Pixel Scroll 11/15/17 Or All the Scrolls With Pixels

(1) TURNOVER AT TOLKIEN ESTATE. Christopher Tolkien, 92, resigned as a director of the Tolkien Estate Limited on August 31, 2017 according to records at Companies House in the UK.

Christopher Tolkien

Despite this having occurred over two months ago, the information seems to have become public only recently, and there is rampant speculation what the timing of resignation implies, given Amazon’s announcement this week of a new Lord of the Rings sourced TV production, and Christopher Tolkien’s negative statements about the Peter Jackson adaptations.

While I searched, unsuccessfully, to find who broke the story, via Michael Martinez’ blog I discovered Tolkien Brasil has a long and informative piece about the transition in the Estate’s leadership (in Portuguese – a Google Translate English rendering is at this link, offered with the usual caveats about accuracy.)

The Tolkien Society’s post on the topic clarified that Christopher Tolkien remains his late father’s literary executor.

(2) INDIGENOUS AND BLACK SF. Canada’s CBC Radio program The Current hosted a discussion of indigenous and black sf on November 14. A podcast of the segment is available.

Nov 14 | How Indigenous and black artists are using science fiction to imagine a better future As soon as you can dream about the future, you have hope as well instead of despair.”

Download Nov 14 | How Indigenous and black artists are using science fiction to imagine a better future [mp3 file: runs 00:28:13]

(3) BRETT RATNER OUT. Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot said she would not sign for the sequel if he was still involved: “Gal Gadot confirms Brett Ratner won’t be involved with Wonder Woman 2”The Verge has the story.

Two weeks after a Los Angeles Times report detailed multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment against director and producer Brett Ratner, the filmmaker seems to have been officially cut from the DC cinematic universe. This morning on Good Morning America, Gal Gadot reiterated earlier reports that Ratner’s financing company RatPac-Dune Entertainment, which helped fund 2017’s Wonder Woman, would not be involved with the upcoming sequel.

The confirmation comes a few days after a Page Six report claimed that Gadot threatened to drop out of the sequel if Ratner or his company was involved in any way. On Good Morning America, she says she didn’t come close to leaving. “The truth is, there’s so many people involved in making this movie — it’s not just me — and they all echoed the same sentiments,” she said.

(4) VANDERMEER. Variety reports: “Netflix Nabs ‘Hummingbird Salamander’ From ‘Annihilation’ Author Jeff VanderMeer”.

Netflix is nearing a deal for rights to “Hummingbird Salamander” and plans to tap Sugar23 to produce the picture, Variety has learned.

The book is the latest from Jeff VanderMeer, the best-selling author of the “Southern Reach” trilogy and one of the foremost sci-fi writers working today.  The film will be produced by Michael Sugar and Ashley Zalta at Sugar 23.

… VanderMeer will also executive produce the project.

However, VanderMeer himself sounded uncertain in his Facebook comments about the Variety article

Hmmm. I wonder if this is true. It’d be kind of a dream team to be with Netflix with the Oscar-winning producer of Spotlight producing. It’d be even more incredible if the rumor that it’s a mega deal and I’ll be an executive producer and creative consultant on the film were true…

As you can imagine, for someone who sometimes writes about mushroom people, it’s surreal that every novel I’ve written or am under contract to write since Annihilation may have been optioned for the movies. If these rumors are true.

(5) WIZARD WORLD ON LIFE SUPPORT.  Although the company has 17 conventions planned for 2018, their money is running out: “WIZARD WORLD Warns Of ‘Substantial Doubt’ Of It Continuing Into 2019”.

Wizard World. Inc.’s Q3 2017 quarterly report has been released, with a notice that due to recent operations loss there is “substantial doubt” that the company can continue operating as it is now past November 2018.

“The Company had a loss from operations of $4,454,857 and $1,182,246 for the nine months ended September 30, 2017 and the year ended December 31, 2016, respectively. As of September 30, 2017, we had cash and working capital deficit (excluding the derivative liability) of $1,176,034 and $1,514,182, respectively,” the company stated. “We have evaluated the significance of these conditions in relation to our ability to meet our obligations and have concluded that, due to these conditions, there is substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern through November 2018.”

(6) GOODREADS CHOICE. Matt Mitrovich analyzes an award contender in “Book Review: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai” at Amazing Stories.

I was informed that All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastain was nominated for the Goodreads Choice 2017 Best Science Fiction and Best Debut Author awards. Since I had a copy sitting in my to read pile since July, I figured now was as good a time as any to finally read it and see what all the fuss is about.

All Our Wrong Todays begins in an alternate timeline where a Lionel Goettreider invents his “Goettreider Engine” on July 11, 1965. This invention produces free energy and sparks the creation to the techo-utopia that 1950s sci-fi authors dreamed about. By 2016, all of those crazy predictions that never came true actually exist, like flying cars, jetpacks and space colonization. Anyone living in this post-scarcity world should be happy…but not Tom Barren.

(7) MONEY IS THE ROOT OF THIS EVIL. Dean E.S. Richard has seen the complaints and has issued “A (cranky) Casual Gamer’s Manifesto (Updated)” at Nerds of a Feather.

The new one has a campaign, and it looks pretty awesome, but we’re here for ground level troops dukeing it out on the best battlefields in the Star Wars galaxy.

At least, I thought that’s why were all here. Apparently, I was wrong. It’s all about getting the most powerful heroes and being able to wreck shop. If you pay attention to video games even a little bit (like, say, as little as i do), you’ve heard about this. It takes roughly 40 hours of gameplay (three years in Real Dean Time [RDT]) to unlock Luke or Vader. This I am fine with. Again, Battlefront is supposed to be about the troops, not the Jedi and Sith and whatnot.

The real problem comes in where the game has a micro transaction system wherein you can just buy credits outright, with your real monies, and thus unlock said heroes. All told, it costs about $800 to unlock all the heroes.

Eight. Hundred. Dollars.

In a sixty dollar game.

I have read comments such as: “that’s like making me work a second job that pays less than minimum wage!” which, no. It’s a game. No one is making you pay for heroes, players just want shortcuts. It’s the same mentality that ruined the Old Republic MMORPG – players were so concerned with getting to level whatever as soon as possible, they never, you know, played the game. For me, and others like me, tagging along with our dinky lightsabers and level 12 or what have you, it got boring in a hurry – which is too bad, because the game itself was a delight.

(8) PANEL TITLE. Jim C. Hines’ “Catching Up: That WindyCon Panel” excerpts the posts tracked here at File 770 and concludes with his own analysis:

Nobody was calling for WindyCon to be burnt at the stake. They were calling out a panel description which, intentional or not, came off as hurtful, insulting, and dismissive.

I’m glad it wasn’t intentional. I would have been much more pissed if this had been a deliberate thing. But we’ve got to stop thinking “I didn’t mean to hurt you” is some kind of magic eraser. “I told you I didn’t intentionally run over your goat. How dare you continue to be upset!”

While I understand the convention was this weekend and everyone was hellabusy, I wish WindyCon had posted their apology sooner. I wish Barkley hadn’t attacked people who were upset about the panel title/description.

I also feel like my tagging Barkley into the conversation on Twitter was one factor in this becoming a larger blow-up than it needed to be, and for that I apologize.

(9) PLANET STORIES. The Guardian says a “Potentially habitable world found just 11 light years away”. So if our TV news signals travel there at the speed of light, they still think it’s the middle of the Bush administration and that Trump is the executive producer of the Miss USA pageant?

A potentially habitable world, termed Ross 128 b, has been discovered just 11 light years away. It is roughly Earth-sized and orbits its parent star once every 9.9 days.

Astronomers calculate that its surface temperature could lie somewhere between –60° and 20°, making it temperate and possibly capable of supporting oceans, and life.

The world was found by a team of European and South American astronomers led by Xavier Bonfils (Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble, France) who were using the European Southern Observatory’s world-leading planet-hunting instrument, HARPS. They reported the discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

HARPS identifies planets by the way their gravity forces their parent stars to wobble. It shows that Ross 128 b is more massive than the Earth, with at least 1.35 times our planet’s bulk. So the planet would have a stronger pull of gravity at its surface.

(10) GALAXY QUEST. Writer/producer Paul Scheer doesn’t want his efforts to revive the fan favorite to be overlooked: “‘Galaxy Quest’: Paul Scheer Plans to Blend Original and New Casts For Amazon Series”.

Amazon first announced it was developing the 1999 film as an episodic series in 2015, but things escalated last August when Scheer came on board to work on the show. In a new interview with SlashFilm, he revealed that he’s not only turned in his first script for the series, but has some big ideas on how to honor the original film while also updating the premise for the modern age of television.

“It’s going to be so long before people get to see it, I don’t want people to get too burnt out on me telling you what it’s about before it gets to that point,” he said. “But for me, it was really important to do service to a ‘Galaxy Quest’ story that gives you everything that you want and indoctrinates people who have never seen ‘Galaxy Quest’ into what the fun of that world is […] and also to continue the story of our original characters and have consequences from the first film.”

