Hands Across the Water

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1252) “I only knew him for forty years,” said Wolf von Witting, “but in fact Waldemar began publishing Munich Round-Up before I was born.” It started in 1958, passing to Waldemar Kumming and Walter Reinecke in 1959, then continued under K after R died in 1981, for a total of 179 issues through 2014.

Von Witting first met Kumming in 1977. My first correspondence with K that I can find is from January 2001, after he asked me to help put names on photographs he’d taken for MRU at Chicon VI, the 58th World Science Fiction Convention, particularly costume photos; I’d judged the Masquerade, our on-stage costume competition.

He and I continued to correspond, and meet in person at Worldcons. I continued contributing to MRU, and gave it two hundred words in a review of fanzines for Chunga (“Unfolding Stars”, C 14, which I daren’t consider mostly harmless, prompted or not by that number). He knew the secret of the fearsome drink vurguzz (MRU 8, Van 483), whose relation to the world of Perry Rhodan is beyond my and perhaps your mortal powers. I tasted a bottle he offered me, also at Chicon VI, but by the time I recovered consciousness he had left that party and I missed my chance to inquire.

He joined the Science Fiction Club Deutschland — deliberately named with the first three words in English and the third in German, just as English-speakers at different times adopted Latin expressions like inter alia or French ones like à point, and in fact as Munich Round-Up, written in both German and English, was named in English — in 1956 as Member No. 481, and was its second chairman 1962-1968.

In 1967 he was brought into the Order of St. Fantony (there’s vurguzz again), Walter Ernsting giving the accolade. From the 1970s he was the German agent for Andy Porter’s Algol and S-F Chronicle. He was a Guest of Honor at Seacon ‘84, the combined Eastercon XXXV (United Kingdom) and Eurocon VIII. In 1993 he was given a Kurd Laßwitz Prize for MRU and his life work. In 2005 he was given the Big Heart, highest service award of the s-f community. He left us in April (1924-2017).

From 1959 he maintained the Phonothek (German; first h joins the p for the sound of f in derivations from Greek phi as with English, second h silent), sound recordings of German and international s-f gatherings, originally on magnetic tape which in those days was no small undertaking when you consider that the two Revox B77 recorders he used, excellent in their performance, each measured 18 x 16 x 8” (0.4 x 0.4 x 0.2 m) and weighed 37 lbs (17 kg).

With the new millennium Thomas Recktenwald, another great German fan, chair of SFCD, friend of K’s and mine, took on converting this wealth to digital media; see TR’s progress report, and fine appreciation of Kumming, in CounterClock 15 (Aug 2013).

He was humble yet unshrinking, generous, a good listener, as we all aspire. Few ever heard him raise his voice. There was one celebrated incident. The early days of SFCD were stormy. During one of its fierce verbal battles he suddenly cried “Stop!” All fell silent. He changed the tape in his machine and signaled the combatants to resume. R.I.P.

Denis Scheck, left, interviews Marion Zimmer Bradley, center, at STUCON 1980, while Waldemar Kumming captures it all on his tape recorder.

A World-Building Hugo

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1249) The best notes I know for Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables (1862) are James Madden’s in the 2008 Modern Library edition, tr. Julie Rose. My own copy is the 1987 Lee Fahnestock & Norman MacAfee rev’n of Charles Wilbour’s tr. 1862, whose notes appear at the feet of pages (where notes belong! grr!) but not nearly enough.

Modern Library apparently first published the Wilbour in 1931; the ML ed’n with Stephen Alcorn’s woodcut on the jacket is not dated; ML reïssuing the Wilbour in 1992 [dieresis mark for Phil Castora] still offers both it and the Rose.

Yes, it’s a masterwork. Yes, it’s long; 1,194 pages by Rose (who after expatiating how faithful she was, which I can’t judge, says Alexander Pope 1688-1744 reïnterpreted Shakespeare 1564-1616 primly [p. xxiv] — aiee!) + 136 pp. of notes, 1,222 by Wilbour (and how he managed to get his tr. published in the year of the original is a story in itself).

No, there aren’t any digressions. Every side-path and detail is of the essence, from giving Cambronne’s answer at Waterloo as Merde! (the journalist Rougement reported La garde meurt et ne se rend pas! “The Guard dies and does not surrender!”, which was put on the base of a statue of C after his death; C denied he’d said either) to the sewers of Paris.

Hugo said he was writing a polemic: “So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilisation, artificially creates hells on earth … books like this cannot be useless” (beginning and end of his preface, tr. Wilbour). But that last word is strange.

For years the coal of my desire to read this book was cold. I hearkened too much to how Hugo was a social critic — ipse dixit — and how Les Misérables was about relentless Inspector Javert’s pursuing Jean Valjean for stealing a loaf of bread.

Although “a loaf of bread” is an oafish misstatement, the criticism is there; the pursuit is there — oh, the pursuit! O Javert, what an end for you! — but we’d not call Rembrandt’s Night Watch (1642) a painting about men’s hats.

I’ve said the works of Jane Austen (1775-1817) are to us like writing by a Martian for fellow Martians; of Georgette Heyer (1902-1974), set in that period, like a science fiction author’s writing about Martians: Austen assumes we understand. Hugo is a Martian from across a canal.

What do these Martians tell one another to evoke the world they all share? We, who are in the business of verisimilitude, evoking fictional worlds, can watch.

I mention the notes first here because Les Misérables is so studded with allusion and reference that we need the help.

A Skiff Hails a Bark

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1246, 26 Apr 17) Cherry-blossom viewing (hanami) season had largely ended last week at Kyôto, Nara, and Tôkyô; at Sapporo, in the north, blossoms should begin to open about May 1st and be at their peak for the following few days. Cherry blossoms are so beloved in Japan they not only have a name of their own (sakura), but also are understood from the word for blossom (hana) if no more is specified. Here there were e.g. a Cherry Blossom Festival 4-5 & 11-12 Mar 17, Descanso Gardens, La Cañada – Flintridge; a Nat’l Festival 16 Mar – 12 Apr at Washington, where a Japanese friendship gift of 3,000 trees had been accepted by First Lady Helen Taft.

Cherry blossoms are beautiful and fall soon. As long ago as the Man’yôshû (“Collection of Ten Thousand [not literally] Leaves [or maybe ‘to last ten thousand ages’]”, about the year 800), “the first and, in the opinion of most who have written about Japanese literature, the finest collection of Japanese poetry…. the falling of cherry blossoms could stir an awareness of transcience…. Some poems on cherry blossoms … convey so poignant a sense of the passing of time as to bring tears to the reader’s eyes,” D. Keene, Seeds in the Heart pp. 85, 91 (rev. 1999; J literature through the late 16th Century).

I was at Oakland, 350 miles (550 km) from home, 5,300 miles (8,600 km) from Kyôto, for a memorial to an uncle who died in February. He was 92, swimming a mile a day, working, and playing saxophone and clarinet in a jazz band. There were a few hundred people and a good hand­ful of speakers. On a printed program I saw Michael Dalby. Perhaps not an unusual name, I thought, but “Liza and I” in his speech told me he must be the husband of Liza Dalby, whose book Geisha (1983; 25th-anniversary ed’n and 17th printing with new preface, 2008) had so impressed me (Van 368). Afterward I found him; he said “she’s right over there”, and I thanked her.

She is the only American ever accepted as an apprentice geisha; for her Stanford Univer­sity Ph.D. she went to Kyôto, heart of Japanese culture, and served 14 months in one of the old­est geisha-houses; Geisha (actually Kyôto calls them geiko) is based on her dissertation. We foreigners have supposed them members of the world’s oldest profession, which they are not. Their primary arts (gei) are the shamisen (three strings played with a plectrum, long neck, no frets) with its song repertory, which she brought with her surprising her new companions, and dance; also superb dress, deportment, and wit.

When I met her she wore in her ears, and at her neck, the Japanese character mu (“nothingness”) in the distinctive calligraphy of the Zen Buddhist master Hakuin (1686-1768; famous inter alia for “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” which he thought led beginners to the Great Doubt — “At the bottom of great doubt lies great awakening. If you doubt fully, you will awaken fully” — better than the answer of Jôshu [778-897] to “Does a dog have Buddha-nature?”: “Mu!“).

I thought she might like to hear, and with only a few minutes I tried to tell her, that when I was sent to Japan for the 65th World Science Fiction Convention (2007), the first held in Asia, by the one-time traveling-fan fund Murray Moore invented, HANA (Hertz Across to Nippon Alliance, for which we used the character hana in the calligraphy of Seiichi Shirato’s uncle Seihou Mikado), her book had been a great help to me.

