Pixel Scroll 9/23/17 Appertained Horror

(1) APPROACHES TO MILSF. Greg Hullender’s review of “Infinity Wars, edited by Jonathan Strahan” for Rocket Stack Rank includes this analysis:

Make Love not War

The stories take the following attitudes toward the military:

Hate it. Soldiers are doing evil: 7

Despise it. Soldiers are wasting their lives: 3

Admire/respect it. Soldiers are heroes: 5

All of the recommended stories are from the last group, which is a little odd. It’s perfectly possible to write a great story from an anti-military point of view or with an anti-war message (e.g. Catch 22), but that’s not what we find in this volume. Perhaps it’s just a lot easier to write good military SF if you don’t actually hate the military.

(2) I SCREAM. Freddie In Space and artist Frank Browning invite you to cool down with Ben & Jerry’s Horror Movie Ice Cream flavors. There are over two dozen like this –

(3) LET DARKNESS FALL. Coming October 10 at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination:

The recent solar eclipse transfixed the world. People in the path of totality marveled at the corona and how the air temperature dropped briefly and, in some parts of the country, the cicadas began to sing as if it were night. But the eclipse also offers a world of possibilities for scientific discovery. Jay Pasachoff, Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College, joins us at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination to discuss his observations of eclipses–66 solar eclipses, including 34 total solar eclipses–and the NSF and National Geographic supported discoveries these have yielded. Dozens of cameras, including a pair of frame-transfer CCDs, were trained on the corona to isolate the specific emissions of 13-times-ionized iron (“the coronal green line”) and 9-times-ionized iron (“the coronal red line”) at high cadence, to attempt to distinguish among models for how the corona is heated to millions of degrees. Dr. Pasachoff will discuss this work and plans for future total, partial, and annular eclipse observations over the next few years, including the 2023 and 2024 American eclipses.

(4) REFORMAUTOMATION. The Babylon Bee promises “New Martin Luther-Shaped Amazon Echo Will Rudely Answer All Your Theology Questions”.

Dubbed the “Amazon Luther,” the new device is programmed to answer all your theology questions in the Reformer’s trademark aggressive tone and style.

An Amazon rep gave a demo at the press conference announcing the device, showing off some of its dynamic responses:

“Luther, can you tell me about the Pope?”

The Pope is a mere tormentor of conscience. The assembly of his greased and religious crew in praying is altogether like the croaking of frogs, which edifies nothing at all.

“Luther, am I a good person?”

You are a sinner, you’re dead, you’re eaten up with corruption. Every free choice of yours is evil and not good.

“Luther, is Joel Osteen a solid preacher?”

Yes, Joel is an excellent person, as skillful, clever, and versed in Holy Scripture as a cow in a walnut tree or a sow on a harp.

(5) DANIEL OBIT. Actress Jennifer Daniel (1936-2017) died August 16. Her film appearances included the Edgar Wallace Mysteries film series, Gideon’s Way and the Hammer horror films The Kiss of the Vampire (1963) and The Reptile (1966).

(6) WE LIVE IN HIS VISION OF THE FUTURE. The New York Times eulogizes architect Gin Wong, who died September 1: “Gin Wong, Who Designed Futuristic Buildings in Los Angeles, Dies at 94”. He put his creative mark on the city with CBS Television City, the Los Angeles International Airport theme building, and his 1960 design of a Union 76 gas station in Beverly Hills:

— that remains one of his most beloved and enduring. With its red, swooping canopy angling toward the sky, the gas station wed the space age to the mundane task of filling up in a city devoted to cars.

Mr. Wong designed the gas station while working for his former teacher and mentor, William L. Pereira, around the time that he was also credited with creating the startling, spider-like Theme Building at the Los Angeles airport. Writing in The Los Angeles Times in 2010, the critic Bob Pool called the building “part spaceship, part flying saucer” and said that Mr. Wong had “set out to create a futuristic building that would both reflect its relationship with aviation and stand the test of time.”

…While running Mr. Pereira’s company in the late 1960s, Mr. Wong oversaw the design of the Transamerica Pyramid, the striking 853-foot-tall building that pierces the sky in San Francisco.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 23, 1846 — Planet Neptune was discovered.
  • September 23, 1962 The Jetsons aired its very first episode.
  • September 23, 1968 Charly premiered in theaters, based on Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

(8) SFF MADE IT HAPPEN. Lezli Robyn thanks the sff community for donating to her GoFundMe appeal all the money needed for her eye surgery.

