Pixel Scroll 5/1/17 Heigh-Ho, The Derry-O, A Pixel We Will Scroll

(1) CLARA COMING BACK? In a spoiler-filled post, “This ‘Doctor Who’ Companion Could Be About to Return for the Christmas Special “, Lewis Jeffries speculates about the 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special.

On Twitter, it has been stated that Eddie’s Diner has been booked by BBC Doctor Who for two days of filming. Hardcore fans know that Eddie’s Diner is in fact Clara and Ashildr’s (Maisie Williams) TARDIS in disguise. So this can only mean one thing, the return of Clara Oswald and Ashildr.

(2) HELP WANTED. James Ciment, PhD, Acquisitions Editor for Popular Culture at ABC-CLIO, has an opening:

ABC-Clio, a reference and academic publisher based in Santa Barbara, California, is looking for an editor (or co-editors) for a reference book on aliens in popular American culture—popular literature, film, television, graphic fiction, and other genres and media. Book length and specific content will be determined by the editor in consultation with the publisher. The deadline for submission of the manuscript is flexible, within a range of 18 to 30 months. The book is intended for the college, public and academic high school library markets. Requirements for the editor are flexible as well but editor must have significant publishing history in the field of literary/film criticism, popular culture studies and/or related fields. Academic affiliation is recommended but not required. Reference editing experience helpful. Editor duties include developing a TOC, soliciting contributing writers, and editor manuscript for content. Publisher will provide administrative support and will be responsible for copy-editing and indexing.

Interested persons should send their CV to acquisitions editor James Ciment at: james.ciment@ca.rr.com

(3) LET THE APPERTAINMENT BEGIN. Steve Davidson knows that as often as I need to invite people to appertain themselves their favorite beverage (after spotting one of my typos), I probably need to order in bulk. And if I’m doing that, the bottles should have a house label – which he has supplied.

(4) DERRINGER AWARDS. The 2017 Derringer Awards winners, for short mystery fiction, have been announced. Unfortunately, Bruce D. Arthurs’ Derringer-nominated short story, “Beks and the Second Note,” did not get the nod. Here are the stories and authors that did:

2017 Derringer Award Results

BEST FLASH STORY (1 – 1,000 words)

  • Herschel Cozine for “The Phone Call” (Flash Bang Mysteries, Summer 2016)

Best Short Story (1,001 – 4,000 words)

  • Linda Barnes for “The Way They Do It in Boston” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, September/October 2016)

Best Long Story (4,001- 8,000 words)

  • Victoria Weisfeld for “Breadcrumbs” (Betty Fedora: Kickass Women In Crime Fiction, Issue 3, September 2016)

Best Novelette (8,000 to 20,000 words)

  • Terrie Farley Moran for “Inquiry and Assistance” (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, January/February 2016)

Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer

  • Robert Randisi

(5) POD DRAMA. Tor Labs is a newly launched dramatic podcast imprint. Here’s an excerpt from Patty Garcia’s press release.

Tor Books, a leading global publisher of science fiction and fantasy, announced today that it is launching TOR LABS, a new imprint emphasizing experimental approaches to genre publishing, beginning with original dramatic podcasts.

Helmed by Senior Editor Marco Palmieri and Editor Jennifer Gunnels, Tor Labs will debut this summer with Steal the Stars, a science fiction audio drama which will be produced in partnership with Gideon Media and written by Mac Rogers, the award-winning writer of the global hit podcast thrillers, The Message and LifeAfter.

(6) TRAVEL FUNDING SOUGHT. Three Brazilian fans; Andressa Dreka, Mayara Teixeira Dos Santos, and Luis Alessio are crowdfunding to come to the UK for Lazlar Lyricon 3, a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy funcon being run in Stoke on Trent in June.

The trio help run Obrigado Pelos Peixes (“Thanks for All the Fish”) an organization in Brazil that ran its own convention, Don’t PaniCon, last year, and plan another for 2017.

James Bacon notes:

A few special items were auctioned at the recent UK Eastercon to help raise money for the project. These included an official Hitchhiker’s quote towel from the 1980s and a pair of beer glasses with Hitchhiker inspired designs from the 42nd Cambridge Beer Festival. This raised GBP212 for the fund.

The crowdfunding is being carried out on a Catarse site, via https://www.catarse.me/OPPnoLazlarLyricon3.

As File 770 reported over the winter, Lazlar Lyricon 3 will take place June 9-11. Committee members include Stefan Lancaster, Emma J. King, David Haddock and Alan Sullivan.

The first two Lazlar Lyricons were part of a series of conventions in the 1980s, 90s and early 00s colloquially called ‘Fun Cons’, which also included the Incons, Dangercons, and several one-off conventions such as Year of the Wombat and Aliens Stole my Handbag.

(7) READING ALOUD. Cat Rambo says, “A lot of us have listened to SFWA’s Executive Director Kate Baker narrating podcasts over the years, but here’s someone narrating one of Kate’s pieces” — “Old Teacups and Kitchen Witches by Kate Baker” on Cast of Wonders.

This time the narrator is –

Karen Bovenmyer earned an MFA in Creative Writing: Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. She teaches and mentors students at Iowa State University and serves as the Nonfiction Assistant Editor of Escape Artists’ Mothership Zeta Magazine. She is the 2016 recipient of the Horror Writers Association Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship. Her short stories and poems appear in more than 40 publications and her first novel, Swift for the Sun, will be available Spring 2017. Follow her online and on Twitter.

(8) EPISODE ONE. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Meghan Ball and Kelly Anderson recap “American Gods Episode One: ‘The Bone Orchard'”.

Our reactions

Kelly: Welp. This show knows how to make an entrance! Pilots are all about being memorable, and I think I can say from the get-go this one certainly succeeded on that level. They went for a combo of stark, Tarantino-esque visuals, husky-voiced, gritty storytelling, and a grimy ‘70s vibe, and it all blends together to create the perfect mood for this story. It’s surrealist noir, if such a genre exists—everything is slightly off-kilter, and even the scenery makes you look twice (that alligator bar! I gotta get me one of those!). It’s as if somebody went back in time and gave Magritte computer graphics and possibly some acid, and I love it.

Meghan: That was an astonishing trippy-as-hell hour of television. I never thought I’d see the day someone actually followed through with bringing this book to life, and certainly not in a way so savagely, monstrously beautiful. I especially loved the use of music. Whoever chose it deserves a raise. “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” playing while Shadow stares mournfully at Laura’s grave? Absolute perfection. They also used “Iko Iko” by the Dixie Cups in the bar scene, which is also mentioned in the novel. That was especially cool. Everything about the premiere felt lush and organic, and utterly real as it was surreal. I’m a fan of Tarantino movies, and even I was gasping in shock during the opening Viking scenes, which completely set the tone.

(9) THE LONG HAUL. At Vox, there’s an overview by someone who’s seen the first four episodes.

If you’re like me and haven’t read Gaiman’s iconic source material, the TV series doesn’t spend a whole lot of time trying to catch you up. There will inevitably come a point when — as blood rains from the sky and some god or another intones an ominous missive about death — you’ll squint and realize you have no idea what’s happening.

But that’s okay by American Gods. Having seen four episodes, I think it’s safe to say that the mysteries being explored by the show’s first season are intricate, and that Fuller and Green are in no rush to give away their secrets. This will be frustrating for people watching from week to week, but American Gods is making the bet that you’ll be intrigued enough by what it teases to stick with it — and on that front, it’s probably right.

(10) INDEPENDENTS’ DAY. The Seattle Review of Books covers #independentbookstoreday celebration: “Our Independent Bookstore Day, in photos”.

(11) GLOWING GOO YOU CAN CHEW. Where to find it? Cat Rambo has a clue.

My most recent newsletter is up and includes class news and a link to a recipe for edible glow in the dark gel: “News and More Stuff from Chez Rambo”

(12) SAX AND VIOLENCE. Echo Ishii watches old TV: “SF Obscure: Night Man “.

What do you get when you cross light jazz, Taylor Dayne, and questionable costume choices? And then you throw in special guest appearances by Jerry Springer and Donald Trump? Why you get Night Man, a show that surprisingly stayed on air for two seasons.

Night Man(1997-1999) is the story of Johnny Domino, a professional saxophonist, who is struck by lightning and earns a telepathic ability to see evil. It’s loosely based on an original comic. He also teams up with some scientists on the run who provide him with a special suit that allows him to deflect bullets and fly. It actually took a few episodes to figure out exactly what the suit does vs. Johnny Domino’s own ability- and I have the sneaking suspicion it was not entirely developed well by the writers.

(13) BAD MIKE.

So the rest of you better hurry and get that reading done or I’ll take a bite out of you, too.

(Or – and this was the point — you could wait to fling poo at the Hugo shortlist ‘til you’ve read it, something that never occurred to C. and Matt.)

(14) PURITY OF ESSENCE. Can penguins be forced to bark? Jay Maynard wants to “Make Penguincon Great Again” —  by kicking out everything he doesn’t like.

Still, I’d promised this year’s con chair that she’d get a fair chance to address my concerns, so I came back one more time. Guess what? More hard-left GoHs — the odious Coraline Ada Ehmke, she of the Contributor Covenant that prohibits project members from being politically incorrect any time, anywhere, in any venue, on pain of expulsion (who had to cancel due to an emergency); Sumana Harihareswara, who I found out the hard way was a hard-core feminist as well; and Cory Doctorow, well-known left-wing author — more politically correct panels, 15 of them on such topics as “Queering Your Fiction” and “Let’s Get the Taste of 2016 Out of Our Mouths” and “Exploring Themes in Zen Cho’s Work” (with “Intersectionality, diaspora and immigration, the culture of British education, and queer relationships also appear in Cho’s stories over and over” in the description). When I was asked to submit lists of panel topics, I was instructed not to be controversial, but it seems the Left has no such admonition.

This was further borne out by the very first thing that happened at Opening Ceremonies: right after the con chair took the mic, she introduced one member of the convention committee, who proceeded to name 8 or 9 American Indian tribes that had lived in Southeast Michigan in the past and said that “we are their guests here”. That bit of virtue signaling came straight out of the political correctness playbook.

The con’s expanded harassment policy is also of the same stripe; it basically allows anyone to complain that they are being harassed on the flimsiest of excuses, and the con can then eject the subject of the complaint summarily with no recourse and no refund. This is the kind of policy that has routinely been used against those who are merely politically incorrect at other cons, most notably the Worldcon in Kansas City.

There were exactly two panels on topics that the Left would not approve of, both relating to firearms. In fairness, I will also point out that the con did, for the first time, officially sponsor and pay for the Geeks with Guns event. Still, the overall feel is that of overpowering political correctness.

All of this adds up to one inescapable conclusion, for me: those who oppose the politically correct orthodoxy are not Penguicon’s kind of people. Oh, sure, they’ll happily take our money, but we’re not “one of them”.

I go to cons to escape the culture wars, not to get hit over the head with how much of a nasty, eeeeevil person I am for being a white male. We are all, first and foremost, SF fans and computer geeks. People should leave their politics at the door and celebrate SF and open source computing for their own sakes. For the first decade, at least, Penguicon did. It doesn’t any more.

Jer Lance disagrees with the diagnosis: “On the Need to Make Great Things Great Again”

Among my plans for the day, today, was to put together a quick writeup congratulating the staff of Penguincon for throwing an undeniably successful convention—the 15th in a series! Instead, I’d like to take a moment to respond to a long-time attendee’s paen to modern divisive politics; a blog post with the snappy title “Make Penguincon Great Again.” In his post, Jay “Tron Guy” Maynard makes the assertion that Penguincon has fallen to the “leftists” and resulting event is no longer one that is comfortable for people like him.

…Instead, I would like to focus on Jay’s proposed solution. Tron Guy—an attendee since the very first event—would “return the con explicitly to being nonpolitical.” Maynard yearns for the days when we focused on apolitical topics like Geeks with Guns – Societal & Political (year 1), Hidden Totalitarian Assumptions in ‘I, Robot’ (year 3), Don’t Be Evil: The Google Books Settlement (year 9), Technology as Legislation (year 5), and of course the keynote address from the very first Penguincon by Eric S. Raymond (on whose blog this Make Penguincon Great Again concept was born) which discussed “open source, the hacker culture, and the second amendment.” As Archie Bunker sang, those were the days!

In case my point was too subtle, Penguicon has never been any more apolitical than science fiction itself, despite claims to the contrary.

….I came to my first Penguincon in 2006 during its 4th year. I came for the tech conference side of the house and actively disdained the “comicon, nerd shit.” Over the ensuing 11 years, I have attributed a tremendous amount of my personal growth to my having been repeatedly and relentlessly exposed to things outside of my comfort zone through the convention. My hardline libertarian stance has softened to that of a moderate conservative through immersion in concepts that were foreign to me until such time as it was easier to understand them than repel them.

In that understanding, I’ve earned empathy….

(15) IT’S A THEORY. K.B. Wagers argues the change is happening: “The Rise of the Unlikable Woman”

There have always been unlikable characters in fiction, though the idea of the anti-hero?—?brooding, self-centered, wholly unredeemable?—?has long been considered a man’s territory. From crotchety but lovable Han Solo to the downright dangerous Riddick, no one complains that these characters aren’t people you’d trust to watch your house, let alone have a cup of tea with.

Women in fiction, by contrast, can only be unlikable if they are redeemable in some fashion or another?—?or if they’re ultimately punished. Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is struggling for redemption (and turned into a nursemaid for the Big Guy as a result). Were she still unrepentant about the death she’s dealt?—?as Loki is?—?she would find less compassion from the audience. Emma Bovary, in Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, receives her punishment (in the form of her death) at the end of the novel as a result of her sexual desires.

