Pixel Scroll 7/5/16 Scrollamagoosa

Radio SFWA(1) RADIO SFWA OFFICIAL VIDEO. Henry Lien has released the video of Radio SFWA as performed on stage at the Nebula Banquet in May.

Lien, who wrote the song as a recruiting anthem for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, sang as Emperor Stardust backed by the brilliantly-choreographed Eunuchs of the Forbidden City doing SFWA spellouts and other routines. They received a well-deserved standing-O at the end.

Click CC (Closed Captioning) to view the lyrics.

Click Settings to watch it in 1080 HD.

Emperor Stardust

  • Henry Lien (Nebula Nominee, SFWA Member)

The Eunuchs of the Forbidden City

  • Liz Argall (SFWA Member)
  • Tina Connolly (Norton Nominee, SFWA Member)
  • Alyx Dellamonica (SFWA Member)
  • Patrice Fitzgerald (SFWA Member)
  • Fonda Lee (Norton Nominee, SFWA Member)
  • Reggie Lutz (Future SFWA Member)
  • Kelly Robson (Nebula Nominee, SFWA Member)

(2) MIDWESTERN MIGHTINESS. “Marvel reveals New Great Lakes Avengers Series”Nerdist has the story.

They’re not Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. They’re not even the West Coast Avengers. At one point, they received a cease-and-desist order to prevent them from using the Avengers name. But their tenacity could not be stopped and their inherent silliness endeared them to readers all around the world. And that is precisely why Marvel is announcing today, exclusively on Nerdist, that they are bringing back the Great Lakes Avengers in an all-new monthly ongoing comic book series….

Let’s begin with the obvious question: why is now the right time to revive the Great Lakes Avengers?

“Now is the time for Great Lakes Avengers to return, one, because I simply want to do it,” [editor Tom] Brevoort joked. “They need to give me perks to keep doing the comics that people like and that sell really well,” he added with a laugh.

Great-Lakes-Avengers-Cover

(3) SALTIRE. At another spot on the map, BBC reports a “Scottish superhero challenge to Marvel and DC Comics”.

Glaswegian [John] Ferguson, who set up Diamondsteel Comics with his Lancashire-born wife Clare, said other elements of Scotland’s past and folklore also feature.

He said: “The Stone of Destiny, the Blue Stanes, the Loch Ness Monster and the Caledonian Fae traditions all have a significant place in the Saltire universe.

“Saltire’s origin is built from myth and legend so a comparison might be Marvel’s Thor although perhaps a bit darker and grittier. He does have an iconic visual appeal similar to the famous American superheroes.”

A year in the making, Saltire: Legend Eternal, the first comic book in a new series of the comics has been “meticulously inked, coloured and lettered” to compete with the high standards set by Marvel and DC Comics, said Ferguson.

(4) WHO NEEDS A DEGREE? Recently, David Tennant and Steven Moffat each received honorary degrees from different schools in Scotland.

Dr Who star David Tennant has travelled back in time to his old acting school to pick up an honorary degree.

The Broadchurch actor has been awarded an honorary drama doctorate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

The 46-year-old was recognised during a ceremony in Glasgow.

Tennant studied drama at the Royal Conservatoire between 1988 and 1991, then known as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, before enjoying success on stage and screen.

He said: “I’m honoured and rather humbled to be here – it’s all quite overwhelming but lovely to be back. It evokes some very vivid memories.

“It was a very important time for me. I don’t think I would have survived without my time here – for me it was essential. Three years of getting to practice in a safe environment.

“I was quite young, quite green, and I did a lot of growing up here and learned an enormous amount. They were very formative years that I look back on very fondly.”

Dr Who writer Steven Moffat also received an honorary degree from the University of the West of Scotland in Paisley.

