Pixel Scroll 9/16/16 Amok Pixel

(1) HE’S FROM THE FUTURE. Dennis Mathis tells how he learned to understand “the reader” in “The Future Began on a Tuesday” at the SFWA Blog.

The future was twenty-five years old and not getting any younger when I was accepted to the Iowa Writers Workshop, the legendary (even then) graduate program for writers. Kurt Vonnegut, who had taught there, said, “Picture Harvard Law School if only one out of ten graduates actually becomes a lawyer.” Dedicated to the principle that the last thing you’d want happening in a classroom is teaching, the Workshop strove to be the opposite of academic, and more or less succeeded. Zipping their lips about how writing should be done, the staff was restricted to role-modeling the lifestyle of a writer: mostly competitive drinking, womanizing, wrestling, and snorting at weaklings; the Viking concept of higher education. Despite being a weakling myself, I did the best writing of my life.

And then in my second year, a last-minute substitute on the Workshop staff. A guy named Frank Conroy, author of only one book, and it wasn’t even fiction — who writes a memoir in their twenties? — who’d taught creative writing only once before, at (get this) M.I.T.

He specified we were to read the worksheets (someone’s delicate work-in-progress cast into the lion’s den) pen-in-hand, poised to mark any point in the text where we felt a “bump,” no matter how vague. In class, we went through the worksheets sentence-by-sentence, hashing-out whether some reader’s bump was an idiosyncratic misreading or an actual problem. They always turned out to be problems. If a reader misreads, Conroy taught us, it’s always the writer’s fault…..

(2) CHINA’S SPACE PROGRAM. Motherboard has the story: ”China’s Newly Launched Space Station Will Receive Its First Crew Next Month” .

China successfully launched its second space station, Tiangong-2, into orbit on Thursday at 10:04 AM EDT, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert. It will soon be an orbiting home to two taikonauts (the Chinese term for astronauts).

The mission is regarded as a key stepping stone towards the nation’s larger spaceflight ambitions, which include sending taikonauts to the Moon and eventually to Mars….

This second generation spacecraft, whose name translates to “Heavenly Palace” in Mandarin, will conduct some initial tests before boosting itself even higher to an altitude of 393 kilometers, roughly on par with the International Space Station (ISS).

If all goes according to plan, the tubular orbital laboratory will receive its first taikonauts in late October on a spacecraft called Shenzhou-11. Though the names of the two crew members have not been released, they are both men, and they are expected to spend 30 days aboard Tiangong-2, according to Xinhua News. If successful, it will be the longest manned Chinese space mission to date.

In terms of specs, the new station is almost identical to its precursor, Tiangong-1, which operated in space from September 2011 until March 2016, and is on track to deorbit and immolate in the atmosphere next year.

(3) COMIC ART EXPLORED. Superheroes have taken over the Huntsville Museum of Art in the Rocket City of Huntsville, Alabama.

“My Hero: Contemporary Art & Superhero Action” is the name of the show running through December 11.

For decades popular culture has been fascinated by superheroes — their superhuman capabilities, their desire for truth and justice, and their ability to save the day. Their storylines have captivated many, and their images have become contemporary idols throughout the world. My Hero presents a rich array of work by over 50 international artists, including painting, illustration, photography, sculpture, mixed media and video, that celebrates and re-envisions the lives of iconic superheroes.

(4) ROOTS OF THE GENRE. Atlas Obscura writes about Margaret Cavendish. “One of the Earliest Science Fiction Books Was Written in the 1600s by a Duchess”.

No one could get into philosophical argument with Lady Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and walk away unchanged. Born in 1623, Cavendish was an outspoken aristocrat who traveled in circles of scientific thinkers, and broke ground on proto-feminism, natural philosophy (the 17th century term for science), and social politics.

In her lifetime, she published 20 books. But amid her poetry and essays, she also published one of the earliest examples of science fiction. In 1666. She named it The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World.

In the story, a woman is kidnapped by a lovesick merchant sailor, and forced to join him at sea. After a windstorm sends the ship north and kills the men, the woman walks through a portal at the North Pole into a new world: one with stars so bright, midnight could be mistaken for midday. A parallel universe where creatures are sentient, and worm-men, ape-men, fish-men, bird-men and lice-men populate the planet. They speak one language, they worship one god, and they have no wars. She becomes their Empress, and with her otherworldly subjects, she explores natural wonders and questions their observations using science.

(5) MEMBERSHIP IN THE GUARDIAN. The Guardian is going through a financial squeeze.

According to the Huffington Post:

The Guardian is scaling back its U.S. operation through a staff reduction of 30 percent, according to a source with knowledge of the plans.

The Guardian, a 195-year-old British newspaper and global news site, has struggled financially as print revenue and circulation collapsed throughout the industry. Earlier this year, The Guardian announced plans to cut costs by 20 percent over three years, and nearly 270 employees in the U.K. operation took buyouts in June.

Now the U.S. operation, which was launched in 2011, is grappling with what Guardian Media Group CEO David Pemsel described Thursday in a staff meeting as a “course correction.” Guardian US chief Eamonn Store informed staff the company was facing a $4.4 million budget shortfall, thereby necessitating major cuts.

(6) PRIDE OF STARFLEET. Nalo Hopkinson went to her first sf convention in 1978 outfitted as Lt. Uhura.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 16, 1966  — Fahrenheit 451 premiered in theaters.

(8) THE BEST WAY TO ATTEND THE WORLDCON. Mike Headley reports on his first Worldcon – “Hugo Awards – a (Belated) Retrospective”. Many things underscored his feeling of being an outside until —

Things changed when I volunteered; I ended up hauling ice and stocking drinks for the hospitality suite. I was only there for a couple hours, but I got to glimpse this community at its best. I saw MIMO crew helping set up plates of vegetables, people who brought their whole family to volunteer. People who talked about how this was there 10th, 20th, or more convention. They weren’t writers, or publishers, they were just sincere fans. On top of that the con staff were so grateful I helped out in a pinch, and there sincerity stunned me. It made me feel like I had made a difference, however small, and I like that I got to give back, even a tiny bit.

That’s when I saw this wasn’t a community of writers talking about writerly things. This was a community of fans, of people pitching in to make sure that this worked. They helped each other, and they did it to make the best experience they could for everyone.

The second major turning point was during the Hugo ceremony itself. At one point they did a retrospective of all the members who had died in the previous year. And as I watched this somber stream of names scrolling up, I noticed that yes there were several creators, screen-writers, and editors. There was also plenty of people listed as just “fan” or “volunteer.” The fact that the organization took time to recognize these people, some of whom were just and only fans, showed just how deeply some people cared about this community.

(9) TWEETER’S DIGEST. It’s a commonplace that not everything people want to say will fit in a 140-character tweet. And yet here’s someone who has summarized every Stephen King novel in 140 characters or less.

(10) NOT ONLY A MESSAGE. Those who are allergic to political messages in sf may break out in hives by the time they’ve made it through “The G’s List of Mind-Bending/Expanding SF/F Novels” at Nerds of a Feather.

In my case I don’t have a political message to convey *with* my list, but rather have chosen a list of books that either have political messages or which made me think about the world in different terms. Even that was too big, so I decided to further limit myself to books that are either science fiction or transgress the boundaries between science fiction, fantasy, horror and mimetic fiction. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means–I probably could have done one with 50 entries or more. But 21 is a snazzy number, isn’t it? 1. Aldiss, Brian. Non-Stop [Faber and Faber, 1958]

Curiosity was discouraged in the Greene tribe. Its members lived out their lives in cramped Quarters, hacking away at the encroaching ponics. As to where they were – that was forgotten. Roy Complain decides to find out. With the renegade priest Marapper, he moves into unmapped territory, where they make a series of discoveries, which turn their universe upside-down… (GoodReads) The best #GenerationStarship novel I’ve ever read. Thought-provoking, with an ending that still manages to unsettle many years later. Also make rats utterly terrifying. (G)

(11) NERDCON APPROACHES. NerdCon: Stories will soon return, and several leading sf/f writers will be in the mix — Mary Robinette Kowal, Mikki Kendall, Wesley Chu, Patrick Rothfuss, Paolo Bacigaulpi, and Saladin Ahmed. (And who knows, maybe more if I’d kept scrolling…..)

(12) ORSINIA. The Paris Review has posted an excerpt from the introduction to Ursula K Le Guin’s Library of America editions — Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia (Library of America, 2016).

LOA jacket template

Much as I loved my studies, their purpose was to make me able to earn a living as a teacher, so I could go on writing. And I worked hard at writing short stories. But here my European orientation was a problem. I wasn’t drawn to the topics and aims of contemporary American realism. I didn’t admire Ernest Hemingway, James Jones, Norman Mailer, or Edna Ferber. I did admire John Steinbeck, but knew I couldn’t write that way. In The New Yorker, I loved Thurber, but skipped over John O’Hara to read the Englishwoman Sylvia Townsend Warner. Most of the people I really wished I could write like were foreign, or dead, or both. Most of what I read drew me to write about Europe; but I knew it was foolhardy to write fiction set in Europe if I’d never been there.

At last it occurred to me that I might get away with it by writing about a part of Europe where nobody had been but me. I remember when this idea came: in our small co-op dorm at Radcliffe, Everett House, in the dining room, where you could study and typewrite late without disturbing sleepers. I was twenty years old, working at one of the dining tables about midnight, when I got the first glimpse of my other country. An unimportant country of middle Europe. One of those Hitler had trashed and Stalin was now trashing. (The Soviet takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1947–48 had been the first event to rouse the political spirit in me.) A land not too far from Czechoslovakia, or Poland, but let’s not worry about borders. Not one of the partly Islamized nations—more Western-oriented … Like Rumania, maybe, with a Slavic-influenced but Latin-descended language? Aha!

I begin to feel I’m coming close. I begin to hear the names. Orsenya—in Latin and English, Orsinia. I see the river, the Molsen, running through an open, sunny countryside to the old capital, Krasnoy (krasniy, Slavic, “beautiful”). Krasnoy on its three hills: the Palace, the University, the Cathedral. The Cathedral of Saint Theodora, an egregiously unsaintly saint, my mother’s name … I begin to find my way about, to feel myself at home, here in Orsenya, matrya miya, my motherland. I can live here, and find out who else lives here and what they do, and tell stories about it.

And so I did.

(13) THIS JUST IN 17 YEARS AGO. J. K. Rowling sounds a little exasperated here.

(14) DINNER BELL. Scott Edelman has released Episode 18 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast where you are invited to  “Dig into a lobster roll with F. Brett Cox”.

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Now it’s time to say farewell to Readercon with a visit to The Lobster Stop in Quincy, Massachusetts for (what else?) lobster rolls … and F. Brett Cox.

Brett co-edited (with former Eating the Fantastic guest Andy Duncan) Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic (which featured a story about Randy Newman by yours truly!), and has had fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews appear in Eclipse Online, War Stories, Century, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Postscripts, and many other venues. He’s also hard at work on a book-length study of Roger Zelazny for the University of Illinois Press.

(15) MEMORABLE TV THEMES. Catherynne Valente asks:

I don’t know what she’d pick as the best theme for a dramatic series – for me it’s the theme from Hawaii 5-0. I’m also a fan of the Mission: Impossible theme, and have a real soft spot for the full rendition of The Virginian theme.

[Thanks to Steven H Silver, Marc Criley, Stuckinhistory, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 7/31/16 O You Who Turn The Wheel And Look To Scrollward, Consider Pixel, Who Was Once Handsome And Tall As You

(1) IT IS THE END MY FRIEND. My daughter went to the midnight Cursed Child book launch at her local store. She’d keep buying Potter novels if Rowling would keep writing them, but that is not in the works — “J.K. Rowling Says ‘Cursed Child’ Is the Last Harry Potter Story: ‘Harry Is Done Now’”.

The author, 51, spoke at the opening night of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage play in London’s West End theatre district on Saturday, July 30, where she told fans that she’s finished with the series.

“[Harry] goes on a very big journey during these two plays and then, yeah, I think we’re done,” Rowling told Reuters on Saturday night. “This is the next generation, you know. So, I’m thrilled to see it realized so beautifully but, no, Harry is done now.”

(2) BEAM ME – OH, NEVER MIND. Steven Murphy of ScienceFiction.com canna stand the strain – of Star Trek’s inconsistent and underimaginative use of the transporter. He makes his case in “Star Trek and the Optimization of the Transporter”.

Does it bother anyone else that the characters of ‘Star Trek’ regularly overlook the obvious solution? They’re not stupid. I’d understand if they were stupid. They are among the smartest collection of people in fiction. They just have a huge blindspot: the power of teleportation.

In ‘Star Trek,’ transporters can dematerialize people or things in one location and rematerialize them elsewhere. I wouldn’t be the first to point out that the functionality of the technology maddening varies based on the requirements of the plot.

Murphy develops three main themes:

  • The Federation Should Weaponize Transporters
  • The Federation Should Use Transporters Defensively
  • Transporters Should Be Used As A Warp-Alternative

(3) POLITICAL SF/F. Ilya Somin recommends “7 Fantasy/Science Fiction Epics That Can Inform You about the Real-World-Political Scene” at Learn Liberty.

Battlestar Galactica

The original 1970s TV series was remade in the 2000s. Both versions focus on the survivors of twelve human colony worlds that have been devastated by an attack by the Cylons, and both feature many of the same characters. Yet the original series and the remake are otherwise fundamentally different.

The former reflects a conservative response to the Cold War: the humans fall victim to a Cylon surprise attack because they were influenced by gullible peaceniks; the survivors’ military leader, Commander Adama, is almost always far wiser than the feckless civilian politicians who question his judgment. Concerns about civil liberties and due process in wartime are raised, but usually dismissed as overblown.

By contrast, the new series reflects the left-wing reaction to the War on Terror: the Cylon attack is at least partly the result of “blowback” caused by the humans’ own wrongdoing. The series stresses the importance of democracy and civilian leadership, and condemns what it regards as dangerous demonization and mistreatment of the enemy—even one that commits genocide and mass murder.

Both the original series and the new one have many interesting political nuances, and both have blind spots characteristic of the ideologies they exemplify. The sharp contrast between the two makes them more interesting considered in combination than either might be alone. They effectively exemplify how widely divergent lessons can be drawn from the same basic story line.

(4) DEL TORO COLLECTION. The Los Angeles County Art Museum exhibit “Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters” opens August 1.

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Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters Guillermo del Toro (b. 1964) is one of the most inventive filmmakers of his generation. Beginning with Cronos (1993) and continuing through The Devil’s Backbone (2001), Hellboy (2004), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Pacific Rim (2013), and Crimson Peak (2015), among many other film, television, and book projects, del Toro has reinvented the genres of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Working with a team of craftsmen, artists, and actors—and referencing a wide range of cinematic, pop-culture, and art-historical sources—del Toro recreates the lucid dreams he experienced as a child in Guadalajara, Mexico. He now works internationally, with a cherished home base he calls “Bleak House” in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

Taking inspiration from del Toro’s extraordinary imagination, the exhibition reveals his creative process through his collection of paintings, drawings, maquettes, artifacts, and concept film art. Rather than a traditional chronology or filmography, the exhibition is organized thematically, beginning with visions of death and the afterlife; continuing through explorations of magic, occultism, horror, and monsters; and concluding with representations of innocence and redemption.

(5) SOMETHING MORE TO VOTE ON. Still on that adrenaline high after voting for the Hugos? You can help James Davis Nicoll – he’s looking for readers’ opinions about the books he should review. He explains, “That specific set of reviews is of books I read as a teen, so between 1974 and 1981.” Register your choices in a “non-binding” poll” at More Words, Deeper Hole.

(6) AN IMPONDERABLES REVIEW. Dave Feldman enjoyed playing Letter Tycoon.

Once you get started, game play is remarkably fast and hassle-free. Letter Tycoon is a combination word game and stock market game. You form words using your own letters combined with three “community cards.” The longer the words you form, the more assets (in the form of cash and stocks) you earn. If you accumulate enough cash, you can buy patents in the letter(s) you have used to form your words. These patents function like houses and hotels in Monopoly; you get paid every time another player forms a word using “your” patented letters. As you’d expect, it costs more to buy a patent on the most frequently-used letters, but some more obscure letters possess special powers that can make them valuable.

(7) TOOLS THAT CHANGE THE TOOL USER. Matthew Kirschenbaum, author of Track Changes, asserts “Technology changes how authors write, but the big impact isn’t on their style”.

“Our writing instruments are also working on our thoughts.” Nietzsche wrote, or more precisely typed, this sentence on a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, a wondrous strange contraption that looks a little like a koosh ball cast in brass and studded with typewriter keys. Depressing a key plunged a lever with the typeface downward onto the paper clutched in the underbelly.