But now, women characters are rising up from the ashes of these expectations….

(16) SIGNS OF THE TIMES. On Planetary Post, March for Science participants joined host Robert Picardo in support of space science and exploration in Washington, D.C.

(17) CLARKE CENTER. Episode 7 of Into the Impossible, the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination’s podcast, takes you to ”New Spaces”.

We’re looking at new spaces in space, speaking with Drs. Yvonne Cagle (astronaut and physician) and Adam Burgasser (astrophysicist). We talk about why we send humans into space, the discovery of potentially habitable worlds at TRAPPIST-1 and how we imagine them, the role of interstellar art, the evolution of human physiology in zero-g, why the scariest thing about being an astronaut might be finding yourself on stage at the Oscars with Dr. Katherine Johnson, subject of the film Hidden Figures, and how important it is that we remain vigilant in our embrace of diversity across disciplines.

(18) BAT EXCLUSIVITY. ScreenRant claims there are “15 Things Batman Can Do (That No One Else Can)”.

Given his intensive combat training and genius-level sleuthing skills, the Dark Knight Detective is one of the most formidable heroes in the DCU (or the world of comics in general), giving him a skill-set that dwarfs many of his superpowered peers.

  1. He Has Contingency Plans to Take Down Enemies…and His Friends

As we stated earlier, Batman prepares for everything. And we mean everything. In addition to strategizing on how to take down all of his arch-enemies and other deadly threats, he does what some might see as a betrayal–he creates contingency plans against every one of his fellow Justice League team members (in Grant Morrison’s 2000 Justice League: Tower of Babel storyline).

Using his genius intellect, he develops brutally efficient ways to neutralize his teammates’ powers: he binds Green Lantern with his own power ring, makes Aquaman terrified of water, uses fire against Martian Manhunter, liquid nitrogen to subdue Plastic Man, virtual reality against Wonder Woman, and he even creates a weapon to give The Flash seizures.

His strategizing backfires, however, when Ra’s al Ghul steals his plans and takes down his allies. Needless to say, his fellow Justice League members were none too pleased with this, and they  subsequently had his membership revoked. It’s not easy for Batman to have friends.

(19) BATMAN & BILL. Hulu is releasing Batman & Bill on May 6, which is a documentary about Bill Finger’s contributions to the Batman mythos. FirstShowing.net explains the “Official Trailer for Hulu Doc ‘Batman & Bill’ About a Batman Creator”

“The most mysterious man in Gotham City wasn’t in a mask and cape.” Hulu has released an official trailer for a documentary titled Batman & Bill, which will premiere exclusively on Hulu starting early May. The documentary “unmasks” one of the greatest secrets in the comic industry – that Batman wasn’t created by Bob Kane alone, it was primarily Bill Finger who created the iconic superhero. This seems like a fascinating doc with plenty to offer for comic book fans, including inside stories and excellent art from the early days of Batman. It’s cool to see a doc like this that actually looks worth watching on Hulu.

 

(20) BATMAN & BOB. Offered on eBay and now marked down from $1,500 to $1,050, a signed first edition of Bob Kane’s autobiography Batman & Me with original signed ink Batman drawing by Kane.

Batman & Me. Forestville: Eclipse Books, 1989. First Edition. Copy number 144 of 1000 numbered copies signed by Bob Kane with an original ink drawing of Batman by Kane. The autobiography of the artist who created the immortal comic book character Batman in 1939. Extensively illustrated. Fine in slipcase.

(21) THE FIRST HALF OF HISTORY. Fanac.org has posted a recording of a 1968 Worldcon comics panel with Marv Wolfman and Harry Harrison. I guess a few things  have happened since then:

Baycon, the 26th WorldCon, was held in Oakland, California in 1968. This very entertaining panel features a discussion about contemporary comics by the then relative newcomer, Marvin Wolfman, and a plethora of engaging stories by Harry Harrision. Harry talks about Bill Gaines (EC Comics) and working with Wally Wood. The stories are funny, the context and history of the field are priceless. Moderated by Paul Moslander, this excellent recording is courtesy of the Pacifica Radio Archives.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Rambo, James Bacon, and Bruce D. Arthurs for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]

Pixel Scroll 3/12/17 The Band Played Scrolling Matilda

(1) ALL WISDOM, Last October, The New Yorker’s Sheelah Kolhatkar interviewed Talmon Marco, CEO of Juno, a ride-hailing app that is trying to take business from Uber and Lyft by offering its drivers more pay and stock options.

When I asked Marco why he was so sure that Juno would still be around, he said, half jokingly, that he had acquired all the wisdom he needed by reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. “Oh, my God,” he said. “It’s the Bible.  Everything is there.”

…I asked Marco to share what he had learned from the book, and he hesitated.  “Now you’re really putting me on the spot,” he said.  After thinking for a few seconds, he went on, “It claims the math never works in a restaurant, which explains why the bill never adds up.” He wasn’t sure if that was still true, because, he said, he stopped looking at restaurant checks a long time ago — preemptively handing your credit card to the server saves the five minutes it takes to get the bill, look at it, and send it back with the payment.

“It was a very popular book, especially when I was growing up, among geeks in the eighties and nineties,” Marco went on.  “You have to ask the founders of Snapchat.”

(2) A BOOK OF HER OWN. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Gabby Rivera, whose “Latina, queer, superpowered and superpopular character” America Chavez has made appearances in the Marvel books Young Avengers and The Ultimates and has now appeared in her own comic book from Marvel, America.

 “Superhero comics seemed so out of my league that I never even imagined it as something I could do. But the second the opportunity came my way, it felt so right,” Rivera told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “I’ve always dreamt up wild, powerful and carefree superheroes that look like me and my family: thick, brown, goofy, beautiful. And now I get to see them come to life. ‘America’ is going to be all those things and it’s [going to] be wild.”

Before beginning to write “America,” the new solo series (illustrated by Joe Quinones) that debuted in print and digitally last week, Rivera dived into stacks of comic books featuring the superstrong heroine who can fly and punch star-shaped dimension-hopping holes into the air. Rivera called it her “crash course” on all things America.

(3) PODCASTING TIME LORD. Scott Edelman writes, “I was very pleased to have gotten live on the second weekend of March 2017 an episode of Eating the Fantastic recorded the second weekend of March 1995! How? You’ll see.”

Episode 31 is a 1995 World Horror Con Flashback:

So prepare to time travel back to a 1995 mall food court lunch as I talk about my first job at Marvel Comics, how I broke into writing for Tales from the Darkside, and the beginnings of Science Fiction Age magazine, while Adam-Troy Castro reveals how he created the first story in the first issue of that magazine, as well as how a cab ride he feared he wouldn’t survive turned into one of his most memorable works of fiction.

(4) AS THE TWIG IS BENT. Crooked Timber is running one of their seminars on Ada Palmer’s “Terra Ignota” books — Too Like the Lightning, and the just-released Seven Surrenders. So far they have posted –

Ada Palmer’s new book – Seven Surrenders – is out today. So too is our seminar….

Almost all science fiction, as J.G. Ballard remarked in the introduction to Vermilion Sands, is really about the present day. This is certainly less true today than it was in 1971, but it is still often the case that the relationship between our present and the future world that is depicted – or between the present of the imagined world and that future’s past, when anyone inside the story decides to look back – is oddly straightforward and uninteresting. This is certainly not something that can be said of Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota books.

In the genres of science fiction and fantasy, when a book is written in an unusual mode, it’s usually either a gimmick or window-dressing. Window-dressing is when for instance a Victorian feeling book has a faux Victorian style as part of that feel. An example of this would be Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, where Heinlein doesn’t have to tell us that the English spoken on the moon is heavily influenced by Australian and Russian, he gives us a first person narrative devoid of articles and peppered with Russian borrowings and Australian slang. It’s great, but really it’s just scenery, everything else would be the same if he’d chosen to write the book in third with just the dialogue like that. It’s quite unusual to read something where the mode is absolutely integral to what the book is doing. In Womack’s Random Acts of Senseless Violence, the decaying grammar and vocabulary of the first person narrator, Lola, mirrors the disintegration of society around her, and we the reader slowly move from a near future with a near normal text to a complete understanding of sentences that would have been incomprehensible on page one, in a world that has also changed that much.

Too Like the Lightning and Seven Surrenders tell the story of beautiful, brilliant, compassionate people who are also terribly vulnerable. They are Eloi who have convinced themselves Morlocks do not exist; they are victim-beneficiaries of two hundred years of willful ignorance of growing rot. Like the dragon Smaug, they’ve rested on their hoard for centuries, adding layer after layer to their invulnerable bejeweled armor—but they cannot see the armor’s chink, the soft space waiting for Bard the Bowman’s arrow.

The arrow is shaped like God.

(5) AMERICAN GODS. The creators of the American Gods TV series told attendees at a SXSW panel the show has new meaning in “a climate that vilifies immigrants”.

When Neil Gaiman’s American Gods comes to television next month, it’s going to look a little different than fans of the book remember — and its creators hope they’ll take away a subtle political message alongside the myths and magic.

“Our first task of adapting is to make the show that we wanted to see as an audience member,” said Bryan Fuller, one of the showrunners. But “it’s definitely a different show than we set out to make, because the political climate in America shat its pants,” he said. “We are now telling massive immigration stories in a climate that vilifies immigrants. And so we have a strange new platform to start a different kind of conversation.” Fellow showrunner Michael Green agreed. “The book is joyful, it celebrates a lot of things that we love about America, and have since become weirdly odd about America,” he said.

Neil Gaiman echoed the sentiment on Twitter after the panel. “I don’t think we preach,” he told a fan. “And we didn’t think we were making a politically relevant show, just adapting a book about immigrants and America.”

(6) POLITICAL ACTION FIGURES. You may or may not ordinarily be interested in a review and photos of Pinhead Hellraiser III 1/6th action figure by ThreeZero, but Cat Eldridge predicts many readers will be entertained by the political statement at the very end of the review…

(7) NAFF. The National Australian Fan Fund, to send one Australian fan to the Natcon, has opened voting. The winner will attend Continuum 13 in Melbourne, June 9–13.

There are four candidates from three states:

  • Jason Fischer (SA)
  • Talitha Kalago (QLD)
  • Fe Waters (WA)
  • Jay Watson (WA)

More details available here. Voting ends April 16.

(8) AT THE BACK OF THE PACK. Rolling Stone has ranked all the cast members from Saturday Night Live since the beginning of the show in the 1970s. Although he went on to have a hugely successful acting career in the Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man movie franchises, this fellow came in last place —

  1. Robert Downey Jr.

Era: 1985-1986

Robert Downey Jr. is a comic genius. Making him unfunny stands as SNL’s most towering achievement in terms of sucking. How do you fuck up a sure thing like Downey? He’s funny in anything. I mean, dude was funny in Weird Science. He was funny in Johnny Be Good. He was funny in Iron Man. But he met his Kryptonite, and it was SNL, where he spent the 1985-1986 season sucking up a storm. His greatest hit? A fart-noise debate with Anthony Michael Hall. In a perverse way, the Downey Fail sums up everything that makes SNL great. There are no sure things. No rules. No do-overs. No safety net — when you flop on SNL, you flop big. And that’s the way it should be. The cameras roll at 11:30, ready or not. Live from New York — it’s Saturday Night.

(9) COSTUMING HISTORY. A video compilation of Kat Bushman’s convention masquerade entries from 1967-2000.

(10) LONG-LASTING HORROR. On Fivebooks, Darryl Jones, who teaches at Trinity College in Dublin, is asked to recommend the best horror stories. He turns to 1897 and reminds us why The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Great God Pan are still worth reading.

Can you give some examples?

One of the best places to look for examples is late-Victorian England. Think of 1897, the year of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, which marks the zenith of the British Empire.

1897 also saw the publication of a number of landmark works which were very anxious about the status and lasting power of the British Empire. These works often envisage colonial or intergalactic Others coming to invade London, the imperial metropolis. London gets invaded, London gets destroyed.

(11) KEEP ON TINGLING. A reworking of a popular meme —

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, David K.M. Klaus, Standback, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 5/27/16 With Pix You Get Eggscroll

(1) HANG ONTO YOUR TOWEL. Britain’s Radio 4 has provisionally ordered a six-episode Hitchhikers sequel.

Radio 4 has commissioned a new series of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, over a decade since the last series aired.

It will become the sixth series for the sci-fi comedy on radio, with the show’s last run – Series 5 – having broadcast in 2005.

Expected to be titled ‘The Hexagonal Phase’, the British Comedy Guide understands that the new episodes will primarily be based around the book And Another Thing….

This news comes after Towel Day, the annual celebration of the work of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy creator Douglas Adams. The writer, who launched the hit series on Radio 4 in 1978, died in 2001.

In 2009 author Eoin Colfer was commissioned to write And Another Thing… featuring the same characters as seen and heard the previous radio series and books written by Adams. Although Colfer had the blessing of the creator’s widow, the announcement proved to be controversial at the time. Colfer has recognised that there was “semi-outrage” at the idea of another author contributing to the series, but he has been pleased by the reaction the book has since publication.

(2) THEY SAID NO. Esquire shows “This is What The Lord of the Rings Would Have Looked Like With Its Original Cast”.

7. Liam Neeson as Boromir

Details on this one are a little sketchy, so let’s file it under woulda, coulda, shoulda. “I have a particular set of skills… and a big ancestral horn.”

(3) HVP WARNINGS. Vox Day told his readers there will be warning labels on two items in the Hugo Voter Packet (the one for Tingle has already been reported here.)

