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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If You Give A Kzin A Kazoo…

whose text perhaps goes…

… he’ll <blatt> and leap.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s find out!

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

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

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

Bruce Sterling gives the book a powerful endorsement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • February 2, 1882 – James Joyce is born .

And that reminds John King Tarpinian of a story:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


💛 💛 💛 #wonderwoman @WonderWomanFilm

A post shared by Gal Gadot (@gal_gadot) on

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


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

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


Pixel Scroll 12/2/16 Scrolls, Mr. Pixel, Zillions Of ’Em!

(1) I ROCK, I RAN, EUPHRASIA. Amazing Stories’ Jack Clemons answers the question “Killer Asteroids: Can We Stop Them?”

In an earlier post I talked about the ongoing risk of a sizable asteroid impacting Earth, causing atomic bomb-like destruction, and the still-nascent technologies we’ve developed so far just to track asteroids. So an obvious question is, if we did discover one headed for a bullseye with Earth, and if we had enough time to react, what could we do about it?

The answer at this point is: not much. In the words of NASA administrator Charles Bolden, “If it’s coming in three weeks, pray.” The difficulty comes from attempting to stop, slow or even deflect a massively destructive boulder, which might range in girth anywhere from the size of a tractor-trailer to a planetoid hundreds of miles in diameter, traveling at 40,000 miles per hour.

That’s not to say no one is worrying about it. In fact, several of NASA’s finest have given the problem a lot of thought and so far they’ve come up with three options they’ve labeled “Nuke”, “Kick” or “Tug”.

(2) RING OUT. Moshe Feder calls it bad news for Rob Hansen and everyone who loves bells. Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the UK’s oldest manufacturing business, founded 1570 – and reportedly where fanhistorian Rob Hansen works – is is closing down. The announcement earned the business a long profile in Spitalfields Life.

It is with deep regret that I announce the closure of Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the world’s most famous bell foundry and Britain’s oldest manufacturing company. Below you can read my interview with Alan Hughes, the last in a line of bell founders stretching back to 1420, who will retire next year at sixty-eight years old when the foundry closes in May 2017 and the building is sold – meanwhile, negotiations for the future ownership of the business are underway.

Feder says, “I hope someone buys and saves it, even if it has to move.”

(3) MURDER MOST FOUR. Dave Langford’s Ansible Editions has published an ebook edition of Yvonne Rousseau’s The Murders at Hanging Rock (first published in 1980). Mystery multiplied!


What really happened at Hanging Rock on St Valentine’s Day in 1900?

Picnic at Hanging Rock is the source for this erudite literary entertainment, which will be enjoyed and appreciated by all scholars and lovers of unsolved mysteries. In The Murders at Hanging Rock, Yvonne Rousseau offers four logical, carefully worked-out but thoroughly tongue-in-cheek explanations of the fate of the missing picnickers from Appleyard College.

Now reprinted with a foreword by John Taylor which casts yet more light on the subject, The Murders at Hanging Rock is an essential and amusing companion to Lady Lindsay’s classic story.

  • • •

In 1987, the long-suppressed Chapter 18 of Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock was published as The Secret of Hanging Rock, a chapbook to which Yvonne Rousseau contributed a further ingenious commentary which has been added (with a new Preface of its own) to the Ansible Editions ebook of The Murders at Hanging Rock.

(4) RETROSPECTIVE. Randy Byers, just about the nicest person in fanzine fandom, looks back on his first year of fighting a cancer that tore his life apart and reassembled it in a new way.

A lot has happened in the last year and I’m hopeful that there’s more amazement to come, but I thought it was worth marking that a year ago I walked through a door into an examination room and exited a stranger in a strange land that had such people in it.

(5) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #7. The seventh of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed novel and half a pound of specially roasted coffee beans, from Leah Cutter.

Today’s auction is for a signed copy of THE RAVEN AND THE DANCING TIGER, and half a pound of specially roasted coffee beans, both from author and coffee geek Leah Cutter.

About the Book:

Peter worries about just three things: dancing, finding a girlfriend, and hiding his raven soul.

Peter is a raven warrior, an ancient race known for their assassination and fighting skills. Through secrecy and strict teaching, they’ve learned to cope with the modern world.

When Peter meets Tamara, he knows she’s different. Special. He doesn’t learn until too late that she has secrets too. Tamara is a tiger warrior. And her kind are only interested in killing his kind.

About the Coffee:

Leah will be in touch with the winner to determine what type of roast you want. (Light? Dark? Espresso? Uncertain blend? Decaf? Etc…)

(6) HARLAN IS #1. Digital Trends reviewed all the iterations of Star Trek and picked the top episode from each: “From time travel to Tribbles: Here are the best Star Trek episodes from every series”.

Over its five decades, no science-fiction property has had more of an effect on the genre than Star Trek. Five television series, an animated cartoon, and a dozen movies have captivated Trekkies for generations. While the show has occasionally produced some kitschy dialogue and plot lines that are cringe-worthy, there are many episodes that withstand the test of time as some of the greatest sci-fi adventures ever put on a screen.

In preparation for the forthcoming new series from CBS, Star Trek: Discovery, we glossed hundreds of episodes from each live-action series and picked some of our favorites for you to enjoy, whether you’re new to the franchise or a life-long fan. We’re sure this will cause a lot of discussion, but if you really want to go where no sci-fi adventure has gone before, here are the 20 episodes you’ll want on your watch list.

Star Trek: The Original Series

Set in the 23rd century, Star Trek: TOS follows the five-year mission of the USS Enterprise, with Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), first officer and half-Vulcan Spock, the ever cantankerous ship’s Doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelly), Uhuru (Nichelle Nichols), Sulu (George Takei), and the rest of the gang, alongside a host of alien species.

The winner

Season 1, episode 28: The City on the Edge of Forever

The final episode of the original series’ first season gets our nod for its solid storyline. Some of the episodes of TOS seemed to suffer from gimmicky — if not corny — plots, but Roddenberry and his team thread the needle well in this one. In fact, it was good enough to receive the 1968 Hugo (the Emmys of sci-fi) for Best Dramatic Presentation.

In this episode, Kirk and Spock must travel back in time to go after McCoy, who, in a fit of delusion following an accidental overdose of Cordrazine, transports down to the nearest planet. This planet is home to a time portal, and McCoy enters the portal. The incident alters the time line, causing the Enterprise and the entire Federation to disappear. Kirk and Spock bargain with the “Guardian of Forever” to enter the portal, which takes them back to 1930s New York City. What unfolds is a story about timelines that might have been, a device later used by J.J. Abrams in the series’ cinematic reboot.

(7) IT’S CONTAGIOUS. Skyboat Audiobook of Harlan Ellison’s Star Trek Teleplay was named to AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2016.

Today, AudioFile Magazine named THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER as one of the BEST AUDIOBOOKS of 2016. Took our breath away. We wanted to share this amazing news with you, because without you, there would have been no audiobook. There are thousands of books produced every year, and it is deeply moving that CITY was included on this prestigious list. And that brings us back to thanking all of you again and again for your outpouring of love and financial support. Bless you one and all during this Holiday Season.

(8) SACHS OBIT. Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs has died reports the BBC.

Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs, who played hapless Spanish waiter Manuel in the BBC sitcom, has died aged 86, his family has confirmed.

Sachs, who had been suffering from dementia for four years, died on 23 November and was buried on Thursday.

On his role of Manuel, he told the BBC in 2014: “It was just a part I was playing and people seemed to laugh.”

….Manuel was one of the most imitated comedy characters of the 1970s.

The waiter, who famously hailed from Barcelona, often said little more than the word “Que?” to generate laughs, but arguably his most famous line was “I know nothing”.

Fawlty Towers co-writer Booth, who played hotel maid Polly Sherman in the series, said Sachs “spoke to the world with his body as well as his mangled English.”

She said he was a “universally beloved figure”, saying it was “a privilege and an education to work with him”.

Writing in the Guardian, she also compared the pairing of Cleese and Sachs to that of Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy.

(9) CARTOON AMERICAN. Gizmodo’s Casey Chan thinks this is true: “Why Bugs Bunny Is the Ultimate Animated American Icon”.

Mickey Mouse is obviously more well-known than Bugs Bunny. But there’s a kitschy globalization aspect to Mickey that Bugs has somehow managed to avoid ,even though they both served as mascots for their companies (Disney and Warner Bros., respectively). How did Bugs do it?

Kaptain Kristian breaks down the difference between Mickey and Bugs as such: Bugs is cool, slick, funny, defiant, and in control. Mickey is tame, inoffensive, and, well, corporate as hell. Bugs is who most Americans want to be (even if we’re meek li’l Mickeys inside), Mickey is just a safe brand that gets stamped around the world. And while Bugs is a character, Mickey is a company.

Instead of running down Mickey Mouse, Chan needs to justify picking Bugs over Homer Simpson. The aggressively credulous Homer is our neighbor, our nightmare, and – if never to be admitted – sometimes ourselves.

(10) INDIE OR NOT TO INDIE. When asked “Why even have a publisher?”, Fynbospress gave this answer in a comment at Mad Genius Club:

For us, the value of a publisher is as follows:

1.) Exploitation of rights that would otherwise lay fallow. Namely, audiobook, because I personally don’t care for the medium, and therefore am crippled when it comes to trying to put out a good quality product.

2.) additional fanbase. Publishers like Baen and Castalia have cultivated a fanbase that is willing to buy a new author based solely on the publisher – and whether you’re a newcomer to the field or trying to expand into a new market, these are additional sales and market penetration above what we can easily reach. (Note; do research on your publisher. Nobody ever says “Oh, boy, I can’t wait for the next Penguin Putnam release!” So the majors are actually less attractive this way.)

3.) additional marketing efforts. Again, due diligence is required, but if the publisher is willing to commit to pushing your book, that’s more work the author doesn’t have to do. If the press is big enough that your editor has to run this past a marketing department, then it’s critical to get this in the contract.

4.) Someone else to carry the ball. We’ve had some interesting medical adventures over the last couple years. The ability to hand a manuscript off, and not have to do anything else (even though the publisher did ask us for approval / suggestions on cover and blurb), was the difference between getting Brings the Lightning out or not. And when we’re more concerned with the surgeon saying “Unfortunately, due to shrapnel in his body, we can’t put your husband in the MRI to see if complications X or Y will ensue…” having a publisher who will get a royalty check to us is much nicer than having 70% of nothing.

Note that these reasons are very individual to us and our circumstances; they do not necessarily apply to all authors.

(11) AWARD FOR NON-ALTERNATE HISTORY. Pornokitsch tells us that once upon a time there was such a thing as “The Georgette Heyer Historical Fiction Prize”.

Something else I’ve learned this week – the existence of “The Georgette Heyer Historical Fiction Prize”. This was proudly emblazoned on the spine of Zemindar, which I promptly bought for £2. See, awards do sell books!

Sponsored by Corgi Books and The Bodley Head, the Georgette Heyer Historical Fiction Prize ran from 1978 to 1989. It was for discovering “new talent in historical fiction writing” – and not solely Heyer’s stomping ground of the Regency period, as shown by the list of winners below….

There’s a great article about the prize on Reading the Pastwhere Sarah Johnson has done a terrific job of piecing together the award’s history.

(12) RIOT BEGINS IN 3, 2, 1…. Peter Burfeind pokes all those sensitive places in an article for The Federalist, “Aliens Don’t Exist, But They Tell Us A Lot About Atheists”.

In his movie “Expelled,” Ben Stein challenged Richard Dawkins about the remarkable phenomenon of life on planet earth: how could life arise given the sheer magnitude of its improbability? Dawkins suggested aliens possibly deposited life on earth.

Dawkins, we recall, is an atheist, a scientist directed only by provable facts. Yet he’s willing to posit the source of earthly life to a concept lacking any evidence.

Of course, Dawkins is guilty of nothing more than a thought experiment, something great scientists do all the time. Accordingly, a galaxy without aliens would be like a valley producing no life decades after a massive volcano covered it with volcanic ash—eventually some seed will find its way into the hard crevices, and though difficult, life will find a way.

(13) BACK TO THE BIG BANG. Beware – CinemaBlend tells “What Christopher Lloyd Did On The Big Bang Theory”.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for tonight’s episode of The Big Bang Theory.

The Big Bang Theory has become known, in its 10 seasons on the air, for enlisting the help of several guest stars to enhance the stories the show tells of the group of funny friends we’ve all come to know and love. It was announced a few weeks ago that tonight’s episode, titled “The Property Division Collision,” would feature a guest appearance from iconic actor Christopher Lloyd, but we didn’t know who he’d be playing or how his character would feature into the main plot. Episode 10 of The Big Bang Theory saw Christopher Lloyd playing Theodore, Penny and Leonard’s new oddball roommate.

