Pixel Scroll 11/2 Unstable Molecules: For Starship Captains Who Shift Shape, And Get Overly Personal With Hedgehogs and Fondue Pots

(1) Jon Zeigler has posted his “100 Year Starship Symposium 2015” report at Sharrukin’s Palace.

Executive summary: I was quite impressed by the whole endeavor. It’s a fairly small technical conference, but it’s attracting serious academics and scientists, and it has a distinctive focus on cultural and social issues as well as science and technology. I can recommend it for science fiction writers, especially those of us who are interested in doing work in the “hard” end of the field.

As with all technical conferences, I found myself wanting to be in several places at once. There are always more technical tracks going on that any one person can possibly take in.

A set of three one-hour “classes” was held first thing on Friday morning. I sat in on a presentation by Bobby Farlice-Rubio, from the Fairfield Museum and Planetarium in Connecticut. The title was Neighborhood Watch: An Advanced Look at our Space Neighborhood, and it served as a summary of recent discoveries in planetary science. I follow interplanetary exploration closely, so I didn’t hear much that was completely new, but there were a few details I hadn’t heard before.

One item in particular stuck with me. Apparently the New Horizons spacecraft that just made a flyby of Pluto contained a small canister of human remains – a pinch of the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto in 1930. That makes Mr. Tombaugh the one human being thus far whose remains are destined for interstellar space. Don’t know if there’s a whole story in that, but it’s a very evocative image.

(2) Although he hasn’t gotten as close to Pluto as Clyde Tombaugh, the Guardian proclaims David A. Hardy “The space artist who saw Pluto before Nasa”.

In 1950, a 14-year-old boy found an astronomy book at his local library. As he pored over it, a light bulb lit up over his head. “It inspired me, really, to do it myself,” says that boy, David A Hardy, 65 years on. Not to become an astronaut, but to draw outer space with incredible military accuracy. Today, he is the world’s oldest living space artist. He’s 79 and he lives in the suburbs of Birmingham, churning out visions of the universe while his wife makes him cups of tea.

Chances are, if you’ve read books by Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke, the covers were painted by Hardy. He worked with Sir Patrick Moore for over half a century. He has created spaceships descending upon Big Ben for Doctor Who and the Daleks. His art has been the backdrop for Pink Floyd gigs, and he counts the Rolling Stones and Queen among his collectors.

Hardy’s work is part of a new exhibition called Visions of Space at the Wells & Mendip Museum, Somerset, from November 7-21. David A Hardy speaks on November 6 at 7:30pm.

(3) A website now documents the “Aliens, Androids & Unicorns” exhibition at the University of Otago (New Zealand) held March to May 2015, that highlighted sf&f collection of the late Harold Terrence Salive (1939-2012). The exhibition contained (amongst others) his almost complete run of Astounding Stories, numerous works by Van Vogt, Delany, C.J Cherryh, Jack L. Chalker, Poul Anderson, and Piers Anthony. Salive’s Collection was donated to Special Collections in March 2013 by his wife Rachel.

(4) To avoid spoilers, the release of the Star Wars: The Force Awaken tie-in novel has been delayed.

Walt Disney Co. is so determined to maintain the secrecy surrounding its hotly anticipated “Star Wars” movie that it asked its publishing partner to delay the release of a hardcover book tied to the film and forgo a potential holiday sales bonanza.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the franchise’s first new installment in a decade, will hit theaters Dec. 17. But the print edition of the novel, which will be published by Penguin Random House’sDel Rey imprint, won’t be released until Jan. 5, after the lucrative holiday gift-giving season has ended.

The unusual delay reflects Disney’s fears that printed copies of the book, which would have to start rolling off presses long before they hit store shelves, could be purloined by people who want to spill plot details online. The e- book will be released Dec. 18, since it is easier to control digital files before they go on sale.

(5) “Amazon opens its first real bookstore – at U-Village” in Seattle.

Bookstore owners often think of Amazon.com as the enemy.

Now it’s becoming one of them.

At 9:30 Tuesday morning, the online retail giant will open its first-ever brick-and-mortar retail store in its 20-year life, in University Village.

The store, called Amazon Books, looks a lot like bookstores that populate malls across the country. Its wood shelves are stocked with 5,000 to 6,000 titles, best-sellers as well as Amazon.com customer favorites.