(5) TRUDEAU. In Yanan Wang’s story for the Washington Post, “How Canada’s prime minister became a superhero”, about Justin Trudeau’s appearance in the Marvel comic Civil War II: Choosing Sides  she explains that writer Chip Zdarsky (who writes as “Steve Murray”) put Justin Trudeau in the comic book because his father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, made an earlier appearance with the Alpha Flight team (who are Canadian superheroes) in the 1980s.

She also unleashes this quote from Peter C. Newman, a prominent Canadian business journalist:

“If God had meant for us to be heroic, he wouldn’t have made us Canadians.  This is the only country on Earth whose citizens dream of being Clark Kent, instead of Superman.” To regard themselves as heroes would be “boastful,” Newman observed, which Canadians were decidedly not.

(6) CONTROVERSY. “In His New Novel, Ben Winters Dares to Mix Slavery and Sci-Fi”, a New York Times article, covers a lot of ground about a book whose reception is all over the spectrum.

In Ben H. Winters’s chilling new thriller, “Underground Airlines,” a bounty hunter named Victor tracks fugitives for the United States Marshals Service. But his mission, like his past, is complicated: The people he’s chasing are escaped slaves. Their main crime is rejecting a life of forced servitude. And Victor himself was once one of them.

From the moment he started writing it, Mr. Winters knew that “Underground Airlines” was creatively and professionally risky. The novel tackles the thorny subject of racial injustice in America. It takes place in a contemporary United States where the Civil War never happened, and slavery remains legal in four states, and it’s narrated by a former slave who has paid a steep moral price for his freedom.

“I had reservations every day, up to the present day, because the subject is so fraught, and rightfully so,” Mr. Winters said. “It isn’t as if this is ancient history in this country.”

Mr. Winters, 40, has pulled off high-wire acts before. As one of the early literary mash-up artists, he churned out zany best sellers like “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” and “Android Karenina.” His best-selling trilogy, “The Last Policeman,” is a genre-defying blend of crime writing and science fiction, starring a stoic police officer trying to solve crimes as the world braces for a catastrophic asteroid collision….

“He’s taking a direct whack at one of the main critical things that’s happening in this country right now,” said Lev Grossman, a book critic and author of the fantasy series “The Magicians.” “This is a white writer going after questions of what it’s like to be black in America. It’s a fearless thing to do.”

(7) WORLDCON IN MEMORIAM LIST. Steven H Silver announced that the deadline for getting names onto the In Memoriam list for the MidAmeriCon II program book is Friday, July 8.  Names currently under consideration can be found at http://www.midamericon2.org/home/general-information/memoriam-page/. Suggestions for additional names can be made there as well.  Any names suggested after July 8 will make it into the Hugo scroll, but not the program book.

(8) TODAY IN SILLY HISTORY

  • July 5, 1935 — Hormel Foods introduced the canned meat product SPAM.

(9) DID YOU PAY ATTENTION? Den of Geek put the Back to the Future movies under a microscope and came up with “The Back to the Future Trilogy: 88 Things You Might Have Missed”. The most I can say is that I hadn’t missed all of them. Take number one, for example:

  1. The Doc’s clocks (I)

As the first film opens and we pan across Doc Brown’s incredible assortment of clocks – all previously synchronized to be exactly 25 minutes slow – the eagle-eyed may notice that one of the clocks features a man hanging from its hands. It’s actually silent comedy star Harold Lloyd, dangling from a clock in perhaps his most famous turn in 1923’s Safety Last. Aside from being a cool little nod to a past movie, it also prefigures the later scene in which Doc hangs from the Hill Valley clock in near-identical fashion.

(10) FUTURE WARFARE. Jeb Kinnison will be on the “Weaponized AI and Future Warfare” panel at LibertyCon, and is preparing by organizing his thoughts in a series of highly detailed blog posts.

In Part I of Weaponized AI: My Experience in AI, Kinnison shares details of his professional background in technology, which informs the rest of his discussion.

