Pixel Scroll 12/1/16 Is This A Tickbox Which I Scroll Before Me, The Pixel Toward My Hand?

(1) NO COUNTRY FOR OLD SPACEMEN. NBC News reports “Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Medically Evacuated From South Pole”.

Aldrin, 86, is in stable condition after “his condition deteriorated” while visiting Antarctica, according to White Desert, which organizes luxury tourism trips to the icy continent. The group said Aldrin was evacuated on the first available flight out of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to the McMurdo Station on the Antarctic coast under the care of a doctor with the U.S. Antarctic Program.

He then was flown to Christchurch, New Zealand, and arrived at about 4:25 a.m. local time Friday (10:25 a.m. Thursday ET), according to the National Science Foundation, which provided the flight for Aldrin.

 

(2) FIRST FANS OF STAR WARS. Skywalking to Neverland’s latest podcast features Craig Miller:

Craig Miller, former head of fan relations at Lucasfilm and ancillary producer, is back to give more insider info on The Star Wars Holiday Special. He tells us about how the small production kept growing to promote the stars of CBS and other fun-facts. We also talk about the 1976 MidAmeriCon WorldCon where Star Wars had its first panel and exhibit featuring the first actual props and costumes from STAR WARS. Cut to: 40 years later and the staff that organized that presentation is back to replicate that same panel.

episode145square

(3) MENACE APPRECIATION. James Davis Nicoll selected Heinlein’s “The Menace From Earth” to be the latest test for the panel at Young People Read Old SF.

Of all the authors name-checked in the post that inspired this project, the one I figured would be least appealing to younger readers would be Robert A. Heinlein. He’s one of the grand old men of the field: winner of multiple Hugos, architect of the Future History, over-user of the word “spung.” He may have been a giant in his day, long long ago, but time has not been kind to his books….

These old stories generally don’t get a warm reception, but some of the panelists actually liked this one:

So, how did this story stack up? Good. It shows that women are capable of balancing their career ambitions with their romantic relationships, and that there is often a conflict between the two… especially for women. So that’s pretty cool.

(4) TIPTREE SYMPOSIUM. The 2016 James Tiptree, Jr. Symposium runs December 2-3 at the University of Oregon in Eugene. This year’s theme is “A Celebration of Ursula K. Le Guin”. View the full schedule of events and speakers.

We are very pleased to learn that Ursula Le Guin, honoree of this year’s Tiptree Symposium, is planning to attend the events on Friday, December 2. However, due to recent health issues causing limited mobility and stamina, she will not be able to sign books. Thank you for your understanding.

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929- ) is a remarkable poet, essayist, critic, translator, and storyteller. In all these forms, she never ceases to challenge our expectations about “words, women, places,” as the subtitle to her essay collection Dancing at the Edge of the World puts it. Her many awards testify to her literary skill and deep humanity, and her work has inspired a generation of writers by showing how the unreal can comment on (and incorporate) the real, and how the future can serve as a powerful metaphor for the present. Her writing combines perspectives from anthropology, feminism, science, history, utopian thought, and Taoist philosophy, all wrapped up in convincing and compelling narratives of exploration and self-discovery.

(5) IT’S A WRAP. Birth. Movies. Death. harshes the squee about a forthcoming reboot: The Mummy Gets A Poster, A Brief Teaser And A Stolen Tagline”.

As you can see, The Mummy stars Tom Cruise as a guy who has to stop The Enchantress from Suicide Squad. Good luck to him, she’s p tough.

The biggest curiosity is robbing The Bride of Frankenstein of its “Welcome to a new world of gods and monsters” line. I suppose it’s not outright theft since it evokes the larger universe at play here, but it still seems weird. Is it a clue that we might see a little Frankenstein in this? Or his monster? That should be very exciting for those who haven’t seen Penny Dreadful!

 

(6) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #6. The sixth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions offers some of the author’s own stuff – the complete audio book set of the Goblin trilogy.

The audio books are full-cast recordings from Graphic Audio, and the trilogy retails for $60. Each book comes as six CDs, with a runtime of approximately six hours apiece. They’re new and shrink-wrapped, but I’ll be happy to open them up and autograph them to you before mailing them, if you’d like.

About book one:

Jig the goblin was the runtiest member of an admittedly puny race. Jig was scrawny, so nearsighted as to be almost blind, and had such a poor self-image that when he chose a god to worship it was one of the forgotten ones – after all, what other sort of god would have him as worshiper? He also had a cowardly fire-spider for a pet, a creature that was likely to set your hair on fire if it got into a panic. Made to stand tunnel watch by the goblin bullies who’d been assigned the job, it was just Jig’s luck to be taken captive by a group of adventurers – with the usual complement of a dwarf warrior, a prince out to prove himself, his mad wizard brother, and an elfin thief. Forced to guide this ill-fated party on their search for the Rod of Creation – though Jig had no more idea how to find it than they did – he soon had them stumbling into every peril anyone had ever faced in the fantasy realms. And they hadn’t even found the Necromancer or the Dragon yet!

Listen to an excerpt online.

(7) BANDERSNATCH. Goodreads hosts a page of Bandersnatch quotes, I just discovered.

“As Tolkien points out, the name is “a pleasantly ingenious pun,” referring to those who “dabble in ink.” It also suggests people “with vague or half-formed intimations and ideas.” ? Diana Pavlac Glyer, Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings

(8) FANTASY DESTROYED. Lightspeed’s  “People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy” issue is available.  

fantasy_issue_60_december_2016-683x1024

Funded as a stretch goal of LIGHTSPEED’s People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction! Kickstarter campaign, we’re happy to present a special one-off issue of our otherwise discontinued sister-magazine, FANTASY (which was merged into LIGHTSPEED in 2012), called People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy!: an all-fantasy extravaganza entirely written—and edited!—by POC creators. The People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy! special issue exists to relieve a brokenness in the genre that’s been enabled time and time again by favoring certain voices and portrayals of particular characters. Here we bring together a team of POC writers and editors from around the globe to present fantasy that explores the nuances of culture, race, and history. This is fantasy for our present time, but also—most of all—for our future. People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy! is 100% written and edited by people of color, and is lead by guest editor Daniel José Older, with editorial contributions from Amal El-Mohtar, Tobias S. Buckell, Arley Sorg, and others. It features four original, never-before-published short stories, from N.K. Jemisin, P. Djèlí Clark, Darcie Little Badger, and Thoraiya Dyer. Plus, there’s four classic reprints by Shweta Narayan, Leanne Simpson, Celeste Rita Baker, and Sofia Samatar. On top of all that, we also have an array of nonfiction articles and interviews, from Justina Ireland, Ibi Zoboi, Erin Roberts, Karen Lord, John Chu, Chinelo Onwualu, and Brandon O’Brien, as well as original illustrations by Reimena Yee, Emily Osborne, and Ana Bracic.

(9) LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. What John Scalzi has to say to those who complain when he writes about politics is pretty much what every fanzine editor thinks, whether the gripe is about politics or another favorite topic, but not all of us are as bold about saying so out loud as Mr. Scalzi.

  1. The Short Points About Me Writing On Politics

If you tell me you’re tired of me talking about politics, or tell me to shut up about them, I’ll tell you to kiss my ass. I’ll write about what I want, when I want, where I want, which in this case happens to be about politics, now, here.

(10) HI-TECH PRACTICAL JOKE. I’m speechless. But they’re not.

(11) CALLING FLINT FANS. Eric Flint asked readers of his blog to nominate his novel for a Dragon Award. I looked up Flint at the Science Fiction Awards Database and was shocked to discover that in a long and distinguished career he’s never won any of the multitude of awards tracked on that site. Maybe this will be his year.

I would like to ask for a personal favor. The Dragon awards are now open for nominations and I would appreciate it if as many of you as are so inclined would nominate THE SPAN OF EMPIRE, by Eric Flint and David Carrico, in the category of “Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel.” I will stress that you should only do so if you actually liked the novel, but most of the people I know who’ve read the novel liked it a lot.

Flint received two nominations in the first year of the Dragon Awards, both in the Best Alternate History category which was won by Naomi Novik’s League of Dragons.

(While fact-checking, I discovered the Dragon Awards website still has Novik’s name misspelled as “Novak”.)

(12) CLARKE CENTER PODCAST. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination’s new podcast, Into the Impossible, has released is second episode — “Becoming a Galactic Wonder”.

On this month’s episode of Into the Impossible – a podcast of stories, ideas, and speculations from the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination – we’re looking at wonder and imagination. We’ll get there through the plays of Herbert Siguenza (playwright, actor, and director; founding member of Culture Clash) that take us from Pablo Picasso in 1957 to a post-apocalyptic California, and the art (and green thumb) of Jon Lomberg (astronomical artist), who worked with Carl Sagan on the original Cosmos and has created a garden that can help us imagine our place in the universe. Both ask, as Herbert does in the persona of Picasso himself, “How can we make the world worthy of its children?”

(13) MIGHTY BURGER. The creator of the Big Mac has died and Hogu fans everywhere mourn…. Michael “Jim” Delligatti was 98.

The menu was pretty simple back in those early days — hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries and shakes. But Delligatti saw that his customers wanted something bigger, so in 1967 at his restaurant in Uniontown, Pa., he put together two hamburger patties, topped it with cheese, lettuce, onions and pickles, and he developed a special sauce for the burger. He called it the Big Mac.

The early Big Macs were marketed with a paper collar around them. Pop culture scholar Dave Feldman said that sent customers the message that a Big Mac was  “A sandwich so mighty it needs a harness to restrain it!”

(14) BACK TO THE BREW-TURE. Of greater concern to our cousin fans across the Pond: when and how did Brits first brew?

Meanwhile, large pots and evidence of heat-cracked stones have been found at Skara Brae, a 5,000-year-old settlement in the Orkney islands just north-east of Scotland.

Local archaeologist Merryn Dineley believes that bits of the pottery were once used for heating malt – the germinated and heated cereal grains that ferment to produce alcohol. Dineley has experimented with Neolithic-style equipment and argues that malting of grains could have occurred in this period.

(15) CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. Entertainment Weekly invites you to “Watch these exclusive Star Trek: The Original Series clips from The Roddenberry Vault”.

If there’s a Star Trek obsessive in your family, their Christmas present will be released on Dec. 13. That’s when Star Trek: The Original Series – The Roddenberry Vault, a massive new Blu-ray treasure trove of footage left on the cutting room floor, goes on sale. The Roddenberry Vault draws directly from film cans stored for decades by the Gene Roddenberry estate, and includes deleted scenes, alternate takes, and other behind-the-scenes look at the making of the series that launched the Trek franchise 50 years ago.

EW is excited to share two exclusive clips from The Roddenberry Vault, one of them focused on the making of the maddeningly cute Tribbles, the other a short and mesmerizing clip of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner filming the “Transporter” effect.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, and Stoic Cynic for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Pixel Scroll 11/14/16 The Fen From S.C.R.O.L.L. And P.I.X.E.L.

