The much-hyped new trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 starring Chris Pratt, and Zoe Saldana. In theaters May 5.
The much-hyped new trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 starring Chris Pratt, and Zoe Saldana. In theaters May 5.
I’m winding up President’s Day Weekend by assigning a Scroll entry to each of our First Executives.
(1) GEORGE WASHINGTON. He’s the foundation, the one we’ve all heard of. Just like that breakthrough Chinese science fiction writer Liu Cixin, who has a story coming to the big screen – just not the one we were told to expect.
“Another Story by Chinese Sci-Fi Writer Liu Cixin to Hit Screens” reports China Film Insider.
Chinese sci-fi novelist Liu Cixin is set to have another of his stories hit the big screen even as his more famous novel The Three Body Problem continues to languish in development limbo.
Local media outlet Sina Entertainment reports that filming on an adaptation of the Hugo and Nebula-winning novelist’s short story The Wandering Earth will begin in March and is expected to hit screens either in summer 2018 or at the beginning of 2019.
In the short story, scientists build massive engines to propel the planet toward another star after they discover the sun is about to grow into a red giant.
…[Director Frank] Gwo told Sina Entertainment he’s already been working on the film for half a year and said the main roles had already been cast, but he declined to name names. The director hinted at the project in a new year’s day Weibo post featuring artwork for the film.
Liu’s other, more famous book, The Three Body Problem, was meant to hit screens in 2016 but has been hit by multiple delays and still has no definite release date. Liu, often referred to as China’s answer to Arthur C. Clarke, has sought to temper expectations about the film.
(2) JOHN ADAMS. Before he was President, Adams served as ambassador to England, the country that now blesses us with the BBC.
And the BBC likes Logan — and even admits that some SF is very good:
For genre purists, it can be disconcerting to see comic book movies classified as sci-fi. And though the X-Men franchise, being about genetic mutation, has maybe more of a claim to that designation than, say, Thor, the outsize arcs and simplistic good vs evil binaries of the superhero film do not often lend themselves to the thoughtful curiosity that is a hallmark of the best science fiction. It would be overstating it to say that Logan reaches sci-fi heights – there’s a standard-issue British Evil Scientist (played with pale-eyed zeal by Richard E Grant), a henchman with a Terminator arm (Boyd Holbrook, good value in a relatively small role) and an albino mutant (Stephen Merchant in a rare and surprisingly decent dramatic performance) whose photosensitivity is so extreme he’ll burst into flames in sunlight like Nosferatu. So, you know, this is not Tarkovsky’s Solaris.
(3) THOMAS JEFFERSON. An inventor like Jefferson didn’t wait for somebody else to solve the problem. Which is the spirit shown by computing pioneer Grace Hopper, as illustrated by “Grace Hopper’s compiler: Computing’s hidden hero”.
But what Grace called a “compiler” did involve a trade-off.
It made programming quicker, but the resulting programmes ran more slowly.
That is why Remington Rand were not interested.
Every customer had their own, bespoke requirements for their shiny new computing machine.
It made sense, the company thought, for its experts to program them as efficiently as they could.
Grace was not discouraged: she simply wrote the first compiler in her spare time.
And others loved how it helped them to think more clearly.
Kurt Beyer’s book, Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age, relates many tales of impressed users.
One of them was an engineer called Carl Hammer, who used the compiler to attack an equation his colleagues had struggled with for months.
Mr Hammer wrote 20 lines of code, and solved it in a day.
Like-minded programmers all over the US started sending Grace new chunks of code, and she added them to the library for the next release.
In effect, she was single-handedly pioneering open-source software.
(4) JAMES MADISON. Madison’s wife, Dolly, saved the Gilbert Stuart portrait of Washington when the British burned the city of Washington in 1812. Here’s a news item about a lesser artwork.
Last night’s episode of “The Simpsons” began with the traditional scene of the Simpsons rushing to the couch in the living room to take in some TV. But the familiar painting of a sailboat, that’s been in the living room for decades, is gone. Where is it?
Homer decides to investigate and leaves the set, giving him an opportunity to storm through other sets (including “South Park.”) He finds the sailboat painting in the office of some geek, who gives it back after explaining that the painting was the most exciting addition to his collection “since I won a bid for a Ziploc of Jonathan Frakes’s beard trimmings.”
(5) JAMES MONROE. Fair point.
Monroe is not underrated. He has a doctrine named after him, for goodness' sake. https://t.co/IC4N005wPG
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) February 20, 2017
(6) JOHN QUINCY ADAMS. The first descendant of a President to be elected to the office. So although they are not related, this seems the right place for a multiple Chus question.
Hey folks, Unfortunately I can't make it to @worldcon75 this yr. I have membership for sale (before price increase) if anyone is interested
— Wesley Chu (@wes_chu) February 20, 2017
— Wesley Chu (@wes_chu) February 20, 2017
(7) ANDREW JACKSON. He didn’t get much of a childhood – as a kid he was slashed by a British cavalryman in return for a defiant remark. No comic books for him, either.
In the February 19 Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Margaret Atwood about the second volume of her graphic novel series Angel Catbird. Atwood explains that she doesn’t want readers to think she’s just a ‘nice literary old lady” sitting in her rocking chair, but someone who has always loved comics and who’s loved cats ever since she wasn’t allowed to have one as a child.
She is experiencing, she says, one of her “unlived lives.”
Atwood laughs at how this apparent career pivot might be perceived. She imagines that some fans would have her fulfill the stereotype of a “nice literary old lady,” resting in her rocking chair, “dignified and iconic.” But the “Angel Catbird” series, illustrated by Johnnie Christmas, realizes the creative vision of an author who has little patience for resting on her laurels.
From her earliest years in the 1940s and ’50s, as her family traveled between Quebec and other Canadian points, Atwood not only passionately read newspaper and magazine comics, from “Batman” to “Blondie” to “Rip Kirby”; she also drew them herself.
“That’s what we did in Canada,” she says. “We were living in the woods.” Her older brother’s plotted-out drawings “were more about warfare,” she says, while her characters — including rabbit superheroes — “were playing around.”
(8) MARTIN VAN BUREN. Old Kinderhook was governor of New York. Even then, theater was a big deal. From Variety, “Magic Show Produced by Neil Patrick Harris and Directed by Frank Oz to Open Off Broadway”:
“In & Of Itself,” the Frank Oz-directed magic show that played L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse last year, will get an Off Broadway run this spring from a varied team of producers that includes Neil Patrick Harris.
The hybrid show, which fuses magic with storytelling, is created by Derek DelGaudio, the magician whose “Nothing to Hide” (seen in New York in 2013) was directed by Harris. Joining Harris and his Prediction Productions on the project are Werner Entertainment led by Tom Werner, the prolific TV producer (“Roseanne,” “The Cosby Show,” “Survivor’s Remorse”) who is also the chairman of the Boston Red Sox, as well as Gary Goddard Entertainment (Broadway’s “The Encounter”).
Oz, who’s directed movies including “In & Out” and “Little Shop of Horrors” and voiced characters from “Sesame Street” and “Star Wars,” stages “In & Of Itself” with an interdisciplinary creative team that encompasses conceptual artist Glenn Kaino, on board as artistic producer; composer Mark Mothersbaugh, the frontman of the band DEVO; and A.Bandit, DelGaudio and Kaino’s “performance-art collective” credited as production designer.
(9) WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON. Another general whose war record vaulted him into the Presidency, he died only a month into his term of office.
Q: What got you started on the “War Dogs” trilogy?
A: Since I was a Navy brat, I got to hang around with a lot of people who were Marines, Navy officers, pilots. A lot of them were in my family or extended family. I was fascinated by the whole culture, the attitudes, that kind of stuff. Plus I’m a big fan of history. I’ve read a lot about World War II. I taught a class about World War II from the Japanese theater perspective in the 1980s.
I started writing this while looking back at a lot of classic military science fiction like “Starship Troopers” and “The Forever War,” all these different approaches to wars in space. I’d already written the “Halo” trilogy, but that was set 100,000 years ago. What I wanted to do this time was take a look at how things had changed and what happened to the whole idea of the military with the no-draft, all-volunteer forces. I wanted to do a serious examination of the modern-day military and the military attitude that goes back centuries.
(10) JOHN TYLER. The first Vice President to succeed to the Presidency. And here’s a news item about the character who succeeded Peter Pan – “’Hook’ Prequel Film ‘Bangarang’ Reaches Kickstarter Goal”.
A Hook prequel film centering around Lost Boy Rufio will become a reality thanks to Kickstarter.
… The story has been reverse engineered from what was set-up in Hook. We answer all the questions you’ve ever wondered — How and why is Rufio the leader of the Lost Boys? Where does ‘bangarang’ come from? And of course, how he gets the mohawk.”
(11) JAMES POLK. The President whose acquisitive policies were lauded as “Manifest Destiny.”
Is it your destiny to grab all the Nebula nominees you can read for free?
Every year I have trouble finding a hyperlinked list of all the free Hugo and Nebula reading, so this time I’m going to take the initiative and make one myself right away instead of waiting….
Nothing in the novel or novella categories is free yet.
(12) ZACHARY TAYLOR. Judging by James Michener’s portrait of him in the novel Texas, “Old Rough & Ready” as he was known was not famed for having natural, let alone artificial, intelligence.
In February 1975, a group of geneticists gathered in a tiny town on the central coast of California to decide if their work would bring about the end of the world. These researchers were just beginning to explore the science of genetic engineering, manipulating DNA to create organisms that didn’t exist in nature, and they were unsure how these techniques would affect the health of the planet and its people. So, they descended on a coastal retreat called Asilomar, a name that became synonymous with the guidelines they laid down at this meeting—a strict ethical framework meant to ensure that biotechnology didn’t unleash the apocalypse.
Forty-two years on, another group of scientists gathered at Asilomar to consider a similar problem. But this time, the threat wasn’t biological. It was digital. In January, the world’s top artificial intelligence researchers walked down the same beachside paths as they discussed their rapidly accelerating field and the role it will play in the fate of humanity. It was a private conference—the enormity of the subject deserves some privacy—but in recent days, organizers released several videos from the conference talks, and some participants have been willing to discuss their experience, shedding some light on the way AI researchers view the threat of their own field.
The rise of driverless cars and trucks is just a start. It’s not just blue-collar jobs that AI endangers.
Yes, they discussed the possibility of a superintelligence that could somehow escape human control, and at the end of the month, the conference organizers unveiled a set of guidelines, signed by attendees and other AI luminaries, that aim to prevent this possible dystopia. But the researchers at Asilomar were also concerned with more immediate matters: the effect of AI on the economy.
(13) MILLARD FILLMORE. In American history. Millard Fillmore was credited for “the opening of Japan” by sending Commodore Perry there with an exhibition of trade goods and inventions. So we’ll just drop this news item here.
“McDonald’s release new ‘Yakki’ burger based on a popular Japanese meal” reports Rocket 24.
To make sure nobody misses the new burger announcement, McDonald’s has also unveiled a promotional event designed to stimulate all five senses, with the announcement of Yakki The Movie, which is being billed as “the world’s first-ever 4-D Hamburger Movie“. Screening on 21 February, the day before the burger’s official release, the five-minute movie can be viewed at Toho Cinemas at Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills…
(14) FRANKLIN PIERCE. An item matched up with one of the most forgotten Presidents. Because nobody expects snark like this to be paid any attention, right?
