Pixel Scroll 12/14 The Trixels Scroll

(1) SURREAL CEREAL. “When I just saw this, I did suddenly wonder, ‘Is nothing sacred?’” says James H. Burns.

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(2) RED LIGHT AT MORNING. Bob Byrne’s “The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: ‘Rudolph’s Performance Review’”  at Black Gate continues his tradition of holiday humor.

You’d think the reindeer with the shiny red nose would have knocked his annual review out of the park after that foggy Christmas Eve, eh? Well, that Santa is one tough reviewer. Read on, and I wish you a safe, happy and blessed Merry Christmas….

(3) DON’T LINK. Jenneral Geek’s theory about Doctor Who’s most popular episode suggests “’Blink’ Might be Even More Timey-Wimey Than You Think”.

Now, you may also remember a flirtatious babe from the same episode named Billy Shipton. Billy is a detective investigating the disappearance of people in relation to Wester Drumlins. This is what brings us to the lovely meet-cute in which Billy Shipton and Sally Sparrow flirt in front of a dusty blue police box. Billy gets Sally’s number and when he asks for her full name she retorts, “Sally Shipton” without thinking, followed by her instant mortification and departure. Cut scene and fast forward – Billy gets Weeping Angel’d back to 1969 where he receives instructions from the Doctor not to contact Sally Sparrow until after their original encounter. Billy lives his life back to 2007 and calls Sally. They re-meet minutes later for Sally and 38 years later for Billy in his hospital room. An elderly Billy tells Sally Sparrow information that is relevant to the plot, BUT he also tells her that he married a woman coincidentally named Sally from the 70’s. He even shows a picture of his dearly beloved, Sally Shipton.

I know this is timey-wimey enough as is, but what if there is more? At this point of the episode I had to press pause because my mind was going through the time vortex. Hey, how cool would it be if Billy Shipton actually married Kathy Wainwright’s daughter? So, I couldn’t resist whipping out my handy dandy calculator and pretending like I don’t blow at math.

(4) RETROSPECTIVE. TCM Remembers 2015 honors actors, actresses and filmmakers who passed away this year, among them Leonard Nimoy, Christopher Lee, Rod Taylor and Wes Craven.

(5) BSFA AWARDS. Nominations are open for the British Science Fiction Association Awards through December 31.

Who can nominate?

You may nominate a work if YOU:

  • Are a member of the BSFA

AND

  • Send or give your nominations to the Awards Administrator to arrive by the 31st December of each year.

See here for further details.

(6) SEE ME. Now I’m surprised John Scalzi didn’t drop in this morning to support Buckaroo Banzai in Hampus’ next set of brackets.

But John, do you mean Perfect like Perfect Tommy, or like Roger Daltrey’s Tommy?

(7) ACKERMANSION II. There’s a petition at change.org calling on the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission to “Declare Forrest Ackerman’s house a historic monument!”  The Commission considered an application at its December 3 meeting – I don’t know what they decided.

Forrest Ackerman is considered “the father of science fiction.” He was a magazine editor, science fiction writer and literary agent who represented Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, J.P. Lovecraft and L. Ron Hubbard, among many others. His magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, was an inspiration to writers and filmmakers like Stephen Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Stephen King, J.J. Abrams and Guillermo del Toro. Ackerman housed his extensive collection of sci-fi memorabilia in a private museum at 4513 Russell Ave. in Los Angeles and this home was dubbed the “Acker-Mini-Mansion.” The Smithsonian described Ackerman’s home as “one of the 10 best private museums in the country” open to visitors every Saturday since 1951 until Ackerman’s death in 2008.  Please support designating Ackerman’s house a historic monument to prevent its demolition by developers who want to “put up a parking lot.”

I’m guessing “put up a parking lot” is a reference to Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” rather than an immediate plan for the property.

(8) THE VOICE. Last summer Natalie Luhrs raised $5,125 from folks who wanted her to livetweet her experience reading a Theodore Beale novel, and unlock another major incentive. And now that incentive has arrived — “Bad Life Decisions: Mary Robinette Kowal Reads Theodore Beale. Sexily” — at Pretty Terrible.

As promised at the conclusion of the fundraiser, here is Mary Robinette Kowal reading snippets from Theodore Beale’s Eternal Warriors™: War In Heaven in a very, very sexy voice.

(9) OKORAFOR. Nnedi Okorafor has been named the winner of Brittle Paper’s African Literary Person of the Year Award.

Brittle Paper is a blog written by Duke Ph.D. student Ainehi Edoro.

The 2015 African literary person of the year goes to Nnedi Okorafor for the many ways in which Africa inspires innovation in her approach to storytelling.

The way she writes about Africa is refreshingly different. Take for example her 2014 novel titled Lagoon. The novel follows the near-apocalyptic chaos that takes over Lagos when aliens land on its shores. In the novel, she pushes us to imagine a futuristic but recognizable Lagos swarming with aliens and creatures. The novel is a mashup of cultural iconographies that range from alien spaceships and viral youtube videos to Igbo ancestral masquerades and folkloric archetypes to Karl Marx and Danfo buses. She tells a story about Lagos by situating the city, its fears and anxieties, its history and its landscape within a global network of literary traditions and philosophical concerns. A novel such as Lagoon brings to the conclusion that African life is so complex, so rich that to adequately give an account of it we have to draw inspiration from everywhere—from Nollywood but also from Star Wars, from Esu but also from American rappers, from Pentecostal churches but also from underground LGBT communities.

(10) Today In History

Through physical experiments, Planck demonstrated that energy, in certain situations, can exhibit characteristics of physical matter. According to theories of classical physics, energy is solely a continuous wave-like phenomenon, independent of the characteristics of physical matter. Planck’s theory held that radiant energy is made up of particle-like components, known as “quantum.” The theory helped to resolve previously unexplained natural phenomena such as the behavior of heat in solids and the nature of light absorption on an atomic level. In 1918, Planck was rewarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on blackbody radiation.

(11) TOY AUCTION. An auction of over 600 Star Wars collectible toys on December 11 brought in more than $500,000.

The higher-end items in Nigo’s collection were either rare or still in the original packaging, making them desirable collectors’ items.

A rare Luke Skywalker figure — one of only 20 confirmed — was expected to sell for $12,000 to $18,000. It sold for $25,000.

The highest-selling lot, a seven-figure multi-pack sold exclusively in Canada in 1980, garnered $32,500 at the auction.

Among the items were two sets of “Star Wars” coins which were estimated to sell for between $25,000 and $35,000. They sold for $27,500.

(12) LITTLE TEENY EYES. Supervike is creating Monster Hunter International miniatures.

I paint and model little toy soldiers, and since there really aren’t any commercially available that represent the world of MHI, I’m trying to convert and paint existing miniatures to fit and represent the characters.

The scale of these miniatures is about 28mm.  That just means the ‘average’ man of 6ft tall or so, is represented as 28mm tall.  So, that’s a bit over an inch tall for us that never could figure out the metric system (thanks Jimmy Carter).

Some are fascinating, like the set in “It’s beginning to look a lot like Fishmen”.

Deep ones, those aquatic Lovecraftian fishmen, are only briefly mentioned in Monster Hunter International.  They serve as the badguys in a mission previously mentioned with a SEaL team and a cruise ship.

Turns out that the Deep Ones aren’t just interested in mindlessly attacking humans, they also prefer to lay their eggs inside a human host.  I’m assuming the outcome (other than the obvious madness) would be something like these guys.   These are Deep One Hybrids, the spawns of such an unholy union.

(13) PATENT FENDING. The Washington Post’s Larry Downs names “The 4 worst patents of 2015” after this introduction:

This was another depressing year for patent law, which long ago lost sight of its constitutional moorings as a balanced and limited source of incentives for innovators. Though Congress, the courts and the Patent and Trademark Office each tried in their own way to rein in a system widely-regarded as out of control, in the end nobody made much progress.

On just one day in November, for example, over 200 new patent lawsuits were filed, as plaintiffs rushed to beat a change in federal procedure that could require more specific claims. Most were from companies that buy up patents of dubious quality and use them to extract nuisance settlements from actual innovators….

To give just a sense of just how out of touch the law has become, I asked Daniel Nazer, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, to highlight the worst patents he’s come across this year. Nazer, who holds the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents (yes, really), had little trouble coming up with these four, culled from a monthly “Stupid Patent of the Month” post he writes for the EFF site.  (The complete list is available here.)  Each one highlights a different crisis in our badly-misaligned patent system…

(14) VASICEK. Joe Vasicek’s latest proposition is “Disagreement is not offensive”, at One Thousand And One Parsecs.

