maryland and attend places such as Stanford and MIT….

Asaro looks more like my image of a science-fiction writer than a math tutor—lots of rhinestones on her jeans and long-sleeved T-shirt; flowy dark hair; and a purring, confident voice that recalls another of her gigs: singing with a jazz band. On a living-room wall hangs a photo of her father, Frank Asaro, a Berkeley nuclear chemist who discovered the iridium anomaly that led to the asteroid theory of dinosaur extinction. Naturally, he also played classical piano. Asaro says that, like her dad, she started out more interested in music than in science, deciding to become a ballet dancer after seeing Swan Lake.

(4) PANELISTS FOR HELSINKI. The Worldcon 75 online signup for people wanting to be on the program is working again. The form will close on March 30th and Worldcon 75 will get back to everybody during March/April.

(5) WESTON SCHOLARSHIP. Steve Cooper announced there is a new Pete Weston Memorial Scholarship available to help fund someone attending Conrunner in the UK.

We were all saddened to hear of the death of Pete Weston last week. In his memory an anonymous donor is offering a scholarship to Conrunner to celebrate Pete’s contribution to convention running.

The scholarship will cover two nights accommodation and membership of Conrunner. It is open to anyone to apply – but if this is your first Conrunner – you will be given priority in the selection.

Please message me if you are interested or email me at con-runner@virginmedia.com

(6) ERIC FLINT UPDATE. The doctor had an encouraging word for Eric Flint.

I have some further news. My cancer has been further diagnosed as large diffuse B-Cell lymphona. That’s the most common type of cancer among adults, mostly hits older folks around 70 (my age) — my doctor calls it “the old fart’s disease” — and is about as white bread as lymphonas come. It responds very well to chemo, too.

So, it looks as if my luck is still holding out (allowing for “I’ve got cancer” values of luck.)

(7) BEWARE! Camestros Felapton understandably set his blog on autopilot and left town just before the unveiling of his new serial:

In the interim, starting Thursday morning Australian time will be the TWENTY-TWO PART serialisation of the annotated version of the early example of British genre fiction BEWARE THE CAT!

Each post has an introductory chatty bit which contains my mangled understanding of Tudor history, reformation theology and cat psychology, followed by a hefty chunk of my edited-for-readability-and-spelling version of Beware the Cat.

To cram it all in there will actually be several posts per day – so the blog will actually be busier than when I’m actually running it.

beware the annotated cat

Indeed and verily, the first installment is now online.

I have written for your mastership’s pleasure one of the stories which Mr. Streamer told last Christmas – which you so would have heard reported by Mr Ferrers himself. Although I am unable to tell it as pleasantly as he could, I have nearly used both the order and words of him that spoke them. I doubt not that he and Mr. Willet shall in the reading think they hear Mr Streamer speak, and he himself shall doubt whether he speaks.

(8) REMEMBERING METROPOLIS. Den of Geek! writer Jim Knipfel discusses “Metropolis at 90: The Enduring Legacy of a Pop Modernist Dystopia”.

In an interview with Peter Bogdanovich shortly before his death in 1976, Fritz Lang said of Metropolis, “You cannot make a social-conscious picture in which you say that the intermediary between the hand and the brain is the heart. I mean, that’s a fairy tale – definitely. But I was very interested in machines. Anyway, I didn’t like the picture – thought it was silly and stupid – then, when I saw the astronauts: what else are they but part of a machine? It’s very hard to talk about pictures—should I say now that I like Metropolis because something I have seen in my imagination comes true, when I detested it after it was finished?”

(9) MAKING A POINT. Sarah A. Hoyt, in “Sad Puppies, Gate Keeping, And We DID Build this”,  says what happened yesterday was not gate keeping, it was brand protecting. Which it was. But there’s a lot of haystack to go through before you get to the needle.

Even before I got to that post, and later in the other post that made me almost berserk again (I don’t think I’ve done this twice in one day since my teens) a friend had commented on how he gave the wrong impression and he should stop it already.  Later on there were also posts on a bizarre theme, one of which (the comments) is what caused the second berserk attack.

The theme was like this: Sad Puppies said they were against gate keepers, but now they’re trying to be gatekeepers.

There are so many missteps in that statement it’s hard to unpack.  First of all, no, Sad Puppies wasn’t against gatekeepers.  Sad Puppies was against the secret maneuvering that went on behind the awards.  (BTW it was never really a secret. When I was coming in, my mentors told me it was all log rolling and I had to roll the logs.)  And which people denied until they stopped denying it, in favor of shrieking at us to get off their lawns, and making up horrible lies about us.  (Unless, of course, you believe I’m a Mormon male.)

Second, in what way were we trying to be gatekeepers when we told an unauthorized person to stop pretending he was leading SP 5?

We were as much gatekeepers as, say, Baen would be when it told you you couldn’t call your indie publisher Baen Books For Real.  It might or might not violate a trademark (fairly sure it would) but more than that it’s false advertising and it violates the right of people to what they have built.

(10) TIL WE HAVE FACEBOOK. Author S.M. Stirling is not a Twitter user.

With every passing day, I become more convinced I did the right thing by not opening a Twitter account. It’s the Promised Land of aggressive stupidity, and makes otherwise smart and civilized people aggressively stupid. The world would be a better place if it didn’t exist.

(11) THIS JUST IN. Ansible Links reports —

Ansible Editions offers a free Then sample download in a naked attempt to influence BSFA shortlist voting and Hugo nominations

Looks like an obvious attempt to influence the Best Related Works category. Or blatant. Possibly both.

(12) DID ANYONE READ THE DRAGON AWARD WINNER? Doris V. Sutherland, in “Brian Niemeier: The Man Who Would Be (Stephen) King”, disputed that Niemeier’s Souldancer was among the most popular horror novels of 2016, but agreed he’s been successful at branding his work.

The rise of Kindle direct publishing has opened doors for an array of new writers, but it has also confronted them with a big question: how, in lieu of backing from a professional publisher, does you promote a novel?

…Search the space opera category in Amazon’s Kindle department, and I suspect that you will find numerous other indie books that are of equal or superior quality to Niemeier’s novels. Many of those have vanished into obscurity; and this would likely have been the fate of Souldancer, had its author kept his opinions to himself. Instead, by latching onto the Puppy/Superversive movement, he has picked up a loyal following; not a large following, as we have established, but one that has still managed to build him a sturdy echo chamber.

I would rather not write any further posts about Niemeier, as I do not want this to turn into the Doris vs. Brian blog, but I do find all of this an interesting case study in regards to indie publishing. The Puppies have evolved from a campaign centred around bagging an award for a specific author (that is, Larry Correia) into a brand that has granted new authors a platform – Niemeier and Finn being amongst them.

(13) CHUCK. Try and think of any other person people might try to vote a Hugo simply because they promised to show up at the award ceremony.

(14) EVERY DAY IS HALLOWEEN. That’s the name of Lisa Morton’s newsletter – you can subscribe through her blog. Morton, HWA President, recently told her newsletter readers —

Ellen Datlow and I have now finished up the editing on Hallows’ Eve, the next official HWA anthology. I’m ridiculously happy with the range and quality of the stories we’ve assembled. Here’s hoping we’ll have a cover reveal soon!

The HWA blog has released a list of the contributors:

The sixteen authors included are: Kelley Armstrong, Pat Cadigan, Elise Forier Edie, Brian Evenson, Jeffrey Ford, Eric J. Guignard, Stephen Graham Jones, Kate Jonez, Paul Kane, John Langan, John R. Little, Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire, S. P. Miskowski, Garth Nix, and Joanna Parypinski.

(15) TIME TO REFUEL. Here is Fan-O-Rama: A Futurama Fan Film.

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Steven H Silver, edd, JJ, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]

Pixel Scroll 12/11/16 “Scrollitively, Mr. Pixel?” “Pixelutely, Mr. Scroll!”

(1) NOT TODAY’S TITLE. “ONCE UPON a time there was a Martian with a wooden leg named Valentine Michael Smith. What its other two legs were named, nobody knows.”

(2) EXFOLIATE! The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has seasonally decorated the club’s Dalek. Michael J. Walsh snapped a photo —

bsfs-dalek-foto_no_exif

(3) ICON RECOGNITION. The Guardian’s “Picture quiz: how well do you know your sci-fi and fantasy?” is really an elaborate ad for The Folio Society.

Calling all Tolkien heads and sci-fi savants: can you match the illustration to the book? Each one has a clue to help you out.

In theory you should be able to guess from the artwork. Although I scored 7/8, without the clues I don’t know if I’d gotten any of them right.

(4) THE ROOTS OF BABY GROOT. Skeptics have been put on notice that this was something done only for wholesome artistic reasons – I’m sorry, did my nose just grow? Guardians of the Galaxy 2 director says Baby Groot was a ‘creative change,’ not a marketing ploy”.

Despite what some may believe, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn insists Baby Groot is not a ploy to sell more Marvel merchandise.

Responding to a fan inquiry on Twitter, Gunn wrote, “I’m sure some people think that but for me keeping him Baby Groot throughout the film was the creative change that opened the film up for me. I was less confident the studio was going to buy in on Baby Groot than I was they were going to buy in on Ego the Living Planet” — the latter being Kurt Russell’s character and Star-Lord’s father.

(5) DYLAN’S NOBEL. The New Yorker’s Amanda Petrusich covered the ceremony — “A Transcendant Patti Smith Accepts Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize”.

That Dylan ultimately accepted the Nobel with a folk song (and this specific folk song, performed by a surrogate, a peer) seemed to communicate something significant about how and what he considers his own work (musical, chiefly), and the fluid, unsteady nature of balladry itself—both the ways in which old songs are fairly reclaimed by new performers, and how their meanings change with time. Before Smith took the stage, Horace Engdahl, a literary historian and critic, dismissed any controversy over Dylan’s win, saying the decision “seemed daring only beforehand, and already seems obvious.” He spoke of Dylan’s “sweet nothings and cruel jokes,” and his capacity for fusing “the languages of the streets and the Bible.” In the past, he reminded us, all poetry was song.

 

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 11, 1972 — Apollo 17 landed on the moon. It was the final Apollo lunar landing. Ron Evans was the command module pilot and Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt walked on the surface during the mission. Cernan was the last to re-enter their lunar module — the last man on the moon.
  • December 11, 1991 — Amblin’s Hook opens in wide release after its LA premiere days earlier.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born December 11, 1922  — Vampira, (aka Maila Nurmi).

