Octocon 2017

James, Dublin 2019 GOH Diane Duane, Peter Morwood and Dublin 2019 treasurer JC.

By James Bacon: After the ceol and the craic of Friday night at Irish DiscWorldcon, I slept well and made an early breakfast with Vanessa, before heading to Kent Station, Cork for the 10.40 departure, but as we go we are wished warm and pleasant farewells from Siobhan the Irish DiscWorldcon Chair.

Octocon beckoned and once we arrived in Dublin, the trip from Heuston Station to the Camden Court Hotel, in the City centre, on the south side of the Liffey was quick in a taxi. The warm welcome at Octocon was amazing and as we walked in we are greeted, and soon joined other committee members at the Dublin 2019 table. We were also met by Janet O’Sullivan the chair of a Octocon and Sakura Perez the programme director as we receive our memberships and I hear that membership has hit 350 people, which is a fine figure for Octocon.

Pair of chairs. Janet O’Sullivan and James Bacon

I thought that I’d get into some programme but suddenly I’m catching up with so many folk that over two hours passes by, our table is strategically placed near the bar and I encounter many friends and new fans, and also pleased to listen and hear the excitement for the Dublin 2019. I look to hand out some ribbons, which are popular here, but new, and so any are well accepted, I have a variety of old ones, and they are eagerly received.

Mike Carroll busy signing comics.

I take a moment to catch up on a presentation, one by Michael Carroll. Mike is a writer and long-time fan here in Dublin, who has written prose, script and comic. He has written over 100 episodes of Judge Dredd for 2000AD, amongst a wide variety of work. After talking a little bit about one of his recent stories in that comic, he begins an incredible motivational and pragmatic presentation about writing. I am fascinated, his sound bites and ideas, make so much sense. Simple things like “Finish the work” and  “No one cares what you’re ‘going to write’ only what you have written” — the point being that the thing you’ve not yet written doesn’t actually exist, so people can’t evaluate it. “Start,” it all makes such wonderful sense.  His positive encouragement and forthright honesty is quite fantastic. His sensible and achievable down to earth advice is amazing and he has the whole room enrapt, and indeed it is compelling, I am wondering myself about the idea of a story, and how, well, I haven’t actually followed his rules and sure isn’t it a wonder that I am nowhere near writing it. He offers five rules of writing which somehow seem very basic, but with consideration filled with crucial points.

It is a wonderful programme item, and I really enjoyed it. Overall feedback at Octocon is that the programme is exciting and interesting and indeed, I note that I am challenged for choices. The programme booklet is visible here.

I get to meet Paul Trimble who runs Enniskillen Comic Fest [Facebook link].  I am looking forward to this event next year, and really enjoyed it this year and it is vital for the Dublin 2019 team that we connect across the country here, and Vanessa from promotions is chatting with Paul, as well as the team from WexWorlds.

The chat and laughter never stops, and it is just brilliant to be home. This is home you know, my science fiction fannish home, my first convention, my first piece of purchased artwork, my first book signed, so many firsts happened at Octocon for me, and it is a vital part of my makeup and I love it. It has had many venues, shapes, committees and guests, and now in its twenty-seventh year, it is an amazingly well spirited and friendly convention. The attendance includes a lot of new fans. Indeed, I smiled when Janet pleasantly informed me that they ran out of ‘first time attendee’ ribbons when they gave out their 42nd, such a science fictional significance.

The feeling of celebration continues as the Dublin 2019, An Irish Worldcon promotions team of Vanessa May, Marguerite Smith and Sara Felix have worked closely with Janet O’Sullivan chair of Octocon and the team and so have sponsored the nights entertainment here. The promotions team have a new Iain Clarke poster, which I really like, and magic green wands that are multi-functional, and so the evening’s  entertainment has a theme.

Vanessa, James, Marguerite, Esther and Ruth

As the dancing continues, the Octocon arrange Guerilla DJ Phil Dyson to extend the disco into the early hours, alleging that a ‘post party, party’ is occurring during clean up and so dancing continues, and indeed the music by Phil is excellent.

Dance floor shenanigans. (Fia doing the peace sign)

I attended a Fan Fund discussion and was well pleased to engage with Fia Karlsson the current NOFF delegate from Sweden. The Nordic Fan Fund happily sending Fia here to Dublin. Previous fan fund winners Tobes Valois and James Shields engaged with loser Douglas Spencer under the keen moderation of Fiona O’Sullivan. I made good mention of bursaries and other elements that are out there to help fans.

Listing off future cons is a thing at Octocon, and David Ferguson of Irish Comic News and Carol Connolly listed all the events that would be taking place in the next twelve months and beyond. Much mention was made of many cons including the Dublin Comic Con which got a lot of positive comment and was nice, I had to miss this years one, Dublin 2019 had a strong presence with other cons, handing out thousands of free books and comics as part of an outreach initiative.(http://forbiddenplanet.blog/2016/dublin-comic-con-report/). There is quite a lot going on in Ireland right now.

Future vista of conventions and events in Ireland is positive but it was a special moment as Carol skipped forward a little bit to August 2019.

I was courteously allowed some time to speak at the closing ceremony, and thanked the Octocon Committee and previous committees, as well as the members. They, a huge amount of people have been collectively hugely supportive. It was five years ago that I stood up, and the chair asked for recording devices to be turned off, and shared the secret that a Irish bid for a Worldcon was in the offing. Now to thank everyone as we are a seated Worldcon was an amazing thing. I made mention of our ‘First Worldcon’ rate of €100 and also of the Fantastic Dublin Fund, which is there to help people who need some help. I said that it would pain me greatly to work on something like this for many years, to find that some regular fan, just could not get to it. My sentiments were noted, and as I finished off by thanking everyone, my brief moment at the top of the room ended with ripping applause and cheering. A good bunch here, the noise from the closing ceremony was rapturous at the right times, that is for sure.

I’ll be heading to the con next year of course, although a venue change is on the cards, and dates will need to be confirmed, but at the end of the closing ceremony, after Janet had announced this news, the queue to join up for next year, was as long as ever, if not longer.

The evening continued, and later I found myself introducing many foreign fans to a ‘Spice Bag’ later at my Mom’s up the road on Black Horse Ave, ending the evening with a unique Dublin dish, and more talk, everyone having loved the con. Seven Spice bags please!

I admit it, I missed so much, The Blasters, the Vault of Horror, the amazing Guests of Honour, Dan Abnett and Nik Abnett, the variety of guests, the wondrousness of home-made foods in the dealer’s room, next to great books and comics. There was so much, and all the while the spirit was fantastic.

Dublin street furniture.

Trip to Cork, Irish Discworld Con 2017

Fergal, Vanessa, Gwen, Brian, John, John, James and Kevin

By James Bacon: Heuston station is one of Dublin’s finest stations, and is the main connection to the west and south of Ireland, the Cork train is a sleek modern machine, propelled by a powerful GM locomotive with a streamlined consist of ‘mark iv’ modern 21st century carriages, it awaits us calmly, patiently.

The journey starts with an adventurous element, I am meeting Vanessa May at the train but Vanessa is delayed by a bout of Dublin traffic, and so is now under the kosh for the 11.00am departure. There is a chance that we will miss this train, as time ticks by, I speak to the dispatcher, there are now many Irish Rail staff aware of Vanessa’s predicament – we can get the next one for sure – but everyone appreciates that people like to go on time and in their reserved places.

