Pixel Scroll 4/13/17 Hark! What File Through Yonder Pixel Scrolls?

(1) ODYSSEY CON LOSES SECOND GOH. Honoring the reasons for the withdrawal of Monica Valentinelli, another Odyssey Con GoH has dropped out — Tad Williams made this announcement on Facebook:

I am sad to announce that I won’t be appearing at the upcoming Odysseycon. I feel a debt of conscience to guests of this con and to others whose complaints of harassment (and worse) at gatherings in our field have gone unheard and unresolved.

At the same time it seems to me and Deb that the issues are complicated and a lot of people must be having a very miserable time right now. We don’t want to contribute to the heat, and hope that things can be improved for everyone in the future. Odysseycon have been straightforward in their dealings with us, and gracious when we withdrew. I wish to extend my apologies to any members of the convention who will be disappointed by my not attending.

(2) TOOLMAKING. And today, Monica Valentinelli is looking for knowledge to make cons safer.

How can we…

  • …teach people not to harass?
  • …teach allies what to watch out for?
  • …foster healthy and safe communication about harassment?
  • …teach people how best to enforce harassment policies?
  • …address safety concerns that are not part of an official claim?
  • …share experiences between conventions so each con doesn’t live in a silo?
  • …implement better documentation policies so materials aren’t lost?
  • …help allies understand how to support victims?
  • …help victims have the confidence to come forward?
  • …guarantee that personal e-mails will not be posted publicly?
  • …help victims/allies mitigate the losses that come from making hard decisions?
  • …teach con goers how we take their safety seriously?
  • …teach con goers what to do next if something should happen?
  • …address what proper resolutions are and how they should be implemented?
  • …leverage our social communities better to review our convention attendance?
  • …help con runners decide how to implement training for their staff?
  • …help con runners understand how important it is to have the right people on staff to handle this?

I am 100% certain there are other questions I am missing, as I am speaking through the lens of my experiences. Regardless, I feel that the first step is to ask questions like these before they can be answered. Then, we need to have those hard discussions to take additional steps.

(3) TALKIN’ ABOUT M-MY REGENERATION. Beware, this will make your head spin — a video of every Doctor Who regeneration at Yahoo! TV. (The only bad part is you have to watch at least 30 seconds of a commercial before the video begins.)

(4) CARRIE FISHER. Is there anybody who hasn’t seen the Star Wars tribute to Carrie Fisher yet? Or who doesn’t want to watch it a couple more times?

(5) ROLLING IN THE GREEN. You might have said that’s a lot of lettuce to ask for a 50 pence coin, but the Royal Mint’s offering of a Peter Rabbit 2017 UK 50p BU Coin for £10 has sold out.

The Mint also put out a set of coins in 2016 to celebrate Potters’ 150th anniversary –

Features four coins depicting some of her best-loved characters: Peter Rabbit, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Squirrel Nutkin

(6) PKD FILM FEST. The fifth annual Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival takes place May 25-30 in New York City.

The program showcases over 100 films, premieres, panels, virtual reality demonstrations and celebratory gatherings as the festival continues its salute to the master of science fiction, Philip K. Dick.

Highlights include the world premieres of Maryanne Bilham-Knight’s A Life Gone Wild (2016) and Jean-Philippe Lopez’s III (2016), North American premiere of Adam Stern’s FTL (2017), USA premieres of Caroline Cory’s Gods Among Us: The Science of Contact (2016), Rasmus Tirzitis’s Vilsen (2016) and Ove Valeskog’s Huldra: Lady of the Forest (2016), east coast premieres of Niall Doran/Justin Smith’s Sixteen Legs (2016) and Renchao Wang’s The End of the Lonely Island (2016) and NYC premiere of Bruce Wemple’s The Tomorrow Paradox (2016).

The festival will also launch PKD Talks: Conversations with Luminaries, Visionaries and Mavericks, a new panel series discussing scientific, inspirational and world changing themes with industry professionals including author and physicist Dr. Ronald Mallett, acclaimed directors Maryanne Bilham-Knight and Caroline Cory, web host Joe Cerletti, astrophysicist Rudy Schild, computer scientist Jacques Vallee and more distinguished guests.

Check out the full schedule here.

(7) ATWOOD STORY ON TV. The Verge has seen the first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and gives the show an enthusiastic endorsement.

But The Handmaid’s Tale is more than a political jab. In the first three episodes provided to reviewers, it’s a dystopia that manages to stand out in a television landscape already full of apocalypses and oppressive imaginary societies. It’s a colorful TV series about a woman negotiating domestic drama, and judging from its initial installments — all three of which will be released simultaneously on April 26th — it might be one of the darkest shows on television this year.

(8) THE EVENING NEWS. Problems with a furry convention have made it onto TV. That’s not surprising anymore, is it? But this is still a story that makes a fan’s hair (or fur) stand on end — “Amid allegations of unpaid taxes, neo-Nazism, and sex offender, Denver furry convention canceled”.

Head of company that operates RMFC exposed

But the letter was not signed by an attorney, nor did it contain language or punctuation consistent with those typically used by lawyers. But it did contain a red thumb print, sometimes associated with a movement the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as extremists.

And Kendal Emery, the man who signed the letter and the self-identified “Chief Executive Contract Law Officer” for Midwest Anthropomorphic Arts Corporation, is a convicted sex offender.

The Arvada man pleaded no contest to three counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor in 1993 in Alamogordo, New Mexico, near his native Carlsbad. New Mexico court records show he served at least probation and underwent out-patient counseling as part of his sentence.

But that isn’t the end of Emery’s issues: though he registered Mid America Anthropomorphic and Art Corporation in Colorado in 2005 at an Aurora address and also with the IRS, the IRS revoked the company’s status in May 2011 and has not reinstated it

(9) WHAT MAKES A WRITER REAL. Sarah A. Hoyt’s inspirational column “You’re real” ends:

A contract won’t make you real.  Writing more will make you real.  Indie and traditional both thrive on content.  The more you write the more you’ll make.  And in indie, this is all in your hands.  You don’t need anyone to give you permission.

Go write and publish.  Stop obsessing about being real.  I say you’re real, and in proof thereof, I’ve made the following certificate, which you can download, fill in and print at your convenience.

STOP GIVING AWAY part of you income for nothing, particularly to small presses of dubious value.  Write.  Publish.  Repeat.  Become a professional.

(10) EUROCON NEWS. The first announcement with details of 2017 ESFS Business Meeting has been made available on the European SF Society website.

The ESFS General Meeting for 2017 will take place at U-Con, the Dortmund (Germany) Eurocon, on June 16-18.

(11) TODAY’S DAY

Scrabble Day

By far the best way to celebrate Scrabble Day is with Oxyphenbutazone. That’s right, Oxyphenbutazone is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug – you already knew that – but it’s also the word that, in a single play, can give the highest possible score on a Scrabble board. The chances of it ever coming up are similar to the chances of winning this week’s lottery, as you’d need to join all seven of your tiles with eight already on the board across three triple word scores. Still, it’d be worth waiting for, scoring 1,778 points. You’d almost certainly win the game with that.

(12) TODAY IN ALTERNATE HISTORY

April 13, 1967 — In another reality, 50 years ago today would have been the end of Star Trek. The final new first-season episode, “Operation — Annihilate!,” aired April 13, 1967. Only an unprecedented letter-writing campaign, spearheaded by Bjo Trimble and other science-fiction writers and fans, got the show renewed for a second season.

(13) TODAY IN REGULAR OLD HISTORY

April 13, 1970 — …disaster strikes 200,000 miles from Earth when oxygen tank No. 2 blows up on Apollo 13, the third manned lunar landing mission. Astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise had left Earth two days before for the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon but were forced to turn their attention to simply making it home alive.

(14) MATH OF KHAN. Why, this is heresy! Space.com says “Redshirts Aren’t Likeliest to Die – and Other ‘Star Trek’ Math Lessons”.

Grime first focused on an age-old assertion: that crewmembers wearing red shirts in the original “Star Trek” series, which denote working in engineering or security, are far more likely to be killed off than any other shirt color.