The WorldCon convention has also issued at least two other “warning labels” to two other Hugo-nominated works in the packet, one a Best Related Work by Moira Greyland, the other a Best Short Story by Chuck Tingle.

(4) BEYOND CHARACTER POSTERS. ScreenRant has nice, large images: yesterday, Star Trek Beyond: Jaylah & Bones Character Posters Released”, and today, Star Trek Beyond: Spock and Chekov Character Posters”.

[The] the studio has unveiled two more posters that are obviously meant to highlight the film’s action quotient and its (new) cast of characters – two elements that have appealed to summer blockbuster fans over the series’ seven-year run thus far, and which Paramount clearly is banking on happening yet again. Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard McCoy is featured in one of the posters, while series newcomer Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service, the currently-in-production Mummy) as the mysterious Jaylah takes center stage in the other (see below).

(5) GENERATION HEX. At Observer, “A Millenial Reviews: ‘Star Trek’ Is a Blantant, Boring Rip-Off of ‘Star Wars’”.

I recently watched Star Trek because I never actually watched it growing up (I was busy having sex and hanging out with my friends after school) so I decided to marathon The Original Series. Let me tell you, good Yeezy almighty, Star Trek sucks earbuds. Now I’m a total geek, but I don’t understand how anyone can be expected to actually watch this stuff. Every episode is an hour long. Do you understand how long an hour is? That’s half of a podcast. If I don’t have 10 minutes to listen to Marc Maron talk about his dead cats then I don’t have 60 hours to watch a dudebro white-privilege his way across the galaxy in a deep V-neck. I tried though.

(6) ARISTOTLE! Atlas Obscura carries a Greek report that Aristotle’s tomb has been found.

A group of archaeologists in Greece say they have found the lost tomb of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher and likely world’s first true scientist….

The archaeologists had been digging for 20 years at a site in the ancient northern Greece city of Stageira, where Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. Aristotle died 62 years later in Chalcis, about 50 miles north of Athens.

Ahead of the official announcement, the Greek Reporter has some more details on the tomb, saying that “literary sources” say that Aristotle’s ashes were transferred there after his death. It is located near the ancient city’s agora, apparently intended to be viewed by the public.

From the Greek Reporter

The top of the dome is at 10 meters and there is a square floor surrounding a Byzantine tower. A semi-circle wall stands at two-meters in height. A pathway leads to the tomb’s entrance for those that wished to pay their respects. Other findings included ceramics from the royal pottery workshops and fifty coins dated to the time of Alexander the Great.

Will R. asks, “I wonder if the tombstone reads, ‘Here Truths Aristotle.’”

(7) BIRDS OF A FEATHER. Scott Tyrell’s pictures of great authors as owls is heavy on British fantasy writers – Rowling, Tolkien, and Pratchett among them.

(8) BIRTHDAY BOYS AND A BAT-GIRL

  • Born May 27, 1911 –Vincent Price
  • Born May 27, 1922 — Christopher Lee
  • Born May 27, 1934 – Harlan Ellison.

Jason Davis of HarlanEllisonBooks.com figures the celebration is incomplete without people buying Harlan’s books and here’s his encouragement for ordering the latest volume of unfilmed scripts, Brain Movies 7.

If you’ve popped by HarlanEllisonBooks.com in the last couple days, you’ll have noticed that I surreptitiously announced that the sixty pages of bonus BRAIN MOVIES 7 content for those who pre-order will be Harlan’s unfinished motion picture adaption of his first novel WEB OF THE CITY; it’s called Rumble, as the book was known when this movie—which was to have starred Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello—was in development. It’s a very interesting adaptation and illustrates that Harlan was not averse to having a little fun with his own source material.

  • Born May 27, 1935 — Lee Meriwether

(9) PUPPIES FOR PEACE. The Huffington Post explains the TV host’s advice — “Samantha Bee Bets On Adorable Puppies To Reconcile Bernie And Hillary’s Feuding Supporters”.

So, in a bid to stop the “Democrat on Democrat violence” that’s been taking over people’s social media feeds, Bee’s team have created a new website: TotallyObjectivePoliticalFacts.org.

Clicking on the link brings up a picture of an adorable animal, alongside a salient quote — such as, “Why can’t we all just get long?”

“Just post that link in any thread where your liberal friends are tearing each other apart and end the argument,” Bee said in a YouTube clip on Thursday.

“Seriously, Democrats, just look at a picture of a puppy and hug it out before it’s too late…”

“She might regret going there….” says Steve Davidson.

(10) PREPARING TO VOTE. First-time Hugo voter and game writer Martin Ralya outlines his approach.

Will I be able to read 100% of the Hugo nominees? Realistically, probably not. I’ll do my best in the time I have, though.

I vote in the ENnie Awards every year, and I don’t even attempt to read/play every nominated work — doing so would entail giving up too much of my time. Instead, I play/read the stuff that interests me, and vote for stuff I feel familiar with. Unlike the Hugos, the ENnies don’t offer up a voter packet, but I make a point of visiting nominated blogs and checking out nominated free products.

I also don’t feel obligated to read every Hugo-nominated work, because fuck the Rabid Puppy agenda. I have a horseshit filter, and you know what? It didn’t stop working when I became a Hugo voter.

If a nominated work stands on its own merits, like Seveneves does, I don’t care if it also appears on the Rabid slate. If a slated work doesn’t stand on its own, or if it advances or supports Rabid Puppy horseshit, it’s going below No Award on my ballot.

(11) RECOMMENDED. Rachel Swirsky finds another story to love — “Friday Read! ‘The Traditional’ by Maria Dahvana Headley”.

I’m a big fan of science fiction that takes vivid, strange images into the future. I think, actually, I always have — and if you look at a lot of classic SF, that’s what it’s doing. That’s obvious when reading someone like Stanislaw Lem, but I think it’s still true about folks who we consider more traditional now. It’s just that some of the weird images they used have been carried on in the conversation so far now that they’ve become standard, and have lost their newness. Stories like this, and space opera by people like Yoon Ha Lee, bring a contemporary disjunctive strangeness to the genre. I look forward to seeing what happens when the next generation gets bored with it.

If you like odd surrealism and lyrical writing, Maria Dahvana Headley is worth perusing.

The Traditional” by Maria Dahvana Headley….

(12) CHINESE SF MOVIES. Linus Fredriksson has posted the “Chinese Science Fiction Fimography (1958-2016) with lots of links to films, some with subtitles. He explains some of his idiosyncratic choices.

Even though we are faced with some small hindrance when setting a date for the birth of science fiction film in China we are facing an even bigger obstacle when it comes to defining what science fiction really is. According to me science fiction film is a film which uses some form of idea, invention, geographical discovery to convey an image of an alternative society different from the one were living in now. So the appearance of futuristic technical gimmicks and/or inventions in the film is not necessary for defining a film as science fiction. On the contrary, some of the films I’ve watched has not gotten in to the list much because the science fiction elements in the movie is merely a way to get the story going and in the end they’re absent of context and doesn’t bring any further narrative development of the impact that scifi-gimmick might have had.

Take for example Bugs … a catastrophe film from 2015 which begins with a foreign scientist trying to develop a protein, in order to end starvation in the world, by experimenting with insects. Instead of relief for starving people he creates a giant bug which sends out smaller bugs that eat human beings and then returns to its host to feed it. The entire movie, except for the first minute or two, is about escaping these bugs and then killing the big bug. It’s lack of motivating the science in the film and being consistent with it, made me choose not to have the film in my list. It’s pretty much the same when it comes to the rom-com film Oh My God … but here I reasoned differently mostly because the film has been advertised as a scifi-comedy whenever I read something about it. Therefore Oh My God is on the list.

Yes, the genre labeling for the films in the list might be a bit arbitrary and inconsistent at times but that’s also why I’m writing this blog post so that other people can have the chance to have a second opinion on the selection of films. At the end of the list I will add all those films which has been labeled as science fiction but which I personally didn’t consider to fulfill the requirements of falling under that category.

(13) THE TOUGHEST AROUND. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog selects “6 of the Most Fearsome Warbands in Fantasy”.

Kailen’s Twenty, Snakewood, by Adrian Selby

This recent epic fantasy about a disbanded mercenary company plunged back into in their twilight years brings together an instantly iconic collection of gruff warrior types. The Twenty once turned back armies and toppled nations through chemical warfare, tactical cunning, and brute force, but the world has moved on. Kailen, their mastermind and leader, has gone into hiding, and the surviving members of this band of brothers are far past their prime, having retired to more peaceful pursuits or counting down their days working small mercenary contracts. When a shadowy assassin begins hunting them down, offing them one by one and leaving a single black coin on the bodies to signify an act of betrayal, and two of the Twenty, Gant and Shale, receive a desperate message from Kailen himself, they must embark on a journey to save their remaining friends from the legions of people who want their heads—but two past-their-prime swordsmen and an eccentric tactician may not be enough to turn the tide. The deeds of the Twenty were epic, but what truly makes them a warband for the ages is the chance to see what happens to a merc after the battles have ended.

(14) DESPERATELY SEEKING FRED’S TWO FEET. In Key West, they’re threatening to tow this car if they can’t find the owner.

Real-life-version-of-Fred-Flintstones-car-found-illegally-parked-in-Florida

The City of Key West, Fla., put out a call for help to find the owner of a most unusual illegally parked vehicle — a replica of a car from The Flintstones.

The city said in a Facebook post that a Stone Age vehicle resembling that driven by Fred Flintstone and company in the classic cartoon series (and live-action films) was found illegally parked without anyone around to claim the unique piece of property.

How long do you figure it’s been overparked, about 30,000 years?

[Thanks to Will R., John King Tarpinian, Alan Baumler, and Steve Davidson for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

Pixel Scroll 5/24/16 Bark Side Of the Moon

(1) RELEASE THE MONSTER BALLOT. Jo Lindsay Walton is pleased with the flood of Sputnik Award ballots, and is at least not horrified by one of the suggestions.

Btw: I’ve received some really touching enthusiasm, warmth and wise counsels and offers of support, as well as a pretty significant amount of “eh?” “baroo?” “mph?” “wha-?”, which tbh is also kinda gratifying. One thing I’d love to hear more of is unwise counsel. The best I’ve heard so far is the suggestion that we do the Dungeons of Democracy for real.

Just imagine, ripping it from the Excel and into the streets, playing out the entire vote as a vast LARP, cosplaying Daleky Phoenixes and Hedgehoggy Thing Itselves . . .

(2) WINDLING. Remember, Terri Windling lectures on fantasy at Oxford on Thursday, May 26.

I will be delivering the 4th Annual Tolkien Lecture at Pembroke College, Oxford University this Thursday at 6:30 pm. The Pembroke Fantasy lecture series “explores the history and current state of fantasy literature, in honour of JRR Tolkien, who wrote The Hobbit and much of The Lord of the Rings during his twenty years at the college.”

The lecture I’ll be giving is Tolkien’s Long Shadow: Reflections on Fantasy Literature in the Post-Tolkien Era. Admission is free, but you need to register for a ticket and space is limited. Go here for further details.

(3) LUCAS MUSEUM. Mark Guarino’s Washington Post article “George Lucas’s dream of a Chicago lakefront museum faces choppy waters” even-handedly covers the battle to bring the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to Chicago, showing the strengths – the vast art collection, and the architecture — and the minuses, chiefly that it will be partially paid with hotel taxes, which raises a question about whether George Lucas really needs to be subsidized by Illinois and Chicago taxpayers.

The Lucases had two real requirements: One, it would be in a prominent location and, two, that it would be near other museums,” he says. “The Lucases are not going to go to another site.”

A new plan approved by Lucas involves reconfiguring an aging extension of the McCormick Place convention center that sits on the lake and partially replacing it with the museum, 12 new acres of parkland, in addition to new convention space. That multipurpose site is more complicated because it involves borrowing nearly $1.2 billion and extending five taxes on hotels and more. Because it is co-owned by the state, approval from Springfield is required. With Illinois in a budget deadlock that is nearing a full year, and the state ranked at the bottom of those with underfunded pensions, the timing could not be worse. Koch says the selling point is long-term revenue in taxes and tourism dollars, as well as that it would add to Chicago’s “meaningful group of museums and cultural assets” that make it globally competitive.

This is both an enormous opportunity to update and modernize McCormick Place,” he says. “It has this element of Lucas, but they are two separate things that would happen to be tied together financially.”

Talks are on hold until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit rules on a city petition that asks for the lawsuit to be thrown out. Meanwhile, Hobson released a statement calling Friends of the Park “a small special interest group” that has “co-opted and hijacked” the process. “It saddens me that young black and brown children will be denied the chance to benefit from what this museum will offer,” she says.

She added that she and her husband “are now seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago.” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has already said he would welcome the museum in his city.

If the Lucases leave Chicago, it will ultimately discredit the couple’s statements about wanting to help the children there, park advocates say.

“They keep saying how committed they are to the city, but they’re not committed enough to build anywhere but the lakefront,” [Friends of the Park executive director Juanita] Irizarry says.

(4) THIS HAPPENED. N.K. Jemisin started a Patreon campaign less than a week ago and it’s been so successful she can give up her day job.

So, internets. Big changes in Noraland. For the few of you who don’t follow me on Twitter and FB, I Did A Thing. Specifically, last Friday I started a Patreon campaign with the specific goal of breaking free of the 9 to 5 life. I launched it officially at 5:35 pm on Friday afternoon, thinking nobody would much care since Friday News Dump, and thinking that would give me time to fix bugs and work out any kinks in the campaign over the weekend. Instead, to my absolute shock, I hit my baseline goal within 24 hours, and my stretch goal within 48. And it’s still going. People really, really want me to have a retirement plan, apparently.