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 11, 1781 — Scottish physicist and kaleidoscope inventor David Brewster

(9) WHAT’S A GOOD INTRODUCTION TO SF? Jason Sanford returns to controversy he wrote about last year in “Let Us Now Praise ‘Famous’ Authors”.

A few years ago I was on a SF/F convention panel about bringing new readers into our genre. I mentioned that science fiction needed more gateway novels, which are novels new genre readers find both approachable and understandable (a type of novel the fantasy genre is filled with but which are more rare in the science fiction genre).

As I stated this another author on the panel snorted and said we don’t need new gateway SF novels because the juvenile novels written by Heinlein in the 1950s are still perfect. This author believed the first exposure kids have to science fiction should be novels from the 1950s. And that this should never change.

That is the attitude people should fear because, in the long run, it will kill our genre.

This brings me back to my earlier point about the “famous” people our world holds up to acclaim. Yes, many famous authors helped build our genre, but so did the work and love of countless forgotten people.

(10) ROGUE SCIENCE. Neil deGrasse Tyson only needs a minute to explain why he is a Death Star skeptic in a video on Business Insider.

Owning a Death Star comes with some serious risk, especially when it was constructed with a serious design flaw. But astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has a more practical reason why the ‘Star Wars’ Death Star didn’t quite make sense.

(11) DIGITAL COMICS POLL. You have until December 23 to vote for Digital Comic of The Year 2016 at Pipedream Comics.

It’s been another bumper year for exciting and innovative digital comics in 2016. From boundary pushing webcomics to crowd-funded sensations to cutting edge apps, we have picked out 10 of the best for you to vote on and declare the best Digital Comic Of The Year 2016. So get involved and make sure your favourite joins the likes of Madefire’s Captain Stone and Mono:Pacific, David Lloyd’s Aces Weekly and last year’s champion Adventures in Pulp, as winner of our prestigious prize. Below is our rundown of the contenders for this year’s prize, and you can cast your vote here. (Polls close at midnight on December 23rd!)

Here are links to some of the contenders, where you can see full comics or samples:

(12) DOG SHOW. When Doris V. Sutherland dared to question the quality of Brian Niemeier’s Dragon Award-winning book, the author and another puppy blogger insisted the emperor was so wearing clothes — “Horror Puppies Redux: Is Souldancer Really Horror Fandom’s New Favourite Novel?”.

And while we’re at it, let’s look at the two books that I personally found to be the strongest contenders in the Dragons’ horror category. Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay is at #156,590 in ebooks, and at #561,851 (paperback) and #60,849 (hardback) in books; Alice by Christina Henry is at #156,678 in ebooks and #27,655 in books. I stand by my statement at WWAC: if the Dragon Awards truly honoured the works most popular amongst fans, then the award for Best Horror Novel would not have gone to Souldancer.

Niemeier concluded his post by asking his readers to prove me wrong by posting reviews of Souldancer; he confidently predicted that the book will soon have more than fifty ratings on Amazon. This call to action resulted in Souldancer‘s review count going from eight to twelve, prompting Niemeier’s glass-half-full statement that “Souldancer reviews are up 50%”. A few more reviews have been posted since then – although the more recent ones have been somewhat mixed, as is to be expected from the novel reaching a broader audience following its Dragon Award victory.

(13) LIGHTS, CAMERA, NO MONEY! If Sad Puppies made a sci-fi movie, I  bet their promo would sound a lot like the ads for This Giant Papier Mache Boulder is Actually Really Heavy, a New Zealand comedy film.

What happened to the good old days of sci-fi, when spaceships were real models, monsters made of latex and laser guns a curling iron painted silver? Now imagine a universe where everything was just like this for real.

For three ordinary guys Tom, Jeffrey and Gavin, this just became a reality. One minute they were watching an old b-grade movie, the next they’ve been thrust inside the movie itself and at the helm of a rickety old spaceship. Panic ridden they stumble into a space battle. and make a mortal enemy of the evil Lord Froth while unwittingly saving the space princess Lady Emmanor. Then suddenly Jeffrey starts to change into a sci-fi character called Kasimir. They must adapt quickly if they are to survive long enough to find a way home. For all they know they could be next. If that happens they will be lost in this world forever. They embark on a quest to find a cure for Jeffrey and a way back home. This is an action-packed comedy adventure of giant lizards, space battles, robots, aliens, warlords and amazons that has to be seen to be believed.

 

(14) MR. SCI-FI. Marc Scott Zicree shares his afterword for the new Magic Time audio play he and Elaine directed and wrote that will be released by Skyboat Media. It’s based on his bestselling series of novels from HarperCollins, and stars Armin Shimerman of Deep Space Nine and Buffy and Christina Moses of The Originals and Containment.

(15) EXTRATERRESTRIAL SEASON’S GREETINGS. Another sampling from the sci-fi Christmas catalog.

Barry Gordon – Zoomah the Santa Claus From Mars

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W. “Not Today’s Title” credit goes to File 770 contributing editor Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/6/16 Good King Wencescroll, On The Feast Of Pixel

(1) TAKING LIBERTIES. Gothamist reports New York City is plagued with another round of Nazi-themed ads — “Statue of Liberty Gives Nazi Salute in Huge Times Square Billboard for Amazon’s ‘The Man in the High Castle’”. (Photo here.)

(2) APPEALING ANACHRONISMS. Beware, Ryan Skardal’s review at Fantasy Literature may cause this book to land on your TBR pile: Last Year: Time travel tourism”.

Jesse Cullum works security at the City of Futurity – in fact, he just saved President Ulysses S. Grant from an assassination attempt, though he lost his Oakleys in the process.

The science fiction premise of Robert Charles Wilson’s Last Year (2016), is outlined in its opening scene. Oakleys are sunglasses that come from our time, but Ulysses S. Grant was one of the most important generals in the American Civil War. How can both exist in the same place? Well, in this novel, a “mirror” allows people to travel back in time, but to a specific point in the past — and it will produce a different a future. The people who travel back are tourists, and the City of Futurity, run by August Kemp, makes money from the past’s wealthy, who are curious to see the many inventions of the future. Also, Kemp steadily ships the past’s gold into the future. When the novel begins, The City of Futurity is about to begin its “last year” in the 19th century….

(3) THE NARRATOR’S TOUCH. Bookworm Blues has a wonderful variation on a common theme – “Best Audiobooks of 2016”.

The Fireman – Joe Hill

Narrated by Kate Mulgrew

I really want Kate Mulgrew to narrate all the thoughts in my head. I do. Honestly. I just want her to dig her way into my brain and just read my mind to me constantly. She’d make my random musings of, “Huh, I wonder what Frodo would look like with cockroach feet?” actually sound interesting. The Fireman is a fantastic book, and Kate Mulgrew is one of the best narrators out there. I think she kind of struggled with the English accent, but that’s easy to forgive because… LISTEN TO HER. She made this book one of those rare experiences where I listened to the book as much for the story as to just hear her talk to me.

(4) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #10. The tenth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed book and a Tuckerization from Tricia Sullivan.

Today’s auction comes from award-winning author Tricia Sullivan, for an autographed copy of OCCUPY ME and a Tuckerization (meaning you’ll show up as a minor character) in Sullivan’s forthcoming novel SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS.

About the Book:

A woman with wings that exist in another dimension. A man trapped in his own body by a killer. A briefcase that is a door to hell. A conspiracy that reaches beyond our world. Breathtaking SF from a Clarke Award-winning author.

Tricia Sullivan has written an extraordinary, genre defining novel that begins with the mystery of a woman who barely knows herself and ends with a discovery that transcends space and time. On the way we follow our heroine as she attempts to track down a killer in the body of another man, and the man who has been taken over, his will trapped inside the mind of the being that has taken him over.

And at the centre of it all a briefcase that contains countless possible realities.

(5) VOYAGERS. Big Think tells you how to see it — “Massive Poster Details Humanity’s Missions Through the Universe So Far”.

By our count, there are 113 spacecraft in this image. It’s a catalogue of all of the vehicles launched into space so far, from the U.S.S.R’s Luna 2 in 1959 to the U.S.’s DSCOVR in 2015. Every orbiter, lander, rover, flyby, and impactor is here, along with its trajectory. It’s actually an image of a physical poster from PopChart Lab that any space maven could spend some quality time with.

Open another tab in your browser and click here for a zoomable version of the image. (If you’re on your phone, you may want to bookmark this and check it out when you’re near a big screen.)

(6) PROJECTS ON THE WAY. Natalie Zutter promises “(Almost) Every SFF Adaptation Coming to Television and Movie Theaters!)” at Tor.com.

Thanks to major properties like Game of Thrones and Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, we’ve entered a golden age of sci-fi and fantasy properties being developed for film and television. It seems that nearly every network and studio has snatched up the rights to old and new classics, with a bevy of projects in production or premiering in the coming months. To keep you on top of the latest news, we’ve updated our master list of every SFF adaptation currently in the works, from American Gods to Y: The Last Man. And surprising no one, prolific writers Neil Gaiman and John Scalzi each have a number of projects in varying stages of development.

Check out this list and get your DVRs and Netflix queues ready, because you’re going to be wonderfully busy for the foreseeable future.

(7) BAD NEWS. Andrew Porter reports that Ted White told members of a listserve that he has lost his son, Aaron, to suicide.

Aaron was Ted’s son with Lynda Spencer, who has since remarried, and is equally devastated.

According to Moshe Feder, Spencer told Facebook readers:

Dear Friends,

Our darling son, Aaron died early Monday morning. He had been fighting depression and took his own life. We are so deeply devastated that we are having difficulty finding our way right now.

We’ve tried to contact many of you outside of FB, but there are so many of you that we want to know about our dear child that I’m taking to FB to share this horrible news.

We will let everyone know when and where the memorial service will be once we know the details.

Here is a photo of Ted and Aaron that was published earlier this year in the Falls Church News-Press.

ted-white-and-aaron-white-min

FALLS CHURCH RESIDENT TED WHITE (left) speaks with his son Aaron White in the living room of his house on Tuckahoe street. Ted grew up in the house and raised his children, including Aaron in the house. (Photo: Drew Costley/News-Press)

(8) VAUGHAN OBIT. Peter Vaughan, known to American audiences as butler William Stevens, the father of Anthony Hopkins’s character in Merchant Ivory’s film The Remains of the Day, and for five years as Jon Snow’s blind, scholarly mentor Maester Aemon Targaryen in HBO’s epic fantasy of Game of Thrones, has passed away at the age of 93.