It’s well-known that Nietzsche acquired the Writing Ball to compensate for his failing eyesight. Working by touch, he used it to compose terse, aphoristic phrasings exactly like that oft-quoted pronouncement. Our writing instruments, he suggested, are not just conveniences or contrivances for the expression of ideas; they actively shape the limits and expanse of what we have to say. Not only do we write differently with a fountain pen than with a crayon because they each feel different in our hands, we write (and think) different kinds of things.

But what can writing tools and writing machines really tell us about writing? Having just published my book “Track Changes” on the literary history of word processing, I found such questions were much on my mind. Every interviewer I spoke with wanted to know how computers had changed literary style. Sometimes they meant style for an individual author; sometimes they seemed to want me to pronounce upon the literary establishment (whatever that is) in its entirety.

(8) LOCUS POLL COMMENTS. At Locus Online you can read voters’ Comments from the 2016 Locus Poll and Survey. For example:

I actually read a couple of first novels I liked, which surprised me! I don’t read those very often these days, but these were strongly urged on me and I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve been reading e-books for about a year now and they’re starting to form a large chunk of my “book” buying in general, though I still buy more genre in print form than e-book. I’m buying a lot of the old classics in e-book (i.e., Ye Olde Deade Whyte Guys, like Twain, Shakespeare, Mary Shelley (;)) and some of the older sf/f/h titles as well. The “Great Distemper of 2015” left me with a dull ache behind my eyes and reminded me why I ducked out of the fannish aspects of SF 20 years ago or so. I fervently hope it goes away soon. I read more and liked more of what I read last year. There must be something wrong with me! (innocentlookicon) I’m trying very hard to work up my inner “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!” attitude about the state of SF, but I can’t.

(9) FINAL CHAPTER. A Los Angeles Daily News story about several LA-area bookstores facing closure.

Adryan Russ slips behind the counter at Bookfellows/Mystery & Imagination in Glendale to say goodbye to co-owner Christine Bell, who recently announced that her long-standing used bookstore will be closing at the end of August.

With a hug, the longtime customer wishes her well.

“To see this store have to follow the trends of today’s world, where we won’t be holding books much longer, you can see the sadness in her eyes about it,” says Russ, a musical theater lyricist based in Glendale. “It’s like a whole era is fading.”

The shuttering of Bookfellows comes as economic pressures from an increasingly competitive online marketplace, rising rents and dwindling walk-in traffic make it hard for some Southern California independent used booksellers to keep their large storefronts.

(10) ONE NY BOOKSTORE IS STICKING AROUND. The New York Times found a bookstore with an edge on the competition — “Want to Work in 18 Miles of Books? First, the Quiz”.

As Jennifer Lobaugh arrived at the Strand Book Store to apply for a job this spring, she remembered feeling jittery. It wasn’t only because she badly wanted a job at the fabled bookstore in Greenwich Village, her first in New York City, but also because at the end of the application, there was a quiz — a book quiz.

She rode the elevator to the third floor, sat down at a long table and scanned the quiz: a list of titles and a list of authors. She matched “The Second Sex” with Simone de Beauvoir right away. But then she had doubts. “I thought I would have no trouble,” said Ms. Lobaugh, 27, who has an M.F.A. in creative writing and a background in French and Russian literature. “But I got nervous.”

The Strand is the undisputed king of the city’s independent bookstores, a giant in an ever-shrinking field. It moves 2.5 million books a year and has around 200 employees. While its competitors have closed by the dozens, it has survived on castaways — from publishers, reviewers, the public and even other booksellers.

For nearly a century, the huge downtown bookstore has symbolized not only inexpensive books, but something just as valuable: full-time work for those whose arcane knowledge outweighs their practical skills.

Can you pass the Strand’s literary quiz? Match each book with its author. Test Your Book Smarts.

With a score of 33/50, I probably won’t be working at Strand until they start hiring folks whose specialty is asking, “Would you like fries with that?”

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

It was the first time humans had experience driving on another world, and by all accounts, the LRV was awesome.

The LRV was used mainly to extend the astronauts’ travel range up to a few miles from the landing site (for Apollo 15, the LRV traveled more than 17 miles in total). This allowed the science-focused missions of Apollo 15, 16, and 17 far more reach than hoofing it around the moon’s surface.

Jerry Seinfeld also had something to say about driving on the moon:

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born July 31, 1965 – J. K. Rowling

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY WIZARD

  • Born July 31, 1980 — Harry Potter

(14) GIANT ROBOTS. Kevin Melrose of Comic Book Resources thinks “Glorious ‘Transformers’ fan film is better than any of Michael Bay’s”.

Called “Generation 1 Hero,” it’s directed by Lior Molcho and stars members of Arizona Autobots, a group of Transformers cosplayers who create their own costumes. “Y’know, it was a lot of fun having them punch each other,” Molcho said in a behind-the-scenes video. “It’s a boy’s dream come true, y’know: giant robots punching each other! This is pretty awesome!”

 

(15) AN EDITOR’S ADVICE. Amanda S. Green’s post “It is a business”, quoted here the other day, attracted comment from the publisher of Castalia House, Vox Day in “Submissions and so forth”. His counsel begins —

  1. Most of the stuff that is submitted isn’t anywhere near ready. Seriously, we’re talking “WTF were you thinking” territory. Don’t submit just to submit, practice, then file it away if it’s not genuinely on par with what the publisher publishes and move on to the next work.
  2. You have VERY little time to impress the slush reader, who is wading through large quantities of writing that ranges from barely literate to mediocre. Make it count.
  3. Keep the cover letter short and to the point. No one is going to be impressed by how BADLY you want to be published or HOW MUCH you want to work with the publishing house. What you want has nothing to do with how good your book is.

(16) LARPOLOGY. The thirtieth installment of Marie Brennan’s Dice Tales column for Book View Café has the irresistible headline: “Every Title I Can Think of for This Post Sounds Like Spam”.

When you introduce a new character to an ongoing campaign, narrative integration is only one of the problems you face. The longer the game has been underway, the more you need to think about mechanical balance.

(17) LAST DAY OF VOTING. Peter J. Enyeart makes a fascinating assessment of Neal Stephenson while explaining how he ranked the nominees in the Best Novel category, but here’s who he thought should win —

  1. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie In the closing novel of the trilogy, Breq faces ever greater challenges as she finds herself a high-value target in the Radchaai civil war. I feel a little bad about picking this one for the top spot, since it’s a sequel to a book that won two years ago, but it was definitely my favorite. It’s the only nominee I had read before the nominations were announced, and the only nominee that I actually nominated. I read the whole thing in about 24 hours, the week it came out. It even makes me feel more charitable towards the second installment in the series, which I liked less, because it serves as a nice set up for this satisfying conclusion. Breq is one of my favorite characters in fiction. So cold, aloof, detached, and calculating, and yet so empathetic, observant, devoted, and inspiring. It’s a tall order for a writer to pull off that combination, but she did it. Breq provides a model for leadership that seems like something a person like me could aspire to, and I’m very appreciative. (I like the Presger Translators a lot, too.) Well done, Ann Leckie.

(18) ANOTHER COUNTY HEARD FROM. Charon Dunn, on the other hand, put Stephenson’s novel first on her 2016 Hugo Ballot.

Seveneves

Earnestly focusing on books as they linearly progress from beginning to end is for noobs and editors and people like that. Sometimes you just want to dive into a ballpit of words and mosh around. Seveneves is one of those, hard science flavored, where humanity reaches the mostly dead state before seven intrepid spacewomen start cranking out babies, thus founding seven distinct races, each one bioengineered per their founding mother’s will. Setting the scene for future highjinks.

Many of the reviews I have read make a pointed effort at informing readers that the bioengineering in Seveneves is hogwash. A lot of my generation feels the same way about bioengineering that the Victorians did about sex, which makes it a fun taboo to read and write about. Sure it’s hogwash, so are Death Stars, who cares. The science in Seveneves follows this soothing cycle of looming disaster; implement solution; new looming disaster. I’m a fan of this method of plot organization.

(19) A NEW LEAF. And if you assumed that someone writing for a blog called Books & Tea would pick the book by the tea-loving Leckie, then Christina Vasilevski will surprise you with her choice, in “What I’m Voting for in the 2016 Hugo Awards”.

  1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin — As I mentioned when I read and reviewed this book last yearThe Fifth Season blew me away. I’m so glad this one ended up on the ballot. Jemisin’s writing is lyrical and her willingness to put her politics front and centre in her stories is great.

(20) FAN ARTISTS. Doctor Science posted an overview of the Fan Artist nominees. Earlier, the Good Doctor covered Pro Artist.

(21) HOW DO YOU GET THIS OUT OF SECOND GEAR? Forbes’ infographic contrasts Star Trek’s warp drive with what scientists are working on today.

If you want to experience the thrill of travelling faster than the speed of light, all you need to do is hitch a ride on the Starship Enterprise and engage the ‘warp drive’. You’ll be able to enjoy a cup of hot Earl Grey while visiting countless worlds through interstellar travel, all thanks to the power of warp drive! Easy peasy.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, and Steven H Silver for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ann Leckie.]

Pixel Scroll 7/23/16 I Tasted The Pixels In The Scroll Of The Universe, And I Was Not Offended

(1) TRAFFIC. How do you get more pageviews for your blog? Talk about politics. But, of course, these things must be done delicately. Notice the daft, er, deft touch in Camestros Felapton’s post “Well, He Kept That Quiet”.

The local newspaper reports:

In a surprising move, presumptive Democratic nominee for President of the United States, Hillary Clinton, has chosen local vermin catcher Timothy the Talking Cat as her Vice Presidential pick….

(2) SPACE, THE FASHION FRONTIER. Mayim Bialik of Big Bang Theory did a Star Trek-themed photo shoot. There are six pictures in the gallery, with Bialik costumed as a series of characters from classic Trek.

Mayim Bialik and fans everywhere geek out over Star Trek at 50. To celebrate, we boldy go where no man—or woman—has gone before, with a little help from this Trekkie pinup girl and The Big Bang Theory star. “I watched a lot of Star Trek when I was a kid, and being able to not only dress up like some of the most iconic characters from that universe,” Mayim Bialik said, “but be made up by some of the original innovators who created these looks, was personally so meaningful.”

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She also appears in a two-minute “making of” video.

(3) LEGO SPACEWOMEN. LEGO has been asked to do a Women of NASA project about five female scientists and astronauts:

Women have played critical roles throughout the history of the U.S. space program, a.k.a. NASA or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Yet in many cases, their contributions are unknown or under-appreciated — especially as women have historically struggled to gain acceptance in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

This proposed set celebrates five notable NASA pioneers and provides an educational building experience to help young ones and adults alike learn about the history of women in STEM. The five Women of NASA are:

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Margaret Hamilton, computer scientist: While working at MIT under contract with NASA in the 1960s, Hamilton developed the on-board flight software for the Apollo missions to the moon. She is known for popularizing the modern concept of software.

Katherine Johnson, mathematician and space scientist: A longtime NASA researcher, Johnson is best known for calculating and verifying trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo programs — including the Apollo 11 mission that first landed humans on the moon.

Sally Ride, astronaut, physicist, and educator: A physicist by training, Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. After retiring as a NASA astronaut, she founded an educational company focusing on encouraging children — especially girls — to pursue the sciences.

Nancy Grace Roman, astronomer: One of the first female executives at NASA, Roman is known to many as the “Mother of Hubble” for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope. She also developed NASA’s astronomy research program.

Mae Jemison, astronaut, physician, and entrepreneur: Trained as a medical doctor, Jemison became the first African-American woman in space in 1992. After retiring from NASA, Jemison established a company that develops new technologies and encourages students in the sciences.In addition to a desktop frame that displays these five minifigures and their names, the set includes vignettes depicting: a famous photo of the reams of code that landed astronauts on the moon in 1969; instruments used to calculate and verify trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo missions; a microscale Hubble Space Telescope and display; and a mini space shuttle, complete with external tank and solid rocket boosters.

The idea has gathered 2,513 supporters as of this writing – with 541 days left (that’s what it says). It needs 10,000 supporters to qualify for an official LEGO review.

(4) GHOSTBUSTER TOYS. Meanwhile, some toy shelves have become ghost towns due to strong sales  – “Mattel Reports ‘Ghostbusters’ Toy Sales Have ‘Exceeded Expectations’”.

Mattel is reporting strong early sales for its line of toys based on the female-led “Ghostbusters” — from both boys and girls.

In keeping with the tagline “Everybody wants to be a Ghostbuster,” Mattel’s retail strategy was to sell the female-led Ghostbusters action figures in the boys’ toy aisle. The sales figures at the top retailers in the country have exceeded expectations, the toymaker reported Friday.

(5) PULP STUDIES. James Madison University will host the 1st Annual Pulp Studies Symposium on October 7-8. One of the speakers is today’s Munsey Award winner, Laurie Powers.

Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, James Madison University’s Special Collections hosts one of the finest publicly accessible collections of pulp magazines in the United States, including a recent acquisition of over eighty issues of Street and Smith’s romance pulp Love Story.

Speakers

David M. Earle

Associate Professor of Transatlantic Modernism and Print Culture at the University of West Florida

David M. Earle is Associate Professor of Transatlantic Modernism and Print Culture at the University of West Florida. He is author of Re-Covering Modernism: Pulps, Paperbacks, and the Prejudice of Form (2009) and All Man!: Hemingway, 1950s Men’s Magazines, and the Masculine Persona(2009). More recently, he has published on pulp magazines and modernism for The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, Volume 2; the influence of pulps on William Faulkner for Fifty Years after Faulkner; and pulps and the modernist genre novel for The Cambridge History of the Modernist Novel (2016). His online projects include the Digital Newsstand, an online re-creation of a newsstand from 1925.

Laurie Powers

Laurie Powers, an Ada Comstock Scholar graduate of Smith College, developed her interest in pulp fiction in 1999 when she discovered that her paternal grandfather, Paul S. Powers, (1905–1971) had been a successful writer of stories that appeared in magazines such as Weird Tales, Wild West Weekly, Western Story Magazine, Real Detective Tales, Thrilling Western, and many more. Since then, Laurie has been very active in the community of pulp fiction historians, writers, and collectors. She wrote the prologue and epilogue that appear in her grandfather’s memoir, Pulp Writer: Twenty Years in the American Grub Street (University of Nebraska Press, 2007), has published several collections of her grandfather’s stories, and has spoken to a variety of audiences on the history of pulp fiction. Laurie is now writing a biography of Daisy Bacon, editor of Love Story Magazine, and has written articles and book introductions about Bacon and the romance pulps

(6) ONE WRITER’S PROCESS.

(7) KISS ANOTHER HISTORIC HOUSE GOODBYE. According to Los Angeles Magazine, “The Home Where Walt Disney Founded His First Studio Is Set to be Demolished”.

New owners have requested a demolition permit for Walt Disney’s first home in California. The well-preserved 1914 Craftsman bungalow at 4406 Kingswell Avenue in Los Feliz belonged to Walt’s aunt Charlotte and uncle Robert Disney, who in July of 1923 invited their young nephew to board in their home (at a rate of $5 per week) as he pursued his dream of becoming a film director. The 2-bedroom, 1458 square-foot home would stay in the Disney family for 30 years. Charlotte moved next door in 1955, spending five decades on Kingswell. When it was sold again in 1977 the owners described it as having “lots of wood trim, fireplace & cheery breakfast room.” The home exhibits tremendous architectural integrity, with the same porch, gables, shingles, windows, and beveled glass door that greeted 22-year-old Walt Disney.

According to the Los Angeles County Assessor the property was sold two months ago to Sang Ho and Krystal Yoo of Studio City, who submitted plans on Friday for a new 2-story, 1 or 2-family home they plan to build on the site. In November, the City of Los Angeles Survey L.A. program declared the property eligible for the National Register of Historic Places for its role as Walt Disney’s first studio in California. The same city planning department is now considering issuing a permit for its destruction.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 23, 1982 — Actor Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed when a helicopter crashed on the movie set of The Twilight Zone.
  • July 23, 1999 — Disney’s Tarzan became the first all-digital film.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born July 23, 1989 – Daniel Radcliffe

(10) WISE CRACKS. Ethan Mills at Examined Worlds reviews “Tectonic Fantasy: Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin”.

N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season is a difficult, complex, and engrossing tale.  Let me focus on the plot structure, the worldbuilding, and the major theme of living within unjust social structures….