That claim, in fact, is false — more “redshirts” died on-screen than any other crew type (10 gold-shirted, which are command personnel; eight blue-shirted, who are scientists; and 25 red-shirted, Grime said), but that calculation fails to take into account that there are far more redshirts on the ship to start with than any other crew type.

In other words, we’re looking at the probability that you are a redshirt if you die (58 percent) — what we want to know is the probability that you die if you’re a redshirt, Grime said.

Grime used the “Star Trek” technical manual to find out how many of each crew type there were, which painted a different picture: out of 239 redshirts, 25 died, which is 10 percent. Out of 55 goldshirts, 10 died, which is 18 percent! So you are more likely to die as a goldshirt, Grime said.

Oh, so it’s actually true – this is just a lawyerly exercise in lying with statistics.

(15) FAN MAIL. Alastair Reynolds praised Erin Horakova’s Strange Horizons article article about Captain Kirk:

If you have a little time on your hands I commend this excellent Strange Horizons article by Erin Horakova on our changing (and inaccurate) perception of the character of Captain Kirk…

Regardless of the quality of the individual episodes, though, I quickly found myself wondering when this legendary bad Shatner was going to turn up, because all I was seeing – right from the outset – was an efficient and convincing portrayal of a man in a complex, demanding position of authority. Shatner isn’t just much better at playing Kirk than the popular myth would have it, but the character itself is also much more plausibly drawn than the supposed brash womaniser of the insidious meme.

Erin Horakova dismantles this false Kirk in expert fashion, while lobbing a few well-earned potshots at the reboot films.

(16) THE NEW NUMBER SIX. John  Scalzi continues Reader Request Week with “#6: Reading as Performance”.

  1. Recognize it is a performance. Which is to say that you can’t just go in front of a room, mumble your way through fifteen minutes of text, answer a couple of questions and go home (I mean, you can, but it won’t turn out the way you want it to). You actually have to be up and on, from the moment you get to the event until the moment you’re done. Which is draining, but can also be fun. When you read, don’t just read the text, act it. When you’re answering questions, don’t answer quickly, answer completely. When you’re signing, work to make it so the person you’re signing for feels like that those 30 seconds with you is a pretty good 30 seconds of their life. Know all this going in, and prepare.

(17) WAITRESSING FOR GODOT. Ann Leckie was prompted by Scalzi’s post to add her own thoughts – “On Performance and Sincerity”.

Now as it happens, I have a tiny bit of theater experience, along with that music degree, so I’m actually pretty comfortable onstage. But you know what else I think has helped me–years of waiting tables. I am a serious introvert, but working at waiting tables gave me practice interacting with lots of strangers for hours at a time, keeping my demeanor pleasant and mostly cheerful. It’s practice that has stood me in good stead for a lot of my non-writing-related life, actually. In a lot of ways waiting tables can be a really miserable job, but that aspect of it, learning how to be “on” very pleasantly and confidently, has been super valuable to me.

(18) WHAT GOES UP… Just don’t ask for an explanation: “Mysterious X37-B ‘space plane’ stays in orbit for 677 days – and no one knows why”.

A mysterious robotic ‘space plane’ has now been in orbit for a record 677 days – and America is remaining silent about what it’s doing up there.

The robotic Boeing X-37B craft – also known as Orbital Test Vehicle 4 – conducts long missions in orbit, carrying a classified payload.

Observers have speculated that the Space Shuttle-esque vehicle might be designed to destroy satellites – or work as a ‘movable’ satellite itself.

(19) LOST BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. Evidently, Scotland’s witch prosecution records leave something to be desired. Atlas Obscura has the story — “Maggie Wall’s Memorial”.

A mysterious monument where a woman who records say never existed was burnt alive for being a witch.

…Outside of a small village of Dunning, nestled in the former parklands of Duncrub Castle, lies a monument. It’s a collection of stones about 20 feet high, topped with a cross and decorated with gifts left by visitors—pennies, feathers, shells, fluffy stuffed animals, and tiny tea candles. The stones bear the words in stark white lettering: “Maggie Wall burnt here 1657 as a witch.”

Scotland was home to nearly 3,800 people accused of witchcraft between 1500s and 1700s, the vast majority of whom were women. In the end, about 1,500 were murdered as a result of witch hunt inquisitions. However, mysteriously, there is no record of a woman named Maggie Wall being tried as a witch. What’s more, there’s no record of the monument itself until 1866, though a forest surrounding the monument called Maggie Walls Wood was documented as of 1829.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Steven H Silver, and David Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contirbuting editor of the day Rev. Bob.]

Patten Chronicles Furry Fandom Conventions Worldwide

Furry Fandom Con coverFred Patten’s fanhistory Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989-2015 is now on sale from McFarland & Company, Publishers.

Patten says, “This is the first study of furry fandom published by a publisher outside of the furry specialty press itself. It indicates that furry fandom is becoming an accepted subject for academic study.”

Furry fandom—an adult social group interested in anthropomorphic animals in art, literature and culture—has grown since the 1980s to include an estimated 50,000 “furries.” Their largest annual convention drew more than 6,000 attendees in 2015, including 1,000 dressed in “fur suits” or mascot-type animal costumes. Conventions typically include awards, organizations, art, literature and movies, encompassing a wide range of creative pursuits beyond animal costuming.

This study of the furry subculture presents a history of the oft-misunderstood group and lists all conventions around the world from 1989 through 2015, including organizers, guests of honor and donations to charity.

Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989-2015 is 242 pages, illustrated with more than 50 furry convention posters, program book covers, website banners, T-shirts, and other artwork; including 8 pages in full color.

Patten To Launch Anthology at Further Confusion

Dogs of War, edited by Fred Patten, is launching at Further Confusion 2017 in San Jose, California over the January 12-16 five-day weekend.

Dogs of War is an all-original anthology of 23 short stories and novelettes of anthropomorphic animals (not just dogs) in military scenarios, from battle action to boot camps, on land, at sea, and in space.  This is designed to appeal to both s-f & fantasy fans, and fans of military s-f.

From a rabbit army’s training camp, to a human army turned into wolves, praying mantises in spacesuits, rattlesnake troops, prejudice against uplifted rat sailors, multi-tailed fox warrior priestesses, and more; these are stories for your imagination and enjoyment.

Contents

  • Nosy and Wolf, by Ken McGregor
  • After Their Kind, by Taylor Harbin
  • Succession, by Devin Hallsworth
  • Two If By Sea, by Field T. Mouse
  • The Queens’ Confederate Space Marines, by Elizabeth McCoy
  • The Loving Children, by Bill McCormick
  • Strike, But Hear Me, by Jefferson P. Swycaffer
  • End of Ages, by BanWynn Oakshadow
  • Shells On The Beach, by Tom Mullins
  • Cross of Valor Reception for the Raccoon, Tanner Williams, Declassified Transcript, by John Kulp
  • Last Man Standing, by Frances Pauli
  • Hunter’s Fall, by Angela Oliver
  • Old Regimes, by Gullwolf
  • The Shrine War, by Alan Loewen
  • The Monster in the Mist, by Madison Keller
  • Wolves in Winter, by Searska GrayRaven
  • The Third Variety, by Rob Baird
  • The Best and Worst of Worlds, by Mary E. Lowd
  • Tooth, Claw and Fang, by Stephen Coughlan
  • Sacrifice, by J. N. Wolfe
  • War of Attrition, by Lisa Timpf
  • Fathers to Sons, by MikasiWolf
  • Hoodies and Horses, by Michael D. Winkle

The book can be pre-ordered from FurPlanet Productions. It will be for sale on the FurPlanet online catalogue after the convention. Price:  $19.95.  455 pages.  Wraparound cover by Teagan Gavet.

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M. C. A. Hogarth: Peltedverse Creator, Artist, and SFWA VP

By Carl Slaughter: M.C.A. Hogarth is a prolific author. Most of her stories are in the Pelted universe.  She is also a fiction illustrator and illustrates her own stories. She also does coloring books and children’s books. She is a Kickstarter veteran and advises other authors on Kickstarting. Hogarth is VP of the SFWA.

CARL SLAUGHTER:  Why are most of your series in the same universe?