I left out the Haiku Contest and other adventures of bidding for that Worldcon, adventures of holding that Worldcon, and the careers of Takumi Shibano and Peggy Rae Sapienza. I did say I’d gone to the Bashô (1644-1694) Museum and stood where he stood at the Sumida River; at the Kiyosumi Garden, had asked to see the iris beds; she remembered the acrostic poem about irises by Narihira (825-880) and said “I hope you were there in May” — irises are a May flower — so I explained “No, September; I wanted to see where the irises had been,” but (just as befell me and several friends at the Garden, only there we were rescued by the pocket computer of Etsuko Kodama, who’d been At-Con Registration) neither she nor I could recall the name of Kenkô (1284-1350), who’d written that chrysanthemums are most beautiful when their edges start to brown.

Since Geisha, Ms. Dalby has written Kimono (1993), a novel The Tale of Murasaki (2000) being a fictional biography of the author of The Tale of Genji (1012), a memoir East Wind Melts the Ice (2007), and another novel Hidden Buddhas (2009). When I got home I re-read Geisha, Mineko Iwasaki’s memoir Geisha of Gion (2002; the United Kingdom title, United States title Geisha, a Life), The Diary of Lady Murasaki (covers only 1008-1010; R. Bowring tr., rev. 1996), and read E. Underwood’s Life of a Geisha (1999, foreword by LD) and N. Ogino’s photograph book A Geisha’s Journey (2008, text by the Kyôto geiko Komomo), then East Wind and Tale of Murasaki, all which I recommend.

WOOF is the Answer

By John Hertz: The torch of WOOF has passed to John Purcell of Texas.  He will be Official Editor of WOOF this year, his second time around; he previously served in 2013.

He is also this year’s TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate.  Although he campaigned using images of Henry Purcell, which Gerard Manley Hopkins taught us to rhyme with reversal, Brother John is from a branch of the family whose name is pronounced “purr-SELL”.

WOOF, the World Order Of Faneditors, is an amateur publishing association (or “amateur press association”) whose contributions are collected, and whose distributions are issued, at and from (but not by or for) the World Science Fiction Convention.

The 2017 Worldcon will be August 9-13 at Helsinki, Finland.  Some Worldcons have nicknames, but this one, the 75th, is just called Worldcon 75.

An apa is an assemblage of amateurs’ publications.  You send copies of yours and get back a distribution containing yours and everybody else’s.

We borrowed the notion of apas from another hobby, amateur journalism.  What seems the first apa was theirs, founded 1876 (NAPA the National Amateur Press Ass’n), still ongoing.  The first in the SF community was FAPA the Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n, founded 1937, also still ongoing.

Apas come and go on various continents, each apa with its own rules, customs, and jokes.  Most apas have been quarterly or monthly.  I’m in one that’s weekly.  WOOF is yearly.

The central receiver-sender of WOOF is the Official Editor.  The 2017 WOOF distribution will be WOOF 42.

This year’s copy count is 50, i.e. 50 copies required of each contribution.

WOOF is another invention of the late great Bruce Pelz.  As Suford Lewis said, he had a fruitful imagination.  Some say his epitaph, among us anyhow, should be Si monumentum requiris circumspice (Latin, “If you seek his monument, look around you.”

This year the OE must have your contribution by noon (local time) on Saturday, August 12th.  A Table of Contents will be made and collation will follow.

The Fanzine Lounge at this year’s Worldcon will be hosted by España Sheriff.  The OE plans to collate WOOF there.  He hopes to get a WOOF drop-off box placed there after the con opens on Wednesday.

If you do not expect to be present, please make your own arrangements.  Some long-time WOOFers have seldom been able to attend the con at all, instead sending contributions via friends, providing for return envelopes and postage as needed.

Usually WOOF distributions consist of contributions stapled together, and at least some copies of the distribution are sent by real-mail.  Please consider accordingly the media by which and onto which you publish your contribution.

Various apas have tales of fans’ sending strange paper or even slices of bologna.  Some practices are more honored in the breach than in the observance.

What to write about?  Well, cabbages, kings, why the sea is boiling hot (I think it’s the influence of the sun, myself), whether pigs have wings; rum-pots, crack-pots, and how are you, Mr. Wilson?

The OE this year may be able to print some contributions sent him by E-mail; ask him, askance73 [at] gmail [dot] com.  You’ll recognize the title of his fanzine Askance.  You may also write to him at 3744 Marielene Cir., College Station, TX 77845, U.S.A.  Despite the street where he lives, he is not very near Abilene, 260 miles away.  That may seem close if you are Jukka Halme.

College Station is so named on account of a railroad.  The Houston & Texas Central began building there in 1860.  The Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas opened in 1876 (there’s that year again), first public institution of higher education in the State, since 1963 Texas A&M University.

You may also write to or call me, 236 S. Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles, CA 90057, U.S.A., (213)384-6622 (Pacific Daylight Time).

We might sing (with apologies to Betty Comden, Adolph Green & Jule Stein, 1960) WOOF is the answer; some OE for WOOF is the answer: once you’ve found him, build your zine around him; make our OE happy, make just one OE happy, and you will be happy too.

Pixel Scroll 5/10/17 Second Cinco De Mayo

(1) THE PRIZE. Mark Lawrence came up with something incredibly logical and hilarious at the same time —  “The SPFBO now has an award!”

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off now comes with its own award. The fabulous and coveted Selfie Stick!

There are several illustrative photos with highly amusing captions at the link.

(2) SFWA HUMBLE BUNDLE. It’s a brand name, otherwise you’d probably wonder why it’s given to what might be the least humble bundle ever – Super Nebula Author Showcase – with 40 books and 31 short stories. And the works in the bundle generally are either Nebula winners or nominees, or by the authors of other Nebula-nominated work.

  • Pay $1 or more and get:

Doorways by George R.R. Martin, Venus Prime by Arthur C. Clarke, Reading the Bones by Sheila Finch, Howard Who? by Howard Waldrop (includes winner, “The Ugly Chickens”), The Healer’s War by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link (includes winner, “Louise’s Ghost”), Phoenix Without Ashes by Harlan Ellison (winning author), and Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook edited by Cat Rambo.

  • Pay $8 or more and also unlock:

Word Puppets by Mary Robinette Kowal, Shadow Show: Stories In Celebration of Ray Bradbury, Her Husband’s Hands and Other Stories by Adam-Troy Castro, Robot Dreams by Isaac Asimov, Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress, The Last Temptation by Neil Gaiman, Inside Job by Connie Willis, The Baum Plan for Financial Independence by John Kessel (includes winner, “Pride and Prometheus”), Sister Emily’s Lightship by Jane Yolen, The Jagged Orbit by John Brunner, The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells, and 2013 Nebula Awards Showcase.

  • Pay $15 or more and unlock

Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee, The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth by Roger Zelazny, The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction Vol. II, Frank Herbert Unpublished Stories by Frank Herbert, Everything But the Squeal by John Scalzi, Fountain of Age by Nancy Kress, Moving Mars by Greg Bear, The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson, Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison, and Archangel #1 – #4 (4 issues included) by William Gibson.

  • Pay $20 or more to unlock

Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine, Kabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor, The Computer Connection by Alfred Bester, Burn by James Patrick Kelly, First Person Peculiar by Mike Resnick, At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson, Report to the Men’s Club by Carol Emshwiller (includes winner, “Creature”), What I Didn’t See by Karen Joy Fowler, Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany, and Bloodchild by Octavia E. Butler.

And wait, there’s more!

  • FREE: Read 31 short stories by the 2016 Nebula Nominees!

Love short stories? Bonus stories for Humble Bundle buyers: 31 short stories by the 2016 Nebula Nominees on the Great Jones Street app.

(3) UP A LAZY RIVER. Are we supposed to be shocked that Amazon has added a strategy for selling gently-used books? Publishers Weekly has learned some are scandalized by this one — “New Amazon Buy Button Program Draws Ire of Publishers, Authors”.

A new program from Amazon is drawing a range of reactions from those across the publishing industry, from fear to downright anger. The e-tailer has started allowing third-party book re-sellers to “win” buy buttons on book pages. The program, publishers, agents, and authors allege, is discouraging customers from buying new books, negatively affecting sales and revenue.

Up until now, the buy button on book pages automatically directed customers to new copies of titles Amazon stocked from the publishers. Now, re-sellers can win a buy button by meeting various criteria outline by Amazon which includes the price, availability, and delivery time. The program is also only open to books in new condition.

Those objecting to this policy say it is allowing Amazon to deprive publishers of sales and authors of royalties. (Because re-sellers are not buying their copies from publishers, these sales will not be counted as sales, and money derived from them will not go to publishers or authors.)

(4) DEFENDING AMAZON. New Republic also carried the ball for those with a negative viewpoint about Amazon’s policy, “Amazon Steps Up Its Battle With the Book Industry”, which inspired the wrath of Max Florschutz. He thought it was so outrageous he borrowed a page from Larry Correia’s playbook and set about “Fisking an Anti-Amazon Article From the New Republic” .