(1) TRUTH IS STRANGER. Norman Spinrad has posted on Facebook the original English version of the afterward commissioned by the French publisher for the special 40th anniversary edition of the first French edition of Bug Jack Barron. That anniversary is now far enough in the past that Spinrad finally lost patience with the book appearing and gave the piece its freedom. Heinlein features in this afterward.

JACK BARRON & ME

by Norman Spinrad

It must have been 1969 because I had returned from London to Los Angeles and was writing for The Los Angeles Free Press, and the Charlie Manson trial was going on. We were covering it locally, it was a big national story and it came out that Robert Heinlein’s novel STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND was one of Charlie’s fave raves.

In this novel, the sympathetic lead character “discorporates” people who piss him off, always for a righteous reason of course, and Charlie Manson believed that Heinlein’s fictional justification for this likewise justified his own self-given license to do likewise.

I chanced to run into Bob Heinlein at some science fiction convention, and I just had to ask him how he felt about the widely accepted notion of his novel having inspired the Sharon Tate Murders or at least served as Charlie’s moral template for giving the marching order to his murderous posse.

He looked at me deadpan straight in the eye and hit me with a punchline that has stood me in good stead from then until. now.

“The manufacturer,” said Robert Heinlein, “takes no responsibility for the misuse of the product.”

Thus as the author of BUG JACK BARRON I thereby absolve myself of responsibility for the successful political campaign for Congress of Robert K. Dornan, the unsuccessful campaign of Pat Buchanan for the Republic Nomination for President, the march to the far reaches of the far right by the Republican Party, the Alcor Life Extension Foundation….

(2) ANCIENT BRITFANDOM. Martin Morse Wooster is enjoying Rob Hansen’s history of British fandom, THEN (recently published in book form by the redoubtable Ansible Press). Here’s his latest favorite anecdote:

This is from the memoirs of British fan Jim Linwood.  LXI con was the 1961 British national sf convention, where Kingsley Amis was GoH.

“The other famous author who made his debut at LXICon–Martin Amis.  He was 10 years old and spent most of his time running screaming throughout the corridors to the annoyance of the attendees.  A few years later, Kingdon Road fans cheered when we saw him fall to his death from the rigging of Anthony Quinn’s pirate ship in A High Wind in Jamaica — his only film performance.”

(3) DON’T TRIP ON TROPES. At Tor.com, “Charlie Jane Anders, Alyssa Cole, and Rumaan Alam on Avoiding Blind Spots When Writing Outside Your Experience”.

All agreed that tropes are an important tool for playing with genre expectations, as you can set up a particular familiar trope and then change them in a way that’s fresh and exciting for readers. Tropes “can help, can hurt,” Anders said, as they can be “a way of focusing your intentions in the story” but might also lead a writer astray by binding them to the often outdated, cliché, or downright offensive depictions of certain characters that genre. These blind spots occur when writers fall back on their knowledge of a movie for a certain character’s background rather than doing independent research into the personal histories and experiences of people other than the writer. “You should stop and educate yourself,” she said; if instead you think, in this kind of story, this always happens, “that’s death—that’s death of storytelling.”

When asked how to recognize when you’re in a blind spot, the panelists all shared their experiences and key pieces of advice:

  • Get beta readers and sensitivity readers who are familiar with the backgrounds of the characters you’re trying to write. “If you know you have a blind spot, you can even think that you’ve overcome a lot of the blind spot, but you haven’t,” Cole said. “The bottom line is, always have beta readers, but especially make sure you have beta readers from the particular group you’re writing about—if it’s not aliens or something.”
  • Have more than one sensitivity reader if possible. Cole found that in writing a suffragette novella set in 1917, with a main character from India, that two of her readers were from different regions of India and had different experiences; not necessarily contradictory, but enough that it provided more nuance to her work. And compensate them for their time!
  • “You also have to do a gut check 100 times,” Anders said—put the piece aside for a month, then return to it with a fresh perspective.
  • “It’s OK to get it wrong,” Alam said. Sometimes you can work the lack of understanding into the book by putting that perspective into the mouths of your characters; that can be just as valuable.

(4) THE POWER OF SFF. Jim C. Hines and Mary Anne Mohanraj will partner in the creation of Invisible 3, a third volume of collected stories shared by authors and fans “about the importance of representation in science fiction/fantasy.”

These stories help to create understanding and connection. They expose the power of our genre both to help and to harm….

We’re looking for personal, first-hand stories between 400 and 1000 words talking about the impact of SF/F stories and what it’s like to see yourself misrepresented or erased, or relegated to the backgrounds. We’re also interested in the ways underrepresented and marginalized writers have worked to reclaim space in the genre.

Accepted works will first be published online, and then collected and published in an anthology. Contributors will receive a $10 payment.

Once author and artist payments have been covered, all additional proceeds will go to the Con or Bust program, helping people of color to attend SFF conventions.

(5) CALL FOR PAPERS. The annual Literary London conference, will be held July 13-14, 2017. Their theme is “Fantastic London: Dream, Speculation and Nightmare.” They are taking proposals for papers until February 1.

Proposals are invited for papers, comprised panels, and roundtable sessions, which consider any period or genre of literature about, set in, inspired by, or alluding to central and suburban London and its environs, from the city’s roots in pre-Roman times to its imagined futures. While the main focus of the conference will be on literary texts, we actively encourage interdisciplinary contributions relating to film, architecture, visual arts, topography and theories of urban space. Papers from postgraduate students are particularly welcome for consideration. Indicative topics and writers who might be addressed:

  • Gaslight romance, the urban gothic, London noir, steampunk & speculative poetry
  • Future catastrophes, technological dystopias, nightmares of policing & surveillance
  • Forms of fictional flight into alternate ontologies of nationhood and urban belonging
  • Architectural caprice, replication and ruin in the development of the built environment
  • Stories of financial catastrophe, uncertain inheritance and precarious fortune
  • The search for ontological wholeness in a divided, doubled or allotropic city
  • The uncanny, arabesque and magical excrescences of the urban everyday
  • Dramatizing the life of hidden underworlds, anti-worlds & allegorical environments
  • The Weird: H. P. Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, Lord Dusany, M. John Harrison
  • ‘Elsewheres’: Doris Lessing, William Morris, J. G. Ballard, Jean Rhys, Anthony Burgess
  • Urban Gothic: Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, Thomas De Quincey, Charles Dickens
  • Underworlds: Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, Michael Moorcock, Michèle Roberts
  • Make-believe: J. M. Barrie, Cassandra Clare, Philip Reeve, Christina Rossetti, John Clute

Please submit all proposals using the links under ‘Conference’ above. If you have any queries, please contact the conference organiser Dr Peter Jones at conference at literarylondon dot org

(6) STAGE PRAISE. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child won a London theater award.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 14, 1851 Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, was first published in the U.S. And one hundred years later, Ray Bradbury wrote the script for the movie.

(8) THE DOCTOR IS OUT. Both Peter Capaldi and new companion Pearl Mackie will leave with Moffat — “Expect ‘Doctor Who’ In 2018 To Be A “Clean Slate… A Brand New Show” says ScienceFiction.com.

Expect a lot of loose ends to be tied up in the upcoming 2017 season of ‘Doctor Who’.  After this, showrunner Steven Moffat and star Peter Capaldi will depart the hit series, which unfortunately has seen waning ratings in the past few years.  They’ve never come right out and said it, but this is possibly because of the switch-over coming at the end of the new season, but it sounds like the changes will be sweeping!

Insiders are saying that when new showrunner Chris Chibnall takes over for the 2018 season, he will be left with a “clean slate” in order to build his own “brand new show.”  Reportedly this “brand new show” won’t be 100% fresh, however.  Instead, it is reported that the BBC, which has not only been unhappy with the weaker ratings of the Capaldi era, but the sharp dip in sales of “dolls, books, DVDs and toys” are looking to return to a winning formula….

Perhaps the most startling change is that Pearl Mackie, who has yet to even debut as new Companion Bill, is also expected to depart the series along with Moffat and Capaldi.  Often, Companions are used to help transition between Doctors and in a sense serve as guides until the new Doctor gains his bearings, as was the case with Clara Oswald, who bridged the gap between Matt Smith’s version and Capaldi’s.

But reportedly Mackie only signed on for a one-year contract.  She, Capaldi and Moffat are expected to make the 2017 Christmas Special their swan song.

(9) IT’S ABOUT NOT MUCH TIME. Did you know Time Tunnel only ran one season? That’s one of MeTV’s “8  time-defying tidbits about The Time Tunnel. ABC network programmers then screwed the pooch picking the successor —

The replacement didn’t fare much better.

The Legend of Custer went on to replace The Time Tunnel on Friday nights, but the new series only lasted 17 episodes. Ironically, an episode of the sci-fi series took place during the Battle of Little Bighorn, a.k.a. Custer’s Last Stand.

custer

“Let’s make a series about a young guy with long blonde hair who doesn’t surf or play in a rock’n roll band,” said the executive, who hadn’t noticed it was the middle of the Sixties.

(10) MORE VINTAGE SF TELEVISION. Echo Ishii continues her SF Obscure series.

So for this week’s post I decided to cover the half hour, SF/action show CLEOPATRA 2525.

The year is, uh, 2525. Humanity has been driven underground because the surface is controlled by giant floating robot armchairs (That’s what it looks like anyway) called Baileys.  Two fighters Hel(Gina Torres) and Sarge (Victoria Pratt) are resistance fighters who battle the robot overlords. helped by a mysterious voice called ‘Voice’ that taps into Hel’s brain. Anyway, Sarge gets hurt and needs a kidney so they go and get one at the local buy-a-body-part depot. Thus, the meet Cleo (Jennifer Sky), a women cryo-frozen in 2001 when her breast augmentation surgery went awry and she was stored until humanity had the tools to save her life. I am not making this up.

(11) BELLS AREN’T RINGING. A Wyoming bookstore banned the use of electronic devices on the premises.

A Wyoming bookstore is aiming to remind customers that its “a place for books” by refusing to offer WiFi and banning use of electronic devices.

A sign posted at the entrance to Wind City Books in Casper informs customers that there is no public WiFi available and calls on them to keep their laptops and cellphones out of sight inside the shop.

wyoming-bookstore-bans-wifi-electronics-from-place-for-books

(12) ANALOG MONSTER.

(13) GRIND ZERO. I don’t know if it’s a good column about writing, but Dave Freer sure has a lot of insights about “Making Sausage”.

There are myriad sausage recipes. Sausage made of everything from bear to squirrel, pork to beef, turkey to fish. Even vegan. Sausages with everything from cranberries to chardonnay in them. But oddly they have two essential ingredients, in essential proportions. Stray too far from either and your sausage doesn’t work. And those are fat and salt. Not the obvious – people say it’s a bear or boar or chicken sausage. They don’t say ‘it’s a fat sausage’. “Yuck!” would be the response. And indeed yuck is appropriate if you don’t get that proportion (around 20%) right. Too much and it becomes a greasy horrible thing. By the time it cooks out the sausage meat and other ingredients taste greasy and overcooked. And too little and it is dry and tasteless. Vegan is particularly difficult because of the whole ‘fat’ thing. I gather it’s considered bad to suggest using plump ones. But I gather one can buy vegan suet.