I am standing next to the dispatcher, the whistle is blown, the 2-minute announcements is long gone and as a timely train operator myself, I know doors close 30 seconds before departure, that time point came quickly and is now past tense with the sharp shrill of the whistle

Flying through the crash barriers Vanessa comes at speed, accompanied by Irish Rail staff assisting, and the dispatcher seeing this makes a reassuring and positive acknowledgement to me and is promptly deploying a ramp, soon Vanessa is on board, doors shoosh close, and the train is moving as soon as we are at our table and designated seats, a bit late but no bother.

We smile in the knowledge that the level of customer care and service here is solidly good and we are on our journey.

As we pass Portlaoise, we interrupt our Dublin 2019 meeting and I briefly chat to Vanessa about the first gunshot of the 1916 Easter Rising, which involved rebels and the railway, just south of Portlaoise station on a railway line that no longer exists, fortunately the countryside is a lush and beautiful sight to see and captures the imagination as well as the heart.

We are on our way to Cork, where we will be meeting other committee members and starting a celebratory weekend, marking the winning of the bid for Dublin 2019, an Irish Worldcon.

James Bacon and Siobhan Greaney. two chairs.

Irish Discworld Con is taking place in Cork, and chair Siobhan Greaney has welcomed us to the Cork International Hotel, and there is a Trad Session scheduled for tonight, sponsored by Dublin 2019. The theme here is based around an open weekend at the Unseen University, so there is a lovely selection of swag handed to all members, from a stylish notebook to simple wizards’ hat button badge, it is all nice.

Swag

The bar and restaurant are well populated, and Colin Smythe chats with Vanessa and Brian as I type away, relaxing and enjoying a drink, that is a vital part no doubt, and so we are catching up and greeting a variety of Dublin 2019 team members, some of whom are also on staff here. Colin is one of the many guests here, Terry Pratchett’s original publisher and subsequently his agent, Colin has a strong connection to Ireland, his company having specialised in publishing 19th and 20th century Irish literature and criticism and Irish myths and folklore. Indeed, for services to Irish literature Colin received an honorary Doctorate of Laws (LLD) from the University of Dublin in 1998.

The convention sold out at 300 members and the excitement and enthusiasm is palpable at the opening ceremony which is well-filled. A wide variety of cosplay is on display and all members are armed with ‘credits’ that can be awarded for excellent costume, best fake beards, audacious puns and being very helpful.

The opening is rumbatiously great fun and sets a lovely tone, audience engagement, an unruly potential student body here for the open day, and laughter at the jokes of the ‘acting faculty’ along with Siobhan the chair welcoming everyone amongst friends they may not have met yet.

Opening ceremony; Alan, Siobhan and Roy.

Alcohol, goodwill, energy and volunteers are the key ingredients here, we are informed and I smile. Although the love for Terry, his work and he himself is strong here, and indeed charities have been selected that represent his support and with the mention of the esteemed departed author the room is momentarily solemn. Soon though, channelling the authors propensity for humour and good fun theatrics return on stage to entertain the filled room. With the announcements a lovely mention is made of the Dublin 2019 win, and it is met with a strong cheer, as I sit amongst these fans it’s a phenomenal response to hear.

After the opening ceremony, the Trad session gets started.

Arundo Trad: John, John and Kevin.

The 3 set band are Kevin, John and John, the Arundò  trad, and soon they burst into song and music filling the room with traditional Irish sounds. The room is brimful and a variety of instruments are being played, flute, bodhran, uilleann pipes, whistles, guitar and mandolin are used.  The bodhran and uilleann pipes are the only indigenous musical instruments, we are told as the lads educate while entertaining.

Jigs, slides and polkas interspace songs, while lyric sheets are available so those that are not au fait can sing along. It goes brilliantly (in my mind anyhow) when “Whiskey in the Jar” comes on and sure I’m at the Dublin table singing me lungs out while I’m enjoying my pint but fortunately I’ve not contaminated the sound too despite my best efforts to slaughter the song.

In desperate need to make good for my dreadfully out-of-tune efforts at accompaniment we fire Brian up into the limelight for a much more polished rendition of “Molly Malone.” Slides and songs, “Wild Rover,” “The Parting Glass,” “Star of County Down,” the audience are loving it and the large semi-circular room is packed and thankfully there’s no bother as more come in to the sounds and find standing space in corners and such, pints or colas in hand and enjoying the music.

John is fierce on the uilleann pipes and talks us through three tunes he will be playing with distinctively different feelings, talking about happy, sad and lullaby music. The first tune has the room in silent in concentration and contemplation, leaning forward in their seats, compelled to listen, this is “Port na púca.” In English this is ‘spirit music’ with two stories about how it came about, the “Ghosts of the Harbour” was the sound the last fiddler who left the Blasket islands heard on his last night there, but it’s also been told that it’s the sound fishermen in traditional curraghs would hear from the humpback whales. John gently ponders aloud to the audience about whether there be truth in either after this and the subsequent songs the eruption of cheers and applause.

More songs and the flute and bodhran are on gently, soon joined by guitar after a while, the pace increasing the room swaying and jigging, followed then by more songs including an incredible rendition of “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, beautifully done.

John, John and Kevin.

This is what I love about cons in Ireland, enjoying the social scene, the good times and having some music and great discussions. Of course, there are the debates and passion and love of fantastic fiction and here the Worldcon is pushing an open door, again applause is in the air as much for the music as for the forthcoming Dublin 2019 which makes one feel warm, optimistic and even excited, although that could be the cider.

A grand day overall. Tomorrow we belt back up to Dublin and will get to Octocon where the celebrations and good times will continue.

James Bacon Nominated for Train Driver of the Year

On the heels of winning the Worldcon bid, Dublin 2019 chair James Bacon has been recognized in his day job as a finalist for the RailStaff Awards Train Driver of the Year.

One of 15 finalists, James was nominated by his manager at Heathrow Express, Kirsty Sando. Those who have worked with him on conventions will recognize the same qualities she sees:

James is dedicated, hardworking, fun to be around and supportive of his colleagues. He has his own unique way of making passengers on board his services smile, his announcements are always fun and light hearted and he always puts true customer service at the heart of his job every day. He takes true delight in telling passengers “we are now cruising at 100mph”.and will let passengers know if there is something exciting to see like a passing steam train.

James has worked tirelessly as a driver at HEx for over 10 years, he is a valued member of the team. He will always stop for a chat and puts other people’s problems, questions and queries before any of his own needs. James went through a difficult time in his personal life a few years ago but his positive nature helped to see him through and he now openly uses what he learnt through this time to help other drivers and trainees and is a real advocate of non-technical skills.

His recent promotion to Lead Driver has seen James grow immensely. His passion for the role and desire to see the trainees develop is evident every day. He has often gone out of his way to support the trainees, regularly re-arranging his working days and shifts to help the trainees gain driving hours, most recently he emailed from Helsinki to arrange a shift on behalf of one of his trainees. Not a week goes by where I don’t get an email from James with fantastic suggestions for helping the trainees; he will always offer to give up his own time to work with them. James really cares about his colleagues, seeking out coats for them in rainy weather and buying them coffee if they are tired. A real example of going above and beyond, always.

James commented, “National award so it’s nice to be put forward. Incredible people to be amongst.”

The winner will be announced at the RailStaff Awards ceremony on October 7.

Interestingly, the 2016 Train Driver of the Year was also a fellow with a dash of science fictional flair.

Last year’s Train Driver of the year was Steve Copley from Southern Trains.

“A ‘commuter’s hero’, Steve lifts the spirits of grey-faced Londoners by hosting a guess the year quiz over the intercom to distract passengers from their dull morning commute. He has his own hashtag on Twitter, #timetunneltrain, and has driven changes in customer information within the business.”

It’s Official: 77th Worldcon Will Be in Dublin

For the first time in history of the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) the convention will take place in Dublin, Ireland.

