Pixel Scroll 3/26/17 May You Dream Of Large Pixels

(1) WUT. WIRED has a bad feeling about this: “Only You Can Stop The Expanse From Becoming the Next Canceled Sci-Fi Classic”

Syfy’s epic space show The Expanse is a smash hit among science fiction fans, drawing praise from websites like io9 and Ars Technica and from celebrities like Adam Savage. Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley also loves the show.

“This is my favorite show on TV,” Kirtley says in Episode 248 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “This is the most serious science fiction TV show—in terms of what hardcore science fiction fans would want in a TV show—that I’ve seen in a long time, possibly ever.”

But while the show is widely praised in many corners, it has yet to attract a wider audience. John J. Joex, who tracks the ratings of various shows over at Cancelled Sci Fi, says that The Expanse looks like a show headed for cancellation.

“The ratings started out decent and then really dropped off,” he says. “And I know this is an expensive series to produce, so I was really getting kind of nervous about it.”

(2) TECH PREDICTIONS. There’s a touch of Ray Bradbury in “Interactive! The Exhibition” at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum through April 16:

Interactive! is a large-scale, hands-on examination of how popular culture in movies, books, TV, and the arts has influenced modern technology and changed the ways we live, work, move, connect and play. In addition to a wide variety of “hands-on” experiences, including Oculus Rift virtual reality, interactive robots, the driverless car, multiple gaming stations, remote control drones, 3D printing stations and more, Reagan Library visitors will also get up close to some of science fiction’s most iconic characters, including a roving, interactive R2D2 from Star Wars, a T-800 endoskeleton from The Terminator, and a full-size Alien from the Alien films. The exhibit also showcases the creative inspiration behind legendary innovators such a Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Walt Disney.

  • Over a dozen immersive games await, including Virtual Reality Gaming by Oculus Rift, robotic arm interactives, 80’s gaming stations and more.
  • Create and compose your own musical masterpiece.
  • Seek out resources on Mars with a remote-control version of the rover from the hit film The Martian.
  • Get up close with the first ever 3D printed car, by Local Motors.
  • Examine communications from the landline rotary telephone and VCR to smartphones.
  • Check out jetpacks, Marty McFly’s hoverboard and even meet Baxter the robot!
  • And much more!

This exhibit is great for museum guests of all ages – from the young, to the young at heart!

(3) VISIONS OF BEAUTY. Jane Frank has remodeled her WOW-art (Worlds of Wonder) website.

She’s also offering Un-Hinged! A Fantastic Psychedelic Coloring Book with All Original Designs by Mike Hinge through Amazon.

(4) ONE THUMB UP. David Sims of The Atlantic finds “’Life’ Is a Fun, Joltingly Scary Creature Feature in Space”.

Daniel Espinosa’s new horror film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds as astronauts fighting a hostile alien…

Any reasonable creature feature worth its bones should have, on balance, about half a dozen scenes where a character makes a patently illogical decision. Just discovered a new form of ancient alien life? Give it some zaps with a cattle prod, just to see what happens. Now you’re fighting an alien enemy in an enclosed space station? Break out the flamethrower! Running low on fuel? Definitely vent everything you have left in an effort to startle the creature, even when it doesn’t work the first three times. If the film is scary and chaotic enough, every bad choice will act as a link in a chain, building to a satisfying crescendo of mayhem that the audience has secretly been rooting for all along. Life isn’t perfect—you probably won’t remember it after three months—but it does exactly that.

Daniel Espinosa’s horror film is set in space and has some ostensible sci-fi trappings, as it’s centered around humans’ first encounter with prehistoric Martian life. But the movie might as well take place in an underground cavern or a fantasy dungeon, since its two-fold premise is fairly universal: The heroes are trapped in a gilded tomb from which they may not escape, and the monster they’ve awakened is stuck in there with them.

(5) WE HATES IT. At Locus Online, Gary Westfahl makes clear that Life does nothing to alter his dislike of horror movies generally – “Mutiny of the Unknown Alien Slime: A Review of Life”.

Further, one might argue that when it comes to alien life forms, anything is possible, but the plausibility of this particular alien life form can be seriously questioned. Without going into detail about all of its antics, I find it extremely difficult to imagine, given what we know about the history of Mars, any series of events that would cause such a creature to emerge and thrive for hundreds of millions of years (which is what we are told happened). And Derry specifies that the alien is a carbon-based life form that in most ways closely resembles terrestrial life forms; and since all such organisms would die within a minute if exposed to the vacuum of space, the Martian would never be able to cavort about in a vacuum with undiminished energy and flexibility for an indefinite period of time. But this nonsense does provide the film with an exciting scene, and for the filmmakers, that was all that mattered. In sum, precautions will always be necessary in dealing with potential alien life, but no one should have any nightmares about slimy, lightning-fast starfish embarking upon campaigns to slaughter all humans in sight.

(6) BEAT THE CLOCK. James Van Pelt, in “Marketing Short Stories”, reviews lots of sales and rejection statistics derived from taking the Bradbury challenge.

First, the background. Two years ago I decided to try Ray Bradbury’s challenge to write a story a week for a year….