(14) FOR AN INCREASE IN CHRISTMAS CHEER.  The Tea and Jeopardy advent calendar podcasts run from thirty seconds to five minutes (so far).

Advent Calendar 2016 – Day 1

Whimsy, silliness and festive cheer! The Tea and Jeopardy advent calendar begins with a card and gift from the Harper Voyager Publishing Director Natasha Bardon!

Advent Calendar 2016 – Day 2

Day 2 of the Tea and Jeopardy advent calendar features a card and gift from Sebastien de Castell. A song is mentioned in the episode that you can listen to here.

(15) IT GETS VERSE. A magnificent effort by Peer Sylvester: http://file770.com/?p=32198&cpage=2#comment-513386

I scrolled myself today
To see if I still file
I boxticked on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The pixel tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to scroll it all away
But I remember everything

(Rest of the day: Try to get the song out of my head again)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 10/23/16 Earth Scrolls Are Easy

(1) LE GUIN HEALTH NEWS. Ursula K. Le Guin, who was hospitalized for a few days this summer with heart problems, gave a health update in a comment at Book View Café on October 22.

The kindness of these messages is wonderful.  I wish I could thank you each. I can only thank you all with all my heart.

Health update: My daily bouquet of medicines with weird names is definitely doing its job.   Am quite recovered from the bad time, and get along fine if I don’t push it. My model of behavior is the Sloth.  Can’t hang from branches yet, but am real good at moving slo o o w w l y . . .

Best wishes to all my well-wishers.

(2) STARSHIPS IN OUR LIFETIME. Starship Engineer Workshops are being offered in London on November 12-13.

For further information or to book contact the team at: info@i4is.org  for more details.  For the full promotional flyer: http://i4is.org/app/webroot/uploads/files/SE_A4_Nov2016%20(AM)%20Vers%202.pdf

The Initiative for Interstellar Studies in collaboration with the British Interplanetary Society will deliver an updated Starship Engineer workshop course. Two one day courses, either attend one or both, each will be different and important in their own way.

12th November: Starship Engineer.  Aims to give a grounding in interstellar studies. It starts from considering the essential requirements to giving you an overview of different spacecraft systems, then takes you on a journey through several actual starship design studies. We use examples from the literature, but focus on two specific case studies, that of fusion and beamed-sail propulsion, as plausible ways by which we may someday reach the  stars.

13th November: Science Fiction Starships.  The works of science fiction literature have fascinating starship concepts, but how realistic are they? In this day course we will examine and evaluate the laser-sails in “The Mote in Gods Eye (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle), Torch Ships in “Time for the Stars” (Robert Heinlein), Quantum Ramjets in “The Songs of Distant Earth” (Arthur C Clarke) and other inspirational examples of interstellar vessels….

Principal Lecturers: Kelvin F. Longis a physicist and aerospace engineer, until recently Chief Editor Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, author of the book “Deep Space Propulsion: A Roadmap to the Stars” and is the Executive Director i4is and a member of the Breakthrough Starshot advisory committee.

Rob Swinney is a former RAF Squadron Leader aerosystems engineer and is a Deputy Director of i4is. He, and Long, have both been involved in the creation and running of the only two modern starship design projects, Project Icarus (fusion) and Project Dragonfly (laser-sails).

(3) IN TRAINING. Kevin Standlee writes a lyrical post about taking the California Zephyr through the Sierras.

Speaking of the nice parts: the eastbound Zephyr includes some views through the Sierra Nevada that you don’t get on the westbound trip. For example, shortly after Colfax the train goes around “Cape Horn” with some spectacular views of the American River Canyon. Some of the trees have finally been cut back as well; for a while, they’d grown so thick that they cut off the vista, which was unfortunate. Eastbound you miss this because the normal eastbound track goes through a tunnel that custs off this corner with its precipitous view. I’m composing most of them while snaking our way up the mountain, but I can’t post it because on this stretch there is no cell phone signal. We’re on the opposite side of the mountains from the I-80 corridor where the cell phone towers are. Not that I mind. I’m mostly looking out the window. As a touch-typist, I don’t need to stare at the keyboard to write.

(4) NOT A TYPICAL ANALOG WRITER. Galactic Journey says Harry Harrison has finally registered on their radar screen –

Author Harry Harrison has been around for a long time, starting his science fiction writing career at the beginning of the last decade (1951).  Yet, it was not until this decade that I (and probably many others) discovered him.  He came into my view with the stellar Deathworld, a novel that was a strong contender for last year’s Hugo.  Then I found his popular Stainless Steel Rat stories, which were recently anthologized.  The fellow is definitely making a name for himself.

Harrison actually occupies a liberal spot in generally conservative Analog magazine’s stable of authors.  While Harry tends to stick with typical Analog tropes (psionics, humano-centric stories, interstellar hijinx), there are themes in his work which are quite progressive – even subversive, at least for the medium in which they appear.

For instance, there is a strong pro-ecological message in Deathworld.  I also detect threads of pacifism in Harrison’s works, not to mention rather unorthodox portrayal of women and sexual mores.  Harry isn’t Ted Sturgeon or anything, but he is definitely an outlier for Analog, and refreshing for the genre as a whole.

(5) ALMOST YOUR BIGGEST FAN. The Twitter user formerly known as Jim Henley knows how to pay a compliment.

(6) DILLON OBIT. Comics artist Steve Dillion died October 22 reports the BBC.

Steve Dillon, the legendary British comic book artist, known for his work on Preacher, Punisher, and 2000AD’s Judge Dredd has died aged 54.

His brother Glyn confirmed the death on Twitter, saying his “big brother and hero” had died in New York City.

Dillon was a prolific artist who began professional work at age 16, drawing for Marvel UK’s Hulk magazine.

He was best known for his US collaborations with writer Garth Ennis, creating classic cult comic titles.

In his Twitter profile, Dillon, originally from Luton, describes himself as: “A comic book bloke. Co-creator/Artist of Preacher. Co-founder/Editor of Deadline magazine. Artist on Punisher, Judge Dredd and many others.”


  • Born October 23, 1942  — Michael Crichton.

(8) YOUR EPIC IMAGINATION. James Davis Nicoll says it’s “Good news!” Dorothy J. Heydt’s The Interior Life (published under penname Katherine Blake) available again as a free ebook.

Go here for the download.

(9) DO YOU LIKE WHAT SMART PEOPLE LIKE? Ann Leckie keeps hitting them out of the park. Today’s topic: “On Guilty Pleasures”.

Or Romance. Romance isn’t one of my things, right, but let’s be honest, a crappy detective novel or a crappy SF or Extruded Fantasy Product is just as bad as a crappy Romance. When it’s SF we’ll protest that no, that’s just a bad one, the whole genre’s not like that, but Romance? Romance is just stupid, man.

Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things that poor people like–or tend to buy or use because it’s cheap. Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things that teenage girls like, or women. Isn’t it funny how guilty pleasures are things we liked when we were kids.

I’m not saying that nothing can be criticized–there are surely bad Romance novels. Taylor Swift is a pretty good songwriter who has done some very admirable things, but she’s also had her less than admirable public moments. Velveeta doesn’t come out well in a comparison with really good cheese (unless its a competition for what will make the easiest mac & cheese, given only three minutes and a microwave to work with), and it’s probably not very good for you. I’m perfectly willing to criticize things I like, or consider criticism of those things, and still like them.

No, I’m talking about that weird, moral dimension to likes and dislikes. You like pumpkin spice anything? You should be ashamed. You should feel guilty, because you’re not supposed to like that, smart people don’t like that, people who like that have something wrong with them.

So much of what we like or dislike–what we’re publicly supposed to like or dislike–is functioning as in-group identifiers.

(10) HAN SOLO MOVIE CASTING. Donald Glover will play young Lando Calrissian, and YES he will wear a cape reports the Los Angeles Times.

Donald Glover is officially your new Lando Calrissian. Lucasfilm has announced that Glover will play the younger version of “Star Wars’” Cloud City administrator turned Rebel Alliance general in the upcoming standalone Han Solo film.

Glover will join Alden Ehrenreich, who was confirmed to play the young Solo during Star Wars Celebration in July.

According to the press release, the upcoming film will depict “Lando in his formative years as a scoundrel on the rise in the galaxy’s underworld — years before the events involving Han, Leia, and Darth Vader in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and his rise to Rebel hero in ‘Return of the Jedi.’”

(11) ACCELERATING HUMAN IMAGINATION IN ENGLAND. Did somebody think it wasn’t fast enough?

On November 24 and 25th on the campus of the University of Liverpool, London, the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and the University of Liverpool, London will host a workshop called Accelerating Human Imagination, bringing together a number of US and European experts in the study of imagination. They will be presenting and discussing new research on questions such as: What is “imagination?” Is there a singular basis of imagination that develops into a number of different phenomena, or do we use the word imagination to group together a number of aspects of behavior and cognition into a common category? If we can better understand imagination, we might be able to find ways of directly engaging it in order to accelerate its operation. What use might we put this accelerated imagination to?

(12) RAW SCIENCE FILM FESTIVAL. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination is a  partner of the Raw Science Film Festival, which honors films on science and technology from around the world. The screening and award ceremony will take place on December 10, 2016, on the Fox Studio lot inside the historic Zanuck Theater. Sheldon Brown will be on hand to present the inaugural Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination Prize in Speculative Media. The deadline for festival submissions is November 9.

(13) INDIE SHRINKS. At Mad Genius Club, Fynbospress makes insightful speculations about the new author earnings report.

Interesting times, interesting results. After two and half years of constant growth, this time we see the first contraction for indie market share. Trad Pub’s big five showed a very slight gain in unit sales, but most of the market share went to Amazon’s own publishing arm, and a smaller amount to uncategorized single-author publishers (mostly indies).

On gross revenues, most of the lost market share went to small and medium publishers, with a smaller amount to amazon Pub.

Having the what, we’re left to speculate on the why, and how. Causes may include, but are not limited to: Amazon’s Kindle first program, pushing their own new releases; Bookbub’s increasing percentage of big and medium press slots as opposed to indies (and increased price raising the barrier to the fewer slots left); Amazon’s new promoted/sponsored search ads; consolidation of indies into small pubs; the stars being in the right configuration for C’thulu to rise from dead R’lyeh; other factors unknown at this time.

(14) SAY AHHHHH. Research shows “Migraine Sufferers Have More Nitrate-Reducing Microbes in their Mouths”.

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have found that the mouths of migraine sufferers harbor significantly more microbes with the ability to modify nitrates than people who do not get migraine headaches. The study is published October 18 by mSystems.

“There is this idea out there that certain foods trigger migraines — chocolate, wine and especially foods containing nitrates,” said first author Antonio Gonzalez, a programmer analyst in the laboratory of Rob Knight, PhD, professor and director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UC San Diego and senior author on the study. “We thought that perhaps there are connections between what people are eating, their microbiomes and their experiences with migraines.”

Many of the 38 million Americans who suffer from migraines report an association between consuming nitrates and their severe headaches. Nitrates, found in foods such as processed meats and green leafy vegetables and in certain medicines, can be reduced to nitrites by bacteria found in the mouth. When circulating in the blood, these nitrites can then be converted to nitric oxide under certain conditions. Nitric oxide can aid cardiovascular health by improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. However, roughly four in five cardiac patients who take nitrate-containing drugs for chest pain or congestive heart failure report severe headaches as a side effect.

(15) SQUINTING. Kevin Marks discusses “How the Web Became Unreadable”. Surprisingly, he’s not talking about all the political posts.

It’s been getting harder for me to read things on my phone and my laptop. I’ve caught myself squinting and holding the screen closer to my face. I’ve worried that my eyesight is starting to go.

These hurdles have made me grumpier over time, but what pushed me over the edge was when Google’s App Engine console—a page that, as a developer, I use daily—changed its text from legible to illegible. Text that was once crisp and dark was suddenly lightened to a pallid gray. Though age has indeed taken its toll on my eyesight, it turns out that I was suffering from a design trend.

There’s a widespread movement in design circles to reduce the contrast between text and background, making type harder to read. Apple is guilty. Google is, too. So is Twitter.

(16) HAGIOGRAPHY. Leonard Maltin interviews Stan Lee for Parade.


