(1) AT THE CORE. James Davis Nicoll returns with a new list: “Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Mysteries Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”. Here are the first four —
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
White Cat by Holly Black
The Mountains of Mourning by Lois Bujold
Tea from an Empty Cup by Pat Cadigan
(2) YOUR GUIDE TO MOUNT TBR. Gabino Iglesias devotes his LitReactor column to explaining “10 Things Only Hardcore Bookworms Do”.
- Buy the same book more than once
We buy books because they are great and smell good and feel right and occupy empty space and they’re our friends. “I don’t have this edition.” “This cover is too amazing to pass up.” “This one is signed.” “This is the one I had when I was a kid.” “This is only a dollar!” “I’ll keep it around and give it away to someone later.” I’ve even used this one to rationalize the purchase of a third edition of Langston Hughes’ The Dream Keeper and Other Poems: “I mean, I have two editions already, but this one’s illustrated!” Yeah, hardcore bookworms will come up with amazing reasons why they “need” to buy a book they already have. On the other hand, we will also buy the same book twice by accident. It’s there and it’s affordable…and we’re not going to drive home and look through our piles for it: we’re going to buy it again.
- Judge people by their books/shelves
I know this one is tough to swallow. I also know some of you will debate that you’re better human beings than me and you are above and beyond judging others. Well, fuck it, I’m being brutally honest here and being judgmental has kept me alive this far, so I’m gonna keep doing it. If you invite me to your house and give me a tour of it and I don’t see a single book, I kinda want to get out of there because who the hell doesn’t own at least a couple of books? A house without books is like a body without a soul. If you do have some books, us bookworms will find a way to sniff them out and study them. Then, silently and with a smile on our faces, we will judge you. John Waters said “If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them,” and I think most bookworms agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly. Likewise, we will probably change the way we feel about you based on the quality of the books on your shelves. For me, the books you own/read and the way you treat animals are the two factors that lie at the top of the list. You read good shit and you’re good to animals, I’ll get down with you even if you’re a mercenary. Is this horrible? Yes. Is this unfair because “good books” is a subjective term? Yes. Does it matter to us? Nope. Will we change or stop doing it? Yeah…no.
(3) ACT CLEANUP NEEDED. Kisha Bertrand delivers a powerful rant about how trolls are coddled on a certain convention’s OFFICIAL Facebook group: “Shame on you, Dragon Con”.
Earlier today, a black girl posted this Io9 article in the group as she was excited about the movie adaptation and release of Black Panther along with the plethora of cosplay opportunities available to people of color. The post was meant to be positive and celebratory, but we all know what happens when black people get together in excitement of something that positively highlights us in any form of media. Yep. Angry and fragile white folx with their exclamations of, “But what about me? Why does it have to be about race?” and my all time favorite, “You only like it because it’s about black people.” Racist trolls begin crawling out of the woodwork spewing bile and nonsense to whoever will give them the time of day. I mean, god forbid PoC (“people of color” for those of you asleep in the back) are excited about a film involving superheroes who look like us and are at the forefront of the storyline.
Trolls are trolls and we all know they live to stir the pot and poke to get a rise out of people. Most of us know not to feed the trolls. In most cases we look the other way. I tend to bite my tongue because I don’t have the energy to challenge and educate bigots via social media. I’m fucking tired, y’all. I’m SOOO goddamn tired, BUT, there are those instances where trolling goes too far which is what happened today in the OFFICIAL Dragon Con Facebook group.
What started out as ignorant incompetence from some random redneck, turned into comments that were not only racist, but anti-semitic, transphobic, ableist and misogynist. It got to a point where it was no longer a matter of ignoring the troll. This guy was threatening people – a group of con goers who will be gathered in my city for Dragon Con in less than two months. People were pissed, myself included. I mean, the racist did refer to me as a monkey when I challenged him. A monkey… how clever.