(9) CLASSIC CHARLIE BROWN. At Dreaming About Other Worlds, Aaron Pound removes our rose-colored glasses — “Musical Monday – Christmas Time Is Here by the Vince Guaraldi Trio”.  

This Christmas program, created more than fifty years ago now, shows that the “good old days” weren’t really that “good” to begin with. After all, Charlie Brown could plausibly lament the commercialization of Christmas as long ago as 1965, and Lucy could claim that the entire holiday was run by a “big Eastern syndicate”, and while Lucy’s claim was supposed to be mostly ridiculous, it was also supposed to be something that someone might actually believe. When Charlie Brown goes to buy a Christmas tree, the place that sells them is a gaudy showplace with spotlights, and almost all of the trees available are artificial. Even “back then” the world was commercialized, no matter what our hazy nostalgic gaze might tell us.

(10) DRAGON BREATH, Doris V. Sutherland, in “Dragon Awards Reviews: Horror, War and the Apocalypse” for Women Write About Comics, says the award-winning novels of Niemeier, Weber and Cole fall short of the mark.

A sequel to Brian Niemeier’s earlier novel Nethereal, Souldancer is one of the Dragon Award winners that benefited from Sad Puppy votes. It is primarily a space opera, making it an awkward fit for Best Horror Novel. Indeed, Niemeier acknowledges on his blog that the book was voted into this bracket for tactical reasons.

“I tip my hat to author and publisher Russell Newquist of Silver Empire,” he says, “who suggested Souldancer for the horror category, the only one where it wasn’t guaranteed to get annihilated.”…

Niemeier seems to view himself as working in the high-flying pulp adventure tradition of E. E. “Doc” Smith, but I do not recall Smith ever being this turgid. A closer comparison would be with Amazing Stories’ “Shaver Mystery” narratives, which, likewise, offered leaden mixtures of space opera and mythology. Now remembered only as curios, these were sold on the esoteric notion that they were true stories plucked from mankind’s racial memory.

Souldancer also has a distinct sales point. It is promoted on the grounds that, being written by a supporter of the Sad Puppies campaign, it somehow contains an essential sincerity and value that cannot be found in fiction from the SJW-dominated science fiction/fantasy/horror establishment. This marketing tactic will fail to attract anybody who is not already a convinced Puppy, of course. Should the Dragon Awards ever become a fandom institution, future generations will surely scratch their heads at how the first award for Best Horror Novel could have gone to this mediocre space opera.

(11) LITERARY BARTENDER. Nick Mamatas is co-editing Mixed Up: Cocktail Recipes (And Flash Fiction) For the Discerning Drinker (and Reader) with libations editrix Molly Tanzer, a volume forthcoming from Skyhorse in October 2017. He just posted the complete table of contents for the fiction element of the book.

  • Maurice Broaddus “Two Americans Walk Into a Bar” (Pimm’s Cup)
  • Selena Chambers “Arrangement in Juniper and Champagne” (French 75)
  • Libby Cudmore “One More Night To Be Pirates” (Dark ‘N’ Stormy)
  • Gina Marie Guadagnino “In The Sky She Floats” (Manhattan)
  • Elizabeth Hand “Eat the Wyrm” (margarita)
  • Cara Hoffman “I’ve Been Tired” (Negroni)
  • Jarett Kobek “Wes Anderson Uses A Urinal” (champagne cocktail)
  • Carrie Laben “Take Flight” (aviation)
  • Carmen Machado “There and Back Again” (corpse reviver #2)
  • Nick Mamatas “The End of the End of History” (vodka martini)
  • Jim Nisbet “Mint Julep Through the Ages” (mint julep)
  • Benjamin Percy “Bloody at Mazie’s Joint” (Bloody Mary)
  • Dominica Phetteplace “Gin is Stronger Than Witchcraft” (orange blossom)
  • Tim Pratt “But You Can’t Stay Here” (fin de siècle)
  • Robert Swartwood “Dinner with the Fire Breathers” (Smoking Bishop)
  • Jeff VanderMeer “Marmot Season” (Moscow Mule)
  • Will Viharo “Hot Night at Hinky Dinks” (mai tai)

(12) ANCIENT FANNISH VIDEOS RECOVERED. Here are four new uploads at the Fanac Fan History YouTube Channel.

  • Noreascon 2 (1980) Worldcon – Guest of Honor Speeches by Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm [Audio recording only, with added photos and captions]

Noreascon 2, the 38th Worldcon, was held in Boston in September 1980. This audio recording with images preserves/presents the Guest of Honor Speeches by Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm. Toastmaster Robert Silverberg is entertaining as always, with long introductions and not a little hyperbole. Damon Knight’s talk is full of anecdotes including how “Fred Pohl saved my life” and other stories about the Futurians. Kate Wilhelm gives a more serious talk about the nature of our reality.

 

  • My Favorite World Tomorrow panel

Featuring Jerry Pournelle, Arsen Darnay, Jim Baen, Karl T. Pflock, and Spider Robinson, this discussion is structured with the panelists describing their favorite future and then discussing and taking questions. The future visions range from the mystic to the moral to the technological. Jerry Pournelle moderates, with Jim Baen taking the editor’s role and commenting only.

 

  • Joe Haldeman sings “Stan Long”

We hope you enjoy this delightful clip of author Joe Haldeman, singing one of his most entertaining songs.

 

  • Transtemporal Institute for Fannish Studies

This video, “Know the Hotel Staff” made in “cooperation with the Institute for Transtemporal Fannish Studies”, was used as filler on the closed circuit video feed. Introduced by Dr. Dodd Clegler (a fannish reference old at the time), the film shows a time traveler interacting with various hotel staff as a training film for other travelers. It was created in the summer of ’76 by Minneapolis fans.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Moshe Feder, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Schnookums von Fancypants.]

Pixel Scroll 7/21/16 Faster, Pixelcat! Scroll! Scroll!

Spent Thursday escorting DUFF delegate Clare McDonald to the Huntington Library and the LASFS meeting, so there needs to be a short Scroll today….Short but charmingly illustrated, thanks to Camestros Felapton.

(1) MENTAL RIVALRY. Kameron Hurley says she has not yet achieved a state of Zen consciousness about her career in “What About Me? Dealing with Professional Jealousy”

Oh, you published a bestselling book that critics thought was crap? Oh you’ve won awards but not sold millions, oh, you sold millions, but didn’t win awards? Oh, you’ve sold well but never got a movie deal. Oh, you’ve sold well and got a movie deal but the movie tanked? Oh, you sold well and got a movie deal and the movie did well but didn’t win Best Picture. Boo-hoo.

You see how your measure of “success” can keep going up and up and up until you’re just never happy, ever. My spouse often shakes his head at me because I move my bar for success all the time. What I have is never enough. For me, this works, because if I was satisfied in my professional life I wouldn’t be inspired to do anything. But for my own sanity I did have to make my own definition of success. I had to create my own career goals so that when I did turn down opportunities or choose to do one project instead of another, I would stop second-guessing myself.

(2) DIFFERENT VIEW OF HOMER. M. Harold Page has an intriguing review at Black Gate: “Was Homer a Historian After All? A Look at The Trojan War: A New History”.

Better yet, modern archaeology has found a much larger Troy — Schliemann only discovered the citadel  — and also uncovered a general collapse consistent with foreign invasion. Finally, recent finds have dissolved away Homer’s apparent anachronisms in military equipment.

So Homer could be true. Not as true as, say, Froissart, but truer than Malory. Think how Saving Private Ryan or The Longest Day treated the Normandy landings, and you have a sense of how accurate we’re talking about.

All that said and done, Strauss settles in to tell us the story as it might/could/probably/should have happened.

(3) THAT’S A BIG RELIEF.

(4) FOR PEACE OF MIND. James Davis Nicoll is doing a fundraiser sale at his book review site to help with a recently-deceased fan’s final expenses.

I’ve known Stephanie Clarkson since she was a young teen hanging around my game store. I saw her grow up and find her place as an adult. Recently, she struggled with major health problems. Just as she seemed to have turned the corner on that, she was diagnosed with cancer. Stephanie died on July 19th, 2016.

Patricia Washburn is raising funds for Stephanie’s final expenses. To help her in this, I am running a seventy-two hour sales: commissions are half off ($50 a review) and all funds raised from reviews commissioned between now and 10 AM, July 24rd will be forwarded to Patricia.

Aside from price, the usual terms apply.

(5) THE HORROR.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 21, 2007 — The seventh and final Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is released, with an initial print run of 12 million copies in the United States alone.

(7) PAULK ON HUGO NOMINEES. Kate Paulk reached The Big One in her survey: “Hugo Finalist Highlights – Best Novella and Best Novel”. I picked this excerpt because it marks an occasion where I had pretty much the same thoughts about the story, although I thought the author achieved what he set out to do.

The Builders by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com) – This offering nearly broke me in the first sentence. Note to authors: you will not go far when you give a character with no discernable Spanish or Portuguese traits the name “Reconquista”. Especially when someone with more than zero historical literacy reads your work. The second-rate knockoff of the Brian Jacques Redwall-style stories does not help the cause.

(8) ANTICIPATION. Doris V. Sutherland predicts the 2016 Hugo winning novella after reviewing all five nominees. She begins with —

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Mankind has spread to the stars and encountered alien races, but not all of humanity is eager to explore space. The Himba of Southern Africa remain a close-knit and traditional people, one that prefers to remain on Earth. Binti, a sixteen-year-old Himba girl, is an exception: when she is granted a scholarship at a university on another planet, she eagerly hops on board a spaceship and begins the journey.

Binti finds herself travelling alongside members of another ethnic group, the Khoush, who mock her Himba adornments: she smears her skin with a mixture of oil and red clay, wears heavy anklets and has her hair elaborately braided….

(9) THESE ARE THE SNORES YOU’RE LOOKING FOR. The Daily Telegraph headline claims “Evil doll’s sleeping secrets unmasked”.

SLEEP-deprived parents are paying triple the price of a best-selling doll which puts babies to sleep using a heartbeat and breathing “like Darth Vader”.

A bidding war pushed the price of one Lulla doll on eBay to $350, while thousands of parents are on a waiting list.

Developed by a group of Icelandic mums, the soft doll plays a recording of a yoga guru in a deep meditative state wired up to a heart monitor.

Despite a shipment arriving last week, Australian distributor Michelle Green predicted she would be sold out of the $99 doll within days. “It’s crazy,” Ms Green said. “I’m packing and they’re going out the door as fast as I can get them.”