The Aurealis award presentation ceremony must be fucking interminable. It's like romance or porn. "Best rusty trombone in a fantasy novella"
— Jonathan McCalmont (@ApeInWinter) February 20, 2017
(15) JAMES BUCHANAN. Every Sunday he went out and picked up a 10-gallon jug of whiskey from a distillery. I’m guessing his NASA would have looked a bit different than today’s –
Prohibition in space? The BBC chronicles why astronauts are banned from getting drunk in space. I dunno, it’s not as if there’s anything to run into up there.
While Nasa has long had strict rules on alcohol in space, the Russians appear to have been more relaxed in the past. Cosmonauts on board its Mir space station were allowed small amounts of cognac and vodka. There were apparently grumblings when they found out the ISS would be dry.
The odd tipple, however, does still find its way onto the ISS. In 2015, Japanese brewer Suntory — which has its own Global Innovation Center — shipped some of its award-winning whisky to the space station. It was part of an experiment aimed to monitor “development of mellowness in alcoholic beverages through the use of a microgravity environment”. In other words, the way booze ages in microgravity could be different, causing it to taste better, faster. And that’s something every distillery on Earth would want to learn more about.
(16) ABRAHAM LINCOLN. This President was a storyteller known for his endless fount of humorous anecdotes.
In the YouTube video “Pixar in a Box: Introduction to Storytelling,” produced for the Khan Academy, Monsters Inc.director Pete Docter discusses the Pixar approach to storytelling.
(17) ANDREW JOHNSON. Helping keep eastern Tennessee in the Union during the Civil War led Andrew Johnson to become Lincoln’s second-term running mate. He wasn’t pliant and the postwar Congress tried to oust him from office.
Inverse recommends “The 7 Sexiest Science Fiction Novels About Dystopias”:
George Orwell’s 1984 has ascended bestseller lists again. If its place on your high school syllabus makes it a turn off, this is a list of sexy dystopian novels…
- The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is her most famous dystopia, and it, too, has garnered comparisons to the current American political climate. If you’ve missed it, it’s a must read, and it’s soon coming to television. However, if that’s the only Atwood title you know, you should also try The Heart Goes Last. It’s completely bonkers and off-the-wall. In between its commentary on income inequality and corporate corruption, it packs in sex robots, a torrid affair, ritualistic murder, a hint of bestiality, sex with inanimate objects, and Elvis impersonators. No one can walk away from this book with the notion that dystopia is just something you read in school and frown about.
(18) ULYSSES S. GRANT. This president’s book was published and made everyone involved a lot of money, beginning with the publisher, Samuel Clemens.
In contrast, Milo Yiannopoulos’ book, for which he was given a quarter-million dollar advance, has been canceled by the publisher.
Milo Yiannopoulos’ book Dangerous was canceled abruptly Monday after Republican conservatives released clips of videos-with-audio in which he seemed to condone sex between men and boys.
In a terse statement released Monday afternoon, the right-wing provocateur’s publisher said: “After careful consideration, Simon & Schuster and its Threshold Editions imprint have canceled publication of Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos.”
Minutes later, Yiannopoulos posted this on Facebook: “They canceled my book.”
According to The Guardian, “It is the third book that Yiannopoulos has announced that has not eventuated, after he flagged forthcoming titles on the Gamergate controversy and Silicon Valley that never appeared.”
(19) RUTHERFORD B. HAYES. Roll your own here. I’ve no idea….
CinemaBlend’s “Guardians 2 Poster Features A Hilarious Baby Groot” leads us to —
— Geeks of Color (@GeeksOfColor) February 19, 2017
(20) JAMES GARFIELD. This President might have survived an assassin’s bullet if his doctor hadn’t been secretive and incompetent.
CheatSheet refutes “5 Lies You’ve Been Told About Star Trek”.
- Star Trek fans are nerds
What do you think of when you picture a Star Trek fan? Most likely it a nerd in their parents’ basement who spends their free time dressing up as their favorite character and throwing the Vulcan salute at anyone who passes by. The concept of a “Trekkie” — a Star Trek fan that shies away from normalcy and social interaction — has long been part of our pop culture, but the stereotypes that have been perpetuated are both inaccurate and unfair.
Sure, fandom can be nerdy; but these days, it’s a lot more socially acceptable to embrace geekiness of all kinds. And Star Trek, like any other big entertainment franchise, has an impressively diverse fan base. NASA scientists, billionaire Richard Branson, and celebrities like Mila Kunis all count themselves as Trekkies. In other words, there’s no wrong way to be a Star Trek fan — and absolutely nothing wrong with being one, either.
(21) CHESTER A. ARTHUR. He is the answer to a trivia question – and so is this:
The phrase “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” was first uttered on screen by Bert Lahr in the 1944 comedy “Meet the People.” Lahr is also the main influence for the voice of the cartoon lion Snagglepuss.
(22) GROVER CLEVELAND. This is from Matthew G. Kirschenbaum’s Track Changes.
It is said that when Rob Reiner’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novella Stand By Me (1986) was in theaters, some audiences howled in visceral anguish when, at the very end of the film, the adult Gordie, now a writer, switches off the computer he is using to type without any visible evidence of having hit Save.
(23) BENJAMIN HARRISON. The grandson of William Henry Harrison. You could look it up, in a library.
Atlas Obscura recalls “Library Hand: the Fastidiously Neat penmanship Style Made for Card Catalogs”.
“The trouble in handwriting,” said Mr. James Whitney, of the Boston Public Library, “is that there is apt to be too much flourishing.”
Professor Louis Pollens of Dartmouth College agreed: “We want a handwriting that approaches as near to type as possible, that will do away with individual characteristics.”
A Mr. C. Alex Nelson, of the Astor Library in New York, then mentioned that “T.A. Edison, the inventor” had lately been experimenting with penmanship styles in order to find the most speedy and legible type of handwriting for telegraph operators. Edison, Nelson recalled, had ultimately selected “a slight back-hand, with regular round letters apart from each other, and not shaded.” With this style, Edison was able to write at a respectable 45 words per minute.
Hearing this, Dewey set out a catalog-minded mission for the group: “We ought to find out what is the most legible handwriting.”
This was the beginning of “library hand,” a penmanship style developed over the ensuing year or so for the purpose of keeping catalogs standardized and legible.
(24) GROVER CLEVELAND. The only President to serve non-consecutive terms of office, but never a superhero.
The actress who played Wonder Woman on TV is now Supergirl’s President. “Supergirl: Lynda Carter Returns in Kevin Smith’s Second Episode”.
Carter previously appeared on Supergirl as President Olivia Marsdin on ‘Welcome To Earth’. Carter’s appearance in the episode was a huge fan-pleaser, and even included a reference to Carter’s most famous role on a superhero TV show: as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince on the iconic ’70s Wonder Woman series. In the episode, Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) complimented the President on her private plane… to which she replied that Supergirl should see her other jet – a reference to Wonder Woman’s invisible plane!
We’re thrilled to see Carter return to the series as President Marsdin, especially with Smith behind the wheel on this episode. We don’t know yet exactly what this episode will be about, but it is set to air in late March, and will presumably be involving both the President and a little of Mon-El’s (Chris Wood) backstory or involvement (based on the inclusion of Daxamite tech in the second image). We may even discover whether Marsdin’s reference to the jet was just an easter egg for comic book fans, or if she might actually be Wonder Woman in this universe!
(25) WILLIAM McKINLEY. David Klaus call this infographic the Okudagram table of elements. “ The table of elements in the Star Trek universe is a little…different from ours.”
(26) THEODORE ROOSEVELT. I prefer the Teddy bear.
WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros. ill-tempered but much-loved Tasmanian Devil is being renamed as Theodore Tasmanian.
And he’s an Accountant!
In the upcoming Looney Tunes series Wabbit, airing on Boomerang from next month, the character will be working in an accounting department, repressing his true wild and crazy self.
(27) WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT. He was the first President to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to begin the baseball season.
The Washington Nationals have announced their promotions schedule, and will hold Star Wars Day on May 27. The first 25,000 fans will receive a “Chewbacca koozie,” which is a hairy thing for holding a soft drink. Martin Morse Wooster says he will gladly miss that opportunity in order to attend Balticon, which is the same weekend.
(28) WOODROW WILSON. He was the first President to travel to Europe while in office.
And Randy Byers is asking for votes for a candidate for another trans-Atlantic trip.
I’m one of Sarah Gulde‘s TAFF nominators, and because the voting deadline is coming right up, we are taking the unusual step of posting the PDF of the new issue of CHUNGA (#25) before we’ve mailed out the paper copies. If you haven’t made up your mind about who to vote for yet, please download the PDF of the new issue, read Sarah’s delightful article about the Nerd Camps she’s organizing in Portland and then read my endorsement in Tanglewood. Then download the ballot using the link on this page and vote! Instructions for how to vote online can be found on the ballot. Please pay close attention to the eligibility requirements, because not everybody can vote for TAFF. Good luck, Sarah!
Get your digital copy of Chunga at eFanzines.
(29) WARREN G. HARDING. Scoffers claimed this handsome President was elected by women just recently given the vote. He must have been a good-looking dinosaur. And that gives us a smooth (ha!) segue to….
JJ says “This guy saying ‘never mind Raquel’ and squeeing over the dinosaurs instead is hilarious.” Ryan Harvey, “One Million Years B.C. on Blu-Ray—Because You Love Dinosaurs Too” at Black Gate.
I once read a customer review on Amazon for the One Million Years B.C. DVD that remarked at the end, “If you’re buying this, you’re buying it for Raquel.” I wonder if the reviewer nodded off during stretches of the film and somehow failed to notice that there are dinosaurs all over it? Dinosaurs created by special effects legend Ray Harryhausen!
I’m not casting aspersions on the appeal of Raquel Welch; she has a enough screen presence to fill in a rock quarry and was a massive part of the movie’s marketing and initial global success. She adds a tremendous amount to the film and helps hold up the human action between stop-motion sequences. Yes, she is stunningly gorgeous on screen to the point that she almost seems unreal. But Raquel Welch has never been as popular as dinosaurs. Sorry, there’s no contest.
Let’s be honest: if One Million Years B.C. had no stop-motion Ray Harryhausen dinosaurs, it would be remembered today for the famous Raquel Welch image and that’s it. People wouldn’t still be watching the film or buying new releases of it more than fifty years later. The film itself would be a side-note, something discussed in terms of Welch’s career and popular 1960s sex symbols, but not anything viewers today would sit down to enjoy in full. Harryhausen’s effects make One Million Years B.C. a perennial.
(30) CALVIN COOLIDGE. The original pinball games would have been familiar to Calvin. But nothing like this. From CBS Sunday Morning.
Anyone who’s ever played pinball knows it takes skill, and a little luck. Now the blast from the past is catching on with a new generation. Ben Tracy delivers his hands-on report.
(31) HERBERT HOOVER. Pluto was discovered during his Presidency. Surely that ought to count for something?
A BBC video investigates — How earth-like are “earth-like” exoplanets? “The Earth-like planets we have found may not be like Earth”.
There are more planets in our galaxy than there are stars, says science writer and astrophysicist Adam Becker. He explains what these “exoplanets” are like to BBC Earth’s Melissa Hogenboom and Michael Marshall, with help from the animators at Pomona Pictures.
Chip Hitchcock warns, “Dippy animation to an interview, but the speaker is clear and concise.”
(32) FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT. He inherited a country in bad economic shape, too.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has published a thought experiment — “Mapping ‘The Hunger Games’: Using location quotients to find the Districts of Panem,”. Even if the process doesn’t result in a map of literal, contiguous regions, the process is enlightening.
“…Panem, the country that rose up out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America.” –The Hunger Games (Scholastic Press)
In The Hunger Games, author Suzanne Collins never reveals the exact locations of the Districts of Panem. What if you could map them by using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)?