(5) BEVERLEY OBIT. Jo Beverley passed away on May 23 at the age of 68. Though best known as a romance writer, she also wrote romances with fantasy and magic in them, was a Writers of the Future contest finalist (1988), and published in Songs of Love and Death (2010) edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.

(6) HEARTWARMING WOOKIEE. In “Star Wars’ Favourite Wookiee Goes Back to School”, Lee Costello of the BBC’s Northern Ireland service reports on Chewbacca’s visit to a school in County Kerry.

Chewbacca, Star Wars’ world-famous wookiee, has left pupils at a Republic of Ireland primary school star struck after landing for a visit.

The star is filming the newest instalment of the blockbuster series in County Kerry.

He took a break from the set to visit Scoil Fheirtearaigh National School in Ballyferriter on Monday.

The visit was arranged after some pupils sent impressive artwork to director Rian Johnson.

(7) AND HIS MOM. Meanwhile, Hollywood summoned a viral video maker for 15 more minutes of fame — “J.J. Abrams Surprises Chewbacca Mom”.

Candace Payne, also known as the Chewbacca Mom, took over the Internet this weekend with her Chewbacca mask and infectious laugh. In the video, Candace is sitting in her car, super excited about a purchase she just made: a Star Wars Chewbacca mask with sound. The next few minutes are her trying to contain her infectious laughter. The video broke the all-time total for most views on Facebook Live, and everyone has been talking about the joyful mom from Texas.

James Corden brought Candace out to Los Angeles to appear on The Late Late Show and surprised her with a visit from J.J. Abrams. The trio took a ride in a car, where Abrams gives Candace some notes on how to play Chewbacca, but the best part was her reaction outside of the car when J.J. first surprised her.

Video at the link.

(8) START SPREADING THE NEWS. Looks like this will be no problem in Ireland, but for everyone else IFL Science contemplates “How Do We Tell The World That We’ve Found Alien Life?”

…That’s a topic discussed in a paper from astronomers Duncan Forgan and Alexander Scholz from the University of St Andrews in Scotland (hat tip to Cosmos Magazine for picking it up). They have examined the protocols that are already in place, and have suggested ways that those involved in the discovery should prepare for the media onslaught that would accompany a tentative detection.

“A critical concern for scientists pursuing the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is the reaction of the world to the knowledge that humans are not the only technological civilization in the universe,” they write. They suggest that the “culture shock” of such a discovery will put SETI scientists under intense scrutiny, which they must be prepared for…..

“SETI scientists must be prepared to not simply announce a detection via press release, but to be a trusted voice in the global conversation that will begin after the initial announcement,” the authors write. “This will require both pre-search and post-detection protocols to be implemented.”

(9) AWARD JUDGES. In Australia, the 2016 Aurealis Awards judging panels have been selected.

There’s a panel for every category – which means a lot of judges. Scroll down to see the judges’ bios.

(10) TRUER GRIT. Damien Walter believes Dune Deserves A New Film Adaptation”.

Dune’s cinematic qualities have made it a natural target for Hollywood adaptations. But the Lynchian weirdness, followed by a lacklustre mini-series, have left the franchise in a televisual limbo for most of the last two decades. Herbert’s own sequels, while conceptually interesting and widely loved by established fans, lack the storytelling muscle displayed in the first book. A risible series of cash-in prequels have dragged the Dune universe down to the bargain basement of pulp fiction. It’s a sad legacy for such a significant work of fiction.

(11) TROLL HOIST. Death and Taxes did an overview of Chuck Tingle’s Hugo nomination that ends with this paragraph:

Luckily these goons didn’t know who they were dealing with. This is Chuck Tingle, leading author of gay dinosaur erotica, licensed massage therapist, and outspoken enthusiast of hardness and love. Nobody nominates him for a prestigious award and gets away with it.

(12) ANOTHER FINE MESS. There’s reason to be interested in Charlie Jane Anders’ impressions about the field, despite the post ignoring the copious documentation available to answer its strawman question: “One way of looking at the Hugo Awards mess”.

So we’re once again having Hugo Awards drama. It’s confusing, because the people who packed the ballot with their choices have a bunch of vague explanations about why they’re upset. (Ranging from “OMG SJWs” and “affirmative action” to “we just want fun stories.”) They generally keep their grievances vague and nebulous (no pun intended), and it’s hard to pin down what they’re upset about. And this year, they changed tactics slightly, putting more “mainstream” choices on the ballot except for some of the short fiction categories.

So I figure one useful way to look at this issue is to ask: What’s changed? If there’s a group of people who are upset, what recent changes could possibly account for their being upset? Here are a few things that occur to me….

(13) AT WISCON. I see a lot of tweets promoting people’s panel appearances, but rarely one so artistic.

(14) THE SIGN OF THE Z. John Z. Upjohn joined Twitter today. The cause was soon revealed.

Alexandra Erin explained in a GoFundMe appeal update:

And because you all pitched in enough to cover airfare for WorldCon before I head off to my current con, Mr. John Z. Upjohn will be providing live twitter commentary of the event [WisCon]…

Erin also delivered another Sad Puppies Review Books installment once the fundraiser hit $300 (it’s now at $775) – Upjohn’s take on The Cat in the Hat.

The Cat in the HatThe protagonist of the book is a cat who develops games, games that are fun (like all games should be), and who wants nothing but to share them with children who are bored. Not so fast, cat! There is a game critic in the house, a fish who is clearly used to thinking of himself as a big fish in a small pond.

I almost threw this book across the room at one point, because the cat is playing a game and he is clearly having a lot of fun, but the fish says, “NO! THIS ISN’T FUN!” Imagine hating fun so much that you lie about what’s fun in order to ruin a game for everyone else….

(15) PRONOUN STICKERS. WisCon 40 registration will have pronoun stickers available.

Hihi!  I want to take a minute to talk to you about an exciting option we’re offering at Registration this year: pronoun stickers!

We offered them last year and got a lot of reaction, so here’s the explanation:

Pronoun stickers are totally optional to wear. You don’t have to declare anything to anyone. You don’t have to wear the same sticker all weekend. These exist to make it easier for all of us to treat each other respectfully.

If someone IS wearing a pronoun sticker, we expect you will use that pronoun for them. Part of our social contract is kind and respectful treatment of each other, and there are few things that feel as terrible as being misgendered ON PURPOSE. If you make a mistake, just correct yourself and move on…..

 

Options. God bless WisCon. #WisCon

A post shared by Monica Byrne (@monicabyrne13) on

(16) TOMORROW IS TOWEL DAY. The annual tribute to Douglas Adams, Towel Day, takes place on May 25.

Naturally there are dedicated social media sites– a Facebook page or a Flickr group, and a way to tag videos on YouTube.

There are also hybrid events with in-person and internet components like Lofty Pursuits’ Vogon Poetry Slam. You have only a few hours left to enter online.

If you are in Tallahassee, please come and enter the International Vogon Poetry Slam. It is a contest for the worst possible poem. It happens at 8pm on May 25th as part of our Towel Day celebrations. If you are coming in person DO NOT ENTER ON-LINE. You will get to read your own poem live in front of your victims. The rules are the same….

The Vogon Poetry contest. Rules: The worst original poem will win as judged by us. No appeal is possible.

Sent to vogon@pd.net to be considered for this contest. We must get the poems by midnight on the 24th, Eastern Daylight Time (GMT-5). Late entries will go to the spam folder.

(17) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 25, 1686 — Polish inventor Gabriel Fahrenheit

(18) NAMING CALLS. Rachel Swirsky considers short story titles in “What should I have titled this essay? (Thoughts on John Joseph Adams’ ‘Zen in the Art of Short Fiction Titling’”).

Titles That Come From the Text

John starts the article by noting several titles that he suggested to authors that he’s published in his magazines and anthologies. He discovered these titles “right there in the text of the stories themselves. When I’m reading or editing a story, I frequently highlight evocative phrases I come across that I can later suggest to the author as a possible alternate title. Sometimes the phrasing isn’t quite right for the title, but it’s something that can be massaged, or combined together with another phrase from elsewhere in the story, that somehow captures the essence of what the story is about.”

I used to do the large majority of my titling this way until I started my MFA program at Mills, where the teacher told me what John Joseph Adams brings up next: “I should note that some writing professors—including notable literary giants—advise against this practice, largely because, they say, doing this puts too much emphasis and meaning on the eponymous phrase when the reader comes across it in the story.”

(19) DON’T CALL ME ISHMAEL. “Moby goes where Brian Eno, and his ancestor Herman Melville, went before” at the LA Times.

As a famously brainy electronic musician — and a descendant of literary royalty — Moby had plenty of lodestars he might have looked to while writing his first book.

There was, for instance, Brian Eno, the pop experimentalist who reflected on his work with U2 and David Bowie in his 1996 volume “A Year With Swollen Appendices.” And the distant ancestor from whom Moby got his nickname: “Moby-Dick” author Herman Melville.

In reality, the DJ and producer best known for 1999’s multi-platinum “Play” album took inspiration from a more unlikely source: Duff McKagan, the tattooed bassist in Guns N’ Roses.

“Honestly, I’d never given much thought to the guy before I read his memoir,” Moby said on a recent morning at home in Los Feliz, referring to “It’s So Easy (and Other Lies),” in which McKagan writes frankly about the excess and the illusions of show business. “But he wrote a book that’s good enough that it transcends the fact that I wasn’t interested in him.”

(20) BLAME OF THRONES. Juliet McKenna has her own tangle of pop culture references to work through — “Sansa Stark’s joined the X-Men? Thoughts on popcultural cross contamination”

I’ve yet to see the X-Men Apocalypse movie, so I can’t comment on Sophie Turner’s performance. Her work on Game of Thrones – especially at the moment (NO spoilers in comments please!) – gives me every reason to expect she’ll do a thoroughly good job.

The thing is, though, this is becoming A Thing for me. An amusement at the moment, rather than a distraction, but definitely A Thing.

I caught a trailer for A Knight’s Tale on the TV last week, which is one of my favourite movies. Now though? That’s the one where Robert Baratheon makes The Joker’s armour while The Vision bigs him up to the crowd…

(21) DISCO SCI-FI. Thomas A. Foster looks back at the Seventies in “Sci-Fi TV of the Disco Era: The Grounded Astronaut” on Pop Matters.

…Another key to understanding the sci-fi of the era: the shrunken profile of space exploration. In the ‘60s, NASA was perhaps the most popular Federal project, partly because fallen leader John F. Kennedy was associated with the “space race”. Television covered every moment leading up to the first moon walk in 1969, and Hollywood pitched in with movies and TV shows (I Dream of Jeannie, Star Trek, the made-in-England 2001: A Space Odyssey). The Jetsons had a dog named Astro, and Houston chose the same name for its new baseball team, which played, of course, in the Astrodome.

As our radio-alarm-clocks flipped to the ‘70s soundtrack, however, the Apollo Program was curtailed by budget cuts and sharply declining interest. The scientific idealism of the ‘60s was victim to chronic civil unrest, distrust of authority, and general exhaustion, as Americans turned to self-improvement (meditation, back-to-the-land/find-your-roots trends); hedonism (swinging, cocaine, disco); and all things para- (the paranormal, paranoia), including persistent rumors that the moon landings had been faked. In keeping with the zeitgeist, most of our TV astronauts of the decade would be lost, passive, or grounded….

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

Pixel Scroll 5/18/16 Griefer Madness

(1) GENRE RECAPITULATES ONTOLOGY. Damien Walter divides the audience into “The 8 Tribes of Sci-Fi”.

Calling sci-fi a genre in 2016 is about as accurate as calling the United States one nation. In principle it’s true, but in practice things don’t work that way. While crime, romance and thrillers all remain as coherent genres of fiction, it’s been decades since sci-fi could be comfortably understood by any shared generic criteria. What do Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Seas trilogy, the fiction of Silva Moreno Garcia and the erotic sci-fi of Chuck Tingle actually have in common, beyond being nominated for major sci-fi book awards this year?

The answer is they all belong to one of the eight tribes of sci-fi…..

The Weirds Most writers at some point play around with the effects that can be induced by engineering stories with internal inconsistencies, mashing together disparate metaphors, or simply being weird for weirds sake. The weirds take this as an end in itself. With China Mieville as their reigning king they were riding high for a while. However, with newer voices like Molly Tanzer’s Vermillion coming through, the American ‘bizarro fiction’ movement, and with authors including Joe Hill and Josh Mallerman rejuvenating the traditional horror genre, the Weirds are still among the most creatively interesting of the eight tribes.

(2) SILENT THING. According to Digiday, “85 percent of Facebook video is watched without sound”.

Facebook might be hosting upwards of 8 billion views per day on its platform, but a wide majority of that viewership is happening in silence.

As much as 85 percent of video views happen with the sound off, according to multiple publishers. Take, for instance, feel-good site LittleThings, which is averaging 150 million monthly views on Facebook so far this year. Eighty-five percent of its viewership is occurring without users turning the sound on. Similarly, millennial news site Mic, which is also averaging 150 million monthly Facebook views, said 85 percent of its 30-second views are without sound. PopSugar said its silent video views range between 50 and 80 percent.

(3) YAKKITY CAT. Steve Davidson says an interview with Timothy the Talking Cat will appear on Amazing Stories this Thursday. I’m running neck and neck with Steve in pursuit of interviews with the hottest new talents in the field — he won this round!

(4) JENCEVICE OBIT. SF Site News carries word that Chicago conrunner and club fan Mike Jencevice died May 16.