“It does sound like Darth Vader but, as I tell mums, most toddlers and babies haven’t seen Star Wars.”

 

(10) WHEN YOUR CHURCH BECOMES A POKESTOP. In “Popular Mobile App Brings Visitors to Church Facilities”, The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints Church News recommends a response to Pokémon Go players who come to its sites:

  1. View any visit as an opportunity.

Recognize that it is good for people to want to visit Church buildings and sites, even if it’s just part of playing a game. Signs in front of our buildings clearly state, “Visitors welcome.” Consider any visit as an opportunity to improve relationships with members of the community and help others feel positively about the Church.

  1. Be friendly and welcoming.

The visit to a meetinghouse may be someone’s first and only contact with the Church, so remember to be friendly and welcoming. Hosts and missionaries serving at visitors’ centers, Church historic sites, temple grounds could welcome and invite game players—as they do all visitors—to enjoy the displays, learn about the site, and perhaps even listen to a simple gospel message….

(11) BUT YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY’VE BEEN. The LA Times knows what you should be eating at the Orange County fair: Nutella, Game of Thrones-inspired hot dogs.

[Thanks to Camestros Felapton, Dave Doering, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JohnFromGR.]

Pixel Scroll 7/18/16 Dead Sea Pixel Scrolls

(1) EYEING EARTHSEA. Ursula K. Le Guin talks about working with Charles Vess, illustrator of The Big Book of Earthsea, in a post for Book View Café.

…So, this is how it’s been going:

Charles begins the conversation, emailing me occasonally with questions, remarks, while reading the books. I answer as usefully as I can. Also, we chat. I find out that he has sailed all around Scotland. He tells me about Neil Gunn’s novel The Silver Darlings, which I read with vast pleasure. I don’t know what I tell him, but slowly and at easy intervals a friendship is being established.

Suddenly Charles sends me a sketch of a dragon.

It is an excellent dragon. But it isn’t an Earthsea dragon.

Why?

Well . . . an Earthsea dragon wouldn’t have this, see? but it would have that . . . And the tail isn’t exactly right, and about those bristly things —

So I send Charles an email full of whines and niggles and what-if-you-trieds-such-and-suches. I realize how inadequate are my attempts to describe in words the fierce and beautiful being I see so clearly.

Brief pause.

The dragon reappears. Now it looks more like an Earthsea dragon….

(2) QUINN KICKSTARTER REACHES TARGET. Jameson Quinn’s YouCaring appeal today passed the $1,300 goal. I, for one, am glad to see that news.

(3) YA HORROR. “And Now for Something Completely Different: Adding Humor to Your Horror”: Amanda Bressler tells YA writers how, at the Horror Writers Association blog.

With the popularity of dark comedies, it should be no surprise that horror and humor can be a compelling mix. However, when it comes to young adult books, few succeed at the balance that keeps a funny horror book from losing its edge or appearing to try too hard. Here are a few humorous elements used in YA horror to enhance the story, characters, or setting without sacrificing their horror-ness.

(4) EARLY HINT OF ELVEN. Soon to be available in print again: “70-year-old Tolkien poem reveals early ‘Lord of the Rings’ character”.

A poem by J.R.R. Tolkien that’s been out of print since the year World War II ended will be published this fall for the first time in 70 years, the Guardian reports.

And even if you were around in 1945, you likely didn’t see the poem unless you were a dedicated reader of literary journal The Welsh Review. That’s where “The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun” (Breton for “lord and lady”) was published, based on a work Tolkien had started around 1930.

Why should modern readers care? The poem suggests an early version of elf queen Galadriel from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Silmarillion.” The poem tells of a couple that cannot have children until visiting a witch known as the Corrigan, who grants them twins, but later demands a price be paid for her assistance.

(5) GOBBLE GOBBLE. New Scientist calls it “Einstein’s clock: The doomed black hole to set your watch by”.

OJ 287’s situation is a window into what must have happened in galaxies all over the universe. Galaxies grow by eating their own kind, and almost all of them come with a supermassive black hole at the centre.

Once two galaxies merge, their black holes – now forced to live in one new mega-galaxy – will either banish their rival with a gravitational kick that flings their opponent out of the galaxy, or eventually merge into an even bigger black hole.

In OJ 287, the smaller black hole is en route to becoming a snack for the larger one. The larger one is also growing from a surrounding disc of gas and dust, the material from which slowly swirls down the drain. Each time the smaller black hole completes an orbit, it comes crashing through this disc at supersonic speeds.

That violent impact blows bubbles of hot gas that expand, thin out, and then unleash a flood of ultraviolet radiation – releasing as much energy as 20,000 supernova explosions in the same spot. You could stand 36 light years away and tan faster than you would from the sun on Earth.

Even with all this thrashing, the smaller black hole has no chance of escape.  Energy leaches away from the binary orbit, bringing the pair closer together and making each cycle around the behemoth a little shorter than the last.

Although the outbursts may be impressive, the black holes’ orbital dance emits tens of thousands of times more energy as undulations in space time called gravitational waves.

Last year, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US offered a preview of the endgame of OJ 287 in miniature. Twice in 2015, LIGO heard gravitational waves from the final orbits of black-hole pairs in which each black hole was a few dozen times the size of the sun, and then the reverberations of the single one left behind.

(6) SFWA CHAT HOUR. In SFWA Chat Hour Episode 4: Special Pokémon Go Edition, SFWA board and staff members Kate Baker, Oz Drummond, M.C.A. Hogarth, Cat Rambo, and Bud Sparhawk as they discuss the latest doings and news of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) as well as F&SF news, recent reads, Readercon, Westercon, and more.

(7) FLASH FICTION. Cat Rambo says her “Gods and Magicians” is a free read “brought to you by my awesome Patreon backers, who get bonuses like versions of new books, peeks at story drafts, and sundry other offerings. If backing me’s not in your budget, you can still sign up for my newsletter and get news of posts, classes, and publications as they appear.”

This is a piece of flash fiction written last year – I just got around to going through the notebook it was in lately and transcribing the fictional bits. This didn’t take too much cleaning up. For context, think of the hills of southern California, and a writing retreat with no other human beings around, and thinking a great deal about fantasy and epic fantasy at the time.

(8) LIVE CLASSES. Rambo also reminds writers that July is the last month in 2016 that she’ll be offering her live classes (aside from one special one that’s still in the works). Get full details at her site.

I’ll start doing the live ones again in 2017, but I’m taking the rest of the year to focus on the on demand school (http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/on-demand-classes/), which will adding classes by Juliette Wade and Rachel Swirsky in the next couple of months.

(9) FREE CHICON 7 PROGRAM BOOKS. Steven H Silver announced: “I’m about to recycle several boxes of Chicon 7 Program Books.  If anyone is interested in adding a copy of the book to their collection, I’d be happy to send them one (for the cost of postage). People should get in touch with me at shsilver@sfsite.com, but I need to hear from them before the end of the month.”

(10) DETAILS, DETAILS. In 1939, sneak preview of The Wizard of Oz, producers debated about removing one of the songs because it seemed to slow things down. The song: “Over the Rainbow.”

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

However, according to writer/director James Cameron, most people at that time tried to convince him not to make the movie.

After all, they reasoned, any positive elements of the film would be attributed to “Alien” director Ridley Scott, and all the negative parts would be viewed as Cameron’s fault.

“I said, ‘Yeah, but I really want to do it. It’ll be cool,'” he said in an interview. “It was like this ridiculous, stupid thing. It wasn’t strategic at all, but I knew it would be cool.”

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born July 18, 1921 – John Glenn. Here’s a photo from 2012.

(13) GROUNDWORK FOR PREDICTION. Brandon Kempner is back on the job at Chaos Horizon, “Updating the 2016 Awards Meta List”.

A lot of other SFF nominations and awards have been handed out in the past few weeks. These are good indication of who will win the eventual Hugo—every award nomination raises visibility, and the awards that using votes are often good predictors of who will win the Hugo. Lastly, the full range of SFF awards gives us a better sense of what the “major” books of the year than the Hugo or Nebula alone. Since each award is idiosyncratic, a book that emerges across all 14 is doing something right.

Here’s the top of the list, and the full list is linked here. Total number of nominations is on the far left….

(14) VANCE FAN. Dave Freer tells what he admires about Jack Vance, and tries to emulate in his own writing, in “Out of Chocolate Error” for Mad Genius Club. Freer, while straightforward as ever about his worldview, makes an unexpected acknowledgement that another view could be embodied in a good story. Under these conditions —

There are at least four ‘meanings’ and stories that I’ve spotted in this particular book. I’m probably missing a few. Because I wanted to write like this myself, I’ve tried hard to pick up the techniques. I think the first key is that there must be a very strong and clear plot-line. You’re asking it to balance a lot of subtle and quite possibly overpowering elements. The second of course is that your characters cannot be mere PC-token stereotypes. Yes, of course you can have a black lesbian hero, or whatever (it actually doesn’t matter)– but if that stereotype is in the face of the reader rather than the character themselves, that becomes a compound, rather than the portmanteau. The third is that you cannot preach, or tell, your reader your ‘message’. Not ever. You can show it, you can let them derive it. If they fail to: well they still got a good story. And finally – if your audience leaves your book saying ‘that was about feminism… you, as a writer, are a failure, at least at writing entertainment or portmanteau books. There is a market for message, but like the market for sermons: it is small, and largely the converted. If they finish with a smile: you’ve done well. If they leave your book with a smile thinking: “yeah, true… I hadn’t thought of it like that. Look at (someone the reader knows). I could see them in that character (and the character happens to be a woman who is as capable as her male compatriots) then, my writer friend, you are a talent, and I wish I was more like you… Out of chocolate error…

(15) GOTCHA AGAIN. Chuck Tingle announces his retirement.

(16) HE’S NOT THE ONLY ONE. Rue Morgue reports Guillermo del Toro told Fantasia ’16 attendees that he’s retiring from producing and will stick to directing from now on.

(17) GRAPHIC STORY SLATE. Doris V. Sutherland discusses the impact of the slate on The Best Graphic Story Hugo nominees in “Comics and Controversy at the 2016 Hugo Awards” for Women Write About Comics.

After a reasonably strong set of graphic novels, the Best Graphic Story category starts to go downhill when we arrive at the webcomics. When Vox Day posted his provisional choices for the category, the list consisted entirely of online strips: Katie Tiedrich’s Awkward Zombie, Tom Siddell’s Gunnerkrig Court, Kukuruyo’s Gamergate Life, Aaron Williams’ Full Frontal Nerdity, and Grey Carter and Cory Rydell’s Erin Dies Alone.

