Pixel Scroll 11/1/16 We Have Scrolled The Pixel, And It Is Us

Mowatt Rhino run on Christmas

Mowatt ran to Save the Rhino on Christmas

(1) ANOTHER WAY TO HELP. Jim Mowatt’s rhino-saving run is now a book: From Parkrun To London Marathon: Running The London Marathon For Save The Rhino.

Some time ago I thought it would be a jolly good idea to run the London Marathon.I was fantastically excited about it and eager to consume every blog, book and youtube video I could find that contained any tiny morsel of information about the marathon. I consumed everything I could find and wanted more. Ideally I wanted a book that would relate how someone prepared for the marathon and give me a description of what it felt like to actually run the steps it would take to get around the streets of London. I couldn’t find what I wanted so I have now written the book that I wanted to read. It is now available on Amazon for anyone who might want an insight into how it feels to train for and run a marathon. I also describe the shorter runs that I did in the rhino costume.

The book is called, From Parkrun To London Marathon. Every penny I receive after Amazon have taken their cut will be sent to Save The Rhino International.

(2) READY TO WRIMO. Kameron Hurley says she’s finally gotten past an “epic brain freeze” – just in time for “NaNoNoNoNo”.

Finally, I was able to sit at the keyboard, in the dark, with a beer and a skull candle, and just completely inhabit another world. In my mind’s eye I was surfacing back in Nasheen again, running around a contaminated desert, dodging bursts and bombs, and trying not to care about my companions too much because the world had already ended and living was so very glorious. That’s the sort of writing experience I crave, when you feel like you’re not making things up so much as dictating a story as you’re living it in your head.

(3) MINNEAPOLIS WORLDCON BID. Emily Stewart announced there will be a Minneapolis in 2023 Open Discussion about a possible Worldcon bid on November 19.

If somebody could satisfy my curiosity about who in addition to Stewart is starting up the discussion, I’d appreciation knowing.

(4) CURSED CUBS IN SFF. With the Cubs staying alive for a couple more days, an article about the Cubs and Science Fiction… The Verge has an article about sf and fantasy stories that reference the Cubs’ World Series drought, including those by Jim Butcher. Andy Weir and John Scalzi.

(5) BASEBALL SEASON. Meantime, Steven H Silver invites you to gaze in amazement at his very long bibliography of baseball-referencing science fiction.

(6) CLARKE CENTER PODCAST. Launching today, Into the Impossible is a podcast of stories, ideas, and speculations from the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination.

Early episodes will take listeners through exciting, ranging conversations with and between scientists, artists, writers, and thinkers of different stripes, on the nature of imagination and how, through speculative culture, we create our future. The first episode includes Freeman Dyson (physicist and writer), David Kaiser (physicist, MIT), Rae Armantrout (Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, UCSD professor emeritus), and Brian Keating (astrophysicist, UCSD).

(7) JUST $79,000 SHORT. Jason Davis is asking Kickstarter donors for $100,000 to fund The Harlan Ellison Books Preservation Project, “To create definitive versions of all Harlan Ellison’s writings, fiction and non-fiction, to preserve in print for posterity.”

A digital library of Harlan’s entire literary oeuvre created from thousands of papers filed in his home office.

Harlan’s preference for working on manual typewriters from the instrument’s heyday through to his latest work has resulted in an astonishing volume of paper, much of it crammed into overstuffed drawers that often require the industry of two people to extract or—even more difficult—reinsert files.

While oft-reprinted stories like “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” and “Jeffty Is Five” exist as formal, preferred-text documents from which all reprints are set, many of Harlan’s more obscure pieces exist only as faded carbon copies on decaying yellow pages.

Some of the never-before-reprinted stories collected in HONORABLE WHOREDOM AT A PENNY A WORD and its sequel only exist on 60-year-old carbon copies of the original typescripts and, due to fading of the carbon impressions and yellowing of the paper, are almost illegible. Though one can usually reference the published version of a faded tale in Harlan’s copy of the original pulp magazine, itself exceedingly brittle, it’s preferable to work from the original, which might contain passages excised by the original editor upon initial, and often only, publication.

Jason Davis says the fruits of the project also would include —

At least five all-new Ellison collections.

In addition to reissuing the back catalog titles, there are several more HarlanEllisonBooks.com titles in various stages of completion.

Originally, I was hired as a freelance editor for the first four HarlanEllisonBooks.com releases, but the original publisher moved on and I arranged to continue the project. Since the 2012 release of ROUGH BEASTS and NONE OF THE ABOVE, the endeavor has been a deficit-financed operation wherein I, as editor and publishing associate, used all my free time (outside of my editorial day job) to collect, edit, layout, design, typeset, publish, and market new Ellison books (12 so far), with all expenses out of pocket. Only after the books are released do I receive payment via a commission (not unlike an agent’s) paid to me by Harlan, who is paid directly by our distributor two months after each individual book sells.

(8) NEW HECKEL BOOK. The Dark Lord Jack Heckel, an author covered here by Carl Slaughter, is on sale today from Harper Voyager Impulse.

After spending years as an undercover, evil wizard in the enchanted world of Trelari, Avery hangs up the cloak he wore as the Dark Lord and returns to his studies at Mysterium University. On the day of his homecoming, Avery drunkenly confides in a beautiful stranger, telling her everything about his travels. When Avery awakens, hungover and confused, he discovers that his worst nightmare has come true: the mysterious girl has gone to Trelari to rule as a Dark Queen. Avery must travel back to the bewitched land and liberate the magical creatures . . . but in order to do so, he has to join forces with the very people who fought him as the Dark Lord.

(9) TODAY’S BELATED BIRTHDAY LAB

Eighty years ago, when interplanetary travel was still a fiction and that fiction looked like Flash Gordon, seven young men drove out to a dry canyon wash in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and helped jump-start the Space Age.

They were out there on Halloween 1936 to try what few people at the time had tried: lighting a liquid rocket engine. It took them four attempts to get a rocket to fire for a glorious three seconds — though an oxygen hose also broke loose and sent them scampering for safety as it thrashed around.

The result was encouraging enough for this group — made up of five grad students studying at Caltech and two amateur rocket enthusiasts — to keep going, to build more rockets that would lead to an institution where they could do this kind of work every day.

(10)  THE CRITIC. James Davis Nicoll reprinted his list of rejected ideas for review series which includes categories like —

  • Least Believable Teenaged Girl Protagonist Written by a Man
  • Beloved Classics That Make Modern Readers Say “What the Helling Hell, Old Time SF Fans?”
  • SF Books She Wrote and He Took the Credit For
  • Hard SF Ain’t Nothing But Nonsense Misspelled

(11) FOUND IN TRANSLATION. When Newsweek invites you to “Meet the Man Bringing Chinese Science Fiction to the West”, it’s Ken Liu they’re talking about.

As Xia Jia, an award-winning sci-fi writer and lecturer in Chinese literature, puts it in the essay that closes Invisible Planets, Chinese sci-fi since the 1990s “can be read as a national allegory in the age of globalization.” But Liu argues that the everyday problems encoded by speculative stories in China apply just as much in the West. “People’s lives tend to be dominated by the same considerations…petty bureaucracy, how to make a living, how to give your children a good education…how to adjust to a radically changing society.”

(12) DRAGON AWARDS TAKING NOMINATIONS.  Thanks to Camestros Felapton, we know the Dragon Awards site has been updated its to accept nominations for the 2017 awards. Eligible works are those first released between 7/1/2016 and 6/30/2017.

Welcome to the second annual Dragon Awards! A way to recognize excellence in all things Science Fiction and Fantasy. These awards will be by the fans, for the fans, and are your chance to reward those who have made real contributions to SF, books, games, comics, and shows. There is no qualification for submitting nominations or voting – no convention fees or other memberships are needed. The only requirement is that you register, confirm your email address for tracking nominations and voting purposes, and agree to the rules. This ensures that all votes count equally.

Once you have submitted a nomination for a category you cannot change it. If you are not sure about a category, then leave it blank. You can come back at a later date and add nominations for any category you leave blank using this same form. Make sure your name (First and Last), and the email address match your original submission. No need to fill in your original nominations, the form will append the new nominations to your prior list.

Nomination Deadline: July 24, 2017. We encourage you to get your nominations in early.

(13) LATE ADOPTER. Is TV narration for blind people really a thing?

(14) AIRBRUSHED COSTUME. This is what it looks like when it’s Halloween and your dad is Dan Dos Santos.

I introduced Uno to ‘Akira’ a few weeks ago, and we both immediately thought he’d make a great Tetsuo. He doesn’t care that none of his friends will know who he is.

uno-by-dan-dos-santos

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Tom Galloway, JJ, Steven H Silver, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 6/27/16 770 Sunset Scroll

(1) BREAKING IT DOWN. Damien G. Walter contemplates “Systems fiction: a novel way to think about the present” in The Guardian.

Weirdly enough, science fiction is not the best lens through which to examine science fiction. In the 80s, critic Tom LeClair came up with an alternative category for all the weird literary novels that veered into speculative territory: the systems novel. These books pick apart how the systems that keep society chugging along work: politics, economics, sex and gender dynamics, science, ideologies – all can be explored through fiction, especially experimental fiction. LeClair applied this tag specifically to Don DeLillo, but it can be expanded more widely: think Thomas Pynchon, Margaret Atwood, David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, Jennifer Egan and Umberto Eco, among others….

“The future is here,” William Gibson famously said. “It’s just not evenly distributed.” And in these difficult times, the visionary possibilities of the systems novel can be comforting. When we’re in the capable hands of guides like Atwood, DeLillo and Robinson, these novels can be a profound reminder of human progress and potential. In the wake of the EU result, and ahead of the US elections, if you are feeling at all unsettled about the future – go read these books today.

(2) POST-BREXIT FASHION. Jim Mowatt’s FB page displayed a “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted Remain” t-shirt, and I made an idle joke that the marathon runner should really be wearing a different slogan – which Alison Scott immediately made available (or that’s the impression I got).

i voted rhino

(3) WHAT’S UP WITH SFWA. Episode 3 of the SFWA Chat Hour features SFWA Board Members Jennifer Brozek and Matthew Johnson, CFO Bud Sparhawk, and President Cat Rambo.

Includes discussion of what the criteria for game writers will be like and when they’ll go out (hint: soon!). Also the usual books we like, writing advice, reports on the Locus Weekend, Stokercon and Origins, and ice cream vs. sherbet, in which we unanimously vote for ice cream.

