Pixel Scroll 5/3/16 The Seven Pixel Scrollution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Help Us Keep Our Aerospace Heritage Alive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Short Story

“Jackalope Wives,” by Ursula Vernon

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

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

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

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

Sutherland also drew a “salute” to GamerGate Life.

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

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

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

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

Will this be the death of an institution I love?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds pretty exclusionary to me. How about you?

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

01:08 Shamus is up for a Hugo Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pembroke Tolkien lecture

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

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

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

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

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

pablo-1

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

Mark Twain Pixel Scroll 4/30/16 Never Mind The Scrollocks, Here’s The Sex Pixels

One hundred percent pure Scroll.

(1) NOT QUITE FAILURE TO LAUNCH. “Nail-biting start for Russia’s new Vostochny space centre” – BBC has the story.

“Oh please, darling, fly!”

A technician standing behind me was really nervous during the launch countdown at Vostochny, a new space centre in Russia’s Far East.

It was the second launch attempt – a day after the previous one had been aborted at the last minute.

I noticed that some of the technician’s colleagues also had pale faces and had crossed their fingers.

It emerged later that a cable malfunction had led to the postponement of Wednesday’s launch.

This time there was relief for Russia’s federal space agency, Roscosmos, as the Soyuz rocket, carrying three satellites, blasted off and the booster stage separated.

President Vladimir Putin had travelled 5,500km (3,500 miles) to watch the launch and was in a black mood after Wednesday’s cancellation, berating Vostochny’s managers for the financial scandals that have blighted this prestige project.

(2) DEAD TO RIGHTS. For a collision between the real world and fantasy, see “Gucci warns Hong Kong shops on paper fakes for funerals”. Gucci is trying to prevent people from selling paper mockups (of their products) to be burned in placate-ones-ancestors ceremonies.

Italian luxury goods maker Gucci has sent warning letters to Hong Kong shops selling paper versions of its products as offerings to the dead.

Paper replicas of items like mansions, cars, iPads and luxury bags are burnt in the belief that deceased relatives can use them in the afterlife.

Demand for these products is highest during the Qingming “tomb-sweeping” festival, which happened last month.

The shops were sent letters but there was no suggestion of legal action.

(3) NEAL STEPHENSON CONNECTION. Kevin Kelly writes “The Untold Story of Magic Leap, the World’s Most Secretive Startup” in the May issue of Wired, about mega-mysterious virtual reality company Magic Leap.

Among the first people (CEO Rony) Abovitz hired at Magic Leap was Neal Stephenson, author of the other seminal VR anticipation, Snow Crash.  He wanted Stephenson to be Magic Leap’s chief futurist because ‘he has an engineer’s mind fused with that of a great writer.’  Abovitz wanted him to lead a small team developing new forms of narrative.  Again, the myth maker would be making the myths real.

The hero in Snow Crash wielded a sword in the virtual world.  To woo Stephenson, four emissaries from Magic Leap showed up at Stephenson’s home with Orcrist–the ‘Goblin-cleaver’ sword from The Hobbit trilogy.  It was a reproduction of the prop handcrafted by a master wordsmith.  That is, it was a false version of the real thing used in the unreal film world–a clever bit of recursiveness custom-made for mixed reality.  Stephenson was intrigued.  ‘It’s not every day that someone turns up at your house bearing a mythic sword, and so I did what anyone who has read a lot of fantasy novels would:  I let them in and gave them beer,’ he wrote on Magic Leap’s blog.  ‘True to form, hey invited me on a quest and invited me to sign a contract (well, an NDA actually).’ Stephenson accepted the job.  ‘We’ve maxed out what we can do on 2-D screens, he says.  ‘Now it’s time to unleash what is possible in 3-D, and that means redefining the medium from the ground up.  We can’t do that in small steps.’  He compared the challenge of VR to crossing a treacherous valley to reach new heights.  He admires Abovitz because he is willing to ‘slog through that valley.'”

Magic Leap has also hired Ernest Cline as a consultant.

(4) REYNOLDS RAP. The Traveler at Galactic Journey has kind words for a prozine in “[April 30, 1961] Travel Stories (June 1961 Galaxy)”.

My nephew, David, has been on an Israeli Kibbutz for a month now.  We get letters from him every few days, mostly about the hard work, the monotony of the diet, and the isolation from the world.  The other day, he sent a letter to my brother, Lou, who read it to me over the phone.  Apparently, David went into the big port-town of Haifa and bought copies of Life, Time, and Newsweek.  He was not impressed with the literary quality of any of them, but he did find Time particularly useful.

You see, Israeli bathrooms generally don’t stock toilet paper…

Which segues nicely into the first fiction review of the month.  I’m happy to report I have absolutely nothing against the June 1961 Galaxy – including my backside.  In fact, this magazine is quite good, at least so far.  As usual, since this is a double-sized magazine, I’ll review it in two parts.

First up is Mack Reynolds’ unique novelette, Farmer.  Set thirty years from now in the replanted forests of the Western Sahara, it’s an interesting tale of intrigue and politics the likes of which I’ve not seen before.  Reynolds has got a good grasp of the international scene, as evidenced by his spate of recent stories of the future Cold War.  If this story has a failing, it is its somewhat smug and one-sided tone.  Geopolitics should be a bit more ambiguous.  It’s also too good a setting for such a short story.  Three stars.

(5) POHL PIONEERED. In a piece on The Atlantic by Michael Lapointe, ”Chernobyl’s Literary Legacy, Thirty Years Later”, the author credits Fred Pohl with writing the first novel about Chernobyl and says that Pohl’s 1987 Chernobyl “is done on an epic scale.”