(6) “Holy Crap, They Are Officially Making a New Star Trek TV Series” reports io9.

Multiple outlets are reporting that Alex Kurtzman, co-writer of 2009’s Star Trek and its sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, will executive produce a new Star Trek show through CBS Television Studios.

The show will premiere in January 2017 with a preview episode on CBS and then, in the U.S., move exclusively to the CBS video on-demand and streaming service, CBS All Access. It’ll be the first developed specifically for the CBS streaming service.

Quoting the CBS press release —

The brand-new “Star Trek” will introduce new characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations, while exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception in 1966.

(7) Far more surprising – incredible, really — is Fox’s decision to reboot Greatest American Hero. Deadline reports —

In a preemptive buy, Fox has given a pilot production commitment to Greatest American Hero, a single-camera comedy inspired by Steven J. Cannell’s 1981 cult classic. It hails from Dope writer-director Rick Famuyiwa, Phil Lord & Chris Miller–  the directing duo behind the successful feature franchise based on another ’80s TV series by Cannell, 21 Jump Street — and Cannell’s daughter, television director Tawnia McKiernan. 20th Century Fox TV, where Lord and Miller are under an overall deal, is the studio.

Written and to be directed by Famuyiwa, Greatest American Hero is the story of what happens when great power is not met with great responsibility. An ordinary man, completely content with being average, wakes up with a superpower suit he never asked for and has to deal with the complications it brings his life.

Via SF Site News.

(8) Today’s Birthday Manned Space Mission

  • November 2, 2000 — The first crew docked at the International Space Station. Commander William Shepherd and Flight Engineers Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko spent 141 days in space. Since Expedition 1, there has been a continuous human presence aboard the space station for 5,478 days and counting.

(9) Nate Hoffhelder responds to John Scalzi’s post about kids not reading the classics in “Culture and Relatability Are Why people Don’t Read Classic SF, Not Age” at The Digital Reader.

While all the points he made are correct, I don’t think he gets at the root cause of the shift in reading tastes.

I have trouble accepting the point that commercial availability driving demand because when I was growing up (in the 1990s) I frequented used book stores just to get those older books. I also combed through the library stacks for those three-, four-, and five-decade-old books because I liked the authors and wanted to read them. (In fact, there were a few early Heinleins that I didn’t find for the first time until the early aughts, and I still read them when I found them.)

Instead, I have to agree with the several commenters who argue that culture in the older books and the relatability of the characters have a greater impact.

(10) Harper Voyager’s open call for submissions runs November 2-6.

In this time of flux and accelerated evolution in the field of genre publishing, the editorial leaders of Harper Voyager Books are delighted to announce an exciting venture that will offer talented aspiring writers the chance to join the same science fiction and fantasy imprint that publishes such visionary authors as Richard Kadrey, Chuck Wendig, Raymond E. Feist, and many, many more.

For the first time since 2012, Harper Voyager is offering writers the chance to submit full, un-agented manuscripts for a limited five-day period. The publisher is seeking new authors with fresh voices, strong storytelling abilities, original ideas and compelling storylines. In this Open Call, Harper Voyager will be seeking out novels written in the Urban Fantasy and Military Sci-Fi genres. Submission guidelines and key information can be found at www.harpervoyagersubmissions.com.

The submission portal, www.harpervoyagersubmissions.com, will be open from noon ET on the 2nd to noon ET of the 6th of November 2015. The manuscripts will then be read, and all submissions will receive a letter notifying them of whether or not their submission is being offered publication on the Voyager list. As with every Harper Voyager project, the author will be paired with an editor, publicist, and marketing team in order to develop the manuscript and promotional efforts before and during publication.

The submissions and digital publications are spearheaded by Executive Editor David Pomerico.  He notes that: “The last time we had an open call, we had over 4,500 submissions, and were able to add 10 new voices to our growing list. We know, though, that writers are always eager to connect with editors here, and we’re excited to offer them an opportunity to do exactly that. These are two sub-genres we are finding a lot of readers for—especially in the digital space—and I’m looking forward to finding some great new projects.”

(11) Thomas Rossiter declares that “My Hugo Must Be Acknowledged” at Pelican Magazine, though it never is made evident why the headline refers to “my Hugo.”