For me, in writing, that’s the story, the action, the adventure. In some shape or form it has to be in every worthwhile read. Yes, actually you can have too much. Or too little, and vast focus on the other ingredients – be they the setting or the social justice outrage of the week – they tend to dry and un-appealing. And the salt… well those are the characters. And yes, once again there is such a thing as too much – or too bland when it is merely count the pre-expected tokens. I wait with amusement for the first orange haired villain s to appear…

(14) THE BULLET BOX. Larry Correia provides “A Handy Guide For Liberals Who Are Suddenly Interested In Gun Ownership” at Monster Hunter Nation.

That title isn’t joking. This post is aimed at my liberal readers. I’m a libertarian leaning Republican and gun expert, who thinks you are wrong about a lot of stuff, but I’m not writing this to gloat about your loss. For the record, I disliked all the presidential candidates.

Judging by your social media over the last few days many liberals have been utterly terrified that your government might turn tyrannical or that evil people will now be emboldened to hurt you. I’m going to let you in on a little thing the other half of the country is familiar with to keep those unlikely, yet catastrophic, events from happening.

And that my lefty friends, is 2nd Amendment.

Having just gone through a war against a tyrannical government, the Founders understood that governments can go bad, so they made sure to note our God given right (or we’ll say naturally occurring right, since a bunch of you are atheists) to keep and bear arms in order to defend ourselves. The 2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting or “sporting purposes”, it’s about having weapons that you can fight with. As an added bonus, being able to protect yourself from a tyrannical government means that you’re a lot better equipped to deal with any common criminal who decides to hurt you. Before I get into the details about how to enjoy your newly discovered 2nd Amendment rights, let me just say that I get you’re sad, angry, bitter, and fearful. But just like my people over the last few elections, you’ll get over it. The really hyperbolic freak outs about Literally Hitler make you sound just like the Alex Jones crowd worried that Obama was going to herd Christians into FEMA camps last time. So take a deep breath and relax. Your friends and neighbors are the same as they were last week. The vast majority weren’t voting because racism, they voted against the status quo and a really unlikable Democrat. And no, they aren’t going to round you up into cattle cars….

(15) CROTTLED PEEPS.  Daniel Dern advises, “Be sure to watch to the very end. Even better than when a character on The Good Wife said ‘A Lannister always pays his debts.’” Shared at io9 by James Whitbrook: “A Breakdown Of My Scattered, Confused Thoughts While Watching This Game of Thrones Sodastream Ad”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Jim C. Hines, Martin Morse Wooster, and Daniel Dern for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cadbury Moose.]

Pixel Scroll 5/15/16 Think Baloo, Count Two

(1) TWO FIVES WORTH OF WISDOM. Cecilia Tan shares “Ten Things I Learned at SFWA Nebulas Weekend”. Here’s the outline, click through for details:

  1. We Clean Up Pretty Good
  2. Kickstarters Should Be Pretty
  3. At Patreon a Little Means a Lot
  4. Dictate for Artistry
  5. The Myth of Self-Publishing
  6. White Knights and Online Harassment
  7. Think Globally
  8. You Can’t Be in Two Places at Once
  9. John Hodgman is Really Funny
  10. Not the Hugos or the Worldcon

[Warning: One Filer says this was flagged on her system as NSFW. I don’t see anything problematic on that page. However, Tan does write some NSFW things which may be elsewhere on her site.]

(2) NEBULA WINNERS PHOTO.

Nebulans

A photo posted by John Hodgman (@johnhodgman) on

(3) NEBULA LOSERS CELEBRATION. Meanwhile, an informal survey showed only 50% of SFWAns know how to make an “L” sign on their foreheads.

(4) GRANDMASTER CHERRYH. Black Gate’s John O’Neill has posted a video of C.J. Cherryh’s SFWA Grandmaster panel.

This weekend I attended the 2016 Nebula Conference here in Chicago, where CJ Cherryh received the SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Part of the Friday afternoon programming included “An Hour With CJ Cherryh, SF’s Newest Grandmaster.” I sat in the front row, with Nebula nominees Ann Leckie and Lawrence M. Schoen, and captured the first part of the speech, in which Cherryh entertained the audience with recollections of her childhood ambition to be a writer, discovering science fiction, her early career, selling her first novel to Donald Wollheim at DAW Books, and her recent marriage to fellow novelist Jane Fancher.

 

(5) SAME NIGHT, AT THE BRAM STOKER AWARDS. Ace Antonio Hall knew from the look of Scott Edelman’s piñata-colored jacket there was still some candy left….

Ace Antonio Hall seems suspicious as I attempt to feed his sweet tooth at the Stoker Awards after party.

A photo posted by Scott Edelman (@scottedelman) on

(6) WISE INVESTMENTS FOR YOUR PLAY MONEY. From Die Welt, “Game of Thrones: Real estate and Prices in Westeros”.

The dungeons and castles located on the continent of Westeros have kept the families known from the tv-show “Game of Thrones” safe and sound for centuries. What if several properties from the show were suddenly listed for sale? Christoph Freiherr Schenck zu Schweinsberg, leading expert on castles for the real estate agency Engel & Völkers, checked out some of the unreal estate objects….

Andrew Porter is skeptical about these exorbitant valuations:

I don’t believe any of the properties have indoor plumbing, and the thought of being shot with a crossbow while sitting on the throne (no, not the Iron Throne!) may give you second thoughts about buying any of these…

(7) TOLKIEN’S FRIEND. Tolkien scholar John Garth contributed to “Robert Quilter Gilson, TCBS – a documentary”.

When Tolkien writes in the Foreword to The Lord of the Rings that ‘by 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead’, he is referring to his friends in a clique formed at school but later bonded by the First World War – the TCBS. Of these, Robert Quilter Gilson was the first to be killed, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 100 years ago this July. Tolkien’s shock and grief infuses one of the first items in The Letters of JRR Tolkien: ‘His greatness is … a personal matter with us – of a kind to make us keep July 1st as a special day for all the years God may grant to any of us…’

Geoffrey Bache Smith never returned from the Somme either; only Tolkien and Christopher Luke Wiseman, a naval officer, survived the war. The letters written by Tolkien, Gilson, Wiseman and Smith form the heartbeat of my book Tolkien and the Great War. For Gilson, thanks to the wonderful generosity of his relatives, I was also able to draw a little from the many letters he wrote home from the training camps and trenches to his family and to the woman he loved.

Now, with my help, Gilson’s letters have been used as the basis for a 40-minute documentary by the school, King Edward’s in Birmingham.

 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 15, 1856 L. Frank Baum. John King Tarpinian has a Baum story —

A number of years back I went to an author event for a friend. She raises Cairn Terriers aka Toto Dogs. The author, a grand nephew of Baum was using a rubber stamp made from an imprint of Toto’s paw to sign the books.

Baum’s house was in Hollywood, just behind Musso & Frank Grill. It is now a mid-60s apartment building. In those days just about every house had an incinerator for burning trash, my parent’s home had one that also worked as a BBQ & wood burning oven.

Shortly after his death a niece came over to the house to visit her aunt to see how she was doing. Baum’s wife was in the back yard burning his papers. She figured since all of his books were on the shelves there was no need for the old papers. The niece explained to her why that was not a good idea to continue. You could feel the people in the event audience shudder at the thought.

(9) CHOOSING HELL. Brad R. Torgersen takes SFWA’s choice of Max Max: Fury Road for its dramatic award as the text for his message, in “The Martian and Mad Max”.

…Of course, The Martian was every inch a Campbellian movie, while Fury Road was almost entirely New Wave.

Guess which aesthetic dominates and excites the imaginations of SF/F’s cognoscenti?

I know, I know, I am a broken record about this stuff. But it never ceases to amaze me (in an unhappy way) how the so-called writers of Science Fiction, seem to be in such a huge hurry to run away from the roots of the field. I’ve read and listened to all the many arguments — pro and con, from both sides — about how Campbell rescued the field from the Pulp era, but then New Wave in turn rescued the field from the Campbell era. So it might be true that we’re finally witnessing the full maturation of SF/F as a distinct arena of “serious” literature, but aren’t we taking things too far? Does anyone else think it’s a bad idea for the field to continue its fascination with cultural critique — the number of actual nutty-bolty science types, in SFWA, is dwindling, while the population of “grievance degree” lit and humanities types, in SFWA, is exploding — while the broader audience consistently demonstrates a preference for SF/F that might be termed “old fashioned” by the modern sensibilities of the mandarins of the field?

Now, I think there is a very strong argument to be made, for the fact that Campbellian vs. New Wave is merely the manifestation of a deeper problem — a field which no longer has a true center. The two “sides” in the discussion have been taking shots at each other since long before I was born. The enmity may be so ingrained — in the internal conversation of SF/F — that nothing can reverse it. Save, perhaps, the total explosion of the field proper….

(10) BAD DAY IN SANTA FE. Bleeding Cool posted screencaps of a con committee’s rude Facebook comments in “Santa Fe Comic Con Makes Social Media Faux Pas”.

Instead of faux pas, how about we just say you shouldn’t call anyone a boob model?

(11) TIME TRAVEL ON FALL TV SCHEDULE. NBC’s new drama Timeless, starring Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter and Malcolm Barrett, follows a team chasing a criminal intent on destroying America through time.

(12) AND THIS. NBC’s new comedy The Good Place follows Eleanor Shellstrop and her mentor as she tries to become a better person in the afterlife.. Stars starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson.

(13) TIME OUT. Trouble, as one of last year’s Best Graphic Story Hugo nominees goes on hiatus. Mad Art Lab reads the Twitter tea leaves in “Tess Fowler Pushed Out of Rat Queens?”

Comic book fans were deeply saddened by the recent news that Rat Queens, the Eisner Award-nominated comic book series, was going on hiatus. As fans likely know, Rat Queens has had a tough run since the series launched in 2013. In 2014, artist/co-creator Roc Upchurch was removed from the series after being arrested on charges of domestic violence. His departure made room for Tess Fowler, who was a natural fit artistically – but also seemed to some a symbolic choice, given her history of speaking up for women in comics. Unfortunately, it seems that is at an end. Fowler announced she would be leaving the series a few weeks ago, with creator Kurtis Wiebe making the news of a hiatus official…

(14) MEMOIR COMPETES AT SF BOOK FEST. Congratulations to Francis Hamit – A Perfect Spy received recognition at the San Francisco Book Festival.

A Perfect Spy, Francis Hamit’s memoir from fifty years ago of his adventures as an undercover police operative fighting the drug trade while a student at the University of Iowa has been awarded runner up (or second place) in the Biography/Autobiography category by the 2016 San Francisco Book Festival.  It is an excerpt from a larger forthcoming work entitled OUT OF STEP: A Soldier’s memoir of the Vietnam War Years.