Chicago fan Mike Jencevice (b.1955) died on May 16. Jencevice entered fandom in 1978, publishing the fanzine Trilevel and serving as the long-time president of Queen to Queen’s Three, a media fan club. He ran the dealers room at Windycon for more than 30 years and served on the ISFiC Board for much of that time. He was one of two associate chairs for Chicon 2000.

(5) VR. BBC News explores “How will virtual reality change our lives?”

Four experts, including Mark Bolas – former tutor of Palmer Luckey, who recently hand-delivered the first VR handset made by his company Oculus Rift – talked to the BBC World Service Inquiry programme about the future of VR.

Mark Bolas: Out of the lab

Mark Bolas is a professor at USC School of Cinematic Arts and a researcher at the Institute for Creative Technologies. He has been working in virtual reality since 1988.

VR hits on so many levels. It’s a real out-of-body experience, and yet completely grounded in your body. …

To find a way to make it low cost and still retain that field of view, we harnessed the power of mobile phones – the screens, tracking and processing – and we figured out a lens design that was extremely inexpensive.

It’s been really fun playing all these years, but there’s something more important now, which is making it a space that allows us to harness our emotions, our desire to connect with people.

I’m worried by our current computer interfaces. I watch people walking around like zombies with cell phones in their hands, and I have to manoeuvre a mouse to fill out little boxes on web forms in a horribly frustrating way. I think VR will allow us to transcend this.

I don’t worry so much about where VR is going, I worry about where we currently are.

(6) SHEER WEIR. By the Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach: “Andy Weir, author of ‘The Martian,’ aims his pen at the moon”

Lots of people who are interested in going to Mars have been gathering this week at George Washington University for the annual Humans to Mars Summit, and the star attraction this morning was Andy Weir. He’s the author of the novel “The Martian,” which has sold 3 million copies, been translated into something like 45 languages and served as the basis of the blockbuster movie by the same name, directed by the legendary Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon. So, yes, that book did well — remarkably so given that he originally published it in chapters on his website and later as an electronic book that could be downloaded for free.

Weir, whom I interviewed on stage in the summit’s opening session (you can probably find the video here), was scheduled to pop by The Post for today’s “Transformers” event and then visit Capitol Hill to testify before the House subcommittee on space. Busy day! He said he was going to talk about how an interplanetary spacecraft, such as one going from Earth to Mars, can be designed to spin to create artificial gravity. That’s a potential way to moderate the severe physical effects of weightlessness on the human body. Without artificial gravity, the first astronauts on Mars would likely spend many days just trying to recover from all those months in zero-g conditions.

But he’s also working on another novel, this one about a city on the Earth’s moon that features a female protagonist who is something of a criminal but still lovable, according to Weir.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born May 18, 1931 — Mad magazine cartoonist Don Martin
  • Born May 18, 1930 — Fred Saberhagen

(8) THE REAL-LIFE GRINGOTT’S. The BBC tells where the gold is kept.

The largest by far lies in the Bank of England. It holds three-quarters of the gold in London, or 5,134 tonnes. Most of the gold is stored as standard bars weighing 400 troy ounces (12.4 kg or 438.9 ounces) – there are about 500,000 of them, each worth in the region of £350,000.

But the official reserves of the UK Treasury account for less than a tenth of this.

“Just 310 tonnes of the gold in the Bank of England is from the UK Treasury, the rest is mostly commercial,” says Adrian Ash of BullionVault.com.

The gold is held in a system of eight vaults over two floors under Threadneedle Street in the City. This is to spread the weight and prevent the vaults from sinking into the London clay beneath the bank.

“So no maze of caves bored into rock,” says Chip Hitchcock, sounding a little disappointed.

(9) MARCON HARASSMENT, PART ONE. Steven Saus relays “Reports of Harassment at MarCon 2016, including ‘The Chainmail Guy’ who harassed people at CONTEXT” at Ideatrash. (To refresh your memory, see File 770’s post about Context.)

Sadly, I’m hearing from friends who attended MarCon this year that the stance about Chainmail Guy’s harassment – the one that some members of the board decided to destroy the con over rather than censure a buddy who was harassing people – was completely justified.

According to multiple accounts, he was very visible in the main corridor, apparently with a table displaying some chain mail. (Which is exactly the setup that spawned problems at Context.) Sure, he wasn’t a volunteer, but had a very prominent bit of real estate. And, much like the complaints at Context, kept inserting himself into private conversations, just as he did before.

Unlike Context, he was in the main hall – and therefore much harder to avoid.

As one person put it, “if you heard about the stuff about Context, you’d get the very clear opinion that MarCon was okay with all that.”

Sadly, this might just be the case.

There were reports (and these were forwarded to the con chair) of another guy suggesting he should “frisk” a young woman after earlier reaching out to touch her without consent.

A corset vendor walked the line between creepy and harassment by insisting their corset fit perfectly, and any impression otherwise was due to the person’s “body issues”. He told another person that “he needed to see me try on one of the corsets and not in a friendly way…in front of my kids.”

And this is just what’s managed to cross my awareness.

(10) MARCON HARASSMENT, PART TWO. Saus also published “A (Good) Response From One of the Security Team From MarCon about Harassment”. It is signed by JP Withers.

As a fan I really hate it when our community is damaged by harassing behavior. Inclusion is kind of the point of our thing to me.

Our security and operations folks need help making our space better for everyone, and that help is reporting stuff when it happens. I know there can be a lot of reasons someone might not report behavior, but if one of those reasons is a feeling we won’t take it seriously I can tell you that isn’t the case for anyone on my team….

(11) MARCON HARASSMENT, PART THREE. Ferrett Steinmetz, immediately after Marcon, published these generalized comments calling into question how some apply the principle that “A Person Is Innocent Until Proven Guilty By Law”.

…And all the complexity comes to a boil when we’re discussing how to handle missing stairs in a community – potentially dangerous people who have gossip swirling about them, but no definitive proof. (Because most consent violators are smart enough not to do terrible stuff in public with witnesses.) And what do you do to keep your parties free of dangerous players when the only proof you have is the equivalent of “She said Phil didn’t pay her back”? Do you ban people on someone’s word?

Maybe you think the court’s standards are worthy for any institution, which is a noble goal. There is a strong case to be made for “I will hold the people who would spread rumors to the highest of standards,” because yeah, the ugly truth is that there are corrupt cops and there are people who’ll trash folks they don’t like. Having standards for evidence is good, and though there’s no single True goal, having high standards when the penalty is “Banning someone from a party” is not necessarily a bad thing.

But stop extending that to the idiotic argument of “If something someone says has not been proven in a court of law, it is automatically untrue.” No. If that happens, you are adopting the court’s standard of, “We would rather have someone guilty attending our parties than risk ejecting an innocent person.”…

(12) MARCON HARASSMENT, PART FOUR. Reddit ran its own recap of the latest episode, the essence of which is —

But now a different Ohio convention, MarCon, has had a problem with a harasser… and it’s the SAME GUY:

It’s the same stuff different day syndrome at its worst. There is no way for cons in general to keep these people out since conventions don’t have any kind of shared governance… so even when “missing stairs” are dealt with at one con, they aren’t at another. 🙁

(13) UNPAID MINIONS. The Seattlish has screencaps of the legal papers — “Someone Is Suing Emerald City Comicon for Not paying Volunteers”.

A class action lawsuit has been filed by a former Emerald City Comicon volunteer—the organization calls them “minions”—alleging that the convention violates labor laws by treating their volunteers like employees, but failing to pay them.

The suit, filed in King County Superior Court on May 16 by plaintiff Jerry Brooks and naming ECCC and three members of the Demonakos family as defendants, alleges that as many as 250 people may be among the class.

According to the suit, the volunteers are expected to work essentially as paid workers would—performing functions necessary to the operation of the convention—but aren’t required to be paid for their labor or their overtime due to their volunteer status.

This suit could be hard to prove; the volunteers not only willingly enter into an agreement stating that they’ll work for free, but the culture of the convention fosters a competitiveness for the volunteer positions. A lot of people really like volunteering. In a blog post from 2013, a minion wrote that it “isn’t the  kind of thing you do for money.”

(14) STORYBUNDLE. The Story Collection StoryBundle is available for another 15 days. Readers can choose to donate part of each purchase to SFWA. Curator Lisa Mason tells how the bundle was assembled here.

As always at StoryBundle, you the reader name your price—whatever you feel the books are worth. You may designate a portion of the proceeds to go to a charity. For the Story Collection StoryBundle, that’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (“SFWA”). SFWA champions writers’ rights, sponsors the Nebula Award for excellence in science fiction, and promotes numerous literacy groups.

The initial titles in the Story Collection StoryBundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • The Green Leopard Plague by Walter Jon Williams. Two stories in this collection won the Nebula Award.
  • Collected Stories by Lewis Shiner. This extensive and multi-genre collection was prepared as an ebook for StoryBundle.
  • Errantry: Strange Stories by Elizabeth Hand.

Those who pay more than the bonus price of $12 get all three regular titles, plus five more:

  • Women Up to No Good by Pat Murphy. Two stories in the collection were nominated for the Nebula Award.
  • Strange Ladies: 7 Stories by Lisa Mason Six Stories by Kathe Koja. The collection was created by the author for StoryBundle.
  • What I Didn’t See: Stories by Karen Fowler. The collection won the World Fantasy Award and the title story won the Nebula.
  • Wild Things by C.C. Finlay. The collection was prepared as an ebook for StoryBundle and has a brand-new Afterword. Finlay is the editor of F&SF.

(15) NEBULA CONFERENCE. SFWA President Cat Rambo has vivid memories of “Nebula Conference 2016, Chicago”.

For me, so much of the weekend was a reaffirmation of joy in our genre and the worlds that we love, worlds created by some of the best and brightest. Opportunity to talk with so many talented, kind, and outstanding members of the industry. A chance to stand by one of my heroes, someone whose work I’ve read most of my life and who has been one of my role models, and see her body of work recognized. A chance to be in a place where people treated each other with respect as peers and took pride in each other’s accomplishments, where there weren’t the sort of pettinesses that belong on the playground rather than among fellow professionals. A chance to tell people some of what SFWA’s been working hard at in the past year, and some of what’s coming down the pike.

And Liz Argall is still buzzing about Henry Lien’s Radio SFWA.

(16) CONVERT MADE. Say what you like about Seveneves, Bill Gates wrote on his website that it’s got him back reading sf.

“What Bill Gates says: “I hadn’t read any science fiction for a decade when a friend recommended this novel. I’m glad she did. The plot gets going in the first sentence, when the moon blows up. People figure out that in two years a cataclysmic meteor shower will wipe out all life on Earth, so the world unites on a plan to keep humanity going by launching as many spacecraft as possible into orbit.

“You might lose patience with all the information you’ll get about space flight—Stephenson, who lives in Seattle, has clearly done his research—but I loved the technical details. Seveneves inspired me to rekindle my sci-fi habit.””

(17) STAY INVESTED IN THE FUTURE. Helen Sharman speaks out — “First UK Astronaut calls for more Brits in space”.

Britain’s first astronaut has said the UK risks becoming a “backward nation” if the government does not pay to send more people into space.

Helen Sharman believes the country would lose many of the benefits of Tim Peake’s mission if a commitment to more flights is not made very soon.

Ms Sharman said that this was the UK’s “last chance” to be involved “in the future of the human race”.

She spoke to BBC News on the eve of the 25th anniversary of her spaceflight.

The government has effectively paid for one spaceflight, Tim Peake’s, according to Ms Sharman. After he returns to Earth in June, it is unlikely there will be more UK astronauts in space unless the nation makes a further commitment of funds at a ministerial meeting of European Space Agency (Esa) member states later this year.

(18) MR. ROBOT SEASON 2 TRAILER. The Hollywood Reporter summarized the preview video.

“This is what revolution looks like,” the text of the trailer reads. “Control is an illusion.”

Although they were successful in their hack, fsociety will face more obstacles in season two. “They need to know we haven’t given up,” Darlene (Carly Chaiken) says. “That we meant what we said about changing the world.”

However, the most worrisome image in the clip is Mr. Robot himself (Slater) as he puts a gun to Elliot’s head. “Our revolution needs a leader,” he tells Elliot.

 

(19) NEWS FOR HITCHHIKERS. “Towel Day” is coming on May 25, and Nerdist reports a candy store is readying its supply of babelfish.

The fandom of Douglas Adams and his writing is intense, to say the least, and has even resulted in a holiday to honor the late author. Every May 25th, fans around the world celebrate “Towel Day” which itself is a reference to what Adams thought to be the most important item you could have with you through your galactic travels.

As a way of showing their love of everything Hitchhiker’s, a candy shop in Florida that specializes in nerdy confections decided to celebrate by creating some Babel fish of their very own. Using an antique 19th-century drop candy roller, the folks at Public Displays Of Confection rolled out a serendipitous 42 bags of these fish shaped candies just in time for Towel Day, and we can only assume that they went with piña colada flavor because it’s just too hard to perfect the essence of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, Cat Rambo, Chip Hitchcock, Steve Davidson, Tracy Benton, Darren Garrison, Steven Saus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 3/18/16 How Green Was My Pixel?

(1) WHEN MARS HAD BEACHES. The Daily Galaxy covers the announcement — “NASA: ‘Ancient Mars Had a Vast Ocean Covering Half Its Northern Hemisphere’”.

A primitive ocean on Mars held more water than Earth’s Arctic Ocean, according to NASA scientists who, using ground-based observatories, measured water signatures in the Red Planet’s atmosphere. Scientists have been searching for answers to why this vast water supply left the surface.