This controversy led to the largest number of votes ever received by the awards committee (just over five thousand). Not one of the Puppies’ nominees received an award. Many of the categories were resolved with “No Award” where there was no alternative to a Puppy-approved candidate.

The Puppies have on numerous occasions stated that their goal is to make the Hugos as democratic as possible, so their anger now that their nominees have lost seems hypocritical to say the least.

(12) A review in the October Audiofile praises the audiobook edition of Francis Hamit’s novel The Queen of Washington.

Narrator Melanie Mason finds a wonderful Southern accent for Rose Greenhow that adds a great deal to the atmosphere of this novel. David Wilson Brown uses a variety of tones and accents–Southern and Northern, as well as French and Spanish–for the various male characters. Together, the two narrators provide tension and a theatrical atmosphere to the story. Rose, a rich nineteenth-century player in Washington, D.C., society is a spy, first for the Confederacy and later for British and French intelligence in the 1850s and ’60s. The many plot twists of this historical novel make for an engaging performance by two smooth narrators.

Says Hamit: “I could not be more pleased for my narration team, who worked very hard on this and are the real stars. I do call this ‘alternative history’ so it fits (barely) within the genre.”

(13) A Princess of the Chameln by Cherry Wilder ($5.99, ISBN 978-1-5040-2697-0) is going to be published as an e-book for the first time, on November 17, by Mashup Press, distributed by Open Road Integrated Media on all major retailers’ web sites. It will be available as a print on demand trade paperback a month later. The sequels Yorath the Wolf and The Summer’s King, which together with A Princess of the Chameln comprise the Rulers of Hylor trilogy, will be published at three month intervals.

It has been a while since this book has been available—two decades, in fact, since the Baen Books paperback edition, which reprinted the original hardcover edition ofA Princess of the Chameln.

Princess of the Chameln cover final COMP

A Princess . . . is the story of Aidris, the heir to the double-throne of Hylor. When her crown is usurped by pretenders and she must flee for her life, she must fend for herself, exiled in a world of enemies, forced to fight to survive as she seeks allies friendly to her cause. In the richly developed fantasy world of Hylor and the realms within it that vie for ascendance, Cherry Wilder deftly balances politics and warfare with the subtly nuanced, memorable characters whose lives play out in this uniquely powerful novel.

Jim Frenkel of Mashup Press predicts, “If you are familiar with A Princess of the Chameln or the trilogy—you already know that they are Cherry Wilder’s great epic high-fantasy adventure. If you don’t know these books, I think you’ll have a great surprise in store. Cherry Wilder died in 2003, but her great works live on, and we’re all thrilled to be able to bring these books to a new generation of fantasy readers.”

Stack of Old Books

(14) Free Special Speaker Event presented by the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society on Saturday November 21, 2:30 p.m. at the Palms-Rancho Park Library in Los Angeles, CA.

Spec fic then and now

(15) Steven Moffat told Variety to expect Doctor Who to be around for years to come:

You are credited with taking “Doctor Who” to a new level. What do you think allowed this format to be rebooted so brilliantly?

“Doctor Who” is the all-time perfectly evolved television show. It’s a television predator designed to survive any environment because you can replace absolutely everybody. Most shows you can’t do that with. For example, once Benedict Cumberbatch gives up “Sherlock,” what are we going to do? We are going to stop, that’s what we are going to do. Most shows have a built-in mortality. But here is a show that sheds us all like scales; a show that can make you feel everything except indispensable. It will carry on forever, because you can replace every part of it…

In terms of longevity of the show, I think you’ve said it could go five more years?

It is definitely going to last five more years, I’ve seen the business plan. It’s not going anywhere. And I think we can go past that. It’s television’s own legend. It will just keep going.

(16) Last Friday, Chuck Yeager stopped by the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum to say hello to his Bell X-1, the airplane in which he broke the sound barrier 68 years ago on October 14, 1947.

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[Thanks to Wendy Gale, Roger Tener’s Chronicles of the Dawn Patrol, Gregory Benford, Will R., Michael J. Walsh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/12 Paladin of Pixels

(1) If today is The Martian’s birthday remember that…

…in nine days Marty McFly arrives from the past

(2) Can you pass HowStuffWorks’ “Real Tech or Star Trek?” quiz?

Confession: I bombed.

(3) Jeffro Johnson has completed his Appendix N survey. Keep reading and he’ll explain what that means —

So it’s all up now.