The book also includes Hamit’s encounters with notable figures such as novelist Nelson Algren, filmmaker Nicholas Meyer and the poet Donald Justice, and his enthusiastic participation in the Sexual Revolution even as he resisted the onslaught of the drug culture.  It was a transformative time for him that led to his abandonment of a theatrical career for one as a writer and his enlistment in the U.S. Army Security Agency at the height of the Vietnam War when most of his contemporaries were trying to evade military service.

(15) NEW BFG TRAILER. Disney’s The BFG comes to theaters July 1, 2016.

(16) STUDY TIME. Paul Fraser at SF Magazines reviews the stories in the June 1940 issue of Astounding, including Retro Hugo nominee “The Roads Must Roll” by Robert Heinlein.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Mark-kitteh, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 4/3/16 The Transatlantic Taste Gap – Hurrah!

(1) GUILLERMO DEL TORO. The Pacific Rim director admires this fan art:

Del toro tweet 2 CROPDel toro tweet 2 5 CROPDel Toro tweet 3 CROPDel Toro tweet 3 5 CROP

(2) SHEIKH DJIBOUTI. I always wondered what he looked like.

Heinlein stamp

(3) WORLDCON STAMPS. And for the next few days “Mars & Lunar Colony Postage Stamp Sheets for 11th Worldcon (Philcon II) 1953” are up for auction on eBay.

Unused collection of Interplanetary Postage Stamps in very good condition. The two different stamps were designed by Russell Swanson for the 1953 11th World Science Fiction Convention (PhilCon II) in Philadelphia, PA.  One stamp is marked “Luna Colony Postage; First Moon Rocket – 1965; a $5 blue horizontal. The other stamp is a $10 red vertical, “Mars Postage; First Mars Expedition, 1974, and depicted “Preparing the Atmosphere Rocket”. In 1953, these were sold in sheets of 40  for 50 cents by the PhilCon II Committee for publicity and revenue.

 

s-l1600

(4) I PITY THE FOOL. Will R. can’t get rid of the haunting feeling that he’s been fooled twice by Gmail’s “mic drop” button. Will says —

Though the laugh may still be on me, just so you know: the retraction followed the announcement, and there are actual comments out there (not just the questionable Twitter grabs) from people who seem to confirm that the button was real for at least a while. I admit, though, that it feels a bit phildickian trying to pin it down now, that it would indeed be a clever metaprank if the button never were real, that I’m certainly never long from playing the fool again, and that I hope whatever joke there ever was here is now wrung out.

Really, only meant to apologise if I had steered someone toward a harmful link. No joke!

(5) SPACE PARTY. Yuri’s Night is the World Space Party, celebrated at events on and around April 12.

Yuri-wp-be-human-2015-logo

Yuri’s Night is a global celebration of humanity’s past, present, and future in space. Yuri’s Night parties and events are held around the world every April in commemoration of Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human to venture into space on April 12, 1961, and the inaugural launch of the first Space Shuttle on April 12, 1981.

“Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty — not destroy it!” — Yuri Gagarin, 1st human in space….

Since 2001, Yuri’s Night has:

  • Featured talks and presentations by Ray Bradbury, Will Wright, George Takei, Richard Garriott, Anousheh Ansari, and many others
  • Been celebrated at the South Pole, Hayden Planetarium, and in orbit on the International Space Station
  • Planted hundreds of “moon trees” around the world in collaboration with American Forests
  • Received the “Best Presentation of Space” award from the Space Frontier Foundation
  • Trained the next generation of space leaders for organizations such as the National Space Society, Virgin Galactic, and Space Florida

Anyone can start a Yuri’s Night event, and it’s completely free.

(6) LA EDITION. Find out about Yuri’s Night in LA, April 9 at the California Science Center, on Facebook.

Join with 100+ events around the world in celebrating the 1st human mission to orbit the Earth and all space can make possible for us. Come to the pre-party, make your own space hero trader card, listen to Samantha Cristoforetti talk about her 199 days on ISS last year. Apollo 11 moonwalker, Buzz Aldrin, and Star Trek’s Lt Uhura, Nichelle Nichols will also be there. Your best playa wear or space costume is encourged. DJ Dynamix will be spinning till midnight! Don’t wait, event has sold out every year!

(7) SWIRSKY RECOMMENDS. There was no foolishness in Rachel Swirsky’s April 1 “Friday Fiction Recommendation: ‘One Paper Airplane Graffito Love Note’ by Will McIntosh”

Will McIntosh is an exceptional writer whose work deserves more recognition than it gets. He won the Hugo Award several years ago for the excellent short story “Bridesicle,” but I wish people had paid more attention to his following novels and short stories. He does aliens really, really well.

However, this story has no aliens. It has dreamy magical realism instead.

The full 2007 McIntosh story is a free read at Strange Horizons.

(8) MORE ACCOLADES FOR BECKY CHAMBERS. While musing about the Hugos (“Hugo nominations for novels: And the final nomination list will be…”) Rachel Neumeier added a paean of praise for The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, which certainly would have been on my ballot if it had been eligible.

This was recommended to me by Linda S, who was right — I loved it. I was trusting her when I didn’t quite have time to finish the book before nominations closed, which worked out fine because I liked the resolution quite a bit. But I notice one File 770 commenter said it might not be eligible. I don’t know why, but if not, too bad! I guess I should have nominated Bryony and Roses instead. Well, at least Ursula Vernon’s story “Wooden Feathers” was on a lot of lists; I was glad to see that.

Anyway, I have not had time to write a review of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, obviously, but I nominated it because it is a really fun SF space opera with a cluttered Star-Trek-Federation type of setting — I haven’t seen anybody tackle a setting like that for a long time. Actually, the closest background I can think of in recent SFF is in Tanya Huff’s Valor series.

I had quibbles here and there with the worldbuilding and story, but OMG did I ever love Kizzy, one of the Best! Characters! Ever! Chambers must have had so much fun writing her, seriously. I have a new ambition: to write a wild impulsive uninhibited extrovert who is as much fun as Kizzy. Wonderful character building through dialogue. I wound up becoming quite attached to all the characters, including the ones who were thoroughly unsympathetic at the beginning. I also liked the rather intimate feel of the story against the very wide-scale background, which Chambers pulled off despite frequently switching the pov. And as I say, I liked the resolution. There are sad things about the ending, but it is not a downer.

(9) INDIE. Today’s Brevity cartoon has a kind word for writers from Middle-Earth.

(10) ANNIHILATION CASTING. Uproxx reports Ex Machina’s Oscar Isaac and Alex Garland are teaming up with Natalie Portman“’Annihilation’ Becomes A ‘Star Wars’ Party As Oscar Isaac Joins Natalie Portman”.

Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novel, the story follows a team of female scientists exploring “Area X,” a supposed environmental disaster zone in a future America. Portman’s character, never identified by name in the book, has the ulterior motive of looking for her husband, who was lost on an expedition. In the grand tradition of environmental disaster areas with creepy pedigrees, things get weird pronto for the expedition as Things Are Not What They Seem, but Portman is unlikely to stumble across a little green dude with a strange grasp of sentence structure.

(11) COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT. Jonathan McCalmont was dubious about being quoted in yesterday’s Pixel Scroll:

The correct context of yesterday’s tweet may not have been Puppies, but rather McCalmont’s general policy, tweeted today –

(12) DROP EVERYTHING. AWOL announces “Tasmania Is Currently Looking For A ‘Chief Wombat Cuddler’”

OK I know what you’re thinking, what even is a Chief Wombat Cuddler? Well, you’ll be the chief… of… wombat cuddlng at Tassie’s Flinders Island. Makes perfect sense.

Apparently over the past few weeks, a cheeky wombat from our southernmost state has been getting quite a bit of attention online thanks to a real cute YouTube video. Derek the wombat – great wombat name, by the way – lives out on Flinders Island, and because the Internet is all but obsessed with him, the folk over on the island have decided he needs a little company….

All you have to do is fill out the application form here before 10pm on April 16. Entrants must be over the age of 18 and of course, love cuddling wombats. What are you waiting for!?

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, Will R., and Kyra for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor Cora.]

Pixel Scroll 3/6/16 Life During Scrolltime

(1) MODERATE TO HEAVY PUPPIES. Standback contributes “A Moderate Conversation Re: Sad Puppies”.

So to some extent, this is a sufficient answer to Stephanie’s question. Why is there so much vitriol against the Puppies? Because we’re on the internet, where it doesn’t take a whole lot to escalate an argument over Best Brand of Pasta into virtual knifings…..

To start things off: I would say I understand the core Puppy complaints, and agree with many of them (to varying extents).

I definitely see a shift in the “focus” of the genre, even if I’d be hard-pressed to nail it down to a definition (not unreasonable, in a genre still best-defined as “what we point to when we say it”). The disproportionate influence of particular groups and fandoms has been raised and enthusiastically argued over in the past (e.g. [1] [2] [3]). And I think there’s been a lot of snubbing, condescension and ad-hominem attacks coming from non-Puppies. Which they often don’t notice, or consider justified. (Scott Alexander’s I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup springs to mind, as it so often does.)

I won’t go over the Puppy grievances one by one, but I think I can see where all of them are coming from.

(2) DAN SCHNEIDER VIDEO INTERVIEW #68. Steven H Silver says, “Yesterday, Terry Bisson and I were interviewed for a podcast about Alternate History. If you want to hear what I would sound like recording on an Edison cylinder, I imagine this is pretty much it.”

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman’s third episode of his Eating the Fantastic podcast is now live, with guest Bill Campbell.

BillCampbellEatingtheFantastic-300x300

Bill opened up about many things, including the genius of Samuel R. Delany, how Rosarium’s first book Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond gave birth to a new publishing company, the challenges of crowdfunding creative projects, why he was once blacklisted at a convention, and many other topics which I hope you’ll find as fascinating as I did.

Episode four, coming in two weeks, will feature writer Tom Doyle.

(4) REQUESTING MORE CONTENTS, FEWER TABLES. Black Gate continues its Hartwell tribute with “The Books of David G. Hartwell: Visions of Wonder and The Science Fiction Century”. I’m all in favor of paying tribute to Hartwell, I’d just like to see more in these posts than the reprinted tables of contents of his collections.

(5) NAMING CONVENTIONS. Michael J. Walsh observes what a well-Cultured sense of humor Elon Musk displayed in naming his ships.

By January 2016, a total of three ASDSs have been refitted. The first ASDS, named Just Read the Instructions (JRtI), was converted from a barge in late 2014 and was deployed in January 2015 during the CRS-5 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station in order to provide a landing platform for a test flight of the returning booster stage. It was used for two landing tests through April 2015, and by June 2015, was retired as an ASDS.[1] The second ASDS, named Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY), was converted from a much-newer deck barge and became operational in June 2015 to support a landing test on the CRS-7 mission.

(6) CRADLE OF SF’S GOLDEN AGE. Robert A. Heinlein’s birthplace in Butler, MO has been listed for sale. The asking price is $97,500.