Building a Volatile World The worldbuilding is amazing.  The Stillness (the sarcastically-named continent where it all takes place) is on a world of intense geological activity, which every few hundred years creates a “Fifth Season” that wipes out a lot of the life on the planet.  Worldbuilding aficionados will love the historical appendix that tells the history of each Fifth Season going back several thousand years.  There’s also a glossary for more general terms, which is helpful for forgetful readers like me (although most of the terms can be understood in context as you read the novel).  It’s obvious as you’re reading that this is the first book of a trilogy, so while I look forward to learning more about the characters, I’m most interested to learn more about the world.

(11) HUGO CHANGES. Steve Davidson gives “A 3SV Endorsement” at Amazing Stories.

3SV would insert an additional vote between nominations and final voting.  (Nominations > 3SV > Final Vote.) Up to the top 15 nominees in each category are presented to the voters, who in effect have an opportunity to preemptively vote No Award for each of the 15 nominees.  Based on the criteria of the proposal (here), nominees that receive above a certain threshold of “reject” votes during this round are removed from the list of 15 and the remaining top 5 nominees – based on the original nomination counts – are then placed on the final ballot.

Nominees of questionable origin, undeserving nominees and nominees gamed onto the ballot can be removed at this second stage, which will prevent bad actors from acquiring a “Hugo Award Finalist” designation;  voters will not have to choose to vote for something reprehensible or No Award the entire category;  the effectiveness of slate voting will be seriously reduced, if not eliminated.

The bar for rejection is high – 60% – so it is unlikely that anything but those works generally perceived as having arrived on the ballot through unfair means will be eliminated during the process.

(12) FANTASTIC BEASTS. There’s been an inundation of trailers tailored for showing at the San Diego Comic-Con. I’m including several in today’s Scroll.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Comic-Con Trailer

(13) JUSTICE LEAGUE. Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment showed footage of Zack Snyder’s Justice League in Hall H.

(14) KONG. SciFiNow has a good intro: “Kong Skull Island trailer crash-lands in modern day”.

The first trailer for Kong: Skull Island has come rampaging in…

Letting us know that this is brought to us by same folks who created Godzilla, this should have given us a hint of what to expect from Kong: Skull Island. We’ll be honest though: we weren’t prepared for this.

Leads Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson don’t get a single line of dialogue. Instead, co-stars Samuel L Jackson and John Goodman get their time to shine in this modern-day reimagining of the King Kong mythos.

 

(15) MARVEL AND NETFLIX AT SDCC.

San Diego Comic Con Sizzle presented by Marvel and Netflix

A look back at Daredevil and Jessica Jones as we get ready for Luke Cage. All episode of Daredevil and Jessica Jones now streaming on Netflix. Luke Cage premieres on September 30.

 

Marvel’s Iron Fist – SDCC – First Look – Netflix [HD]

Marvel’s The Defenders – SDCC Teaser – Netflix [HD]

Marvel’s Luke Cage – SDCC – Teaser – Netflix [HD]

(16) MARCHING DOWN THE AISLE. Elaborate cosplay at SDCC.

(17) SOME DARE CALL IT ACTING. Hello Giggles really likes Margot Robbie.

This brand new “Suicide Squad” trailer ONLY features Harley Quinn and thus, it is awesome

Is it too early to start an Oscar campaign for Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad? This is a very serious question. She shouldn’t just with an Oscar for her role in the upcoming DC movie, but maybe like, four. And also probably an Emmy, and a Tony, and let’s just give her a Pulitzer and a Nobel Peace Price, why not. All the awards for Robbie, who is about to make WAVES as Harley Quinn.

 

(18) EVERYBODY NEEDS A CRISIS. Time Magazine explains “Why Aliens Are So Important to Star Trek” – but are they right?

“Gene was very big on not wanting to create conflict among the characters on the show,” says Rick Berman, who led the Star Trek franchise after Roddenberry died in 1991 until 2005 and produced several series and feature films. “He felt that humans, especially Starfleet humans, had evolved to a point where he didn’t want to see conflict between them.”

Yet conflict is at the core of all great storytelling. So if the Enterprise crew couldn’t squabble with one another, Star Trek writers had to find friction elsewhere. Aliens came to the rescue. “Often we were telling stories of how humans had progressed, or not, in the far reaches of space,” says longtime Star Trek writer D.C. Fontana. “But sometimes the theme of the tale was better told by demonstrating how aliens approached or solved problems, or how they failed.”

(19) ROGUE ONE. JJ says, “They’ve done a great bit of spot-on casting for this character, whose original actress is now 83.” Movie Pilot has the story: “Mon Mothma Sure Has Changed Since We Last Saw Her”

While the original Mon Mothma, Caroline Blakiston, is now 83, and thus a little too old to play the Rebel leader in a prequel, it seems that Star Wars: Rogue One has still managed to find a way to go old school with its Mon Mothma-related casting.

Our new Mon Mothma is the same Mon Mothma we (kind of) saw in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Genevieve O’Reilly.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 7/22/16 Rudyard Pixeling’s Just Scroll Stories

(1) IT AIN’T ME BABE. George R.R. Martin is not at the San Diego Comic-Con.

Now, normally, I would not feel the need to post about where I’m not and what I am not doing… only I am getting reports from friends in San Diego, and friends of friends, that I have been sighted at the con.

It’s not me.

Really. It’s not. It’s some other old fat guy in a Greek sailor’s cap and pair of suspenders, maybe. Who may or may not be consciously cosplaying as me.

((And you have no idea how weird it feels to be typing that sentence. Way back when the show was first starting, there were a couple of Daenerys Targaryen cosplayers at San Diego, and I thought that was way cool. Fans dressing up as my characters, hey, hot damn! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that anyone would ever want to dress up as me. But now I seem to encounter it wherever I go….))

((And just to be clear, no, I do not disappove of fans cosplaying as me. I do find it surreal, but hey, what they hell, have fun… so long as they don’t actually pretend to be me)).

Damn near as funny to me, a friend of mine who uses the handle kalimac truthfully answered:

I am also an old fat guy with a Greek sailor’s cap and a pair of suspenders, though my beard is not yet as white as yours. But I’m not at Comicon either!

(2) FILE EIGHTY-EIGHT FORTY-FOUR. From News.Mic “Turkish Protesters Are Spray Painting ‘8.8.8.8’ and ‘8.8.4.4’ On Wallls – Here’s What It Means”.

As hard as the Turkish government might try, shutting down Twitter isn’t as easy as it seems. At 11:30 p.m. Thursday the Turkish government officially blocked the country’s 33 million Internet users from Twitter, but clever, tech-savvy Turks are sharing a simple and effective method to help fellow citizens bypass the ban — and they’re sharing it everywhere.

Just hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “root out” Twitter, graffiti has been popping up around Istanbul with two IP addresses anyone can use to circumvent the government’s ban. The two numbers — 8.8.8.8. and 8.8.4.4. — refer to Google’s Public DNS, which can be easily utilized to maintain access to Twitter.

And it’s working. Despite a short blackout, many Turks are back on Twitter, and there’s nothing the government can really do to stop them.

” … it seems that masses of ordinary citizens are learning how to use this technology,” wrote Serhatcan Yurdam, a blogger who lives in Istanbul. “Everybody is teaching each other how to change their DNS, how to use VPNs … and clearly they’re catching on quickly, since so many people are still tweeting!”

Step-by-step instructions like this are being widely shared by Turkish Internet users. 

Erdogan’s motivation was to “eradicate” social media, which he considers “the worst menace to society.”

(3) MARKO KLOOS KISSES FACEBOOK GOODBYE. You’ll still find him on Instagram and Twitter, but as of today Marko Kloos is done with Facebook.

I’ve known for a while that it had become more distraction than useful or fun tool, but today things kind of tipped over for me when one of my real-world writer acquaintances got pissed off over a comment I left on their post. (It was, of course, about politics, and that always spells trouble on Facebook because most people who post about politics don’t look to argue or debate. This election in particular has cranked up everyone’s sensitivity up to eleventy-twelve, and 95% of political posts are just there to have one’s opinion reaffirmed by The Tribe, not to actually talk about the subject.) It was my mistake, of course, but it was the proverbial straw for me…..

I’ve had to curate my posts on Facebook for years. Most of my publishing friends are on the left side the fence, and quite a few of my real-life non-publishing friends are libertarians or (GASP!) conservatives. When you have to make sure you have the right audience button selected before you post a picture or an opinion lest you offend half your friends list inadvertently, it stops being fun and starts becoming work–and hazardous work at that, like tap-dancing through a minefield.  The drawbacks have now outweighed the benefits of the platform, at least for me.

(And to be honest–it’s a massive time-waster designed to make you come click for your dopamine pellet a hundred times a day. If I had written fiction in all the times I’ve wasted time scrolling through Facebook over the last five years, Frontlines would now be a 20-book series.)

(4) BUT NOT ONE WORD ABOUT ANY REDSHIRTS. Once he drafted today’s post about Trump’s speech, John Scalzi cleansed his palate by reviewing Star Trek Beyond.

One complaint I do hear from longtime Trek fans is that the new Trek films don’t give enough lip service to Gene Roddenberry’s humanistic ethos, and I have a couple of thoughts on that. The first was that while that ethos was and is laudable, Roddenberry was as subtle about it as a sledgehammer, which is why TOS episodes sometimes now play like Very Special Episodes where learning happens (some TNG episodes play that way too, notably in the first couple of seasons). As a viewer I don’t actually want the Roddenberry Moral Sledgehammer. I’m not a child. The second is that as it happens Beyond is the Kelvin-era film that most overtly signals in the direction of that Trek ethos, both in what it says and what’s on screen. And for me it was the right amount — enough to know it’s there and important, not enough that you feel like you’re being lectured by a tiresome hippie uncle.

(5) SNEAK PREVIEW. Star Trek actors attended the White House’s advance screening of Star Trek Beyond on Tuesday. The highlight was a little gaffe by the First Lady.

After greeting the actors and welcoming the military families, Michelle Obama concluded her remarks with a phrase that was made famous by that other sci-fi franchise, “Star Wars.”

“May the force be with you,” she said. (We think she was kidding by invoking the rival films, but who knows — President Obama once mixed the two by referring to a “Jedi mind meld”).

Urban, slightly sheepishly, added his film’s signature line: “And live long and prosper!”

(6) THE AUTHOR/EDITOR RELATIONSHIP. At Magical Words, Melissa Gilbert used dating as an analogy to help advise self-published authors how to choose the right editor.

Decide you want a date:

First, you have to decide that you want to hire a freelance editor and why. Do you want to self-publish? Do you want to learn more and improve your craft? Do you want to improve your chances of getting picked up by an agent? Basically, what’s your endgame? Like a date, are you looking to develop a long term relationship or just have some fun? ….

The First Date:

The first edit is much like a first date. You both are looking to see if you’re a good fit for each other. Writers, the editor is evaluating you as much as you are evaluating the editor, so professional courtesy should be extended by both parties.

Editors: don’t change the writer’s voice, be honest about the level of edit needed, be straightforward about your pricing and other policies, and communicate with the writer.

Writers: don’t rush the editor (ex: if it’s your first novel, your edit will likely take more than a few days, so don’t plan a huge release party!), reply promptly to their emails, remember that their job is to critique your work so it won’t be rainbows and butterflies the whole way through, and communicate with the editor.

(7) LIKE HELL. Playlist says these are the “50 Best Sci-Fi Films of the 21st Century So Far”.

The ease with which we sailed to 50 titles and the number we still felt bad about excluding speaks volumes about the health of this thriving and somehow ever-more-necessary genre. We’re hardly the first to notice that recent world events feel distinctly dystopian, and seeing various scenarios play out as extended thought experiments is something that only this genre really affords us.

And number one?

  1. “Children Of Men” (2006) Not just the best sci-fi movie of the last 16 years, but one of the best movies period, Alfonso Cuaron’s bravura dystopian masterpiece cemented the Mexican helmer’s status as not just a fast-rising star, but as one of our very, very best. Based on P.D. James’ novel, it’s set in a world where no children have been born in two decades, and society has collapsed as humanity waits to die out. Theo (Clive Owen) is entrusted with transporting a young immigrant woman (Claire-Hope Ashitey) who is pregnant, the first person in a generation to be so. Aside from its central premise, everything about “Children Of Men” is chillingly plausible, and Cuaron’s vision is brought to life seamlessly with subtle VFX and the never-bettered docudrama-ish photography of Emmanuel Lubezki (including two of the greatest extended shots in cinema history). The cast, including Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunnam, Peter Mullan, and Danny Huston, is impeccable, it’s disarmingly funny, deeply sad, enormously exciting, fiercely political, and endlessly inventive, and people will be stealing from it for decades to come. Though many dismissed it on release as being too bleak (and everything from the Zika virus to Brexit is proving it to be all to prescient), that was to miss the point: “Children Of Men” is a film about hope, and in the 21st century, we need all the hope we can get.

(8) FAN ART FOR THE MASSES. Well, to be precise, it’s a fan’s art, but it’s not fan art, nevertheless, Nick Stathopoulos’ portrait of Deng is currently plastered all over Sydney as part of an ad campaign for the Archibald Prize exhibit.

Archibald Prize ad

(9) MERCURY MISSION CONTROL. Larry Klaes covers the launch for Galactic Journey: “[July 22, 1961] Into Space – and the Deep Blue (The Flight of Liberty Bell 7 )”. Regardless of what you may have heard, Gus didn’t screw the pooch….

After three failed attempts just this week, yesterday (July 21, 1961), astronaut Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom finally became this nation’s second (and the world’s third) man to reach outer space.  Grissom achieved another sort of milestone when his spacecraft unexpectedly sank after splashdown – and almost took the astronaut with it to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean!

(10) PROTIPS FOR CHRONONAUTS. “10 Things You Should Never Do While Time Traveling” is a pretty damn clever and well-researched post – at B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog.

  1. Signal your presence The protagonists of Replayby Ken Grimwood, have an odd method of time travel. Upon death, their consciousness is sent back 25-odd years into their own bodies, with all future memories intact, to relive the same number of years time until they die again, at the exact same moment—creating a kind of Groundhog Dayloop. Naturally, the first thing anyone does is fix old mistakes and use their foreknowledge to become fabulously wealthy, then begin mucking about with history. These actions reach their peak when one of the replayers decides to enlist George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to make her a science fiction film, with the specific intent of finding and meeting other people replaying their lives. It also turns out to be a horrible idea, since at least one of said travelers is a deranged murderer, and a shadowy government agency may be actively seeking replayers for their own nefarious purposes. Telling people when you’re from is usually a bad idea in general anyway.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 22, 1899 — Director James Whale is born in The Black Country region of England. And what did he do, I asked? Does Frankenstein count?  How about Bride of FrankensteinThe Invisible Man?

(12) MOANA. Entertainment Weekly reports from “Comic-Con 2016: Moana heroine won’t have a love interest in the film”.

Disney’s Moana doesn’t hit theaters until November but Comic-Con attendees not only learned the plot of the animated film, they also got to see several clips at the Thursday panel moderated by EW’s own Marc Snetiker.

Set 2,000 years ago in the South Pacific, Moana is the story of the titular 16-year-old girl, voiced by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, who goes in search of a banished demi god named Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) in order to, naturally, save the world….

[Directors] Musker and Clements made a point to say that Moana doesn’t have a love interest in this story and that it’s a film about the heroine finding herself.

(13) FANTASTIC BEASTS. Hypable presents the poster released at San Diego Comic-Con for Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.

Newt is looking over his shoulder in the middle, holding a wand in one hand and a suitcase (with a beast trying to get out!) in the other. Supporting characters Graves, Jacob, Queenie, and Tina appear in the wings. Also here: Our very first looks at two female characters. We believe the one in the bottom left is Mary Lou, played by Samantha Morton. The guy on the right is Credence played by Ezra Miller.

 

fantastic-beasts-sdcc-2016-poster

(14) KEVIN AND URSULA EAT CHEAP. Cally pointed out this opportunity in a comment: If you want to hear someone eat a Carolina Reaper live, here’s the episode of Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap where Our Wombat’s husband Kevin eats a Reaper that Ursula grew in the garden – “Fear The Reaper Redux”. Buildup to Reaper eating begins at about minute 12, actual eating stars at 13:50.

Now that Cally has helped me discover this podcast, here are links to a couple of the most recent installments.

We’re back from Anthrocon, and who should arrive on our doorstep this week, than the chairman himself, Uncle Kage! He has come bearing gifts in the form of Sake and ShoChu, which we pair with Velveeta Chipotle Mac & Cheese, Hot Pockets, pastry puffs, and w hole range of things found on our travels.

Be warned, this one is not for the faint of heart, when We Eat It, So You Don’t Have To!