“Our study provides a solid estimate of how much water Mars once had, by determining how much water was lost to space,” said Geronimo Villanueva, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the new paper. “With this work, we can better understand the history of water on Mars.”

Perhaps about 4.3 billion years ago, Mars would have had enough water to cover its entire surface in a liquid layer about 450 feet (137 meters) deep. More likely, the water would have formed an ocean occupying almost half of Mars’ northern hemisphere, in some regions reaching depths greater than a mile (1.6 kilometers).

(2) ELLISON AUDIOBOOK CROWDFUNDED. The Kickstarter for a Skyboat Audiobook of Harlan Ellison’s Star Trek Teleplay “The City on The Edge of Forever” has successfully funded.

This project will produce a full-cast audiobook of the Harlan Ellison’s original Star Trek Teleplay, including Ellison’s commentary on the story’s inception and development and the controversy over its rewriting by the TV show heads.

The Stretch Goal for a separate enhanced adaptation of the teleplay with a full Dolby soundtrack and complete Foley sound effects was not achieved.

Links to audio and video snippets from the recording process can be found on the Campaign Updates tab.

(3) HAUNTED IRELAND. Dublin, the City of Ghosts and Guinness will host the Dublin Ghost Story Festival from August 18-21. Guests of Honour will be Derleth Award winner Adam Nevill (Banquet for the Damned, Apartment 16, House of Small Shadows, No One Gets Out Alive, and Lost Girl).

The literary ghost story in all its guises has deep roots in Ireland – from the domestic hauntings of Mrs. Riddell’s Weird Stories to the spectral disturbances of J.S. Le Fanu’s In a Glass Darkly; from Elizabeth Bowen’s urbane “Demon Lover” to Bram Stoker’s blood-drenched and monolithic contribution to literature: Dracula. We invite you to join us at the Dublin Ghost Story Festival to raise a pint of the black stuff and celebrate literature of the supernatural—both past and present—in a city where some of the genre’s most memorable nightmares were born. Slainte!

The MC will be John Connolly (The Book of Lost Things, Nocturnes, and Night Music). Other guests include John Reppion and Lynda E. Rucker.

(4) MAINSTREAM ENTROPY. Brandon Kempner has his “Final Best of 2015 Mainstream Meta-List” at Chaos Horizon.

It’s Spring Break for me, so I’ve got a chance to wrap up some of my “lists of lists.” The first we’ll look at is my Best of 2015 Mainstream Meta-List. This list collates 20+ “Best of 2015” lists by mainstream outlets such as the NY Times, Amazon, Goodreads, Entertainment Weekly, and so on.

The collation works in a simple fashion: appear on a list, get 1 point. I then add up the points from all 20 lists. Results are below. I tried to use the same sources as last year so we can meaningful year-to-year comparisons.

(5) DRAKE OBIT. Larry Drake, who won two Emmy Awards playing mentally-challenged office worker Benny Stulwicz on L.A. Law, passed away March 17 at the age of 66.

He also starred in the 1990 cult classic, Darkman, as well as playing Administrator Chellick in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Critical Care” and had additional appearances on various shows including Firefly, Crossing Jordan, and Six Feet Under.

(6) HUGO NOMINATING DEADLINE. The Worldcon reminds you that March 31 is not far away….

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 18, 1964 The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao makes its premiere in Denver, Colorado.

(8) REACTING TO THE PUPPIES. Rachael Acks does a very good job of presenting a writer’s thought process about the Sad Puppies 4 list in “I wish I could trust you and I hate what we’ve become”.

But it’s just a recommended list. But it’s got the “Sad Puppy” name all over it and all that goddamn baggage.

Because this is the thing. After three years of slates and shouting and people being intensely shitty, after the porous barrier between sad and rabid and the fecal stench known as Beale that clings to everything, I cannot fucking trust any of this.

So is it a recommended reading list, innocently offered? Or is it a Trojan Horse, intending to get people to maybe think hey, we don’t really need to ratify those WSFS amendments everyone voted on last year when we were almost universally pissed off about a slate rolling the Hugos. See, it’s not so bad. Let it go. And then next year it starts all over again because nothing’s been fixed.

Or is it a way to try to fuck over a lot of writers who don’t want anything to do with this, because suddenly they’re on the damn list, and no one knows if it’s a slate or not, but there’s the knee jerk feeling of if these assholes want a thing, I don’t.

Or is it a way to score some cheap points because if these writers end up on the final ballot and win (or score over No Award), look at all these SJW hypocrites, see they’re okay with slates as long as it’s people they like. That’s certainly consistent the Wile E. Coyote-style Sooper Genius I’m Totally Playing Six Dimensional Chess nonsense we perennially get out of Beale.

And is the very existence of this post (and ones like it) going to be used to add to the carefully curated sense of grievance that’s been fueling this entire stupid, stupid fight?

This makes me so angry, because I’m already seeing people getting dragged into this bubbling cesspool of bullshit and paranoia. And I hate thinking like this. I hate it. I want to believe the best in people. I want to believe in good intentions, and change, and moving on from bad times.

(9) MAKING A DECISION. Catherynne M. Valente asks “When Is a Slate Not a Slate? or Why Is the Puppy Sad?”

So what do I do? Honestly, I still don’t know. My stomach hurts. At the moment, it really does look like people just liked my book. Anyone could recommend something, after all. Locus doesn’t need my permission and neither does anyone else, so requiring it from the Puppies alone, as long as it is not a slate, would be strange. I’ve been on some WEIRD rec lists in my time, I tell you what. And I will absolutely not dismiss readers because of the URL where their desires are expressed.

It all comes down to whether this recommendation list is a list or a slate.

Right now, it doesn’t look like a slate. Right now, it looks like a list complied by people with extremely wide-ranging tastes and interests. Right now, I’m inclined to try to mend fences across fandom in whatever little way I can by giving them the benefit of the doubt that this is all in good faith–because I want to be given the benefit of the doubt that I act in good faith. So for right now, that’s what I’m going to do. I am going to believe in the better angels of our–and Puppy–nature. I’m going to choose to believe that they looked at the thousand suggestions of ways to recommend books that would not run afoul of the spirit of the Hugos and adjusted their methods accordingly. I’m going to choose to believe that the political rhetoric of the Puppy movement is a thing of the past, and from here on out, it will be about what each and every one of us said it should be about–good books. Nothing else.

If this changes, if all that ugliness comes roaring back and it becomes about something other than the content of books, I will change my mind and very quickly. But for right now, I have to try to believe that things can get better. This is my Pollyanna moment. I sincerely hope I don’t regret it.

(10) NO DILEMMA. John Scalzi does not have conflicting feelings about his presence on the SP4 list — “Notes on Awards and Slates 3/18/16”.

8. In sum: I’m not seeking award consideration this year; I would not willingly participate on an award nomination slate; If I’m on such a slate it’s without my consent; Those who have put me or my work on such a slate should remove me from it; If they won’t remove me, or anyone who asks to be removed, they’re likely assholes; And maybe you should factor that in when thinking about them and their motives.

(11) NO WAR. Alexandra Erin recommends a simple response to the list, in “The Pups of Wrath Yield Bitter Whine”.

So, if the Sad Puppies have a plan to claim victory no matter what happens, the question is, how do we beat them?

And the answer is: we don’t. We shouldn’t. No one’s goal should ever be to “beat” these truly sad individuals at anything, no more than our goal should be to shut them up or shut them out of the process.

The Sad Puppies are at war with both the future and past of science fiction and fantasy, but no one is (or no one should be) at war with the Sad Puppies. Our goal should be to make speculative fiction welcoming and inclusive in spite of them, not to shut them out of it in the hopes that this will make things welcoming and inclusive. Our goal should be to get more people involved and keep them engaged so as to dilute the ability of small cliques of bigots motivated to become the tastemakers and kingmakers to game the system.

The correct course of action to take on the Puppy list is to ignore it. If they’re going to claim victory no matter what happens (and the fact that they claimed victory in 2015 should be enough to convince anyone that they will), then there’s really nothing more for anyone to do except get out and nominate now, and get out and vote later. Don’t let the existence of their list or its contents sway you one way or another.

And if you found yourself on their list? Well, they’re just a pack of dogs howling at the moon. This is not a situation that requires the moon to answer.

(12) MY MILEAGE MAY VARY. Meanwhile, back in 1961, The Traveler deprecates the short fiction in the April issue of Analog, including a slap at one of my favorite Christopher Anvil stories. Hmph! Don’t expect to see Galactic Journey on my Seacon Hugo ballot!

Back to the dreary stories, Pandora’s Planet, by Chris Anvil (whose best work always appears outside of Analog), is another “Earthmen are just plain better at everything than everyone else” story.  In this case, some fuzzy humanoids can’t seem to win a war to subjugate a planet’s native race without the help of some plucky, original Terrans.  The point of the piece seems to be that unorthodox war is just as valid as “real” war, and stuffy rigidity will only lead to failure.  That’s fine so far as it goes, but the canny Terran tactics aren’t that innovative, and the stodginess of the fuzzies is insufficiently explored.  Two stars.

(13) HANGING AROUND THE GUARDIANS SET. At ScienceFiction.com, “Karen Gillan Takes Us Behind-The-Scenes In This ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2? Photo!”

If you’ve been dying to see more from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘ it looks like Karen Gillan (‘Doctor Who’,’Oculus’) has brought us another behind-the-scenes photo from the set! Our first shot of Nebula in the film came from Gillan herself and while it wasn’t much, this time we’ve got quite a different view as the 28-year old looks to be flying around in a harness against a blue-screen.

 

(14) TOTALLY TEA. The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog delivers the latest in a series of Incredibly Specific Lessons, “A History of the Tea-Creating Machine in Fact and Fiction”.

Synthetic food replicators in science fiction (and real life) can vary a ton. They might create anything imaginable, or just spit out soylent green; they might function perfectly, or constantly fall apart. But everyone wants just one thing out of them: tea.

The entirety of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series is the masterpiece of a sci-fi satire artist, but the franchise features one particularly memorable moment: when Arthur Dent locates the Nutri-Matic Drinks Dispenser and places a simple, if predictably English, request.

Of course Beckie Leckie is also in the mix.

(15) DICK SHORTCOMINGS. MD Jackson suspects “You Don’t Know Dick”, but tries to remedy your shortcomings in a post at Amazing Stories.

So how is it that this crazy science fiction writer (and, some would argue that he was literally crazy) has come to have such a hold on audiences today? How is it that his work (lauded as it was) that languished in the sci-fi ghetto of the mid-twentieth century, has become amplified in the twenty-first? Has the rest of the world only now caught up to where Dick was when he wrote all those stories years ago?

The phenomenon is nothing new. Look at Vincent Van Gogh. Largely ignored in the 1800’s, he died poor and insane, but in the twentieth century his genius is applauded by the art world. Almost everyone in the twentieth century loves a Van Gogh. In the 18th he couldn’t sell a painting to save his life.

Is Phillip K. Dick the twenty-first century’s Vincent Van Gogh? Have we arrived at the place where he was decades before? Is he watching us, amused that it took us all so long to get here?

(16) ZWICKER INTERVIEW. The indefatigable Carl Slaughter has an interview with “Short Story Writer Richard Zwicker on Humor, Detective, and Greek Mythology” at SF Signal.

CS: Why Greek mythology?

RZ: I don’t usually write straight fantasy. I do like to borrow from mythology, however. Borrowing can work as long as you do something different and worthwhile with the source material. You’re not going to get far if all you do is retell the myth or slap on a different POV. On the other hand, many myths aren’t detailed, so there is plenty of opportunity to flesh things out or consider “What if?”

A recurring detective character I use is Phokus, set in ancient Greece, who has to deal with the whims of the gods. In these I borrow problems from the Greek myths. Phokus gets hired by Zeus to find out who stole fire, or he has to track down Daedalus, who pushed his nephew Talus off a cliff.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James Bacon, JJ, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 1/26/16 Things Scroll Apart, The Pixel Cannot Hold

(1) MILLIONS STAYED HOME. The Force Awakens made plenty of money in China, but it did not blow up the way it did in the U.S. Inverse ponders “Why Chinese Audiences Skipped The Force Awakens”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

But Zhen, also the director of NYU’s Asian Film and Media Initiative, says there’s another simple reason why Star Wars isn’t as successful in China.

“Chinese audiences are not as familiar with the series and franchise as a whole,” she says. “There is much less knowledge of it or a cult following, but the curiosity is there.”

It makes perfect sense. The Chinese market is blooming so quickly that it’s easy to forget it’s Hollywood’s youngest sibling. The first Star Wars film to be released in China was The Phantom Menace in 1999, making both the rapid proliferation of Hollywood blockbusters in China in recent years impressive, but also the extreme newness of Star Wars as a phenomenon that much more apparent.

China’s primary moviegoing audience is made up of 17-to-31 year-olds who didn’t get the same embedded, multi-generational cultural significance as American audiences that came of age when Star Wars debuted in 1977.

(2) EYE CANDY. Terra Utopische Romane 1957-68 on the Retro-Futurism LiveJournal.

“These old covers are like candy,” says Will R. And Planet X makes an appearance.

(3) FANDOM’S CLOSER. A pitcher for the Oakland Athletics doubles as a trivia maven — “Watch Sean Doolittle answer your deepest, most important Star Wars Questions”. Cut4 warns there could be SPOILERS – at least there could be if any of the stuff he says is true.

(4) GAME APP. In “Super Barista: Manage your own coffee shop and alien clientele in space”.

If you’re a nerd like us, chances are you also love coffee. Those things tend to go hand-in-hand, and today’s app combines coffee nerdiness with space action gaming nerdiness, and it’s called Super Barista.