CONCLUSIONS: – I was able to find places to submit all the stories pretty much all the time. If there are that many markets, then the short story marketplace is robust. The Submission Grinder lists 25 markets in science fiction that will pay six cents or more per word. There are many more, beautifully done, semi-pro magazines that I’m proud to submit to who pay less. – This is an old lesson, but if you are going to write short stories and submit them on spec, you have to be thick-skinned. I have been submitting stories seriously since the 80s. I’ve sold 145 stories, been a finalist for the Nebula, and the Theodore Sturgeon Award. I’ve appeared in several Year’s Best collections. I think I’m doing okay, but I’m still rejected at an 8 to 1 ratio. Mike Resnick doesn’t suffer from this ratio, I’ll bet, but there’s only one Mike….

(7) SHARING THE FUN. The Los Angeles Times profiles “Frank Oz and the gang of ‘Muppet Guys Talking’ still pulling on their silly strings”.

The movie is the first documentary directed by Oz, who also made such comedies as “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and “Bowfinger.” And of course he was the voice of Yoda in the “Star Wars” films.

It is just a few hours after their premiere and four of the Muppet originators — Oz, Brill, Barretta and Goelz — are sitting around a hotel conference table in Austin. (Nelson died in 2012, the same year the movie’s conversation was filmed.) The four of them have a rapport one might associate with a sketch comedy group, responding quickly to one another with a near-telepathic sense of connection.

With impish delight, Goelz noisily unwraps a candy over the microphone of an interviewer’s recording device a few beats longer than is necessary. Brill playfully spurts a sweet from between her fingers, sending it gracefully arcing through the air to the other side of the room.

It was that largely unseen affinity among them that was the initial impetus for the film. While they have all spoken separately about their characters and time working with Muppets creator Jim Henson, who died in 1990, it was not until filming “Muppet Guys Talking” that they had ever done an interview together.

(8) FRANKLY SPEAKING. ScreenRant, on the other hand, says there are “15 Dark Secrets About The Muppets”.

How quickly people forget that the very first pilot episode of The Muppet Show was entitled, “The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence”. In fact, The Muppets and associated Henson characters were never completely immune to controversy, tragedy, or touchy topics, despite their family-friendly exterior. After all, muppets are essentially just a bunch of guys with their hands up the butts of various animal and human-like creations. What kind of dark secrets could we possibly uncover about them? Read on, all you puppet-loving weirdos and take a gander at 15 Dark Secrets About The Muppets

  1. Frank Oz never wanted to be a puppeteer

Amazing as it may seem, one of the most famous muppet voices, aside from Jim Henson himself, never wanted a career in puppetry. Frank Oz was the son of Belgian immigrants who were both puppeteers themselves. While his siblings never took much of an interest in it, Oz performed puppet shows to make extra money as a teenager, saving up for a trip to Europe. As he explained in an interview with IGN, “it was something that I latched on to because it was a way to please them (his parents) and it was a means of expression for a shy, self-effacing boy.”

Oz had actually planned to study journalism in college, but dropped out after a year when Jim Henson offered him a job….

(9) TODAY’S DAY

Spinach Day

It’s not just Popeye who will be strong to the finish on Spinach Day, but everyone who chooses to celebrate the day by consuming some of this leafy green plant will get to join in the health benefits as well!

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 26, 1937 — Popeye statue unveiled during spinach festival, Crystal City, Texas. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

(11) TODAYS BIRTHDAY BOY

(12) INSIDE THE SHELL. The Guardian calls her “Scarlett Johansson, charismatic queen of science fiction”.

Hollywood quickly made room on its red carpets for the young Scarlett Johansson in 2003, when she first created a stir in Sofia Coppola’s film, Lost in Translation. It seemed clear that this blonde bombshell from New York, who was so ably sharing the screen with a dyspeptic Bill Murray, would go on to deliver popcorn buckets-full of mainstream audience appeal. Beautiful, mysterious and charismatic: she was already an aspirational trophy for any traditional leading man.

Yet, 14 years on, Johansson is established instead as a rather different sort of screen idol. Following a succession of high-octane blockbusters and off-beat critical hits, the actress is now enshrined as perhaps the leading sci-fi action star of her generation. Where once her sardonic smirks and sultry looks spoke of old-school movie glamour, she is now more likely to grab the limelight by kickboxing than by smouldering.

(13) IMAGINE SUPERMAN WITHOUT ONE OF THESE. “Last call for the phone booth?” was featured on CBS Sunday Morning.

Yes, there’s nothing like reaching out and touching someone from a phone booth. They used to be everywhere, but they are now rare coin-operated curiosities. Mo Rocca looks into the history of the once-ubiquitous phone booth, and of the wi-fi kiosks that are now replacing them in New York City.

(14) WWWWD? Another video on CBS Sunday Morning, “The immortal Wonder Woman”.

The real superpower of the comic book heroine, who just turned 75, is the power to inspire. Faith Salie explores the history of Wonder Woman, and talks with Lynda Carter, made immortal by playing the Amazonian on TV in the 1970s, and with Jill Lepore, author of “The Secret History of Wonder Woman.”

(15) A TALE AS OLD AS TIME. In NPR’s analysis of many versions of the basic story includes a discussion ofan upcoming Tanith Lee collection: “Tale As Old As Time: The Dark Appeal of ‘Beauty And The Beast’”.