Autonomous control of deadly weaponry is controversial, though no different in principle than cruise missiles or smart bombs, which while launched at human command make decisions on-the-fly about exactly where and whether to explode. The Phalanx CIWS automated air defense system (see photo above) identifies and fires on enemy missiles automatically to defend Navy ships at a speed far beyond human abilities. Such systems are uncontroversial since no civilian human lives are likely to be at risk.

DARPA is actively researching Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). Such systems might be like Neal Asher’s (identity) reader guns, fixed or slow-moving sentries equipped to recognize unauthorized presences and cut them to pieces with automatic weapons fire. More mobile platforms might cruise the skies and attack any recognized enemy at will, robotically scouring terrain of enemy forces:…

Many of the readers of Mil SF have had experience in the military themselves, which makes platoon-level fighting stories especially involving for them. The interpersonal aspects are critical for emotional investment in the story — so a tale featuring a skinny, bespectacled systems operators fighting each other by running AI battle mechs from a remote location doesn’t satisfy. Space marines a la Starship Troopers are the model for much Mil SF — in these stories new technology extends and reinforces mobile infantry without greatly changing troop dynamics, leaving room for stories of individual combat, valorous rescue of fellow soldiers in trouble, spur-of-the-moment risks taken and battles won by clever tactics. Thousands of books on this model have been written, and they still sell well, even when they lack any rationale for sending valuable human beings down to fight bugs when the technology for remote or AI control appears to be present in their world.

One interesting escape route for Mil SF writers is seen in Michael Z Williamson’s A Long Time Until Now, where the surrounding frame is not space travel but time travel — a troop from today’s Afghanistan war find themselves transported back to paleolithic central Asia with other similarly-displaced military personnel from other eras and has to survive and build with limited knowledge of their environment.

(11) KRUSHING IT. At secritkrush, Chance Morrison has launched a review series about Hugo-nominated short fiction. Still looking for one that Morrison liked…

Novella it a tough length. Most of the time Novellas feel like they are either bloated short stories which could benefit from an edit or a story which really ought to be expanded into a novel to do it justice. Binti is one of the latter….

Why, given this setup, was the book not a comedy, even a dark one because I really cannot take it seriously but it is really not funny?

One day Google (the search engine) develops consciousness and decides that it doesn’t want to be evil, unlike Google the company….

Writing stories under 1000 words is exceedingly difficult. Writing one of the five best (allegedly) SF short stories of the year in less than a thousand words? Highly unlikely.

Data and River Tam/Jessica Jones together at last! They fight crime commit crimes….

(12) ON THE TRAIL. Lisa Goldstein feels a little more warmly about “’And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead’” – at least room temperature.

“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander is the only novelette on the Hugo ballot that was not also on the Rabid Puppies’ slate.  To get that far, against all the Puppies voting in lockstep, means that it’s probably a very popular story.  I liked it as well, but I had some reservations.  Which puts me in a minority, so you should definitely read it and make up your own mind.  Hey, I don’t claim to be infallible here.

(13) WORLDCON ANNOUNCES FILM FESTIVAL. The 2016 Worldcon will host the MidAmeriCon II International Film Festival.

The Festival will showcase the best film shorts, features and documentaries from around the world, spanning the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic genres. Many film makers will also be in attendance and taking part in Q&A sessions to provide a unique behind the scenes perspective on their work.

The MidAmeriCon II International Film Festival is being led by Nat Saenz, whose extensive track record in the field includes the Tri-City Independent/Fan Film Festival (www.trifi.org) as well as events at the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 World Science Fiction Conventions. Nat continues to bring a truly global perspective to his audience, with the 2016 programme including films from Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Spain, Greece, France, Italy, and the UK, as well as the USA and Canada.

The Film Festival will run through all five days of the convention, starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17 and concluding at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 21.  All films are open to full and day attending convention members (subject to relevant age restrictions in line with film classifications). All screenings will take place at the Kansas City Convention Center.

A full screening schedule can be found at www.midamericon2.org/home/whats-happening/programming/film-festival/.