(6) INDIE NOVELTY. Cedar Sanderson tells how she self-published a coloring book in “Non-Traditional Books” at Mad Genius Club.

So why am I telling you about this? Well, it’s different. Someone reading this may be a terrific artist (I’m not, by the way. I doodle really well) and this might be a great way for them to get a product on the market. I figure you can learn along with me, or from my mistakes, so you don’t have to make the ones I did.

Ingredients for a Coloring Book: 

  • Pens, pencils, and paper
  • A thematic idea (mine was adorable dragons and flowers)
  • Line-Art (this from the pen and paper, or you could create it digitally, which would be even better)
  • A good scanner
  • Graphics software: Gimp will work, Photoshop is actually better for this
  • Wordprocessing software: I laid the book out in Microsoft Word. You could use InDesign if you have it and are comfortable with it.
  • Patience

Cost? Well, not counting the cost of pens, ink, paper (I had all of those at the beginning, although I did invest some in upgrades) I spent about $12 on Inktail’s final production stages. That was $10 for a Createspace ISBN and $2 for stock art elements to put on the cover. Time? Well, now, that’s a horse of a different color.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

Born April 30, 1938 — Larry Niven.

(8) TO THE LITTLE SCREEN. ScreenRant reports “Wheel of Time Book Series to Become TV Show”.

Fans of the best-selling American fantasy novel series Wheel of Time, created by Vietnam War veteran and prolific genre fiction writer Robert Jordan, are no doubt well familiar with the epic, fourteen-novel long series for its many well-detailed narrative elements and Hugo award-winning reputation. Drawing from European and Asian mythology, Jordan (who was born James Oliver Rigney Jr.) saw fit to create a fantasy realm and spiritual mythos that borrows elements from Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity. The resulting overarching narrative accordingly featured an overarching thematic concern with the forces of light and dark, mirroring the metaphysical concepts of balance and duality in kind.

As an answer to British novelist and former Oxford University professor J.R.R. Tolkien’s likeminded The Lord of the Rings, Jordan made a name for himself until the time of his death in 2007 as the chief successor to the throne of bestselling imaginative fantasy. The legacy that Wheel of Time has since left in the wake of its author’s death still holds a certain reverence for his grandly orchestrated fiction – and now that special place the series holds in the hearts of many fans looks to be fit for future production as a major network TV series.

Posting to the official Google+ account for the Wheel of Time franchise and intellectual property, Jordan’s widow, Harriet McDougal, was pleased to let fans of the series know that a late legal dispute with Red Eagle Entertainment has been resolved, meaning that the production of an official TV series based on her late husband’s masterwork will soon be announced. Speaking on behalf of Jordan’s estate, McDougal posted the following:

“Wanted to share with you exciting news about The Wheel of Time. Legal issues have been resolved. The Wheel of Time will become a cutting edge TV series! I couldn’t be more pleased. Look for the official announcement coming soon from a major studio.”

(9) MONSTERPALOOZA. Lisa Napoli explains that “Halloween is a $7.5 billion year-round industry”.

Here among the crowds of freakily dressed people at Monsterpalooza at the Pasadena Convention Center, Yvonne Solomon stands out. Not because of the red dress she’s wearing, with a plunging neckline. It’s the large old-fashioned baby carriage she’s pushing. In it are four distinctive creatures:  “These are my were-pups,” she said. “They’re silicone, handmade little pieces of art.”

Were-pups.  Baby were-wolves. Solomon paid an artist $650 a piece for these creepy-looking critters. At this gathering of fellow monster fans, she’s assured a sympathetic reception for her investment. Horror fests like Wizard World and Shuddercon take place every weekend, all around the country. People happily fork over pricey admission fees for the chance to mingle with like-minded mutants and monsters.

“You’re in a big hall with a bunch of people you don’t have to explain yourself to,” Keith Rainville said, who is here selling vintage Mexican and Japanese horror tchotchkes. “We’re all from the same mothership that dropped us off in this weird world.”

Rainville is one of 200 vendors here, selling one-of-a-kind pieces, like what Paul Lazo brought from his little shop of collectibles in New York: “He is a severed head with a bloody pan and he’s damn handsome.”

(10) INKSTAINED WRETCHES ON DISPLAY. Shelf Awareness catches a vision of the American Writers Museum.

The American Writers Museum, the first in the United States to focus exclusively on American writers, “past and present,” will open in March 2017 in downtown Chicago, Ill. Located at 180 North Michigan Avenue, the museum expects to draw up to 120,000 visitors each year and is working with more than 50 authors’ homes and museums around the country to build its exhibitions. Among the planned attractions are re-creations of writers’ homes and fictional locales (including Tara, Cannery Row and the House of Seven Gables), interactive exhibits about writers’ lives and methodologies (including “travels” with Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck, for example), and ample space for film screenings, talks, readings and presentations. The museum aims to hold exhibitions on a range of subjects. Roberta Rubin, the former longtime owner of the Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, Ill., is co-chairman of the museum’s board of directors.

(11) VIRTUOSO. Hear the Star Trek: Voyager (Theme) “Metal cover” done by YouTube guitarist Captain Meatshield.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Will R., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 11/26 The Strange High Pixels on the Blog

(1) TRADITIONAL THANKS. Joe Vasicek’s “Giving Thanks” at One Thousand and One Parsecs is one of the best posts I saw that combined an sf theme with a serious reflection on the holiday.

