Pixel Scroll 2/4/17 Scroll Was Born With A Gift Of Pixel And A Sense That The World Was Mad

(1) SINCE THERE’S NOTHING ON TV TOMORROW. MeTV has located several downloadable designs for making Star Trek ships from paper that you can use to keep yourself busy on Sunday if football is not your thing.

In Japan, the art of paper modeling is commonplace. Companies like Sankei sell miniature papercraft kits for building everything from cartoon creatures to houses and vehicles. Here in the West, it has started to catch on, as fans use two-dimensional paper to recreate three-dimensional models of their favorite characters, props and even spaceships.

In the Sixties, you might recall, we had rather simple coloring books, sticker books and paper dolls. Now, this has gone to a whole new level. Better yet, fans have created patterns anyone can print up and assemble for free. (We recommend spending for some high quality photo paper, though.)

As fans find new ways to engineer this craft, no subject is left out of the mix. Star Trek, naturally, remains a mainstay of the craze, but just about any classic sci-fi show you can think of has papercraft models available for download. We found Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea submarines and the Jupiter 2 from Lost in Space….

We hunted down some favorites, if you are so inclined to give it a try. You can print and build:

The Galileo II Shuttle (instructions, template)

USS Enterprise NCC-1701

Kirk and Spock (template)

(2) MARS MY DESTINATION. Abraham Sherman of The John Carter Files tells why Elon Musk has him feeling more optimistic about reaching the Red Planet – “Home Sweet Mars”.

…Currently, the next milestone on SpaceX’s path to Mars is for them to finish and launch the Falcon Heavy (FH) rocket, the first of their rockets that will have sufficient power to get spacecraft to Mars.  After the FH gets off the ground late this year, the next milestone will be in 2018, when the unmanned Red Dragon capsule is to be launched atop a FH, and sent to test propulsive landing on Mars – a technique which forgoes parachutes and airbags and is entirely dependent on the built-in boosters of the capsule.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Pm8ZY0XJI  The Red Dragon mission is the small tip of a much larger spear which was described in detail during Musk’s presentation at the IAC.

The SpaceX flagship for Mars colonization will be the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qo78R_yYFA  It will be the largest rocket ever built, and will be able to take one hundred Mars colonists at a time to the Red Planet.  It is in the design phase, and is currently scheduled to make its maiden voyage in 2024.  Once the colony is up and running and can accommodate massive numbers of new colonists at a time, the plan is to send dozens, or even hundreds of ITS spacecraft simultaneously to Mars.  SpaceX has proven to be uniquely motivated and situated to get to Mars several years ahead of any other organization, public or private….

(3) MOONWALKING. Famous astronaut “87-Year-Old Buzz Aldrin Slays The Runway At New York Fashion Week” reports The Huffington Post.

Buzz Aldrin took to the catwalk Tuesday in a New York Fashion Week debut he said was “as easy as walking on the moon.”

The 87-year-old astronaut ? who in 1969 became the second person to walk on the moon ? sported a metallic bomber jacket in designer Nick Graham’s show, aptly titled “Life on Mars.”

Aldrin couldn’t have looked cuter in his pants, sneakers and self-designed “Get your ass to Mars” shirt.

Walking the runway for @itsnickgraham #Mars collection WAS as easy as walking on the moon. #NYFWM

A post shared by Buzz Aldrin (@drbuzzaldrin) on

(4) JUST NEEDS A LITTLE SMACK. Ursula K. Le Guin took offense at a letter to the editor published by The Oregonian attempting to justify political “alternate facts” as akin to science fiction. Her rebuttal appeared on February 1:

A recent letter in The Oregonian compares a politician’s claim to tell “alternative facts” to the inventions of science fiction. The comparison won’t work.  We fiction writers make up stuff. Some of it clearly impossible, some of it realistic, but none of it real – all invented, imagined —  and we call it fiction because it isn’t fact. We may call some of it “alternative history” or “an alternate universe,” but make absolutely no pretense that our fictions are “alternative facts.”

Facts aren’t all that easy to come by. Honest scientists and journalists, among others, spend a lot of time trying to make sure of them.  The test of a fact is that it simply is so – it has no “alternative.”  The sun rises in the east.  To pretend the sun can rise in the west is a fiction, to claim that it does so as fact (or “alternative fact”) is a lie.

A lie is a non-fact deliberately told as fact.  Lies are told in order to reassure oneself, or to fool, or scare, or manipulate others. Santa Claus is a fiction.  He’s harmless. Lies are seldom completely harmless, and often very dangerous.  In most times, most places, by most people, liars are considered contemptible.

Ursula K. Le Guin, Northwest Portland

(5) NOW I UNDERSTAND. James Whitbrook of i09 explains “The Detailed, Depressing Reason Deep Space Nine and Voyager May Never Get Full HD Versions”.

…By the mid-1980s, video technology had advanced enough to the point that many TV shows—including Star Trek: The Next Generation—were no longer editing the 35mm film footage, but scanning it into computers, transforming it into the lower, TV-friendly resolution and edited from there to save money. In TNG’s case, that helped make the VFX work on the show easier, but it also meant there all the show’s film was left in separate pieces. Essentially, for the HD release of Star Trek, all people had to do was scan each episode. For The Next Generation, they would have to scan all those original pieces of film and then edit together each episode again, themselves. It’s more difficult, more expensive, and much more time-consuming.

What’s amazing is that they actually did this for TNG’s Blu-ray release, which was a radical, unprecedented, and incredibly daunting task. Following the edited tape versions that were originally broadcast, a new team painstakingly recreated every episode of the show from the 35mm film footage, a process that cost millions and millions of dollars. But as TNG is the jewel in the Star Trek crown for legions of fans, it was seen as worth it….

(6) NOT SCI-FI, BUT OH WOW! John King Tarpinian spied this item for sale —

(7) DON’T KNOW WHAT TO CALL THIS ONE. Atlas Obscura’s video about Wisconsin’s House on the Rock makes me want to visit. As a connoisseur of hoaxes, I wish I’d discovered it years ago!

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 4, 1940  Filmmaker and zombie auteur George A. Romero, in NYC.

(9) HORROR IN SPACE. Here is the Super Bowl TV Spot for the forthcoming movie Life. Looks interesting, in a menacing sort of way…

(10) URBAN WRIGHTS. Futurism shows six examples of what architects think “The City of the Future” will look like.

…Architects and urban planners are letting their imaginations run wild — after all, where else can we go but toward our most outlandish, exciting, and sometimes even dystopian imaginings of the future?

Artisanopolis

For five years now, the Seasteading Institute has been working toward building Artisanolopolis, a floating city that runs on solar and hydroelectric power.

To make food production sustainable, the entire city would feature greenhouses, and a desalination plant would be responsible for the production of safe drinking water. The floating island would be protected by a massive wave breaker designed to prevent water damage to the structure.

Last year, the Seastanding Institute signed a memorandum with the French Polynesian government to begin construction on this ocean domain by 2019. If everything goes according to plan, the world’s first floating city, operating with significant political autonomy, may be ready for habitation as early as 2020.

(11) MEMORY GAPS. Unlike me, the staff at MeTV seems to remember all “15 forgotten sci-fi and fantasy series of the 1970s”. The question is – which of us is better off?

Time Express

1979

Charlie’s Angels creators Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts failed to strike gold again with this nostalgic flop. Think of it as Fantasy Island with time travel. Vincent Price starred as the conductor of a time-traveling train that would take passengers to the past in order to relive important points in their lives. Only four episodes aired before it was canceled. The synthesizer-heavy theme song was cool, though, clearly inspired by Kraftwerk’s “Trans Europe Express.”

(12) NASFiC NEWS. NorthAmeriCon ’17, the NASfiC in San Juan, has opened Art Show registration.

NorthAmeriCon ’17 will have an Art Show! We welcome original art on science fiction, fantasy, astronomical, or fannish themes.

Registration for artists is now open through Jo Hogan’s website for managing artist data:

(13) AN ENCOURAGING WORD. NASA’s Kepler & K2 SciCon IV convention for scientists has a Code of Conduct, too. Thoughts?

Code of Conduct

The community of participants at astronomical meetings and in astronomical research is made up of members from around the globe with a diverse set of skills, personalities, and experiences. It is through these differences that our community experiences success and continued growth. We expect everyone in our community to follow these guidelines when interacting with others both inside and outside of our community. Our goal is to maintain a positive, inclusive, successful, and growing community.

As members of the community,

  • We pledge to treat all people with respect and provide a harassment and bullying-free environment, regardless of sex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, nationality, ethnicity, and religion. In particular, sexual language and imagery, sexist, racist, or otherwise exclusionary jokes are not appropriate. We will treat those outside our community with the same respect as people within our community.
  • We pledge that all discussions between members of the community should be done with respect, and we pledge to take proactive measure to ensure that all participants are heard and feel confident that they can freely express their opinions.
  • We pledge to help the entire community follow the code of conduct and to act accordingly when we note violations.

This code of conduct applies to all community situations, including conferences, associated social events, on social media, and one-on-one interactions….

(14) SEE PROPS OF THE EXPANSE. Adam Savage visits the props department of Syfy’s The Expanse, where armorists and propmakers engineer the weapons, helmets, and the gear that give weight and story to the universe of the show. Prop master James Murray shows Adam some of the unique props his team has made, revealing aesthetic and functional details.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/2/17 If You Give A Kzin A Kazoo…

(1) LOOKING FOR SHADOWS. Leah Schnelbach’s “Groundhog Day Breaks the Rules of Every Genre” is a masterpiece about one of my favorite movies. (It first appeared on Tor.com in 2014.)

Groundhog Day succeeds as a film because of the way it plays with, subverts, and outright mocks the tropes of each of the genres it flirts with. While some people would call it a time travel movie, or a movie about small town America, or the most spiritual film of all time, or a rom-com, it is by breaking the rules of each of those types of films that it ultimately transcends genre entirely.

(2) SHARKNADO 5. Not sure why Syfy and studio The Asylum picked Groundhog Day to announce there will be a fifth Sharknado movie, unless it’s to wink at the fact they’re doing the same thing over and over again:

The original 2013 “Sharknado” introduced the concept of a shark-laden twister via one bearing down on Los Angeles. In “Sharknado 2: The Second One,” New York City was the target of the disaster, and in “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!” a mega-sharknado made its way down the East Coast from Washington, D.C. to Florida. In the most recent installment, the very-close-to-copyright-infringement-titled “Sharknado: The 4th Awakens,” the shark-infested storms went national. The film ended with the Eiffel Tower ripping away from Paris and crashing down on Niagara Falls, setting the stage for the fifth edition of America’s answer to the sprawling sagas of the ancient world.

In “Sharknado 5,” with much of North America lying in ruins, the rest of the world braces for a global sharknado. Fin Shepard (Ziering) and his family must put a stop to this disaster before Earth is obliterated.

(3) TODAY’S SCROLL TITLE. On the other hand, Daniel Dern hopes you will add iterations of your own to his faux children’s book for Filers.

If You Give A Kzin A Kazoo…

whose text perhaps goes…

… he’ll <blatt> and leap.

If a Kzin <blatt>s and leaps,
he’ll rip you from gehenna to duodenum. [1]

If a Kzin rips you from gehenna to duodenum,
well, that’s the end of the story as far as you’re concerned,
unless you’ve got either an autodoc [2] nearby, or have Wolverine-class mutant healing factor.

[1] per Don Marquis, Archie & Mehitabel — Mehitabel on Marriage, IIRC.

[2] and health care insurance that will cover you 🙁

Probably if you put all that in, Filers will contribute a few dozen more verses.

(4) BOMBS AWAY. Before telling the “Five Things I Learned Writing Exo”, Fonda Lee confesses that Exo began life as a failed NanNoWriMo novel. (A guest post at Terrible Minds.)

This is how it went: I wrote 35,000 words by November 20th or so, and stalled out. It wasn’t working. At all. I read the manuscript from the beginning and hated all of it with the nauseous loathing that writers feel when looking at their own disgusting word messes. I had a shiny story idea in my head but it was emerging as dog vomit. So I quit. I failed NaNoWriMo hard.

I trashed everything I’d written and started again. I wrote a new draft over several months, and then rewrote 50% of that one. And did it again. After the book sold, I did another major revision with my editor. I was relieved and excited by how it was getter better and better, but part of me was also surprised and disheartened. I mean, Zeroboxer was picking up accolades and awards, and whoa, I got to go to the Nebula Awards as a finalist and dance on stage, so why the hell was it so hard to write another book?! This whole writing thing ought to be easier now, right?

Wrong. In talking (griping, whining, crying) to wiser authors, I learned there was wide agreement that the second book is often a complete bitch to write. A very loud voice in your head is telling you that because you’re now a Published Author, you should be writing better and faster, plus doing author promotion stuff with an effortless grin.

(5) REMEMBERING PAN. J. M. Barrie was one of several authors who put science-related observation into fantasies. The BBC tells you about it: “What Peter Pan teaches us about memory and consciousness”.

In this way, the stories appear to follow a tradition of great cross-pollination between the arts and the sciences – particularly in children’s literature. Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies was written, in part, as a response to Darwin’s theory of evolution, while Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland were a playful exploration of mathematics and logic. Even some of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales were inspired by new scientific and technological developments – such as the invention of the home microscope.

(6) A LARGER-THAN-EXPECTED COLLISION. The Large Hadron Collider didn’t end the world, as some cranks feared, but it did end this creature: “World’s Most Destructive Stone Marten Goes On Display In The Netherlands”

On Nov. 20, 2016, the animal hopped over a fence at the $7 billion Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, touched a transformer and was electrocuted by 18,000 volts.

The marten died instantly. The collider, which accelerates particles to near the speed of light to study the fiery origins of the universe, lost power and shut down.

“There must have been a big flame,” said Kees Moeliker, the director of the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam and the man behind its Dead Animal Tales exhibit, where the preserved marten is now displayed.

“It was scorched. When you’re not really careful with candles and your hair, like that,” he explained. “Every hair of this creature was kind of burned and the whiskers, they were burned to the bare minimum and especially the feet, the legs, they were cooked. They were darker, like roasted.”

“It really had a bad, bad encounter with this electricity.”

Chip Hitchcock adds, “Marten furs were once sufficiently tradable that Croatia’s currency, the kuna, takes its name from the Croatian word for the beast.“

(7) YOUNG PEOPLE READ OLD SFF. James Davis Nicoll turns the panel loose on Roger Zelazny’s “A Rose for Ecclesiastes”.

I selected 1963’s A Rose for Ecclesiastes for a few reasons. The least important is because I only recently read it myself (the story kept coming up in the context of a grand review project of mine and I got tired of admitting over and over again that I had not read it.). Another is its historical significance: this is one of the last SF stories written before space probes showed us what Mars was really like. The final reason is this story was nominated for a Hugo and I am hopeful that the virtues the readers saw a half century ago are still there.

Let’s find out!

(8) THE FOUNDER. Selected writings by Hugo Gernsback have been compiled in The Perversity of Things: Hugo Gernsback on Media, Tinkering, and Scientifiction, edited by Grant Wythoff. The book was published in November by the University of Minnesota Press.

In 1905, a young Jewish immigrant from Luxembourg founded an electrical supply shop in New York. This inventor, writer, and publisher Hugo Gernsback would later become famous for launching the first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, in 1926. But while science fiction’s annual Hugo Awards were named in his honor, there has been surprisingly little understanding of how the genre began among a community of tinkerers all drawn to Gernsback’s vision of comprehending the future of media through making. In The Perversity of Things, Grant Wythoff makes available texts by Hugo Gernsback that were foundational both for science fiction and the emergence of media studies.

…The Perversity of Things aims to reverse the widespread misunderstanding of Gernsback within the history of science fiction criticism. Through painstaking research and extensive annotations and commentary, Wythoff reintroduces us to Gernsback and the origins of science fiction.