After the news that Amazon had begun allowing third-party sellers to “win” the buy button, it strongly condemned the company. “Without a fair and open publishing marketplace, publishers will soon lose the ability to invest in the books that advance our knowledge and culture,” it said in a statement.

Hogwash and claptrap. This is how a “fair and open” market works. Companies are allowed to sell a product on their shelves at as low a price as they want. If they bought a book from the publisher but sell it at a lower mark-up than the publisher does, that’s their right. To insist that the opposite, which would be establishing a fixed price that all books had to be sold at would be “fair and open” is lunacy. That’d be the opposite: It’d be price fixing, which the big publishers were already found guilty of once befo—Oh.

Many publishers believe they’re being cheated by sellers in the third-party marketplace, which don’t acquire their books from official channels—instead they sell remaindered copies (books that did not sell in stores and were returned to the publisher) or “hurts” (books with minor blemishes), often for rock-bottom prices. If these books are “remainders” or “hurts” or pirated, as some publishers have claimed they are, then publishers and authors won’t see a dime.

Okay, hang on a second here. This doesn’t make sense. So the publishers are complaining that the numbers of remained or damaged books being sold are damaging their sales margin? What?

Let’s look at this reasonably. Yes, damaged copies of books exist. But if they exist in such large numbers that your own book sales are declining because of that … then you already have a problem whether they are sold or not. Because your production process is generating that many damaged copies in the first place. Which means you’re already burning a fair margin of your money on bad prints. Which means something about your printing process probably needs to be looked at. Especially if you’re generating so many damaged books that they can outsell a portion of your normal sales.

The “remainder” excuse is even worse, and yes, an excuse. Because if there were enough books not selling that remaindering copies existed … why are you printing even more and trying to sell them? You should be leaving them on shelves. If they’re “competing” with sales already existing, that means someone went and printed up new copies of a book that didn’t sell well in the first place … which is the bigger problem. If you only sold 200 copies of a 1000-print run, don’t garbage the remaining 800 and print up another 1000. Sell the 800. I’m sorry, but if “remainder” sales are damaging “new” sales, something is wrong with your business plans, not with the market.

And in either of these cases, why isn’t the author seeing any money? That sounds like a poor contract written heavily in the publishers favor, not the fault of the booksellers.

Lastly, I love how the article just casually throws “piracy” out there as if it’s part of the problem. It shouldn’t be. Amazon clamps down on pirates pretty quickly, because pirates are bad for business, and Amazon gets this. If there is piracy going on, the publishers should be working with Amazon to cut it off … not slyly insinuating that Amazon is supporting it somehow.

(5) BEAUTIFUL STORIES. Natalie Luhrs has Murderbot sounding like a companionable character, in a review of Martha Wells’ All Systems Red.

Murderbot isn’t your usual SecUnit though: they’re independent, having hacked their governor module which is supposed to keep them operating within a narrow set of parameters. Murderbot’s also really into online dramas and would much rather watch them all day than actually do their job—Murderbot, I feel you, I really, really do. They’re alternatively apathetic, annoyed, and  awkward and I found the expression of traits to be endearing.

(6) ON THE ROAD AGAIN. Jim C. Hines has an excellent post about “Traveling with Depression”.

This is such an odd post to try to write. I had a wonderful time in Buenos Aires. I’m so happy and honored that I got to go. I was also depressed about the trip, especially that first day or two. Both of these things are true.

I’m going to France next week for Les Imaginales. I’m feeling anxious. I suspect the depression will hit me in much the same way, especially that first day when I’m exhausted and have nothing scheduled. I’m mentally berating myself about feeling stressed instead of excited. I know, intellectually, that this will be another wonderful experience.

But brain weasels don’t give a shit.

  • “Now you’re depressed about going to France? You are such a disappointment.”

It’s just over five years since I got my diagnosis. Since I started taking antidepressants and talking to a therapist. It’s frustrating to be reminded that, like the diabetes, this isn’t something we’ve been able to “cure.” Instead, it’s something I try to manage. Like the diabetes, some days I do better than others, and some situations make it harder to manage.

(7) SF IN EGYPT. Black Gate’s Sean McLachlan interviews Egyptian sf author Mohammad Rabie about his novel Otared, a grim dystopian tale of Cairo in 2025.

One of the things that struck me when reading the novel was the almost total absence of religion. Since it’s such a cornerstone of so many Egyptians’ lives, this must have been deliberate on your part. Why did you make this creative decision?

I believe religion is the major reason for our current situation. We look at the president as the equivalent of God on earth, he cannot be criticized or opposed, and if one did so he must be sued and punished. So beside praying, fasting, and other religious rituals, there is a deep and strong feeling of surrender to the ruler of the country, as if we surrender to God. In Otared, and according to the logic of the novel, you will find most of the characters willing to die, and the main reason is to be transferred to a better place – in the case, heaven — it is nearly the same situation now in Egypt, people give up their own freedom just to have a better afterlife. It may be hard to understand this idea for a Westerner, to put it simply, we tend to stay under injustice, to be rewarded by God at the end. There may be no religious rituals in Otared, but the core of religion is one of motives of the characters.

(8) DOCTOROW STUDIES. Crooked Timber is running a Cory Doctorow seminar, inspired by his new book, Walkaway, “a novel, an argument and a utopia, all bound up into one.” Eleven related posts are online – click the link to see the list.

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

In the 1979 movie Alien, the blue laser lights that were used to light the alien ship’s egg chamber were borrowed from The Who.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 10, 1969 – John Scalzi

(11) SHADOW CLARKE JURY APPEALS THE VERDICT. We’d have been disappointed if they loved the official Clarke Award shortlist, don’t you think?

Our immediate reaction to the list was decidedly mixed. Although two of our shadow shortlist were in the mix (The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and Central Station by Lavie Tidhar), some of the other choices proved less palatable.  Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee and Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan had some advocates amongst us, but Becky Chambers’s A Closed and Common Orbit and Emma Newman’s After Atlas were not favourites with those who had already read them.  The gulf in ambition, thematic reach and literary quality between the six shortlistees seemed significant. Paul thought the list came across ‘as two completely different shortlists stuck together. How can the Tidhar and Whitehead belong in the same universe as Chambers and Newman? Chambers, Lee and Newman have been popular successes, but hardly critical successes. This is another safe and populist list.’

Jonathan agreed, adding that he suspected ‘a tension between those who want the Clarke to be like the Hugo and those who want to retain that connection to the more literary tradition. The Clarke’s slide into hyper-commerciality continues.’  Megan shared Jonathan’s perspective. ‘What we’re getting from this list is a commercially-packaged view of science fiction. And I feel the Colson Whitehead this year is last year’s Iain Pears, just a literary toss-in to shut up people like us.’

Nina also felt the list represented ‘a split in the values of criticism’, while Vajra agreed with Megan that the Whitehead was the anomaly on this list rather than vice-versa. ‘This is a “we included Whitehead because everybody would shout at us if we didn’t” kind of shortlist’.  Maureen summarised this set of opinions most succinctly: ‘This really is a cut-and-shut shortlist. Something to offend everyone. The more I look at the shortlist the more it looks like something assembled to nod at various constituencies without satisfying any.’

And there are a few more reviews to catch up:

I entered 2016 with my affection for science fiction at a low ebb. My levels of engagement with the genre have varied quite considerably with the passage of time but I was suddenly aware that I had been writing about science fiction for over a decade and that said decade had left my tastes almost completely estranged from those catered to by the larger genre imprints.

hate all that plot description that comes with a review – read the blurb I say – but if you need some clues Tricia Sullivan’s Occupy Me has an angel, dinosaurs, a suitcase – think Pulp Fiction, think Wile E Coyote, think The Rockford Files (!) – plus a vet and a doctor. It has higher dimensions and quantum foam, trees of all kinds though especially trees of knowledge that might just be libraries spanning time and space AND it has bird gods, though actually our avian overlords may just be artistic scavengers or better, refuse ‘artistes’. It’s a novel that is helter-skelter and overabundant; in some ways it’s like (a very glorious) extended episode of Doctor Who…and I’m sure that some readers may even think, a little on the twee side. Though of course, they would be wrong. Those same readers may wonder if the parts add up to an organic whole. And to be fair I wonder myself but it really doesn’t matter. There are many, many riches here – this is a marvellous novel – full of love, kindness, empathy and extraordinary ambition – the only one that can give Central Station a run for its money in 2016’s SF best of. But that is to get ahead of myself.

(12) POLLS WITHOUT POLES. Rich Horton continues with “Hugo Ballot Reviews: Novelette”, in which Stix Hiscock did not earn a place.