 

(4) CAMESTROS FELAPTON. When not busily engaged arm-wrestling with Vox Day about their IQs, Camestros turns his talents to the visual arts.

(5) HORROR PODCAST. The Horror Writers Association recommends the Scary Out There podcast. The latest installment offers a dialog with Kaitlin Ward, the author of Bleeding Earth (Adaptive Books, February 2016). Listen to the episode here.

Hello Horror Fanatics! Today Scary Out There is sitting down with Kaitlin Ward, the author of Bleeding Earth (Adaptive Books, February 2016). Listen as Kaitlin discusses how she came up with the idea for Bleeding Earth, why it’s important for children and teens to read horror, what scary books she recommends, and more.

Kaitlin Ward grew up on a dairy farm in Monroe, New Hampshire, the same town where she lives today with her husband and son. Before settling back in her hometown, Kaitlin studied animal science at Cornell University. She co-founded the well-known blog, YA Highway, and by day she works at a company that sells coins. Bleeding Earth is her debut novel. Kaitlin’s new book, The Farm, will be released by Scholastic in 2017. Keep up with Kaitlin at kaitlin-ward.com and follow her on Twitter @Kaitlin_Ward.

Kaitlin recommends the following horror titles: Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics (Harlequin Teen, September 2016); Relic by Gretchen McNeil (HarperCollins/EpicReads Impulse, March 2016)

(6) FANS WHO SNORT. In the July/August Fantasy & Science Fiction, David Gerrold has a novelette called “The Thing on the Shelf” that begins as a report on the 2013 World Horror Convention, which hands out the Bram Stoker Award.

“The World Horror Convention was one of the better conventions I attended. Horror fans are clean, well-dressed, intelligent, polite, and enthusiastic. I have no idea why this is so. (Although I have to admit I was a little put off by the beautiful woman who came up to me and said she wanted to lick my Stoker. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that, and I’m not up on this year’s crop of new slang terms.)”

He adds the following:

“At one con, a young fan saw my badge had the ‘Pro’ ribbon attached, so he leaned forward and read my name.  ‘I never heard of you,’ he said. ‘What did you write?’

I replied, “I wrote the novelization of Battle of the Planet of the Apes. I said it with deadpan pride.

He snorted and walked off, his way of showing how unimportant I was.”

(7) DININ’ GAIJIN. Liz Braswell tells the readers of Eating Authors about a memorable meal in Japan. The best part follows this excerpt.

My husband, my crazy-blond toddler, my sister Sabrina and I were in Japan for work and fun — the vacation of a lifetime. One night Scott took the baby and a colleague of his took Sabrina and me for a night out on the town. Mutsumi asked us where we wanted to go and of course we answered someplace super obscure no Americans have been to Japanese only please we’ll behave.

She very nicely obliged and led us through the labyrinth of streets, around and around and deeper and deeper into Tokyo. Most of the city doesn’t follow a grid system and buildings are addressed by age rather than specific location; were my sister and I by ourselves we never would have found our way in or out of the tiny neighborhood we eventually wound up in. And forget about stumbling upon the tiny, unmarked, second-floor restaurant where we were, indeed, the only gaijin.

Everything about the place was perfect: from the rustic tables and wooden shutters to the little button one presses to ring for a waiter—otherwise diners are left in perfect privacy. The sake came in hand-thrown cups, Mutsumi ordered for us, we behaved.

We wanted to stop drinking at one point, but apparently that would not have been behaving, so we continued….

(8) EXIT POLL. Nicholas Whyte ranks his Retro and regular Hugo picks in “My Hugo and #RetroHugos1941 votes: Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)”. In second place on his Retro Hugo ballot —

2) The Adventures of Superman: “The Baby from Krypton”

The only radio play in the mix (as opposed to two years ago, when we had four radio plays and a TV play than nobody had seen), it’s the origin story of Superman, and does what it says on the tin perfectly competently. Lara, Kal-El’s mother, is played by Agnes Moorehead, later Endora in Bewitched.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • June 27, 1927 — “Captain Kangaroo” Bob Keeshan
  • June 27, 1966 — J.J. Abrams

(10) SKIFFY AND FANTY. I tend not to cover podcasts — even with hearing aids I’m not able to listen to them effectively. I will say the blurb for this episode of The Skiffy and Fanty Show makes it sound pretty irresistible: 298. Sphere (1998) — A Torture Cinema “Adventure”.

Eggs, squid, and bad dreams, oh my!  Our latest listener-directed Torture Cinema episode has finally arrived.  This time, we discuss the infamous adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Sphere starring Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, and more!  At least two of us have a bit of a rant about this movie, so you should expect some pure, unadulterated Skiffy and Fanty rage in this episode!

(11) AND SOMETHING BUT THE TRUTH. Alexandra Erin is right on the money about “Sad Boner Confessionals”.

You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when the language suggests a high wire act where the author is trying to achieve some delicate balance between “I’m a sensitive man” and “BUT I’M A MAN” and wants you to sympathize with the contortions he puts himself through as  a result. You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when a man is describing the worst trauma of a woman’s life purely in terms of what it means about him. You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when a man is telling you everything he’s learned from the mistakes he’s made but none of those things are accountability or personal responsibility. You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when all admissions of past sins have a sheen of humblebragging about them.

(12) LABYRINTH. The BBC article “Why Labyrinth is so memorable” talks about the advantages of real-time puppetry over computer animation. Chip Hitchcock comments, “They don’t discuss how/if the gap has been narrowed by motion capture; would be interesting to see discussion of this — or any input by Mary Robinette Kowal, who has done fascinating convention talks about the practice of puppetry and the theory behind it.”

Jim Henson’s beloved 1986 movie musical Labyrinth, one of only two non-Muppets films the legendary puppeteer directed, is famous for several reasons.

Fans of David Bowie will recall visions of the late musician wearing extremely tight trousers that fail to obscure an enormously large codpiece. Bowie wrote and performed all the songs, including the iconic Dance Magic Dance. He plays a nefarious, all-singing, all-dancing king of a fantasy world of goblins, castles and all manner of strange colourful creatures.

One of Labyrinth’s best-known scenes is a sensational finale that takes place on a set modelled on Escher staircases. It is also the production that brought a then-unknown, then-15-year-old Jennifer Connelly to the public’s attention.

… One of the first creatures she encounters in the Goblin King’s fantastical world is a dwarf named Hoggle: a morally dubious, Sméagol-esque character whose motives and allegiances are unclear. With a huge lumpy nose, spurts of shoulder-length white hair and a crinkled, finely detailed face, Hoggle is an amazing puppet, at once both magical and realistic.

His seemingly effortless facial and body movements required the collaboration of six people working in real time. The character’s large face contained 18 motors, which were manipulated off-frame by four crew members using remote controls. Diminutive actor Shari Weiser controlled Hoggle’s body and Brian Henson, Jim’s son, provided his voice.

(13) STOPWATCH. Are you worried about how long Suicide Squad will run? ScreenRant is going to tell you anyway.

Collider has heard from their sources that Suicide Squad runs approximately 130 minutes with credits. Its DCEU predecessors were both in the range of 2.5 hours, meaning Suicide Squad will be about 20 minutes shorter than either Man of Steel or Dawn of Justice. Considering the sheer amount of characters Ayer is working with, some may be concerned that Squad is actually too short, but a shade over two hours gives him plenty of time to flesh everything out. After all, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had a lot on its plate and accomplished it all in 136 minutes.

(14) A DIFFERENT DICTIONARY. John G. Hartness, in Magical Words’ “Making Money Mondays” post, uses a commercial definition of “Fans v. True Fans”.

Now on to our main topic – fans. Now I’m not ever going to bash fans, because I love my fans. Hell, I love everybody’s fans, because I’m a fan myself. But what we want to talk about today is the concept of the True Fan, what they are, how best to interact with them, how to find them, how to keep them. Looking at that, it’s going to take more than one post, so this week we’ll talk about what a True Fan is, then later on ee’ll look at how to cultivate them, how to deal with them, and how to convert a Lesser Fan into a True Fan.

For the record, exactly ZERO of this material is anything I came up with. The concept of 1,000 True Fans was first put forth by Kevin Kelly in 2008 on his blog post here. He later references a couple of other folks who had similar ideas a little earlier, unbeknownst to him, but his site, with a tip of the hat to Seth Godin, who wrote the blog post that first turned me on to Kevin’s work.

Kelly postulates that any independent artist, that is any artist outside the big machine of superstar entertainment, needs to cultivate only 1,000 True Fans to survive. BTW, this whole blog post came out of a late-night conversation with AJ Hartley, where I claimed the number was 100. I’m bad at math. He defines a True Fan as someone who spends $100 per year on your work, and those thousand people then contribute to a $100,000 annual income, which is a pretty comfortable living in most places. At least that’s the rumor. I’m a writer, I don’t make anywhere near that kind of money.

So what’s a True Fan, and how do I get their hundred bucks? I assume that’s what you’re all asking. In this case, it’s usually a lot easier to show you than tell you….

(15) DON’T BE ALARMED. George R.R. Martin expressed gratitude about winning a Locus Award together with Gardner Dozois, and he couldn’t resist adding a punchline.

All kidding aside, I am very proud of OLD VENUS, and I know Gardner is as well. There are some terrific stories in there, and one that in any normal year would have been a surefire Hugo finalist. This is the third year in a row that one of the original anthologies that I’ve done with Gardner has won the Locus Award, and I can’t tell you how gratifying that is. Gardner and I both began our careers (a long time ago) with short fiction, and it pleases me no end to be able to provide a showcase for some of the extraordinary short stories, novelettes, and novellas still being written in this age of the series and the meganovel. If you don’t read anthologies, friends, you are missing out on some great stuff.

Oh, and before the crazy internet rumors start flying, I had better say that I was only kidding about OLD URANUS….

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

Pixel Scroll 6/3/16 Second Pixelscroll To The Right

(1) LATEST MOWATT RHINO RUN CUT SHORT BY INJURY. Jim Mowatt tried to follow his London Marathon triumph by running the Edinburgh Marathon but midway through his knee gave out.

At around 15 miles Steve asked me for his Lucozade bottle. I dig around in his back pack and hand it to him. My leg is hurting so I cadged some ibuprofen gel from him. His tendons were hurting and he asked me to rub some gel on his knee also.

Steve ran on, I stepped out to try and catch up and found the knee pain had increased dramatically. I gritted my teeth and tried to carry on and then suddenly discovered that I could no longer put any weight on my left leg without it buckling from the pain. I staggered over to the side of the road and found a tree to prop myself upon with one leg held in the air. A marshall came to help, asked if I needed medical assistance and I said yes.