Bruce Sterling gives the book a powerful endorsement:

Grant Wythoff’s splendid work of scholarship dispels the dank, historic mists of a literary subculture with starkly factual archival research. An amazing vista of electronic media struggle is revealed here, every bit as colorful and cranky as Hugo Gernsback’s pulp magazines—even the illustrations and footnotes are fascinating. I’m truly grateful for this work and will never think of American science fiction in the same way again.

(9) SARAH PRINCE. The family obituary for Sarah Prince, who died last month, appeared in the Plattsburgh (NY) Press-Republican.

Sarah Symonds Prince (born July 11, 1954) died unexpectedly of congestive heart failure in late January in her Keene Valley home. A long time resident and well-loved community member, she was active in the Keene Valley Congregational Church choir and hand bell choir, the town community garden program; she was a former member of the Keene Valley Volunteer Fire Department.

Sarah was an avid photographer and a ceramic artist, and a freelance graphic designer. She was an influential member of the science fiction fan community and publisher (in the 1980s/90s) of her own fanzine. Sarah enjoyed going to interesting places whether around the corner or halfway around the world. She loved the many dogs and cats that were constant companions in her life.

Born in Salem, Mass., Sarah was the third child of David Chandler Prince Jr. and Augusta Alger Prince. She grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she graduated from Walnut Hills High School. Sarah’s love of Keene Valley, N.Y., follows family ties that date back four generations as regular summer visitors.

Sarah graduated from the Ohio State University with a BFA degree. She trained in print layout and typesetting and worked in typesetting, layout and graphic arts for several publications, including Adirondack Life from 1990-93, a job which brought her to live full-time in Keene Valley. A deep curiosity about technology and a sustainable world led Sarah to Clinton Community College to study computer technology and earn an Environmental Science AA degree in May 2016.

Sarah lived with disability from mental illness and substance abuse for many years. She worked to raise awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by herself and others. She positively touched many who were also struggling.

Sarah is survived by her mother, Augusta Prince of Hanover, N.H.; four siblings, Timothy Prince, Catharine Roth, Charlotte Hitchcock, and Virginia Prince; seven nieces and nephews; and six grand nieces and nephews.

Donations in her memory can be made to North Country SPCA or the Keene Valley Library. Arrangements have been entrusted to Heald Funeral Home, 7521 Court Street, Plattsburgh, N.Y. To light a memorial candle or leave an online condolence please visit http://www.healdfuneralhomeinc.com

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 2, 1882 – James Joyce is born .

And that reminds John King Tarpinian of a story:

Sylvia Beach, owner of the bookstore Shakespeare and Co. in Paris, published the novel herself in 1922, but it was banned in the United Kingdom and in the United States until 1933.  Every July Ray Bradbury and his family would vacation in France.  Ray would always visit Shakespeare and Company.  The bookshop would make sure they had a book that Ray wanted, such as first editions of Jules Verne.

(11) CREEPTASTIC. Dread Central reports “Zak Bagan’s Haunted Museum to feature ‘one of the most dangerous paranormal possessions in the world’” — Peggy the Doll.

Excited about visiting Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum when it opens? Of course you are! This latest story though… this latest addition to Zak’s house of madness? Well, it’s going to be up to you whether or not you take your chances and take a look.

Zak has just informed us exclusively that he’s now in possession of the infamous “Peggy the Doll,” which he obtained from its previous owner, Jayne Harris from England. Featured on an episode of his series “Deadly Possessions,” Peggy is not for the faint of heart. It’s said you can be affected by Peggy by just looking at her… in person or in photos. As a result “Deadly Possessions” aired the episode with a disclaimer for viewers: a first for both the show and the paranormal in general.

(12) BUNK. Jason Sanford muses about “An alternate history of alternative histories”:

Ironically, the last book my grandfather read was edited by Poul Anderson, one of our genre’s early authors of alternate histories. Anderson’s Time Patrol stories, where valiant time travelers ensure history stays on its “correct” timeline, are an integral and fun part of SF’s long tradition of time travel fiction focused on keeping history pure. He also wrote a famous series of alternate history fantasies called Operation Chaos, originally published by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the 1950s. In these stories World War II was fought between completely different countries with magical creatures such as werewolves and witches.

Of course, Anderson’s stories of time travelers keeping the timeline pure and correct seem a little simplistic today, just as historical narratives today are far more complex than they were decades ago. I think this is partly because most historians now recognize how imprecisely history is recorded. History as it is written can even be called the original version of the alternate history genre, where the story we’re told deviates from what really happened.

After all, history is written by the victors, as the cliche states. Which means much of what happened in the past is left out or altered before history is recorded. And even the victors don’t name all the victors and don’t celebrate all their victories and deeds.

Theodore Sturgeon famously said that “ninety percent of everything is crap.” This applies equally to history as we know it — including the history of the alternate history genre.

(13) WHITE FLIGHT. Andrew Russell and Lee Vinsel, in “Whitey on Mars”, ask if Elon Musk’s Martian proposals are part of a dream by rich and powerful people to further isolate themselves from the masses. (The title references Gil Scott-Heron’s 1970 “Whitey on the Moon.”)

Musk insists that humans in fact ‘need’ to go to Mars. The Mars mission, he argues, is the best way for humanity to become what he calls a ‘space-faring civilisation and a multi-planetary species’. This otherworldly venture, he says, is necessary to mitigate the ‘existential threat’ from artificial intelligence (AI) that might wipe out human life on Earth. Musk’s existential concerns, and his look to other worlds for solutions, are not unique among the elite of the technology world. Others have expressed what might best be understood as a quasi-philosophical paranoia that our Universe is really just a simulation inside a giant computer.

Musk himself has fallen under the sway of the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, who put forward the simulation theory in 2003. Bostrom has also argued that addressing ‘existential risks’ such as AI should be a global priority. The idea that Google’s CEO Larry Page might create artificially intelligent robots that will destroy humanity reportedly keeps Musk up at night. ‘I’m really worried about this,’ Musk told his biographer. ‘He could produce something evil by accident.’

These subjects could provide some teachable moments in certain kinds of philosophy classes. They are, obviously, compelling plot devices for Hollywood movies. They do not, however, bear any relationship to the kinds of existential risks that humans face now, or have ever faced, at least so far in history. But Musk has no connection to ordinary people and ordinary lives. For his 30th birthday, Musk rented an English castle, where he and 20 guests played hide-and-seek until 6am the following day. Compare this situation with the stories recounted in Matthew Desmond’s book Evicted (2016), where an entire housing industry has arisen in the US to profit from the poverty of some families, who often move from home to home with little hope of ever catching up, let alone getting ahead.

(14) COMIC SECTION. Martin Morse Wooster says, “I think today’s Prickly City expresses the dreams of many Filers.”

(15) ANOTHER COUNTRY HEARD FROM. When the next Doctor Who is chosen, one party thinks someone besides a human deserves consideration: “New Doctor Who should be a Dalek, say Daleks”, at The Daily Mash.

The Skaro natives have petitioned the BBC for ‘better representation’ from a show which has historically ‘erased and demonised’ their proud race.

The Supreme Dalek said: “It’s not the 1960s anymore. These narratives about heroic Gallifreyans saving humanoids from extermination are outdated and offensive.

“My son is an eight-year-old New Paradigm Dalek and his eyestalk droops whenever he turns on his favourite show to see that yet again, the Daleks are the baddies.…

(16) WHEN ROBOTS LAY DOWN ON THE JOB. Fynbospress told Mad Genius Club readers about running into a wall while using Word:

Interesting quirk I learned recently on MS Word. Say you have a MilSF novel, and you haven’t added the last names, planets, etc. to the customized dictionary (So they all show as a spelling error). As you’re reading through, it pops up a window saying “there are too many spelling errors in this document to show.” And promptly cuts out the red spelling and blue grammar lines.

(17) INFERNO. JJ says, quite rightly, this photo of the West Kamokuna Skylight in Hawaii resembles sculpture of bodies being sucked into hell.

If lava has the right viscosity, it can travel across a landscape via channels. The lava either forms the channels itself or uses a preexisting one. Along the same vein, lava tubes are essentially channels that reside underground and also allow lava to move quickly. Tubes form one of two ways. A lava channel can form an arc above it that chills and crystallizes, or an insulated pahoehoe flow can have lava still running through it while outer layers freeze. Lava tubes, by their nature, are buried. However, skylights form when the lava tube collapses in a specific area and allow one to see the flow inside the tube. Tubes can collapse completely and become channels, drain out, or get blocked up.

(18) FROM BC TO DC. CinemaBlend thinks the critical success of the DC Extended Universe hinges on the forthcoming Wonder Woman movie.

While Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice struggled to please critics, most agreed that Gal Gadot’s performance as Wonder Woman was one of its few shining lights. It’s hoped that the opportunity to explore the character even more, as well as take a peak at her origin story, will help to propel the DC Extended Universe forward, especially considering all of its recent troubles regarding both its releases and the films it has in development.

 

💛 💛 💛 #wonderwoman @WonderWomanFilm

A post shared by Gal Gadot (@gal_gadot) on

(19) I’M OUT. It may look like a chocolate chip thumbscrew, but it’s Dunking Buddy!

why_cookie_tray_medium

What if there was an easier, cleaner, more enjoyable way to enjoy dunking cookies in milk. Well the world is finally in luck, and based on the response so far, it couldn’t have come sooner! Two cookie dunking lovers, like so many others out there, took it upon themselves and created a cookie dunking device that does just that!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Moshe Feder, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

 

Pixel Scroll 12/30/16 Use File 770; It Softens Your Pixels While You Read The Books. You’re Scrolling In it!

(1) OUR NEIGHBOR. It’s official —

A team of astronomers composed of P. Kervella (CNRS / U. de Chile / Paris Observatory / LESIA), F. Thévenin (Lagrande Laboratory, Côte d’Azur Observatory, France) and Christophe Lovis (Observatory of the University of Geneva, Switzerland) has demonstrated that Proxima, the nearest star to the Sun, is gravitationally bound to its neighbors Alpha Centauri A and B. The nearest stellar system to the Earth is therefore a triple star. Proxima is known to host the nearest exoplanet, a telluric planet orbiting in its habitable zone. This discovery implies that the four objects (Alpha Cen A, B, Proxima and Proxima b) share the same age of ~6 billion years.

 

Paul Gilster discusses the discovery at Centauri Dreams.

Now as to that orbit — 550,000 years for a single revolution — things get interesting. One reason it has been important to firm up Proxima’s orbit is that while a bound star would have affected the development of the entire system, the question has until now been unresolved. Was Proxima Centauri actually bound to Centauri A and B, or could it simply be passing by, associated with A and B only by happenstance?

(2) THE REPRESSION INHERENT IN THE SYSTEM. YouTube’s Nostalgia Critic demands to know “Where’s the Fair Use”?

(3) PAYING TO VOLUNTEER. While it’s commonly expected at the conventions I’ve worked that volunteers will be members of the con, this is a new one on me – having to join a secondary group in order to volunteer. “Phoenix Comicon announces changes to volunteering; paid fan group membership required” reports An Engishman in San Diego.

Square Egg Entertainment, the organisation behind Phoenix Comicon, today announced a sizeable change to its practice of staffing – and pooling volunteers for – their three annual events:  Phoenix Comicon, Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest, and Keen Halloween. Square Egg will no longer be staffing these shows with hired hands, instead now filling those roles from the organising committee and paid membership of the Blue Ribbon Army (which originally started out as a fan group for PHXCC, and has subsequently become a social club with 501(c)(7) status).

Members of the Army have to be at least 18 years old and – here’s the kicker for a number of fiscally-minded volunteers – they also do have to become fully paid-up members of the fan group, with membership prices to join starting at $20 per year and going up to $100 per year. That’s right: you effectively have to now pay to become a Phoenix Comicon volunteer.

For what it’s worth, the Blue Ribbon Army leadership isn’t being compensated

Are your board members paid?

All Blue Ribbon Army board members are unpaid volunteers. All financial information, as required by law for a 501(c)7 organization, will be posted.

(4) BOTTOM OF THE GALACTIC BARREL. Love this article title — “15 Star Wars Characters Who Are Worthless At Their Jobs” from ScreenRant.

  1. Storm Troopers – Just Bad At Their Jobs

They just had to be here, as they’re cinematic legends when it comes to utterly failing at your job. Imperial Stormtroopers, as we’re told, are precise. The Empire has access to vast resources, so you’d think its military force would be well up to scratch. Stormtroopers even get a pretty good showing the first time we see them, managing to take over Princess Leia’s ship with only a few casualties. And then almost every time after that we see them, they’re getting destroyed like they put their helmets on backwards and their armor is made of tinfoil….

(5) BILLIONAIRE BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS. Three of the “10 Books Elon Musk – ‘Tesla Founder and Billionaire’ wants you to read” are SFF, beginning with –

1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Back when Elon Musk was a moody teen growing up in Pretoria, South Africa, he went looking for the meaning of life in the work of grumpy philosophers. It didn’t help. Then he came upon The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which taught him that the hardest part was to properly phrase the question but that once this was done the answer was easy. It changed his whole perspective.

(6) A CRACKED THEORY. Cracked brings all its scholarly powers to bear in “Snow White is a LOTR Sequel: A Mind-Blowing Theory”.  

Mortal man Beren and elf maiden Luthien Tinuviel (of the New Jersey Tinuviels) are forebears of the kings of Numenor and Gondor. Seeing as how the love story of Beren and Luthien echoes through the millennia in their great-great-many-times-great-grandchildren, it comes as no surprise that a similar fate awaits Aragorn and Arwen’s descendant, Snow White.

The family resemblance would only be uncannier if Steven Tyler cast her in inappropriately weird videos during her early teens.

At this point you may be thinking that we’re smoking too much of that pipe with Gandalf, but have you noticed Snow White’s rapport with the birds and beasts of the wild? The way they listen and respond to her?

Doesn’t this suggest a deep connection with nature, as someone with Elvish blood would have?

(7) COMING ATTRACTIONS. Plenty of genre flicks on Film School Rejects’ “The 52 Most Anticipated Movies of 2017”.

…[Our] 52 Most Anticipated Movies list is always a big hit because it operates under a simple premise: if you’re going to see one movie for every week of the new year (and you should), these are the ones on which we’d stake a claim. Because we spend a great deal of time thinking about upcoming movies and an even sadder amount of time researching them, we’re exactly the kind of people who are qualified to give out said advice. Qualified enough to say, with confidence, that these 52 movies are likely to be worth your time. They may not all turn out to be great, but they will be worth seeing and discussing throughout the year….

Beauty and the Beast (March 17)

Neil Miller: If we’re being honest?—?and we are at all times?—?Disney’s live-action parade of remakes is actually turning out to be a better idea in practice than it was on paper. Both Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella and Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book gave us an interesting take on their respective stories. Neither was the disaster that many, perhaps out of a dedication to an anti-remake stance, had predicted. This is what gives us further hope for Beauty and the Beast, the success of which will rest mostly on the shoulders of Disney’s live-action effects teams and Emma Watson, both of which have proven track records. Six weeks ago, Disney released a trailer that showed off both of these things in action. The Beast effects that cover up Dan Stevens’ handsome mug look good and Emma Watson looks right at home as Belle. We’re still not sure of those CGI housewear items with anamorphic features, but we’ll see how that pans out in the final product.

(8) DUFF VOLUNTEER. Paul Weimer has announced his candidacy for the Down Under Fan Fund.

(9) REMEMBERING RICHARD ADAMS. In 1843 Magazine, Miranda Johnson, an environment correspondent for The Economist, discusses her grandfather Richard Adams, including how Adams’s experiences fighting in Operation Market Garden in World War II informed the battles in Watership Down, how her family all became characters in her grandfather’s novels, and what happened when Adams had lunch with Groucho Marx.

He also never forgot friends he made during his service. One in particular, Paddy Kavanagh, stuck with him for his fearless defence of the Oosterbeek perimeter as part of Operation Market Garden during September 1944. Paddy gave his life so that my grandpa’s platoon could escape. So my grandfather brought him back in the character of Bigwig in “Watership Down”, who stands alone to defend a tunnel in the rabbits’ new warren. Originally in the story, Bigwig also died. But my mother and aunt protested so much that my grandpa changed the tale. “We said nobody must die,” my aunt recalls, “except for Hazel, because it seemed an important part given his old age.”