M.C.A. HOGARTH:  There’s a George Eliot quote that goes ‘How unspeakably the lengthening of memories in common endears our old friends!’ I love writing broadly and deeply in the same setting because it gives us—the readers, me—the opportunity to settle in, become more than tourists, develop a group memory. I now have multiple settings where my readers remember “historical” details, often before I do. We’re properly sunk in at that point, and that’s when you get community.

In the end, I guess I like people. You don’t come close to understanding a person without living with them for a while.

M. C. A. Hogarth

M. C. A. Hogarth

SLAUGHTER: Obviously, your fans like the Pelted universe. What’s the appeal?

HOGARTH:  When I was super-young, I was deeply attracted to Star Trek for its optimism, and I thought ‘I want to make a world that people would want to live in.’ And so… I did. I populated it with friendly animal races, because who doesn’t love talking cats and foxes and giant birds? And then added fascinating aliens, because who doesn’t long to explore the unknown and find it welcoming? I gave it a noble war, so people could have a chance to defend the true and good. I made that war complex, so people could find ways to redeem evil. I made the universe expansive so that its potentials felt limitless. I made it nuanced, so people could find their own struggles in it. I added dragons and elves, because come on. Dragons. Elves.

It’s unashamed space opera, and I think just about everyone can find a place they belong in it. And it’s been in continuous development for over twenty years, so it feels like a real place to a lot of readers.

The Peltedverse is a refuge, and everyone can be a hero, whatever heroism means for them. I think that’s why a lot of people enjoy it.

SLAUGHTER:  Which Pelted series is ideal for which type of reader?

HOGARTH:  I chose to go with the “Valdemar”-style development of the Peltedverse, because I always felt it was easier to jump into a setting with several complete stories than trying to catch up to Book 24 in a single series. So, yes, there are multiple threads, and some of them are dark and some of them are bright. The war stories are the harshest, and those start with the Princes’ Game books (Even the Wingless is Book 1). The gentlest are the slice-of-life pastoral “college campus” stories of xenotherapists Jahir and Vasiht’h, which start with Mindtouch. Somewhere in the middle, in the action-adventure slot, are the books of the Her Instruments series, which starts with permafree Earthrise. There’s also a sleeper series about one of Fleet’s military crews, the Stardancer, that I’m starting to develop now. That’s going to have a more classic Trek feel (“new adventure every week”).

earthrise-cover-for-ks

SLAUGHTER: You describe your Kherishdar stories as “genteel and meditative,” “dense and contemplative,” “provocative,” and “controversial.”  What is it about these stories that justifies these descriptions?

HOGARTH:  With Kherishdar I wanted to tackle the idea of a caste-based system that worked. This is a society where everyone has a proper place, and no, you don’t step outside it. We’re conditioned to think of that as appalling. But what conditions would apply, I wondered, to make it not so? What if they were right? Could I write that universe?

This is not a minor question, since every form of collectivism is blood-and-bone-anathema to me, from a familial history perspective.

So I embarked on this experiment (via crowdfunding—my readers paid for all 50 pieces of flash fiction in my original plan) and discovered that, yes, yes I could imagine a world where this worked. And it was profoundly uncomfortable to contemplate that world unless you immersed yourself in it, and its mindset. This is part of the reason I started developing its language so fully, so that we could “speak” the language and see what it did to us. The two flash fiction chapbooks led to a full-length novel (Black Blossom) about the power of negative ideas and how cultures can fail to intersect productively.

It’s worked out well enough that I’m serializing a new novel via Patreon. It’s a pleasure to have so many of my Ai-Naidari fans back (and using my own vocabulary to comment on events as they unfold!).

SLAUGHTER:  Compared to your other fiction, the Kherishdar series seems much more message oriented than entertainment oriented.  Lots of sociology and philosophy.  Like a parable.  What are the lessons we humans can learn from these other species?

HOGARTH:  I’m not sure anything I write is intentionally message-oriented, honestly. At least, it doesn’t come from a place where I want to lecture. I like using fiction to explore ideas and thoughts that would otherwise trouble me, or intrigue me: it’s a safe place to do that, and I invite my readers to come see what happens. But the ‘what happens’ is always the paramount thing. Any thought experiment is bloodless without involving characters you care about and a story you want, breathlessly, to reach the end of, just to see what happens next. The stories I want to share from Kherishdar are about how your relationship with your society affects everything about you. Maybe in the process, we question what kind of relationship that is, and whether we are giving ourselves to it fully enough. But that’s really between the reader and the text. What concerns me most is how any of that plays out for the characters: for the high priest of Shame, the gentle calligrapher, their guardian keepers, and now the Public Servant who has been tasked with the unenviable project of understanding aliens—us.

SLAUGHTER:  What can we learn about identity and gender from the Stone Moon trilogy?

HOGARTH:  It always makes me smile when people ask what I intended to say with gender in my series about the Jokka. Because there are three sexes (female, male, and neuter), and because you have two opportunities during puberty to flip to a new sex—and this is not under your control—people assume that I wanted to talk about gender identity. But the strongest thread for me in this setting was less about identity and more about the relationship between biology and society. Because the breeding sexes are fragile and tend toward early death or (more often) early senility, the population has been in a slow decline for generations. The powerful struggle in the Stone Moon trilogy is what you do when the needs of individuals and the needs of the species conflict. How does society solve that problem?

I won’t say that I found The Answer, because I don’t think there is a single answer. But we spend three books asking questions and seeing how the possible answers fall out, and I think that’s a valuable exercise.

I think by now you can sense a repeating theme in my work, which is about the intersection of the individual and their community.

SLAUGHTER:  Is it fair to describe your Godkindred series as your most humorous and is it fair to say that you and the main character make a deliberate effort not to take the plot too seriously?

HOGARTH:  I don’t know that I’d call the Godkindred saga humorous? But it’s supposed to be a lighter read, and fun in places. It gets awfully serious in other places, though—this is a book that I thought would be ‘fluffy’ and within the first third of the first book took on the morality of genocide. Whatever it might have started as, it became another series of opportunities to struggle with big questions. Having a furry on the cover doesn’t change that.

There are some funny scenes, though. I seem to recall at least one bubblebath with a griffin, fox, and snow leopard girl. The publisher asked me to illustrate that one…

SLAUGHTER:  Does Godkindred have a message about religion or are you just using religion to provide readers with an opportunity to have some fun?

HOGARTH:  My books always have some mention of religion, whether it’s an important part of the plot or an animating force for some of the characters. The Godkin’s religion requires its members to breed toward divinity, by choosing mates of different animal species. The more species in your bloodlines, the more ‘diffuse’ your animal characteristics and the closer to that godhead you come.

As you can imagine, this doesn’t go over well with the territories the Godkin are busy annexing into their empire. Maybe there’s a message there, but I suspect everyone’s going to take away a different one based on what they go into the book thinking. Certainly the main character finds it far more complex an issue than she thought going into the events of the novel.

SLAUGHTER:  Twin Kingdoms series:  “Technically a high fantasy romance novel, but with significant world-building. The leads are two composers, a hermaphrodite and a man, and there is a poly component with a true neuter human. Pastoral, low-conflict, and sweet.”  That’s mouthful of descriptions.  Can you break it down for us?

HOGARTH:  Hah! I think that’s the best I managed, in terms of reducing it to its component parts. Expanding it, I’d say that I wanted to write a romance novel that would appeal to me. Which meant it had to have good world-building. It had to eschew artificial inflation of tension through plot devices that distract from the relationship. And it had to be beautiful. Since I’ve always liked multiple sexes, I thought I’d go with human ones this time. This gave me a bonus opportunity to write asexual romances, which are some of my favorite kind. Book 2 in this series, in fact, is a romance between a male and a neuter (Cantor for Pearls).

Honestly, I loved doing the world-building for this setting. It has a magical system that is inherently unfair and concentrates power in one geographic location. The bitterness between that population and the countries around them is part of the texture, and gives me the chance to once again explore cross-cultural issues. Book 1’s protagonist falls in love with a member of the imperialist nation that destroyed his country and his culture. That’s an issue he has to spend multiple books working on. It was gratifying to me to have people read Thief of Songs and try to tell me that I’d made it too easy, only to have them go on to Book 2 and come back to say, ‘Oh, I see. This is a recurring theme. That’s a lot more realistic.’