My ballot, then, will look like this, tentatively, though the first three stories — actually, the first four — are real close in my mind:

1) “The Art of Space Travel”, by Nina Allan

I wrote this in my Locus review: “”The Art of Space Travel”, by Nina Allan, [is] a fine meditative story about Emily, who works at the hotel where the Martian astronauts are staying before they head out to space. The story isn’t about the astronauts, though, but about Emily, and about her mother, a scientist who has a sort of Alzheimer’s-like disease, perhaps because of contamination she encountered while investigating a plane crash, and about her mother’s involvement in preparation for a failed earlier Martian mission, and about Emily’s desire to learn who her father was. A good example of the effective — not just decorative — use of an SFnal background to tell a mundane story.” Allan actually had three very strong longer stories this year: also “Ten Days” from the NewCon Press anthology Now We Are Ten, and “Maggots”, a very long novella (perhaps indeed novel length) from the horror anthology Five Stories High.

(13) HOME TOWN BOY. When Spider-Man comes back to New York, comic dealers will be throwing parties in his honor.

Spider-Man returns to his friendly neighborhood in the new ongoing series PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN! From superstar writer Chip Zdarsky (Star-Lord) and legendary artist Adam Kubert (Avengers, X-Men) comes a companion to the best-selling Amazing Spider-Man series. This can’t-miss series takes Peter Parker back-to-basics and is bursting at the seams with heart, humor, and over-the-top action!

To kickoff this incredible new series, Marvel has partnered with participating retail stores to host PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN LAUNCH PARTIES. In addition to exclusive variant covers, participating retail stores will receive exciting promotional items – including Spider-Man masks!

The issue goes on sale June 21.

(14) OLD TIME IN THE HOT TOWN. Ancient Australian rocks suggest where to search for life on Mars.

Old rocks found in the Australian Outback have some weighty implications, scientists say: They hint at the environment in which life on Earth originated and suggest a location to search for life on Mars.

Scientists in Australia say they have found biological signatures of life in rocks that also show the presence of a hot spring, lending weight to a theory that the earliest life on Earth might have originated in freshwater hot springs on land rather than in deep-sea hydrothermal vents….

The fossil finding predates the previous oldest evidence for life on land by almost 600 million years, the scientists say. They described their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

NASA is currently considering where to land the rover on its 2020 Mars Exploration Mission, and one of the sites is a “hot spring-type setting,” about the same age as the early Earth, Djokic says.

“If you’re going to look for life on Mars, we know it was preserved on hot springs here on the ancient earth,” she says. “So there’s a good chance if it ever developed on Mars, then it would probably be preserved in hot springs there, too.”

(15) CLUTCH PLAY. Huge “baby dragon” oviraptor fossil found in China: “‘Baby Dragon’ Found In China Is The Newest Species Of Dinosaur”

In the 1990s, all of the known species of oviraptorosaur were small creatures. “There’s no way they were laying a 4- to 5-kilogram egg,” Zelenitsky says.

Then, in 2007, scientists in China discovered the first species of giant oviraptorosaur. “So finally, after 12 years, there is a species of oviraptorosaur that could have laid these giant oviraptorosaurlike eggs,” Zelenitsky says.

If Beibeilong nested like its smaller oviraptorosaur cousins did, it would be the largest known dinosaur to have sat protectively on its eggs.

(16) A DINOSAUR NAMED ZUUL. Long before Ghostbusters, there was Shinbuster.

In a paper for the Royal Society Open Science, Royal Ontario Museum paleontologists Victoria Arbour and David Evans describe the 75 million-year-old creature, a new species they dubbed Zuul crurivastator. Yes, its name is a reference to the demon Zuul from the original Ghostbusters movie. “Crurivastator” means “crusher of shins,” which is exactly what this creature could do with its spiked, hammer-tipped tail….

Weighing 2.5 tonnes and spanning 20 feet from its horned face to its spiny tail, Zuul was a living tank. In previous work, Arbour demonstrated using computer models that a beast like Zuul could use its tail club to break leg bones in its foes. This would have been especially effective against predator T. rex, which walked on two legs. Take out one leg, and the animal won’t survive long in the dinosaur-infested jungles of the Cretaceous.

 

(17) BRINGING THE HEAT. There’s a roundup about China’s successful sf writers at the English-language site Hot in China — “Chinese Sci-Fi Once Again Venturing Overseas”

When we look at the origin of sci-fi in China, famous scholars Liang Qichao and a young Lu Xun both translated Jules Verne’s sci-fi writing. By now, sci-fi in China has developed for half a century. While sci-fi creativity was curbed from 1902 to 1979, its progress has not stopped. Today’s Chinese sci-fi is growing rapidly after a subjective change: There is the founding of the magazine Sci-fi World, and its growth to a sci-fi magazine with the world’s largest circulation by the 1990s, and the emergence of many excellent Chinese sci-fi writers.

(Apparently File 770’s John Hertz is “Hot in China”, too – he’s part of a group photo at the end of the article featuring Hugo-winner Hao Jingfang taken at MACII.)

[Thanks to Alan Baumler, Mark-kitteh, Cat Eldridge, Cat Rambo, Nick Eden, John King Tarpinian, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Classics of S-F at Westercon 70

By John Hertz:  Westercon LXX has confirmed we’ll discuss three Classics of Science Fiction, one discussion each.  Come to as many as you like.  You’ll be welcome to join in.

I’m still with “A classic is a work that survives its own time.  After the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself.”  If you have a better definition, bring it.

Each of our three may be more interesting now than when first published.

Have you read them?  Have you re-read them?

Leigh Brackett

The Sword of Rhiannon (1949)

It’s been called her best early work; concise, eloquent, fresh, poetic.  Why a sword? is answered, also Is this science fiction?  Perhaps unanswerable by human beings, but addressed, are questions of identity, motive, recognition, and will, during an adventure in our great romantic tradition.

Fredric Brown

The Lights in the Sky Are Stars (1953)

Some say this belonged on the Retrospective Hugo ballot at Noreascon IV (62nd World Science Fiction Convention) – and argue over which it should have replaced, The Caves of Steel, Childhood’s End, Fahrenheit 451, Mission of Gravity, or More Than Human.  A straightforward s-f novel by Brown – and what a wallop!

H.G. Wells

The Time Machine (1895)

 

Far better known in the wide wide world than our other two – why?  Never mind marketing; Hesse’s Glass Bead Game won the Nobel Prize in Literature.  In fact we see only two distant times: the more gripping is narrated in a way which, upon reflection, is quite suspect.  And the Time Traveller never returns for lunch.

A Thousand Years

By John Hertz: Traditional Chinese and Japanese often have a thousand years for “long”.  Raising a drink one may say A thousand years! meaning roughly “Live long and prosper!”

The book which many think the first novel in the world really was written a thousand years ago, The Tale of Genji, completed about the year 1012.  Its author was a court lady, which is remarkable, but that’s another story.  In English it now has four translations, by Arthur Waley (1933), Edward Seidensticker (1976), Royall Tyler (2001), Dennis Washburn (2015), each with fans.

We call the author Lady Murasaki.  She may have been Fujiwara no Takako (i.e. Takako of the clan Fujiwara), who served the Empress Shôshi.  Murasaki is a nickname, after the main female character in her book, called Murasaki (“wisteria”).

We know little about the author personally.  She left a diary, also a work of art, but what has come down to us only covers two years.  The immense Genji scholarship includes labor over the diary.

In re-reading Richard Bowring’s 1996 translation The Diary of Lady Murasaki just now I came across these passages good for a thousand years (pp. 53, 56).

It is very easy to criticize others but far more difficult to put one’s own principles into practice, and it is when one forgets this truth, lauds oneself to the skies, treats everyone else as worthless, and generally despises others, that one’s own character is clearly revealed.

It is so rare to find someone of true understanding; for the most part they judge purely by their own standards and ignore everyone else.

Filers Destroy Even More Lyrics

Almost anything will make a Filer burst into verse. I’ve been clipping the highlights from our own version of La La Land reality for over a year, and today I’m ready to play them for you.

Matthew Johnson http://file770.com/?p=33927&cpage=3#comment-579600 – (“Be Our Guest”)

 (And the juxtaposition of Lovecraft and Beauty and the beast makes me wish there was a mash-up of the two. With a few tweaks, it could be a truly horrifying story.)

Lose your mind, lose your mind
Your skull will be a melon rind
Open up the evil book
And ancient secrets you will find
Hidden clues, shoggoth ooze
You’ve got the Miskatonic blues
Try the fungi, they’re a lulu
Don’t believe me? Ask Cthulu
Thought and reason, you can park ’em
After all, sir, this is Arkham
Our hotel Bible’s not from Gideon
All our curves are non-Euclidean
When you’ve gouged your eyes out you’ll be glad you’re blind
Open the Necronomicon
Read a page and then what fun,
You’ll lose your mind, lose your mind, lose your mind!