Geo Rule says “The Heinlein Society will gladly accept a six figure donation to purchase it and turn it into a museum, if you’re feeling generous as well. Well, maybe seven figure to turn it into a museum…”

 

Lou Antonelli takes a selfie at Heinlein's birthplace.

Lou Antonelli takes a selfie at Heinlein’s birthplace.

(7) STATHOPOULOS EXHIBITION. Rejects! The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, a retrospective of portraits by famed Australian painter Nick Stathopoulos , runs March 28-April 15 at Project 504 Studio in St. Leonards (Sydney). Stathopoulos is a 10-time Ditmar Award winner, who also was a 1999 Hugo nominee in the Best Professional Artist category.

rejects stathopolous

(8) NANCY REAGAN OBIT. Former First Lady Nancy Davis Reagan died today, March 6, at the age of 95. Like her spouse, she had an acting career prior to living in the White House, which included a role in the genre movie Donovan’s Brain. The movie was based on a 1942 horror novel by Curt Siodmak who, showing what a small world it is, lived in those days not far from Robert A. Heinlein’s home on Laurel Canyon.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born March 6, 1906 — Lou Costello. “Abbott and Costello Meet…  have to be some of the best monster movies,” says John King Tarpinian.
  • Born March 6, 1928 – William F. Nolan
William F. Nolan, Forrest J Ackerman, and Ray Bradbury.

William F. Nolan, Forrest J Ackerman, and Ray Bradbury.

(10) ACE OF HORROR. SF Signal has “5-Time Bram Stoker Winner Jonathan Maberrry on His Prolific Career”

CARL SLAUGHTER: Which of your novels is being adapted by hollywood?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’m fortunate to have several of my projects in development for film and television. My Joe Ledger thrillers are being developed by Lone Tree Entertainment and Vintage Picture Company as a possible series of movies, likely beginning with Extinction Machine, the 5th in the series. And my vampire apocalypse series, V-Wars, is headed to TV, with a brilliant script by former Dexter head writer, Tim Schlattmann. Several other properties, including Rot & Ruin, The Pine Deep Trilogy, and others, are being discussed.

CS: How long and how hard is the journey to the screen?

JM: Like most writers I’ve coasted the edges of the Hollywood experience for years. There are some frustrations, of course, but that’s part of the game. For example, back on 2007 I co-created a show for ABC-Disney called On the Slab, which was a horror-sci fi-fantasy news program. Disney paid us to develop it and write a series bible and sample script; and then there was a change of management in the department that purchased it. Suddenly the project was orphaned and therefore dead in the water. Another time producer Michael DeLuca (Blade, Magnolia) optioned the first Joe Ledger novel, Patient Zero, on behalf of Sony, who in turn took it to ABC, who hired Emmy Award-winning TV writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost) to write a pilot. Then after we’d gone a long way toward seeing it launch they decided instead to focus on the reboot of Charlie’s Angels, which flubbed badly. That’s Hollywood. I don’t take this stuff personally, though. And I never lost my optimism.

(11) FRIENDSHIP CALCULUS. Adam-Troy Castro explains “How To Remain My Friend When You Really Hate My Friend”.

I guarantee you, if I am close to Friend X, I know that “Asshole” is part of his Venn Diagram. As it is part of mine. As it is part of yours. I have clearly already made my personal calculations and decided that his other aspects are more important. I may someday change my mind. But it is my mind to change, based on whatever passes between me and Friend X; possibly even depending on what I see Friend X do to Friend Y. But you, who have had a different experience with Friend X, and therefore a different reaction, cannot win this argument with me using words, no matter how eloquently you express everything you find objectionable about him. It is, however, very possible for you to lose it. You can become a bore. You can become a scold. You can just become the distasteful person who always feels obligated to piss on my pal; the guy who gives me the impression that nothing will satisfy him until I start pissing on my pal too. That makes YOU the shithead.

(12) VIRUS WITH A LIBRARY. Nature reports “CRISPR-like ‘immune’ system discovered in giant virus”.

Gigantic mimiviruses fend off invaders using defences similar to the CRISPR system deployed by bacteria and other microorganisms, French researchers report. They say that the discovery of a working immune system in a mimivirus bolsters their claim that the giant virus represents a new branch in the tree of life.

Mimiviruses are so large that they are visible under a light microscope. Around half a micrometre across, and first found infecting amoebae living in a water tower, they boast genomes that are larger than those of some bacteria. They are distantly related to viruses that include smallpox, but unlike most viruses, they have genes to make amino acids, DNA letters and complex proteins.

(13) TO BOLDLY BUILD WHAT NO MAN HAS BUILT BEFORE. Collider explains why “NASA Has Designed a Warp Ship Inspired by ‘Star Trek’s Enterprise”.

When does science-fiction become science fact? Throughout various mediums over the last few centuries, we’ve seen early versions of concepts that would eventually become a reality. Sometimes these portrayals are pretty far off base (still waiting on those flying cars), while other times they feel downright prescient. But in the case of Star Trek and one particular engineer at NASA, science-fiction actually informed science fact, with NASA engineer and physicist Harold White now actively working on a space ship that would allow travel faster than the speed of light—or, for the Star Trek inclined, warp speed.

White announced this idea a few years ago, with the concept seeking to allow travel faster than the speed of light by literally expanding space-time behind the object and contracting space-time in front of it. In reality, the object doesn’t “go fast,” but instead takes advantage of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity to move between space-time.

If your head has yet to explode, sit tight—in concert with White, designer Mark Rademaker has now created a CGI design concept of the ship that would operate using this theory, which they have aptly named the IXS Enterprise. Per Rademaker in an interview with the Washington Post, the idea behind the concept art serves two purposes: to visualize their idea, and to inspire burgeoning young scientists

(14) PAGING HUGO NOMINEES. George R.R. Martin knows it’s “Nomination Time”. His short fiction recommendation is a needle in a small Venusian haystack.

Last year, however, these three categories were among those most impacted by Puppygate. The slates dominated all three, sweeping the board and shutting out all other work. In the novelette category, a disqualification allowed one non-Puppy nominee to squeeze onto the ballot, and that story ultimately won. In novella and short story, fans unhappy with the choices presented them voted No Award. Understandably, IMNSHO… still, it was not a happy ending. There was some wonderful and powerful work published in these categories in 2014, and it was a shame that none of it could be recognized. (I was proud and pleased to present Alfie Awards to Ursula Vernon for “Jackalope Wives” in short story, and to Patrick Rothfuss for “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” in novella… but we all know that an Alfie is not a Hugo, and in an ordinary year both Vernon and Rothfuss would surely have been contending for a rocket).

That’s last year, however. No amount of rehashing can change what happened. The important thing is to see that it does not happen again. And to that end, it behooves all of us to nominate the short stories, novelettes, and novellas that we enjoyed most last year… to share our thoughts with our friends… to shout our recommendations from the rooftops. Let’s make sure this year’s shortlists truly represent the best of what was published in 2015.

As to my own recommendations…

Ah, there I hit a problem. I am not making any recommendations in these categories. Problem is, I have a conflict of interest. As a writer I did not publish any original short fiction in 2015, true. As an editor, however… well, Gardner Dozois and I co-edited an anthology called OLD VENUS that came out last year, and in my (admittedly less than objective) view, that book contained several stories that are worthy of Hugo nominations, and one that is so bloody brilliant that I think it stands right up there with any story that ever won the Hugo.

I really can’t tell you which one it is, however. Or the names of the other stories in the book that I think worthy of consideration. Look, Gardner and I liked all the stories we included in OLD VENUS. If we hadn’t, we would not have purchased them (and we do reject stories for every one of our anthologies). But we’d be lying if we said we liked all of them equally. There are stories Gardner liked more than I did; there are stories I liked more than Gardner did; there are stories both of us loved, loved, loved. As editors, however, it would be unethical for us to say which were which in public. Just as parents need to maintain devoutly that they love all their children equally and have no favorites, it behooves the ethical editor to take a similar stance toward the stories they purchase and publish.

(15) GIVING KATE A HELPING PAW. Steve Davidson hated to let go to waste the effort he invested on a comment I deleted here the other day. It now has manifested as “Puppy See, Puppy Do-Do” at Amazing Stories.

Kate Paulk recently closed the comments (at the beginning of March) so that they could be compiled and a final list composed.

It’s a little late in the game, especially considering that nominators are kinda expected to read and be familiar with works they’re going to recommend (but that isn’t necessarily an impediment for organized voting), so we’ve decided to help them out a bit and give them a hand up.

We started with one of the most visible categories – Best Novel. The following list contains all of the individual works mentioned in the comments. We did not verify eligibility (although most, if not all of the works seems to meet that criteria). When judging whether or not someone recommended something, we took “Plus 1” and “Me Too” to count for a “vote”. If someone talked about a work but didn’t expressly indicate that it was something they were going to nominate, we didn’t count it.

If a “top ten” is going to be compiled, it’s pretty obvious from the counts below what we should see on the Sad Puppy IV Slate. It will be interesting to see how the final list compares.

(16) HAMMER EMCEE RAPPED. Marie Porter has some feedback for masquerade emcees, triggered by a recent bad example of the art.

I want to talk about Emcees for convention ?#?cosplay masquerades.

It feels like almost every masquerade we’ve competed in, judged, or watched – with maybe 1-2 exceptions – has had an emcee that behaves in a manner that I find disrespectful to the competitors.

As a general thing, it usually comes in the form of trying to be “entertaining”, and basically comes off like this emcee has an audience, that they are the STAR of the show, and the competitors are basically props to them. They feed off the laughs, which they try to obtain by any means necessary.

A lot of the time, it happens by cracking rude and unnecessary jokes while introducing the competitor, as the competitor leaves the stage, etc.

When it happens, it feels like the emcee has lost sight of what the show is actually about – showcasing the hard work of the competitors. It’s not the “emcee show”, no matter how much they would like to think it is.

Tonight, a few things happened that still have me mad, so let me describe it to demonstrate what I’m saying.

A friend of mine was competing in the beginner category, in a costume she SLAVED over – a Steampunk Lady Thor. I watched her build progress – she put a ton of work into it, and she had every reason to be proud of it.

As she was on stage – being judged, mind you – the emcee talked *over her provided audio* to say – and I quote

“She could hammer me any time”.

She looked horrified, and – quite frankly – like she wanted to murder the guy. Rightly so, IMHO. She basically had all of her hard work diminished into a sexual joke. It was degrading and objectifying, and had no place happening. SHE WAS COMPETING, during PERFORMANCE judging. Can you imagine being shocked by something like that, after all that work?

This is a Facebook link to video of the emcee’s “hammer” line. You can see it for yourself.

(17) UNLOOTED LOOT? Nile Magazine wonders if someone blabbed: “It is full of treasures… the discovery of the 21st century”.

Tantalising news about the ‘secret chamber’ in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

“We do not know if the burial chamber is Nefertiti or another woman, but it is full of treasures.” – Egypt’s Tourism Minister, Hisham Zaazou.

It seems that some secrets are too good to keep. Is this a phenomenal leak about what lays beyond the false wall in Tutankhamun’s tomb? Is it speculative wishful thinking? Or is this a clever boost for badly-needed tourism?