…As Scheer told SlashFilm, it’s still very early days for “Galaxy Quest: The Series” (officially, according to the final moments of the film, “The Journey Continues”). But this fall, Amazon has been on the hunt for “its own ‘Game of Thrones,’” a need which was theoretically addressed by acquiring the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” universe. What if the platform’s actual breakthrough genre hit ends up being a very different adaptation?

(11) THE MARTIAN BOTANICALS. Would you like that with ranch? “Dubai Airshow: Why the UAE plans to grow lettuce on Mars”.

One thing you can’t accuse the United Arab Emirates of lacking is vision.

First they unveiled plans to launch a Mars probe. Then it was an ambition to colonise the Red Planet.

Now the UAE has a new aim – to grow palm trees and lettuce there.

The space sector is a huge feature of the Dubai Airshow, with exhibitions, conferences, and speakers that include former Nasa Apollo 15 astronaut, Al Worden.

But even before a UAE Mars probe leaves the ground in 2020 from Japan – UAE is working in partnership with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – the Gulf state has now announced its space agriculture intentions.

“There are similarities between Mars and the desert,” says Rashid Al Zaadi, senior strategic planner at the UAE Space Agency. “The landscape of the UAE, the soil, are similar.”

(12) A LONG WAY FROM HECTO. Awhile ago the Scroll linked to a story about printing a prosthesis, with plastic; these guys are printing with cells: “The firm that can 3D print human body parts”.

Erik Gatenholm grins widely as he presses the start button on a 3D printer, instructing it to print a life-size human nose.

It sparks a frenzied 30-minute burst of energy from the printer, as its thin metal needle buzzes around a Petri dish, distributing light blue ink in a carefully programmed order.

The process looks something like a hi-tech sewing machine weaving an emblem onto a garment.

But soon the pattern begins to rise and swell, and a nose, constructed using a bio-ink containing real human cells, grows upwards from the glass, glowing brightly under an ultraviolet light.

This is 3D bioprinting, and it’s almost too obvious to point out that its potential reads like something from a science fiction novel.

(13) SHRINKING BOOK EXPO. Publishers Lunch says the floor plans for the next Book Expo betray that it is continuing to get smaller.

Book Expo has opened for registration for the 2018 show. The refreshed website lists Wednesday, May 30 as limited to the remainders pavilion, “premium B2B exhibitors,” and the rights center, with two days of regular floor exhibits on May 31 and June 1.

More dramatic for now is the revised floor map* for the shrinking trade show. Though still early, the map shows the smaller southern hall of Javits closed to exhibits, reserved for autographing, shipping and Book Con lines. Even that reduced “show floor” has what looks to be less floor exhibit space: Meeting rooms, lounges, and a stage move to occupying a big chunk of the back two-fifths of the hall.

(14) THAT’S CAT! Congratulations to Richard Paolinelli, winner of “The First Annual Timothy The Talking Cat Award for Excellence in the field of Excellence”. Award spokesbeing Camestros Felapton explains:

The book genuinely was a finalist for the Dragon Awards, so kudos to Richard. The claim for a Nebula nomination seems a bit thin but that’s what all the grumpy stuff was about. However, it doesn’t seem to be actually “award winning” as in the usual sense of “award winning” meaning “winning an award”. Now, plenty of really good books never win awards and what matters deep down is whether readers like your book but sometimes…well sometimes the world of SF can be tough and a bit validation can help a soul along.

So let’s make the claim TRUE. Tim and I got together and thought long and hard about this and we came up with a solution.

(15) THAT’S DOG! Suzy Byrne, in “Carrie Fisher’s beloved bulldog Gary is ‘doing great,’ says ‘Auntie Joely’ Fisher” on Yahoo! Lifestyle, says that Carrie Fisher’s goofy bulldog, Gary Fisher, has found a home with Corby McCown, the personal assistant to  Carrie Fisher’s sister Joely.

The dog has become even more popular since Carrie died. He recently surpassed 150,000 Instagram followers with help from posts including a touching tribute to Carrie on what would have been her 61st birthday last month. He followed up his San Diego Comic-Con appearance with another one at L.A. Comic Con a couple weeks ago. Last weekend, he was at Kansas City Comic Con. (A portion of the money the dog gets for appearances goes to charity.)

Yup, we’d say that Gary is doing great, too.

The dog has a Twitter account at Realgaryfisher.

(16) GROTESQUE JOKE. Not all of the Christmas season advertising has been heartwarming: “Greggs sorry after replacing baby Jesus with sausage roll in advent calendar promotion”.

Greggs has been forced to apologise for replacing the baby Jesus with a sausage roll in the launch of its advent calendar.

The bakers released a promotional image for its festive calendar that showed a sausage roll in a manger surrounded by the Three Wise Men.

But it was met with serious backlash online as offended fans accused the budget chain of religious insensitivity and vowed to boycott it.

Twitter users said that replacing Jesus, who was Jewish, with a pork product was “inappropriate”…

(17) ON JJ’S WISHLIST. JJ says, “Despite having a full collection of manual and power tools, I find myself itching to buy this.” ThinkGeek is offering the “Marvel Thor Hammer Tool Set”.

You must be worthy in order to wield Thor’s hammer, but Marvel never mentioned any restrictions on Thor’s screwdriver or his pliers. Wield them all with our Marvel Thor Hammer Tool Set! This 44-piece tool set, a ThinkGeek creation and exclusive, comes in a molded case that looks like Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Inside it has all your basic tool needs, including a hammer (duh), a tape measure, a level, a screwdriver, a wrench, a ratcheting wrench, and a utility knife you can conveniently use to open your next box from ThinkGeek. It’s perfect for someone worthy of their first place or a great extra set of everything to have around in case of emergencies (like having to replace your lock set because Loki got a copy of the key AGAIN). We predict it’s a gift your recipient will return to repeatedly and get a chuckle out of every time.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Nigel, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, StephenfromOttawa, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]

Pixel Scroll 8/19/17 (Isn’t It Good) Norwegian Groot

(1) WHAT A CONCEPT. ScienceFiction.com delivers the news in a very amusing way: “Is Jabba The Hutt In Line For His Own ‘Star Wars’ Anthology Film?”

Look out ’50 Shades’ and ‘Magic Mike’!  Some real sexy is about to hit the big screen!  Namely, a stand-alone ‘Jabba The Hutt’ movie.  Yes, following the now-in-production ‘Han Solo’ film, Disney is in some stage of development on additional films that focus on individual members of the vast ‘Star Wars’ mythology, including Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda.  Now comes word that the space version of ‘The Godfather’ (who is just slightly slimmer than Marlon Brando later in his career) might also get similar treatment.

This news comes from a write-up by Variety about the ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ movie and is just casually thrown out…

…As you probably know, Jabba doesn’t speak English.  This is something that helped protect C-3PO who he kept around (and intact) in order to translate for him.  American audiences rarely embrace foreign films.  Does Disney really think The Force is so strong with fans that they will turn out for a movie spoken entirely in a fake alien language?

(2) GALAXY QUEST. A new writer will help the beloved movie resume its trek to TV? Promises, promises!

Amazon’s Galaxy Quest TV revival is back on track. Writer-actor-comedian Paul Scheer of The League has been tapped to pen the script for the Paramount Television-produced series. Scheer takes over for the feature film’s original scribe, Robert Gordon, who was on board to pen the script for the Amazon reboot. The Amazon series is described as a new take on the cult movie that starred Tim Allen, the late Alan Rickman as well as Sigourney Weaver. The original 1999 movie centered on the cast of a since-canceled beloved sci-fi show that was forced to reunite to save the planet after aliens believe their show was real. Plans for the Amazon series were put on hold after Rickman’s passing.

 

(3) ECLIPSE GUILT. You tell ‘em.