If you take offense whenever people disagree with you, chances are that you’ll never be able to cut it as a writer. In order to write well, you have to be able to see things from inside the heads of people who aren’t like you and probably don’t agree with you.

This is why I support Sad Puppies: because the SJW types in Science Fiction are usually the first to cry offense over anything that doesn’t fit into their narrow worldviews. This naturally makes them as vehemently opposed to intellectual diversity as they (falsely) claim that the Puppies are to racial, sexual, and cultural diversity. When you look at the books and stories that these people uphold as shining examples of the genre, their rigidly ideological worldview is as plain as the emperor’s new clothes.

Disagreement is not “offensive.” In fact, it’s a sign of respect. If your opponent thought that your opinion or argument wasn’t worth engaging with, then they simply would have ignored you. By saying “I don’t agree,” they are acknowledging your position in an intellectually honest way. When you willfully misrepresent your opponent’s views, or bully them into silence, it is a sign of disrespect that warrants taking offense. And who is most guilty of that? I’ll give you two chances, and the first one doesn’t count.

(15) THE MAX. Blunt is one way of describing Max Booth III’s “Sad Puppies and The Goosebumps Rap: The Best and Worst Things to Happen to Literature in 2015” at Lit Reactor.

Sad Puppies

The KKK Sad Puppies are a group of white supremacists science fiction writers set on fixing the Hugo Awards. They are very pathetic nerds who won’t be satisfied as long as people other than straight white males are represented in science fiction. Keep the genre pure, they say. Heil Hitler, they probably also say. Our penises are tiny and we need to make others feel miserable to satisfy ourselves, they almost definitely say. So, in 2015, they managed to get Puppy nominees in almost every category. Because of this clusterfuck, many categories were given “No Awards”.

World Fantasy Award

Hey, speaking of racists. This year also saw a very nice and welcome change: Lovecraft was removed as the model for the World Fantasy Award. Many non-terrible people celebrated this victory, and many other terrible people whined about it. Especially ST Joshi, whose recent blog posts are both hilarious and sad. It’s still unknown what will take Lovecraft’s place as the trophy model. I’ve already suggested myself, but have yet to hear back. I’ve also heard many people suggest a dragon, but dragons as we all know, are lame. Honestly, a giant dong might be the way to go.

(16) ONE STAR (WARS) RATING. Milo Yiannopolous argues ”Star Wars Is Garbage” at Breitbart.com.

With Star Wars, liberal Hollywood got it all wrong. They get everything wrong, of course, but this movie franchise really takes the biscuit. They turned the heroes into villains, and the villains into shining beacons of virtue. With a new film on the horizon, I feel duty-bound to warn you about the desperate shortcomings of this particular entertainment phenomenon.

If we’re honest with ourselves, the real wretched hive of scum and villainy is Skywalker Ranch, where George Lucas and his band of morally dissolute bastards created the Star Wars universe, a blight on western civilisation and culture.

This magisterial bit of trolling includes lines such as —

Jabba the Hutt was actually pretty progressive.

And –

Oh, and by the way, Darth Vader’s daughter was installed as the leader of the galaxy after he killed the rightful and democratically elected leader, Emperor Palpatine. I’m just saying.

(17) USE THE SOURCE. A “Google Chrome extension replaces all mentions of Donald Trump with Voldemort” reports the Telegraph. 

The Trump2Voldemort extension for the web browser replaces any text referring to the Republican candidate with ‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’ or ‘Tom Riddle’

The source is here:

(18) ULTIMATE TIME SAVER. Michael McNulty’s YouTube video plays Star Wars I-VI simultaneously in six side-by-side windows!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Jerry Pournelle, and Brian Z. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day James H. Burns.]

Pixel Scroll 12/4 “Nightrise, Nightfall,” from Astronomer On The Roof

(1) SAFETY LAST. I didn’t know it was this dangerous to work for J.J. Abrams. Or to be J.J. Abrams.

In his interview on the Howard Stern show, Abrams tells stories about (1) how a hydraulic door on the “Force Awakens” set slammed down on Harrison Ford’s ankle, (2) how Abrams broke his back trying to lift the door, and on an earlier occasion, (3) Leonard Nimoy broke his nose while working on the Star Trek reboot.

“He fell, he hit his nose… he had a gash on his nose,” J.J. revealed. “I thought, ‘holy crap, this is a disaster.’ I felt horrible. I wanted to kill myself at this point.

(2) GENERAL LEIA. Louis Virtel of Hitflix decrees: “Carrie Fisher just scorched ‘Good Morning America’ and you’re not worthy” .

The most intense and thrilling part of this universe is the real-life Carrie Fisher, whose self-possessed wooziness makes her one of pop culture’s most sublime entities. She was just on “Good Morning America” chatting about losing weight to play the part of General Leia. She brought her dog. She was electric. She was rad, weird as hell, and right. She awakened America.

I love everything about this interview, namely Carrie’s one-liner about resuming her role in the “Star Wars” universe. “I got in character and I’ve never gotten out again – and really, I’ve tried everything.”

(3) FORBIDDEN BOOM. That highly scientific party-pooper Adam Korenman (When the Stars Fade) pulls back the curtain on “Dramatizing Space Battles in Film and Fiction” at SF Signal.

[First of three points.]

Star Wars, like pretty much every space drama of the past 40 years, is more in the realm of fantasy than science-fiction. Though our understanding of arriving and surviving outside the atmosphere has grown tremendously, our representations of such acts in film and literature remains steadfastly in the realm of fiction. In my series The Gray Wars Saga, I am equally guilty of playing space battles more for the drama than the science. Why is it that every auteur from Heinlein to Abrams showcases a false image of the dark void above? Let’s take a look at the realities of space combat and see if we can find out.

1) Explosions are Pretty, Space-splosions are not.

In any space opera worth its salt, a massive ship is bound to explode. As an audience, we anticipate it the same way we expect anyone in a dark hat to be a bad guy. To paraphrase Anton Chekhov, if you show a spaceship in Act 1, you’d better be blowing it up by Act 3. But explosions, and fire in general require three elements to exist: Heat, Fuel, and Oxygen. You’ll notice I bolded the last word, as it is fairly important. Space is famously lacking in O2—to the point where people think you explode if you’re ever exposed to the vacuum (also not true, but Cracked already covered that, so let’s move on). Space explosions look more like the time you dropped your LEGOs on the kitchen floor than when you dumped a pack of Mentos into a 3 liter of Diet Coke. The rapid expansion of heat (literally the definition of an explosion) will rend your big ol’ ship into pieces, and those shards will head in every direction until acted upon by another force (thanks, Newton). No fireball, no awesome ring-shaped shockwave. Just scrap….

Real space may not be able to carry sound (no oxygen, so nothing to carry the vibrations) but a movie theater with a THX monster system can. If we’re going to allow musical cues in our cinematic experiences to pull our emotional strings, we can surely forgive a few foley artists getting creative with the sound design. It allows the truth of the drama to reach the audience on more levels. And if playing to one of our senses for the sake of drama makes the cut, then allow us science-fiction writers the joy of delivering fiery ends to our marvelous creations.

(4) BOSKONE GUESTS. At the Boskone Blog, “Mini-Interview: Robert J Sawyer and Cerece Rennie Murphy.

How would you describe your work to people who might be unfamiliar with you? [Robert J Sawyer:] I’m a hard-SF writer, heavily influenced by the best of Frederik Pohl (I consider his Gateway to be the finest novel our field has ever produced). I’m also liberal, even by Canadian standards, and a rationalist, a secularist, and a humanist (Humanism Canada gave me their first ever “Humanism in the Arts” award) — and my work embraces all those things. I mostly do near-future or present day stories, usually set on Earth, with a strong philosophical bent. My prose is pellucid (much more Arthur C. Clarke than Gene Wolfe) and my tone usually upbeat….

What is your favorite Star Wars memory, scene, or line? What is it that that memory, scene or line that continues to stick with you today? [Cerece Rennie Murphy:] (It could be a moment from within any of the films, a moment associated with the films, or something inspired by the films. – My favorite scenes from Star Wars are all the scenes between Luke Skywalker and Yoda from Empire Strikes Back. I remember watching theses scenes in the theatre when I was 7 years old. They literally changed my perception of God, my place in the world and my potential. I realized then, as I still believe now, that we’re all Jedi, we just don’t know it. Watching Luke’s fear and doubt keep him from fully accessing his own potential was powerful for me, even then. I don’t think you can sum up the human condition any better than that. “Luminous beings are we….not this crude matter,” I really believe that the healing of our entire world could begin with this statement.