(Also of note – there is a glitch towards the end, due to a disk issue on the recording machine, so expect a bit of a jump in there)

This week, we have a margarita mixer, which means we break out the tequila, which leads to drunken geekery. We also have the biggest frozen pizza we’ve found to date, beer, mac &  cheese, and lots and lots of chocolate. We even have duck fat caramels. Yes, you read that correctly : DUCK. FAT. CARAMELS.

This is not a drill folks, this week when We Eat It, So You Don’t Have To!

(15) SHOT AT A FREEBIE. LA area fans interest in seeing The Pit and the Pendulum free on July 26 should go to Facebook and sign up.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has graciously offered a block of FREE TICKETS to our customers of CREATURE FEATURES for their archival revival screening of Roger Corman’s THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM starring Vincent Price, this Tuesday, July 26th at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills at 7:30pm. Featuring a brand new 35mm print, the screening will highlight a Q&A with Roger Corman & Julie Corman, along with four newly restored trailers from other Corman classics. To sign up for your free ticket, simply click “Going” on this event before 11pm on Monday, July 25th and your name will be at the Will Call desk at the theatre entrance. Seating is limited and first come first served, while space lasts. Theater reserves right to limit admission as necessary. Based on the classic shocker by Edgar Allan Poe, The Pit and the Pendulum, with a screenplay by Richard Matheson, deviates somewhat from the original, but Roger Corman, who also produced and directed, succeeds in translating Poe’s eerie mood to the screen. Set in the 16th century, horror film icon Vincent Price stars as a Spanish nobleman whose wife (Barbara Steele) dies under mysterious circumstances. Despite its modest budget of $300,000 over 15 shooting days, Corman employs his legendary “bag of tricks” and the mastery of cinematographer Floyd Crosby to create a colorful, visually impressive and atmospheric film. Cast: Vincent Price, John Kerr, Barbara Steele, Luana Anders, Antony Carbone, Patrick Westwood, Lynn Bernay, Larry Turner, Mary Menzies, Charles Victor

(16) ALTERNATE HISTORY. Original fiction by Jonathan Edelstein at Haibane.info“Saladin at Jerusalem: A Friday Story”.

This is another alternate history vignette, originally posted here and centering on Abdelkader El Djezairi, one of the most fascinating and heroic characters of the nineteenth century.  The story takes place some years after the end of his resistance to French colonization in Algeria, and after an incident in Damascus which ironically made him into a friend of France.  Those who know what happened there might have some idea of where this story will go… or maybe not.

(17) MORE MIÉVILLE. Tor.com has posted an excerpt from China Miéville’s new book The Last Days of New Paris. Here is the description of the story –

1941. In the chaos of wartime Marseille, American engineer—and occult disciple—Jack Parsons stumbles onto a clandestine anti-Nazi group, including Surrealist theorist André Breton. In the strange games of the dissident diplomats, exiled revolutionaries, and avant-garde artists, Parsons finds and channels hope. But what he unwittingly unleashes is the power of dreams and nightmares, changing the war and the world forever.

1950. A lone Surrealist fighter, Thibaut, walks a new, hallucinogenic Paris, where Nazis and the Resistance are trapped in unending conflict, and the streets are stalked by living images and texts—and by the forces of Hell. To escape the city, he must join forces with Sam, an American photographer intent on recording the ruins, and make common cause with a powerful, enigmatic figure of chance and rebellion: the exquisite corpse. But Sam is being hunted. And new secrets will emerge that will test all their loyalties—to each other, to Paris old and new, and to reality itself.

(18) YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND. Steve Fahnestalk has a great tribute to “MY PAL, JERRY SOHL!” at Amazing Stories

Most of you are familiar with Jerry’s main Star Trek script; the episode is called “The Corbomite Maneuver”; but you may not know that as Nathan Butler (one of his pseudonyms) Jerry also wrote and/or co-wrote either the script or the original stories for “Whom Gods Destroy” (with Lee Erwin) and “This Side of Paradise” with D.C. Fontana. Earlier in his career, Jerry was in a writing group called “The Green Hand” which included variously, Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, George Clayton Johnson, William F. Nolan and several others from time to time. When Beaumont fell ill with several Twilight Zone episodes due, Jerry wrote them (“Living Doll,” “Queen of the Nile,” and “The New Exhibit”) to be submitted under Beaumont’s name; Beaumont insisted that Jerry keep half the money. (Jerry was especially proud of “Living Doll”—“My name’s Alicia and I’m going to kill you!” being a line he repeated to me several times.

(19) MYSTERY SOLVED. Did anyone get a memo about there being a “blackout”? What about The Guardian, the LA Times, and other such outlets which have covered the Hugos this year?

(20) STUCK IN THE STONE. Digital Antiquarian tells the developmental history of Infocom’s game “Arthur: The Quest for Excalibur”.

And so at last, twelve years after a group of MIT hackers had started working on a game to best Crowther and Woods’s original Adventure, it all came down to Arthur: The Quest for Excalibur, Infocom’s 35th and final work of interactive fiction. Somewhat ironically, this era-ending game wasn’t written by one of Infocom’s own long-serving Imps, but rather by the relatively fresh and inexperienced Bob Bates and his company Challenge, Incorporated, for whom Arthur represented only their second game. On the other hand, though, Bates and Challenge did already have some experience with era-ending games. Their previous effort, Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels, had been the last text-only Infocom game to be published. As Bates’s buddy Steve Meretzky delights in saying, it’s lucky that Challenge would never get the chance to make a third game. What with them having already “single-handedly killed” the all-text Infocom game with Sherlock and then Infocom as a whole with Arthur, a third Challenge game “probably would have killed the entire computer-game industry.” We kid, Bob, we kid.

(21) THE BLUE PLAQUE SPECIAL. This is supposed to be a new product from Discworld Emporium (it was on their FB page) but I can’t find it in the online catalog. It’s still funny anyway.

Pratchett blue plaque

(22) HOW THE MOON GOT ITS BLACK EYE. The BBC relays a theory that “Vast asteroid created ‘Man in the Moon’s eye’ crater”. Well, of course it did. But now, math.

One of the Moon’s biggest craters was created by an asteroid more than 250km (150 miles) across, a study suggests.

It smashed into the lunar surface about 3.8 billion years ago, forming Mare Imbrium – the feature also known as the right eye of the “Man in the Moon”.

Scientists say the asteroid was three times bigger than previously estimated and debris from the collision would have rained down on the Earth.

The research is published in the journal Nature.

It would have been a catastrophic period of timeProf Peter Schultz, Brown University

The asteroid was so big it could be classified as a protoplanet – a space rock with the potential to become a fully formed world….

(23) CHART OF THE UNKNOWN. The Literary Gift Company is selling a “Science Fiction and Fantasy Literary Map” of the British Isles created by Jonathan Coleclough.

These writers have created amazing new worlds, or have re-imagined the world we think we know. In turn we have mapped their landscapes: the towns and regions that created or inspired these writers. We meet Tolkien not in Middle-Earth, but the Midlands, for example, and we spy Philip Reeve in his current Dartmoor setting. From Angela Carter to Mervyn Peake, by way of John Wyndham, Alistair Reynolds, and over 200 other authors this stunning hand-lettered poster has been compiled and designed by Jonathan Coleclough.

 

 

(24) PLEASE DON’T PET THE ACTORS. Movie Pilot writer Tisha Mae Eaton tries to convince fans “Celebrity Is Not Consent”.

During cons, meeting one of your favorite celebrities can be an incredibly exciting experience, especially if you are able to walk right up to them. Your first instinct may to be a gushing adoration of all of their work, or to get nervous and clam up, or maybe even to just fling your arms around them. While the first two are understandable, the latter is actually quite inappropriate, and it’s become an increasing problem at conventions.

(25) THE HUNGER GAME. Those of you who haven’t followed Marko Kloos out the door at Facebook can click on this silly cat graphic posted by Janis Ian.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcocki, JJ, Aziz Poonawalla, Martin Morse Wooster, Dawn Incognito, David Langford, Bartimaeus, Cally, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 7/16/16 Pixels, Scrolls, Roddenberry And Time

(1) POETRY DESTROYED. A sampling of Stoic Cynic’s satirical genius.

A fragmented excerpt from The Filer and the Astronaut by Louise Carol:

‘The time has come,’ the Filer said,
‘To talk of many things:
Of pups — and picks — and palimpsests —
Of Cadigan — and King —
And why this movie, cult is not —
And whether trolls believe.’

‘But scroll a bit,’ the Pixels cried,
‘Before you have your chat;
For some of us are full of links,
Oh do not rush so fast!’
‘No hurry!’ said the Astronaut.
They thanked him much for that.

‘A post of fifth,’ the Filer said
‘Is what we chiefly need:
Filking and Punnery besides
Are very good indeed —
Now, if you’re ready, Pixels dear,
We can begin to read.’

‘Pixels,’ said the Astronaut,
‘You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be posting here again?’
But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d scrolled up every one.

(2) GHOSTBUSTERS REVIEW. Rachael Acks get the first word about “[Movie] Ghostbusters (2016)”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

Ghostbusters (2016) comes to us in a world saturated with sequels and remakes and reboots that no one wanted, needed, or asked for—and finally, we get a reboot we actually deserve.

I have a lot of love in my heart for 1984’s original Ghostbusters, which came out in theaters when I was way too young to see it. I remember my parents showing me the movie when I was a bit older, and recall that I thought the first ghost in the library was absolutely fucking terrifying, and that Egon was my favorite ghostbuster. I have a moderate little wad of affection for the at-times cringe-worthy sequel, Ghostbusters 2. I got up extra early on Saturday mornings for years so I could watch The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series. I owned action figures. My Ghostbusters love is not a matter for debate.

Two years ago, for the thirtieth anniversary of the movie, I got to watch Ghostbusters (1984) properly in a movie theater. It was still funny, and fun, and I still loved it to pieces. But it broke my heart a little when adult me noticed the incredibly creepy sexism of Venkman that child me skated around and just thought was at worst an endearing quirk.

And now today, I rode my bike over to a movie theater so I could eat some overpriced popcorn and watch a new Ghostbusters that made it all better.

(3) BEST OF 2016. Patrick St. Denis of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist names the five best speculative fiction novels he read in the first half of 2016. Number one on the list —

  1. Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay (Canada, USA, Europe) Here’s the blurb:

The bestselling author of the groundbreaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay is back with a new novel, Children of Earth and Sky, set in a world inspired by the conflicts and dramas of Renaissance Europe. Against this tumultuous backdrop the lives of men and women unfold on the borderlands—where empires and faiths collide….

(4) CLASSIC SF OR COMFORT FICTION? James W. Harris finds there are many answers to the question “Who Still Reads 1950s Science Fiction?”

When I was growing up, the Golden Age of Science Fiction was considered 1938-1946,  mostly due to the editorship of Astounding Science Fiction by John W. Campbell. Certainly many of the classic science fiction short stories I read in the early 1960s were reprints from that era. Then Peter Graham said, “The Golden Age of science fiction is 12.” That felt so right that no other age has ever usurped it. The science fiction that imprinted on me at age 12 is the atomic clock by which I’ve measured all science fiction since.

My favorite SF novel in 2015 was Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson. I admire it for great intellectual speculation. But, it’s no match emotionally for my favorite generation ship story, Orphans of the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein. Orphans first appeared in book form in 1963, reprinting two novellas from 1941, “Universe” and “Common Sense” that were originally published in Astounding Science Fiction.  I turned 12 in 1963. Aurora is a much more ambitious and sophisticated novel than Orphans in the Sky. Aurora had more to say about science and science fiction, but it’s the Heinlein story that resonates with my heart.

(5) 2016 CURT SIODMAK AWARDS. Voting has opened for the Curt Siodmak Preis, given for the best movie and TV program shown in the German language during the previous year. Fans will have until August 4 to cast an online vote.

The award is administered by Science Fiction Club Deutschland. The winners will be announced at MediaKon One over the August 12-14 weekend. [Via Europa SF.]

(6) BEYOND STAR TREK BEYOND. AV Club brings word that Kirk’s dad played by Chris Hemsworth will appear in the next Star Trek film to enter production.

Apparently figuring that it’s never too soon to start stoking the fires for a franchise’s next installment—even if the previous film hasn’t actually, y’know, come out—Star Trek reboot mastermind J.J. Abrams has announced that Chris Hemsworth will be returning to the franchise for the follow-up to Star Trek Beyond. For those of you with hazy memories of Star Trek (2009), Hemsworth briefly appeared in the movie as George Kirk, father of James, who lasted just long enough to pass on his “Handsome Chris” genetics to his son (Chris Pine) before Eric Bana could blow him to bits….

(7) THIRD PARTY. Speaking of bringing back the dead, what about Kirk’s running mate for President…?

kirk spock

(8) POTTERMORE TRAFFIC SPIKE. Word that J.K. Rowling had written a new Sorting Quiz helped her Pottermore site blow up one day in June.

J.K. Rowling now writes algorithms, too.

When the author released new details in June about America’s wizarding school – including a quiz in which fans could be sorted into one of the school’s houses — millions of Muggles flocked to her website, Pottermore.com.

This was the second sorting quiz Pottermore has offered since its beta launch in 2011. The first one sorted fans into one of four houses at Hogwarts.

“Of course, both quizzes are written by Jo,” Pottermore CEO Susan Jurevics said in an interview. “So it’s content that came directly from her. And she’s also been involved in the behind-the-scenes algorithm of it.”

….The quiz sent Potterheads into a frenzy. Traffic spiked on June 28, with 1.4 million visitors that day and 1.5 million the following day, according to data firm SimilarWeb. Some 9.2 million visitors came to the site over the 28 days ending July 11.

(9) BOOKS SPIKE, TOO. The Wall Street Journal’s Jennifer Maloney calls it “The Second Coming of Harry Potter”

“Cursed Child” has hovered between No. 1 and No. 2 on Amazon.com since it was announced in February. It’s Amazon’s top preorder this year in print and e-book, an Amazon spokeswoman said. Scholastic is printing 4.5 million copies of the play in the U.S. and Canada. While that’s far lower than the 12 million advance U.S. print run for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in 2007, it’s considered a massive launch for a book, let alone a play. Last year’s top-selling book, Harper Lee’s “Go Set A Watchman,” has sold 3.3 million hardcovers in the U.S. and Canada, according to HarperCollins. A typical first print run for a new play by a prominent playwright is around 5,000.

Also news is that Rowling now has script control over anything developed from her books, which she didn’t have in the Harry Potter movies.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 16, 1969 Apollo 11, the first moon-landing mission, was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • July 16, 1928 – Robert Sheckley

(12) REJECTION SLIP. Arlan Andrews, Sr. reports that Analog rejected “Fight”, the latest episode of his “Rist” series. Episode #2, “Flow,” was on both the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies slates for the 2015 Hugos. Greg Hullender opines, “Since Analog published the previous three episodes (‘Thaw,’ ‘Flow,’ and ‘Fall’) I’m a bit surprised that they rejected ‘Fight.’”

(13) PRO TIP. The way you get to be President of SFWA is by forcing yourself to exercise an even wilder imagination by constantly raising the bar on what you do in real life. It’s a theory, anyway.

(14) KEEP LOOKING. The Traveler at Galactic Journey found a “saving grace” in the August 1961 issue of Analog – but it’s not Mack Reynolds’ story.

For instance, almost half the issue is taken up by Mack Reynold’s novella, Status Quo.  It’s another of his future cold-war pieces, most of which have been pretty good.  This one, about a revolutionary group of “weirds,” who plan to topple an increasingly conformist American government by destroying all of our computerized records, isn’t.  It’s too preachy to entertain; its protagonist, an FBI agent, is too unintelligent to enjoy (even if his dullness is intentional); the tale is too long for its pay-off.  Two stars.

That said, there are some interesting ideas in there.  The speculation that we will soon become over-reliant on social titles rather than individual merit, while Campbellian in its libertarian sentiment, is plausible.  There is already an “old boy’s club” and it matters what degrees you have and from which school you got them.  It doesn’t take much to imagine a future where the meritocracy is dead and nepotism rules.

And, while it’s hard to imagine a paperless society, should we ever get to the point where the majority of our records only exist within the core memories of a few computers, a few revolutionaries hacking away at our central repositories of knowledge could have quite an impact, indeed!

(15) BIG BUSINESS. The BBC found someone is “Rescuing America’s Roadside Giants”.

Anyone making a road trip across America will sooner or later run across a giant statue – a cowboy, an American Indian chief or a lumberjack, perhaps. Many, now half a century old, are falling apart, but one man and his friends are tracking them down and bringing them back to life.