I am feeling so very overwhelmed, happy, and so very thankful. Gofundme donators have now raised the entire $8000 needed for a new and 100% successful cross-linking surgery on my eyes to halt the progression of my Keratoconus !!! I would love to thank my family and friends and the many authors, editors, publishers, artists and readers/fans of the sf/fantasy field for amazingly generous donations made to the surprise fundraiser my boss, Shahid Mahmud (who deserves the most thanks!), created to help me raise the money.

I have so many people to thank. I am especially thankful to the readers who donated—the people who, like me, might not have too much to spare, but still donated anyway. Even one of the first fans of my writing, a voracious reader, donated and left such a lovely message on my fundraiser (I’m looking at you, Jo Van Ekeren) that it moved me to tears.

In fact, I have been brought to tears several times over the amazing outpouring of generosity of the donations and the lovely messages written by those who have shared the fundraiser all over the web. And, let me tell you, it’s quite the bittersweet experience for me when I cry. My tears fill in the thinned parts of my corneas that the Keratoconus has eroded over the years, creating a more even, rounded, surface. So even if it was sadness that had caused my tears, for that split second my vision sharpens I experience a moment of wonder and surprise as I see how beautiful and vibrant the world really is, until gravity or the blink of an eye causes the tears to fall to my cheeks.

So, I thank you for the tears; I thank you for your generosity. I have always maintained that the sf/fantasy community operates a lot like a family. It might be a sometimes dysfunctional and controversial family at times, but it is a field notorious for paying it forward to the younger generation. Well, you guys have paid it forward this month to give me sight, in a field I like to think is full of vision for the future, and I can’t show my appreciation enough. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

(9) LAW LAW LAND. A new legal specialty: “An Accident On The Moon, Young Lawyers To The Rescue”.

…Boggs and her two teammates are the North American finalists for this year’s competition, and next week they’ll go up against teams from South Africa, Greece and India for the big prize.

Each team argues both sides of a case set in the future, in space. This year’s case is, in the broadest terms, about a traffic accident on the moon….

Titan believes that Perovsk’s mining operation is releasing pollution and contaminating experiments, so they send a rover to investigate.

“They collide,” says Boggs. “Now everyone’s upset.”

Perovsk sues Titan over the damaged equipment in the International Court of Justice. Titan accuses Perovsk of breaking the law by polluting the moon. It’s unclear who should pay for what, and why. Rovers don’t carry insurance, and there’s a larger question about who has the right to use, or pollute, the moon in the first place.

Boggs says the case exemplifies one of her favorite things about space law: it’s ambiguous.

“It’s sort of hard not to say anything controversial in space law because everyone has a different opinion about what space law should do,” she explains. Space law is largely based on two treaties, the Outer Space Treaty and the moon Agreement, plus more general international law applied to space. But there’s tension within the treaties about what space should be used for.

(10) IT’S GREAT TO BE A GENIUS, OF COURSE. Brian Niemeier, in “The Convergence of Science Fiction”, joined a YouTuber to share his unique insight into sff history.

YouTuber Max Kolbe recently had me on his show to explain how the SJW convergence of tradpub science fiction happened. Max is particularly interested in the sudden shift from stories that took the Christian worldview for granted to overtly atheistic, anti-religious works. We discussed how John W. Campbell ended the reign of the pulps and how the Futurians fomented a Marxist revolution in SF publishing.

The Futurians? So…. The SJW Convergence happened…before World War 2? Before Heinlein published his first story? Before the invention of the paperback? Not just before TOR books was started, but before Tom Doherty enrolled in kindergarten? Talk about reductio ad absurdum….

(11) IN VINO SFF. Paste says “Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary Commemorative Wine Will Be a Thing”.

We’re used to something like a coin, a keychain or at the very least toilet paper as commemorative items—but Square Enix, along with The Wine House in Los Angeles, are taking the more classy route. The two wines offered will be limited edition, one being “a 2016 Château des Bois red wine with hints of strawberry” called “Ifrit Rouge,” named after the classic fire summon from Final Fantasy. Along with Ifrit Rogue will come its counterpart, “Shiva Blanc” (after an ice summon), “a well-balanced 2015 Château des Bois white wine.”