Today, Dublin was confirmed as the 2019 location by site selection voters at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki. Worldcon 75 reports 1,227 votes were received.

Dublin 2019 will take place at the Convention Centre Dublin from August 15-19, 2019. The Guests of Honour range from writers to scientists and beyond – Bill and Mary Burns, Diane Duane, Ginjer Buchanan, Ian McDonald, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, and Steve Jackson.

Dublin 2019 chair James Bacon said:

The whole team are delighted to be bringing the Worldcon to Ireland for the first time. It’s a huge achievement and we are very proud to be able to welcome thousands of fans to this beautiful country that is steeped in storytelling. We have fantastic guests and we will building an exciting programme covering all aspects of science fiction, fantasy and horror in all media, including prose, comics, art, film, cosplay, science, TV to name a few in what will be a fabulous celebration here in Dublin.

The Worldcon is held in a different city every year and usually has around 5,000 attendees from around the globe.  Some of the highlights of the five day event include the Hugo Awards, the Masquerade and programming that runs all five days with over a thousand items including panels, talks, workshops, films, autograph sessions and more.

About the guests:

  • Bill and Mary Burns (New York):  Avid readers who have attended Worldcon since 1967.  Bill was the recipient of the Doc Weir Award in 2003 and both were Fan Guests of Honour at Eastercon LX.
  • Diane Duane (Wicklow): Diane’s first novel was published in 1979 and have sold more than fifty other novels during her career.  She has won numerous awards and has also written extensively for tv and film.
  • Ginjer Buchanan (New York): Ginjer has over fifty years in fandom and over 30 years as professional editor.  She has been nominated for the Best Editor- Long Form Hugo six times and won in 2014.
  • Ian McDonald (Belfast): Is a writer who has over written over 20 novels and numerous short stories.  In addition he has also worked in programme development in Ireland. He has won awards for his short fiction as well as novels.
  • Jocelyn Bell Burnell (Lurgan Co Armagh): Jocelyn is a Northern Irish astrophysicist who as a postgraduate student discovered the first radio pulsars.
  • Steve Jackson (Texas): Steve is a game designer by trade who owns Steve Jackson Games.  He has received 12 Origin Awards as well as various other honours for game design.

“World Science Fiction Society,” “WSFS,” “World Science Fiction Convention,” “Worldcon,” “NASFiC,” “Hugo Award,” and the distinctive design of the Hugo Award Rocket are service marks of the World Science Fiction Society, an unincorporated literary society.

[Based on a press release.]

Croatian Party

Busy Australian and Croatian Party

By James Bacon: Brilliant Balkans!

I’m yearning for milk as I wonder what degree of burn I’ve just encountered. I’m at a Croatian party and am loving the hospitality.

Helsinki has kicked off with an incredible energy. By lunchtime Eemeli Aro was clearly pleased that they had quickly processed some 3,700 people, I am impressed, the queue system and reg worked well here. It’s been a great day, meeting friends and making new ones as I helped near the Dublin 2019 table. I am on the customer side engaging and chatting and attending meetings.

The table was mobbed as soon as the hall opened and it’s a state of hand-over-fist as the upgrades and friends inundate the table. Sanna Kellokoski the deputy treasurer of the con helps us out with additional tech support. It’s amazing to watch, the team are smooth and the atmosphere is electric. People really want an Irish Worldcon. Is it wrong that I am a bit astounded by the eagerness of fans to join?

The day flies by and a Lebanese dinner fills the gap and recharges.

I am at the Croatian and Australian bring-your-own-booze party. I have some Irish Whiskey, which isn’t available in Ireland and is possibly only for the US market, courtesy of Ian Stockdale who picked it up in Paolo Alto, I forced/begged him to get a Bevmo club card in order to save three dollars.

I’d doled it out in my room to a broad bunch of rapscallions but afterwards a division head with responsibilities heads to bed. As we bid adieu to the conscientious Ms. Secor, myself and some UK fans head down to the parties, loaded up with this sweet and mildly caramel-flavoured Irish Whiskey of dubious heritage, it’s a busy Winter Garden that greats us.

The bar downstairs in the Winter Garden is hectic, tokens have been distributed offsetting the cost of the beers and so fans are enjoying the New Zealand Party. The team are doing a sterling job but I miss me pal Norm. He’s not here and I miss him. Furniture smasher that he is.

After a while I head from there to the Croatian and Australian party with a bunch of heavy drinking beer aficianados and as we wander the route to a yellow wooden building with a sauna where a party is happening, it’s quite a beautiful night.

I bump into Kristina and Meghan from Colorado and we chat and it’s good, I’d met them earlier and they are enjoying this Worldcon.

As soon as I enter the party venue I get offered a hip flask, it contains vodka, originally a litre bottle stuffed with Carolina Reapers, a chilli pepper, I’m told it’s two million something’s, scobies, I think, surprised that a Dublin term of endearment is in use here.  Nope it’s Scovilles, apparently — this makes it hot and me gob is burnt off me.

Wag who concocted this hellfire is a great sort, I met him some 23 years ago, he ran a cocktail workshop at Incon 2 the second Inconsequential entitled Inconcievable.  With Tobes Valois, Jim De Liscard, Liam Proven and Anders Holstrom it feels like the gougers of British fandom have congregated here and having a great time.

While I shovel ice into me mouth following a hearty mouthful of Wag’s crazy drink, I get handed a lovely honey liquor by Olexandr Vasylkivsky from Ukraine. It’s a Croatian speciality, I cannot but wonder is warm hospitality a Croatian speciality as I drink this nice brandy honey liquor called Medica.

I then encounter Petra Bulic and soon hilarity ensues as a host of Croatian fans start volunteering one another for Dublin. I utterly fail to explain we have an online process and how our member and staff services have a superb system as they all egg each other on to commit to the hopeful Dublin 2019.

Vanja Kranjcevic is working the green room here and all look to her, but Monika Tresk, Zvonimira Ivaniševic, Petra and Marina are all in fantastic spirits laughing and yet being wonderful hosts.

They hand me a copy of a special Worldcon 2017 Parsek. (Mike I blagged one for you!) It’s of supreme quality and so impressive. I am introduced to Irena Rašeta and am handed a Pernod-type liqueur.

Shortly I find myself outside with Petra and Zvonimira, taking about Worldcons. Petra produces Maraschino, a cherry based liqueur. Wild ideas abound and as some Croatian fans lament a lack of facilities for a Worldcon others join us and contemplate a con on a cruise ship. I can’t see any down side here, and would love such an event.

The craic is ninety and it’s just great fun. Laughter and amusement abound and soon at 1 a.m. all the Croatian fans regain a sense of responsibility and clean up the venue and see us out.

It’s been a beautiful night with fabulous fans.

***

Jelena Saban, Monika and Zvonimira proudly display their T-shirts promoting SFERAKON, which is SFERA society – sphere – and the oldest convention in the Balkans — next year is the 40th anniversary. Petra was chair of Kontakt, the 2012 Eurocon in Zagreb and they produced a book of Croatian stories in English.

Croatian fandom is highly active and listed here the main events.

Rapscallions having a good time!

Wag and his vodka

Volunteer online!

Parsek

2019 Site Selection: Validating Postal Votes

[Facing]: Johan Anglemark, Mark Linneman, Eemeli Aro, Emma England. [Opposite] Paul Taylor, Ben Yalow, Kate Secor.