Regardless of the troll, serious conversations were happening on this post. Some people were actually listening and being educated by PoC putting in the emotional labor to teach them. To be honest, some of these conversations were actually kind of awesome. The majority of white folx were celebrating the film and some of the more stubborn lot were legit backing off and LISTENING. Any PoC will tell you that getting white folx to stop making it about them and actually listen when we talk about our experiences is a pretty big deal. We’re unpacking some complicated stuff in these conversations.
Of course the troll wasn’t having it. He kept on pushing and taunting, reaching into the collection of shitty memes he was no doubt waiting to unleash at the right time – some of which were direct threats to Black and Jewish people specifically. This went on for several hours, all while members of the group were reporting this guy to not only the moderators of the OFFICIAL Dragon Con Facebook group, but also sending emails to the Dragon Con staff via dragoncon.org. Strength in numbers right? I was so proud of my extended nerd family of all backgrounds joining together to vanquish the evil troll. We were all just waiting on the moderators of the OFFICIAL Dragon Con Facebook group to swoop in, swing the ban hammer, and let us continue with our conversations and celebration of Black Panther and black cosplay. That was, in fact, the whole point of the post to begin with.
I guess banning the troll would have been too challenging for the moderators of the OFFICIAL Dragon Con Facebook group because what did they do? Rather than simply remove this terrible waste of human flesh from the group, they deleted the post in its entirety. They essentially swept the issue under the rug AND KEPT THE FUCKING RACIST PIECE OF SHIT TROLL IN THE GROUP.
What makes this terribly tragic (aside from the obvious) is this is NOT the first time such an instance has occurred in the OFFICIAL Dragon Con Facebook group. They deleted posts and conversations that came up after the 2016 convention when people wanted to discuss the costumes done in poor taste (e.g. blackface and the burning world trade center towers) and what we as a community could do to stop it. People wanted to discuss what they saw at Dragon Con in the OFFICIAL Dragon Con Facebook group because isn’t that what the fuck the group is for?!?! When members asked why they weren’t allowed to openly discuss these topics, one of the moderators (there are seven of them, five guys, two women, ALL WHITE) simply said, “You’re giving these people the attention they were looking for by discussing it. We just don’t have time to moderate and read through every post.” So your solution is to silence people in the community and ignore it? You don’t have time? Well golly gee, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do as a moderator of a group? MODERATE?!?! If you don’t have the time, maybe don’t volunteer to be a moderator of a group of over 12k members. I dunno. Just using a bit of logic here.
I guess we can expect any post about Black Panther and/or the celebration of black cosplay to eventually be deleted. Posts such as these will almost always bring out the racist assholes who want to stir the pot…because racism and transphobia and anti-semitism and ableism and misogyny sure are fucking funny, aren’t they? Rather than cut away the rot, you slap a band-aid over it and let it continue to fester because, “you don’t have the time”…
This was Dragon Con’s response:
(4) SPECULATIVE POET LAUREATE. The SPECPO blog announced that poet Tracy K. Smith, whose collection, Life on Mars won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, has been named the Poet Laureate of the United States.
Here’s an excerpt of the New York Times’ article:
Now the Library of Congress has named Ms. Smith its new poet laureate, the nation’s highest honor in that field. With the appointment, announced on Wednesday, Ms. Smith will take on a role held by some of the country’s most revered poets, among them Rita Dove, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, W. S. Merwin, Charles Simic and most recently, Juan Felipe Herrera.
Ms. Smith often plays with genre in her work and says it serves as “a distancing device.” Some of the verses in her 2007 collection, “Duende,” were inspired by westerns. Her 2011 collection, “Life on Mars,” which won the Pulitzer, is inflected with dystopian themes and tropes from science fiction. Many of the poems are meditations on cosmic affairs, like the incomprehensible vastness of space and humanity’s efforts to understand our place in the universe, but the collection is also anchored in the personal. The escapist, fantastical themes in the collection are blended with intimate reflections: mournful, elegiac verses about the death of her father, an engineer who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope.
“I was thinking about loss, and thinking as someone who was about to become a parent,” said Ms. Smith, who lives in Princeton with her husband, Raphael Allison, and their three children. “The distancing device of science fiction was helpful, and it changed the metaphors.”