,,, The founding father was James V Lafferty, who built a six-storey elephant on a strip of undeveloped coastal land just south of Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1881.

Lucy the Elephant was intended to attract property buyers and visitors and still stands as a tourist attraction today, having survived Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In 1882, Lafferty filed a patent on giant buildings “of the form of any other animal than an elephant, as that of a fish, fowl, etc.”, which he claimed was his invention.

 

giant

(16) USE THE CHARGE CARD LUKE. “Mark Hamill says Episode VIII lines will make fans ‘forget all about May the Force be with you’”. Does he means the lines in the script, or the lines to buy the toys?

He compared the avalanche of merchandise to the endless marching brooms from Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. “The toys just start coming to your house. Bum-bah-bump, bah-bump…,” he sang. “Every day, more toys.”

Hamill said one of the earliest words his kids said was “Kenner!”

“I gave all those toys to the kids, and they grew up later and said, ‘Oh my God, Princess Leia in the box is $1,400 in mint condition! Why’d you let us give her a Sinead O’Connor haircut with cuticle scissors?’ I said, ‘They were your toys!’”

(17) LINEUP. BBC Radio Four’s consumer program You and Yours featured Star Wars Celebration Europe. Specifically, as part of the problems with selling tickets to pop events.

Today a new campaign group called Fan Fair Alliance is launched by big players in the music industry to tackle the problem of ticket touts. The manager of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and PJ Harvey tells You & Yours what the promoters and musicians are trying to do to stop so many tickets ending up on resale websites.

Sci-fi fans going to a Star Wars Convention this weekend are worried they’ve only bought a ticket which gives them the right to queue for a ticket to see the main events.

(18) YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN MACII. I enjoyed this.

(19) POKÉMON GO STILL GOING. Washington Post editors must be letting all of their writers fill their quotas with stories about the newly released game.

The Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Philip Kennicott spent a week wandering art museums trying to catch Pokémon.

I successfully bag my first creature, a Charmander, while walking the dog. Charmanders emit no detectable odor, so my dog is bored out of his mind as I jerk him around the neighborhood. The Charmander’s bad luck is my good fortune, advancing me to the point that some hipster professor figure who runs the game insists that I create a screen name. I choose Karl Kraus, because I’ve always admired the great Austrian satirist and social critic who died in 1936; but someone has already picked that name. Next, I try Susan Sontag, the American essayist and author, but that name is also taken. Is every pretentious twit on the planet playing this game?

Post humorist Alexandra Petri is excited by Pokémon Go because “I love any excuse to bump into things while walking around staring at my phone, and Pokemon really delivers there.”

She’s decided —

People are praising Pokemon Go as a rare activity that gets you to talk to strangers and go outdoors. Well, we used to have a hobby like that.  It was called smoking.  I’m thinking about taking that up instead.  It might get my mind off Pokemon Go.

(20) ANIMAL MAGNETISM. Lisa Goldstein reviews another Hugo nominee — Novella: “The Builders” – at inferior4+1.

This is such a weird story, you guys.  A captain brings together his old companions for one final battle, an attack on the usurpers who took over the town.  But in this version of the story everyone is a small animal: mouse, stoat, opossum, salamander, and so on….

(21) CHUCK TINGLE. Hugo nominee Chuck Tingle continues to entertain at a frantic pace. He released a work taking advantage of the Pokemon Go craze, with a predictable title. Earlier in the month he posted this silly warning —

(22) OOPS, TOO LATE. A Monster Calls comes to theaters in October.

A visually spectacular drama from acclaimed director Juan Antonio Bayona (“The Impossible”), based on the award-winning children’s fantasy novel. 12-year-old Conor (Lewis MacDougall) attempts to deal with his mother’s (Felicity Jones) illness and the bullying of his classmates by escaping into a fantastical world of monsters and fairy tales that explore courage, loss, and faith.

 

[Thanks to James Bacon, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Greg Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cath.]

Pixel Scroll 7/2/16 The Ancillary Swords of Lankhmar

(1) THIS IS THE END MY FRIEND. Melinda Snodgrass advises writers about “Sticking the Landing” at SFFWorld.

All of these various skills work in concert, but I think if a writer fails to deliver a satisfying ending — the ending that has been promised by the story then the entire project is likely to fail.  It doesn’t matter how good the ride or delightful the journey.  If the final scene is disappointing and leaves the reader/viewer/player feeling cheated they probably aren’t going to be recommending that book or film or game to their friends and family.

There are various ways to state this — “keeping your promise”, “sticking the landing”, “providing a sense of closure”.  Often people who dismiss this requirement do so by sniffing “that the readers/viewers/players just want a happy ending.”  That may be true, and it’s probably a topic for a different essay, but let me say that I think there is case to be made for the happy ending.  Too often critics seem to equate darkness with importance.

So how do you make an ending satisfying?  First, you have to lay in the ultimate solution and the tools to bring about that solution in the beginning of the book or film or game.  You can’t suddenly ring in a new player, or a new fact, a new magic power or super power for the protagonist to use at the end and expect to keep your fans.  They will rightly feel cheated, that you hid the football from them and didn’t play fair.  Worse is the conclusion that you didn’t really know what you were doing and just grabbed for some kind of resolution.  Often those kind of ending don’t seem organic and true to the world that was created, the rules of that world, and the problem as presented…

(2) BUY-IN. Sherwood Smith responds to the question “Reading: What makes YOU believe?” at Book View Café.

A lot of these readers are lured by what I call the seduction of competence: characters who have agency, especially with panache. Anyone who has dreamed of stepping forward and having the right idea, which everyone responds to, and leading the way to righting an egregious wrong instead of cowering back waiting for someone else to act (or, worse, stepping forward just to be shouted down scornfully, or totally ignored) probably looks for characters who either start out as heroes, or attain heroism through hard work.

So those are the easy ones: readers willingly invest in characters they can fall in love with, or identify with, or admire. And then there are the characters who fascinate for whatever reason, like the many who couldn’t get enough of Hannibal Lector. Some are drawn to characters who are monstrous, or ridiculous.

(3) VERSATILITY. Coach Paul Cornell visited Convergence today.

(4) THE INK NO LONGER STINKS. Technology has turned the corner, in the latest installment of M.D. Jackson’s series: “Why Was Early Comic Book Art so Crude (Part 4)”.

But there were two other factors that changed the nature of comic books. One was technological and the other was economical.

The technology of printing was changing with the adoption of flexography. Flexography is a high speed print process that uses fast-drying inks and can print on many types of absorbent and non-absorbent materials. The flexopress is cheaper because the inks are water based, which meant they dried quicker and were easier to clean up. The flexographic presses also are lighter and take up less room.

For years comics were printed on low-grade, absorbent papers that were not meant to last. Early comics were rare because the paper degraded so quickly. The distribution system also was designed to put comic books in as many places as they could find kids to buy them. Remember the spinner racks of comics in your local drug store? Comic books, then retailing for about 25 – 30 cents per title, were available everywhere, but they were not made to last.

In the 1980’s the comic book companies began printing certain titles on a better quality of paper, Baxter paper. It was smoother and whiter and the inks and colors looked much better than your regular comic book fare….

(5) CONVERGENT EVOLUTION. Jennifer Frazer, in “The Artful Amoeba” blog on Scientific American, rounds up the photographic evidence for “Butterflies in the Time of Dinosaurs, With Nary a Flower in Sight”.

Jurassic butterflies disappeared a full 45 million years before the first caterpillar decided to grow up and become a beautiful butterfly. Again

…Apparently, way back when Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, a group of insects called lacewings produced butterflies. Not the butterflies we see flitting around today from the Order Lepidoptera, but floating, flapping, nectar-sucking flibbertigibbits nonetheless, with wings adorned with eyespots, veins, and scales….

(6) THOSE DAYS OF YESTERYEAR. At Getty Images you can view footage of the Sinclair oil dinosaur exhibit from the 1933 World’s Fair.

PAN along Brontosaurus dinosaur over to a Triceratops confronting a Tyrannosaurus Rex and down to a duck-billed Hadrosaurid; all dinosaurs were part of the Sinclair Oil exhibit.

(7) FOR SOME VALUES OF HISTORY. Vox Day interrupted his Castalia House status report to endorse the assault on Judith Merril’s memory

Meanwhile, Barry Malzburg makes it clear that some women have always been bent on destroying science fiction.

— because, after all, the measure of a man’s intelligence is how closely he agrees with you, regardless of whether you’ve ever heard of Barry Malzberg before.

(8) QUITE RIGHT.

(9) GAME DEMO. Based on the work of Jeff VanderMeer.

(10) DEEP DIVE INTO BUSIEK/ROSS.

Osvaldo Oyala’s “Marvels and the Limited Imagination of Nostalgia”.

I had not read Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’s Marvels in quite some time, probably 15 years or more, and despite having a memory of quite liking it when I first read it in the 90s sometime, my suspicion was that it would not hold up to that memory. And, while I was right, it also was not so hagiographic that I could just dismiss it. On the surface it certainly seems that way—unapologetically nostalgic about Marvel’s Golden and Silver Age—but it is actually constructed with competing visions that grant it a bit—a little bit—more complexity, even if ultimately it fails as anything except a sharp reaction to the moment in mainstream comics from which it emerged.

After Phil Sheldon lets a young mutant girl his daughters were sheltering run off into the anti-mutant riotous streets (a reference to a story in 1953’s Weird Science #20) it is difficult to take any of his moral claims seriously (from Marvels #2).

Marvels is a look back at the emergence of Marvel Comics’ heroes through the eyes of “Everyman” photojournalist, Phil Sheldon, from the first appearance of characters like the Original Human Torch and Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner in 1940, through the death of Gwen Stacey in the early 70s. Sheldon, as a kind of stand-in for the Marvel reader, displays complex and shifting attitudes towards the superheroes he calls “Marvels.” In each of the four issues we see his different perspectives on Marvel’s super-characters. From a deep fear of their raw power and capricious behavior that shifts to an appreciative awe of their demi-god stature as forces of nature in the first issue to a threatening cynicism that leads him to retire from his livelihood snapping pictures of their conflicts, adventures and social appearances in the last issue, when Gwen Stacey’s death becomes just another minor detail buried in a seeming endless cycle of superhero fisticuffs and collateral damage. In between, he participates in paranoid anti-mutant riots before abandoning his bigotry upon realizing mutants can be “our own children” (which made me roll my eyes so hard they still hurt), and later grows angry at the flaring bouts of negative public sentiment against heroes like the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and Spider-Man, fuming at the lack of gratitude displayed for their having saved the city or the world over and over again. And in case we might forget Sheldon’s special insight into the world of superheroes, in the first issue he loses an eye, calling to the One-Eyed Man or Blind Seer trope. At every stage when everyone else seems to return to hating or being suspicious of the superhero figure, Sheldon sees through public fear and pettiness (despite sometimes feeling it himself) to an understanding of the world he occupies that evokes something akin to the awe of Moses before the burning bush. As he says in the first issue after the rubble from the epic confrontation between the original Human Torch and the Sub-mariner takes his eye (a re-telling of the events of Marvel Mystery Comics #8 and 9), “It isn’t going to be them that adapts to us. The world is different now.” In other words, he can see with his Odin-eye what the general public cannot or will not, everyday people exist in the superhuman world, not the other way around. As Geoff Klock posits in his seminal book of comic book literary criticism, How to Read Superhero Comic Books and Why, unlike the transformative comic book texts like Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns that ask, “What would it be like if superheroes lived in our world? Marvels…ask[s], what would it feel like if we could live in theirs?” (77). And the answer is, kinda fucking scary.

This narrative vision constructed by Busiek, however, manifests in the near-photorealistic painting of Alex Ross which provides a Rockwellian patina of troubling idealism that passes for “realism.” ….

(11) LEWIS DRAMATIZED. The Most Reluctant Convert, a stage show about C.S. Lewis, will be in town July 10-23 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre in Irvine, CA.

Max McLean brings to life one of the most engaging personalities of our age and takes audiences on Lewis’ fascinating theatrical journey from atheism to Christianity. Adapted exclusively from Lewis’ writings, McLean inhabits Lewis from the death of his mother, his estranged relationship with his father and the experiences that led him from vigorous debunker to the most vibrant and influential Christian intellectual of the 20th Century. Experience a joyous evening of Lewis’ entertaining wit and fascinating insight. Cherish every minute of the extraordinary journey of C.S. Lewis as The Most Reluctant Convert.

Lewis’ experience is synopsized in a Director’s Note.

In 1950, C.S. Lewis received a letter from a young American writer expressing his struggle to believe Christianity because he thought it “too good to be true.” Lewis responded, “My own position at the threshold of Christianity was exactly the opposite of yours. You wish it were true; I strongly hoped it was not…Do you think people like Stalin, Hitler, Haldane, Stapledon (a corking good writer, by the way) would be pleased on waking up one morning to find that they were not their own masters…that there was nothing even in the deepest recesses of their thoughts about which they could say to Him, ‘Keep out! Private. This is my business’? Do you? Rats!… Their first reaction would be (as mine was) rage and terror.”

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

(13) GENTLEFEN, BE SORTED. Want to be enrolled in the North American wizards’ school? Potterverse will run you through the process.

“Ilvermony House: Thunderbird”

Named by Chadwick Boot after his favourite magical beast, the Thunderbird, a beast that can create storms as it flies. Thunderbird house is sometimes considered to represent the soul of a witch or wizard. It is also said that Thunderbird favours adventurers.

(14) LINEAGE UNLOCKED. A recent episode of Game of Thrones inspired Adam Whitehead to draw conclusions about Jon Snow — “When Theories Are Confirmed: Twenty Years of Speculation”.

BEWARE SPOILERS. OR AT LEAST SPECULATIVE ATTEMPTS AT SPOILERS.

However, its status as the biggest mystery in fantasy had already long been supplanted. In 1996 George R.R. Martin published the first novel in A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones. A minor subplot revolves around the status of Eddard Stark’s bastard son, Jon Snow, born out of wedlock to Eddard and…well, someone. His wife, Catelyn, believes it was a Dornish noblewoman, Ashara Dayne of Starfall. Eddard himself has told King Robert Baratheon – incredibly reluctantly – that it was a serving girl named Wylla. In A Storm of Swords the young lord of Starfall, Edric Dayne, also confirms (to Arya Stark) that it was Wylla, who was his wetnurse.

(15) NONE DARE CALL IT SLASH. NPR found there is plenty of fan fiction online about the 2016 candidates, Bernie, Donald, and others now out of the running.

In another story, written in the style of a Western, Jeb Bush fights to protect a Florida school from a Sharknado.

“You think ‘it can happen anywhere,’ never realizing that it can happen anywhere.

A SHOT —

The shard of glass in Jeb’s hand shatters by the scrape of a bullet. Jeb drops the ground, rolls through the booze-soaked ground. He jumps up to a squat and whips out the old pistol and holds it to the bullet hole in the doorway. The engraved barrel shimmers: Gov. Jeb Bush.

Florida hasn’t been safe since the Sharknados started coming. When I was in my 40s, the kids used to tease about the swamp sharks. Gave me the heebie-jeebies over a plague of mutant sea creatures that roamed the Everglades.”

In the 2016 presidential cycle, where everything seems unpredictable, fiction allows voters to determine exactly what happens next – whether it’s set in the present day or some kind of alternate universe where sharks rain down in a natural disaster.

(16) WHEN TWO FANTASISTS MET. Walt Disney and Roald Dahl hung out together in 1942 – who knew?

More than a decade before Walt Disney welcomed guests into his land of fantasy and two decades before author Roald Dahl penned his excursion into The BFG’s cave and Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, these two creative legends crossed paths in 1942 when The Walt Disney Studios optioned Dahl’s first book, The Gremlins, for an animated feature. With Disney’s The BFG coming to theaters on July 1, D23 takes a look at the connection between these two creative visionaries.

The Gremlins was fashioned from stories told by English airmen who attributed equipment failures and other mishaps to mischievous little saboteurs. From these tales, Dahl—then a Flight Lieutenant for the Royal Air Force—created a story and specific characters for his book.

(17) LACKING CHARACTERS. In an “Uninvent This” feature for The New Yorker, Ted Chiang contemplated “If Chinese Were Phonetic”.

So let’s imagine a world in which Chinese characters were never invented in the first place. Given such a void, the alphabet might have spread east from India in a way that it couldn’t in our history, but, to keep this from being an Indo-Eurocentric thought experiment, let’s suppose that the ancient Chinese invented their own phonetic system of writing, something like the modern Bopomofo, some thirty-two hundred years ago. What might the consequences be? Increased literacy is the most obvious one, and easier adoption of modern technologies is another. But allow me to speculate about one other possible effect.