The tales in [Maria] Tatar’s compilation swing from vicious to romantic, from comedy to horror. There are stories of a steadfast prince being loyal to his frog-wife, or a princess searching for her bear-husband “east of the sun and west of the moon” — here, love is proven in action and rewarded with happiness. But Beauty and the Beast stories are about power as much as about love. So sometimes the prince steals a maiden’s animal skin to force her to stay with him, or he puts his tortoise-wife on display against her wishes, or he ignores his devoted wife’s warnings and discovers she’s actually a crane. And these stories, where power is abused, differ sharply from the stories of proof and trust: Almost all of them end with her escape.

(16) A TALE AS OLD AS ME. And for us oldpharts: BBC provides video coverage of an opera based on Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

The Opera de Montreal is taking the rock out of “rock opera” with its ambitious interpretation of Pink Floyd’s classic double album, The Wall.

Another Brick in the Wall: L’Opera tells the story of Pink, a rock star who retreats into his mind to cope with the alienation of fame.

Roger Waters’ lyrics provide the narrative backbone of the two-hour production but composer Julien Bilodeau has removed the album’s familiar rhythms and melodies in favour of timpani and a 50-person chorus.

(17) TUNES OF THRONES. An LA audience was treated to a more up-to-date musical experience this past week — “’Game of Thrones’ live experience transforms Forum into Westeros for the night”.

One of the many powers held by a historic music venue like the Forum in Inglewood — which has seen celebrated concerts by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen and Prince — is that of a time machine.

Capable of transporting an audience back to a summer when it first heard a favorite song or an aging band to its initial heyday, the Forum’s ability to slip the bounds of time was again in full view Thursday night with the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience, a celebration of the blockbuster HBO series and its music, led by the show’s composer, Ramin Djawadi.

This time-skipping quality could be felt on two fronts. With a mix of orchestral sweep, multiple screens and the occasional blast of fire and smoke, the show’s expected aim was to transport fans to the Middle Ages-adjacent universe of the tangled and very bloody machinations of George R.R. Martin’s Westeros. However, the performance also offered a fleeting glimpse of the not too distant future when “Game of Thrones” is no longer something analyzed and anticipated — July 16 and the new season is coming, everyone! — and exists only as a memory. Indeed, having left such an imprint on pop culture, it wasn’t difficult to imagine this concert being toured and staged well after “Game of Thrones” is over and our watch is ended.

This sort of living tribute to a series nearing its finish gave the night a communal, Comic-Con-esque quality.

(18) WILSON. In “How sketching a dying father led Daniel Clowes to his quirky new film ‘Wilson’” the Washington Post’s Michael Cavna interviews Daniel Clowes, whose new film Wilson is based on his graphic novel.  Clowes makes comparisons between producing graphic novels and directing and discusses what happened when he took Charles Schulz’s challenge to come up with a gag for a comic strip every day.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Darrah Chavey.]

Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Puppies 5/5

aka The Puppy Who Mistook His Bark For A Hugo

Today’s roundup gathers together excerpts of Puppy-related thoughts from Mercy Pilkington, Paul St. John Mackintosh, Mike Glyer (who let him in here?), Deborah J. Ross, T.C. McCarthy, Kevin Standlee, Vox Day, Michael Kingswood, Tom Knighton, Lisa J. Goldstein, Jane Frank. Steve Davidson, Alexandra Erin and players to be named later. (Title credits go to File 770 contributing editors of the day Danny Sichel and Dawn Sabados.)

Mercy Pilkington on Good E Reader

“The Sad Joke That Is the Hugo Awards” – May 5

Unfortunately, this year’s nominations have allegedly been shanghaied by a small collective of people under the name “Sad Puppies” and a rival group “Rabid Puppies” who are disheartened with the “touchy feely” decline of science fiction into a genre that allows gay couples and women who don’t have giant breasts to exist. The groups have garnered enough voting support to send their favorites to the top of the lists, then have seemingly been quite open about achieving their goals.

 

Paul St. John Mackintosh on TeleRead

“Locus Awards finalists show the power of open voting” – May 5

You’re either forced to assume that the liberal-left-loony conspiracy beloved of the Sad Puppies ringleaders extends across the entire internet – or that the SP promoters are just a bunch of histrionic opportunists who hijacked the voting process of a particular set of awards in the name of a particular ideological agenda. Which also makes you wonder what future history will make of the 2014 Sad Puppies Hugo list, if not a single one of them has made the cut in a more open ballot. Apologies to any fine writers besmirched by that comment, but in the circumstances, it’s understandable. And apologies too to the Locus Awards for casting their fantastic slate of contenders in the shade of the Hugos/Sad Puppies fiasco. All the same, people, compare and contrast.

 

Mike Glyer in Uncanny Magazine

“It’s The Big One”  – May 5

Does The Award Matter? The award was forged as a weapon in the original culture war—the battle to earn acceptance for science fiction itself.

Isaac Asimov gave readers a taste of the mockery early science fiction fans endured in his introduction to a collection of Hugo–winning short fiction:

“You can imagine the laughter to which we were subjected when sensible, hard–headed, practical, every–day people discovered we were reading crazy stories about atomic bombs, television, guided missiles, and rockets to the moon. All this was obvious crackpotism that could never come to pass, you see.”