(5) HELP ANN TOTUSEK. “I’ve started a GoFundMe to help with my family’s housing situation,” Ann Totusek told me. Her complete narrative about her situation is here.

As a short overview, Ann recommended Steven H Silver’s comment at Whatever.

Through a change in circumstances, Minneapolis fan Ann Totusek has found herself in a situation where she either needs to buy her house or find herself homeless. Ann is currently the caregiver for her mother, suffering dementia, and her teenage son, who suffers SPD. Ann, who helps run conventions throughout the upper Midwest in Iowa, Minneapolis, and Chicago, is running a GoFundMe to raise money for the down payment on their home.

Ann has run Green Room and Program Ops for me at several Windycons as well as the hospitality suite at the Nebula Award Weekend in Chicago in 2015 (and plans to again in 2016). Her hospitality has always been wonderful and now we have the opportunity to repay some of that hospitality by ensuring that Ann and her family can live and thrive.

In the first 11 hours, the appeal brought in $8,463 of its $150,000 goal, including a $2,000 boost from Ctein and another $5,000 anonymous donation.

(6) MARKETING TIP. Fynbospress makes a compelling argument for placing more of the “front matter” in the back of your self-published ebook, in “What’s the matter with front matter?” at Mad Genius Club.

Why? Well, a sample is 10% of your entire file, not 10 percent of your story. When you get a reader interested enough that they downloaded a sample, or are clicking “look inside” on a web page, you really don’t want them to scroll past all of that stuff only to find three paragraphs of story! You want a couple pages to hook them in, draw them deep, and make them immediately click “buy the book” so they can keep reading.

Some very savvy authors actually set up the amount of front matter and their story so the 10% cutoff falls directly after a cliffhanger. This is sneaky and wonderful, because you can immediately deliver the payoff with the rest of the book.

(7) Today In History

  • December 4, 1985:  Barry Levinson’s Young Sherlock Holmes makes its theatrical debut.
  • December 4, 2008: Forrest J Ackerman passes away.

(8) DOES SIZE MATTER?

Two Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers stand with three vehicles, providing a size comparison of three generations of Mars rovers. Front and center is the flight spare for the first Mars rover, Sojourner, which landed on Mars in 1997 as part of the Mars Pathfinder Project. On the left is a Mars Exploration Rover test vehicle, a working sibling to Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on Mars in 2004. On the right is a test rover for the Mars Science Laboratory, which landed Curiosity on Mars in 2012.

 

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(9) THEATER HISTORY. Alex Ross’ profile “The Magnificent Memory of Norman Lloyd” at The New Yorker shows the 101-year-old actor still has the power to bring history to life.

Through the Group Theatre, Lloyd came in contact with the Stanislavsky method, and he applied it to his character in “Caesar.” In Act III of Shakespeare’s play, Cinna the Poet ventures out to attend Caesar’s funeral; a mob mistakes him for another Cinna, a member of the conspiracy, and drags him off. Welles had realized that the scene could stand in for contemporary Germany, where even non-Jews were persecuted for having Jewish-sounding names. Initially, Welles thought of the character as a Byronic figure, wearing a beret. But Lloyd wanted to pattern Cinna on someone he knew: the Greenwich Village poet Maxwell Bodenheim, who used to sit on the stoops around Washington Square, offering to write poems for twenty-five cents. Lloyd pictured Cinna as a bum in a suit, foolscap spilling out of his pockets. Welles said, “O.K., do it your way.”

(10) LOGGIA OBIT. The actor who played the President’s military advisor in Independence Day, and the toy company mogul who danced on the piano with Tom Hanks in Big, Robert Loggia, died December 4at the age of 85. He had been battling Alzheimer’s Disease for the past five years.

He was best known for his roles in the movie Scarface and in the TV series Mancuso FBI

During a long career he worked a lot, in the beginning often playing ethnic characters, usually Hispanic or Middle Eastern, and at the end frequently cast as a mobster.

His genre appearances in television included episodes of One Step Beyond (“The Hand,” 1959), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (“Graveyard of Fear,” 1966), The Wild Wild West (“Suspicion,” 1967), Wonder Woman (“Wonder Woman vs Gargantua,” 1976), The Bionic Woman (“Jaime and the King,” 1977), The Six Million Dollar Man (1976), Tales of the Unexpected (1984), and The Outer Limits (2000).

(10) REDISCOVERED TALKIE. High Treason (1929), not only one of the earliest sound movies but an sf movie to boot, will be shown December 6 at the Anchorage International Film Festival. The sound version of the film was long thought lost until it was rediscovered in 2005 in a group of old films in Washington State. Kevin Tripp, a moving image archivist in Alaska, arranged transfer of the nitrate films to Library of Congress for salvage – having first completed a hazardous materials training program.

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The film was taken from a play by Noel Pemberton-Billing. He was an aviator, politician and inventor who founded the Supermarine aviation company, which would produce the Spitfire fighter plane in World War II.A declared pacifist, the playwright nonetheless advocated aerial bombing of civilian targets in wartime, two topics that weight heavily in the script.

Read an in-depth study of High Treason illustrated with many stills at And You Call Yourself A Scientist!

File 770 reader Steve Johnson says, “I will be in the Bear Tooth Theatre for the show on Sunday–my wife snapped up two reserved seats.”

(11) DESTROYED AGAIN. Funded as a stretch goal of Lightspeed’s “Queers Destroy Science Fiction!” Kickstarter campaign, a companion publication “Queers Destroy Fantasy!” is now available from Amazon.

…This month we’re presenting a special one-off issue of our otherwise discontinued sister-magazine, FANTASY, called Queers Destroy Fantasy!: an all-fantasy extravaganza entirely written—and edited!—by queer creators. Here’s what we’ve got lined up for you in this special issue: Original fantasy—edited by Christopher Barzak—by Catherynne M. Valente, Kai Ashante Wilson, Carlea Holl-Jensen, and Richard Bowes. Reprints—selected by Liz Gorinsky—by Caitlin R. Kiernan, Austin Bunn, Shweta Narayan, and Nicola Griffith. Nonfiction articles—edited by Matthew Cheney—by merritt kopas, Matthew Cheney, Keguro Macharia, Ekaterina Sedia, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and Ellen Kushner. Plus an original cover illustration by Priscilla Kim and original interior illustrations by Goñi Montes, Odera Igbokwe, Sam Schechter, Elizabeth Leggett, and Vlada Monakhova.

(12) LOAFING AROUND. Will R. sent along the link to “Make This Awesome Dune-Inspired Sandworm Bread” with a skeptical comment: “I have to agree with the person I saw this via, who said ‘delicious-looking is not the description I would have used.’” Will had a valid point, and that is why I didn’t gank the picture to go with the excerpt.

Fans of the novel and movie Dune will appreciate this spice-filled sandworm bread recipe from geek baker extraordinaire Chris-Rachael Oseland….

The sandworm bread consists of a basic sweet bread with a spice filling and a sugar glaze. Yum. Blanched almonds are added to create the sandworm’s intimidating, toothsome maw. I can smell its melange breath from here!

(13) S.H.I.E.L.D. S.P.O.I.L.E.D. Those who know say that spoilers abound in this trailer for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD 3×10 “Maveth” (Winter Finale).

S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra go head-to-head in a battle that will change Coulson’s world forever.

 

[Thanks to Steve Johnson, John King Tarpinian, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 11/24 The Choler out of Space

(1) Fans beat the pros at trivia – well, of course they did.

The awkward moment when Peter Capaldi, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss came third in a Doctor Who pub quiz.

The trio – who called themselves The Time Wasters – clearly didn’t know their wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff

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(2) John Picacio teed off against the World Fantasy Con’s call for new award design submissions:

Artists — how do you feel about someone who says, “Give us your ideas for free. If we decide we like one of them, we’ll use it for our own personal branding and for our own prestige. We will hire someone to make multiple images of it and that person will not receive compensation either. We have zero respect for any of you as working professionals.”

As of today, that’s the official message that the World Fantasy Convention just transmitted to all professional artists as the WFC searches for a new image for their World Fantasy Award. See their new “World Fantasy Award Call for Submissions”.

That’s right. Your ideas and your work — for nothing.

It’s an extremely unprofessional message, and it’s not one that befits experienced professionals. It says to all of its members — writers, editors, agents, publishers — that the organization doesn’t value its own branding enough to properly invest in it. That’s very sad to see.

This stirred up debate among commenters on Picacio’s Facebook page, including Ellen Datlow, Sean Wallace, Irene Gallo and others.

