Pixel Scroll 2/9/16 The Pixels That Bloom In The Scrolls (Tra La)

(1) DOC MARTIN. Texas A&M will give George R.R. Martin an honorary degree reports the Houston Chronicle.

Texas A&M University is set to give “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin the latest link in his maester’s chain this week, as the school offers up an honorary degree to the author.

Martin has a long history with A&M, which has been home to his writings since long before his books were picked up by HBO.

Martin, who calls himself a pack rat, regularly sends copies of just about everything he’s written, produced or been given, from games and calendars based on the series to replica swords and war hammers, to Texas A&M University’s Cushing Memorial Library and Archives. The library boasts a world-renowned sci-fi and fantasy collection and Martin’s works are its crown jewel.

Martin last year gave A&M a first-edition copy of “The Hobbit,” saying at the time that the Cushing library has one of the best science fiction and fantasy collections in the nation. The author acknowledged that A&M — “a place where people shout ‘yeehaw’ a lot, and of course lately (was) known for Johnny Football” — might seem like a strange place for such a collection.

(2) THE MEDIUM IS THE MIXED MESSAGE. Variety reports Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller has been named showrunner and co-creator of CBS’ new Star Trek series. Who suspected Hannibal would be the proving grounds for the next executive at the helm of the Trek franchise?

The new series is set to bow on CBS in January 2017, then move to CBS’ All Access digital subscription service. It will be the first original series to launch on a broadcast network but air primarily on an SVOD service.

“Bringing ‘Star Trek’ back to television means returning it to its roots, and for years those roots flourished under Bryan’s devoted care,” said Kurtzman. “His encyclopedic knowledge of ‘Trek’ canon is surpassed only by his love for Gene Roddenberry’s optimistic future, a vision that continues to guide us as we explore strange new worlds.”

The creative plan is for the series to introduce new characters and civilizations, existing outside of the mythology charted by previous series and the current movie franchises.

(3) WHO COUNTS. The Den of Geek tells us Steven Moffat has confirmed the length of the runs for the next seasons of his two BBC shows.

Speaking after receiving his OBE the other day, Steven Moffat confirmed that Doctor Who series 10 will have 13 episodes. And Sherlock series 4 will have three episodes.

(4) HMM. Anthony at the Castalia House Blog puts his finger on a problem with the Potterverse in “So You Made It Into Hufflepuff”.

Hufflepuff is noteworthy in the Harry Potter series for being supremely un-noteworthy (“A Very Potter Musical” famously lampshades this after the end of its opening number “Gotta Get Back to Hogwarts” with the immortal line “What the hell is a Hufflepuff?”). The Hufflepuff we know the best is Cedric Diggory. Diggory is a fine character, but he probably doesn’t even rank in the series’ top twenty most interesting. Even in “Goblet of Fire” we just don’t learn that much about him, except that he’s apparently an honorable man, a hard worker, and a capable wizard. Besides that – nothing.

Vox Day, pointing to the post in “The Shortchanging of House Hufflepuff”, extended the critique —

I could never figure out what Hermione was doing in Gryffindor when she was an obvious Ravensclaw. I mean, being intelligent and studious to the point of being annoying about it was the primary aspect of her personality.

(5) SORT YOURSELF. Moviepilot reports “Harry Potter Fans Are Officially Being Sorted Into Hogwarts Houses & They’re Not Happy About It!”

For now though, it seems that J.K. wants to take us back to basics. Over the weekend an official Sorting Hat quiz went live on Pottermore — and unlike the numerous ones you’ve probably taken over the years, this is the real deal because it was developed by the author herself.

 

The quiz determines whether you’re in Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, or Ravenclaw by asking you a series of personality questions and by placing you in a number of unique scenarios.

….Naturally, most Potter fans jumped at the chance to try out this new sorting utility — yet instead of uncontrollable excitement, many were overcome with a deep sense of despair. Indeed, when the quiz dropped, the Internet became awash with staunch criticism. Why? Well, because most people were mad they didn’t get into the house they felt they deserved to be in.

(6) A SECOND OPINION. Or if you think it’s too much bother to register at Pottermore, you can always take this quickie quiz at Moviepilot“The Ultimate Harry Potter Sorting Quiz Will Prove Which Hogwarts House You Belong In”.

“There’s nothing hidden in your head the Sorting Hat can’t see, so try me on and I will tell you where you ought to be!”

I took it and was identified as a Gryffindor. See what a reliable quiz this is?

(7) GERSON OBIT. Scriptwriter Daniel Gerson died February 6, age 49, of brain cancer. Genre credits include Monsters, Inc., Monsters University, and Big Hero 6.

(8) COOPER OBIT. Henry S.F. Cooper Jr., the author of eight books and a writer for The New Yorker, died January 31 at the age of 82.

Mr. Cooper celebrated scientific achievement, addressed scientific failure and demystified what was behind both.

Reviewing his book “Apollo on the Moon” in 1969 in The New York Times, Franklin A. Long, who was the vice president for research at Cornell University, said that Mr. Cooper’s description of an imminent mission to the moon was “remarkably evocative” and that a reader “gets the feel of what it is like to be a crew member in the lunar module.”

Mr. Cooper began his book “Thirteen: The Apollo Flight That Failed” this way: “At a little after 9 Central Standard Time on the night of Monday, April 13, 1970, there was, high in the western sky, a tiny flare of light that in some respects resembled a star exploding far away in our galaxy.”

The flare was caused by a cloud of frozen oxygen — a “tank failure,” as NASA engineers delicately described it — that would cripple the service module and jeopardize the crew’s return to Earth. The story was told in the 1995 film “Apollo 13,” starring Tom Hanks.

Brian Troutwine, in The Huffington Post, called Mr. Cooper’s book “one of the best technical explanations of a catastrophic failure and its resolution ever written.”

He was a descendant of famed author James Fenimore Cooper.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 9, 1928 – Frank Frazetta

(10) VISIT OTHER WORLDS. NASA has issued a new series of space tourism posters.

Final_Peg_51_Poster COMP

Each new poster mixes a bit of that reality with an optimistic take on what exploring our solar system might actually look like someday. The poster for Venus calls for visitors to come see the “Cloud 9 Observatory,” which isn’t far off from an idea that’s been thrown around at NASA. The poster for Europa advertises the ability to see underwater life — something that doesn’t feel so far-fetched considering the moon is home to a global subsurface ocean.

(11) RABID PUPPIES. Vox Day has advanced to Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Editor (short-form), and in this category has only one name for his slate, Jerry Pournelle, editor of There Will Be War, Vol. X.

(12) NUMEROUS SUGGESTIONS. George R.R. Martin gave his recommendations for Short Form in “A Rocket For The Editor, Part Two”. He covers quite a few names. Martin also emphasizes that he feels there is an equivalency between last year’s slate makers and advocates for No Award in the Best Editor (Short Form) category.

All that being said… the slates, by whatever means, did throw up some legitimate Hugo-worthy nominees in this category last year, though not as many as in Long Form. One of those stood well above the others, IMNSHO. The Hugo really should have gone to MIKE RESNICK. Resnick has a long and distinguished career as an anthologist, one stretching back decades, and while he has plenty of rockets on his mantle at home, and even more crashed upside down rockets on the shirts he wears at worldcon, he had never been recognized for his work as an editor before. In addition, Resnick had founded a new SF magazine, GALAXY’S EDGE; in an age when the older magazines are struggling just to keep going, starting up a new one is a bold act (maybe a little insane) that deserves applause. But even more than that, Resnick has been a mentor to generations of new young writers, featuring them in his anthologies and now his magazine, advising them, nurturing them, teaching them, even collaborating with them. His “writer babies,” I have heard them called. In a way, Resnick is a one-man Clarion. Finding and nurturing new talent is one of an editor’s most important tasks, and Resnick has been doing it, and doing it well, for decades.

He got my Hugo vote. He got a lot of other Hugo votes as well. But not enough to win. As with Long Form, this category went to No Award. The work that the Sad and Rabid Puppies began to wreck this Hugo category was completed by Steve Davidson of AMAZING, Deirdre Saoirse Moan, and the rest of the Nuclear Fans. Resnick was never part of the slates, fwiw. He took no part in the Puppy Wars on either side, preferring to stay above the fray. And he did deserve a Hugo. But guilt by association prevailed, and he was voted down with the rest. A real pity.

Now there are Nuclear Fans, to go along with the other names people get called? And, in the circumstances, a very unfortunate misspelling of Moen’s name?

(13) SHATNER ON NIMOY. Jen Chaney reviews Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship With A Remarkable Man by William Shatner (with David Fisher) in the Washington Post.

Leonard_Book_Jacket_William_Shatner COMPA few years before Leonard Nimoy died last February at age 83, he stopped speaking to William Shatner, his close friend since their many “Star Trek” adventures. As he explains in “Leonard,” his new book about that relationship, Shatner still isn’t sure what caused Nimoy to freeze out his Starship Enterprise other half. “It remains a mystery to me, and it is heartbreaking, heartbreaking,” Shatner writes. “It is something I will wonder about, and regret, forever.”

That revelation, both personal and laden with questions, is very much in keeping with the overall tone of Shatner’s book. At times, the actor recounts his connection to Nimoy with great candor and reverence, particularly when he discusses how that bond solidified after the death of Shatner’s third wife, Nerine Kidd, who drowned in the couple’s pool in 1999. But readers may wish they got a little more fly-on-the-wall perspective on the lengthy friendship born in a place where few are: on the set of an iconic sci-fi TV series. As Shatner says at one point, “When I think about Leonard, my memories are emotional more than specific.” His memories often read that way, too.

(14) TREK PARODY ON STAGE. Boldly Go!, a musical parody based upon Star Trek, opens February 26 at Caltech Theater in Pasadena, CA.

Boldly Go 35-captainkirk-sidebarBoldly Go! follows the intrepid crew of the Starship Enterprise, along with some new characters, on an exciting and hilarious adventure.

Assumptions will be confronted, paradigms challenged, alliances tested, and new contacts made – whether for good or ill as yet to be seen. And it’s all set to a side-splitting tour de force of musical mayhem!

While having fun with the sometimes farcical aspects of science fiction and parodying Star Trek, this new show also satirizes the musical theater genre. Boldly Go! is written by brothers Cole Remmen (University of Minnesota Theatre Arts Senior) and Grant Remmen (Caltech theoretical physics graduate student). The Caltech world premiere, featuring a talented cast from the Caltech and Jet Propulsion Lab communities, is being directed by Theater Arts Caltech director Brian Brophy (Star Trek TNG; Shawshank Redemption; PhD Comics 2).

A series of short videos about the production can be viewed at the site.

(15) HARRYHAUSEN CAMEO. John King Tarpinian enthused about Burke & Hare

Watched this Simon Pegg movie yesterday.  Even in period costume most of the actors were recognizable…except one who looked very familiar but I could not put my finger on who he was.  The ending credits identified him as Ray Harryhausen…a pleasant surprise.

Harryhausen can be seen in the closing credits at 1:03.

[Thanks to Brian Z., John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Michael J. Walsh and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Wright.]

Pixel Scroll 2/1/16 By the Pixels of Babylon, I Scrolled, For I Remembered Filing

(1) PRELIMINARY PUPPIES. Vox Day issued his first “preliminary recommendations” today: “Rabid Puppies 2016: Best New Writer” (Preliminary, since he may change them based on feedback about eligibility, or for other reasons.)

To kick things off, we’ll begin with the Campbell Award: Best New Writer category:

  • Pierce Brown
  • Cheah Kai Wai
  • Sebastien de Castell
  • Marc Miller
  • Andy Weir

There was a noteworthy exchange in the comments.

[Phil Sandifer] Just for the record, Vox, the only reason Andy Weir wasn’t on the ballot last year was the Puppies. Without you, the Campbell nominees last year would have been Chu, Weir, Alyssa Wong, Carmen Maria Marchado, and Django Wexler.