Comprising strip after strip of anti-SJW caricatures, Gamergate Life obviously fits Day’s ideology; I have also heard it suggested that he chose Erin Dies Alone as a dig at Alexandra Erin, who wrote a short e-book spoofing him. Beyond this, it is hard to discern the exact criteria behind his choices. One of the comics, Gunnerkrig Court, proved controversial within Day’s comments section: “Gunnerkrigg Court recently gave us not one, but two big, fat, awful, in-your-face gay/lesbian subplots (involving the main characters no less!) and so I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending it anywhere these days,” wrote one poster.

The final Rabid Puppies slate—and, consequently, the final ballot—included only two of the above strips: Full Frontal Nerdity and Erin Dies Alone.

(18) DEEP SPACE PROBE. Will a “broken umbrella” speed space exploration?

…This sounds impressive until you remember that Voyager 1 was launched in 1977, is fitted with early ’70s scientific instruments, cameras and sensors and has been voyaging for almost 40 years.

Before mankind attempts to send another probe out towards interstellar space, engineers hope to figure out a way to get there a lot faster and, ideally, within their working lifetime.

There are several options on the table. Some favour solar sails – giant mirrored sheets pushed along by the force of photons from the Sun. Others – including Stephen Hawking – suggest flying these sails on tightly focused beams of photons generated by lasers fired from Earth or satellites in orbit.

Nasa engineer Bruce Wiegmann, however, is investigating the possibility of flying to the stars using a propulsion system that resembles a giant broken umbrella or wiry jellyfish. The concept is known as electric, or e-sail, propulsion and consists of a space probe positioned at the centre of a fan of metal wires….

(19) HORNBLOWERS. Did John Williams tell these kids to get off his lawn? Watch and find out.

This is what happened when 2 guys with horns made a spontaneous decision to set up and play the Star Wars theme in front of John Williams’ house on 7/11/2016!

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Chip Hitchcock, Steven H Silver, and Xtifr for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]

Pixel Scroll 7/7/16 Where the Filed Things Are

(1) STAR TREK CATCHES UP WITH THE PRESENT. The BBC story “Star Trek character Hikaru Sulu revealed as gay” says the Star Trek Beyond development is a salute to actor George Takei.

One of Star Trek’s best known characters, Hikaru Sulu, has been revealed as gay.

The character, played by John Cho in the current franchise, will be shown as having a same sex partner in the forthcoming Star Trek Beyond.

Cho told the Herald Sun the move was a nod to George Takei, the gay actor who played the character in the original 1960s television series.

The decision was taken by British star Simon Pegg, who wrote the screenplay.

(2) TAKEI UNIMPRESSED. Takei himself is not enthusiastic about the idea, he told The Hollywood Reporter.

The idea came from Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the new films and penned the Beyond screenplay, and director Justin Lin, both of whom wanted to pay homage to Takei’s legacy as both a sci-fi icon and beloved LGBT activist.

And so a scene was written into the new film, very matter-of-fact, in which Sulu is pictured with a male spouse raising their infant child. Pegg and Lin assumed, reasonably, that Takei would be overjoyed at the development — a manifestation of that conversation with Gene Roddenberry in his swimming pool so many years ago.

Except Takei wasn’t overjoyed. He had never asked for Sulu to be gay. In fact, he’d much prefer that he stay straight. “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”

He explains that Roddenberry was exhaustive in conceiving his Star Trek characters. (The name Sulu, for example, was based on the Sulu Sea off the coast of the Philippines, so as to render his Asian nationality indeterminate.) And Roddenberry had always envisioned Sulu as heterosexual.

 

George Takei with Buzz Aldrin

George Takei with Buzz Aldrin

(3) MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE HETEROSEXUAL FRONTIER. In the link above, Takei also discusses the Kirk/Uhura kiss, to which the BBC devoted several paragraphs in an article about classic Star Trek’s handling of black/white race issues.

In 1968, US television broadcast what many claim was the first interracial kiss on American airwaves. It occurred between two of the sexiest characters alive: Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura, on Star Trek. According to Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, “We received one of the largest batches of fan mail ever, all of it very positive, with many addressed to me from girls wondering how it felt to kiss Captain Kirk, and many to him from guys wondering the same thing about me.

(4) THE IDEA FOR FOLDING. The author of “Folding Beijing”, “Hugo-nominated Chinese author Hao Jingfang talks sci-fi, inner journeys and inequality” with the South China Morning Post.

For me it was heartbreaking to read about how people in different “spaces” had different amounts of time when they had access to daylight. That sounds like the most basic thing. How did you think about illustrating those discrepancies?

We always think that time is the only thing we share equally. So if time is divided unequally by social status, then inequality is complete. For me it was artistically striking to create this setting.

The other reason is perhaps economic because unemployment is always a problem in the US, in Europe, as well as in China. The Chinese government is afraid of unemployment, so sometimes it will maintain a plant or a factory to avoid huge unemployment. But in the future as technology develops, how will people deal with unemployment? Perhaps the easiest and cruellest method is to limit the time (they are awake), and then they will not create problems. So this setting provides an extreme solution to a social problem. I hope that we can find better solutions in real life, but in stories you can just push things to the extreme.

(5) MORE HUGO REVIEWS. Doris V. Sutherland, having completed her long series comparing the 2014 and 2015 Hugo nominees, moves on to discuss this year’s contenders – “2016 Hugo Reviews: Novelettes” at Women Write About Comics.

(6) SF ART IN SCOTLAND. The Adventures in Time and Space exhibit runs July 7-October 2 at The Lighthouse in Glasgow.

Science fiction films exert a powerful grip on the human imagination. This innovative exhibition, curated by Berlin based leading Scots designer, Jon Jardine and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland will offer insights into the architecture of science fiction. It will compare the ideas of architectural visionaries with startling representations of buildings and cities from the birth of cinema to the present day.

Over 180 new works of art have been specially commisioned by Artists Ian Stuart Campbell, Douglas Prince, Ciana Pullen and Piotr Sell for the exhibition.

The Festival of Architecture 2016 is a year-long, Scotland-wide celebration of design, creativity and the built environment, led by The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

July 7, 1907 – Robert Anson Heinlein would have been 109 years old today.

Robert A. Heinlein

Robert A. Heinlein

(8) QUOTE OF THE DAY

According to Spider Robinson, the closing quotation for today’s edition of the emailed morning headline-summary The Economist Espresso is by Robert Heinlein: “Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.”

(9) ABSTAIN. At Mad Genius Club, Kate Paulk looks over the nominees in the two editor categories —  “Hugo Category Highlights – The Finalists – Best Editor, Short Form and Long Form”. She finds only Jerry Pournelle worthy of consideration in Short Form, and as for Long Form:

I think I’m going to have to sit out this category. There simply isn’t enough in it that’s caught my attention over the year for me to make a judgment, and I personally refuse to simply say “Oh, X is a good person and they’ve done a lot of good over the years”. That’s not what the award is for.

That’s pretty amazing, to think Paulk invested a whole year promoting the Sad Puppy cause while being bored by the output of nine of its ten Hugo-nominated editors.

(10) HUGOGAMI. Lisa Goldstein weighs in on Hugo nominated Novelette: “Folding Beijing” at inferior4+1.

“Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu, is on the Rabid Puppies slate, but it also seems to be a popular story in its own right.  There are other popular stories on the slate as well, in an attempt, I think, to confuse Hugo voters.  Apparently we’re supposed to react like Harcourt Mudd’s robots in Star Trek: — “But it’s a Puppy choice! — But I like it! — But it’s a Puppy choice!” — and then our logic circuits overheat and our brains shut down.

(11) 2016 SHORT FICTION REVIEWS. “Gardner Dozois reviews Short Fiction, June 2016” at Locus Online.

He covers Asimov’s 4-5/16, Tor.com 1/6/16 – 4/13/16, Lightspeed 4/16, and Slate 4/26/16.

(12) WORLDCON NEWS. MidAmeriCon II has released several updates.

Fan Tables – deadline for reserving is July 15.

Worldcons traditionally offer complimentary Fan Tables to non-profit groups organized by members of a particular science fiction/fantasy fandom or convention. Fan Tables are an opportunity for attendees to get information about other fan groups and for fan groups to introduce themselves to fans from around the world. MidAmeriCon II has a limited number of tables available for fan groups to promote themselves and to sell memberships or club paraphernalia. (If you would like to sell more than memberships and T-shirts, please investigate the Creators Alley or Dealers Room).

The following conventions, convention bids, clubs, and societies have already reserved or are expected to reserve a Fan Table at MidAmeriCon II: …

Childcare

Please remember that your $60 child membership comes with 5 FREE hours of childcare, the earlier you book those hours the better to ensure we still have enough space. At the door convention rates for children are: Wed $15, Thurs-Sat each day $25, and $15 for Sunday. Onsite childcare, if there is still room, will be $15 per hour (pre-reg is $10 online).

We are thrilled to be working with KiddieCorp as the professional childcare provider for MidAmeriCon II. KiddieCorp has worked regularly with Worldcon in recent years ­including in Spokane, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Denver, Montreal, Reno, and Chicago ­and have an excellent understanding of our needs and interests. Childcare will be held in the Kansas City Marriott which is close to the convention center and also connected to it via underground tunnel. More information about our hotels and room bookings can be found on our hotel information page.

Children’s Programming

Our children’s program is for children aged 6 to 12 and also their parents. Some items are suitable for older kids and teenagers who are also welcome. We plan to have a program for the full weekend involving crafts, games, toys, mini-projects, books, comics, and a bit of space for children to enjoy. We want to create a room where there is always something to do, where science and engineering meet fiction, film, books, comics, and the fantastic, and where kids will enjoy themselves and have fun!

YA Programming

MidAmeriCon II will also have some great YA programming including workshops, panels, and more for the young and young at heart. From steampunk to romance, action, and film, our YA programming explores the fun in fiction while also tackling some tough questions about ethics, love, and nontraditional families.

Panelists include Guest of Honor Tamora Pierce, Gail Carriger, Stina Leicht, Rebecca Moesta, Cerece Rennie Murphy, Greg van Eekhout, and other fabulous authors in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and more.

(13) ALWAYS. From The Guardian: “Tesla driver killed while using autopilot was watching Harry Potter, witness says”

The Tesla driver killed in the first known fatal crash involving a self-driving car may have been watching a Harry Potter movie at the time of the collision in Florida, according to a truck driver involved in the crash.