SLAUGHTER:  A Rosary of Stones and Thorns:  “Old school urban fantasy, from the beforetimes when narrators didn’t have to be snarky or sexy.”  Did I miss a transition?  When and how did this happen?

HOGARTH:  I’m not sure when it happened, but at one point urban fantasy was Charles de Lint and now it’s a subgenre of paranormal romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love paranormal romance! And I like urban fantasy too. But I rarely see myself in the narrators of those novels. I don’t like snark. I’m not into sarcasm, which is often used as a form of emotional assault. And while I don’t mind everything being about sex in one or two series, you do sometimes want there to be another focus. Just for contrast, you know?

Rosary was one of my first novels. It’s an unabashed redemption fantasy. It’s got (asexual but very romantic) angels. It’s got a crazy mythology only barely based on Christian and Gnostic legends. Christians often don’t want to read it because it takes liberties; non-Christians are often afraid to try it because it looks too Christian. My poor little book. It’s really about how love is our salvation. I like to think that’s a theme that resonates with everyone. The people who do give it a chance usually tell me they re-read it every holiday season.

SLAUGHTER:  If they don’t breathe fire, and I assume they don’t hoard gold either, nor demand sacrifices, how can the creatures in The Laundry Dragons be identified as dragons?  In this form, how are they distinguishable from other species?  How do they fit into the canon of dragon literature?  Or am I overthinking it?

hogarth-laundry-dragons

HOGARTH:  It’s a kid’s book, Carl. You’re overthinking it. *grin*

SLAUGHTER:  How about some samples of the rhymes in The Laundry Dragons?

HOGARTH:  Here you go then:

They run the wash cycle
when they want to get clean
Hot water and bubbles
give them all a bright sheen!

Plus they like soaking,
and splashing and scrubbing:
there’s no laundry dragon
that dislikes washer hot tubbing.

I am not an amazing poet, mind. My decision to make children’s books had nothing to do with a feeling that I had any special talent in that regard. It was purely selfish: I wanted to read my daughter things, and I wasn’t find enough things I liked in the library/bookstore. So I did it myself (story of my life, here). By that measure, Laundry Dragons was a great success: not only did my daughter like it, but she proudly took it to school and handed it to her first grade teacher to read, and created singlehandedly an entire classroom full of Laundry Dragon fans. To this day, when I walk around her school, kids I can’t identify greet me and when I ask how on earth they know me, they say, ‘You’re so-and-so’s mom, the Famous Writer! I loved the Laundry Dragons!’

The second set of books I did, about Vinnie the Armadillo, also served this purpose (they gave me something to read to Daughter that we had a context for, in this case, books set in Florida with familiar flora and fauna). But by the time I wrote those, Daughter was old enough to watch and understand the process. I asked her what kind of plots would interest her, and what kind of messages she thought it would be important for kids to hear. I would print out drafts and read them to her and ask her opinion on each chapter. I’d show her the illustrations as I created them. She opined on the cover art (“You can’t put the unicorn on the cover, Mommy, or boys will never want to read it.”). I showed her how I uploaded it, and explained the process of approving the proof. Then I showed it to her on retail sites.

The insight this gave her into ‘Mommy’s job’ was immense. I still think of the Vinny the Armadillo books as collaborative works. We haven’t done anything similar since, but some part of me wonders if there won’t eventually be some Mommy/Daughter YA books because, once again, I don’t feel like there’s enough for us to read together.

SLAUGHTER:  Space marine sounds like an awfully generic term to me.  So explain the legal basis for the novel Spots the Space Marine getting pulled from Amazon and give us a thumbnail history of the resulting controversy.

HOGARTH:  There was no legal basis. It was a farce, based on an attempt by a foreign company to stretch its domestic and very narrow trademark to apply to properties it had no control over. Games Workshop had a trademark for space marine in the UK that applied to board games. It decided to see if it could convince Amazon that trademark should also apply to fiction in another country. Amazon didn’t want to take sides because they didn’t feel it was their business to make legal rulings, so they pulled the book.

You can read about it on Wikipedia. It was pretty disgusting. I’m grateful for the internet support that rallied around me, even if in my crusaders’ enthusiasm a lot of incorrect information was thrown around, including that I’m a single mom struggling to survive on my royalties. You can more properly imagine my husband comforting me while I cried at the injustice of it, and giving me the sage advice that helped me write the post that got the whole mess fixed.

It was miserable, though. I’m glad it’s over. And yes, you can buy the book on Amazon today.

mca-hogarth

SLAUGHTER:  Which speculative fiction Kickstarter campaigns have you been involved in and what lessons does From Spark to Finish have to offer?

HOGARTH:  Ah, Kickstarter. I’ve run 10 campaigns now, and all of them have succeeded. Four were for art. Six were for novels.

My strategy has always been to run short campaigns with modest goals that have a chance of overfunding, and then to sock away the profit to put into a new project. For a while I chained Kickstarters this way, seeding the new projects with the slush from the old. That was fun! And that experience is what led me to write the Kickstarter guide (From Spark to Finish: Running Your Kickstarter Campaign).

That book has checklists by the way. Checklists are mighty. Also cartoon jaguars, because cartoons.

SLAUGHTER:  Any speculative fiction Kickstarter campaigns in the near future?

HOGARTH:  Oh, certainly. Kickstarter is my favorite way to pay the cost of print and audiobook editions for my books, and I have several I’d like to put in that pipeline. I’m gratified to be living in a world with sites like Kickstarter and Patreon that allow us to work directly with our readers to make the things we both want happen. It’s empowering. It’s a great time to be a writer!

SLAUGHTER:  You do a lot of art.  Is it a hobby and/or to complement your fiction or do you also do it on a professional/commercial basis?

HOGARTH:  I think of myself as a storyteller, and art is just another medium to tell stories. I do consider myself a professional artist—I think I decided that the first time I sold an original painting for four digits—but I don’t do work-for-hire or commissions. Most of my work is either sold to buyers (the gallery/fine art model), or used for my own work. About half my books have my art for covers; some have interior art, as well. And I’m always drawing to explore the settings I’m making, or the characters, so there’s a lot of plot-based work as well. I’ve taken to putting some of those in the backmatter of novels, since readers have told me they enjoy seeing them.

I love writing, but I ‘think out loud’ with a pencil in my hand.

SLAUGHTER:  Any new novels/series in the work?

HOGARTH:  There are always new novels in the works. My production schedule is ‘3-4 novels a year, plus ancillary books’ where ancillary equals coloring books, or nonfiction, or kids’ books. I actually do make publishing schedules at the beginning of every year, and follow guidelines I set in place a while back; for example, ‘at least two installments in a current series or major setting’ is one of those guidelines.

Honestly, I like working. I feel a little weird in the head if I’m not writing, so 3-4 novels isn’t that hard for me. If it takes too much longer, my head starts feeling congested and I find myself walking into walls because I don’t have any cycles left to pay attention to my environment.

SLAUGHTER:  What does being SFWA VP involve?

HOGARTH:  Most volunteer work… you make of it what you put into it, I think. For me, the job involves supporting the president (because Cat Rambo is an awesome SFWA President) and finding ways to help our members make more money. Money gives you freedom: the freedom to write that story that might not make as much as your bestselling series; the freedom to walk away from bad contracts and bad business partners; the freedom to experiment; the freedom to work without fearing where your next meal is coming from.

We writers are at a point where so many bets are just off. We’re drowning in opportunities because the waves of change are so strong. It’s hard to know which way to paddle to get to shore. It’s terrifying and exhilarating and frankly exhausting, and I know this because I’ve been determinedly swimming in these waters for years now. I was serializing fiction for money in the early 2000s before ‘crowdfunding’ was a word, following in the footsteps of other internet pioneers who’d made it seem like there was a way to turn my presence online into an asset that would buy my family bread. Sometimes I was one of the first people to do something. Sometimes someone else’s footsteps showed there’d been someone there before me, and that trailblazer had left warnings about the dangers ahead. My gratitude for those trailblazers is immense, and whenever I can, I try to pay it forward.

More than anything, I want to help my peers find the shore, find the trail, find that point where their bliss and their paychecks coincide. For a lot of us, that’s not going to be a perfect fit, and there will be compromises. But they’ll be better compromises for having had the help.