Mr. Zaazou claims that the announcement of what lays inside the secret chamber will be made in April. “It will be a ‘Big Bang’ – the discovery of the 21st century.”

To be honest, I’m not sure what to make of the news that has wafted out of Egypt via Spain in the past 24 hours. The Spanish national daily newspaper, ABC, claims that Egypt’s Tourism Minister, Hisham Zaazou, who was in Spain a few weeks ago, confirmed that there is “treasure” in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

(18) OLD NEWS IS GOOD NEWS. Shortly after Ray Bradbury died in 2012, Jessica Allen wrote a retrospective for Maclean’s about the Bradbury stories Maclean’s had published, in “Here’s to you, Ray Bradbury”. Her article was adorned with photos of the title page art, including a notable typo in the credit for his contribution to Maclean’s September 15, 1948 edition.

Bradbury MacLeans the long years

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

The Best Movie Space Battles

By Brandon Anthony: There is a lot to love about the genre of sci-fi and space fiction, particularly on film. Distorted colors and shapes, (literally) out-of-this-world special effects, and incredible feats of technological ingenuity allow viewers to reimagine the universe. And when intergalactic conflicts arise, impressive sparks fly.

Throughout the course of movie history numerous space battles have rocked our world back here on Earth. And though the latest Star Wars certainly continues that fine tradition, it joins a lengthy list of films that have already elevated the art of war to another dimension.

Battle of Klendathu (Starship Troopers)

klendathu1battle COMP

Not all battles end in a victory for the good guys. The outcome of this battle was inevitable even before the first shots were fired. Poor planning and insufficient reconnoitering led the invading Federation forces to severely underestimate the Bug numbers. This led to a complete rout of a battle, in which foot soldiers were torn limb from limb and impaled during a live broadcast. Hundreds of thousands of Federation troops died. Not only was the infantry decimated, but Sky Marshal Dienes also destroyed his career through his poor leadership during this battle.

Borg Invade Sector 001 (Star Trek: First Contact)

Borg2battle

Star Trek‘s continuing conflict between the Borg Collective and the United Federation played out in a spectacular fashion when the Borg attempted to invade Earth yet again. Despite being ordered to stay away, Captain Picard arrived just in time to save the day. Picard’s previous assimilation helped him target the right spot on the Borg cube, and he rallied the troops and saved some Federation lives while making it look easy. The Enterprise even managed to travel through time in order to chase an escape pod. Despite their success, however, the political effects of the battle were felt long afterwards. Fans who want to revel in the details can still catch the series on cable TV (details here).

The Battle of Endor (Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)

Battle_of_Endor4battle

This battle is the culmination of the building war between the Rebel Alliance and the Imperials. The Ewoks, along with Princess Leia, Han Solo and several other key characters, fight the Imperial troops in the forests of Endor’s moon. From there the audience is transported to an epic space battle, complete with amazing close range maneuvering, as the Rebel Alliance’s fleet attacks the Death Star and the Star Destroyers. A smaller but no less important one-on-one battle occurs between Luke and his father. In each of these fights, despite being the underdog, the Rebel Alliance comes up victorious. This is the battle that turns the tide of the war, and which eventually leads to the formation of the New Republic.

Battle of Hoth (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back) hothbattle4

Another galaxy-shaking Star Wars battle took place on Hoth, though this time the Rebels were the defending force. Nor did the battle end as victoriously as in Endor, though it’s still a beautifully orchestrated battle to watch. Laser blasts fly fast and furious on the surface of the ice planet, and despite being outgunned the Rebel Alliance is able to do some damage even in the midst of retreat. It is also a great moment for Luke and Leia, who both take on positions of leadership. Princess Organa coordinates an orderly retreat while Skywalker leads the defensive troops. There is even a sweet moment between the Princess and Solo, when he lets her know it is time to leave.

Alliance vs. Reavers (Serenity)SerenityBattle5

Though Firefly only lasted one season, it gave birth to the film Serenity, which in turn gave us this wonderfully entertaining battle. The crew of Serenity manages to lure the Reaver fleet into a completely unplanned battle with the Alliance. While the befuddled Alliance troops scramble to fight the Reavers, Serenity twists and turns, “like a leaf on the wind,” to the surface of the planet to complete their final mission. They succeed on all fronts, though it is not a painless victory.

These battles are all unique. Some are won, some lost. Some take place in space, some on alien planets. What ties them together is amazing aerial choreography, tight special effects, and heroic characters. Whether winning or losing, in all cases the protagonists did themselves proud.

Pixel Scroll 12/6 From the Mixed-Up Pixels of Mrs. Basil E. Frankscroller

(1) WITNESS FOR GOLLUM. Well-known Tolkien scholar Michael D.C. Drout is quoted in the New York Times’ “Is Gollum Good or Evil? Jail Term in Turkey Hinges on Answer”.

Michael D. C. Drout, an English professor at Wheaton College who edits an annual review of Tolkien’s works, is observing the situation from America. He said that those experts will be assessing the most complicated character in the English writer’s already complex world.

“I don’t think there’s any consensus that Gollum is evil,” Mr. Drout said in an interview. “He is the most tragic character in ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ ”

Middle Earth, the place where Gollum began his life as a creature named Sméagol, is full of complex characters and allegiances. But a single gold ring, forged with a dark lord’s evil powers, has the power to rule them all. Sméagol catches a glimpse of the ring, murders for it, and possesses it for centuries until it is mislaid and found by another hobbit. Sméagol struggles to redeem himself, but his obsessive bloodthirst for the ring wins out. He accidentally destroys himself and the ring, but also saves Middle Earth in the process. (It is the hobbit hero Frodo who gets most of the credit.)

“The context is this: Gollum accidentally, not intentionally, saves the entire world,” Mr. Drout said.

Mr. Drout said that no one would’ve appreciated the existential debate over Gollum more than the author who created him. Painfully and pitifully, Sméagol almost succeeds in overcoming his evil side, but fails. It is a scene that is said to have upset Mr. Tolkien to the point of tears as he wrote it, Mr. Drout said.

“He didn’t see him as irredeemably evil,” he said of Mr. Tolkien. “He saw him as someone who had been destroyed by this evil ring.”

(2) COMIC CON IN INDIA. The fifth Delhi Comic Con drew an estimated 40,000 people last weekend.

Thousands of fans cheered and clicked pictures with their favorite comic characters Saturday at India’s annual comic book fest at a sprawling fairground in southeast New Delhi.

The fifth Delhi Comic Con had something for everyone who attended on this mild, wintry day. Die-hard fans came dressed as their favorite comic characters. Others crowded the more than 200 stalls selling comic books, graphic novels and merchandise on cartoon characters.

There was real live entertainment, as well.

Crowds of college students and young people cheered and roared as Kristian Nairn, best known for his role as Hodor in “Game of Thrones,” ascended a stage and addressed them. Nairn was mobbed as eager fans pushed to get themselves clicked with the star of the popular television series….

Indian mythological heroes, dressed in gaudy costumes with bejeweled crowns and sparkly clothes, added to the carnival atmosphere, ready to oblige fans with an autograph, a selfie or a photograph.

Indian comics have seen a revival in the last decade thanks to new funding and technologies for printing, animation, digitizing and distribution.

(3) STAR WARS REWATCH. A new installment of Michael J. Martinez’ Star Wars rewatch has been posted: ”Star Wars wayback machine: Star Wars (or A New Hope if you prefer)”.

I know this movie by heart. In fact, while in my 20s and firmly in my barfly life-stage, several friends and I recreated the entire movie over pints at the pub. We didn’t miss a line. There are few cultural touchstones so firmly rooted in our global community as this one.

But I’m now looking at it with fresh eyes, and asking myself…is it really any good? Does it stand up to the test of time and the grey clouds of cynicism accumulated with age?

Largely, yes. Enthusiastically, yes. Are there things that I’ve noticed now, years later, both good and bad? Absolutely. Is it dated? Sure, but not as bad as you think. But ultimately, I think it works. The resonance it has in our culture is well deserved.

(4) STANDLEE ON SMOFCON. Kevin Standlee is running short notes on his LiveJournal about this year’s SMOFcon.

At 4 PM, I went to the panel about administering the Hugo Awards. A year ago, a panel on this subject would have been lucky to draw more audience than panelists. This year, it was standing-room-only. Had we two hours rather than one to discuss how the Hugo Awards are administered, we could have filled it.

 

After breakfast with Linda Deneroff, Mo Starkey, and John Sapienza, I went to the first panel of the morning, presented by Andrew Adams based on work that René Walling has done to accumulate available demographic information about Worldcon members. The slide above shows the memberships over time, attending and supporting, both in absolute numbers (line) and percentage (colored bars) for the 2015 Worldcon, showing how the numbers changed over time. (The upper line and the upper colored section are supporting members; the lower are attending.) Sasquan really was different. There were many more very interesting charts in this presentation, and you can see some of them if you click through the photo above, but Andrew said he’d publish the entire slide deck later and asked us not to keep taking photos.

 

How to Call Out Other Conventions. This was a discussion about how and whether you should point out other groups’ mistakes, particularly the most egregious ones that could poison your convention’s relationship with hotel facilities. I found it very interesting listening to the stories behind the panel title, but I was so sleepy that I couldn’t concentrate that well.

(5) ASTRONAUTS SEND MESSAGE ON CLIMATE CHANGE. Sasquan GoH Kjell Lindgren is one of the astronauts in the video “Call to Earth: Astronauts Send a Message from Space to Global Leaders at #COP21 Urging Action on Climate Change”.

In less than three days, an outpouring of messages streamed in from astronauts around the world – eyewitnesses to profound changes to our planet they’ve seen first hand while in orbit. The messages were produced by members of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), the professional association of flown astronauts, cosmonauts and taikonauts. ASE assists members to communicate their unique perspective of Earth to help stimulate humanity’s sense of responsibility for our home planet.

Also in the video was Wubbo Ockels, Ph.D. Space Shuttle, the first Dutch citizen in space, who said “Our Earth has Cancer and I have cancer too.” He was filmed the day before he died.

(6) BUCKELL. Tobias Buckell offers 28 solid ideas for finding focus in the task of writing.

There are two places to lose focus. One: yourself sitting down to do the work. Two: inside the work as the work itself loses focus. I’ll tackle number one, as I think that was what was being asked.

Caveat: I believe most writing advice is only as valuable to someone as it works. In other words, I believe all writing advice is a hack to get you to a finished draft and help you find tricks to get there. You try something. If it works, it goes in your toolbox. If it doesn’t, you mark it as not currently effective and move on….

11) Don’t tell anyone about what you’re writing about before sitting down to do it

12) Tell someone how cool what you’re writing about is right before sitting down to do it

I really like this pair. Obviously the answer is to use the alternative that helps you. Larry Niven always perfected his story ideas by explaining them to select people before putting them on paper. In contrast, if I tell somebody an idea, then I never feel the need to actually do the writing…

(7) WRIGHT. Someone showed John C. Wright Liu Cixin’s remarks about the Sad Puppies in Global Times, which triggered Wright into writing a post headlined “Liu Cixin to Sci Fi: Drop Dead”.