[Thanks to Henry Lien, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dawn Incognito.]

Pixel Scroll 5/14/16 Lucy In The Scroll With Pixels

Happy astronomy day

(1) HAPPY ASTRONOMY DAY. Tech Times recommends celebrating the day by perusing the photos on its favorite Instagram accounts.

Thanks to astronomy, we are now aware of the beauty, wonders and mysteries of space. International Astronomy Day, on May 14, marks the discoveries and achievements we’ve made in the field. You can get even closer to astronomy by visiting your local planetarium, checking out any special Astronomy Day events in your area or even by enjoying a quiet night in the peace of your own backyard gazing up at the stars. You can also find a lot of resources online about astronomy, as well as sites that feature some of the most beautiful and intimate photos taken of space. Instagram in particular hosts a variety of photos, some by astronauts who are in space right now and who wish to share the beauty of the stars with others. Here are the best Instagram accounts to check out this International Astronomy Day.

NASA

Probably the most obvious account to follow on Instagram is NASA, which posts photos on a regular basis of many of its discoveries and images related to new discoveries. There’s always something beautiful to see here, and you might just learn a little more about astronomy in the process.

(2) SFWA EXPANDS MEMBER ELIGIBILITY

(3) RACHEL SWIRSKY. Swirsky did a ”Silly Interview with Na’amen Tilahun, Aspiring Prince Impersonator” on Thursday.

Na’amen Tilahun has been around the science fiction scene for a long time — as a fan, a convention attendee, and a bookstore clerk. And now as a novelist! His debut novel, The Root, is coming out in June. I blurbed it:

“Na‘amen Tilahun‘s novel will make readers searching for variety in their SFF diets squeal with delight. The detailed world-building is strange and wondrous.”

And on Friday, she made a reading “Recommendation: Saving Slave Leia by Sandra MacDonald”.

Sandra McDonald is one of my favorite working short story writers. Her humor is often both warm *and* sly, her satires sharp but empathetic. She has some amazing funny and irreverant stories about drag queen astronauts and sexy robot cowboys, but one of her other favorite topics to lampoon is Hollywood.

“Searching for Slave Leia”–as you might expect–is one of the latter. Sandra McDonald hits a perfect point where humor and metafiction let her really dig into human emotion. Also, Star Wars.

Searching for Save Leia” by Sandra McDonald…

(4) BACK IN FASHION. John King Tarpinian splurged for some Turkish delight. As you Wikipedia readers know, Bob:

Turkish delight features as the addictive confection to which Edmund Pevensie succumbs in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) by C. S. Lewis. Sales of Turkish delight rose following the theatrical release of the 2005 film version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

(5) DARWYN COOKE. Almost Darwyn Cooke’s Blog announced that he passed away overnight.

We regret to inform you that Darwyn lost his battle with cancer early this morning at 1:30 AM ET. We read all of your messages of support to him throughout the day yesterday. He was filled with your love and surrounded by friends and family at his home in Florida.

Donations can be made to the Canadian Cancer Society and Hero Initiative.

Please continue to respect our privacy as we go through this very difficult time.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

(7) BEAUTIFUL FREE BOOKS. Here’s someone who scored big at last night’s SFWA signing….

(8) STINKERS. Suvudu is so right about its “Eleven Cringeworthy Sci-Fi Series From the Eighties” I even cringed to read the synopses. You’ve been warned.

Automan: Police department IT geek Walter Nebicher (”Nebbish“, get it?) bonds with a powerful artificial intelligence that can create whatever he needs in his fight against crime. “Whatever” meaning cars, mostly. The AI manifests as a digital avatar known as “cursor”. It was a different time. This was created by the producers of TRON, by the way

(9) PIRATICAL PUPPY PLAY. The Orlando Fringe will host The Space Pirate Puppy Musical from May 18-30. The Tasty Monster Productions site does not answer whether it has anything to do with the Hugos.