[VD] Oh, Phil, you’re always so careless. That is not the only reason. It is a reason. Had you SJWs favored Weir over Chu, he would have also been on the ballot.

In any event, since you all are such champions of Weir, I’m glad we will all be able to join forces and get him nominated.

(2) GRRM REQUESTS. After announcing that the Locus Recommended Reading List is online, George R.R. Martin explicitly said

Just for the record, before the issue is raised, let me state loudly and definitively that I do not want any of my work to be part of anyone’s slate, this year or any year. But I do feel, as I have said before, that a recommended reading list and a slate are two entirely different animals.

— an announcement whose timing may be more relevant today than it would have been yesterday.

(3) LOCUS SURVEY. You can now take the Locus Poll and Survey at Locus Online. Anyone can vote; Locus subscriber votes count double. Voting closes April 15.

Here is the online version of the 46th annual Locus Awards ballot, covering works that appeared in 2015.

In each category, you may vote for up to five works or nominees, ranking them 1 (first place) through 5 (fifth).

As always, we have seeded the ballot with options based on our 2015 Recommended Reading List [this link will open a new window], mainly because this greatly facilitates tallying of results. However, again as always, you are welcome to use the write-in boxes to vote for other titles and nominees in any category. If you do, please try to supply author, title, and place of publication, in a format like the options listed, where appropriate.

Do not vote for more than one item in a category at the same rank (e.g. two selections ranked 1st); if you do, we will disregard your votes in that category.

File 770 is seeded in the Best Magazine or Fanzine category and would cherish your fifth place votes. Or twenty-fifth, for that matter – the competition is formidable.

(4) IT IS THE END MY FRIEND. And perhaps this is the right place to admire John Scalzi’s Whatever post title: “The End of All Things on the 2015 Locus Recommended Reading List”.

(5) STATISTICS. Brandon Kempner at Chaos Horizon began the month of February by “Checking Back in with the SFWA Recommended Reading List”. He prepared a change table and interpreted the rising fortunes of various novels, beginning with the greatest uptick —

What does this tell us? That Lawrence M. Schoen’s Barsk has emerged as a major Nebula contender, despite being lightly read (as of January 30th, this only has 93 ratings on Goodreads, 31 on Amazon, much much lower than other Nebula/Hugo contenders). That’s due in part to Schoen’s late publication date: the novel came out on December 29, 2015. That’s a tough time to come out, as you get lost in the post-Christmas malaise. A Nebula nomination would drive a lot of attention to this book. Schoen now seems like a very good bet for the Nebula, particularly when we factor in that he received Nebula nominations in the Best Novella category in 2013, 2014, and 2015. There’s clearly a subset of Nebula voters that really like Schoen’s work; a Best Novel nomination might be a spark that gets him more read by the rest of us.

(6) CONGRATULATIONS SCOTT EDELMAN. He did it! Scott Edelman celebrates a special sale in “Never give up, never surrender: My 44-year question to sell a short story to Analog”.

I’ve lost track of how many submissions I made to Analog during the intervening years, first to Ben Bova, then Stan Schmidt (for more than three decades!), and now Trevor Quachri. Were there 25 short stories? Fifty? It’s probably been more than that, but I don’t know for sure. And it doesn’t really matter.

What matters is—in the face of rejection, I kept writing.

What matters is—in the face of rejection, I kept submitting.

What matters is—I never took it personally. I knew that I wasn’t the one being rejected—it was only the words on the page that weren’t the right match.

(7) WILL EISNER AUCTION. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is auctioning books from Will Eisner’s personal collection.

Will Eisner wasn’t just the godfather of comics, a creative force who changed the face of modern comics — he was also a staunch advocate for the freedom of expression. In celebration of Eisner’s indomitable talent and advocacy, CBLDF is delighted to offer up for auction books from Eisner’s own personal collection!

All books in this collection come from the late, great Will Eisner’s personal library. The books from this collection are bookplated with Eisner’s own personalized bookplate, featuring his most famous creation, The Spirit. Most of the books in this collection are signed and personalized to the master himself by creators whom Eisner inspired over his illustrious 70-year career

The items are on eBay. The CBLDF’s post has all the links to the various lots.

(8) FAN ART AT RSR. I see that with help from eFanzines’ Bill Burns, Rocket Stack Rank terrifically upgraded its “2016 Fan Artists” content. Gregory N. Hullender explains.

With the help of Bill Burns, we’ve updated the Best Fan Artist page at RSR to include cover art from eFanzines (plus a few that Bill scanned by hand). This doubled the number of artists and tripled the number of images, making it comparable to the Pro Artist page.

(9) INCONCEIVABLE. Japan’s huge convention Comic Market, aka Comiket, which draws half a million fans (in aggregate over three days) expects to be bumped from its facilities in 2020. What could bump an event that big? The Olympics. Anime News Network reports —

Tokyo Big Sight, the convention center where Comiket is usually held, announced earlier that it would not be able to hold the convention between April 2019 and October 2020. Event spaces have been closing throughout the Tokyo area for the past decade. Tokyo Big Sight has also announced that industry booths at this summer’s Comiket would close after two days (instead of the usual three) to accommodate construction work to expand the building for the upcoming Olympics.

(10) TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF THE CANON. We might call this a contrarian view.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 1, 2003 – Space shuttle Columbia broke apart during re-entry, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • February 1, 1954 – Bill Mumy, soon to be seen in Space Command.

(13) WOODEN STARSHIP. A Washington Post article about the renovation of the original Starship Enterprise model reveals it was mostly made from big pieces of wood. When ready, the Enterprise will be displayed in a slightly more prestigious spot .

Collum said the model had long hung in the gift shop of the Air and Space Museum on the Mall. Now it is headed for the renovated Milestones of Flight Hall there.

“The historical relevance of the TV show, and this model, has grown,” he said. “So it’s now being brought up into the limelight, and it’s going to be in the same gallery as the ‘Spirit of St. Louis’ [and] the Apollo 11 command module.”

(14) HOW GAMES INSPIRE ENGAGING FICTION. N. K. Jemisin in “Gaming as connection: Thank you, stranger” talks about the aspect of game play that challenges her as a writer. (Beware spoilers about the game Journey.)

I see a lot of discussion about whether games are art. For me, there’s no point in discussing the matter, because this isn’t the first time I’ve had such a powerful emotional experience while gaming. That’s why I’m still a gamer, and will probably keep playing ’til I die. This is what art does: it moves you. Maybe it makes you angry, okay. Maybe it makes you laugh. Not all of it is good, but so what? There’s a lot of incredibly shitty art everywhere in the world. But the good art? That’s the stuff that has power, because you give it power. The stuff that lingers with you, days or years later, and changes you in small unexpected ways. The stuff that keeps you thinking. Right now I’m trying to figure out how to recreate that game experience with my fiction.

(15) SF IN CHINA. Shaoyan Hu discusses“The Changing Horizon: A Brief Summary of Chinese SF in Year 2015”  at Amazing Stories. Quite an impressive roundup.

Fandoms

There were more than 70 college SF clubs in China in year 2015. Compared to 120 clubs in 2012, the number was reduced. However, two independent fandoms, Future Affairs Administration in Beijing and SF AppleCore in Shanghai, were still very active.

SF AppleCore is the most important fandom in Eastern China. Last year, in addition to orchestrating the annual Shanghai Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival, SF AppleCore continued to operate on a regular base to bring about the public SF events such as AppleCore Party (speeches and gatherings of fans) and AppleCore Reading Group.

Future Affairs Administration was the backbone behind the 2016 Worldcon bid for Beijing. Although the bid was not successful, they organized the Chinese Nebula Award ceremony in 2014. Last year, this fandom was consolidated into a media platform for SF and technology related information, although the function for fan events still remained.

(16) WORLDS OF LE GUIN. The Kickstarter fundraising appeal for Arwen Curry’s documentary Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin has begun. So far, 514 backers have pledged $39,699 of the $80,000 goal. The SFWA Blog endorsed it today:

Viewers will accompany Le Guin on an intimate journey of self-discovery as she comes into her own as a major feminist author, inspiring generations of women and other marginalized writers along the way. To tell this story, the film reaches into the past as well as the future – to a childhood steeped in the myths and stories of disappeared Native peoples she heard as the daughter of prominent 19th century anthropologist Alfred Kroeber.

Le Guin’s story allows audiences to reflect on science fiction’s unique role in American culture, as a conduit for our utopian dreams, apocalyptic fears, and tempestuous romance with technology. Le Guin, by elevating science fiction from mind candy to serious speculation, has given permission to younger mainstream writers like Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith, and Jonathan Lethem to explore fantastic elements in their work.

(17) CGI OVERDOSE? At Yahoo! News, “These ‘Star Wars’ Blooper Reels Show Exactly Why the Prequels Failed”.

The blooper reels for the Star Wars prequel films have been available for a while, but there’s a noticeable trend with all of them. Nearly every blooper — genuinely funny or otherwise — is filmed within a green screen backdrop.

 

[Thanks to Janice Gelb, JJ, Petrea Mitchell, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Gregory N. Hullender.]

Rowling Unveils New Wizarding Schools

Four major international wizarding schools have been added to the canon by J.K. Rowling. Pottermore made the announcement on January 29 in tweets that link to introductory material penned by the author.

Discover new and exclusive writing from the pen of J.K. Rowling. Today we feature exclusive writing that explores the wizarding schools around the world…

 

Brand new writing by J.K. Rowling has revealed more information about the other schools of witchcraft and wizardry, and that the North American magical school’s name is Ilvermorny….

As for Ilvermorny… All of you eagle-eyed fans had an inkling that word was going to mean something special, and Pottermore will bring you more writing by J.K. Rowling on this magical school soon…

 

The fabulous castle appears to be a ruin to the few Muggle eyes that have ever fallen upon it (a trick shared by Hogwarts; opinion is divided on who got the idea from whom). Castelobruxo is an imposing square edifice of golden rock, often compared to a temple. Both building and grounds are protected by the Caipora, small and furry spirit-beings who are extraordinarily mischievous and tricky, and who emerge under cover of night to watch over the students and the creatures who live in the forest.

 

The only address ever given is ‘Mountains of the Moon’; visitors speak of a stunning edifice carved out of the mountainside and shrouded in mist, so that it sometimes appears simply to float in mid-air. Much (some would say all) magic originated in Africa, and Uagadou graduates are especially well versed in Astronomy, Alchemy and Self-Transfiguration.

 

While day students, wizarding children are flown back and forth to their homes every day on the backs of a flock of giant storm petrels. The ornate and exquisite palace of Mahoutokoro is made of mutton-fat jade, and stands on the topmost point of the ‘uninhabited’ (or so Muggles think) Volcanic island of Minami Iwo Jima.

Pixel Scroll 1/12/16 Have Starship Trooper Power Suit, Will Travel

(1) NOT MY CUPPA. The Traveler at Galactic Journey found the January 1961 issue of Galaxy filled with well-done short stories that didn’t personally appeal to him. Of course, he was younger in those days.

(2) MISS FIT. Liwella at Astounding Yarns was enjoying the Cosmonauts exhibition at the Science Museum right up to the moment she discovered their souvenir t-shirts weren’t available in a women’s fit.

I loved the exhibition so much that I wanted to take home some souvenirs.  Particularly one of the range of awesome tshirts that were for sale, given that I love wearing geeky tshirts.  I wear them round the house with jeans.  I wear them with skirts and funky tights when I’m out and about.  Perhaps I should buy one featuring the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova.  Or one inspired by those glorious Russian propaganda posters, with their instantly recognisable design aesthetic.  But it turns out that the Science Museum only offered one tshirt in a woman’s fit – a rather dull design based on a spacewalk motif.  When I asked the assistant on duty if there were any woman’s fit tshirts available he seemed surprised I’d even asked.