With this piece on Tolkien going up, I’ve done forty-three posts on Appendix N now. I read every book Gygax mentioned by name, at least the first book of each series, and I picked out one representative work for each of the entries that consisted of an author’s name alone. I also wrote about two thousand words on each book.

(4) A bit more from 2013 on how journalists exploited Gravatar to identify online commenters.

“Crypto weakness in Web comment system exposes hate-mongering politicians”

Investigative journalists have exploited a cryptographic weakness in a third-party website commenting service to expose politicians and other Swedish public figures who left highly offensive remarks on right-wing blogs, according to published reports.

People have been warning of the privacy risk posed by Gravatar, short for Globally Recognized Avatar, since at least 2009. That’s when a blogger showed he was able to crack the cryptographic hashes the behind-the-scenes service uses to uniquely identify its users. The Gravatar hashes, which are typically embedded in any comment left on millions of sites that use the avatar service, are generated by passing a user’s e-mail address through the MD5 cryptographic function. By running guessed e-mail addresses through the same algorithm and waiting for output that matches those found in comments, it’s possible to identify the authors, many of whom believe they are posting anonymously.

“Disqus scrambles after leak fuels Swedish tabloid expose”

Disqus is updating its widely-used comments platform after a Swedish tabloid exposed politicians and other public figures for allegedly making highly offensive comments on right-wing websites.

The Swedish daily Expressen, working with an investigative journalism group, said it uncovered the identity of hundreds of people who left offensive comments at four right-wing websites through their email addresses. It then confronted the authors of the comments, many of whom freely admitted to writing them.

(5) “Dinner and a Movie with Vincent Price featuring Victoria Price” is in Toronto on November 18 and 19. The event at the Gladstone Hotel features a four course meal created by Gladstone Chef Katie Lloyd and inspired by the late actor’s 1965 cookbook, A Treasury of Great Recipes. Tickets are available.

And for nostalgia’s sake, here is a video of Vincent Price guesting on a cooking show with Wolfgang Puck.

(6) Jerry Pournelle reports that the new There Will Be War collection, volume 10, is filling faster than expected:

There are still a few fiction slots open, and we are looking for serious previously published non-fiction on future war; previous publication in a military journal preferred but not a requirement.

Oddly, some of the aspiring contributors don’t seem to understand what the collection is about. Publisher Vox Day warned

PLEASE STOP SUBMITTING straight SF, urban fantasy, SF romance, and anything that is not clearly MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION. A submission will be rejected out of hand as soon as it becomes apparent that it is not mil-SF. We’ve received a startling number of submissions that are not even remotely relevant to one of the most famous anthology series in science fiction.

(7) Mascots meet under the Hugo at Octocon.

(8) Ah, Sweet Marketing!

https://twitter.com/APiusManNovel/status/653544755507372032

(9) Nathan Barnhart’s review of Ancillary Mercy for Speculative Herald is touted as its “first 10 star rating”:

Along the way we get a few surprises. Most noticeable for me is the humor that is present more than at any other point of the series. Breq herself gives us some lighter moments; including padding a report with results of radish growing competitions. But most of the humor comes from the translator to the mysterious Presger (an alien group that once treated humans as their own ant farm but is now confined by a treaty). Zeiat, while acting as a translator between two races provides the humor by some humorous cultural misunderstandings. In lesser hands Zeiat could have been nothing more than a cheap form of comic relief but here she serves a very real purpose within the story.   Beneath the humor of the misunderstandings is the constant reminder that even a culture as expansive as the Radch are at risk. The Presger are held in check only by a treaty they signed; a treaty the Radch still doesn’t completely understand the implications of.

(10) Io9 posted a detailed infographic “Get To Know The Incredible Starships of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Trilogy” a couple of weeks ago, which is even more fun now that I have read the third book.

(11) Screen Rant presents “10 Movie Outtakes That Made It To The Big Screen.”

(12) And here is my Get Out Of Literary Jail Free card, sent by somebody who thinks I will need it, because of the way I phrase Frankenstein stories in the Scroll.

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

Pournelle Resumes There Will Be War Anthology Series

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Jerry Pournelle is readying the first new There Will Be War anthology in 25 years. Castalia House will publish it.