While we were waiting I heard various exchanges on his radio. Not everyone was as willing to stop and receive assistance. Someone else apparently was weaving all over the road in considerable distress, bumping into other runners. Marshalls had asked him to stop but he didn’t seem to hear them and carried on. Someone was shouting over the radio, “stand in front of him, it’s the only way to stop them when they are like this.” I had no such problems stopping myself running. Putting any weight on that leg at all sent huge rolling waves of agony flashing out sharply from my knee. I wasn’t keen on the notion of letting that foot touch the ground anytime soon.

….Carrie pointed me at the train station and we began our long slow walk up the hill. A very tall man appeared from nowhere and asked if we wanted a lift up to the train station. “Yes, absolutely!” yells I, “that would be brilliant”. He vanishes for several minutes and then reappears in a car and drives us to the train station. I think he must have seen us from his living room window and made the decision to help. Just a downright wonderful thing to do. Thank you tall man from Longniddry. You are a damn fine chap.

(2) TIE UP YOUR BOAT TO IDAHO. Steve Fahnestalk recalls his “Moscon Memories” at Amazing Stories.

As I mentioned we asked Robert A. Heinlein to be our GOH, but he demurred at first, saying his health would not allow him to commit to any convention (Figure 5); he later said he would commit to coming as long as his health would allow. Later, closer to the con, he suggested Verna Smith Trestrail as a GOH instead, because her father, E. E. “Doc” Smith, had attended the University of Idaho in Moscow. None of us, of course, had known this. (And if you don’t know who Doc Smith was, your reading is sadly behind the times. Check out the Wikipedia article.) I corresponded with Verna, and she gave us an enthusiastic “yes!” Figure 6, the Kelly Freas convention badge, is a portrait of Verna leaning out of the back of a train—don’t ask me why; I’ve forgotten—and holding out her arms to Worsel of Velantia, one of Doc’s non-human Lensmen. Verna and Al, her husband, trekked out to Moscow from the wilds of Leesburg, Indiana, and we were all hooked. Verna on us, and we on Verna. (Al wasn’t into all this stuff, being more of a Western kind o’ guy, but he bore up really well.) Verna bustled around MosCon, buttonholing anyone who stood still for five minutes, and gave them the lowdown on Doc; she also gave a talk on Doc at the con. Because Heinlein couldn’t attend, he wrote a short article about Doc, which I put in the program book; being a thrifty sort, Heinlein recycled it and reprinted it in Expanded Universe; we PESFANs, of course, are proud of printing it first.

(3) BUSBY RITES. The Memorial Service for James M. Busby will be held on Tuesday, June 14 at The Church of Latter Day Saints 2000 Artesia Blvd., Torrance. Service begins at 11a.m.

The family requests no flowers instead please make a donation in Jim’s memory to continue his life’s passion to educate and preserve space to the Aerospace Legacy Foundation.

(4) THE WINNER. Black Gate’s John O’Neill’s choice as “The Most Successful Anthology of 2015 [is] Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan”. Why?

It’s beginning to look as if Jonathan Strahan’s Meeting Infinity is the most successful SF anthology of 2015… at least if you use story reprints as your yardstick (which I kinda do).

Nine of the anthology’s stories were picked for year’s best collections by Horton, Clarke and Dozois.

(5) ROOMMATE NEEDED. A female reader has just had their MidAmeriCon roommate withdraw, and if there’s a female reader who’d be interested in sharing, e-mail a message to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com and I will forward it. (Or if you prefer to work it this way, communicate to me and I will have the person write a message to be forwarded via email to you.)

(6) SPEAR OF LIGHT AUTHOR. SFFWorld interviews Brenda Cooper.

Are strong female characters important for you?

Thanks for the lovely leading question! Of course they are. And even more important, strong female characters that are complete with brilliance and challenges.  I’m not impressed when “strong female characters” translates to “women who act like men.”  I also like balance – I have strong men and strong women, and sometimes weak men and weak women.  Not so much in this book as Lym and the Glittering are placed that reward strength rather deeply. But still, characters should be complex, interesting, and they should grow. Women should be at least as strong as men, and just like in our current world, sometimes they need to be a little stronger.

(7) FIRST PITCH. Patrick Redford asks “What the Hell, Japan?” at Deadspin.

All sorts of people throw out first pitches before baseball games. Old guys, dinosaurs, washed rappers—you name it, they’ve done it. But this week, Nippon Professional Baseball—ever the innovators—went and put every quirky MLB first pitch into the toilet with this bizarre, unsettling play-within-a-play first pitch faceoff between Sadako from The Ring and Kayako from The Grudge.

The post has lots of GIFs of the action.

(8) PORTALS. Jonathan Thornton reviews Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire at Fantasy-Faction.

The story is set in Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. It is set up by Eleanor West after she returned from her own magical world to help other children who’ve been through the same thing as her adapt. The novella follows Nancy, a girl who’s just returned from the Halls of the Dead, where she has spent decades pretending to be a statue and is promised to the Lord of the Dead, as she joins the school and begins to adapt to her new life. Nancy’s parents are thrilled to have her back and just want to give her their love and help her, but they are unable to understand her experience, or what she’s going through now. This has obvious parallels with the experiences of those who suffer from mental health problems or victims of trauma – indeed, Eleanor tells the parents of the afflicted children that her school is a sanitarium.

The children’s experiences also have parallels with those whose sexual orientation or gender identity comes between them and their family. Nancy is asexual, and her parents are having difficulty understanding this aspect of her life. Kade is a trans man who is living as an intelligent and productive young man at the school while his parents still want their little girl back. More generally still the children’s condition could also be read as a metaphor for the transition from childhood to being a young adult, the point when you grow away from being your parents’ child into your own identity as an individual member of society. McGuire explores all these themes and ideas in the novella, and throughout it all treats her characters with respect and sensitivity, whatever aspect of their pain or personal history she is exploring.

(9) FOOTAGE FROM THE CULTURE WARS. Jason Ahlquist’s About Tomorrow is a feature-length documentary in progress “about the intersection of science fiction and politics told through the 2015 Hugo Award balloting controversy.” He plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign in July.

Also known as “Puppygate,” the controversy revolved around the efforts of two right-wing groups and their use of coordinated voting blocs to influence the outcomes of one of science fiction’s most prestigious awards…..

“I want this film to be a vehicle for exploration of the larger depths of sci-fi’s role,” said Ahlquist, “not only in how we see our future, but how we’ll act on our hopes and fears.” Ahlquist went on to say that production on the film is nearly complete, and that, “production will wrap at the 74th World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City before we move into post-production.”

 

(10) X-MEN. “Meet the Underappreciated Woman Who Invented X-Men’s Apocalypse” – a profile at Vulture.

Her name is Louise Simonson, and she co-created Apocalypse (his look came courtesy of artist Jackson Guice) in the pages of Marvel Comics’ X-Factor, in 1986. Simonson — “Weezie” to her friends — is one of the better superhero-comics writers of the past 40 years, a person who crafted beloved stories about the X-Men and DC Comics’ Superman, just to name a pair of the more famous properties she has worked on. The 69-year-old was also a pioneer: She did much of her most famous work when women writers were a rarity in the comics industry. Despite all that, she’s never gotten her due in mainstream media outlets. But within the comics world, her name reverberates.

(11) NEWS, WEATHER AND SUPERMAN’S DEATH ON THE TEN. From Gamespot I learn “Superman Is Dead Again – What That Now Means”.

Back in 1993, Superman died while fighting Doomsday. In the comics, the world mourned the death of the Man of Steel, and soon saw other Supermen rise to take his place. The real Superman eventually returned to life, and his adventures continued. That was in the previous comic continuity. In the current continuity, which started in 2011, Superman is dying again. This time, his death and return is something different.

Yeah, sure it is. Excuse me while I don’t give a damn. Superman’s life status has become as routine as the weather report.

(12) APPERTAINING YOUR OWN CON. Alexandra Erin explains in considerable detail that just because a Helsinki Worldcon co-chair hopes Erin will be at next year’s con it doesn’t mean they’re paying her way. Apparently not everyone immediately understands that.

This is probably the last time I’ll bother qualifying something neat like “a WorldCon head personally told me she’d be jazzed if I were there” by explaining the real world to dedicated denizens of a carefully constructed artificial reality, for the simple reason that I know it doesn’t work. It’s more my fascination with the disconnect between actual reality on the ground and the stories that swirl based on a few glimmers of that reality and much speculation that prompts this post.

What a different world we live in than the one that is ascribed to us.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 5/2/16 Ancillary Mary Sue

(1) COSTUMES ON TRIAL. The Hollywood Reporter says “Supreme Court to Hear Fight Over Cheerleader Uniforms”, an issue that some argue can affect fans doing cosplay.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that is nominally about cheerleader uniforms, but could have some impact on Hollywood merchandising as well.

The eight black-robed justices will be reviewing an opinion handed down last August from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed Varsity Brand to pursue copyright claims over similar cheerleader uniforms made by Star Athletica. The ruling held that the stripes, chevrons and color blocks incorporated into these uniforms were purely aesthetic.

…An amicus brief from Public Knowledge in this cheerleader costume case also spoke of the many people who cosplay at comic conventions.

“The multitude of contradictory separability tests that currently stand means that a costume replica may be non-infringing at a San Diego convention but infringing in New York,” stated that brief. “The situation is absurd, abstruse, and – owing to the historical lack of copyright protection for any article of clothing – functionally obfuscated from the people whom it stands to impact most.”

(2) TODAY IN FICTIONAL HISTORY

  • MAY 2 — ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF HOGWARTS. With the help of the Harry Potter Wikia we salute the Unidentified fallen fifty:

They moved Voldemort’s body and laid it in a chamber off the Hall, away from the bodies of Fred, Tonks, Lupin, Colin Creevey, and fifty others who died fighting him.

—Description of the post-Battle

The unidentified fallen fifty of the Battle of Hogwarts (d. 2 May, 1998) were the unknown people who were killed fighting Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters in the final conflict of the Second Wizarding War. They did not die in vain as their cause had been won after their deaths. At the end of the battle, all of the bodies were placed together in the Great Hall.

(3) FROM PKD TO PHD. Be the Professor of Future Crimes! University College of London is hiring. I am not making this up.