(3) Two days ago I ran David Hartwell’s photo of a NY subway car wrapped in a graphical ad for The Man in the High Castle  — but today Amazon announced it will remove the ads amid uproar over their use of insignia inspired by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

The online retailer made the decision to pull the ads amid widespread coverage of the wrap, which cover half the 42nd Street shuttle’s seats in decals of the American flag with the stars replaced by an emblem that closely resembles the Nazi Reichsadler, the heraldic eagle used by the Third Reich. The other side features a recreation of a World War II-era Japanese flag in red, white and blue….

Straphanger Ann Toback was disturbed to find the posters wallpapered on the Grand Central shuttle.

“Hate speech, hate insignia requires a response when you see it, you don’t just say, ‘oh, it’s New York,” said Toback. “You see, you have a choice to stare at the Japanese empire insignia or the Nazi insignia.”

A spokesman for the MTA said there were no grounds to reject the ads because they do not violate the authority’s content-neutral ad standards, which only prohibits advertising that disparages an individual or group. ..

Some activists and officials, however, expressed outrage that the advertisements were allowed to run.

“As a Jew, I am offended, and as a New Yorker, I am embarrassed,” said state Rep. Jeffrey Dinowitz. “The MTA should be ashamed of themselves and this ignorant advertising campaign, as it is offensive not just to the Jewish community, but to all Americans.”

Mayor de Blasio also decried the ads, calling them “irresponsible.”

…Not everyone was bothered by the marketing. One rider said, “It’s not like the end of the world, it’s not specifically targeting a group of people. It’s just for a show.”

(4) Justin Raimondo contrasts the novel and miniseries in “Myths of Empire: The Man in the High Castle: a review of sorts” at AntiWar.com.

Dick’s original version would never be allowed on American television: the political realities of our time forbid it. Empires are founded on mythologies – narratives in which historical events are interpreted in a way that justifies the status quo, and crowds out any dissenting version, consigning the truth – if such there is – to the margins.

(5) Myke Cole posted a photo of him receiving his promotion from NYPD Commissioner Bratton. (All I can find in bios is that he does “specialized work” there.)

(6) At National Review Online, Katherine Timpf discusses how she got death threats after she joked on the Fox News Channel comedy show Red Eye “I have never had any interest in watching space nerds poke each other with their little space nerd sticks, and I’m not going to start now.”

And:

“Yesterday I tweeted something, and all I said was that I wasn’t familiar with Star Wars because I’ve been too busy liking cool things and being attractive.”

Now, I received a few death threats right after I posted the aforementioned tweet — which, by the way, was why I was saying Star Wars fans were “crazy” in the first place. Overall, though, it wasn’t a big deal, and I kind of forgot about it.

Then, this week, one Star Wars super-super-super fan who calls himself “AlphaOmegaSin” made a ten-minute (!) video brutally ripping me apart.

(7) “NASA not ready for dangers of deep space, auditors say” writes Jerry Markon of the Washington Post.

American culture and cinema often glorifies space travel, from the heroic early adventurers of “The Right Stuff” to the more recent rescue of Matt Damon’s astronaut character from Mars in “The Martian.”

But the reality is less glamorous, with journeys into deep space posing serious dangers to astronauts that include inadequate food, radiation exposure and heightened risks of developing cancer and other maladies. And NASA is not yet ready to handle those dangers as it moves ahead with plans to send the first human mission to Mars by the 2030s, according to a recent audit.

NASA inspector general Paul K. Martin found that the legendary space agency “faces significant challenges” ensuring the safety of any Mars-bound astronauts,  and that its schedule to limit the risks is overly “optimistic.” As a result, he said, Mars crews likely will have to accept more risks to their health and safety than their predecessors who went to the moon and work in the International Space Station.

(8) “Mœbius & Jodorowsky’s Sci-Fi Masterpiece, The Incal, Brought to Life in a Tantalizing Animation” at Open Culture.

Last year we featured artwork from the Dune movie that never was, a collaboration between Alejandro Jodorowsky, the mysticism-minded Chilean director of such oft-described-as-mind-blowing pictures as El Topo and The Holy Mountain, and the artist Jean Giraud, better known as Mœbius, creator of oft-described-as-mind-blowing comics as Arzach, Blueberry, and The Airtight GarageIf ever a meeting of two creative minds made more sense, I haven’t heard about it. Alas, Jodorowsky and Mœbius’ work didn’t lead to their own Dune movie, but it didn’t mark the end of their artistic partnership, as anyone who’s read The Incal knows full well.

Telling a metaphysical, satirical, space-operatic story in the form of comic books originally published throughout the 1980s (with sequel and prequel series to come over the following 25 years), The Incal on the page became the fullest realization of Jodorowsky and Mœbius’ combined vision.

(9) Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle successfully flew to space, reaching its planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) before executing a historic landing back at the launch site in West Texas.

“But more significant,” notes the Washington Post, “was the landing of the rocket booster, which descended, flew through 119 mph high-altitude crosswinds and touched down on the landing pad by firing its engine again. The company based in Kent, Wash., said it landed just four-and-a-half feet from the center.”

 

(10) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born November 24, 1916 – Forrest J Ackerman

(11) “How an industry of ‘Amazon entrepreneurs’ pulled off the Internet’s craftiest catfishing scheme” in the Washington Post.

There’s only one problem with Dagny Taggart — she doesn’t exist. Evidence collected and examined by The Washington Post suggests that Taggart (who is named for a character in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”) is a made-up identity used by an Argentine man named Alexis Pablo Marrocco. Marrocco, meanwhile — and other self-described “Kindle entrepreneurs” like him — form part of a growing industry of “Amazon catfish.”

The catfishing process varies according to the specific “entrepreneur” using it, but it typically follows the same general steps: After hiring a remote worker to write an e-book for the Kindle marketplace, Amazon’s e-book store, publishers put it up for sale under the name and bio of a fictional expert. Frequently, Kindle entrepreneurs will then buy or trade for good book reviews. (Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, also owns The Washington Post.)

At the end of this process, they hope to have a Kindle store bestseller: something with a catchy title about a hot topic, such as gambling addiction or weight loss.

“Making money with Kindle is by far the easiest and fastest way to get started making money on the Internet today,” enthuses one video that promises to guide viewers to riches. “You don’t even need to write the books yourself!”

(12) Cute set of fandom greeting cards.

Sorry fav show canc tumblr_nwv6pwxkGE1r8pdmio3_500

(13) ‘Tis the season to break this out again: WKRP “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly” Thanksgiving

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster, Amy Sterling Casil, Brian Z., John King Tarpinian, and Tom Galloway for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day GP.]

Pixel Scroll 11/14 The 7 Pixels of Highly Effective Scrolls

(1) Here is Hampus Eckerman, “A happy Filer on way to see The Martian.”

Eckerman on way to see Martian RT COMP

(2) But did he know that The Martian is a comedy? Nobody else knew it either until the people who run a set of Hollywood awards started playing games —

The Martian is one of my favorite films of 2015. It was intellectually stimulating, inspiring, thrilling, and even funny here and there, but was it a comedy? I don’t think so, but that’s the opinion of Hollywood Foreign Press: the organization behind the Golden Globes award. Apparently, the film is being shuffled over into comedy so it’ll have a chance to snatch a few awards–any awards–from the grasps of lighter fare: something that it won’t be able to do in the drama category, where there’s stiffer competition.

(3) In case anybody is really going to Mars, NASA wants to have spacesuits ready:

NASA is not wasting any time in developing new spacesuits to be used in a variety of locations for the Journey To Mars. Two new suits, PXS and Z2, were introduced in October and they have now reached the stage of working advanced prototypes.

The PXS, or prototype exploration spacesuit, was developed to improve performance on extra-vehicular activities (EVAs), spacewalks, in low-earth orbit or outer space. The suit aims to minimize the amount of equipment necessary for long duration EVAs. The PXS has a versatile approach to fittings. Many features are 3D printed, so the suit can be personalized for any crew member and for different types of EVAs.

(4) Remember Westworld, “Where nothing can possibly go wrong…”? If you’re going to the screening of Westworld at the Ace Hotel in LA on November 15, please note that the correct start time is 1:00 PM, not 2:00 PM as displayed in the original show banner.

Westworld screening COMP

(5) Neil deGrasse Tyson will start a 10-city speaking tour in January 2016.

Join Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, award winning- astrophysicist, author, and host of FOX’s Cosmos for an evening of engaging conversation on science, exploration and the world as we know it.

(6) Fantasy Faction has an extensive and quite interesting report of the Gollancz Festival for Writers.