Fans of the popular The Hunger Games trilogy know that the stories are set in Panem, a futuristic area previously called North America, with a capital located somewhere in what was known as the Rockies. Panem is divided into districts, each of which has a primary industry. BLS employment data can help you solve the puzzle of where in North America those districts would be.
Keep reading to learn how to use BLS data to identify 12 districts of Panem. Because BLS data cover the United States, this article uses clues from U.S. locations rather than from North America as a whole.
(33) HARRY S. TRUMAN. He dropped The Bomb.
If you’re wondering about what sort of world would inspire the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novelette Folding Beijing https://t.co/qD4c0KUw9z
— Mx Healthy Democracy (@thebestsophist) February 20, 2017
“A Million People Live in Thee Underground Nuclear Bunkers” at National Geographic.
In the late ’60s and ‘70s, anticipating the devastation of a Cold War-nuclear fallout, Chairman Mao directed Chinese cities to construct apartments with bomb shelters capable of withstanding the blast of a nuclear bomb. In Beijing alone, roughly 10,000 bunkers were promptly constructed.
But when China opened its door to the broader world in the early ’80s, Beijing’s defense department seized the opportunity to lease the shelters to private landlords, eager to profit from converting the erstwhile fallout hideaways into tiny residential units.
(34) DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER. Eisenhower’s memoir was titled Waging Peace.
Cat Rambo talks about communication under the influence of one of the masters: “Another Word: Peacetalk, Hate Speech” for Clarkesworld.
Here’s something that makes me sad—at a time when there’s so much contention and arguing about fandom, one of the most helpful books is out of print and unavailable electronically. One of the smartest, savviest voices I know was stilled a few years back. Suzette Haden Elgin, who understood how language works, wrote multiple SF works, but also a series on communication that has changed a number of lives, including my own: The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense and the other verbal self-defense books that followed it.
But one of her last books, Peacetalk 101 was a simple little story, with twelve maxims about how to communicate with other people….
Elgin’s book is a slim little thing, a series of incidents in the daily existence of a man named George who’s given up on life. He meets a homeless man. (I am aware that the trope of the magic disadvantaged is problematic. I will simply acknowledge it in passing and otherwise cut Elgin a little slack.) Over the course of a number of days, George learns how to communicate effectively in a way that changes his life and restores his hope. The maxims are simple, and I’m actually going to provide them out of order, because one speaks to the heart of this essay. It’s this:
Choose your communication goals. What do you want out of your part in the great conversation? I want to offer people interested in better communication a set of tools that I’ve found handy and to make people think before typing every once in a while—not so they silence or self-censor, but so they know what their communication goals are and have a reasonable chance of achieving them. Do you want to give information? Persuade the reader? Change their behavior? Help them? That will affect what you say and how you say it.
This is why the tone argument is—at least to my mind—both right and wrong. The truth of an argument is unconnected to the tone in which it’s delivered, and yeah, there are people in the world who will perceive something as hostile no matter what that tone is, but another fact of the matter is that tone affects reception and that’s part of the equation that you have to consider. I will defend to the death the right of someone to sing their truth however they want, to express things and experiences that may otherwise not get sung, but if you want that song to be an act of communication, to be composed of more than one voice, you must consider the key in which the other voices are singing and perhaps bring yours down an octave….
(35) JOHN F. KENNEDY. Soon after this date in history, the author of Profiles in Courage began a friendship with the astronaut and his wife.
(36) LYNDON JOHNSON. As Vice-President, he was closely identified with the space program.
The real stories behind the “hidden figures” of the movie, and of others at that time in the BBC Magazine.
In 1943, two years after the US joined World War Two, Miriam Daniel Mann was 36 years old. She had three children, aged six, seven and eight – but she also had a Chemistry degree.
Job opportunities for married women were limited then, especially for those with children, and even more so for African-American women.
But as men went off to war, there was a skill shortage in vital industries. The president signed an executive order allowing black people to be employed in the defence sector for the first time, and Nasa’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), started looking for black women to work on mathematical calculations.
Through her husband, a college professor, Mann heard about the recruiters visiting black college campuses. She registered to take an exam, passed it, and became one of the first black women to work as a “human computer” at the NACA aeronautics research facility at Langley in Virginia.
(37) RICHARD NIXON. This President ran afoul of Judge Sirica in the Watergate case.
The Australian Horror Writers Association has announced the judges for its Australian Shadows Awards.
The awards celebrate the finest in horror and dark fiction published by an Australian or New Zealander for the calendar year of 2016. Works are judged on the overall effect – the skill, delivery, and lasting resonance – of a story. Previous winners have included Greg McLean, Aaron Sterns, Lee Battersby, Terry Dowling, Paul Haines, Brett McBean, Kirstyn McDermott, Bob Franklin, Kaaron Warren, Will Elliott, Deborah Biancotti, and Amanda Spedding.
Entries are open across seven categories including short fiction, long fiction (novellas), novels, collected works and edited works, The Rocky Wood Award for Non-fiction and Criticism – named after former HWA president and AHWA member Rocky Wood – and graphic novels/comics (for works written by an Australian or New Zealand writer).
This year’s awards will be adjudicated by a panel of judges comprising of:
The Paul Haines Award For Long Fiction: William Cook, Brett McBean, Lee Pletzers
Edited Works: Dmetri Kakmi, Piper Medjia, Craig Hughes
Collected Works: Lee Murray, Michael Pryor, Tracie McBride
Short Fiction: David Hoenig, William Cook, Lucy A. Snyder, Silvia Brown
Comics/Graphic Novels: Gareth Macready, Lee Pletzers, Steve Herczeg
The Rocky Wood Award for Non-Fiction and Criticism: Piper Mejia, Maree Kimberley, David Kernot
Novels: Chris Pulo, Lee Pletzers, Steven Casey, Robert N Stevenson
(38) GERALD FORD. Chip Hitchcock notes, “Apparently nobody in charge of programming thought about the effect of 24/7 Pokestops on the neighbors. ISTM that a curfew would have been easy to code….
One of Australia’s best places to catch Pokemon has been deleted in the latest update to the augmented reality game.
Three Pokestops, the game’s real-world locations, attracted hundreds of players to a park in inner Sydney.
Nearby apartment residents endured traffic jams, piles of rubbish and noise until the early hours.
The creators of the game are working to remove some real-world locations that do not wish to be included in the mobile game.
(39) JIMMY CARTER. Has an American President ever written a work of fiction? You guessed it. Carter wrote The Hornet’s Nest (2004) set in the Revolutionary War.
Jasper Fforde is auctioning a Tuckerization in his upcoming novel on eBay.
Hello. Jasper Fforde here. I’m just putting the finishing touches to my latest novel, ‘Early Riser’, a thriller set in a world where humans have always hibernated, and the book centres around a Novice Winter Consul named John Worthing, who finds himself stranded in a lonely outpost known as Sector Twelve. The Winter is not a kind master, and before long he is embroiled in Nightwalkers, Villains, the mythical WinterVolk, sleepshy somniacs, other deputies each one more insane than the next, pharmaceutical companies and a viral dream. It’ll be out in either later 2017, or early 2018.
So why is this on eBay? Well, I have a character who could do with a name and likeness, and I thought I would offer the part up for sale in order to raise some money for two causes: Firstly, the friends of my kid’s primary school, which needs to make up the shortfall of the education authority’s current ‘leaning towards frugality’. Second, our local branch of the Sanctuary for Refugees, whose work can be found at http://hbtsr.org.uk/
So what do you get for your cash? The character is a personal assistant to Dr Hektor, the head of HiberTec, a pharmaceutical company that markets Morphenox, a key plot line in the book. You’re not a bad person, just doing their job – and very much a corporate person. You have one appearance.
(40) RONALD REAGAN. Would this President, the grandson of immigrants from County Tipperary, have enjoyed this variation on a theme? “McDonald’s Thinks it’s Time for a Sci-Fi Milkshake Straw!”
We all know McDonald’s classic St. Patrick’s Day beverage, in five flavors this year. Turns out, it has more in store for us then an expanded line of Shamrock Shakes! McDonald’s has hired aerospace and robotic engineers to redesign the regular straw to deliver the fifty-fifty ratio of flavors of its new Chocolate Shamrock Shake…
(41) GEORGE BUSH. Jerry Pournelle was among the sf writers predicting our “weapons’ of mass culture would democratize the Middle East. But of course, it could go the other way, too. “Jeddah: Scifi fans flock to first ever Comic Con expo” reports Al-Jazeera.
It is not every day that young Saudis wander down the street dressed as the Hulk or Doctor Doom.
But for three days over the weekend, some 20,000 Saudis decked out in costumes and face paint queued to get into the kingdom’s first-ever Comic Con, where robots, video games and giant anime figures filled a tent in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
The global comics expo was held under the auspices of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, which has hosted a series of festivals, comedy shows and concerts this year.
Saudi Arabia is trying to boost its entertainment sector as part of an economic and social reform drive aimed at creating jobs and weaning the country off its dependence on oil….
The CNN report says the idea met with resistance.
Setting up the event took over a year, and a balance was struck to keep the spirit of the Comic Con while adhering to the country’s religious regulations.
Indecent symbols or logos that went against Islamic teachings were prohibited and attendees were not allowed to cross-dress.
Even then, there was uproar online against what was considered a Western phenomenon in the traditional Islamic kingdom.
A hashtag calling Comic Con a “devil worshipping” festival became popular on Twitter and some called for boycotting it.
(42) BILL CLINTON. “’A Wrinkle in Time’ Soars in Amazon Sales After Chelsea Clinton’s DNC Speech”.
When Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, took the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Thursday night, she delivered a moving speech that painted her mother as big-hearted, patient and scholarly, driving home the fact that reading played a big role in the former first daughter’s upbringing.
“My earliest memory is my mom picking me up after I’d fallen down, giving me a big hug, and reading me Goodnight Moon,” Clinton said.
Later in her speech, she relayed another literary anecdote about talking to her mother incessantly for a week straight “about a book that had captured my imagination, A Wrinkle in Time.”
(43) GEORGE W. BUSH.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) August 3, 2016
(44) BARACK OBAMA. Disney will adapt another of its animated hits — “James Earl Jones and Donald Glover to star in live-action ‘Lion King’ movie”.
The original classic about an animal kingdom in Africa starred Jones as Mufasa and Matthew Broderick as his son Simba. Jones will reprise his character in the re-make, while Glover will take over the Simba role.
(45) DONALD TRUMP. Can you imagine him buying a cheap pen? Never.
Choose your clan: “Luxury company Montegrappa releases line of Game of Thrones-inspired pens”.
Montegrappa’s pens come in several varieties, including ones inspired by several of the Great Houses of Westeros: Stark, Baratheon, Lannister and Targaryen. The barrels and caps of each pen are made with colorful lacquered surfaces while the trim is made from palladium or yellow and rose 18k gold-plate. The cap ring has Game of Thrones engraved on it. The nibs of the fountain pens are stainless steel and are decorated with a sword. Each fountain pen is both cartridge and converter-fed and is available in several writing grades: Extra Fine, Fine, Medium and Broad.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Rambo, David K.M. Klaus, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Darren Garrison, Peer Sylvester, Camestros Felapton, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day (F7CEOTD for short) Daniel Dern.]
(1) BEWARE STOLEN VALOR. Cat Rambo issued a warning on Facebook today:
Be aware if you’re publicly claiming that you’re a former Nebula nominee or winner, and you can’t back that up, SFWA is going to come after you like a bat out of hell with me riding its back, a flaming sword in my hand.
I’d pay money to see that.