(10) HOLLYWOOD MEMORIAL. ULTRAGOTHA found the story and JJ tracked down a photo —

Carrie Fisher doesn’t have a Star on the Walk of Fame, so fans appropriated a blank one and are leaving tributes. Including two cinnamon buns.

(11) WWCD 2017. Redbubble is selling merchandise with the WWCD art and giving the money to charity —

100% of the proceeds will be donated to bipolar disorder through the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation: https://bbrfoundation.org/

what-would-carrie-do

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 30, 1816 — Percy Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft were married.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born December 30, 1980 — Eliza Dushku
  • Born December 30, 1982 — Kristin Kreuk.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 30, 1865 – Rudyard Kipling

(15) PRINTS IN THE FORECOURT. Filmmaker Roger Corman, a former Worldcon GoH, has been immortalized in concrete at a slightly less well-known theater than you usually think of when it comes to this sort of thing —

Roger Corman may not be a household name, but among movie fans he’s a cult hero.

In October, a tribute was held at the Vista Theatre to celebrate his 62-year career.

The legendary filmmaker was immortalized October 12th in the cement of the Vista’s forecourt with a handprint ceremony, alongside those of Dark Shadows star Jonathan Frid; James Bond girl Honor Blackman; special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen and Cassandra Peterson—also known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

“I think it’s kind of fun that [my handprints] will be out there forever,” said Corman before burying his hands deep in a patch of cement on the edge of Sunset Drive.

(16) MARS. Charles E. Gannon was part of a Dragon Con panel reported in Space.com“Space Colonies Will Start Out Like the Wild West, Grow Family-Friendly”

Like in the Old West, the goal would be for the colony to become self-sustaining, the panel said. Once a colony could support itself, it would no longer need to rely on materials from Earth to survive. When asked if an organization on Earth could realistically hope to control what was happening on Mars, Davis said, “If they’re still getting their caloric intake from someplace else, yup, you can.” [Poll: Where Should Humanity Build Its First Space Colony?]

Gannon named the biggest challenge facing a colony that aimed to grow independent from the people back home: the supply of volatiles, particularly oxygen and water. The first explorers would need to find a way for colonists to harvest those on the new world, Gannon said.

“If you have to ship those to the colony, it will be both economically and physically dependent and probably never be profitable or really safe,” Gannon said.

Even if an underground colony relied on rocks to shield itself from deadly radiation, it would still need enough water for similar shielding during vehicular missions, he said, making ice harvesting crucial to the colony’s survival.

“There are plenty of other [challenges],” he said. “But this is the minimum ante for long-term self-supportability.”

(17) PLANET NINE FROM OUTER SPACE. NPR tells us “Astronomers Seeking Planet 9 Hope To Soon Catch A Glimpse”.

On the top of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea mountain Thursday, astronomers will point the large Subaru Telescope toward a patch of sky near the constellation of Orion, looking for an extremely faint object moving slowly through space.

If they find what they’re looking for, it will be one of the most important astronomical discoveries in more than a century: a new planet in our solar system.

Technically, a new planet hasn’t been discovered since Neptune was spotted in 1846. Pluto, discovered in 1930, was demoted to “dwarf planet” a decade ago. If a new planet is found, it will be the new Planet Nine.

(18) TRADING INSULTS. Huffington Post’s “Self-Publishing: An Insult To The Written Word”  by Laurie Gough, “Award-winning author of three memoirs…a journalist and travel writer”, begins —

As a published author, people often ask me why I don’t self-publish. “Surely you’d make more money if you got to keep most of the profits rather than the publisher,” they say.

I’d rather share a cabin on a Disney cruise with Donald Trump than self-publish.

The rest of the article carries on in the same condescending tone which so aggravated Larry Correia that he stormed back from a self-imposed internet vacation to write a reply, “Fisking the HuffPo’s Snooty Rant About Self-Publishing” for Monster Hunter Nation. (Gough’s article is quoted in italics. Correia’s replies are bold. Of course they are…)

The problem with self-publishing is that it requires zero gatekeepers.

Nope. The problem with self-publishing is that there are so many competitors that the challenge is to differentiate yourself from the herd. Sure, lots of them are crap (I can say the same thing for tradpub too), but if you find a way to market yourself and get your quality product in front of the right market, then you can make quite a bit of money.  

From what I’ve seen of it, self-publishing is an insult to the written word, the craft of writing, and the tradition of literature.

From what I’ve seen, I’d say the same thing about the Huffington Post.

As an editor, I’ve tackled trying to edit the very worst writing that people plan on self-publishing just because they can.

As an actual editor who gets paid for this stuff, that sentence reads like garbage.

I’m a horrible singer. But I like singing so let’s say I decide to take some singing lessons. A month later I go to my neighbor’s basement because he has recording equipment. I screech into his microphone and he cuts me a CD. I hire a designer to make a stylish CD cover. Voilà. I have a CD and am now just like all the other musicians with CDs.

Only you just described exactly how most real working bands got their start. Add a couple of kids with a guitar and drums, set up in your buddy’s garage, and start jamming. Eventually you will get good enough that you can book some local gigs, and if people like you, they will give you money for your stuff.

Except I’m not. Everyone knows I’m a tuneless clod but something about that CD validates me as a musician.

Nobody gives a crap about “validation”. Validation don’t pay the bills.

(19) MEDIA FAVES. It’s Aliette de Bodard’s turn to bestow Smugglivus year-end cheer at The Book Smugglers.

In media, the most striking thing I watched this year is actually from last year: it was the masterful Doctor Who episode “Heaven Sent”, a tour de force by Peter Capaldi that slowly starts making horrifying sense throughout its length (and that I actually paused and rewatched just to make sure it all hung together — it does and it’s even more impressive on a rewatch). I haven’t had time to consume things from this year: most of my watching has been old things, like Black  Orphan (I can’t believe it took me this long to find out about it, it’s so good, and Tatiana Maslany is just amazing playing all the clones), and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, period mysteries featuring the awesome Phryne Fisher (and her amazing wardrobe).

(20) CATCHING UP WITH CAMESTROS. Doctor Who was on Camestros Felapton’s telly on Christmas — “Review: The Return of Doctor Misterio – 2016 Dr Who Christmas Special”.

In the 2016 Christmas Special, Moffat lays out a gentle Richard Curtis-like romantic comedy but about superheroes and alien brain parasites. No puzzles and an evil invasion plot from the bad guys that echoed both Watchmen and the Aliens of London episode from series 1 of the reboot. A wise choice that made for a funny and light episode.

The episode was not a deconstruction of the superhero genre but played the tropes simply and straight but also at a relatively shallow level. Primarily a play on the Clark Kent/Lois Lane, secret identity, romance angle but with an added play on romantic comedy trope of the woman who somehow can’t see the man she actually is looking for is standing right next to her.

(21) CAMESTROS IS A MARATHON NOT A SPRINT. Then he dashed out to see the new Star Wars movie – “Review: Rogue One”.

Well, that was fun in a Blake’s 7 sort of way.

What I liked about the film was it had a certain freedom to it. The story has one simple job: by the end of the plot, the plans for the Death Star have to be on a Rebel spaceship pursued by Darth Vader. How to get to point B is undetermined and indeed where point A is to start with nobody knows. Indeed, the film initially is a bit confused about where A is, flitting from one plane to another. However, after some initial rushing around the galaxy, the story comes together.

Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, captures a nice sense of both bravado and cynicism as the daughter of the man who designed the Death Star. Her emotional journey isn’t complex but given the number of genre films in which people appear to act incomprehensibly it was nice to have a character whose motivations were personal and direct. Her shift from reluctant rebel to a leader of a commando force is shaped overtly and plausibly by plot events.

(23) CAN’T END TOO SOON. By then the year 2016 was just about done – and Camestros designed the most suitable container for its farewell journey.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mark-kitteh, Michael J. Walsh, David K.M. Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]  

Pixel Scroll 11/18/16 R.U.R. Or R.U.Ain’t (My Baby)

(1) PETALS TO THE METAL. At Young People Read Old SFF, curator James Davis Nicoll is a little worried:

My hit rate for this series so far has been… somewhat lower than I hoped. It’s not that I am going out of my way to find older SF stories that do not consistently appeal to younger people; it is just that I turn out to have a remarkable talent for finding older SF stories that do not consistently appeal to younger people.

So this time he pulled out one of the greatest short stories in the genre,  Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon”. Turns out his young audience wasn’t all that fired-up about it, either. Which reminds me of a favorite joke:

A dog food company once held a convention for its sales force. The president got up and said, “We have the greatest product in the world!” Everybody applauded. “We have the best sales people in the industry!” The cheered wildly. “So,” asked the president, “why aren’t we selling any dog food?” A little man in the back got up and shouted, “It’s the damn dogs, sir! They don’t like it!”

(2) DON’T STAND UNDERNEATH WHEN THEY FLY BY. The odds say that these things are supposed to crash in the ocean. Except when they don’t. “The Space Debris Problem: Dual Impact In Myanmar Shows What’s To Come”.

A mining facility in northern Myanmar became the crash site of a huge piece of space debris last Thursday. As the impact occurred, a smaller piece of debris with Chinese markings on it simultaneously destroyed the roof of a house in a nearby village. Fortunately, no one was injured in either incident.

The larger object is barrel-shaped and measures about 4.5 meters (15 ft) long, with a diameter barely over a meter. “The metal objects are assumed to be part of a satellite or the engine parts of a plane or missile,” a local news report said. The Chinese government is neither confirming nor denying whether both pieces of space junk came from the same object.

(3) FIGHT INTERNMENT. George Takei’s op-ed in the Washington Post reacts against talk about rounding up Muslims and reminds people of what happened when we interned the Japanese — “They interned my family. Don’t let them do it to Muslims”.

There is dangerous talk these days by those who have the ear of some at the highest levels of government. Earlier this week, Carl Higbie, an outspoken Trump surrogate and co-chair of Great America PAC, gave an interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News. They were discussing the notion of a national Muslim registry, a controversial part of the Trump administration’s national security plans, when Higbie dropped a bombshell: “We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will,” he said. Was he really citing the Japanese American internment, Kelly wanted to know, as grounds for treating Muslims the same way today? Higbie responded that he wasn’t saying we should return to putting people in camps. But then he added, “There is precedent for it.”

Stop and consider these words. The internment was a dark chapter of American history, in which 120,000 people, including me and my family, lost our homes, our livelihoods, and our freedoms because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Higbie speaks of the internment in the abstract, as a “precedent” or a policy, ignoring the true human tragedy that occurred….

(4) THE FRANCHISE THAT LIVED. The BBC renders a verdict — “Film review: Is Fantastic Beasts a Rowling triumph?” Chip Hitchcock says, “tl;dr version: way too many characters for one movie. Rowling says it’s the first of five; sounds a bit like the opening episode ST:TNG, which spent most of its time setting up the main players.”

As exhilarating as all the new sights and sounds are, though, it’s soon apparent that Rowling et al are enjoying their relocation a little too much. A major flaw of the later Harry Potter films was that they crammed in so many characters and incidents from the ever-longer novels that they were baffling to anyone who didn’t know the books by heart. What’s slightly disappointing about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is that, even though it isn’t adapted from a novel, it has a similar problem. Rowling’s superabundant imagination won’t let the story build up momentum: she keeps shoving minor characters and irrelevant details in its path.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 18, 1928— Mickey Mouse appeared for the first time, with Walt Disney doing the voice of his soon-to-be-famous creation, in “Steamboat Willie,” the first fully synchronized sound cartoon produced.
  • November 18, 1963 — Push-button telephones made their debut. John King Tarpinian was one of the early button-pushers:

I remember being at the County Fair and there was a display with kiosks.  You used a rotary phone to dial your number then using a push-button phone you dialed a random phone number.  The elapsed time was displayed and you saw how much faster the push-button phone was compared to the rotary.

  • November 18, 1990 — Stephen King’s It premieres on TV.

(6) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Actor Charles Bronson appeared in the 1953 horror classic House of Wax as Vincent Price’s assistant, Igor. Bronson is credited under his real name, Charles Buchinsky.

(7) ABOLISHING A EUPHEMISM. NPR’s Glen Weldon says “The Term ‘Graphic Novel’ Has Had A Good Run. We Don’t Need It Anymore”.

…And all the other, sillier, less meaningful stuff. Science fiction, or whatever.

Oy. OK. Lots to unpack here, and, to be fair, at lot of it’s our fault. Comics readers and creators, that is.

By the time the great cartoonist Will Eisner slapped the term “graphic novel” on his 1978 book, A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories, the term had been percolating around comics fandom for years. Eisner, however, was a tireless advocate, and wanted people to appreciated that comics are a medium, not a genre. A medium dominated, then as now, by superheroes, but nevertheless a storytelling medium that could be used to tell an infinite number of stories in vastly different ways.

Which is why—

Um, OK. It looks like you’re ramping up. I’m gonna … I’m just gonna grab a seat then.

Fine, go ahead.

The reason Eisner latched onto the term “graphic novel” and ran with it is because … well, it was 1978. He needed to. Comics were considered, if they were considered at all, junk culture. Kid stuff that was beneath serious notice, if not beneath contempt….

Chip Hitchcock comments: “They use Gaiman’s less-colorful metaphor; when he spoke in NYC a decade or so back, he said someone who insisted he did ‘graphic novels’ made him feel like a streetwalker being told she was a lady of the night.”

(8) CHESTNUTS ROASTING. Annalee Newitz lists “All the science fiction and fantasy novels you need to make it through the winter” at Ars Technica.

Everfair, by Nisi Shawl

2016 was a good year for alternate histories, and Shawl’s thought experiment about 19th century colonialism in Everfair is no exception. In this alternate reality, Fabian socialists in Britain manage to team up with African-American missionaries to buy part of the Belgian Congo from King Leopold II, establishing the free African nation of Everfair. Based on an actual historical plan that never came to fruition, the novel imagines how Everfair would develop, changing the history of other colonized African nations as its population swells with American former slaves and liberated peoples of the Congo. Though there is a strong Utopian core to the novel, Shawl does not shy away from depicting thorny, internecine battles between different groups who have opposing definitions of freedom. Plus, we get to see how Everfair develops breathtaking new technologies. Shawl has done incredible research on the history of the Congo, and it shows. This is steampunk done right, with all the tarnish, sweat, and blood visible on the gears of the world’s great industrial technologies.

(9) AH, THAT EXPLAINS IT. I wondered why Vox Day kept using this as a figure for Trump. James McConnaughy makes the connection in “#NotMyGodEmperor: Why Are There So Many Actual Fascists in the Warhammer 40K Fandom?” at The Mary Sue.

That’s ridiculous, I told myself. There’s absolutely no way they could be genuinely identifying with the Imperium of Man or its fascist power structure. After all, the Imperium of Man is a parody of fascism, and not a particularly subtle one at that, since the game constantly talks about how much life sucks and how the authoritarianism causes more problems than it solves. They’d have to be blind to not see that Warhammer 40k is… kid…ding.

Oh. Oh no.

Let’s stop for a moment and talk about satire, because I like hard shifts like that. The problem with satire (or, more directly, the problem with writing satire) is that it has a goal, beyond simply being funny. Satire is pointed, it has a purpose, it is, to use a phrase I often dislike, saying something. More specifically, satire is saying something by taking something it wishes to criticize and blowing it up to absurd proportions.

And therein lies the problem: Satire is always walking the razor’s edge. By using the words and concepts of the thing you are satirizing, you are often giving voice to those words and concepts, and someone out there is going to agree with those words, not the actual point of your satire. That’s the basis of Poe’s Law: Without a blatant display of comedy, it is impossible to create a parody of extremism or fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.

(10) PLONK YOUR MAGIC TWANGER. The Financial Times has a regular feature about the one thing people take with them when they travel.  Chris Hadfield explained in the November 12 issue why he always carries his guitar with him.