(4) HEROIC EFFORT. Hugo administrator Nicholas Whyte has posted packet coordinator Jo Van Ekeren’s deeply interesting “2017 Hugo Voter’s Packet Debrief”. Did we mention, this job is not that easy? Here’s the part about eligibility issues:

Eligibility Issues encountered: after consultation with the Hugo Admins, an explanation was sent to the Finalist of the issue and what the resolution was going to be, and the Finalists were all quite gracious about understanding:

  • Short Form Editor including stories they published but did not edit resolution: they resubmitted a document without those stories
  • Short Form Editor including a short Novel they edited resolution: the Novel was not included in the packet
  • Short Form Editor including an entire issue of a magazine in which they had an editorial published resolution: an extract with only the editorial was included in the packet
  • Professional Artist including two works from an non-eligible publication resolution: these were not included in the packet
  • Campbell Finalist requested inclusion of non-fiction work in the packet resolution: this was not included in the packet
  • Campbell Finalist including a story from a non-eligible market, and a poem resolution: these were not included in the packet
  • Fanzine creating an online web page with links to reviews of 2016 works which included a vast majority of reviews written in 2016, but a handful written in 2015 and 2017 resolution: let them know that I was going to let it slide, but that a future Packet Coordinator might not, and if there had been more of them, I wouldn’t have either, and suggested this might be something they wish to take into consideration in future as far as the timing of posting reviews
  • Explicit Content: The porn novelette was placed inside a subfolder which included “Note – Explicit Content” in the folder name. The Fan Writer whose work included cartoon nudity and explicit verbiage agreed to create an online page on their website, and a document with a link to that webpage was included in the packet (at my recommendation, this URL was added to their robots.txt file, so that it would not be indexed by search engines).
  • Editor Long Form: My original e-mail to the finalists referred to novels edited during the year, and it was called to my attention that the definition actually specifies novel-length works which were published during the eligibility year, and that those works could be either fiction or non-fiction. I sent a revised e-mail to the Editor Long Form Finalists to reflect these changes

(5) CAPTAIN AMERICA’S CREATOR. Mark Peters details “8 Ways Comic Book Legend Jack Kirby Fought Fascism” at Paste.

  1. He Scouted for the Army

When Kirby joined the army, his reputation as the co-creator of Captain America preceded him—but this talent didn’t get him a cushy job, like many luckier writers and artists. Rather, Kirby ended up serving as a scout, a thankless job that involved sneaking into enemy territory and drawing what he saw to help prepare future missions. This was extremely dangerous. As Kirby put it, “If somebody wants to kill you, they make you a scout.” Before setting off for duty, the auteur cranked out an increased flow of comics, stating that he wanted “to get enough work backlogged that I could go into the Army, kill Hitler, and get back before the readers missed us.”…

  1. He Was Ready to Fight Nazis Anywhere

Kirby, who grew up in Manhattan’s rough Lower East Side, knew how to throw a fist and didn’t back down from anyone—especially a Nazi. As Mark Evanier describes in his biography Kirby: King of Comics, “…Jack took a call. A voice on the other end said, ‘There are three of us down here in the lobby. We want to see the guy who does this disgusting comic book and show him what real Nazis would do to his Captain America’. To the horror of others in the office, Kirby rolled up his sleeves and headed downstairs. The callers, however, were gone by the time he arrived.” Based on everything we know about Kirby, these Nazi crank-yankers got lucky.

(6) THE WALKING SUITS. A billion dollars is at stake: “Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman Joins Lawusit Against AMC”. ComicsBeat has the story.

It’s a giant chess game out there in the entertainment world, with streaming giants and known content producers vying for the upper hand. Mark Millar signing with Netflix and Robert Kirkman going with Amazon made headlines on their own, but a new lawsuit makes the reason for Kirkman’s new home even more apparent.

On August 14, The Walking Dead’s series co-creator Robert Kirkman, joined producers Gale Anne Hurd, Glen Mazzara and David Alpert in a complaint filed against the AMC television network. The complaint alleges breach of contract, tortious interference, and unfair or fraudulent business acts under California business code. The damages being sought could exceed $1 Billion dollars.

Filed at Los Angeles Superior Court, the suit alleges that AMC “exploited their vertically integrated television structure” to keep “the lion’s share of the series’ profits for itself.” The Hollywood Reporter has provided a great breakdown of the major claims in the suit. The complaint alleges the network in effect reduced series profits using various means, thereby diminishing the percent owed to the named plaintiffs. One of the ways this was accomplished, the suit claims, is by AMC Network paying a lower than fair market licence value than the show is worth–a violation of the plaintiff’s signed agreements.

(7) HODGELL. On the Baen Free Radio Hour for August 18, P.C. Hodgell discusses The Gates of Tagmeth, her latest entry in the Kenycyrath Saga high fantasy series; and part thirteen of the complete audiobook serialization of Liaden Universe® novel Alliance of Equals by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 19, 1692 — Five hanged for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts
  • August 19, 1983 Yor, the Hunter from the Future premiered

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • August 19, 1921 – Gene Roddenberry

(10) THE COLOR ORANGE.  The Horror Writers Association has opened its Halloween Pumpkin Recipe Contest.

(11) THE COLOR PINK. Safety first! “Bed and breakfast helps chickens cross street with high visibility vests”.

A bed and breakfast in Scotland fitted a group of chickens with high-visibility vests to help them cross a local road.

Glenshieling House shared video Friday of a pair of chickens wearing the bright pink vests as they strolled across the rainy street.

(12) PAINOPISTE. The fans who produced Worldcon 75’s newsletter will be happy to tell you how they did it.

A central feature in the preparation of the newsletter was two parallel concerns: we resolved to make the W75 newsletter as accessible to fans with dyslexia & other reading issues as possible; and we resolved to make the newsletter visually impressive and professional-looking.

The Design AH’s experience with several years of Finncons had led to the emergence of a Finncon “house style,” including preferred typefaces & colors, through which Design sought to present a unified visual identity for W75. Consequently Design was able to provide the newsletter with an adaptable, minimalist & clear template design including a custom masthead and footer. This template was produced using Adobe Indesign and some custom graphics.

For my part, I concentrated on the question of accessibility. Early in this process, I noted that while W75 had agreed to follow the SWFA’s document “Accessibility Checklist for SFWA Spaces,” that document contained no discussion on the question of readability. Discussions between myself, the Design AH, the Design DH, and the Member Services DH Vanessa May, resulted in a number of recommendations which were incorporated into the final W75 newsletter. These recommendations were drawn from a combination of personal experience, systematic reviews in academic literature on readability, the British Dyslexia Association’s Dyslexia Style Guide, and the UK National Union of Students’ Disabled Students’ Campaign’s guidance on accessible printed materials.

(13) PRO TIP. There’s some truth in what she says –

(14) IN THE BEGINNING. James Cooray Smith, in “Starting Star Wars: How George Lucas came to create a galaxy” in New Statesman, has a lot of good information about how Star Wars came to be created, including how the first character Lucas created was Mace Windu and how much of Star Wars was filmed at EMI Elstree because the Harold Wilson government was trying to keep the facility open and one condition of studios filming there was that they had to bring in their own technicians, which suited Lucas fine.

The script development money gave Lucas enough to live on whilst he continued work on the screenplay. As he did so it changed again; a ‘Kiber Crystal’ was written in and then written out. Skywalker became Deak Starkiller’s overweight younger brother before becoming the farm boy familiar from the finished film. Characters swapped names and roles. A new character named Darth Vader – sometimes a rogue Jedi, sometimes a member of the rival ‘Knights of Sith’ – had his role expanded. Some drafts killed him during the explosion of the Death Star, others allowed him to survive; across subsequent drafts his role grew. Some previously major characters disappeared altogether, pushed into a “backstory”, Lucas choosing to develop the practically realisable aspects of his story.

This is an important clarification to the idea that Star Wars was “always” a part of a larger saga, one later incarnated in its sequels and prequels. That’s true, but not in an absolutely literal way. Star Wars itself isn’t an excerpted chunk of a vast plotline, the rest of which was then made over the next few decades. It’s a distillation of as much of a vast, abstract, unfinished epic as could be pitched as a fairly cheap film to be shot using the technology of the mid 1970s. And even then much of the equipment used to make the film would be literally invented by Lucas and his crew during production.

(15) ANALYZING WINNERS. Cora Buhlert has “Some More Words about the 2017 Hugo Awards”.

Last I said in my last Hugo post, I did not expect The Obelisk Gate to win, because it was the second book in a trilogy and those rarely win and also because it was competing in a very strong ballot. In fact, I suspected that All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders would win (which also wasn’t one of my three top picks), since it already won the Nebula and Locus Awards (in the end, it came in second). I’ve been wondering how my predictions for this category could have been so totally off and I suspect that we’re seeing an effect at work here we often see with awards of any kind, from genre awards via general literature prizes to the Oscars, namely that more serious works focussed on serious issues tends to trump lighter works. Now both All the Birds in the Sky and A Closed and Common Orbit are lighter and more hopeful works, even though they do tackle serious issues as well. Coincidentally, A Closed and Common Orbit addresses very similar issues as The Obelisk Gate, namely who is viewed as a person and who is viewed as a thing or tool, but it handles these issues in a very different way. And due to a general bias towards more serious works that can be found in pretty much all awards, a darker book like The Obelisk Gate trumped a lighter and more hopeful treatment of the same theme like A Closed and Common Orbit (or the equally lighter and more hopeful All the Birds in the Sky). It was always pretty obvious that Death’s End and Too Like the Lightning were not going to win, since both were love it or hate it books, which leaves Ninefox Gambit as the other darker and more serious work on the ballot.