The truck driver, Frank Baressi, 62, told the Associated Press that the Tesla driver Joshua Brown, 40, was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” during the collision and was driving so fast that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him”.

The disclosure raises further questions about the 7 May crash in Williston, Florida, which occurred after Brown put his Model S into Tesla’s autopilot mode, which is able to control a car while it’s driving on the highway.

The fatal crash, which federal highway safety regulators are now investigating, is a significant setback and a public relations disaster for the growing autonomous vehicle industry.

(14) FAILED PREDICTIONS ABOUT REAL TECHNOLOGIES. The BBC ginned up a five-things article about transportation technologies that never became centerpieces of a glorious future.

WITH EVERY JULES VERNE NOVEL, James Bond film or World’s Fair came new, fantastical ways of getting around. They packed our near-future with science-fiction promises: walkways that did the walking for us, pod cars built for one, jet-powered backpacks that let humans fly. Today, although these things exist, they’re hardly commonplace. Why did these transportation moonshots fall by the wayside, and short of their pledges to revolutionise the world? ….

Monorail

Then: There is likely no discarded transportation relic that sums up the past’s vision of the future better than the monorail. Inventors had been toying with the idea of an elevated, single rail line since the 1800s, and by 1956, Houston, Texas saw the first trial run of a monorail in the US, in all its shiny, glass-fibre glory. The otherworldly, curvy carriages that zoomed high above the ground popped up piecemeal around the world in places like Japan, but the turn of the century’s rise of the automobile proved too much for the sky high train of tomorrow.

Now: Today, monorails are chiefly the chariots of airport terminals and amusement parks. Disney World in Florida has a monorail system that shuttles Mickey lovers from car park to theme park — including a line that runs directly through the soaring lobby of Disney’s Contemporary Resort hotel.

(15) AVOIDING THE OBVIOUS ANSWER. They’re pretty sure Tunguska was a meteorite, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying these other interesting theories.

Some suggested the Tunguska event could have been the result of matter and antimatter colliding. When this happens, the particles annihilate and emit intense bursts of energy.

Another proposal was that a nuclear explosion caused the blast. An even more outlandish suggestion was that an alien spaceship crashed at the site on its search for the fresh water of Lake Baikal.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, David K.M. Klaus, Spider Robinson, Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Lisa Goldstein, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 5/3/16 The Seven Pixel Scrollution

(1) JEOPARDY! Funny how fandom has gone from being the contestants to being the answers…. On the May 3 episode of Jeopardy! one of the answers was —

In A Storm of Swords, he acknowledged “Phyllis, who made me put the dragons in it.”

The correct question would be “Who is George R.R. Martin?” But the clue is Phyllis Eisenstein.

Martin discussed this on a panel at Chicon 7 in 2012.

The dragons were one aspect that I did consider not including. Very early in the process, I was debating, should I do this just as like historical fiction about fake history, and have no actually overt magic or magical elements, but — my friend Phyllis Eisenstein, a wonderful fantasy writer who lives here in Chicago, I happened to be talking to her at very early stage in the process. Phyllis has written some great fantasies herself. She said, “Nah, you have to have dragons. It’s a fantasy, you know!” And I dedicated A Storm of Swords to Phyllis, who made me put the dragons in, and I think that was the right thing to do.

(2) TERMS OF UNDEARMENT. Kukuruyo’s image of Ms. Marvel has been pulled from DeviantArt. And on his own site, the Project Wonderful ads have been pulled on the page that displays the image. Did he violate the Terms Of Service?

(3) OFF THE CHARTS. The map found in illustrator Pauline Baynes’ copy of The Lord of the Rings has a new home reports The Guardian — “Tolkien annotated map of Middle-earth acquired by Bodleian library”.

Here be dragons – and wolves, bears, witches, camels, elephants, orcs, elves and hobbits.

A map of Middle-earth, which to generations of fans remains the greatest fantasy world ever created, heavily annotated by JRR Tolkien, has been acquired by the Bodleian library in Oxford to add to the largest collection in the world of material relating to his work, including the manuscripts of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The annotations, in green ink and pencil, demonstrate how real his creation was in Tolkien’s mind: “Hobbiton is assumed to be approx at latitude of Oxford,” he wrote.

(4) CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN. BBC News has a story about a a member of the 501st climbing England’s highest mountain. A Star Wars fan who walked to the tops of Snowdon and Ben Nevis while dressed as a stormtrooper plans to tackle England’s tallest mountain.

Ashley Broomhall hopes to make the trek on Wednesday, the date of which – May the fourth- is often linked to the Star Wars phrase “May the force…”

He will wear his stormtrooper armour for the walk up 3,208ft (978m) Scafell Pike in the Lake District.

(5) AMAZONIAN TOSSER. Heather Rose Jones “tosses a little numbers-geekery” at the question of what it means for a book to have only really really good reviews on Amazon. (Spoiler: She says it means your book isn’t getting out enough.)

You know who has spent a very long time in the top 10 books sold in Historical Fantasy? Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. Do you know how many one-star reviews Outlander has on Amazon? 749. Seven hundred and forty-fucking-nine one-star reviews (4% of the total). No book is universally beloved.

(6) CHINA BOUND. Martin L. Shoemaker posted his good news on Facebook:

Now that the contract has been signed, I am very honored to announce that “Today I Am Paul” will appear in Science Fiction World, the Chinese science fiction magazine, as part of their new series of Hugo/Nebula nominees.

(7) CROWDFUNDING AEROSPACE HISTORIAN. You can support Dr. Jim Busby by helping fund his travel to Spacefest VII.

Help Us Keep Our Aerospace Heritage Alive

From June 9 – 12 2016 Spacefest VII , a reunion of legendary NASA astronauts, engineers, famous space scientists, authors, astronomers, space artists, and fans produced by Novaspace, will be held in Tucson, AZ.

Dr. Jim Busby Aerospace Historian, educator and board member of Aerospace Legacy Foundation (ALF) in Downey, CA has been invited to be a guest lecturer and to do a memorabilia display. Unfortunately, ALF being a small non-profit organization cannot afford to send Dr. Busby, his wife and other members of the organization to Tucson. That is why we are turning to aerospace enthusiasts to help fund this trip. Dr. Jim Busby’s extensive knowledge of aerospace history has educated many over the years. In 1978 he helped create the world’s first Apollo lunar reenactments and worked at the California Science center for 19 years.

“I enjoy educating children and adults in our long fascination with space exploration,” Busby commented. “Inspiring children when I talk about Apollo lunar exploration is an experience beyond words.”

The GoFundMe has raised $645 of its $2,500 goal at this writing.

(7) JURY DUTY. Mary Anne Mohanraj announced on Facebook that jurors are needed to review grant applications for Speculative Literature Foundation.

JURORS NEEDED: The Speculative Literature Foundation is looking for ten volunteer jurors willing to read applications (a few pages each, including a writing sample) over the space of about a month for our Diverse Writers Grant and our Diverse Worlds Grant. The grant deadline is at the end of July, so you would need to have time available in August to read and discuss. In order to be considered, potential jurors should be writers, editors, teachers, or readers with broad knowledge of the genre, who are capable of judging literary quality in a work.

If interested, please send a brief note to our director, Mary Anne Mohanraj, mohanraj@uic.edu, with the subject line: JUROR. Include a few lines on what your qualifying background would be for serving as a juror. Thank you for your interest, and for your support of science fiction and fantasy!

More information about the Diverse Writers and Diverse Workds grants at the link.

(8) SOUND RETREAT. John C. Wright takes “A Polite Retreat from Combat”.

Mr. George R.R. Martin here (http://grrm.livejournal.com/485124.html) has taken the time out of his busy writing schedule to rebut my comment where I rebuked him for characterizing the Sad Puppies reading list of last year as ‘right-wing’ and ‘weak’, a statement published in the Guardian newspaper.

My reply, humbly enough, was that my work was unweak enough to have sold at least one example to him. He responds by chiding me for being insufficiently humble: as if making a sale to George R.R. Martin were not indeed a matter for pride.

He and I (or so I thought) had an agreement to smooth over our puppy-related sadness.

In the spirit of that agreement, I plead nolo contendere to his allegations, in the hope that if I say nothing but this in reply, he will return to his writing, and tell me and his other fans the final fate of Westeros.

The years fly like autumn leaves, and life too short for such fare. Winter is coming.

(9) RITUALLY UNCLEAN. Sami Sundell calls it “Overemphasizing the Taint”.

…I’ve also seen some more dire messages. For example, Steve Davidson listed nominations sans puppy taint. Matthew M. Foster had an even stricter stance and called the awards Vox Awards. And that’s what really hit my nerve….

So who cares if one of the nominees is Ann Leckie‘s Ancillary Mercy, the final part of the trilogy that started with Hugo winner Ancillary Justice – a book that has been much reviled by the Puppies. Mercy was on Sad Puppies recommendation lists so it’s tainted. Same apparently goes for Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

And Vox Day, apparently all by himself, decided Seveneves by Neal Stephenson is worthy of a Hugo nomination. You know, the multiple award winner Neal Stephenson? And a book that was pre-emptively put into mind blowing science fiction list of io9 in January 2015? Expectations were high, and I’ve seen plenty of reviews saying those expectations were met, and then some.

Same goes for Alastair Reynolds’ Slow Bullets and Lois McMaster Bujold‘s Penric’s Demon. McMaster Bujold has won or been nominated for Hugos more times than I have fingers. Is it really so hard to believe she would write yet another masterpiece?

…No. Saying Day made some OK choices is not surrender. That blog entry is surrender. It gives all the power to Vox Day, it ignores the quality of works, and it claims fans had no say in the nominations. That sounds awfully lot like the arguments we’ve heard from Puppies for several years….

(10) TROLLFIGHTING SPACE KITTEN. Spacefaring Kitten would deal with the ballot this way — “On Fighting Trolls and Going to Have to Ask Kevin Standlee”.

Rule changes are slow, however, so they don’t help in the current situation — where we indeed have a hostile takeover by trolls who have stated explicitly that their intention is to destroy the award. Among the Hugo finalists, there are works that include blatant hate-speech, fat-shaming, misogyny et cetera. Overall, it’s more horrible than last year, when the voters had to mostly just stomach bad writing (this year, the level of writing is probably much higher).