He explains that on his first trip to the Mir space station in 1995 he had a special guitar made by Wright Guitars where owner Rossco Wright “adapted one for me, cutting the neck in half and putting a locking piano hinge on it so it would fold and fit in the shuttle.  I had to get approval from Nasa:  from the highest level, the director of the space shuttle programme.”

“Just before the flight while I was in quarantine, I got  a call from the payloads people saying that although Nasa had approved it, the Russians weren’t gonna let me take the guitar on to Mir because it hadn’t passed all the electromagnetic and flammability tests.  So some people from Nasa came to my house, found my spare SoloEtte, did all the testing and passed the results to Russia.  We launched–still without permission from the Russians–and I assembled the guitar on Mir, but we weren’t allowed to plug it in.  Then,. as we were doing a press conference with Russian prime minister Victor Cheromydin, he said, ‘I understand you have a new guitar–play me a song.’  That sounded like permission, so we played a concert on Mir, and nothing caught fire or blew up.”

Hadfield says that the Larivee Parlour guitar Hadfield used to cover “Space Odyssey” in 2013 “was put there” in the International Space Station “for psychological support (along with books, movies, a harmonica and a couple of footballs” and has been in space since 2001.

(11) SPIGOT, RHYMES WITH… In October, Alexandra Erin created a satirical news feed on Medium called The Daily Spigot. She tells her Patreon supporters that she intended it to be daily, but that illness and the election interrupted her momentum; however, she has started writing new posts again. The latest is: “Trump Asking Every Business In Phone Book About Mexico Plans”

This reporter was allowed into Donald Trump’s private office to witness the real estate developer turned job saver in action.

“Hello, Triple A All-American Locksmiths?” he asked during a typical such call. “This is the President of the United States. That’s right,” he said, while an aide frantically mouthed the words “no, no, no” and another scrawled, “You have to stop saying that” on a piece of paper, which was then pushed across the desk to Trump, who frowned at it, signed it, then pushed it away.

“I’m just calling to see if you had any plans on moving your plant or any jobs to Mexico in, say, the next two months to four years? No? Great! Tremendous. Thanks a bunch. Make America great again!”

He then hung up the phone and said, “That’s another one for the Twitter.”

(12) GROWING UP GROOT. CinemaBlend poses some knotty questions in “How Groot Will Be Different In Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, According To Vin Diesel”.

While plugging his new movie Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk to Collider, Vin Diesel detoured into Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 territory, and noted how in the sequel, Groot will have a significantly more naive mindset compared to how he was as an adult. While it was generally assumed that Baby Groot would behave like a juvenile, Diesel statement confirms that the alien basically be a child, albeit one with extraordinary abilities. However, that mentality doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t remember what he was like before he was destroyed and regrown. At San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said Baby Groot will retain his memories, although director James Gunn later told a fan that as far as Baby Groot being the original Groot or a “son,” that situation is “complicated.”.

(13) NOT YOUR AVERAGE OBLATE SPHEROID. Astronomers claim to have discovered the roundest object ever measured in nature. Write this on your hand.

Kepler 11145123 is a distant, slowly rotating star that’s more than twice the size of the Sun.

Researchers were able to show that the difference between its radius as measured to the equator and the radius measured to the poles was just 3km.

“This makes Kepler 11145123 the roundest natural object ever measured,” said lead author Prof Laurent Gizon.

He added that it was “even more round than the Sun”.

(14) INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY IN THE SKY. Elon Musk’s latest: satellite internet: “SpaceX aims to launch internet from space”.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, announced last year that the service would be “larger than anything that has been talked about to date” adding that it would take about $10bn (£8bn) to get it off the ground.

The latest documents did not include costs.

It suggested that the first 800 satellites would be used to expand internet access in the US, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin islands.

Each satellite, about the size of an average car, not including solar panels, would weigh 850 pounds (386kg), the firm said.

[Thanks to JJ, Todd, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/18/16 Talkin ‘Bout My Pixelation

(1) BEVERAGE APPERTAINED. John King Tarpinian is insanely tickled by this visual reference from the latest Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror episode, since Logan’s Run was co-authored by his late buddy George Clayton Johnson.

logans-rum

(2) SOUND OFF. David Steffen’s Long List Anthology Volume 2 Kickstarter successfully funded all the fiction but did not reach audiobook stretch goal. Steffen announced the stories will appear in this order:

Table of Contents

  • “Damage” by David D. Levine
  • “Pockets” by Amal El-Mohtar
  • “Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker
  • “The Women You Didn’t See” by Nicola Griffith (a letter from Letters to Tiptree)
  • “Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer” by Megan Grey
  • “Wooden Feathers” by Ursula Vernon
  • “Three Cups of Grief, By Starlight” by Aliette de Bodard
  • “Madeleine” by Amal El-Mohtar
  • “Neat Things” by Seanan McGuire (a letter from Letters To Tiptree)
  • “Pocosin” by Ursula Vernon
  • “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong
  • “So Much Cooking” by Naomi Kritzer
  • “The Deepwater Bride” by Tamsyn Muir
  • “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” by Elizabeth Bear
  • “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” by Rose Lemberg
  • “Another Word For World” by Ann Leckie
  • “The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild” by Catherynne M. Valente
  • “Our Lady of the Open Road” by Sarah Pinsker
  • “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” by Usman T. Malik
  • “The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps” by Kai Ashante Wilson

(3) THE MCFLY FAMILY CHRONICLE In “Computer Solves a Major Time Travel Problem” by Cathal O’Connell at Cosmos Magazine, the “grandfather paradox” has allegedly been solved by a supercomputer and the research of Israeli physicist Doron Friedman (i.e. you can go back in time, kill your father, and sire another father).

The computer’s second solution is more interesting. The snag is it only works if the father also has the ability to travel in time.

The story goes like this.

In 1954 Marty’s father George travels forward in time one year to 1955, when he impregnates Marty’s mother Lorraine before immediately returning back to 1954 – just as his future son, Marty, arrives and kills him.

Because George’s quick foray into the future allowed him to already conceive his son, the paradox disappears.

(4) TROPE TURNOVERS. Apex Publications’ Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling Anthology, funded by a Kickstarter reported here, is receiving critical praise. They sent backers this update:

I wanted to mention that you may recall we sent out a few ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) in anticipation that we would be releasing this anthology in December. We are pleased to share that Publisher’s Weekly has given our anthology a starred review! Thank you SO much for making this anthology happen, and we hope you enjoy the stories. Huzzah!

(5) ROBBER BARONS. Amanda S. Green has criticized publishers for the past decade for overpricing ebooks, and tells her Mad Genius Club readers there’s no sign it’s going to change. In fact, if they can think of a way, publishers will make the arrangement even more exploitative….

As readers, it means we will have to continue to choose between buying one traditionally published e-book from publishers like Randy Penguin (at $12.99 or more) or buying two or three — or more — indie or small press published e-books. It means choosing to buy e-books from indies or publishers like Baen, sources that don’t add DRM, or buying fro publishers who aren’t afraid to say they think their customers are thieves and that is why they add the DRM. After all, they don’t trust us not to pirate their books or — gasp — resell them after we’re done with them. As readers, it also means we need to be smart and start backing up our e-books to places not connected with our e-readers, etc. Because, as sure as I’m sitting here typing this this morning, I guaran-damn-tee you there is some bean counter sitting in an ivory tower in the publishing industry who is trying to figure out a way to limit the number of times we can read an e-book before we have to buy a new license or something equally as silly. Don’t believe me? Remember, these are the same publishers that put a limit on how many times an e-book can be checked out at a library before the library has to buy — at an inflated rate — the e-book again.

(6) MUSIC OF THE SPHERES. Bladerunner film score composer Vangelis has released a new space-themed opera — “From Composer Vangelis, A True Story Set In outer Space”. You can listen on YouTube.

Rosetta is a concept album, inspired by the European Space Agency mission of the same name. It successfully landed a probe on a comet in 2014 and completed its mission — by total coincidence — within a week of the album’s release.

“I imagine myself being in the position of Rosetta, and going there,” Vangelis says. “It’s something amazing.” Amazing — and disorienting. “You have to go through, sometimes, total dark,” Vangelis says. “You can imagine like a child sometimes.”

 

(7) TAKE ONE DOWN AND PASS IT AROUND. Motherboard says “This Guy Is Replicating ‘Blade Runner’ Shot-for-Shot in MS Paint”. And I say, keep appertaining beverages for yourself until you’re drunk enough to know why this needs to be reported by File 770.

So when we discovered David MacGowan’s tumblr MSP Blade Runner, our response was one of collective awe and fascination. MacGowan is quite literally going through Blade Runner shot-by-shot and illustrating each in MS Paint. The drawings aren’t perfect in terms of artistry—it is MS Paint, after all—and they’re not 100 percent complete in detail. But each moment is instantly recognizable even to someone with only a passing familiarity with the film. And MacGowan has nailed that elusive, pitch-perfect Internet Ugly aesthetic so many of us try and fail to, well, replicate.

(8) SKIPPING THE AUTHENTICITY. Dwayne A. Day lays waste to a TV show in “O, full of scorpions is my mind” at Space Review.

Every few years a major entertainment program has focused on a human spaceflight theme, and usually the results have been pretty bad. In 2007, Law & Order: Criminal Intent did an episode that was based upon astronaut Lisa Nowak’s arrest for attempted murder (another one of their “ripped from the headlines” stories.) Because it was set in New York City, they portrayed the “National Space Agency” as based in New York. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit did another astronaut-based episode in 2008. In 2011, the cable spy drama Covert Affairs aired an episode about a terrorist spy working at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC (see “Tinker, Tailor, NASA, Spy,” The Space Review, July 11, 2011) In 2010, CSI: Miami had an episode dealing with a murder aboard a commercial orbiting spaceplane that operated out of Miami. (See “Space cops,” The Space Review, March 1, 2010)

Normally this is the point in this article where I would make some kind of semi-clever quip about how bad all these shows were. But they were at least watchable. The CSI: Miami episode was probably the best of the bunch, demonstrating at least a passable knowledge of commercial spaceflight. But in retrospect, all of them now look like 2001: A Space Odyssey compared to last week’s episode of the CBS drama Scorpion which featured a character being accidentally blasted into space. It was bad.

There are few words to describe how amazingly bad it was, so here are a lot of them….

Scorpion’s producers don’t really seem to care about accuracy or believability or logic or continuity or consistency. Despite spending what must be huge gobs of money on the episodes, it is amazing how slipshod some of it is—not just the writing, but the production values seemed to demonstrate that nobody had any real interest in making any of it look good.

(9) RED PLANET CRITIQUE. Mars chronicler Kim Stanley Robinson declines to take Musk’s plan at face value in “Why Elon Musk’s Mars Vision Needs ‘Some Real Imagination’” on Bloomberg.

It’s 2024. Musk figures everything out and gets funding. He builds his rocket, and 100 people take off. Several months later, they land (somehow) and have to get to work remaking a planet.

I have to note, first, that this scenario is not believable, which makes it a hard exercise to think about further. Mars will never be a single-person or single-company effort. It will be multi-national and take lots of money and lots of years.

Musk’s plan is sort of the 1920s science-fiction cliché of the boy who builds a rocket to the moon in his backyard, combined with the Wernher von Braun plan, as described in the Disney TV programs of the 1950s. A fun, new story.

(10) BEHIND BARS. In the latest installment of “The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters in Prison”, Barrett Brown, jailed for decades because of his hacking, answers questions Filers will hopefully never need to ask:  if you’re in prison, how do you teach other prisoners how to play role-playing games?  And how do you make the dice?

We began the campaign with our party having just entered a mysterious cavern that appeared to be inhabited. The gamemaster drew out a map for us as our crude little character tokens advanced down the dark, cliché-ridden passages. Coming upon a fountain in which jewels could be seen lying under the surface of the water, our Hispanic gangster/minotaur barbarian proposed to grab some. The team veteran and meth dealer/elven ranger stopped him, dipped in his flask, and, as our gamemaster informed us, watched as it sizzled and melted, the “water” having been acid.

“Whoa,” said the gangster/minotaur, awed at how close he’d just come to losing his forearm. He was beginning to understand that this wasn’t the relatively straightforward world of street-level dope dealing anymore; this was Dungeons and Dragons. Presumably the feds had never attempted to trick him into incinerating his own arm. But then some of these guys had been targeted by the ATF, so you never know.

(11) MAMATAS. At Locus Online, “Tim Pratt Reviews Nick Mamatas”.

His latest novel, I Am Providence, should be of particular interest to our readers for at least a couple of reasons. For one, it’s a murder mystery set at a genre convention: the Summer Tentacular, devoted to H.P, Lovecraft and his Mythos, held appropriately enough in Lovecraft’s hometown of Providence RI. (The book’s title is taken from Lovecraft’s famous epitaph.) Given how prevalent discussions of Lovecraft’s influence and his problematic qualities have been in our field lately, it’s an astonishingly timely book. If the convention angle doesn’t make it SFnal enough for you, there’s a bona fide speculative element: half the novel is narrated in first person by the murder victim as he lies cooling on a morgue slab.

The murder-mystery-at-a-convention is a venerable subgenre (think Isaac Asimov’s Murder at the ABA or Sharyn McCrumb’s Bimbos of the Death Sun). The best of them combine solid mystery stories anyone can enjoy with a dash of in-jokes, cameos, and thinly veiled versions of figures in the field to amuse those in the know. I Am Providence is among those best.

(12) THE HORSE, OF COURSE. Rosalind Moran reminds SFWAns, “Horses Are Not Machines: On Writing the Steeds of Fantasy Fiction”.

  1. Nobody Learns In A Day

No amount of natural talent can make a horseman in a day. If one’s horse is tolerant, one may be able to hold on over flat terrain after a few hours in the saddle. Nevertheless, there’s a big difference between not sliding off immediately, and being able to ride competently. It can take months – even years – before one is truly balanced enough to cope with a horse moving at various gaits, and occasionally acting up. Yet it’s not uncommon in fantasy novels for characters to pick up the handy skill of horse-riding in one day.

Furthermore, handling horses on the ground is also a skill requiring time. When one first begins working with horses, one can’t read their body language; flicking ears, shifting legs, squeals and snorts. The initial reaction when faced with a horse also tends to be one of intimidation – they’re big animals. So for your protagonist to be confident catching horses, feeding them, tacking them up… that all takes time and experience. You don’t need to devote pages to your character learning relatively mundane skills, but you should acknowledge that these are skills which they are learning, or which they have somehow acquired at another point in time.

Additional note: horses aren’t domesticated in a day either. Worth remembering next time you chance upon a handy herd in the wilderness – sorry.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/1/16 Scrolls from The Times of Darkness

(1) GORGEOUS ART. After yesterday’s link to a website that posts a hideous sf book cover every day, it’s time to balance the score.

On Facebook, Mike Resnick shared the beautiful cover of the Chinese edition of Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge, a collection which uses his story as the title.

seven-views-of-olduvai-gorge-cover

(2) ABOUT WRITING. Bertie MacAvoy can’t say enough nice things about those folks — “The Major Importance of Minor Characters”

Just this morning I realized how very grateful I am to have what I had thought to be a minor character in a novel blossoming into something unexpected…..

(3) THE END IS NOT NEAR. Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time is scheduled to go off the air – eventually.

Horrible news: Cartoon Network just announced the impending series finale of Adventure Time, the sci-fi/fantasy post-apocalyptic musical fairy-tale rom-com coming-of-age sitcom epic starring Jake the Dog and Finn the Human.

Great news: Adventure Time won’t end until 2018.

In an official statement, Cartoon Network promised the final run of Adventure Time episodes will encompass ”142 half-hours of content,” which includes new episodes, miniseries, specials, and some mysterious “more.” (By comparison, the complete run of Game of Thrones so far only represents about 120 half-hours of content.)