(3) KEEP YOUR MONEY HANDY. “Hasbro, Disney Launching new Rey ‘Star Wars’ Toys” reports the Wall Street Journal.

“One of the biggest surprises that filmmakers wanted to keep under wraps was that the Force awakens in Rey and she carries a lightsaber,” said Paul Southern, head of licensing for Lucasfilm. “We always planned a second wave of product after the movie’s release that would include secrets revealed in the movie.”

Hasbro’s new Rey toys will be based more on her action scenes later in the film, including a climactic one in which she wields a lightsaber.

There have been products including toys, T-shirts and costumes featuring Rey available for months, but to date virtually all have featured her only as she appears in the movie’s earliest scenes.

Nonetheless, some fans were upset about three toys in which the Rey character was notably absent, including the Monopoly game and a set of action figures, sold exclusively at Target, that excluded her entirely.

The movie’s director, J.J. Abrams, has supported those fans.

“It seems preposterous and wrong that the main character of the movie is not well represented in what is clearly a huge piece of the ‘Star Wars’ world in terms of merchandising,” he said that the Television Critics Association’s press tour Saturday, according to Entertainment Weekly.

(4) BALMORAL-ICAN GRAFITTI. J. K. Rowling celebrated the ninth anniversary of finishing Deathly Hallows with a tweet, says Mashable.

Rowling placed the finishing touches on the seventh Harry Potter book at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, the city where she lives. After finally completing her manuscript, she indulged in a little friendly vandalism to commemorate the occasion, a photo of which she tweeted Monday.

 

(5) AXANAR UPDATE. Now Alec Peters has written his own FAQ – “Captain’s Log – Jan. 7th, 2016”.

Q:  How can you be non-profit and pay salaries?

A:  Non-profit does not mean “volunteer”.  Just like the CEO of The Red Cross gets $400K a year in salary, non-profits can pay salaries.  Payroll is an expense.

Q:  Why did Alec Peters get paid $ 38,000 as noted in the annual report?

A: Because Alec (as well as Diana) worked full time at Axanar, certainly 60 hours a week not including conventions on the weekends.  That means Alec and Diana probably got paid minimum wage.  And Diana deferred all her salary.  Now go compare that to any Hollywood studio exec putting out medicore content, and tell us Alec and Diana were paid too much!  That doesn’t even cover their expenses.  We don’t expect full time employees to work for free.

Q:  Is Ares Studios a for-profit studio?

A:  Ares Studio is the term we use to describe the warehouse we have built our sound stage to make Axanar.  There is no profit being made, and in fact Alec personally guaranteed the 3 year lease, so the last two years are a $ 250,000 liability he is responsible for.  Axanar Productions has been paying for the building while we build sets and prepare the make the movie.  Would we like to make movies after Axanar?  Sure would, but that is all speculative.  We don’t have any revenue from the studio and so such talk is nonsense.

(6) MAJOR TOM. Bowie lyrics on the marquee of the closed Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena.

Rialto marquee

(7) DANGEROUS. Forbes writer Ron Salkowitz analyzes “David Bowie’s Dangerous Visions: Sci-Fi Touchpoints For The Thin White Duke”.

Much of Bowie’s work throughout his career is a dialogue with New Wave SF, refracting it through his own sensibility and bringing the concepts to a mass audience via the medium of rock and roll. As I’ve been listening to the Bowie catalog for the past day, I’m reminded of a few specific connections and patterns of inspiration.

The Jerry Cornelius Novels (Michael Moorcock). Moorcock, the quintessential New Wave author, is better known for his sword and sorcery character Elric, but in 1968, he unleashed the sexually ambiguous secret agent Jerry Cornelius on an unsuspecting public in a novel called The Final Programme. An acid-drenched mashup of James Bond and Doctor Who, the dapper Cornelius hopscotches around space and time foiling plots against reality, assuming new identities and dazzling people with his avant gard aesthetics as he goes. Three further novels followed, each stranger than the next. Jerry Cornelius is less a specific inspiration for Bowie’s work than a template for his entire persona.

(8) GREETINGS GATES. The passing of David Bowie prompted Mental Floss to remind fans that “Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher) Choreographed ‘Labyrinth’”. A photo and video clips there, too.

Most geeks like me know Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation. But before her Trek role, McFadden was Director of Choreography and Puppet Movement on a bunch of Jim Henson films, including The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and even The Muppets Take Manhattan. As a choreographer, she’s typically credited as Cheryl McFadden — Cheryl is her first name, Gates is her middle name.

(9) DRAWN THAT WAY. The Slipper says farewell to David Bowie the comics reader and reproduces many images that characterized him or were influenced by his appearance.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

In 1695, aged 67, he wrote Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals, a series of moral tales designed to prompt the reader to reflect on the dilemmas presented to the protagonist, which were well-known from folklore even then.

The volume contained the story now known as Mother Goose, alongside perrenially recognised titles such as Puss in Boots, Blue Beard and Cinderella, and less famous stories Ricky of the Tuft and Little Thumb

(12) MEESA QUITS. You won’t have Jar-Jar Binks to kick around anymore. Try not to let it get to you.

Issa bad news from Naboo… Ahmed Best, the actor who played Jar Jar Binks will never return to the ‘Star Wars’ movies, even if he was asked, adding ‘I’ve done my damage’.

Binks, perhaps the most reviled character in all of ‘Star Wars’ history, was the Gungan soldier know initially for his cack-handed clumsiness, and then, appropriately, his latter career as a politician in George Lucas’s prequel movies.

But in a rare interview, Best said that he has no intention of ever reprising the character.

(13) HUGO CAMPAIGNER. Robin Wayne Bailey would hate for you to miss a chance to vote his story a Hugo. On Facebook, he’ll tell you how to get a free copy.

Last month, November, saw the release of the very excellent science fiction anthology, MISSION: TOMORROW, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. The anthology is chock-full of great stories, and my own “Tombaugh Station,” I’m honored to say, leads it all off.

I believe strongly that “Tombaugh Station” is one of the best science fiction stories I’ve ever written, strongly enough that I’d love to see it make the 2016 Hugo Awards ballot next August right here in my own hometown.

However, that November release, late in the year and only a month before the ballot was released (a week ago) is the very definition of what’s known in this business as an “end of the year handicap,” that is, few voters will have had the chance to see the story before voting begins. Now, I don’t particularly want to quietly fall victim to that handicap.

So I’ve just asked and received permission from Baen Books to give my story away. That’s right — I’m actively campaigning for a place on the 2016 Hugo ballot. I used to frown on such shenanigans, but that stigma obviously has melted away.

LOL! Sure, it’s understandable why a Baen Books author might think that…

(14) AFROFUTURISM & OTHER TOPICS. “The State of Black Science Fiction Convention” will be held June 11-12 in Atlanta, GA.

(15) SHERRY’S LONGLIST. Joe Sherry has posted “My 2016 Hugo Awards Longlist Recommendations” at Adventures In Reading, which is both interesting in its own right, and as an index of where recused creators and works might belong.

With all of the shenanigans regarding groups putting together slates to directly influence what gets on the final ballot, what I’m going to do instead is post a growing long list of stuff I thought was awesome in 2015. This list will likely grow and change as I continue to discover stuff published in 2015 that I likewise think is awesome. I’m listing everything alphabetically either by title or author, so don’t view anything listed at the top of a category as being my ranked order. It’s not.

(16) INSIDE BASEBALL. Lesley Conner’s guest post at Far Beyond Reality tells how several stories got selected for Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1.

From Slush Pile to Magazine to Anthology: The Making of Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1

I came on board as the managing editor of Apex Magazine in October, 2014. I’d been involved with Apex for a while before that, but it wasn’t until then that I was let into the shadowed world of the slush pile and started sifting through to find stories to bring into the light. Because of this, and the fact that Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1 covers the first six years of Apex Magazine, I missed that magical moment of discovery for many of the stories that ended up in the anthology. But not all of them.

Today I’d like to give you a peek behind the publishing curtain and share the journey that some of the stories in Best of Apex Magazine took from the slush pile to the anthology.

(17) IT’S A MYSTERY. Vox Day says the count is now up to four of people following his author page who have been banned from Goodreads. What the rest of their Goodreads activity consisted of he doesn’t say.

(18) BB-8. Here are two videos starring science fiction cinema’s latest Small Cute Robot.

Unlike some, BB-8 is too shy to come out of its shell…

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

Pixel Scroll 1/10/16 The Nine Billion Rules of God’s Robotics

(1) RAY BRADBURY WOULD BE SO PROUD. That’s what John King Tarpinian thinks. Look who won at the Golden Globes tonight.

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
    Rachel Bloom, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

Here’s video of her acceptance speech.

(2) OTHER GOLDEN GLOBES OF GENRE INTEREST.

FILM

  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture ?? Musical or Comedy
    Matt Damon, “The Martian”
  • Best Motion Picture — Animated
    “Inside Out”
  • Best Motion Picture -? Musical or Comedy
    “The Martian”

TELEVISION

  • Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
    “Wolf Hall”
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture made for Television
    Christian Slater, “Mr. Robot”
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
    Lady Gaga, “American Horror Story: Hotel”
  • Best Television Series ?? Drama
    “Mr. Robot”

(3) SCIENCE-ING THE SHIT OUT OF ENDOR. ScienceFiction.com has the scoop of the century – Star Wars’ science is defective! The proof? “Physicist Theorizes There Should Have Been An Ewok Extinction Upon Death Star Destruction”.

What if all the Ewoks were killed at the end of ‘Return of the Jedi’? You don’t have to think about it. Really, you don’t. But someone thought about it—Dave Minton, a physicist at Purdue University.

Now before you start thinking Minton hates all things cute, he performed some interesting research into what the reality would be like if the second Death Star really did explode near Endor.

(4) DIDN’T KNOW THERE WAS A STAT FOR THIS. Harrison Ford has passed Samuel L. Jackson to become the top-grossing actor in domestic box office history, powered to the top by the growing bank for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Ford’s 41 films have grossed $4.699 billion at the domestic box office, led by The Force Awakens, which accounts for $764.4 million of that figure as of Box Office Mojo’s last update.

Jackson’s films, in comparison, have grossed a mere $4.626 billion, led by Marvel’s The Avengers and its $623.4 million domestic haul.

(5) PAPER TARDIS. This animation is something I’m going to share with my daughter. One of her Christmas gifts was a hand-made facsimile of River Song’s journal. (Via io9)

(6) ROWLING YANKED HIS CHAIN. Hello Giggles says that Stephen Fry met J.K. Rowling long before becoming the narrator of the UK Harry Potter audiobooks, and claims his bland disinterest during that first encounter motivated her to refuse a favor he asked later while trying to record a challenging phrase. True story? Who knows. But it has an edge to it.

(7) SCOOBY CHOO-CHOO, WHERE ARE YOU? The BBC explores “Why Britain has secret ghost trains”. Hobbyists spend a lot of time tracking these down so they can ride them. And as usual where ghosts are concerned, the explanation is less than supernatural.

“Ghost trains are there just for a legal placeholder to prevent the line from being closed,” says Bruce Williamson, national spokesperson for the advocacy group RailFuture. Or as Colin Divall, professor of railway studies at the University of York, puts it: “It’s a useless, limited service that’s borderline, and the reason that it’s been kept is there would be a stink if anyone tried to close it.”

Why ghosts exist

That is the crux of why the ghost trains still exist. A more official term is “parliamentary trains”, a name that stems from past years when an Act of Parliament was needed to shut down a line. Many train operators kept running empty trains to avoid the costs and political fallout – and while this law has since changed, the same pressures remain.

(8) SCRIMM OBIT. Actor Angus Scrimm, best known for playing the “Tall Man” in the Phantasm horror franchise, died January 9 at the age of 89. He also was in I Sell the Dead (2008), the TV show Alias, and the audio play series Tales From Beyond the Pale. Scrimm also appeared in a production of Ray Bradbury’s play Let’s All Kill Constance.