The nature of the crime and security problems we face has transformed in recent years and continues to change rapidly. Most obviously, the digital revolution has created new challenges in the form of cybercrime and other cybersecurity threats, while developments such as the Dark Web and the Internet of Things are exposing new problems. But the issue is wider than digital technologies: developments, for example, in nanotechnology, robotics and cybernetics are creating new opportunities that can be exploited for criminal and terrorist purposes. And nor do the new threats solely involve technological developments: social changes associated with population growth, changing migration patterns, and climate change all have the potential to drive crime and insecurity in as yet largely unforeseen ways.

(4) AWESOME. Jim C. Hines launches a new series of posts with SF/F Being Awesome: Books for Kids.

For close to 20 years, Balticon and the Baltimore Science Fiction Society have been raising money to provide books to kids — particularly kids who might not otherwise be able to afford them — and to school libraries as well.

I spoke with Kelly Pierce, who’s been coordinating the Bobby Gear Memorial Charity Auction at Balticon since about 2002. The auction raises the bulk of the money for Books for Kids each year….

Since it all began, Balticon and BSFS has probably raised around $50,000 to provide books to libraries and kids in need, with the bulk of that money comes from the annual auction….

For more information:

(5) DROPPING THE PILOT. io9’s new editor Rob Bricken previews the future in “io9’s Mission Isn’t Over”.

Hello, I’m Rob Bricken. Some of you may know me as the guy who writes the FAQs, or the guy who hates everything, or a deluded SJW, or perhaps the person who will shortly be turning io9 into a garbage fire. I would like to present myself as something else—the new editor of io9.

Yes, I have been given the monumental, terrifying task of taking over here, a job that I can promise you I did not have designs on. Like all of you, I would have been content with Charlie Jane Anders running io9 until the heat death of the universe. As I told her as she said goodbye, she is io9. Always was. Always will be.

But as Charlie Jane herself wrote, io9 has a mission

(6) FLASH FICTION. Cat Rambo answers the question “Why Write Flash Fiction?” on Medium. She defines flash fiction, then gives writers reasons to try it.

At any rate, writing flash fiction is both a useful and productive exercise for writers. Anything that makes us practice writing is surely a good thing, and sitting down to write a flash piece fulfills that. Beyond that, it’s very satisfying to rise from the desk knowing you’ve written something in its entirety, as opposed to the tiresome nature of a novel, which swallows hours and hours of writing while swelling as slowly as ice accreting on a glacier.

You can use flash to try out new techniques. One of the exercises I often use in class draws on a piece I heard Gra Linnaea read at World Fantasy Con, written all in future tense, which I read to the class before challenging them to write their own pieces in future tense. Another draws on Randy Henderson’s most excellent THE MOST EPICLY AWESOMEST STORY! EVER!!, which I use to challenge the class to think about bad writing vs. good.

Many new writers are hungry for publications, and writing flash is a good strategy for garnering some. Flash markets, by their nature, consume a lot of pieces, and where a market that publishes one story each month is buying only that one story, a flash market is buying a much larger number. One of my favorites is Daily Science Fiction, which mails me a story every weekday. Every Day Fiction, as another example, runs a flash piece each day. The shorter a piece is, the easier it is on an editor’s budget.

(Cat Rambo’s full-length short story “Left Behind” was published in the May issue of Clarkesworld, which you can read online, or you hear read to you by Kate Baker.)

(7) RHINO RUNNER. Jim Mowatt has written about his transcendent experience running the London Marathon run for Save The Rhino.

“That last mile is absolutely amazing” she said, “and when you turn to go down the Mall it’s the most incredible experience that you could imagine.” I did try to imagine it and reckoned it would be akin to some of the feelings that I have previously experienced when I have finished a particularly gruelling run. The actuality was was nothing like that. It was a massive emotional assault on a astounding scale.

I shuffled along the Embankment in a world of pain and then turned right at the Palace of Westminster. Then I ran along Birdcage Walk curving around toward the Mall and Buckingham Palace. All the while the noise grew louder and louder until it became completely unbearable. There was a kind of mass hysteria going on all around me. I’d got a shop to print Jim on the Save The Rhino tee shirt so people could shout out my name and, in a way, join in with my run. What felt like thousands of people were shouting my name. Faces were looming out of the crowd telling me that I was awesome or amazing or incredible. It was absolutely terrifying but quite exciting too. My mind couldn’t cope with this assault and tried to shut down to get me through. I went with it for a while but realised that this was a very special moment and I had to savour it. I forced myself to engage again. I could hear everyone shouting and screaming, all caught up in this amazing event. I zoned in and out as we progressed further down the Mall trying not to break down and cry with the massive waves of emotion rolling over and around me. At the final turn I saw the finish line and focussed in on that, lurching forward until I crossed the mat with arms held aloft….

(8) IT’S ALWAYS NEWS TO SOMEONE. I have not previously reported the announcement made last November by BSFS and WSFA that the 2018 World Fantasy  Convention will be held in Baltimore. Nor does Google show that it has been picked up anywhere else. Let this be a placeholder ‘til more information comes out.

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (bsfs.org) and Washington Science Fiction Association (wsfa.org) shall be hosting the 2018 World Fantasy Convention on November 1 – 4, 2018 at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel (the location for next year’s 50th anniversary Balticon (balticon.org)). Many of us who were involved with the management of WFC 2014 are working on this exciting new project.

(9) AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A CAT. Ursula K. Le Guin serves as amanuensis for “My Life So Far, by Pard” at Book View Café.

In the first place there were Mother and Sister and me with a mother and an aunty human who had a lot of kittens. Some tom humans came around now and then and either paid no attention to anybody but the queens, or were dangerous to kittens, pretty much like real toms. Mother and Sister and I kept out of their way and had no worries except sometimes the younger kitten humans, who will pull your tail as soon as their eyes are open. And some of the bigger ones played too rough, or tried to hug. Hugging, even when well meant, is horrible.

Life was often quite exciting in the first place, and we were happy together. I am hardly ever sad, but sometimes when I am going to sleep I hear purring around me that is not mine, and it seems that Mother and Sister and I are all curled up like one warm cat. And then I am happier than usual.

The kibbles there were all of one species, but there were plenty of them, except when there weren’t any of them. When the bowl had been empty for a while and then the kibbles were turned loose in it, Sister and I did a lot of growling and shoving to see who could get more first, but it wasn’t serious, it just made hunting and killing the kibbles more exciting….

(10) GRRM’S ANSWER. George R.R. Martin cleans off some of the mud that’s been hurled his way in “A Response To John C. Wright”.

…All that being said, I do not know why Wright seems to believe that by purchasing and publishing one of his stories seven years ago, I am therefore somehow required to like everything that he writes subsequently, to the extent that I would feel it Hugo worthy.

It should be pointed out that “Guyal the Curator” was not itself nominated for a Hugo (there being no Puppies around in 2009 to push it). None of the stories from SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH were Hugo finalists, truth be told. Do I think some were worthy of that honor? Sure I do. I cannot pretend to be objective, I’m proud of the anthologies I edit and the stories I publish. Do I think that all the stories in SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH (or ROGUES, or OLD MARS, or OLD VENUS, or LOWBALL, or any of my anthologies) are Hugo-worthy? Of course not. In a normal year, the Hugo finalists are supposed to represent the five best stories of the year in that word length. Was “Guyal the Curator” one of the five best short stories (actually, it might have been a novelette, after so long I do not recall the word length) of 2009? No. It was a good story, not a great story. The Hugo Awards demand greatness. It was an entertaining Vance tribute, but it was not a patch on real Vance, on “The Last Castle” or “The Dragon Masters” or “Guyal of Sfere.” And truth be told, it was not even one of the five best stories in SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH. A good story, yes, I’ll say that again. But there were better in the book. (And how not? We had an amazing lineup of contributors).

Which brings us back to Puppygate, and last year’s Hugo ballot.

I read every word in every story in the anthologies I edit, as I’ve said. I did not read every word in every story on last year’s Hugo ballot, no (or on any Hugo ballot, for that matter). I start every story and give them a few pages. If they grab me, I keep reading. If they bore me or offend me, or fail to interest me for whatever reason, I put them aside. Mr. Wright seems convinced that I did not read his stories on last year’s ballot. He’s half-right: I did not read all of them. But I started all of them (there were five), finished some, set others aside. The same as I do with any story I read; no special treatment.

I did not find any of them Hugo-worthy. Not one of them was as good as “Guyal the Curator,” in my opinion. No doubt others liked them better.

(11) THE POWER OF FIVE. Does the title of John Scalzi’s post show that he’s tuned to our wavelength? That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it — “Two New Books in 2016 That Have Me In Them. Well, Three. Actually, Five”.

So, to recap:

  • The Books That Changed My Life — already out.
  • Mash Up — out June 7.
  • Black Tide Rising — also out June 7.
  • The Dispatcher — scheduled for this year in audio.
  • Secret SubPress Project — also scheduled for this year (I think!).

And the mass market paperback of The End of All Things, out May 31st.

(12) MORE THOUGHTS. Mark Ciocco at Kaedrin comments: “The 2016 Hugo Awards: Initial Thoughts”.

Fortunately, at least part of the Puppy success this year was driven by the inclusion of works from mainstream authors on the lists. The Rabids had folks like Neal Stephenson , Neil Gaiman, Alastair Reynolds , and Lois McMaster Bujold on their slate, which, well, these are all people who don’t need any help getting nominated. In addition to those names, the Sads even included the likes of Ann Leckie, John Scalzi, Nnedi Okorafor, Naomi Novik, and Cat Valente, most of whom don’t seem to exactly fit the puppy mold if they aren’t actively hostile towards each other. I am, of course, not the first to mention this, but it does seem to have the effect of softening the impact such that the scortched-earth No Award response feels less likely this year. There are some who are calling these mainstream choices “shields” and coming up with elaborate conspiracy theories about their inclusion, but who knows? I mean, yeah, I could dig through the muck and try to figure out what the Rabid intentions really are, but jeeze, who wants to get into their head? I like a lot of these authors and hell, I even nominated some of them (completely independent of recommendation lists or slates, imagine that!). Of course, this has been my approach all along, but others, even strident opposition, seem to be getting on board that train.

(13) FLASH ROMANCE. The BBC reports there has been a preemptive protest about casting the movie version of The Flash — “Superhero fans rally to keep The Flash’s love interest black”.

The announcement that DC Comics and Warner Bros are to put comic book character The Flash on the big screen in two forthcoming movies was good news for many. There is already a successful TV series based on the character, and fans were expecting more of the same.

But some were alarmed by the suggestion that one of the supporting characters might undergo a transformation for the cinema version. Although full details of the film’s cast are yet to be announced, one blog reported “industry rumours” that the race of one of the characters may be changed.