….Openly campaigning for a Hugo has long been culturally discouraged in fandom, however, that old–school tradition has not survived a collision with some other significant forces. Individual authors have been forced to shoulder the publicity burdens once carried by their publishers and one aspect of gaining attention is through awards – an approach discussed by Nancy Fulda (“Five Things You Should Know About Award Nominations”) on the SFWA Blog in January 2015. Furthermore, people steeped in the social media culture of constant self–expression and self–celebration have been conditioned to feel reticence is unnatural: Why wouldn’t they recommend themselves for an award?

 

Deborah J. Ross on Deborah’s Journal

“In Which Deborah Learns A New Word” – May 5

Normally, this is a politics-lite zone. Growing up in the ’50s with the McCarthy nuts breathing down my family’s neck has not endeared me to rancorous public discourse. I have, however, been following PuppyGate because I know some of the folks who withdrew their stories from the Hugo ballot and/or Puppy slate. The online debate has at times been pretty vile.

One of the few delightful things to come out of this mess is a new word: Puppysplaining. Akin to mansplaining, it refers to “Explaining to you how you really have no idea how completely wrong you are about your own lived experiences.” It comes to me from Gamer Ghazi. If it follows you home, you have my permission to keep it.

 

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way of Life

“Scheduling WSFS Business” – May 5

Because of a comment on the File 770 web site, I find that I’d better write about the subject of when the Business Meeting in Spokane will or might consider specific items, because it would appear some folks are taking this spot as the journal of record on such things.

Parliamentary Neepery about Business Meeting SchedulingCollapse )

So it’s possible for the meeting to put off consideration of proposals until Day 5, the morning after the Hugo Award Ceremony. How could it do this?

Agenda-Setting MechanismsCollapse )

I hope this explanation makes sense. It gets into a number of the finer points of parliamentary detail, but given the complexity of the tasks we may fact this year, I think it important that people understand what tools they have at their disposal.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Bi-discoursality” – May 5

The interesting thing about rhetoric is that it makes no sense to those who are limited to the dialectic. I didn’t fully grasp the way it worked until reading RHETORIC for the second time. It can be bewildering when people tell you that they have been convinced by something that you know can’t logically have persuaded them. In such cases, you know they have been persuaded by rhetoric, not facts, reason, or logic.

I wouldn’t expect an individual who only speaks one form of discourse to be any more able to follow me into the other than if I abruptly switched to speaking Italian or French after beginning in English.

For example, this was written for dialecticals. Rhetoricals only see “blah blah blah, I’m so smart, blah blah blah, Aristotle” and scan through it seeking to find some point of attack they can use to minimize or disqualify me. And if they can’t, that’s when they strike a bored pose or return to the snarky ad hom.

 

Michael Kingswood on Magic, Swords, and Laser Beams

“Myke and Brad” – May 5

Look, I’ve had to set fellow officers straight before because they were messing up.  Mostly those junior to me, occasionally a peer, and once or twice more senior officers, up to and including my CO.  It’s part of the job, and expected: forceful backup is a primary tenet of submarine operations.  So I have no issue with one officer correcting another.

That said, there is a way to do that sort of correction, and I do take issue with the nature, style, and content of Myke’s open letter.

The entire letter is condescending, and lacking in professional courtesy or respect.  Does he honestly think that Brad doesn’t know that, as an officer, he has a duty to all of his men, regardless of their personal situation?  Or does he just think Brad knows but doesn’t care?  Brad’s been doing this for a long time now.  I think he gets it.  And who the hell is Myke to lecture anyway?  He doesn’t work with Brad, doesn’t serve with him.  They’re not in the same chain of command, and neither has authority over the other.  Has he ever observed Brad’s professional behavior?  If not, he’s just speculating not even based on hearsay, and has no standing to judge or cast dispersions.

 

Tom Knighton

“An Open Letter to Myke Cole” – May 5

Dear Myke,

As a veteran who is now firmly ensconced in civilian life, I’m writing you to discuss your open letter with CWO Brad Torgersen.  This is not to defend Brad’s comments, because there is nothing I feel like defending.  Brad was out of line, and I think he knows that.  One thing I agree with John Scalzi on is that being gay is not anything to be ashamed of, so there’s no reason it should be categorized as an insult.  Thus far, we are in agreement.

However, you chose to address this issue in an open letter.  In and of itself, this wouldn’t normally be an issue.  Open letters are quite common in this day and age.  However, you opted to do so as a commissioned officer who is addressing a warrant officer.  This is where I must take issue.

You are a commissioned officer, a lieutenant in the United States Coast Guard Reserves.  You are addressing a warrant officer in the United States Army Reserves.  In essence, you are addressing a junior officer in a different chain of command.  As you are an officer, one would assume that somewhere in your training, you were instructed in how to address junior personnel while counseling them in matters such as proper execution of their duties.

If you were, then I am quite sure that the Coast Guard instructed you similarly to the way the Navy instructed me in such matters.  Simply put, you handle stuff like this behind closed doors.  A private message, an email, something.  You address it directly and privately and, if that doesn’t resolve the matter, you address it with his chain of command.

However, that’s not what you did.  Instead, you opted to put your disagreement with Brad’s comments out in public.  Again, had you done this as one writer addressing another writer, then so be it.  You didn’t.  Like most other things on your website, you couched it all under the color of your own uniform and did so publicly.