For several decades Scrimm writer album liner notes for Capitol Records, winning a Grammy in 1974 (credited as Rory Guy, as were his early film roles) for his notes on Korngold: The Classic Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

(9) FITZSIMMONS OBIT. SF Site News reports kT FitzSimmons (1956-2016) who ran program for the 1991 Worldcon, Chicon V, died January 10 after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was a veteran conrunner who worked on Windycon and Capricon in Chicago, and served as a board member of Capricon’s parent organization Phandemonium.

(10) YESTERDAY IN HISTORY

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 10, 1927 Metropolis makes its world premiere in Germany.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY CHARACTER

  • Born January 10, 1732 — Saara Mar. According to Taral Wayne, she was born in 1732 on a planet 400 light years from Earth, in the direction of the Pleiades cluster. She “discovered” Earth in 1970, on the 5th of April, 6 days before the lift-off of Apollo 13, and 8 days before the miraculous rescue of the crew that changed history.

Saara Mar

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 10, 1904 — Ray Bolger, the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

(14) SHORT AND SWEET. Fynbospress teaches sound techniques for blurb writing at Mad Genius Club.

At the heart of every story, there is this: A person, who wants something, but a force opposes him. This is important, because of these stakes. Either they get it, or they don’t.

Take the first and second sentence of that paragraph. (Not the third; you don’t give away how it comes out in the blurb.) Who is your person? What do they want? What opposes them? What are the stakes?

Simplify. If you have two or three main characters, pick the one whose wants or needs drive the story the most. Unless you’re writing epic fantasy, where the browser will be disappointed if you don’t introduce at least three sides, stick to one protagonist, and one opposing force. Generally, that’s the first opposition they meet in the story, not the one they meet in chapter 3, and definitely not the one revealed in the twist in chapter 20.

Your description should not, as a rule of thumb, reveal any information past chapter 3.

(15) ONE IN A MILLION. Mark Lawrence in “Luck, Deus Ex Machina, Plot Armour” tells why it’s okay to build a story around the statistically unlikely survivor.

We don’t see the article about the lottery winner in the newspaper and cry, “Jesus fuck! What are the odds that the reporter chose the winner to write about.”

…Swap now from reality to fiction. The author still has a choice about who they write about. They can still pick the person who survives, at least long enough to do some interesting things. But they also get to choose how that person survives

(16) SPEAK TO THE GEEK. Declan Finn devoted today’s installment of his internet radio show The Catholic Geek to Sad Puppies 4 (he’s in favor), with time left over to diagnose why George R.R. Martin hasn’t finished his book, and to argue Shakespeare really wrote for the rabble not the nobility.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/8 When Blogs Collide

(1) ROBOTS FLASH. At the Barnes & Noble blog they’re “Introducing the 12 Days of Robot Christmas” — 12 Days of Flash Fiction from Angry Robot Authors (plus eBook discounts). Posted so far —

Still to come — Adam Rakunas (12/9), Marianne de Pierres (12/10), Peter McLean (12/11) , Carrie Patel (12/14), Ferrett Steinmetz (12/15), Peter Tieryas (12/16), Rod Duncan (12/17), and Matthew De Abaitua (12/18)

Matt Hill’s installment “The New Tradition” begins with a strong hook –

Every Christmas Eve since the biological attack, they let me visit Nan to see what was left of her.

(2) LANSDALE. Joe R. Lansdale will be honored with the 2015 Raymond Chandler Award at Courmayeur during the Noir in Festival to be held December 8-13.

With over forty novels and hundreds of stories to his credit, Lansdale is perhaps the most prolific and brilliant writer working in the noir genre today. With models such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Mark Twain and Jack London, but also the science fiction of Ray Bradbury and Fredric Brown, as well as comic strips, B movies and “pulp” fiction, Lansdale´s novels are a blend of his jaded sense of humor, unbridled imagination and an unsparing description of reality in its most ruthless, violent and absurd incarnations. His books include The Drive-In and The Drive-In 2, Mucho Mojo, Two-Bear Mambo, Bad Chili, Rumble Tumble, Edge of Dark Water, Devil Red, The Bottoms (winner of an Edgar Award in 2001), Bubba Ho-Tep, and Hap & Leonard.

At Courmayeur, Lansdale will be presenting his latest novel, Honky Tonk Samurai (published in Italian by Einaudi): a new investigative romp featuring the popular characters Hap Collins and Leonard Pine.

The Raymond Chandler Award is a lifetime achievement award. Past winners include sf/f/h writer J.G. Ballard (1995), and Michael Connelly, Scott Turow and John le Carré,

(3) COMPANION ISSUES. James Whitbrook tells how he deals with post-traumatic television series stress in his confessional “The Exact Moment When Doctor Who Taught Me to Never Trust Television Again” at io9.

And being an idiot teen, it was shocking enough to basically make myself vow to never be hurt by television again. Oh, teen James. TV drama basically exists to hurt us on an emotional level, you silly fool. But it kickstarted a habit I still have to this day—if I’m invested in a television series, be it Doctor Who or anything else, I keep up with all the behind the scenes info I can. I go as far as to hunt out spoilers, just to see what’s happening or if people are leaving a show, so I can prepare myself. If I’m binge-watching a show and find myself liking a certain character, I absent-mindedly Google them on my phone to find out if they inevitably die or leave the series before it ends. It infuriates my friends and family, but it’s a force of habit for myself now.

(4) Alamo Drafthouse will host a movie-watching endurance contest in Austin — Star Wars : The Marathon Awakens.

Starting promptly at 4 AM, December 17th, the seven pre-selected fans will take their seats at Alamo’s South Lamar venue to view the first six STAR WARS films in sequential order. Following the close of the initial marathon they will then participate in an endless, round-the-clock screening of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS until one final fan is left to claim their mantle of inter-galactic super fan supremacy….

For a chance to be chosen as one of the seven lucky participants in STAR WARS: THE MARATHON AWAKENS, fans need to show the Alamo Drafthouse their Jedi devotion on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook using the #AlamoJedi hashtag. Tattoos, toy collections, cosplay, Hoth haiku — whatever he or she feels shows their ultimate dedication to STAR WARS should be posted to sway the votes of the Alamo’s Jedi Council.

Rules are a requirement for every budding Jedi and STAR WARS: THE MARATHON AWAKENS is no exception. Participants will be given breaks between movies to stretch their legs and channel their inner Force. Sleeping, illegal drugs and talking & texting during the movies (of course) will result in disqualification and a swift trip to the Sarlacc Pit. However, for those strong enough to persevere, intergalactic immortality awaits.

(5) EDELMAN REVISITS 1974. Scott Edelman’s first Worldcon was Discon II in 1974. He has posted scans of the event schedule.

So which of these programming items did I choose to attend?

Well, there was no way I was going to miss Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison hurling insults at each other across a crowded ballroom, or the screening of a rough cut of A Boy and His Dog, or Roger Zelazny’s Guest of Honor speech, or the Hugo banquet and ceremony. Or endless wandering through the dealers room, where I picked up several items I still own to this day.

Sadly, of many panels I remember little. A women in science fiction panel featuring Susan Wood, Katherine Kurtz, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro? A panel on the problems facing today’s (well, 1974’s) science fiction magazines, with Jim Baen, Ben Bova, Ed Ferman, and Ted White? How I wish there was audio or video of those for us to relive those presentations today!

(6) TRAILER FORECAST. ScreenRant has learned the Star Trek Beyond trailer will premiere with Star Wars 7.

THR is reporting that Star Trek Beyond‘s first trailer will be attached to The Force Awakens in theaters – though, of course, it’s far from the only 2016 tentpole that is expected to hitch a ride aboard the Star Wars train. Indeed, both the recently-unveiled Captain America: Civil War teaser trailer and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s third theatrical preview are both likely candidates to be shown before The Force Awakens. Furthermore, it’s been reported in the past that the first X-Men: Apocalypse trailer will make its debut on the big screen with co-writer/director J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars feature, as might also be true for another 20th Century Fox project – Roland Emmerich’s alien invasion sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence.

(7) SCULL ANALYZES TOLKIEN BIOS. Christina Scull assays the field in “Tolkien Biographies Continued, Part One” on Too Many Books and Never Enough.

Christina writes: In the Reader’s Guide volume of our J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide Wayne and I devoted nearly seven pages to a review of biographies of Tolkien which had appeared to date (2006). Carpenter’s of course was, and remains, the standard life, and the source upon which most subsequent biographers of Tolkien have relied to a great extent. The major exceptions, in terms of new research, are John Garth in Tolkien and the Great War and ourselves in the Companion and Guide, but a few others have made notable contributions to the literature. Diana Pavlac Glyer in The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community (2007) has a worthwhile discussion of the importance of the Inklings to Tolkien. Andrew H. Morton has produced two studies (the first in association with John Hayes) centred on Tolkien’s Aunt Jane Neave: Tolkien’s Gedling 1914: The Birth of a Legend (2008) and Tolkien’s Bag End: Threshold to Adventure (2009). Phil Mathison has filled in some details about Tolkien’s life during the First World War in Tolkien in East Yorkshire 1917–1918 (2012). And Arne Zettersten in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Double Worlds and Creative Process: Language and Life by Arne Zettersten (2011, previously published in Swedish in 2008) recalls his meetings and conversations with Tolkien in the latter’s final years (although Zettersten refers to correspondence, no quotations are given) and usefully discusses Tolkien’s academic work on the ‘AB language’.

(8) A ROAD NOT TAKEN. The actor’s daughter told the Guardian that “Toshiro Mifune turned down Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader Roles” when George Lucas was casting the original Star Wars movie.

The star of Rashomon and Seven Samurai was approached by George Lucas to appear in his 1977 sci-fi adventure, but the two couldn’t strike a deal, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“I heard from my father that he was offered the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but he was concerned about how the film would look and that it would cheapen the image of samurai, on which George Lucas had based a lot of the character and fighting style,” said Mika.

The plot of Star Wars was loosely based on The Hidden Fortress, a 1958 film that Mifune starred in for director and frequent collaborator Akira Kurosawa.

“At the time, sci-fi movies still looked quite cheap as the effects were not advanced and he had a lot of samurai pride,” Mika said. “So then, there was talk about him taking the Darth Vader role as his face would be covered, but in the end he turned that down too.”

Other actors who turned down roles in the film include Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Burt Reynolds, Robert De Niro and James Caan.

(9) BRACKETT SMACK. Christopher M. Chupik volunteers his previously unsuspected ability to identify deserving feminist icons in “To Tower Against The Sky”.

Despite being an inspiration to such writers as Ray Bradbury, Michael Moorcock and E. C. Tubb, Brackett seems to have fallen into a curious limbo. Feminists like to invoke her name in lists of female SF authors, but there seems to be a curious reluctance to speak of the woman or her work. A female writer who held her own in a male-dominated field long before the women’s liberation movement would seem to be the kind of role model modern feminists would want to celebrate, right?

Wrong. Nowadays, she’s mostly known for having written the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back, very little of which made it to the screen. And this is often portrayed as the crowning achievement of her career….

And here, I suspect, we come to the real reason the feminists have marginalized Brackett: she was a conservative.

I had to dig a bit to confirm this. I had a suspicion based on her work that her opinions were not quite in tune with modern leftist orthodoxy. Brackett, along with her husband Edmond Hamilton, were signatories to the pro-Vietnam War petition that appeared in the June 1968 issue of Galaxy. Combine that with her disinterest in feminism, and it becomes very clear why Brackett has been allowed to drift towards obscurity

(10) THEY TOLD DISNEY NO THANKS. The Hollywood Reporter says “Plans for Unfinished Disney Park in St. Louis Up for Auction”  — by Profiles in History, on Thursday.

In the 1960s, Disney drew up plans for an indoor theme park in downtown St. Louis before giving up in a dispute over money and turning attention to Florida.