(16) THE RETURNS. Steven J. Wright also pores over the order of finish in “Hugo Awards 2017: The Relentless Detail”. For most readers “gone are the days when everyone just voted for Langford and forgot about it” is a lighthearted jape about Best Fanwriter (medic!), while I found it easier to admire this turn of phrase about Best Fancast:

And a big (though genteel) yay from me for Tea and Jeopardy, there, easily my favourite among the podcasts. Not much to say about the vote, except that Ditch Diggers got gradually jostled down into its final place. Next one down the long list is Verity!, which has got to be more fun than The Rageaholic, if only because groin surgery is more fun than The Rageaholic, and yes, I am qualified to make that comparison.

(17) PSYCH. Alexandra Erin did an analysis of how professed beliefs can interact with internal worldviews to lead to apparently contradictory behavior. She used as an example Brad Torgersen and the Hugos. The thread begins here —

(18) DRAGON AWARDS RUNNERS. Rebecca Hill viewed the recording of last year’s Dragon Awards ceremony and noted the names of the organizers are, besides President Pat Henry, David Cody, Bill Fawcett, and Bev Kaodak. Of course, we reported last year that David Cody left a comment on Monster Hunter Nation on a thread, making sure people knew how to register.

(19) BETTER HUMOR. The death of a space-age “treat”: astronauts no longer have to eat freeze-dried ice cream: “The Best Item In An Astronaut’s Care Package? Definitely The Ice Cream”.

We all remember astronaut ice cream, those little dehydrated bricks of neopolitan.

The reason astronauts generally don’t have much access to the real stuff isn’t rocket science, but rather something we’ve all encountered: a lack of freezer space.

What limited refrigeration there is on the space station is given over to blood samples, urine samples, etc. — stuff you don’t really want next to your Moose Tracks.

Unlike previous cargo vehicles used by NASA, the SpaceX Dragon capsule has the ability to return to Earth without burning up on re-entry.

That means it can bring stuff back. The spacecraft is equipped with freezers to transport medical and scientific samples back to Earth. And sometimes, those freezers are empty when they go up to the station — which leaves room for ice cream, Vickie Kloeris, manager of NASA’s Space Food Systems Laboratory, tells NPR.

Before the capsule lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on Monday, she says, NASA’s cold storage team packed it with a sweet array of frozen treats: 30 individual cups of Bluebell ice cream and some Snickers ice cream bars.

(20) HOT TIME IN THE OLD TOWN. NASA attacks a bigger worry than asteroid collisions: “NASA’s ambitious plan to save Earth from a supervolcano”.

There are around 20 known supervolcanoes on Earth, with major eruptions occurring on average once every 100,000 years. One of the greatest threats an eruption may pose is thought to be starvation, with a prolonged volcanic winter potentially prohibiting civilisation from having enough food for the current population. In 2012, the United Nations estimated that food reserves worldwide would last 74 days.

When Nasa scientists came to consider the problem, they found that the most logical solution could simply be to cool a supervolcano down. A volcano the size of Yellowstone is essentially a gigantic heat generator, equivalent to six industrial power plants. Yellowstone currently leaks about 60-70% of the heat coming up from below into the atmosphere, via water which seeps into the magma chamber through cracks. The remainder builds up inside the magma, enabling it to dissolve more and more volatile gases and surrounding rocks. Once this heat reaches a certain threshold, then an explosive eruption is inevitable.

But if more of the heat could be extracted, then the supervolcano would never erupt….

(21) NOW IN SESSION. A Chinese ‘cyber-court’ has been launched for online cases:

The Hangzhou Internet Court opened on Friday and heard its first case – a copyright infringement dispute between an online writer and a web company.

Legal agents in Hangzhou and Beijing accessed the court via their computers and the trial lasted 20 minutes.

The court’s focus will be civil cases, including online shopping disputes.

Judges were sworn in and the first case was presented on a large screen in the courtroom.

(22) BEAGLE SUIT. Cat Eldridge has made the latest filing by Peter S. Beagle’s attorney in his suit against his former manager Connor Cochran available here. The filing includes a brief history of the litigation, including the information that in 2016 the court awarded a firm representing Beagle’s attorney $24,000+ in attorneys fees.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Rose Embolism, Martin Morse Wooster, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contrbuting editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 4/8/16 “…And He Built A Crooked Mouse.”

(1) GALAXY QUEST BURIED TOO? Australia’s News.com says two Galaxy Quest stars are making contradictory statements about the sequel’s future.

Sam Rockwell (“Guy Fleegman”) told The Nerdist podcast that it’s dead, Jim —

IT APPEARS the untimely death of much-loved actor Alan Rickman earlier this year has nixed any hope of a sequel to the 1999 sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest.

Rickman’s co-star in the film, Sam Rockwell, revealed that talks were underway to make a follow-up to the cult classic, which saw a bunch of former sci-fi TV stars enlisted to save the world in a real-life battle against alien forces.

“We were ready to sign up for it,” Rockwell reveals on the Nerdist podcast.

“You know, Alan Rickman passed away. And then Tim Allen wasn’t available. He has a show. Everybody’s schedule was all weird. We were going to do this sequel on Amazon. It was going to shoot, like, right now.”

The deciding factor in the sequel not going ahead, Rockwell says, was Rickman’s death in January this year aged 69. Rickman passed away after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. “How do you fill that void of Alan Rickman?” asks Rockwell.

Tim Allen, on the other hand, told The Hollywood Reporter immediately following Rickman’s death that it was still on:

“I’m not supposed to say anything — I’m speaking way out of turn here — but Galaxy Quest is really close to being resurrected in a very creative way. It’s closer than I can tell you but I can’t say more than that. The real kicker is that Alan now has to be left out. It’s been a big shock on many levels,” he said at the time.

(2) KZIN ON LINE TWO. ZD Net reports “World’s brightest X-ray laser boosted with $1 billion upgrade”. David K.M. Klaus jokes, “Looks like Chuft-Captain is going to get a powerful enough X-Ray Laser for the Lying Bastard in time for the trip to the Ringworld.”

The world’s brightest X-ray laser, SLAC’s LCLS, has received a $1 billion cash injection to vastly improve its capabilities and our understanding of how the world works on the atomic level.

The Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, is the home of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) laser system, a critical component for researchers working on atom-based projects.

(3) GETTING WISDOM. Whiting Awards winners get financial counseling in addition to money. The New York Times explains in “Helping Writers With a Windfall Avoid a Downfall”.

“I might be close to solvent,” the poet and essayist Brian Blanchfield said, “but I still think like a deeply insolvent person.”

Mr. Blanchfield, 42, was in a conference room near Times Square recently as part of an unusual group: 10 sometimes-struggling writers suddenly in possession of $50,000 each. Winners of the 2016 Whiting Awards, given annually to up-and-coming authors of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama, they were learning how to handle not just the unexpected payouts but also the complicated emotions that money can inspire: ignorance, confusion, shame, panic, the occasional bout of inchoate elation….

Mitchell S. Jackson, 40 and the author of a novel and a book of essays and short stories, said that until recently he supported himself largely through teaching. At one time, he taught something like eight classes, paying between $1,800 and $5,500 each, at different colleges. He made a lot less than he had when he worked at his first job, dealing crack and other drugs as a teenager in Portland, Ore….

(4) THANK COG IT’S FRIDAY. The PRI radio show Science Friday this afternoon included a segment on “Telling the Story of Climate Change — In Fiction”(“Cli-Fi”) reports Rich Lynch. “Pablo Bacigalupi was one of the guests (via telephone). There was some interesting discussion about his novel The Water Knife.”

(5) WILL GALAKTIKA PAY? The story takes a promising turn – in “Galaktika Magazine: Statement from Istvan Burger” A. G. Carpenter reports:

Istvan Burger, publisher of Metropolis Media and Galaktika Magazine, has issued a statement regarding the reports of massive theft of translated work over the past decade.

Mandiner Magazine has a brief summary and the full statement in Hungarian here.

It seems that Burger is offering to compensate authors effected by the theft and admits that the foreign acquisitions have been mishandled and they “did not act with due diligence, caution, or even speed.” 

(6) GOURMAND AT LARGE IN LA. Here’s how John Scalzi tapered off from yesterday’s In-N-Out burger lunch.

(7) FAVORITES. Wim E. Crusio begins compiling his “Favorite science fiction classics (I)”. His first three picks are Time Enough for Love, The Witches of Karres, and The Left Hand of Darkness. He explains why. I don’t recall ever seeing Time Enough for Love on anybody’s list of favorites before. (I’ve read it a couple times — I’m not pointing that out because I disliked the book.)

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 8, 1990 Twin Peaks premieres on ABC

(9) MORE REACTION TO DRAGON AWARDS.

Jason Sanford makes a powerful suggestion.

At The Other McCain “Wombat-socho” writes —

I am probably the last person to find out that Dragon*Con, probably the largest non-comics convention in fandom, has finally bestirred itself and created its own set of awards – the Dragon Awards. This has been greeted with much glee by Sad and Rabid Puppies alike, with Declann Finn going so far as to declare victory. I’d say he and our Supreme Dark Lord are probably correct in predicting that the Dragons will almost certainly eclipse the Hugos, given the much larger voting base which makes any kind of gaming the nominations or the final vote futile. Looking forward to seeing how it works out.