When asked which three of his superheroes he would like to have dinner with, he takes a moment to think the question through. “I’d probably enjoy talking to Iron Man,” he says. “I’d like to talk to Doctor Strange. I like the Silver Surfer. Iron Man is sort of a classier Donald Trump, if you can imagine that sort of thing. The Silver Surfer is always philosophical; he comments about the world and man’s position in the universe, why we don’t enjoy living on this wonderful planet and why we don’t help each other.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, JJ and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

Pixel Scroll 7/24/16 The Pixel Who Walks Through Walls

(1) CLOTHING SHRINKS. NPR takes a psychological look at cosplay in “Cosplayers Use Costume To Unleash Their Superpowers”.

These cosplayers are invoking clothing’s subtle sway over us. People have used clothing to subdue, seduce and entertain for millennia. In some outfits, people not only look different, but they feel different. Psychologists are trying to figure out how clothes can change our cognition and by how much. Adam Galinsky, a psychologist at Columbia Business School, spoke with NPR’s Hanna Rosin for the podcast and show Invisibilia. Galinksy did a study where he asked participants to put on a white coat. He told some of the participants they were wearing a painter’s smock, and others that they were in a doctor’s coat.

Then he tested their attention and focus. The people who thought they were in the doctor’s coat were much more attentive and focused than the ones wearing the painter’s smock. On a detail-oriented test, the doctor’s coat-wearing participants made 50 percent fewer errors. Galinksy thinks this is happening because when people put on the doctor’s coat, they begin feeling more doctor-like. “They see doctors as being very careful, very detailed,” Galinksy says. “The mechanism is about symbolic association. By putting on the clothing, it becomes who you are.”

Almost any attire carrying some kind of significance seems to have this effect, tailored to the article as a symbol. In one study, people wearing counterfeit sunglasses were more likely lie and cheat than those wearing authentic brands, as if the fakes gave the wearers a plus to cunning. “If the object has been imbued with some meaning, we pick it up, we activate it. We wear it, and we get it on us,” says Abraham Rutchick, a psychologist at California State University Northridge.

(2) WOMAN OF MYSTERY. The LA Weekly claims to know “Why This Might be Elvira’s Last Comic-Con (as Elvira)”.

Cassandra Peterson has been playing Elvira, the self-proclaimed Mistress of the Dark and horror movie hostess, for 35 years, and she’s been attending Comic-Con as the character for longer than she can remember.

“I was going through my records trying to find the first Comic-Con I came to, and it was in the basement of some motel or hotel or something,” she says. She used to come almost every year, but this year will likely be her last, at least as Elvira. She’s here now to promote her upcoming coffee table book, which features commentary and photos spanning Elvira’s 35-year history (including a few behind-the-scenes shots, like one of her in full costume, seven months pregnant).

Reflecting on her years at the convention, she’s enjoyed meeting her idols, like Forrest Ackerman, a prominent figure in the sci-fi and fantasy scene, and running into colleagues. “I saw Gene Simmons last time I was here, a couple years ago, and that was awesome, because I don’t often run into him, and he was in his KISS drag, I was in my Elvira drag, kind of scary. We were both going, ‘How long are we going to be doing this?’”

But what sticks out the most is a memory of her first Comic-Con, where she was one of the only women in attendance. “When I was there, I was really the ‘odd man out,’ being a woman,” she says. “And now, I am positive that it’s at least 50 percent women [here] that are interested in the whole genre, whether it’s horror, fantasy, sci fi. And I’ve seen that, in my 35 years, just completely change.” She adds, “I was one of those geek girls who was into that stuff when I was a kid, so to see it catch on, for me, is pretty thrilling.”

(3) ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE. Trek Core relays word from SDCC: “The Roddenberry Vault Reveals Lost Star Trek Clips, New Blu-Ray Release Arriving in Late 2016”.

In a surprise reveal today at its own San Diego Comic Con panel, STAR TREK: THE RODDENBERRY VAULT, a years-long endeavor to recover lost and cut footage from the making of the original Star Trek series, debuted with never-before-seen clips from production of the series.

The source of the recovered material (to be released as part of an extended documentary) comes from hundreds of film reels of archived, unused Original Series footage – called the “Holy Grail” by Denise Okuda – which remained in Gene Roddenberry’s possession after the conclusion of filming on the classic series.

Mike and Denise Okuda spoke to the motivations behind the nine-year (!) project, starting from hints of cut scenes in the James Blish novelizations of the classic Trek episodes to occasional publicity photos that the pair had never seen before.

Producer Roger Lay, Jr., who worked on the Next Generation and Enterprise Blu-ray releases, also confirmed that a Blu-ray release of this recovered footage will be arriving before the end of 2016 – but the team has not yet finalized the documentary, and could not specify how many minutes of recovered footage will be included.

…We have no information yet on the timetable for release of this fantastic-sounding new Blu-ray, but as Lay reiterates at the end of the panel, this is a Fiftieth Anniversary production that WILL be out before the end of 2016.


Roger Lay Jr. and Ray Bradbury back in the day.

Roger Lay Jr. and Ray Bradbury back in the day.

(4) YOU’RE THE CADET. Guelda Voien was at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum to see an exhibit celebrating 50 years of Star Trek, and pronounced it “Every Dork’s Wet Dream”.

…It is Career Day at the Academy, and you’re given a chance to try out all the different stations—tactical, medical, navigation, command and communications. You perform tasks, like a phaser exercise or choosing which planet to evacuate your crew to, and take a sort of quiz at the end. Your RFID bracelet tracks your progress. It’s like the part of the Museum of Tolerance where you track a Jewish child through the Holocaust, but less horrible.

I did all of them except for communications. No offense, Uhura, but I did not go to Starfleet Academy to talk (though your role got way better in the reboots, thanks, J.J.). No, I went to shoot stuff, try to heal a Klingon and try the fucking Kobayashi Maru.

And I got to do all that stuff. The assessments straddled the obvious and full-on dorkbait in a way that kept me pretty much giddily entertained for an hour (the ticketed show is intended to take about that long and costs $25 for an adult nonmember). At some point, I turned to Danny and asked, “Is Kronos in the Alpha Quadrant?” He thought about it for a second. “I don’t think it is.” I thought about it. “Well, Bajor, Earth and Cardassia definitely are, so it must be Kronos that isn’t.” But I was also thinking, “Hmm, wasn’t Kronos destroyed by the time TNG began?” And that’s why they just call the Klingon homeworld “the Klingon homeworld” later in the timeline, right? And I was happy. This is why I came.

(5) MARVEL AT DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE. The Los Angeles Times says Marvel Studios has made official what fans have been speculating about for awhile — “Tower of Terror to get superhero makeover at Disney California Adventure Park”.

….Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment Inc. in 2009 for $4 billion but had yet to inject many of the Marvel characters into the Anaheim theme parks. The ride will reopen next summer.

The move to re-create the Tower of Terror into a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction has been rumored on Disney fan blog sites for months but the Burbank-based entertainment giant has refused to comment on the speculation.

The announcement was made by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige at San Diego Comic-Con, the annual celebration of comics and pop culture.

“We are eager to present the attraction to the millions who visit Disney California Adventure and place them in the center of the action as they join in a mission alongside our audacious Guardians of the Galaxy team,” he said in a statement.

In the past, Disney has added new features to existing rides to renew interest among park visitors. Space Mountain, for example, became Hyperspace Mountain when the park added elements borrowed from the popular Star Wars franchise, now owned by Disney.

But Disney representatives say that the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride will keep the fast-dropping elevator from the Tower of Terror, but the rest of the attraction will be completely overhauled.

They declined to say how much Disney will spend on the project.

Disney fans have speculated that the overhauled attraction will stand at the entrance to a new Marvel land at the park.


(6) GONE. Variety reports “Popular Movie, TV Set Location Sable Ranch Destroyed in California Wildfire”. IMDB shows a number of sf TV episodes were shot there.

Sable Ranch, a location boasting Old West-style buildings that have been used for countless movies and TV shows, is one of the latest casualties of a Southern California wildfire that has nearly blocked out the sun in Los Angeles all weekend.

The ranch in Santa Clarita, Calif., was destroyed by the fire on Saturday despite the efforts of dozens of firefighters, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some offices were reportedly able to be salvaged, but the set is gone.

Sable Ranch served as host to such movies as horror film “Motel Hell” and Chevy Chase’s “The Invisible Man,” as well as classic Westerns like “The Bells of Coronado.” Television shows including “The A-Team,” “Maverick” and “24” also shot at the location.

(7) HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE FINISHED? Caroline Yoachim says this was her way —

(8) SDCC AS SEEN FROM WILLIAM WU BOOKS. Sundays are less crowded than Saturdays in front of William Wu Books.

wu books at sdcc

(9) I THINK HE LIKED IT. Ian Sales was surprised to be pleased by Station Eleven. By the end of his review I was convinced to add the book to my TBR list – something the thoroughly favorable reviews I read had never accomplished.

Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel (2014). This won the Clarke Award last year, and while I’d heard many good things about it, it’s a lit-fic post-apocalypse novel and I find post-apocalypse fiction banal at the best of times, and lit fic attempts at the genre all too often seem to think they’re doing something brand new and innovative, that no one has ever thought of before, and so the prose tends to reek of smugness. So my expectations were not especially high. Happily, Mandel proved a better writer than I’d expected, and I found myself enjoying reading Station Eleven. It’s still banal, of course; more so, in fact, because it trots out the Backwoods Messiah With The Persecution Complex plot, which should have been retired sometime around 37 CE. Anyway, a global flu epidemic wipes out most of humanity. Station Eleven opens in Toronto, when a famous actor has a heart attack on stage and dies. Then everyone else starts to die from the flu. The book jumps ahead twenty years to a post-apocalypse US, and a travelling orchestra/acting troupe, who travel the southern shores of the Great Lakes. And then there is a half-hearted attempt at a plot, which ties in with some of the flashback sections, which are about either the actor or the main character of the post-apocalypse story, a young actress in the travelling troupe. The writing was a great deal better than I’d expected, and so despite being post-apocalypse I came away from Station Eleven a little impressed. A worthy winner of the Clarke Award.

(10) AUTHOR EARNINGS. At Mad Genius Club, Fynbospress pointed out a new round of statistics has been posted:

Author Earnings just did an in-depth analysis of the romance genre, and presented it at the RWA (Romance Writers of America). …

2.) Down in the comments at the bottom, both of the report itself and in the comments at Passive Voice, Data Guy provides breakouts for SF&F, and for Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, too!


  • July 24, 1948 – Marvin the Martian (not yet given that name) appeared onscreen for the first time in the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Haredevil Hare”.


  • July 24, 1969 — Apollo 11 returned to Earth, ending its historic moon-landing mission. After the spacecraft’s splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were flown by helicopter to the recovery ship USS Hornet.


  • Born July 24, 1951 – Lynda Carter, called by some the Only and True Wonder Woman.
  • Born July 24, 1982 — Anna Paquin

(13) THOUGHT FOR THE DAY. Neil Armstrong said the Apollo missions demonstrated that “humanity is not forever chained to this planet, and our visions go rather further than that, and our opportunities are unlimited.”

(14) SELDEN’S XANATOS PLAN. Vox Day teases “No one foresaw it” at Vox Popoli.

It’s no wonder the SF-SJWs are always a few steps behind.

It had been believed that the slaters would lose interest if they couldn’t sweep entire categories, since it that would mean that they could neither get awards for their own favorites (since fans would No Award them) nor “burn down” the awards, since fans would have at least a couple of organic works to give awards to. No one foresaw the “griefing” strategy of nominating works whose mere presence on the finalist list would cast the awards into disrepute. – Greg Hullender at File 770

They still don’t quite get it, do they? Rabid Puppies didn’t nominate “If You Were a Dinosaur My Love” or “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” for the Hugo Award. We didn’t give a Best Novel Nebula to The Quantum Rose (Book 6 in the Saga of the Skolian Empire) or a Best Novel Hugo to Redshirts. We’re not casting the awards into disrepute, we are highlighting the fact that the SJWs in science fiction have already made them disreputable. I wonder what they will fail to foresee next? That’s a rhetorical question, of course. I already know….

(15) A VOX ON BOTH THEIR HOUSES. RameyLady doesn’t understand the impact of the Rabid Puppies slate on the finalists –

The nominees continue to suffer, in these shorter works, from poor selection but perhaps that’s as much a result of fan voting as it is the Puppies’ attempt at chaos and domination.

— but still writes a good overview of the Hugo-nominated novelettes.

In order of my appraisal:

  1. “Obits” by Stephen King is going to be my top pick in Novelette, though my #2 selection is within a hair’s breadth of taking my top vote.  But it’s hard to deny the feel of sentences coming off the pen of a man as experienced and talented as King.

(16) BALLOT SNAPSHOT. Mark Ciocco says Lois McMaster Bujold gets his vote for Best Novella in his survey of all five nominees.