The+Space+Pirate+Puppy+Musical!Earth has gone to the dogs, literally. After “the incident” humans have gone underground and into space leaving dogs to run the planet. But the Space Pirates have decided that they need to pave over Earth to put up a parking lot for their new nightclub on the moon. The Puppies have to join forces with their arch enemies the Ninja Kittens and along with the assistance of the Great Oracle, must seek the power of the greatest weapon they’ve never heard of. Epic adventures and battles ensue and along the way, we learn a deep, dark secret…or three. Will the Puppies turn tail and run? Will the Ninja Kittens, ooh string. Can the Earth be saved from certain construction?  Will it all end in discord or harmony?

Written by Heather Bagnall and directed by Luke Tudball, with original music and lyrics by multi award-winning New York composer Steve Schalchlin. Original artwork by Seamus Corbett.

Somebody *coff*Camestros**coff** ought to ask Timothy the Talking Cat.

(10) FUNERAL FOR OLD PUBLISHING. Brian Keene has a lot to say about “How the Mid-List Died” at Cemetary Dance Online.

The mid-list is gone. Borders is gone. But that doesn’t matter, because over the last twenty years, we’ve had a new thing come along—something called the Internet. With it came Amazon, and suddenly, mid-list writers didn’t have to play a rigged game anymore. Our books had a shelf life beyond that one to three month span. Readers could find us, discover us, and find our backlist. If your local chain bookstore didn’t have our latest, you could buy it online.

Which brings us back to the start of this column. The number one question I am most often asked is, “Why can’t I buy all of your books at Barnes and Noble?”

To understand why, you need to consider the changes that have taken place in publishing over the last twenty years, particularly those that took place after the demise of the mid-list and the closure of Borders. After those things occurred many mid-list, cult, or genre authors decided to take advantage of the advances in digital and print-on-demand publishing and do it for themselves. They cut out the publisher, cut out the chain stores, and marketed directly to the readers. For example, Bryan Smith, who was inarguably one of Dorchester’s most popular horror writers, began self-publishing via Kindle and CreateSpace and has since made more money from that than he ever did through traditional publishers. Other authors, such as myself, decided to diversify their publication routes. Since Dorchester’s fall, I’ve routinely divided my releases between self-publishing (via Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle), the small press (via publishers such as Deadite Press and Apex Book Company), and mainstream publishing (via big publishing conglomerates such as Macmillan). I do this because I don’t like having all my eggs in one basket. Your mileage may vary.

(11) WE ALL LIVE IN A GENRE SUBMARINE. Steve Davidson at Amazing Stories holds forth on “The Birth of a New (sub-?) Genre”.

I was on the hook for an editorial subject for today (it’s been a little tough concentrating these days given our personal circumstance), so I hopped on over to File 770 to peruse the daily Pixel Scroll. I can usually find something over there upsetting or bothersome enough to get the juices flowing.

No such luck, I thought, even AFTER reading the comments. (What’s up Mike? I can almost always pull an editorial subject out of the File, either from the entries, the commentary, visiting the linked posts/pages/sites or, at last resort, the comments on the linked to items for some Fourth Level Upset).

Even though File 770 fell down on the job, Steve got an editorial out of Timothy the Talking Cat’s new There Will Be Walrus collection, which has more than enough provocative material to get anyone steamed up.

(12) A BETTING FAN. The Traveler at Galactic Journey thinks he has my number as well, and it isn’t five. See “[May 14, 1961] Friendly Disputes (June 1961 Analog)”.

Now for the disputable ones.  Analog is the most conservative of the mags.  It’s generally Terran-centric, with Earthlings portrayed as the most cunning, successful beings in the galaxy (which is why, of course, most aliens look just like us).  While the serialized novels in Analog are often excellent, the accompanying short stories tend to be uninspiring.  The science fact columns are awful.  Editor John Campbell’s championing of psionics and reactionless engines (in real-life, not just fiction), crosses into the embarrassing.  All these factors make Analog the weakest of the Big Three magazines, consistently lagging in quality behind Galaxy and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Of course, Mike disagrees.  He’s even wagered that Analog will take the Hugo award for Best Science Fiction Magazine this year.  I think he’s dreaming.  F&SF has won three years in a row, and barring some unexpected decline in quality, it will do so again.