One of the virtues claimed for Chinese characters is that they make it easy to read works written thousands of years ago. The ease of reading classical Chinese has been significantly overstated, but, to the extent that ancient texts remain understandable, I suspect it’s due to the fact that Chinese characters aren’t phonetic. Pronunciation changes over the centuries, and when you write with an alphabet spellings eventually adapt to follow suit. (Consider the differences between “Beowulf,” “The Canterbury Tales,” and “Hamlet.”) Classical Chinese remains readable precisely because the characters are immune to the vagaries of sound. So if ancient Chinese manuscripts had been written with phonetic symbols, they’d become harder to decipher over time.

Chinese culture is notorious for the value it places on tradition. It would be reductive to claim that this is entirely a result of the readability of classical Chinese, but I think it’s reasonable to propose that there is some influence. Imagine a world in which written English had changed so little that works of “Beowulf” ’s era remained continuously readable for the past twelve hundred years. I could easily believe that, in such a world, contemporary English culture would retain more Anglo-Saxon values than it does now. So it seems plausible that in this counterfactual history I’m positing, a world in which the intelligibility of Chinese texts erodes under the currents of phonological change, Chinese culture might not be so rooted in the past. Perhaps China would have evolved more throughout the millennia and exhibited less resistance to new ideas. Perhaps it would have been better equipped to deal with modernity in ways completely unrelated to an improved ability to use telegraphy or computers.

(18) STRONG LURE. At BookRiot, Derek Attig feels there’s no need to bait the hook when what you’re offering is as irresistible as “100 Must-Read Books about Libraries & Bookstores”.

I’m not even sure why I’m writing an introduction to this list. It’s a hundred books about libraries and bookstores! That should sell itself.

But sure. Fine. I’ll make the pitch.

Books are a crucial part of our lives (especially yours, since here you are being a great big nerd on Book Riot), but I think we don’t always pay enough attention to the institutions that get those books into our grubby, greedy little hands. Sure, we’ll bicker about Amazon sometimes or squee over a bookmobile, but how much time do we take to really explore and think about what libraries and bookstores really mean?

Not enough!

(19) SORRY ABOUT THAT. Godzilla and fellow monsters apologized at a Japanese press conference for acts of destruction. Why, yes, it’s another scheme to sell toys – how did you guess?

The world of gachapon vending machine capsule toys just got even weirder with a new lineup of figurines from top Japanese toy producer Bandai. Called the “Godzilla Toho Monsters Press Conference”, the series depicts Godzilla, along with three other kaiju monsters from the acclaimed movie production and distribution company Toho, all appearing at fictional press conferences, complete with microphone stand and name plaque. These types of formal apologies are commonly seen on television news reports around Japan, in cases where high-profile politicians and celebrities formally atone for scandals and wrongdoings, expressing remorse to the public with deep, heartfelt bows. Only this time, it’s a group of well-known movie monsters making amends for their actions.

Godzilla apologizes

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Paul Weimer, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peter J.]

Pixel Scroll 7/1/16 I Have No Mouse And I Must Fafhrd

(1) A BOOK OWNER’S LIFE. Locus Online’s Mark R. Kelly writes a personal blog, and his newest post is a memoir, “15 Ways of Buying a Book, Part 1”.

Way #1:

The first books of my own, that I bought with my own money and at my own selection, were purchased through a classroom Scholastic Books catalog, in the 6th grade, that is, in 1966-1967. My family lived in Reseda, California, and I attended Vanalden Elementary School, a few blocks from our home. The school was a set of bungalows, separate structures holding two classrooms each, raised off the ground with a crawl-space below and a short set of steps up to the classroom door. A few times a year, pamphlet catalogs were passed out to all the students, listing a selection of titles and prices. We would take the catalogs home, consult with our parents, then return order forms to class with appropriate payment. The books cost 35 or 50 cents each. They were typically special Scholastic editions, short little paperbacks the size of old Ace Doubles, or larger thinner paperbacks for nonfiction. Everyone’s orders would be consolidated into a single order for the classroom, mailed in, and three or four weeks later, a big box would arrive in class and the selections eagerly distributed. (You can imagine: the box would have three copies of this book; five of these; one of this…)

Always being rather obsessive about keeping lists, I have maintained detailed purchase (and reading) records since I was 15 years old (on sheets of paper, later copied to logbooks, later copied to databases), and at some point reconstructed such lists from before that age. So I know exactly which books I bought when.

The three I remember from this 6th grade classroom source, and still have, are Martin Gardner’s Science Puzzlers, Isaac Asimov’s Environments Out There, and Howard Pease’ Mystery at Thunderbolt House. The Gardner likely reflected my interest in puzzles from that Things to Make and Things to Do volume I’ve described in that earlier post; the Asimov, a thin book about the solar system, from my recently discovered interest in astronomy. (My first interest in astronomy was seeing a stack of textbooks, called A Dipper Full of Stars, in a cabinet in my 6th grade classroom, and asking to borrow one. I’ve alluded to this in previous posts.)

(2) FINDING WAYS TO DONATE. Here’s a signal boost for JJ’s answer in comments to Tasha Turner’s wish for “a nationwide and worldwide Internet place to go and see places in need.”

One of the commenters on Greta’s blog linked to this:

DonorsChoose.org. Support a classroom. Build a future. Teachers all over the U.S. need your help to bring their classroom dreams to life. Choose a project that inspires you and give any amount.

search by science fiction

You can also search for projects in the highest poverty areas, nearest to being completed, closest to the deadline date, a specific age/grade range, or projects in or near your current location or your hometown.

(3) UNKNOWN CHRISTMAS COMPANION. ScreenRant says who is a mystery: “Doctor Who 2016 Christmas Special Features ‘Different Guest Companion’”.

Though his newest companion, Bill (played by newcomer Pearl Mackie) has already been introduced, speaking to Doctor Who Magazine, Moffatt has confirmed that her debut will be at the start of Season 10 in 2017, and the Doctor will have a different guest companion for the Christmas Special:

“We’ll introduce [Bill] in the first episode of 2017, and she’ll run through that series. She’ll not be in Christmas [2016], because that would blow the series launch … So there’ll be somebody else – a different, guest companion – this Christmas, like how River Song played the companion role in last year’s Special.”

Of course, this now leads everyone to wonder who might join Capaldi in the TARDIS.

(4) EXEC COMMENTS ON TREK FAN FILM GUIDELINES. Axamonitor has a thorough article covering what a CBS representative has said about interpreting the new guidelines.

John Van Citters, CBS vice president of product development for CBS Consumer Products appeared on the hour-long program, Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast, which was released June 28, to explain the studios’ intent behind the guidelines, why they’re guidelines instead of rules and to clarify some of the guidelines’ specific restrictions regarding run-times, audio dramas, props and costumes…..

An Arms Race

AXANAR MEETING Van Citters was one of two CBS officials who met with Axanar producer Alec Peters in August 2015, followed by a warning of possible legal action.

Van Citters observed that fan productions had spiraled into something “larger and larger,” that had become “something of an arms race about how many Hollywood names could be attached. … That’s not really in the spirit of fan fiction.”

The guidelines, by prohibiting that kind of competition for involving industry professionals, level the playing field for newer and smaller fan productions, he added.

Not the End of Fan Films

Van Citters disputed some characterizations of the guidelines as a means to end fan films. Instead, he said they mark the first time a major copyright holder has ever given any guidelines for unfettered use of a major piece of its intellectual property with just guidelines.

He noted that while the guidelines’ restrictions may seem counterintuitive, they are meant to protect fan films for the long term, and to “cure some abuses that have been out there, and to refocus this around the fan experience … and around creating more stories rather than this kind of arms race about talent and fundraising.”

(5) PACKING IRON. Richard Foss is quoted in KCET’s story about “The Culinary Historians of Southern California”.

With the Cook Bear as their mascot–the only other place he has appeared is in the Pan-Pacific Cookbook published in 1915–CHSC keeps to their mission statement, “Dedicated to pursuing food history and supporting culinary collections at the Los Angeles Public Library”, by taking the money raised from membership dues ($30 a year), fundraising dinners and regular cookbook sales (typically after the events) and giving it to the library. To date the group has donated over $100,000…..

Special Events Chair Richard Foss, who also lectures regularly on a variety of food history topics, sees interest in the subject growing. “The Culinary Historians of Southern California is a club for anyone with any level of interest in food and food history,” said Foss, a journalist, food historian, and author of two books, “Rum: A Global History” and “Food in The Air and Space: The Surprising History of Food and Drink in the Skies”. “It’s as much about anthropology as it is about history and it’s really about food as a transmittor of cultural values.”

 

Richard Foss, a CHSC Board Member, demonstrates how to use an antique waffle iron during a talk on dining in California during the Victorian era at the Workman-Temple Homestead Museum in the City of Industry earlier this year. || Image provided by Richard Foss

Richard Foss, a CHSC Board Member, demonstrates how to use an antique waffle iron during a talk on dining in California during the Victorian era at the Workman-Temple Homestead Museum in the City of Industry earlier this year. || Image provided by Richard Foss

(6) HOWARD AWARDS. Black Gate has the winners of the 2016 Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards, announced in June at the REH Days celebration in Cross Plains, Texas.

(7) COSTUMERS AHOY! Costume-Con 36 (2018) in San Diego has picked its hotel and set a date. The con will take place May 11-14, 2018 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Mission Valley. The hotel is adjacent to the Hazard Center Mall (which offers several restaurant options) and it is across the street from the San Diego Trolley.

(8) TOLKIEN AT WAR. On the anniversary of the first day of the Somme, Joseph Loconte muses about “How J.R.R. Tolkien Found Mordor on the Western Front”. Loconte’s book A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918 was released a year ago.

IN the summer of 1916, a young Oxford academic embarked for France as a second lieutenant in the British Expeditionary Force. The Great War, as World War I was known, was only half-done, but already its industrial carnage had no parallel in European history.

“Junior officers were being killed off, a dozen a minute,” recalled J. R. R. Tolkien. “Parting from my wife,” he wrote, doubting that he would survive the trenches, “was like a death.”

The 24-year-old Tolkien arrived in time to take part in the Battle of the Somme, a campaign intended to break the stalemate between the Allies and Central Powers. It did not.

The first day of the battle, July 1, produced a frenzy of bloodletting. Unaware that its artillery had failed to obliterate the German dugouts, the British Army rushed to slaughter.

Before nightfall, 19,240 British soldiers — Prime Minister David Lloyd George called them “the choicest and best of our young manhood” — lay dead. That day, 100 years ago, remains the most lethal in Britain’s military history.

Though the debt is largely overlooked, Tolkien’s supreme literary achievement, “The Lord of the Rings,” owes a great deal to his experience at the Somme. Reaching the front shortly after the offensive began, Tolkien served for four months as a battalion signals officer with the 11th Lancashire Fusiliers in the Picardy region of France.

(9) TRACKING MALZBERG’S COLUMN. Mike Resnick wanted to be sure I understood what really happened:

I’m told that File 770 ran a piece saying that Galaxy’s Edge, the magazine I edit, had pulled Malzberg’s column on Judy Merril due to protests. Nope. We pulled the entire May-June issue in which it appeared at the end of June 30, so we could post the July-August issue on our web page on July 1 (today). This has been our practice since the first issue, 4 years ago. Anyone who wants to read the May-June 2016 issue (#20) is welcome to buy it in epub, .mobi, or paper. Honest.

Thanks to a commenter here, I had already posted the correction by the time Mike reached out to me on Facebook. However, I’m happy to repeat the explanation and clear up the impression created by yesterday’s report.

(10) MALZBERG READERS. Today there were more reactions what Barry Malzberg said about Judith Merril in Galaxy’s Edge.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • July 1, 1899 – Charles Laughton. When Ray Bradbury went to Disneyland for the first time it was with Captain Bligh and the Hunchback and Doctor Moreau. Bradbury also originally wrote the play “Merry Christmas 2116” as a vehicle for Laughton and Elsa Lanchester.

(12) SEARCHING FOR FANNISH MUSICAL LYRICS. Rob Chilson left a comment in the About area asking for help.

I wonder if you or your readers can help me.

40 years less 2 months ago, at MidAmeriCon, I sat in on a reading of a musical version of “The Enchanted Duplicator” — my intro to the classic. It was MCed by Filthy Pierre (Erwin Strauss) who if I recall correctly adapted it to the stage. The others sang the songs and I mumbled along low enough not to disturb them. I’ve now spent a couple of hours on the net looking for one song that started: “Roscoe gave fan an arm of iron to help him pub his zine” and had the chorus, “But for a quarter or a loc, somebody else cranks the damn machine. For a quarter or a loc, a quarter or a loc. A quarter or a three-line ell-oh-cee.” Or words to that effect.

Can anyone point me at the lyrics?

One thought — is there anything like this in “The Mimeo Man”, which dates to that era?

(13) AT LIS CAREY’S LIBRARY. Posted the other day, Lis Carey’s review of an audio version of the Hugo-nominated novella: “Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor (author), Robin Miles (narrator)”.

….Except that Binti has won a scholarship to Oomza University, a very distinguished school–and on another planet. Her family is shocked at the very idea that Binti would actually accept it and go–but their dreams are not her dreams, and she does. And on her way there, the ship she’s on is attacked and boarded by the Meduze, an alien species that has a very real and serious grievance against Oomza University…..

(14) ANTICIPATION? A writer for the Huffington Post contends “A Dystopian Novelist Predicted Trump’s Campaign Slogan in the ‘90s”.

….Whatever the case, it seems sci-fi writer and unofficial Queen of the Galaxy Octavia Butler predicted the slogan a couple of decades ago. Nearly 20 years before Trump trademarked the term, she wrote about a character named Senator Andrew Steele Jarret, a harbinger for violence in her 1998 book Parable of the Talents.

You can see an excerpt outlining Jarret’s use of the phrase “make American great again” below:

(15) ILVERMORNY INK. It wasn’t only Elizabeth Warren having fun, says Entertainment Weekly — “J. K. Rowling’s Ilvermorny inspires excellent jokes from Massachusetts’ government officials”

Later, Governor Charlie Baker’s office even gave a good-natured statement to The Boston Globe about Ilvermorny, which has supposedly resided on Mount Greylock for hundreds of years without detection.

“The governor believes that small businesses are the backbone of the economy whether they are owned by witches or mortals, and because the institution has operated for nearly 400 years without incident, the administration plans to revisit the matter sometime in the next century or two,” Baker’s office told the paper in a statement. “The Department of Revenue’s spell-detecting technology procurement will be in its final stages at that time.”

The Boston Globe also talked to John Dudek, manager of Mount Greylock State Reservation’s Bascom Lodge, who said that the mountain’s weather does sometimes create a supernatural effect.

“It’s a little bit like The Shining here when you’re alone at night,” Dudek said. “There are days when we’re just locked in clouds and you can’t see anything.”

(16) WHAT IT MEANS TO GROW. Bishop O’Connell writes about “Growing as a Writer, and as a Person” at A Quiet Pint.

Yes, I’ve improved as a writer, but for me, being a better writer is inextricably tied to being a better person. Unfortunately, growth and improvement is never a singular, instantaneous event. It happens over a long period of time, sometimes so slow that, like the proverbial frog in the pot of slowly warming water, it goes entirely unnoticed until you have some context. When it happens, it can be embarrassing (see above, and we’re still not talking about it) but mostly it’s wonderful to see, clearly and starkly, just how much progress has been made. In this post I talked about how much I learned about the tropes and stereotypes I’d blindly fallen into and how I work to rise above them. I say work not achieved, because I still have a long way to go. This fact was brought into harsh relief as I was editing The Returned.

(17) 48 HOURS. Here’s a bulletin of interest from The Onion that should keep parents everywhere concerned: “Investigators: First 48 Hours Most Critical In Locating Missing Children Who Entered Portal To Fantastical World”.

“As soon as we learn a child has disappeared down a pool of light underneath their staircase or through a strangely shaped attic door they had never before noticed, we must act fast to assemble search parties and cover as much enchanted territory as possible,” said investigator Joe Phillippe, who urged parents to contact authorities immediately if they believed their child had passed into a gleaming world of crystal palaces or been transported back in time to the age of King Arthur. “If they’re not found within that critical 48-hour window, children typically become disoriented in the thick fog and dense forest of a land where it’s always night, or they’re led astray by a well-dressed fox who promises to take them to a place where kids can play all varieties of games. At that point, they become almost impossible to locate.”

