Pixel Scroll 3/13/17 Do Androids Dream Of Crottled Greeps?

(1) UNENDING DANGER. Jared takes a look back at Ellison’s never-published “The Last Dangerous Visions” at Pornokitsch.

The Last Dangerous Visions might be the most famous science fiction book to never exist. ‘TLDV’ was the long-mooted and nearly-almost-published sequel to Dangerous Visions (1967) and Again, Dangerous Visions (1972) – two vastly important and influential publication in modern speculative fiction.

This ambitious anthology, seemingly intended to be the final word in contemporary SF, was delayed for numerous reasons, documented elsewhere by both Ellison and many others. The anticipation, the delays, and the numerous authors it affected made for, to put it mildly, a great deal of drama….

(2) THE BIRDMAN OF AL-LAWZ. John Ringo’s “The Raptor God Incident” has its rough spots but the last four lines are sweet. (This is an excerpt from the middle).

One day as I was preparing to come off night guard duty I noticed some big birds flying by. It was dawn (another pretty time) and there were three of them in a group just beginning to catch the thermals. They ended up going by right at eye level and no more than fifty meters away. I identified them as goshawks, large black and white raptors. They were involved in their annual migration from Africa up to Northern Europe.

I sat and watched as more and more of the groups came by. They were one of the first signs of beauty I’d seen in a long time. And it was clear the migration was just starting.

I thought about that for a while that day and I thought about how much I hated to be woken up at O Dark Thirty to go freeze my ass off in the shack.

So I made a deal with the other guys. I’d take ALL the day duty. Every day. Seven days a week. IF I didn’t have to take a night watch.

‘The Deal was made in Sinai, on a hot and cloudless day…’ (Hmmm… That even scans…)

(3) CARD TRICK. Cat Rambo advises pros about “Working Comic Conventions” at the SFWA Blog. First on the list —

Make sure you have a business card. This should have your contact information, your social media presence (you’ll see why in the at the convention tips) and at least one way to find your books. You will also use it for networking; make sure there is enough blank space on it for you to jot a note down on it before handing it to someone. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on cards but I would also suggest not cheaping out. The lowest rate cards are often flimsy and can look unprofessional….

(4) CAMPBELL AWARD ANTHOLOGY. Jonathan Edelstein, in a comment here, let everyone know that this year’s Campbell anthology, “heroically thrown together at the last minute” by Jake Kerr, is now available. It has stories from over six dozen writers, including Edelstein. Get the free download here.

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer is presented annually at WorldCon to an outstanding author whose first professional work of science fiction or fantasy was published within the previous two years. This anthology includes over 75 authors and nearly 400,000 words of fiction. A resource of amazing new writers for both Hugo Award voters and those interested in seeing the brightest new lights of fantasy and science fiction, Event Horizon is exclusively available via this page until July 15, 2017.

(5) CONS THAT WISH THEY WERE FOR-PROFIT. Trae Dorn at Nerd & Tie posted about two more cons with financial problems.

Effectively, organizer Ben Fritzsching told the event’s guests that there was no money to pay them at the event. Fritzsching then, at several guests’ request, gave them written IOU’s with the promise that the money would be paid by the end of 2016. Agent Nery Nolan Lemus posted a copy of one of the IOUs to the group Rate that Comic Con on Facebook…

As it’s now March of 2017, and we’re writing about this, you can imagine how well those IOUs held up.

No reasons were given for the event’s cancellation beyond “complications with the facility,” though we can speculate it’s likely for the normal reasons any con cancels — no one is buying. Frankly, we’ve heard reports of sub par experiences from their 2016 event, so there’s been a distinct lack of surprise. The event organizers did go on to say in the comments that they were unsure of their plans for the con in 2018 as well.

(6) RESISTANCE RADIO. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the resistors separated from the transistors. “Amazon launched a fake radio station to promote ‘The Man in the High Castle.’ Angry Trump supporters thought it was real.” The Washington Post has the story.

An ad campaign for a dystopian television show has some Trump supporters seeing red.

Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle,” loosely based on a Philip K. Dick novel, is ramping up for its third season. The thriller, set in 1962, imagines a world in which the Axis powers won World War II and America is controlled by fascist leaders. The East Coast belongs to Nazi Germany; the West Coast is in the clutches of Imperial Japan.

At SXSW in Austin last week, as part of a marketing campaign for “The Man in the High Castle,” Amazon launched “Resistance Radio,” a fake Internet-based radio station broadcast by the fictional American “Resistance” from the show.

“Hijacking the airwaves, a secret network of DJs broadcast messages of hope to keep the memory of a former America alive,” the website said. Click through, and an interactive image of an antique, dual-knob radio appears while mod tunes drift through your computer’s speakers. In between songs, DJs on three different stations speak about how to fight the “Reich” in America.

Soon #ResistanceRadio, the campaign’s sponsored hashtag, spread like wildfire on Twitter. Some Trump supporters seemingly mistook it for an anti-Trump radio station and expressed their displeasure. (Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

….It’s important to note that well before Amazon launched this campaign, #ResistanceRadio had been used, however sparingly, on social media while promoting certain anti-Trump podcasts.

 

(7) FAREWELL. Gardner Dozois, in a public Facebook post, told about Saturday’s memorial service for his wife, Susan Casper.

We had people who came in from New York City, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Delaware, and England, and celebrities in attendance included Samuel Delany, Michael Swanwick, Pat Cadigan, Ellen Datlow, artists Bob Walters and Tess Kissinger, Scott Edelman, Sheila Williams, Ginjer Bucanan, John Douglas, Moshe Feder, Tom Purdom, and Greg Frost. After the speaking part of the function, everyone fell on a huge fish-and-coldcuts platter from Famous Deli, one of the last traditional Jewish Delis left in the city, and devoured nearly all of it.

This half-hour video slideshow of Casper played in the background. (YouTube has muted its soundtrack, which contains copyrighted music.)

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 13, 1942 The Ghost of Frankenstein was released, starring Lon Chaney Jr as the Monster and Bela Lugosi as Ygor.
  • March 13, 1969 The Love Bug, a Walt Disney movie about the adventures of a Volkswagen Beetle named Herbie, opens in theaters.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born March 13, 1855 — Percival Lowell (astronomer)
  • Born March 13, 1911 – L. Ron Hubbard

(10) TODAY’S COINCIDENCE

  • March 13, 1930 — The discovery of Pluto, formerly known as the ninth planet, was officially announced on this date, which was Percival Lowell’s birthday. Lowell was founder of Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, where Clyde W. Tombaugh discovered Pluto on February 18, 1930.

(11) STUFF THEY DON’T KNOW YOU ALREADY KNOW. ScreenRant offers “Lord Of The Rings: 15 Things You Never Knew About Galadriel”. Titles like this are one of the recurring motifs of the internet, so don’t take offense when you find how many of these things you already know. I can say there were a couple I’d never thought about before.

  1. SHE’S MARRIED

It speaks to Galadriel’s significance that her husband hardly figures into the picture. Still, it’s important to acknowledge his existence, even if it doesn’t have a huge impact on the overall story of Lord of the Rings. Galadriel actually rules over the land of Lothlórien alongside Celeborn. While all elves are relatively old, Galadriel is older than Celeborn. Galadriel was born before the first age began, and Celeborn was born in Doriath before it fell, which suggests that he’s at least 500 years younger than his wife.

While this age difference probably isn’t all that significant in the extended lives that elves live, it’s still interesting to consider, especially alongside the fact that Galadriel is much more well-known than her husband. He may not be as wise as his wife, but Celeborn is still considered one of the wisest elves in Middle Earth, and stayed in Middle Earth for a time into the Fourth Age before joining his wife in the Undying Lands.

(12) 2017 PRIX BOB MORANE. Locus Online has reported the winners of the 2017 Prix Bob Morane, awarded by a jury of French-speaking writers, journalists, critics, and collections directors.

Romans francophones (French Novels)

Manhattan Marilyn, Philippe Laguerre (Éditions Critic)

Romans traduits (Translated Novels)

Les enfermés [Lock In], John Scalzi, translated by Mikael Cabon (L’Atalante)

Nouvelles (Short Stories)

Il sera une fois, Southeast Jones (Éditions Séma)

Coup de coeur (Favorites)

L’exégèse de Philip K. Dick (J’ai Lu)

Rae Armantrout

(13) WELL VERSED. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for the Human Imagination presents Entanglements: Rae Armantrout & the Poetry of Physics on April 13 at 6 p.m. in Atkinson Hall Auditorium on the UC San Diego campus. It is free to the public.

One of the favorite subjects of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rae Armantrout (Professor Emerita, UCSD) is physics–from the big ideas of cosmology to the infinitesimally small wonders of the quantum world. To celebrate the publication of Entanglements, a chapbook selection of her science-minded poems, Brian Keating (Astrophysics, UCSD) and the Clarke Center are hosting an evening with Rae Armantrout, who will read selections and discuss the creative process behind her work. Keating, along with Brandon Som (Creative Writing, UCSD) and Amelia Glaser (Literature, UCSD), will join her in a conversation about how these poems mix the personal with the scientific and speculative, the process of interdisciplinary creativity, and what her poetic engagement with physics can teach those working in the physical sciences.

(14) SOLVING FOR X. Melissa Leon’s really thoughtful and well-written review of Logan appears in The Daily Beast.

Logan, Hugh Jackman’s ninth and final outing as the Wolverine, is really a profoundly hopeful film. It loves and deeply understands its characters and the fraught, familial relationships between them. Its action scenes—brutal, bloody, and thrillingly inventive in a way comic book beat-em-ups rarely are—are as character-driven and impactful as its story. (Like, really impactful: You feel each punch, stab and dismemberment. Bless that R-rating.) This is a Western that happens to star superheroes; a road movie grounded in quiet, tender moments. It’s an elegy, wholly unconcerned with franchise-building or connecting distant universes. And with the introduction of Laura, a young mutant with powers similar to Wolverine’s, it becomes a portrait of makeshift families, empathy, and finding normalcy, too. That’s what the best X-Men stories are usually about. Turns out no one knows this better than her.

(15) TANGLED TECH. At SWSW, Disney showed plans to add AI to animatronics.

It’s rare that the company delves too far into how the “magic” – as they call it – works. Their logic is a magic trick doesn’t get better if you know how it’s done.

On Saturday, Disney – quite uncharacteristically – gave us a bit of an insight into how they plan to use technology to bring their much-loved brand of storytelling to new forms, by using robotics and artificial intelligence.

Jon Snoddy, the company’s senior Vice President for research and development, explained how soon you’ll be able to interact with story-telling robots at Disney parks.

“I think AI [artificial intelligence] and machine learning is going to be very important for what we do,” he told the BBC.

“Things like characters that can move around among our guests. They’re going to need to understand where they’re going, have goals, and they’re going to have to know how to navigate in a world with humans….

During a panel discussion, the company shared footage – which unfortunately we’re not able to republish here – of a robotic Pascal, the cute lizard from 2010 movie Tangled.