Imagine packing up the kids and heading for that dream vacation to a Disney theme park … in St. Louis.

It almost happened a half-century ago when Disney drew up plans for an indoor theme park in downtown St. Louis before giving up in a dispute over money and turning its attention to Florida. St. Louis’ loss was the Orlando area’s gain: Walt Disney World became one of the world’s top tourist attractions.

St. Louis can only lament what might have been….

On Thursday, one of the few remnants of the park goes on the auction block — 13 pages of 1963 blueprints spelling out plans for “Walt Disney’s Riverfront Square” in St. Louis. The Calabasas, Calif.-based company Profiles in History is offering up the blueprints as part of its “Animation and Disneyana” auction

(11) CANDIDATES FOR MST3K. Now that Mystery Science Theater 3000 has successfully crowdfunded a string of new episodes, the crew will have to pick some bad flicks to abuse. CNET’s Danny Gallagher helpfully names “7 movie turkeys the new MST3K needs to tackle”.

Any movie buff knows there are still plenty of bad movies out there that deserve to get the MST3K treatment. Here are seven of those stinkers.

  1. “Yor, the Hunter from the Future”

…The people who made this dud don’t seem sure what genre they want it to be. “Yor” starts as a prehistoric adventure movie, but it morphs into science fiction when UFOs and technological warfare are shoved into the plot. They should have called this one, “Yor, the Warrior from…Squirrel!”

(12) A POLITICAL COMMENT. Apparently having a nose isn’t enough to recommend him — J.K. Rowling tweeted Tuesday that Donald Trump is worse than Lord Voldemort.

Rowling’s tweet came after Trump called for preventing all Muslims from entering the United States.

(13) FOUNDING A CON. Lou J. Berger and Quincy J. Allen’s We Are ALL Science Fiction theme will be embodied by a convention bearing the same name, to be held November 4-6, 2016 in Ocean Shores, WA.

Put on by an all-fan, all-volunteer, non-profit group made up of fans with decades of experience in con running and attending (from all over the globe), our first annual convention will feature award-winning authors Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Jody Lynn Nye, and many others, including Hugo nominee Jennifer Brozek, Anna Korra’ti, Raven Oak, with other guests such as Scott Hungerford (Games), Marvel comic artist (and fine artist) Jeffrey Veregge, Musical guest Dara Korra’ti of Crime & the Forces of Evil, Tor editor Beth Meacham, and actor Drew Hobson (Voice of Marcus, State of Decay).  We hope to be an international fan destination as we add more speakers and guests in the coming months!

An Indiegogo appeal to pay the expenses has raised $25 of its $9,000 goal in the first 23 hours.

(14) THE FOUNDERS’ CODE. The We Are ALL Science Fiction Code of Conduct announced by Lou J. Berger and Quincy J. Allen is:

#WeAreALLSF is open to all comers, no exceptions, no exclusions, and in this place we treat everyone with respect, even if we disagree with them.

There is one rule: If you don’t have something nice to say, then say it someplace else. Lou and I will be rather draconian in removing those who can’t follow such a simple rule.

That is our one code of conduct.

(15) THE PAST THROUGH PHOTOSHOP. artworkofarmies’ collection “Images may not be historically accurate” improves WWII-era photos by adding science fictional references.

View post on imgur.com

(16) RETRO MOVES FORWARD. Von Dimpleheimer, our correspondent from 1940, has made progress with his due diligence for Volume 5 of Retro-Hugo eligible stories.

I went back and double and triple checked all the previous stories and the ones that would be in Volume Five and I found another mistake. In 1950, Nelson Bond made a fix-up novel of the Lancelot Biggs stories and did renew the copyright of that book in 1977. I removed “Lancelot Biggs Cooks a Pirate” from Volume One and uploaded the new version. I actually knew about the book and remember checking for a renewal, but just missed it somehow.

I cut the Lancelot Biggs stories from Volume Five and I am sure the remaining stories are public domain, but I’ll quintuple check them before I send you the links later this week.

On the plus side, all this checking led me to the fact that “Russell Storm” was actually Robert Moore Williams and I now have two more of his stories for future volumes.

(16) FAVORITE 2015 FANTASY. Stephanie Bugis’ list of “Favorite Fantasy Novels from 2015” leads off with a book by Aliette de Bodard.

 

  1. The House of Shattered Wings, by Aliette de Bodard. Rich, immersive, gorgeous dark fantasy with fallen angels and Vietnamese Immortals, set in a magically post-apocalyptic version of twentieth-century Paris. I read the whole thing on my overnight plane ride back from America to the UK this summer and was so absorbed, I didn’t even mind the lost sleep! You can read my full Goodreads review here.

(17) STOCK THE SHELVES. Melissa Gilbert’s post “Read Like a Writer” at Magical Words takes inspiration from several Stephen King quotes.

I am going to start with the first quotation: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

I cannot express how much truth there is to these statements. Writing is hard work, contrary to the romanticized ideal of a guy with a beret sitting in a Parisian coffee shop daydreaming about the next bestseller. Being a writer is sitting at the keyboard and pushing keys in rapid succession trying to convey into words the sometimes jumbled picture that is floating around in your brain. It’s living off Snickers bars for a while because you have a deadline and no time to cook actual food. It’s reading in the bathroom instead of Facebooking because you need to finish that next chapter. It’s lugging a book or forty with you in your suitcase when you go on vacation so that you don’t run out of things to read. It’s typing with your thumbs on your smartphone while waiting for the elevator or while commuting on the train so you can get your thousand words in that day. It’s talking to people when you get stuck. It’s staring at the blank page in abject fear that no ideas will come. Writing isn’t easy. Okay, maybe it is. Let me rephrase. GOOD writing isn’t easy. But some things (like reading) can help to make it pleasurable.

(18) ONE’S THE LIMIT. Madeleine E. Robins advocates limiting a character’s advantages over others in “A Rule of One” at Book View Café.

I have this theory. Or maybe it’s just an idea. It’s about the advantages you give your characters. And how many advantages you can give them without distracting from the story or making them unbearable.

Advantages? Beauty is one, and very common; but there’s also intelligence, skill, charm, grace, wit, fortune, discernment, athletic ability, good birth, kind parents, a person who encourages them to follow their dreams, etc. All of these things are wonderful. But most people don’t get to have them all. And if you write a character who does get them all, it’s sort of cheating.

This is particularly important in writing historical fiction, or fantasy set in an historically inspired context (it works for SF too, but to keep things simple I’m limiting my scope). It is easy, and tempting, to create a character who is ahead of her/his time: “You fools, feudalism is doomed! Let us storm the castle and demand the birth of democracy!” A reader may want to sympathize with a character who partakes of our sensibilities more than he does of those of his time, but some writers leave out any clue as to where that vision came from.

(19) RED MARS. According to io9, a live-action adaptation of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars is coming to Spike TV.

J. Michael Straczinski and Game of Throne’s Vince Gerardis are executive producing, and believe it or not, Spike TV has ordered it “straight-to-series” without a pilot.

(20) SELDES OBIT. Editor and literary agent Timothy Seldes died December 5 reports Newsday. He was 88.

Raised in New York City and a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, Seldes grew up around words, ideas and the performing arts. He was the brother of Tony-winning actress Marian Seldes, son of the drama critic and author Gilbert Seldes and nephew of the pioneering press critic George Seldes. He spent much of his editing career at the Doubleday house, where he rose to managing editor and authors included [Richard] Wright and Isaac Asimov.

(21) TWITTER. Your tweetage may vary. Ann Leckie’s certainly does, as she explains in “Me and Twitter”.

Now, I do look at my mentions, and not infrequently reply to those in some way. I do enjoy doing that. But every now and then, someone will turn up in my mentions in some way that’s very clearly designed to get my attention in a particular way–the tweeter wants me to notice their book, or asks explicitly that I follow them back (and they’re not someone I already know). I’m going to be honest, this irritates me. No offense, right? They’re obviously using Twitter as a promotional tool, where I’m using it to hang with people. This is mostly fine with me, in the abstract, I’ve got no problem with publicity or promotion. In the concrete and specific, I’d suggest that approaching promotion on Twitter as largely a question of amassing a lot of followers who you can then tweet to about your book is, perhaps, not as effective as you imagine it might be. I’ll also suggest that, if you want to engage the interest of someone with a lot of twitter followers, whose retweets or conversations with you might bring you the visibility you’re after, you might want to do your research about who that person is and why they have those followers, and not try to engage them with generic questions, let alone passive-aggressive tweets meant to guilt or provoke that person into replying or following back. But, you know, it’s your call, your life, your Twitter feed. And I’m totally okay with using the block and mute buttons whenever it seems convenient. (That would be the way the “react badly” mentioned in the tweets above usually manifests itself.)

(22) DRAWING TO A PAIR OF VONNEGUTS. Ginger Strand’s biography The Brothers Vonnegut is receiving mixed reviews, though all the critics say it’s interesting.

Katy Waldman on Slate finds some of connections discovered by the author “immensely satisfying.”

The Brothers Vonnegut, with its perfect-storm-of-concepts subtitle “Science and Fiction in the House of Magic,” focuses on Bernard and Kurt Vonnegut during the late ’40s and ’50s, when both were involved in the glittering ascent of General Electric during the postwar prosperity boom. Bernard, an MIT graduate and model elder son, researches at the company’s prestigious science lab. Kurt, having survived the Western Front (where he saw the firebombing of Dresden firsthand), takes a job as a PR flack, issuing zingy press releases about GE’s latest innovations.

Ben Jackson at the Guardian concludes:

[Kurt] didn’t hold out much hope for us: in Fates Worse than Death he wrote: “My guess is that … we really will blow up everything by and by”. No doubt Strand is right to locate the origin of many of his concerns in his time at GE, and there is certainly a lot to be said for her interesting book, but Kurt Vonnegut had more on his mind than the weather.

Jeff Milo at Paste Magazine is the most enthusiastic:

The benefits of The Brothers Vonnegut are threefold, starting with Strand’s insights into the professional and domestic lives of these two brothers, both equally strong-willed in their works despite their fields being worlds apart. Strand also draws attention to the vital support these brothers received from their wives, Lois Bowler with Bernard and Jane Marie Cox (Kurt’s first wife). More than that, though, these women are able to substantially enter into the narrative’s insightful spotlight, rather than being merely supportive backdrops for the brothers.

(23) RAMPAGE ON RECORD. Jim Mowatt’s run to Save the Rhino made the Cambridge News.

Mowatt in Cambridge News

(24) PLUTO ON CAMERA. NASA has released a video composed of the sharpest views of Pluto obtained by its New Horizons spacecraft during its flyby in July.

[Thanks to Von Dimpleheimer, Alan Baumler, David K.M. Klaus, JJ, Andrew Porter, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

How J.K. Rowling Spent Black Friday

J.K. Rowling was constantly online Friday trying to set her Twitter followers straight about why Harry Potter named his son after Snape (and also Dumbledore, but nobody minds that).

Pixel Scroll 11/16 Time Enough For Hedgehogs

(1) The UCLA Library’s Special Collections include the Gene Roddenberry Star Trek collection and the Robert Justman Papers.

A year ago the Special Collections’ blog posted Justman’s memo to Roddenberry about some wigs and hairpieces that had gone missing. The Captain of the Starship Enterprise was the prime suspect.

Back in the day Shatner’s denials about wearing a toupee were news, but people long ago quit keeping his secret.

That anger spilled out in 1967 when the prestigious Life magazine sent a photographer to the Star Trek set – not to profile Shatner but Nimoy, who was being photographed having his pointy Vulcan ears put on in the make-up room.

James Doohan recalled in his memoir: “Bill’s hairpiece was being applied. The top of his head was a lot of skin and a few odd tufts of hair. The mirrors on the make-up room walls were arranged so that we could all see the laying on of his rug.”