Pournelle wrote me in an e-mail:

We are paying $200 on acceptance; that is an advance on pro rata shares of 25% royalties. (The original Tor TWBW series was paying on 10% royalties.) Also, we are buying nonexclusive anthology rights, not first serial or anything exclusive, so it’s a bit like finding the acceptance money in the street, with an excellent chance of getting a good bit more, possibly several times as much per year for a few years.

For the new volume we are paying $200 on acceptance regardless of length; I paid by the word in the original series. We’ll pay by adjusted length for the royalties on the new volume — adjustment to increase the amount going to shorter works. I always did that, particularly for poetry. Castalia is using my formulae. I’d like to pay more on acceptance, but that’s all I could get, and it’s more than anyone else offered.

Castalia made me the best offer, including the bookkeeping and royalty payments to contributors; no one else offered that. They have been a pleasure to work with.

I have a lot of things to do, including new fiction with Larry Niven and Steven Barnes — we’re doing another book in the Heorot series. The previous two were best sellers, and we think this is better. We’re working with Dr. Jack Cohen, who helped Annie design the dragons of Pern, and Terry Pratchett, and we have a wonderful new alien.

And John DeChancie and I are working on Lisabetta, a story of a young girl in space raised in good part by her ship’s Artificial Intelligence. She’s a strong character, and I think we’re contributing to understanding AI robots. John’s a very strong writer. I’m still learning to type again after the stroke, so most of my current work is collaborations; I’m very fortunate to have such skilled people to work with; but it leaves me little time to do management of projects like There Will Be War.

I’m vain enough to think it’s an important series, TWBW, and now that Iran is likely to have the bomb perhaps we need to think about the future of war. It seemed impossible to get out of the Cold War without at least a few atomic explosions, but we did it with containment, deterrence, and defense. I won’t live to see the end of the next phase, but I like to believe TWBW helped get people thinking about how to get out of the Cold War alive; maybe a couple of new volumes will help with these new dangers.

He also responded to the criticism of his choice of Castalia House as publisher.

I don’t pay attention to fan politics, and I have not followed whatever the latest have been. There seem to be denunciations of Castalia including public wishes for its CEO’s public execution without trial, which does not seem reasonable. I am not required to share political views with my publisher, which is as well because some of my publishers have been Communists, both foreign and American.

Submissions are open, but as Pournelle explained on Chaos Manor, he doesn’t have time for editorial handholding —

Please do not send me email about the new volume of There Will Be War. Please do not send me inquiries about submitting to There Will Be War. Send story submissions to submissions@therewillbewar.net. We buy only nonexclusive anthology rights. We will publish a notice when submissions are no longer wanted. To get an idea of what the anthologies are like, see the already published volumes. Please do not ask me for advice on how to write for this anthology.

When I did the original There Will Be War anthologies, I had the services of Mr. Carr to work with prospective authors, and he was responsible for starting many new careers. Alas, John is on his own in Pennsylvania now, and I have neither time nor energy, nor do I have John’s talents.

Submit stories to submissions@therewillbewar.net. Previously published is acceptable and far more usual than original. Alas I have not the time to discuss story ideas by mail.

[Artwork by Grant Canfield.]

There Will Be War, Volumes II, III and IV Now Available

Three more volumes of Jerry Pournelle’s There Will Be War have been republished for the Amazon Kindle by Castalia House this summer.

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There Will Be War, Volume II (originally titled Men of War), edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, has 19 stories, articles, and poems. Notable entries are —

  • Eric Frank Russell’s “Allamagoosa,” winner of the 1955 Best Short Story Hugo.
  • “Superiority,” by Arthur C. Clarke, first published in 1951, depicts an arms race and shows how the side which is more technologically advanced can be defeated. The story once was required reading for an industrial design course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • “Code-Name Feirefitz” by David Drake is a Hammer’s Slammers story.

375 pages, no DRM. Can be purchased from Amazon and Castalia House.

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There Will Be War, Volume III (originally titled Blood and Iron), edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, and features 16 stories, articles, and poems. Notable entries are —

  • “The Spectre General” by Theodore Cogswell was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America as one of the finest novellas prior to the introduction of the Nebula Awards in 1965 and included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two anthology.
  • “The Miracle-Workers” by Jack Vance was a nominee for the 1959 Best Novelette Hugo.
  • Arthur C. Clarke’s oft-reprinted “Hide and Seek” tells the story of a single armed man pitted against a space cruiser, and succeeding.
  • “Silent Leges” by Jerry Pournelle is a Falkenberg’s Legion story.