[Thanks to Rose Embolism, Cat Rambo, Steve Davidson, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 6/30/16 Here Come Old Pixel, He Come Scrollin’ Up Slowly

(1) DUCK! Science News explains, “Asteroid Day is a chance to learn about space and plan for disaster”.

Asteroid enthusiasts, rejoice! Thursday, June 30 is your day to remind the world that humankind is just one impact with a space rock away from annihilation (or, at the least, a very bad day)….

The date coincides with the anniversary of the most powerful impact in recorded history, when a roughly 40-meter-wide asteroid crashed near Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908….

(2) GIVING ANTIQUITY A CHANCE. In the second installment of Young People Read Old SF, James Davis Nicoll’s recruits share their reactions to A Martian Odyssey.

Stanley G. Weinbaum’s 1934 debut, “A Martian Odyssey,” is the second of the two short stories I have selected to represent the science fiction of the 1930s.

Weinbaum is one of the earliest hard SF writers, someone whose stories were shaped by what was then known (or guessed) of the other worlds of our solar system. Weinbaum’s stories are little known and little read these days, in part because his career was so short: eighteen months from the publication of his first science fiction story to his death.

Jamie, for example, has this to say:

What quaint ideas about “atomic blasts” and the medicinal benefits of hard radiation. Writers of SF in the deep past were much more free to be optimistic about new scientific discoveries. Nowadays every new advance is going to cause at least as many problems as it solves, and the unexpected downsides are what drive the plots. This story is just happy to be exploring a crazy new planet and all it’s crazy improbable life forms, held down by only the lightest of plots. Old fashioned optimism about progress, I suppose

(3) MADE YOU CLICK. Barry Malzberg, in a new Galaxy’s Edge column, says for Judith Merril, “There Is No Defense”. You know, it’s not every day you see someone literally say a woman destroyed sf.

Merril, before she gave up anthologies, criticism, and citizenship to expatriate herself to Canada in 1968, was made desperate by the unending, irretrievable, uncorrectable stupidity and murderousness of Vietnam. She had been on an increasingly evident, now unapologetic campaign to destroy science fiction.

She knew it: the campaign was purposeful. In her story introduction to Bob Shaw’s “Light of Other Days” in her final volume, she conceded that the excellence and rigor of the story called her back to an earlier time when she had been entranced by such work and her own desire to  replicate. But that story introduction was half or three-quarters an apology: its appearance in Best SF, its very quality, were an implicit rebuke to the scattered, unfocused, false literary emptiness which had come to occupy most of the anthology. Meanwhile, she was writing savage reviews in Fantasy& Science Fiction, reviews as savage as those of Alfred Bester’s half a decade earlier which had created a good deal of foul karma and eventually got him fired.

Malzberg argues she was intentionally trying to destroy sf. I read Merril’s anthologies as they came out, and there were so many new and completing voices in the Sixties that it made sf a pretty robust literary form. Pulp writers and experimental New Wave authors were all getting published, which forces me to ask — If sf couldn’t be destroyed by bad writing, how could it be destroyed by good writing?

[Note:  The column about Merril has been pulled back since earlier today. What was posted can still be seen via Google Cache — at least for now.  I subsequently learned this was an effect of an ordinary transition from one online issue to the next. The Merril column is available at The Wayback Machine. So I have linked to that.]

(4) CONVENTION IN LISBON. The Portuguese SF convention Fórum Fantástico will take place in Lisbon from September 23-25 at the Biblioteca Municipal Orlando Ribeiro. Curator Rogerio Ribeiro is organizing the event. No registration needed, no entry fee.

Forum Fantastico

(5) JOE SHERRY. At Nerds of a Feather, Joe Sherry’s analysis of his Hugo ballot moves on to the Best Fanzine category. First place goes to:

Lady Business: Lady Business is smart, incisive, and should be considered a required stop for anyone who wants to read more about genre. It is one of my must read blogs and I don’t have many of those anymore. When I talk about fanzines, this is what I mean. If you’re not too familiar with what Lady Business is all about or where to start, take a look at this post. The editors at Lady Business comment on media, generally SFF media, with “an intersectional feminist perspective”.  Whether they are reviewing books, video games, or recapping Xena: The Warrior Princess, Lady Business is always worth reading and is consistently one of my favorite blogs. You’d think that I would have more to say, but all I want to do is wave my arm, point, and mumble “Lady Business – Awesome – Read” and try not to be awkward about it.

(6) SHORT FICTION NOMINEES. Jonathan Edelstein unpacks his Hugo ballot for novelette and short story.

The two categories are a study in contrasting quality. Despite the second year of Rabid Puppy interference (I still can’t believe I just wrote that), the novelette shortlist is quite credible. Folding Beijing is easily one of the best stories of 2015 and would no doubt have made it onto the ballot without Theodore Beale’s help. And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead belongs on the ballot too – yeah, gratuitous foul language and dated cyberpunk plot, but it’s a hell of a story. Obits isn’t Stephen King’s best work, but even bad King is better than most of what’s out there. Even the two Castalia entries aren’t terrible – What Price Humanity is a tightly written and suspenseful story of war veterans being trained in virtual reality for one last mission, and Flashpoint Titan is no worse than ordinary missile porn. Granted, in a year where the eligible works included Ian McDonald’s Botanica Veneris and Rose Lemberg’s Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds, I’m sorry to see the Castalia stories there instead, but the top of the shortlist is very good indeed and none of it is bad enough to get No Awarded.

The short stories, on the other hand, piss me off.

(7) NOVELLA NOMINEES. Doctor Science’s current post at Obsidian Wings is “Wednesday Reading including Hugo Novella nominees. All re-posts from File 770 comments, but collated.

Penric’s Demon by Lois Bujold. This is another one where the treatment of sexuality confuses me. I think I can say, without major spoilers, that the basic plot is the trope known as “Sharing a Body”, and in this case the body-owner is a young man, while the passenger turns out to be, essentially, n pbafbegvhz bs gjryir jbzra.

Now, I’m used to seeing this trope in fanfiction, where I would expect the story to be heavily focused on issues of sexuality, gender, and the characters’ feelings about bodies. At first I thought Bujold was heading there, but then she sort of veered off to Plot-land, before the POV character had done more than guvax nobhg znfgheongvat. I was left feeling rather wrong-footed, and only sort of interested in the Plot. In sum: for me it was a good enough story, but rather bizarrely incomplete.

(8) GONE VIRAL. Jeremiah Tolbert relives “My Short Time as a Viral Hit Maker”.

On June 23rd, as the results from the British EU Referendum or “Brexit” began to come in, it was clear that the Leave vote was ahead.  Once the lead solidified and the BBC called the result, the Pound Sterling began to tank. The mood on Twitter turned grim.  I had an IM window with Nick Mamatas open at the time.  Sparked by I’m not sure what, I shared the notion that I might Photoshop the big reveal at the end of Planet of the Apes and replace the Statue of Liberty with Big Ben.  Nick said, paraphrasing, “DO IT.”  Not the most original joke I’ve ever come up with, but I’m fairly proficient with photo-editing, so I got to work….

I sent the image over to Nick, and before I could tweet it out myself, he tweeted the image along with credit:

Nick sending it out turned out to be the ticket to success for it, because it spread the image far faster and wider than my own followers list would have. Within seconds, the retweets began.  Early on, Cory Doctorow retweeted it. By the time I went to bed just after midnight, the tweet had over a thousand retweets and showed no sign of slowing down as morning came in the UK….

(9) NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION. CNN Money asks “Should robots have to pay taxes?”

If robots are going to steal human jobs and otherwise disrupt society, they should at the very least pay taxes.

That’s the takeaway from a draft report on robotics produced by the European Parliament, which warns that artificial intelligence and increased automation present legal and ethical challenges that could have dire consequences.

“Within the space of a few decades [artificial intelligence] could surpass human intellectual capacity in a manner which, if not prepared for, could pose a challenge to humanity’s capacity to control its own creation and … the survival of the species,” the draft states.

The report offers a series of recommendations to prepare Europe for this advanced breed of robot, which it says now “seem poised to unleash a new industrial revolution.”

The proposal suggests that robots should have to register with authorities, and says laws should be written to hold machines liable for damage they cause, such as loss of jobs. Contact between humans and robots should be regulated, with a special emphasis “given to human safety, privacy, integrity, dignity and autonomy.”

(10) MERINGUE PIE MUSEUM. John Kass cuts loose in the Chicago Tribune: “George ‘Star Wars’ Lucas releases the mayor’s mind and not a moment too soon”.

Somehow, the immortal words of little old Yoda finally got through to his creator, George Lucas:

Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.

So Lucas let go.

He let go of that ridiculous meringue pie of a museum he wanted to plop on Chicago’s lakefront.

And he let go of the mind of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, so that it was free once more to try running a city that is drowning in red ink and violence.

Unfortunately, Rahm and Lucas didn’t just hush up and go away. Instead, they whined and stamped their feet and complained (in prepared statements) and blamed everything on Friends of the Parks.

But Friends of the Parks did what it’s supposed to do: Stand up for the people of Chicago, to protect the lakefront, because the lakefront doesn’t belong to Hollywood moguls or their political footmen.

I said it a few days ago in the column on Lucas holding Rahm’s mind in thrall with some Jedi trick, and I should say it again.

Rich people have their country clubs and their estates and their private jets to take them away. But the lakefront is the country club for the people. It’s where working people go to take themselves away.

(11) TOFFLER OBIT. “Alvin Toffler, Author of ‘Future Shock,’ Dies at 87”  reports the New York Times.

Mr. Toffler was a self-trained social science scholar and successful freelance magazine writer in the mid-1960s when he decided to spend five years studying the underlying causes of a cultural upheaval that he saw overtaking the United States and other developed countries.

The fruit of his research, “Future Shock” (1970), sold millions of copies and was translated into dozens of languages, catapulting Mr. Toffler to international fame. It is still in print.

In the book, in which he synthesized disparate facts from every corner of the globe, he concluded that the convergence of science, capital and communications was producing such swift change that it was creating an entirely new kind of society.

His predictions about the consequences to culture, the family, government and the economy were remarkably accurate. He foresaw the development of cloning, the popularity and influence of personal computers and the invention of the internet, cable television and telecommuting.

(12) PROPHET OBIT. SF Site News brings word that 1959 Worldcon co-chair Fred Prophet (1929-2016) passed away June 29.

Fred served as the co-chair, with Roger Sims, of the Detention, the 1959 Worldcon in Detroit. He and Roger were appointed Conchairs Emeritus at Detcon1, the 2014 NASFiC, which both men were able to attend. Prior to the Detention, Prophet was active in the Detroit Science Fiction League and Michigan Science Fantasy Society (MISFITS) after attending his first convention,The Eleventh World Science Fiction Convention, in 1953.

(13) MANTEC OBIT. Maurice George Dantec (1959-2016), a French naturalised Canadian science fiction writer and musician, died June 25 in Montreal reports Europa SF.

Dantec’s first novel, La Sirène rouge (“The Red Siren”), was published in 1993 and won the 813 Award for best crime novel. His second novel, Les Racines du mal (“The Roots of Evil”, 1995), had a cyberpunk affinity and was awarded the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire and Prix Rosny-aîné.

Dantec’s Babylon Babies was adapted for the screen under the direction of Mathieu Kassovitz as Babylon A.D. (2008), starrring Vin Diesel.

babylon-ad-poster

(14) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 30, 1905 — Albert Einstein introduced his theory of relativity in his publication, On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies.
  • June 30, 1974 — The July 4th scene from the Steven Spielberg movie Jaws was filmed at Martha’s Vineyard.

(15) THIS IS MY DUBIOUS LOOK. David Russell Mosley, in “The Magician’s Fairy Godmother: A Follow Up to Are there Elves in C.S. Lewis?”, says the answer is yes.

The other day, I wrote a post attempting to answer the question, “are there elves in the works of C. S. Lewis.” As I noted in the original post, the idea came from a discussion on Facebook where the asker was particularly interested in the elvish absence in the Chronicles of Narnia. Well, two nights ago I was reading The Magician’s Nephew when I came across this passage I had forgotten:

“‘For my [Uncle Andrew] godmother [a certain Mrs. Lefay] was a very remarkable woman. The truth is, she was one of the last mortals in this country who had fairy blood in her. (She said there had been two others in her time. One was a duchess and the other was a charwoman.) In fact, Digory, you are now talking to the last man (possibly) who really had a fairy godmother’” (The Magician’s Nephew, 21).

There it was, an elf (for we should keep in mind that fairy and elf are, linguistically at least, interchangeable), or really three partial elves in the Chronicles of Narnia.

(16) YOU’RE QUITE A CHARACTER. Austin Gilkesen explains “How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book” at The Toast. From a long list of diagnostic tests, here are four examples:

  • A Dark Lord fancies your jewelry.
  • A mountain is out to get you.
  • You had to learn the hard way not to follow the lights in the marsh.
  • Your exhaustive knowledge of whimsical riddles has saved your life on multiple occasions.

(17) FANS WANT TO KNOW. Do the houses in Ilvermorny correspond to those at Hogwarts? J.K. Rowling says no.

“There is no equivalence between Hogwarts and Ilvermorny houses,” Rowling wrote when a fan asked if Wampus was equivalent to Hogwarts’ Hufflepuff. “But don’t diss Hufflepuff!”

(18) YEARS OF EXPERIENCE. Entertainment Weekly spotted the tweet — “Elizabeth Warren offers to teach at J.K. Rowling’s North American wizarding school”.

(19) FINNCON. Catherynne Valente issued ecstatic tweets about breakfast at a Finnish convention hotel.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/28/16 The Right To Scroll Pixels Is The Right to Be Free

(1) LEARNING SPACE. Steve Davidson has a fine interview with Jim C. Hines about the Launch Pad Academy Workshop.

Steve Davidson for Amazing Stories Magazine: How did you hear about the Launch Pad Workshop?

Jim C. Hines: I heard about it years ago online — I think it might have been the Speculations writing boards, back when it was still active. At the time, I didn’t feel qualified to apply, in part because I was only writing fantasy.

But I kept an eye on how it was going from year to year, as well as the comments and reports from other attendees.

ASM:  Was it a program you always wanted to participate in or was your interest piqued when you learned about it?

JCH: I’ve been interested in attending ever since I heard about the program, but there was the combination of needing to be able to leave for a week without causing difficulties with work or at home, and having a project where I thought the knowledge would be useful. This year, I’ve started working on my first SF trilogy, and I’d quit my day job last fall, so the timing was perfect.

ASM: How would you describe your familiarity with astronomy, cosmology, etc., prior to attending?

JCH: I think I had some basic foundational knowledge, but most of it wasn’t anything I’d studied in depth. I knew enough to answer most of my kids’ basic questions about space, which astronomical bodies orbit one another, how the seasons work, and so on. And I’d read Douglas Adams, so I knew space was big. Really big.

(2) WOMEN IN SF, 1961. At Galactic Journey, in “[June 28, 1961] The Second Sex in SFF, Part IV”, The Traveler issues an invitation to increase our history of the genre:

Come meet six of these lady authors, four of whom are quite new, and two who are veterans in this, Part IV, of The Second Sex in SFF.

The six are Kit Reed, Jane Dixon Rice, Jane Roberts (the only woman invited for the first science-fiction writers conference in Milford, PA – I didn’t know that), Joanna Russ, Evelyn Smith, and Margaret St. Clair.

(3) YOUR HOUSE IN NORTH AMERICA. At Tor.com, Emily Asher-Perrin has scouted Pottermore for the latest additions: “Get Sorted Into Ilvermorny, the American Hogwarts!”

A ton of new information on the North American magic school, Ilvermorny, was just dropped onto Pottermore. But that’s not all! You can now get Sorted into the various Houses (if you have a Pottermore account, so sign on up).

As a reminder, the four Ilvermorny Houses are Horned Serpent, Wampus, Pukwudgie, and Thunderbird! Here is where you go for the Sorting, provided you have a Pottermore account. (I got Horned Serpent, which seems to be the brainy house? Not what I expected.) These Houses don’t break down quite the same way the Hogwarts ones do; instead, they are associated as follows….

 

(4) HOLD THAT TIGER. Lisa Goldstein reviews another Hugo nominee at inferior4 + 1 “Short Story: ‘Seven Kill Tiger’”.

This review contains spoilers.

“Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao is a disturbing story, but maybe not for the reasons the author thinks.  We start with a deeply unpleasant main character, Zhang Zedong, a company man sent from China to Zambia who needs to improve his production numbers and who is prone to thinking things like “Africa would be a glorious place were it not for the Africans.”  “What he needed was more Han people,” he thinks, and the solution he comes up with is to wipe out the native population of Africa using genetic warfare.