So in the spirit of that first Thanksgiving feast, here are the things that I am especially thankful for this year:

  • I am thankful for my near and extended family. Tolstoy was wrong when he said that all happy families are alike: every family has their own quirks, even the ones that hold together. I wouldn’t give up my family’s quirks for anything.
  • I am thankful to live in a free country, where my rights to life, liberty, and property are respected and honored. I am also thankful for the brave men and women of our armed forces who sacrifice so much to keep it free.
  • I am thankful for the opportunity to pursue a career as an author, and for the flexibility and control that indie publishing provides. I have no one but myself to blame for my failures, but my successes are all my own. Even after four years, it’s still exhilarating.
  • I am thankful for my readers, who have made and continue to make this publishing journey possible. I am thankful for all that they do that supports me, from buying and reading my books to sharing with friends, posting reviews, sending me fan mail, and connecting in a hundred other little ways that together make this whole thing worthwhile. Seriously, you guys are awesome. The only thing I could ask is to have more of you!

(2) AMAZING THANKS. Steve Davidson sends holiday wishes to all in a post at Amazing Stories.

Whether you occupy the North American continent or not, and whether you celebrate “Thanksgiving Day” or not, I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of myself and all of the supporters, contributors, members and passersby at Amazing Stories to wish you a few moments of happy reflection on this day.

I urge you to take a moment to think back over the year and remember the people and happenings you’re thankful for this year.

I’m thankful for my wife and her support, and of the support and well-wishes I receive from our extended family….

(3) CONTRARY THANKS. David Brin ends his post “Cool science stuff… and more reasons to be thankful” at Contrary Brin with minor key gratitude.

Okay!  That great big pile of cool items ought to keep you busy, clicking and skimming while groaning and loosening your belts on Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday)… or else however you folks elsewhere around the world celebrate Thursday.  (Ah… Thursday!)

Don’t let grouches undermine our confidence.  Star Trek awaits.  Do thrive and persevere.

(4) DAUGHTERS. Three writers who love their daughters for exactly who they are:

(5) PREMIERE CONTEST. Omaze.com’s new charity fundraiser offers a chance to “Win a Trip to the Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. Deadline to enter is December 4 at 11:59 PST. The winner will be announced December 5.

Charity:

Africa Cancer Foundation; Arts in the Armed Forces (AITAF); Barnardos UK; Central London Samaritans; Damilola Taylor Trust; fStop Warrior Project; Feeding America; Make-A-Wish; Malala Fund; PACER: Children’s Mental Health and Emotional or Behavioral Disorders Project; Phab; St. Francis Hospice, Raheny; The Circle; UNICEF; Union of Concerned Scientists (“Charity”)

Prize Provider:

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (“Prize Provider”)

Details:

This experience includes attending the red carpet premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (“Picture”) in either Los Angeles or London. The attendance by any specific cast member, filmmakers, or such other talent from the Picture during the Premiere is not guaranteed and shall be subject to such talent’s availability and Sponsor’s and/or Prize Providers’ sole discretion. Neither Sponsor nor Prize Providers guarantee any type of meeting or photo opportunity with any specific cast member or talent from the Picture during the trip.

(6) CAPALDI IN AUCKLAND. “’Dr Who’ arrives to soothe pain” in the New Zealand Herald.

SPOILER WARNING. MAYBE.

Peter Capaldi

Peter Capaldi

Though Peter Capaldi, who plays the 12th incarnation of the sci-fi character hinted that, as it has been for more than 50 years, things in the show aren’t always clear-cut.

“My message for them would be life is tough,” Capaldi joked to The Herald about fans upset by Clara’s passing, sounding not unlike his second most-famous character, harsh spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker from political comedy The Thick of It.

“But Doctor Who is never quite what it seems. We haven’t told a lie. The story is the story but the Doctor is not going to rest. He is not going to accept that that is the last time he will be see Clara.”

(7) DAVID TENNANT. Io9 points to“David Tennant Celebrates 100 Years of General Relativity in This Clever Animation”, a YouTube video.

(8) Today In History

  • November 26, 1922 — In Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, British archaeologists Howard Carter and George Carnarvon became the first humans to enter King Tutankhamen’s treasure-laden tomb in more than 3,000 years.

(9) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born November 26, 1919Frederik Pohl. Pohl himself had started out in sf as a teenaged fan – not without controversy, for he was one of the six Futurians who were thrown out of the First Worldcon in 1939. The scales of justice would balance later when he was named guest of honor at the 1972 Worldcon, L.A.Con I.

(10) Leah Schnelbach’s “Frederik Pohl Made Doing Literally Everything Look Easy” at Tor.com is an entertaining overview of one of the field’s great figure. One paragraph may need a small fix.

Agent. Frederik Pohl attempted a career as a specialist science fiction literary agent, at a time when that wasn’t really a thing that existed. By the early 1950s he had a large number of clients, but he finally decided to close the agency to focus on editorial work. He was the only editor Isaac Asimov ever had.

Perhaps she meant “only agent”? Asimov’s work went under the hand of lots of other editors, according to the Internet Science Fiction Database.

(11) WRITER DISCIPLINE. Marc Aplin tells “How Writing Is A Lot Like Fighting – Part 1: Introduction” at Fantasy Faction.

The key to both statements is that the speaker’s practice/training has given them a degree of confidence that allows them to enter into a familiar situation (whether opening a word document or stepping into a ring/cage) and allowing their instincts to take over. It is important that you understand here that this isn’t simply ‘willingness’ to do their chosen activity (although that will be the first step), this is instead such a strong grasp of fundamentals that the person can switch their conscious mind off (i.e. ‘enter the zone’).

(12) CELTIC EXHIBIT. “British Museum Explores Celtic Identity” by Sean McLachlan at Black Gate.

For many of us, the Celts are an enduring fascination. Their art, their mysterious culture, and the perception that so many of us are descended from them makes the Celts one of the most popular ancient societies. So it’s surprising that the British Museum hasn’t had a major Celtic exhibition for forty years.