This, then, is my focus as VP. Communicate the knowledge. Bring more of our peers into our space so they can share what they’ve learned. Find ways to make our authors more accessible to readers. Find ways to help them grow their businesses and their careers.

SLAUGHTER:  Any advice to aspiring speculative fiction writers?

HOGARTH:  Go out into some sunny park, alone, and give yourself some time to really understand what you want out of writing. What constitutes success to you? Is it being able to complete a story and have it out of your head? Is it being really good at crafting stories, and improving every time you write one? Is it money? How much money would be enough? Enough to buy coffee? A meal once a month? Pay one bill? Pay all your bills? Or is it awards? How many? Which ones? Do you want to be read widely, or would it be enough to be read by a small number of super-enthusiastic people? Do you want to be a name, or do you just want to quietly do your thing and not be bothered?

Many, many people will challenge your choices; sadly, even more will deride them. Your only armor against this is to be satisfied with those choices. Understanding your own motivations and goals will help you make the right decisions for your career.

Just think of yourself as one of your characters. That way, you’ll know how to write your happy ending.

SOCIAL MEDIA

MCAH@DeviantArt: A good place to go for highlights;

Art Archive@Stardancer.Org: Hogarth has over 3000 sketches and finished pieces here, with descriptions, searchable and browse-able.

MCAH@FurAffinity: I also have a FurAffinity account, for those who prefer it to DA, and use it in much the same way (almost entirely finished pieces).

Pixel Scroll 9/30/16 How Much For Just the Pixels?

(1) WRITERS WITH POWER? Having lived through the days when few sf authors had any kind of industry prestige, I’m impressed how many genre writers are included in “Hollywood’s 25 Most Powerful Authors 2016”, compiled by The Hollywood Reporter. The list begins with Patrick Ness, and Lauren Oliver, drops Margaret Atwood in the middle, and spots Rowling at #1, Stephen King at #2, and George R.R. Martin at #4. Neil Gaiman and Diana Gabaldon are in there, too.

(2) QUESTION TIME. Shana DuBois has unveiled a new installment of a popular feature at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, “Mind Meld: The Imagined Possibilities of Science Fiction”.

In Istvan Csicsery-Ronay’s The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, he states works of science fiction “may be credible projections of present trends or fantastic images of imagined impossibilities. Or an amalgam of both.”

Q: Do you enjoy science fiction that is more a reflection of where today’s society could be headed in the near future, or science fiction that reflects a far, far future, and why? What are some recent works you’ve enjoyed?

The participants are S. C. Flynn, Michael R. Underwood, Laura Anne Gilman, Andrea Phillips, K. C. Alexander, and Malka Older.

(3) CAT RAMBO AUTHOR NEWSLETTER. Cat Rambo sent a link to her newsletter:

Usually I don’t make my newsletter public, but I did so today so people can see a sampling what it’s like: http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=5c1e6d30440f85da8e0ac39d3&id=5befcbc8ca

One of the news items is about — The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers.

On October 1, Rachel Swirsky and Juliette Wade will launch their classes in the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. The following week I’ll be announcing four single session workshops for October-December: the long-promised space opera class with Ann Leckie, live classes with Swirsky and Wade, and one solo workshop.

(4) WHO REVIEWS MOST BOOKS BY POC? James Davis Nicoll is not one to hold a grudge. He’ll tell you so – read “A challenge for Rising Shadows, Foundation, SFS, Analog, Asimov’s, Vector, F&SF, SFX, and Locus”

Nobody who made Strange Horizons’ annual count—still not holding a grudge—has reviewed as many books by POC as I have.

Nicoll is speaking of Strange Horizons’ “The 2015 SF Count”. The editors there explain:

Welcome to the sixth Strange Horizons “SF count” of representation in SF reviewing. The goal of the count is straightforward: for the last calendar year, for a range of SF review venues, to calculate the gender and race balance of books reviewed, and of reviewers.

Despite being just about the most prolific reviewer in the field, a review-writing dynamo, Nicoll is not included in the Strange Horizons survey. Maybe if he pretended  to be a magazine?

(5) FUNDRAISER. Family members of the Yosts have started a GoFundMe page to benefit the two girls, ages 6 and 8, who survived the murders reported here the other day.

I am a family member of the Yost Family and even typing these words out now still doesnt make it real.  The unimaginable as happened to two little innocent girls who are now left with out parents to raise them.  Our hearts are completely broken and will miss them every single day that passes.  We will remember the good times we had and remind these two beautiful girls of how much they were loved by their parents.  The girls are 6 and 8 and will need all the help they can get in this extremely tragic event.

Every donation received will be to help for future care of these children.

Our family sends our deepest gratitude for any help.  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.  We truly appreciate all of your help and kind words while our family mourns the loss of two beloved family members.

(6) GOLDEN DUCK. Still catching up with awards announced in August.

2016 Golden Duck Awards

The 2016 Golden Duck Awards were announced by Doug Drummond and Helen Gbala at MidAmeriCon II on August 18.

  • Picture Book Interstellar Cinderella, by Deborah Underwoon (author) and Meg Hunt (illustrator) (Chronicle)
  • Eleanor Cameron Award for Middle Grade Fuzzy Mud, by Louis Sacher (Delacorte)
  • Hal Clement Award for Young Adult Armada, by Ernest Cline (Crown)

(7) KANSAS CITY BBQ. Scott Edelman and David Levine sat down for barbecue while attending the Worldcon, and that culinary inspiration led to Episode 19 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

daviddlevineeatingthefantastic1-768x768

We talked about the things being a science fiction fan for so long taught him about being a professional science fiction writer, what it was like contributing to George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards universe after having read the series since Day One, how pretending to live on Mars for two weeks helped him write his newly published novel Arabella of Mars, and much more.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 30, 1988 Elvira, Mistress of the Dark premieres in theaters.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born September 30, 1924 — Truman Capote.

And what, you may ask, is his connection to sf/f?

After a rejection notice from the pulp magazine Weird Tales, Ray Bradbury sent his short story “Homecoming” to Mademoiselle Magazine. There it was spotted by a young editorial assistant named Truman Capote, who rescued the manuscript from the slush pile and helped get it published in the magazine. “Homecoming” won a place in The O. Henry Prize Stories of 1947.  This was the first publication of a Ray Bradbury story in the mainstream.

(10) FAN FUND OF NEW ZEALAND. The FFANZ administrators have announced that Lynelle Howell is running to be the fund’s delegate to Continuum 13, in Melbourne, 2017:

The Fan Fund for Australia and New Zealand was created to strengthen the ties between Australian and New Zealand fandom.  FFANZ assists fans with travel to the Natcon of the other nation, and assists with as many of the attendant costs of travel as practical, as well as facilitating connections between fans.

This year’s FFANZ race is a westward bound one, facilitating travel by a New Zealand fan to the 56th Australian Speculative Fiction National Convention, Continuum XIII – Triskaidekaphilia, to be held in Melbourne, Victoria, over Queen’s Birthday Weekend, 9th-12th June, 2017. It is expected that after the trip the winner takes over as administrator of the fund, engages in fundraising for the fund, and that they promote links between the two fandoms via a trip report or other means.

Click the link above for the candidate’s platform, and her nominators’ statements.

(11) FREAKY FRIDAY MUSICAL. The Washington Post’s Jane Horwitz writes about the Disney-backed Freaky Friday musical, opening at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia this weekend, including how the show is simultaneously based on the Mary Rodgers novel, the first Disney movie, the second Disney movie and the 1995 TV movie and how stars Emma Bunton and Heidi Blickenstaff really like working together.

(12) WHAT DIDN’T MAKE IT TO THE PAGE. Some things are better left untold.

(13) HIDEOUS TO BEHOLD. The Good Show Sir blog promises to post “Only the worst Sci-Fi/Fantasy book covers. The amazing thing is, they never run out!

There are many pieces of cover art that are beautiful to behold. Yet, there are others which exhibit a rarer, odd form of beauty. We think that such conflicts of focal points, lettering choices, false perspectives, anatomical befuddlement, ridiculous transport vehicles, oversized and frankly unusable monster-hunting weaponry, clothing choices that would get you killed walking down the street let alone hiking a through a frozen wasteland, clichéd cat-people, and downright bad art deserve their own special form of tribute.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

The Hammer and the Horn

I think they’re living up to their promise….!