(2) REAL OR FOOLS’ GOLD? Inkican has heard – “Long-Lost Philip K Dick Manuscript Found?” Lifted from Christian Brunschen’s comment.
Hey, this is pretty cool. Someone over at Reddit is claiming to have found a lost manuscript from Philip K. “The Guy Who Wrote the Stories Behind ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘Total Recall,’ ‘A Scanner Darkly,’ and ‘Minority Report’” Dick. PKD’s influence on science fiction is tremendous. The fact that people know him for his work, rather than his notoriously-phallic name, is proof-positive of the evocative, prolific stories he told.
And now they seem to have a lost manuscript of his. Authentication is in progress, but you can enjoy the story now. They’ve posted “Whatever You Do To The Rest Of You, Your Mind Belongs To Lasconte” to Dropbox in PDF, MOBI and EPUB formats. Stay tuned as we follow the story … for nerds, this is like discovering a long-lost Renoit or Mattisse painting. Instead of hording it and teasing us, this nerd is sharing the story with us immediately. GG, anonymous geek! It’s stuff like this that makes the sci-fi community what it is.
(3) WAY OUT WET. “Scientists Find That Water Might Exist in a Whole New State”. Yeah, California, after all the rain we’ve had in the past few weeks.
Okay, the Smithsonian is really talking about something else.
…Because the phase of a substance is determined by how its molecules are configured, many physical properties of that substance will change abruptly as it goes from one state to another. In the recent paper, the researchers measured several telltale physical properties of water at temperatures between 0? and 100? under normal atmospheric conditions (meaning the water was a liquid). Surprisingly, they found a kink in properties such as the water’s surface tension and its refractive index (a measure of how light travels through it) at around 50?.
…If confirmed, the authors’ findings could have many applications. For example, if changes in the environment (such as temperature) cause changes in a substance’s physical properties, then this can potentially be used for sensing applications. Perhaps more fundamentally, biological systems are mostly made of water. How biological molecules (such as proteins) interact with each other likely depends on the specific manner in which water molecules arrange to form a liquid phase.
(4) INFORMED GUESSER. On Recode, journalist John Markoff shares some of the sci-fi books that helped him get a leg up as a tech reporter for the New York Times over the past 30 years.
On the new podcast, he praised one non-fiction book, 1980’s “The Micro Millennium” by Christopher Evans, and one movie, 2013’s “Her,” for their prescience about tech.
“He just walked through, in a really prophetic way, how the emergence of the microprocessor was going to transform society,” Markoff said of Evans. “So I looked at that, and it really kind of intrigued me.”
He also peppered the conversation with recommendations of sci-fi books that helped him get a leg up on other reporters in the field:
- “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson (1992): “The premise is, America only does two things well. One is write software, and the other is deliver pizzas. [laughs] What’s changed?”
- “The Shockwave Rider” by John Brunner (1995): Markoff said he built his career on an early understanding that the internet would change everything. He said, “[The Shockwave Rider] argued for that kind of impact on society, that networks transformed everything.”
- “True Names” by Vernor Vinge (1981): “The basic premise of that was, you had to basically hide your true name at all costs. It was an insight into the world we’re living in today … We have to figure it out. I think we have to go to pseudonymity or something. You’re gonna participate in this networked existence, you have to be connected to meatspace in some way.”
- “Neuromancer” by William Gibson (1984): Markoff is concerned about the growing gap between elders who need care and the number of caregivers in the world. And he thinks efforts to extend life are “realistically possible,” pointing to Gibson’s “300-year-old billionaires in orbit around the Earth.”
(5) SOUNDS SUPER FAMILIAR. Flickeringmyth reports tonight’s Supergirl’s title is “The Martian Chronicles.”
‘The Martian Chronicles’ is the title of the eleventh episode of Supergirl season two, and will see the two heroes teaming up to battle a White Martian. Check out the official episode synopsis here…
WHITE MARTIANS ATTACK THE DEO — Armek (guest star Terrell Tilford), a White Martian, descends on National City intent on taking M’gann (guest star Sharon Leal) back to Mars to face her punishment as a traitor. Hank (David Harewood) and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) determine the best way to keep M’gann safe is to bring her to the DEO. However, when it is revealed that Armek shape-shifted into M’gann and is now loose in the building, the team realize he could be disguised as any one of them
(6) NASA GETS IN ON THE ACT. For some reason there are a lot of football references in today’s Scroll, like in this NPR article “Want To Throw A Football More Than 500,000 Yards? Just Head To Space”.
Matt Ryan is no slouch.
The Atlanta Falcons quarterback, who will be vying for Super Bowl LI on Sunday, drew plaudits all year for what many have called an MVP-caliber season. By the end of the season, Ryan racked up 4,944 passing yards.
Still, it took Ryan 16 games — and more than 500 throws — to get to that number.
Astronaut Tim Kopra just threw for 564,664 yards. And he did it on a single throw. Underhand.
In new video shot on the International Space Station, NASA posed the question: How far can you throw a football in a zero-G environment?
The answer, it turns out, is really, really far.
Chip Hitchcock comments, “I wonder whether that was their first try or their 20th; it would be more impressive if the ball at least made it from one end of the ISS to the other, but the pictures are pretty.”
(7) MEASURING THE UNSHINE. Galactic X-rays could prove the existence of dark matter.
A small but distinctive signal in X-rays from the Milky Way could be key to proving the existence of dark matter.
That is the claim of US scientists who analysed the energy spectrum of X-rays gathered by Nasa’s Chandra satellite.
They found more X-ray photons with a particular energy than would be expected if they were produced only by familiar processes.
Those photons could in fact have been generated by the decay of dark matter particles, say the researchers….
(8) NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS. I decided it was worth running the best sf movie spots shown during yesterday’s Super Bowl. The trailer for the next Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers sequels didn’t make the cut.
(9) LAST MONTH IN HISTORY BUT I CAN STILL SMELL IT
(10) IT’S BRADBURY. Recently updated from its original 2012 appearance in the San Francisco Chronicle — “Susan Steinberg’s Most Treasured Book”. (Note: Contrary to my usual practice, I have copied the entire post.)
Susan Steinberg is the author of the forthcoming story collection “Spectacle.”
When I was 13, my mother put me on a plane to visit my aunt and uncle in New Hampshire. My parents were going through a divorce, and I had been dealing with it by screaming and repeatedly slamming doors throughout the house.
It was fall. It rained the whole time I was in New Hampshire. My aunt and uncle, now looking back, were pretty young. They didn’t even have kids yet. They didn’t know what to do with me. I slept on a couch in my uncle’s study, which was filled, floor to ceiling, with books. They were mostly science fiction paperbacks. The covers had rockets and robots and Martians on them. I wasn’t going to read those books. I liked to read books about girls and drugs, and girls and guys.
I watched a lot of television. There was a day my aunt and uncle drove me to Boston to get me out of the house. They took me to a bookstore and said they would buy me a book. I wanted the kind of book I liked, but my uncle bought me a book called “The Stories of Ray Bradbury.” It was huge and hardcover. I was like, “Why are you buying me this?”
But late that night in my uncle’s study, I started to read it. And it was terrifying. It was a different kind of terrifying. I was totally into the terror. I felt like my life was another life. I mean, I was 13. And sheltered. I hadn’t known there was more to the world. Or more in the world. I mean more than my own sad self.
(11) BRINGING MORE LIGHT. Adam Savage (of Mythbusters) takes you behind the scenes of The Expanse and gives you a look into Season 2, which airs February 8.
(13) VOCATION. Armed with 3 years of experience at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters and a recommendation from Steven Spielberg, Hugh Jackman applies for a job at Harlem Village Academies.
(14) IF I HAD A HAMMER. Another Carl Slaughter find —
Carl says: “In this superhero comedy skit starring Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo, Thor travels to Australia for some me time, hammer in hand. He visits a local elementary school and his roommate’s office. He offers to help Tony Stark resolve the conflict with Steve Rogers. Stark does not reply. Then Thor discovers that Stark has invited Bruce Banner, who has no interest in the brewing civil war, to join his team. Thor feigns to not be offended. I give up, who’s the guy sitting down in the purple suit?”
(15) COMING TOMORROW. Speaking of… This book comes out tomorrow: “Neil Gaiman Busts Out Thor’s Hammer For ‘Norse Mythology”.
While the new book, out February 7, 2017, won’t connect to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of Thor, it will feature Gaiman’s own unique retellings of the ancient Norse Myths from which Thor derives.
Putting Thor’s hammer on the cover is a smart move by Gaiman, as it allows his dive into myths to potentially crossover into mainstream culture. People who are only familiar with Thor through the Marvel Cinematic Universe probably describes a vast majority of potential readers. This high/low combination on Gaiman’s part isn’t exactly a new move for him — he’s adapted Norse Myths before.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Christian Brunschen, John King Tarpinian, JJ, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit inspiration goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]
(1) SURE AS SHOOTIN’. Days of the Year says this is “Talk Like a Grizzled Old Prospector Day”.
“Well hooooooo-wee! Ah reckon we’ve found ourselves some bona fide golden nuggets right here in this ol’ mound o’ grit! Yessiree, Momma’s gonna be marty proud when she discov’rs we can afford fresh beans ‘n’ biscuits for the winnertarm, an’ there’s gonna be three more weeks uvvit if mah old aching knee is t’be rckoned with.”
Yes. Well, anyway. Today is Talk Like a Grizzled Old Prospector Day, which can be a lot of fun, unless of course you already are a grizzled old prospector, in which case just carry on as normal. For the rest of us it’s an opportunity to use terms like “consarn it” when we spill our coffee at work, and “Who-Hit-John” when referring to whiskey (although unless you work in a bar or a liquor store, you should probably leave the latter until you get home).
Now go on, get out there and call somebody a varmint!
Here’s your training video, featuring prospector Gabby Johnson from Blazing Saddles:
(2) THE MAGIC GOES AWAY. Kameron Hurley tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth in “Let’s Talk About Writing and Disappointment”.
There was a huge amount of buzz around the release of The Geek Feminist Revolution last year. More buzz than I’d seen for any book I’d ever written. People were telling me on Twitter that they’d bought three or four copies and were making all their friends read it. I heard from booksellers that the books were flying off the shelves. We went into a second printing almost immediately. I did a book signing in Chicago that sold a bunch of books. The reader response at BEA was surreal. It was magical.
This, I thought, is what it must feel like to have a book that’s about to hit it big. This was it. This was going to be the big one. It was going to take off. I gnawed on my nails and watched as big magazines picked up articles from it and it got reviewed favorably in The New York Times, and I waited for first week sales numbers.
I expected to see at least twice the number of first week sales for this book as I had for any previous book. The buzz alone was two or three times what I was used to. This had to be it….
But when the numbers came in, they weren’t twice what I usually did in week one. They were about the same as the first week numbers for The Mirror Empire. And… that was…. fine. I mean, it would keep me getting book contracts.
But… it wasn’t a breakout. It was a good book, but It wasn’t a book that would change my life, financially.
Reader, I cried….
(3) THE HORIZON EVENT. Strange Horizons has announced the results of its 2016 Readers Poll.
- First equal: “This is a Real Place, Even Though it’s Invented: An Interview with Garth Nix” by Aishwarya Subramanian
- First equal: “Boucher, Backbone, and Blake—the Legacy of Blakes 7” by Erin Horáková
- First place: Vajra Chandrasekera
- First place: “black gay ordinary: scenes” by Keguro Macharia
- First place: Galen Dara, art for “The Right Sort of Monsters“
(4) O, CAPTAINS MY CAPTAINS. Whoopi Goldberg hosted a Star Trek Captains Summit with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes in 2009. Now the feature is part of the Blu-Ray Movie Box Set. Among the revelations from the discussion:
You may not know what Larry did to promote Capclave, which was the revival of Disclave (after a three-year hiatus with no Washington D.C. SF convention). Larry promised to show up every year so that there would be a good Dealer’s Room at Capclave. And he did, even though it was a tiny convention compared to many of the others he would set up at.