It’s a terrific recreation of the digital character, but the real challenge for Disney will be to avoid the so-called “uncanny valley” – the theory that if something is very lifelike, but not exactly right, it can be slightly creepy or disturbing.

“Obviously we’re not the business of scaring kids!” Mr Snoddy said….

(16) THE PEN FROM OUTER SPACE. The perfect placeholder while you’re waiting to win your Hugo — the Astrograph.

….As you first encounter it, the Astrograph is an elongated teardrop, with window-like depressions picked out in black lacquer at the narrow end. The wider end has three curved metal elements ending in sharp points, and there’s a miniature ladder going up one side of the barrel that ends in a tiny door.

The door is actually a hidden lever that, when pulled, deploys those curved elements, which are the landing gear – and suddenly the pen is a miniature spaceship.

The spaceship illusion is underscored by touches like a red “thruster” at the pen’s base. The landing gear has actual working shock-absorbing struts, and with the gear down, the bottom half of the pen acts as a pen-holder.  The pen itself is housed in the upper half of the Astrograph, which you release simply by unscrewing it (it’s available either as a fountain pen or rollerball pen, but both work the same way)….

The Astrograph, in keeping with its philosophy of taking a toy to its logical extreme, also comes with, naturally, a tiny astronaut figurine with a magnet in its chest that lets you pretend the little guy’s climbing up or down the ladder, the better to explore strange new worlds; it also comes with a landing pad base that doubles as the pen’s box. Did you really expect anything less? I didn’t think so.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/19/16 Rock-Paper-Pixel!

(1) THESE AREN’T THE PRACTITIONERS WE’RE LOOKING FOR. A Jedi group was unable to convince the UK’s Charity Commission that they are a religion reports The Guardian — “Jedi order fails in attempt to register as religious group”.

A Star Wars-inspired organisation has failed to use the force of its arguments to convince the charity watchdog that it should be considered a religious organisation.

The Temple of the Jedi Order, members of which follow the tenets of the faith central to the Star Wars films, sought charitable status this year, but the Charity Commission has ruled that it does not meet the criteria for a religion under UK charity law.

The commission wrote that Jediism “lacks the necessary spiritual or non-secular element” it was looking for in a religion.

The Temple of the Jedi Order was an “entirely web-based organisation and the Jedi are predominantly, if not exclusively, an online community,” the commission noted. There was “insufficient evidence that moral improvement is central to the beliefs and practices of [the group].”

(2) A SWING STATE’S VIEW OF ROGUE ONE. John Scalzi shares his reactions to the new movie and its marketing strategy in “Rogue One, or, the Disneyfication of Star Wars is Complete (and This is a Good Thing)”. There are no spoilers in the review, however beware the comments where spoilers are allowed.

And this random dude in Piqua, Ohio was absolutely correct: Disney yet again did not fuck up Star Wars. In fact, for two films running the folks at Disney have produced two really top-notch Star Wars films, a feat that has not been managed in thirty-five years — or possibly ever, depending on whether you believe the original Star Wars, as epochal as it undeniably was, is actually good, which given its pastiche-heavy, merely-serviceable plot and script, and leaden acting and direction, is debatable. The Disneyfication of the Star Wars universe is now complete, and this is a good thing. As I’ve noted before, Disney, for all its sins, consistently drives to entertain, and drives to entertain intelligently, meaning that it doesn’t see its audience as a mark but as a partner. Disney gives us thrills and fun, and we give them money, and wait for the cycle to repeat, as it does, consistently.

Yes, fine, Scalzi, but how is the film itself? Well, Rogue One is different from the other Star Wars films, consistently darker and more adult than any since Empire and really the first where I, at least, didn’t feel like the potential additions to the merchandising lines were a key driver of story (hello, BB-8, adorable as you are).

(3) HE’S NOT ACTUALLY FEELING BETTER. Washington Post writer Michael Cavna, in “One of the best performances in ‘Rogue One’ is by an actor who died in 1994”, looks at how Peter Cushing is “acting” in Rogue One despite being dead for decades and how this could lead the way for other dead actors to make posthumous comebacks.

This all feels like an organic continuation of what some of the sharpest minds at Lucasfilm/ILM/Disney-Pixar et al. (including effects veteran/ILM executive John Knoll) have been pushing toward since at least the dawn of the ’80s, as the digital milestones began to come fast and furious. The power to manipulate the pixel forever beckons the imagination now, and 2016 has put the state of that long, Jedi-like journey on distinct display.

After all, Disney even gave us a scene this year in which Robert Downey Jr., looking like his ’80s-era self, registers as mostly real in “Captain America: Civil War,” even if the CGI tweaks of a motion-capture performance can still be distracting when involving a too-human countenance.

(4) COMPARATIVE IMPORTANCE. Some people review the story, some the marketing, some the effects, some the film’s rank in the hierarchy of quality. Here’s what John C. Wright reviews, in “Rogue One (Spoiler Free Review)”.

I freely confess I had precisely zero interest in seeing this film, but a friend who was visiting for the evening came by, and we talked each other into going to see it.

I was very pleasantly surprised. This was a good film.

As with many a film of late, my main reluctance was fear of some Leftwing sucker punch. Far too many shows I used to watch had the habit of pausing the action for a Two Minute Hate against all I hold dear, like a satanic version of a Public Service Announcement.

I had heard from several sources that the cast starred no white males except as villains, and I had even heard that the writer did this deliberate as a message to express hatred for America in general and for all Conservatives in particular. His vision was to portray the Empire as Trump-supporting, Make the Galaxy Great Again, White Supremacist Patriarchs, and the rebellion as the multi-culti proletarians rising up against their oppressors. Therefore this film had all the earmarks of being just one more  bit of Lefteroo Hate-Whitey bigot-prop, like Disney’s POCAHONTAS.

My misgivings turned out to be entirely unfounded.

I was a little surprised that the main male protagonist was Caucasian, and for a while I wondered what the writer’s comment that there were no Caucasians among the protagonists. The actor is named Deigo Luna.  I had not remembered (because I am not a psychiatrist) that in the delusional world-system of the Left, Spaniards are not considered to be from Europe hence are not considered Caucasians. Spaniards are considered by the Left to be oppressed by Whites, and are not considered, for some reason, to be responsible for the introduction of black slaves to the New World. Go figure.

So, there is no pro-Left nor anti-White nor Anti-West message in this film. If the film makers meant there to be one, they failed miserably.

(5) MEASURING AUTHOR POPULARITY. Today, John Ringo posted a “Redshirt call” on Facebook.

To explain for people who haven’t seen this before, I just need a name. Just post “Me” in the comments. If you’ve been named before please don’t post. One of the first comments wins. I may go back to it for subsequent names. No guarantees of how much ‘screen’ time you get. May or may not die. (Right now, probably falls into ‘won’t’.) I’m the final judge and there is no appeal.

Go.

One hour later 496 volunteers had left comments.

(6) PUT ANOTHER CANDLE ON THE INTERNET. Congratulations to Ethan Mills whose Examined Worlds is celebrating its second blog-iversary.  

I started this blog primarily as a place to post philosophically-enriched reviews of all the science fiction books I was reading.  I figured I spent so much time reviewing books on Goodreads (check out my Goodreads profile!) that I might as well make a blog out of them.  While I primarily blog on science fiction and philosophy, I have strayed into other territories, especially politics both within and without science fiction fandom and academia.  See My Favorite Posts for some of the posts I’ve found particularly enjoying or fulfilling to write.

(7) THEN IT’S NOT MY PROBLEM. Annalee Newitz deconstructs the Blade Runner 2049 teaser trailer for Ars Technica.

Then the scene shifts to a glowing red landscape, perhaps in a heavily polluted desert outside LA. We get to see Ryan Gosling’s Officer K, looking tough and cool in his knee-length leather jacket, because global warming shouldn’t stop the fashion train. There’s a haunting image of a giant (replicant?) head on the ground, which seems like it might be a reference to some of the images from the famously trippy 1973 sci-fi movie Fantastic Planet.

Officer K is trying to solve a mystery that takes him right to the mysterious lair of Deckard, who has apparently been missing for decades. It almost looks like Deckard is living in a spiffed-up version of Sebastian’s home for broken replicants in the first film.

Mark-kitteh says of the trailer, “I think there needs to be a mashup where Harrison Ford says ‘Chewie, we’re home.’”

(8) PARAGRAVITY COMICS. Stephen Haffner of the Haffner Press is now shipping the comic strip collection Beyond Mars, written by Jack Williamson, artwork by Lee Elias, edited and designed by Dean Mullaney, with an introduction by Bruce Canwell. The 160-page full-color hardcover is $55

Drawn from the same setting of Jack Williamson’s novels SEETEE SHIP and SEETEE SHOCK, BEYOND MARS takes place 200 years in the future, when a new force—paragravity—has enabled men to live and breathe on the asteroids. The strip stars Mike Flint, a spatial engineer who lives on Brooklyn Rock, an asteroid “beyond Mars.” With Sam, his green-skinned metallic partner from Venus, Flint gets involved in a series of lighthearted adventures, battling space pirates, teaming up with beautiful and strong-minded women, and dealing with addicts of the mysterious drug called “star dust.” The restored color is outstanding and the artwork is creative and imaginative. Bruce Canwell contributes a wonderful introduction, putting this in the context of early 1950s science fiction. The book also includes original art by Lee Elias on other features like Black Cat, Terry & the Pirates and Tommy Tomorrow.

(9) DARMOK AND JELAD AT THE MANGA. Brigid Alverson of B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog calls out “The Best New Manga Series of 2016”.

Whatever you say about the balance of 2016, it was a good year for manga. Publishers expanded their lines in all different directions, bringing us new titles from popular creators as well as interesting debuts from newcomers. The category has grown richer than ever before, with more manga for more tastes. Here’s a look at 15 of the best series that launched in the past year.

Princess Jellyfish, by Akiko Higashimura The women who live in the Amamizu-kan boardinghouse are fans (otaku) of very specific things: Trains, jellyfish, kimonos, The Records of the Three Kingdoms. They’re happily nerdy together, but they freeze whenever they run up against someone stylish, and members of the opposite sex are out of the question—in fact, they call themselves the “amars” (nuns). So it’s a huge shock to Tsukimi, the jellyfish fanatic, when a stylish girl helps her rescue a jellyfish—and an even bigger shock when the girl turns out to be a boy. Not just any boy, though: Kuranosuke is the younger son of a wealthy, politically connected family, and although he dresses as a woman to dodge any notion that he would go into politics himself, he understands how things work. When a developer announces plans to buy and raze Amamizu-kan, Kuranosuke helps the amars glam up to do battle. Meanwhile, Tsukimi has caught the eye of Kuranosuke’s nerdy older brother, and the attraction is mutual—but he doesn’t realize the beautiful girl he encountered at the jellyfish tank in the aquarium and the dowdy amar in sweats are the same person. Princess Jellyfish puts a uniquely manga spin on some classic rom-com tropes, and the result is a refreshingly funny story about fashion, politics, and extreme nerdiness….