[Thanks to JJ, Scott Edelman, Michael J. Walsh, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Rambo, James Davis Nicoll, DMS, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Furry Murder

Frank Felix, 25, Sun Valley and Josh Acosta, 21, Fort Irwin, have been arrested in connection with the three murders that occurred September 25 in Fullerton.

Frank Felix, 25, Sun Valley and Josh Acosta, 21, Fort Irwin, have been arrested in connection with the three murders that occurred September 24 in Fullerton.

Four people associated with a triple homicide in Fullerton (CA) on September 24 were involved in the Southern California furry community reports the Orange County Register — one of the victims, two men charged with the murder, and an unnamed teenager who may also be charged.

Christopher Yost, 34; his wife, Jennifer Yost, 39; and their friend Arthur Boucher, 28, were found dead in the Yost home in Fullerton on Saturday morning. Two of the couple’s daughters, ages 6 and 9, were home when police arrived. The younger girl alerted police by calling 911, saying their parents had died.

On Sunday morning, police arrested Frank Felix, 25, of Sun Valley; Joshua Acosta, a 21-year-old U.S. Army mechanic based at Fort Irwin; and a 17-year-old female on suspicion of murder.

The trio were arrested after police had asked for the public’s help in finding Jennifer Yost’s missing daughter, Katlynn, who is 17.

Katlynn Yost was located, but police said state law prevents them from saying whether she was the arrested teenager.

According to reports from KTLA, the teenager is expected to face murder charges as well.

Katlynn, known on the OC Furry Facebook Fan Page as Daydreamer, was reported to the group as missing on Sunday.

The Register interviewed the SoCal Furs videographer Christopher Parque-Johnson.

“A lot of people in our community were devastated,” said Christopher Parque-Johnson, 23, of Garden Grove, an artist, performer and videographer for the SoCal Furs, which has members from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. “I’ve been hearing from a lot of people. It bothered everybody.

“It makes no sense.”

Parque-Johnson led a group of furries, as they call themselves, to the site of the homicides Sunday night. They laid roses, left cards and lit candles to honor victim Jennifer Yost, Parque-Johnson said, because she was a mother figure to the SoCal Furs. The two men accused in the killings are also furries, as is Yost’s daughter Katlynn Goodwin Yost, Parque-Johnson said.

“All of them were always nice to everybody,” said Parque-Johnson, known in the furry community as Bandit, a raccoon inspired by the film “Over the Hedge.”

The Los Angeles Times carried details of the charges against the two men arrested in the murders.

A soldier in the U.S. Army and another man were charged with murder Tuesday in connection with the slaying of a Fullerton couple and their friend over the weekend, according to authorities.

Pfc. Joshua Acosta, 21, of Ft. Irwin in San Bernardino County, and Frank Sato Felix, 25, of Sun Valley, each face three felony counts of murder, with special circumstance allegations of multiple murder, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors also charged Acosta with a sentencing enhancement because he used a firearm, according to the district attorney’s office. Both men have been ordered held without bail. If convicted, the men face a sentence of at least life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Parque-Johnson also told the Orange County Register quite a bit of background about furries which was published in the article.

Parque-Johnson said he knew the two men and Katlynn Yost, who identifies herself as a furry on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, but did not associate them with one another.

“We’ve never seen them huddled together,” Parque-Johnson said. “We didn’t know them as friends of each other.”

Parque-Johnson said he was closest with Jennifer Yost.

“People looked up to her,” he said. “A lot of people cared about her.”

Joshua Acosta and Frank Felix were helpful in setting up and breaking down weekend events, Parque-Johnson said.

“They were trying to be outstanding citizens,” Parque-Johnson said.

Furries have been around since the 1980s. They admire anthropomorphic animals – characters that walk on two feet and speak like humans. Most of them are “non-suiters,” meaning they don’t spend $1,000 to $5,000 or more on full-body animal costumes. Instead, they create characters and wear badges with their characters displayed.

Parque-Johnson said furries have been unfairly characterized in the media as a group of sexual deviants. Sexual activity involving some people in furry costumes has happened in the three-decade history of the furries, according to media accounts.

“If we see it, we don’t allow those people back,” Parque-Johnson said. “We feel that behavior would be very inappropriate in our group. We think that is very weird.”

The furry community comprises mostly adults under 30, although there are some older furries who were fans of Disney movies involving animals with human characteristics such as in “Robin Hood.”

Furries watch movies, play video games, draw pictures and trade cards, Parque-Johnson said.

“People come to us to get away from the negative stuff in life,” he said.

Pixel Scroll 3/9/16 Pet Symmetry

(1) REMEMBERING HARTWELL. Rudy Rucker has one of the best personal tributes to the late David G. Hartwell that I’ve read.

In 2005, Dave got me invited to give the keynote talk at ICFA, the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, held in a brutally cold motel Florida. One of the organizers quipped, “We don’t come here for the sun, we come here for the air-conditioning.”

Dave told me that a member of the committee had said, “We can’t invite Rucker, he’s a difficult drunk,” and Dave told him, “Not any more.” By then I’d been sober for nearly ten years. I said to Dave, “I wonder if my drinking years had a bad effect on my career.” Dave said, “I don’t think so. Even now, I still talk to people who are very disappointed when they see you at a con and you aren’t swinging from the chandeliers.”

(2) JEMISIN DISCUSSES ROWLING’S NEW WORLD MAGIC. N.K. Jemisin’s verdict on Rowling’s magical North America is: “It could’ve been great.”

…I’m still careful, even with “dead” faiths, because I don’t know how playing with these things might hurt real people. Nations have been built upon and torn down by the concepts I’m playing with. The least I can do is research the hell out of a thing before I put a toe in that ancient water.

It’s even more crucial for religions that are alive, and whose adherents still suffer for misconceptions and misappropriations. But these are easier to research, and it’s often much easier to figure out when you’re about to put a foot right into a morass of discrimination and objectification. All the evidence is there, sometimes still wet with blood. You just need to read. You just need to ask people. You just need to think….

Anyway. This is just to say that there’s a number of ways Rowling could’ve made her Magical North America work without causing real harm to a lot of real people. That would be for her to have treated American peoples — all of us — with the same respect that she did European. Pretty sure she would never have dreamt of reducing all of Europe’s cultures to “European wizarding tradition”; instead she created Durmstrang and Beauxbatons and so on to capture the unique flavor of each of those cultures. It would’ve taken some work for her to research Navajo stories and pick (or request) some elements from that tradition that weren’t stereotypical or sacred — and then for her to do it again with the Paiutes and again with the Iroquois and so on. But that is work she should’ve done — for the sake of her readers who live those traditions, if not for her own edification as a writer. And how much more delightful could Magic in North America have been if she’d put an ancient, still-thriving Macchu Picchu magic school alongside a brash, newer New York school? How much richer could her history have been if she’d mentioned the ruins of a “lost” school at Cahokia, full of dangerous magical artifacts and the signs of mysterious, hasty abandonment? Or a New Orleanian school founded by Marie Laveau, that practiced real vodoun and was open/known to the locals as a temple — and in the old days as a safe place to plan slave rebellions, a la Congo Square? Or what if she’d mentioned that ancient Death Eater-ish wizards deliberately destroyed the magical school of Hawai’i — but native Hawai’ians are rebuilding it now as Liliuokalani Institute, better than before and open to all? …

(3) BAR’S NEW NAME. SF Site News, in its story “Geek Bar Rebrands”, reports that Geek Bar Chicago has changed its name to SFCO.

The rebranding will also bring in an influx of video consoles, late night programming, and new hours, Sunday and Wednesday from 5pm to 10pm, Thursday and Friday from 5pm to Midnight, and Saturday from 3 pm to 2 am. The bar will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. In addition to their game selection, SFCO will continue to offer a rotating menu of geek-themed signature cocktails and a pop culture reference-filled menu items. The news of the rebranding was followed by former CEO David Zoltan announcing that he had resigned from Geek Bar in January.