(6) URBAN SPACEMAN. Jeff Foust reviews Richard Garriott’s autobiography Explore/Create: My Life in Pursuit of New Frontiers, Hidden Worlds, and the Creative Spark at The Space Review.
Growing up in Houston, he thought it was obvious that one day he would go into space himself. But he was told at age 13 his eyesight was too poor to qualify as a NASA astronaut. His dreams of spaceflight put on the back burner—but not forgotten—he soon rose to prominence as an early computer game developer, best known for the Ultima series. Much of the book delves into the accomplishments and challenges he faced in that career.
Garriott returns to the topic of space later in the book. While best known for flying on a Soyuz to the International Space Station in 2008, he had been trying to find a non-NASA way into space for two decades. In the book, he describes how he and his father established a company called Extended Flights for Research and Development, or EFFORT, around 1987 to develop a pallet for the shuttle’s cargo bay that would allow the shuttle to remain in orbit for more than a month. NASA was not interested. He was an early investor in Spacehab, the company that developed pressured modules for the shuttle with visions, ultimately unrealized, of some day carrying people commercially.
Garriott was also an early investor in space tourism company Space Adventures, and funded out of his own pocket a $300,000 study by the Russian space agency Roscosmos to determine if it was feasible for private citizens to fly on Soyuz spacecraft. When the answer came back in the affirmative, “I immediately booked my flight,” he wrote. However, the dot-com crash wiped out much of his net worth, including the money he planned to use for the flight. Dennis Tito instead got to fly in the seat Garriott planned to buy.
Garriott rebuilt his wealth and got another opportunity to fly in 2008….
(7) NEXT. Sam Adams reviews The Discovery for the BBC — “What would happen if we knew the afterlife was real?”
The Discovery, which, like McDowell’s debut, The One I Love, he co-wrote with Justin Lader, opens with a jarring but gimmicky prologue. Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford), the scientist who has provided proof that there is some form of life after death, is in the midst of defending his findings to a TV interviewer (a far-too-brief appearance by Mary Steenburgen), when a member of her crew interrupts to blow his brains out on the air. But in contrast with last year’s twin Sundance entries about the on-camera suicide of Florida newscaster Christine Chubbuck, his action isn’t a protest so much as an invitation: if there’s another world, it can’t be worse than this one, so why not get there as soon as you can?…
The question of whether an afterlife exists is as much epistemological as metaphysical: if not necessarily all, at least a significant percentage of the world’s religious faithful have long had all the proof they need. Thomas Harbor’s discovery would seem to overwhelmingly settle the question, but as his son argues, “Proof shouldn’t be overwhelming; it should be definitive.” (The extent to which that statement sounds either profound or sophomoric is a good indication of how much you’ll get out of The Discovery.)
(8) SKY HIGH DEFINITION. Praise for photos from a new weather satellite orbited in December — “’Like High-Definition From The Heavens’; NOAA Releases New Images Of Earth”.
The satellite, known as GOES-16, is in geostationary orbit, meaning its location does not move relative to the ground below it. It is 22,300 miles above Earth. Its imaging device measures 16 different “spectral bands,” including two that are visible to the human eye and 14 that we experience as heat.
It is significantly more advanced than the current GOES satellite, which measures only five spectral bands.
(9) A TV SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS. NPR says the TV series gets the books better than the movie did: “’A Series of Unfortunate Events’ Is All About Olaf”.
It’s the Netflix series that comes closest to achieving that tone, for two reasons.
One, it foregrounds Lemony Snicket. Jude Law played him in the movie, but chiefly in voice-over. The Netflix series turns him into a kind of omnipresent, lachrymose host played with deadpan, note-perfect solemnity by Patrick Warburton.
In the series, Snicket is constantly stepping into the shot to impart some new nugget of depressing information, or express concern at something that has just happened, will soon happen, or is happening. He’s like Rod Serling at the beginning of The Twilight Zone, if an episode ever featured Neil Patrick Harris in drag.
Snicket’s physical presence turns out to be important. In the movie, Law’s voice-over did much of the same work, or tried to, but having Snicket literally step into the proceedings to warn us about what we’re about to see next feels exactly like those moments in the books when Snicket’s narrator would admonish us for reading him.
But the big reason it all works? Neil Patrick Harris’ evil Count Olaf.
(10) BONUS ROUND. The author of the Lemony Snicket books, Daniel Handler, appeared on NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me over the weekend. NPR has posted a transcript of the show.
HANDLER: I have one son, yes.
SAGAL: And how old is he?
HANDLER: He’s 13.
SAGAL: Right. And did he read the “Series Of Unfortunate Events?”
HANDLER: He’s actually reading them now. He was quite reluctant to read them for a long time. And for many years, about every six months, he would say to me, what are these books about again? And I would say, they’re about three children whose parents are killed in a terrible fire and then they’re forced to live with a monstrous villain. And he and I would, you know, have that sad look that passes between children and their parents a lot about the inheritance of a confusing and brutal world. And then he would go read something else.
(11) FOR INCURABLE CUMBERBATCH FANS. Have a Benedict Cumberbatch addiction? Check out this 2008 BBC science fiction miniseries, The Last Enemy, available on YouTube. Cumberbatch was nominated for a Satellite Award for his role as a lead character. The story combines pandemic and big brother technology premises.
(12) NOW WITH MORE BABY GROOT. New proof that science fiction movie trailers are much more fun with Japanese-language titles – Guardians of the Galaxy international trailer #2 (followed in this video by the original English-only traler):
[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]
(1) NOT TODAY’S TITLE. “ONCE UPON a time there was a Martian with a wooden leg named Valentine Michael Smith. What its other two legs were named, nobody knows.”
(2) EXFOLIATE! The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has seasonally decorated the club’s Dalek. Michael J. Walsh snapped a photo —
(3) ICON RECOGNITION. The Guardian’s “Picture quiz: how well do you know your sci-fi and fantasy?” is really an elaborate ad for The Folio Society.
Calling all Tolkien heads and sci-fi savants: can you match the illustration to the book? Each one has a clue to help you out.
In theory you should be able to guess from the artwork. Although I scored 7/8, without the clues I don’t know if I’d gotten any of them right.
(4) THE ROOTS OF BABY GROOT. Skeptics have been put on notice that this was something done only for wholesome artistic reasons – I’m sorry, did my nose just grow? “Guardians of the Galaxy 2 director says Baby Groot was a ‘creative change,’ not a marketing ploy”.
Despite what some may believe, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn insists Baby Groot is not a ploy to sell more Marvel merchandise.
Responding to a fan inquiry on Twitter, Gunn wrote, “I’m sure some people think that but for me keeping him Baby Groot throughout the film was the creative change that opened the film up for me. I was less confident the studio was going to buy in on Baby Groot than I was they were going to buy in on Ego the Living Planet” — the latter being Kurt Russell’s character and Star-Lord’s father.
(5) DYLAN’S NOBEL. The New Yorker’s Amanda Petrusich covered the ceremony — “A Transcendant Patti Smith Accepts Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize”.
That Dylan ultimately accepted the Nobel with a folk song (and this specific folk song, performed by a surrogate, a peer) seemed to communicate something significant about how and what he considers his own work (musical, chiefly), and the fluid, unsteady nature of balladry itself—both the ways in which old songs are fairly reclaimed by new performers, and how their meanings change with time. Before Smith took the stage, Horace Engdahl, a literary historian and critic, dismissed any controversy over Dylan’s win, saying the decision “seemed daring only beforehand, and already seems obvious.” He spoke of Dylan’s “sweet nothings and cruel jokes,” and his capacity for fusing “the languages of the streets and the Bible.” In the past, he reminded us, all poetry was song.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
(9) WHAT’S A GOOD INTRODUCTION TO SF? Jason Sanford returns to controversy he wrote about last year in “Let Us Now Praise ‘Famous’ Authors”.
A few years ago I was on a SF/F convention panel about bringing new readers into our genre. I mentioned that science fiction needed more gateway novels, which are novels new genre readers find both approachable and understandable (a type of novel the fantasy genre is filled with but which are more rare in the science fiction genre).
As I stated this another author on the panel snorted and said we don’t need new gateway SF novels because the juvenile novels written by Heinlein in the 1950s are still perfect. This author believed the first exposure kids have to science fiction should be novels from the 1950s. And that this should never change.
That is the attitude people should fear because, in the long run, it will kill our genre.
This brings me back to my earlier point about the “famous” people our world holds up to acclaim. Yes, many famous authors helped build our genre, but so did the work and love of countless forgotten people.
(10) ROGUE SCIENCE. Neil deGrasse Tyson only needs a minute to explain why he is a Death Star skeptic in a video on Business Insider.
Owning a Death Star comes with some serious risk, especially when it was constructed with a serious design flaw. But astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has a more practical reason why the ‘Star Wars’ Death Star didn’t quite make sense.
(11) DIGITAL COMICS POLL. You have until December 23 to vote for Digital Comic of The Year 2016 at Pipedream Comics.
It’s been another bumper year for exciting and innovative digital comics in 2016. From boundary pushing webcomics to crowd-funded sensations to cutting edge apps, we have picked out 10 of the best for you to vote on and declare the best Digital Comic Of The Year 2016. So get involved and make sure your favourite joins the likes of Madefire’s Captain Stone and Mono:Pacific, David Lloyd’s Aces Weekly and last year’s champion Adventures in Pulp, as winner of our prestigious prize. Below is our rundown of the contenders for this year’s prize, and you can cast your vote here. (Polls close at midnight on December 23rd!)
Here are links to some of the contenders, where you can see full comics or samples:
(12) DOG SHOW. When Doris V. Sutherland dared to question the quality of Brian Niemeier’s Dragon Award-winning book, the author and another puppy blogger insisted the emperor was so wearing clothes — “Horror Puppies Redux: Is Souldancer Really Horror Fandom’s New Favourite Novel?”.
And while we’re at it, let’s look at the two books that I personally found to be the strongest contenders in the Dragons’ horror category. Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay is at #156,590 in ebooks, and at #561,851 (paperback) and #60,849 (hardback) in books; Alice by Christina Henry is at #156,678 in ebooks and #27,655 in books. I stand by my statement at WWAC: if the Dragon Awards truly honoured the works most popular amongst fans, then the award for Best Horror Novel would not have gone to Souldancer.
Niemeier concluded his post by asking his readers to prove me wrong by posting reviews of Souldancer; he confidently predicted that the book will soon have more than fifty ratings on Amazon. This call to action resulted in Souldancer‘s review count going from eight to twelve, prompting Niemeier’s glass-half-full statement that “Souldancer reviews are up 50%”. A few more reviews have been posted since then – although the more recent ones have been somewhat mixed, as is to be expected from the novel reaching a broader audience following its Dragon Award victory.
(13) LIGHTS, CAMERA, NO MONEY! If Sad Puppies made a sci-fi movie, I bet their promo would sound a lot like the ads for This Giant Papier Mache Boulder is Actually Really Heavy, a New Zealand comedy film.
What happened to the good old days of sci-fi, when spaceships were real models, monsters made of latex and laser guns a curling iron painted silver? Now imagine a universe where everything was just like this for real.