Both bottles will be adorned with a 30th Anniversary logo, and will be packaged in boxes featuring art of the summons the drinks are named after. Of course, you have to be of the legal drinking age of 21 to order these online, with Ifrit Rogue available online here, and Shiva Blanc here. According to The Wine House’s website, these will ship in the beginning of this November to arrive by the end of that month

(12) CLASSICAL AND NEOCLASSICAL TREK. Alex Zalben watches a succession of Star Trek series pilots/first episodes and tweets his judgments. This pair will get you into the thread.

(13) RECALL BOOK WE WILL. If this Saudi artist is never heard from again, you’ll know why:

A social studies textbook in Saudi Arabia was recalled for including a photo depicting a Star Wars character next to a king.

The black and white photo, by Saudi artist Abdullah Al Shehri, features the small, green Jedi Yoda seated next to King Faisal as he signed the United Nations Charter in San Francisco in 1945.

…Shehri, a 26-year-old artist who goes by the nickname Shaweesh, created the image as part of a series that inserts pop culture characters into historical photos and learned it had turned up in a textbook through a text from his mother.

“I am the one who designed it, but I am not the one who put it in the book,” he told the New York Times.

Shehri said he decided to insert Yoda into the photo because he reminded him of King Faisal and is the same color as the Saudi flag.

“He was wise and was always strong in his speeches,” he said. “So I found that Yoda was the closest character to the king. And also Yoda and his light saber — it’s all green.”

Sure, absolutely, I don’t doubt it for a moment.

(14) THE WAY THE FUTURE WASN’T. Noah Smith in “What We Didn’t Get” in his blog Noahpinion compares the successful predictions of the cyberpunk era to the failures of 1950s sf writers to adequately foresee the future and concludes that the reason Silver Age writers didn’t adequately predict the future was that “we ran out of theoretical physics, and we ran out of energy.”

If you watch Star Trek or Star Wars, or read any of the innumerable space operas of the mid-20th century, they all depend on a bunch of fancy physics. Faster-than-light travel, artificial gravity, force fields of various kinds. In 1960, that sort of prediction might have made sense. Humanity had just experienced one of the most amazing sequences of physics advancements ever. In the space of a few short decades, humankind discovered relativity and quantum mechanics, invented the nuclear bomb and nuclear power, and created the x-ray, the laser, superconductors, radar and the space program. The early 20th century was really a physics bonanza, driven in large part by advances in fundamental theory. And in the 1950s and 1960s, those advances still seemed to be going strong, with the development of quantum field theories. Then it all came to a halt. After the Standard Model was completed in the 1970s, there were no big breakthroughs in fundamental physics.

(15) THE KID WHO NEVER STOPS INVENTING. Well, that kind of negativity won’t fly with Molly!

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

Pixel Scroll 9/14/17 I Grow Old, I Grow Old, I Shall Wear The Bacon On My Pixels Scrolled

(1) BEFORE THEY WERE BORN. In the latest Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll finds out what the panelists feel about an original Hugo winner, Eric Frank Russell’s “Allamagoosa”.

Although British, Eric Frank Russell (January 6, 1905 – February 28, 1978) wrote primarily for the US market. He dabbled in a number of modes, including Fortean tales of the weird, low key anarchist adventures and satire. It’s the last mode that’s relevant to this story.

Eric Frank Russell’s 1955 “Allamagoosa” is significant for a number of reasons. It won the inaugural Hugo for Best Short Story1. It slots into an under-populated niche (comedic SF) and is notable, within that niche, for being genuinely funny. It belongs to a now largely extinct genre, military comedy, whose drama derives not from people shooting each other, but from the eternal struggle between individual and bureaucracy. Military takes on that struggle may be out of fashion, but civilian comedies on the same theme are too common to list. The context may be unfamiliar to my readers, but the struggle will be familiar.

(2) THE ORVILLE. Samuel R. Delany had a few things to say about The Orville, none of them good.

…Every situation and every image is a cliche. Nothing in the show aspires to be either original or to represent the best of the modern SF genre–or even the modern world.