I’ll take that bet, Mike Glyer!  Two beers to your one.

I’ll have to start investigating what the good beers are in 1961. Pabst Blue Ribbon was the sponsor of those Friday night fights I watched on TV with my father. Of course, in 1961 I am only 8 — perhaps I should be wagering a nonalcoholic beverage….

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

(14) KAIJU REDO. According to CinemaBlend “Pacific Rim 2 Just Took A Major Step Forward, Get The Details”.

We’ve just learned that Pacific Rim 2 has taken a Kaiju-sized step forward by enlisting a new screenwriter to polish the script

According to a recent report from THR, it seems that Pacific Rim 2 has brought screenwriter Derek Connolly on board. It appears that he will work alongside current director Steven S. DeKnight – who helped shepherd the first season of Netflix’s hit series Daredevil – with regards to fine-tuning the story and bringing the sequel to life. The report also confirms that Guillermo del Toro remains firmly committed to the project, albeit in a producing role, rather than as the film’s director.

(15) FIREFLY HOMAGE. JJ recommends The Verse, a fan film from a couple years ago, but as we say here, it’s always news to somebody.

Written for fans and by fans who are inspired by the cult sci-fi series “Firefly”. An exciting new look at this beloved world featuring a new crew, a new ship and a heaping dose of misbehavin’!

 

(16) SUPER TROOPERS. JJ also made sure we didn’t miss “Boogie Storm make Simon’s dream come true!” — Britain’s Got Talent 2016.

(17) BONUS NEBULA COVERAGE. Beautiful photos from tonight’s banquet and awards ceremony.

Henry Lien leads the Eunuchs of the Forbidden City in “Radio SFWA.”

[Thanks to Will R., David K.M. Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Christian Brunschen.]

Pixel Scroll 12/22 I Saw Mommy Reading Pixel Scroll

(1) IN SFWA TIMES TO COME. Cat Rambo in “What I’m Hoping For SFWA in 2016” tells about the organization’s accomplishments and shortfalls in 2015, and what the future holds. Here’s an excerpt from each category —

SFWA’s 2015 Accomplishments

We hammered out membership criteria that didn’t just include writers publishing independently or with small presses but made us the first organization to consider crowdfunded projects as a publication path. That’s led to an influx of new members and fresh energy that’s been delightful to be part of….

Some Bad Stuff

The lack of a plan behind the 50th Anniversary Anthology finally sank that project when our CFO and I realized that the books would have to sell for 84.50 each in order to break even….

What I’m Looking Forward to in 2016

M.C.A. Hogarth has been a terrific Vice President, proactive and self-guided. One of her projects is a guidebook for SFWA members that explains everything: how to join the discussion forums, how to nominate for the Nebulas, how to participate in the Featured Book Program on the website, who to mail with directory issues, etc. That will appear in 2016 and I think it will be a bit of a revelation to us all….

Rambo ends with Henry Lien’s anthem “Radio SFWA,” which I must say I am a huge fan of, whatever it may do for anybody else…. (The lyrics appear when you click “show more” at the song’s YouTube page.)

(2) RULES ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens lands unprecedented award nomination” reports Polygon.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already shattered plenty of box office records, but the movie has also made history by reportedly earning an unprecedented nomination from the Broadcast Critics Association.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Association made the historic move to include the film as the eleventh contender for their Best Film award. The nomination list had come out eight days before The Force Awakens was released, effectively shutting the film out entirely. Usually, films must be submitted during a specific voting period and those that don’t meet the deadline aren’t considered at all.