(4) RIDDLE NOVEL. Departure. A time travel mystery thriller romance.  Out this month in paperback from A.G. Riddle, author of the Origin/Atlantis trilogy.  Described as Quantum Leap meets Bridget Jones’ Diary.

En route to London from New York, Flight 305 suddenly loses power and crash-lands in the English countryside, plunging a group of strangers into a mysterious adventure that will have repercussions for all of humankind.

Struggling to stay alive, the survivors soon realize that the world they’ve crashed in is very different from the one they left. But where are they? Why are they here? And how will they get back home?

Five passengers seem to hold clues about what’s really going on: writer Harper Lane, venture capitalist Nick Stone, German genetic researcher Sabrina Schröder, computer scientist Yul Tan, and Grayson Shaw, the son of a billionaire philanthropist.

As more facts about the crash emerge, it becomes clear that some in this group know more than they’re letting on—answers that will lead Harper and Nick to uncover a far-reaching conspiracy involving their own lives. As they begin to piece together the truth, they discover they have the power to change the future and the past—to save our world . . . or end it.

A wildly inventive and propulsive adventure full of hairpin twists, Departure is a thrilling tale that weaves together power, ambition, fate, memory, and love, from a bold and visionary talent.

(5) POP WARFARE. Stephen Dedman’s May the Armed Forces Be with You: The Relationship Between Science Ficttion and the United States Military is out from McFarland. Dedman is a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Western Australia and the author of five novels and more than 100 short stories.

Science fiction and the United States military often inhabit the same imaginative space. Weapons technology has taken inspiration from science fiction, from the bazooka and the atomic bomb to weaponized lasers and drones. Star-spangled superheroes sold war bonds in comic books sent to GIs during World War II, and adorned the noses of bombers. The same superheroes now appear in big-budget movies made with military assistance, fighting evil in today’s war zones.

A missile shield of laser satellites—dreamed up by writers and embraced by the high command—is partially credited with ending the Cold War. Sci-fi themes and imagery are used to sell weapons programs, military service and wars to the public. Some science fiction creators have willingly cooperated with the military; others have been conscripted. Some have used the genre as a forum for protest. This book examines the relationship between the U.S. military and science fiction through more than 80 years of novels, comics, films and television series, including Captain America, Starship Troopers, The Twilight Zone, Dr. Strangelove, Star Trek, Iron Man, Bill the Galactic Hero, The Forever War, Star Wars, Aliens, Ender’s Game, Space: Above and Beyond and Old Man’s War.

(6) EARWITNESS TO HISTORY. At ThePulp.Net you can listen to a recording of Ted White’s PulpFest guest of honor speech. Ted White, science-fiction author and editor of Amazing Stories from 1968 through 1978, discussed his career in writing and editing. His presentation was recorded on Saturday, July 23, at PulpFest 2016.

(7) MILESTONE ISSUE. Clarkesworld Magazine’s 10th Anniversary Issue is now online.

Congratulations to Neil Clarke and the staff!

(8) STUDYING THE IMPOSSIBLE. In “A Nonlinear History of Time Travel” by James Gleick in Nautilus, Gleick, in an excerpt from his forthcoming book Time Travel: A History, gives a look at time travel paradoxes, but also explains that Robert Heinlein’s classic story “All You Zombies—” was not only pioneering transgender sf, but very accurate physics.

For Einstein’s 70th birthday, in 1949, his friend presented him with a surprising calculation: that his field equations of general relativity allow for the possibility of “universes” in which time is cyclical—or, to put it more precisely, universes in which some world lines loop back upon themselves. These are “closed time-like lines,” or, as a physicist today would say, closed time-like curves (CTCs). These are circular highways lacking on ramps or off ramps. A time-like line is a set of points separated only by time: same place, different times. A closed time-like curve loops back upon itself and thus defies ordinary notions of cause and effect: Events are their own cause. (The universe itself—entire—would be rotating, something for which astronomers have found no evidence, and by Gödel’s calculations a CTC would have to be extremely large—billions of light-years—but people seldom mention these details.)

(9) WEIR CRITIQUES MUSK. Andy Weir on Elon Musk’s Mars plans. You could say Weir had already thought about this a little bit: The Martian’s Andy Weir talks to Ars about the science if Musk’s Mars vision”.

Musk’s rockets are methane-powered, and, as John Timmer discusses in detail, creating methane on Mars actually isn’t complicated. Take some carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, mix it with hydrogen (which you can crack out of water molecules, which Mars has in surprising abundance), add energy, pressure, and a catalyst, and boom, you’ve got methane and water.

“It turns out that Mars is very cooperative when it comes to the Sabatier reaction,” said Weir in a long conversation earlier this week with Ars. “All you need to do it is carbon dioxide, water, and energy. And presumably you’re bringing some energy source with you if you’re going to colonize Mars—like either a reactor or just tons and tons of solar panels, though the correct answer is reactor.”

(10) THE PESSIMISTIC VIEW. Vox.com would prefer to dwell on “The top 7 ways a trip to Mars could kill you, illustrated”

6. You could get poisoned by the toxins in Mars’s soil

In the movie The Martian, a mighty sandstorm leaves astronaut Mark Watney stranded on Mars after high winds rip out an antenna and destroy most of his camp. That scene was a little exaggerated. Because Mars’s atmosphere is so thin, 60 mph winds don’t produce nearly as much force as they do on Earth.

But sand and dirt on Mars is definitely a problem. Mars periodically gets massive sandstorms that spread out across the planet and can last for days or weeks at a time. You don’t want to be outside in one. All those little particles flying around could conceivably tear a hole in your spacesuit. Or, more prosaically, they could clog door seals, mess up machinery, or even cover up solar panels, depriving astronauts of power for extended periods.

A related concern is the fact that Martian soil is toxic. It contains very high concentrations of perchlorates — salts that can do serious damage to the human thyroid gland. “If your backyard had as much perchlorate as Mars does, it’d be a Superfund site,” McKay says.

It’s okay to touch Martian dirt with your bare hands. But you really don’t want any to get into your drinking water or food when you tramp it into your habitat. You also don’t want to grow plants using Martian soil.

McKay also brought up another related risk: Right now we’re pretty sure there’s no life on Mars, no strange microorganisms lurking in the soil. But we’re not absolutely sure. So it might be a good idea to test out any proposed landing site in advance, in case there’s anything harmful lurking.

And that worry goes both ways: We’ll want to be careful about contaminating or killing any Martian life, too. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty forbids the “harmful contamination” of alien worlds with our earthly microbes.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 1, 1968: Night of the Living Dead has its first screening in Pittsburgh.
  • October 1, 1974: Dallas hosts the premiere of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

(12) AXANAR SUIT CONTINUES. CinemaBlend reports “The Star Trek Lawsuit Is Trying To Pull J.J. Abrams And Justin Lin In Deeper”.

Last December, the producers of a Star Trek fan film, Star Trek Axanar, were hit with a lawsuit from Paramount after they raised $1 million for funding from Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. Many fans were upset that the studio was citing copyright infringement after years of the fan films being released without any problems, and eventually, J.J. Abrams and Justin Lin, directors of the reboot movies, became involved, and Abrams implied that the lawsuit would go away. Well, it didn’t and now both men could find themselves pulled deeper into this legal mess.

For those who need a refresher, last May at the Star Trek Fan Event, J.J. Abrams told attendees that he and Justin Lin had spoken with paramount bigwigs and “pushed them to stop this lawsuit.” He then said there would be an announcement in the coming weeks of the lawsuit “going away,” but in June, it was confirmed that Paramount is still seeking to continue with it. Now THR has learned that Axanar Productions has brought forward a motion to compel discovery, and one of the things it demands is to learn what Paramount discussed with Abrams and Lin about the lawsuit and fan films in general.

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Mark-kitteh, JJ, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day snowcrash.]

 

Pixel Scroll 9/29/16 “–We Also Stalk Gods”

(1) THERE’S A SKILL I’D LIKE TO HAVE. It sounds like something you’d see in a movie about dope dealers, says The Hollywood Reporter, but it’s behind the scenes at for-profit fan conventions — “Stars Getting Rich Off Fan Conventions: How to Take Home ‘Garbage Bags Full of $20s’”.

Fan conventions, where stars can take home hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for a few hours of time, once were the domain of has-beens and sci-fi novelties. But the business has become so lucrative — think $500,000 for Captain America‘s Chris Evans or The Walking Dead favorite Norman Reedus to appear — that current TV and film stars are popping up at events like Salt Lake City Comic-Con and Heroes and Villains Fan Fest. The demand has become so overwhelming that agencies including WME, CAA, UTA, ICM, APA, Paradigm and Gersh have in the past three years added “personal appearance” agents to sift through the hundreds of annual events, book talent and (of course) score their 10 percent commission….

Here’s how it works: Actors typically ask for a price guarantee — often paid up front — to show up, sign autographs, pose for photos and sometimes take part in a panel discussion or two. Most conventions charge an entry fee, collect $5 for every autograph and $10 per photo (with a photographer taking another $10). The stars — who receive luxury travel and accommodations — pocket the rest. Anything over the guarantee is icing on the cake….

According to multiple sources familiar with convention deals, the basic guarantee rate for genre stars is in the $5,000 to $10,000 range per appearance — with leads on such current TV series as The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Netflix’s Marvel shows and The CW’s DC Comics fare commanding anywhere from $35,000 to $250,000 and up, depending on their popularity and the frequency with which they appear. At top conventions, it’s not uncommon for a star to earn anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 on top of their guarantee (more if they spend extra time signing)…..

As if the conventions weren’t already lucrative enough, many stars also are contacted independently by autograph dealers looking to arrange meet-ups outside of events and can score anywhere from $6,000 to $250,000 to sign a few hundred items that will wind up on eBay. That’s one reason why Hamill and other stars are especially sensitive about fakes and are backing a new California bill that would require autographed collectibles sold in the state to come with a certificate of authenticity (yet another extra charge at conventions)….

Three big companies dominate the paid-convention space: Wizard World, Informa and ReedPop (each with about 20-plus events set for 2017), all of which are publicly traded. But while conventions are rewarding for attendees and talent, the financial picture for those running them often is less rosy.

(2) ALWAYS TO CALL IT RESEARCH. From A.V. Club we learn that Timeless creators are being sued for allegedly stealing premise for their show”.

Now it’s NBC’s turn to deal with the litigious, as Deadline reports that the creators of Timeless are being sued for allegedly absconding with the idea for their show, not unlike how Goran Visnjic does with a time machine in said show. NBCUniversal and Sony have also been named as defendants.

The suit was filed by Onza Entertainment for breach of contract and copyright infringement. The Spanish company that claims its idea for a government-backed team of time-machine-thief hunters was pinched, if you will, by Timeless creators Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Eric Kripke (Supernatural and Revolution). The suit lays out Onza’s premise for the show, and how it “relates to the adventures of a three-person government team (consisting of one woman and two men) traveling through time to thwart undesired changes to past events.” Timeless does feature its own group of timeline monitors, similarly comprising one woman and two men, though they have more academic backgrounds. Abigail Spencer plays a history professor, Matt Lanter her muscle, with Malcolm Barrett rounding out the ensemble as an engineer.

(3) THE PRICE FOR MARS. In “Musk’s Mars moment: Audacity, madness, brilliance – or maybe all three” on Ars Technica, Eric Berger says that Elon Musk’s plan to put a million people on Mars is actually technically plausible provided Musk raises $30 billion, which he isn’t going to be able to do without substantial government help.

Elon Musk finally did it. Fourteen years after founding SpaceX, and nine months after promising to reveal details about his plans to colonize Mars, the tech mogul made good on that promise Tuesday afternoon in Guadalajara, Mexico. Over the course of a 90-minute speech Musk, always a dreamer, shared his biggest and most ambitious dream with the world—how to colonize Mars and make humanity a multiplanetary species.

And what mighty ambitions they are. The Interplanetary Transport System he unveiled could carry 100 people at a time to Mars. Contrast that to the Apollo program, which carried just two astronauts at a time to the surface of the nearby Moon, and only for brief sojourns. Moreover, Musk’s rocket that would lift all of those people and propellant into orbit would be nearly four times as powerful as the mighty Saturn V booster. Musk envisions a self-sustaining Mars colony with at least a million residents by the end of the century.

Beyond this, what really stood out about Musk’s speech on Tuesday was the naked baring of his soul. Considering his mannerisms, passion, and the utter seriousness of his convictions, it felt at times like the man’s entire life had led him to that particular stage. It took courage to make the speech, to propose the greatest space adventure of all time. His ideas, his architecture for getting it done—they’re all out there now for anyone to criticize, second guess, and doubt.

It is not everyday that one of the world’s notables, a true difference-maker, so completely eschews caution and reveals his deepest ambitions like Musk did with the Interplanetary Transport System. So let us look at those ambitions—the man laid bare, the space hardware he dreams of building—and then consider the feasibility of all this. Because what really matters is whether any of this fantastical stuff can actually happen.

 

(4) FREE EVERYTHING. In an article at Democracy, a liberal public policy journal, Joshua Holland reviews Manu Saadia’s Trekonomics, which explains what Star Trek has to say about economic principles, particularly automation and the idea that while we won’t have replicators we may be at an era where a lot of goods are costless — “Can We Live Long and Prosper?”

Saadia doesn’t believe we’re likely to achieve a future that looks like Star Trek. For one thing, hyperspace travel, he says, is incredibly costly, and will offer humanity little reward for the effort. So he doesn’t see us exploring strange new worlds, or seeking out new life and new civilizations in the next few hundred years.

Thus tethered to Earth, Trekonomics is ultimately an argument that economic growth and good governance can lead us to enjoy a standard of living that’s almost unimaginable today. At its heart is the concept of “post-scarcity economics”—a world where technology is an unalloyed good that meets all of our material needs. Competition for finite resources has been a constant since early humans started scratching out a living. It’s shaped not only our economic systems, but our cultures and societies in really fundamental ways. The core argument of Trekonomics is that technology will eventually allow us to produce goods and services in excess of what we need, and that freedom from want will, in turn, lead to a radically different social contract—and new norms of governance—that are difficult to imagine today. In a Trekonomics economy, those at the top would have no incentive to grab an ever-larger slice of the pie because the pie would be infinitely large.

(5) SUPPORT LEGISLATION TO PROTECT COPYRIGHT. Francis Hamit has made a video to generate support for proposed legislation to create a copyright small claims court, HR 5757 or The CASE Act of 2016.  He adds, “There are many ways to support passage of this important legislation.  One way is to buy and wear this t-shirt that you can get from Tfund by following this link.” — http://www.tfund.com/CASEAct

As Hamit explained in a post here:

Now a bill is before the House called the CASE Act (or Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement Act of 2016.)

It is not law yet, and it needs your support. Write and/or call your Congressional Representative and urge a favorable vote. It is not a perfect solution to the problem, but it’s pretty good.

The CASE Act establishes a Copyright Claims Board with three claims officers and a minimum of two full-time attorneys to examine small cases. Cases must be brought within three years of the infringement, and the plaintiff(s) must have a copyright registration certificate in hand. If the registration was within or before 90 days of publication, the maximum damages are $15,000. If not, then $7,500. No single case will generate statutory damages of more than $30,000. Or, you can roll the dice and go for the actual damages, which may be very hard to prove. You pay your own attorney’s fees. Hardly a bonanza in other words. You can still move the case to a Federal District Court, but my own experience tells me that copyright cases are considered a complicated horror show there.

This court will be centralized as an office at the Library of Congress. While you might make a personal appearance, the emphasis is in resolving claims by mail and/or telephone. You may be able to do this without an attorney, or certified law student, but it’s probably not a good idea.

 

(6) TWILIGHT ZONE TRIVIA. I learned all kinds of new things while reading “11 Timeless Facts About The Twilight Zone . The first is funny —

There were almost six dimensions.

While recording the opening to the pilot episode in 1959, Serling exclaimed there was a sixth dimension to explore. When a network executive overheard the introduction, he asked Serling what happened to the fifth dimension. Serling assumed there were already five dimensions, not four. Luckily, the mistake was corrected before the episode aired.