After last year’s train wreck of a Novella ballot, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this year’s finalists. But it seems my fears were misplaced, as this might be the most solid fiction category of the year. Novellas can be awkward and to be sure, a couple of these don’t entirely pull it off, but even those manage better than the other categories.

  1. Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold – No surprise here, as I was one of the many who nominated this in the first place. I’m a huge fan of Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga and it’s very much to her credit that I’ve followed her from my preferred SF genre to her fantasy worlds. This story takes place in her Chalion universe and tells the story of a young man who accidentally contracts a demon. This is both better and worse than you’d expect. Better, because in Chalion, demon possession can grant great powers. Worse, because with great power comes intrigue and scheming by those interested in your new powers. That’s all background though, and the story itself is well plotted and the character relationships, particularly between Penric and his demon, and extremely well done. Easily and clearly tops this list. (Also of note: the sequel to this story is out!)

(17) RESPIRE OR EXPIRE. Spacefaring Kitten tackles The Martian in “Aspiration Porn — Campbell Nominee Andy Weir”.

While watching The Martian, I remember enjoying the cosmic visuals, but the reader of the book doesn’t have that and she has to be kept in awe of the science. It was quite impressive, considering that the natural sciences interest me very little. Still, Weir was able to force me into the aspiration porn mindset — ISN’T IT GREAT THAT THE HUMAN RACE HAS DONE SUCH A WONDERFUL THING AS GOING TO SPACE (AND MOSTLY ALSO MAKING IT BACK ALIVE??!!). Yeah, it is. Little less bable about making water and oxygen wouldn’t have hurt, but I guess that really paying attention to these technical details was what Weir’s project was about.

(18) IT’S ALIVE! Bradley W. Schenck tells how he achieved “My successful human hybrid experiment” – which is a piece of digital artwork.

It’s with no small amount of pride that I can now reveal my second, and most successful, human hybrid experiment. I wish I knew exactly what it was; but, as you can see, it’s keeping an eye on us until I figure that out.

Over the past year or so I’ve learned some new tricks with my morph-targeted character heads, and the most interesting tricks are the ones I can play on characters that are already done. Some of this is due to Collapse to Morpher, a very useful 3DS Max script.

Morphs are terrific, but they rely on the source object and its morph targets sharing the exact same topology. That means they need to have the same number of vertices, and (importantly!) those vertices have to be numbered in the same order. If you’re not careful you can end up with two objects that used to share those properties but which now are subtly and fatally different. You just can’t morph them any more.

(19) ANOTHER MARVEL SUPERHERO HEARD FROM. Doctor Strange movie trailer #2 dropped at Comic-Con.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/17/16 Dr. Pixel And Mr. Hive

(1) FIRST TO WHAT? Matthew Kirschenbaum’s latest discovery about the early days of writers using word processors is shared in “A Screen of Her Own: Gay Courter’s The Midwife and the Literary History of Word Processing” at the Harvard University Press Blog. He acknowledges that by this point, it’s hard to define the question he’s trying to answer —

*First to purchase a system? First to publish their book? First to fully compose? What counts as a word processor anyway? And so on. Besides Pournelle and the others whose names I conjecture in this passage, Track Changes also includes detailed accounts of John Hersey and Len Deighton in its discussion of word processing firsts. Hersey used a mainframe computer at Yale to revise and typeset—but not compose—his novel My Petition for More Space (1974); Deighton leased an IBM Magnetic Tape/Selectric Typewriter for the benefit of his assistant, Ellenor Handley, in managing the revisions for Bomber (1970). The MT/ST was the first office product ever to be actually marketed as a word processor, the ancestor of the System 6—itself not a “digital computer” strictly speaking, it performed no calculations—that the Courters would purchase a decade later.

David Gerrold commented on Facebook:

I think Pournelle was computerized before I was, but I was writing on a word processor before any other writer I knew. I think I started that in 75 or maybe 76.

I had a Savin 900 which was a big box that recorded what you typed onto a cassette tape. The way it stored data, you could also use it for storing mailing lists too.

It connected to a specially modified IBM Selectric — they added a framework between the base and the top, which raised the height of the machine an inch or so. So you still worked on a typewriter, but what you typed was stored.

I put a roll of butcher paper through the machine and I could type all day. Later, I could print out what I’d typed. I could print it out with each line numbered, so I would know where it was on the cassette, or I could print it out formatted, one page at a time. I don’t remember if it numbered the pages, I might have had to do that manually….

ghostbusters-full-new-img COMP(2) SEE GHOSTBUSTERS. JJ, saying “I really love it when someone articulates so well the things which I’ve had difficulty putting my finger on. Kate Tanski does that here, in triplicate,” sent a link to Tanski’s post “The Importance of Seeing Ghostbusters” at Women Write About Comics.

One of the themes in this movie is the importance of being believed. Yes, in this movie, it’s about being believed about ghosts. Erin talks about how she saw a ghost when she was 8, every night for a year. Her parents didn’t believe her, and she went into therapy. Abby (Melissa McCarthy) was the only one who believed her, which was one of the reasons they became friends. It’s not that much of a stretch to think about all the things that women are also often not believed about, as children or as adults. And that part of the movie, thankfully, and pointedly, doesn’t devolve into comedy. It lets the moment of remembered trauma be serious….

But despite of all its very good qualities and the high entertainment factor, the reason why I want this movie to succeed so hard is because of the row of girls who sat behind me. It’s because of the little girl, probably no more than six, who hid behind her dad and whispered to him, that I was “dressed up like the lady from the movie” when she saw me in my Ghostbusters coveralls and then smiled shyly when our eyes met. It’s for the teenage girl who rolled down her window and yelled “GHOSTBUSTERS, YEAH!” as I was walking to my car after the movie got out.  It’s for this entire generation of girls who now, because of this movie, think that Ghostbusters can be women. Because it’s not something that I, even a few years ago, would’ve believed possible, even in cosplay….

… it never occurred to me when I was a child that I could be a Ghostbuster. I could be Janine, sure, and pine awkwardly for the scientist. It never occurred to me that I could be a scientist. Or that it didn’t have to be a boy I was pining for. And that’s why these movies, these reclamations of childhood favorites retold as something more than just a male power fantasy, are so important… A new Ghostbusters that doesn’t just feature a singular woman as part of a team, but a new team wholly composed of women who decide for themselves to do this not because of any male legacy, but because of who they are, and who doesn’t wait for anyone’s permission to exist…

(3) GHOSTBUSTER SHORTCOMINGS. Dave Taylor finds things he likes but also points out many flaws in his “Movie Review: ‘Ghostbusters’” for ScienceFiction.com.

Let’s start with the good news: The new Ghostbusters is funny and entertaining, the story moves along at a solid clip and has lots of cameos from the stars of the original 1986 Ghostbusters too. The story works with four women in the lead roles instead of the four men in the original film just fine.

That’s not the problem with this remake. In fact, there are two fundamental problems when you look at it more closely than just asking whether it’s funny: The first is that there’s not much actual story, no real narrative crescendo that is resolved in the last reel. That’s because of the second, bigger problem: The new film tries way too hard to pay homage to the original movie.

There aren’t just cameos, for example, there are characters on screen that have pointless, flat scenes that break the narrative flow….

(4) GHOSTBUSTER LIKER. Ben Silverio at ScienceFiction.com answers with a “Movie Review Rebuttal: ‘Ghostbusters’ (2016)”.

Another thing that worked really well for me was the way that they showed the trial and error of the Ghostbusters’ equipment. This was their first mission together and most of Holtzmann’s tools had gone untested up until this point. Not only was it cool to see the proton packs evolve, but it was also very, very cool to see female scientists onscreen in a major Hollywood blockbuster bringing this technology to life.

At the end of the day, I only had one major complaint about ‘Ghostbusters’: How do you set a movie in a major metropolis like New York City and only have one Asian character with lines? (For those wondering, that character was Bennie the delivery boy, who was played by ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ star Karan Soni.) But since that’s a problem throughout the entertainment industry and not just this isolated film, it’s hard to come up with any other reasons for me to generally dislike this reboot.

(5) BUSTER BUSTER. John Scalzi delivers “A Short Review of Ghostbusters and A Longer Pummel of Manboys”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

BUT THEY’VE RUINED MY CHILDHOOD BY BEING WOMEN, wails a certain, entitled subset of male nerd on the Internet. Well, good, you pathetic little shitballs. If your entire childhood can be irrevocably destroyed by four women with proton packs, your childhood clearly sucked and it needs to go up in hearty, crackling flames. Now you are free, boys, free! Enjoy the now. Honestly, I don’t think it’s entirely a coincidence that one of the weakest parts of this film is its villain, who (very minor spoiler) is literally a basement-dwelling man-boy just itchin’ to make the world pay for not making him its king, as he is so clearly meant to be. These feculent lads are annoying enough in the real world. It’s difficult to make them any more interesting on screen.

(6) MEDICAL UPDATE. “Boston area fan (and an old friend of mine) Stephanie Clarkson is in a bad way,” writes James Davis Nicoll.

Clarkson’s friend Laurie Beth Brunner fills in the details in a public Facebook post that begins —

It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that Stephanie’s condition has taken a drastic turn for the worse in the last week.

(7) SILVER ON RADIO. On Tuesday, July 19, Steven H Silver will be interviewed on “The Colin McEnroe Show”, carried on WNPR in the New York-Boston corridor, or available for streaming on their website. The show will focus on Alternate History and runs from 1:00-2:00 p.m. and again from 8:00-9:00 p.m.

(8) FEEDBACK. Fynbospress at Mad Genius Club runs through the value of reviews at different stages of the process in “Reviews – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta? All Greek to You?”

Since the subject of reviews came up, here’s an overview of a few sorts of reviews, and what’s most helpful on each one. The critical thing to remember is that reviews vary by audience, as well as reviewers!

There are no fixed definitions, so these term vary wildly from author to author. I’ll just walk through the concepts in Greek letter order, completely ignoring what any particular author calls ’em.

Alpha Reviews: Technical Aspects

These are often sought before the manuscript is written, much less complete – but sometimes the author just writes the scene in their head, then hits up people afterward to fact-check. Often submitted with “So, can you parachute out of a small plane?” or “Where is the firing switch on a T-38?” or “You’ve ranched in the southwest. What do you think of this trail scene?”

Sometimes, the feedback will make it clear you can’t do the scene you wanted, not without breaking the suspension of disbelief of anyone who knows anything about the subject. Often, though, more discussion will turn up even niftier alternatives. Tell your technical expert what you want to accomplish, and they may come up with things you never dreamed of….



  • Born July 17, 1950 – P.J. Soles, whose credits include Carrie and Halloween.


  • Born July 17, 1952 — David Hasselhoff, with an sf resume that spans from Knight Rider to Sharknado.

(12) VOTE. In “The 2016 Hugo Awards: Two Weeks Out”, Abigail Nussbaum spends the first three paragraphs explaining that compared to 2015, practically no one is talking about the Hugos this year. It’s hard to imagine how with that alternate reality introduction she still manages to lead to a final, important admonition:

Which is great on one level, and on another is worrying.  Because another thing that hasn’t been happening this year is the huge influx of Worldcon members buying supporting memberships for the sole purpose of protesting against the puppies’ attempts to dominate the Hugos.  At the moment, MidAmericon II has 5,600 members, and is on track to be a mid-sized North American convention, which probably means fairly normal Hugo voting numbers, not the outsized protest vote we saw last year.  Now, as I’ve said many times in the past, I have a great deal of faith in Hugo voters’ ability to tell astroturf nominees from the real deal, and to smack down nominees that have no business being on the ballot.  But the numbers still need to be on our side.  Chaos Horizon estimated that there were between 250 and 500 Rabid Puppy nominators this year.  I’d like to believe that the real number is closer to the lower boundary than the higher–there can’t, surely, be 500 people with so little going on in their lives that they’d be willing to spend good money just to make Vox Day happy (or whatever approximation of the human emotion known as happiness can be felt by someone so occupationally miserable).  But if I’m wrong, and those people show up in the same numbers this year, then they have a solid chance of overwhelming the good sense and decency of the people who want the Hugos to be what they were meant to be, an award recognizing the excellence and diversity of what science fiction and fantasy achieved in the last year.

So, if you are a member of MidAmericon II, please remember to vote.

(13) MACII BINGO DISSENT. Patrick Nielsen Hayden is not a fan of the grid –

(14) BALLOT SNAPSHOT. Mark Ciocco says Stephen King gets his vote for the Best Novelette Hugo.