The premise behind Super Barista is that you serve a very specific, yet broad clientele in your coffee shop. The trick is, that coffee shop is set in space, and your clientele is an assortment of strange, interesting, and sometimes dangerous alien beings. Your shop will take you across the galaxy to five different unique planets where you’ll have to manage your resources, build your staff and crew, and serve your delicious drinks in a timely and efficient manner.

(5) IN MEMORIAM. Steven H Silver has posted his annual In Memoriam list at SF Site.

(6) PEN HONORS ROWLING. “PEN America to Honor J.K. Rowling, Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch at Annual Literary Gala”.

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling will receive the 2016 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award at PEN America’s annual Literary Gala on May 16 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. PEN America, the country’s largest writer-driven free expression advocacy organization, presents the award annual to a critically acclaimed author whose work embodies its mission to oppose repression in any form and to champion the best of humanity….

Since her rise from single mother to literary superstar, J.K. Rowling has used her talents and stature as a writer to fight inequality on both a local and global level. Her charitable trust, Volant, supports causes in the United Kingdom and abroad that alleviate social exclusion, with particular emphasis on women and children. In 2005 she founded Lumos, a nonprofit organization that works to help eight million children institutionalized around the world regain their right to a family life. Herself the frequent object of censorship in schools and libraries across the globe, as well as online targeting, Rowling has emerged as a vocal proponent of free expression and access to literature and ideas for children as well as incarcerated people, the learning -disables, and women and girls worldwide….

(7) MORE ON FANFIC. Sharrukin at Sharrukin’s Palace tells what he finds helpful about writing fanfic. His is set in the universe of the Mass Effect game.

First advantage of writing fan-fiction: You will immediately start to build an audience, and get feedback for your work.

By the end of that month, I had posted thirteen chapters, about 40,000 words of new material, and I was still going strong. I finished that entire first novel in a little over four months.

Memoirs was followed by a second novel, composed of substantially original work since most of it was set during a period when Liara and Shepard are not on stage together. I took the opportunity to flesh out Liara’s character arc, introduce a bunch of new supporting characters, and start patching the big plot holes I saw in the games. By the time I got to my novelization of the third game, I was working almost entirely without a net, openly rewriting the story from the ground up.

The experience was tremendously valuable. I learned more about my craft from writing a fan-fiction trilogy than I had learned in decades of on-again, off-again dabbling. I even broke my long-standing aversion to the shorter forms, writing several short stories and a novella along the way.

Some pro authors are a little disdainful of fan-fiction. I believe George R. R. Martin has compared it to paint-by-numbers, something that doesn’t rank with original work as a creative endeavor. I’m not going to dispute that. There are several reasons why I’m working hard now to move away from fan-fiction, and one of them is the desire to create something worthwhile that’s really mine. But as an exercise in improving your craft so that you can survive as a genre author, there’s a lot to recommend it.

You won’t have to do all the work yourself. The source material provides a framework on which you can build and experiment. Your audience will already be familiar with it. Still, you will have to work on the mechanics: prose style, description, exposition, dialogue, point of view, characterization and voice. You will end up taking the original material apart and analyzing it, seeing what worked and what didn’t, in the process of putting together your own version. You will get practice in the simple art of sitting down and cranking out word count, week after week, so that your audience doesn’t get bored and wander away.

(7) EBOOK PRICING. Amanda S. Green compares print book and ebook pricing in “Publishers, You Need To Hear This” at Mad Genius Club.

So, is there a trend — or possibly a clue — here as to why e-book sales for the Big 5 are leveling off?

Some folks were having this discussion yesterday in a private FB group I belong to. The consensus among those taking part in the discussion was that the price point publishers were charging, especially for newly released titles, was more than they were willing to pay. Not just for e-books but for hard covers as well. Those who aren’t big fans of  e-books lamented the fact they were turning to used bookstores to buy those hard cover titles they wanted. Not because they were paying less for the book but because they knew authors don’t receive royalties for those sales.

Note, they weren’t worried about the publishers.

And that is something the Big 5 needs to realize. The reading public is starting to look at the prices they pay for their books — whether they are print or digital — and wonder why the prices are so high. They are following their favorite authors, many of whom write for publishers that aren’t the Big 5 or who are indies, and they are paying attention to what the authors are saying. They understand that the life of the writer is closer to struggling author working in a coffee shop than it is to Castle. They are beginning to realize that the majority of the money they pay for that book, the vast majority of it, goes not to the person who created it but to the corporation what distributed it.

(8) STRACZYNSKI INTERVIEW. Lightspeed Magazine has a transcription of the J. Michael Straczynski interview that was originally part of WIRED’s Geeks Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

I was a street rat, had grown up a street rat, I come from nothing, my family has no connection to literature or writing, and in his introductions I found a kindred spirit. Harlan Ellison was a street rat. He had run with gangs; he was considered trouble. I remembered that in one of his introductions, he had given his phone number. “I wonder if that’s real,” thought I, so I dialed the number and waited and it began to ring. There was a click and I heard, “Yeah?”

“Is this Har-har-har-lan Ellison?” says I.

“Yeah, what do you want?”

“My-my-my-my name is Joe,” I say, stammering through the whole thing, “And I’m a writer and my stuff isn’t selling and I thought you might have some advice.” Which is the stupidest thing to ask any writer; it’s like saying to someone, “What are you doing to my wife?” There is no good answer to that question.

So he says, “All right. Here’s what you do: If it’s not selling, it’s shit. My advice to you? Stop writing shit.”

“. . .Thank you, Mr. Ellison.” Years later, I got to LA and we met in bits and pieces and eventually we became friends, and I finally reminded him of that conversation. And he said, “Were you offended?” And I said, “Had you been wrong, I would’ve been offended.” But he wasn’t.

(9) SANDIFER WONDERS ALOUD. It’s funny that some people will think Phil Sandifer was the first person to ask this question, in “An Open Letter to Sad Puppies IV”.

As the science fiction community mutters “I thought MidAmericon said nominations would open in early January” with baited breath, I note that certain fascist pricks have begun to ramp up their performative chortling. So I figured “why not write a mildly trolling open letter to someone else entirely?”

Ms. Paulk et al:

I note with some bemusement your efforts to reform the Sad Puppies movement from its oft-criticized 2015 form, stripping away its overtly conservative trappings, widening it to a ten-item recommendation list, et cetera. By and large, I have to admit, these seem like, if not strictly speaking good things, at least less bad things. So thank you for your efforts to be less odious than your predecessors. It’s genuinely appreciated. That said, there’s one rather large issue that you don’t seem to have addressed, and that I’d like to raise.

Simply put, why are you doing this?

(10) GRRM RESPONDS. For the record, here’s how George R.R. Martin answered John C. Wright’s latest overture.

I agree, death has a way of putting life’s other trials and triumphs in perspective. My own political and social views are very much at odds with yours, Mr. Wright, and our views on literary matters, especially as regards science fiction and fantasy, are far apart as well. But I have always believed that science fiction has room for all, and I am pretty sure that David Hartwell believed that as well. If we want to heal the wounds our community suffered last year, all of us need to stop arguing about the things that divide us, and talk instead about the things that unite us… as writers, as fans, as human beings. Our grief in David’s passing is one of those things. Everyone who ever knew him or worked with him will miss him, I do not doubt. So thank you for your note, and your heartfelt and compassionate words about David.

(11) A DIFFERENT WRIGHT. The home of the late Jack Larson – “Jimmy Olsen” on the original Superman TV series – is up for sale.

Frank Lloyd Wright‘s George Sturges House, owned by actor and playwright Jack Larson, will be auctioned on 21 February, 2016, for an estimated $2.5 million to $3 million. It is among 75 lots from the estate owned by Larson to be sold after the actor passed away in September. The residence, designed in 1939, was the first Usonian house on the West Coast and was acquired by Jack Larson and Jim Bridges in 1967.

(12) DON’T PANIC. Thug Notes has done a summary and analysis of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Got to love the moment our narrator explains, “But Dude don’t know what the question is!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contrbuting editor of the day Ian P.]

Pixel Scroll 12/30 The Scrolls Have Eyes

(1) INDY 5 IS GO. Consequence of Sound has the story.

Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger, has confirmed that a fifth Indiana Jones movie is indeed happening.

During a recent interview with Bloomberg, Iger spent much of his time talking about the franchise possibilities that are opening up with the massive success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. When he got to comparing Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm to that of Pixar and Marvel, however, he noted that taking on Lucasfilm’s intellectual properties also meant “Indiana Jones, by the way, which will be coming.”

(2) ABOUT FACE. Kameron Hurley posted a funny gallery of GIFS to illustrate the “Faces I Make When Reading Reviews”.

A lot of people think authors take reviews personally, and I suppose there are many who do. Those are the folks who should really steer clear of reader reactions to books, or rather, what some readers believe the books say about the author, which is always far more amusing.

There are great reviews with insightful criticism of my work, and glowing reviews about how it changed people’s lives.

But, this being the internet and people trying to poke an author for a meltdown, I’m often asked about my reaction when reading negative reviews of my work. What folks don’t get is that I find most negative reactions endlessly amusing. Not the real criticism that points out real flaws, no, but the reactions that say far more about the reader than the writer.

(3) MIND MELD. SF Signal’s latest Mind Meld, curated by James Aquilone, posts the question “What are your favorite new genre (SF/F/H) TV shows of 2015?” – with replies by Alex ShvartsmanSarah Pinsker, Matthew Johnson, Robert Davis, Carlie St. George, Erin M. Hartshorn, Andrew Liptak, Rob H. Bedford, and Sally Ember, Ed.D.

(4) CHOOSE FEAR. Here’s how David Brin’s Mars mission would start.

Go to Phobos before landing on Mars itself?  I have pushed this idea for twenty years and now some at NASA agree.  Not only is the larger moon far easier to reach and might serve as an ideal research platform, it also has two advantages never mentioned in this article.  It can serve as a logistics hub where supplies might be pre-positioned and tended without complex orbital management.  It also might (some figure) be carbonaceous chondritic material, containing volatiles like water.  If these could be mined and stored and prepared, subsequent Mars landing missions would find all the water and rocket fuel they need, lowering both cost and risk by an order of magnitude.

(5) ZICREE ON FAN-MADE TREK FILMS. Marc Scott Zicree on Facebook.

Science fiction has a long and honorable tradition of fan fiction — in fact, many of the top professional writers started out writing fan fiction — and these fan films are the logical extension of that tradition. More than that, speaking as a professional who’s written extensively for all the major studios and networks, the reason I chose to do “World Enough and Time” was that I felt Michael Reaves and I, along with our creative team, could bring as high a level of professional quality to that project as anything we had ever done for the studios and networks. I wanted to work with George Takei, the powers that be were never going to choose to do the ultimate Sulu story we wanted to tell, and it was something we could share with the whole world.

CBS/Paramount views Star Trek as a money machine, and that drives their decision on what or what not to make. This is perfectly justifiable. But it’s not what led Gene Roddenberry to create Star Trek, nor is it why Renegades or Axanar are being made. I think often taking a step back, gaining perspective and saying, “How can we create a win/win situation here?” is a good idea. It’s what led George Lucas to not only allow Star Wars fan films, but to hold an annual contest recognizing the best ones.

(6) GERROLD ON SUIT STRATEGY. David Gerrold on Facebook:

…But this lawsuit also suggests that CBS and Paramount might be missing the more important point. The fan productions are about the hunger for new Star Trek. They’re not competition as much as they are signs that the franchise is alive and well. Keeping the fans engaged is the best thing that CBS and Paramount can do to keep the franchise alive.

I understand the corporate desire to protect their rights to the franchise, but that cat got out of the bag a long time ago. If they weren’t going to shut down Star Trek New Voyages and Star Trek Continues and Star Trek Renegades and Star Trek Farragut for “copyright infringement” — and those productions use Kirk, Spock, et al, and the original enterprise — then they’re going to have a much harder case with Axanar which barely touches the same specific content of the original series.

I suspect that the lawsuit isn’t about copyright infringement as much as it’s designed to intimidate Axanar’s producers. I’ll be interested to see how this proceeds….

(7) CAVEAT TWITTER. Business Insider reports “Mark Hamill is protecting fans from fake signed ‘Star Wars’ merchandise on Twitter”.

He apologized to fans who have spent money on fraudulent items and urged them to look at real copies to learn how to confirm his signature on their own. When asked why he wasn’t tired of responding to people, he said, “Because I owe it to all true fans to protect them from being victimized by dishonest dealers.”

(8) FORCE A FEW DOLLARS MORE. Steven Harper Piziks opines about writers who are “Riding the Coat Tails of the Force”.

These and other similar articles mean absolutely nothing, of course.  They’re written by people who have no real cred. For example, Lili Loofbourow, who wrote the desperate-sounding “emotional blind spots” article above, is a freelance reporter. She’s not a professor of media studies, or an experienced film reviewer, or a film maker. She has a computer and a contact at Salon.com and ticket stub for THE FORCE AWAKENS. Same goes for all the others. They’re just riding along on TFA’s coat tails, trying to make a few dollars for themselves.

Well, at least I got a blog entry out of it.

(9) PICACIO PLUGS COMPETITION. Today John Picacio commented on George R.R. Martin’s pro artist Hugo recommendations and added six more names (with links to their work).