On Sunday, 18th of October, prolific SFF publisher Gollancz held the Gollancz Festival for Writers, as a sort of addendum to the already sold-out Gollancz Festival 2015. It had a smaller line-up of authors compared to the main festival itself, and focused solely on writing (obviously). I was gutted that the main festival sold out so it was a pleasant surprise when this was announced, and I snapped up tickets immediately.

The main line-up consisted of Ben Aaronovitch, Joe Abercrombie, Joanne Harris and Joe Hill. Out of these four, I’d only read Abercrombie, and I’ve also seen him at events twice before (including Fantasy-Faction’s own Grim Gathering). Joe is one of my favourite writers and also a joy to see speak, so I was already thrilled to be going, but also seeing three other authors I’ve not seen before was a massive bonus.

(7) David K. M. Klaus sent a link to Daniel Castro’s op-ed at Computerworld, “’Ban the killer robots’ movement could backfire”.

Efforts to establish a global ban on offensive autonomous weapons — a.k.a. “killer robots” — have intensified in recent weeks. This uptick in lobbying comes on the heels of an open letter calling for such a ban from a group of artificial intelligence and robotics researchers, including well-known luminaries such as Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Noam Chomsky.

Unfortunately, these efforts have stigmatized much-needed research on autonomous robots that will be central to increasing economic productivity and quality of life over the next half century — but only if the technology is able to be developed. Rather than allowing those predicting a techno-dystopia to dominate the debate, policymakers should vocally champion the benefits of autonomous robots — including in the military — and embrace policies designed to accelerate their development and deployment.

Klaus responded:

“Ban the Killer Robots!” sounds like a demonstration-slogan shout in a scene on Futurama or something from an Ed Wood movie, but this article is about a real organization with real concerns.

From tele-operated drones to rudimentary A.I. in battlefield machines, they’re worried about the further mechanization of war against enemies of a lower technological level which would still be using human soldiers.

Nobody uses the word “cylon” but it sure as hell was the first thing that came to my mind.

And — I am not making this up — according to Twitter, one of the followers of “Campaign to Stop Killer Robots” tweets is Edward James Olmos.

I keep remembering this quotation by Allen Ginsberg, that “We live in science fiction.”  That’s always resonated with me as prophetic, and it becomes more and more true every year.

(8) The BBC would like to get Tom Hanks on Doctor Who.

‘Doctor Who’ has attracted some impressive guest stars over the years including Brian Blessed, Derek Jacobi, Ian McKellen, and more recently Maisie Williams, but it seems like the Beeb has its sights set on an even higher stratosphere of names for the future.

Peter Capaldi, the actor currently in the lead role, says his BBC bosses asked him to tap up Tom Hanks to appear on the hit sci-fi show.

Not that he’d actually have to parallel any role he’s done in movies, but Hanks has experience with some of the show’s familiar tropes – he’s been through a time paradox in Radio Flyer, had his own Pompeii moment in Joe Versus the Volcano, and had an extended lifespan in The Green Mile.

(9) John King Tarpinian has been catching up on Scream Queens: [Spoiler Warning]

I watched the other night’s episode this afternoon, they had a big belly laugh scene. Jamie Leigh Curtis is taking a shower, the opening of which is shot-for-shot the same as her mother did for Hitchcock.  Except that Jamie beats down the bad guy saying, “I’ve seen the movie like fifty times.”

(10) WIRED’s article “We Flew a Lego X-Wing Into the Death Star Because Awesome” has a clever video of exactly what you’d expect from that title.

You can’t make an omelette, they say, without breaking a few eggs. Well, you also can’t blow up a Death Star without crashing a few X-wings. (That was the lesson of Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope, right?) But while that sucks if you’re Porkins or one of his pilot brethren, the collision of X-wings and Death Stars makes for some pretty awesome destruction.

(11) Today In History

  • November 14, 1964:  Santa Claus Versus The Martians is released – generally regarded as one of the worst films ever made…

(12) Today’s Birthday Girl

Man, this has been a shitty year in many ways, and one full of life lessons that apparently the universe felt were overdue. Some of those I’m still grappling with. I am so freaking behind on this book it’s not even funny, but thank god for both the wonderful time spent writing in California this summer and the kick in the ass that NaNoWriMo has administered. I’m feeling hopeful about that again and making steady progress.

At the same time among the bumps there’s been plenty of bright spots. Among them my first novel, my first appearance in a Year’s Best collection (edited by Joe Hill, no less), and my first acceptance to longtime goal Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (I have been submitting there for over a decade now). I’ve had nineteen original publications come out since my last birthday, and twelve are currently forthcoming, including a team-up with Mike Resnick. Rachel Swirsky and I are working on some projects together, which is terrific fun. I have a good half dozen stories already spoken for. My collaboration with Bud Sparhawk finally got accepted so he can stop nagging me about why it hasn’t sold yet.

(13) So H. P. Lovecraft was actually a good Democrat? Scott Edelman ran this quote in a 2010 blog post, “What H. P. Lovecraft Thought of Republicans”.

As for the Republicans—how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical ‘American heritage’…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead.

(14) You can buy Forrest J Ackerman Presents Music For Robots, created by Frank Coe, on iTunes for $9.99.

The album was released in 2005. It seems that some (all?) of it has already been uploaded to YouTube.

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Hampus Eckerman, Michael J. Walsh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 11/1 Rank Election

(1) If you are fan who drinks, the newly reopened Clifton’s Cafeteria would like to tempt you with these two science fictional libations –

drinks at Cliftons

(2) “Another Word: Chinese Science Fiction and Chinese Reality” by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu, in Clarkesworld, talks about the themes of other Chinese writers after these introductory comments about the domestic reception for his own work.

China is a society undergoing rapid development and transformation, where crises are present along with hopes, and opportunities coexist with challenges. This is a reality reflected in the science fiction produced there.

Chinese readers often interpret science fiction in unexpected ways. Take my Three Body series as an example. The alien-invasion story takes as its premise a “worst-case” scenario for relationships among members of the cosmic society of civilizations, which is called the “Dark Forest” state. In this state, different starfaring civilizations have no choice but to attempt to annihilate each other at the first opportunity.

After publication, the novels became surprisingly popular among those working in China’s Internet industry. They saw the “Dark Forest” state portrayed in the novels as an accurate reflection of the state of brutal competition among China’s Internet companies….

Authors (myself included) are often befuddled by such interpretations.

(3) From “’Star Wars’: Their First Time” in the New York Times.

Ridley Scott: I had done a film called “The Duellists” and was in Los Angeles to shoot at Paramount, and I honestly think Paramount had forgotten. I remember saying, I’m Ridley Scott, and they said who? So David Puttnam, one of the greatest producers I’ve ever worked with and the most fun, said, “Screw them, let’s go see [“Star Wars”] at the Chinese [theater].” It was the first week. I’ve never known audience participation like it, absolutely rocking. I felt my “Duellist” was this big [holds thumb and forefinger an inch apart], and George had done that [stretches arms out wide]. I was so inspired I wanted to shoot myself. My biggest compliment can be [to get] green with envy and really bad-tempered. That damn George, son of a bitch. I’m very competitive.

(4) Andrew Porter was interviewed, complete with photo, for “Longtime Brooklynites Reflect on a Changing Brooklyn” on Brownstoner.com:

Now you can put a face to me and my non SFnal opinions about recent changes in Brooklyn Heights, where I’ve lived for 47 years.

I’m sure you’ll also appreciate the comments, one of which accuses me of hating Brits!

(Daveinbedstuy accuses – “Andrew Porter sounds cranky; as he usually does on BHB. I wonder what he has against ‘Brits.’ And bringing up ‘granite countertops’ Really????????”)

(5) Jim C. Hines on Facebook:

I HAVE WRITTEN THE FIRST 22 WORDS OF MY NANOWRIMO NOVEL!

The NaNo word counter says at this rate, I’ll finish by January 20, 2022.

I suppose I should probably keep writing, eh?

(6) “Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910” is on exhibit through February 26, 2017 in the newly renovated Smithsonian Libraries Exhibition Gallery of the National Museum of American History.

Travel with us to the surface of the moon, the center of the earth, and the depths of the ocean – to the fantastic worlds of fiction inspired by 19th century discovery and invention.

New frontiers of science were emerging. We took to the air, charted remote corners of the earth, and harnessed the power of steam and electricity. We began unlocking the secrets of the natural world. The growing literate middle class gave science a new and avid public audience. Writers explored the farther reaches of the new scientific landscape to craft hoaxes, satires and fictional tales.

Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910 is accompanied by an online exhibit.