 

Font Folly

“Visions and Ventures: why I love sf/f” – May 5

As an adult, I’ve been attending sci fi conventions for decades. I’ve even been a staff member at a few. I’ve had some of my own tales of the fantastic published, even though most of my published stories have been in fanzines and other small semi-pro publications. I’ve had the good fortune to be the editor of a fanzine with a not insignificant subscriber base. I count among my friends and friendly acquaintances people who have been published in more professional venues, people who have run those conventions, people who have won awards for their sf/f stories and art, even people who have designed some of the trophies. Not to mention many, many fans. I have even occasionally referred to that conglomeration of fans, writers, artists, editors, and so forth as my tribe.

All of that only begins to scratch the surface of why I find the entire Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies mess so heart-wrenching. Yes, part of the reason the situation infuriates me is because the perpetrators are all so unabashedly anti-queer. For this queer kid, sf/f and its promise of better worlds and a better future was how I survived the bullying, bashing, hatred, and rejection of my childhood. To find out that there are fans and writers who so despise people like me that they have orchestrated a scheme whose ultimate goal is to erase us goes beyond infuriating.

 

Wikipedia  entry on “Science Fiction”

A controversy about voting slates in the 2015 Hugo Awards highlighted tensions in the science fiction community between a trend of increasingly diverse works and authors being honored by awards, and a backlash by groups of authors and fans who preferred what they considered more traditional science fiction

 

Sappho on Noli Irritare Leones

“The flames of the Tigers are lighting the road to Berlin” – May 5

This year’s Hugo Awards have proved more controversial than usual, with the sweep of several categories of Hugo Award nominations by two slates known as Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies.

I don’t mean this to be a post about Puppies. If you want to know more about puppies, you can check out the blog of, well, almost any science fiction author right now, or Google “Hugo Awards 2015? and look at all the Puppy posts and articles. But the debate about Puppies raised a meta-Puppies point that interests me: the relationship between politics and art.

You see, two things are true, at the same time. The first thing: Art has always been, and always will be, political, and in the sense in which “politics” is being discussed here, politics can’t be extracted from art. The second thing: What Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns, and Money likes to call aesthetic Stalinism – preachy message fiction where the message overwhelms the story, and preachy reviews that evaluate books, movies, music, or other art solely on their political implications – is really, really annoying.

 

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot Continued: Short Stories” – May 3

The next story up is “Totaled,” by Kary English.  English is the only woman to make it onto the ballot in the writing categories (short story, novelette, novella, novel) from the Sad Puppies’ slate, although another woman, Annie Bellet, made the ballot but withdrew her story from contention.  Elsewhere the Puppies tout the diversity of their nominees, but their record in this slate is pretty terrible, at least concerning women who write.

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot, Part 3: Short Stories” – May 5

The story after Diamond’s is John Wright’s “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds.”  Wright’s style here is deliberately archaic, in a stately, somewhat pompous, King James Bible vein, and for the most part this serves him fairly well.  Every so often, though, he will stray from purple into ultraviolet and become lost to human ken.  What, for example, is one to make of “All about the walls of the city were the fields and houses that were empty and still,” which seems to have one too many “were”s in it?  Or a description of leaves as “wallowing”?  Leaves may do a lot of things, but I’ve never seen one wallow.  And then sometimes Wright will leave this style altogether and use words King James would have a hard time recognizing, like “sangfroid.”  The effect for this reader at least is to be yanked, hard, out of the story.

[There should be a law that anyone who wants to write in this style has to read Ursula Le Guin’s essay “From Elfland to Poughkeepsie.”  Sorry, no exceptions.]

 

Jane Frank on Amazing Stories

“The Artful Collector: On the Topic of ‘Puppies’ from a Former ‘Loser’” – May 5

And It’s not that attempts to skew Hugo outcomes have been solely the province of that literary set.   Lobbying to get certain (overlooked) artists on the ballot has been attempted, as well. In years past I’ve been approached to participate in these efforts, to garner support (assuming I had such influence!) from other voters I knew, and get them to nominate one artist or another. I guess I was seen as the perfect lobbyist for such a cause, considering I was then selling original art for such well –known (but never nominated) artists as John Berkey, Paul Lehr, Darrell K. Sweet.  To name just three  . . that never enjoyed that honor during their lifetimes.

Not that such efforts would have been without merit, or weren’t well-intentioned. But even I – an outsider who actually never minded the objectification of women AND men on the covers of books and magazines (how else are you gonna get young men to READ, duh?) – knew enough to know that such lobbying was simply NOT DONE.   Voting has always been an individual thing – and I never had any interest in influencing the votes of others. Indeed, I have always been able to act as has been suggested by others. That when I wasn’t familiar with the work, if I hadn’t read the story, if I never heard of the artist, saw the TV episode or movie, I just didn’t vote for it.