Shatner suddenly exploded angrily from his seat and ordered the photographer to leave. George Takei, aged 70, who played Sulu, recalls: “Leonard was livid. He refused to have his make-up completed until the photographer was allowed back.”

(2) In celebration of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary in 2016, publisher Simon & Schuster is bringing back the popular fan fiction writing contest, Strange New Worlds.

Ten winning selections will be published as part of an all-new official anthology, coming from Simon & Schuster in 2016.

Plus, two first prize winners will receive a free, self-publishing package from Archway Publishing!

Register for the contest here.

(3) “CBS Pulls ‘Supergirl’ Episode Due To Similarities To Paris Attack” reports ScienceFiction.com.

Out of respect for the events that happened in Paris last Friday, CBS has decided to delay the episode of ‘Supergirl’ set to air tonight, titled ‘How Does She Do It?’ Apparently the episode revolved around Supergirl dealing with a series of bombings around National City, which the network felt might be a little to similar to the tragic events that struck Paris. With all of the heartbreak and discord currently enveloping that poor city, it makes perfect sense why the network would delay the episode, especially when shows like ‘Supergirl’ should serve as an escape for people from the real world, not a twisted reflection of current tragedies.

(4) “J.K. Rowling Said THIS Is Her Favorite Harry Potter Theory” – the theoretical tweets are posted on PopSugar.

The first Harry Potter book came out 18 years ago, but not a day goes by where new theories and plot coincidences don’t shock us all (and make us want to reread the entire series). J.K. Rowling keeps up with them too and she recently answered a fan’s question about which is her favorite.

(5) This year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special will be shown in North American cinemas on December 28 and 29. Get tickets through Fathom Events

The Doctor is back on the big screen this holiday season for a special two-night event featuring an exclusive interview with Alex Kingston and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the special featuring Peter Capaldi, Stephen Moffat and more….

It’s Christmas in the future and the TARDIS is parked on a snowy village street, covered in icicles, awaiting its next adventure. Time traveler River Song meets her husband’s new incarnation, in the form of Peter Capaldi, for the first time! Don’t miss this unique opportunity to celebrate the holidays with fellow Whovians in cinemas this December.

 

(6) It seems you can’t guarantee a win by betting on Albert Einstein after all. IFL Science brings word that an “Experiment Proves Einstein Wrong”.

Scientists at the National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) have proven beyond reasonable doubt that Einstein was wrong about one of the main principles of quantum mechanics and that “spooky action at a distance” is actually real.

We are now certain that entanglement, the ability of particles to affect each other regardless of distance, exists and that it’s an intrinsic property of the universe. When a pair or a group of particles are entangled, they cannot be described independently from each other. Measuring a particular property, like velocity, of a single particle affects all the other entangled particles.

Einstein and many other scientists believed that this phenomenon was paradoxical, as it would allow for information to be exchanged instantaneously across vast distances. He dubbed it “spooky action at a distance” and he believed that there was a way to reproduce this phenomenon with classical physics. He claimed that there were hidden variables – quantities that we didn’t or couldn’t know – that would make quantum mechanics perfectly predictable.

(7) Mark Lawrence seeks feedback on what really creates a sense of diversity in fiction.

JK Rowling told the world after the event that Dumbledore is gay. There was no need to mention it in the books – it didn’t come up. So … after reading seven books with gay Dumbledore and no mention of it … do gay people feel represented?

If Tolkien rose from the grave for 60 seconds to mention that, by the way, Gandalf is black … would that be delivering diversity?

Or does diversity mean seeing black people’s experience (in itself a vastly diverse thing) represented in fantasy – and the fantasy world needs real-world racism imported so the reader sees that particular aspect of black people’s experience?

In my trilogy, The Red Queen’s War, the main character is of mixed race. It’s not mentioned very often – though he does meet someone in the frozen north who mocks and intimidates him over his ‘dirty’ skin. In the trilogy I’m writing at the moment, Red Sister, the world is reduced to an equatorial corridor hemmed in by advancing ice. All races are mixed and have been for thousands of years. There are many skin tones and it’s of no more note or interest than hair and eye colour. Does a person of colour reading that feel represented – or does the failure to connect with the prejudice of the real world mean that they don’t feel represented?

I don’t know. I’m asking.

I’m not writing these books to promote diversity or represent anyone – the worlds and characters are just the way they are – just how the pieces of my imagination and logic meshed together on these particular occasions. But the question interests me.

(8) Congratulations to Jonathan Edelstein on his first professional story publication, “First Do No Harm”, at Strange Horizons.

For twenty-seven thousand years—through kingdoms and republics, through prophets and messiahs, through decay and collapse and rebirth—the city and the medical school had grown around each other. The campus stretched across districts and neighborhoods, spanning parks and rivers, but few buildings belonged to it alone: an operating theater might once have been a workshop, a classroom a factory floor. The basement room where Mutende sat in a circle of his fellow basambilila was an ancient one and had been many things: office, boiler room, refrigerator, storage for diagnostic equipment. Remnants of all its uses were in the walls, the fixtures, and most of all, in memory….

(9) At The 48th Sitges – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, The Invitation, directed by Karyn Kusama, picked up the Award for Best Feature Film in the Sitges 2015 Official Fantàstic Selection. The winners of the festival’s other awards can be found here.

(10) MousePlanet has the details about what’s going on with Star Wars at Disneyland – a long article with lots of photos —  but SPOILER WARNING.

If you don’t want to know anything about Star Wars – The Force Awakens before you see it in the theater, you should probably skip this update too. Before you go, heed this warning: If you wish to remain spoiler-free until December 18th, don’t go into the Star Wars Launch Bay, don’t see the Path of the Jedi feature in the Tomorrowland Theater, and don’t ride Star Tours. Hyperspace Mountain is spoiler-free, and a complete blast – you can enjoy that worry free, and see the rest of the additions in a month….

Star Wars Launch Bay

The lower level of the former Innoventions building – now officially known as the Tomorrowland Expo Center – is now the Star Wars Launch Bay. From the moment you step inside, you enter a spoiler-filled space packed with artwork, props and merchandise from across the Star Wars saga, including from the upcoming movie Star Wars – The Force Awakens. The Launch Bay is divided into six sections, with some smaller areas around the outer ring of the building.

Entrance and Gallery

The largest portion of the Launch Bay is devoted to case after case of props and replicas from the Star Wars Saga, including previews of people, places and things from Star Wars – The Force Awakens. Again, if you’re trying to avoid spoilers, you have no business in this exhibit.

The Light Side (Chewbacca meet-and-greet)

Enter a rebel hideout, and come face-to-face with the best co-pilot in the galaxy. To occupy you while you wait in what could be a very long line, the queue is filled with props from the Light Side, including lightsabers and helmets.

The Dark Side (Darth Vader meet-and-greet)

Like the Light Side, the queue for the Darth Vader meet-and-greet is filled with Sith props. Lord Vader isn’t much one for conversation, but he does have some prepared remarks for your encounter on the deck of a Star Destroyer. Disney PhotoPass photographers are on hand to document your meeting.

 

Star Wars Landing Bay carpet.

Star Wars Landing Bay carpet.

(11) Norbert Schürer discusses “Tolkien Criticism Today” in LA Review of Books. It takes awhile, but he finally finds something good to say.

It is perhaps no wonder, then, that the field of Tolkien studies is in a sad state. This is not to say that there aren’t excellent critics (such as Tom Shippey, Verlyn Flieger, and Jane Chance) and outstanding scholarly venues (particularly the venerable journal Mythlore and the more recent annual Tolkien Studies). However, judging by seven recent works of Tolkien scholarship, there are various challenges in the field. Much criticism features weak, underdeveloped arguments or poor writing, and the field is overrun by niche publishers who seem to have little quality control…..

With the Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien and Tolkien: The Forest and the City (in parts), the future of Tolkien studies is perhaps not entirely bleak. The Companion in particular is a volume from a well-established publisher, which actually gives Tolkien academic cachet by including him in their Companion series. The essays in this volume and in Tolkien: The Forest and the City make well-developed, well-written, comprehensive, and compelling arguments. Thus, these books show the two requirements for good Tolkien criticism. For one, he should be treated like any other author in being discussed in seriously peer-reviewed journals and established academic presses rather than in essay collections and niche publications. Just as importantly, Tolkien should not be treated with kid gloves because he is a fan favorite with legions to be placated, but as the serious and major author he is.

(12) Jennifer M. Wood discusses “11 Famous Books That Have Proven Impossible to Film” at Mental Floss.

6. UBIK

Believe it or not, there is a Philip K. Dick novel that has yet to be made into a movie. Which isn’t to say that an adaptation of this 1969 sci-fi tale of telepathy and moon colonization (set in the then-futuristic year of 1992) hasn’t been tried. As early as 1974, filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin commissioned Dick to adapt his own work for filming. Dick finished the script in less than a month; though it was never produced, it was published in 1985 as Ubik: The Screenplay. In 2006, A Scanner Darkly producer Tommy Pallotta announced that he was readying the film for production. In 2011, it was Michel Gondry who was confirmed to be at the helm … until earlier this year, when Gondry told The Playlist that he was no longer working on it.

(13) Farnam Street Blog’s “Accidents Will Happen” is an excerpt from Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, by Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation, 2001), about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal.

command and control cover

A B-47 bomber was taxiing down the runway at a SAC base in Sidi Slimane, Morocco, on January 31, 1958. The plane was on ground alert, practicing runway maneuvers, cocked but forbidden to take off. It carried a single Mark 36 bomb. To make the drill feel as realistic as possible, a nuclear core had been placed in the bomb’s in-flight insertion mechanism. When the B-47 reached a speed of about 20 miles an hour, one of the rear tires blew out. A fire started in the wheel well and quickly spread to the fuselage. The crew escaped without injury, but the plane split in two, completely engulfed in flames. Firefighters sprayed the burning wreckage for 10 minutes—long past the time factor of the Mark 36—then withdrew. The flames reached the bomb, and the commanding general at Sidi Slimane ordered that the base be evacuated immediately. Cars full of airmen and their families sped into the Moroccan desert, fearing a nuclear disaster.

The fire lasted for two and a half hours. The high explosives in the Mark 36 burned but didn’t detonate. According to an accident report, the hydrogen bomb and parts of the B-47 bomber melted into “a slab of slag material weighing approximately 8,000 pounds, approximately 6 to 8 feet wide and 12 to 15 feet in length with a thickness of 10 to 12 inches.” A jackhammer was used to break the slag into smaller pieces. The “particularly ‘hot’ pieces” were sealed in cans, and the rest of the radioactive slag was buried next to the runway. Sidi Slimane lacked the proper equipment to measure levels of contamination, and a number of airmen got plutonium dust on their shoes, spreading it not just to their car but also to another air base.

(14) Tomorrow you can download Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Stories Inspired by Microsoft

— an anthology of short stories written by some of today’s greatest science fiction authors. These visionary stories explore prediction science, quantum computing, real-time translation, machine learning, and much more. The contributing authors were inspired by inside access to leading-edge work, including in-person visits to Microsoft’s research labs, to craft new works that predict the near-future of technology and examine its complex relationship to our core humanity.

AUTHOR ROLL CALL

Elizabeth Bear · Greg Bear · David Brin · Nancy Kress · Ann Leckie · Jack McDevitt · Seanan McGuire · Robert J. Sawyer The collection also includes a short graphic novel by Blue Delliquanti and Michele Rosenthal, and original illustrations by Joey Camacho.

 

future_visions_sitg_th

(15) Abigail Nussbaum has “Five Comments on Hamilton”.

If you’re like me, you probably spent some portion of the last six months watching your online acquaintance slowly become consumed with (or by) something called Hamilton.  And then when you looked it up it turned to be a musical playing halfway around the world that you will probably never see.  But something strange and surprising is happening around Hamilton–a race-swapped, hip-hop musical about the short life and dramatic death of Alexander Hamilton, revolutionary soldier, founding father of the United States, co-author of The Federalist Papers, and creator of the US financial system.  Unusually for a work of pop culture that is only available to a small, even select group of people, Hamilton is becoming a fannish phenomenon, inspiring fanfic and fanart and, mostly, a hell of a lot of enthusiasm….