Continuing the march through the Hugo finalists, we come to the awkward middle-ground between short stories and novellas that no one else uses but SF people: Novelettes. Fortunately, this is a pretty decent bunch of stories (especially compared to the lackluster short story ballot), even if none of them really stands out as truly exceptional. For me, they are all flawed in one way or another, making it pretty difficult to rank them. As such, this ranking will probably shift over time.

  1. “Obits” by Stephen King – A modern-day journalism student who naturally has difficulty landing a real job creates a snarky obituary column for a trashy internet tabloid. One day, frustrated, he writes an obituary for a living person. This being a Stephen King story, I think you can pretty much predict what’s going to happen from there. Admittedly, this is a bit on the derivative and predictable side, but King’s got the talent to pull it off with aplomb. He ably explores the idea at it’s core, taking things further than I’d expect, even if the premise itself doesn’t quite allow him much room. King has a tendency to write himself into corners, and you could argue that here, but I think he just barely skirted past that potentiality. It’s comforting to be in the hands of a good storyteller, even if this is not his best work. Still, its flaws are not unique in this batch of novelettes, so it ends up in first place for me.

(15) CAREY’S LIBRARY. Lis Carey also has been reviewing her way through the nominees. Here are three recent links:

(16) LETTERS TO TIPTREE. Aaron Pound discusses World Fantasy Award nominee Letters to Tiptree, and notes it is a significant omission from the list of Best Related Work Hugo nominees.

And yet, despite its many other honors, Letters to Tiptree did not receive a place among the Hugo finalists. While no work is ever entitled to become a Hugo finalist in the abstract, this is exactly the sort of book that one would normally expect to receive one. The reason for this lack of Hugo recognition this year is quite obviously the Puppy campaigns, which promoted a collection of Related Works onto the Hugo ballot that range from mediocre and forgettable down to juvenile and puerile. Leaving aside the fact that the finalists pushed by the Puppy campaigns are of such low quality, it seems relatively obvious that, given the Puppy rhetoric on such issues, Letters to Tiptree is exactly the sort of book that they want to push off of the Hugo ballot. After all, it is an explicitly feminist work, with all of the letter writers and most of the other contributors being women discussing a writer whose fiction was loaded with feminist issues. This book would seem to represent, at least in the eyes of many Pups, the recent encroachment of feminism into science fiction.

Except it doesn’t. Alice B. Sheldon died twenty-nine years ago. Her best fiction – including Houston Houston, Do You Read?, The Girl Who Was Plugged In, The Women Men Don’t See, and The Screwfly Solution – was written between forty and forty-five years ago….

(17) UNDERRATED BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN. Reddit is collecting suggestions for “The Long Tail: r/Fantasy’s Underrated/Underread Books”. And look what’s on the list!

God Stalk by P.C. Hodgell (Kencyrath), 1761 ratings.

In the first book of the Kencyrath, Jame, a young woman missing her memories, struggles out of the haunted wastes into Tai-tastigon, the old, corrupt, rich and god-infested city between the mountains and the lost lands of the Kencyrath. Jame’s struggle to regain her strength, her memories, and the resources to travel to join her people, the Kencyrath, drag her into several relationships, earning affection, respect, bitter hatred and, as always, haunting memories of friends and enemies dead in her wake.

When Reddit put together such a list two years ago with similar criteria (<5000 Goodreads ratings) it also had a Hodgell book – but a different one.

(18) TIME FOR POKÉMON. Pat Cadigan is mentioned in Time’s coverage of Pokemon and augmented reality.

But Go successfully uses AR as a sweetener to a mix of nostalgia for Pokémon, which peaked in popularity during the late ’90s when many millennials were preteens, as well as elements of long-gone Internet-age fads from geocaching to flash mobs. While technologists have been trying to perfect how AR works, Pokémon has provided one early answer for why you’d want it to.

The basic goodness or badness of AR—like any technology that proposes tinkering with the material of our reality—will be long debated. In science fiction, at least, the results are decidedly mixed. Star Trek’s holodeck is a (mostly) beneficent tool for shared understanding; in Pat Cadigan’s 1991 classic Synners, the augmentation of reality takes on a macabre, nightmarish quality enabling corporate interests and human sensualism to run amok. Advanced AR could allow you to experience the world from another person’s perspective—or lock you permanently into your own.

(19) BRING QUINN TO MACII. Kurt Busiek gave a plug to Jameson Quinn’s fundraiser.

(20) FAST WORK. Did Lou Antonelli maybe set a record?

Those of you who attended the panel on short stories at LibertyCon that Friday may recall I mentioned that I wrote a story, submitted it, and received an acceptance in four hours. That story is “The Yellow Flag” and it is being published on-line by Sci-Phi Journal on August 1st.

(21) MONKEYING AROUND. Ms. Rosemary Benton at Galactic Journey discovers a Japanese animated movie rendered in English, “[July 17, 1961] Bridging Two Worlds (The Anime, Alakazam The Great)”. One thing I’m curious about – was the word anime used in 1961?

I was very excited to see this film for two major reasons, as well as many many lesser reasons.  First and foremost the credited director of the film is Osamu Tezuka, one of modern Japan’s most prolific “manga” (Japanese comics) creators.  I am an appreciator of the comic book medium, so Tezuka is hardly an unknown name to me.  Thanks to my soon-to-be-aunt I’ve been able to obtain translations of numerous works of his, all of which are exceptional with whimsical storytelling ferrying intense characters into entrancing conflicts.  To date he has created numerous adaptations of western classics like Faust (1950) and Crime and Punishment (1953), and has created hugely popular works for Japanese young adults including the science fiction action story Astro Boy and the coming of age title Jungle Emperor.  Upon looking into the production of the film, however, it is unclear how much direct involvement he had.  Still, I like to think that he had a part in not only the style, but the script — both of which bear a striking similarity to Tezuka’s situational humor and Disney-inspired art style.

(22) BIG COFFIN. Another casualty of the Civil War, “Marvel kills off Hulk alter ago Bruce Banner”. According to the BBC:

The character is seen dying as a result of an arrow to the head from Hawkeye, his Avengers teammate, in the third issue of Civil War II.

Banner has been the Hulk’s alter ego since the character’s creation in 1962.

Dawn Incognito, who sent the link, calls the last line of the post “My favourite quote.”

It is not yet clear whether Banner could return in a similar way [to Captain America and Spider-Man], but Marvel indicated there were no plans for a return.

“Suuuuuure,” says Dawn. “Pull the other one, Marvel, it’s got bells on.”

(23) IMMOVABLE FORCE, IRRITABLE OBJECT. These are the kinds of questions comics fans live for. “Comic Book Questions Answered – Could the Hulk Have Torn Wolverine’s Admantium Skeleton Apart?”

Now that the Hulk has joined his old sparring partner, Wolverine, in death, reader Roger B. asked whether the regular Marvel Universe Hulk could have torn the regular Marvel Universe Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton apart (we know the Ultimate versions of the characters could).

Read on for the answer! …

(24) STAR WARS 8 SPOILER? Your mileage may vary, but you’ve been warned. Carrie Fisher may have leaked an interesting bit about the next movie while speaking at Star Wars Celebration Europe.

During a panel discussion at Star Wars Celebration Europe this weekend, Carrie Fisher, aka the iconic Princess Leia, seemingly revealed what might be a pretty big spoiler for the upcoming “Star Wars Episode 8.”

When panel host Warwick Davis asked Fisher what she knew about the time period between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens,” Fisher seemingly mistook his question to mean the time between “The Force Awakens” and “Episode 8.” As a result, she let slip two little words that caught everyone’s attention…

[Thanks to Dawn Incognito, Michael J. Walsh, Bartimaeus, Gary Farber, James Davis Nicoll, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 6/26/16 You Oughtta Be In Pixels

(1) A VIKING LOOKS FOR MARTIANS. Joel Achenbach has a piece in the Washington Post about the 40th anniversary of the Mars Viking mission.

They had placed three science experiments on board the Viking 1 lander, each of which would analyze Martian soil for signs of microbes. The lander also featured two cameras, which were life-detection instruments in their own right. A single image might solve the ancient mystery of extraterrestrial life. No one could completely rule out the possibility that a Martian creature might go hopping by.

Sf author Gentry Lee, who said he “spent seven years averaging 60 hours a week on Viking,” is interviewed in depth.  There are also Carl Sagan references; he wanted the Viking landers to have external lights “because Martian creatures might be attracted to it.”

(2) LIMERICK WRITER. On Saturday, Nigel Quinlan was at an event commemorating Irish Gothic and ghost story writer Joseph Sheridan LeFanu’s connection to Co Limerick, where Quinlan grew up. He wrote about it in “Me, Murroe, And LeFanu”.

Quinlan adds, “In the interests of helping pronunciation, the title can be sung to the refrain of ‘Me and you and a dog named Boo.’ There are a lot of images and nostalgia and possibly a mild mid-life crisis.”

From 1856 until his death in 1873 he lived in Merrion Square. I, er, used to eat my lunch in Merrion Square a lot. (I was working In Fred Hanna’s Bookshop on Nassau Street. A brisk hike to get to the Square and back at lunch hour, but worth it.) His reclusive habits and night-owl work hours earned him the nickname ‘The Invisible Prince.’ I don’t think my brisk hiking to the Square and back for my lunch hour earned me a nickname. That I know of….

(3) PROTEST VOTE. So does this imply there will be a Chuxit voting bloc for the Hugos? Well, Chuck can count on J.K. Rowling’s support in any case.


(4) FLIPPER. Jim C. Hines continues to experiment with gender-swapping sf/f clichés in “If We Wrote Men Like We Write Women (Part I)” and “If We Wrote Men Like We Write Women (Part II)”. The posts, says Rose Embolism, “take a look at the gendered, and quite frankly creepy way women are often portrayed in classic SF and Fantasy.”

Along the way, Hines sparked a long and vigorous Metafilter conversation with classic comments like this one from “Eyebrows McGee.”

My life will be complete the day that I read in a high fantasy novel — in place of, “She felt her breasts bouncing underneath her tunic as she hurried across the courtyard” or whatever, where a female character spends the whole walk thinking about her own boobs for no reason — a male character walking across a courtyard thinking to himself, “He felt his testicles jostling in his codpiece as he hurried across the courtyard.”

“It must be cooler weather than I realized,” he thought to himself, “they’re awfully small and high up today …”

(5) WHY INDIE AUTHORS AREN’T GETTING RICH. At Mad Genius Club, Fynbospress curates a fascinating collection of graphs and quotes from Data Guy about the May Author Earnings report.

A breakdown on why there aren’t more indie authors making a living:

Americans spend about $15 billion a year on trade books of all formats. After retailers and publishers take their cut, at most $3 billion actually lands in author pockets. Divided up perfectly evenly, that $3 billion could theoretically support 60,000 authors at the $50,000 level…

But instead, it’s getting divided up among at least 1,000,000 authors, if not more… including the estates and heirs of deceased authors. (I can see at least a million author names in our Amazon ebook data and top-selling Amazon print-book data, and that doesn’t even start to include the 32 million(!) lower-selling print book titles listed on Amazon right now, whose sales are too low to be captured in one of our scrapings.).

But lets imagine that there were only a million authors sharing the $3 billion right now. Which is an average of $3,000 each, if it were evenly distributed — but of course, it isn’t evenly distributed. Not even close.

The numbers are eye-opening, however, Fynbospress warns against drawing certain types of conclusions about them:

The fixed-pie fallacy is a fallacy. There is no fixed amount of wealth in the system. Becoming a bestseller will not force someone else off “The List” and into poverty. Indie publishing has no limit to the number of its publishing slots, and publishing your book will never mean that somebody else “can’t get a publishing slot.” Selling a copy of your book to a reader doesn’t mean that somebody else just lost their turn to sell a book.

(6) FILE SEVENTY-FIVE. Ann Patchett’s choices for “The 75 Best Books of the Past 75 Years” for Parade has more sf/f than you might expect. The choices for the 1950s – Bradbury and Asimov, E.B. White and T.H White. For the 1960s – Vonnegut and Madeleine L’Engle. After that the picks seem surprising or highly idiosyncratic.

(7) GAIMAN INTERVIEW. The LA Times’ Tyler Malone talks with “Neil Gaiman on making art, mistakes and his ‘View from the Cheap Seats’”.

In “Credo,” which opens the first section of the book, you write, “I believe I have the right to think and say the wrong things.” Do you find that in today’s society — especially because of social media and the 24-hour news cycle — that we don’t let people be wrong enough?