The report suggests that a white actress, Imogen Poots, could be cast as Iris West Allen – a part played in the successful TV version by black actress Candice Patton.

Although the rumour remains unconfirmed, some fans began accusing Warner Bros of “whitewashing”, using the hashtag “Keep Iris Black”. The phrase has now appeared more than 7,000 times.

(14) HALLOWEEN AUCTION. Mark V. Ledenbach’s auction of vintage Halloween stuff runs through May 8. He is also blogging about some of the items, such as a tin noisemaker that went for $117.

This tin litho noisemaker, made by an unknown manufacturer during the 1930s, is very cleverly designed. I have my suspicions that it was made by Bugle Toy of Providence, Rhode Island, but they were disciplined about marking their tin litho items and this tin item has no mark. It has their characteristic clever design. Take a close look at it to see the almost Art Deco integration of four orange cat faces bordered by two bats and two owls.

Tin as a genre has been ice cold for years now. This was an aggressive ending price. Does this presage an upward movement for tin litho items?

(15) IN THEIR OWN WORDS. From the May issue of Smithsonian magazine, “An Oral History of ‘Star Trek’”.

The trail-blazing sci-fi series debuted 50 years ago and has taken countless fans where none had gone before…

In the teleplay for the first pilot, “The Cage,” starring Jeffrey Hunter as Capt. Christopher Pike, Roddenberry described the establishing shot in detail: “Obviously not a primitive ‘rocket ship’ but rather a true space vessel, suggesting unique arrangements and exciting capabilities. As CAMERA ZOOMS IN we first see tiny lettering ‘NCC 1701- U.S.S. ENTERPRISE.’”

Walter M. “Matt” Jefferies (production designer, “Star Trek”) I had collected a huge amount of design material from NASA and the defense industry which was used as an example of designs to avoid. We pinned all that material up on the wall and said, “That we will not do.” And also everything we could find on “Buck Rogers” and “Flash Gordon” and said, “That we will not do.” Through a process of elimination, we came to the final design of the Enterprise.

Gene Roddenberry I’d been an Army bomber pilot and fascinated by the Navy and particularly the story of the Enterprise, which at Midway really turned the tide in the whole war in our favor. I’d always been proud of that ship and wanted to use the name.

Roddenberry’s attention to detail even extended to the ship’s computer at a time when computers were punch card–operated behemoths that filled entire rooms. In a memo on July 24, 1964, to production designer Pato Guzman, Roddenberry suggested, “More and more I see the need for some sort of interesting electronic computing machine designed into the USS Enterprise, perhaps on the bridge itself. It will be an information device out of which the crew can quickly extract information on the registry of other space vessels, spaceflight plans for other ships, information on individuals and planets and civilizations.”

Gene Roddenberry The ship’s transporters—which let the crew “beam” from place to place—really came out of a production need. I realized with this huge spaceship, I would blow the whole budget of the show just in landing the thing on a planet. And secondly, it would take a long time to get into our stories, so the transporter idea was conceived so we could get our people down to the planet fast and easy, and get our story going by Page 2.

Howard A. Anderson (visual effects artist, “Star Trek”) For the transporter effect, we added another element: a glitter effect in the dematerialization and rematerialization. We used aluminum dust falling through a beam of high-intensity light.

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

Mowatt Marathons To Save The Rhino on April 24

A fan who runs? That’s Jim Mowatt. And that makes him almost as rare as the rhinos he wants to save.

Jim looks very buff after a series of training races pointing toward the London Marathon on April 24. Mowatt will run to raise funds for Save the Rhino. (Click the link to back him.)

Save the Rhino International’s vision is for all five rhino species to thrive in the wild for future generations. We collaborate with partners to support endangered rhinos in Africa and Asia.

Jim explains why he got involved:

Douglas Adams was a founder member of Save The Rhino and it is through Douglas that I came to hear of the plight of the rhino. I chose ‘Save The Rhino’ as my London Marathon Charity as a homage to Douglas and a desperate hope that I may be of some little assistance in preserving the few remaining rhino so that future generations can witness these astounding creatures.

Jim did eight parkruns at Christmastime wearing a rhino suit. But he says we won’t see a repeat performance in the London Marathon —

I haven’t the strength or the stamina to drag myself and the rhino suit for 26.2 miles. I will instead be resplendent in blue tee shirt that exhorts people to save the rhino. I’ve just taken it to t-shirt printing place to have my name on it too lest I forget who I am part way through marathon.

Jim recently finished his work promoting TAFF – now he’s on to bigger game…

Mowatt peeks out

 

Pixel Scroll 3/30/16 I Was Thinkin ‘Bout A Pixel That Might Have Scrolled Me, And I Never Knew

(1) BIOPSY REPORT. Some good Kathryn Cramer health news. She posted to her Facebook page, after her Monday brain surgery.

“Tumor biopsied: it is benign.”

(2) MARYLAND WINNER. Andy Duncan is a recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council 2016 Individual Artist Award in the fiction-writing category.

These awards recognize the exceptional artistic achievements of talented artists from across the state.

This year’s IAA awards, totaling $218,000, go to 96 artists working within the disciplines of Creative Non-Fiction/Fiction, Media/Digital/Electronic Arts, Theater Solo Performance, Painting, and Works on Paper.

Selected from more than 585 applicants, the 2016 awardees receive grants for $1,000, $3,000 or $6,000 to honor their achievement and to support further advancement of their career.

Recipient artists’ names are available here.

(3) AUTHORS WHO ARE NOT GETTING PAID. Anna Grace Carpenter writes about — Galaktika Magazine: Theft on a Massive Scale”.

On March 23, 2016, Bence Pintér published an article at Mandiner Magazine regarding numerous stories published by Galaktika Magazine in 2015 – most of them translated and reprinted without the knowledge or consent of the original authors…..

I first became aware of the unfolding story when an author acquaintance on Twitter began urging other authors to check and see if their work had also been stolen and pointed them to the thread at the Absolute Write Water Cooler which in turn linked to a FaceBook post by Sean Wallace (shared by Ellen Datlow) which contained the link to Bence Pintér’s article at Mandiner. There was also a link to the Galaktika website, which I followed and began looking through the bibliography. (Possibly the only word I am able to recognize in Hungarian.)

As I looked through the TOC for monthly magazines, I immediately began to recognize names and I reached out to a couple that I followed on Twitter.

Aliette DeBodard was the first to respond. I asked her about the translation and publication of her short story “Shipbirth” (Asimov’s Feb 2011) that had appeared in the June 2012 issue of Galaktika. She confirmed that it had been published without her consent and she had contacted them when she became aware. That inquiry was apparently ignored – the editor made no attempt to offer compensation for having printed her story, and, from what she can see reviewing the email at the time, did not bother to respond at all….

No one wants to see a magazine disappear, especially in a country with only a couple Hungarian language SF/F markets, but if that publisher is depending on either stealing or otherwise acquiring work for free, I think they are doing more damage than good. Especially now that it’s become apparent that this is not an occasional problem, but habitual theft of intellectual property.

I asked Mr. Pintér if the publisher had responded to the allegations of theft and he said they had declined to comment on the matter during a separate interview. “After that they sent an email, which is in the article. The boss said that “the area of copyrights is a complicated stuff”. Since then no word from them.”

(4) OCCASIONALLY FREE IS OK. Jim C. Hines is not keen on “Working For Exposure”. Ordinarily.

There are exceptions, of course. I’ve written free content for projects I believe in, for friends and people I like, and for the pure fun of it. But if all you’re offering is exposure, I get plenty of that here on the blog. And to be blunt, my time is valuable, and I only have a limited amount. Writing for you takes time that could otherwise go to other projects, or to hanging out with my family, or even to raking up the leaves and sticks in the back yard.

I’m pretty comfortable at this point with the idea that as a writer, I deserve to be paid. (Though I still struggle with interviews sometimes, depending on where the interview is supposed to appear and how much time will be involved.)

But what about non-writing stuff? I’m sometimes asked to speak at schools, or to present at libraries, or do talk about writing at a workshop. What about a half-hour Skype chat with a book club? Or speaking at the local NaNoWriMo kickoff event? …

(5) SIGNAL INTERVIEW. At SF Signal, Carl Slaughter interviews “Professor Tom Greene on Racism, Hard Science, Vampire Literature, and Hard Lessons about Writing”.

But of course none of my students ever believe me, and I was just the same. I spent more than 20 years writing unpublishable stories while vigorously not listening to people who tried to tell me what was wrong.

So around 2006 I finally accepted that it was a problem with my writing and not the publishing industry, which made it possible for me to begin trying to figure out what the problem was. This is where Critters.org was a big help. The revelation (that I’ve mentioned in other places) happened one day when I was critiquing another writer’s story. It wasn’t a bad story. The writing was competent and the central idea was interesting. But I didn’t really care about the character, and the character seemed to be doing things that didn’t make much difference, and I probably wouldn’t have read the story at all if I didn’t have to critique it.

Which, I realized, was exactly like all of my own stories.

So once that happened, I started working systematically on the problem of how to make a story more engaging. Within a couple of years, my stories started getting published.

(6) NINE’S TO BLAME. No wonder it’s been hiding! According to the Independent — “Planet Nine: Mysterious planet is to blame for mass extinctions of life on Earth, scientists claims”.

The mystery of the extinction events that happen every 27 million or so years is an equally long-investigated and mysterious problem. Nobody is really clear why the comets tend to arrive on such an apparently regular schedule — but potential other explanations include a companion star to our own sun or extra risk as we travel through the spiral arms of the Milky Way.

But the new theory suggests that if the idea of the periodic extinctions is true, then it may be that the particular orbit of Planet 9 is to blame. It proposes that as the planet moves around the solar system, it passes through the Kuiper Belt — an area of the outer solar system full of icy objects — every 27 million years, knocking comets towards us and into the inner solar system.

Once they arrive there, they can smash into the Earth and reduce the sunlight getting to us, potentially leading to the extinction events, the researchers claim.

(7) DEALING WITH HB2. North Carolina convention IllogiCon has posted this statement on Facebook.

Given the advent of that atrocious affront to humankind that is HB2, we wanted to make sure all our members would be safe and comfortable in our usual hotel. We reached out to them, and got this lovely response:

“Our bathrooms will be running as normal as years past. You will not expect anything different from the staff at the Embassy Suites regarding bathrooms. If any of your guests feel uncomfortable using our public restrooms they are welcome to use the bathrooms near the pool area. They serve as family style restrooms, have only one stall, and are lockable from the inside. I hope this helps because we love having you with us.”