Within the same fortnight that David Hartwell announced that the World Fantasy Award trophy would no longer be a bust of Lovecraft, but instead be the head of someone whose sole qualification to represent all of fantasy literature is her skin color, Liu Cixin, the first chinaman ever to win a Hugo Award has publicly spit in the face of those of us who voted for him….

That means that this man is gullible enough to believe either what his translator, or Tor Books, or the mainstream news told him, namely, that we who voted for him were motivated by race-hatred against non-Whites. So we voted for a non-White because his book was good, not because his skin color was correct. Because we treated the award as if it were for the merit of science fiction story telling, not as if it were a political award granted to whatever most helped the far Left. We ignored race. By Morlock logic, that makes us racist.

I realize, my dear readers, that if you read THREE BODY PROBLEM, and weighed its merits, and in your honest judgment you thought it was the best SF novel of the year, and your judgment does not matter because you are not the correct sort of people to have opinions.

Even though your opinion in this one case agreed with our Leftist insect Overlords, the mere fact that the opinion was your taints it.

You are wrongfans.

(8) COLLECTING HEINLEIN. Black Gate’s John ONeill compares the collectible paperback market for science fiction’s Big Three – Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein – and comes away surprised by the demand for Heinlein.

Whatever your opinion on their relative merits, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Heinlein has endured longer than Asimov and Clarke… and virtually any other Twentieth Century genre writer except H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Philip K. Dick. Much of his work is still in print in mass market paperback today.

Even more impressively, Heinlein has stayed popular and in print with virtually no help from the film industry. With the notable exception of 1997’s Starship Troopers (and the much lesser-known films The Puppet Masters, from 1994, and Predestination, 2014), Heinlein has endured chiefly on his own steam.

(9) MORLEY REMEMBERED. Available online now and for the next few weeks is the BBC 4 radio production 1977, about the creation of the soundtrack for Watership Down.

In 1977 the bestselling children’s novel Watership Down was made into an animated film. Malcolm Williamson, Master of the Queens music, had been hired as the film’s composer. But all was not well. Williamson, a notoriously difficult and complicated man, was under extreme pressure; it was the Queens jubilee year and he was over commissioned. When the film’s conductor, Marcus Dods, arrived looking for the film’s score he found to his horror that all that existed were two small sketches of music which amounted to no more than seven minutes of screen time. With an expensive orchestra and recording studio booked for the following week, the film’s future looked to be in jeopardy. In desperation he turned to the one person he knew could help; composer and arranger Angela Morley. But she, for her own reasons, was going to need some persuading…

Morley needed persuading because this would be her first high-profile composing job after transitioning to female. Morley later worked on other genre music projects, too, scoring for TV’s Wonder Woman, and assisting John Williams on several films including E.T.

(10) BULK SALES. Hey, John King Tarpinian saw rafts of these at his local CostCo and shot a photo.

GRRM at Costco by JKT COMP

Let Suvudu’s Shawn Speakman fill you in on the details —  “Gifts For the Geek – Day 6: George R. R. Martin leather Box Set”.

I’m always on the hunt for leather books!

George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones Leather-Cloth Boxed Set fits that bill. It is a gorgeous representation of the bestselling series, perfect for that Game of Thrones fan in your life.

The books are not full-sized but instead of a traveling variety, easy to take with as well as looking beautiful on the shelf.

(11) EMPIRE PERIOD ARCHITECTURE. “Alamo Drafthouse Unveils ‘Star Wars’ Themed Movie Theater” at ScienceFiction.com.

If you happen to be curious about what it would be like to see a movie on the Death Star, you don’t need to travel to a galaxy far, far away. You can just head to Omaha, Nebraska. The Alamo Drafthouse just opened a Star Wars-themed cineplex that’s absolutely astounding.

There’s a 10-foot replica of the Death Star in the front lobby, and from the looks if it, you can purchase tickets at an Imperial Command center.

(12) SISTERS. The new Tina Fey/Amy Poehler movie Sisters will be released on the same day as The Force Awakens. How will they fight for their audience share? With a Star Wars trailer of their own called “Sisters – The Farce Awakens.”

(13) ALIENS DIG SECONDHAND SMOKE. Saturday Night Lives presents the Pentagon debriefing of three subjects of the first verified alien abduction.

An establishing shot of the Pentagon took us to a room where National Security Agency dudes Aidy Bryant and Bobby Moynihan are interviewing the three participants in “the first verified alien abduction.” Cecily Strong and Gosling are all lah-dee-dah groovin’ on the cosmic beauty of the mind-expanding, I’ve-seen-God-and-all-the-colors-of-the-rainbow Kenny-G-type experience. Then there’s McKinnon, slumped in her chair in a K-Mart blouse and jeans, her hair a rat’s nest, cigarette in hand, relating a series of experiences that were much more, let’s say tactile, than teleological.

 

[Thanks to Petrea Mitchell, JJ, Brian Z., Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 9/30 Bite Cycles

(1) Product placement. Would you like to guess what product is featured in The Martian?

Aston Martin, Omega, and Burberry will be among the brands proud to be associated with Spectre, the latest James Bond movie when it opens next month. But with product placement and promotional tie-ins now generating big bucks for movie-makers, brands eager to share a piece of the big-screen action now extend well beyond the usual suspects.

For proof, look no further than The Martian, the new sci-fi action adventure starring Matt Damon, which opens in the UK later this week complete with… an official potato. Though even this is not the most surprising in a recent series of increasingly bizarre promotional couplings.

…The end result is a promotional campaign for which the film studio used its connections with NASA to provide Albert Bartlett customers with an all-expenses-paid family trip to the Kennedy Space Center as a competition prize in a Martian-themed promotional campaign.

“They wanted exposure. They also knew that, while the film will have big appeal with single blokes, they needed a way to open it up to a wider, family audience,” Marcantonio explains. “Which means it makes sense at a number of different levels. Unlike when soft drinks companies tie up with just about any family movie they can find to reach kids, this tie-up is anything but spurious.”

Indeed. And for a more mundane reason, too. Because like the planet Mars, Albert Bartlett’s best-selling potato – the Rooster – is … red.

(2) Not all of the marketing has been a success.

Remember what I said the other day about not betting against David Gerrold when science fiction cinema is on the line?

His new Facebook post concerns The Martian.

So, here’s my review of The Martian…which I was supposed to see tonight.

The studio’s public relations department is run by idiots.

If you arrange a screening, and if you make passes available to hundreds of fans — warning them ahead of time that you have overbooked and nobody is guaranteed a seat is not an excuse. It’s a cop-out.

You don’t turn away a hundred or more people at the door and shrug it off and say, “Sorry.”

What you do is you say, “Let’s make it up to these people who came all this way and waited all this time.” You go to the management of the theater and say, “We want to schedule a second screening after the first one concludes so that no one goes home disappointed.” That not only gives you good PR with the audience but it helps generate good word-of-mouth three days before the film opens.

The movie might be good. I expect it will be. But the PR people just pissed off at least a hundred fans who waited two hours or longer in line. Not good. Just not good.

(3) Astronaut Clayton C. Anderson, who did get into a screening, wrote this review:

Having already read and enjoyed Weir’s excellent adventure, I was pleasantly surprised with the effective presentation of the novel on screen. Seeing beautiful Martian vistas, punctuated by mountainous terrain in variegated hues of orange, made it seem as if humans were already living there. The use of high-altitude and digitally accurate perspectives of the Martian surface pulled at my heart strings. And I loved that Andy Weir developed a relationship with NASA after publishing the novel, leading the push to involve the space program directly with Scott. The resulting emphasis on science provides an enjoyable balance between the film’s considerable entertainment value and its educational, inspirational, and technological references.

(4) A New Yorker cartoon contains the greatest proof yet of life on Mars….

(5) However, when Rush Limbaugh claims he’s unconvinced NASA found water on Mars, it’s not comedy, it’s tragedy.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: There’s so much fraud. Snerdly came in today ‘what’s this NASA news, this NASA news is all exciting.’ I said yeah they found flowing water up there. ‘No kidding! Wow! Wow!’ Snerdly said ‘flowing water!?’ I said ‘why does that excite you? What, are you going there next week? What’s the big deal about flowing water on Mars?’ ‘I don’t know man but it’s just it’s just wow!’ I said ‘you know what, when they start selling iPhones on Mars, that’s when it’ll matter to me.’ I said ‘what do you think they’re gonna do with this news?’ I said ‘look at the temperature data, that has been reported by NASA, has been made up, it’s fraudulent for however many years, there isn’t any warming, there hasn’t been for 18.5 years. And yet, they’re lying about it. They’re just making up the amount of ice in the North and South Poles, they’re making up the temperatures, they’re lying and making up false charts and so forth. So what’s to stop them from making up something that happened on Mars that will help advance their left-wing agenda on this planet?’ And Snerdly paused ‘oh oh yeah you’re right.’ You know, when I play golf with excellent golfers, I ask them ‘does it ever get boring playing well? Does it ever get boring hitting shot after shot where you want to hit it?’ And they all look at me and smile and say ‘never.’ Well folks, it never gets boring being right either. Like I am. But it doesn’t mean it is any less frustrating.

(6) GeekTyrant says this is the 10-foot inflatable Jabba the Hutt you’re looking for.

ilvr_sw_jabba_the_hut_inflatable

Here’s something that’s sure to piss off your neighbors: a ten-foot long, six-foot tall inflatable Jabba the Hutt, perfect for decorating your front lawn or as the centerpiece for that Star Wars-themed party you might be planning. You can bring it with you to wait in line for The Force Awakens, use it as a Home Alone-style distraction to make potential robbers think a large alien lives in your home…the possibilities are too numerous to entertain in one sitting.

“I say put a Santa hat on him and put him in the front yard,” is John King Tarpinian’s advice.

Or give him his own radio show.

From ThinkGeek for $169.99.

(7) Elizabeth Bear lets readers in on the drafting process…

(8) Rights to Heinlein’s “The Man Who Sold The Moon” have been acquired by Allen Bain’s firm Bainframe. It will be developed for television.

More details on Deadline.com:

Bain (Two Men In Town, Revenge Of The Green Dragons) founded Bainframe to tell stories that have “the power to inspire people to dream of a better tomorrow.” This is the shingle’s second rights buy, following Octavia E. Butler’s Dawn. 

…The Man Who Sold The Moon tells the tale of Delos D. Harriman, a businessman possessed by a dream to take humanity off-Earth. As a young entrepreneur, he starts a private space company to colonize the moon and create the home he never had. He is driven to the brink while single-handedly ushering the entire human race to its next evolutionary step.

“This story is inspiring because the private space race is happening now and will become a reality within a decade. This is not some far flung science fiction yarn. It is something we are going to experience in our lifetime,” says Bain. The timing coincides with yesterday’s announcement by NASA of strong evidence there is flowing water on Mars. “The Man Who Sold the Moon allows us to imagine how the space race will play out, but at its core it’s really a gripping portrait of a complex character with an impossible dream.”