You will never go broke underestimating the American public, is what this this makes me think of; but I wonder if someone has decided to extend it to gamble on the whole world as an extension of the this cynical view of the audience. It’s about on the level of the old Adam West and Burt Ward Batman and Robin show from the middle sixties. But is neither as original, entertaining, or thoughtful. If this show goes on to start getting great has-been actors to play cameo parts of the various villains, I won’t be surprised….

(3) CATCHING UP. Tor.com ran this Le Guin excerpt at the end of August: “’Introduction’ from Ursula K. Le Guin: The Hainish Novels & Stories, Volume Two

The novels and stories of the Hainish Descent were written in two periods separated by at least a decade. Everything in the first volume of this collected edition dates from the 1960s and ’70s, except one story from 1995; in the second volume, after one short novel from 1976, everything is from the 1990s. During the eighties I didn’t revisit the Hainish Universe at all (nor, until 1989, did I go back to Earthsea). When I became aware of this discontinuity, I wondered what kept me away from these literary realms I had invented, explored, established, and what brought me back to them.

That’s the sort of question interviewers and critics often ask and I usually dodge, uncomfortable with their assumption of rational choice guided by conscious decision. I may have intentions, as a writer, but they’re seldom that clear. Sometimes I find there is a certain tendency to my readings and thoughts, a general direction in which I am drawn—evidenced in a wish to learn more about certain subjects or fields (sleep and dream studies, satyagraha, medieval mining, DNA research, slavery, gender frequency, the Aeneid, the Inca). If this impulsion continues and gains energy, the subject matter of a story or novel may emerge from it. But it is an impulsion, not a decision. The decisions will be called for when the planning and writing begin.

(4) USING THE OLD BEAN. Daniel Dern suspects, “Yeah, this will only make sense to a limited audience, probably few under AARP age…” From a comment on io9’s “Game of Thrones’ Latest Attempt to Avoid Spoilers May Include Filming Multiple Endings” comes this photo of one of the leaked scenes….

(5) TURN UP THE VOLUMES. Nerds of a Feather brings us “6 Books with Jonathan Strahan”.

  1. What book are you currently reading? 

I’m currently reading the latest Tom Holt novel, The Management Style of the Supreme Beings, which is a lot of fun. It’s a satire on religion, and reminds me a lot of Jeremy Leven’s Satan, His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S., which is a weird book I read years ago, and a bit of James Morrow’s Only Begotten Daughter, which I adore.

(6) EDUCATED GUESS. The Hugo Award Book Club, in “The runners-up for the 1953 Hugo Award”, ventures its opinion about what the shortlist might have looked like in the award’s first year, before there were rules instituting the now-familiar final ballot.

If there had been a nominating process, there’s no way to know for sure what might have been on it, but it’s possible to make a few informed guesses. At the time of the fourth convention progress report, Wilson “Bob” Tucker’s Long Loud Silence was second in the vote count. The story — a character-driven conflict in a post-apocalyptic U.S. — is notable for its bleakness. It’s hard to root for a protagonist whose goal of getting out of the ruined Eastern U.S. would mean spreading a plague. It is an excellent novel by one of the central figures of early fandom. For today’s SF fan, it’s surprising to think that both Long Loud Silence and The Demolished Man were ahead of the second volume of Asimov’s original Foundation Trilogy, Foundation and Empire. This is the high point in a series of novels that was named “Best All-Time Series” at the 1966 Hugos, and whose inferior sequel won the 1983 Hugo Award.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 14, 1986 The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers animated series premiered on television.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born September 14, 1936 – Walter Koenig

(9) COMICS SECTION. John King Tarpinian finds not-terribly-hidden layers of comedic meaning in today’s Off the Mark.

(10) BUT DID YOU MISS IT? In The Atlantic, reviewer Lenika Cruz takes note of what these comics don’t have, as well as what they do have: “Marjorie Liu on the Road to Making Monstress”.

When the comic-book series Monstress introduces its haunted heroine, she has the look of someone just barely surviving. Maika Halfwolf is naked, missing part of an arm, wearing a metal collar, and being sold at a slave auction—a casualty in a bloody conflict between humans and Arcanics, a race of magical creatures. Of course, Maika is more than she seems. An Arcanic who looks human, she’s enraged by her mother’s death, her missing memories, and the atrocities she’s suffered. There’s also a strange, deadly power taking root in her body and mind—one she can neither understand nor control.