(7) X-15. Here’s a BBC article about the X-15 program and efforts to restore the B-52 that ferried the experimental craft to launch altitude – “The bomber that paves the way for the Moon missions”. (One of the cool things I got to do as a kid was attend a science-themed event on the aircraft carrier Kearsarge where X-15 pilot Scott Crossfield was on the program).

Joe Walker could be one of the greatest astronauts you have never heard of.

On 22 August 1963, Walker strapped into the cockpit of an X-15 experimental rocket plane for his final flight. He took off into the clear skies above Edwards Air Force base in sou thern California, his needle-shaped aircraft strapped beneath the starboard wing of a B-52 bomber.

At around 50,000ft, the X-15 dropped from the wing, Walker lit his engine and rocketed into the sky. When the plane ran out of fuel two minutes later, he was travelling at 5,600ft-per-second and the sky had turned from blue to black.

In another two minutes, Walker had reached 354,200 feet – 67 miles – above the Earth and beyond the air we breathe. He was no longer flying a plane but a spacecraft. 11 minutes and eight seconds after release, he was back on the ground – having glided at hypersonic speeds to a perfect landing on a dried-up lake bed

(8) IT IS GETTING TO LOOK LIKE HALLOWEEN AT DISNEYLAND. The Halloween Tree, inspired by a Ray Bradbury story, is back in season at Disneyland.

The four masks on the plaque are artwork done by Joseph Mugnaini. The oak tree is in front of the saloon in Frontierland.

dedication-min

disneylandhalloweentree-min

(9) COMIC BOOK TRICK OR TREAT. Comic publishers invite fans to the Halloween ComicFest on October 29.

Celebrating its fifth year, Halloween ComicFest is an annual event where participating comic book specialty shops across North America and beyond celebrate the Halloween season by giving away comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their shops. The event takes place on Saturday, October 29th and is the perfect opportunity to introduce friends and family to the many reasons why comic shops are a great destination for Halloween themed comic books, products and merchandise. From zombies, vampires, monsters and aliens to costumes and more, comic shops have it all when it comes to Halloween fun!

Click here to see the offerings – and to download free sample pages.

(10) THE MIND BEHIND THE MASK. Popular Mechanics tries to argue “Why Westworld Matters” in an entertaining little article, however, my memory is rather different – I don’t think it had much influence because sf writers were already feverishly turning out warning stories of this type – anything from Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” to Bradbury’s “Downwind From Gettysburg.”

The Line Between Human and Android Keeps Shrinking

Crichton told American Cinematographer at the time of the film’s 1973 release that he was inspired by going to Disneyland and watching an animatronic Abraham Lincoln recite the Gettysburg Address. “It was the idea of playing with a situation in which the usual distinctions between person and machine—between a car and the driver of the car—become blurred, and then trying to see if there was something in the situation that would lead to other ways of looking at what’s human and what’s mechanical,” he said.

In Westworld, even the park’s administrators aren’t quite sure what their robots are capable of. Ominously, one overseer announces, “These are highly complicated pieces of equipment, almost as complicated as living organisms. … We don’t know exactly how they work.” It becomes clear that Brynner’s gunslinger has gone rogue at least in part because he’s tired of letting park patrons shoot him full of holes just to satisfy their he-man cravings. He’s not a piece of furniture. He’s become sentient, and he wants a say in what happens to him.

Everything from Blade Runner (based on the late-’60s Dick novel) to A.I. (based on the late-’60s short story from Brian Aldiss) has grappled with the ethical questions inherent in making computers that duplicate human characteristics. How will we be able to tell if it’s man or machine?

(11) ISLAMIC SF COLLECTION. Islamicates Volume I: Anthology of Science Fiction short stories inspired from Muslim Cultures is available as a free download in many electronic formats.

Better late than never I always say, the wait is over, I give you the Science Fiction short story anthology based on the first Islamicate Short Story contest. There are a total of 12 stories in the anthology and the first three stories are also the ones which won the best story awards. The anthology is titled Islamicates: Volume I Science Fiction Anthology of Short Stories inspired by Muslim Cultures. It is titled Volume I because we hope to continue this series in the future. It was eight years ago that the first anthology based on Science Fiction inspired by Islamic cultures was released. Not only has the Geek Muslim community increased in numbers considerably but interest in Islam and Muslim cultures has increased to a great extent in pop media in general. We hope that our readers will greatly enjoy the anthology. As always comments, suggestions, questions and feedback in general will be greatly appreciated.

(12) PYTHON-RELATED PROJECT. Matthew Davis recommended a video: “Reading about the recent death of the actor Terence Baylor (who appeared in assorted Monty Python-related projects) reminded me that he was in a Terry Gilliam-directed advert for Orangina which was only ever broadcast in France.”

(13) RIDLEY SCOTT ADS. Davis also pointed out some other advertising history.“While Ridley Scott’s 1984/Apple commercial is famous with film and sf fans I don’t think his very Blade-Runner-esque series of adverts for Barclays bank in 1986 are remembered at all.”

[Thanks to Matthew Davis, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 5/11/16 Time Enough For LOVE IS REAL!

(1) REDWOMBAT LOVEFEST. Tor.com is hosting — “’THE POTATO GOD WILL RISE.’ We Are Obsessed With Ursula Vernon’s Tumblr”.

But even if you don’t head over for the sketches and art, there are stories in abundance. For example, a true story about Vernon’s childhood, and “the thing” that she knew hid right behind her in her grandmother’s bathroom. (This tale eventually veers into precognition and predestination, believe it or not):

It seemed to me, looking in the enormous bathroom mirror, that I could see every part of the bathroom except the spot directly behind me, so that was where the unseen creature must be standing.

I didn’t know what it looked like. I had a vague feeling it was grey and shadowy and very flat, with long arms. I thought it would probably have eyes, but no mouth, but that was only a guess.

If I moved suddenly, it moved with me. At first, I thought it was just much faster than me, but that seemed sort of improbable–and when my mother would come into the bathroom, it wouldn’t matter how fast it was, it might risk being caught because there wouldn’t be any place it could stand that one of us couldn’t see it.

If fairy tales are more your beat, Vernon wrote her own version of the story about frogs falling from a girl’s lips when she speaks….

(2) RETRO HUGO FAN CATEGORIES. The FANAC Fan History Project is making available online as many 1940 Retro Hugo Nominees as it can. Joe Siclari writes:

For those of you planning to vote in this year’s Retro Hugo Fan Categories, the FANAC Fan History Project is providing relevant original materials for your reading pleasure.  Too many times, Retro Hugos go to the nominee with the best name recognition.  We have worked to make this material available so that everyone has a chance to read for themselves and cast a more knowledgeable vote.

The fanzines are here. They already have —

  • Ray Bradbury’s Futuria Fantasia
  • Bob Tucker’s Le Zombie and
  • Harry Warner, Jr.’s Spaceways

They are trying to get 1940 copies of Forrest J Ackerman’s and Morojo’s Novacious and Ackerman’s Voice of the Imagi-Nation.

If you have copies that you can scan for us or loan to us to scan, please contact Joe Siclari (jsiclari@fanac.org) or Edie Stern (fanac@fanac.org).

FANAC’s Retro Hugo page also includes works by Best Fan Writer nominees from other 1940 fanzines than the fanzines listed above.

They have also made available an array of other fanzines from 1940: Shangri-La, Fantasy News, Futurian Observer and Fantascience Digest. Look for these at Classic Fanzines.

(3) HINES REPOST. Our Words, the new site about disabilities in sf, continues its launch by reposting Jim C. Hines on “Writing with Depression”, which first appeared on SF Signal in 2014.

From what I’ve seen, that anxiety is pretty typical for most novelists. But I’m particularly nervous about my next book, Unbound. This is the third book in my current series, and will probably be out in very early 2015, give or take a few months. I’ve put my protagonist Isaac through an awful lot in the first two books. As a result of those events, when we see Isaac again in Unbound, he’s struggling with clinical depression.

This isn’t the casual “had a rough day” depression people often think about. This is the debilitating one, a mental disability that’s damaging Isaac’s health, his job, and his relationships. This is…well, in a lot of ways, it’s similar to what I was going through two years ago. (Admittedly, Isaac’s depression is a bit more extreme, and I didn’t have to worry about cursed thousand-year-old magical artifacts, or accidentally setting a cathedral on fire with a lightning gun.) …

(4) BESIDES DUNE. John Bardinelli makes sure you don’t miss “5 Overlooked Masterpieces by Frank Herbert” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

This week, Brian Herbert released a collection of his late father Frank’s unpublished short stories. It’s an odd, genre-spanning assemblage from creator of Dune, filled not only with science fiction tales, but mysteries, thrillers, “men’s adventure stories,” and more. It’s an intriguing look at the unheralded work of one of the most influential authors of the 20th century—proof that success in publishing doesn’t mean everything you’ve ever written will be a success, and another reminder the when you write one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time, everything else you’ve done suddenly becomes a footnote.

The phenomenon hardly stops with Herbert’s short fiction. Both before and after his signature series took off, he wrote thoughtful, mind bending sci-fi novels that you probably haven’t read, or even heard of, that deserve (almost) as much praise as Dune. Here are five worth tracking down.

Whipping Star One thing Star Trek tends to gloss over is how difficult it is to communicate with alien life. Linguistic and cultural barriers are a challenge, but what if a species doesn’t experience reality the same way we do? The Calebans in 1970’s Whipping Star are the perfect example: they look like stars to our squishy little eyes, and the concepts of linear time and occupying a singular position in space are completely foreign to them. When one of the Caleban needs help from a human, communication is an instant problem. Whipping Star treats us with a firsthand account of this puzzle, feeding us nearly nonsense dialogue until its ideas slowly start to make sense. It’s one of those books that gives you a solid “Ah ha!” moment, independent of the storyline…..

(5) BRITISH BOOK INDUSTRY AWARDS. The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley won Book of the Year at the British Book Industry awards. The Guardian has the story.

First published in a limited print run of just 300 copies by independent publisher Tartarus Press, The Loney tells of a pilgrimage to the Lancashire coast, “that strange nowhere between the Wyre and the Lune [where] the neap tides would reveal the skeletons of those who thought they could escape its insidious currents”. Word-of-mouth success with the small Yorkshire publisher meant it went on to be acquired by John Murray, and to win the Costa first novel award in January.

The British Book Industry awards, for “books that have been both well-written and brilliantly published”, called The Loney a “true British success story”. “A debut novel suspended between literary gothic and supernatural horror, it was written by an unknown author in his 40s, who worked part-time for 10 years to be able to write,” said organisers of the awards, which are run by The Bookseller magazine. “[The Loney] quickly became the hot literary novel, with almost 100 times its original print run.”

The Loney beat titles including Paula Hawkins’s international hit The Girl on the Train, and Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman to the top prize at the British Book Industry awards this evening. The award for non-fiction book of the year went to Lars Mytting and Robert Ferguson’s guide to wood-chopping, Norwegian Wood, a title which organisers said “demonstrated great publisher faith and vision”, while best children’s book was won by David Solomons’s My Brother is a Superhero.

(6) NOMINATION CLUSTERS. Brandon Kempner at Chaos Horizon continues his search for statistical clues to the Hugo-winning novel in  “Checking in with the 2016 Awards Meta-List”. Who’s leading the Meta-List? Here’s a hint: it involves the number five.

For this Meta-List, I track 15 of the biggest SFF awards. Since each award has its own methodologies, biases, and blind spots, this gives us more of a 10,000 foot view of the field, to see if there are any consensus books emerging.

As of early May we have nominees for 10 of the 15 awards. I track the following awards: Clarke, British Fantasy, British SF, Campbell, Compton Crook, Gemmell, Hugo, Kitschies, Locus SF, Locus Fantasy, Nebula, Dick, Prometheus, Tiptree, World Fantasy. I ignore the first novel awards….

(7) RACHEL SWIRSKY IN CHICAGO. She has posted her Nebula Awards schedule.

Thursday, 4pm-5pm: Come visit me to discuss short stories: “Brainstorm a problem area, or ask questions about writing short fiction.”

I’m also on three panels:

Friday, 1pm: The Second Life of Stories: handling backlist and reprints. Panelists: Sarah Pinsker, Rachel Swirsky, Colleen Barr, Marco Palmieri, John Joseph Adams, Don Slater

Friday, 4pm: Medicine after the End of the World: managing chronic conditions and serious illness after the apocalypse. Panelists: Annallee Flower Home, Nick Kanas, Daniel Potter, Rachel Swirsky, Michael Damien Thomas, Fran Wilde

Saturday, 4pm: Redefining the Aliens of the Future. Panelists: Juliette Wade, Charles Ganon, Nick Kanas, Fonda Lee, PJ Schnyder, Rachel Swirsky.

I’m also participating in the mass autographing, Friday, 8-9pm. 

(8) MARS MY DESTINATION. David D. Levine, whose Arabella of Mars will be out from Tor in July, also has a full dance card this weekend.

I’m at the airport again, heading for the Nebula Conference in Chicago, where I will learn whether or not my short story “Damage” won the Nebula Award. I will also appear on programming:

  • Thursday May 12, 2:00-3:00 pm: Interfacing with Conventions in LaSalle 2 with Lynne Thomas, Dave McCarty, Michael Damian Thomas, and Michi Trota
  • Friday May 13, 8:00-9:30 pm: Mass Autographing in Red Lacquer Room. Free and open to the public. I will have ARCs of Arabella of Mars to give away!
  • Saturday May 14, 8:30-10:00 pm: Nebula Award Ceremony in Empire Room.
  • Saturday May 14, 10:00-11:00 pm: Nebula Alternate Universe Speeches in Empire Room.
  • Sunday May 15, 10:00-11:00 am: When Is It Time for a New Agent? in LaSalle 2 with Kameron Hurley.

As long as I am in Chicago, I will also be appearing at Book Expo America, signing ARCs of Arabella of Mars 1:00-2:00 pm at autograph table 7.

(9) CHECK ANYONE’S NEBULA SCHEDULE. Here’s the tool that will let you find any SFWAn’s panel at this weekend’s event – Nebula Conference 2016 Schedule.

(10) CONGRATULATIONS TO THE CHU FAMILY. No need to look up Wesley Chu’s Nebula schedule –

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 11, 1936 Dracula’s Daughter was released. Trivia: Bela Lugosi was paid for his participation in publicity photos for this film even though he did not appear in it.

DraculasDaughter

  • May 11, 1984 Firestarter premiered, a movie based on a Stephen King novel.

(12) ELLIOTT REVIEWED. We mustn’t overlook a book with the magic number in the title — Microreview [book]: Court of Fives by Kate Elliott at Nerds of a Feather.

It might be easy to, at first glance, compare this book with other YA franchises because of its use of death sports and young people. Fives is a game where participants are part athletes, part combatants, and routinely die or are seriously injured on the court. It’s a game that involves complex traps and requires a keen mind and strong body. And it sits at the heart of a plot that revolves around political intrigue, oppression, and privilege. So at first blush it might seem slightly familiar. And yet the character work and the setting set it apart, give it a more historically grounded feel where Fives is more reminiscent of chariot racing than anything more contemporary.

(13) ADVANCED READING CODEX. At Black Gate, Elizabeth Cady argues “The Birth of the Novel” happened a thousand years earlier than some academics believe.

In my last post, I described one product of the Hellenistic period of ancient art as the invention of the novel. This surprised many people, who thought that the novel was an invention of a much later time. So of course, being an academic of leisure (she says as she ducks a flying juice box), I had to say more about it.

Some scholars do date the invention of the novel to the Modern period in Western Europe. I will display my ignorance and say I do not know why this is. Many books exist outside of English, outside of the Modern period, and in fact outside of the Western hemisphere that easily qualify as novels, so it is difficult for me to see this claim as much more than chauvinism. But if someone wants to correct me on this point, I am willing and eager to be enlightened. Or to fight you on it.