By James Bacon: (Chair of the Dublin in 2019 bid). I’m observing the postal vote process. The administrator and the team are assisted by members of the Dublin in 2019 team and committee, people from six countries are taking part. Walter Jon Williams has joined us for a few moments, as I look on. Neutral separators are handling and ensuring it’s all correctly managed.  Worldcon 75 staff check against, their data and the level attention to detail and slow and steady methodical progress is taken seriously. The integrity of the procedure is impressive and I’m stunned at the knowledge of those here who deal with inevitable errors that may have occurred.

Here with me from the Dublin Team are Emma England, Ben Yalow and Paul Taylor. The bids are welcome and indeed expected to help and participate in the whole process, everything is run by volunteers, although this is something I have not done before and it feels like we are momentarily connected to people from far-flung places who want to participate in the decision-making process of who will get to host the Worldcon in 2019.

From Worldcon 75 there is Kate Secor, Michael Lee, Eemeli Aro, Mark Linneman and Johan Anglemark.

The large stack of envelopes is impressive and I’m allowed to photograph some of the stamps which I like. I love post and in many ways this is fabulous post.

Post has arrived at the US address from New Zealand, Germany, Canada and of course United States. The votes arriving at the Helsinki are even more varied with votes from Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweden, Austria, New Zealand, and Germany.

The process takes over two hours but the atmosphere is lovely and it’s an amazing thing to see the mechanics of this process which has existed in this form since 1983.

Science Fiction has permeated so much of our culture that some of the stamps used have particular relevance and make me smile.

More votes will be hand-carried and passed to the voting table from tomorrow and then of course everyone present here is entitled to vote.

 

Dublin in 2019 Presupport Deadlines

Dublin in 2019 Worldcon bid chair James Bacon has announced on their website that midnight BST on August 6 is the deadline to presupport or upgrade support levels using their online facility.

Dublin is running unopposed, and site selection voting will be finalized this month at Worldcon 75.

Friends and superfriends  of the 2019 bid will become attending members if they vote in site selection, and presupporters and backers will get small discounts on their memberships if they vote in site selection.

Details are here: https://dublin2019.com/support-us/

James Bacon welcomes all those who want to get in before the window closes —

Likewise, if you have friends who were interested and wanted to join, becoming a friend and then converting once we win, would be welcomed. The more members we have from the start, the better we can plan.

As ever, my thanks to those of you who pre-supported at any level. We are in a great position, and if we win the bid, you should know you were an integral part of that, and that is why many of you did pre-support us, and for that, along with the committee, we are very thankful.

[Thanks to Bruce Albrecht for the story]

Pixel Scroll 7/30/17 And Remember To Scroll Your Answers In The Form Of A Pixel

(1) AN AMAZING BOOK. So says James Bacon, who gives a rave review to Anthony Hewitt’s Joshua N’Gon – Last Prince of Alkebulahn on Forbidden Planet blog.

We journey forwards and back as we come to know what has occurred to Joshua and the man who wants to get him, Kanu, genius criminal who has found a way to recreate his memories. Kanu has been ostracised to London from Alkebulahn with his mind wiped, but has the help of ‘arachnobots’ and now he controls a huge armaments corporation which is a front for a sinister organisation The Black Axis. He comes across with some considerable strength and charisma, indeed in one moment where he speaks of making people uncomfortable because of ‘My ethnicity, my bearing and my outspokenness’ and although is an absolute villain, his story is nicely interwoven, as it is important to the back story that is Joshua’s heritage.

Its a cracking good read, this one.

It rockets on, the chapters are nice and short, and all the time there are adventures. Joshua is set tasks by his learned school teacher, at a very impressive school, and these end up involving explorations and inventing, taking part in extreme sports, or combative and challenging excitements, and soon we see that our team gets into some tights spots culminating in a wonderfully tense set of scenes.

This book has it all: a sinister, cloaked Black Airship, mechanised Mayhem, ancient elements with science fictional connections, alien technologies and black history, white pulsed energy blasts, portals, a robotic and somewhat intelligent drone called Ballz, super soakers turned into weapons that make water solid like a ball bearing until they strike an adversary, a visit to the British Museum, Notting Hill Carnival and to imaginative places that are portrayed with an element of brilliance. Music, food and language give strong cultural indicators, offering elements that I was not aware of before….

(2) CHOSEN WORDS. Nicholas Eskey of ComicsBeat “SDCC ’17: Interview: Author Karin Tidbeck Uncovers the Dreamlike Storyline of’ ‘Amatka’”.

Have you always planned on writing for an English-speaking market?

When I was nineteen, I worked in a science-fiction bookshop in Stockholm. There was, and still is, this magazine called “Locus,” which is the SFF industry’s main magazine, and I would read that during lunch break. And I had this revelation that “I wanted to be in here. I want to have my book reviewed in here. I want to have an interview here. And I want to be on the shelves in the book shop… in English.” The thing is, Sweden has a very small readership. It’s very difficult to get books published, it’s very difficult to sell books, it’s extremely difficult to sell speculative fiction. So, I realized that the market was so small that I had to switch languages, but I didn’t switch until I was in my early thirties.

Tell us a little about your book, “Amatka.”

Amatka is about humans colonizing a world where matter, physical matter, responds to language. It’s about what happens to society that tries to survive in such a world. What happens to the people who quite can’t find a place in it. So, it’s about reality, it’s about language, it’s about revolution, and it’s about love.

(3) SPACE SHOWER. Sci-Tech Universe says “Get Ready! The Brightest Meteor Shower in the Recorded Human History Is Happening” – and you’ll be able to see it.

There is going to be a meteor shower on 12th of August, 2017. According to astronomers this will be the brightest shower in the recorded human history. It will light up the night sky and some of these might even be visible during the day. This meteor shower is being considered as once in a lifetime opportunity as the next meteor shower of such kind will be after 96 years.

The Perseid meteor shower, one of the brighter meteor showers of the year, occurs every year between July 17 and August 24. The shower tends to peak around August 9-13.

(4) GO FEST, YOUNG FAN. The Verge reports “Niantic is delaying some of its European events after Chicago’s disastrous Pokémon Go Fest”.

Niantic Labs threw a big event in Chicago last weekend to celebrate the first year of Pokémon Go, only to run into cellular data congestion and server issues that made the game unplayable for many attendees. Now, the company has announced that it’s delaying several planned European events to ensure that trainers will be able to play the game.

In a blog post, Niantic said that its delaying two sets of events planned for Copenhagen and Prague (August 5) and Stockholm and Amsterdam (August 12), until later this fall. Several other planned events for Japan (August 14th), and France, Spain, and Germany (September 16th) are moving forward as scheduled.

The delay comes after Chicago’s Pokémon Go Fest got off to a disastrous start last week. Cellular service was spotty, and server issues prevented players from logging into the game. When Niantic CEO John Hanke took to the stage for his opening remarks, players booed him, and the company ultimately ended up offering refunds and $100 worth of Pokécoins to players. Last week, nearly two dozen attendees launched a class-action lawsuit against Niantic, aiming to recoup travel expenses.

(5) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. The Hugo Award Book Club declares there are “Too Many Sequels” up for the award. They make a colorable argument anyway.

It’s worth noting that the majority of this year’s Best Novel Hugo Award shortlist is comprised of books that are either the first part in a series, or the sequel to another work.

In fact, only one of the six novels on this year’s shortlist (All The Birds In The Sky) is a standalone work.

This is not the first time in recent memory that the shortlist has been dominated by sequels, prequels, or works in a shared universe. But it is part of a larger trend, and it’s one that worries us.

In the 1960s, 88 per cent of the Hugo shortlist was comprised of standalone novels. From 2001 to 2010, 56 per cent of Hugo shortlisted novels were standalone works. In the first seven years of this decade, the statistic has fallen to 27 per cent (ten of the 36 novels shortlisted).