(16) Local Three Stooges fans will convene November 28 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. The 18th Annual Alex Film Society The Three Stooges Big Screen Event “showcases six classic Stooges shorts featuring Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp preparing, throwing and wearing food. Will high society matrons be hit in the face with cream pies? Soitenly!”

On the bill of fare — A Pain In The Pullman (1936, Preston Black), Healthy, Wealthy and Dumb (1938, Del Lord), Idiots Deluxe (1945, Jules White), Crash Goes The Hash (1944, Jules White), Sing A Song Of Six Pants (1947, Jules White), Dutiful But Dumb (1941, Del Lord).

(17) SF Site News announced this year’s ISFiC Writer’s Contest winner:

M. Aruguete won the ISFiC Writer’s Contest with her story “Catamount.” The contest is sponsored by ISFiC in conjunction with Windycon. Aruguete won a membership at Windycon, room nights, and $300. Her story was published in the con program book. This year’s contest was judged by Richard Chwedyk, Roland Green, and Elizabeth Anne Hull.

(18) Jeff Somers, in a guest post for SF Signal, argues that his stories with psionics should stay on the sf shelf at the bookstore.

As the TV Tropes page on psychic powers says, “Telepathy, clairvoyance, pyrokinesis—the powers are supernatural, but the names are scientific, which is good enough for soft Sci-Fi.” This sort of disdain is the top layer of a debate that’s been raging for decades about whether or not a story can have psychic powers and still be considered Science Fiction as opposed to Fantasy. The argument is simple: There is absolutely no evidence that supports psychic powers of any kind being possible, and without at least the real-world scientific possibility, they’re essentially magic powers. Which makes your story a Fantasy, thanks for playing, you might as well shove a bearded wizard in there and start reading Wikipedia articles about broadswords.

Anyway, I started thinking about all this recently because I’ve been writing and publishing digital-only short stories set in the Avery Cates universe, and in that universe (from the very beginning) there are psionic (er, psychic) powers…

(19) Mindy Klasky points out the varied uses of feedback, in “C is for Critique” at Book  View Café.

Critique partners offer authors valuable insight into what works and what does not work in a book. Sometimes, that criticism is directly on point—the mere statement of the problem is enough to help an author see what needs to be fixed. Other times, an author concludes that a critic is mistaken—she doesn’t understand the book, or she isn’t familiar with a particular sub-genre, or she was having a bad day as she wrote her criticism. Even in those cases, the rational writer considers the criticism as a warning that the reader was pulled off track at that particular point. Often, a critic finds fault with a particular aspect of a book (e.g., “your heroine sounds whiny when she talks to her best friend”) but an author discovers a completely different fix (e.g., the heroine shouldn’t be talking to her best friend in that scene; instead, she should be taking steps to solve her problem more directly.) Critics aren’t omniscient, but they can be good barometers of when a story succeeds.

(20) Kameron Hurley says this is “Why You Should Be Watching The Man in The High Castle:

I’m not sure when I realized that this wasn’t a story about the Nazis and Japanese Empire laying waste to the happy United States we have in our happy memories. I think it was when the Japanese Empire raids a Jewish man’s house, seemingly for no reason, and I realized it looked a lot like a swatting raid, or a raid on some innocent brown man with an Arab-sounding name, or the FBI raid on an innocent professor accused of sending sensitive material to the Chinese. And in that moment I realized the entire world I’d been presented thus in the show far wasn’t so much different from the United States in 2015, and that in fact the show was very much aware of that. If you’re brown, or black, or Muslim, or have a non-white sounding name, or you look at a TSA agent funny, or say something about supporting terrorism online (threatening to murder a woman is still OK! But I digress), get ready to get raided, detained, tortured, thrown into prison, or disappeared. I thought about our creepy no-fly lists, about police throwing students to the floor in classrooms, about minor traffic violations that end with somebody strangling you to death in prison and pretending you totally hung yourself with a plastic bag. I thought of this whole world we’ve built, post-World War II, and realized this show wasn’t saying, “Wouldn’t things be so different?” but instead, “Are things really as different as we think?”

(21) Move and groove like everyone’s favorite kaiju with Logemas Godzilla Simulator.

There’s something big coming this way… Logemas’ latest Motion Capture and VR demo!

We’re tracking 7 objects, hands, feet, hips, chest and an Oculus DK2 with Vicon Bonita cameras and streaming into the Unreal game engine for some mayhem!

Of course, we all want to know where they attach the tail-motion-generator.

[Thanks to Petréa Mitchell, Meredith, Will R., Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 11/10 The nine and sixty ways of constructing Pixel Scrolls

(1) Oscar handicappers have The Martian running second for Best Picture says Variety.

In the Oscar race for best picture, “The Martian” has taken off like a rocket among the predictions by media experts at Gold Derby. One month ago, it wasn’t even in the top 10, but now it’s tied for second place with “Joy,” both sharing 17 to 2 odds. “Spotlight” remains out front and has picked up support as it debuts in theaters.

(2) J. K. Rowling tweeted her favorite fan art of Sirius and James Potter:

(3) Auditioning to be the next Doctor?

(4) “Future’s Past: The astronauts of 2001: A Space Odyssey at The Space Review covers actors Keir Dullea’s and Gary Lockwood’s appearance at Dragon Con.

Lockwood also said that they got to meet the Apollo 11 crew, and then he paused and said, “I liked Neil… I don’t like Buzz.” He added that often when he and Dullea do joint appearances at film showings, somehow Buzz Aldrin always seems to appear and people want to introduce Aldrin to him. Lockwood drolly replies that he already knows the moonwalker. He implied that he had a similar low opinion of William Shatner, with whom he appeared in the second television pilot for Star Trek.

Lockwood also told a great story about working on the centrifuge set, which he thought was brilliantly designed. He joked that he realized that Kubrick hired him for the job because of his previous experience as a cowboy stuntman. One day Lockwood found himself strapped into his chair, eating goop from his food tray—upside down. Keir Dullea was supposed to climb down the ladder at the center of the set and then the whole set would rotate as he walked over to where Lockwood was sitting. Kubrick called “action” and told Lockwood to take a bite, and Lockwood then watched as the three squares of goop slowly peeled off his tray… and fell nearly 70 feet to the floor below, splattering everything on the pristine white set. They didn’t shoot for the rest of the day.

The actors took some questions from the audience and had some really interesting answers. For instance, somebody asked if they knew that the film would be a classic. Dullea said that he had his doubts because the early reviews were so poor. In particular, he mentioned New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael’s infamous devastating review, where she referred to 2001 as “trash masquerading as art” and “monumentally unimaginative.” Kael later recanted upon seeing the film a second time, but 2001 received numerous other lackluster and even harsh reviews. Considering that 2001 was released way behind schedule and over budget, expectations had been high, and presumably many critics were waiting to pounce.

(5) Entertainment Weekly has the good word — “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Is Returning”.

Next year, TV viewers will be able to relive all manner of classic ’90s shows, with new episodes of The X-FilesTwin Peaks, Gilmore Girls, and Full House on the horizon. Add one more returning series to that list, as Joel Hodgson is announcing Tuesday that his beloved cult creation Mystery Science Theater 3000 is coming back after 15 years of dormancy.

For those unaware, the premise of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is brilliantly simple: A mad scientist has launched a man into space, and he torments said subject with psychological experiments that involve him watching some of the worst movies ever made. In order to keep it together, the poor marooned host talks back at the screen, aided by a pair of pop culture-obsessed robots. The MST3K crew may not have invented talking back to the screen, but they certainly brought it to the masses.

(6) Gray Rinehart finds connections between running for local office and his experience as a Hugo nominee in “Political Lessons and… the Hugo Awards?”

I ran for elective office this year, and lost. (For the record, I spent about 0.41% of the total that all four candidates in my district spent up until the election, and I got 3.5% of the vote. Not close to winning, but a good return on my meager investment.)

I was also nominated for a Hugo Award this year, and lost. The story behind that has been chronicled on this blog and elsewhere, and I won’t go into it in this post. (For the record, and as nearly as I can tell from trying to figure out the preferential voting numbers, about 9% of the 5100 novelette voters selected my story as their first choice. I ended up in fourth place . . . two spots below “No Award.”)

I introduce the fact of my being on political and literary ballots this year because I observed two things in the recent Town Council election process that seem pertinent to this year’s Hugo Awards. Specifically, that the political parties inserted themselves deeply into what was supposed to be a nonpartisan race, and other players also wielded considerable influence; and that a lot of voter information was readily available for the candidates to use.

A lot of food for thought. Among Rinehart’s many points:

And as long as we divide ourselves, or in the case of fandom subdivide ourselves; as long as we separate ourselves into (virtual or actual) walled-off enclaves and echo chambers, and associate only with those who look like us, act like us, and believe the things we do; we will find it harder to understand, relate to, and get along with one another — in civil life as well as in the SF&F community.

I think we would be well-served as a fannish community if we talked more about what we love and why we love it, without implying that those who do not love it as we do are ignorant or contemptible. And I think we would be better off if we recalled another RAH observation, also from Friday (emphasis in original): “Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms . . . but a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.”

(7) A fascinating installment of Robert W. Weinberg’s memoirs published by Tangent Online in 2011, “Collecting Fantasy Art #5: Lail, It Rhymes With Gail”

Six months later, Victor grew tired of the Freas and traded it to me.  The impossible had happened.  So much for my predictions. I now owned the original cover paintings for the first and second serial installments of Robert Heinlein’s novel, The Door Into Summer.  Immediately, I contacted Al, the guy I had met at the 1976 World SF Convention in Kansas City, to see if he still owned the third and final cover painting for the serial.  I had passed on that cover, though it had been priced cheap, because I had felt certain at the time I would never obtain the second cover painting for the novel.  Now that I had that piece, I really wanted the third cover so I would have all three paintings for the novel.

No such luck.  Al had sold the Freas painting at the convention.  He didn’t remember who bought it, and he didn’t even remember how much they had paid for it.  The painting was long gone.  I had had a chance to buy it back in Kansas City and had passed it by.

I learned my lesson that day.  Only too well.   Never pass up a painting of minor importance because someday that minor meaning might explode.  It was a difficult lesson to learn, but an important one.  It’s one I have never forgotten.

(8) No other writer handles one-star reviews this badly. “British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle” at Gawker.

A 28-year-old British man, most notable for his 2006 victory on the quiz show Countdown, tracked down a Scottish teenager who’d written a negative review of his self-published novel and shattered a bottle of wine on the back of her head. The aspiring author pleaded guilty to the 2014 assault in a Scottish court Monday, the Mirror reported.

Brittain claimed the early reception for The World Rose was strong, blogging that “The praise I received was remarkable and made me feel great; I was compared to Dickens, Shakespeare, Rowling, Raymond E Feist and Nora Roberts.”

…But he also complained about bad reviews from “idiots” and “teenagers.”

One of those teenagers was Paige Rolland, the eventual victim of Brittain’s savage bottle attack. Her entire harsh (but fair) review has been preserved on Amazon, but this passage really sums up her criticism:

As a reader, I’m bored out of my skull and severely disappointed in what I might have paid for. As a writer (albeit an amateur one) I’m appalled that anyone would think this was worthy of money.

Not only does it begin with “once upon a time” which you could argue is perfect as this is a fairytale (and it doesn’t work, it’s incredibly pretentious), but it’s filled with many writing no-nos. Way too much telling, pretentious prose, and a main character that I already hate. Ella is the perfect princess (true to fairytales, so we can at least give him a little credit despite how painfully annoying this is coupled with a complete lack of real personality shining through).