(3) GOOD FOR A QUOTE. Academic Henry Jenkins, who appeared as a witness in The People Vs. George Lucas, explains “What We Talk About When We Talk about Star Wars” at Confessions of an Aca-Fan.

This blog post might be subtitled “The Pretentious Ass Strikes Back.” Here’s a story we tell in my family.

In 1977, Cynthia Ann Benson, an undergraduate at Georgia State University, has signed up for a class on film theory and criticism, with some nervousness about whether it will take the pleasure out of going to the movies. On the first day of class, the instructor — Jack Creech — is late, and a group of students are gathered outside the classroom. This guy — you know the one — another undergraduate student  is standing around making assertions about gender, race, and technology in the recently released Star Wars movie to anyone who will listen and to many who would probably rather not be listening. She goes off after class and writes a letter to her best friend describing “this pretentious ass pontificating about the social significance of Star Wars” as summing up everything that made her fearful of cinema studies.  It took me several years to overcome that unfortunate first impression and get her to go out on a date with me. We’ve now been married for almost 35 years.

So, it was some ironic glee that I accepted the invitation of the media relations folks at USC to be put on a list of experts who could talk to the media about Star Wars. I found myself doing some dozen or more interviews with reporters all over the world in the week leading up to the release of A Force Awakens, filling them in about the impact which the Star Wars franchise has had over the past few decades.

(4) HE’LL BE HERE ALL WEEK FOLKS. James H. Burns sent an email to ask: “Hey, Mike, do you know why I’ll be wearing a deerstalker cap on the 25th?”

The answer: “Because I’ll be Holmes, for Christmas.”

(5) I’M MELTING…MELTING….

(6) HIGH CASTLE TO CONTINUE. Amazon’s The Man In The High Castle has displaced Titus Welliver-starrer Bosch as its most-watched original according to The Hollywood Reporter.  The show’s pilot also has been streamed more times than any other pilot in Amazon history. The company announced a few days ago it has renewed the show for a second season.

(7) DID YOU PAY ATTENTION? Pit your wits against “Orbit’s Ultimate 2015 Science Fiction and Fantasy Quiz” at Playbuzz. Multiple choice questions, for example:

Fans visited the Discworld for the last time this year, with Terry Pratchett’s final book, The Shepherd’s Crown, released in August. If you were to visit Ankh Morpork, how would you recognise the city’s crest? It contains…

JJ says, “In my opinion, it’s way too heavy on media (Film, TV, comics) and Game of Thrones, but I’m sure a lot of Filers will do well on it.”

(8) BIG NAME ZOMBIE WRITERS. Jonathan Maberry and George Romero are joining forces to edit Rise of the Living Dead, an anthology of all-original stories set in the 48 hours surrounding Romero’s landmark film.

Rise of the Living Dead will be published by Griffin, and will include stories by Brad Thor, Brian Keene, Chuck Wendig, David Wellington, George Romero, Isaac Marion, Jay Bonansinga, Joe Lansdale, Joe McKinney, John Russo, Jonathan Maberry, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Mike Carey, Mira Grant (pen name of Seanan McGuire), Neal Shusterman & Brandon Shusterman, and Sandra Brown & Ryan Brown.

(9) LEWIS PART THREE. Matthew David Surridge unveiled “Wandering the Worlds of C.S. Lewis, Part III: Dymer” at Black Gate.

In 1922 C.S. Lewis recorded in his diary that he had “started a poem on ‘Dymer’ in rhyme royal.” His phrasing’s interesting: a work “on” Dymer, as though it were a well-known subject. “Dymer” was already a familiar story to him. He’d written it out in prose in 1917, one of his first mature prose works to use modern diction and avoid the archaisms of William Morris’ novels. Late in 1918 he wrote in a letter that he’d just completed a “short narrative, which is a verse version of our old friend Dymer, greatly reduced and altered to my new ideas. The main idea is that of development by self-destruction, both of individuals and species.” Nothing of this version seems to have survived in the 1922 poem, which was finished in 1925 and published in 1926 to mixed reviews.