Bain notes that Harriman’s journey is reminiscent of the current crop of space pioneers like Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) and Elon Musk (SpaceX) who has credited Heinlein as an inspiration.

(9) WisCon posted a report in June about the results of the first con run under its new anti-abuse policy.

This year was the first convention where we had a formal procedure in place for what to do when individuals attending WisCon violate the code of conduct described in our anti-harassment policy. The policy is intended to be flexible to allow for different situations, but its basic idea is that if somebody reports a harassing behavior to Safety, the person responsible can be issued a warning and asked to do something differently (such as staying away from a place or person). If warnings aren’t attended to or harassing behavior escalates, the policy describes a few more options, including –– in the worst case scenario, which we hope to avoid –– that Safety and Chairs in consultation with available Anti-Abuse Team members can make a collective at-con decision to ban someone from WisCon.

Now that the convention is over, Safety has handed off their at-con reports to the full Anti-Abuse Team, which is reviewing reports that are still open post-con and evaluating how well the policy performed on- site. Here’s how things looked in our first year:

  • 11 issues relating to the anti-harassment policy were reported to Safety.
  • 4 attendees were issued warnings for harassing behaviors.
  • 1 disruptive non-member was escorted off the premises by hotel staff.
  • 1 person was banned, after several warnings, in response to reports both from multiple departments and from the hotel –– some relating to patterns of behavior going back several years.

(10) Curbed has a report on a film adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High Rise coming to film festivals.

The novel begins with a truly surreal opening line—”later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog”—and the story explores a societal breakdown similar to of-the-moment entertainment franchises such as The Walking Dead. But in J.G. Ballard’s 1975 High-Rise, the subject of a new film adaptation starting to make the festival rounds this month, the enemy isn’t some virus or the undead. The residents of a new London high-rise slowly regress and devolve into tribal infighting not due to some outside force altering their environment, but because of the environment itself. The tower becomes a character in the story, written as a symbol of the meticulous (and ultimately very fragile) class systems built up by society.

(11) Wired has interviewed David J. Peterson about his new book in “How To Invent A Language, From The Guy Who Made Dothraki”.

Some Conlangers Want to Keep Their Hobby Arcane

Peterson recognizes there are “definitely some negative aspects” to the growth in conlang popularity. He cites linguistic pioneer J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord Of The Rings as an example of the community’s instinct toward self-protection. “There were some people who reacted negatively [when LOTR was published] because they knew conlang would start to get more attention, and they didn’t want that,” he says. Until recently, the community has been a supportive niche for people with a very specific interest. But as television shows and films with created languages continue to pop up in more places, it’s no longer as heavily guarded.

His Book Aims to Codify Conlang Knowledge For Posterity

Constructed languages have existed for centuries, but the advent of the internet brought with it the listserv that created a true community of peers. Since then, the community has grown hugely—but as the internet has changed, a new generation of conlangers on various social networks has become more spread out and unaware of each other. “I’ve met dozens of conlangers on Tumblr, all new, all young, who have no idea that each other exist,” he says, “because they’re with the mass kind of shouting into the wind.” None of them know about the old conlang listserv, and now it’s an antiquated form of digital communication, so “they don’t want to bother with that.” Peterson worries about redundancies that would arise from the lack of connection. “They’re inheriting a kingdom they really don’t know the history of, and know nothing about,” he says. They’re reinventing every single wheel we already perfected.” The Art Of Language Invention is a way of bridging the gap between the old and new conlangers by becoming a codex of sorts, preserving knowledge of constructed language much in the same way ancient languages have been preserved throughout history.

[Thanks to Mark sans surname, Andrew Porter, Ansible Links, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 9/17 Second pixel to the left and straight on till Worldcon

(1) Curbed LA is not alone in thinking “The New Look of the Petersen Automotive Museum is Really Really Bad”.

petersen automotive museum

Shawn Crosby hit the nail on the head – “It looks as if the Petersen had skinned Disney Concert Hall Buffalo Bill style and is wearing its bloody outsides like a dress.”

(2) A critical headline also provides the first clue that Io9’s Germain Lussier is down on another project — “The Latest Stephen King Book To Become a Fatally Disappointing TV Show Is…”

The Mist is about how a group of citizens react when—you guessed it—a mysterious mist takes over their town, filled with horrible monsters. Both the movie and novella mostly take place in a isolated supermarket but the TV show will only use that as inspiration, and will have a larger scope.

(3) Anne and Wil Wheaton are hosting “Fancy Dinner: Burgers, Beer, and a Book” on October 20 from 6:30-9 p.m. at Crossings restaurant in South Pasadena. Admission is $100 per person. Click on the link for menu and other details.

At the end of the evening, you will get your own, autographed, advance copy of our book “A Guide To Being A Dog by Seamus Wheaton.” Proceeds from this event will be donated by Crossings to the Pasadena Humane Society to support our participation in the Wiggle Waggle Walk.

(4) This is a good example of what people look to SFWA for — Jennifer Brozek discusses “How Do You Ask For A Blurb?” on the SFWA Blog.

How do you ask for these blurbs without making a nuisance of yourself? You do your research. Many professional authors have “blurb and review” policies in place on their websites, mostly out of self-defense. An author can read only so many books when they are not writing or doing their own story research. Some of these policies may be “No. I will not blurb your book.” Some of them may be “Talk to my agent.” Whatever the posted blurb policy is… follow it. That’s the polite and correct thing to do.

If you have an agent, you can talk to them about talking to the agent of the author you’d like a blurb from. Your agent should have a decent handle on who can be approached and who should be avoided. If you don’t have an agent, you need to do things the old fashioned way: ask.

(5) Steve Davidson harkens back to his Crotchety Old Fan days with “The Things Robert Heinlein Taught Me” at Amazing Stories

What this little episode did remind me of is the fact that, in many ways, Bob served as a surrogate grandfather for me.  Both of mine passed before I’d been on this planet five years, and as anyone who has read Time Enough For Love can tell you, a rascally, unrepentant and self-assured grandfather is a must have in the proper development of the creatures we euphemistically call little boys.

And of course it then occurred to me that there were quite a few humorous (and not so humorous) lessons to be had from all of Heinlein’s books and, lacking the kind of social restraint that would undoubtedly have been passed on to me by a real-life grandfather, I have decided to share some of them with you.

(6) “The Cold Publishing Equations: Books Sold + Marketability + Love” is Kameron Hurley’s latest autobiographical post based on her royalty statements.

Being above average is important, because being average sucks —

The average book sells 3000 copies in its lifetime (Publishers Weekly, 2006).

Yes. It’s not missing a zero.

Take a breath and read that again.

But wait, there’s more!

The average traditionally published book which sells  3,000 in its entire lifetime in print only sells about 250-300 copies its first year.

But I’m going indie! you say. My odds are better!

No, grasshopper. Your odds are worse.

(7) Wallpaper Direct has a fun infographic about Doctor Who villains through time.

The role of The Doctor has been assumed by 12 respected actors, each bringing their own quirks and characteristics to the programme. Along with his Mark I Type 40 TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), the time travelling rogue has blasted his way across space, but not without gaining some enemies in the process.

From the Daleks to the Cybermen, we take a look at the most notable enemies from the Dr. Who franchise.

And they’d be thrilled to see you some wall covering from their Dr. Who Wall Mural collection.

collection925_main_

Officially licensed wallpaper murals based on the latest BBC series with Doctor Who starring Matt Smith as the Time Lord – from the company Black Dog Murals. The mural is easy to hang – paste the wall product and each is supplied in a box, with full hanging instructions. Please read the hanging instructions carefully. The mural is supplied in pre-cut lengths. The lengths are sometimes reverse rolled due to the manufacturing process. If you are in any doubt regarding direction of pattern please refer to website.

(8) Steve Davidson is back with another installment of what’s eligible for the Retro Hugos that will be voted on by next year’s Worldcon members – Part 4 – Media, specifically, the Long Form category.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, is well served in 1940.  Not necessarily because there were a lot of worthy films, but only in comparison to Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, which has to settle for serial episodes and cartoons.  Television shows were still almost a decade away.

However, when it comes to film there are a few interesting contenders, and, fortunately, the vast majority of eligible works are known and viewable, thanks largely to the Internet Archive, Youtube and copyright law.

I’m looking forward to short form, where there should be a trove of radio shows and phonograph records, too.

(9) Steven H Silver saw this today on Jeopardy!

Category:  “E” Readers

Daily Double Answer: This novel by Sinclair Lewis caused and uproar for its satiric indictment of fundamentalist religion

Question from returning champ: What is Ender’s Game?

Lost $2000.

(10) Francis Hamit’s new book Security Matters: Essays On Industrial Security is available in a Kindle edition from Amazon. Says Francis:

It’s hard reality actually from the security industry; the experiences that inform some of my fiction.  There are some dramatic moments and instances recounted and the writing is some of my best. If it were a poetry book you’d at least look at the sample.

The volume is edited by Leigh Strother-Vien and Gavin Claypool.

A collection of “Security Counterpoint” columns that originally appeared in Security Technology & Design Magazine between 1993 and 2001 about problems and concerns that are still relevant today. Francis Hamit spent 21 years in that industry in operational, sales and consulting positions.

(11) A tough day for the let’s-you-and-him-fight crowd – because John Scalzi begins “How Many Books You Should Write In a Year” with this preamble:

Folks have pointed me toward this Huffington Post piece, begging self-published authors not to write four books a year, because the author (Lorraine Devon Wilke) maintains that no mere human can write four books a year and have them be any good. This has apparently earned her the wrath of a number of people, including writer Larry Correia, who snarks apart the piece here and whose position is that a) the premise of the article is crap, and b) authors should get paid, and if four books a year gets you paid, then rock on with your bad self. I suspect people may be wanting to have me comment on the piece so I can take punches at either or both Wilke or Correia, and are waiting, popcorn at ready.

If so, you may be disappointed. With regard to Correia’s piece, Larry and I disagree on a number of issues unrelated to writing craft, but we align fairly well here, and to the extent that I’m accurately condensing his points here, we don’t really disagree.

(12) “Here’s how the first humans will live on Mars –and why traveling the 140 million miles to get there will be the easy part” – despite the headline, it’s not a story about The Martian. It’s a pointer to an eye-grabbing infographic based on TED speaker and technologist Stephen Petranek’s book on How We’ll Live on Mars.

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

Dragon Con Sets Attendance Record

The 2015 Dragon Con drew over 70,000, crushing the record of 62,000 set a year ago, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Charities also benefitted from fan support at Dragon Con.

One of the positives from that assemblage of humanity (and other unidentifiable creatures) is that the con raised more than $100,000 for the Lymphoma Research Foundation, this year’s designated charity.

Final figures are not in yet for those donations, nor for the Robert A. Heinlein “Pay It Forward” Blood Drive, which collected 3,292 units from 3,893 donors in 2014.

[Thanks to Don Cook for the story.]