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY
- July 6, 1990 — George Jetson took Jane and the rest of his gang from the boob tube up onto the silver screen as Jetsons: The Movie.
(6) BOOTS ON THE FACE. In keeping with the great tradition of Vice Presidential speeches about the space program, Mike Pence has made an Orwellian-sounding promise:
Vice President Mike Pence vowed Thursday to make space exploration a priority for the U.S., including the conquering of another planet.
“Our nation will return to the Moon and we will put American boots on the face of Mars,” Pence said during remarks at the Cape Canaveral headquarters in Florida.
(7) KICKOFF. Sports news blog SBNation.com is doing a serial science fiction story (July 5 through 15) about “What football will look like in the future”. The far future.
Danny Sichel sent the link with this endorsement: “Jon Bois is doing some incredible things with the medium, and I say this as someone who really doesn’t care about football.”
The whole thing was kind of dizzying to me – you’ve been warned.
(8) BRAVE NEW WORLD. Visiting the real site behind The Technicolor Time Machine: “The first European settlement in the New World”.
Twenty minutes later, I continued on my journey; it was another 80km to L’Anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site. Stepping out of the car, my nostrils filled with the crisp, briny sea air carried in by a breeze that rippled across the grassy landscape.
It is here, on the northern tip of Newfoundland, that a significant moment in human migration and exploration took place.
In the year 1000, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus set sail, a Viking longboat, skippered by Leif Erikson, brought 90 men and women from Iceland to establish a new settlement – the first European settlement in the New World.
(9) SCENERY CHEWER. Adam Rowe reprises “The Secret History of J. Jonah Jameson, Comics’ Greatest Supporting Character” at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.
J. Jonah immediately latched on to Spider-man for a weirdly specific reason: he feared the young hero’s violent actions would lead children to idolize him, and they’d get themselves hurt in the process. “He is a bad influence on our youngsters” is a direct quote from page five of Amazing Spider-Man #1, and a direct summation of Wertham’s views. The parallels get stronger from there: while Wertham compared superheroes to the “Nazi myth” of the Ubermensch, J Jonah contrasted Spider-man against his own son, all-American astronaut John Jameson. Wertham called for comic censorship, and J. Jonah called for Spider-Man to be “outlawed.”
(10) BACK TO THE PRESENT. Marvel has announced the following creative teams and Legacy titles:
FALCON #1: TAKE FLIGHT! PART 1
Written by RODNEY BARNES
Art by JOHN CASSARA
THE INCREDIBLE HULK #709: RETURN TO PLANET HULK PART 1
Written by GREG PAK
Art by GREG LAND
X-MEN GOLD #13: MOJO WORLDWIDE PART 1
Written by MARC GUGGENHEIM
Art by MIKE MAYHEW
X-MEN BLUE #13: MOJO WORLDWIDE PART 2
Written by CULLEN BUNN
Art by JORGE MOLINA
(11) NOT THE SON OF A CARPENTER. But the creator himself! Variety has the story — “John Carpenter Inks Overall Deal With Universal Cable, to Develop Two New Series”.
Horror master John Carpenter has signed an overall deal with Universal Cable Productions (UCP), Variety has learned.
Under the new deal, Carpenter will executive produce scripted programming with UCP for the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment portfolio, as well as for external networks and streaming services, along with his producing partner, Sandy King, under their Storm King Productions banner.
UCP and Carpenter are already in development on “Tales for a Halloween Night” for SYFY. Based on Carpenter’s award-winning graphic novel anthology of stories, the series brings together storytellers from the worlds of movies, novels, and comics for a collection of horror stories featuring graveyards, sunken ships, and all the things that go bump in the night. A search for a writer is underway. Additionally, UCP and Carpenter are developing “Nightside,” based on the literary series by New York Times bestselling author Simon R. Green, with “Scream” TV series co-creator Jill Blotevogel attached to write the script. In the series, Nightside is the secret heart of London where creatures of the night congregate
“John Carpenter is an incredible creator whose dark imagination has left an indelible mark in film and in our dreams,” said Dawn Olmstead, executive vice president of development at UCP. “We are thrilled to have a master of the horror genre join UCP.”