The first novel that we have comes from somewhere between the 2nd Century BCE and the 1st Century CE. It is a positively charming little book called Callirhoe, and it describes the travails of a beautiful young woman who marries her true love, an equally handsome young man named Chaereas. Shortly after their wedding, he kicks her in a fit of jealous rage and she dies.

At least that’s what everyone thinks. She has in fact been put into a coma, only to awaken when pirates invade her tomb. These pirates kidnap her and take her to Miletus to sell her at the slave market; she is then sold to a man named Dionysius. Callirhoe is so beautiful and virtuous that Dionysius falls in love with her as well, and asks her to marry him. She would refuse but she has discovered she is pregnant with her first husband’s child, and agrees to the marriage out of maternal devotion….

(14) THE PEEPS LOOK UP. John DeChancie reposted his homage to the LASFS clubhouse on Facebook.

…I only remember the good times. I remember the late nights, the Mah Jongg, the Hell games, the cook outs, the late night bull sessions. . .but what I cherish most is the sheer pleasure of meeting and talking with other people who share my view of the universe.

No, let me rephrase that. I look forward to people who have a view of the universe to share. Not everyone does. What most distinguishes the mentality of SF and its fandom from that of the mundane is the capacity to be aware of the vastness of everything out there, all the wild possibilities, the fantastic vistas, the realms of infinite regress, the black reaches and streams of bright plasma. Most humans have their myopic eyes fixed on the dirt. They don’t look up much. When they do, it is with fear and apprehension….

(15) AEI STAR WARS PANEL. The American Enterprise Institute presents “The world according to Star Wars”, part of the Bradley Lecture Series, on Tuesday, July 14. RSVP to attend this event, or watch live online here on June 14 at 5:30 PM ET. (Registration is not required for the livestream.)

Cass Sustein joins AEI scholars Norman Ornstein, James Pethokoukis, and Michael Strain to discuss his new book, “The World According to Star Wars,” a political and economic comparison of the “Star Wars” series and today’s America.

Cass Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, has turned his attention to one of the most beloved and successful film series of our time, “Star Wars.” In his new book, “The World According to Star Wars” (Dey Street Books, 2016), Mr. Sunstein, who has written widely about constitutional and environmental law and behavioral economics, argues the legendary series can teach us a lot about economics, law, politics, and the power of individual agency.

Mr. Sunstein will be joined by AEI’s Norman Ornstein, James Pethokoukis, and Michael Strain for a discussion of the timeless lessons from “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Books will be available for purchase, and a book signing with follow the event.

(16) NEW SAMPLES AT GRRM SITE. George R. R. Martin told Not A Blog readers where to find new samples from two forthcoming books.

For all the Wild Cards fans out there, we’ve got a taste of HIGH STAKES, due out this August. HIGH STAKES is the twenty-third volume in the overall series, and the third and concluding part of the ‘Fort Freak’ triad. The sample is from the pen of the talented Ian Tregillis, and features Mollie Steunenberg, aka Tesseract. You’ll find it at: http://www.georgerrmartin.com/wild-cards-excerpt/

((Readers with weak stomachs be warned, HIGH STAKES is our Lovecraftian horror book, and things do get graphic and bloody and… well… horrible. Althought not so much in the sample)).

And… because I know how much bitching I’d get if I offered a new sample from Wild Cards without also doing one from A SONG OF ICE & FIRE… we’ve also changed the WINDS OF WINTER sample on my wesbite, replacing the Alayne chapter that’s been there for the past year with one featuring Arianne Martell. (Some of you may have heard me read this one at cons).

Have a read at: http://www.georgerrmartin.com/excerpt-from-the-winds-of-winter/

You want to know what the Sand Snakes, Prince Doran, Areo Hotah, Ellaria Sand, Darkstar, and the rest will be up to in WINDS OF WINTER? Quite a lot, actually. The sample will give you a taste. For the rest, you will need to wait.

And no, just to spike any bullshit rumors, changing the sample chapter does NOT mean I am done. See the icon up above? Monkey is still on my back… but he’s growing, he is, and one day…

(17) ZOOM BY TUBE. From Financial Times: “Musk’s Hyperloop in step towards reality”. (Via Chaos Manor.)

Elon Musk’s dream of ultra-high speed travel through a tube came a small step closer to reality on Tuesday, when one of the companies set up to pursue the idea announced it had raised another $80m and said it was ready to show off a key part of the technology.

Mr Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, stirred a wave of interest in 2013 in a technology known as hyperloop — a tube from which air is pumped out to maintain a near-vacuum, theoretically making it possible for pods carrying people or freight to move at close to the speed of sound.

The idea was floated as a potential alternative to California’s plans for a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Coming from an entrepreneur who has come to be seen in some tech circles as a visionary, it attracted enough attention to trigger a race among start-ups trying to prove the technology is in fact practical.

(18) AGENT CARTER. E!News asks“Did ABC Just Secretly Cancel Agent Carter?”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

Warning: The following contains mild spoilers for both last night’s new episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America: Civil War. If you’re particularly averse to those sorts of things, you may want to turn away. Consider yourselves warned.

Dearly beloved, we gather here today to pay tribute to to the life of Agent Peggy Carter. But is it also time that we begin mourning Agent Carter, too?

If you didn’t make it out to the megaplex over the weekend to catch Captain America: Civil War, last night’s new episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. probably dropped quite a bomb on you with their brief mention about the passing of the beloved founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the age of 95. That’s right, friends—Peggy Carter is dead….

(19) RED S GOING FROM CBS TO CW? ScreenRant explains why “Supergirl Season 2 Move to The CW Now a Stronger Possibility”.

CBS joined fellow TV networks FOX and The CW in airing its own DC Comics-based TV show in 2015 with Supergirl. However, the future of the series, starring Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers a.k.a. Kara Zor-El (Superman’s cousin), is currently up in the air following the airing of its season 1 finale. Although CBS CEO Les Moonves previously appeared to suggest that Supergirl season 2 is all but a done deal, the show has yet to be formally renewed, even now that the deadline for such a renewal is staring CBS right in the face.

There have been rumors that Supergirl could make the move to The CW – the place that Supergirl co-creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg’s other DC superhero TV shows (Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow) call home – for its sophomore season. While those claims were relatively shaky in nature, it’s now being reported that Supergirl moving to The CW is more of a real possibility and that steps are being taken to prepare for such a change, behind the scenes on the series.

(20) QUICK SAVE. “Here’s hoping The Flash wrote Kevin Smith a big fat check” says Polygon.

Whatever they paid for last night’s episode, it wasn’t enough

Whatever amount of money CW paid Kevin Smith to direct last night’s episode of The Flash, it wasn’t enough. The man responsible for Clerks (and everything that’s followed in its wake) single-handedly pulled the show out of a narrative tailspin the likes of which haven’t been seen on television since the second season of Heroes.

Now it’s up to the show’s core team to follow through and finish on a high note. Here’s how it went down.…

(21) MOVIES TO WATCH FOR. Hampus Eckerman recommends keeping an eye open for a chance to see these three movies.

A group of online gamers are invited to try a state-of-the-art virtual reality video game but things take a turn for the sinister when these masters of the shoot ’em up discover they will literally be fighting for their lives.

 

 NEUROO-X, a German-Swiss-Chinese entertainment company group, stands for games that dissolve the boundary between reality and gaming). A new gadget, the myth-enshrouded RED BOOK, offers the ultimate gaming experience. The most secret longings of gamers are scanned by the engine and transformed into fantastic adventures. The conspiracy psychoses of users are the raw material for the storytelling of NEUROO-X. Marcus, Chief Development Manager of NEUROO-X dies shortly before completion of the RED BOOK. His lover Ryuko finds out that something terrible happened during testing of the game in China, and the deeper she submerges into the secret of NEUROO-X, the more she loses touch with reality. She neglects her son Walter, who logs into the game and disappears into the digital parallel world. The more Ryuko fights the corporation in order to rescue her son, the more she updates the narrative desired by NEUROO-X. Ryuko finds herself in a world full of demons, witches, knights and terrorists.

 

Three ordinary guys are thrust into a parallel world of an old Sci-Fi movie. Trapped in a low budget universe they must somehow fight their way home before it is too late.

 

(22) TEACH YOUR HATCHLINGS WELL. “Godzilla Celebrates Take Your Child to Work Day!” at Tor.com features wonderful kaiju humor.

Take Your Child To Work Day is a chaotic time – hordes of tiny creatures swarming office spaces, demanding attention and snacks and opportunities to spin around in swivel chairs. But imagine, if you will, Godzilla participating in this tradition! Tumblr-er CaqtusComics proposed such a scenario to fellow Tumblr-er Iquanamouth, and the resulting comic is perfection.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Michael J. Walsh, Rachel Swirsky, David D. Levine, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 3/27/16 (I’ll Never Be Your) Star Beast of Burden

(1) DANGER WILL ROBINSON! “’Lost in Space’ robot saved from Valley Village fire” reports Daily News.

TV and movie props that included a robot reportedly from TV’s “Lost in Space” were saved from destruction late Wednesday in Valley Village due to the efforts of Los Angeles firefighters.

The LAFD responded about 11:30 p.m. to a garage fire in the 5100 block of Whitsett Avenue. Firefighters attacked the blaze, which was electrical in nature, a fire department spokesman told a photographer at the scene.

The home belongs to a prop designer and special effects artist who was out of town at the time, according to a caretaker who woke to the smell of smoke.

(2) JOCULARITY. Two Easter hams are heard from.

(3) HEARSAY. Mark Evanier’s friend has convinced him this weekend’s blockbuster is “Not the World’s Finest” – as he explains at News From ME.

I don’t have a whole lot of interest in seeing the new Batman Vs. Superman movie, a film which has achieved something I didn’t think was possible. It actually caused my dear friend Leonard Maltin to use the word “sucks” in his review. Even Rob Schneider never managed that and lord, how he tried.

(4) PARAGRAPH FROM A FUTURE TRIP REPORT. GUFF delegate Jukka Halme outlined how he spent the day.

Sunday at Contact 2016 has been a small whirlwind. Moderated my first panel (Through New Eyes), which went really well. Chatted way too long at the Fan Fund table with the Usual Suspects. Bought books. Just a few. Waited ages for my Pad Thai at the hotel restaurant, that was brimming with people and not too many employees, Presented a Ditmar, with a little bit of Bob Silverberg routine (VERY little) to Galactic Suburbia. Held an auction for fan funds, which went smashingly well. And missed the bar, since this is a dry state and while it is apparently OK to sell alcohol during Easter Sunday, places either close up really early, or everybody had left the bar.

(5) AN AUTHOR’S USE OF NAVAJO CULTURE. “Utah author features Navajo characters, history in new science fiction thriller” in Deseret News.

After serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico, Robison Wells, who lives in Holladay, fell in love with both the area and the people he served. When he wrote his newest book, “Dark Energy” (HarperTeen, $17.99, ages 13 and up), which features several Native American characters and is scheduled to be released March 29, he worried about portraying them in the correct way.

“I wanted to show respect for the culture,” he said. “I didn’t want to appropriate their culture or their traditions.”

He sent his manuscript out to a lot of Navajo readers to get their reactions and tried to adjust his book accordingly. He knew writing a story centering on Native American characters and history would be a difficult and controversial thing to do, but he felt that it was such a compelling story that he had to tell it.

(6) ADDRESS FOR HAMNER CONDOLENCES. Anyone wishing to send a letter or card to the family may do so at the address below.

Jane Hamner
P.O. Box 220038
Newhall, CA 91322

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 27, 1963 — Quentin Tarantino

(8) TODAY’S BLOOD-PRESSURE BOOSTER. Jason Sanford says “The Retro Hugo Awards must be fixed”.

If any particular Worldcon wants to give out Retro Hugos, then e-book and/or online anthologies of eligible authors and stories must be made available to those nominating for the awards. And that must include works which are not in the public domain. Yes, it would take time to do this but I imagine most publishers and/or author estates would be willing to make the stories available for members at no cost.

But even if voters have access to stories from decades ago, it’s still unlikely that as many people will take part in the Retro Hugo nominating process as takes part in nominating for the regular Hugos. This, unfortunately, leaves the Retro Hugos open to missing important works and to being gamed.

To fix this here’s my next suggestion: Use a combination of juries and regular Worldcon members to nominate works for the Retro Hugos. 

I know juries seem like the ultimate insider power play, but when you’re dealing with stories published 75 or 100 years ago it can be useful to have experts in that genre time period also nominating stories. Perhaps the jury could nominate two of the five works in each category, and Worldcon members could nominate three of five. This also seems like a sensible way to make sure the nominated stories are truly the best that year has to offer.

(9) CAN MUSK AFFORD A MARTIAN ODYSSEY? “Neil deGrasse Tyson to Elon Musk: SpaceX Is ‘Delusional’ About Mars”. A writer at The Motley Fool explains Tyson’s reasons.

In less than 10 years from now, SpaceX may or may not beat NASA in the race to Mars. Astrophysicist, Hayden Planetarium director, and host of the National Geographic Channel’s StarTalk Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is placing his bet on “not.”

“The delusion is thinking that SpaceX is going to lead the space frontier. That’s just not going to happen…” Tyson said in an interview with The Verge. Tyson laid out his arguments for why fans of a solo SpaceX trip to Mars suffer from a “delusion.” According to Tyson, there are three main reasons SpaceX cannot go to Mars on its own.

Reason 1: Cost

“So if you’re going to bring in investors or venture capitalists and say, ‘Hey, I have an idea, I want to put the first humans on Mars.’ They’ll ask, ‘How much will it cost?’ You say, ‘A lot,'” Tyson said in the interview.

Tyson says it’s “very expensive” to go to Mars. How expensive? Some estimate $30 billion, but a bill of $160 billion isn’t out of the question, and critics in Congress charge that the total cost could reach $500 billion….

(10) CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE? Camestros Felapton is away traveling for a month. During their absence, Timothy the Talking Cat has taken over the blog, and has been busy posting such literary gems as “Timothy retells Dune”.

…Now there was this posh elitist liberal progressive family called the Artyfarties. They like super sucked at making money. The dad was a real wimp and the mum was in some sort of feminist cult. The son looked like the crazy guy in Agents of Shield but younger and more wimpy. The kid Artyfarties thought he was so much smarter than everybody but was a big wimp.

Now Boss Harkonen took pity on the Artyfarties. Big mistake! But he had a kind heart and he hated to see the Artyfarties suck so badly at businessing. So Boss Harkonen says to Dad Artyfarties: “You can run this planet for me. It is the only place you get Old Spice Magic which makes people young and makes spaceships run. It’s a classic monopoly, you can’t go wrong. Just don’t screw it up!” ….

(11) MEASURING SUCTION. Which is worse? Timothy the Cat’s retelling, or David Lynch’s? It’s close. Here’s Jonathan K. Dick’s evaluation of the movie at A.V Club, Dune can’t capture the novel’s incalculable brilliance”.

So what the hell is wrong with Lynch’s Dune? Before the collective “everything” echoes through the internet, it’s important to understand that the phrase itself “Lynch’s Dune” should already throw up the kind of red flags usually reserved for impending, air-raid level danger. Four years removed from his time behind the chair as director for the spirit-lifting biopic The Elephant Man and its eight Academy Award nominations, Lynch received the go-ahead from producer Raffaella De Laurentiis to direct the film adaption of Dune. This after 20 years, no less than 10 directors, producers, screenwriters, scripts, and general filmmaking anxiety that included the likes of Ridley Scott, Rudy Wurlitzer, Robert Greenhut, and of course the brilliantly documented attempt by Alejandro Jodorowsky.

(12) FIRST SEASON FLINTSONES COSPLAY? The Traveler from Galactic Journey amusingly interprets cosplay at this weekend’s WonderCon in terms of what fans knew in 1961 — “[March 27, 1961] What A Wonder! (WonderCon)”.

These are generally smallish affairs compared to their business-oriented cousins, with attendance running into the hundreds.  But for the fan who normally has a local community of just a half-dozen fellows (and perhaps many more as pen pals), going to a convention is like a pilgrimage to Mecca.  One meets people with completely different experiences, different perspectives.  There is the opportunity to get news from far and wide on exciting new projects, both fan and professional.  And the carousing is second to none, both in the heights of enthusiasm and creativity.