(10) DARNED NEAR THE BEST. Pornokitsch’s array of contributors have assembled an eclectic and far-reaching list of things they liked or nearly liked — “Pornokitsch’s Absolute and Definitive Guide To The Best of Everything in 2016”. Here’s one example —

Erin

The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual. From the founders of one of New York’s most celebrated cocktail meccas, this book is part mixologist’s handbook, part all-American tale of two Irish boys making it in the Big Apple (complete with Gangs of New York reference). Be warned: the list of ingredients sometimes read more like a scavenger’s hunt than a recipe, but if you’re prepared to put in the work, you’ll be rewarded.

Hibernacula. My favourite thing about NYCC this year was visiting this jewelry shop on a tip from Seanan McGuire. I was lucky to come away only a few hundred dollars lighter in the wallet, not because the fantasy-inspired designs are so expensive, but because there are just so damn many of them I want to buy. I settled for a silver ring inspired by Castiel of Supernatural, plus this Cthulhu-friendly pendant. I’m still dreaming about commissioning a piece based on the Bloodbound novels, because garnet studded jewelry would be the best.

Ticket to Ride: Rails and Sails. If you’re a fan of Ticket to Ride – and really, who isn’t – you should definitely check out the latest release in the franchise. Not only is it two games in one, with a world side of the board and a Great Lakes side, it’s got enough twists and extra layers of strategy to keep even the most hardened T2R veterans on their toes.

Read what villains Erin liked (and didn’t) in 2016. Or, better yet, read The Bloodsworn, the awesome conclusion to her epic fantasy trilogy

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester.]

Pixel Scroll 7/11/16 The Coal Equations

(1) OH, PUH-LEEZE. Hoping to prove his superiority to his critics, Simon Pegg resorts to the Quantum Defense as he justifies a gay Sulu, in “A Word About Canon”

The main thrust for those who aren’t keen on our LGBT Sulu, seems to come down to two things. Firstly, why Sulu? It’s a good point, I mean it could have been anybody: Kirk is a pansexual fun seeker; who knows why Bones got divorced? Nobody said Spock and Uhura were exclusive; Chekov is just permanently horny and let’s face it, there’s more to Scotty and Keenser than meets the eye. The fact is, we chose Sulu because of George, there was something sweet and poetic about it. Introducing a new gay character had its own set of problems, as I mentioned before, the sexuality of that character would have to be addressed immediately and pointedly and the new characters in Star Trek Beyond have enough on their plate, without stopping to give us the intimate details of their personal lives. We were concerned it might seem clumsy, tokenistic or worse, too little too late, raising and exasperated, “finally!” from those who’ve been waiting for representation for the last 50 years.

So why persist when George Takei wasn’t keen? The thinking behind embracing an existing character was that it felt as though it retroactively put right something that had long been wrong. By the time, we mentioned it to GT, the idea had taken shape, it felt good, interesting and worthy of thought and conversation. We were disappointed that George didn’t see it that way but, truth be told, Sulu Prime seemed to be missing a very important point. With galaxies of respect to the great man, this is not his Sulu. John Cho does not play a young George Takei, nor does he play the same character George Takei played in the original series. He is a different Sulu. This brings me to the second point of contention, Canon.

With the Kelvin timeline, we are not entirely beholden to existing canon, this is an alternate reality and, as such is full of new and alternate possibilities. “BUT WAIT!” I hear you brilliant and beautiful super Trekkies cry, “Canon tells us, Hikaru Sulu was born before the Kelvin incident, so how could his fundamental humanity be altered? Well, the explanation comes down to something very Star Treky; theoretical, quantum physics and the less than simple fact that time is not linear…..

Wouldn’t he have done better to skip that part and go right to his closing argument?

…I know in my heart, that Gene Roddenberry would be proud of us for keeping his ideals alive. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations, this was his dream, that is our dream, it should be everybody’s.Ultimately, if we love Star Trek, we are all on the same page, we all want Gene’s idea of a tolerant inclusive, diplomatic and loving Universe to become a reality.

(2) BIG BOOK LANDS TOMORROW. Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s Big Book of Science Fiction will be released July 12, 750,000 words and 1,216 pages.

(3) THE PACE OF FEAR. At the Horror Writers Association blog, Mac Childs begins his series “And the Clock Strikes Midnight: Time and Timing in Terror, Part I” with this advice —

Whether it’s the beeping of an alarm clock marking a night over too soon, a school buzzer announcing the start of a test period, or the chime of a grandfather clock in an old house declaring the start of the witching hour, there are lots of ways that time can provoke dread. So, when writers look no further than flashbacks and verb tenses, they miss out on timely tension opportunities.

With a little attention towards the timing of the horrors in your story—pacing as well as narratively—you can save yourself time in revisions, time better spent dreaming up new nightmares to implant in the fertile minds of your young readers.

First, you’ve got to figure out the best times for your horrors to strike. For this, you need to keep two axes (plural of axis, not axe) in mind: the external, physical timeline of pages experienced by the reader between scares, and the in-story time passage experienced by the characters. While it’s great when these two lines meet and overlap (e.g. during a tense scene when the protagonist experiences time in slow motion, with a reader savoring the moment), too much intersection becomes narratively unsustainable easily, or for some audiences unfeasible, because of the need to maintain the suspension of disbelief.

(4) IT COULD BE VERSE. Bertie MacAvoy discusses ”Poetry and Song”.

I don’t think that, prior to the wide use of the printing press, there was any distinction between poetry and song. It was only when a person could buy an edition of someone’s poems, and read them – not knowing at all how the writer had meant them to sound aloud – that a branch of poetry that consisted of interesting mind pictures could exist.

And that explains my preference over the poetry of Yeats to that of Eliot….

(5) ERRATA. Lee Gold sent me a link to Jack Bennett’s poem “Ben Ali the Egyptian” which appeared in 1893 in St. Nicholas Magazine, having just learned the authorship was misattributed to Randall Garrett in the collection Takeoff Too, which was assembled when his medical condition did not allow him to be consulted. I see the Internet Science Fiction Database already captured that information. Though as long as I had the link I took a look at the poem and now I understand its fannish appeal.

(6) DEFINING ACTIVISM. John Scalzi answers another writer’s question in “Activism, and Whether I Do It”.

My answer to her was no, I don’t really consider myself an activist. The reason I gave her was pretty straightforward: I’m too lazy. Which is to say that while I have my beliefs and principles and largely follow them (sometimes imperfectly), and will happily tell others what those beliefs and principles are, the sort of committed action that to me defines activism — and the continued proselytization for a belief that activism often requires, including the desire to inspire others to take moral action — is not something I usually undertake.

There are other reasons for this besides laziness, including work and the desire to have other interests in my life, but laziness really is a large part of it. Activism is work. I’m glad other people do it, and admire their effort. But it’s not something I put much effort in.

But you write here all the time on political and social topics! Yes I do. But this is not a blog for activism, it’s a blog for whatever I feel like writing — or, when I’m writing a book as I am now, what I have time for writing. The blog is like me; all over the place and a bit pixelated….

Good Lord, it’s contagious!

(7) GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA PEOPLES. National Geographic reports on the unique discovery of a Philistine cemetery at the site of ancient Ashkelon in Israel.

An unrivaled discovery on the southern coast of Israel may enable archaeologists to finally unravel the origins of one of the most notorious and enigmatic peoples of the Hebrew Bible: the Philistines.

The discovery of a large cemetery outside the walls of ancient Ashkelon, a major city of the Philistines between the 12th and 7th centuries B.C., is the first of its kind in the history of archaeological investigation in the region. (Read more about ancient Ashkelon.)

While more than a century of scholarship has identified the five major cities of the Philistines and artifacts distinctive to their culture, only a handful of burials have been tentatively identified.

Simply put, archaeologists have found plenty of pots, but very few people.

(8) LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR POLISH WRITER. Piotrek celebrates “Andrzej Sapkowski with World Fantasy Award” at Re-enchantment of the World.

Andrzej Sapkowski is a big guy in Polish fantasy. The big one. Was big long before The Witcher games. Well, some young people might disagree. There are some more popular authors now. But he is… GRRM of our fantasy? Terrible movie/tv series adaptation of Witcher being as good Game of Thrones as our tv is capable of delivering … At a first glance a bit of Tolkien in him as well, adapting folklore for his stories. But if you read it – definitely a post-tolkienite.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • July 11, 1913 – Cordwainer Smith

(10) OH YES JOHN RINGO. Ringo told his Facebook followers —

It got announced at closing ceremonies that I’m to be the LibertyCon guest of Honor for LibertyCon 30. (I was in a meeting at the time so couldn’t make it to closing) They are calling it XXX. I hope there is no connection implied.

Here is the link to LibertyCon.

(11) 2016 LIBERTYCON REPORT. Jeb Kinnison has a gallery of photos to go with his account of attending his first LibertyCon.

…One obvious difference at LibertyCon — it’s a Red Tribe con, meaning most attendees are in the liberty-loving, military-respecting, rural-BBQ-and gun-loving population typical of the US away from the coastal urban enclaves. Since I grew up with those people and understand them well, I’m not frightened by guns, blades, military uniforms, seared meat, or the occasional less-than-sensitive remark….

(12) EATING THE FANTASTIC, DONUT EDITION. Scott Edelman found it was easy to get more than a dozen authors at Readercon to participate in his podcast, with an assist from Dunkin’ Donuts.

I planted myself in the lobby (as captured in the photo below by Ellen Kushner), where I offered free donuts to the first 12 random passersby willing to give brief interviews about their favorite Readercon memories.

I had no idea who might wander over, but knew that something entertaining would surely come out of this sugary experiment. And it did! I ended up with 15 guests digging into those 12 donuts—the differential being because there were three who eschewed—in a “lightning round” 13th episode I’ve decided to call the Readercon Donut Spectacular. Surprise visitors included Greer Gilman, Maria Dahvana Headley, Rajan Khanna, plus a dozen more.

Guests—some of whom had attended nearly every Readercon, and some for whom this was their first—shared their peak Readercon moments, many of which revolved around Samuel R. Delany.

 

(13) BUSIEK PRAISED. At Black Gate, Nick Ozment pays tribute to Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. Also Joyce, Hemingway, Faulkner, and a tangent on Modernism”.

Kurt Busiek’s Astro City is one of my favorite superhero comics. It consistently delivers brilliant, funny, poignant, human stories in a colorful, wonderfully idiosyncratic comic-book world. It is Busiek’s magnum opus — like Bendis’s Powers, it towers above his other work for the big publishers using their branded characters. He brings the sensibilities he honed in the groundbreaking Marvel miniseries Marvels to his own universe and, beneath all the ZAP! BANG! POW!, weaves tales you will never forget.

What Marvels did that was so fresh in 1994 is it “lowered the camera” from the god-like supers knocking each other through buildings and focused in on the ordinary humans down here at street level, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, watching it happen. What impact did the existence of such powers have on their day-to-day lives?