(5) BEST FANCAST. Joe Sherry is “Listening to the Hugos: Fancast” for Nerds of a Feather.

Admission of Bias Time: The longer the podcast, the less interested I am in listening to it. 30 minutes is my sweet spot, I’m comfortable up to an hour, and the farther a podcast goes past an hour the less interested I become, even when the topic and conversation is interesting. Most of the episodes of 8-4 Play run over 90 minutes, with a not insignificant number running over 120 minutes.

8-4 Play did not include links to recommended episodes, so I pulled one from 2015 that was focusing on some video games I was interested in (Zelda and Dragon Quest). 30 minutes later, I was done. 8-4 Play is a video game focused podcast, and it took way too long for the hosts to actually start talking about the games. The opening seemed more focused on refreshing each other what they’ve been up to than moving on to the games. Now, first main section on one guy’s Retro Collection was okay (and I love me some old school games) and they were only just moving into Fallout 4 by the time I gave up on the podcast, so maybe there is solid game talk and a reason why I should consider listening to 8-4 Play in the future, but this particular episode is more than two hours long and that’s really tough for me to overcome, and given that for this particular episode the hosts took waaaaaay too long getting to the meat, I won’t be coming back to it. Perhaps I selected the wrong episode and perhaps I should have skipped forward to the 38 minute mark, but perhaps this podcast is simply not for me. Pass.

(6) OBAMA’S TAKE ON STAR WARS. In the series “Conversations With Tyler,”  Tyler Cowen interviews Cass Sunstein about his Star Wars book. The Star Wars geekery begins at about 18:00 and continues to about 40:00, and all of the audience questions are about Star Wars. (There’s also a full text transcript available.) Many examples of the public policy ramifications of Star Wars are discussed, and at one point Sunstein, who served in the Obama administration as chief regulator of the Office of Management and Budget, reveals that he asked President Obama about which Star Wars movie was his favorite and argued with his boss that The Empire Strikes Back was better than A New Hope.

(7) WEDDING. Congratulations to Becky Thomson and Tom Veal, who married on June 25 in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

(8) KYRA IS BACK. Mini-reviews from Kyra today:

Airplane read #1: In the Time of Dragon Moon, by Janet Lee Carey (here)

Airplane read #2: The Wrath & The Dawn, by Renee Ahdieh (here)

Airplane read #3: Kingfisher, by Patricia McKillip (here)

Airplane Read #4: I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson (here)

Airplane Read #5: A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend, by Emily Horner (not SFF) (here)

Airplane Read #6 (last one!): Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, by Elizabeth Moon (here)

(9) ENTERPRISE DUE TO LEAVE DRYDOCK. NPR has a progress report: “Smithsonian Sets Phasers To Restore On Original Starship Enterprise”.

Sorry to disappoint Trekkies who still believe, but the actual USS Enterprise did not really take up much space.

That famous starship of Mr. Spock and Capt. James Tiberius Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series — which turns 50 this year — was a model. Quite a large one, to be fair: 11 feet long and about 200 lbs., made out of blow-molded plastic and wood. But not life-sized.

And for more than a decade, it hung in the gift shop of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C.

“From a conservator’s standpoint, that is probably one of the worst places to put an artifact,” says Malcolm Collum, the chief conservator of the National Air and Space Museum….

On Tues., June 28, the USS Enterprise will reach its final frontier beside other famous and historical aircraft in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • June 28, 1926 – Mel Brooks. He’d like to make Spaceballs 2.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • June 28, 1979 — Felicia Day

(12) THE ACTOR IS IN. At the invitation of Samantha Bee (Full Frontal), “David Tennant Unleashes His Inner Time Lord On Donald Trump”

The “Full Frontal“ host called on Scottish actor David Tennant to read a series of anti-Trump tweets that his fellow countrymen posted after the real estate magnate erroneously said they were “going wild“ for Brexit.

In contrast to the United Kingdom as a whole, the majority of Scots actually voted to remain inside the European Union.

By proxy, “Jessica Jones“ star Tennant called Trump a “wiggy slice,” “weapons-grade plum” and “ludicrous tangerine ball bag” in the segment that aired Monday.

 

(13) HOWARD DAYS. Keith West delivers a “Report on Howard Days 2016” at Adventures Fantastic.

Howard Days has grown, something that was emphasized since this year marked the 30th anniversary of the first Howard Days.  While things officially don’t start until Friday, people are showing up on Wednesday evenings.  Space is becoming a consideration, with events this year moved from the library to the high school auditorium or the Senior Center across the street from the library.  There were a number of new attendees, which is always a healthy thing for an event, and I’m not referring the 10,000 or so mosquitoes that showed up.There were multiple anniversaries, such as the first Frazetta cover on a Lancer paperback and both the publication and film version of Novalyne Price Ellis’s memoir, One Who Walked Alone (filmed as The Whole Wide World).

There have been some excellent reports on the 2016 Howard Days, such as this one by Lee Breakiron and this one by David Piske.  Also, Ben Friberg has uploaded Mark Finn’s interview with guest Michael Scott Myers and the boxing panel to YouTube.  I expect there will be more videos coming.  I’ll not repeat what they’ve said, especially since I don’t trust my memory on some of the details and didn’t make some of the panels that they did.  Rather I’ll focus on some personal highlights…..

(14) ENCELADUS. Scientific American discusses why “Excitement Builds for the Possibility of Life on Enceladus”.

Saturn’s frozen moon Enceladus is a tantalizing world—many scientists are increasingly convinced it may be the best place in our solar system to search for life. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, currently orbiting Saturn, has made intriguing observations of icy jets spewing from a suspected underground liquid ocean on the mysterious world that might be hospitable to alien life.

Cassini’s tour is due to wind down in 2017, and scientists badly want to send a dedicated mission to Enceladus to look for signs of life. In fact, some have already started seriously thinking about exactly how they might do this—including planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, who is the imaging team leader for Cassini. Earlier this month, she gathered a group of researchers including oceanographers, organic chemists and astrobiologists at the University of California, Berkeley, to strategize how to search for extraterrestrials on Enceladus—which, according to Porco, “is a total bitch of a problem to solve.”

Although Enceladus is small in size and shrouded in a thick shell of ice, it appears to be a habitable world: It has a source of energy from friction created by its orbit around Saturn, organic compounds that are building blocks for life and a liquid water ocean underneath all that ice. But just because Enceladus may be hospitable to life does not mean life exists there; it will take much more work to definitively prove it.

(15) TEACHING WITH COMICS. San Diego Comic-Con International has teamed up with the San Diego Public Library to host a free four-day “Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians” from July 20-23.

This first-of-its-kind educational conference will take place during Comic-Con, and will explore the role comics play in promoting education and literacy for all ages.

Library professionals and educators are invited to this free event to learn creative and exciting ways to incorporate comics and graphic novels into their work. Through presentations and panel discussions, the conference aims to engage the community, promote comics as a powerful tool for learning, and celebrate the medium as an important literary art form. The Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians is also an opportunity for attendees to connect and dialogue with publishers and industry professionals.

The Conference will be located in the Shiley Special Events Suite on the ninth floor of the San Diego Central Library. Each day of the Conference will have different themes….

The conference is free to attend, but space is limited and registration is required for each day. Comic-Con badge-holders with valid single same-day or four-day badges are welcome to attend and are not required to register. Further details about the Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians will be provided for registrants in the coming weeks.

(16) THE TWINKIE OFFENSE. “The World’s Oldest Twinkie” is has spent 40 years on display at a Maine school.

Bennatti had students buy a package of Twinkies from a nearby store during a 1976 lesson on food additives and shelf life. He placed the Twinkie on the blackboard for the class to observe, and there it remained until Bennatti retired in 2004 and passed custody of the aging snack cake to Rosemeier, who placed it in a case in her office.

(17) HOYT SERIES. Jeb Kinnison has kind words for “Sarah Hoyt’s Through Fire – Darkship Book 4”.

Through Fire, Book 4 in Sarah Hoyt’s Darkship series, came out last month and I bought it immediately, but despite its can’t-put-it-down action, I had to put it down until this week.

It’s a fine entry in the series, plunging us into action on the Seacity Liberté, which unlike the last book in the series I read, A Few Good Men (review here) is dominated by French cultural influences, with the rebellion set in motion in the first scene modeled on the French Revolution and its Terror.

(18) LMB ON SELF-PUBLISHING. At Eight Ladies Writing,“Lois McMaster Bujold Answers Three Questions about Self-Publishing”, now that she’s self-pubbing increasingly large parts of her back-catalog, and her novellas.

LMB: I first had some e-publishing experiences starting in the early 00s with the e-books company Fictionwise (later to be bought out and terminated by B&N.) This was not self-pubbing; they just took my manuscript files, or in some cases made OCR files themselves of my older paper books, did everything else themselves, and sent me checks. (These were the selection of my books whose old contracts predated e-books, hence those rights were still mine.) Their sales were all through their own website. But for one very interesting statement, my Fictionwise backlist e-titles were for sale on or via Amazon, for which the maybe $500-to-$1000-a-quarter they’d been jointly clearing shot up seven-fold, which riveted my attention. But then that went away as mysteriously as it had arrived, for corporate reasons I never discovered….

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, Lisa Goldstein, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 6/26/16 You Oughtta Be In Pixels

(1) A VIKING LOOKS FOR MARTIANS. Joel Achenbach has a piece in the Washington Post about the 40th anniversary of the Mars Viking mission.

They had placed three science experiments on board the Viking 1 lander, each of which would analyze Martian soil for signs of microbes. The lander also featured two cameras, which were life-detection instruments in their own right. A single image might solve the ancient mystery of extraterrestrial life. No one could completely rule out the possibility that a Martian creature might go hopping by.

Sf author Gentry Lee, who said he “spent seven years averaging 60 hours a week on Viking,” is interviewed in depth.  There are also Carl Sagan references; he wanted the Viking landers to have external lights “because Martian creatures might be attracted to it.”

(2) LIMERICK WRITER. On Saturday, Nigel Quinlan was at an event commemorating Irish Gothic and ghost story writer Joseph Sheridan LeFanu’s connection to Co Limerick, where Quinlan grew up. He wrote about it in “Me, Murroe, And LeFanu”.

Quinlan adds, “In the interests of helping pronunciation, the title can be sung to the refrain of ‘Me and you and a dog named Boo.’ There are a lot of images and nostalgia and possibly a mild mid-life crisis.”

From 1856 until his death in 1873 he lived in Merrion Square. I, er, used to eat my lunch in Merrion Square a lot. (I was working In Fred Hanna’s Bookshop on Nassau Street. A brisk hike to get to the Square and back at lunch hour, but worth it.) His reclusive habits and night-owl work hours earned him the nickname ‘The Invisible Prince.’ I don’t think my brisk hiking to the Square and back for my lunch hour earned me a nickname. That I know of….

(3) PROTEST VOTE. So does this imply there will be a Chuxit voting bloc for the Hugos? Well, Chuck can count on J.K. Rowling’s support in any case.

 

(4) FLIPPER. Jim C. Hines continues to experiment with gender-swapping sf/f clichés in “If We Wrote Men Like We Write Women (Part I)” and “If We Wrote Men Like We Write Women (Part II)”. The posts, says Rose Embolism, “take a look at the gendered, and quite frankly creepy way women are often portrayed in classic SF and Fantasy.”

Along the way, Hines sparked a long and vigorous Metafilter conversation with classic comments like this one from “Eyebrows McGee.”

My life will be complete the day that I read in a high fantasy novel — in place of, “She felt her breasts bouncing underneath her tunic as she hurried across the courtyard” or whatever, where a female character spends the whole walk thinking about her own boobs for no reason — a male character walking across a courtyard thinking to himself, “He felt his testicles jostling in his codpiece as he hurried across the courtyard.”

“It must be cooler weather than I realized,” he thought to himself, “they’re awfully small and high up today …”

(5) WHY INDIE AUTHORS AREN’T GETTING RICH. At Mad Genius Club, Fynbospress curates a fascinating collection of graphs and quotes from Data Guy about the May Author Earnings report.

A breakdown on why there aren’t more indie authors making a living:

Americans spend about $15 billion a year on trade books of all formats. After retailers and publishers take their cut, at most $3 billion actually lands in author pockets. Divided up perfectly evenly, that $3 billion could theoretically support 60,000 authors at the $50,000 level…

But instead, it’s getting divided up among at least 1,000,000 authors, if not more… including the estates and heirs of deceased authors. (I can see at least a million author names in our Amazon ebook data and top-selling Amazon print-book data, and that doesn’t even start to include the 32 million(!) lower-selling print book titles listed on Amazon right now, whose sales are too low to be captured in one of our scrapings.).

But lets imagine that there were only a million authors sharing the $3 billion right now. Which is an average of $3,000 each, if it were evenly distributed — but of course, it isn’t evenly distributed. Not even close.

The numbers are eye-opening, however, Fynbospress warns against drawing certain types of conclusions about them:

The fixed-pie fallacy is a fallacy. There is no fixed amount of wealth in the system. Becoming a bestseller will not force someone else off “The List” and into poverty. Indie publishing has no limit to the number of its publishing slots, and publishing your book will never mean that somebody else “can’t get a publishing slot.” Selling a copy of your book to a reader doesn’t mean that somebody else just lost their turn to sell a book.

(6) FILE SEVENTY-FIVE. Ann Patchett’s choices for “The 75 Best Books of the Past 75 Years” for Parade has more sf/f than you might expect. The choices for the 1950s – Bradbury and Asimov, E.B. White and T.H White. For the 1960s – Vonnegut and Madeleine L’Engle. After that the picks seem surprising or highly idiosyncratic.

(7) GAIMAN INTERVIEW. The LA Times’ Tyler Malone talks with “Neil Gaiman on making art, mistakes and his ‘View from the Cheap Seats’”.

In “Credo,” which opens the first section of the book, you write, “I believe I have the right to think and say the wrong things.” Do you find that in today’s society — especially because of social media and the 24-hour news cycle — that we don’t let people be wrong enough?

What I tend to see happening more and more is people retreating into their own corners. People seem scared to get things wrong or be shouted at so they form villages in which they agree with every other member, and maybe they go out and shout at the people in the next village for fun, but there’s no interchange of ideas going on. I think we have to encourage the idea that you’re allowed to think things. I have thought a great many stupid things over the years, and I can tell you that there’s not one stupid thing that I ever thought where I changed my mind because someone shouted at me or threatened to kill me. On the other hand, having great discussions with good friends, possibly over a drink, has definitely changed my mind and made me try to do better. You’re allowed to do better, but we have to let people do better.

(8) THEY WERE EXPENDABLE. My fashion consultant, Mr. J.K. Tarpinian, says, “This would look good under a sport coat for anybody going to the Hugos.”

Red Shirt ale shirt

Okay, as long as I get a bottle of the stuff, too.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • June 26, 1904 — Peter Lorre.

Observes John King Tarpinian, “Here is an actor who lives on because of his vocal styling.  How many times in animation is the creepy guys voice an imitation of Lorre? Same goes for a cartoon monster being Karloff.”

(10) POP-UP POTTER. “We MUST GET to this incredible ‘Harry Potter’ pop-up store” declares Yahoo! News.

If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter movies (um, who isn’t?), you’ve probably noticed that the world is wonderfully detailed, right down to every sign, map, newspaper, and storefront. Those intricate elements are the vision of graphic designers, Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, who met back in 2001 on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 

They became great friends and collaborators, and we’re proud to announce that these two designers now have their own pop-up shop in London! It’s called House of MinaLima, and it includes exclusive Harry Potter art prints and awesome HP stationery.

(11) STUNT DOUBLE. John King Tarpinian asks, “I wonder if they use this for the Batmobile?” — “This is how car commercials are filmed without the actual car”.

Car commercials do an excellent job of making vehicles look almost too good to be true. As it turns out, they probably are… at least, if the Blackbird is involved.

The Blackbird is a visual effects stand-in for vehicles featured in commercials and movies. As Gizmag notes, its wheelbase, width, suspension travel and even engine response can be dialed in to match nearly any production vehicle while its onboard 360-degree cameras are used to create perfect reflections when the actual car body is overlaid in post-production.

Why go through all that trouble? Why not film the actual car being marketed in the commercial?

Auto commercials are often shot before the vehicle has even been manufactured. As such, some small visual details might not have been decided on yet so with CGI, you can add those in with ease. What’s more, auto makers typically keep the details of their new cars a closely guarded secret. Filming with something like the Blackbird gives the auto paparazzi nothing but a set of wheels to go on.

 

[Thanks to Rose Embolism, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, and Chip Hitchcock. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Henley.]