(7) Francis Hamit, a novelist and film producer who is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, has published A Perfect Spy, a memoir about his first two years at the University of Iowa when he was a dual major in Drama and Business. While he narrates the ongoing dramatic social changes that were transforming society and the university in 1965 and 1966, he also covers the impact of the sexual revolution, the sudden rise of a drug culture, and the beginnings of the anti-war movement at the University of Iowa, from a first-person perspective.

“I saw the first draft card burnt,” Hamit says; “And I would see the last anti-war riot there several years later. I was also very disturbed by the rise of all kinds of drug use in and around Iowa City. Unlike almost everyone else I knew, I did not think this ‘cool’. I saw people ruining thier lives by refusing to tell the police who’d sold them the drugs: facing years in prison. I offered to help them find the dealers if they would leave my friends alone. How I did this is narrated in A Perfect Spy, which is a 118-page excerpt from my forthcoming book Out of Step: A Memoir of the Vietnam War Years.

“I was already in place,” Hamit added; “A perfect spy who made no pretenses of approving of recreational drugs. I didn’t do anything with them, but simply watched and listened so I could collect some useful intelligence for the police. At the same time, I became involved with some very interesting women who were part of the Sexual Revolution. That was part of a larger social revolt. None of what happened then can be viewed in isolation, so I’ve just tried to be as truthful as possible while changing a lot of the names of the people to prevent embarrassment.”

A Perfect Spy will be available exclusively at first from November 12, 2015 on Amazon Kindle for $5.00 and can be pre-ordered now. A print edition will be available in March, 2016 with a suggested retail price of $12.00 from most bookstores.

(8) “The artist who visited ‘Dune’ and ‘the most important science fiction art ever created’” – a gallery of Schoenherr at Dangerous Minds.

Frank Herbert said John Schoenherr was “the only man who has ever visited Dune.” Schoenherr (1935-2010) was the artist responsible for visualising and illustrating Herbert’s Dune—firstly in the pages of Analog magazine, then in the fully illustrated edition of the classic science fiction tale. But Herbert didn’t stop there, he later added:

I can envision no more perfect visual representation of my Dune world than John Schoenherr’s careful and accurate illustrations.

High praise indeed, but truly deserved, for as Jeff Love pointed out in Omni Reboot, Schoenherr’s illustrations are “the most important science fiction art ever created.”

(9) Jason Sanford posted a collection of tweets under the heading “The fossilization of science fiction and fantasy literature”. Here are some excerpts.

https://twitter.com/jasonsanford/status/660782118356783104

https://twitter.com/jasonsanford/status/660783781654233088

https://twitter.com/jasonsanford/status/660789856075948034

Although I have friends that do exactly what Sanford complains about, he doesn’t hang with them, read their fanzines, or (I’d wager) even know their names, so I’m kind of curious whose comments sparked off this rant.

Personally, I’m prone to recommend Connie Willis or Lois McMaster Bujold if I’m trying to interest someone in sf – though both have been around over 25 years and aren’t spring chickens anymore either.

People recommend what they know and esteem. It’s perfectly fine to argue whether recommendations will win fans to the genre, but it seems petty to act as if pushing “classic” choices is a war crime.

(10) John Scalzi was more or less content with Sanford’s line of thought, and responded with “No, the Kids Aren’t Reading the Classics and Why Would They”.

Writer Jason Sanford kicked a small hornet’s nest earlier today when he discussed “the fossilization of science fiction,” as he called it, and noted that today’s kids who are getting into science fiction are doing it without “Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and Tolkien.” This is apparently causing a moderate bit of angina in some quarters.

I think Sanford is almost entirely correct (the small quibble being that I suspect Tolkien is still common currency, thanks to recent films and video games), nor does this personally come as any particular shock. I wrote last year about the fact my daughter was notably resistant to Heinlein’s charms, not to mention the charms of other writers who I enjoyed when I was her age… thirty years ago. She has her own set of writers she loves and follows, as she should. As do all the kids her age who read.

The surprise to me is not that today’s kids have their own set of favorite authors, in genre and out of it; the surprise to me is honestly that anyone else is surprised by this.

(11) “The kids” who don’t read the classics are one case, would-be sf writers are another, explains Fynbospress in “Slogging forward, looking back” at Mad Genius Club.

Kris Rusch has also noted how many young writers she’s run into who are completely ignorant of the many, many female authors who’ve been in science fiction and fantasy since the start. Among other reasons, many of their works have gone out of print, and the new writers coming in may not have read the old magazines, or picked up the older, dated-artwork books at the used bookstores. So they really, truly, may not know that their groundbreaking new take has been done to death thirty years before they came on the scene, or that they’re trying to reinvent a wheel that has not only been invented, it’s evolved to all-wheel drive with traction control.

(12) I can’t say that Vivienne Raper is going where no one has gone before in responding to the latest Wired article about the Hugos — “Five reasons why the ‘Battle for Pop Culture’s Soul’ isn’t about ‘white men’”.

[First three of five points.]

There are many reasons why I might be “angered” by previous Hugo winners.  And none of them are anything to do with ‘the increasingly multicultural makeup’ of the awards:

ONE

Science fiction’s most prestigious award‘ for Best Novel was decided in 2014 by fewer than 4,000 voters.

TWO

The Best Short Story for 2014 got onto the ballot with fewer than 43 nominations.

THREE

Popular blogger John Scalzi has won more Hugo Awards (inc. best fan writer) than Isaac Asimov – author of I, Robot – or Arthur C. Clarke. He also has 90K+ Twitter followers.

(13) Jeb Kinnison at Substrate Wars is more analytical and lands more punches in “The Death of ‘Wired’: Hugo Awards Edition”. Here are his closing paragraphs.

The various flavors of Puppies differ, but one thing they’re not is anti-diverse — there are women, people of various colors, gays (like me), religious, atheists, and on and on. The one thing they have in common is that they oppose elevating political correctness above quality of writing, originality, and story in science fiction. Many of the award winners in recent years have been lesser works elevated only because they satisfied a group of progressives who want their science fiction to reflect their desired future of group identity and victim-based politics. For them, it is part of their battle to tear down bad old patriarchy, to bury the old and bring themselves to the forefront of culture (and incidentally make a living being activists in fiction.) These people are often called “Social Justice Warriors” – they shore up their own fragile identities by thinking of themselves as noble warriors for social justice. Amy Wallace places herself with them by portraying the issues as a battle between racist, sexist white men and everyone else.

She then goes on to give some space to Larry Correia, Brad Torgerson, and Vox Day (Ted Beale). While her reporting about them is reasonably truthful, they report that she promised to interview Sarah Hoyt (who ruins the narrative as a female Puppy) but did not do so, and left out material from other interviews that did not support her slant. Tsk!

The piece is very long, but written from a position of assumed moral superiority and elite groupthink, a long fall from classic Wired‘s iconoclastic reporting. It’s sad when a quality brand goes downhill — as a longtime subscriber, I’ve noticed the magazine has grown thinner in the last year as ad revenues declined and competition from upstarts like Fast Company ate into their market. Now they are me-tooing major controversies for clicks. Once you see this dishonesty in reporting, you should never view such sources as reliable again.

(14) Sometimes I suspect AI stands for “artificial ignorance.”

If the programmer of this tweet-generating robot was literate, they could easily discover that the words Portugal and Portuguese are not even mentioned in this U.S. Census definition of “Hispanic or Latino.”

(15) “The Original Star Wars Trilogy Gets An Awesome Force Awakens-Style Trailer” via Geek Tyrant.

I’d warn that there are too many spoilers, except you’ve already seen the original trilogy how many times?

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Mark-kitteh, Will R., JJ, Trey Palmer, Francis Hamit, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 10/25 The Shapeshifting Starship Captain Who Shouted “Fromage!” At The Heart Of The World

(1) Watch out for bi-Klingual train conductors!

A Trek-referencing TV commercial is nominated for a national award in Austria reports Nina Horvath at Europa SF.

What is it all about? Two men dressed up as Klingons go by underground railway (yes, it is the underground railway, although it goes above-ground in this scene) in Vienna, when they find out that a ticket controller is around. As they haven´t bought a ticket, they decide to confuse the ticket controller (by the way a pretty blonde woman) with Klingon language. But she also replies to them in Klingon and seems to know enough about Klingon culture, to call them “dishonourable worms”. What follows is an advertisement for the “Volkshochschule Wien”, a school where adults can take several courses, e.g. on languages. (Probably also Klingon …?)

Public voting for the winner continues until November 3 here (German language website).

(2) Richard C. White, in “World Building 101: The Village” at Black Gate, vents about cliché adventurers who return to the local village to spend their newfound treasure.