(14) TOIL, TEARS, AND SWEAT NOT ON OFFER. “Finally, you can buy Richard Garriott’s blood” reports Ars Technica.

Richard Garriott selling vials of his blood for thousands of dollars is one of those stunts.

Yes, Lord British himself, the 55-year-old creator of the Ultima series and noted space tourist, is auctioning off samples of his actual blood to raise money for his new fantasy RPG, Shroud of the Avatar. The six reliquaries—which we’ll note again are full of Richard Garriott’s actual blood—are being marketed as limited-run art pieces, “made of bakelite, copper, nails, glass, and mirrored glass that can be hung on your wall.”

…Bidding for the vials starts at $5,000.

The items originally were offered on eBay, then were removed, speculates Ars Technica “ quite possibly because it’s a violation of eBay’s policy against selling human remains and body parts.”

The listings have been moved to Shroud of the Avatar‘s own Make a Difference store, where two reliquaries have already sold for $6,000 and $8,000 each, and another is still available for $11,000.

(15) ACCEPTING FOR. While researching the Geffen Award, I came across these humorous tweets from a 2015 accepter –

(16) MAGIC MAKEOVER. The Sun interviewed a family that’s redone its dining room Harry Potter-style. (I was charmed all to heck by the replica of Dobby, looking like a mummy that’s seen better days…)

Charlotte, 31, her husband Andrew, 39, and kids Eleni, three, Max, four and Kiri, six, are all massive fans of the magical movies.

After visiting Warner Bros. Studios: The Making of Harry Potter, the family decided to splash out on some renovations to their home.

It wasn’t a quick turnaround though – the family spent 18 months perfecting the room, which now boasts a sorting hat, props from the films, wooden panelling and a large table…..

“We have a lot of replica props and two original props from the films.

“We have one of the letters thrown through the fire place which we bought from a dealer, which cost us about £200.

“We also have a witch in a jar which was from Professor Lupin’s office in the third film. That cost £350.”

One of the most exciting items are the ‘moving pictures’ – which show the kids riding broomsticks and were cunningly created using an iPad.

In all, the Harry Potter dining room has cost the family a whopping £13,004.72.

(17) TOY DEPARTMENT. On sale soon, Game of Thrones stuffed direwolves:

With this year’s Comic-Con right around the corner, details are spilling out as to what goodies you’ll find down in San Diego this year. Factory Entertainment has just revealed some of their OMG products for this year’s line-up, and our favorite product is by far the collection of direvolves. ALL SIX OF THEM! FOR ALL SIX STARK CHILDREN!

The Stark direwolves come in three sets, priced depending on how many direwolves you’re getting for your dollar. The first set is $30, and includes Shaggydog, Summer, and Lady. Set two is $40 and now includes GHOST! The last set, and the best set, has all six dogs for a steal at $55. You’ll get Rickon’s Shaggydog, Bran’s Summer, Sansa’s Lady, and now also Arya’s Nymeria, Robb’s Grey Wind, and of course, Jon’s Ghost.

direwolves

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

Pixel Scroll 12/28 The Android Who Was Cyber-Monday

(1) VITA BREVIS. Arnie Fenner’s tribute at Muddy Colors to artists and cartoonists who passed in 2015 is excellent.

(2) DOCTOR STRANGE. “First Look at Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange” at Yahoo! Movies.

The first official glimpse of Benedict Cumberbatch as Marvel hero Doctor Strange graces the new cover of Entertainment Weekly, and the biggest revelation is that he probably isn’t spending much time in the makeup chair. The actor sports facial hair and a cloak that will be familiar to comic-book fans, as well as Strange’s powerful amulet, the Eye of Agamotto.

(3) DARTH ZIPPO. “Watch This Homemade, Gas-Powered Lightsaber Destroy Things” at Popular Science.

The entire thing was built and modified from existing components, using a replica Skywalker lightsaber shell, a section from a turkey marinade injector, and several 3D printed parts to make it all work together. The result is a finished product by a Youtube craftsman that is neither as clumsy or random as a blaster.

 

(4) PALMER AND SHAVER. “When Good Science Fiction Fans Go Bad” is a companion article to Wired’s “Geeks Guide To The Galaxy” podcast which interviewed Ray Palmer’s biographer and learned about the Shaver Mystery.

Author Fred Nadis relates the strange story of Palmer in his recent biography The Man From Mars, which describes how Hugo Gernsback, founder of the first pulp science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, helped inspire his readers to create a better future.

“He saw [science fiction] in very practical terms of shaping the future,” Nadis says in Episode 182 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “Almost a visionary experience of imagining the future and new technologies and what they could do, but he also felt like we had to spread this faith.”

If you’re interested in comparing viewpoints, here’s a link to the post I wrote about fandom’s response to Richard Shaver.

(5) WRITING NEUROMANCER. William Gibson’s 2014 piece for The Guardian, “How I wrote Neuromancer” was news to me, and perhaps will be to you.

On the basis of a few more Omni sales, I was approached by the late Terry Carr, an established SF anthologist. Terry had, once previously, commissioned a limited series of first novels for Ace Books – his Ace SF Specials. Now he was doing it again, and would I care to write one? Of course, I said, in that moment utterly and indescribably terrified, something I remained for the next 18 months or so, when, well out of my one-year contract, I turned in the manuscript.

I was late because I had so very little idea of how to write a novel, but assumed that this might well be my first and last shot at doing so. Whatever else might happen, I doubted anyone would ever again offer me money up front for an unwritten novel. This was to be a paperback original, for a very modest advance. My fantasy of success, then, was that my book, once it had been met with the hostile or indifferent stares I expected, would go out of print. Then, yellowing fragrantly on the SF shelves of secondhand book shops, it might voyage forward, up the time-stream, into some vaguely distant era in which a tiny coterie of esoterics, in London perhaps, or Paris, would seize upon it, however languidly, as perhaps a somewhat good late echo of Bester, Delany or another of the writers I’d pasted, as it were, on the inside of my authorial windshield. And that, I assured myself, sweating metaphorical bullets daily in front of my Hermes 2000 manual portable, would almost certainly be that.

(6) INTERNET TAR. Ursula K. Le Guin tells readers at Book View Café she never said it:

The vapid statement “the creative adult is the child who survived” is currently being attributed to me by something called Aiga

https://eyeondesign.aiga.org/design-quote-creative-adult-is-child-who-survived-ursula-le-guin/

…Meelis pointed out this sentence in the 1974 essay “Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?” (reprinted in the collection The Language of the Night):

I believe that maturity is not an outgrowing, but a growing up: that an adult is not a dead child, but a child who survived.

Nothing about “creativity” whatever. I just said a grown-up is somebody who lived through childhood — a child who survived….

It is high time that this sentence, “The creative adult is the child who has survived,” be attributed to its originator, Prof. Julian F. Fleron.

If he did not originate it, and wishes to be freed from the onus of supposedly having done so, that’s up to him or to those who wish to preserve his good name. I just wish, oh how I wish! that he hadn’t stuck me with the damn thing.

(7) SCHOEN. Lawrence M. Schoen is interviewed by Sara Stamey at Book View Café.

Can you tell us about your small press, Paper Golem, which aims to introduce readers to fresh new authors? Any advice for those interested in setting up a small press?

More than a decade ago, one of my graduate students lured me away from academia to come work for him in the private sector as the Director of Research at the medical center where he was CEO. The result was fewer work hours and more money. I mention this because it meant that I was in a position to start a small press, going into the venture not with an eye toward making a fortune (stop laughing!) but rather the more modest goal of breaking even and using the press to “pay it forward.”

(8) STRAUB SELLS HOUSE. “Horror Author’s Not-Scary UWS Townhouse Sells for $7M” reports NY Curbed.

Despite the nature of author Peter Straub‘s work—he’s a horror author known for Ghost Story, The Throat, and his collaborations with Stephen King—his former Upper West Side townhouse is very much not terrifying. The gorgeous home, located on West 85th Street, was built in the 1880s and has some of its original details, including a stained-glass panel over the staircase and six fireplaces. It went on the market back in April, but unsurprisingly went quickly; according to StreetEasy, it sold at the beginning of the month, for slightly under its original $7.8 million asking price. (h/t 6sqft) Coincidentally, Straub’s daughter Emma, an author herself, recently sold her equally gorgeous townhouse in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

Andrew Porter commented, “This is very disturbing news. I’ve known Straub for decades. He recently decided not to attend the World Fantasy Convention, held the beginning of November in Saratoga Springs NY, because of health concerns. I wonder if the effort of climbing up and down all those stairs finally got to be too much for him.”

(9) COINCIDENCE. Hundreds of readers “liked” the mainstream political graphic David Gerrold posted on Facebook but it seems an ill-considered choice by someone who recently hoped to convince people an asterisk had another meaning than ASSH*LE.

(10) MYTHBUSTER. Sarah A. Hoyt’s discussion of “The Myths of Collapse” is a good antidote to misinterpretations of history that are fairly common in the backstory of created worlds, however, it is also intended as political advice, and while fairly mild as such YMMV.

1 Myth one — collapse creates a tabula rasa, upon which a completely different society can be built.  Honestly, I think this comes from the teachings on the collapse of Rome and the truly execrable way the middle ages are taught.

First of all, once you poke closer, Rome only sort of collapsed.  Depending on the place you lived in, your life might not have changed much between the end of the empire and the next few centuries.  I come from a place where it’s more like Rome got a name change and went underground. In both the good and the bad, Portugal is still Rome, just Rome as you’d expect after 19 centuries of history or so.

Second the society that was rebuilt wasn’t brand new and tabula rasa but partook both of the empire and the incredible complexity of what happened during collapse.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

In 1894, Antoine Lumiere, the father of Auguste (1862-1954) and Louis (1864-1948), saw a demonstration of Edison’s Kinetoscope. The elder Lumiere was impressed, but reportedly told his sons, who ran a successful photographic plate factory in Lyon, France, that they could come up with something better. Louis Lumiere’s Cinematographe, which was patented in 1895, was a combination movie camera and projector that could display moving images on a screen for an audience. The Cinematographe was also smaller, lighter and used less film than Edison’s technology.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 28, 1922 — Stan Lee

(13) SF-LOVERS. “Scientists on their favourite science fiction”:

We invited scientists to highlight their favourite science fiction novel or film and tell us what it was that captivated their imagination – and, for some, how it started their career….

Matthew Browne, social scientist, CQUniversity

Consider PhlebasIain M. Banks

I love a lot of science fiction, but Iain M. Banks’ classic space-opera Consider Phlebas is a special favourite.

Banks describes the “Culture”, a diverse, anarchic, utopian and galaxy-spanning post-scarcity society. The Culture is a hybrid of enhanced and altered humanoids and artificial intelligences, which range from rather dull to almost godlike in their capabilities….

Perhaps the best thing about Consider Phlebas (apart from the wonderfully irreverent ship names the Minds give themselves) is the fact that a story from this conflict is told from the perspective of an Indiran agent, who despises the Culture and everything it stands for.