Thanks so much for the shoutout, George. It’s an honor to be be considered in any year, including this one. That said, winning any major award comes with responsibility along with hardware and glory. It’s always great to win, but as a past winner, I want the Pro Artist Hugo list to reflect the extraordinary range and evolution of the field. So while I’m not recusing myself, I would like to take this opportunity to shine light on some of sf/f’s art stars that have had an outstanding year and deserve Hugo consideration in this category:…

(10) HITCHHIKER’S HOMECOMING. Think how much more effective Lazlar Lyricon 3’s “about” statement would be if it hadn’t stopped with just four reasons for holding this convention? I hope the concom will treat themselves to one or two fifths as part of their launch celebration.

Dateline: The Old Kings Head Pub, London, 21 November 2015. Today, ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha (the Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Appreciation Society) Annual General Meeting authorised a committee to run Lazlar Lyricon 3. This is the third (coincidentally) in a series of conventions celebrating The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Douglas Adams, the first having occurred in the 1980s.

Lazlar Lyricon 3 will take place on 9-11 June 2017 at the Quality Hotel in Stoke-on-Trent.

Committee members Stefan Lancaster, Emma J. King, David Haddock and Alan Sullivan, amongst others, were on hand to discuss plans, answer questions and receive the imprimatur of the AGM. They were also given ‘seed money’ of £500 towards the costs, which was greeted with much cheering!

The first two Lazlar Lyricons were part of a series of conventions in the 1980s, 90s and early 00s colloquially called ‘Fun Cons’, which also included the Incons, Dangercons, and several one-off conventions such as Year of the Wombat and Aliens Stole my Handbag. The aspiration is to ensure everyone has a great time (and not panic!), with fun, loosely Hitchhikers-inspired programme items such as crab stomping and towel-based martial arts. The announcement that the first and foremost in appointments will be a ‘beer liaison’ was greeted with more cheering!

(11) SPEAKING OF LAUNCHING. Gail Z. Martin on “Making the Most of Your Launch Day” at Magical Words.

Book launches are on my mind since Vendetta, the second book in the Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series, just launched yesterday. So I thought it might be fun to pull the curtain back on what can go into a book launch, and let you pick and choose the elements you feel best suit your own circumstances.

Social media is is your biggest bullhorn to the world. Long before your book comes out, you should be creating a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Wattpad, a blog, and a web site. These are the places you can gather your tribe–the people who have read and liked your work, your friends and others who wish you well and are happy to help spread the word. Make sure you let your friends and followers know in advance when the book is coming out, and how they can help.

(12) ON RECONCILIATION. Joe Vasicek’s “Response to Steve Davidson on Reconciling with the Puppies” is a commentary on Steve Davidson’s Amazing Stories post “Reconciling with Puppies – ‘…to dram, the impossible dream, to reach the unreachable star…”.

Mr. Davidson’s post is interesting, and worth reading. We obviously don’t see eye to eye on a number of things, but it would be rather petty to go through our disagreements line by line. Instead, the part that I want to respond to is his call to action at the end:

Want to reconcile?  Here’s what puppies must do.

1: Stop scamming the system.  If you want to recommend works that you think are worthy of the award, go ahead and do so.  But drop the political agenda (you’re dragons are imaginary) and eliminate the hateful, snarky commentary

If you’re looking for “hateful, snarky commentary,” I’m sure that you’ll be able to find it. On the fringes of both sides, there are a lot of people with blogs and strong opinions. I’d count myself as one of them—while I align with the Sad Puppies, I’m not a leader or organizer by any stretch, just another guy with opinions and a blog. Don’t be so quick to look for ammunition, because there’s a lot of it lying around.

Kate Paulk, one of the Sad Puppy organizers, has pointed out that Sad Puppies 4 is open to nomination suggestions from anyone, which appears to be what you’re calling for. And honestly, I think a lot of us don’t want to see conservative writers edge out everyone else so much as to see them go head to head with more liberal writers on a more equal playing field. It’s not about slaying imaginary dragons so much as breaking down walls.

So on this first point, Mr. Davidson and I tend to be in agreement. This seems like a reasonable step for reconciliation, and it’s one that the Sad Puppies 4 already appear to be taking.

(13) YOUR RANCOR MAY VARY. Brad Torgersen’s “Sad Puppies and the future”, prompted by Martin’s “reconciliation” post, says many familiar things.

Many people have already seen George R. R. Martin’s optimistic (and well-intended) commentary at his LiveJournal. However, just as with George’s hood ornament Alfie awards (also well-intended) there is more than one way for a thing to be perceived. My perception — and I am not alone in this — of George’s desire for an end to the rancor, is that George still seems to think that a) the rancor was flowing almost entirely one-way, from the Puppies’ side to the Trufan side, and also b) none of the Puppies are themselves fans. Not Fans (caps f) and certainly not Trufans. No. Puppies are still an outsider bunch, who carry an outsider’s stigma.

There is also a bit too much parentalism in George’s tone: dear kids, I hope you’ve learned your lesson, now wipe those dirty looks off your faces and come give your mother a hug!

(14) DO YOU FEEL SAFER? And in the comments, national security consultant Arlan Andrews, Sr. gives MidAmeriCon II members something to look forward to:

I for one will never forgive anyone who appeared in that pre-Awards “90-minute-hate-the-Puppies” TV show, nor anyone who called me a neoNazi. Though some were, I had thought, nice acquaintances if not actual long-time friends, their behavior before, during and after the Hugos simply meant that I shut them out of any future consideration of any kind, meaning no purchasing of their products, no voting for their works, no attendance at any function at which they are honored or prominent, no reviews of anything they are involved with, and no defense of any criticism of them. As a very minor player in fandom/prodom, despite 60+ years of fanlife and 35+ years of prolife, those people will seldom notice nor long remember what I do here, but if thousands of others do likewise, the effects may be meaningful. All of the SP3 experience this year has been enlightening, and a tiny reflection of the national schism between those who cherish Freedom and those banding together to enforce Collectivism. I thank Brad and Larry and the Jovians for graciousness in the face of fire. And next Worldcon, I will definitely attend. (Does Missouri have Concealed Carry?)

(15) HOOKY HEADLINE. “9 things ‘Starship Troopers’ totally nailed about today’s technology”  is a pretty bold claim about a movie that showed space infantry fighting in shoulder-to-shoulder formations like at the Battle of Waterloo.

(16) CHRISTMAS CONFLATION. When I read the headline of io9’s post “Chewbacca Comic Finally Answers A Question Star Wars Fans Have Pondered For Years” I mentally filled the blank with, “Does Chewie sleep with his whiskers outside or in?”

(17) REEL CONSPIRACY. At Star Wars Minute, “How Kylo Ren Got Darth Vader’s Helmet.” A fan theory based on some events in Disney/Lucasfilm comics and novels.

(18) TONIGHT ON JEOPARDY! A Bradbury-themed question.

Literary Characters for $200

Answer: Beatty is the captain of the fireman in this Bradbury Novel

Question: What is Fahrenheit 451

(19) IF YOU WERE A DINOSAUR…BUT WAIT, I AM. “Retaliation for getting coal in my stocking!” says YouTube poster Ralph the Rex.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/16

Six stories, two advertisements disguised as news, and a charming science video make up today’s Scroll.

(1) What happens when you delegate your online transactions to a program that becomes annoyed by your laziness? Rudy Rucker provides an imaginative answer in “Like A Sea Cucumber”, a free read on Motherboard. [Via SF Signal.]

(2) Bill Willingham’s Fables is coming to an end reports Jim Vorel on Paste.com.

The closure of Fables with the Fables: Farewell trade paperback on July 22 will be the end of an era in the comics industry, the rightly deserved and satisfying conclusion to a singular, ongoing story rivaled by only a handful of other titles. Fables is retiring on par with say, Vertigo stablemate The Sandman in both critical adoration (a ridiculous 14 Eisner Awards) and commercial success, an immediate entrant into the comics hall of fame. Not bad for a series at least partially inspired by The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, by Willingham’s own admission.

(3) Frequent File 770 commenter Nicole LeBoeuf-Little educates Examiner.com readers about the Hugos in an article which includes a deep dive into the question “Why would anyone vote No Award? Isn’t that like nuking the Hugos or something?” Five reasons are given, one being a voter’s personal desire to overrule the Hugo Administrator —

Protest a finalist’s placement on the ballot due to eligibility. The award administrators do try to identify ineligible finalists and remove them from the ballot, but not every voter will agree with their assessment. For instance, two of this year’s finalists in the Novella category, “Big Boys Don’t Cry” by Tom Kratman and “One Bright Star to Guide Them” by John C. Wright, were actually first published earlier than 2014. However, the 2014 versions were considered to have been substantially revised and expanded from the originals and thus qualified as new works. A voter who disagrees with that assessment might well choose to rank No Award above those novellas. For another example: Last year, the 14-book Wheel of Time series was nominated in its entirety under “Best Novel,” having been ruled to be a multi-part serialized single work. A number of voters disagreed, and ranked No Award higher.

….Point is, No Award should not be considered a destructive option. It is a tool of dissent with which voters have been intentionally empowered. Use it, or not, as your conscience, heart, and/or whim dictates. The health of the Hugo Awards will be undiminished either way.

(4) Michael Z. Williamson, for one, will be exercising the nuclear option as he told his readers on July 13:

I have just voted NO AWARD across the board for the Hugo awards, including the category in which I am a finalist.

At one time, the Hugo WAS arguably the most significant award in SF, with the Nebula being the pro award with a different cachet.

The Nebula lost any credibility when it was awarded to If You Were An Alpha Male My Love, which was not only eyerollingly bad Mary Sue, but wasn’t SF nor even an actual story. If that’s what the pros consider to be worthy of note, it indicates a dysfunction at their level….

This was my choice.  I am not telling my fans not to vote for me. If you feel my work is worthy, by all means vote for it. Just understand that if I win, it will be subject to the same scathing derision I give to any and all social and political issues.  It deserves no less.

(5) Vox Day still opposes voting No Award in 2015 for tactical reasons:

Also, and more importantly, not voting No Award permits us to correctly gauge the full extent of the SJW influence in science fiction and see how it compares to the current strength of the Sad and Rabid Puppies. That’s my chief interest in this year’s vote, because it will inform the strategy that we pursue in the future. Remember, we haven’t even begun to finance “scholarships” in the way the other side has. Our 2015 numbers do not reflect the full extent of the force we can bring to bear.

(6) Alex, of Randomly Yours, Alex, the opposite of a no award voter, is struggling with a decision about ranking “Hugo Awards: the novellas” for reasons that may be completely unique:

“The Plural of Helen of Troy,” John C Wright: ready for me to get actually controversial? I’m not sure about this one.

That’s right. I actually liked this story and would consider putting this on my ballot. But it was published by Castalia House, and that sound you just heard? That was my politics running smack bang into my reading enjoyment.

The story is told backwards; another PI, this time working in a city outside of time somehow – I’m generally quite capable of reading time travel stories without the paradoxes doing too much to my brain, as a rule, although I know that’s not possible for many readers. (What can I say, it’s a gift. Like reading Greg Egan science.) He’s contracted to help a man whose girlfriend (?) is apparently going to be attacked by someone, and they have to stop it. Of course things get messier than that, and there are iterations and variations as the story progresses (…which means going backwards…). There are some neat moments – I was quite amused by the realisation of who the man and the ‘Helen’ were, and some funny enough moments of these people completely out of their times living together. Including Queequeg. QUEEQUEG LIVES.

Anyway. Now I have to figure out how to vote in the novellas and it HURTS. I’ve got a couple of weeks, right? I can figure it out in that time…

(7) Attendees at Pulpfest in August will receive The Pulpster, the con’s feature-laden program book.

The highlight of the issue will be a round-robin article on H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES. It will feature contributions from filmmaker Sean Branney; Marvin Kaye, the current editor of WEIRD TALES W. Paul Ganley, founder of WEIRDBOOKand Derrick Hussey, the publisher at Hippocampus Press; authors Jason Brock, Ramsey Campbell, Cody Goodfellow, Nick Mamatas, Tim Powers, Wilum Pugmire, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Darrell Schweitzer, and Chet Williamson; poet Fred Phillips; pulp scholars and collectors John Haefele, Don Herron, Morgan Holmes, S. T. Joshi, Tom Krabacher, Rick Lai, Will Murray, and J. Barry Traylor.

Supporting members are also guaranteed a copy. Or following the convention, a limited number of copies of the program book will be available for purchase through Mike Chomko, Books which can be reached at mike@pulpfest.com.

Nick Mamatas would want you to!

(8) The Easton Press is taking orders for Douglas Adams’ The Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

Five complete novels and one story, together in one volume… “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”  With over 15 million copies sold, the Hitchhiker’s Series ranks among the best-loved works of science fiction.  Features 5 specially commissioned original full-color illustrations!

All these gilt-edged editions remind me too much of the Bible…. A resemblance Douglas Adams would probably enjoy, in an ironic way.

(9) Finally, I enthusiastically recommend “The Scale of the Solar System,” linked in comments earlier today:

Another Con — Not SF — Bites the Dust

The last Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention takes place this weekend in Newark, NJ. Why is the con ending its 36-year run?

Three sf conventions having cancelled this month I am morbidly curious about the answer whether or not the event is connected with sf fandom.

It isn’t the economy:

The reason is simple, says Jay Hickerson, a musician who has been running the show from the beginning: the march of time.

“Lack of OTR (old-time radio) guests. And the committee is getting older,” he said.

Ironically, sf is the source of one of the con’s rare celebrities whose fame is of comparatively recent origin:

Simon Jones is one of the celebrity guests for the weekend. Jones doesn’t exactly qualify as a Golden Age of Radio star. He played Arthur Dent in the BBC’s hugely popular radio and TV adaptations of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, starting in 1978. But he’s been here before and is delighted to be asked.

[Thanks to Sam Long for the story.]