Niall McAuley http://file770.com/?p=34266&cpage=1#comment-615233 (Beowulf)

So. The Filers in days gone by
and the SMOFs who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those pixels’ heroic scrolling.

Soon Lee http://file770.com/?p=28318&cpage=3#comment-418410 (“The Gambler”)

The Writer

On a cool Autumn’s eve
At a Worldcon bound for nowhere
I met up with the writer
We were both too tired to sleep

So we took turns a-starin’
Out the window at the darkness
The boredom overtook us,
And she began to speak

She said, “Child, I’ve made a life
Out of writin’ people’s stories
Knowin’ what the plots were
By the way they held their tropes

So if you don’t mind me sayin’
I can see you’re out of ideas
For a taste of your Oolong
I’ll give you some advice”

So I handed her my China
And she drank down my last swallow
Then she bummed a cigarette
And asked me for a light

And the night got deathly quiet
And her face lost all expression
She said, “If you’re gonna play the game, child
You gotta learn to write it right

You’ve got to know when to show ’em
Know when to tell ’em
Know when to passive voice
And to gerund

You never check your wordcount
When you’re typin’ at the keyboard
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the writin’s done

Every writer knows
That the secret to good writin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep

‘Cause every book’s a winner
And every book’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to Fail
Better next

And when she finished speakin’
She turned back toward the window
Crushed out her cigarette
And faded off to sleep

And somewhere in the darkness
The writer she dreamt stories
But in her final words
I found advice that I could keep

You’ve got to know when to show ’em
Know when to tell ’em
Know when to passive voice
And to gerund

You never check your wordcount
When you’re typin’ at the keyboard
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the writin’s done

Repeat to fade

(Starring Badass Raadchai Ann Leckie as the writer. With apologies to Kenny Rogers)

Peer Sylvester http://file770.com/?p=32890&cpage=1#comment-536816 (“When I’m washing windows” from George Formby)

Now I go ticking boxes to earn an honest bob
For a nosy filer it’s an interestin’ job
Now it’s a job that just suits me
A box ticker you would be
If you can scroll what I can see
When I’m ticking boxes

Pixels and filers too
You should see them argue ‘n coo
You’d be surprised at things they do
When I’m ticking boxes

In my mind I’ll work hard
But I’ll never stop
I’ll scroll this blinkin’ thread
Till I get right to the top

The star wars thing, it looks divine
The twitter guy, he is doin’ fine
I’d rather have Mikes job than mine
When I’m ticking boxes

The handmaids’ new series I call
It’s a wonder if it will fall
My mind’s not on my work at all
When I’m ticking boxes

I know a fella, not so swell
He is a puppy, that’s plain to tell
I’ve seen him insult Jemison as well
When I’m ticking boxes

Oh, with my mouse I’ll scroll hard
But I’ll never stop
I’ll click this blinkin’ box
Till I get it right on the nob

Oz and awards lyin’ side by side
God stalks I have spied
I’ve often seen what goes inside
When I’m ticking boxes

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=33089&cpage=1#comment-546353 (“Try a Little Tenderness”)

Oh the Gorn may be weary–
Them Gorns they do get weary
Wearing those same old metallic shorts, yeah yeah…
But when the Gorn gets weary
Try a little pixelness….

Cubist http://file770.com/?p=32862&cpage=4#comment-539962 (“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”)

picture yourself on a scroll on a pixel
with vector equations and hex-color codes
suddenly someone relocates the cursor
and turns on alternative modes

high-contrast JPEGs and aliased TIFFs
stealing your vision away
look for your rods and your retinal cones
and you’re blind

pixel in the scroll with diamonds…

Rev. Bob http://file770.com/?p=34266&cpage=1#comment-615153

The Mount Tsundoku pile is hangin’ over my head
And if it falls over I reckon it’ll render me dead
Oh! Woe is me! Typos are a misery!
But I-I-I’ve got to read
So I’m off to start ‘nother pretty thick doorstop!

Jack Lint http://file770.com/?p=32961&cpage=2#comment-540505 (Kipling’s “Gentlemen-Rankers”)

Since we’re talking of things that are Kipled:
We’re poor pixel scrolls who’ve lost our books,
Baa! Baa! Baa!
We’re little morlocks who’ve got no Nooks,
Baa–aa–aa!
Gentlefolk-filers out on the spree,
Damned from here to the Library,
God ha’ mercy on such as we,
Fifth! Godstalk!

Morlocks doesn’t really work there, but it seemed important at the time.

Peer http://file770.com/?p=33024&cpage=1#comment-543093 (People Are Strange)

People are strange
When you are a filer
Twitter seems wicked
When you’re unwanted
Places are uneven
When you are scrolled

Kip W. http://file770.com/?p=33089&cpage=1#comment-546116

Scroll on, thou doughty filer;
And, as thy pixels flow,
Scroll messages of media
To every fan below.

microtherion http://file770.com/?p=33129&cpage=2#comment-548951

Yor-El And The Gang Singing:
Oh yes, it’s Kryptonite
And the feeling’s right
Oh what a night

Luthor, he’s got the one
A rock that’s special everywhere
From Gotham to Metropolis
It’s Kryptonite, and Superman is down

[It’s Kryptonite…]

Wonder Woman, Lois Lane
You mothers both named “Martha”
Come here you hostage lady
Yeah, stay with me tonight

If you hear any gats
It’s just the Bat
It’s Kryptonite

Gonna use that Kryptonite
Use that Kryptonite
Gonna use that Kryptonite
Use that Kryptonite

[It’s Kryptonite…]

Stoic Cynic http://file770.com/?p=33129&cpage=1#comment-548627 (“Ragtime Gal”)

Hello my baby,
Hello my pixel,
Hello my scrolltime file.

Send me a tick by wire,
Baby the blog’s on fire…
*notices audience*

Ribbit!

Kip W. http://file770.com/?p=33274&cpage=2#comment-556328 (“High Hopes”)

Once there was a marten so fine,
Thought he’d take Collider off line
Everyone said, “Your mind’s flyin’…
You can’t take that off line!”

But he had
High hopes,
He had
High hopes,
He had
Sky-high don’t-care-if-I-die hopes
So whether mouse or mink,
If your Brain can think
You can scheme with Pink-
-y till nine.

Oops, there goes the Large Collider off
Oops, there goes the Large Collider off
Oops, there goes the Large Collider off line

Ka-
BOOM!

Peer Sylvester http://file770.com/?p=33328&cpage=1#comment-556877 (“The Joker” from Steve Miller Band)

Some filers scroll for the space cowboys
Some scroll for rockets and love
Some scroll for Boris (*)
Cause we scroll for the Tingle and love!

People scroll here, baby
Some clicking it wrong, clicking it wrong
Well, don’t you worry baby
Don’t worry
Cause were right here, right here, right here, right here at home

Cause we´re a Brunner
we´ re a Carter
we are a LeGuin
And were much smarter
We read SciFi in the sun!

(*) Strugatzki of course!

IanP http://file770.com/?p=33328&cpage=1#comment-556985 (Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”)

Scrolled through the heart
And you’re to blame
Darling, you give Kzin a bad name…

A Kindle’s sale is what you tell
You promise me heaven, then put me through hell
Piles of books got a hold on me
Mount Tsundoku’s a prison, you can’t break free

Oh, oh, you’re a pixeled gun (yeah)
Oh, oh, there’s nowhere to run
No one can file me
The damage is done

Scrolled through the heart
And you’re to blame
You give Kzin a bad name (bad name)
I read my part
And you play with your game
You give Kzin a bad name (bad name)
You give Kzin a bad name
You give Kzin a bad name

Kurt Busiek http://file770.com/?p=33381&cpage=1#comment-559446

Pixel Scroll is my name
770’s my nation
Cyberspace my dwelling place
The File’s my destination

Steve Davidson http://file770.com/?p=33461&cpage=1#comment-562912

Mikey had a little file
there it is, on the screen
its just a little file
why not scroll it up
cute cute, little file
little pixels, little scrolls
now its comin at me
flowing cross the computer screen

pixel pixel, please let me scroll you
I want to write the fifth comment
Filer filer, its just a file
we want to make it the fifth comment

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=33485&cpage=1#comment-563726 (David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars”)

Pixel Scrolldust and Filers from Mars
Pixel scrolled guitar, blogging posts by Mike & Glyer
And the Filers from Mars
He scrolled it left hand
But made it too far
Became a special post by our gracious host

Peer Sylvester http://file770.com/?p=33546&cpage=1#comment-566010 (“Where is my mind” from The Pixies)

Ooh, stop
With your pixels in the air and your mouse on the ground
Try to tick and click it, yeah
Your box will collapse
But there’s nothing in it
And you’ll ask yourself
Where is my file
Where is my file
Where is my file

Peer Sylvester http://file770.com/?p=34628&cpage=2#comment-624273 (“No Milk Today” from Herman’s Hermits)

No scroll today
cause Mike has gone away
For signing of a book
“No scroll” is what it took
How could he know just what this absence means?
The end of all our scrolls, the end of all our dreams

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=33546&cpage=1#comment-566131 (“Distant Sun” by Crowded House)

When your seven worlds collide
Whenever I am by your side
And dust from a distant sun
Will shower over everyone

Charon D.  http://file770.com/?p=34101&cpage=1#comment-605760 (“Little Old Lady From Pasadena”)

Now everybody’s saying that there’s nobody shadier
Than the little old lady from Pixelgradia
She’s scrolling fast, she’s scrolling hard
She’s the terror of Pixelgradia Boulevard

Go granny go granny go granny go!