Pee as thou wilt, people.

*To clarify for those who have never been to illogiCon before, “running as normal” means the hotel does not monitor bathroom use nor does it enforce use of one bathroom over another.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 30, 1945 – Eric Clapton. This birthday boy has had his music in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Men in Black.

(9) ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. Another trailer from Official Disney.

(10) PRINT IS HERE TO STAY. From his vantage in 1961, The Traveler explains to readers of Galactic Journey why visual media won’t be driving printed sf/f to extinction.

All this hubbub is silly.  There are two reasons why printed sf/f isn’t going anywhere, at least for the next few decades.  The first is that the quality isn’t in the films or television shows.  Sure, there are some stand-outs, like the first season of The Twilight Zone, and the occasional movie that gets it right, but for the most part, it’s monsters in rubber suits and the worst “science” ever concocted.

But the second reason, and this is the rub, is the sheer impermanence of the visual media.  If you miss a movie during its run, chances are you’ve missed out forever.  Ditto, television.  For instance, I recently learned that an episode of Angel (think I Love Lucy, but with a French accent) starred ex-Maverick, James Garner.  I’m out of luck if I ever want to see it unless it happens to make the summer re-runs.

(11) EASTERCON FAN FUND ACTION. Jim Mowatt announced —

Fan funds auction at Eastercon raised 866 pounds to be split equally between Taff and Guff. Many thanks everyone helping at the auction; Kylie Ding, Carrie Mowatt, Fishlifter Claire, James Shields, Douglas Spencer, Fionna o Sullivan, Mary Burns, Anna Raftery. Also all the people who donated things and bought things. The fan funds continue to exist because of you folks.

(12) FUTURE PUPPIES. Brandon Kempner begins to collate his numbers in “Estimating the 2016 Hugo Nominations, Part 3”.

Does this estimate tell us anything, or is it just useless fantasizing? I can see people arguing either way. What this does is narrow the range down to something somewhat sensible. We’re not predicting Ann Leckie is going to get 2000 votes for Best Novel. We’re not predicting she’s going to get 100. I could predict 450-800 and then match that against the 220-440 Rabid Puppies prediction. That would tell me Leckie seems like a likely nominee.

We can go destroy this prediction if we make different assumptions. I could assume that the new voters to the Hugos won’t vote in anything like typical patterns, i.e. that they are complete unknowns. Maybe they’ll vote Leckie at a 75% rate. Maybe they’ll vote her 0%. Those extremes grate against my thought patterns. If you know Chaos Horizon, I tend to chose something in the middle based on last year’s data. That’s a predictive choice I make; you might want to make other ones.

(13) RABID POPPINS. Vox Day is a bit touchy about Chaos Horizon’s estimates that Rabid Puppy performance may not be statistically perfect in every way — “Rabid Puppies 2016: updates and estimates”.

I, personally, consider this to be an inadvertent affront. I would be surprised if only 80 percent of the Rabid Puppies could be bothered to show up and nominate….

What Chaos Horizon means by “slate decay” is a simple failure of discipline. Last year, for example, far more Puppies submitted nominations in Best Novel than in other, less important categories or went lone ranger on occasion. And while I can’t see what slate decay could possibly have to do with what is merely a list of recommendations, and by no means a direct order to anyone, least of all the Rabid Puppies, the Sad Puppies, the Ilk, the Dread Ilk, the Vile Faceless Minions, or the Evil Legion of Evil, by their Supreme Dark Lord, I do think one would be remiss were one to fail to fill out the entire nominating ballot.

(14) HOLD ONTO YOUR WALLETS. Twentieth Century Fox announced Alien Day, a global celebration of the Alien franchise on April 26. IGN reports —

The date 4/26 is of course a nod to LV-426, the planet from the Alien films. The day will have nationwide screenings of the movies, the release of never-before-seen products, and the start of the Alien: Ultimate Trivia Challenge, which will allow fans to win prizes every 42.6 minutes on Twitter.

Reebok is releasing the Alien Stomper worn by Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, and the mid tops worn by Lance Henriksen as the Android Bishop.

There will also be a Lieutenant Vasquez and Newt figure from NECA, as well as a Kenner-toy inspired Ellen Ripley figure. More figures come in the form of an Aliens Queen & Power Loader and Ripley set in Funko’s ReAction series.

As for literature, Dark Horse Comics will feature exclusive covers at participating retailers for the ongoing Aliens series, and a deluxe 30th anniversary hardcover version of the original Aliens series from 1986. Meanwhile, Titan Books is launching a brand new novel, Alien: Invasion (The Rage War book 2) by Tim Lebbon.

(15) STRONG SIGNAL. SF Signal’s new Mind Meld, curated by Paul Weimer, delivers “Our Recent Faves from the Lighter Side of the Genre”.

Q: What books have you read, especially recently, that you’d recommend to others as a temporary vacation from the slings and arrows of our current world?

Melinda M. Snodgrass, Sue Burke, Rene Sears, Lyda Morehouse, Mari Ness, Kat Howard, Kelly Robson, Valerie Valdes, Charlie Jane Anders, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Ursula Vernon, Penny Reeve, and Erin Lindsey name those titles.

(16) NEOLOGIZER ROLL CALL. Popular words invented by authors (infographic)” Kate Funk has created a visual that puts together the words coined by authors and used for the first time in their books.

Will R. says, “Who knew Dr. Seuss invented ‘nerd’? Cyberspace is about as scifi as it gets here. Grok would have been a good one to include.”

(17) SPECTRAL POLITICS. Vox Day also is at work on a non-Hugo sekrit projectRelativity and the ideological spectrum – involving a 9-point scale of political figures. Readers were asked to chime in.

One is extreme left, nine is extreme right. The goal is to clarify, not obscure or start arguments, so leave Hitler and anyone else likely to spark debate out of it.

  1. Vladimir Lenin
  2. Karl Marx
  3. Angela Merkel
  4. Bill Clinton
  5. John F. Kennedy
  6. George W. Bush
  7. Ronald Reagan
  8. Thomas Jefferson
  9. Ayn Rand

I have to say, among the readers’ suggestions brentg’s are my favorites, even if he disobeyed the instruction to stop at nine.

  1. brentg

1. Windows 7
2. Windows XP
3. WFW 3.11
4. Windows 2000, sp3+
5. Windows 98 SE
6. Dos622
7. Windows 95
8. Windows98
9. Windows ME
10. Mac

  1. brentg

1. ungoliant
2. morgoth
3. sauron
4. sauraman
5. eol / feanor
6. tom bombadill
7. galadrial
8. gandalf
9. aragorn
10. boromir

(18) SCANNERS. A 1937 letter features in “Otto Binder on John W. Campbell” by Doug Ellis at Black Gate.

The letter is primarily of interest due to its discussion of John W. Campbell, a few months before Campbell would become editor of Astounding. It’s a shame that no more detailed record of the story telling game played at Binder’s house between him, Dr. John Clark, Frank Belknap Long, Campbell and Campbell’s wife exists; it would have been fascinating to sit in on this! Binder is clearly a fan of Campbell’s fiction (later on, when he found it difficult to sell to him at Astounding, he was not nearly as much a fan of his editing).

(19) IT’S ABOUT TIMES. John Scalzi tells about “My New Writing Gig”.

So here’s a cool thing: I, along with nine other folks, am one of the Los Angeles Times’ book section’s “Critics at Large.” This means from time to time in the pages of the Times, I’ll be writing about books, the universe and everything.

(20) DEADPOOL. Tom Knighton received word that a Special Edition Deadpool DVD is in the works. The release is quoted at his site.

I have to admit I have mixed feelings about this.  “Director’s Cut” could be awesome.  Then again, ramping it up to NC-17 could go either way.  Still.

(21) WHEN WINDOWS 95 WAS YOUR FRIEND. At BrainJet, “This Windows 95 Infomercial Stars Two ‘Friends’ And It’s The Best ‘90s Throwback Ever”.

While Microsoft would like to have us believe that it’s the actors “Jen” and “Matty” (Jen’s cutesy little nickname for Matthew Perry) starring in the video, we all know they’re really playing their “Friends” characters “Rachel” and “Chandler” without saying so in case NBC decides to sue. Not only is Aniston rocking the Rachel haircut and primping and fluffing every chance she gets, but Perry plays Chandler to a T, cracking bad joke after bad joke and letting no silence go unfilled. He even refers to the receptionist as the “wicked witch of Windows 95” (one of his better one-liners if you ask us).

 

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

Raftery Wins TAFF

Anna Raferty will be the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate to MidAmeriCon II.

The vote totals were:
92  Anna Raftery
82  Wolf von Witting
12  No Preference

(The news release did not break out North American and European voting.)

Jim Mowatt’s announcement congratulated the winner and praised the runner-up —

Many commiserations to Wolf who was a brilliant candidate and has done an incredible amount of work amongst fans from many countries to raise the profile of TAFF in continental Europe. As Nina will testify, the fan fund isn’t very well known in some parts of Europe so it can be quite difficult to engage your fellow fans if they aren’t very familiar with the TransAtlantic Fan Fund. Wolf moved mountains and came within just 10 votes of claiming the prize. A stunning campaign and a monumental achievement. In many other years the number of votes he managed to get would have taken him comfortably to the victory podium. Wolf, we salute you.

Pixel Scroll 1/1 Let Scrolled Acquaintance Be Forgot…

rhinowaiting(1) HORNING IN. Another rhino run starring Jim Mowatt — “New Year Parkrun Rhino Running at Temple Newsam House”

We set off past the glorious Elizabethan mansion and out through the formal gardens. Down the long hill, left at the motorway and curl back along the edge of the woods until we are once again struggling up the hill toward the house. Twice around we go and the second time we are curved around the hill a little until we burst out into the finish funnel. I queue to be scanned behind the girl in the orange tee shirt. I’d finished before her at Woodhouse Moor but she was really pleased to finish in front of me here at Temple Newsam. “I couldn’t be beaten by a rhino twice in one day” she said.

 

(2) CARRIE FISHER. James H. Burns writes: “Considering that I was never particularly a fan of Carrie Fisher as an actress, I am finding myself becoming quite a fan of her mind!” Burns had just read “Carrie Fisher shuts down the ageist haters as only Carrie Fisher can” on Salon.

She soon followed up with a more direct command, saying, “Please stop debating about whether OR not aged well. unfortunately it hurts all 3 of my feelings. My BODY hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.” It’s been favorited over 35 thousand times — and still going.