Written by Marjorie Liu and illustrated by Sana Takeda for Image Comics, Monstress is a sprawling epic fantasy that drops readers into the middle of a magic-filled alternate history. Described as a kind of “matriarchal Asia,” Maika’s universe is wracked by a race war and inhabited by violent witch-nuns, vicious deities, and innocent civilians—all of which is brought to life by Takeda’s exquisite manga-style, Art Deco–inspired art. Liu doesn’t ease her audience’s arrival into this intricately designed world by defining new terms or supplying a linear history of Maika’s life (the scale and complexity of the worldbuilding has earned Monstress comparisons to George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books). Still, Liu and Takeda’s series differs from most genre fare, comics or otherwise, in at least one key way: There are almost no men or white characters.

(11) CAREER ARC. Bit parts and bad films: “Has Hollywood let Idris Elba down?” A Toronto International Film Festival video interview. Best quote: Dark Tower was “edited in a wood chipper.”

(12) HELLBOY CASTING. “Daniel Dae Kim thanks Ed Skrein after taking over Hellboy role” – the BBC has the story.

Daniel Dae Kim, who is known for shows like Hawaii Five-0 and Lost, will play Major Ben Daimio in the new film.

The character was Japanese-American in the original Hellboy comics.

Kim said he applauded his fellow actor Skrein “for championing the notion that Asian characters should be played by Asian or Asian American actors”.

(13) GEEKING OUT. SyFy continues celebrating its quarter-centennial by quizzing a celeb in “Geeky Q&A: Felicia Day”.

As part of SYFY 25 – where we’re looking back at everything amazing that’s happened in the world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror over the last 25 years – we asked a bunch of famous people what sort of geeky stuff they like.

Here’s what the incredible Felicia Day had to tell us.

The one thing I geek out over the most is:

A new world I can escape into, whether video game, movie, TV show or book.

The first thing I remember geeking out over is:

Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series.

(14) BODEGA BACKPEDALING. Bodega.com’s Paul McDonald tries to recover from internet outrage over yesterday’s business announcement in “So, about our name…”

What’s with our name?

In Spanish, “bodega” can mean grocery store, wine cellar, or pantry. In many major cities, it’s come to mean the mostly independently-run corner stores that populate the city and serve the community. Like NYC’s bodegas, we want to build a shopping experience that stands for convenience and ubiquity for people who don’t have easy access to a corner store.

Is it possible we didn’t fully understand what the reaction to the name would be?

Yes, clearly. The name Bodega sparked a wave of criticism on social media far beyond what we ever imagined. When we first came up with the idea to call the company Bodega we recognized that there was a risk of it being interpreted as misappropriation. We did some homework?—?speaking to New Yorkers, branding people, and even running some survey work asking about the name and any potential offense it might cause. But it’s clear that we may not have been asking the right questions of the right people.

Despite our best intentions and our admiration for traditional bodegas, we clearly hit a nerve this morning, we apologize.

(15) FELL OR JUMPED? But did Bodega.com make a mistake, or take a calculated misstep of the kind that’s typical of Jon Del Arroz’ playbook? The LA Times found backers of both analyses.

Short of promising a name change, McDonald wrote that the company will “commit to reviewing the feedback and understanding the reactions from today.”

McDonald and co-founder Ashwath Rajan received angel investments from executives at Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and Google, and secured funding from a number of notable venture capital firms.

But on Twitter, at least one prominent tech investor criticized Bodega for its botched rollout. Spark Capital partner Nabeel Hyatt summed up Bodega’s issue as one of branding, saying it’s the “best example yet that framing your start-up properly matters.”

Andrea Belz, vice dean of technology innovation and entrepreneurship at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, said it seemed like a case of a company going to market without fully understanding that market.

“I’m fairly certain that when you want to modernize an industry, you don’t want to start by offending people,” she said. In this case, launching their product with the implication that they’re going to replace the local corner store doesn’t particularly ingratiate them to their potential customers.

When a start-up is looking to solve a problem for which people already have a solution — in this case, nearby places to buy things — positioning is particularly important. Belz pointed to the Bodega co-founders’ former employer, Google, as an example of a company that displaced earlier search engines by positioning itself as sleeker and easier to use.