(10) HERE COMES SANTA CLAUS. After viewing “Boston Dynamics’ Robo-Dogs Pulling a Sleigh is a Terrifying Glimpse of Christmas Future”, Will R. asked, “Do electric puppies dream of…wait…where was I?”

I love the possibility of a Christmas battle royal between the Robo-Dogs and the regiment of parading Krampuses – it would be the real life equivalent of that Doctor Who episode where the Daleks fought the Cybermen….

(11) PARTYARCHS. Because the MidAmeriCon II Exhibits team will be helping people throw parties in the Worldcon’s event space, rather than have them in hotel rooms, they are inviting people to an advance discussion —

Hi all you party throwers!

At MidAmeriCon II, we are going to have a different party setup and we have some questions to ask of you and answers to share with you.

Please subscribe to our party-discussion mailing list by sending an email to party-discuss-join@midamericon2.org with the subject line of SUBSCRIBE.

Even if you aren’t going to throw a party, we are interested in your insight and advice.

(12) BOND ON ICE. James H. Burns calls”Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?” from the sixth James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, “Perhaps the most unusual song in a James Bond film.” Nina Van Pallandt is the singer.

The song played behind this action scene:

(13) RECOMMENDATION SITE. Ken Marable’s 2016 Hugo Recommendation Season is working its way through every category week at a time. It just wrapped up the Best Fanzine recommendations.

Previously covered – Best Semiprozine, Best Fan Writer, Best Professional Artist, and Best Editor (Short Form). See the schedule at the site for when others will be covered.

(14) BOIL’EM, BAKE ‘EM, STICK ‘EM IN A STEW. Peru’s Centro Internacional de la Papa will learn how to grow “Potatoes on Mars”.

A team of world-class scientists will grow potatoes under Martian conditions in a bid to save millions of lives.

The experiment, led by the International Potato Center (CIP) and NASA, is a major step towards building a controlled dome on Mars capable of farming the invaluable crop in order to demonstrate that potatoes can be grown in the most inhospitable environments.

The goal is to raise awareness of the incredible resilience of potatoes, and fund further research and farming in devastated areas across the globe where malnutrition and poverty are rife and climbing….

By using soils almost identical to those found on Mars, sourced from the Pampas de La Joya Desert in Peru, the teams will replicate Martian atmospheric conditions in a laboratory and grow potatoes. The increased levels of carbon dioxide will benefit the crop, whose yield is two to four times that of a regular grain crop under normal Earth conditions. The Martian atmosphere is near 95 per cent carbon dioxide.

(15) FISHER. “Han Jimbo” (James H. Burns) says this interview with Carrie Fisher from earlier in the month is just delightful.

(16) CINEMATIC COAL LUMP. ‘Tis the season to remember what is generally regarded among the worst movies ever made.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians can be viewed free online. (As if you would pay to see it!)

(17) WAY OF THE HOBBIT. Ebook Friendly draws our attention to the “Following the Hobbit trail (infographic)”.

Quirk Books, an independent book publisher based in Philadelphia, has released a fantastic infographic that will let you study the timeline of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

The visual was prepared for Quirk Books by Michael Rogalski.

Following-the-Hobbit-trail-infographic

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Will R., James H. Burns, John King Tarpinian, JJ, and Gregory N. Hullender for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

SFWA’s New Recruitment Anthem

Emperor Stardust and the Eunuchs of the Forbidden City bring you “Radio SFWA.”

Henry Lien says, “I wrote this recruitment anthem for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, to be performed at the Nebula Awards Ceremony in May 2016.”

And he told his Facebook readers, “A video will follow in about a month with me demonstrating the dance steps, including spelling out the letters “S F W A” over the chorus with my arms.”

(The text of the lyrics can be found by clicking “show more” at the song’s YouTube page.)

[Thanks to Cat Rambo for the link.]