 

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“OMG! That SJW Fannish Cabal is WAY Bigger Than They Thought!” – May 5

So lets get this straight.  Locus Magazine publishes the final ballot for this year’s Locus Poll – a poll of the readers of science fiction and fantasy, one that costs nothing to participate in*, one that doesn’t require special membership in a special organization, a poll of the READERS rather than just a poll of those nasty liberal WSFS Trufans and Message Fictioneers, a poll presumably participated in by the folks who really count – consumers!, the ones untainted by the crushing weight of 75 years of special cabal-think (libprog, social justice creep), the Goodread and Amazon four-star-review-unless-we-don’t-like-you crowd, the great unwashed masses of REAL FANS(tm), the folks who supposedly believe that sales figures and best seller lists are the only markers one needs to confer awards, the readers who the Suicide Puppy Squad claim want nothing more than entertaining adventures  (weirdly homoerotic broad chested man adventures at that) is published with NOT ONE SINGLE WORK BY A Puppy of any breed!  (Thank goodness for super lungs!)

 

Aaron Kashtan on The Hooded Ultilitarian

“The End of Comic Geeks?”  – May 5

This piece originated as a paper presented at the 2015 University of Florida Comics Conference. A slightly different form of this paper was incorporated into my lecture “Change the Cover: Superhero Comics, the Internet, and Female Fans,” delivered at Miami University as part of the Comics Scholars Group lecture series. While I have made some slight changes to the version of the paper that I gave at UF, I have decided against editing the paper to make it read like a written essay rather than an oral presentation. The accompanying slide presentation is available here ….

Now in other fan communities, the opening up of previously male-only spaces has triggered a backlash from the straight white men who used to dominate. The obvious example of this is Gamergate, where the inclusion of women in video gaming has led to an organized campaign of misogyny which has even crossed the line into domestic terrorism. SLIDE 6 A less well-known example is what’s been happening in science fiction fandom. In recent years, novels by liberal writers like John Scalzi and female and minority writers like Nnedi Okorafor and Sofia Samatar have dominated the major science fiction awards. SLIDE 7 When this started happening, certain mostly white male writers became extremely indignant that science fiction was becoming poiliticized, or rather that it was being politicized in a way they didn’t like. So they started an organized campaign known as Sad Puppies SLIDE 8 whose object was to get works by right-wing white male authors included on the ballot for the Hugo award, which is the only major science fiction and fantasy award where nominations are determined by fan voting. And this led in turn to the Rabid Puppies campaign, which was organized by notorious neo-Nazi Vox Day and which is explicitly racist, sexist and homophobic. SLIDE 9 And these campaigns succeeded partly thanks to assistance from Gamergate. On the 2015 Hugo ballot, the nominees in the short fiction categories consist entirely of works nominated by Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, and this has led to an enormous public outcry.

 

Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“Sad Puppies Review Books: THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK” – May 5

monster-256x300

The cover of this book promises a monster, which implies there’s going to be a battle. But there’s no battle. There is barely even a monster! Just some blue gamma male wimp who begs and pleads with you to stop reading the book on every page.

Looking at the obviously inflated Amazon reviews I can only conclude that a number of weak-willed liberal readers gave in to this blue cuck’s loathsome SJW bullying tactics and stopped reading before the disappointing reveal. Of course this doesn’t stop them from lavishing it with glowing reviews. These people care only about politics and demographics, not merit or value.

Well, I read it all the way to the end. The last thing you want to do is tell this red-blooded American he mustn’t do something or shouldn’t read something because I believe in the first amendment and I will read whatever the hell I want.

 

Hodgson Collection To Eaton

Jane and Howard Frank have donated their collection of William Hope Hodgson papers, including unpublished stories, to the UC Riverside Libraries’ Eaton Collection. The gift will be commemorated at an event on April 16.

Born Nov. 15, 1877, in Blackmore End, Essex, Hodgson was widely known for his works in horror, fantastic fiction and science fiction when he was killed in April 1918, during World War I. He wrote numerous short stories, novels and poems, including “The House on the Borderland” and “The Night Land.”

“Scholars have lamented for decades that no collection of primary materials – correspondence, diaries, etc. – had ever come to light to allow for the depth of scholarly research that has been done for his contemporaries such as H.P. Lovecraft,” said University Librarian Steven Mandeville-Gamble. “The Hodgson collection, which was so generously donated to UCR by Jane and Howard Frank, finally brings to light those critically important resources that academics have been seeking for years.”

There will be lectures and a reception at the library on the 16th. Jane Frank will participate, speaking about their acquisition of the collection, and how that led to the two books she edited on Hodgson, for PS Publishing/Tartarus Press, 2005, The Wandering Soul: Glimpses of a Life – A Compendium of Rare and Unpublished Works, and The Lost Poetry Books of W.H. Hodgson.

The archive of Hodgson manuscripts, letters and photographs was once owned by the late Sam Moskowitz.

Jane Frank believes the collection will shortly be available to scholars and researchers and hopes that the donation will spark new studies of Hodgson’s stories and poetry.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

H.R. Van Dongen Death Noted

Van Dongen cover from 1950.

Artist Henry “Rich” Van Dongen, known to sf readers as H.R. Van Dongen, died February 27, 2010 at the age of 89. His passing was not reported within the genre until today when Jane Frank of Worlds of Wonder relayed the discovery.

Van Dongen was one of John W. Campbell’s favorite artists – he painted 46 covers for Astounding/Analog between 1950 and 1985. After working as a commercial illustrator in other fields he returned in 1975 to produce numerous book covers for Ballantine-Del Rey and DAW. 

An online memorial article adds that he was a veteran who served as a B-24 armorer-gunner with the 8th Air Force during World War II. He was shot down and spent 11 months as a prisoner of war.