(6) HARRYHAUSEN FILM ANNIVERSARY. Episode 15 of the Ray Harryhausen Podcast is the “20 Million Miles to Earth: 60th Anniversary Special”.

Join us for a celebration of Ray Harryhausen’s 1957 classic, ’20 Million Miles to Earth’. Our 15th episode sees Foundation trustee John Walsh and Collections Manager Connor Heaney discuss the adventures of the Ymir- one of Ray’s most beloved and sympathetic creations.

We then discuss the first exhibition of Ray Harryhausen material in the USA for several years, opening at the Science Museum Oklahoma from July through to December. We describe this incredible display with museum director Scott Henderson, alongside his own lifelong enthusiasm for Harryhausen films.

An exclusive interview follows, recorded on location at the Barbican Centre’s ‘Into the Unknown’ exhibition with Terry Marison. Terry was one of the suited Selenites in the 1964 classic ‘First Men in the Moon’, and discusses his experiences of being one of Ray Harryhausen’s living creatures!

(7) TODAY’S DAY

  • Paperback Book Day

How To Celebrate Paperback Book Day

The best way to celebrate Paperback Book Day is to curl up with your favorite paperback book. If it’s been a while since you’ve bought a proper book, this is your opportunity to do so. Get out there and find a copy of your favorite text, or even pass one on to another friend. Then, when you’ve hit all the used book stores and perused the shelves of the nearest book stores, it’s time to come on home and look over your collection. Paperback Book Day recalls all those rainy quiet days spent reading a book while the drips ran down the windowpane.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 30, 1971 — Apollo 15 landed on the Moon.
  • July 30, 1986 — Walt Disney’s Flight of the Navigator premiered on this day.
  • July 30, 1999 The Blair Witch Project, is released in U.S. theaters.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY TERMINATOR

  • Born July 30, 1947 — Arnold Schwarzenegger

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY LURCH

  • Born July 30, 1948 – Actor Carel Struycken is born in The Hague, Netherlands. He is best known for playing the Giant in Twin Peaks, Mr. Homn in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Lurch in three Addams Family films.

(11) WELLS AUTOGRAPHED. You can get a mighty good price on a beat-up old book…if H. G. Wells drew an original sketch in it — “First edition of HG Wells’ ‘The War of the Worlds’ doubles estimate at £11,000”.

A first bookform edition sold for £11,000 at Cheffins of Cambridge earlier this month was slightly foxed and stained, but on the front free endpaper Wells had signed and inscribed the book for Edmond Joseph Sullivan and added a tiny drawing of a moustachioed angel.

(12) ON THE ROCKS. The Guardian’s feature on shipwrecks ends with a Dracula reference — “Walking the Yorkshire coast: the shipwrecks and sea caves of Flamborough and beyond”.

The last stop in any shipwreck walk ought to be the evocative St Mary’s church in Whitby, where there is a memorial to the lifeboat tragedy of 1861… After visiting the church, head down the steps – known by all as the Dracula Steps – across the swing bridge and over to the pier itself, a fabulous piece of marine engineering.

From there, continue up the hill towards East Terrace. On a grassy bank you will find a park bench dedicated to Bram Stoker, who sat here and used a real shipwreck – that of a Russian vessel on the shore opposite – to create an imaginary one, that of the Demeter, and, of course, the most memorable shipwreck survivor of all time: Count Dracula himself.

(13) I STREAM, YOU STREAM. Another splintering of the dying network monolith… all 28 seasons of The Simpsons are now available on Vudu.

(14) NOVELLA TO TV. From Tor.com we learn: “Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom in Development at AMC”.

AMC announced that Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom is in development for television as part of their “scripts-to-series development model that puts the emphasis on the most important part of our strategy – outstanding writing, a commitment to worlds you’ve never seen on TV before, and rich character development.”

(15) NOBODY LIVES FOREVER. While conducting an interview for The Guardian, Alison Flood learned from “Robin Hobb: ‘Fantasy has become something you don’t have to be embarrassed about’”.

Good fantasy, Hobb believes, is about “lowering the threshold of disbelief so the reader can step right into the book and not feel blocked out by something that’s impossible or at first glance silly. And I think silly is more dangerous than impossible.”

It is also, as Martin knows so well, about not being afraid to draw the final curtain for your characters when the time comes. “Nobody gets to go on for ever. If you put a little magical umbrella over your characters and say ‘yes, we’re going to scare you a little bit but ultimately you know that at the end of the book everything is going to be much the same way it was when we started the story’, well then, why write the story, what’s the point?”

(16) ALIEN ADVENTURE. The Recall official trailer.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 7/17/17 All Along The Scrolltower Pixels Kept The View

(1) BY PIXEL AND PAPER. The Dublin in 2019 Worldcon bid tells what its publications policy will be for PR’s and the Souvenir Book.

So what should we do about our progress reports?

I note that for some people this is an access issue, and therefore, we will be having hard copies available for anyone who selects them as an access issue. To be clear, Progress Reports are complimentary and we’d like to send them to anyone who needs them for an access issue. Just tick the box please.

We will be sending them out electronically of course if you allow us to.

I noted that some people still liked them, as a historical document or just because they enjoy reading hard copy, and that is very cool, and the Dublin 2019 team will be making sure that anyone who wants a hard copy progress report can get one. There will be a charge of €10 Ten Euro for this.

I hope all of you are OK with this decision and support us in it.

This does not affect our plans for our Souvenir book which we plan to offer in hard copy to all members, full and supporting, and which we are happy to mail to anyone who doesn’t pick it up at con.

(2) HELP PABLO GO THE DISTANCE. Leigh Ann Hildebrand has launched a Generosity.com appeal to send Pablo Vasquez to Helsinki for Worldcon 75. The goal is $1,100. Here’s the pitch:

Bringing NASFiC to San Juan, Puerto Rico was great thing — and one of the prime movers behind that successful bid and con has been Pablo Vazquez. I was really looking forward to congratulating Pablo at the con in Helsinki and to hearing all about that NASFiC.

And then Pablo told me he wouldn’t be joining fans in Helsinki this year.

Money’s tight for Pablo; he’s been prioritizing travel and preparations for this historic and awesome NASFiC. Now he finds himself short of funds for his last travel expenses. He’s got accommodations and a membership covered, but his fixed-cost airfare and incidental expenses are beyond his means this summer.

This is where my fellow fans come in. Help me get Pablo to Helsinki! Here’s what he needs:

$600 for the air fare (it’s a fixed cost, ’cause he knows a guy.)

$500 for food, travel incidentals, walkin’ around money and buying a round. That may seem like a lot, but food in Finland is not cheap, and there’s no con suite this year, so he can’t live on Doritos and free sodas. 🙂

(3) SFF FILM FESTIVAL. Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in partnership with SIFF is now accepting entries for the 2018 Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival (SFFSFF).

The festival will accept animated or live-action submissions of original science fiction or fantasy stories (examples: futuristic stories, space adventure, technological speculation, social experiments, utopia and dystopia, sword and sorcery, folklore, urban fantasy, magic, and mythic adventure).

A nationally recognized panel of distinguished film, television, literature, and science fiction industry professionals, peers, and film critics will review qualifying submissions to determine the winners of the Grand Prize, Second Place, Third Place, and the Douglas Trumbull Award for Best Visual Effects. Festival films will also be eligible for the Audience Favorite award.

In order to qualify, submitted films must have been completed after December 31, 2012, and must not exceed 15 minutes. Films that exceed 15 minutes may still be considered for festival inclusion but will not be eligible for awards.

See the link for guidelines, deadlines and fees.