What I tend to see happening more and more is people retreating into their own corners. People seem scared to get things wrong or be shouted at so they form villages in which they agree with every other member, and maybe they go out and shout at the people in the next village for fun, but there’s no interchange of ideas going on. I think we have to encourage the idea that you’re allowed to think things. I have thought a great many stupid things over the years, and I can tell you that there’s not one stupid thing that I ever thought where I changed my mind because someone shouted at me or threatened to kill me. On the other hand, having great discussions with good friends, possibly over a drink, has definitely changed my mind and made me try to do better. You’re allowed to do better, but we have to let people do better.

(8) THEY WERE EXPENDABLE. My fashion consultant, Mr. J.K. Tarpinian, says, “This would look good under a sport coat for anybody going to the Hugos.”

Red Shirt ale shirt

Okay, as long as I get a bottle of the stuff, too.


  • June 26, 1904 — Peter Lorre.

Observes John King Tarpinian, “Here is an actor who lives on because of his vocal styling.  How many times in animation is the creepy guys voice an imitation of Lorre? Same goes for a cartoon monster being Karloff.”

(10) POP-UP POTTER. “We MUST GET to this incredible ‘Harry Potter’ pop-up store” declares Yahoo! News.

If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter movies (um, who isn’t?), you’ve probably noticed that the world is wonderfully detailed, right down to every sign, map, newspaper, and storefront. Those intricate elements are the vision of graphic designers, Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, who met back in 2001 on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 

They became great friends and collaborators, and we’re proud to announce that these two designers now have their own pop-up shop in London! It’s called House of MinaLima, and it includes exclusive Harry Potter art prints and awesome HP stationery.

(11) STUNT DOUBLE. John King Tarpinian asks, “I wonder if they use this for the Batmobile?” — “This is how car commercials are filmed without the actual car”.

Car commercials do an excellent job of making vehicles look almost too good to be true. As it turns out, they probably are… at least, if the Blackbird is involved.

The Blackbird is a visual effects stand-in for vehicles featured in commercials and movies. As Gizmag notes, its wheelbase, width, suspension travel and even engine response can be dialed in to match nearly any production vehicle while its onboard 360-degree cameras are used to create perfect reflections when the actual car body is overlaid in post-production.

Why go through all that trouble? Why not film the actual car being marketed in the commercial?

Auto commercials are often shot before the vehicle has even been manufactured. As such, some small visual details might not have been decided on yet so with CGI, you can add those in with ease. What’s more, auto makers typically keep the details of their new cars a closely guarded secret. Filming with something like the Blackbird gives the auto paparazzi nothing but a set of wheels to go on.


[Thanks to Rose Embolism, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, and Chip Hitchcock. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Henley.]

Pixel Scroll 6/12/16 But I Still Haven’t Scrolled Where the Pixels Are

(1) MAGIC STACKS. The Oxford University Press Blog gives “6 reasons why the Hogwarts library is the true hero of the Harry Potter books”.

…Alas, when our letter-bearing owl rudely pulls a no-show, accepting one’s muggle status is a hard pill to swallow. But, as today is Magic Day, we’ve decided to temporarily shelve our disappointment, and pay tribute to our favourite Hogwarts hotspot. Undoubtedly, the unsung hero of the Harry Potter series, we’re referring to a place with more answers than Albus, better looks than Lockhart, and even more mystery than Mad-Eye Moody. This is why we love the Hogwarts library…

It has screaming books.

Though, deep down, we’re rooting for Harry to succeed in his endeavours, given his complete disregard for the rules, we can’t help but feel a certain amount of satisfaction when one of his plans goes awry. As far as we’re concerned, any young scallywag who presumes to enter the restricted section of the Hogwarts library in the dead of night, without even attaining a teacher’s note of approval, deserves to happen upon a screaming book. On this particular occasion, we commend the library for thwarting this little rascal’s rebellious plans.

(2) THE PEEPS LOOK UP. Jim C. Hines has a gallery of 80+ photos taken at the recently completed Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop.

Mike Brotherton and Christian Ready

Jim C. Hines

(3) PRICE POINTS. Fynbospress has another skull session for indie authors: “How much for the print book?”

How much should you charge for your print book?

The answer is: it depends. First, are you planning on getting wide sales of your print book, or is it just there to make your ebook page look more professional, and more of a bargain?

This is a serious question: indie pub is still small press pub (just one-author houses), and can get into libraries and brick and mortar shops. It just takes more work, and usually more lead time between finishing the books and publishing them. In some genres, especially nonfiction segments where a large portion of the revenue is from talks and print books sold at same, the print version is more important than the ebook price.

(4) NEXT YEAR’S CAPCLAVE. Elizabeth Twitchell, Chair of Capclave 2017, announced a GoH today — Neil Clarke, of Clarkesworld.

Clarkesworld Magazine’s work in promoting speculative short fiction makes him a perfect fit to join another Capclave guest, Ken Liu, as the con celebrates 10 years of the WSFA Small Press Award. The con will be held October 6-8, 2017 at the Gaithersburg Hilton.

(5) RAY HARRYAUSEN. He’s a fast worker.

(6) INSIDE JOB. “Charmed: Fairy Tale Reform School Book 2” by Jen Calonita (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman) at Fantasy Book Critic.

ANALYSIS: Flunked, the first book of the Fairy Tale Reform School series, was a fast, fun children’s novel. It followed the life of a young thief (Gilly Cobbler) who was caught and sent away to Fairy Tale Reform School. Fairy Tale Reform School is designed to help fairy tale character right their wrongs and learn how to become productive members of their respective fairy tales. After all, not everyone can be the hero, villain, or princess; some people do have to be the baker, cobbler, or famer.

Now, Charmed is the second book of the series and picks up shortly where Flunked left off. Alva (our big bad for the series and is a version of the evil fairy queen from Sleeping Beauty) has been locked up. Meanwhile Gilly Cobbler, who was once an overlooked young thief who is trying to reform herself, is now considered a hero for what she did in Flunked, but all is not well.

(7) NO PLACE LIKE HOME – BREW. Martin Morse Wooster is back.

NHCmedalI’ve just returned from three days in Baltimore with home brewers.  I have always maintained that home brewers are the people most like fans who are not fans.  The National Homebrewers Conference has a con suite during the day, known as “Social Club” where people can sit and drink home-brew. They have a masquerade, except it’s called “club night,” and the competition is between clubs, whose members dress up in costumes (Vikings and pirates were popular this year) and serve free beer.

There were two developments this year that made the convention more like a sf con than in the past.

  1.  The name of the convention has formally been changed from “National Homebrewers Conference” to “Homebrewcon.”
  2.  The home brewers have discovered silly badge ribbons.  They haven’t gotten to the level of a Worldcon where you can get a generalissimo-sized stack of ribbons, but I saw at least two or three silly ribbons on some badges next to the serious ones for being a judge or being on the organizing committee.  I never noticed anyone with more than four ribbons.

I also learned of the demise of one of the convention’s quirkier traditions.  They used to give a prize, known as the Golden Urinal or “Pissoir D’Or”, to the club whose members brought the most number of kegs to the convention. In 2013, the Barley Legal Club of southern New Jersey (note to people from New Jersey–they’re “near exit 4”) showed up with 200 kegs and the trophy was retired.  They brought the urinal to the convention, and I can now say I have drunk from the Golden Urinal on three occasions.  And yes, it is a urinal painted gold.

Next year’s Homebrewcon will be from June 15-17 in Minneapolis.

(8) KASEY LANSDALE. Wynona’s opening act at the Canyon Club on June 17 is Joe R. Lansdale’s baby girl.

Kasey Lansdale and her father Joe Lansdale.

Kasey Lansdale and her father Joe Lansdale.

Now, WYNONNA and her band The Big Noise, led by her husband/drummer/prodcer, Cactus Moser, have released their debut full-length album to critical acclaim. Rolling Stone’s Stephen L. Betts raved, “Wynonna & The Big Noise brings a raw, unvarnished approach to the album’s dozen tracks, which run the gamut from gutsy blues to sweet, Seventies-inspired country-pop…. Wynonna’s legions of country fans will feel right at home.” Get ready, Agoura Hills, cause WYNONNA & The Big Noise are taking it on the road – and make their debut appearance on The Canyon stage.

Opening sets by ‘Michael-Ann’ and ‘Kasey Lansdale’

(9) INDY 5. “John Williams Will Score Indiana Jones 5 & Star Wars: Episode VIII” guarantees ComingSoon.

Last night, the American Film Institute held a red carpet event honoring legendary film composer John Williams (Jaws, Harry Potter, Superman) with a lifetime achievement award. The 84-year-old Williams, whose work on all four Indiana Jones films as well as all seven Star Wars Saga films are career-defining, took the opportunity to assure the world he would be back for Lucasfilm‘s next installments of both franchises.

“If I can do it, I certainly will,” Williams confirmed to Variety of his commitment to do the music for Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII, currently in the home stretch of filming. “I told Kathy Kennedy I’m happy to do it, but the real reason is, I didn’t want anybody else writing music for Daisy Ridley.”

Meantime, during an interview with Empire Magazine about his new movie The BFG, Spielberg confirmed a MacGuffin has been selected for Indy 5:

“(Steven Spielberg) shows us videos of the BFG’s recording session on his iPhone, looks forward to INDIANA JONES V: “We have a McGuffin, that’s all I can say”. 

It is extremely exciting news that Indy 5 has possibly found its central MacGuffin. While Spielberg did not give details, the MacGuffin will likely be revealed as a title is decided upon. The previous Indiana Jones films either had the MacGuffin within the title or had a hint to the identity of the fabled object.

The MacGuffins are often supernatural in nature and possess incredible power. They also often reflect personally on Indy in regards to some facet of their nature. There have been three MacGuffins thus far, two of them being based on Judeo-Christian mythology. Crystal skull was the only one not to be directly religious. The nature of the MacGuffin may be hinted at once we learn more about the plot.


  • June 12, 1968 Rosemary’s Baby, seen for the first time on this day. Did you know: Rosemary’s baby was born in June 1966 (6/66).
  • June 12, 1981 — Ray Harryhausen’s last effects work appears in Clash of the Titans.
  • June 12, 1987 Predator was released.  The alien’s blood was a mixture of KY Jelly and the goop from inside green glow-sticks.

(11) SMOKE ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM. The 1960-1961 season of Twilight Zone is finished, and The Traveler at Galactic Journey has the verdict – “[June 11, 1961] Until we meet again…. (Twilight Zone Second Season wrap up)”.

When Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone debuted in October 1959, it was a fresh breeze across “the vast wasteland” of television.  Superior writing, brilliant cinematography, fine scoring, and, of course, consistently good acting earned its creator a deserved Emmy last year.

The show’s sophomore season had a high expectation to meet, and it didn’t quite.  That said, it was still head and shoulders above its competitors (Roald Dahl’s Way Out, Boris Karloff’s Thriller, etc.) The last two episodes of this year’s batch were par for the course: decent, but not outstanding…

In this Twilight Zone episode, one of the men was talking about how good his cigarettes tasted, and I thought for a moment he was going to break into an advertisement.  Of course that didn’t come until the end — when Rod Serling recommended Oasis cigarettes “for the freshest of tastes”….

(12) INFLUENCE AND COLLABORATION. Spark My Muse with Lisa DeLay – “Eps 65: The Myth of the ‘Lone Genius’ – CS Lewis expert Dr. Diana Glyer”. Here are some of the show notes from the half-hour podcast:

MIN 1:30

Diana’s first introduction into the world of Tolkien.


Wondering what the conversations of Lewis and Tolkien were like and how they influenced each other.

Our conversations become the spark for creative breakthrough.

(That’s a cool quote from Diana and you can Tweet it just by clicking it. It’s like Elfin magic!)


No one had researched and written about their relationship of collaboration and influence from the inside–like a fly on the wall.


How we think about literary influence and collaboration. Process influence versus product influence.

The role of creative input and question-asking during the initial period of creative inspiration.

MIN 7:30

Looking at dairies and primary documents and drafts and the detective work of Diana’s book “The Company They Keep”.


“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island and, best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.” — Walt Disney

(14) A GREAT BOOKSTORE IS CLOSING. Marc Scott Zicree, “Mr. Sci-Fi,” prowls the aisles at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop as he explains tells you why books — and bookstores — are important.

(15) WHEN ANOTHER BOOKSTORE CLOSED. Ray Bradbury’s last visit to Acres of Books.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day LunarG.]

Pixel Scroll 6/5/16 Scroll Sung Blue, Everybody Knows One

(1) D&D. Josh Kramer at the Washington Post created “An illustrated guide to why grown-ups are playing Dungeons & Dragons again”.