John Hertz – “Superstar”

Frankenstein,
Frankenstein,
Why are your eyes always filled with brine?

Frankenstein,
You’ve gone far;
Do you think you’re what they say you are?

Peer Sylvester http://file770.com/?p=34151&cpage=1#comment-610212 (“House of the Rising Sun“)

There is a house in New Crobuzon
They call the Rising Son
And it’s been the scroll of many a poor boy
And Godstalk, I know I’m one!

My mother was a Filer
She scrolled my new blue dreams
My father was a Slakemoth man
Down in New Crobuzon

Now the only thing a slakemoth needs
Is some dreams and a trunk
And the only time he’s satisfied
Is when he’s on a weaver

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=34186&cpage=2#comment-612125

We are the Hugo voting mere-people
We swish our flippy tails
We like to read our books a lot
And all that that entails

Once we lived on land you see
Amid the normal folk
But rabid mammal griefing
Made us all a bit more ‘woke’

“If we really must regress” we said
“and head back to the past,”
“Let’s return to the sea”
“But this time make it last”

Now we live among the dolphins
The whales and all the cephlapods
You are welcome to join us
Among the weird, the strange, the odds

Johan P http://file770.com/?p=34266&cpage=1#comment-615027 (“Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love” by Cole Porter)

Birds do it, bees do it
Even pixel scrolling files do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

Steve Davidson http://file770.com/?p=34266&cpage=1#comment-614908

The pixel must scroll
down the file of Mike’s dreaming
Flow Glyer, slow let the fifths and nears
come streaming onto my screen,
onto my screen
There’s a file, over at the fannish place
there’s a file, scrolling in a pixel place
there a hive, a hive of villany in every fans life

Peer Sylvester http://file770.com/?p=34266&cpage=1#comment-614968 (These Boots Are Made For Walkin’)

Well, these files are made for scrolling, and that’s just what they’ll do

One of these days these files are gonna scroll all over you
You keep tickin ‘ when you oughta be clickin’
You keep stalking when you oughta not God
You keep fifthing ‘ when you oughta be a’seconding’
What’s right is right but you ain’t been left just yet
These files are made for scrolling, and that’s just what they’ll do

Matthew Johnson http://file770.com/?p=34357&cpage=5#comment-619490 (“The Jumblies” by Edward  Lear)

Far and few, far and few, are the lands where the Filers stroll
Their books are piled in a tsundoku
And they went to sea in a scroll.

They went to sea in a scroll, they did, in a scroll they went to sea
In spite of all that the pups would say
In a Meredith Moment on book launch day
In a scroll they went to sea

And when the scroll was nearly wrecked
And everyone said “You’re just boxes to check!”
They called aloud, “Our scroll’s done with,
But we don’t care a pixel! We don’t give a fifth!
In a scroll we’ll go to sea!”

Far and few, far and few, are the lands where the Filers stroll
Their books are piled in a tsundoku
And they went to sea in a scroll.

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=34259&cpage=2#comment-614694 (“Goldfinger”)

I spent today cleaning things and entertaining other members of the household with my Shirley Bassey impression:

Molddddd fingers,
He’s the man, the man with the mouldy touch!
It rained too much
(so now he has)
Molddddd fingers
Beckons you, with his dusty clawsssss
They’re full of spores!!!!!!

Peer Sylvester http://file770.com/?p=34266&cpage=1#comment-615126 (Let’s Do The Time Warp Again)

Let’s do the Godstalk again.

Let’s do the Godstalk again.
It’s just a click with the left.
And then a box from the right.
Scroll your hands with your hips.
You bring your comments in tight.
But it’s the puppydrek
That really drives you insane.
Let’s do the Godstalk again.
Let’s do the Godstalk again.

Magenta:
It’s so dreamy, oh fantasy free me.
So you can’t vote me, no, not at all.
In another dimension, with
scientific invention,
Well pixelated I scroll all.

RiffRaff:
With a bit of a Mars flip

Magenta:
You’re on the file drip.

RiffRaff:
And nothing can ever scroll the same.

Magenta:
You’re read like a mountain.

RiffRaff:
still more books;you cant count´em .

All:

Let’s do the Godstalk again.
Let’s do the Goldstalk again.

Charon D. http://file770.com/?p=34697&cpage=1#comment-625555 (“A Pirate’s Life For Me”)

We pillage and plunder and polish our hooks
Appertain, me hearties, yo ho!
Or we would if we weren’t sitting around reading books
Appertain, me hearties, yo ho!

Yo ho, yo ho, a pixel scroll for me!

Tom Becker http://file770.com/?p=34828&cpage=1#comment-630510 (The Road Goes On Forever by Robert Earl Keen, Jr.)

Sherry was a blogger at the local fannish site
She had a reputation as a girl could really write

Down Main Street after midnight with a brand new file of zines A fresh one before her nose and a bheer appertained
She’d ride down to the clubhouse and meet with all her friends
The scroll goes on forever and the pixels never end

Kip W. http://file770.com/?p=34828&cpage=2#comment-630692

Useta blog down south on a pixel farm
Near Corflu, Tennessee.
‘Tweren’t nobody there in that cube but air,
Seventeen billion pixels and me.
One day round three, I said “OMG,
I’ll read File Sev’n Seven-teee!
It blew my screen,
Turned my red lights green
And I scrolled my pixels freee!

And there was
Pixels on the Hugos,
Pixels on the zines,
Pixels scrolled on costuming
And television screens
Pixels writing con reports from Washington, DC,
When I scrolled my pixels freeeee!

Pixel Scroll 4/19/17 I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Pixel Scroller

(1) VALENTINELLI CONSIDERS ANTIHARASSMENT PROJECTS. Monica Valentinelli has issued a “Tentative Plan for Con Safety Discussion and Call for Feedback”.

…I want to stress, however, that I am no expert on the subject of con safety. There are several people (4) who are already doing the work to make cons/events safer, and I feel that any forthcoming materials needs to emphasis those efforts and individuals. As I mentioned in the previous post, the discussion about con safety is far bigger than what happened at one con, and there can definitely be more than one solution (5) and multiple books.

What I Can Offer

Besides offering support, words of encouragement, or signal boosting where I can (6), I’ve had a few volunteers saying they’d be willing to help put together a book (7) on con safety. Doing so is complex, because a) it collates invaluable knowledge from existing volunteers b) people need to be paid fairly for their time c) it needs to be inclusive to address “what’s missing” from underrepresented groups d) it requires a publisher and ample distribution and e) possibly a Kickstarter….

(2) NERD CON SAYS GOODBYE. Nerd Con, an Escondido, CA event, sent its fans into mourning when they announced on March 31 that the con is kaput.

Nerd Con Announcement:

These past years have been so much fun and we’ve had such a blast meeting so many awesome people. Its been really exiting bringing people together through our events (Nerd Con, Nerdy New Year) and creating memories that will surely last a lifetime.

We would like to thank the multitude of really great people who spent countless hours of time and dedicated their energy into making Nerd Con and Nerdy New Year special events for everyone.

At this time we no longer have the necessary resources to continue producing these events. We realize that this may come as a shock to many of you and we would like to thank you in advance for your patience and understanding….

It may have been a touch overdramatic to say “These past years have been so much fun…” The con’s only been around for two years — the first was in 2015.

But that’s been long enough to energize a few critics. Some wag put up a webpage with the message “Nerd-Con 2017 in Escondido IS CANCELLED for non-payment for services” and filled it with complaints about his experiences at last year’s con.

(3) BACK TO KRYPTON. Might as well start covering this now, I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about the series as time goes on — “Syfy’s Krypton: In Leaked Pilot Trailer, Grandpa Has a Message for Superman”.

The story of your family isn’t how we died, but how we lived.”

That’s the message being left by Kal-El’s grandfather in a leaked (and since-deleted, sorry!) trailer for Syfy’s upcoming Superman prequel pilot, Krypton.