My own take on the book is as an ode to progressive technological humanism, and the astute reader will find many parallels to contemporary political and cultural issues.

(14) THE CLIPULARITY. The December 28 Washington Post has a lengthy article by Joel Achenbach about whether robots will kill us all once AI becomes smarter than people. He references Isaac Asimov and Vernor Vinge and discusses the nightmare scenario developed by Nick Bostrom about whether a machine programmed to make something (like paper clips) Goes Amok and starts ransacking the world for resources to make paper clips, destroying everything that gets in its way.

People will tell you that even Stephen Hawking is worried about it. And Bill Gates. And that Elon Musk gave $10 million for research on how to keep machine intelligence under control. All that is true.

How this came about is as much a story about media relations as it is about technological change. The machines are not on the verge of taking over. This is a topic rife with speculation and perhaps a whiff of hysteria.

But the discussion reflects a broader truth: We live in an age in which machine intelligence has become a part of daily life. Computers fly planes and soon will drive cars. Computer algorithms anticipate our needs and decide which advertisements to show us. Machines create news stories without human intervention. Machines can recognize your face in a crowd.

New technologies — including genetic engineering and nanotechnology — are cascading upon one another and converging. We don’t know how this will play out. But some of the most serious thinkers on Earth worry about potential hazards — and wonder whether we remain fully in control of our inventions.

(15) BAEN AUTHOR JOHN SCALZI. John Scalzi explains why his next novel won’t be out until 2017 in “Very Important News About My 2016 Novel Release (and Other Fiction Plans)” but makes it up to everyone by highlighting several pieces of short fiction that will be in our hands next year including….

* A short story called “On the Wall” which I co-wrote with my pal Dave Klecha, which is part of the Black Tide Rising anthology, co-edited by John Ringo, for Baen. Yes, that John Ringo and that Baen. Pick your jaws up off the floor, people. I’ve made no bones about liking Baen as a publisher, and I’ve noted for a while that John Ringo and I get on pretty well despite our various differences and occasional snark. Also, it was a ton of fun to write in his universe and with Dave. The BTR anthology comes out June 7th.

This news was broken in August but may have been overlooked by fans occupied by another subject at the time….

Black Tide Rising’s announced contributors are John Ringo, Eric Flint, John Scalzi, Dave Klecha, Sarah Hoyt, Jody Lynn Nye, Michael Z. Williamson, and Kacey Ezell.

(16) WRITER DISARMAMENT TALKS STALL. “George R.R. Martin and Christmas Puppies” is Joe Vasicek’s response to the recent overture.

Now, I don’t disagree with Mr. Martin’s sentiment. I too would like to see reconciliation and de-escalation of the ugliness that we saw from both sides in 2015. And to be fair, Mr. Martin does give a positive characterization of what’s going on right now with Sad Puppies 4. That’s a good first step.

The trouble is, you don’t achieve reconciliation by shouting at the other side to lay down their guns first. You achieve it by hearing and acknowledging their grievances. You might not agree that those grievances need to be rectified, which is fine—that’s what negotiations are for—but you do have to make an effort to listen to the other side. And it’s clear enough that Mr. Martin is not listening.

The core of the Sad Puppies movement is a rejection of elitism….

(17) OUT OF DARKNESS. Were reports that Mark Lawrence is a Grimdark author premature? In Suvudu’s “’Beyond Redemption’ Author Michael R. Fletcher: ‘NO SUCH THING AS GRIMDARK’”, Lawrence says he meant “Aardvark”….

Does anyone actually set out to write grimdark?

I certainly didn’t. I thought Beyond Redemption was fantasy, and maybe dark fantasy if you wanted to label it further. But then I live under a rock.

So I reached out to a few of the authors who have been accused of defiling reality with their overly dark writings.

All quotes are exact and unedited.

Mark Lawrence (Author of The Broken Empire series, and the Red Queen’s War series): “aardvark.”

Other quotes follow, from Django Weler, Teresa Frohock, Scott Oden, Anthony Ryan, Tim Marquitz, and Marc Turner.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Will R., and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/6 Beyond the pixelated event horizon

(1) Put together “William Shatner” and “flying” and I’m going to think of the “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” episode of The Twilight Zone. Not Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond — he thinks of a different Shatner role when he flies, and it got him into trouble.

Alex Salmond found himself in a bizarre situation with airline staff after booking on to a flight under the name James Kirk – the captain of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise.

The former Scottish first minister caused confusion when British Airways initially refused to let him board a flight at Heathrow under the sci-fi alias.

The Mail on Sunday reported that it took a series of telephone calls for the senior politician to persuade the airline that he should be allowed on board.

Salmond said he often travelled under a false name for security reasons and as a Trekkie – as fans of the show are known – he liked to use Kirk’s name, partly as a joke but also because it was easy to remember….

He told the Mail on Sunday: “It was all sorted out. I just wanted BA to ‘beam me up, Scotty’.”

(2) “Lines from The Princess Bride that Double as Comments on Freshman Composition Papers” by Jennifer Simonson on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

[Last 3 of 9.]

“Skip to the end!”

“That is the sound of ultimate suffering.”

“Inconceivable!”

(3) Ursula K. Le Guin will appear at UCLA on Sunday, November 15 at 4 p.m. Tickets from $19-$49.

Incomparable storyteller and worldweaver Ursula K. Le Guin joins us for a conversation celebrating her incredible oeuvre, hosted by Meryl Friedman, CAP UCLA Director of Education and Special Initiatives.

(4) A report on Diana Pavlac Glyer’s talk about the Inklings’ “dangerous friendships”, by Scott Keith.

I recently finished the C. S. Lewis biography authored by Alister McGrath entitled, C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet. I highly recommend it. Over the weekend, I also attended The Great Conversation (TCG) C. S. Lewis symposium. At the symposium, Diana Pavlac Glyer, professor of English at Azusa Pacific University gave a talk on the influence of the Inklings on the thought of C. S. Lewis. I am struck by the extent to which great writers like Lewis and Tolkien seemed to use what McGrath calls, “midwives” when writing their great works. Or as Glyer put it, “We all need dangerous friends.”….

Gradually, the schedule of Inklings’ meetings became regularized, so they generally met on Tuesday mornings at the Eagle and Child pub (which they called the “Bird and Baby” or just the “Bird”) and at Lewis’s study rooms in the college where he was an Oxford Don, Magdalen College, on Thursday evenings. At the pub they smoked their pipes, drank, and had good food almost like hobbits. While they sat in the bar, they talked about language and literature. Others in the group included Owen Barfield, Warren Lewis, Nevill Coghill, Hugo Dyson, and Charles Williams.

As it is described by those in the know, the Inklings were not afraid to mix it up a bit. These men were not all alike. Lewis was brash and boisterous. Tolkien seems to have been more reserved and introspective. They did not agree on many things. Tolkien is said to have believed that Lewis’s use of allegory in his Ransom Trilogy and Chronicles of Narnia, was perhaps too obvious. In fact, they often disagreed on issues of morality. McGrath explains that Tolkien believed that Lewis’s view concerning civil marriage was against the teaching of the church. Thus, the evidence points to the fact that Tolkien disapproved of Lewis’s marriage to Joy Davidman.

(5) Gregory N. Hullender of Rocket Stack Rank has responded to Neil Clarke’s recent editorial “The Sad Truth About Short Fiction Reviews”, where Clarke opined that short-fiction reviews are of little value.

In Hullender’s RSR post “Getting More From Short Fiction Reviews” he draws a distinction between a review system and a recommendation system. While conceding that Clarke is probably right that reviews alone aren’t worth a lot to most people, he argues that as part of a recommendation system, reviews can be very valuable indeed.

(6) Scientists think they may soon be able to answer “What color was the T-Rex?”. From NPR –

INSKEEP: That’s Jakob Vinther of the University of Bristol in Britain. Vinther and scientists from Virginia Tech confirmed traces of melanin in fossils dating back millions of years, and that melanin may provide a vital clue.

VINTHER: The kinds of hair colors that we see in humans, ranging from black to ginger, are made by melanin.

MONTAGNE: Bits of melanin are found inside cells, and the shape of those bits says something about the color of the creature.

VINTHER: If you have a black melanosome, they’re shaped like a sausage whereas if you have a red melanosome, then they’re shaped like a little meatball.

INSKEEP: Turns out, this meatball and sausage theme is pretty consistent across nature.

VINTHER: I myself is quite sort of ginger in my appearance. My beard is very, very sort of reddish. And if you took a look at the melanosomes in my beard, they will be shaped like little meatballs. And then if you have, for example, an American robin, they have this reddish-brown chest and they would also have these kinds of meatballs.

MONTAGNE: So the researchers are presuming the shapes may also have matched the color of creatures from the distant past. The team checked the melanin from two species of bat that lived almost 50 million years ago. They were a reddish-brown color.

(7) The Western Science Fiction Association maintains a convention listing page, and Stephanie Bannon invites conrunners to send their events for inclusion. Contact info at the site.

(8) It never occurred to me the Archie characters were based on anybody in particular. A documentary filmmaker tracked down the real life Betty.

In 1939, 18-year-old Betty Tokar Jankovich briefly dated, and quickly dumped, a comic book artist named Bob Montana. Though she quickly forgot about the young illustrator, he never forgot about her. More than seven decades later, Jankovich was shocked to discover that an ex-boyfriend she only vaguely remembered had named a character after her: She was the inspiration for Betty Cooper from the Archie comics.

Jankovich would likely never have known about her Archie connection if not for filmmaker Gerald Peary. A documentarian, journalist, and Archie super-fan, Peary decided to research the real-life inspiration for the comic book characters. He didn’t expect to actually meet any living real-life members of the gang—he just wanted to find out if they’d really existed.

(9) Sales prices of some items in Profiles in History’s recent Hollywood Auction have been made public.

The “slave Leia” costume worn by Carrie Fisher in Return of the Jedi sold for $96,000.

The costume — once colorfully described by Fisher in a Newsweek article as “what supermodels will eventually wear in the seventh ring of hell” — came with a certificate of authenticity from Star Wars designer Richard Miller.

CBS News has results for 22 other pop culture items. Among them:

  • The 16-inch miniature Rebel Blockade Runner, seen in the opening moments of Star Wards (1977), sold for $450,000.
  • Leonard Nimoy’s velour tunic from the second season of the original Star Trek series went for $84,000.
  • George Reeves’ gray knit wool costume from The Adventures of Superman, when it was filmed in black-and-white, fetched $216,000.
  • The signature stylized “S” insignia is in dark brown on a field of crème. An “undersuit” made of durable synthetic satin-like fabric featured a sculpted rubber muscles. Also includes a molded fiberglass “flying pan” to hold Reeves when he flew, after he refused to hang from wires.
  • The duck that dropped down when someone said the secret word on Groucho Marx’ You Bet Your Life brought $16,800.
  • Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones fedora from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade sold for $90,000 and his bullwhip, used in the first three movies, sold for $204,000.