382 pages, no DRM. It is available at Amazon and Castalia House.

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There Will Be War, Volume IV (originally titled Day of the Tyrant), edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, features 21 stories, articles, and poems. Notable entries are —

  • “The Cloak and the Staff” by Gordon R. Dickson, winner of the 1981 Best Novelette Hugo.
  • “No Truce With Kings” by Poul Anderson, winner of the 1964 Best Short Fiction Hugo.
  • “Interim Justice” by William F. Wu.

378 pages, no DRM. It is available at Amazon and Castalia House.

Jerry Pournelle also wrote me a note about working with Castalia House —

I recently read your nice April piece about it nice April piece about [the reprints] and also read the comments which I don’t usually do. There seems to be some question about why Castalia is the publisher. It’s simple, really: they made the best offer. My first inclination for the whole series was to have my agent publish the whole series, but she was reluctant to do the bookkeeping and royalty payments to 20+ contributors per book for ten books; she hasn’t the office staff for that nor the computer skills to automate it.

Neither do I. I haven’t time for all that work and I wouldn’t be reliable or dependable — and it’s the contributors’ money, not mine. I don’t need and can’t do all that work, and I won’t take on the obligation, and no other publisher seemed interested. Then Castalia wanted to publish the 25 year old series, and when I said only if you do the bookkeeping and banking, they said yes; they thought it a prestigious series and they would do that.

When TOR published the original series, I paid the royalties to the contributors, and though John Carr was invaluable help, it was my obligation and I did it; even wrote a computer program to make it easier. Alas, that program is long gone, and if it weren’t I still would not take on the obligation.

Castalia contracted to do all that as publisher. Royalties are coming in, and Castalia is paying them, and I don’t have to do much but collect my share, as it should be.

Today’s Birthday Boy 7/7

Who’s birthday is it today? Here are a couple of hints.

He copy-edited Niven and Pournelle’s A Mote In God’s Eye:

All that I suggest doing to the last half is a) cut as many words as possible, and b) search for places to insert essential featherdusting from pp 1–100, using any device appropriate—including dialogue, in narration, or as flashback. Both are tedious carpentry, neither is revision. Don’t change the story line at all—save that I hope that you will do something about p. 444. I suggest cutting with a ¼” feltpoint (which I use because it blots out completely and leaves no temptation to put it back in later—I use up 4 or 5 on every book MS)—use a feltpoint and cut to the bone…adjectives, adverbs, phrases, subordinate clauses, whole sentences, and sometimes paragraphs, anything that does not move the story line. Then do the whole tedious job over again. And again. And pass it back and forth between you to sweat out the last ounce of fat before you reach the starting gate…without eliminating any of the bone and lean.

He had Ray Bradbury do volunteer work for the Red Cross during WWII…

From Jerry Pournelle on Chaos Manor

Ray was of an age when he was required to take a physical examination for the World War II draft. The story is that he went to the physical and they said what’s the lowest line you can read on that eye chart, and Ray, blinking behind his thick glasses, said “What eye chart?” I can well believe it: I know for a fact that Ray could not recognize me from five feet away unless I spoke. He always remembered friends’ voices, but he could not recognize faces beyond a yard or so.

Ray later told [today’s birthday boy] about his military physical exam, and [he] is said to have said “You didn’t try hard enough.” I have no idea whether this is true – [today’s birthday boy] never told me that story – but it is a matter of public record that Bradbury did volunteer Red Cross work during the war.

By now you’ve probably guessed the answer.

Born 1907: Robert Anson Heinlein

There Will Be War, Again!

TWBWv1_960Jerry Pournelle’s There Will Be War series is returning to print. All nine volumes will be reissued by Castalia House in ebook and two-volume omnibus hardcovers.

I’m glad to see that Dr. Pournelle, who I have now known over 40 years, will have his iconic titles back on the market.

Jerry commented on the project’s history for File 770:

I am very pleased that we were able to revive, in both hardbound and eBook, the There Will Be War anthology series.  The series was conceived during the Cold War, but most of the stories take place in other eras.  I am not astonished that they hold up well long after the collapse of the Soviet Union ended that conflict. We will be releasing the original 9 volumes over the next year and revive the series after that.  However much international politics may change, it remains likely that There Will Be War.