So futile that Vox Day immediately set out to do that very thing?

I am registered to vote in the Dragon Awards and I would encourage you to do so as well. I’ll post my recommendations here the week after the Hugo shortlist is announced, in the event that any of you might happen to be curious about them.

Louis Antonelli isn’t completely opposed to gatekeeping, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to slam the door on fandom.

Sgt. Mom concludes “Another Round of Puppy Saddening” with an endorsement of the Dragon Awards, at Chicago Boyz.

To some followers of the Sad Puppy Saga situation, the whole matter of a prestigious award in science fiction being bestowed by a diminishing number of Worldcon members seemed quite pointless. They pointed out in comments and blog-posts, that Worldcon is becoming a smaller and more inward-turning science fiction gathering. Why shouldn’t a larger fan-convention gathering work up their own awards, and let the Hugos no-award themselves out of existence. Behold, in this last week, a massive, popular and long-established convention of science fiction and gaming enthusiasts – Dragon-con – has come up with their own proposals, to recognize and award not just a wide range of books and authors, but movies, and games as well. That should prove … interesting to say the least.

Sean O’Hara opines, “What the World Needs Now Is Another Sci-Fi Award Like I Need a Hole in My Head” at Yes, We Have No Culottes.

That being said, not all awards are created equal. That awards are inherently flawed doesn’t mean that some aren’t more flawed than others. The people championing the Dragon Awards (inevitably to be known as the Draggies) seem to think that the award will be better than the Hugos because DragonCon has a larger voter base than WorldCon. But, again, DragonCon is a regional convention. You get a larger sample size, but of a smaller cross-section of society. It’s already bad enough that SF awards are dominated by American tastes without narrowing it further to a specific section of the United States. The people championing the new award aren’t really doing it because of the larger voter base. They’re doing it because it’s nice and provincial — it’s not gonna be tainted by all those damned foreigners and their fellow travelers with their cosmopolitan tastes. This is going to be an award for Hobbits, picking out works full of nice, Hobbity sentiments, and the fact that not anyone outside the Shire will give a damn … well, nothing outside the Shire matters anyway.

Brad Torgersen told his Facebook friends.

And so: the final nail in the coffin of the Hugo awards. Looks like the Dragon Award is basically going to be doing everything Sad Puppies was hoping to get the Hugos to eventually do, but Dragon Con is doing it without having to wade through all the histrionic, caterwauling drama that resulted from the self-appointed defenders of Worldcon correctness and propriety throwing the genre’s all-time biggest temper tantrum. I raise my glass to this, and predict that within ten years, a gold-foil DRAGON AWARD label on a book is going to routinely replace both NEBULA and HUGO labels.

(10) SQUEAKING GATE. There is GamerGate mess around Baldur’s Gate now. Katherine Cross sums it up in an opinion piece “The Siege of Dragonspear drama and the video game community” at Gamasutra.

The past week has seen an explosion in drama amongst a particularly vocal minority of gamers angry about the inclusion of what they see as “social justice” themes into Beamdog’s Baldur’s Gate expansion The Siege of Dragonspear. The conflagration has a few sources; some players are complaining about bugs they claim Beamdog has been slow to fix, but that has been disingenuously used as a figleaf by some of the outraged crowd to mask the true source of their vitriol. Said source is elaborated on in this Niche Gamer article, which complains about–among other things–the very brief inclusion of a trans woman character who has only a minor speaking role, a silly “actually, it’s about ethics…” joke, a Goblin who calls your character racist, and the “sultry voiced rogue” Safana becoming a “sarcastic dissenter” who occasionally insults the player character.

An interesting tweet regarding this:

(11) CASHING IN THOSE COMICS. Yahoo! News knows about a “Superhero Dad Selling 5,000 Classic Comic Books for Daughter’s College Tuition”. See the benefits when people’s collections don’t get tossed?

Al Sanders may have spent his entire life reading about superheroes in his vast classic comic book collection, but now he’s turning into a real-life superhero by selling them all to help fund his daughter’s college tuition.

“As all parents who have college-age kids, we started putting together what it was going to cost and what we needed to do,” the doting dad from Seattle told ABC News of his decision to sell. “You start looking at those options you have, and my comic books were an option. That’s when I looked at their value, and I’m now trying to find a good home for them.”

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, Rich Lynch, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 3/8/16 I Want To Tell You About Texas Pixel And The Big Scroll

(1) INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY. Iain Clarke’s image of astronaut Mae Jemison, created for the Dublin in 2019 Worldcon bid, makes a great reminder that March 8 is International Women’s Day.

(2) THE FRANCHISE. And the BBC marked the occasion with its article “International Women’s Day: Why women can thrive in sci-fi”.

While the Star Wars expanded universe has a number of popular, female characters, the cultural impact of seeing a female Jedi’s hero journey on the silver screen can not be overstated. “For years we’ve been hearing that women couldn’t front a sci-fi/action film,” Jenna Busch, founder of Legion of Leia.

“The fallacious perception is that they just won’t sell. But, now we have Katniss, Furiosa, and Rey to prove that attitude wrong. There is something about seeing the box office numbers that might be a step in the right direction.”

(3) THERE IS ANOTHER. Last November, James H. Burns saw a van tricked out as the Mystery Machine on Long Island. Now, on the other side of the country, California authorities are seeking a different fan of the Scooby gang who’s been speeding around in her own version of those wheels — “Redding police: Suspect flees in ‘Scooby-Doo’ Mystery Machine”.

On Sunday, March 5, the Redding Police Department was alerted by Shasta County Probation Department about a subject who had allegedly violated their probation around 12:50 p.m. The subject was identified as Sharon Kay Turman, 51, Sgt. Ron Icely said in a news release.

According to the report, officers spotted Turman in the Mystery Machine, a 1994 Chrysler Town and Country minivan, at California and Shasta streets. Turman fled when officers tried to pull her over, traveling at high speeds. A CHP helicopter and Shasta County Sheriff’s Deputies joined the pursuit. Turman is reported to have reached speeds of over 100 m.p.h.

(4) FAKE FAN. A fake GalaxyQuest fan site, created to promote the movie, can still be viewed via the Wayback Machine. One of its features is ”Travis Latke’s” interview with Gwen DeMarco, replete with fannish typos. (I think Travis learned copyediting from me).

TL: How do you do it? How d you deliver one blockbusting performance after another?

GDM: It’s all about the craft. As an actor I try put myself inside the head of my character. Since I sgtarted acting, I always try to become the charactere, that sometimes is very trying. For instance I once played Medea in summerstock in the Hamptons and, gosh, for weeks I hadthey nauseating feeling of having done all the bad things Medea does in the Euripides play.

With Galaxy I delved into scientific research that by the time the show was cancelled I knew enough for a PhD in astrophysics. I mean, it’s a fascianting subject. I made some great friends at the Pasadena Jet Prupolsion Lab who I still consult whenever I have a question aboput quassars and wormholes.

(5) WINE PRESS. To this day, fake fans are still being used to promote things. Hats off to Trae Dorn, who’s been drilling to the bottom of “Wine Country Comic Con’s Bizarre Litany of Lies” at Nerd & Tie. There is no end to it!

Last week we published a piece on Wine Country Comic Con. A first year convention currently scheduled for April 23-24 in Santa Rosa, CA, we were alarmed to find they were using a fake Facebook account to spam groups and talk with potential attendees.

But the more we looked into this event, the more we discovered that this story went further than just the fictional “Frida Avila.” Wine Country Comic Con organizer Uriel Brena has constructed a complex charade of lies, fake staffers, and a whole bunch of weirdness.

This rabbit hole runs deep.

A Full Complement of Fake Staffers

The first thing we found out was that “Frida Avila” wasn’t the only weirdly complex fake staffer created by Wine Country Comic Con. Thanks to some email tips (and a bit of our own digging) we found several more:….

(6) A ROBOT WITH KEANE EYESIGHT. Kirsty Styles at TNW News says “Aido is pretty much the robot they promised everyone back in the 1950s”.

Aido will be friends with your weird kid, act as a security guard, remember your schedule and project movies onto the wall to help with anything from cooking to plumbing.

This is the robot to kill all robots. With kindness.

 

(7) ROWLING ON NORTH AMERICAN MAGIC. Will there be anything left to say about this topic by the time I post it to the Scroll? We’ll find out. Today Pottermore ran the first installment of J. K. Rowling’s revelations about wizardry in the New World.

The first piece of writing from ‘History of Magic in North America’ by J.K. Rowling is here, and we can also give you a taster of what’s to come this week.

Today’s piece goes back through the centuries to reveal the beginnings of the North American magical community and how witches and wizards used magic before they adopted wands.