That’s changed with Celts: Art and Identity, a huge collection of artifacts from across the Celtic world and many works of art from the modern Celtic Revival. The exhibition is at pains to make clear that the name ‘Celts’ doesn’t refer to a single people who can be traced through time, and it has been appropriated over the last 300 years to reflect modern identities in Britain, Ireland, and elsewhere. “Celtic” is an artistic and cultural term, not a racial one.

The first thing visitors see is a quote by some guy named J.R.R. Tolkien, who wrote in 1963, “To many, perhaps most people. . .’Celtic’ of any sort is. . .a magic bag into which anything may be put, and out of which almost anything may come. . .anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight.”

(13) HUMBLE BUNDLE. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announced that the newest  Book Bundle will be supporting SFWA’s Givers Fund.

Pay what you want for Obsession: Tales of Irresistible Desire, One-Eyed Jack (Elizabeth Bear), Digital Domains: A Decade of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Word Puppets (Mary Robinette Kowal).

Pay more than the average price to also receive Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep, The Year’s Best Science & Fantasy Novellas: 2015, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2015, New Cthulhu 2: More Recent Weird, and Witches: Wicked, Wild & Wonderful.

Pay $15 or more for all of that plus Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook, The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2015, and Warrior Women.

Choose the price. Together, these books ordinarily go for up to $86. Here at Humble Bundle, though, you name the price! …

Support charity. Choose where the money goes — between the developers and three charitable causes (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Worldbuilders, or the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America–Giver’s Fund).

The bundle will be available til December 9.

(14) LETSON REVIEW. At Locus Online, Russell Letson begins his review of Greg Bear’s Killing Titan with an admission:

I should probably cop to this: I’m fascinated by military history, but I’ve never been much taken by what I think of as genre military SF, by which I mean adventure stories set in the military establishment and emphasizing weaponry, com­radeship, chains of command, career progress, and (of course) combat. As much as I enjoyed and understood Starship Troopers and The Forever War, I have found the run of routine combat or military-life series, well, routine and no match for the best of their historical-setting cousins (C.S. Forester, Bernard Cornwell, Pat­rick O’Brian, George MacDonald Fraser).

Nevertheless, it’s a positive review of Bear’s novel.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg.]

The 1972 SF Author Cruise To The Final Apollo Launch

The price was right – free.

On December 3, 1972 many of the leading sf writers, artists, and scientists of their generation boarded Holland America’s cruise ship SS Statendam to view the launch of Apollo 17 and to discuss the future of space travel. This would be the last manned mission to the Moon — the rest of the Apollo series had been cancelled — but it was still too early for so many optimists to internalize that America was entering the doldrums of manned space exploration.

A documentary of the cruise, Voyage Beyond Apollo, was recently posted on YouTube.

Some of the most interesting figures on board were Isaac Asimov, the only two people Asimov would admit were more intelligent than he was, Carl Sagan and AI specialist Marvin Minsky, plus Richard Hoagland, Ben Bova, poet Berguet Roberts, artists Rick Sternbach and Don Davis, Harry Stine, Robert Heinlein, Frederik Pohl, Theodore Sturgeon, Fred Ordway, rocket designer and space visionary Krafft Ehricke, SETI pioneer and director of the Arecibo Observatory Frank Drake, and physicist Robert Enzmann. They were joined by a sprinkling of other comped celebrities – Norman Mailer and Katherine Anne Porter among them. All that was really missing were — paying passengers.

In the first of several posts he wrote about the cruise for The Way The Future Blogs,“The Ship of Foolishness, Part 1: The Foreplay”, Frederik Pohl said the three men who organized the cruise were an astronaut, a communications genius who used to work with Walter Cronkite, and a highly respected scientist, but 40 years having passed by the time he penned these memories Pohl decided the organizers deserved anonymity. He just called them “Jim, Joe and Jack.”

The trio knew a lot of people would like to view an Apollo launch, and had experienced what a pain it was to drive down to the Cape, book a hotel, and find parking near the site. One had an inspiration.

“Hey, what about watching it from a cruise ship anchored just offshore?”

And another one, maybe Jim, said, “Great idea! And, listen, if you really wanted to do it, maybe you could get a bunch of people like us to give lectures on the ship in exchange for free tickets.” And somebody, possibly Joe, said, “Why the dickens don’t we just go ahead and do it?”

They did. They talked to Holland America line (my own personal first choice among cruise companies), who loved the idea, only they wanted to make a real cruise out of it, with visits to four or five gorgeous tropical islands. Then they got busy compiling a guest list of leading science-fiction writers and assorted celebrities to attract hoi polloi. To all of which Holland America responded with approval and encouragement, and did they have any other ideas like that?

They invited Pohl and filled him in on who else would be there.

Things were going splendidly, they said. They had been working the invitation list. Robert Heinlein was coming, and Ted Sturgeon and Isaac Asimov and at least a dozen other top science-fiction writers, said Joe. And other celebrities, too, Jack added, people like Carl Sagan and Norman Mailer and Katherine Anne Porter, whose 1962 novel Ship of Fools had created a stir in the world of publishing (an invitation which produced quite a lot of joking from Jim and Joe when Jack mentioned the title).

“And,” Joe put in, giving me a grin, “of course everybody brings his wife or husband or main squeeze. And we’re all comped, for the whole cruise, courtesy of Holland America. In your case, Fred, you don’t even have to worry about air fare, because you live near New York and that’s where this cruise starts and finishes.”

…I don’t actually know what these follies cost Holland America. A figure I have heard mentioned was half a million 1972 American dollars. Jim, Joe and Jack might have been able to give a more precise figure, but we couldn’t ask them.

They hadn’t come aboard.