If you’re like me, that scene sounds awfully familiar. It’s appeared too often in bad fantasy stories, bad fantasy movies, and WAY too many role playing games. “But Rich,” you say, “the party has to have somewhere to spend their treasure. Otherwise, there’s no point in giving it out?”

And my response is, “You’re absolutely right, but for the wrong reasons.” Let me explain what I mean. (Good, otherwise this would be a darn short blog entry – Editor).

The biggest problem is, that scene above should be taking place in a large town or at least a small city. A medieval (or pseudo-medieval) village is not going to have jewelers or places to sell magic items (if you’re doing that kind of fantasy). The tavern is not going to have a bevy of barmaids and taverns do not traditionally sell food — that’s what the inn was for (if there even was an inn). And why in heaven’s name would you have a village that close to a dungeon populated by evil creatures anyway? Most sensible villagers would have packed up and moved to safer places years ago (if they hadn’t all been killed in their sleep by the monsters). No, this village in the scenario above seems to have only one purpose — to provide adventurers with a place to stay while they’re off looting the local dungeon de jure. Not only is that not realistic — it’s boring.

(3) A New Yorker profile of Guillermo del Toro from 2011 begins with a LASFS connection —

[Forrest J] Ackerman founded a cult magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, and, more lucratively, became an agent for horror and science-fiction writers. He crammed an eighteen-room house in Los Feliz with genre memorabilia, including a vampire cape worn by Bela Lugosi and a model of the pteranodon that tried to abscond with Fay Wray in “King Kong.” Ackerman eventually sold off his collection to pay medical bills, and in 2008 he died. He had no children.

But he had an heir. In 1971, Guillermo del Toro, the film director, was a seven-year-old misfit in Guadalajara, Mexico. He liked to troll the city sewers and dissolve slugs with salt. One day, in the magazine aisle of a supermarket, he came upon a copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland. He bought it, and was so determined to decode Ackerman’s pun-strewed prose—the letters section was called Fang Mail—that he quickly became bilingual.

Del Toro was a playfully morbid child. One of his first toys, which he still owns, was a plush werewolf that he sewed together with the help of a great-aunt. In a tape recording made when he was five, he can be heard requesting a Christmas present of a mandrake root, for the purpose of black magic…

(4) The Martian remains in first place at box office, however, several other genre movies failed on their opening weekend.

Four new films, including Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and Vin Diesel’s The Last Witch Hunter, crowded into theaters this weekend and were swiftly pulverized and left for dead.

And John King Tarpinian says he saw only seven people in the audience at a showing of Bill Murray vehicle Rock The Kasbah.

(5) On Reddit — Author Becky Chambers will be joining us in SF Book Club to discuss The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet on October 28!

Details are yet to be fully worked out, but will look something like the rest: she’ll come in the morning to post a thread where we can ask questions, then come back in the afternoon/evening to answer the posted questions and interact with folks for a while.

(6) David K.M. Klaus questions the taste of using a formation of stormtroopers on the Great Wall of China to promote the next Star Wars film.

Yeah, this is cute — except that it looks just like the mass exercise and marching China used to have and North Korea still does — and “Imperial Stormtroopers”, had they existed, would have been used to rout the students and destroy the statues of the Goddess of Democracy in Tianamen Square in 1989.

Today “Tank Man” blocks the path of an AT-AT walker.

Thanks, Disney! Unfrozen, conventionally-buried-at-Forest-Lawn Unca Walt is a veritable whirligig in his grave right now.

(7) John Hertz responds to the notice in the October 23 Scroll about the passing of Harriett Klausner:

Of more immediate interest to us, Klausner was a pillar of Barry Hunter’s reviewzine Baryon, which came in the mail (Ned Brooks R.I.P.) for years.  She read and wrote fluently and much, and wherever I formed an opinion of my own, well; she had few companions, perhaps no equals.  I don’t believe I’ve seen a later issue than B 129 in 2014, but that if accurate is hardly conclusive in Fanzineland.

(8) I received this link to “The 40 Most Awesome Supergirl Covers” at Comic Book Resources with the admonition “For Historical Reference ONLY.” I’d say the covers are pretty tame – it’s CBR’s own Supergirl header that tends toward the cliché.

supergirl cover

(9) Tufts University political scientist Daniel W. Drezner looked at the Star Wars trailers and concluded that the rebels were “guilty of poor post-war planning” in “’Star Wars, Episode VII’: The Rebel Alliance’s catastrophic success”.

The evidence is right there in this trailer and the previous two. The desert planet of Jakku does not seem to have benefited all that much from the three-decades-old Rebel victory. Daisy Ridley’s character, Rey, appears to be a scavenger, and the planet is just littered with Imperial wreckage. If that hasn’t been cleaned up after 30 years, it’s a good sign that the Rebel Alliance has failed at statebuilding.

He also wonders why they didn’t revive the Senate or let the people know that Darth Vader switched sides minutes before he died.

(10) Time to move to Canada? Netflix will stream Star Wars: The Force Awakens there in 2016.

Fortuitously for Netflix Canada subs, the company’s deal with Disney started with 2015 releases after the previous agreements for the pay-TV window with Corus Entertainment and Bell Canada expired. A Netflix rep confirmed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is slated to come to the service in the country; under the terms of the deal, that will occur approximately eight months after the movie leaves theaters.

(11) Political scientists should also be looking at the world’s newest nation – it’s in a remote corner of Utah.

There is a four-acre piece of land in northwestern Box Elder County that very few people know about. Even fewer people recognize it as what it’s meant to be — its own country.

A decade ago, Zaq Landsberg, a man from New York, bought the land online with a unique goal in mind.

“The conceptual goal is I want it to become a real country,” Landsberg said. “I mean, that goal is not going to happen. It’s impossible, but going through the motions, (I’m) trying to make that happen.”

The area is known to Landsberg as the Republic of Zaqistan, and he is its president….

Zaqistan has its own flag, a border patrol gate, a supply bunker, a robot sentry that guards the land and even official passports.

“Zaqistan works the best, I think, when it’s wedged up against the real world, and when the passports circulate,” Landsberg said.

The passports look and feel real. You can even get them stamped when entering and exiting his land.

 

One Man?s Sovereign Nation

(12) What, wait, what? William Shatner was The Chairman on the original Iron Chef USA?

(This attempt to import the popular Japanese series preceded the later, successful Iron Chef America.)

There’s a short clip from an episode on YouTube. Chairman Shatner mugs for the camera starting at about :10.

(13) Ann Leckie fans have reported a great disturbance in the force!

(14) While we’re in the midst of this Ann Leckie festival, take a listen to Comedrinkwithme’s musical rendition of “It All Goes Around”.

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

Early Science Fiction Clubs: Your Mileage May Vary

Several fanwriters celebrated yesterday, December 11, as the anniversary of the first science fiction club meeting. Was it? Probably not.

Eofan Allen Glasser made the claim that his New York club, the Scienceers, was “the first of all science fiction clubs” in an article for First Fandom Magazine #4 (1961):

The exact date on which The Scienceers came into being was Dec. 11, 1929. The founding members, as I recall, were Warren Fitzgerald, Nathan Greenfeld, Philip Rosenblatt, Herbert Smith, Julius Unger, Louis Wentzler, and myself, Allen Glasser. With the exception of Fitzgerald, who was then about thirty, all the members were in their middle teens.

Glasser also reported the intriguing fact that the host and president of this pioneer club was an Afro-American living in Harlem:

During the early months of the Scienceers’ existence — from its start in December 1929 through the spring of 1930 — our president was Warren Fitzgerald. As previously mentioned, Warren was about fifteen years older than the other members. He was a light-skinned Negro — amiable, cultured, and a fine gentleman in every sense of that word. With his gracious, darker-hued wife, Warren made our young members welcome to use his Harlem home for our meetings — an offer we gratefully accepted.

(See Bill Higgins’ writeup about his efforts to track down the location of the meetings and more information about president Fitzgerald.)

When I read that the Scienceers club was founded in 1929 I gave a sardonic little laugh, because I remembered any number of Westercons where I heard another eofan, Aubrey MacDermott, harp about the Oakland club he’d co-founded in 1928. At the time I had the young fan’s tendency to scoff whenever some geezer fussed about fine points of ancient fanhistory. Now I’m no longer a young fan and I have to laugh because Aubrey managed to etch that 1928 date on my memory anyway.

MacDemott also did some of his fussing in a 1980 issue of Asimov’s when he thought Darrell Schweitzer had slighted his contributions to history:

I see by reading Darrell Schweitzer’s article in the December 79 issue of lASFM that I founded an “impure” Science Fiction club in Oakland in June 1928.