Wednesday’s piece will divulge more about the dangers faced by witches and wizards in the New World, and on Thursday you’ll discover why the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) took steps to move the magical community deeper underground.

The last piece will take us right up to the Roaring Twenties, when the magical community in North America was under the watchful eye of MACUSA President, Madam Seraphina Picquery – played by Carmen Ejogo in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

These stories will give you some idea of how the wizarding world on this continent evolved over the years, and of the names and events that lay the foundation for the arrival of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in November.

(8) TROPE TRIPE. Arguing over Rowling should put everyone in the mood for Mark J. Turner’s post at Smash Dragons, “Five Fantasy Tropes That Should Be Consigned to History”.

2. The Chosen One

In fantasy books the protagonist often begins life as Mr A.N.Other, minding his own business in some nowhere village doing nothing in particular. Then we discover that he is the son of a king or a powerful wizard or warrior, and suddenly he is able to take on the world, no training required. Or if there is training, the author presses the fast forward button on the process, and our protagonist learns in a year what it would take others a lifetime to master.

And the transformation in our hero doesn’t end there. He has spent his formative years as a farm boy or a swineherd, yet for some reason that has prepared him perfectly for the demands of running a kingdom. When he rises to the throne, everyone lives happily ever after. There seems to be a sub-text in these books that in order to stop the world slipping into chaos, all you have to do is put the “right” person in charge. It’s as if the natural order is somehow disturbed if there isn’t a man or a woman ruling everything. Whereas in reality we don’t have to look too far in our own world for examples of where putting all the power in the hands of one person isn’t necessarily a good idea.

(9) ON STAGE. James Bacon reviews The Ghost Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore at Forbidden Planet. The play features segments written by authors Christopher Fowler, Stephen Gallagher, Kim Newman, Robert Shearman, Lynda E. Rucker and Lisa Tuttle, alongside a wraparound story by director Sean Hogan.

The writing is hilarious, within moments of our travellers sitting down and their unpleasantness becoming clear, the audience are laughing at dark contemporary humour, riffing off recent well-known scandals, while smart language and profanity reflect more closely the mores and morals of modern society. Using traditional ideas of what we consider horror monsters, the authors skilfully show what monsters really are, that nothing is as monstrous as humanity, and the writers with their sharp razor-like ability to find angles in people, left the audience contemplating where the horror truly lies and what being a monster really is….

The framing worked well – a fancy dress party, as one’s favourite monster on a vintage steam train, a very nice little conceit to create the right atmosphere for the portmanteau of stories. Strobe lights, sudden intrusions, the chimey tinkley creepy music as the stage went dark for the changes, the sound effects and stage work, props and masks/costumes all were just right, adding the perfect amount of tangibility for a lively suspension of belief….

(10) OVER THERE. Larry Correia’s next tour stop is —

(11) SAVE GAME OF THRONES FAVORITES. George R.R. Martin’s characters face “Danger! Peril! Death!” Only this time, it’s not because he’s writing scenes for them in his next novel.

Suvudu is doing another one of their Cage Match tournaments. This time the theme is Dynamic Duos. Jaime (one-handed) and Brienne have been paired together. In the first round they are facing Garth Nix’s Sabriel… and a pussycat.

http://suvudu.com/2016/03/cage-match-2016-round-1-jaime-lannister-and-brienne-of-tarth-vs-sabriel-and-mogget.html

In the first Cage Match, lo these many years ago, Jaime defeated Cthulhu (with a little help from Tyrion). Surely he cannot lose to a fluffy little ball o’ fur (and fleas). Not with the mighty maid of Tarth by his side.

(12) TYSON HOSTS DEBATE. Panelists for the 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate will engage the question: “Is the Universe a Simulation?”

What may have started as a science fiction speculation—that perhaps the universe as we know it is actually a computer simulation—has become a serious line of theoretical and experimental investigation among physicists, astrophysicists, and philosophers. Join host and moderator Neil deGrasse Tyson and his panel of experts for a lively discussion and debate about the merits and shortcomings of this provocative and revolutionary idea.

The Asimov Debate panelists are: David Chalmers, Professor of philosophy, New York University; Zohreh Davoudi, Theoretical physicist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; James Gates, Theoretical physicist, University of Maryland; Lisa Randall, Theoretical physicist, Harvard University; and Max Tegmark, Cosmologist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The debate takes place April 5 at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium. Check the website for tickets. The debate also will be livestreamed via <amnh.org/live>.

(13) BOOKS SCIENTISTS LOVE. Charlie Jane Anders at io9 pointed to a forum in reddit’s Print SF Resources where scientists talk about their favorite books and the scientific problems they find in SF. Filer Greg Hullender makes an appearance there.

(14) STEAMPUNK RULES WHERE STEAMBOATS DOCKED. The Riverfront Times was there when “The Science Center Went Steampunk on Friday – and Everyone Had a Victorian Good Time”.

The St. Louis Science Center takes Fridays very seriously, with a themed evening of special events the first Friday of each month. Last Friday was no exception, as the Science Center hosted a night entirely devoted to steampunk science. The event drew everyone from families to costumed fanatics. All enjoyed a night of demonstrations (did someone say “escape artist”?), activities (where else can you try a steampunk shooting range?), films and more devoted to this take on Victorian-era science fiction.

(15) HYPNOTIC SCULPTURES. Everybody with a quarter-of-a-million spare dollars is going to want one of these.

(16) SUPERGIRL WILL BE BACK. The Mary Sue has deduced Supergirl will get a second season.

While technically nothing official’s been announced, while speaking at Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, CBS President Les Moonves pretty much stated that Supergirl is getting another season. Well, specifically he said:

We have about five new shows on this year. Of those five, I believe all five of them will be renewed, and we own four of them.

[Via Nerd & Tie.]

(17) A NEW SUIT. Another Comic Con is being sued for trademark infringement – but the mark involved is not “Comic Con,” as the Houston Chronicle explains — “Convention bureau sues comic convention over ‘Space City’ trademark”

Houston’s convention bureau is suing the operators of a popular local convention over the use of “Space City” in its name, claiming it infringes on a 12-year-old trademark.

The convention in question, Space City Comic Con, also happens to compete with a similar event that is half-owned by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau itself. The bureau acquired a 50 percent stake in the more established Comicpalooza last September, spokesman A.J. Mistretta said….

Houston has billed itself “Space City,” a boastful nod to its founding role in U.S. space exploration, since the 1960s. Over the decades, dozens of local companies from plumbers to construction outfits to tattoo parlors have used the moniker as part of their name. But they are not affected by the trademark registered by the convention bureau in 2004, said Charles S. Baker, an intellectual property lawyer with Locke Lord in Houston who is representing the bureau in its lawsuit.

The trademark is narrowly constructed and applies solely to efforts that promote tourism, business and conventions in the greater Houston area, Baker said.

(18) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 8, 1913 – The Internal Revenue Service began to levy and collect income taxes in the United States. (Go ahead, ask me what that has to do with sf. They’re raising money for the space program, okay?)

(18b) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

Born March 8, 1967 — Tasha Turner

(19) MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson makes an ingenious comparison in “The 7 Levels of Recommending”.

Maimonides, a Jewish scholar and Rabbi (which are pretty much the same things: he was an astronomer too…) once developed a “hierarchy of charitable giving”.  He essentially analyzed the different kinds of charity that people extended and attempted to define the different types and then ordered them from least to most selfless.  He ended up with 8 different levels of giving.  The lowest form of charity is giving grudgingly – forced to hand over a dollar to the street bum because he’s blocking your path.  The highest form is giving before it is even needed (my father thought that included my allowance….).

I mention this because, as a result of all of the discussion regarding slates vs recommended readings lists, I thought that a similar hierarchy of the levels of recommending might be instructive.

(20) SHUT UP, PLEASE. Max Florschutz uses “The Loud Neighbor” as a social media analogy. I found his argument appealing until he decloaked his attack —

And this is where a lot of “social” groups these days get it wrong. A lot of what’s being touted online and in social circles these days is the act of calling the landlord to complain about noise, while being just as loud on one’s own, but giving one’s self a free pass to be loud because you have the “right.” It’s wanting the freedom to do what you want, produce as much friction as you want, while not being willing to extend that same courtesy to others. It’s the kind of mentality that leads to things like “safe spaces” where only individuals of one sex or skin tone are allowed entry. Freedom to produce as much friction as possible while denying others the same freedom. One group is allowed to be “loud” while simultaneously “calling the landlord” to complain that the other group needs to be silent.

Is it a perfect allegory? No. But it still holds. We can’t be as loud as we want and expect that no one else be given the same treatment. We need to extend the courtesy that we give ourselves to others. If we don’t do that, then what are we doing but putting ourselves on a pedestal and pushing those around us down?

(21) IS THIS A GOOD THING? You can now pre-order 2113: Stories Inspired by the Music of Rush, edited by Kevin J. Anderson and John McFetridge, at various places including Amazon. (My header, there, is just a joke. A message board I used to follow had a devoted Rush fan, and yanking his chain about it was an indirect way of expressing affection.)