Rolland also noted that Brittain “has gained a bit of infamy on Wattpad where he’s known for threatening users who don’t praise him (pray for me),” which turned out to be quite portentous.

(9) Here’s a word I’m betting you haven’t in your NaNoWriMo novel yet.

(10) Strange poll.

It’s a perennial question. I remember at the 1995 Lunacon that Mordechai Housman, an Orthodox Jew, was having fun circulating copies of his provocative arti­cle Hitler’s Crib, which tries to determine wheth­er religious law would permit time travel and, specifically, wheth­er it would permit travel­ing in time to kill Hitler.

(11) You know this guy: “Plane” at The Oatmeal.

(12) Today In History

  • November 10, 1969Sesame Street debuts.
  • November 10, 1969 — Gene Autry received a gold record for the single, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 20 years after its release.

(13) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • November 10, 1960 – Neil Gaiman

(14) James Whitbrook presents “The 7 Least Subtle Political Allegories on Doctor Who. His pick at number one (most lacking in subtlety) is “The Happiness Patrol.”

But it’s the despot herself who is the most obvious pastiche. Sheila Hancock openly plays the leader Helen A as a satirical take on then-Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady” who dominated British politics. At the time, this barely made ripples, but a 2010 story in the British newspaper The Sunday Times about the connection—featuring a quote from Sylvester McCoy describing Mrs. Thatcher as “more terrifying than any monster the Doctor had encountered”—saw Conservative politicians in uproar at the anti-Conservative bias this revealed on the part of the BBC. Ex-script editor Andrew Cartmel was brought onto the BBC news program Newsnight to answer claims that the 1980s Doctor Who creative team had been a source of left-wing propaganda in the wake of the “revelation”… despite the story having been no particular secret, 22 years earlier.

Always remember – science fiction is never about the future….

(15) A previously unpublished Leigh Brackett story is one of the lures to buy Haffner Press’ tribute book, Leigh Brackett Centennial.

SF and mystery author Leigh Brackett (1915-1978) – who also wrote screenplays for The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo and The Empire Strikes Back —?is represented by an array of nonfiction pieces by and about here, as well as the previously unpublished story “They,” which Haffner describes as “a mature science fiction tale of power and intrigue, of homegrown xenophobia versus stellar exploration, with an answer to the ultimate question: ‘Are we alone?’” The volume collects the majority of Brackett’s nonfiction writings, supplemented with vintage interviews and commentaries/remembrances from such luminaries as Ray Bradbury, Michael Moorcock, Richard A. Lupoff and more.

Brackett writes of bringing Philip Marlowe into the 1970s for Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye in “From The Big Sleep to The Long Goodbye and More or Less How We Got There.”

SF-author and NASA employee Joseph Green records the time he hosted Brackett at the launch of Apollo XII . . .
Midwest bookseller Ray Walsh documents the day he escorted Brackett to view a new groundbreaking space-fantasy film in the summer 1977…

Order the book at this link: http://www.haffnerpress.com/book/lb100/

(16) John Scalzi gives his take on balancing awards and mental health:

I’ve won and lost enough awards to know an award is not The Thing That Changes Everything. An award is fun, an award is nice, an award may even be, at times, significant. But at the end of the day, whether you win or lose, you still go home with yourself, and you don’t change — at least, not because of an award. It’s perfectly fine to want an award (I’ve wanted them from time to time, you can be assured) and it’s perfectly okay to be disappointed if you don’t get one. But ultimately, putting the responsibility for your happiness onto an award, which is, generally speaking, a thing over which you have absolutely no control, is a very fine way to become unhappy. Which will not be on the award, or any of the people who voted for it. It will be on you, whether you want to own that fact or not.

(17) Luna Lindsey reviews two competing online tools in “Panlexicon vs. Visual Thesaurus — Who Will Win?” at the SFWA Blog.

I kept Visual Thesaurus on retainer as my go-to onomasticon until I stumbled upon Panlexicon.com in all of its simple, elegant magic.

The power of Panlexicon lies in its ability to search on multiple terms, which will bring up a larger spectrum of metonyms than most thesauri (including Visual Thesaurus). So it’s perfect for finding that just-out-of-reach expression when all you can remember are remotely-related numinous approximations of what you’re going for. Simply type two or more related words or phrases, separated by a comma, and voilà. (And of course, you can always search a standalone word.)

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., Mark-kitteh, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Jim Meadows for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 11/7 The Manliness of MEH

(1) “The Empire Strikes Thomas Kinkade” points to Jeff Bennett’s satirical improvements on “The Artist of Light.”

(2) American wizards have a completely different word for “Muggle” reveals Entertainment Weekly.

Next year’s Harry Potter prequel film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set in 1926 New York, where the wizarding community uses another term entirely for people without magical powers.

In shifting the franchise away from the U.K., author J.K. Rowling — who also wrote the movie’s screenplay — is poised to introduce several new words into the Potterverse lexicon, and the most significant might be what Stateside wizards say instead of Muggle: “No-Maj” (pronounced “no madge,” as in “no magic”).

(3) And here’s a gallery of images from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

In Entertainment Weekly’s new issue, we go on the set and deep inside the chamber of secrets of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Here’s your first look at Katherine Waterston as Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein, Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, Alison Sudol and Queenie Goldstein, and Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski.

(4) More alleged secrets are spilled by the host of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert:

J.K. Rowling can’t stop revealing “Harry Potter” secrets, even though the last book came out over 8 years ago. It’s time for Stephen to take spoilers into his own hands.

 

(5) Adam Whitehead, in “A History of Epic Fantasy – Part 25“, courts controversy by asking about the Harry Potter series:

But is it really an epic fantasy?

That question has been asked many times before and has proven slightly controversial. The more obvious answer may be no: the books are set in the “real” world, with some of the action taking place in real locations such as London. Much of the story is set in and around a single location, Hogwarts, whilst epic fantasy is often based around a long journey or series of journeys across a fantastical landscape. Epic fantasy also usually features a large and diverse number of nonhuman races, whilst Harry Potter only has a small number of them, and all of the primary protagonists are human. Epic fantasy also relies on characters with diverse skillsets, whilst in Potter pretty much everyone of note is a wizard.

But there are strong arguments to the counter. The books may touch on the real world but most of the action takes place in original, fantastical locations such as Hogwarts. Also, the books make much of the idea of the world being similar to ours, but one where magic is real (if mostly secret) and the impact that has on government and society, making it arguably an alt-history.

(6) At World Fantasy Con 2015:

(7) Also allegedly sighted at WFC by Adam Christopher. No context!

(8) Ethan Mills continues his celebration of Stoic Week at Examined Worlds.

Friday: Relationships with Other People and Society Stoics, Vulcans, Buddhists, and artificial intelligences alike are often accused of being emotionless and not caring about other people.  In all four cases, this is a mistake (although in the case of AIs, it may depend on which AI you’re talking about).  See my philosophical tribute to Leonard Nimoy for more on this point. As any sufficiently nerdy Star Trek fan knows, Vulcans actually have emotions, but, in many of the same ways as Stoics, they train themselves to move beyond being controlled by negative emotions and they cultivate positive emotions like compassion.  Vulcans like Spock do care about their friends.  The deep friendship that Spock feels for his crew mates, especially Kirk and McCoy, is unmistakable, as illustrated most poignantly near the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (whether Spock is a utilitarian or virtue ethicist is hard to say.)

Marcus Aurelius realized that cultivating compassion for everyone is often hard, especially when other people are obnoxious (as they so often are, even more so now that we have internet trolls).

(9) In “Guillermo del Toro’s Guide to Gothic Romance” at Rookie the director lists the Gothic romances that influenced him.

Do you ever wonder what goes on in the wondrous mind of director, producer, and screenwriter Guillermo del Toro? Yes? Same. Well, to chime with the recent release of his creepy, goth thriller Crimson Peak, Guillermo has curated a syllabus of the Gothic and Gothic romance novels, short stories, and engravings that influenced the making of the film. He sent us these recommendations with the following words: “I hope you enjoy some of these as fall or winter reads by the fireplace.” Before you post up beside an actual fire, here’s what Guillermo del Toro has to say about these Gothic essentials.

First on the list –

Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu This book defines the link between fairy tales and gothic romance. Uncle Silas is a convoluted, highly perverse mystery-thriller about innocence in danger, written by the master of ghost stories, J. Sheridan Le Fanu. It’s a dense but rewarding read, and it was crucial to Crimson Peak.

(10) Superman will make a (blurry) appearance on the next episode of Supergirl.

Consequently, Josh Wilding at We Got This Covered is a little bit crabby.

While it makes some sense that Superman would come and save the inexperienced Supergirl, the series really needs to find a way to take him off the board so he’s not continuously used as a plot device in future. If that’s not going to happen, then he should make an actual appearance instead of all these endless teases.

(11) Cedar Sanderson, “The Slow, Dark Eclipse of the Soul”, at Mad Genius Club.

It’s been a discouraging week, overall. First there was the article about SF writers coming into the genre without reading the classics of the genre. Then, when I started working on a list of classics available free (or very cheap) online to suggest to potential readers, I got a comment to the effect of ‘classics suck, they should die in a fire, and why should anyone read them?’

In the aftermath of that, which left me wondering why I was trying to make this list… I don’t make the lists to force anyone to read anything. I can’t – who am I? I’m not the teacher, or the… anything. I’m just someone who likes to create these lists of recommendations with input from others, and then they generate even more suggestions in the comments. I make lists to be beginnings, not endings. The hope is that someone will see a title they had never read, or had forgotten, and that strikes mental sparks in folks who have favorites they want to share, and so on. It’s about building up the genre, not tearing it down. I’d never say ‘you must read these books, and only these books, all others are anathema.’

As I was saying, I was still mentally mulling the whole ‘classics suck!’ thing over in my head, when a minor controversy erupted over writing book reviews. When, if ever, is it ok to be critical in a review? Should we put ourselves in a position where we say ‘well, that author is on my side, ergo I must never say a bad word about his work?’ Well, no, I don’t think so. Nor do I think that the occasional critical review is a bad thing – as long as the review is analyzing the work, not the author, and leavened with the good along with the bad. That’s how I do it. But it’s discouraging to be told that we can’t present a critical view of a work, simply because of who the author is.

(12) Fans are so smitten by the idea of an illuminated toy lightsaber that’s sturdy enough to bash around that they have fully funded Calimacil’s Kickstarter and then some – raising $46,889, well beyond the $38,259 goal.

The challenge was to build a lightsaber made of foam for safe play. To integrate light, we had to enhance the foam formula we normally use to build our products. Moreover, we had to develop a new technology into the handle to enable both light and sound. Thus our journey began, and we successfully achieved the creation of a fully immersive foam LEDsaber!….

The LEDsaber can communicate with a smartphone through Bluetooth. With that communication enabled, you will be able to customize the light effects of the blade. Multiple choices of colors are available: red, blue, green, orange and more. Even more, you can create various visual plasma effects on the blade….

Calimacil has no intention to commercialize the product using any kind of trademark associated to Disney. For the purpose of the kickstarter campaign we use the term LEDsaber.

 

(13) A lot of people post about their pets passing away, and I empathize with their sadness and loss.

It’s rare that someone can communicate what it was like to be in relationship with that animal, as John Scalzi has in “Lopsided Cat, 2000-2015”.

(14) And I therefore place next a BBC video in which an “Astronaut plays bagpipes on International Space Station”

A US astronaut has played a set of Scottish-made bagpipes on the International Space Station to pay tribute to a colleague who died.

Kjell Lindgren played Amazing Grace on the pipes after recording a message about research scientist Victor Hurst, who was involved in astronaut training.

It is thought to be the first time that bagpipes have been played in space.

(15) Internet English – the language in which “honest” means “brutal”!

The Force is awakening soon – and we have an honest look at the trailer for the movie that everyone’s already going to see anyway.

 

 [Thanks to Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]