(5) WHAT ARE THEY WATCHING? Adam-Troy Castro sighed on Facebook:

Over the past few years I have encountered Harry Potter fans who were abusive bullies, Star Trek fans who were against diversity, and now Doctor Who fans who were close-minded and unkind.

It’s like none of them were paying any attention at all.

I am looking forward to the emergence of Batman fans who are in favor of crime.

Since the targets of Castro’s comment might miss the point, Matthew M. Foster restated the message more explicitly:

The second is that people don’t see theme. SF is about space ships and explosions. Fantasy is about swords. The actual thing trying to be conveyed is missed far more often than not. The light was brought to this in a “funny” way to our little lit community by Brad and the Pups a few years back when Star Trek was pointed out to be first and foremost, about adventure and action–about combat in space. From the same group, there was a great deal of discussion in which they confused the theme with something incidental to the story because the incidental thing was not part of their normal life. So, if a story happened to have someone gay in it, then the story must be about sexual preference. If the story had a Black lead, then the theme must be about race. These are people that are big fans of science fiction, and they couldn’t see the themes.

(6) MAD PENIUS CLUB. And right on time, here’s Dave Freer’s death-kiss for the Thirteenth Doctor.

The trouble with this is it’s a judgement call, and especially inside the various bubbles (New York Publishing, Hollywood, and in the UK the Beeb’s little Guardian-and-Birkenstock club) they’re often so distant and unconnected with audiences outside their bubble that they assume they think like them and will respond like them. Which is why they have flops like the Ghostbusters remake, because they assumed the audience for the movie was just dying for a feminist version, with lots of man-kicking. Dr Who is trying much the same thing with a female Doctor. It could work because that audience is already pretty much restricted to inside their bubble. Still, with a new writer, and female lead after 12 male ones… She’ll have to be a good actress, and he’ll have to be a better writer. I expect we’ll see a long sequence of designated victim minorities cast in the role in future, until the show dies. I doubt we’ll ever see another white hetero male, but maybe that’s just me being cynical.

(7) HEADWRITER CANON. Prospect’s James Cooray Smith declares: “Uncomfortable with a female Doctor Who? It’s time to admit your real motives”.

…Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s Executive Producer from 2010 to 2017, used to make a habit, when asked if there was ever going to be a female Doctor, of throwing the question back to the audience. He’d ask for a show of hands as to who did and didn’t like the idea. Even half a decade ago, those audiences would be roughly balanced into pros and antis—although, as he noted, the proportion of “likes” was exponentially increasing every time he passed the question back.

In the last few years, the idea has gone from almost universally disliked to “Why hasn’t this happened already?”

Laying the canonical foundations

Moffat has played no small part in that himself. The first lines of dialogue given to Matt Smith’s Doctor, the first lines of Moffat’s era, see the newly regenerated Doctor, who cannot see his own face, wondering if he’s now female. A year later in “The Doctor’s Wife,” produced by Moffat and written by Neil Gaiman, the Doctor comments of a dead Time Lord friend The Corsair, “He didn’t feel himself unless he had a tattoo. Or herself, a couple of times”.

Three years after that, Moffat cast Michelle Gomez as ‘Missy’, the Doctor’s oldest friend and arch enemy, a character previously only played by male actors and usually referred to as the Master. A year after that—just to make sure that no one regarded Missy as an exception that proves the rule—Moffat had Ken Bones’ recurring Time Lord character The General regenerate into T’Nia Miller, changing sex and ethnicity simultaneously. Other Time Lords in the series treated this as momentarily distracting but thoroughly routine.

It now seems daft to say that such groundwork needed to be done: after all, the character of the doctor is an alien who merely looks human. But the series itself had never hinted that the idea was possible before 2010. Now, any viewer who has seen an episode with Missy in knows the Doctor’s own people can, and do, change sex. No one can pretend the idea isn’t part of the series, no matter how much they may want to. Moffat’s careful layering over years shows up any objections to the series having a female lead for what they are.

(8) NEVERTHELESS. Alison Scott has a shirt she would love to sell you. I bought one for my daughter. (U.K. orders here; U.S. orders here.)

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 17, 1955 — Disneyland Park opened in Anaheim, California
  • July 17, 1967 — Contact with Surveyor 4 lost 2.5 minutes before Moon touchdown.
  • July 17, 1987 Robocop, released on this day
  • July 17, 1988 – Debut of the sci-fi telefilm Out of Time…starring Bill Maher…yes that Bill Maher.
  • July 17, 1992 — Honey, I Blew Up The Kid in theaters.

(10) COMIC SECTION. Andrew Porter noticed Zippy the Pinhead mentioned d Emshwiller.

(11) READING PLEASURE. Look for the SF pulps! Photos of old newsstands.

(12) ADAM WEST REMEMBERED. “Family Guy pays tribute to Adam West with nine-minute highlight reel” – from Entertainment Weekly.

As famous as he was for playing Batman — and he was very famous for that — Adam West was also known to another generation of fans for his wacky work on Family Guy. The late actor, who popped up and scored in more than 100 episodes as Mayor Adam West, left a colorful, indelible imprint on the animated Fox comedy — as well as on its producers and fans.

 

(13) WORLDCON PROGRAM. Worldcon 75 put its draft program schedule online today.

There are three ways to view the programme schedule DRAFT:

(14) HAUNTED HELSINKI. Adrienne Foster has arranged a “Ghost walking tour of Helsinki” for the convenience of Worldcon 75 members. It will be an English-speaking tour at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, 9 August 2017.

Once again, those interested in reserving a spot on the tour need to be a member of Meetup.com and join Bay Area Ghost Hunters. Joining is free on both counts, but the fee for the ghost walk is to cover the cost of the tour operator. Yes, it was deliberate putting the “prere…gistration” fee in U.S. dollars and the “at-the-door” cost in euros.

As the 75th World Science Fiction Convention (aka Worldcon 75) rolls around again, it gives me another opportunity to arrange a ghost walk of its host city, Helsinki. Yes, that’s in Finland. Ghost walks are one of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling and it’s always a lot more fun to do them with like-minded companions. To make it even more attractive to the many members who don’t speak Finnish, the tour operator has an English-speaking tour available.

Although this has been timed for the convenience of Worldcon 75 members, all BAGH members are welcome to participate. If anyone just happens to have coinciding travel plans to Helsinki, please join us.

In addition to ghost stories, guests on these tours learn a lot about the history of the locale, particularly some of its macabre past. It even starts at a hotel that is a converted prison.

(15) MINGLE LIKE TINGLE. Is this going to be an “I am Spartacus” kind of thing?

(16) AUREALIS AWARDS. The 2017 Aurealis Awards are now open for nominations. Eligible works must be created by an Australian citizen, or permanent resident, and published for the first time this year.

(17) VENUS AND MARS. David D. Levine’s second novel, Arabella and the Battle of Venus, sequel to the Andre Norton Award winning Arabella of Mars, comes out this week.

The thrilling adventures of Arabella Ashby continue in Arabella and the Battle of Venus, the second book in Hugo-winning author David D. Levine’s swashbuckling sci-fi, alternate history series!

Arabella’s wedding plans to marry Captain Singh of the Honorable Mars Trading Company are interrupted when her fiancé is captured by the French and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on swampy Venus. Now, Arabella must find passage to an enemy-controlled planet in the middle of a war, bribe or fight her way past vicious guards, and rescue her Captain.

To do this she must enlist the help of the dashing privateer, Daniel Fox of the Touchstone and build her own clockwork navigational automaton in order to get to Venus before the dread French general, Joseph Fouché, the Executioner of Lyon.

Once on Venus, Arabella, Singh, and Fox soon discover that Napoleon has designed a secret weapon, one that could subjugate the entire solar system if they can’t discover a way to stop Fouché, and the entire French army, from completing their emperor’s mandate.