According to Up Ship, Katherine Anne Porter’s biographer reports only 100 people in total paid for the cruise. There were only 40 “premium tickets” sold for the conference itself. It seems that staggeringly few people wanted to pay the $400 for the conference on top of the $400-$900 for the cruise.

Of course, the guests had no need to think about that, they were there to have a good time, and in “The Ship of Foolishness, Part 2” Pohl assures everyone they did.

Well, enough of telling you about experiences you can’t have. Simply imagine that you’re at the best con you’ve ever attended, only it’s with fewer people than usual and it runs twice as long. And it takes place not in a hotel in some strange city but on board of some twenty thousand tons of steel that is chugging through blue waters under balmy skies. Put them together with a host of entertaining companions available on what is almost a twenty-four hour schedule, and you’ve got the picture.

The titles of the talks presented at the on-board conference are listed in Up Ship’s article about the cruise titled “The Conference That Vanished”.

CORNUCOPIA OF SPACE (1st seminar 6th December)

Bruce Hunt: Co-Chairman

Donald Banks: Co-Chairman

  • Isaac Asimov: What is a Cornucopia
  • Norman Mailer: Is there a Cornucopia out there?
  • Pandora Duncan: Planetary rover designs
  • Robert D Enzmann: Out of the Cornucopia
  • Richard Hoagland: The Space Shuttle
  • Ben Bova: Expanding the Cornucopia
  • Berguet Roberts: Last Lunar Flight Dreams

ECOLOGICAL NICHES

Krafft Ehricke: Co-Chairman Extraterrestrial Industries

Kenneth Franklin: Co-Chairman

  • Eric Burgess: Emerging Conscience of Man
  • Roger Caras: Earth the Teacher, Lessons learned from out 1st planet
  • Isaac Asimov: A heirarchy of niches from comets to Earthlike planets
  • Neil Ruzic: Development of the moon as a niche
  • Richard Sternbach: Experiment that failed
  • Don Davis: Paintings: Clones

PROPULSION INTELLIGENT MACHINES AND SOCIO-GENETIC CHANGE

Roger Caras: Co-chairman

Harry Stine: Co-chairman The Third industrial Revolution

  • Robert Heinlein: Genetic fitness, Social fitness, training & technology and communications Marvin Minsky: Artificial intelligence
  • Sarah Meltzoff: Universals, Cultural viability, economic specialization
  • Janet Jepperson: Psychological barriers to full realization
  • Linda Sagan: Comment: Ultimate Machines
  • Krafft Ehricke: Comment: Ultimate Machines

ENERGY AND PROPULSION

Donald Banks: Co-Chairman Energy

Ben Bova: Co-Chairman

  • Werner Rambauske: Observation of the Universe
  • Brude hunt: Propulsion
  • Robin Anderson: Plowshare: Big guns for the benefit of the people
  • Fred Pohl: The shape of shadows from the future
  • Carl Sagan: Interstellar probes and Pioneer 10
  • Neil Ruzic: Human acquisition of Moon and its effects on war and peace

THE GRAND DESIGN

Gillet Griffin: Co-chairman

  • Eric Burgess: of Mankind but no longer Men
  • Cassandra Boell: Space states and the howling of beasts
  • Harry Stine: Comment: Ultimate Machine
  • Robert D. Enzmann: Statement of grand design, & galactic fertile crescent
  • Robert Heinlein: The grand design
  • Theodore Sturgeon: Communications, The Cold Equations, and the grand design
  • Fred Pohl: Star flight and relativistic twins “lost in space”
  • Fred Ordway: Use of satellite systems for education
  • Marvin Minsky: Artificial intelligence and the grand design, have we nurtured “The Descent of Machines?”
  • Richard Sternbach: Paintings: Mankinds’ grand design

SCIENCE, ART, COMMUNICATION, AND COSMOLOGY

Neil Ruzic: Co-chairman

Eric Burgess: Co-chairman

  • Donald Burgy: Order theory: an art exhibit in the clipper room
  • Gillett Griffin: Migrations of men and their art
  • Isaac Asimov: stellar types and organic evolution
  • Robert D Enzmann: Force= dp/dt (F=/ma) and e=hv(1-d/D) That is an intellectual revolution
  • Ben Bova: galaxies and quasars
  • Norman Mailer: Revolutionaries of science and technology
  • Donald Davis: Paintings: Cupules and stick charts

Asimov told what it was like to witness the launch of Apollo 17 in his column for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, saying he —

… watched Apollo 17 rise into the air like the biggest firefly in creation. It lit the sky from horizon to horizon, turning the ocean an orange-grey and the sky into an inverted copper bowl from which the stars were blanked out.”

Slowly it rose on its tail of fire, and it was well up in the sky before the first shaking rumble reached us some forty seconds after ignition and shook us savagely.

Mankind was making its attempt to reach the moon a sixth time and place and eleventh and twelfth man upon it. It was the last launching of the Apollo series (and the only night launching, hence incredibly spectacular, and I was delighted to see it). It may be decades before mankind returns to the task – after establishing a space station that would make it possible to reach the Moon more easily, more economically, and more elaborately.

Pohl, in “The Ship of Foolishness, Part 3: Apollo 17”, wrote:

We saw something flaring around the base of the rocket. Then that whole precarious stack of thrusters and capsules began to ease itself upward.

We all blinked and squinted as the five great rocket nozzles on the Saturn 5 savaged our eyes with the five blinding supernovas of hydrogen burning in air. The blinding flames began moving upward with the rest of the train, slowly at first, then picking up speed. Everything moved straight up together until the thrusters were level with the little bridge the astronauts had walked on, then higher and clear of the launch tower entirely.