For three ordinary guys Tom, Jeffrey and Gavin, this just became a reality. One minute they were watching an old b-grade movie, the next they’ve been thrust inside the movie itself and at the helm of a rickety old spaceship. Panic ridden they stumble into a space battle. and make a mortal enemy of the evil Lord Froth while unwittingly saving the space princess Lady Emmanor. Then suddenly Jeffrey starts to change into a sci-fi character called Kasimir. They must adapt quickly if they are to survive long enough to find a way home. For all they know they could be next. If that happens they will be lost in this world forever. They embark on a quest to find a cure for Jeffrey and a way back home. This is an action-packed comedy adventure of giant lizards, space battles, robots, aliens, warlords and amazons that has to be seen to be believed.
(14) MR. SCI-FI. Marc Scott Zicree shares his afterword for the new Magic Time audio play he and Elaine directed and wrote that will be released by Skyboat Media. It’s based on his bestselling series of novels from HarperCollins, and stars Armin Shimerman of Deep Space Nine and Buffy and Christina Moses of The Originals and Containment.
(15) EXTRATERRESTRIAL SEASON’S GREETINGS. Another sampling from the sci-fi Christmas catalog.
Barry Gordon – Zoomah the Santa Claus From Mars
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W. “Not Today’s Title” credit goes to File 770 contributing editor Daniel Dern.]
Stand by to be teased. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, in theaters May 2017.
(1) ELLISON KICKSTARTER FULLY FUNDED. The Harlan Ellison Books Preservation Project Kickstarter has blown past its $100,000 goal. The total raises at this time is $102,409, with four days to go.
(2) TELL ME YOU’RE KIDDING. CinemaBlend says Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 may give us more Howard the Duck.
In case you’ve somehow forgotten about Howard the Duck’s surreal appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy, he was briefly spotted in a display case during the main movie as part of The Collector’s…well, collection. Later in the post-credits scene when The Collector sat by his destroyed museum, Howard (voiced by Seth Green) sat nearby and criticized the eccentric entity for letting Cosmo the Spacedog lick his face. Funny enough, James Gunn didn’t originally plan on including Howard the Duck in Guardians of the Galaxy because the original post-credits scene was supposed to tease Avengers: Age of Ultron. When Captain America: The Winter Soldier “stole” that, Gunn and editor Frank Raskin noticed in their existing footage that Beneicio del Toro looked to the side at a box, thus providing a way to sneak Howard in and redeem the character a little bit for that movie of his that still occasionally haunts our dreams.
With or without Howard the Duck’s participation, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters on May 5, 2017.
(3) BRUCE SCHNEIER. What’s he been doing since he worked on E Pluribus Hugo? The Daily Dot reports on his recent testimony before Congress — “Bruce Schneier: ‘The Internet era of fun and games is over’”
Internet pioneer Bruce Schneier issued a dire proclamation in front of the House of Representatives’ Energy & Commerce Committee Wednesday: “It might be that the internet era of fun and games is over, because the internet is now dangerous.”
The meeting, which focused on the security vulnerabilities created by smart devices, came in the wake of the Oct. 21 cyberattack on Dyn that knocked Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, and other major web services offline….
Here’s how he framed the Internet of Things, or what he later called the “world of dangerous things”:
As the chairman pointed out, there are now computers in everything. But I want to suggest another way of thinking about it in that everything is now a computer: This is not a phone. It’s a computer that makes phone calls. A refrigerator is a computer that keeps things cold. ATM machine is a computer with money inside. Your car is not a mechanical device with a computer. It’s a computer with four wheels and an engine… And this is the Internet of Things, and this is what caused the DDoS attack we’re talking about.
He then outlined four truths he’s learned from the world of computer security, which he said is “now everything security.”
1) ‘Attack is easier than defense’
Complexity is the worst enemy of security. Complex systems are hard to secure for an hours’ worth of reasons, and this is especially true for computers and the internet. The internet is the most complex machine man has ever built by a lot, and it’s hard to secure. Attackers have the advantage.
2) ‘There are new vulnerabilities in the interconnections’
The more we connect things to each other, the more vulnerabilities in one thing affect other things. We’re talking about vulnerabilities in digital video recorders and webcams that allowed hackers to take websites. … There was one story of a vulnerability in an Amazon account [that] allowed hackers to get to an Apple account, which allowed them to get to a Gmail account, which allowed them to get to a Twitter account. Target corporation, remember that attack? That was a vulnerability in their HVAC contractor that allowed the attackers to get into Target. And vulnerabilities like this are hard to fix. No one system might be at fault. There might be two secure systems that come together to create insecurity.
3) ‘The internet empowers attackers’
4) ‘The economics don’t trickle down’
The engineers at Google, Apple, Microsoft spent a lot of time on this. But that doesn’t happen for these cheaper devices. … These devices are a lower price margin, they’re offshore, there’s no teams. And a lot of them cannot be patched. Those DVRs are going to be vulnerable until someone throws them away. And that takes a while. We get security [for phones] because I get a new one every 18 months. Your DVR lasts for five years, your car for 10, your refrigerator for 25. I’m going to replace my thermostat approximately never. So the market really can’t fix this.
Schneier then laid out his argument for why the government should be a part of the solution, and the danger of prioritizing surveillance over security.
We’re now at the point where we need to start making more ethical and political decisions about how these things work. When it didn’t matter—when it was Facebook, when it was Twitter, when it was email—it was OK to let programmers, to give them the special right to code the world as they saw fit. We were able to do that. But now that it’s the world of dangerous things—and it’s cars and planes and medical devices and everything else—maybe we can’t do that anymore.
That’s not necessarily what Schneier wants, but he recognizes its necessity
(4) BIG DATA. Mark R. Kelly spent a busy day updating the Science Fiction Awards Database, that indispensable research tool —
— posted Saturday 26 November 2016 @ 5:33 pm PST
More 2016 results: the readers’ polls from Analog and Asimov’s magazines, and the Dell Magazine Undergrad Awards, reported in Asimov’s magazine.
AnLab: 93 new and updated pages
Note the Analog readers’ poll now has a poetry category. Also, first page in this index for Alvaro Zinos-Amaro.
Dell Magazines Awards: 37 new and updated pages
Note these awards have a new dedicated website: http://www.dellaward.com/
Asimov’s Reader Awards: 91 new and updated pages.
Also updated: 2016 Results
— posted Saturday 26 November 2016 @ 3:37 pm PST
(5) REACHING A MILESTONE. Adam Whitehead celebrates a decade of blogging in “10 Years of the Wertzone: Listing the Classics”.
Occasionally I award a particularly special book, video game, movie or TV show the honour of being a “Wertzone Classic”. To be a classic, the work has to both be excellent and also to have withstood the test of time and emerged as a true defining work in its field. The following is a complete list of all works to be awarded a “Classic” award since the start of the blog in 2006. I would strongly recommend all of these works to anyone interested in science fiction and fantasy, be it in print or on screen.
The list includes 30 books.
(6) VISITS WITH ROBERT SILVERBERG. At Locus Online, “Russell Letson reviews Alvaro Zinos-Amaro”.
Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-63-7, $16.99, 274pp, tp) August 2016. Cover by Patrick Swenson.
Robert Silverberg’s career has spanned more than half the history of modern American science fiction: he began reading SF magazines in 1948, during the ‘‘Golden Age,’’ and by 1954 was writing for the pulps, producing the first entries in a bibliography that now runs to 600-plus items of fiction and booklength nonfiction alone. Between receiving a Hugo Award for ‘‘Most Promising New Author’’ in 1956 and attaining SFWA Grand Master status in 2004, Silverberg has been in a position to meet nearly everyone of consequence in the SF field, sell to nearly every editor (and do plenty of editing himself), and explore nearly every market niche, while also (for a while) carrying out parallel careers turning out carefully-researched nonfiction and pseudonymous, non-SF yard-goods.
(7) A THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” — W. Somerset Maugham
(8) BOB FELICE OBIT. Cynthia Felice told her Facebook readers, “My beloved and much-loved husband of 55 years, Bob Felice Sr. died yesterday. While his death was sudden and swift, it was not unexpected, not even by him.”
Cat Rambo says of Cynthia, “[She] is an SF writer and was the SFWA ombudsman (currently the position’s held by the amazing Gay Haldeman) for years, solving member problems with serenity and grace.”
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
(11) ANIMAL ASTRONAUTS. The art is irresistible and the story is cute. Krypton Radio tonight will air an interview with STEM children’s book author Andrew Rader.
Buckle up, space fans, for an intriguing conversation with Andrew Rader, author of the upcoming children’s book Mars Rover Rescue, and its predecessor, MC Longneck’s Epic Space Adventure. Andrew has a PhD in human space flight from MIT, and works professionally as an aerospace engineer. This gives him a unique perspective when it comes to creating educational children’s books that can ignite the imaginations of young budding future scientists. The new book has already blown past its goal on Kickstarter, and now the second book about the self-assured “giraffestronaut” is well into stretch goal territory….
Tune in this evening at 9 pm PT / Midnight ET for the first broadcast of this fascinating interview with Andrew Rader. Your hosts this evening are Susan Fox and Gene Turnbow….
(12) NEXT STEPS. Cat Rambo begins her blog post “Nattering Social Justice Cook: Prepare to Ride, My People” with a list of links to disturbing post-election news, then tells how she plans to move forward.
The world is broken. Love isn’t enough to fix it. It will take time and effort and blood and sweat and tears. It will stretch some of us almost to the breaking point and others past it. We must help each other in the struggle, must be patient and kind, and above all hopeful. We must speak out even when we are frightened or sad or weary to the bone….
In my opinion. You may disagree, and that’s fine. This is what I think and what’s driving my actions over the next four years. I am going to speak up and object and point things out. I am going to support institutions that help the groups like the homeless, LGBT youth, and others whose voting rights have been stolen and whose already too-scant and under threat resources are being methodically stripped away.
I am going to continue to insist that honesty, tolerance, and a responsibility for one’s own words are part of our proud American heritage, the thing that has often led us along the path where, although there have been plenty of mistakes, there have been actions that advanced the human race, that battled the forces of ignorance and intolerance, and that served as a model for the world. That “liberty and justice for all” are not hollow words, but a lamp lifted to inspire us and light our way in that direction.
I will continue to love in the face of hate, to do what Jesus meant when he said hate the sin while loving the sinner. I will continue to teach, formally and by setting an example of what a leader, a woman, a good human being should do, acknowledging my own imperfections so I can address them and keep growing and getting better at this human existence thing. If I see a fellow being in need, I will act, even if it means moving outside my usual paths.
(13) DOGGONE IT. Adam-Troy Castro sees no reason for feudin’ and fussin’ over awards:
I have won a few significant (if in prestige second-tier) awards at this gig, and on those occasions, I won because some folks thought that I had written the best story, and by God, that is less complicated, and more satisfying than AGITATING FIGHTING COMPLAINING CAMPAIGNING FRETTING RAGING AND DECLARING ENEMIES FOR MONTHS ON END could possibly be. It certainly was. I don’t have a Hugo or a Nebula or a Stoker, and may never get one, but by God I came close a bunch of times, and each time it was without the help of a carefully-managed campaign by hundreds of yahoos screaming bile. It was just me, putting words down, getting what acclaim I got all on my own, and that was *it*. Again, it feels better.
Since Gustav Gloom, I have gotten that feeling just being beamed at by kids.
And on top of that? Typing THE END at the close of work of fiction, and knowing, *knowing*, that it’s a superior piece of work, is where that great feeling comes first.
(14) CANCEL THE CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS. Now we know what the Sad Puppies are waiting on –
Every time more than half a crowd doesn't like me I console myself with the thought that I killed with the Electoral Audience.