Informal addition: when I announced this series with what turned out to be the first of nine volumes of one of the most successful SF anthologies ever produced, the title so disturbed my friend Harry Harrison that he rushed out an anthology he called There Won’t Be War.  It was, alas, the only volume ever produced.

Additional information: This series bought only anthology rights, but many of its stories were original, thanks to the untiring efforts of my friend and associate John Carr, who worked with many authors both veteran and new. I was too deeply involved with other projects to undertake such a difficult task.

Castalia House will also be creating a new book in the series, There Will Be War volume X. Vox Day says they will be acquiring stories and articles. “Reprints are fine; TWBW has always been reprints.”

Castalia will also continue its Riding The Red Horse series, comprised of only new fiction.

Still in Wonderland

By John Hertz:  The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, my local club, has been meeting every Thursday over eighty years.  Most of us rhyme “LASFS” with joss fuss although Len Moffatt always rhymed it with sass mass.

People often come for the business meeting and leave before the program.  That’s because our business is monkey business.  We have strange motions – I mean, in the parliamentary sense; File 770 is a public forum – and auctions.  Maybe your club does also.

Last night the program was Harlan Ellison.  Of course the room was crammed.

We didn’t call it “An Evening with Harlan Ellison”.  We didn’t call it anything.  He told us he’d like to come by, didn’t mind if we let people know, and would gladly take questions and give autographs if we didn’t make a performing elephant of him.  I paraphrase.

Of course he’s a LASFS member.  While he’s become a tremendous celebrity as a pro he’s also a fan.  Among many other things he brought about the faithful contributions of Nalrah Nosille to Science Fiction Five-Yearly – published on time for sixty years – until the very last issue.

Of course he’s good at telling stories – he says Whoopi Goldberg, a friend of his, is too –  and so many of us wanted to hear him we ended up seating him at a table on a platform with most everyone just listening.  It was all right.

Our current clubhouse (our third; we outgrew two others) also has a social hall, a computer-game room, and our library.  We even have a Null Space; one very able member was Bob Null.  Fans also hung around these spaces from time to time, including John DeChancie, me, and Harlan’s wife Susan who is herself a wonder.  He couldn’t; he was busy.  But it was all right.  In fact it was a gas.

I don’t know if Harlan was born in a cross-fire hurricane.  He was however reading by two – maybe you were also – and like many of the quick and the young he perceived and might answer more than he yet grasped.  Once someone told him “Don’t hock me a chainik” (a Yiddishism, literally don’t bang me a teapot = make such a fuss) and he said “Okay, I’ll pawn you in Poughkeepsie.”

Dennis the Menace, he said, to him was Goldilocks.

Later he served in the Army.  Just conceiving of this roused our imagination.  He was court-martialed fifteen times.  Acquitting him, which always happened, didn’t seem to make things much better.  At the end of his active duty he found nothing in his folder about where he was to go for reserve duty.  Everyone else had an assignment.  He asked.  They said “Just go away.”

Some of the legends about him never happened.  He is not always the calmest man in the world and he has found their recurrence troubling.  He told of a fellow who during another question time asked “Why did you drop that chandelier on those people?”  To that man, and to us, he explained what he’d have had to do to get at a chandelier, to detach it, and to drop it.  And what would those people have been doing in the meantime?  And what place would he have had to stand on to wield that lever and move that world?  I paraphrase.

Finally Susan, in her role as Mary Poppins, said it was time to go home.  Of course there were new books and we wanted to buy them.  Of course he preferred to sell some but was almost apologetic.  Finally Jerry Pournelle managed it by asking “Harlan, if they buy your books will you tell us why you dropped that chandelier?”  We all cracked up and it was all right.

Spotlight on The Heinlein Society

Heinlein Society logoKeith Kato was elected the fourth President of The Heinlein Society at its September 7, 2014 meeting. He succeeded LA-area fan and LASFS member Michael Sheffield, who chose not to run for the Board again.

Keith is someone I have known for over 40 years — and he has played host to many of you at his famed Worldcon chili parties. Keith hopes you will help him fund Heinlein’s bust for the Hall of Famous Missourians (click here).