And then at last the sound of those five Saturn rockets reached us, over beach and water, from far away, but still making the ship’s lighting fixtures rattle and our ears hurt. Now the entire construct was overhead, the hydrogen fire stretching down toward us, but far away and getting rapidly farther. Now the departing assembly of space-going parts was vertically over our heads.

Every head was craned back, every face aimed at the spectacle above. I turned around to look at my companions behind me. There were the upturned faces of Bob Heinlein and Isaac and Ted Sturgeon and others, clustered like blossoms in a flower-shop bouquet, starkly lit by that super-sun that was sliding across the sky above them. I could have kicked myself, angry at my dimwitted absence of forethought for failing to stick a camera in my pocket to capture a shot of those faces in that wondrous light.

Others’ attempts to put their experience into words are quoted in Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight by Chris Dubbs and Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom.

For space artist Rick Sternbach, the launch was all about visual images and color, “the repeating shockwaves off rocket, the blowtorch yellow-orange glow around the vehicle, the smoke and steam streaming away in every direction.” He had witnessed the daytime launches of Apollo 11 and Apollo 13, but this was an altogether different experience.

After the launch, the ship’s many bars filled with celebration and discussion. Ehricke estimated to a gathered crowd that the brightness of the night launch was about that of five hundred full moons. “Incomparably beautiful,” Robert Heinlein termed it. For Norman Mailer, “It was the one time when I wanted instant replay.” Eighty-two-year-old novelist Katherine Anne Porter, on assignment to cover the launch for Playboy magazine, never expected to witness anything like it in her life. “I came out of a world so primitive you can scarcely imagine it,” she said. “We barely had gaslight in New Orleans when I was a girl. When I saw them take off, I wanted with all my soul to be going with them.”

Fresh from his own rounds of celebration, Richard Hoagland commandeered the ship’s public address system to announce that “due to a lack of interest, tomorrow has been canceled” —as though the launch were so singular an event that all else lost meaning in its wake. The comment might have served as a final epitaph for the extraordinary Apollo program, except that the Statendam passengers had gathered precisely to consider “tomorrow” and how to fill its possibilities.

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 8/13 Mission: Insufferable

Check your tickets. The winning numbers today are 4 and 770.

(1) Our Fantastic Four correspondent James H. Burns has discovered a website for an imaginary 1963-1964 FF television series with many clever faux production photos.

Cast of the faux Four series.

Cast of the faux Four series.

Elizabeth Montgomery and Russell Johnson were producer William Frye’s first choices to play Sue Storm and Reed Richards.  Although neither Johnson or Montgomery were yet huge stars, Frye had worked with both on separate episodes of Thriller.  He had also enjoyed Johnson’s work in This Island Earth, and Montgomery had initially attracted his attention with her Emmy-nominated performance as doomed nightclub performer Rusty Heller in The Untouchables.

Episode #5 was written by Harlan Ellison, and others were scripted by sf stalwarts Jerome Bixby, Theodore Sturgeon and Charles Beaumont.

Why is it impossible to watch this classic today?

The tapes of the actual episodes and most of the production notes were destroyed in a warehouse fire in southern California in 1974.

Because — “Flame on!”

(2) MiceAge has the scoop on plans to add “Star Wars Land” and “Marvel Land” to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure respectively:

The majority of Star Wars Land in the northernmost park acreage will be inside a massive series of show buildings, meaning the land won’t have to close for fireworks fallout. The rides and shows in the land itself are being developed in a top secret Imagineering lab in Glendale with Imagineers signing extra confidentiality agreements because the plotlines and characters are pulled from the next three episodes in the Star Wars saga and the Lucasfilm folks understandably guard that information with their lives. But what we can tell you is that Star Wars Land will include multiple attractions, anchored by a mega E Ticket using a trackless vehicle that will break the mold when it comes to how theme park visitors interact with a ride environment.

And:

The plans to expand DCA again with a Marvel Land behind Tower of Terror continue to move ahead, and the E Ticket thrill ride that is planned to anchor that expansion is going to be very unique. The ride will feature a newly Imagineered hybrid ride system that might be best described as a combination of Rock N’ Roller Coaster and Universal’s Transformers ride using every trick and gimmick WDI can throw at it, including on-board audio and effects and elaborate sets and animatronics.

(3) The Star Wars franchise is expanding in every direction. Even cosmetics. Nerdist has loads of pictures of the CoverGirl Star Wars: The Force Awakens makeup collection.

The line includes six new lipstick colors, three shades of nail polish, and ten tubes of mascara featuring quotes from the Star Wars films–including the first six films and The Force Awakens. CoverGirl Global Creative Design Director Pat McGrath has come up with six different and dramatic looks using products from the collection, and those are being unveiled at CoverGirl’s Star Wars Tumblr.

There isn’t much at the Tumblr today, maybe later on. Plenty to look at in the Nerdist post, though.

(4) Syfy channel has plans to develop Frederik Pohl’s Hugo-winning Gateway into a series. Battlestar Galactica’s David Eick is involved.

(5) The New York Times reports on a variety of computers with personality – “Siri, Tell Me a Joke. No, a Funny One”

Fred Brown, founder and chief executive of Next IT, which creates virtual chatbots, said his company learned firsthand the importance of creating a computer with a sense of humor when he asked his 13-year-old daughter, Molly, to test Sgt. Star, the Army’s official chatbot, which allows potential recruits to ask questions about the Army, just as you would in a recruiting station. Molly was chatting with Sgt. Star when she looked up and said, “Dad, Sergeant Star is dumb.” When he asked why, she said, “He has to have a favorite color, and it can’t be Army green.” Turns out, more than a quarter of the questions people ask Sgt. Star have nothing to do with the Army after Next IT programmed it with more human answers.