Levine will be doing a book tour:

He is currently drafting the final book in the trilogy, currently titled Arabella and the Winds of Phobos but may end up being called Arabella the Traitor of Mars.

(18) NEWCOMERS TO THE HEARTH. Fireside Fiction is undergoing a change of management, with Brian J. White stepping down. Pablo Defendini is taking over as publisher and Elsa Sjunneson-Henry as managing editor. Julia Rios and Mikki Kendall are also joining the team.

White is leaving to focus on his work as a journalist.

As many of you know, I work at a newspaper. And that work has been consuming more and more of my time lately, with both the volume and the importance of the news rising in a way we’ve never experienced in this country. And it comes alongside a level of furious, violent antipathy toward the press that is somehow both wildly shocking and banally predictable.

Fireside has been the labor of love of my life, and it kills me to step away. But I am a journalist, first and always, and I need to focus my energy on the work we are doing. A lot of people have made fun of the earnestness of the Washington Post’s Democracy Dies in Darkness slogan, but it is true, and I won’t let the light go out.

Mikki Kendall has been signed on as editor to lead the follow-up to last year’s #BlackSpecFic report, which White says will be out soon. [Hat tip to Earl Grey Loose-leaf Links #43.]

(19) THE COOLEST. Arthur C. Clarke would be proud, as the search for extra-terrestrial life turns to ice worlds.

Chris McKay has fallen out of love with Mars. The red, dusty, corroded world no longer holds the allure it once did.

“I was obsessed with life on Mars for many years,” confesses the Nasa planetary scientist, who has spent most of his career searching for signs of life on the red planet.

“It’s seduction at the highest level,” he says. “I’m abandoning my first love and going after this other one that’s shown me what I wanted to see.”

The new object of McKay’s affections is Enceladus, the ice-encrusted moon of Saturn. Investigated by the joint Nasa and European Space Agency (Esa) Cassini space probe, the moon is spewing out plumes of water from its south pole – most likely from a liquid ocean several kilometres beneath the surface. Cassini has found this water contains all the vital ingredients for life as we know it: carbon, nitrogen and a readily available source of energy in the form of hydrogen.

“I think this is it,” says McKay. “From an astrobiology point of view, this is the most interesting story.”

(20) SO BAD IT’S GOOD. Marshall Ryan Maresca extols the antique virtues of the 1980s movie: “ELECTRIC DREAMS: A Bad Movie I’ve Watched Many, Many, MANY Times”.

The Eighties got a lot of mileage out of the idea that computers were magic.  I mean, the fundamental principle of Weird Science is that Wyatt has, like, a 386 with a 14.4 modem and a scanner, which he can connect to the Pentagon and make a goddamn genie with it.  Most Hollywood movies today still let computers be magical, but not to the same degree.  And few movies go as full out crazy with the idea as Electric Dreams.

For those not in the know, Electric Dreams is a relatively small, simple movie, in which an architect named Miles (he might be an engineer—something to do with buildings) lives in the downstairs part of a duplex, below gorgeous cellist Virginia Madsen.  And he gets himself a computer so he can design an earthquake brick.  So far, all normal.

It turns into a love triangle with Wyatt and a sentient PC as rivals.

(21) THE LATTER DAY LAFFERTY. Adri’s Book Reviews praises “Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty”.

As in any good mystery, it soon becomes clear that there are shady things lurking in the past of each and every crew member, as well as the traditional untrustworthy AI. Six Wakes builds its narrative through an omniscient third person narrator which switches between character viewpoints, as well as flashbacks to the crews’ lives in the lead up to being selected for the ship. Each crew member knows the others have volunteered for the mission because they are convicted criminals who will be pardoned upon arrival, but they have been told their crimes must remain confidential. From the ship’s doctor who was one of the original people cloned when the technology began, to the AI tech who has been on the verge of a breakdown since waking, to the shady machinations of the captain and the security officer, Six Wakes uses a small cast to great effect, with the world of the clones coming across as claustrophobic and restrictive even in background chapters set on Earth, thanks to both the Codicls as well as the inequalities and power struggles that arise from a society of functionally immortal beings. Six Wakes’ characters aren’t likeable in a traditional sense but I found them generally sympathetic, and the backgrounds go a long way towards making that balance work.

(22) A BOY AND HIS HORSE. The British Museum blog asks “The Dothraki and the Scythians: a game of clones?”

The Dothraki in Game of Thrones are represented as feared and ferocious warriors. Jorah Mormont describes their culture as one that values power and follows strength above all, and there is no greater way to demonstrate power and strength according to the Dothraki than through war. Like their fictional counterparts, the Scythians were pretty terrifying in battle. The Greek historian Herodotus writes that Scythians drank the blood of the men they killed and kept their scalps as trophies and skulls as drinking cups. While we should probably take Herodotus with a pinch of salt, by all accounts they were pretty brutal! The Dothraki also like decapitating their defeated enemies – guards known as the jaqqa rhan, or mercy men, use heavy axes to do this.

The Scythians and the Dothraki fight on horseback and are excellent archers. They both use curved (or composite) bows to maximise the range and the damage of their arrows. As Jorah Mormont says of the Dothraki, ‘they are better riders than any knight, utterly fearless, and their bows outrange ours.’

(23) THE NEXT STAGE. The Verge has learned that “The Twilight Zone is being adapted into a stage play” in London.

The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling’s landmark sci-fi anthology series about technological paranoia, creeping dread in 1960s America, and monsters and weirdos of all sorts, will be adapted as a stage play, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed this morning.

The play will debut in a limited run at London’s Almeida Theatre this December, with a script from Anne Washburn. Washburn’s best-known play is her 2012 Off-Broadway work Mr. Burns, which is about a traveling theater troupe in post-apocalyptic America that performs episodes of The Simpsons from memory. The play will be directed by Olivier-winner Richard Jones, who is best known for the 1990 London run of Sondheim’s Into the Woods, as well as the short-lived 1997 Titanic musical on Broadway, and has also directed several operas and Shakespeare productions.

(24) LIADEN UPDATE. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s 81st joint project — Due Diligence (Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Book 24) – was released July 10. The pair was also recently profiled by Maine’s statewide newspaper the Portland Press Herald“Welcome to the universe of Maine writers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller”.

For Maine writers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, all it took to launch a brand-new universe was a single sentence.

The opening line for what would become “Agent of Change,” the inaugural volume of their Liaden Universe space opera series, was “The man who was not Terrence O’Grady had come quietly.”

It’s not quite “Call me Ishmael,” but something about typing those 10 words back in 1984 made Lee say to her husband, “I have a novel here.” And there was sufficient inspiration on the page for Miller to say, “I’m sorry, but I think you have a series.”

Both were right. Reached by phone at their Maine coon cat-friendly home in Winslow, surrounded by oil paintings, prints, book cover and other science fiction and fantasy artwork, Miller remembered, “We sat down that night and fleshed out the basic idea for the first seven books.” Four years later, in 1988, their collaborative debut was published in paperback by DelRey.

Since then, Lee, 64, and Miller, 66, have published 20 Liaden Universe novels and nearly five dozen related short stories. Baen Books published their latest hardcover novel, “The Gathering Edge,” in May.

.And they’ll be Guests of Honor at ConFluence from August 4-6.

(25) YOU WOULD BE RIGHT.

(26) PLASTIC IS NOT FANTASTIC. Jewish Business News has the story behind the commercial: “Mayim Bialik and Hodor From ‘Game of Thrones’ In New SodaStream’s Funny Viral Video”.