In addition to President Keith Kato, the Society’s other new officers are Minnesota fan Geo Rule as Vice President-Secretary, and Baltimore fan John Tilden as Treasurer. The Board of Directors (in order of elected seniority) consists of Joe Haldeman, Jerry Pournelle, Michael Cassutt, Connie Willis, Washington fan John Seltzer, and Texas fan Betsey Wilcox.

Larry Correia Channels
His Inner Dogberry

Yesterday, when Larry Correia wrote “I Need Your Help (gathering links to SJW attacks in sci-fi for a news reporter)”, seeking negative remarks about himself to pass on to a pair of Breitbart.com writers, readers flocked to his aid.

I mentioned bias, and specifically anti-conservative bias among the voters. They asked if I had links to blog posts, comments, etc.

I don’t keep track of most of what these people say about us. Honestly you can only get called a racist hate monger by so many crazy people before it just becomes background noise. So if you guys don’t mind, would you please post your favorites in the comments below.

James May/Fail Burton specifically, I know you are like the archivist of their racist Twitter posts. Time to bust out the files.

Here are selected quotes from the comments —

CORREIA: O that he were here to write me down an ass.

FAIL BURTON: I am here. You are written down an ass. And I have more.

CORREIA: Fallible blessings on your prodigious quill.

FAIL BURTON: (Still quoting several hours later) — “…Evil, wretched man who calls himself a man of the cloth. Evil, wretched, EVIL, WRETCHED, EVIL, WRETCHED…”

CORREIA: Enough. They’re under deadline.

Today Breitbart.com published “The Hugo Wars: How Sci-fi’s Most Prestigious Awards Became a Political Battleground” by contributors Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopolous. (Trigger warning for copyeditors.)

Today, no-one is safe. Right-wingers like Theodore Beale face ostracization over accusations of racism (Beale is himself Native American), while even staunchly progressive authors like Bryan Thomas Schmidt are denounced as “cultural appropriators”; in Schmidt’s case, because he prepared an anthology of nonwestern sci-fi stories. Peak absurdity was achieved in 2014 when Jonathan Ross was forced to cancel his appearance at the Hugo Awards after the SJWs of SFF whipped themselves into a panic-fueld rage over fears that Ross might – might! – make a fat joke. Even the New Statesman, which sometimes reads like an extension of Tumblr, came out and condemned the “self-appointed gatekeepers” of SFF.

But while the examples of manufactured grievance may be absurd, few members of the SFF community are laughing. New York Times bestselling author Larry Correia told us that SFF is currently in the grip of a “systematic campaign to slander anybody who doesn’t toe their line,” which is breeding a culture of fear and self-censorship. “Most authors aren’t making that much money, so they are terrified of being slandered and losing business,” he says. The only exceptions are a “handful of people like me who are either big enough not to give a crap, or too obstinate to shut up.”

After years on the back foot, that obstinate handful are preparing to fight back.

The rest of the article explains that “fighting back” consists of getting readers to stuff the Hugo ballot box with their Sad Puppies slate of nominees, as if that was an awesome example of moral leadership under fire.

Bokhari and Yiannopolous also support their claims with historical examples from an alternate universe — obviously not the one we live in —

In the postwar period, conservatives like Robert Heinlein and liberals like Isaac Asimov were both among the leading figures of science fiction. Political tolerance, an idea loathed by radical activists, has ever been the norm in the community, and it has thrived because of it.

Yessir, happy kumba-yah political tolerance has ever been the hallmark of fandom … I’m sorry, Sam Moskowitz, what’s that? Oh, you remember kicking the Futurians out the first Worldcon because of the political flyers they were going to distribute? And Mr. Heinlein, you remember writing to Forry Ackerman complaining fans were avoiding the army in WWII? And Mr. Campbell, you say you were aware fans and writers divided over the Vietnam War?

Well, let’s not get enmeshed in trivia. Other than a few hundred exceptions, up until the end of the Twentieth Century every fan calmly tolerated every political opinion ever expressed.

However, I do remember Jerry Pournelle once complained about Isaac Asimov, “You’re allowed to make your own arguments, but you’re not allowed to make up your own facts,” an admonition Breitbart.com should take to heart.

Indeed, once readers discover Bokhari’s and Yiannopolous’ willful obliviousness to actual fanhistory, can anyone believe they are devoted to portraying a true and accurate account of today’s science fiction scene?