(10) John Ringo, who has said before there will be a continuation of the March Upcountry series, co-authored with David Weber, had a status report on Facebook. I’ve enjoyed the series so I’m glad to hear it, although fans should expect to wait another couple years before seeing more of Empire of Man.

(Another funny. David had just broken his wrist and was just starting to use voice-to-text to write. So at one point in an email I got the line ‘I’m looking forward to senior manuscript.’ Took me forever to figure out ‘senior’ was Dragon’s attempt to translate a Southern accent saying ‘Seeing your.’) 🙂

Anyway, most of the ‘middle stuff’ is politics. So I’m going to write what I know (blowing shit up) and send it to David then say ‘David, this is your specialty. You figure it out. Looking forward to senior manuscript.’ 🙂

I’ll probably end up writing it, Junior Author’s job, but it will give David a skeleton to hang the ‘politics’ on and come up with some ideas. 🙂

So the answer to ‘what next’ is Empire of Man. But don’t get your hopes up. It will only be about half done when I’m done and currently the schedule is blocked with other stuff out to 2017.

(11) Previously unreleased Apollo photos, rather spectacular in places — “8,400 High-Res Images From The Apollo Moon Missions Were Just Put Online – Here Are The Best”.

Apollo 9

Apollo 9

(12) In a news flash apropos of our latest round of brackets, Deadline.com ran an article “HBO Confirms ‘Preliminary Discussions’ For ‘Watchmen’ TV Series”. HBO has spoken with Zack Snyder, director of the 2009 movie Watchmen, about a potential series.

(13) Pepsi will release Back to the Future Part II-inspired Pepsi Perfect, but like Doc Brown’s DeLorean, the price will be sky high.

Pepsi announced it is paying tribute to Back to the Future Part II with the release of Pepsi Perfect, the formerly fictional beverage featured in the film.

The company announced Pepsi Perfect, which contains Pepsi Made with Real Sugar and features packaging consistent with the beverage served to Marty McFly in Back to the Future Part II‘s fictional version of 2015, will be available starting Oct. 21.

The company said fans thirsty from a hard day riding on their hoverboards will be able to buy the limited-edition Pepsis at a price of $20.15 for a 16.9-ounce bottle and visitors to New York ComicCon will have an opportunity to get their hands on the collectable beverages early starting Oct. 9.

Must be the law of supply and demand at work — they’re making only 6,500 bottles.

(14) Today is election day at North Pole, Alaska and a familiar name is on the ballot. Seriously. So they say.

Santa Claus is running for the North Pole City Council.

The North Pole Clerk’s office announced on Thursday that the former North Pole Chamber of Commerce president, whose driver’s license really does bear his legal name of Santa Claus, is one of two candidates who have launched write-in campaigns for City Council. The other is La Nae Bellamy.

The North Pole City Council has two seats up for election this year, but no one filed for office during the regular filing period. Candidates run as a group for the at-large seats, with the top vote-getters declared the winners. Claus and Bellamy will need voters to write in their names next Tuesday, Oct. 6.

The lack of candidates appears to be a problem throughout the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The two candidates for the Fairbanks City Council are uncontested, as are two school board seats. North Pole Mayor Bryce Ward is also uncontested in his re-election bid.

[Thanks to Mark sans surname, Locus Online, Ansible Links, Gregory N. Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

I Sing the Puppy Electric 4/29

George R.R. Martin, John Ringo, Vox Day, John Scalzi, Aaron Pound, Jeb Kinnison, Jamie Ford, Glenn Hauman and lots of other cool cats and hot dogs sound off in today’s roundup. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.)

George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

“No On NO AWARD” – April 29

No, I am not saying don’t use NO AWARD at all when you vote for this year’s Hugo Awards.

NO AWARD has been, and remains, a viable and legitimate option for the Hugo voter. I’ve been voting on the Hugos since the 1970s, and I use NO AWARD every year, usually in about a third of the categories. However, I have seldom (not NEVER, just seldom) placed it first. I rank the finalists that I think worthy of the rocket above NO AWARD, and the ones I think unworthy below it. That’s the way I intend to use the option this year as well, in spite of the slatemaking campaigns that buggered the nomination process to the seven hells and back.

NO AWARD is a scalpel, not a bludgeon. Voting NO AWARD on everything down the line… or even (the lesser option) on everything that appeared on either Puppy slate… well, I don’t think it is smart, I don’t think it is fair, and I know damned well that a NO AWARD sweep will kill the Hugos.

I think I have made my disagreements with Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen and the rest of the Sad Puppies abundantly clear in the many blog posts that preceded this one, and in my debates with Correia both here and on his MONSTER HUNTER NATION. And I think I have made my disgust with Vox Day and his Rabid Puppies clear as well. No one should be in any doubt as to where I stand on all this.

As much as I am opposed to what the Puppies did, and what they are trying to do, I am also opposed to Guilt by Association. Like it or not, the ballot is the ballot, and it is before it now, for each of us to deal with as he or she thinks best. For my part, that means it is now about the stories, the books, the work itself. Reading, thinking, weighing my choices… voting.

 

 

John Ringo on Facebook – April 28

[Originally a public post, it is now restricted, but a screencap of “Understanding SJW Logic” is hosted at Solarbird.net.]

So let’s drill this down to Science Fiction. Science Fiction has, historically, been something that looked to the future of technology and societies and tried to glean what might be possible. It has also, often, been an avenue for proposing change. Many of the most ‘misogynistic’ and ‘racists’ authors of the early SF years were, in fact, far FAR ahead of their time in proposing racial and gender equity or near equity.

To the Social Justice Warriors (their term and not one of derogation in their eyes) of SF fandom, the TRUE PURPOSE of Science Fiction is solely and ONLY such promotion. Let me repeat that as an axiom:

To the Social Justice Warriors of Science Fiction publishing and fandom, the true and only purpose of science fiction is to promote increased equity in the arena of social justice.

The purpose of science fiction is not to tell a good story. Most of what people call ‘good stories’ are not stories that promote social justice. So ‘good story’ or not good story, (and there we get to matters of taste) they are not good science fiction. Good science fiction is only that science fiction which promotes social justice.

If there is a choice between two good social justice stories, the choice is not based on which is the better story or which is better written. At that point you look at which promotes social justice better. So if Author A is a person of color or a transgenderist and Author B is a cis-male, even if he is a social justice warrior, the BETTER STORY is that which is written by the person of color or transgenderist UNLESS such person writes a story which does NOT promote social justice in which case they are a traitor and shall be treated as such.

The sole an only point is to view every work in a lens of ‘how does this promote social justice?

 

Font Folly

“It bothers some people that we exist, part 2” – April 29

Being reminded that queer people exist at all drives some people to crazy lengths. For instance, as noted at the Crime and the Forces of Evil blog, the Sad Puppies are angry that books containing queer characters aren’t clearly marked. For those not in the know, the Sad Puppies (and an allied group, the Rabid Puppies) are a bunch of arch-conservative sci fi writers and fans who organized a bloc-voting scheme to game the selection process for the Hugo Awards and put a specific slate of anti-progressive authors, editors, and fans in every major category. Their rhetoric leading up to their success was full of blatant misogynist and homophobic language (and threats), and only slightly-less-blatant racist language. It’s worth noting that they’ve been trying this for a few years without success. It appears that their success this year is primarily due to the fact that they managed to enlist a bunch of GamerGate trolls into the process…

Since succeeding in hijacking most of the Hugo Ballot, the Sad Puppies (that’s their own name for their movement, by the way) have started deleting or heavily editing their existing blog posts and such to downplay the bigotry. Though most of their revisions have been to obscure the racist language, to try to pretend that the most blatant bigot wasn’t considered an ally, and to make some of their threatening language appear to be aimed at individuals rather than whole groups of people. They have removed some of the comments and paragraphs in which they appear to be calling for the extermination of gay people, for instance, though they remain absolutely clear that they object to homos and women being portrayed positively (or at all) in science fiction, fantasy, or any other cultural product.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“THEY are in retreat” – April 29

The main reason SJWs were successful in infiltrating the science fiction establishment and imposing their ideology on it was due to their Fabian strategy of denying any conflict was taking place. Their entryism depended entirely upon stealth and plausible deniability. That’s why the single most important aspect of both #GamerGate and #SadPuppies was the way in which it was made perfectly clear to everyone that there are, in fact, two sides.

There are those who want to be able to define what is permissible to read, write, design, develop, play, think, and say, (SJWs) and those who wish to read, write, design, develop, play, think, and say whatever the hell they happen to please. (Everybody else)

Jim Hines isn’t “so damn tired” of “an artificial Us vs. Them framework”. He is simply alarmed that their most effective tactic has been exposed and rendered impotent.

 

John Ringo on Facebook – April 29

Because as a conservative, that’s what you are to all the hardcore liberals. Purest evil. ISIS has nothing on being an American conservative. There is nothing worse than being a conservative white male. We are the ultimate super-villain and nothing can be anything like our equal. (Thus the humorously entitled ‘League of Evil Evil’ started by Sarah Hoyt of which I am a card-carrying member.)

Which is why there have arisen conventions that really avoid letting the CHORFs in at all. So the conservative SF fans can get together and let their hair down and talk about stuff they want to talk about (like books with actual plots and dialogue) and not be continuously insulted by the CHORFs. And even large cons that are ‘balanced’ tend to toss the SJW contingent the minute it starts to be a problem. Because nobody CARES about their issues. Not in the broad sense of what is marketable. (Just as at ‘balanced’ conventions conservatives who insist on being buttheads are tossed. I’ve seen both and I’m all for it. When it’s balanced.)

By the way, I prefer SJBs to CHORFs as a term. SJWs, social justice warriors, is not an insult as many articles have indicated. It’s the preferred term of the SJWs. And there are SJWs who are not SJBs. An SJB is a ‘Social Justice Bully.’ Because they are bullies. They are not even about social justice. They’re about being bullies.

So, yes, there are two different fandoms. And it’s very much a Political divide. And it’s not going away any time soon.

 

John Scalzi on Whatever

“Drinking Poison and Expecting the Other Person to Die” – April 29

This whole Puppy mess is because some of them weren’t happy, and were searching externally for that happiness, either by seeking a validation in outside rewards, or by punishing people they saw (erroneously and/or conspiratorially) blocking the path to that validation. Envy and revenge, basically. They’re drinking poison and hoping others die, or at the very least, suffer. It’s why they called themselves “Sad Puppies” in the first place: it was about what they thought their Hugo nominations would make people they decided they didn’t like feel.

Which is their karma. It doesn’t have to be mine (or yours).

So, no. I wish the Puppies success in their publishing endeavors, and I wish them happiness — genuine happiness, not contingent on comparison to, or the suffering of, others. I also wish for them the capacity to recognize success, and to be happy. It doesn’t seem they’re there yet. I hope they get there, and will cheer them if and when they do.