We had over twelve “impure” members to start. Among them were Clifton Amsbury, Lester Anderson, A. S. Bernal, Louis C. Smith, Ray and Margaret St. Clair, Fred Anger, Vincent Brown, and later Forrest J Ackerman. We had the imposing name of East Bay Scientific Association until Forrie joined. Then we changed the name to Golden Gate because Forrie lived in San Francisco. Since he was only twelve years old, his mother would not let him take the long trek across the Bay to East Oakland, by street car, ferry, red train and then again a street car. So we on occasion all went over to Forrie’s Staple Street home.

We read, discussed, traded magazines, wrote letters to magazines and authors. We even put out a hectograph sheet each month for the members.

I know only too well that at that time East Coast fans considered any activity more than 100 miles from New York to be non-existent. But surely not today. As a matter of fact Sam Moskowitz in his Immortal Storm mentions Clifton Ansbury, Lester Anderson, and myself.

Moskowitz’ Immortal Storm testifies to both MacDermott and Glasser’s Scienceers“Aubrey McDemott” is mentioned in connection with the Science Correspondence Club – which was in general, as its title states, a club that did all its activity by mail, begging the question of in-person meetings.

Ordinarily I rely on Harry Warner Jr. to referee these disputes. Unfortunately, his book All Our Yesterdays mentions neither Glasser, MacDermott, the Scienceers nor the Eastbay Science Correspondence Club, despite all he has to say about scores of other eofans and their controversies. He only discusses the international Science Correspondence Club. Jack Speer’s early fanhistory Up To Now also is silent about Glasser and MacDermott, though his original Fancyclopedia has a short entry on the Scienceers.

Fortunately, another historian has reconciled the international correspondence club and the in-person meetings of the Oakland chapter. John Cheng’s Astounding Wonder: Imagining Science and Science Fiction in Interwar America says:

In 1928 Aubrey Clements of Montgomery, Alabama formed what he called the “Science Correspondence Cloub,” announcing the club in the pages of Amazing and gathering members as responses came in.  In the same year, while corresponding among themselves, Walter Dennis and Sydney Gerson, c/o 4653 Addison, Chicago, Illinois, also set upon the idea of a correspondence club, which they also called the “Science Correspondence Club,” to disseminate “science and scientific thought among the laymen of the world.” They announced their idea in the pages of Amazing Stories Quarterly and by the next year their group claimed two dozen members while Clements’s had twenty-five members. Membership was not mutually exclusive and indeed overlapped. Although he was the founder of one SCC, Dennis was also the sixth person to join the other, where he served as chairman under Clements’s presidency.

…In 1928, Aubrey MacDemott, Clifton Amsbury, Lester Anderson and Louis C. Smith on the Berkeley-Oakland side of San Francisco Bay began meeting monthly as the Eastbay Science Correspondence Club (ESCC). Raymond Palmer, originally a Chicago SCC member, suggested a national merger between the various organizations. By late 1929 the two original SCCs and willing members of the ESCC, which had reorganized as the Eastbay Scientific Association, merged into one club under a constitution drafted by Dennis, Clements, and A.B Maloire of Chealis, Washington.

Both the Scienceers and Eastbay Science Correspondence Club may have leaned more towards science than sf (some of the Scienceers would be drawn away to join an amateur rocket group) but their members were part of the social network of earnest teenaged readers of Gernsbackian magazines, many of whom became inextricably linked to 1930s sf fandom. Glasser and MacDermott each claimed the club they helped found was the first sf club to meet regularly in-person — one in December 1929, the other in June 1928 – and it seems, of the two, MacDermott’s group has the best claim.

Entrepreneur Flipping Bradbury Auction Items

The Ray Bradbury Estate auction ended September 25 and now we’re in the next phase – when dealers who invested in select items will see if they can reap profits reselling them.

Two current examples on eBay are an award Bradbury received from Comic-Con and, of all things, a cast of Forry Ackerman’s hand.

Bradbury w iconRay Bradbury’s Original 2010 Icon Award from San Diego Comic-Con International just went for $1,250 last month. Now it’s available on eBay for $5,000.

Award honoring the legendary sci-fi author features a tall solid glass pillar in the design of a rolled sheaf of papers with a swirled top showing the rolled look and with the looks of edges of the paper groved into the glass shaft. The award has the SDCCI logo printed in gilt at the top.  This sphere is mounted upon a glossy black 3-stepped base, it reads in gilt, ”2010 ICON AWARD – RAY BRADBURY – This award is presented to this individual for being instrumental in creating greater awareness of and appreciation for comic books and related popular art forms”. Bradbury is one of only 8 people to receive this rare award, Comic-Con’s highest honor. The other recipients are George Lucas, June Foray, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee, Matt Groening, Frank Miller, and J. Michael Straczynski.

Forry Ackerman’s hand also hit the market, its value greatly enhanced once John King Tarpinian identified it. The cast went unsold during the auction, then retailed for $625 afterwards. When offered on eBay yesterday it immediately found a buyer willing to pay $2,000.

ACKERMAN, FORREST J & RAY BRADBURY. Life-Cast of Forrest J Ackerman’s Left Hand Complete with Him Wearing Bela Lugosi’s Dracula Ring – This Cast Was Owned by Ray Bradbury. From author Ray Bradbury’s  personal collection with a certificate of authenticity from the Ray Bradbury estate, this is an original casting in resin with a bronzing finish of Forrest J Ackerman’s very detailed left hand showing Bela Lugosi’s Dracula Crest Ring that Ackerman wore, and displaying an Egyptian scrab cuff link on the cuff of the shirt sleeve area.

Ackerman’s famous Dracula ring was originally worn by John Carradine in Universal’s House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945), then by Bela Lugosi in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

Always remember — you had a chance to get in this market too!

A Collation of Bradbury Headlines

4Es Hand 48652_lg CROP(1) Forry Ackerman’s hand went unsold in the Bradbury auction. Well, not his actual hand, a sculpture of it. Presumably nobody realized that’s what it is or there might have been takers.

In a lot titled Ray Bradbury Personally Owned Objects D’Art the description of item (4) is —

very detailed hand sculpture of a man’s hand wearing a large ring, painted in a bronze color finish. Evidence of prior mounting to a base and scattered chips to finish;

John King Tarpinian recognized the “large ring” is Ackerman’s famous Dracula ring – originally worn by John Carradine in Universal’s House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945), then by Bela Lugosi in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

forrest_ackerman

Ackerman and Bradbury were friends for many decades, so if there was reason to make castings or sculptures of Ackerman’s hand then there might be an equally good reason why Bradbury owned one. Perhaps someday we’ll find out.

(2) Disney will remake Something Wicked This Way Comes, originally produced in 1983 from a script written by Ray Bradbury himself.

The remake will be directed by Seth Grahame-Smith. This will be the first time the author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has directed a movie, though his heart is clearly in the right place —

“I have been so crazy about this book, and it was such a formative title in my life that I actually wrote a piece on NPR about why it is so important for young males to read,” Grahame-Smith said. “It is a classic coming-of-age, father-son story about the transition from childhood to adulthood and how kids can’t wait to be adults and adults romanticize their childhoods. I’m not remaking the movie; I want the haunted atmosphere that makes the book so chilling, and I want to reinstate some of the classic scenes from the book that were missing from the ’83 film.”

(3) The Lake County News-Sun’s editorial writer, a red hot Bradbury fan, grows increasingly grumpy as it appears that the author’s home town of Waukegan is about to snub Bradbury again by declining to name a school in his honor.

The School Board’s current argument against honoring the world-revered author is that he moved away from Waukegan. That’s what often happens. It’s not a punishable offense.

When the board considered renaming Whittier School, the same argument against Bradbury was offered although it did not stop a previous board from naming a middle school after Jack Benny, another hometown product who left.

But Bradbury so truly loved growing up in Waukegan that reflections of his youth and the town he revered reverberate through his books. People everywhere in the world know about Waukegan because they know Bradbury….

For the record, Samuel Langhorne Clemens moved away from Hannibal, Mo., when he was 17. But Hannibal never had any trouble finding suitable ways to honor him. Townsfolk named a school for him. They knew being Mark Twain’s hometown was their honor, even more than his.

(4) Something else Mark Twain and Ray Bradbury have in common is they both have books on Edina, MN’s 7th and 8th Grade Reading List – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Fahrenheit 451 – though the blogger who pointed this out feels theirs are the only two works on the current list that deliver the same challenge and literary value as the books on Minnesota’s 7th and 8th Grade Reading List in 1908.