(6) The last few lines of Brad R. Torgersen’s long comment on Sarah A. Hoyt’s blog are sufficient to give you the flavor of the full 7-course meal. (Scroll down. The direct link doesn’t work for me.)

So, the field is essentially returning to its Marxist roots. But the starry-eyedness is mostly gone. Now we’re down to the raw hate of the thing: the vengeance-minded outliers and weirdos, determined to punish wrongdoing and wrongthinking and wrongfeeling. Which means, of course, smoking out all the wrongfans having all the wrongfun with their wrongstuff.

If they could clap us in shackles, put us into the boxcars, and send us to the icy wastes to die, they would do it in a heartbeat.

Because — by golly! — somebody has to make things be safe!

(7) Some writers can’t fathom how File 770 gets credit for being a radical hangout.

(8) Today’s birthday boy: Alfred Hitchcock, born in 1899.

[Thanks to James H. Burns, Petréa Mitchell, Mark, Gregory Benford, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cubist .]

Worldcon Site Selection Vote Count in 1966

Site selection at Tricon. Photo taken by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Site selection at Tricon. Photo taken by and (c) Andrew Porter.

‘Tis the season to count ballots, inspiring Andrew Porter to send along a photo of site selection votes being counted on stage at Tricon, the 1966 Worldcon.

Fans had to choose between four competitive bids seeking to host the 1967 Worldcon. New York won, defeating rivals from Boston, Baltimore, Syracuse (and a comic relief bid for Highmore, SD).

The New York committee were Fanoclasts — Ted White, rich brown, Mike McInerney, Dave Van Arnam, and Arnie Katz.

The Syracuse bid was co-chaired by Jay K. Klein and Dave Kyle. Ruth Kyle was Secretary, George Heap was Treasurer and the rest of the committee included James Ashe, Ann Ashe, and Jack Smith.

Two of the losing bids had invited Fred Pohl as their Guest of Honor — he would finally get the nod in 1972 (L.A.Con).

Buy Fred Pohl’s Worldcon GoH Acceptance Letter

A little slice of history up for auction at eBay is Fred Pohl’s letter accepting the LA bidders’ invitation to be 1972 Worldcon guest of honor if they won. (As they did. L.A.Con was the first Worldcon I ever attended.)

Writing to co-chairs Chuck Crayne and Bruce Pelz in 1969, Pohl also made a request: please shorten the speeches!

There is one thing, though. It’s not a condition, because I don’t want to try to tell you how to run the con, but it’s a heartfelt request. Having sat through, at recent cons, funny remarks by a toastmaster, protracted patter with the awarding of the Hugos, four or five brief (at least, they were supposed to be brief) announcements and other awards, a fan GOH speech and a pro GOH speech, I ask that you do something about making it shorter. Human flesh can stand just so much!

Don’t think Pohl was merely echoing the common complaint about the length of Hugos we hear nowadays, where people stroke out if the ceremonies last over a hundred minutes.

Pohl was writing less than a year after BayCon, the 1968 Worldcon, where fans had endured dinner and speeches in 95-degree heat, in an unventilated ballroom without air conditioning, for five hours and fifteen minutes before the first Hugo was even presented.

Mike Resnick recalled that night in a piece for File 770 #100:

[At 8:00 p.m.] Phil Farmer got up to give his speech…. [When] he paused for a drink of water more than 2 hours into it, we all gave him a standing ovation in hope it would convince him he was through. It didn’t. He finished after 10:30. Time for the Hugos, right? Wrong. Randy Garrett gets up, takes the microphone away from Toastmaster Bob Silverberg, and sings about 50 verses of ‘Three Brave Hearts and Three Bold Lions.’ Finally, approaching 11:15, Silverberg gets up to hand out the Hugos.

Pohl wanted to avoid any repetition of a nightmare that was still fresh in everyone’s mind.

How long did the 1972 banquet and speeches run? I don’t remember, I only know it was hours shorter than at BayCon.

L.A.Con banquet. Milt Stevens, Fred Patten, Carol Pohl, Frederik Pohl, Dian Crayne.  From the collection of Len & June Moffatt.

L.A.Con banquet. Milt Stevens, Fred Patten, Carol Pohl, Frederik Pohl, Dian Crayne. From the collection of Len & June Moffatt.

The Invisible Fanwriter Hugo

The Hugo nominating deadline is March 31. And I was wondering if, on Easter weekend when the Best Fan Writer nominees are announced, there will be the usual cuckoo in the robin’s nest – an established pro novelist?

Over the past few years the category has been won by pro writers John Scalzi, Frederik Pohl, Jim C. Hines, and Tansy Rayner Roberts, with actual fans Cheryl Morgan and Claire Brialey breaking through, too.

Every time I approach this subject lots of you write to say, “Oh no, Mike, you’re crazy — pros can be fans too!”

This is such a very important ideological axiom – to fans. Those eager to win the argument that “pros can be fans too!” never seem to recognize that it isn’t fans who are stopping this from happening, rather, that they are trying to force a kind of egalitarianism on writers that never really takes, however interested or polite the writers may be while the award is on the table.

Because once everyone’s done marching around waving their hands as confetti falls from the rafters and the brass band blows like mad and the world has once again been made safe for fannish egalitarianism, nobody pays attention to the implicit message we get back from the pros that people were so hot to give a fan Hugo —

People who are building careers as writers do not want to identify their brands with anything that hints of the amateur.

And the Fan Writer Hugo that was a big deal for six months gets swept under the rug.

You look at their bios and here’s what you find.

The “Brief biography of John Scalzi” on Whatever has this to say about his awards:

Bibliography: It’s here. New York Times best seller in fiction. Awards won include the Hugo, the Locus, the Seiun and Kurd Lasswitz. Works translated into 20 languages.