 

Jeb Kinnison on According To Hoyt

“’Selective Outrage’ – Jeb Kinnison” – April 29

Hatred and prejudice harm real people, but the harm echoes on through the generations as the original victims teach and promote an us-vs-them worldview that harms everyone. The people who are less wrong learn to understand where the hateful emotions come from, and start to cut off the sources of funds and fury that feed the continuing conflicts. Understanding the backgrounds of the partisans and arguing toward acceptance of others’ right to be wrong is the beginning of reconciliation and cooperation. I think we can get most reasonable people to agree that an award that supposedly recognizes the best SFF should be more broadly representative of the readers, including the vast majority who can’t take time out from busy lives or afford to go to conventions. Having a tiny in-group select award winners from their friends and people they know leaves out most of the writers, and almost all of the readers.

 

Aaron Pound on Dreaming About Other Worlds

“2015 Prometheus Award Nominees” – April 29

The interesting thing about the 2015 list of nominees for the Prometheus Award is not who is on it, but rather who is not. Even though the set of authors that make up the core proponents of the “Sad Puppies” very clearly view themselves as being on the libertarian side of the spectrum (and in some cases they have inserted segments into their books that are clearly pandering to Prometheus Award voters), and yet, there is zero overlap between the set of books they promoted for the 2015 Hugo Award and the set of books that were chosen as finalists for the 2015 Prometheus Award. In short, despite sharing an ideological bent with many of the authors promoted by the Puppies, the Libertarian Futurist Society didn’t see fit to even consider honoring any of the novels that were pushed for the Hugo ballot with a Prometheus Award nomination. If the Puppy slate is in fact about recognizing good books that the Hugo Awards have overlooked because they are supposedly ideologically biased, why is it that the works on the Puppy slates have been, with some rare exceptions, pretty much ignored by all of the other genre related awards? In fact, no one making decisions regarding other awards has seemed to think the stories promoted by any iteration of the Puppy slates have been worth nominating. It would be one thing if the works favored by the Puppies were getting nominated for many other awards while being snubbed solely by the Hugo voters. But they haven’t. They have been ignored by all the major awards because they simply aren’t good enough.

 

John C. Wright

“After Inaction Report from Ravencon” – April 29

A read[er] with the unexpectedly commonplace yet giant-killing name of Jack writes and asks:

Mr Wright: no word on Ravencon? maybe I missed it. Were you barbequed on sight, or just smugly ignored? Or, was it really civilized? At this point I would imagine many of the detractors on the left are wary of confrontation with those of the Puppy and Ilk fame. If so, good. They need a nice dose of apprehension to temper their attack dog tendencies of attack, attack, then worry about truth and accuracy.

I am pleased to report that there were no incidents of which I was aware at Ravencon. Everything went swimmingly.

No, that is not quite true: I heard from one of the organizers, a friend of mine, that Brianna Wu sat on a panel on Gamergate on Friday (before I arrived), and asked for there to be no photographs. As far as I know, this is a perfectly reasonable request, and, as a matter of professional courtesy, it is usually honored. One fellow — I did not catch his name — took photos nonetheless, Brianna Wu raised an objection (whether reasonable or hysterical I cannot say, hearing of this only third hand) and the photographer was asked to step out of the room. He was not kicked out of the Con. He left a snarky comment on his social media page.

That makes a grand total of one almost-rude incident and one perhaps-illtempered comment. And it was not related to Sad Puppies as far as I know, merely the psychodrama of a seriously disturbed person.

Aside from that, the topic came up only once, at the Trollhunter 101 panel, where the moderator merely described that the controversy existed, but his description of the controversy was fair and free from libel, so he was on our side (whether he knows it or not).

 

 

Jamie Ford

“A bystander’s view of the Hugo Awards” – April 29

I joined the World Science Fiction Society so I could officially vote in the Hugo Awards. Not for myself (I don’t even pretend to that kind of greatness) but I had hoped to vote for The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.

Much to my chagrin, this amazing book didn’t make the ballot because a disgruntled group of conservative writers who felt slighted by the Hugos decided to emotionally vomit all over the voting process.

It’s much more nuanced I’m sure, but to an outsider, that’s what it looks like.

*Tantrum. Barf. Point fingers of blame.*

And I get it. I love Orson Scott Card’s work and have always found him incredibly supportive of struggling writers. But I disagree with his political views, which have begun to obfuscate his stories. And I’ve participated in online writing communities where people were banned for unpopular opinions, which never sat well with me.

 

Doctor Science on Obsidian Wings

“The Varieties of Fictional Pleasure” – April 28

One much-discussed Puppy statement is by Brad Torgersen, from January:

In other words, while the big consumer world is at the theater gobbling up the latest Avengers movie, “fandom” is giving “science fiction’s most prestigious award” to stories and books that bore the crap out of the people at the theater: books and stories long on “literary” elements (for all definitions of “literary” that entail: what college hairshirts are fawning over this decade) while being entirely too short on the very elements that made Science Fiction and Fantasy exciting and fun in the first place!

Among the many problems with this statement is that Worldcon members (that Hugo-voting “fandom” of which Torgersen speaks so sneeringly) did in fact give a Hugo to The Avengers, in the same year they gave the Best Novel Hugo to John Scalzi’s Redshirts — a work which, Scalzi admits, can only be called “long on literary elements” if you’re making a joke.

 

Glenn Hauman on Comic Mix

“Hugo Awards, No Awards and Network Effects” – April 29

[The] question has come up about voting for “No Award” over various nominees, whether it should be done, and whether it would be an unprecedented event.

The answer to the last part is: No, it’s not unprecedented. “No Award” has won categories before, most recently in 1977 when no award was given for Best Dramatic Presentation.

And ironically, that’s really a shame. Because it turns out there was a really great science fiction movie that year that showed us where we were heading. I’m not talking about any of that year’s actual Hugo nominees– Carrie, Logan’s Run, The Man Who Fell to Earth, or Futureworld.

No, I’m talking about Network.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“They also serve” – April 29

It was suggested that they also serve, who inadvertently and unknowingly do the bidding of the Evil Legion of Evil through their ludicrously predictable reactions. And lo, a badge for this brigade of Unwitting Minions was created. Evil Legion of Evil minions are free to award it to those whose behavior is so egregiously stupid or shortsighted or self-destructive that they could not possibly serve your Supreme Dark Lord better if they were consciously doing His Evil Bidding. Given that they are, without exception, unique and special snowflakes, they naturally all bear the title “Minion #1”.

Unwitting-Minion_512x512

Stilicho in a comment on Vox Popoli April 29

Shouldn’t there be some more formal methodology to award Unwitting Minion badges?

No. I am Vile Faceless Minion and so can you.

 

Fiona L. Woods on Cats and Crime

“Hugo Awards and Puppygate” – April 28

Puppygate is a term George R.R. Martin came up with. There are two groups, one called the Sad Puppies and the other the Rabid Puppies. Each group encouraged their followers to buy memberships for Worldcon so they could vote for stories and novels they wanted to get nominated for the Hugo Awards. Apparently, some of those nominated feel the two groups succeeded in loading the nominations with their picks. Hugo Award nominees Mark Kloos and Annie Bellet have withdrawn their work from the competition.

Panzer says, “What do you expect? They’re not the smartest potato on the truck. They’re puppies. You want smart? Get a kitten.  No kitten would have anything to do with this kind of litter box game.”

 

William Reichard

“My God, it’s full of puppies” – April 29

Even the roundups of news about the Hugo Awards fracas are getting too long to read all of every day. One thing you have to admit: this topic is clearly a deep nerve.

 

 

Monster Hunter Tales Anthology Announced

Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Monster Hunter International creator Larry Correia have signed a contract with Baen to co-edit an anthology of stories set in Correia’s Monster Hunter universe.

Schmidt told his Facebook readers the anthology will feature 18-20 stories. Correia will write two of them himself, including one from a monster’s POV (never done before).

Other invited contributors include Jim Butcher, Jonathan Maberry, Jessica Day George, Faith Hunter, John Ringo, Sarah A. Hoyt, John A. Pitts, Jody Lynn Nye, Mike Kupari, Maurice Broaddus, plus Steve Diamond and John C. Wright .

Correia says the book will come out in 2017.

Missing Puppy Formation 4/15

Today there were major responses to a pair of Hugo nominees withdrawing their work from the ballot,  Marko Kloos and Annie Bellet, which raised the temperature of the discussion even higher.

John Scalzi comments on comparisons drawn between the eligibility of his 2006 novel and a 2013 John C. Wright story.  Sarah Hoyt turns an argument on its head. John Ringo forsees an enjoyable moment at the Hugo ceremony.

And Brad R. Torgersen posted a highly interesting, self-revelatory essay.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt on Facebook

When I hear one of my favorite writers, one of the most deserving of nominees, has dropped out of the Hugos because of the pressure, insults, and more she was subjected to by assholes who are angry and can’t blame those responsible but instead generalize and attack everyone, it makes me really disgusted. It also makes me more determined to keep my nomination and say this: the only thing tainting the awards this year is bad behavior by people who should have more maturity and class. Not bloc voting accusations or politics. But people unable to behave respectfully toward others. THAT stains our genre. It tars all of us. And I am soooooooo sick of it.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

Annie Bellet withdraws – April 14

As to anyone feeling betrayed by this, don’t be. Leave them alone and respect their decision; do not criticize them for it. Regardless of why they chose to withdraw, that is their right and their choice, and it is neither a problem nor a concern of ours.

UPDATE: Marko Kloos wasn’t quite so judicious on Facebook, apparently. …

What is with these SF writers and their absolute preoccupation with all things excremental anyhow?

 

Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation

Well, this sucks. – April 14

Personally, I think this sucks. We were trying to get talented quality writers on the ballot who would normally be ignored. Neither of these share my politics. There are some amazing authors nominated for the first time, and I wish that people would just read the fucking books, but hell, who am I kidding? I’m tired of repeating myself. Some of the stuff I’ve seen go down over the last two weeks is so infuriating it would blow your mind.

For the 100th damned time, Vox wasn’t on SP3. He did his own thing. Now authors are being tried for guilt by association with somebody they never chose to associate with, and their nominations are somehow meaningless because the wrong person plugged their work.

That’s unfair bullshit and you all know it.

 

Sarah Hoyt on Mad Genius Club

“The Dogs You Lie Down With” – April 15

It occurred to me that no one, that I know (and he’d probably tell me, at least for the novelty) has gone to John C. Wright and said “You’re supported by Sarah A. Hoyt, a public and avowed supporter of same sex marriage, who has many gay characters in her books. Therefore, you too must be a public and avowed supporter of same sex marriage, you horrible man.”

Mind you, there are people who consider this position of mine more than they can swallow and who have told me so and told me they’d never read me again. That’s fine by me. I arrived at that decision on my own and by thought. (And I’m not in favor of activist stunts like taking down pizza parlors or forcing religions you don’t even belong to to marry you or to perform ceremonies forbidden by their beliefs. No, supporting SSM doesn’t mean supporting that. I reject guilt by association in all forms.) I’m a big girl and I can wear big girl pants. (As for the gay characters they just happen. It’s like I have a ton of stories by the sea, and no, that’s not where I grew up. Or why I’m infected with dragons. Not everything in art is under your strict control.)