Penned by David S. Goyer (Man of Steel) and Ian Goldberg (Once Upon a Time), Krypton is set two generations before the destruction of Superman’s home planet and follows the future Man of Steel’s forefather — Seg-El (played by The Halcyon‘s Cameron Cuffe), whose House of El was ostracized and shamed — as he fights to redeem his family’s honor and save his beloved world from chaos.

The cast also includes Georgina Campbell (Broadchurch) as Lyta Zod, a military cadet and Seg-El’s romantic interest; Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones) as Seg-El’s own grandpa, a genius fascinated by space exploration; Rasmus Hardiker (Black Mirror) as Seg-El’s best friend; Elliot Cowen (Da Vinci’s Demons) as chief magistrate Daron Vex; and Wallis Day (The Royals) as Daron’s daughter Nyssa.

(4) MAJOR BLABBAGE. DenofGeek brings “Doctor Who: huge Christmas special rumors” – coverage that comes with a big fat warning sign —

Huge rumours could become huge spoilers, so only read this article about the Doctor Who Christmas special if you’re okay with that…

The Mirror is reporting that David Bradley will portray William Hartnell’s first Doctor in the 2017 Christmas special, (sort of) reprising his role from the 2013 making-of drama, An Adventure In Space And Time.

“In the plot, the 1st Doctor has to help the 12th [Peter Capaldi] play out his last mission in the TARDIS. The pair must work together to save [their] home planet Gallifrey by moving it to another dimension”, The Mirror claims.

The tabloid’s report continues: “Fans will discover the close-up shot of Capaldi’s eyes from the 50th [anniversary] special The Day Of The Doctor, was actually the start of his own regeneration.”

(5) VERSATILE AUTHOR LAUNCHES PATREON. Since we last heard from Malcolm Cross (“Malcolm Cross, MilSF, and Piracy”), the author of Dog Country, Dangerous Jade, and Extinction Biome:  Invasion, Dog Country has been nominated for the Ursa Major and Coyotl Awards, which are the equivalent of a Hugo and Nebula for furry writers.  Cross has started a Patreon to reignite his career.

(6) HAPPY NEW YEAR! Standback’s Short Story Squee & Snark online short story club is starting on stories from 2017.

With a whole Internet constantly supplying us with excellent short fiction, SSS&S is devoted to reading short stories often, and widely. Every week we read a story – hopping between magazines, authors, styles and subgenres. Then, we meet up back here and discuss – love it or loathe it, being able to talk stories over is often half the fun!

We’re kicking off discussing Sarah Pinsker’s “And Then There Were (N-One)” – the story of SarahCon, the exciting new convention for Sarah Pinskers from across the multiverse.

And, entering a new year of short fiction, we’re very eager for story recommendations – tell us what stories from 2017 you’d love to see discussed, because we’d love to discuss ’em!

(7) 70TH EASTERCON. Last weekend the bid for Ytterbium was chosen to host the 2019 British Eastercon over the Easter weekend, April 19-22 at the Park Inn, Heathrow.

The Guests of Honour will be Frances Hardinge, Sydney Padua, John Scalzi, and DC.

Follow them here on Facebook.

And if someone is willing to alleviate my ignorance of who DC is, please do!

(8) KAYMAR. Congratulations to long-time fan John Thiel on winning the N3F’s Kaymar Award for 2017.

The Kaymar Award is given in April every year, supposedly because the [National Fantasy Fan Federation] was organized in the month of April. The award, unlike other awards in fandom, can only be awarded once to a single person. It is not given for talent or for popularity, but for work — work for the benefit of the club and its members. The award is a memorial to K. Martin Carlson [1904-1986], who originated, maintained, and financed it for 25 years. Carlson was a long-time N3F member who held many positions in the club, including club historian. He went by the fan name of Kaymar

(9) LOST LOSS LEADER. For a mere $29,000 you can own a Lost In Space B-9 Robot 3rd Season Ultimate Prop Replica. (Though wouldn’t you think you could get the original for that much money?)

This B9 Robot was given the privilege to appear at the “50th Anniversary of Lost in Space” at the Hollywood show in Los Angeles. It also held a private exclusive photo shoot with the cast along with their signatures. Photo’s and video will be made available as part of this sale.

3rd season version (paint & finish as seen in the final season)

Functioning Components:

– Lots of Sound FX and Dialogue from the series!
– This Robot has a 6 channel remote control that works 5 motors.
– The Robot will come to life at your control and you can impress family and friends.
– It has dual arm & claw extensions that will open and close, move forward and back.
– The Robot has a rotating torso, entire functions may be used at same time to bring the Robot to life.

(10) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. Some say they were creeped out by the commercial for ”Pandora: The World of Avatar”, which opens May 27 at Walt Disney World in Florida.

To others, Avatar feels like a distant memory now, but according to Polygon

It may seem strange for an Avatar-themed park to be opening in 2017, but the Avatar franchise is far from over. Last April, Fox confirmed Cameron would direct Avatar 2, Avatar 3, Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 over the course of the next six years, with the final movie expected to be released around Christmas 2023. Avatar 2, the sequel to Cameron’s box office-breaking 2009 film, will be released around Christmas 2018.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

The object in the water was not a form of marine life. It was a toy submarine outfitted with a sea-serpent head. This was revealed in 1994 when Christian Spurling, before his death at the age of 90, confessed to his involvement in a plot to create the famous Surgeon’s Photo, a plot that involved both Marmaduke Wetherell and Colonel Wilson.

  • April 19, 1987 — The first television appearance of The Simpsons — Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie — aired during the third episode of The Tracey Ullman Show.

(12) RESONANCE IMAGERY. Justira at Lady Business undertakes a deep. politically-based critique of two works in “Flawed Protagonists, Reader Discomfort, and the Semiotics of the Self: ‘Borderline’ & ‘White Tears’”.

…So let’s return to Millie before we move on to Seth and White Tears. One of Millie’s defining traits as a protagonist, when it comes to my reading experience, is that she made me uncomfortable, brought me discomfort. Sometimes this was the simple discomfort of a protagonist doing an obviously bad thing. That’s relatively was easy to deal with. But sometimes it was the book making a point. Let’s take Millie’s self-consciousness about her racism — that made me uncomfortable, too. Millie will form some negative impression of a character and then wonder, it’s not because he’s a POC, is it? Or, conversely, Millie will desire a POC in a pretty… shall we say, colour-coded way. This, she was less self-conscious about, but juxtaposed with the flip side of her racism, it seemed obvious to me. To me, Millie’s experience of this in her own head — am I thinking this because of X-ism? — ran perfectly parallel to my experience as a reader in regards to Millie: am I finding her unlikable in this moment because I’m ableist? This book uses reader discomfort as a tool to achieve a sociopolitical goal, to achieve a certain kind of consciousness, self-consciousness….

(13) SUBMISSION. Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s analysis and opinion, in “Drupal Developer Larry Garfield Ostracized Over Involvement in Sci-Fi Based Kink Community” on Reason’s “Hit and Run” blog, turns out to be about the consequences to an industry leader of being part of a community of “Goreans,” who are devotees of the novels of John Norman. (Amazing to find Gor novels in the news 40 years later.) A lot of the arguments about the interplay of personal rights and membership in communities are familiar from comments on various topics here.

Inc points out that “the deeper question about how much tolerance should be afforded to controversial views is one that has popped up multiple times in open-source communities” in recent years, from Brendan Eich’s removal as CEO of Mozilla over his opinion on same-sex marriage to the drama surrounding LambdaConf’s inclusion of programmer Curtis Yarvin (who runs a neoreactionary blog in his non-professional life).

Buytaert was at first quite explicit on his answer to this question. In a section of his blog post that’s now been deleted, the Drupal head opined that “someone’s belief system inherently influences their actions, in both explicit and subtle ways,” and wrote that he is “unwilling to take this risk going forward” with regard to Garfield’s potential beliefs about sex and gender potentially spilling over into his professional life. And here’s the real rub of it:

Larry’s continued representation of the Drupal project could harm the reputation of the project and cause harm to the Drupal ecosystem. Any further participation in a leadership role implies our community is complicit with and/or endorses these views, which we do not.

Whether Buytaert himself believes that Garfield is a sexist pervert is irrelevant—he’s clearly worried that other people will perceive Garfield as a sexist pervert, and afraid that this will create bad public-relations for Drupal. Rather than practice what he preaches about tolerance, respect, and creating “a culture of open-mindedness toward difference,” Buytaert offered up Garfield for social-justice sacrifice in order to appease prudes and busybodies. Here’s hoping the tech community continues to reject this sort of phony promise of diversity and attempts at inclusiveness through exclusion.

(14) FIRST NATIONS. Take Us to Your Chief and Other Stories: Classic Science Fiction with a Contemporary First Nations Outlook, edited by Drew Hayden Taylor, was released April 11.

A forgotten Haudenosaunee social song beams into the cosmos like a homing beacon for interstellar visitors. A computer learns to feel sadness and grief from the history of atrocities committed against First Nations. A young Native man discovers the secret to time travel in ancient petroglyphs.