Ron Collins drew my attention to the book in a promotional e-mail —

I’m super-thrilled to announce that you can now pre-order copies of 2113, an anthology of stories inspired by Rush songs that includes my work “A Patch of Blue.” I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this one. I’ve spent a lot of good times listening to those guys. [grin]

My story is one inspired by Rush’s “Natural Science,” which is a monstrous work in three acts that’s just cool as all get-out. It was a total blast to write, partially because I got to put it on endless loop while I did it–so, yeah, the song is pretty much indelibly inked onto my brain now.

(22) ENERGIZE – THEN DIE! This is freaking alarming — The Trouble with Transporters.

(23) RAVEN MANIAC. From Amoxtli, the poetic masterwork of the day.

A sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore:

Lenora Rose, people are bound to confuse us, given the name similarity (or not notice that our names were autocorrected to the other version, as my computer tried to do to your name just now).

As I was on the File a-tapping on my keyboard, posts o’erlapping
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
Suddenly there came a fwapping: “The Rose and Jones are not for swapping.”
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
When the accurs’d hour tolls our doom, shall we mistake the name Lenore?”
Said the Filers, “Fear no more.”

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Rob Thornton, David K.M. Klaus, James Bacon, Martin Morse Wooster, and Kendall for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 1/14/16 I’m Not A Pixel, I’m A Free Scroll

(1) SPEAKING OF FREE SCROLLS. R. Graeme Cameron will start a “SciFi Fiction Magazine” for Canadian writers if his GoFundMe appeal generates $1,500. Issues will be a free read.

When I was a teenager I decided I wanted to be a Science Fiction Writer. Fifty years later I’m a curmudgeonly pensioner who never sold a darn thing, not one novel, not one story. Del Rey books rejected one of my novels with the comment “We don’t like your main character and we don’t think anyone else will either.”

As a life-long beginning writer I know your pain. Always dreaming of that first sale. That’s why I’m starting up POLAR BOREAL, a Canadian SF&F fiction magazine actively encouraging beginning Canadian writers to submit short stories (3,000 words or less) and/or poems. The magazine will be free to anyone who wants to download it, yet all contributors will be paid on acceptance (if I can get the money) at one cent a word for short stories and $10 per poem.

(2) THE CLASSICS. Alexander Dane makes it sound like every day is Black Friday…

(3) NOT EGGSACTLY SURE. TV Guide promises “The 15 Coolest Easter Eggs from Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. SPOILER WARNING, naturally, but my question is – how many of these are really Easter Eggs as opposed to simple casting reveals? Do I not understand what an Easter Egg is? Straighten me out here….

(4) WILD GUESS. Umm, maybe look at the MidAmeriCon II committee list and use the contact information?

(5) HOW AUTHORS DON’T GET PAID. Philip Pullman has resigned as Patron of the Oxford Literary Festival the organization has announced. The reason is very simple.

Our President, Philip Pullman, has resigned as a Patron of Oxford Literary Festival because they do not pay authors.

He explained his decision:

My position as President of the Society of Authors, which has been campaigning for fair payment for speakers at literary festivals, sat rather awkwardly with my position as Patron of the Oxford Literary Festival, because (despite urging from me and others over the years) it does not pay speakers. So I thought it was time I resigned as a Patron of the OLF.

The principle is very simple: a festival pays the people who supply the marquees, it pays the printers who print the brochure, it pays the rent for the lecture-halls and other places, it pays the people who run the administration and the publicity, it pays for the electricity it uses, it pays for the drinks and dinners it lays on: why is it that the authors, the very people at the centre of the whole thing, the only reason customers come along and buy their tickets in the first place, are the only ones who are expected to work for nothing?

(6) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT. Y-3 creates spacesuits for Virgin Galactic pilots on world’s first commercial space flights

(7) BUGS, MISTER RICO! The newly-christened “Las Vegas of ants” is visible on Google Earth.

Not far from the Grand Canyon, near a landmark called Vulcan’s Throne, the ground is dotted with strange, barren circles, visible from orbit.

Evidence of an alien encounter? Nope. The likely culprit is actually ants — a lot of them. So many that the scientists who discovered them are referring to the area as “the Las Vegas of ants.”

Physicist Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, a specialist in image processing and satellite imagery analysis at the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy, noticed the bizarre polka- dot features while studying the dimensions of the Grand Canyon rim in Google Earth.

(8) VOX DAY COLLECTIBLES. Vox Day devoted a post to Camestros Felapton’s “Hugo”/Lego “Sad Larry” trading card.

While they, apparently, are occupied with making Lego figures of us. It seems that is what they do when they are not obsessing over what they think we are thinking. Even in light of how poorly they anticipated me last time, it’s mildly amusing to see that they still don’t understand my perspective at all.

The Dread Ilk commenters, however, were more concerned that Vox get a “Hugo” trading card of his own, so Felapton reassured them in “Vox links to the Larry pic”

Vox appeared in an earlier post and has a new figure in a couple of days – with a flaming sword no less!

So it looks like we won’t get to riff off Lucy’s “Was Beethoven ever on a bubblegum card?” after all.

(9) GRABTHAR’S HAMMER OF LOVING CORRECTION. Steve Davidson’s self-imposed moratorium on writing about Sad Puppies at Amazing Stories has ended in the only way it could. Here are a few salient paragraphs.

In moving forward, I believe it is important that the message sent last year be reinforced this year. We’ve already seen at least one author declaring that begging for votes is no longer a problem.  If we do not want that mindset to take hold, we will continue to repudiate slate voting this year.

Fans who discover a loophole in the voting rules don’t seek personal advantage – they bring it to the attention of other fans and make proposals at the business meeting and generally use their new found knowledge for the benefit of the whole.  (Or, if unhappy with the process, they go off and do their own thing, which is then rewarded or ignored based on the merit of the accomplishment, not a tally of internet one upsmanship points.)  Hugo voting actions this year should send that message.  Therefore –

I will be nominating and voting for the Hugo Awards this year in the same way I voted last year:  I’ll read and watch and listen to everything I can on the final ballot, will vote my conscience and will make sure that any work that appears on a slate (a voting list with a political agenda behind it) will be below No Award and off the ballot.

(10) RATINGS TIME. Gregory N. Hullender of Rocket Stack Rank says:

We analyzed all the RSR data to come up with a list for Best Editor (short form) Hugo nominations.

We construct several different lists, using different assumptions, and urge fans to use our data to make their own lists, so I don’t think this amounts to a slate.

This should be fun reading for anyone who’s really into short fiction, since I don’t believe anyone has ever done this kind of analysis before.

If anyone feels to the contrary — there are any slate-like tendencies in play here — please share your analysis.

(11) WE ALL DREAM IN GOLD. Since we always try to cover Guillermo del Toro’s doings on File 770 whenever we can, John King Tarpinian was disgustipated (I think that’s the technical term) that I overlooked this golden opportunity in my post about the 2016 Oscar nominations.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Guillermo del Toro, John Krasinski and Ang Lee will announce the 88th Academy Awards® nominations in all 24 Oscar® categories at a special two-part live news conference on Thursday…

(12) SHRUNKEN HEADS. Cass R. Sunstein at Bloomberg News breaks down “How Facebook Makes Us Dumber”.

Why does misinformation spread so quickly on the social media? Why doesn’t it get corrected? When the truth is so easy to find, why do people accept falsehoods?

A new study focusing on Facebook users provides strong evidence that the explanation is confirmation bias: people’s tendency to seek out information that confirms their beliefs, and to ignore contrary information.

I thought so. Or is it just confirmation bias at work if I agree that Facebook lowers my IQ?

(13) FOREVER DIFFERENT. Tobias Carroll checked with “28 Authors on the Books That Changed Their Lives”. The New York Magazine article has contributions from SF authors Elizabeth Hand, Ken Liu, Cathrynne M. Valente, Kelly Link, Jeff VanderMeer, and Jo Walton, among others.

Maria Dahvana Headley, author of Magonia and The Year of Yes “This question is both easy and difficult! I grew up a very rural and very gluttonous reader, in Idaho, about ten miles outside a town of 500 people. Essentially, I spent my reading childhood playing with other people’s imaginary friends, and I’ve grown into the kind of writer who does the same thing. So, in that regard, everything I’ve ever read has been life-changing. The first massive Rock My World book, though, was Toni Morrison’s Beloved, which I read when I was 17. Not only was I clueless about race in America at that point, coming from where I came from, I was also clueless about living female genius writers. I didn’t know there were any. Up to that point, I’d read almost entirely white men. KA-BAM. I got blasted out of the universe of dead white boys, and into something much more magnificent. Morrison’s way of flawlessly entwining her haunting with her history left me dazzled, sobbing, and bewildered. Morrison is obviously a genre-leaping master of style, and reading her not only made me aware of what was possible as a writer, it led me to all of the poets, songwriters, playwrights, and librettists who continue to influence my work today.”