— Josh Gondelman (@joshgondelman) November 26, 2016
(15) IT’S ON THE BAG. Fan artist Jose Sanchez – who provided the back covers of my past two paperzines – announces his online shop http://www.shopvida.com/collections/jose77sanchez, which he touts as a place “where you can find my artwork on new apparel products that can make great gifts-especially now in the holidays!”
(16) RON GLASS’ TWILIGHT ZONE EPISODE. You can watch “I of Newton” on YouTube. Teleplay by Alan Brennert based on a short story by Joe Haldeman.
[Thanks to Steve Green, Cat Rambo, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]
(1) PETALS TO THE METAL. At Young People Read Old SFF, curator James Davis Nicoll is a little worried:
My hit rate for this series so far has been… somewhat lower than I hoped. It’s not that I am going out of my way to find older SF stories that do not consistently appeal to younger people; it is just that I turn out to have a remarkable talent for finding older SF stories that do not consistently appeal to younger people.
So this time he pulled out one of the greatest short stories in the genre, Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon”. Turns out his young audience wasn’t all that fired-up about it, either. Which reminds me of a favorite joke:
A dog food company once held a convention for its sales force. The president got up and said, “We have the greatest product in the world!” Everybody applauded. “We have the best sales people in the industry!” The cheered wildly. “So,” asked the president, “why aren’t we selling any dog food?” A little man in the back got up and shouted, “It’s the damn dogs, sir! They don’t like it!”
(2) DON’T STAND UNDERNEATH WHEN THEY FLY BY. The odds say that these things are supposed to crash in the ocean. Except when they don’t. “The Space Debris Problem: Dual Impact In Myanmar Shows What’s To Come”.
A mining facility in northern Myanmar became the crash site of a huge piece of space debris last Thursday. As the impact occurred, a smaller piece of debris with Chinese markings on it simultaneously destroyed the roof of a house in a nearby village. Fortunately, no one was injured in either incident.
The larger object is barrel-shaped and measures about 4.5 meters (15 ft) long, with a diameter barely over a meter. “The metal objects are assumed to be part of a satellite or the engine parts of a plane or missile,” a local news report said. The Chinese government is neither confirming nor denying whether both pieces of space junk came from the same object.
(3) FIGHT INTERNMENT. George Takei’s op-ed in the Washington Post reacts against talk about rounding up Muslims and reminds people of what happened when we interned the Japanese — “They interned my family. Don’t let them do it to Muslims”.
There is dangerous talk these days by those who have the ear of some at the highest levels of government. Earlier this week, Carl Higbie, an outspoken Trump surrogate and co-chair of Great America PAC, gave an interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News. They were discussing the notion of a national Muslim registry, a controversial part of the Trump administration’s national security plans, when Higbie dropped a bombshell: “We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will,” he said. Was he really citing the Japanese American internment, Kelly wanted to know, as grounds for treating Muslims the same way today? Higbie responded that he wasn’t saying we should return to putting people in camps. But then he added, “There is precedent for it.”
Stop and consider these words. The internment was a dark chapter of American history, in which 120,000 people, including me and my family, lost our homes, our livelihoods, and our freedoms because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Higbie speaks of the internment in the abstract, as a “precedent” or a policy, ignoring the true human tragedy that occurred….
(4) THE FRANCHISE THAT LIVED. The BBC renders a verdict — “Film review: Is Fantastic Beasts a Rowling triumph?” Chip Hitchcock says, “tl;dr version: way too many characters for one movie. Rowling says it’s the first of five; sounds a bit like the opening episode ST:TNG, which spent most of its time setting up the main players.”
As exhilarating as all the new sights and sounds are, though, it’s soon apparent that Rowling et al are enjoying their relocation a little too much. A major flaw of the later Harry Potter films was that they crammed in so many characters and incidents from the ever-longer novels that they were baffling to anyone who didn’t know the books by heart. What’s slightly disappointing about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is that, even though it isn’t adapted from a novel, it has a similar problem. Rowling’s superabundant imagination won’t let the story build up momentum: she keeps shoving minor characters and irrelevant details in its path.
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY
I remember being at the County Fair and there was a display with kiosks. You used a rotary phone to dial your number then using a push-button phone you dialed a random phone number. The elapsed time was displayed and you saw how much faster the push-button phone was compared to the rotary.
(6) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Actor Charles Bronson appeared in the 1953 horror classic House of Wax as Vincent Price’s assistant, Igor. Bronson is credited under his real name, Charles Buchinsky.
(7) ABOLISHING A EUPHEMISM. NPR’s Glen Weldon says “The Term ‘Graphic Novel’ Has Had A Good Run. We Don’t Need It Anymore”.
…And all the other, sillier, less meaningful stuff. Science fiction, or whatever.
Oy. OK. Lots to unpack here, and, to be fair, at lot of it’s our fault. Comics readers and creators, that is.
By the time the great cartoonist Will Eisner slapped the term “graphic novel” on his 1978 book, A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories, the term had been percolating around comics fandom for years. Eisner, however, was a tireless advocate, and wanted people to appreciated that comics are a medium, not a genre. A medium dominated, then as now, by superheroes, but nevertheless a storytelling medium that could be used to tell an infinite number of stories in vastly different ways.
Which is why—
Um, OK. It looks like you’re ramping up. I’m gonna … I’m just gonna grab a seat then.
Fine, go ahead.
The reason Eisner latched onto the term “graphic novel” and ran with it is because … well, it was 1978. He needed to. Comics were considered, if they were considered at all, junk culture. Kid stuff that was beneath serious notice, if not beneath contempt….
Chip Hitchcock comments: “They use Gaiman’s less-colorful metaphor; when he spoke in NYC a decade or so back, he said someone who insisted he did ‘graphic novels’ made him feel like a streetwalker being told she was a lady of the night.”
(8) CHESTNUTS ROASTING. Annalee Newitz lists “All the science fiction and fantasy novels you need to make it through the winter” at Ars Technica.
Everfair, by Nisi Shawl
2016 was a good year for alternate histories, and Shawl’s thought experiment about 19th century colonialism in Everfair is no exception. In this alternate reality, Fabian socialists in Britain manage to team up with African-American missionaries to buy part of the Belgian Congo from King Leopold II, establishing the free African nation of Everfair. Based on an actual historical plan that never came to fruition, the novel imagines how Everfair would develop, changing the history of other colonized African nations as its population swells with American former slaves and liberated peoples of the Congo. Though there is a strong Utopian core to the novel, Shawl does not shy away from depicting thorny, internecine battles between different groups who have opposing definitions of freedom. Plus, we get to see how Everfair develops breathtaking new technologies. Shawl has done incredible research on the history of the Congo, and it shows. This is steampunk done right, with all the tarnish, sweat, and blood visible on the gears of the world’s great industrial technologies.
(9) AH, THAT EXPLAINS IT. I wondered why Vox Day kept using this as a figure for Trump. James McConnaughy makes the connection in “#NotMyGodEmperor: Why Are There So Many Actual Fascists in the Warhammer 40K Fandom?” at The Mary Sue.
That’s ridiculous, I told myself. There’s absolutely no way they could be genuinely identifying with the Imperium of Man or its fascist power structure. After all, the Imperium of Man is a parody of fascism, and not a particularly subtle one at that, since the game constantly talks about how much life sucks and how the authoritarianism causes more problems than it solves. They’d have to be blind to not see that Warhammer 40k is… kid…ding.
Oh. Oh no.
Let’s stop for a moment and talk about satire, because I like hard shifts like that. The problem with satire (or, more directly, the problem with writing satire) is that it has a goal, beyond simply being funny. Satire is pointed, it has a purpose, it is, to use a phrase I often dislike, saying something. More specifically, satire is saying something by taking something it wishes to criticize and blowing it up to absurd proportions.
And therein lies the problem: Satire is always walking the razor’s edge. By using the words and concepts of the thing you are satirizing, you are often giving voice to those words and concepts, and someone out there is going to agree with those words, not the actual point of your satire. That’s the basis of Poe’s Law: Without a blatant display of comedy, it is impossible to create a parody of extremism or fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.
(10) PLONK YOUR MAGIC TWANGER. The Financial Times has a regular feature about the one thing people take with them when they travel. Chris Hadfield explained in the November 12 issue why he always carries his guitar with him.
He explains that on his first trip to the Mir space station in 1995 he had a special guitar made by Wright Guitars where owner Rossco Wright “adapted one for me, cutting the neck in half and putting a locking piano hinge on it so it would fold and fit in the shuttle. I had to get approval from Nasa: from the highest level, the director of the space shuttle programme.”
“Just before the flight while I was in quarantine, I got a call from the payloads people saying that although Nasa had approved it, the Russians weren’t gonna let me take the guitar on to Mir because it hadn’t passed all the electromagnetic and flammability tests. So some people from Nasa came to my house, found my spare SoloEtte, did all the testing and passed the results to Russia. We launched–still without permission from the Russians–and I assembled the guitar on Mir, but we weren’t allowed to plug it in. Then,. as we were doing a press conference with Russian prime minister Victor Cheromydin, he said, ‘I understand you have a new guitar–play me a song.’ That sounded like permission, so we played a concert on Mir, and nothing caught fire or blew up.”
Hadfield says that the Larivee Parlour guitar Hadfield used to cover “Space Odyssey” in 2013 “was put there” in the International Space Station “for psychological support (along with books, movies, a harmonica and a couple of footballs” and has been in space since 2001.
(11) SPIGOT, RHYMES WITH… In October, Alexandra Erin created a satirical news feed on Medium called The Daily Spigot. She tells her Patreon supporters that she intended it to be daily, but that illness and the election interrupted her momentum; however, she has started writing new posts again. The latest is: “Trump Asking Every Business In Phone Book About Mexico Plans”
This reporter was allowed into Donald Trump’s private office to witness the real estate developer turned job saver in action.
“Hello, Triple A All-American Locksmiths?” he asked during a typical such call. “This is the President of the United States. That’s right,” he said, while an aide frantically mouthed the words “no, no, no” and another scrawled, “You have to stop saying that” on a piece of paper, which was then pushed across the desk to Trump, who frowned at it, signed it, then pushed it away.
“I’m just calling to see if you had any plans on moving your plant or any jobs to Mexico in, say, the next two months to four years? No? Great! Tremendous. Thanks a bunch. Make America great again!”
He then hung up the phone and said, “That’s another one for the Twitter.”
(12) GROWING UP GROOT. CinemaBlend poses some knotty questions in “How Groot Will Be Different In Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, According To Vin Diesel”.
While plugging his new movie Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk to Collider, Vin Diesel detoured into Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 territory, and noted how in the sequel, Groot will have a significantly more naive mindset compared to how he was as an adult. While it was generally assumed that Baby Groot would behave like a juvenile, Diesel statement confirms that the alien basically be a child, albeit one with extraordinary abilities. However, that mentality doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t remember what he was like before he was destroyed and regrown. At San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said Baby Groot will retain his memories, although director James Gunn later told a fan that as far as Baby Groot being the original Groot or a “son,” that situation is “complicated.”.
(13) NOT YOUR AVERAGE OBLATE SPHEROID. Astronomers claim to have discovered the roundest object ever measured in nature. Write this on your hand.
Kepler 11145123 is a distant, slowly rotating star that’s more than twice the size of the Sun.
Researchers were able to show that the difference between its radius as measured to the equator and the radius measured to the poles was just 3km.
“This makes Kepler 11145123 the roundest natural object ever measured,” said lead author Prof Laurent Gizon.
He added that it was “even more round than the Sun”.
(14) INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY IN THE SKY. Elon Musk’s latest: satellite internet: “SpaceX aims to launch internet from space”.
Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, announced last year that the service would be “larger than anything that has been talked about to date” adding that it would take about $10bn (£8bn) to get it off the ground.