The works I’m referring to here are of course the short story “If You Were an Award, My Love” and the related works SJWs Always Lie, “The Story of Moira Greyland” and “Safe Space as Rape Room” (and maybe the work of the fan artist “Kukuruyo”). These are ugly works manufactured to harass individual members of the SFF community or groups of people that the Rabid Puppies contingency happens to love harassing (women, LGBTI community and so on).

So, what could be done about them? Unfortunately, not much.

After reading the WSFS constitution, I came up with only two things. If I was running the Worldcon (which I’m not, of course), I would:

  1. Not include them in the Hugo voter packet. (There are zero rules about the voter packet, so it would be completely possible for the Worldcon to exclude the works mentioned above.)
  2. Insert onto the online voting form a statement that says “Midamericon II condemns the hate-speech/whatever featured in Finalist X”.

(11) SUTHERLAND CONTINUES. Meanwhile, Doris V. Sutherland is still working on her category-by-category discussion of last year’s results in “2014 Hugos Versus 2015 Sad Puppies: What Could Have Been, Part 1” at Women Write About Comics.

So, let me restate that the works on these longlists are the works that received the highest number of votes during the Hugo nomination process without being on either the Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies slates. I have seen no evidence to justify suspicion of any conspiracy or wrongdoing on the part of George R. R. Martin or anyone else involved.

That said, I also have to question the claim made by certain Sad Puppies opponents that these longlists show us exactly what the Hugo ballot would been had the Sad Puppies campaign never existed. This interpretation ignores the fact that some of the Puppy picks could quite conceivably have made the final ballot even without the aid of the campaign. Nevertheless, a look at the longlist will at least give us a good idea of how the ballot would have looked without Puppy slating—and an idea is all we can have.

Best Short Story

“Jackalope Wives,” by Ursula Vernon

One of the 2014 nominees in this category was Sofia Samatar’s “Selkie Stories are for Losers,” which riffed on the folkloric motif of the animal bride. Interestingly enough, one of the contenders for the 2015 award plays with the same theme—albeit with very different results.

Ursula Vernon constructs her pseudo-folkloric story from specifically American materials, lending it a folksy tall-tale feel. It takes place in a world where young men periodically go out and hunt for jackalopes—which, in Vernon’s conception, are more than just antlered bunnies. Once they remove their fur, they take on their true forms as beautiful, unearthly women. As per animal bride tradition, any prospective suitor must steal a jackalope’s fur before he can win her as a bride, and burn it to prevent her from changing back and escaping.

So far, so conventional. But while folktales of this type are often told from the point of view of the man, with the bride’s disappearance seen as a sad occurrence, Vernon sheds light on how rotten the scenario must be for the woman. The protagonist of “Jackalope Wives” learns the ugly truth behind the legend when he tries to burn a jackalope’s fur; her resulting screams of pain cause him to have second thoughts, inadvertently leaving the woman trapped halfway between human and animal. The manic pixie dream girl has had her wings cut off.

“Jackalope Wives” is true to its folkloric roots while simultaneously offering a contemporary spin on the age-old material. A deserving contender for Best Short Story.

Sutherland also drew a “salute” to GamerGate Life.

(12) AGAINST HATRED. Jon Tully at GeeksOut tells “How Hatred Is Hurting the Hugos”.

…This year, the Rabid puppies doubled their votes and succeeded in nominating 62 out of 80 stories that they backed. And are these stories that reflect where our culture is headed? Are they stories about inclusivity, empathy, and reflection?

No. They are stories such as “SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police” a story about “social justice warriors” (penned by Beale himself), “If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris, (a direct spoof on the gay-affirming “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”),  “Safe Space as Rape Room” by Daniel Eness (published by Castalia House) and, my personal (sarcastic) favorite, Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle, which has all the literary merit the title suggests.

If the judges were willing to deny awards in five categories last year, what is it going to look like this year? Will any awards be given? Will authors begin to gravitate away from the Hugos towards the Nebula or the Locus Awards?

Will this be the death of an institution I love?

As Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” And while these oft-repeated words can seem passé (and a little too gender-specific), there is, of course, a core of truth. The reason that we’re in this situation is because the various Puppies were able to rally enough hate to their side to be heard.

But the fact that sours my stomach is not that small-minded children were able to throw a tantrum and get their way, it’s that, by doing so, they’re hijacking the narrative of our era. Metaphorically speaking, the Rabid Puppies are wedging their intolerance into a time capsule that future generations will open, and societies not yet born will see and be ashamed of.

(13) WORD BALLOONS. At this link you will find what seems to be popularly regarded as “the best superhero story ever.” And at minimum it’s pretty funny: http://imgur.com/a/czaDD

(14) FLIGHT TO THE FINNISH. Zen Cho can’t resist temptation.

(15) FRED POHL IS HERE. The Traveler from Galactic Journey has the latest ancient prozine news: “[May 3, 1961] Passing the Torch (June 1961, Galaxy, 2nd Half)”.

Fred Pohl came on last year.  He was not officially billed as the editor, but it was common knowledge that he’d taken over the reigns.  Pohl is an agent and author, a fan from the way-back.  I understand his plan has been to raise author rates again and bring back quality.  While he waits for the great stories to come back, he leavens the magazines with old stories from the “slush pile” that happen not to be awful.  In this way, Galaxy showcases promising new authors while keeping the quality of the magazine consistent.

The June 1961 Galaxy is the first success story of this new strategy.

Last issue, I talked about how Galaxy was becoming a milquetoast mag, afraid to take risks or deviate far from mediocrity.  This month’s issue, the first that lists Pohl as the “Managing Editor,” is almost the second coming of old Galaxy — daring, innovative, and with one exception, excellent.

Take Cordwainer Smith’s Mother Hitton’s Littul Kittons, in which an interplanetary ring of thieves tries to steal from the richest, and best defended planet, in the galaxy.  Smith has always been a master, slightly off-center in his style; his rich, literary writing is of the type more usually seen in Fantasy and Science FictionKittons is ultimately a mystery, the nature of the unique (in name and nature) “kittons” remaining unknown until the last.  A brutal, fascinating story, and an unique take on the future.  Five stars.

(16) DABBLING IN THE DEBACLE. Amanda S. Green asks “What do you want?” at Mad Genius Club.

…the Hugo debacle. Yes, debacle. There is no other way to describe it. Whether you support the idea that the Hugos are a fan award (which I do since you buy a membership to WorldCon in order to vote and anyone with the money can do so) or a “literary” award (which, to mean, would require it to be a juried award in some fashion), I think we all can — or at least should — agree that Hugo should not be exclusionary. If you can afford the money for the membership, you should be able to vote and your vote should have the same weight as the next person’s. Until the rules are changed, that is how it should be.

So imagine my surprise yesterday when I was looking through Facebook and came across a post from one of the puppy-kickers — and I am looking straight at you, Mr. Amazing Stories — saying that the committee should go in and look at all the ballots. Any ballot cast by a puppy should be thrown out. (And he even adds to his comment “screw privacy”, which had been one of the concerns last year’s committee had when they were asked to release the voting data.). But that’s not enough for him. He advocates never letting a “puppy” buy a membership to WorldCon again. There’s more but you can go look for yourself — assuming the post is still there. It is dated April 26th and was posted at 7:24 pm.

Needless to say, when I saw this, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Laughter because these sorts of comments show the hypocrisy of those who are “fighting the good fight” against those evil Sad and Rabid Puppies. We are called all sorts of names because, as they claim, we want to exclude message and “marginalized” people from the genre. Yet here one of their most vocal supporters is doing exactly what they claim we are doing. He is saying we should not be allowed into the same room with the Hugos. Note, he is not only saying that we shouldn’t be allowed to vote for their beloved award but tat we should not be allowed to attend WorldCon.

Sounds pretty exclusionary to me. How about you?

(17) HE’S EXCITED. More from Shamus Young about his Hugo nomination in a podcast on his site. The show notes say:

01:08 Shamus is up for a Hugo Award

Here I talk about the fact that I’ve been nominated for a Hugo, and I briefly mention the controversy the Hugos have been having for the past two years. I don’t want to talk about the controversy here. In fact, the no politics post was written specifically in anticipation of this discussion.

If you’re looking for more information: On WIRED there’s this post entitled Sci-Fi’s Hugo Awards and the Battle for Pop Culture’s Soul, which seems to be the one everyone links when trying to bring people up to speed on this. However, like a lot of Wired articles this one feels like the author was paid by the word. It’s long on anecdotes, it takes forever to get to the point, it’s broad and hyperbolic, and for all the words it spends it never feels like it gets down to details.

I found this one much more useful: A Detailed Explanation by Matthew David Surridge, explaining why he declined his Hugo nomination last year. It is also long – I’m afraid you can’t really do the topic justice in a couple of paragraphs – but instead of spending its word count on stories, he just takes up one side and argues for it. In the process he kind of maps out a good deal of both sides[1].

I’m excited to be nominated for a Hugo. I’m excited that videogames are being recognized and encouraged in their pursuit of sci-fi stories. I’m dreading dealing with people who don’t respect my no politics rule and are just looking for an opportunity to unleash the anger they’re hauling around. I think accepting the nomination is the most diplomatic thing to do, and win or lose I’m grateful for everyone who thinks my work has merit.

(18) COUNTING TO ZERO. The Locus Awards navigated around the worst rocks and shoals of the puppy lists only to incur criticism about the composition of the YA Novel finalists.

(19) NEW POPULAR FICTION MFA. Emerson College in Boston is starting a new Masters of Fine Arts in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing in Fall 2016. It will be a fully online program designed for students who want to pursue a career as a writer of novels in the genres of fantasy, science-fiction, horror, mystery, thriller, or young adult.

The program will enroll a cohort of 12 students in order to provide individual attention and coaching. The two-year accredited MFA program will be housed in Emerson’s nationally known Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing.

The MFA in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing is one of the first online writing programs to prepare students to write professional-level stories and novels in a variety of fictional genres and provides an opportunity for students to read deeply, think critically, and discuss popular fiction with peers. Students will have the experience of participating in creative workshops and literature courses that focus on the history of various popular genres. Additionally, hands-on publishing courses will teach students how to turn a completed manuscript into a polished, publishable work. Emerson’s publishing faculty will offer insights on the avenues available for students to publish their work, from finding and working with literary agents to self-publishing to reaching a wide readership through trade publishers.

For more information, visit the MFA in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing web page or contact John Rodzvilla, graduate program director, at john_rodzilla@emerson.edu or 617-824-3717.

(20) PUPPY DISAMBIGUATION. Don’t miss the rollover in Trae’s cartoon “The inevitable outcome”.