(3) FIRST AMENDMENT. Has he been listening to Fisher, too? George Lucas definitely spoke freely on the Charlie Rose show broadcast on December 25:

At one point he said that filmmakers in the Soviet Union had more freedom than their counterparts in Hollywood, who, he maintained, “have to adhere to a very narrow line of commercialism.”

Mr. Lucas appeared particularly unhappy with the direction the “Star Wars” franchise has taken since he sold the rights to it, along with Lucasfilm, his company, to Disney for $4 billion. He compared the sale to a breakup and a divorce.

“These are my kids. All the Star Wars films,” he said. “I love them, I created them, I’m very intimately involved in them.”

He added, trailing off with a laugh: “And I sold them to the white slavers that take these things and. …”

(4) BABYLON 5.1. Blastr’s headline runs a little ahead of the facts – “Straczynski bringing sci-fi classic Babylon 5 back to life with movie reboot in 2016” – in that he hasn’t finished a script and he doesn’t have a commitment from a studio to produce the movie.

Thanks to some shrewd negotiating, Straczynski actually owns the film rights to the franchise — so he isn’t beholden to getting a particular studio to sign on. But he is apparently hoping Warner Bros. (the studio that produced the original series) might be interested once the script is complete. You know, assuming it’s good.

If Warner Bros. doesn’t bite, Straczynski apparently aims to finance the film through his own Studio JMS, though that might be a tall order to bankroll an $80-100 million sci-fi epic. But considering the franchise’s name cachet with genre fans — not to mention the fact that studios are mining just about any brand they can get their hands on these days — you’d think someone would be interested in co-producing.

(5) MARSHAL BURNS. Ken Burns the documentarian was this year’s Rose Parade Grand Marshal, prompting an exchange between John King Tarpinian and Phil Nichols:

[Tarpinian] The documentarian is this year’s Rose Parade grand marshal.  They keep taking about his “moving” stills as having been groundbreaking, calling it Ken Burns effect. Now his documentaries are very well done and quite enjoyable however when I saw the first one this moving-still effect reminded me of Icarus Montgolfier Wright.  I’m thinking Ray Bradbury and George Clayton Johnson’s contribution to this effect was a bit earlier.

[Nichols] Good point, jkt! In fact, the technique had been used prior to ICARUS, most famously in a Canadian documentary called CITY OF GOLD (1957). In the UK, it has only recently become known as the Ken Burns effect. We have our own Ken (Ken Morse) who did similar work for the BBC for decades. We used to call it “movement in stills”, until the American influence became irresistible.

(6) STAR WARS SPOILERS. Beware spoilers in Alex Ross’ fine discussion of “Listening to Star Wars” at The New Yorker.

Williams’s wider influence on musical culture can’t be quantified, but it’s surely vast. The brilliant young composer Andrew Norman took up writing music after watching “Star Wars” on video, as William Robin notes in a Times profile. The conductor David Robertson, a disciple of Pierre Boulez and an unabashed Williams fan, told me that some current London Symphony players first became interested in their instruments after encountering “Star Wars.” Robertson, who regularly stages all-Williams concerts with the St. Louis Symphony, observed that professional musicians enjoy playing the scores because they are full of the kinds of intricacies and motivic connections that enliven the classic repertory. “He’s a man singularly fluent in the language of music,” Robertson said. “He’s very unassuming, very humble, but when he talks about music he can be the most interesting professor you’ve ever heard. He’s a deep listener, and that explains his ability to respond to film so acutely.”

(7) 40% PUPPY CONTENT. Brandon Kempner at Chaos Horizon takes his first cut at predicting the 2016 Best Novel Hugo. Pups get 2 spots out of the top 5.

The difficulty in predicting the 2016 Hugo lies in how little information we have: how big will the Rabid Puppies vote be? How will the Sad Puppies 4 operate? How much will the rest of the Hugo vote increase? Will other Hugo voters change their voting habits to stop a Puppy sweep? Will specific authors turn down endorsements and/or nominations?

(8) RETURN TO SENDER. Kate Paulk, in “Offer? What Offer?” at Sad Puppies 4, dismisses Steve Davidson’s reconciliation post for failing to treat with “the management.”

I’ve heard through the Internet (all right, Facebook) that someone who fancies himself a big shot in the field has “offered” to stop claiming Sad Puppies 4 is all things evil in return for a few “reasonable concessions” on our part.

Since the person in question hasn’t bothered to make this offer to me, Sarah Hoyt, or Amanda Green, Sad Puppy supporters can reasonably assume that the so-called offer is not actually genuine.

(9) KNOW JOHN, NO PEACE. John C. Wright deconstructed George R.R. Martin’s reconciliation post in “Peace on Mars, Good Will Toward Puppies” .

…Mr. Martin wills the ends without willing the means. He wishes for a cessation of enmity but does not identify who caused it and why, nor does he offer any apology or concession. Perhaps he is merely wishing for the status quo ante. Perhaps he regards his role in the matter as an entirely innocent one.

Be that as it may, honor demands a courteous response to a courteous overture….

The second group is a parasite on the first. Its sole purpose rests on expropriating the glory and reputation the award in times past painfully and honestly earned in the public esteem, and expending this stored capital profligately on unworthy objects to give them an outward momentary appearance of worth.

For example, the parasites seek to elevate REDSHIRTS to the stature of DUNE by an outward show of praise without the book being as praiseworthy. However, according to the inevitable rules governing such counterfeits, as soon as the public opinion grows aware of the inflation and adjusts its estimates accordingly, the parasites fail, and the original host fails with them.

In this case, failure means the Hugo Award no longer represents to anyone an honest judgment of worth. The boast ‘Hugo Award Winning!’ becomes a leper’s bell rather than a badge of honor, and any undeceived science fiction readers flee it. REDSHIRTS is not elevated to the stature of DUNE, but DUNE sinks.

Perhaps Mr. Martin can see a means whereby the host and the parasite that forever seeks to destroy the host can coexist in peace. I, for one, cannot….

(10) AN INTERVIEW WITH URASIS DRAGON. But once Wright had a look at Steve Davidson’s reaction to Martin, he discovered a new comradely admiration for GRRM, as expressed in “Constant Discord from Imaginary Dragons”.

Good grief. Observe that by kicking up this smokescreen of false reconciliation, Mr. Davidson actually makes it more difficult for any parties wishing for true reconciliation (I believe George RR Martin is one such) to accomplish the task…..

For the sake of any undecided readers toying with the notion that the puppykickers have some sort of valid argument or same vestigial desire for peace, allow me to address Mr. Davidson’s four points in order.

Point One: Please note that in the same column he says ” Anyone can become a member and all members enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other member.”

So, when we Sad Puppies did exactly this, Mr. Davidson uses this as an example of us “scamming the system” and advises us, as a condition of reconciliation, that we stop.

Logically, since we cannot cease to do what was never done to begin with, the condition cannot be met. As if one offered peace to a confirmed bachelor on the condition he stop beating his wife.

And Mr. Davidson also uses this to contradict our (accurate) accusation that a small group of inside elite writers and editors over the last fifteen years has been manipulating and dominating the awards secretively, that is, scamming the system.

(11) AMAZING NEGOTIATIONS. Meanwhile, Fandom’s self-appointed Ambassador Plenipotentiary Steve Davidson is experimenting with a unilateral cease-fire, which he calls a “Self-Inflicted Puppy Moratorium”.

I’ve finally whittled my suggestions down to two:  1.  leave the current SPIV recommendation list as a pure recommendation list.  (It’s almost not a slate – all that needs doing is to drop the associated political rhetoric and the curation down to a “final list” and it will BE a recommendation list) and 2. disassociate SP from RP in a publicly demonstrable way.

I’ll note in passing that BOTH of these suggestions are things that the Sad Puppies are claiming to want to do – or to have already done.  It would, therefore, seem to be an easy set of requests to comply with.

As quid pro quo, I offered the following:  I would consult and participate in their recommendation list(s) (participate in order to ‘prove’ that I was doing so); I would give serious consideration to any proposal(s) they might make at WSFS business meetings (they’ve called for a Hugo for tie-ins, among other things);  I will honor their votes and nominations as being valid participation in the Hugos (in other words, won’t assume it’s all politics and market grab on their part); will continue to keep Amazing as an open source (that it has always been – the ONLY people I’ve ever received a “never coming here again” are those who complain the site is biased against them, which, if they stuck around instead of running for the hills….)

AND – I promised a unilateral moratorium on puppy-related posts for two weeks (starting yesterday) while I awaited their response.

(12) NEW YEAR’S FIREWORKS DISPLAY. Scott Lynch, who for reasons explained in the post felt unable to do so immediately after Sasquan, rang in the New Year with a defense of Patrick Nielsen Hayden against John C. Wright’s characterizations.

…This was especially frustrating in the wake of the 2015 World Science Fiction Convention, after which the ponderously self-important blowhard John C. Wright publicly accused veteran editor and lifelong fan Patrick Nielsen Hayden of both assaulting Wright’s wife and masterminding the long-term “corruption” of the Hugo Awards, to which the SF/F field largely replied: “Meh.” Now, some of that is certainly due to Wright’s tireless self-marginalization and frothing bigotry, but regardless, I think Patrick deserved better of his friends and colleagues. He deserved to have someone stand up and state plainly what he could not– that John C. Wright talks a big game about truth and courage, but that he is demonstrably full of shit.

I wanted to be that person. I prepared a lengthy post to that effect. And then anxiety did its usual crushing, grinding thing, and days became weeks, which became months. It is now the new year, Hugo chat has started up in earnest, and Wright is once again plying his mealy-mouthed combination of false civility and vicious nonsense on the subject. I have decided to weigh in with a reminder that the narrative Wright wants to push is an absolute full-blown fabrication….

(13) YEAR IN REVIEW. Like on that game show, Lou Antonelli delivers the answer in the form of a question: ”2015? The Year in Review?” at This Way to Texas.

And then, what I would have thought would be be a great thing, being nominated for the Hugo award twice, turned out to be the worst thing that ever happened in my life. But it helped me realize that, in the end, I really only write for myself and friends, and in literature – as in other things in life – trying to please other people is the fast track to misery.

[Thanks to Stephen Burridge, Morris Keesan, Nila Thompson, John King Tarpinian, Zenu, and Bruce Arthurs for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

Update 01/02/2016: Corrected item (8) after readers pointed out Paulk was commenting about Steve Davidson’s reconciliation post, not George R.R. Martin’s.