(12) HEAVY DUTY. LHC “double heavy” particle to shine light on strong force.
Scientists have detected a new particle at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern.
The discovery will help researchers learn more about the so-called “strong force” which holds the centres of atoms together.
The existence of the new particle was theoretically predicted but this is the first time it has been identified.
The details of the Xi-cc++ particle were presented at a high-energy physics conference in Venice.
…Nearly all the matter that we see around us is made of neutrons and protons, which form the centres of atoms. These are made up of three smaller particles called quarks which can be either light or heavy.
There are, however, six different types of quarks which combine in different ways to form other kinds of particle. Those that have been detected so far contain at most, one heavy quark.
This is the first time that researchers have confirmed the existence of one with two heavy quarks. According to Prof Guy Wilkinson of Oxford University, there is an intriguing difference between the new particle and the ones that have been discovered before.
“In contrast to other particles of this type, in which the three quarks perform an elaborate dance around each other, a particle with two heavy quarks is expected to act like a planetary system, where the heavy quarks are like two stars orbiting one around the other, with the lighter quark orbiting around this binary system.”
The research team will now measure the properties of the Xi-cc++ to establish how this new arrangement of quarks behaves and how the strong force holds the system together. They also expect to find more double heavy quark particles.
(13) THE SOOTH IS OUT THERE. Looking for the remnants of a volcano bigger than the one that spawned Frankenstein: “The massive volcano that scientists can’t find”.
It was 10 October 1465 – the day of the hotly anticipated wedding of King Alfonso II of Naples. He was set to marry the sophisticated Ippolita Maria Sforza, a noblewoman from Milan, in a lavish ceremony. As she entered the city, the crowds gasped. Before them was a sight so strange and beautiful, it was like nothing they had ever seen before.
….In fact, what Alfonso’s wedding party witnessed may have been more extraordinary than anyone imagined. Many thousands of miles away in the tropics, a giant volcano was making geological history. This was an eruption so big, it produced an ash cloud which enveloped the Earth and led to the coolest decade for centuries.
The blast itself would have been heard up to 2,000km (1,242 miles) away and created a tsunami which caused devastation hundreds of kilometres away. In terms of scale, it surpassed even the 1815 eruption of Tambora, which unleashed energy equivalent to 2.2 million Little Boy atomic bombs and killed at least 70,000 people. Traces of the eruption have been found from Antarctica to Greenland.
The thing is, scientists can’t find the volcano that did it. What’s going on?
(14) FIBER COUNT. Dirty laundry: Are your clothes polluting the ocean?
“Not many people know that lots of our clothes are made of plastic,” says Imogen Napper, a PhD student at Plymouth University, “polyester, acrylic.”
Ms Napper and Prof Richard Thompson study marine microplastics – fragments and fibres found in the ocean surface, the deep sea and the marine food chain.
And in a recent lab study, they found that polyester and acrylic clothing shed thousands of plastic fibres each time it was washed- sending another source of plastic pollution down the drain and, eventually, into the ocean.
(15) MORTALITY TABLES. Robert Chan, in a Yahoo! piece “‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Peril-o-Meter: Who Dies Next?”, looks at 20 characters on Game of Thrones and ranks them by the likelihood they will be killed.
It’s not easy predicting who will be the next to go on Game of Thrones. Some deaths seem so certain as to be almost predestined (Ramsay Bolton); some were literally predestined (Cersei’s children, Hodor); and some feel like they’re there just to mess with us — Ned Stark’s death basically told us, “This ain’t your grandfather’s fantasy series.” We did pretty well with last year’s Peril-o-Meter, so here are our best predictions for this season on a scale of 1 to 5 — with 1 being “Very Likely to Survive” and 5 being “Call a Mortician.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Stephen Burridge, Andrew Porter, Jim Henley, and Danny Sichel for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]