Take a look at my newly developed roll of shots from “WonderCon”, a sizeable affair held last weekend in Los Angeles.  These are some dedicated fans, some fabulous costumes, and some terrific times!

First off, a few attendees who came in street clothes: …

(13) MILESTONES ABOVE THE SKY. Motherboard advises that “‘In Space We Trust’ is a Beautiful History of Exploration”

In the timeline (which for all its beauty will entirely monopolize your CPU usage) you navigate the history of space as a young cosmonaut. The timeline begins with the October 4, 1957 launch of Sputnik and takes the user through all the major space milestones: first spacecraft, journeys to other planets, landings on celestial bodies.

Each milestone is accompanied by a series of stunning animations, a brief description of the event and a link to a Wikipedia page on the topic in case you want to read more. Your journey is orchestrated with an ethereal soundtrack that is overlaid with sounds from space like cosmonauts on a radio or rocket engines igniting.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 3/6/16 Life During Scrolltime

(1) MODERATE TO HEAVY PUPPIES. Standback contributes “A Moderate Conversation Re: Sad Puppies”.

So to some extent, this is a sufficient answer to Stephanie’s question. Why is there so much vitriol against the Puppies? Because we’re on the internet, where it doesn’t take a whole lot to escalate an argument over Best Brand of Pasta into virtual knifings…..

To start things off: I would say I understand the core Puppy complaints, and agree with many of them (to varying extents).

I definitely see a shift in the “focus” of the genre, even if I’d be hard-pressed to nail it down to a definition (not unreasonable, in a genre still best-defined as “what we point to when we say it”). The disproportionate influence of particular groups and fandoms has been raised and enthusiastically argued over in the past (e.g. [1] [2] [3]). And I think there’s been a lot of snubbing, condescension and ad-hominem attacks coming from non-Puppies. Which they often don’t notice, or consider justified. (Scott Alexander’s I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup springs to mind, as it so often does.)

I won’t go over the Puppy grievances one by one, but I think I can see where all of them are coming from.

(2) DAN SCHNEIDER VIDEO INTERVIEW #68. Steven H Silver says, “Yesterday, Terry Bisson and I were interviewed for a podcast about Alternate History. If you want to hear what I would sound like recording on an Edison cylinder, I imagine this is pretty much it.”

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman’s third episode of his Eating the Fantastic podcast is now live, with guest Bill Campbell.

BillCampbellEatingtheFantastic-300x300

Bill opened up about many things, including the genius of Samuel R. Delany, how Rosarium’s first book Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond gave birth to a new publishing company, the challenges of crowdfunding creative projects, why he was once blacklisted at a convention, and many other topics which I hope you’ll find as fascinating as I did.

Episode four, coming in two weeks, will feature writer Tom Doyle.

(4) REQUESTING MORE CONTENTS, FEWER TABLES. Black Gate continues its Hartwell tribute with “The Books of David G. Hartwell: Visions of Wonder and The Science Fiction Century”. I’m all in favor of paying tribute to Hartwell, I’d just like to see more in these posts than the reprinted tables of contents of his collections.

(5) NAMING CONVENTIONS. Michael J. Walsh observes what a well-Cultured sense of humor Elon Musk displayed in naming his ships.

By January 2016, a total of three ASDSs have been refitted. The first ASDS, named Just Read the Instructions (JRtI), was converted from a barge in late 2014 and was deployed in January 2015 during the CRS-5 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station in order to provide a landing platform for a test flight of the returning booster stage. It was used for two landing tests through April 2015, and by June 2015, was retired as an ASDS.[1] The second ASDS, named Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY), was converted from a much-newer deck barge and became operational in June 2015 to support a landing test on the CRS-7 mission.

(6) CRADLE OF SF’S GOLDEN AGE. Robert A. Heinlein’s birthplace in Butler, MO has been listed for sale. The asking price is $97,500.

Geo Rule says “The Heinlein Society will gladly accept a six figure donation to purchase it and turn it into a museum, if you’re feeling generous as well. Well, maybe seven figure to turn it into a museum…”

 

Lou Antonelli takes a selfie at Heinlein's birthplace.

Lou Antonelli takes a selfie at Heinlein’s birthplace.

(7) STATHOPOULOS EXHIBITION. Rejects! The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, a retrospective of portraits by famed Australian painter Nick Stathopoulos , runs March 28-April 15 at Project 504 Studio in St. Leonards (Sydney). Stathopoulos is a 10-time Ditmar Award winner, who also was a 1999 Hugo nominee in the Best Professional Artist category.

rejects stathopolous

(8) NANCY REAGAN OBIT. Former First Lady Nancy Davis Reagan died today, March 6, at the age of 95. Like her spouse, she had an acting career prior to living in the White House, which included a role in the genre movie Donovan’s Brain. The movie was based on a 1942 horror novel by Curt Siodmak who, showing what a small world it is, lived in those days not far from Robert A. Heinlein’s home on Laurel Canyon.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born March 6, 1906 — Lou Costello. “Abbott and Costello Meet…  have to be some of the best monster movies,” says John King Tarpinian.
  • Born March 6, 1928 – William F. Nolan
William F. Nolan, Forrest J Ackerman, and Ray Bradbury.

William F. Nolan, Forrest J Ackerman, and Ray Bradbury.

(10) ACE OF HORROR. SF Signal has “5-Time Bram Stoker Winner Jonathan Maberrry on His Prolific Career”

CARL SLAUGHTER: Which of your novels is being adapted by hollywood?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’m fortunate to have several of my projects in development for film and television. My Joe Ledger thrillers are being developed by Lone Tree Entertainment and Vintage Picture Company as a possible series of movies, likely beginning with Extinction Machine, the 5th in the series. And my vampire apocalypse series, V-Wars, is headed to TV, with a brilliant script by former Dexter head writer, Tim Schlattmann. Several other properties, including Rot & Ruin, The Pine Deep Trilogy, and others, are being discussed.

CS: How long and how hard is the journey to the screen?

JM: Like most writers I’ve coasted the edges of the Hollywood experience for years. There are some frustrations, of course, but that’s part of the game. For example, back on 2007 I co-created a show for ABC-Disney called On the Slab, which was a horror-sci fi-fantasy news program. Disney paid us to develop it and write a series bible and sample script; and then there was a change of management in the department that purchased it. Suddenly the project was orphaned and therefore dead in the water. Another time producer Michael DeLuca (Blade, Magnolia) optioned the first Joe Ledger novel, Patient Zero, on behalf of Sony, who in turn took it to ABC, who hired Emmy Award-winning TV writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost) to write a pilot. Then after we’d gone a long way toward seeing it launch they decided instead to focus on the reboot of Charlie’s Angels, which flubbed badly. That’s Hollywood. I don’t take this stuff personally, though. And I never lost my optimism.

(11) FRIENDSHIP CALCULUS. Adam-Troy Castro explains “How To Remain My Friend When You Really Hate My Friend”.

I guarantee you, if I am close to Friend X, I know that “Asshole” is part of his Venn Diagram. As it is part of mine. As it is part of yours. I have clearly already made my personal calculations and decided that his other aspects are more important. I may someday change my mind. But it is my mind to change, based on whatever passes between me and Friend X; possibly even depending on what I see Friend X do to Friend Y. But you, who have had a different experience with Friend X, and therefore a different reaction, cannot win this argument with me using words, no matter how eloquently you express everything you find objectionable about him. It is, however, very possible for you to lose it. You can become a bore. You can become a scold. You can just become the distasteful person who always feels obligated to piss on my pal; the guy who gives me the impression that nothing will satisfy him until I start pissing on my pal too. That makes YOU the shithead.

(12) VIRUS WITH A LIBRARY. Nature reports “CRISPR-like ‘immune’ system discovered in giant virus”.

Gigantic mimiviruses fend off invaders using defences similar to the CRISPR system deployed by bacteria and other microorganisms, French researchers report. They say that the discovery of a working immune system in a mimivirus bolsters their claim that the giant virus represents a new branch in the tree of life.

Mimiviruses are so large that they are visible under a light microscope. Around half a micrometre across, and first found infecting amoebae living in a water tower, they boast genomes that are larger than those of some bacteria. They are distantly related to viruses that include smallpox, but unlike most viruses, they have genes to make amino acids, DNA letters and complex proteins.

(13) TO BOLDLY BUILD WHAT NO MAN HAS BUILT BEFORE. Collider explains why “NASA Has Designed a Warp Ship Inspired by ‘Star Trek’s Enterprise”.

When does science-fiction become science fact? Throughout various mediums over the last few centuries, we’ve seen early versions of concepts that would eventually become a reality. Sometimes these portrayals are pretty far off base (still waiting on those flying cars), while other times they feel downright prescient. But in the case of Star Trek and one particular engineer at NASA, science-fiction actually informed science fact, with NASA engineer and physicist Harold White now actively working on a space ship that would allow travel faster than the speed of light—or, for the Star Trek inclined, warp speed.

White announced this idea a few years ago, with the concept seeking to allow travel faster than the speed of light by literally expanding space-time behind the object and contracting space-time in front of it. In reality, the object doesn’t “go fast,” but instead takes advantage of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity to move between space-time.

If your head has yet to explode, sit tight—in concert with White, designer Mark Rademaker has now created a CGI design concept of the ship that would operate using this theory, which they have aptly named the IXS Enterprise. Per Rademaker in an interview with the Washington Post, the idea behind the concept art serves two purposes: to visualize their idea, and to inspire burgeoning young scientists

(14) PAGING HUGO NOMINEES. George R.R. Martin knows it’s “Nomination Time”. His short fiction recommendation is a needle in a small Venusian haystack.

Last year, however, these three categories were among those most impacted by Puppygate. The slates dominated all three, sweeping the board and shutting out all other work. In the novelette category, a disqualification allowed one non-Puppy nominee to squeeze onto the ballot, and that story ultimately won. In novella and short story, fans unhappy with the choices presented them voted No Award. Understandably, IMNSHO… still, it was not a happy ending. There was some wonderful and powerful work published in these categories in 2014, and it was a shame that none of it could be recognized. (I was proud and pleased to present Alfie Awards to Ursula Vernon for “Jackalope Wives” in short story, and to Patrick Rothfuss for “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” in novella… but we all know that an Alfie is not a Hugo, and in an ordinary year both Vernon and Rothfuss would surely have been contending for a rocket).

That’s last year, however. No amount of rehashing can change what happened. The important thing is to see that it does not happen again. And to that end, it behooves all of us to nominate the short stories, novelettes, and novellas that we enjoyed most last year… to share our thoughts with our friends… to shout our recommendations from the rooftops. Let’s make sure this year’s shortlists truly represent the best of what was published in 2015.

As to my own recommendations…

Ah, there I hit a problem. I am not making any recommendations in these categories. Problem is, I have a conflict of interest. As a writer I did not publish any original short fiction in 2015, true. As an editor, however… well, Gardner Dozois and I co-edited an anthology called OLD VENUS that came out last year, and in my (admittedly less than objective) view, that book contained several stories that are worthy of Hugo nominations, and one that is so bloody brilliant that I think it stands right up there with any story that ever won the Hugo.

I really can’t tell you which one it is, however. Or the names of the other stories in the book that I think worthy of consideration. Look, Gardner and I liked all the stories we included in OLD VENUS. If we hadn’t, we would not have purchased them (and we do reject stories for every one of our anthologies). But we’d be lying if we said we liked all of them equally. There are stories Gardner liked more than I did; there are stories I liked more than Gardner did; there are stories both of us loved, loved, loved. As editors, however, it would be unethical for us to say which were which in public. Just as parents need to maintain devoutly that they love all their children equally and have no favorites, it behooves the ethical editor to take a similar stance toward the stories they purchase and publish.

(15) GIVING KATE A HELPING PAW. Steve Davidson hated to let go to waste the effort he invested on a comment I deleted here the other day. It now has manifested as “Puppy See, Puppy Do-Do” at Amazing Stories.

Kate Paulk recently closed the comments (at the beginning of March) so that they could be compiled and a final list composed.

It’s a little late in the game, especially considering that nominators are kinda expected to read and be familiar with works they’re going to recommend (but that isn’t necessarily an impediment for organized voting), so we’ve decided to help them out a bit and give them a hand up.

We started with one of the most visible categories – Best Novel. The following list contains all of the individual works mentioned in the comments. We did not verify eligibility (although most, if not all of the works seems to meet that criteria). When judging whether or not someone recommended something, we took “Plus 1” and “Me Too” to count for a “vote”. If someone talked about a work but didn’t expressly indicate that it was something they were going to nominate, we didn’t count it.

If a “top ten” is going to be compiled, it’s pretty obvious from the counts below what we should see on the Sad Puppy IV Slate. It will be interesting to see how the final list compares.

(16) HAMMER EMCEE RAPPED. Marie Porter has some feedback for masquerade emcees, triggered by a recent bad example of the art.

I want to talk about Emcees for convention ?#?cosplay masquerades.

It feels like almost every masquerade we’ve competed in, judged, or watched – with maybe 1-2 exceptions – has had an emcee that behaves in a manner that I find disrespectful to the competitors.

As a general thing, it usually comes in the form of trying to be “entertaining”, and basically comes off like this emcee has an audience, that they are the STAR of the show, and the competitors are basically props to them. They feed off the laughs, which they try to obtain by any means necessary.

A lot of the time, it happens by cracking rude and unnecessary jokes while introducing the competitor, as the competitor leaves the stage, etc.

When it happens, it feels like the emcee has lost sight of what the show is actually about – showcasing the hard work of the competitors. It’s not the “emcee show”, no matter how much they would like to think it is.

Tonight, a few things happened that still have me mad, so let me describe it to demonstrate what I’m saying.

A friend of mine was competing in the beginner category, in a costume she SLAVED over – a Steampunk Lady Thor. I watched her build progress – she put a ton of work into it, and she had every reason to be proud of it.

As she was on stage – being judged, mind you – the emcee talked *over her provided audio* to say – and I quote

“She could hammer me any time”.

She looked horrified, and – quite frankly – like she wanted to murder the guy. Rightly so, IMHO. She basically had all of her hard work diminished into a sexual joke. It was degrading and objectifying, and had no place happening. SHE WAS COMPETING, during PERFORMANCE judging. Can you imagine being shocked by something like that, after all that work?

This is a Facebook link to video of the emcee’s “hammer” line. You can see it for yourself.

(17) UNLOOTED LOOT? Nile Magazine wonders if someone blabbed: “It is full of treasures… the discovery of the 21st century”.

Tantalising news about the ‘secret chamber’ in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

“We do not know if the burial chamber is Nefertiti or another woman, but it is full of treasures.” – Egypt’s Tourism Minister, Hisham Zaazou.

It seems that some secrets are too good to keep. Is this a phenomenal leak about what lays beyond the false wall in Tutankhamun’s tomb? Is it speculative wishful thinking? Or is this a clever boost for badly-needed tourism?

Mr. Zaazou claims that the announcement of what lays inside the secret chamber will be made in April. “It will be a ‘Big Bang’ – the discovery of the 21st century.”

To be honest, I’m not sure what to make of the news that has wafted out of Egypt via Spain in the past 24 hours. The Spanish national daily newspaper, ABC, claims that Egypt’s Tourism Minister, Hisham Zaazou, who was in Spain a few weeks ago, confirmed that there is “treasure” in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

(18) OLD NEWS IS GOOD NEWS. Shortly after Ray Bradbury died in 2012, Jessica Allen wrote a retrospective for Maclean’s about the Bradbury stories Maclean’s had published, in “Here’s to you, Ray Bradbury”. Her article was adorned with photos of the title page art, including a notable typo in the credit for his contribution to Maclean’s September 15, 1948 edition.

Bradbury MacLeans the long years

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael J., Walsh, Steven H Silver, Lis, Andrew Porter, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]