(14) BOWIE AND SF. Jason Heller’s Pitchfork article “Anthems for the Moon: David Bowie’s Sci-Fi Explorations” is one more list of SF parallels and influences on Bowie’s work. Moorcock, Heinlein, Bradbury, Dick, Burgess, and others are mentioned.

In its celebration of androgyny, glam also lined up with Ursula K. Le Guin’s visionary 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness, which takes place on an alien planet where transitions between genders are as routine as any other biological process—a concept that certainly resonates with Bowie’s aesthetic. “Androgynous sexuality and extraterrestrial origin seemed to have provided two different points of identification for Bowie fans,” notes Philip Auslander in Performing Glam Rock: Gender and Theatricality in Popular Music. “Whereas some were taken with his womanliness, others were struck by his spaciness.”

(15) MARS MUSIC I. Matthew Johnson adds another number to that award-winning musical, The Martian.

(With apologies to David Bowie)

Hello, I feel I have to remind
You that you kind of left me behind
Is there life on Mars?

 

Four years alone could be a slog
I guess I ought to keep a log
Is there life on Mars?

 

On Mars a man dies by his wits
He even has to science his shit
Is there life on Mars?

 

The greatest scientist on the planet
I can plant it and grow it and can it
Is there life on Mars?

 

Disco hell is kind of groovy
Matt Damon plays me in the movie
Is there life on Mars?

 

Four years is a long time to be alone
There might be a new Game of Thrones when I’m done
Is there life on Mars?

(16) MARS MUSIC II. And Seth Gordon likewise swings and sways to a melody in his head

As I walk through the valley with the sand so red
I take a look at my suit and realize that I’m not dead
’Cause I’ve been science-ing this shit for so long that
Even Houston thinks that my ass is gone…

[Thanks to Bret Grandrath, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Will R., and Nick Mamatas for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Alan Rickman (1946-2016)

Acclaimed actor Alan Rickman, one of fandom’s favorites, died of cancer January 14 at the age of 69.

His first few roles in major Hollywood films brought him to the attention of international audiences but certainly did not make him beloved — terrorist Hans Gruber in the Bruce Willis vehicle Die Hard (1988), the Aborigine murdering Elliot Marston (who also tries to have Tom Selleck’s title character killed) in Quigley Down Under (1990), or the Sheriff of Nottingham playing opposite Kevin Costner’s title character in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Allowed to escape the dark side at last, he played the sensitive and caring — and to some irresistible! — love interest Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility (1995).

He brought his considerable skills to a quite different character, Alexander Dane, in Hugo-winning Galaxy Quest (1999). And while no one would prefer to see anyone else cast as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, I felt they never gave him enough to do until the very last one.

Rickman also voiced Marvin the Paranoid Android in the movie version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (2005), and the Blue Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Alice Through The Looking Glass (coming in 2016).

J. K. Rowling marked his passing with this tweet —

Daniel Radcliffe posted an appreciation on his Google+ page.

Radcliffe on Rickman enhanced-28861-1452792494-16

And Ian McKellen paid tribute on Facebook:

Beyond a career which the world is indebted to, he was a constant agent for helping others. Whether to institutions like RADA or to individuals and certainly to me, his advice was always spot-on. He put liberal philanthropy at the heart of his life. He and Rima Horton (50 years together) were always top of my dream-list dinner guests. Alan would by turns be hilarious and indignant and gossipy and generous. All this delivered sotto, in that convoluted voice, as distinctive as Edith Evans, John Gielgud, Paul Scofield, Alec Guinness, Alastair Sim or Bowie, company beyond compare.

When he played Rasputin, I was the Tzar Nicholas. Filming had started before I arrived in St Petersburg. Precisely as I walked into the hotel-room, the phone rang. Alan, to say welcome, hope the flight was tolerable and would I like to join him and Greta Scacchi and others in the restaurant in 30 minutes? Alan, the concerned leading man. On that film, he discovered that the local Russian crew was getting an even worse lunch than the rest of us. So he successfully protested. On my first day before the camera, he didn’t like the patronising, bullying tone of a note which the director gave me. Alan, seeing I was a little crestfallen, delivered a quiet, concise resumé of my career and loudly demanded that the director up his game.

Behind his starry insouciance and careless elegance, behind that mournful face, which was just as beautiful when wracked with mirth, there was a super-active spirit, questing and achieving, a super-hero, unassuming but deadly effective.

Galaxy Quest Being Developed As Series

Galaxy Quest poster.

Galaxy Quest poster.

Cancelled fictional TV show Galaxy Quest may return to the medium it was never on in the first place. Deadline reports Paramount Television is putting together a series project based on the 1999 movie and involving key players from the film.

The feature’s Hugo-winning screenwriter, Robert Gordon — expected to write the TV version — director, Dean Parisot, and producer Mark Johnson are anticipated to be executive producers of the potential TV series, along with Melissa Bernstein.

Meanwhile, Tony Shaloub says he’d “Never say no” if there’s ever a Galaxy Quest 2.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]

View post on imgur.com

Galaxy Quest’s 15th Anniversary

Galaxy Quest came out in December 1999 and MTV is celebrating the fifteenth anniversary with an “oral history” quoting everyone involved — really funny stuff about how the cast was chosen and the nonstop joking between the actors.

Tim Allen as the obnoxious Captain; Alan Rickman as the humiliated thespian relegated to rubber makeup; Sigourney Weaver, an actress given nothing to do but show her cleavage; Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, the former child star. Tony Shalhoub, playing a stoner who is supposed to be the sharp chief engineer; Sam Rockwell as some guy named Guy; and many, many more. What we came away with is, in the cast and crew’s own words, the story of how the crew of the Protector came together – and how things changed as the movie grew to be the phenomenon it is today.

Justin Long, who played the nerd who knew all the inside trivia, remembers his climactic scene:

Long: It was my first film. I really didn’t know how movies were made. The shot where the ship crashes was this big crane shot. The camera was following me running through this crowd of background actors. It’s a pretty involved shot, there was smoke and all of these guys are stumbling out of the ship, and I remember Dean told me exactly where to go. We rehearsed it and then after rehearsal some of the extras could smell that I was really green. So one of them said to me, “Hey, maybe we’re buddies and when you pass by me you can give me a high five.” I had just done plays where the actors collaborate and figure things out, and I was like, “OK, yeah, high five.” So then they all saw me and descended upon on me, and we created this whole elaborate collection of handshakes and stuff. Dean calls action and the crane is going up, and I start running through and I’m high fiving, doing my business with everybody and I get up to the stage, completely missing my mark, ruining the shot. Dean, who has a very good temperament, didn’t yell, but he was like, “What the heck was that all about?” I turn around and all the extras are gone.

I was taken by friends to see the movie a week or two after it had been out. I was an immediate convert to the cause.

(Galaxy Quest managed to stay in theaters for weeks on the strength of word-of-mouth marketing. Jeffrey Katzenberg later apologized to director Dean Parisot for not advertising it properly.)

When the movie made the Hugo ballot it still wasn’t getting the respect I thought it deserved, partly because it was a good year for genre movies, but mainly because it was competing with The Matrix, the 500-lb. gorilla of sf movies. I wrote at the time —

Why are we even bothering to have an election for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo this year? Don’t you think everyone already voted for The Matrix?

Everyone but me and you. And Brett Achorn voted for Iron Giant – after all, he worked on it. And Chris Barkley said his wife voted for Being John Malkovitch. But that’s only four of us. The Matrix already destroyed the competition at one polling place: the box office. So I’m sure the rest of the Hugo voters picked The Matrix. All the cool people, anyway. Besides, my voting for Galaxy Quest undoubtedly guaranteed another nominee will win.

Does this sort of “anticipatory rejection” sound familiar to your fannish ears? As if I thought the universe was built around me, except I’m stuck at the point farthest from the center?

However, on the night the Hugos were presented at Chicon 2000, I got the first hint things might be going my way.

[At the Hugo nominees reception] I sat down with Glen Boettcher and Nancy Mildebrandt. Glen was buoyant because Jeff Walker had designated him to accept the Hugo if The Matrix, Iron Giant or Sixth Sense won. Ten seconds after he explained that to me word passed through the room that the script writer and producer of Galaxy Quest had arrived in person, and Glen started to worry that pair would beat his three aces.

And that’s what happened. Galaxy Quest defeated the box office champions to win the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo. Writer Robert Gordon and director Dean Parisot accepted the award. Gordon spoke for what felt like five minutes – saying all the right things – before leaving the floor to Parisot who simply remarked, “This is the oddest but most entertaining event I’ve ever been to,” then walked offstage leaving the Hugo on the podium. I’m convinced that was a deliberate bit of humorous improvisation on his part. Either way, after allowing the audience to roar for a moment he came back and reclaimed his hardware.