Pixel Scroll 12/25 All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Pixel Scrolls

Mowatt Rhino run on Christmas

(1) RHINO RACES SANTA. Jim Mowatt ran a 5K on Christmas Day as part of his campaign to Save the Rhino.

It’s Christmas Day in Ayr and Carrie and I are celebrating this festival of wine, beer, pigs in blankets and Christmas pud. by popping down to Rozelle Park to run the 5k parkrun. Just to make it that bit more interesting I’ll be wearing a rhino costume.

I got a great reception when I arrived, with a mighty cheer from all the lovely folks assembled near the start. There were several santas, some dogs and a couple of running buggys amongst the crowd. The run director tried to give her pre run briefing but stumbled a little. “Sorry folks,” she said, “I was distracted by the rhino.”

… If anyone gets the urge to donate to Save The Rhino then please visit the page http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt and donate whatever you feel you can afford.

 

(2) CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. “50 Page Fridays: Connie Willis” at Suvudu.

Every Friday, we here @ Del Rey Spectra will place a 50 page excerpt of a selected title on Suvudu. Whether it is science fiction, epic fantasy, alternate history, horror, urban fantasy, paranormal, the possibilities are endless.

This week, just in time for the holidays, we’re featuring the first 50 pages of Connie Willis’ MIRACLES AND OTHER CHRISTMAS STORIES. Read what the stories are all about and enjoy the excerpt.

  • This enchanting treasury includes: “Miracle,” in which a young woman’s carefully devised plans to find romance go awry when her guardian angel shows her the true meaning of love
  • “In Coppelius’s Toyshop,” where a jaded narcissist finds himself trapped in a crowded toy store at Christmastime
  • “Epiphany,” in which three modern-day wisemen embark on a quest unlike any they’ve ever experienced
  • “Inn,” where a choir singer gives shelter to a homeless man and his pregnant wife-only to learn later that there’s much more to the couple than meets the eye

And more…

(3) UNSUSPECTED STAR WARRIORS. “13 Actors You Didn’t Realize Were in the Star Wars Movies” at Esquire – illustrative photos at the site.

  1. Brian Blessed

Character: Rogur Nass

Appeared in: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Best known outside of Star Wars for: “GORDON’S ALIVE!” That is to say, Flash Gordon and shouting a lot.

Not convinced about that “Best Known” for Blessed. What about Young Arthur, Augustus Caesar in I, Claudius, or Northumberland in Henry V?

(4) A MISSED OPPORTUNITY: Martin Morse Wooster writes, “Thanks for posting Carol for Another Christmas.  I enjoyed it, and Sterling Hayden was great and Peter Sellers brilliant but…. ….this show is super liberal. It really is. Maybe if you headlined it, ‘THE FILM THE SAD PUPPIES DON’T WANT YOU TO SEE’ you’d get HUNDREDS of comments.”

(5) BEFORE MICROSOFT WAS RICH. The Digital Antiquarian’s post “A Pirate’s Life for me, Part 1: Don’t Copy That Floppy!” reproduces an open letter from Bill Gates that will surely bring a nostalgic tear to the eye.

February 3, 1976

An Open Letter to Hobbyists

To me, the most critical thing in the hobby market right now is the lack of good software courses, books, and software itself. Without good software and an owner who understands programming, a hobby computer is wasted. Will quality software be written for the hobby market?

Almost a year ago, Paul Allen and myself, expecting the hobby market to expand, hired Monte Davidoff and developed Altair BASIC. Though the initial work took only two months, the three of us have spent most of the last year documenting, improving, and adding features to BASIC. Now we have 4 K, 8 K, Extended, ROM, and Disk BASIC. The value of the computer time we have used exceeds $40,000.

The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however: 1) most of these “users” never bought BASIC (less than 10 percent of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) the amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 per hour.

(6) THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW. “IBM’s Supercomputer Watson Evolves” at Omni.

Watson has become something of a celebrity, perhaps the first artificially intelligent celebrity, making appearances at notable events such as the Tribeca Film Festival. Lauri Saft is director at IBM Watson Ecosystem. Since Watson, the supercomputer, never makes public appearances, Saft had been asked to speak on his behalf, for a program of talks loosely based on the theme of “imagination.” Saft wears her hair in a wavy blond bob and tends to dress in black. “Film and artists and creative people and narratives—that is the essence of what Watson handles best,” she said, mid-fest. “Words and language and sentiment and ideas, right? That’s what Watson does for a living.” Perhaps one day, Watson will be running a film studio.

The essential question is, what exactly is Watson? Watson is a question-answering computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language, developed in IBM’s DeepQA project by a research team led by principal investigator David Ferrucci. Watson’s name comes from IBM’s first CEO and industrialist Thomas J. Watson. The computer system was specifically developed to answer questions on the quiz show Jeopardy! In 2011, Watson competed on Jeopardy! against former winners Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings, and received the first place prize of $1 million.

(7) HOIST THE JOLLY ROGER. And then there are Space Pirates! From “Tom Corbett Space Cadet Push-Outs”  at Dreams of Space – Books and Ephemera.

I try every year to have a Christmas posting. Sometimes it is something Christmas related and others it is a toy for my readers. This is one of the most beautiful punch-out or push-out books I know of. Even though it is not children’s non-fiction it evokes the early 1950s vision of space. Plus everyone needs some toy rayguns and other gear for their own space cosplay over the holidays. Enjoy!

 

1952TomCobettPushOuts06

(8) HE WAS THERE. Jack Robins, the last surviving Futurian from the Wollheim side of the divide, says they were much nicer fellows than described by all those nasty fanhistorians. See “The Futurians – A Personal Experience” in The National Fantasy Fan for December 2015. (The issue is not online yet, but eventually will show up here at eFanzines.)

I believe I am the last living member of the Wollheim group of Futurians. But as a science fictionist, I am also a modern type of Futurian who is confident that mankind has a future, that global warming will be resolved before the tipping point (where temperatures keep rising out of control), that new sources of energy, such as Fusion, will become prevalent; and that new forms of space propulsion will be developed so that a trip to Mars would take only a week or two, not months.

PART ONE — THE ISA

I read the article by David Williams and was appalled at his description of the Futurians. David Kyle and I are the only Futurians left alive and neither he nor I would have associated with the Futurians of David’s description. He described them as a mean-spirited group intent only on disrupting other organ-izations. That was not my experience at all.

The first thing I learned was that they were a very active group. One of the members, Don Wollheim, told me that some months back they wanted to prove that the future of mail delivery was that it could be sent by rocket. They tied some letters to a rocket, sent it up at the border of anoth-er city and collected the mail. “So what did you do with the mail?” I asked. “Whatever letters weren’t burned we mailed in the nearest mail box,” was the reply. I read later that the police warned them against any further rocket demonstrations.

(9) RECOMMENDED SHORT. Redheadedfemme urges all to watch Hybrids. The blurb on the YouTube site reads —

Enjoy this fantastic Sci-Fi short film by the talented Patrick Kalyn! In the wake of an alien infestation, an ex-special forces soldier’s daughter is killed in an alien attack. Seeking revenge, she leads a team deep into alien territory to a quarantined lab. Soon, she discovers the aliens aren’t alien at all, but a failed government experiment to create a bio-hybrid soldier. She must then expose the governments cover-up and save the last standing city in the quarantined zone from falling.

 

(10) A DOUBTER. Vox Day responded to yesterday’s puppy post by George R.R. Martin on Vox Popoli.

Is it a Christmas miracle? Has Mr. Martin’s heart grown three sizes? It is an inspiration, is it not?

For my part, I will certainly pledge that when the time comes to make the recommendations for Rabid Puppies 2, there will not be a single reference to CHORFS and ASPS, to Puppykickers, or even to SJWs. There will be no negativity nor will any nominations be urged for the purposes of inspiring rapid cranial expansion; any head-exploding that happens to take place in response to the RP2 recommendations will be entirely unintended on my part.

I trust that all of the responses to those recommendations, by Mr. Martin and others, will be similarly restrained.

(11) TWO MORE GEORGE CLAYTON JOHNSON OBITS. Many appreciations have been posted since Johnson died earlier today.

Johnson was a longtime advocate for the legalization of marijuana and in his later years wrote comic books and was a frequent guest at sci-fi and comics conventions. He co-created the comic book series “Deepest Dimension Terror Anthology” with cartoonist and author Jay Allen Sanford.

“He had a special place in his heart for all of his fans, who sustained him and gave him a forum to share thoughts at a million miles a second,” his son said.

In a 2003 interview for the Archive of American Television, Johnson said, “I want to be remembered as a person who early on in his life took control of his life and set goals. When people gave me a lined paper, I wrote the other way. When people expect some certain behavior from me, I will frustrate their expectations.”

Although not widely known outside of science-fiction circles, Johnson was revered among fans of the genre for his work, which also included collaborating with Ray Bradbury on the 1962, Oscar-nominated, animated short film “Icarus Montgolfier Wright.”

A popular figure at science-fiction conventions for decades, the soft-spoken but friendly author was instantly recognizable for his long, flowing white hair and beard, as well as what might best be described as his hippie attire.

And here is the tribute to Johnson now on display at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in Glendale.

Mystery & Imagination display dedicated to George Clayton Johnson. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Mystery & Imagination display dedicated to George Clayton Johnson. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

(12) XMAS PASSINGS. In addition to George Clayton Johnson (2015), notables who passed away on Christmas Day include James Brown (2006), Dean Martin (1995), Charlie Chaplin (1977), and W.C. Fields (1946).

(13) STAR WARS CHARACTER INSPIRED BY TEACHER. “’Star Wars’ Character Based on Late Pali High English Teacher, Abrams Tells Palisadian-Post”:

Director J. J. Abrams, a Pacific Palisades resident and graduate of Palisades Charter High School, revealed to his hometown newspaper the Palisadian-Post that he based one of the characters in his box office record-breaking ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ on… [Rose] Gilbert, who was known to her students as ‘Mama G’… When she announced her retirement in 2013 at the age of 94, Gilbert was the oldest full-time teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District and one of the oldest in the country.

David Feldman (author of the Imponderables books) says he took her classes, too.

And I wonder if any of the Hollander brothers did – LASFS members who also attended Pali High while she was on faculty.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/8 When Blogs Collide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. “Yor, the Hunter from the Future”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is our one code of conduct.

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

View post on imgur.com

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ben Jackson at the Guardian concludes:

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

Jeff Milo at Paste Magazine is the most enthusiastic:

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

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

Mowatt in Cambridge News

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

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