With a jolt of popularity from its latest edition and a larger pop cultural footprint, Dungeons & Dragons might be making a significant comeback. (A handbook for the game topped Amazon’s best-sellers list for several days in 2014.) The largest group of players are millennials, and more of the new devotees are female than you might have thought, too. As a freelance cartoonist, journalist and a game-player in D.C., I wanted to explore why D&D isn’t just a throwback.

There are 16 frames – this is the second.

d and d

(2) WHAT WRITERS GET PAID. Fynbospress at Mad Genius Club sounds the alert – “New Author Earnings Report Out!”

This report is in far greater depth – not only did they crawl the top 100 in subgenre, but print, audio, and also-boughts as well. It’s tracking over 1 million titles, to shine a light into the previously dark unknown of who and what isn’t on a bestseller list but is still selling, and how, and where. And the results – are impressive!

Where does the information in the “May 2016 Author Earnings Report” come from?

Our methodology employs a software spider that crawls across Amazon’s bestseller lists. The 200,000+ titles on those lists make up roughly 60% of Amazon’s daily sales. This leaves an appreciable number of titles and sales unaccounted for. There’s more elephant here to uncover! We’ve long heard this might be the case, as independent authors familiar with our data have claimed to be making a livable wage without a single one of their books appearing on any Amazon bestseller list. These are the truly invisible among the already difficult-to-discern. We wanted to see if they could be found.

So for this report, we went deeper. Instead of just looking at Amazon’s bestseller lists, we had our spider follow links to also-bought recommendations and also through each authors’ full catalog. This resulted in a million-title dataset, our most comprehensive and definitive look yet at author earnings. We were able to tally up precisely how many indie authors, Big Five authors, small/medium press authors, and Amazon-imprint authors are currently making enough from Amazon.com sales to land in a number of “tax brackets”.

The report has lots of graphs and interpretive text, and ends with this comment:

When we lowered the author earnings bar to $50,000 a year, we found 142 invisible authors that were earning that much or more on Amazon.com, without any of their titles appearing on any category best-seller lists. 105 of those 142 were self-published indies.

We live in exciting times. Today it’s possible to be a full-time professional author, quietly earning $50,000+ a year — even six figures a year — without ever sending a query letter to anyone. On Amazon alone, the data shows over a thousand indie authors earning a full-time living right now with their self-published titles.

The only gatekeepers that matter now are readers.

(3) BUT THE REAL MONEY’S IN THE FUNNIES. “Comic books buck trend as print and digital sales flourish” reports CNBC.

Digital disruption has upended virtually every corner of publishing, but in the world of comic books, something curious is happening: Print sales are thriving alongside the rise of their digital counterparts.

Print comic book revenues have been on the rise in recent years, even as digital comics’ sales boom. Print receipts have held up at a time when publishers have introduced all-you-can-download subscriptions that offer thousands of comics for a flat monthly or annual fee.

In 2014, digital comics revenues excluding unlimited subscriptions reached $100 million, according to ICv2, an online trade magazine that tracks comic sales and other trends. That was up from just $1 million seven years ago, when ICv2 started collecting data.

(4) RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY. While members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association have already received a copy, the public can buy from Amazon the 2016 Rhysling Poetry Anthology with the works nominated for this year’s award.

The anthology allows the members to easily review and consider all nominated works without the necessity of obtaining the diverse number of publications in which the nominated works first appeared and serves as a showcase of the best science fiction, fantasy, and horror poetry of 2015. The Rhysling Anthology is available to anyone with an interest in this unique compilation of verse from some of the finest poets in the field of science fiction, fantasy, and horror poetry.

(5) CLARION FUNDRAISER. Clarion UCSD’S Seventh Annual Write-a-Thon is looking for participants.

What is a write-a-thon, anyway? Think charity walk-a-thon. In a walk-a-thon, volunteers walk as far as they can in return for pledges from sponsors who make donations, usually based on the number of miles the volunteer walks. Our Write-a-Thon works like that too, but instead of walking, our volunteers write with a goal in mind. Their sponsors make donations to Clarion sometimes based on number of words written, sometimes based on other goals, or just to show support for the writer and Clarion.

And there are incentives.

As always, we have prizes for our top Write-a-Thon earners. In addition, this year we have surprises as well as prizes!

  • The top fundraiser will receive a commemorative 2016 Clarion Write-a-Thon trophy celebrating their success.
  • Our top five fundraisers will each receive a critique from a well-known Clarion instructor or alumnus. We’ve lined up Terry Bisson, David Anthony Durham, Kenneth Schneyer, Judith Tarr, and Mary Turzillo to have a look at your golden prose. A roll of the dice decides who is paired with whom. (The authors have three months to complete their critiques, and the short story or chapters submitted must be 7,500 words or less.)
  • Our top ten fundraisers will each receive a $25 gift certificate of their choice from a selection of bookstores and stationers.
  • A few small but special surprises will be distributed randomly among everyone who raises $50 or more. Lucky winners will be decided by Write-a-Thon minions drawing names from Clara the Write-a-Thon Cat’s hat. These are such a surprise that even we don’t know what they are yet. We do know that certain of our minions will be visiting places like Paris and Mongolia this summer. Anything at all might turn up in their luggage. In addition, who knows what mystery items unnamed Clarionites might donate to the loot!

(6) SECOND FIFTH. CheatSheet refuses to allow anyone to remain ignorant — “’Voltron’: 5 Things to Know About the Netflix Rebook”

For those who don’t know, the series was a top-rated syndicated children’s show during its original two-season run. Despite its initial success, previous attempts at bringing Voltron back haven’t worked out, and the show hasn’t returned to air in three decades. That’s all about to change now, thanks to Netflix. Here’s what we know about the company’s planned upcoming revival so far….

Here’s a trailer.

ROAR, created by the Voltron production team, is a special look inside Season 1 of the Netflix original series DreamWorks Voltron Legendary Defender, which reimagines one of the most popular fan-favorite shows of all time in an all-new comedic action-packed show from executive producer Joaquim Dos Santos (The Legend of Korra, Avatar: The Last Airbender) and co-executive producer Lauren Montgomery (The Legend of Korra).


(7) BRADBURY. The New Yorker published Ray Bradbury’s reminiscence “Take Me Home” the day before he died in 2012.

When I was seven or eight years old, I began to read the science-fiction magazines that were brought by guests into my grandparents’ boarding house, in Waukegan, Illinois. Those were the years when Hugo Gernsback was publishing Amazing Stories, with vivid, appallingly imaginative cover paintings that fed my hungry imagination. Soon after, the creative beast in me grew when Buck Rogers appeared, in 1928, and I think I went a trifle mad that autumn. It’s the only way to describe the intensity with which I devoured the stories. You rarely have such fevers later in life that fill your entire day with emotion.

When I look back now, I realize what a trial I must have been to my friends and relatives. It was one frenzy after one elation after one enthusiasm after one hysteria after another. I was always yelling and running somewhere, because I was afraid life was going to be over that very afternoon.

(8) MORE BANG FOR THE BILLION. The news is filled with speculation about the Rogue One reshoots – which may involve literal shooting judging by the latest hire.

Veteran stunt coordinator and second unit director Simon Crane has been tapped to assist with the lengthy reshoots for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

Rogue One, being directed by Gareth Edwards, will undergo significant additional filming this summer, it was revealed earlier this week. Disney and Lucasfilm are hoping to accomplish several goals with the reshoots, including working on the tone of what has been described by sources as a “war movie.” The lightening of the feel of the film is meant to broaden its appeal.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/17/16 Hives of Light

(1) TIE-IN BOOKS. “The Secret Life of Novelizations”, an 11 minute segment on WYNC.

Write a great book and you’re a genius. Turn a book into a great film and you’re a visionary. Turn a great film into a book…that’s another story.

Novelizations of films are regular best-sellers with cult followings — some are even more beloved than the films that spawned them — but respected they are not. Instead, they’re assumed to be the literary equivalent of merchandise: a way for the movie studios to make a few extra bucks, and a job for writers who aren’t good enough to do anything else. But the people who write them beg to differ.

OTM producer Jesse Brenneman goes inside the world of novelizations, featuring authors Max Allan CollinsAlan Dean FosterElizabeth Hand, and Lee Goldberg.

(2) SPOCK DOC. Lance Ulanoff reviews For the Love of Spock at Mashable — “’For the Love of Spock’ is a moving love letter to an icon and a father”.

For the Love of Spock is three stories woven together into a solid, emotionally charged strand. There is the story of a gifted actor — a renaissance man, as he is described in the film — and his journey from bit player to fame, fortune and permanent pop-culture icon status.

It’s also the story of a character who sprang from the mind of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, but became flesh and blood — and Vulcan salutes — in the hands of Nimoy. And finally, it’s the story of a father and son and their decades-long journey toward love and mutual acceptance.

There’s no way to fit 83 years into a rather fast-paced 100 minutes. As a consequence, huge swaths of Nimoy’s life and career are mentioned all-too-briefly (his directing career) or not at all (Star Trek V and VI, and much of his latter TV career).

(3) MORE FREQUENT DARK. SF Site News says editor Sean Wallace has announced his magazine is stepping up its schedule.

Sean Wallace has announced the the dark fantasy magazine The Dark will shift to a monthly schedule beginning with the May 2016 issue.

(4) ADAMANT. J.C. Carlton says he is really, really right about that book he still hasn’t read – “Why Generation Ships Will NOT ‘Sink’ A Failure To Communicate” at The Arts Mechanical.

As an engineer, I think that Mr. Robinson is clearly wrong.  Or at least, he doesn’t understand the basic rules for setting mission parameters and designing to meet those parameters.  Mr. Robison’s vessel failed because he wanted it to fail.  But to extend that to saying that ALL such proposals would fail is more than a little egotistical. And wrong, really wrong.

Now I haven’t as yet read the book.(Somehow this sticks in the craw of the people over at File 770….

Real pioneers don’t screw up  because failure is not an option and incompetence is something that can’t be tolerated. Yes the environment and the unknowns get the pioneers, think the Donner Party, but the typical pioneers don’t go down without a fight.  They do the work that needs to get done because they are working to make a better place for the next generation, not themselves.  We as a culture have suppressed the pioneer spirit in the last few years and maybe that’s a mistake.  Because pioneers desire and understand liberty and the alternative is tyranny.

Here’s a bunch of links to get the pioneer spirit started.  Sorry, Mr. Robinson, our carracks to the stars will not fail because the pioneer spirits in them, will not let them fail.  Look if my ancestors can cross the North Atlantic in a tiny leaky little boat, can I say anything less?

(5) HOWDY NEIGHBOR. “Never Before Seen Galaxy Spotted Orbiting the Milky Way”: New Scientist has the story.

The galaxy’s empire has a new colony. Astronomers have detected a dwarf galaxy orbiting the Milky Way whose span stretches farther than nearly all other Milky Way satellites. It may belong to a small group of galaxies that is falling into our own.

Giant galaxies like the Milky Way grew large when smaller galaxies merged, according to simulations. The simulations also suggest that whole groups of galaxies can fall into a single giant at the same time. The best examples in our cosmic neighbourhood are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the Milky Way’s two brightest satellites, which probably orbit each other.

Orbiting galaxies

About four dozen known galaxies orbit our own. The largest in terms of breadth is the Sagittarius dwarf, discovered in 1994 – but it’s big only because our galaxy’s gravity is ripping it apart. The next two largest are the Magellanic Clouds.

(6) BATMAN V SUPERMAN V ABIGAIL. This is the kind of post that has inspired me to write Abigail Nussbaum’s name on my Hugo ballot from time to time. In the paragraphs following the excerpt, she deconstructs a scene from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and gives us a wonderful premise for understanding what shaped Superman’s psyche in the Snyder and non-Snyder movie versions.

Nor am I here to talk about how Batman v Superman fundamentally betrays its two title characters–and betrays, along the way, the fact that Snyder and writers David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio fundamentally do not understand what either of those characters are about.  Because the truth is, I don’t really care.  I’m not a comic book reader, but I’ve been watching Batman movies for twenty years, and good or bad they all depict the character as, at best, someone who is working out their mommy-and-daddy issues by beating up poor criminals, and at worst, an outright fascist.  I’m perfectly willing to believe that there is more to the character, and that the comics (and the animated series) have captured that, but I think at this stage it’s a mug’s game to go to a Batman movie expecting to find more than what they’ve been known to give us.  As for Superman, if I want stories about a character who is all-powerful yet fundamentally good, and still interesting for all that, I’ve got the MCU’s Captain America, not to mention Supergirl, so that fact that Batman v Superman depicts Superman as someone who seems genuinely to dislike people, and to be carrying out acts of heroism (when he deigns to do so) out of a sense of aggrieved obligation, doesn’t really feel worth getting worked up over.  On the contrary, I was more upset by those scenes in Batman v Superman in which characters insisted–despite all available evidence–that its Superman was a figure of hope and inspiration, because they made it clear just how badly the people making the movie had misjudged its effect.