(4) JULIETTE WADE’S FANCAST. Juliette Wade’s TalkToYoUniverse is a great place to find regular coverage of “linguistics and anthropology, science fiction and fantasy, point of view, [and] grammar geekiness.” Wade is often joined by a guest writer, as in the latest installment, “Andrea Stewart – a Dive into Worldbuilding”.

Something that makes Wade’s project exceptional is that every episode is accompanied by a post fully detailing what was discussed. Here are the first few paragraphs about her visit with Stewart –

We were joined for this hangout by author Andrea Stewart, who told us a bit about her worldbuilding and her work. Her work has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, IGMS, and Galaxy’s Edge.

We started by talking about a piece she had in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Set in a psudo-Chinese culture, it featured an opium den with magical smoke, in a place where the land surrounding the city was dying and this had become the people’s escape. Very cool story! Andrea explained that her mom is a Chinese immigrant, so half her family is Chinese. One of the key differences, she says, is in conversational interaction style.

I asked her about her series, the Changeling Wars. She told me that it had begun as a writing exercise, where every person in a group picks a word, and then each member has to write a piece that uses all the words chosen by the group. She describes this series as being part of a move from dark fantasy to a bit lighter fantasy. The first book begins when a woman walks in on her cheating husband, and her emotion is so powerful in that moment that it awakens magic in her. It turns out she’s a changeling, and not just adopted, as she believed.

Andrea has very warm words for writing exercises, which she says can spark ideas you might not otherwise come up with.

There are 101 Worldbuilding hangouts in the index, 25 featuring special guests, including Aliette de Bodard, N.K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, Myke Cole, Usman T. Malik, Cat Rambo, Sofia Samatar and Isabel Yap.

(5) IN FOR A DIME. Sonia Orin Lyris tells how she “Will Build Worlds for Spare Change” at The Fictorians.

The next week my inbox was filled with indignant treasures, among them this: “No, no, no! This is NOT a D&D game. Coins have names! Coins have histories!”

I instantly knew how right she was. Knew it like the contents of my own pocket.

Pennies. Nickels. Dimes. Not “coppers.” Not “large silvers.”

I dove back into my research and emerged soaked in currency-related facts, from minting to metals, from Greece to China. The facts went on and on, as did the likeness of people and horses and birds and insects, of ships and buildings, of angels and flowers, of myths and monarchs.

So many coins, each symbolizing their culture’s prosperity and priorities. Its very self-image.

I now understood that not only did coins have names and histories, but they were keys to wealth and power, to trade and politics. Coins affected everyone, from rulers to merchants to the poorest of the poor. Coins mattered, and mattered quite a bit.

Coins had names and histories. They had faces. Coins traveled.

That’s when it hit me: Coins are stories.

(6) EVEN MORE WORLDBUILDING ADVICE. Coining words is the focus of “This Kind of World Building :: An Interview with Sofia Samatar” at Weird Sister.

Kati Heng: One thing that always amazes me is when a writer is able to make up not just a story, but also an entire language behind it. Like all creative writing, there must be rules you set for its creation. Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind Olondrian, and especially how the names of characters were created?

Sofia Samatar: Making up the languages was one of my favorite parts of creating the world of Olondria. The biggest influence on the Olondrian language is Arabic, which I had studied before writing A Stranger in Olondria, and was speaking daily while writing the book in South Sudan. I was inspired by Arabic plurals, for example, to devise a complicated system of plural patterns for Olondrian. Olondrian pronouns resemble Arabic pronouns as well. And, like Arabic, Olondrian has no P sound (any word with a P in it has been imported from another language).

The creation of the language was closely tied to the development of names. I don’t have anything close to a complete Olondrian vocabulary, but I do know what the names mean. “Vain” means forest, for example, so there are a bunch of “vains” on my map — Kelevain, Fanlevain, and so on. “Kele” means hunting. “Fanle” means apple.

To invent the names, I chose small chunks of sound that seemed pretty to me and played with combining them. Few activities can be more self-indulgent. It was wonderful

(7) VALLEY FORGE SHARES CoC DRAFT. The Valley Forge in 2017 NASFiC bid’s “Progress Update 2” links to its draft Code of Conduct and other policies. (They also unveiled their mascot, Proxie the Celestial Raccoon.)

Next, we have had a number of queries about what our code of conduct will look like if and when we win the bid. Like I mentioned in the last progress update, we’ve been working on a draft of the CoC for a while now, and it has been a whole heck of a lot of work for the entire team. After many, many hours of sweat and toil by all of us, we’re happy to be able to share version 1.0 of the Valley Forge 2017 Code of Conduct (html version) with you.

Now obviously, calling it “version 1.0” implies that we expect updates, and we do. The convention is a long way (and a successful vote) away and there are some details that we just can’t get in place until we have more structure, like phone numbers and room locations and websites. A lot can change in a year and a half, so what you see here may not be exactly the same thing you see if and when you show up at our door – but substantively, we are happy with what we have and are proud to put our names behind it. If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it.

We’re also elbow-deep in the guts of an internal procedures manual for how to deal with a variety of scenarios, including what to do if we receive a report of a code of conduct violation. That’s not quite ready for prime time yet, and may not be ready until we have a more formal concom structure in place of our current bidcom (in other words, until and unless we win the bid). If we can whip something into releasable shape before then, we will publish that as well.

(8) THE KESSEL RUNS. It is alleged the full title of Kitbashed’s “Complete History of the Millennium Falcon” is “The Complete Conceptual History of The Millennium Falcon or How I Started Worrying and Lost My Mind Completely Over a Fictional Spaceship Someone Please Do Something Send Help Why Are You Still Reading Someone Do Something.”

The Pork Burger

The ILM model shop built the new Pirate Ship model, and quickly found a way to distinguish it from the old one in conversation, namely by adopting Grant McCune’s nickname for it: The Pork Burger.

And if you want my theory, that’s where the myth of the design being based off of a burger Lucas was eating got started.

(9) FURRY CUSTOMS. The Independent learned from Twitter that “Syrian refugees in Canada got housed in same hotel as VancouFur furry convention and the children loved it”.

The fifth annual VancouFur convention, in which people dress up as fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics, was held at the same hotel where a number of Syrian refugees are currently being housed.

A message was given to all attendees at the convention that the hotel had been chosen as one of the temporary housing locations for the Syrian refugees in Canada, and that “a major concern that VancouFur has is ensuring that each and every one of the refugees (and attendees) feels welcome and safe and the fact that this is likely to be a major shock to them”.

“Keep in mind that they likely will not want to interact with you and consent is important to everyone,” the message added.

But luckily for everyone involved, the refugees – especially the children – loved it.

 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born March 9, 1911 — Clara Rockmore.

Rockmore was a master of the theremin, the world’s first electronic music instrument and first instrument that could be played without being touched.

On what would have been her 105th birthday, Rockmore has been commemorated with a Google Doodle. The interactive game teaches you to play the theremin by hovering your mouse over the notes to play a melody.

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(11) PROPHET IN HIS OWN LAND. Even George R.R. Martin won’t be allowed a hometown premiere of Game of Thrones Season 6.

And yes, it’s true. After last year’s unfortunate leak, HBO is not sending out any press screeners this year, to try and cut down on the piracy.

They have also eliminated all the regional premieres, including (sob) the one we had scheduled at my own Jean Cocteau Cinema. This year the only premiere will be the big one in LA at Grauman’s Chinese.

The Jean Cocteau will, however, go ahead with our season 5 marathon. Admission is free, so watch our website and newsletter for show times.

(12) LESSER OF TWO WEEVILS. Joe Hill brings his skills as a professional horror writer to bear on the Presidential race in his latest “Perspective”.

I asked my three sons and a cousin what would be scarier: 8 years of a Trump presidency, or two kaiju attacks, one on Washington D.C. and one on L.A., separated by 8 years. Assume standard kaiju size (20 stories, 80,000 tons), atomic breath, acid blood, probably the ability to produce subsonic blasts with one whap of the tail. Immune to conventional nuclear weapons. Highly aggressive.