 

Nerdvana Podcast

Show #146: Episode 38: “HugoGate 2015”, Part 1. The title pretty much says it all. We’re not here to discuss the nominees, we are here to talk about the controversy surrounding this years Hugo awards. Join hosts JC Arkham and Two-Buck Chuck as we welcome back guests Hugo awards winners Christopher J Garcia and Mo “The Thrill” Starkey along with special guest Hugo expert Kevin Standlee.

 

John Ringo on Facebook – April 15

Talking with Cedar Sanderson reminded me of something.

There are multiple nominees for every Hugo and Nebula which are publicly posted. A few years back, both the Hugo and Nebula committee started to give out small trinkets to all the nominees who didn’t win. Runner up awards if you will. ‘You’re such nice people and you really deserve SOMETHING.’

Lois Bujold has collected so many over the years that she has a whole necklace of the things.

I just realized that the Hugo committee is going to have to pass those out to Tom Kratman, Toni Weisskopf, Brad Torgersen, etcetera, EVEN IF THEY DON’T WIN A HUGO.

Or I suppose they can eliminate the practice.

But I really want to see their faces when they’re forced to give one to Tom Kratman.

Fortunately, the whole ceremony is generally live cast to DragonCon. So I don’t actually have to attend WorldCon thank God.

 

 

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – April 15

Fans don’t quit. Fans don’t give up. Fans are the kind of people who — if you give them lemons — come back with key lime pie and you’re left scratching your head, wondering how they did it.

So we will have a Hugo ceremony. It will be a celebration of our deserving nominees. It will be a celebration of excellence in the genre. It will be a celebration of our history and our traditions. It will be a celebration of us.

There will be some jokes. There will be some surprises. Some of the best people in the genre have stepped up to the plate — and we’re planning a celebration that will be joyous and fun. I intend that we will end up feeling proud that we haven’t lost our ability to be the greatest fans on Earth — and in space as well.

When we step back and take a larger look at our history, at our traditions, at ourselves and the scale of our dreams and the scale of our accomplishments — this year’s little kerfuffle is merely a momentary hiccup in a much bigger history.

 

John Brown

“What Vox Day Believes” – April 15

I asked Day if he’d mind answering a few questions.

He agreed.

What you will read below is our conversation, arranged for easy reading.

Why am I doing this?

Well, who doesn’t want to scoop the devil? But beyond that, I agree with George R. R. Martin: internet conversations that are not moderated to maintain a tone of respectful disagreement are a bane upon us all. Actually, Martin said they were part of the devil’s alimentary canal, but I didn’t want to confuse the topic.

 

Dave Gonzales on Geek.com

“Winter isn’t coming: Hugo Awards’ own GamerGate is delaying A Song of Ice and Fire” – April 15

George RR Martin has taken to his blog to talk about a scandal at the Hugo Awards this year, and if he’s blogging, he’s not finishing Winds of Winter, the next installment in his A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels that inspired HBO runaway hit Game of Thrones.

Martin is an avid blogger and a seemingly avid procrastinator that loves hanging out at comic book and sci-fi conventions. He was in the news this March when he announced he wasn’t going to San Diego Comic-Con this year so he could continue work on his next book. Sad news for fans attending the Con and devastating news for those waiting for the new book: this July marks four years since A Dance With Dragons, and he’s still going to be working?

 

Brad R. Torgersen

“Tribalism is as tribalism does” – April 14

I told George R. R. Martin I’d be writing this post — as a result of some of the polite dialogue we had at his LiveJournal page. His basic question to me was, “How can you, as a guy in an interracial marriage, put up with some of the racist and sexist stuff (a certain person) writes on his blog?” I thought this a valid question. How indeed? I didn’t have the space on LiveJournal to unpack all of my thoughts and feelings on the dread ism topic, so I thought I would do it here.

 

Rhiannon on Feminist Fiction

“Responding to the Hugos” – April 15

The key thing, in the end, is voting. If we want diverse creators and titles to be included in the Hugos, then we need to show up and have our voices heard. And not just as an act of protest, but as an act of engagement. Read the nominees, make a genuine evaluation of which ones we like the best, and vote for them because we truly believe they deserve to win. Sure, it’s not as dramatic as nuking the votes, and it makes a less headline-worthy point of “we matter too,” but it’s the way that “untraditional” sci-fi/fantasy fans should be able to engage with the Hugos, and the Sad Puppies don’t prevent us from doing that. If enough people who don’t fit the Sad Puppies idea of “real sci-fi/fantasy” feel inspired to vote, then diverse works will be included naturally. The Sad Puppies slate only worked because very few people actually contribute to the Hugo nominations. The best way to stop them, therefore, is to contribute. And no matter how much some people believe that must be a conspiracy, anyone with sense can easily see that it’s just honest diversity in action.

 

John Scalzi on Whatever

“The Latest Hugo Conspiracy Nonsense Involving Me” – April 15

In the wake of one of John C. Wright’s Hugo-nominated stories being disqualified for the ballot because it was previously published on his Web site, howls of bitter indignancy have arisen from the Puppy quarters, on the basis that Old Man’s War, a book I serialized here on Whatever in 2002, qualified for the Hugo ballot in 2006 (it did not win). The gist of the whining is that if my work can be thought of as previously unpublished, why not Mr. Wright’s? Also, this is further evidence that the Hugos are one big conspiracy apparently designed to promote the socially acceptable, i.e., me specifically, whilst putting down the true and pure sons of science fiction (i.e., the Puppies)…..

  1. Aside from my notification of the nomination, I had no contact with the Hugo Award committee of that year prior to the actual Worldcon, nor could I tell you off the top of my head who was on the committee. It doesn’t appear that anyone at the time was concerned about whether OMW being serialized here constituted publication. Simply put, it didn’t seem to be an issue, or at the very least, no one told me if it were. Again, if this was a conspiracy to get me on the ballot, it lacked one very important conspirator: Me.
  2. So why would OMW’s appearance on a Web site in 2002 not constitute publication, but Mr. Wright’s story’s appearance on a Web site in 2013 constitute publication? There could be many reasons, including conspiracy, but I think the more likely and rather pedestrian reason is that more than a decade separates 2002 and 2013. In that decade the publishing landscape has changed significantly. In 2002 there was no Kindle, no Nook, no tablet or smart phone; there was no significant and simple commerce channel for independent publication; and there was not, apparently, a widespread understanding that self-publishing, in whatever form, constituted formal publication for the purposes of the Hugo Awards. 2013 is not 2002; 2015, when Mr. Wright’s story was nominated, is not 2006, when OMW was nominated.

 

Frank Catalano on GeekWire

“As science fiction ascends its popular award — the Hugo — threatens to nosedive” – April 15

It’s not that campaigning is new to science-fiction and fantasy awards. I was the volunteer administrator of another prestigious science-fiction competition, the Nebula Awards, during its major controversy in the 1980s. When I called an author to congratulate her for taking best short story in the peer-voted honors, I was stunned to hear her say she wanted to withdraw the work – after winning.

Her reason was the campaigning by another finalist in the same category. I had the awkward task of notifying the board of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America of the winner’s desire to decline, establishing my unenviable role as the Miles Standish of the Nebulas in the process. (The writer was Lisa Tuttle, the work was “The Bone Flute,” and both remain worth reading.)

But the big difference between the Nebulas then, and the Hugos now, is that the Nebula campaigning didn’t affect the outcome of the vote. For the Hugos, bloc campaigning verging on manipulation dominates the ballot today. And if protest “No Award” votes overwhelm slate-propelled finalists, the Hugos also fail in 2015 because certainly something, somewhere was worthy of a Hugo this year.

That could be a sad thing for science fiction, as geek culture has become mainstream popular culture. The irony of this Hugo ballot is that, simultaneous to science fiction’s ascendance, we’ve seen a reduced reliance on “quality” gatekeepers such as awards. Fans can find recommendations of what’s worth reading, even more tightly tied to their tastes, with an online tap or click. Maybe, as once was said about academia, the battles are so fierce because the stakes are so small.

 

Daniel on Castalia House

“Hugo Awards: A History of Recommendation Lists” – April 15

Frank Wu’s analysis of the awards from 2001-2005 suggests otherwise: that not only was there tremendous overlap in the “competing” lists, but that the appearance of diversity was, in fact, an important element of bloc-list unity. Some of the discrepancy between Wu and Martin is in interpretation: where [George R.R.] Martin sees an issue of an individual body exerting “control” over the process, and the evidence of “independent” bodies diffusing that control, Wu boils it down to the practicalities: a clear harmony of recommendations by influencers effectively guides the Hugos.

In other words, with the exception of a single book out of 28, if your novel wasn’t on a campaign list…you simply weren’t nominated, and sure as shooting were not going to win. The recommendation blocs didn’t guarantee individuals made it to the final ballot, they guaranteed that outsiders were left off.

 

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“Happy Fans” – April 15

Now, it’s time for some real speculation.

Why would someone knowingly allow an ineligible work to be nominated for an award?

Well, if I were a schemer who liked to play head games with people and I was also trying to make a political point about the organization that was responsible for administering that award, I might find it extremely funny to try and set them up in a “Heads I Win, Tails You Lose” situation, especially if I was trying to devalue the entire award process.

Here’s how that might work.

I get my pals together and create a voting slate (knowing that since such a thing had never been done before, or at the very least never been done on such a monumentally annoying scale before, that it stands a good chance of succeeding) and when the list of recommendations that my minions will slavishly vote for is finalized, I’d salt it with a couple of ineligible works.

Heads I Win:  for one reason or another, the ineligible works make it all the way through to the final ballot, the awards are handed out and:  “See!  We TOLD you the awards were poorly managed.  How long has this been going on?  This brings the validity of every single award given out for the past 60 years into question!  What a crock.  They’re totally valueless.”

Tails You Lose: the ineligible works are identified and removed from the ballot.  “See!  We TOLD you the fix was in.  The ONLY reason that this work was ruled ineligible is because of the author’s politics!  How long has this been going on?  This brings the validity of every single award given out for the past 60 years into question!  What a crock.  They’re totally valueless.”

2012 Rebel, Phoenix Given

Traditonal Southern fandom awards were presented at DeepSouthCon 50 in Huntsville, AL on June 17.

Phoenix Award: John Ringo

Rebel Award: Shelby Vick; and The Zielke Clan: Robert & Becky Zielke and Bill & Linda Zielke

Also this satirical award:

Rubble “Award”: SFPA OE Bob Jennings

The Rebel and Phoenix Awards are given by the con committee of each DSC, (in 2012, a supercommittee of Toni Weisskopf and Julie Wall) for the fan and pro who have contibuted a great deal to Southern fandom. The Rubble is decided by a survey of previous Rubble winners administered by its founder, Gary Robe, and is for a person or entity (corporatiions have won) who has done much to Southern fandom.

[Thanks to Guy H. Lillian III for the story.]