His first cover painting in the sf genre was for the September 1949 issue of Super Science Stories. Outside of sf he worked as a freelance illustrator for Christian publications.

[Thanks to Mark Olson for the story.]

Amazing’s 50 Shades of Blog

Amazing Stories relaunch continues January 2 when over 50 bloggers will begin contributing to its Social Magazine Platform.

Publisher Steve Davidson has lined up personalities from all over the field to stoke discussion of an enormous array of subjects of interest to genre fans.

We’ve got authors and agents, bloggers and editors, podcasters and broadcasters; we’ve got gamers and game designers; artists and art collectors; pulpsters and indie authors; we’ve got Hugo winners, John W. Campbell Memorial Award winners, John W. Campbell Best New Writer winners, Nebula and Hugo Award winners and nominees and winners and nominees of many other awards; people who review films, people who make films; we’ve got fanboys and fangirls; we’ve got former editors of Amazing Stories, writers who’ve become synonymous with the field and writers who are just getting started; comic artists, book reviewers; traditionally published authors, self-pubbed authors and authors who’ve done it all. The response to my request for participation was phenomenal.

They’ll cover 14 principal topics: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, (lit), Film, Television, Gaming, Comics and Graphic Works, the Visual Arts, the Pulps, Audio Works, Anime, the Business of Publishing, Science and Fandom.

Here’s the starting lineup:

Cenobyte – http://www.cenobyte.ca
Mike Brotherton – http://www.mikebrotherton.com
Ricky L Brown – http://doctorfantastiques.com/author/rickbrown
Michael A Burstein – http://www.mabfan.com , http://www.bursteinbooks.com
Cait Coker – http://www.aggiescifi.wordpress.com
Johne Cook – https://twitter.com/theskypirate
Paul Cook – http://www.paulcook-sci-fi.com
Gary Dalkin – http://www.tothelastword.com
Jane Frank – http://www.wow-art.com
Jim Freund – http://www.hourwolf.com
Adam Gaffen – http://www.thekildaran.blogspot.com
Chris Garcia – http://efanzines.com/DrinkTank
Chris Gerwel – http://elflands2ndcousin.com
Tommy Hancock – http://www.allpulp.blogspot.com , http://www.prosepulp.com
Liz Henderson – http://www.true-blood.net , http://www.onceuponafansite.com , http://www.nicegirlstv.com
Samantha Henry – http://www.scifidramaqueen.com
M. D. Jackson – http://www.michaeldeanjackson.blogspot.com
Monique Jacob – http://www.moniquejacob.com
Geoffrey James – http://www.geoffreyjames.com , http://www.sorcerer.net
J. Jay Jones
Peggy Kolm – http://blog.sciencefictionbiology.com
Justin Landon – http://www.staffersbookreview.com
Andrew Liptak – http://www.andrewliptak.wordpress.com
Meilissa Lowery http://www.true-blood.net , http://www.sidcity.net , http://www.chucktv.net
Barry Malzberg
C. E. Martin – http://www.troglodad.blogspot.com , http://www.mythicaltheseries.blogspot.com
Farrell J. McGovern – http://www.can-con.org
Steve Miller – http://stevemillerreviews.blogspot.com , http://nuelow.blogspot.com/
Matt Mitrovich – http://alternatehistoryweeklyupdate.blogspot.com
Aidan Moher – http://aidanmoher.com/blog
Kevin Murray – www.kevinmurray.ca , http://www.falloutfiles.com
Ken Neth – http://nethspace.blogspot.com
Astrid Nielsch – http://webdesign.asni.net/ , http://www.asni.net , http://www.asni.net/newsletter.php , http://music.asni.net/ , http://conceptart.asni.net/
D. Nicklin-Dunbar –http://mouldysquid.wordpress.com/book-reviews
John Purcell – http://efanzines.com/Prior/index.htm
James Rogers – http://scienceismagic.com/
Diane Severson – www.divadianes.blogspot.com , http://www.starshipsofa.com/category/podcast/fact-articles/poetry-planet/ , http://www.sfpoetry.com
Doug Smith – http://www.smithwriter.com
Lesley Smith
Bill Spangler
Duane Spurlock – http://pulprack.blogspot.com , http://spurandlock.blogspot.com , http://duanespurlock.blogspot.com
Michael J. Sullivan – http://www.riyria.com
G. W. Thomas – http://www.gwthomas.org
Erin Underwood – http://www.underwords.com
Stephan Van Velzen – http://www.rantingdragon.com
Cynthia Ward – http://www.cynthiaward.com , http://www.writingtheother.com
Michael Webb – http://www.martianexpatriate.com/
Keith West – http://www.adventuresfantastic.blogspot.com , http://futurespastandpresent.blogspot.com
John M Whalen – http://johnmwhalen.wordpress.com
Ann Wilkes – http://sciencefictionmusings.blogspot.com
Karlo Yeager
Leah Zeldes – http://www.zeldes.com , http://www.thewaythefutureblogs.com , http://www.diningchicago.com/blog

The full press release follows the jump.