By a vote of 3 – 1, they agreed two kaiju attacks would be much worse for the nation than if Trump were to become President of the United States. So if you feel depressed by Trump’s toxic mix of misogyny, xenophobia, and bullying, look to this for a cheer-up. It could be worse. You could be jellied beneath the trampling scaly feet of a salamander the size of a skyscraper.

Admit it. You feel better all ready.

(13) THIS JUST IN. “New Survey Finds 92% Of Evangelicals Would Have Supported Genghis Khan” reports Babylon Bee.  

Genghis Khan, the genocidal warlord who conquered most of Central and Northeast Asia during the first part of the thirteenth century, enjoys widespread support from twenty-first century evangelicals, a new CNN poll revealed Tuesday.

“The level of support for the Supreme Khan of the Mongols is off the charts,” explained Malcom Johnstone, the pollster who conducted the survey for CNN. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Clearly, there is a strong correlation between being pro-God and pro-Genghis.”

Still, many Christians question the accuracy of the new findings.

Like Buddy Buchanan of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “I’ve been in a Bible church my whole life, and I’ve never met anyone who likes this Genghis fellow,” Buchanan revealed to sources. “I just don’t get it. I can’t think of a single person who supports him. I remember there was a cool-looking Khan in one of those Star Trek movies, but I don’t think that’s the same guy.”

(14) SHARKNADO FOUR. “Syfy and The Asylum announce Sharknado 4 casting”Sci-Fi Storm has the story.

Syfy and The Asylum announced today that Ian Ziering will slay again in Sharknado 4 (working title), reprising his role as shark-fighting hero Fin Shepard, while Tara Reid is set to return as April Wexler to reveal the outcome of the fan-voted #AprilLives or #AprilDies social campaign. The fourth addition to the hit global franchise also sees the return of David Hasselhoff as Gil Shepard and Ryan Newman as Claudia Shepard.

(15) FOREVER FANS. Future War Stories presents the case for picking Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War as the best military sf work.

In 1974, Joe Haldeman, armed with his bachelors in Physics and Astronomy along with his experiences in the Vietnam War, would craft a military science fiction tale of UNEF soldier William Mendella. This book, The Forever War, would go on to win every major award and prize, rocketing Joe Haldeman into the realm of sci-fi literature. Since its original publication, The Forever War would be re-edited, translated into every major language, and be adapted into various forms, including an major studio film has been in the works since 2008 and the effort seems to be active. The book’s legacy is being hailed has the best military science fiction book of all time and it has been a source of inspiration for decades. In this installment of the continuing Masterworks series, we will explore and explain why Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War is the best literary military science fiction work. A word of caution: this blog article contains spoilers on key moments of the book. Read at your own risk!

(16) STROSS INTERVIEW. Charles Stross, in an interview at SFF World, thinks magic might be a better metaphor for one of sf’s typical tropes.

And what of newer authors? Are there any personal favourites?

In the past year, I’ve read and been incredibly impressed by Seth Dickinson’s “The Traitor” (US: “The Traitor Baru Cormorant”); grim, harrowing, and deeply interesting for his use of secondary world fantasy as a tool for interrogating kyriarchy. I’ve also been impressed by Alyx Dellamonica’s “Child of a Hidden Sea” (and sequel “A Daughter of No Nation”), V. E. Schwab’s “A Darker Shade of Magic”, and Naomi Novik’s “Uprooted”—secondary world/portal fantasies for the most part. SF … I find myself having a knee-jerk reaction against most of what comes to me as highly-recommended or highly popular SF these days; I think this is partly because—for me, these days—magic works better as a metaphor for depicting alienating technology than actual ham-fisted attempts at describing the thing in itself. (And also because so much of the exotic tech in SF is basically warmed-over magic wands.)

(17) VINESPLAINING. In this GEICO commercial, Tarzan and Jane get into an argument about asking for directions. (I may have linked this before, but I can’t find it…)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James H. Burns, Will R., and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Cats and More Cats To Launch at Further Confusion 2016

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Fred Patten’s new anthology Cats and More Cats; Feline Fantasy Fiction is launching at Further Confusion 2016 in San Jose over the January 14-18 weekend.

Cats and More Cats is a reprint anthology containing 14 short stories and novelettes of feline fantasy fiction (“the best of the best”) from 1989 to the present, plus a new essay, and an extensive bibliography of cat fantasy books. Price:  $19.95.  261 pages. Wraparound cover by Donryu.

The book can be pre-ordered online from FurPlanet Productions, or purchased from the publisher’s online store after the con.

Table of Contents

  • Trouble, by P. M. Griffin (from Catfantastic; Nine Lives and Fifteen Tales, 1989)
  • Bomber and the Bismarck, by Clare Bell (from Catfantastic II, 1991)
  • … But a Glove, by John E. Johnston III (from Catfantastic III, 1994)
  • Born Again, by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (from Catfantastic IV, 1996)
  • Masters and Students, by Bryan Derksen (from the Transformation Stories Contests website, 1997)
  • Trixie, by Lawrence Watt-Evans (from Catfantastic V, 1999)
  • Destiny, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (from Creature Fantastic, 2001)
  • Three-Inch Trouble, by Andre Norton (from A Constellation of Cats, 2001)
  • Defender of the Small, by Jody Lynn Nye (from Turn the Other Chick, 2004)
  • The Luck of the Dauntless, by James M. Ward (from Furry Fantastic, 2006)
  • After Tony’s Fall, by Jean Rabe (from Catopolis, 2008)
  • Magtwilla and the Mouse, by Mary E. Lowd (from Allasso volume 2, 2012)
  • A Spoiled Rotten Cat Lives Here, by Dusty Rainbolt (from The Mystical Cat, 2013)
  • The Emerald Mage, by Renee Carter Hall (from Hero’s Best Friend, 2014)
  • Furry Fandom and Cats, by Fred Patten (original, 2016)
  • A Bibliography for Bast, by Fred Patten (original, 2016)

The Fred Patten Birthday Sale

fred-pattenHappy 75th birthday to Fred Patten, the pioneering anthropomorphic fiction scholar, critic, and anthologist!

In honor of the occasion FurPlanet Productions in Dallas, Fred’s primary publisher, has all six of his FurPlanet titles on sale this weekend.

From December 11-13, the six $19.95 trade paperbacks will be available at $15.00 each, 75% of the regular price.

Individually they are:

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Four of these books also are available in electronic editions of from Bad Dog Books, FurPlanet’s ebook imprint. They will be on sale, too. Usually $9.95, you can buy them for $7.50 this weekend — The Ursa Major Awards Anthology, What Happens Next, Five Fortunes, and The Furry Future.

2015 ALAA Hall of Fame Inductees

By Fred Patten: The Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Association announced the 2015 inductees to the ALAA Hall of Fame at Midwest FurFest 2015 in Chicago on December 4-6. They are —

  • Hayao Miyazaki (person)
  • Walt Kelly (person)

The ALAA Hall of Fame Award was instituted in 2012 to “honor people who were crucial to the formation of furry fandom as what it is today” but it can go to a writer, artist, a favorite character, book, movie, TV series – anything that would make most people say, “Oh, yeah, sure — how could we have overlooked him, or her, or it?”

Hayao Miyazaki has created many fine animated TV series and features, including working on Animal Treasure Island, designing Famous Detective Holmes/Sherlock Hound, and creating the title character of Porco Rosso. Walt Kelly, of course, created Pogo Possum and his whole cast of Okeefenokee Swamp friends and enemies.

In 2012 the first selections to the Hall of Fame were Walt Disney, Bugs Bunny, and Richard Adams’ Watership Down. In 2013 the inductees were Animal Farm by George Orwell, Pride of Chanur by C. J. Cherryh, and the 1973 animated movie Robin Hood from Walt Disney Studios.  In 2014 they were Carl Barks, the novel Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, and Osamu Tezuka.

The ALAA also presents the Ursa Major Awards and compiles an annual Recommended Anthropomorphics List.

Midwest FurFest 2015 had 5,606 attendees and donated $62,020.71 to Save-A-Vet.org, a military and law-enforcement working dog rescue and support organization. The charity auction included a bidding war up to $5,500 for a Blackhawks team-signed charity hockey stick.

Update 12/11/2015: Correction by Fred Patten. Removed Alan Dean Foster from the list of inductees. He was a runner-up.