Following Jewish celebrity Scarlett Johansson’s campaign for the Israeli beverage company SodaStream, the Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik is the new face proudly representing the company new campaign in a Viral Video.

Features Mayim Bialik as an anthropologist, recalling her first encounter with the Homo-schlepien played by Kristian Nairn known as Hodor from “Game of Thrones.” The story reflects the devastating effect of single-use plastic bottles on Humanity. A habit that is hazardous to Earth and no longer exist in the future.

In this funny story, the Museum of UnNatural History features encounters between Mayim and the last tribe of plastic dependent species, the Homo-schlepien.

The shooting of the campaign was brought forward while Bialik had to rest her vocal chords for one month due to a medical advice. “This campaign has a powerful message and one that needed to be told before I went on vocal rest,” said Mayim Bialik.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Bill, Steve Miller, David Levine, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 6/15/17 Go Ahead, Make My Pixel

(1) THINKING INSIDE THE BOX. “This was amazing,” says James Bacon about a special feature of Lazlar Lyricon 3, a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy convention held last weekend. “I was on the committee and it was an incredible endeavour.”

It’s all about Chris Tregenza and Jess Bennett and “The Secret of Box 42”.

Idea, Idea, A Kingdom for an Idea

Even with our self-imposed restrictions we struggled to think of anything at first. Every idea was discarded as being too profligate, too big, too small or simply impractical.

Then, bouncing around ideas with the aid of a bottle of wine (or two), our conversation drifted onto computer games and how in games like Skyrim there are treasure chests scattered around from which the player can take loot. In any particular game, all the treasure chests have an identical appearance and the player quickly associates that graphic with a reward even though sometimes the chests are empty. This led the conversation into Pavlovian conditioning and Skinner’s pigeon experiments and then bang! We asked ourselves a question.

What happens if we applied the same psychology in the real world by scattering boxes containing treasure around a convention? ….

What’s In The Box

Our first step was to brainstorm lots of ideas for box contents which we then loosely organised into different types. After some refinement we ended up with five classes of boxes inspired by the five levels of Maslow’s hierarchy: rewards, treasures, activities, quests and meta. Each of the types had a different purpose and place in the overall game.

Reward boxes were primarily a simple psychological conditioner. Inside these boxes were sweets or other gifts along with instructions to €˜help yourself’. These boxes were designed to build a positive association with opening boxes. Treasures were like rewards except they only contained a single valuable item which anyone could take if they chose. This introduced rarity and encouraged people to look in the boxes quickly before someone else took the item. Activity boxes instructed the opener to do something such as play a game or challenge someone to a duel. In these boxes were appropriate things (like a deck of cards or toy guns) but unlike the reward boxes, the instructions only suggested the box opener used them, not keep them. Meta-boxes contained nothing except a quote from the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. The chosen quotes were amusing in their own right but also all related to the theme of hunting for the meaning of life.

(2) DITCHING THE RECEIVED WISDOM. Jason Sanford breaks the rules! gisp “Oh writing advice which I loathe, let me count the ways I’ve ignored you”. Sanford confesses eight violations.

Thinking about all the writing advice I don’t follow. This should mean I’m a literary failure. Instead, my stories are published around the world.

So what writing advice have I failed to follow? Let’s count down the greatest hits of advice I’ve ignored.

  1. “Write what you know.” Didn’t do that. I write science fiction and fantasy set in imaginary worlds I’ve never known. I create what I know!

(3) SOLAR TREK. From Space.com, Intergalactic Travel Agents rate the “Solar System’s Best and Worst Vacation Destinations (Video)”.

Part of the purpose of this interview is to promote Olivia Koski’s and Jana Grcevich’s book, Vacation Guide to the Solar System, which plans vacations using current astronomical knowledge.

(4) WHAT MUSIC THEY MAKE. Seanan McGuire recently had a special encounter with some children in an airport. The Twitter stream here is well worth a gander.

(5) KICKSTARTER REACHES GOAL. The 2017 Fantastic Fiction at KGB Kickstarter is a huge success, reports co-host Matthew Kressel, providing enough funds to keep the series running for at least six more years. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series Kickstarter ran from May 17 through June 14 and raised $9,771 (before Kickstarter and credit card processing fees)€¦. Dozens of rewards were chosen by 196 different backers.

Why We Needed Financial Support Each month we give the authors a small stipend, we tip the bartenders (who always give the authors free drinks), and we take the authors and their partners/spouses out for dinner after the reading. Since it typically costs us around $120 per month, we need $1500 per year to maintain the series. We were looking to raise $4500, which would allow us to keep the series running for another three years. Each additional $1500 let us run for an additional year. Fantastic Fiction has been a bright light in the speculative fiction community for nearly two decades, and because of your help we will continue for many more years to come. Thank you!

(6) DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING. Today Mary Robinette Kowal give her platform to Jon Del Arroz: “My Favorite Bit: Jon Del Arroz talks about FOR STEAM AND COUNTRY” .

(7) OH BOTHER. Goodbye Christopher Robin is the “based on a true story” movie about A.A. Milne, his son, and the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.

(8) HARRYHAUSEN ART. Tate Britain will host an exhibition of The Art of Ray Harryhausen from June 26 through November 19.

Explore drawings and models by Ray Harryhausen with some of the art that inspired him

The American-born Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013) is one of the most influential figures in cinema history. In a succession of innovative, effects-laden movies, from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms 1952 to Clash of the Titans 1981, Harryhausen created fantastic worlds and creatures that have inspired generations. He is acknowledged as the master of stop-motion animation techniques, involving models being moved and filmed one frame at a time to create the illusion of movement.

Harryhausen attended art classes as a young man, and readily acknowledged his debt to earlier painters and illustrators. The epic scenery and towering architecture of 19th century artists Gustave Dore, and John Martin were especially important to him, and he collected prints and paintings by both artists.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 15, 1973 The Battle for the Planet of the Apes premiered

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born June 15, 1941 — Graphic artist Neal Adams.

Adams has worked hard in the comics industry bringing to life such fascinating characters as Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern, The Spectre, Thor, The X-Men, and countless others. For those wanting to know about the man and his career, you can check out his website right here. Adams was born on this day in 1941.

(11) THIS JUST IN. AND OUT. The New York Post reports “Sex in space is a ‘real concern’ that science needs to figure out”.

Romping in space is a “real concern” for astronauts, a top university professor has warned.

It’s something we know little about — but it’s crucial if we ever want to colonize other planets like Mars.

During a recent Atlantic Live panel, Kris Lehnhardt, an assistant professor at George Washington University, said the topic needs to be addressed immediately.

He said: “It’s a real concern — something we really don’t know about is human reproduction in space.”

“If we actually want to go places and stay there, there’s a key component and that’s having babies,” he added.

(12) MIGRATION. Richard Curtis, President of Richard Curtis Associates, Inc. broadcast this information:

Our curtisagency.com server crashed, and as it’s been happening a little too often lately I’m going to switch to gmail. So please use rcurtisagency@gmail.com going forward.

(13) PARSEC DEADLINE. Podcasters who have been nominated for a Parsec Award must submit their judging sample by July 16.

Podcast material released between May 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017 is eligible for the 2017 awards.

Material released needs to be free for download and released via a mechanism that allows for subscriptions (RSS Feed, iTunes, YouTube…). More rules and guidelines are posted at our website.

(14) EXTRA CREDITS. Top 10 Marvel post-credit scenes. Carl Slaughter says, “Notice this is an Avengers heavy list. Also, there is a conspicuous X-Men and Guardians absence.”

[Thanks to James Bacon, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Rose Embolism, Jon Del Arroz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Darrah Chavey.]