(21) UNKNOWN TRAILER. The first trailer for Approaching the Unknown has been released, a movie starring Mark Strong and Luke Wilson.

(22) TOLKIEN TALK. Terri Windling will lecture about Tolkien in Oxford on May 26.

Pembroke Tolkien lecture

(23) PAYING BACKWARD. Rachel Swirsky has a plan for getting through these parlous times which she shares in “Making Lemons into Jokes: ‘If You Were a Butt, My Butt”.

In my family, humor has always been a way of putting crap into perspective. When life hands you lemons, make jokes. And then possibly lemonade, too. It is coming up on summer.

In that spirit, I’m trying a self-publishing experiment. And that experiment’s name is “If You Were a Butt, My Butt.”

If my Patreon reaches $100 by the end of the month, I will write and send “If You Were a Butt, My Butt” to everyone who subscribes. If things go well, I’ve got some stretch goals, too, like an audio version.

I will be donating the first month’s Patreon funds to Lyon-Martin health services. Lyon-Martin is one of the only providers that focuses on caring for the Quiltbag community, especially low-income lesbian, bisexual, and trans people. They provide services regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

pablo-1

[And that’s the end! Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James David Nicoll, Mark-kitteh, Dawn Sabados, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Rambo, Hampus Eckerman, Mike O’Donnell, Glenn Hauman, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 2/28/16 Little Old Lady Got Mutilated Late Last Night, Pixels Of London, Again

Your host will be on the road for a couple days attending Nic Farey’s wedding to Jennifer AlLee on February 29. I have prepared a couple of Scrolls in advance.

(1) CAN’T WE JUST ALL GET ALONG? Roz Kaveny tills the unsatisfactory middle ground between five recent studies of “Tolkien’s English Mythology” in the Times Literary Supplement.

In a sense, of course, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are offcuts from Tolkien’s principal and in the end unfinished and unfinishable work, parts of it published after his death as The Silmarillion, others as the Unfinished Tales. Although he was a Christian who absolutely believed in the literal and metaphysical truth of that body of stories, Tolkien was impressed enough by Elias Lönnrot’s assemblage of Finnish myths and legends as the Kalevala that he wanted to assemble, even forge in both senses of the word, a specifically English mythology that owed nothing to the Celtic or Norse pantheons, or to the Arthurian cycle (he also wrote his own version of that, as he did of Lönnrot’s story of Kullervo). Tolkien wanted to reclaim elves and Faerie from mere decorative prettiness and embed them in a narrative of fall and redemption that functioned as a secondary world; this was a spiritual as well as a creative enterprise, an attempt to understand God by doing imperfectly what He had done.

The success or failure of such an enterprise is in a sense irrelevant; what he produced in the main body of his legendarium is a heap of glorious moments rather than anything entirely achieved. Along the way, however, he wrote a children’s book called The Hobbit which might have been just another light work like Farmer Giles of Ham but turned out to be his gateway into a more approachable version of the legendarium, something that included a voice of the ordinary among gods, monsters and tyrants. In due course, his publishers’s and admirers’ desire for a sequel led to something considerably more ambitious but still puny by the standards of what he intended; one of the most attractive things about Tolkien is how he coped with being famous for something less than his lifelong ambition, not least because it achieved and exemplified some of his aims on a smaller scale.

This is why some of the complaints against him are beside the point – he had planned something compared to which Paradise Lost or the Prophetic Books of Blake would look modest, but if people wanted a superior adventure story, he would give them a superior adventure story with enough of his greater intention embedded in it to make itself visible in sudden vistas down narrative corridors. Whatever Tolkien thought about the literature of his time – not much, since he regarded, or affected to regard, everything that had been written in English after the late Middle Ages as a colossal mistake – he has a lot more in common with, say, T. S. Eliot than he or Patrick Curry would have been comfortable acknowledging.

(2) CCUBED. Those interested in gathering to talk about running conventions should look into ConComCon 2016, which will be held June 10-12, 2016 in Portland, OR at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel.

Marah Searle-Kovacevic  says, “The theme will be ‘Building Bridges’ between different types of conventions, the convention and the hotel, convention staff and members, and other bridges. There will also be the usual discussions on hotel contracts, crisis management, parties and hospitality. There will also be a time Saturday afternoon for choosing topics that you want to talk about as programming items.”

You can also buy a membership or book a hotel room at the con web site.

Also, SWOC (founded as the Seattle Westercon Organizing Committee) is offering a scholarship to each convention for one person to attend CCubed. We would like this to be for someone who has not attended a CCubed before. If your convention is interested please contact Searle-Kovacevic through info@concomcon.com.

(3) CONTRASTING BLOODLINES. Doris V. Sutherland continues her comparison of non-slated with slated Hugo categories in “2014 Hugos Versus 2015 Sad Puppies: Related Works” at Women Write About Comics.

Sad Puppies founder Larry Correia presumably had this book in mind when he quipped that “the usual [Related Work] nominees are things like Transsexual WereSeals Love Dr. Who.” This seems unfair, as Queers Dig Time Lords has entertainment value—and that, after all, is something that the Sad Puppies are supposed to be fighting for. That said, I will have to admit that the book is closer to a fan blog than to a Hugo-worthy piece of media criticism…..

Given the book’s jack-of-all-trades approach, it is hardly surprising that Letters from Gardner is something of a mixed bag. To be honest, the fourteen-year career outlined here is simply too uneventful to make a particularly gripping biography. It is somewhat novel to see such an in-depth look at the beginning of a writer’s creative period—I can imagine Letters from Gardner inspiring many of its readers to try their hands at fiction themselves, with Antonelli making the process look easy—but too often the book gets bogged down in irrelevant details. The low point is when Antonelli spends multiple paragraphs waxing nostalgic about those Bic ballpoint pens with orange shafts, which are apparently hard to find in America these days.

(4) A NUANCED THEORY. Douglas Milewski explains “Why the Puppies Bid for the Hugos Failed”.

I’m not sure who taught Conservatives that SJWs only succeed because they browbeat everyone else. (Correct me if I’m mis-characterizing.) That’s the sort of information that sets you up to lose. SJWs win by building coalitions from the ground up, and they’ll take decades to do it. Most of this is done quietly, not because of secrecy, but because that sort of projects just takes time. This coalition building isn’t just a fanciful notion, but the cornerstone of their power. The number one weapon of the SJW is the narrative, building a story that holds the coalition together. A good narrative wins the battle. (Gay marriage is a fine example of this.) So who joined the SJW coalition when the fight got started? The best SF&F writers in the world joined, that’s who. They wrote the SJW narrative. That’s the sort of opposition that you must absolutely respond to, and the Puppies did not adapt.

One more analyst proves with geometric logic that writers, not fans, determined the outcome of their own award.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • Feburary 28, 1996 Tromeo and Juliet premieres.

(6) LIGHTS, CAMERA, MISSING-IN-ACTION. CinemaBlend says he is “The Indiana Jones Actor Who Refused To Come Back For Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull”.

John Rhys-Davies portrayed Sallah in the first and third entries of the Indiana Jones franchise. It turns out, he was asked to make an appearance in the fourth as well, but declined because they only wanted him there for a cameo. What’s worse, he tells Digital Spy that he wouldn’t even have been interacting with any of the other characters.

I was asked to be in the last one, but they wanted me to do a bit of green-screen – walk in, sit down and clap – and they were going to cut that into the wedding scene at the end. I turned it down because it seemed to me that that would be a bit of a betrayal of the audience’s expectations. Sallah is a popular character – there’s a greatness of soul about him that we all love and admire…

(7) H8TERS GONNA H8. In “How real is that Atlas robot video?”, The Guardian pooh-poohs a viral video I linked to the other day.

The Google-owned company’s most recent video shows the latest version of Atlas opening fire doors, prancing about through snow, being abused by an evil scientist wielding a hockey stick, and doing an uncanny impersonation of an Amazon warehouse worker. It looks incredibly impressive, but how much of it can we take at face value?

(8) THEY’RE TEASING. The Spaceballs 2 teaser poster has arrived….

(9) BY POPULAR DEMAND. Here is bloodstone75’s take on Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s Cradle.”

Pup’s in the Manger

A man wrote some books the other day
With Monsters and Guns in the usual way
And they attained some scratch, and won some praise
New writer win? They said “Not today”

And when he didn’t nab a Hugo, his anger grew.
He said “It’s ‘cause I’m not like you, right?
I’m never gonna be like you!”

And the Pup’s in the manger, and he’s venting spleen,
Larry boy’s blue, and it’s making him mean

When you giving up, Lar’
“I won’t say ‘when’; but I’m gonna vex the Fen;
You know I’m gonna vex those Fen.”

A year went by, Larry couldn’t wait
He said “This time it’s mine, yeah, my story’s great.”
But he wanted revenge — they just had to pay!
“I got to make them cry,” he said. “Meet Vox Day
And he, he carved a slate, and his smile was so grim,
And said “They’re gonna choke on him, yeah.
They’re really gonna choke on him.”

CH

Well, he passed his banner to another guy
So much like himself he just had to smile
And he scored a nom, but then he turned it down
He shook his head and said “I’m no clown.
All I really want now is to torment the lefties.
Won’t be happy ‘til they’re on their knees.”

CH

So though he’d “retired”, he still mixed it up
He built a slate with the other Pups
He said “You made us do it; you rigged the vote.
I got my own cabal, now you can watch us gloat.”
But the Pox was ascendant, and the shit hit the fan.
And the backlash sign-ups began, yeah,
The fan enrollment began.
And as they read out the votes it occurred to him
Their rocket hopes were dim
His hopes were just so dim

CH

(10) ALICE SEQUEL. Coming May 27, Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass.

In Disney’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” an all-new spectacular adventure featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories, Alice returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter. Directed by James Bobin, who brings his own unique vision to the spectacular world Tim Burton created on screen in 2010 with “Alice in Wonderland,” the film is written by Linda Woolverton based on characters created by Lewis Carroll and produced by Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd and Tim Burton with John G. Scotti serving as executive producer. “Alice Through the Looking Glass” reunites the all-star cast from the worldwide blockbuster phenomenon, including: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska and Helena Bonham Carter along with the voices of Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall. We are also introduced to several new characters: Zanik Hightopp (Rhys Ifans), the Mad Hatter’s father and Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen), a peculiar creature who is part human, part clock.

 

(11) INTERFACE. Kill Command opens May 16.

Set in a near future, technology-reliant society that pits man against killing machines.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., Andrew Porter, and Woodwindy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]