  • April 17, 1810 Lewis M. Norton patented a vat for forming pineapple-shaped cheese. (Even John King Tarpinian doesn’t know why he sent me this link.)
  • April 17, 1970 — With the world anxiously watching on television, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returned to Earth.


  • April 17, 1937 – Daffy Duck.

From the CBS News Almanac: …That day saw the premiere of a Warner Brothers cartoon titled “Porky’s Duck Hunt.”

The cartoon followed Porky Pig as he attempted to bag a most unusual duck … a duck quite unwilling to follow the rules:

Porky: “Hey, that wasn’t in the script!” Daffy: “Don’t let that worry you, Skipper! I’m just a darn fool crazy duck!”

Actually, make that DAFFY Duck, in his very first film role — his first, but by no means his last.

(9) ACCOUNTING FOR TASTES. Fynbospress, in “Preorders” at Mad Genius Club, sorts out how that sales tool affects traditional and indie publishers differently.

Several years ago, indie publishers put up quite a hue and cry about not having preorders available to them on Amazon, unlike their trad pub competitors. Amazon listened, and made preorders available, with a few caveats to ensure that indie pub would indeed have the product ready on ship date, and not leave Amazon holding the bag while angry customers yelled at them.

With glee, indie pub rushed out to put things on preorder…. and promptly found it wasn’t all that and a bag of chips. It’s a useful tool, but it isn’t nearly as important to them as it’s made out to be.

The critical differences:

  1. Amazon counts a preorder toward the item’s sales rank the day the order is placed.

This makes logical sense in the non-publishing world, as the “sale” happens the day a contract to sell is agreed upon, not the ship date, not the date money changes hands, nor the date the customer receives the item. This is pretty standard whether ordering a run of shoes manufactured in China, selling wheat futures in Chicago, or a racehorse in Kentucky.

(10) QUIDDITCH ON TV. “Quidditch, the sport of wizards” was a segment on today’s CBS Sunday Morning. There’s a video report and a text article at the link.

Quidditch, anyone? No idle question in Columbia, South Carolina, where a big championship match is underway this weekend. Anna Werner attended last year’s contest, where she saw an author’s imaginary game come to life:

It’s been nearly 20 years since the first Harry Potter book came out and proceeded to cast a spell over fans around the world. J.K. Rowling’s creation became the most popular book series in publishing history, with over 450 million copies sold — and one of the biggest movie franchises in film history, with nearly $8 billion in ticket sales.

And now Potter-mania has spawned another craze, one based on the high-flying fantasy game played by Harry and his friends called Quidditch, which has now jumped from the world of wizards to the playing fields of Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Yes, real-world Quidditch, complete with players “riding” broomsticks.

“Quidditch has exploded into the college scene and the high school scene all over the world,” said one girl. “It’s absolutely amazing!”

It’s even been the subject of a documentary called “Mudbloods” (a Harry Potter reference, of course).

“People get passionate about it because they grew up with Harry Potter,” said one fan.

The documentary introduces Alex Benepe, one of the founders of Quidditch. He’s been playing since 2005, when a classmate at Middlebury College turned to him with an idea: “‘This weekend, we’re gonna try and play real-life Quidditch,'” Benepe recalled. “We were freshman. And I just thought to myself, ‘There’s no way this is gonna work. This is gonna be so dumb!'”

(11) PLAYING QUIDDITCH. CBS Sunday Morning also provides “A how-to guide to Quidditch”.

The Balls

A volleyball doubles as a Quaffle, which players use to score points, either by throwing it or kicking it through a hoop.

Bludgers are dodgeball-weapons used against opposing players; hit someone with a bludger, and they are temporarily out. They must drop whatever ball they possess, head to the sidelines, and touch a goalpost before returning back to the field.

In the J.K. Rowling books, a Snitch (or a Golden Snitch) is a winged ball that tried to avoid capture. Since magical equipment is harder to come by in real life, Snitches are instead played by people dressed in yellow, who run onto the field at the 18-minute mark and must evade players who try to steal their “tail.”

If a Snitch loses his tail (actually a tennis ball in a sock), the game is over, but in the event of a tie score, play goes into overtime.

(12) RUNNING LOGAN’S MOVIE. Once upon a time there was a Jeopardy! answer…

Jeopardy Logans Run

John King Tarpinian says “In the book middle age would be ten.”

And while we’re on the topic, John recommends Reading The Movie Episode 3: Logan’s Run, a 2011 video.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Xtifr, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

Pixel Scroll 4/10/16 Filers, Scrollers, Pixelmen, Lend Me Your Ears; I Come To Bury Hugo, Not To Praise Him

(1) HARRY AND THE PIRATES. Your average author can only wish they got this level of service. Reuters has the story — “Defense Against the Dark Arts: UK spies guarded against Harry Potter leak”.

Usually concerned with top secret matters affecting national security, Britain’s eavesdropping spy agency GCHQ was also on the lookout for leaks of a yet-to-be-published Harry Potter book, its publisher has revealed.

Shortly before the publication of one of the volumes in J.K. Rowling’s seven-part wizarding saga, with millions of fans worldwide at a fever pitch of anticipation, publisher Nigel Newton received an unexpected phone call.

“I remember the British spy eavesdropping station GCHQ rang me up and said ‘we’ve detected an early copy of this book on the Internet’,” Newton told Australia’s ABC Radio in an interview last week that gained attention in Britain on Sunday.

“I got him to read a page to our editor and she said ‘no, that’s a fake’,” said Newton, founder and chief executive of Potter publishing house Bloomsbury, describing the spies as “good guys”.

A spokesman for GCHQ said: “We do not comment on our defense against the dark arts.”

(2) MORE EAVESDROPPING. R. A. MacAvoy lets us listen in on her “Conversations with People Who Aren’t There”.

The reason I was convinced my imaginary conversations were universal to the human condition was simply my embarrassment knowing that, since I had constructed my verbal respondents, when we had a difference of opinion – a necessarily frequent happening – I always won the debate.  This, in itself, was so much a stacking of the deck, or loading of the dice of the disagreement, I would hate for anyone to know I was doing it.  It was so much like playing chess with one’s self and cheating.  And I assumed everyone else on the planet felt as I did about it, and so, from an attempt not to appear the scoundrel I was, I kept my mouth shut (for once) about the existence of this wild and crazy inner life.  I was certain any other person would do the same.  So I have continued, for approximately sixty years, to live this way, mumbling to myself or to the non-human creatures about me, or even the furniture. And thinking every other soul did also.

It was only perhaps a week ago I asked Ron whether he did not spend his hours as I did.  I expected him to answer “Of course,” or simply smile knowingly and shrug.  Instead he looked at me intently and said “No. Not so often.”

This was quite a surprise.  It was, in fact, a re-set of my expectations.  The human condition was not entirely as I had thought it was.  Not for all these years.

So I must re-evaluate my life of inner debate.  I have not just been rigging the game of internal conversation.  It seems I invented the game before I rigged it.  My ego-centricity is far more overwhelming than I thought.  I am not proud of myself.

Nonetheless, there have been some interesting conversations over the years.  If I must take the blame for doing the thing, I can at least describe how I have done it.

The most common repeated dialogue I have is with any film or television actor who pronounces words in a way I disagree with.  Of course I am arguing with the character, not the real actor, but as no one is there, it doesn’t matter.

(3) CAPCLAVE 2017. WSFA has announced that Ken Liu will be a Capclave GoH in 2017.

(4) LOVELY ROOM, SLIGHT DRAFT. Supposedly this happened — “Tim Peake Leaves TripAdvisor Review For The International Space Statuion’s New ‘Space Hotel’” — although neither Steven H Silver nor I have been able to find it on the actual TripAdvisor site.

Bigelow Aerospace is trialling a new “space hotel” this week, attaching their new inflatable hotel room to the side of the International Space Station to test the possibility of having a holiday resort in Earth’s orbit.

The inflatable “BEAM” module is made of a top secret material that may make holidaying in space a reality, but first it’s being tested aboard the ISS.

Not one to ignore a chance at giving his two cents to the people on terra firma, British astronaut Tim Peake has left a review for the “space hotel” on TripAdvisor.

(5) KEPLER IN TROUBLE? From NASA — “Mission Manager Update: Kepler Spacecraft in Emergency Mode”.

During a scheduled contact on Thursday, April 7, mission operations engineers discovered that the Kepler spacecraft was in Emergency Mode (EM). EM is the lowest operational mode and is fuel intensive. Recovering from EM is the team’s priority at this time.

The mission has declared a spacecraft emergency, which provides priority access to ground-based communications at the agency’s Deep Space Network.

Initial indications are that Kepler entered EM approximately 36 hours ago, before mission operations began the maneuver to orient the spacecraft to point toward the center of the Milky Way for the K2 mission’s microlensing observing campaign.

The spacecraft is nearly 75 million miles from Earth, making the communication slow. Even at the speed of light, it takes 13 minutes for a signal to travel to the spacecraft and back.

The last regular contact with the spacecraft was on April. 4.  The spacecraft was in good health and operating as expected.

(6) HOW MUCH IS THAT NOVEL IN THE WINDOW? Fynbospress has an intriguing post about indie book pricing at Mad Genius Club – “Know your reader demographics: Pricing”

2. The discount crowd ($0.99 – $5.99) Believe it or not, this is a different group from the Free Crowd. There’s plenty of overlap, but it’s a different crowd. Unlike the hardcore free-only, the 99 cent crowd will buy books cheap. If they’re long-term broke, they’re likely to use some of the tools to track your sales and only buy when the price drops. These are the people who keep all the used bookstores in business. At this price point, you’re competing with used paperbacks from McKay’s Powell’s, Amazon… you are NOT competing with new books from B&N or Book a Million.

How big is this market? I don’t know if there’s a way to tell – certainly it hasn’t been measured. But it’s been large enough to support thousands of used book stores across the US alone (much less the charity shops in the UK), and to propel low-pricing indie authors into millions sold.

You can develop fans here. If you stay in this price range, they’ll buy everything you put out the moment they discover it. (Not the same thing as the moment you release it, and that’s why a mailing list / social media presence / targeted advertising is a good thing.) You can also use this range to tempt people into impulse buying your works, in conjunction with targeted advertising.

(7) TO THE FINNISH. Today’s book review on NPR: “Frodo, Bilbo, Kullervo: Tolkien’s Finnish Adventure”.

In 1913, the 21-year-old Ronald Tolkien should have been studying for his exams. He was halfway through his Classics degree — the subject all the best students did at Oxford in those days. Getting admitted to Oxford on a scholarship was a great opportunity for young Ronald, an orphan who had always struggled to stay out of poverty. A Classics degree would have set him up for almost any career he chose. But he wasn’t studying. Instead, he was trying to teach himself Finnish.

Why would a brilliant student with so much at stake let himself go astray at such a crucial time? There were two reasons: love and the Kalevala.

Tolkien’s twin obsessions at the time were his future wife, Edith Bratt, and the Kalevala, the national epic of Finland.

(8) CLASSIC ZINE BIDS FAREWELL. Steven H Silver is retiring his fanzine Argentus, a three-time Hugo nominee.

I’ve decided that Argentus is no longer being published.  I had planned on doing an issue last year (and didn’t) and then wrapping it up this year, but with chairing three conventions in 11 months, Worldcon programming, surgery, and life in general, I don’t see it happening this year either.  If I do another fanzine, it will be a different creature.


  • April 10, 1953: Feature length, full color, 3-D movie premiered in NYC:  House of Wax starring Vincent Price.



  • April 10, 1929: One of the all-time greats, Max von Sydow, is born in Sweden.
  • Born April 10, 19?? — James H. Burns, prolific File 770 columnist.
  • Born April 10, 1953 — David Langford, Ansible editor.

(12) DISTILLED WRITING ADVICE. Lit Reactor has compiled “22 of the Best Single Sentences on Writing”. The most contrarian comes from G. K. Chesterton: “I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.”

(13) FESTIVAL OF BOOKS. The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books wrapped up on Sunday.

Mercedes Lackey was on hand.

Not sf, but I’m a fan!

A Sabaa Tahir quote —

(14) AWESOME ANIMATION. Official music video for Jane Bordeaux’s ‘Ma’agalim’. In a forgotten old penny arcade, a wooden doll is stuck in place and time.

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