Drawing inspiration from science fiction legends like Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, Drew Hayden Taylor frames classic science-fiction tropes in an Aboriginal perspective.

The nine stories in this collection span all traditional topics of science fiction–from peaceful aliens to hostile invaders; from space travel to time travel; from government conspiracies to connections across generations. Yet Taylor’s First Nations perspective draws fresh parallels, likening the cultural implications of alien contact to those of the arrival of Europeans in the Americas, or highlighting the impossibility of remaining a “good Native” in such an unnatural situation as a space mission.

Infused with Native stories and variously mysterious, magical and humorous, Take Us to Your Chief is the perfect mesh of nostalgically 1950s-esque science fiction with modern First Nations discourse.

(15) SENSE OF WONDER. John Joseph Adams’ Cosmic Powers anthology was released April 18 – cover by Chris Foss.

“Inspired by movies like The Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars, this anthology features brand-new epic stories from some of science fiction’s best authors.  For fans who want a little less science and a lot more action.”

Table of Contents

A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime  —  Charlie Jane Anders
Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance  —  Tobias S. Buckell
The Deckhand, the Nova Blade, and the Thrice-Sung Texts  —  Becky Chambers
The Sighted Watchmaker  —  Vylar Kaftan
Infinite Love Engine  —  Joseph Allen Hill
Unfamiliar Gods  —  Adam-Troy Castro, with Judi B. Castro
Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World  —  Caroline M. Yoachim
Our Specialty is Xenogeology  —  Alan Dean Foster
Golden Ring  —  Karl Schroeder
Tomorrow When We See the Sun  —  A. Merc Rustad
Bring the Kids and Revisit the Past at the Traveling Retro Funfair  !—  Seanan McGuire
The Dragon that Flew Out of the Sun  —  Aliette De Bodard
Diamond and the World Breaker  —  Linda Nagata
The Chameleon’s Gloves  —  Yoon Ha Lee
The Universe, Sung in Stars  —  Kat Howard
Wakening Ouroboros  —  Jack Campbell
Warped Passages  —  Kameron Hurley
The Frost Giant’s Data  —  Dan Abnett

(16) VERNE DISCOVERY. Mysterious Universe says a Jules Verne time capsule has been found after researchers analyzed hints about its location on his tomb.

So far, the box has only been examined with X-rays and, unfortunately, it and the materials inside show deterioration from being buried since the late 1800s – Verne died on March 24, 1905. According to Paris Descartes University Field Archaeologist Elouan Beauséjour, the papers appear damp and crumbling and the engravings on the inside of the box are nearly illegible. Other things that can be identified include books and metal objects. Beauséjour says the examination has moved to a more detailed phase that may involve opening the box in a sterile and preservative environment. He plans to issue a statement as this progresses.

(17) CAPITAL INFUSION. Not quite another The Leaky Establishment reference, but some unexpected people are getting into nuclear power: “British reality star building a fusion reactor”.

Although it would be easy to dismiss Dinan as a dreamer, his startup Applied Fusion Systems is one of a growing number of firms investing in the promise of fusion. In the UK alone, there are at least two other companies trying to produce commercial nuclear fusion power stations. And as BBC Future reported last year, in the US, several projects have received the backing of wealthy technology billionaires including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel and former Google vice president Mike Cassidy.

(18) COOL BEANS. And a lab demo of “negative mass”.

Prof Peter Engels, from Washington State University (WSU), and colleagues cooled rubidium atoms to just above the temperature of absolute zero (close to -273C), creating what’s known as a Bose-Einstein condensate.

In this state, particles move extremely slowly, and following behaviour predicted by quantum mechanics, acting like waves.

They also synchronise and move together in what’s known as a superfluid, which flows without losing energy.

To create the conditions for negative mass, the researchers used lasers to trap the rubidium atoms and to kick them back and forth, changing the way they spin.

When the atoms were released from the laser trap, they expanded, with some displaying negative mass.

“With negative mass, if you push something, it accelerates toward you,” said co-author Michael Forbes, assistant professor of physics at WSU.

He added: “It looks like the rubidium hits an invisible wall.”

(19) SHIRLEY YOU JEST. When John Hertz cast his eye on the new Shirley Jackson bio Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin (a Stoker nominee) this is what he discovered –

I turned to the index and found no entry for “One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts”. Various other works of hers were listed.

I haven’t read the book so can’t say if the story is included in the text and merely omitted from the index, or left out entirely.

Opinions differ as to whether it’s a horror story. I don’t think it is, but I do think it wonderful.

(20) FIRST PAST THE POST. Camestros Felapton rates “Hugo 2017: Best Dramatic Presentation Short”. Did that nominee we have already read Camestros raving about come in number one on his ballot? Well, yes!

(21) FURTHER DELIBERATIONS. More reviews from the Shadow Clarke jury – the hardest-working critics on the planet! Superb writers, too.

Empire V is about vampires, which is probably guaranteed to turn away many readers who could happily go the rest of their lives without seeing another vampire. The figure of the vampire has by this point been made to stand in for so many disparate things—the sexual predator, the romantic outsider, the lonely immortal, the feral beast, whatever—that the image feels quite emptied of meaning in itself. Merely knowing that there are vampires in a story no longer tells us anything useful about it. At best, one might make two safe guesses: one, that the story is not going to be about vampirism as such; two, that the vampires will be in some way a fringe element to society.

The first three books on my Sharke shortlist were an unabashed joy to me. Valente, Tidhar and Jemisin all delivered to my personal tastes in terms of prose, character and moral tone. I picked those books because I thought they would push my buttons and they did. I felt minimal friction while reading them or writing about them. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee was and is a different animal altogether; a book that I found challenging, elusive, tantalising and frustratingly obtuse by turns. This is unsurprising. I’m a historian and a medievalist by training, so military SF predicated on advanced mathematics is always going to test my limits. After 30 pages of immersion in Lee’s world I found myself entirely at a loss for what the hell was going on. My paradigmatic understanding of how things work smacked into the world of the novel at high speed. Stuff exploded, characters were killed, geocide was committed and I was left feebly grasping at threads as they whipped past me. I might have given up on the book in discombobulated despair if not for the muscular grip of the writing:

Hunters & Collectors is a book about celebrity and the way that online celebrity interacts with social class. Tomahawk presents himself as this hedonistic and transgressive figure but as his destruction suggests, his ability to transgress the rules of polite society is constrained by a particular social contract: As a critic, he can express himself as honestly as he wants as long as that self-expression does not extend beyond the realms of consumer advice to a critique of existing power structures and social systems. Be as rude as you like about restaurant owners, but don’t you dare talk about the government. The social contract also has an – unwritten but understood – rule that your celebrity and popularity are entirely dependent upon your ability to face the right direction at all times. Be as rude as you like about the out-group, but don’t you dare talk about people we aspire to be lest we turn against you. There is also an understanding that making any statement in public (even anonymously) positions you in a world where everyone spends their time tearing each other to pieces. Face the wrong direction and your support will evaporate and once your support evaporates, you can be utterly destroyed even if you have not done or said anything wrong. This is a dog-eat-dog world but only for those without any real power.

What I know as the Ashmolean Museum is, in Kavenna’s Oxford, the Tradescantian Ark, reflecting the fact that the collection Elias Ashmole gave to Oxford University was in part composed of John Tradescant the Younger’s collection of artefacts, known as the Ark, which he gave to Ashmole (or, depending on who you listen to, which Ashmole swindled him out of). So, perhaps we are in an Oxford which is less a ‘home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names, and impossible loyalties’, as Matthew Arnold memorably described it, and instead a place where potential wrongs have been righted even before they were committed, and Jeremiah Tradescant’s ownership of his family’s remarkable collection is justly celebrated. Perhaps, but rather as light is both particle and wave, so wrongs can be righted even as the lost causes and forsaken beliefs persist.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Et in Arcadia Ego

By John Hertz: Speaking of Nero Wolfe, which I think is worth doing provided it’s one of Rex Stout’s stories, while happening to re-read ”Murder Is Corny” (1964) I found this – who knows how many times I’d seen it before it struck a spark (1980 Bantam printing of the collection Trio for Blunt Instruments, p. 134):

There it is, your one major flaw: a distorted conception of the impossible.

Stout never says Wolfe gave s-f a thought.  But what more could you ask?

The Latin above may come from the poet Virgil.  Literally it’s “And [even] in Arcadia, I am”.

In a painting by Guercino of about 1620 (the cautious say “1618-1622”; computer lovers will recognize my choice) idyllic shepherds find it on a tomb.  If you read E. Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited (1945), which I think is worth doing, you’ll find it’s the first part.

You can look up “Arcadia”.  And you can decide for yourself about the rest.