Where is it?

The late Frederik Pohl had two online bios, one at his official website and the other on his blog, and neither acknowledges the Best Fan Writer Hugo. The pro site speaks generally of winning the Hugo “six times; he was the only person ever to have won the Hugo both as writer and as editor….” The blog says of his awards: “He has received six Hugos, three Nebulas and forty or fifty other awards, some of which he has given himself.”

Six Hugos. Did you know Pohl, in fact, won seven Hugos? The seventh was his Best Fan Writer Hugo.

Now at the time he was nominated Pohl was gracious about it, clearly understood the honor he was being paid, said “I couldn’t be more pleased,” and was unquestionably qualified to compete in the category. I still thought his response was pretty much along the lines of “if you insist” – rather like Robert Silverberg’s attitude toward winning the 1950 Retro Hugo for Best Fan Writer.

Silverberg also doesn’t list his Retro Hugo on his official page, but that comes as no surprise if you remember what he wrote to File 770 the time I left him off a list —

I take umbrage at your omitting Me from your list of winners of the Best Fan Writer Hugo who have also sold pro fiction. May I remind you that I was the (totally undeserved) winner of the 1950 Retro-Hugo in that category, beating out such people as [Walt] Willis and [Bob] Tucker? Of course I would not have won the award if I hadn’t had a few stories published professionally along the way.  But I did get the Hugo.

That’s the thing. A Best Fan Writer Hugo added nothing to the career Pohl already had, and made Silverberg feel fans must be completely clueless about what he truly values.

Then, last year’s winner, Tansy Rayner Roberts, has a lengthy bio on her website that mentions three awards won by her fiction but is silent about her Best Fan Writer Hugo. The site’s landing page does call out her involvement in “the Hugo-nominated Galactic Suburbia podcast.” Not said is that the nomination is in the Best Fancast category.

Surprisingly, Jim C. Hines bucks the trend. His bio says right in front of God and everybody

Jim is an active blogger about topics ranging from sexism and harassment to zombie-themed Christmas carols, and won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2012.

Respect to you, Jim.

Invisible little men are one of science fiction’s motifs. Invisible Best Fan Writers we can do without. Let’s do something revolutionary in 2014 – vote the award to a fan.

Last Meeting of Two Literary Lions

Bradbury and Pohl with the Red Planet. Photo by Terry Pace.

Bradbury and Pohl with the Red Planet. Photo by Terry Pace.

Frederik Pohl and Ray Bradbury met for the first time at the 1939 Worldcon when they were both teenagers. The last time they saw each other was at the 2008 Eaton Conference, as Pohl wrote in his Bradbury obituary

I saw Ray last a couple of years ago, when he and I were joint guests for the science-fiction program at UC-Riverside. He was feisty as ever, rather startlingly denouncing current science fiction as trash or worse — though it turned out that what he meant to be denouncing wasn’t print science fiction, but only the current crop of sf films. I would have liked to go into that in more detail, and to ask if he included the film Avatar. But time didn’t permit, and now I never can.

Fred Pohl, Larry Niven and Ray Bradbury at the 2008 Eaton Conference. Photo by Terry Pace.

Fred Pohl, Larry Niven and Ray Bradbury at the 2008 Eaton Conference. Photo by Terry Pace.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Frederik Pohl (1919-2013)

Frederik Pohl in 2008.

Frederik Pohl in 2008.

Frederik Pohl died September 2, his daughter Emily Pohl-Weary has announced on Twitter.  He was 93.

He spent the last several years of his life writing The Way the Future Blogs, fashioning the pieces from which a new volume of his memoirs might be made — in the meantime so charming the latest generation of science fiction fans with his anecdotes from the genre’s golden age that he was voted a Best Fan Writer Hugo in 2010.

Pohl himself had started out in sf as a teenaged fan – not without controversy, for he was one of the six Futurians who were thrown out of the First Worldcon in 1939. The scales of justice would balance later when he was named guest of honor at the 1972 Worldcon, L.A.Con I.

Pohl was also one of the field’s youngest prozine editors, from 1939 to 1943 running Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories.

He served in World War II as an air corps weatherman, mainly in Italy.

After the war he ran the genre’s leading literary agency – yet it was not financially successful. He closed it down in the early 1950s and went back to writing full time.

He co-founded the Hydra Club in 1947, a regular gathering of New York’s sf pros.

A satire written in collaboration with Cyril M. Kornbluth, The Space Merchants (1953), was one of his most noted works in this period. They followed in 1955 with Gladiator-at-Law.

In the 1960s Pohl became one of the field’s most important editors. His Galaxy and If won the Hugo Award for Best Professional Magazine in 1966, 1967 and 1968.

Resuming his writing career in the 1970s, he penned such renowned novels as Man Plus (1977 Nebula), Gateway (1978 Hugo and Nebula), and Jem. Beyond the Blue Event Horizon followed in the 1980s. He also won a Hugo for his 1985 short story “Fermi and Frost.”

Pohl was President of the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1974.

He earned many lifetime achievement honors  — Science Fiction Hall of Fame (1998, Living Inductee), SFWA Grand Master Award (1993), Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award (2013, distinguished service), Eaton Award (Lifetime Achievement, 2009), Forry Award (lifetime achievement, voted by LASFS, 1994), Milford Award (1995, lifetime achievement),  Prix Utopia (2000, lifetime achievement), Skylark Award (1966, given by NESFA), Writers and Illustrators of the Future (2000, lifetime achievement)


He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Anne Hull, Ph.D.

[Thanks to Lloyd Penney and Taral Wayne for the story.]

Update 09/03/2013: Corrected link to 1939 Worldcon story per comment.