The latest documents did not include costs.
It suggested that the first 800 satellites would be used to expand internet access in the US, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin islands.
Each satellite, about the size of an average car, not including solar panels, would weigh 850 pounds (386kg), the firm said.
[Thanks to JJ, Todd, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is coming to theaters April 28, 2017.
(1) IT CAN WEAR ON YOU. Wendy Ross Kaufman has written a concise history of fan costuming culture that explains why she prefers her activity not be lumped in with cosplay, in “They’re Young. We’re Dead. So it’s Cosplay”.
And so, momentum of the new “cosplay” word grows. The newer, younger crowd makes original work, but since they came to costuming by way of Anime, they still call themselves cosplayers. Cosplayers brand themselves as such, finally showing up on reality shows, and the media is just frantic for them. Most have no idea that this cosplay thing is not Japanese at all. It’s American, misnamed by a Japanese man searching for a name that was not “too noble” for the art he saw at Worldcon in 1984. As one who has never cosplayed, “even once”, it’s understandable how Mr. Takahashi just got it so completely wrong, and completely missed all the subtlety and cultural nuances of what he saw. No outsider could, let alone one from a totally different culture.
Now, as ‘cosplayers’ enjoy their turn at being the darling of the internet, there have been skirmishes about what to call these people who make costumes for conventions. Is it “cosplayer” or “costumer”? Sometimes you hear that one should simply respect a person’s wishes, and call each what they ask to be called. Then you also get the positively rabid insistence from some that it’s all cosplay, and only cosplay, and anything else is somehow insulting to cosplayers. They are absolutely, positively emphatic about it. Even costuming that happened 40 years ago is cosplay and should be renamed as such. No amount of trying to explain how this is not correct, because the whole era was different, will work, and those costumers do not want to rename what they did, nor should they. The audience was different. What was fashionable in costume was different. These costumes can be dated the same way any costumes—even period costumes—date a movie to when it was made, not when it was set. There was a whole community with its own codified rules and expectations at that time that are very different than the cosplayer’s and in no way was the word “cosplay” associated with it, nor would any of them have considered associating what most consider to be “play” with what they did. Simply put, the word “cosplay” did not exist then, nor would it, here in the US, for a decade or more. It would take even longer before it gained any real momentum.
So you can see that it is a bit odd to insist, while virtually stomping oneself into the floor, Rumplestiltskin-like, that 50 years of costume convention history be renamed because the new kids insist there is no difference, and they want their new word—because somehow, it’s better but also the same. It’s a peculiar bit of cultural appropriation that costumers react negatively to. If there is no difference, then that only means that “costumer” is the “correct” term. Why do we need a new word?
You can be cosplayers if you wish, but costumers will continue to be costumers.
Pat Cadigan put her up to this one –
(3) GET SCALZI AUDIO STORY FREE. This novella is premiering as an audiobook – and you can download it at no charge over the next few weeks – “The Dispatcher: Now Out for Free on Audible + NYCC Signings and Appearances”.
Today’s the day: The Dispatcher, my audiobook novella, is out and exclusively available on Audible.com, for free through November 2. It’s read by Zachary Quinto, who you know from the new Star Trek films as Spock and from Heroes as Sylar, and he is simply a terrific narrator for the story.
And what’s the story? Imagine our world with a simple but profound twist: when someone intentionally kills someone else, 999 out of a thousand, they come back. Murder becomes almost impossible, war is radically altered — and there arises a new class of legal, professional killers called “Dispatchers,” tasked with killing those doomed to die, so they can come back and live again.
(4) LONGER LIST ANTHOLOGY. David Steffen’s Long List Anthology Volume 2 Kickstarter passed its first stretch goal of $3,900, enabling it to add the novelettes, and it’s now raised $4,147, on its way to the $5000 for adding two novellas.
That adds the following stories, including one that is just being announced as part of this update (marked with a * in case you’re just tuning in)
- “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” by Elizabeth Bear
- “So Much Cooking” by Naomi Kritzer
- “Another Word For World” by Ann Leckie
- “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” by Rose Lemberg
- “The Deepwater Bride” by Tamsyn Muir
- “Our Lady of the Open Road” by Sarah Pinsker*
- “The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild” by Catherynne M. Valente
On to the novella stretch goal! (And if that one’s reached, to consider what else to consider after that.)
Thanks to all 212 backers, BoingBoing and File770 for signal-boosting, and to everyone else who has helped spread the word!
(5) JUST. ONCE. MORE. Can’t find that I’ve linked this story in the Scroll before – it’s Yes! Magazine’s full-length article about the “Just. One. Book.” effort, “A Mom’s Plea for Library Books Brought in 15,000 – And Transformed Her Small Town”.
Books change lives. Everyone reading this knows that. But what about 15,000 books donated from around the world to a struggling rural school, where the library has been closed for a decade? That many books can change a community.
At the cusp of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges sits Greenville, California, a town of 1,130 residents. The town and the surrounding Indian Valley community are right now exploring all the benefits of this gift—enough volumes to fill several libraries in a place with scant library services.
Like every good book, there’s a story here.
Margaret Elysia Garcia wasn’t thinking about the shuttered sawmills and empty storefronts of Indian Valley when she posted a blog entry titled “Just. One. Book.” She was thinking about kids…
(6) MASTER OF STONELORE. Fantasy Literature scored a big interview — Hugo Winner N.K. Jemisin talks THE FIFTH SEASON and THE OBELISK GATE
WARNING: THIS INTERVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR BOOK 1 AND 2 OF THE BROKEN EARTH SERIES
Kevin Wei: First, let me just say congrats on your recent Hugo win! We’re great fans of your work here at Fantasy Literature, so I just wanted to start us off by talking about how you write. I know you’ve said in the past that your writing process differs depending on what you write. Has the way you’ve written BROKEN EARTH differed significantly from the way you’ve written other works? Was there a large difference between the writing processes for The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate?
N. K. Jemisin: My process is still pretty much the same, at the planning stage. I outline, and I will put together different sets of information storage, like at one point I used to use a wiki. Now I just write notes, endless notes. I’ve got a file that’s nothing more than stonelore that I’ve made up and another file that keeps track of all the seasons, and then a file that keeps track of the way that plate tectonics would have moved over the years, and all kinds of stuff like that. But I think the difference now that I’m writing book three of the trilogy is that I am now completely off the outline; I have been pantsing it almost exclusively, which is not normal for me, and I’m not sure what that’s going to mean. I think it’s mostly just that I’m working at speed right now, and I’m working at such speed that I don’t have time to even slow down enough to check my outline and make sure I’m on track. It’s a fairly simple story at this point, all of the place settings have been moved and the chess board is all set up now —it’s just a matter of “now fight.”
(7) REPEALING THE INFORMATION AGE? Poynter.org reports “Newspapers hit with a wave of requests to take down embarrassing archived stories”.
In May 2014, the European Union’s highest court ruled that there is a privacy “right to be forgotten” — and that Google needed to respond to any reasonable request that information “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive” be removed. (The case was brought by a Spanish businessman who wanted to unpublish an account of an earlier insolvency).
The right to be forgotten concept has not yet made it across the Atlantic, but it is easy to imagine privacy advocates taking up the cause in state legislatures or Congress.
I became aware of the recent surge in such requests six weeks ago when Zach Ryall, digital managing editor of the Austin American-Statesman called Poynter asking if we knew of an ethics code providing guidance.
“This is getting scary,” Ryall told me. “We are responding to more and more of these…And when I checked with my colleagues at other Cox papers, I found they are too.”…
Checking with chains, Randy Siegel of Advance Local told me the inquiries are not yet a big problem. Brent Jones, standards and ethics editor of the USA Today Network, commented by email:
Newsrooms are guided to keep the bar high when considering removal of content from digital platforms. Our journalists strive daily to preserve the integrity of the published record, including publishing corrections or clarifications. We do so in the interest of the public’s right to know now – and in the future. Take-down requests are weighed on a case-by-case basis with senior editors, and some situations may require legal guidance….
For now, case-by-case seems to be the norm. I was surprised to read that since the EU ruling, Google has received literally hundreds of thousands appeals to disable links, granting about 40 percent but turning down the majority.
Makes me wonder if the Internet Archive is responding to requests to take down old news items?
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
(11) JACK VANCE PHOTO ALBUMS. Andrew Porter remarks, “If people only knew Jack Vance as an old, sedentary and very rotund author, these images will open your eyes of what he looked like as a newlywed, with his wife Norma, just after World War Two and in the years following: http://menno.pharesm.org/jackvance/albums/.
(12) ANOTHER TIME AT BAT. Collider says Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar are still busy in the genre — “’Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders’ Adds to the Voice Cast as New Images Emerge”.
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, the latest animated effort from Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment, has added a few quality names to the film’s voice cast, along with a few new images showing off the classic designs of the 1960s Batman characters.
Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman) own top billing, but Steven Weber and Thomas Lennon–-join as trustworthy butler Alfred Pennyworth and Chief O’Hara, respectively–headline an impressive array of actors who were excited to give voice to a role in a Batman film. In addition to Weber and Lennon, the cast includes:
Jeff Bergman as the Joker and the revered Announcer, William Salyers as The Penguin, Wally Wingert as The Riddler, Lynne Marie Stewart as Aunt Harriett, Jim Ward as Commissioner Gordon, and Sirena Irwin as TV show host Miranda Moore.
(13) CHANGING OF THE GUARDIANS. Petréa Mitchell noted MiceAge has a new Disneyland update that includes details about the new Guardians of the Galaxy makeover for the Tower of Terror, and some epic-sounding stuff about Star Wars Land that we may or may not eventually see.
The construction scaffolding has been growing on the sides and back of Tower of Terror, and by Halloween it should be nearly fully shrouded in scaffolding and tarps. That’s about the time that the construction footprint will have to expand enough to shut down the DCA parade route through the remainder of the construction timeline until next May. Without the ability to perform a parade during construction DCA will still go full steam ahead on one of Christie’s pet projects, the food and merch “festivals” in DCA that will begin November 11th and continue through the spring in one form or another. And when the scaffolds come down, this is what will be seen from throughout DCA – as the video says, inspired by oil refineries:…
(14) THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST. According to the League of Supercritics:
The Wicked Witch of the West is the ultimate archetype for the modern witch, so everyone wants to their own version of her. Too bad MGM holds the copyright to the one everyone knows.
(15) OH, THE DINOMANITY! Mark Evanier relives the anguish of being a first-run Flintstones fan, before the invention of the VCR.
Still, that awful night, I actually missed an episode of The Flintstones! A whole, actual episode of The Flintstones! On Monday, I pumped my schoolmates who’d seen it for details…and expressed shock that some of them could have watched but hadn’t. What the hell was wrong with those children?
I consoled myself that all was not lost; that some (not all) of the episodes were rerun near the end of the season…so I had a chance. As it turned out, this was not one of the ones that was repeated and I figured sadly I would never see it. Who knew at the time those would all be rerun and rerun forever and someday, I’d even be able to buy a copy of it and watch it whenever I wanted to? I finally caught it a year or three later in syndication by which time my interest in The Flintstones was somewhat diminished.
So let us pause to remember that because of technology, no child ever has to endure that pain today. Whatever ten-year-olds are watching today — Son of Zorn or Bob’s Burgers or Elena of Avalor or Naked and Afraid — they never have to miss an episode.
It’s a great time to be alive.
(16) NEW SPACE TRAILER. The Space Between Us Official Trailer #2.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, JJ, David K.M. Klaus, Nigel, Petréa Mitchell, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Alison Scott for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]