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Chicon 7: Opening Ceremonies

Chicon 7’s Opening Ceremonies on Thursday afternoon began with a four-piece guitar band silhouetted against a lavender-lit backdrop. Then bright spots illuminated the stage, set with a desk and black sofas in talk-show format. The band cranked up and its leader belted out a raucous Chicon lyric. At the end John Scalzi emerged from the wings to play our genial host, the drum machine player matching his triumphant jabs with what Scalzi called “punchy sounds.”

Scalzi preened over his stylish new jacket — “Paul Ryan casual” he said, then promised that would be his last political joke, and it was. He tied his monologue together with references to his being a Worldcon newbie, his first having been in 2003, which worked surprisingly well when you consider he’s in his second term as SFWA president and often writes online as a kind of voice of elder wisdom.

Erle Korshak was the first to be interviewed once Scalzi moved behind the desk. Korshak co-chaired the original Chicon in 1940 and he paid tribute to its other leaders, his co-chair Mark Reinsberg and the treasurer Wilson Tucker. Asked how many people came to that con Korshak said 129, and Scalzi gestured to the front of the Grand Ballroom, “About the first two rows here.” Yes, we’ve grown.

Mike Resnick, author GoH, followed Korshak. He squinted up at the lights and told about his time on that stage in 1991 presiding over the masquerade, unable to read his notes or see directions through the glare. The stage manager was reduced to giving him signals by rubbing his leg. Scalzi reached over and stroked Mike’s leg in a dramatic interpretation which, if captured on video, will doubtless be up for a Hugo next year. The pair also plugged Resnick’s story collection Win Some, Lose Some, released by the fannish ISFiC Press for sale at the con.

Rowena Morrill’s sister, Kathy, aquainted us with the artist GoH, who was missing the con to recover from health problems. She delved into family memories about Rowena as the creative instigator of family plays, and shared that her sister actually was preparing to be a classical pianist before she took an art class and discovered something that fired her interests even more.

Artist Agent GoH Jane Frank told how she and her husband carried out the vision of creating a Victoran room in their modern house and filled it with specially commissioned art showing their favorite elements from the stories of H. Rider Haggard.

Scalzi introduced Fan GoH Peggy Rae Pavlat with copious praise for her work coordinating the two most recent Nebula Weekends. She closed with the story of how her father, Jack McKnight, made the first Hugo Awards on a machine at home after a whole series of other plans came to nought, missing most of the 1953 Worldcon to do so, and ever after referring to them as “those goddamned Hugo Awards.”

Former NASA flight controller Sy Liebergot, a special guest, was introduced as the man who didn’t go to the Moon but made sure others did. He rhetorically answered one interview prompt, “How did we do it? We had a bunch of smart guys who could think straight. We don’t have that now.” There was applause, though Scalzi’s expression matched the sourness of the remark.

Hugo base designer Deb Kosiba instituted what I hope will be the new tradition, unveiling the base on the first day rather than waiting until the Hugo reception. She described her effort as drawing upon the local traditions of architects Louis Sullivan and Mies van der Rohe, and artist Pablo Picasso.

Chicon 7 chair Dave McCarty bantered with Scalzi, bringing the ceremonies to a close. He praised his leadership team, the Flying Monkees, and the 500 people on staff. And he reminded us that astronaut Story Musgrave, another GoH, would be with us on Saturday and Sunday.

Scalzi had a great handle on the event. That comes as no surprise but it particularly interested me to see him gage his approach to get the best from each person, in contrast to many actual TV hosts who force guests to play off them. He joked at the beginning about a part being “all about me” in the spirit of such host, then, in fact turned in a deft and inclusive performance.

Rooms With A View

The Haggard Room.

Chicon 7 will recreate as an exhibit the Haggard-themed room from the home of GoH Jane Frank and her husband, Howard.

The Franks’ admiration for H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, She and his other lost world stories inspired them to design a room in their house to showcase specifically commissioned art based on Haggard’s work. Decorated in Victorian-era furnishings, the Haggard Room displays thematic art by Michael Whelan, Don Maitz, and Bob Eggleton, Gary Ruddell, Donato Giancola, Ian Miller, Jeffrey Catherine Jones, Richard Bober, and Steve Hickman.

Chicon’s exhibit will be the most opulent room recreation ever presented by a Worldcon, a real peek into how “the other half lives” when you consider what has gone before.

Anticipation, the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal, used large graphic photos to reproduce the apartment of its Fan GoH Taral Wayne, the visuals as intricately detailed as a Taral fanzine cover because of all the collections on display.

Entry to Taral's apartment at Anticipation.

Collections on display in Taral's apartment at 2009 Worldcon.

Previously, Chicon 2000 decorated its Fan Lounge to resemble the living room of a typical Chicago fan in the ‘80s, furnished with an ill-assorted bunch of old couches, lamps and end tables. One couch was occupied by two crash-test dummies dressed as Neil Rest and Phyllis Eisenstein – bearded “Neil” wearing sandals, jeans and a Windycon 7 t-shirt, and “Phyllis,” attired in black, a goth ahead of her time. Poor-fan’s bookcases made of boards and cinder blocks lined the perimeter of the room.

Roger Sims and Dave Kyle with “Neil” and “Phyllis” in the Chicon 2000 Fan Lounge.

These room recreations make innovative use of the exhibit space and have all been fun. I wonder if there been any others than the ones I remember?

Update 07/27/2012: Corrected identification of Chicon 2000 Fan Lounge crash-test dummy to Neil, per comment.