She said Bodega’s much-criticized rollout could dissuade people from trying out the product once it reaches their area.

But Jeff Scheinrock, who teaches entrepreneurship as faculty director of the Applied Management Research Program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, said founders and investors must have known the name would get people talking.

“The name is controversial, and I think they got what they wanted out of that,” he said, pointing to the news coverage, including this report.

(16) GOT TO BE KIDDING. Grady Hendrix, who is promoting his new non-fiction book Paperbacks from Hell at the Film Noir Cinema on September 19, as part of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies monthly lecture series, shares some provocative opinions with the Brooklyn Paper in “Horror stories: Author celebrates creepy covers and terrifying tales”.

“Horror didn’t exist in fiction until ‘Rosemary Baby.’ When that book came out it was quite honestly the first horror novel bestseller since the ’40s, and then the movie of course was also a big hit,” he said. “Then came ‘The Exorcist’ and that was a hit movie and both of those books were bestsellers for a long time.”

(17) CHEAP SHOT. The sommelier at Refinery 29 has a recommendation: “These Halloween Wines Are Only $10 So You Can Spend All Your Money On The Good Candy”.

Fortunately, you don’t have to skip out on being festive in order to avoid spending six hours waiting for JELL-O shots to chill, or splurge on super fancy bottles, either. That’s because Door Peninsula Winery is now offering a crazy budget-friendly alternative that simply screams Halloween. Enter: “Hallowine.”

 

(18) DRAFTING A CANDIDATE. Who needs to be governor when you’re already King? All the same, “Former Maine Gov. John Baldacci wants Stephen King to run for office: ‘You’ve got a winner there'”. The Washington Examiner has the story.

Stephen King fans are hoping they can get the author of the clown horror story It and 53 other novels to consider running for political office.

Among them are the state’s most recent former governor, two-term Democrat John Baldacci, who told the Washington Examiner, “Stephen would win any office he decided to run for in Maine.”

“I would be out there handing out fliers and putting on bumper stickers for him,” said Baldacci, who left office after eight years in 2011. “He’s been a big asset for the state of Maine and for a lot of people who look for common sense in the wilderness.”

There are clear opportunities in Democratic-leaning Maine. The pugnacious Republican Gov. Paul LePage, an ardent Trump supporter, is term-limited and will be replaced in an election next year while centrist GOP Sen. Susan Collins is up for re-election in 2020

(19) FAREWELL CASSINI. Movie of 13 years of Saturn pictures: “Saturn’s Strangest Sights, As Captured By A Doomed Spacecraft”.

(20) TRIP AROUND THE SUN. An extensive history of the Cassini mission told by the people who helped make it happen: “Our Saturn years”.

“I look back and think: ‘Gosh, I’ve worked on Cassini for almost an entire Saturn year.'”

(21) LIFE CATCHES UP WITH SF. Who said science fiction never predicts anything? (Nobody, actually, but it’s such a good hook….) — “At Bug-Eating Festival, Kids Crunch Down On The Food Of The Future”.

Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a footnote, “Filers may remember ‘chirpy chili’ in Pohl’s ‘Second-Hand Sky’, part of the fix-up Lives of the City.”

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Secret Meaning of Stephen King’s IT” is a video by ScreenCrush that looks at the 2017 IT, the 1990s mini-series of IT, and lots of other horror movies to show their use of water and how water can be scary.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/10/17 The Phantom Scrollbooth

(1) OFF THE HOOK. Remember when she said she didn’t write sf? Now she is sf. Margaret Atwood makes a cameo in the game Zombies Run:

Hampus Eckerman adds, “I do recommend that game as a very good way of activating oneself for jogs or long walks. There is an additional game called Zombies, Run! 5k Training by the same creators for people who aren’t fit enough to jog as yet. It works as a prequel and lets you do basic exercises and gradually increased walk/runs for eight weeks to get fit enough to hit the main game. The main game works as a radio theatre, where your progress is checked by GPS and where (configurable) zombies sometimes attack you, forcing you to increase your pace.”

(2) MAYDAY. On Obscura Day, May 6, Atlas Obscura plans an international self-celebration.

Join us at an event.

We’re hosting over 170 events in 36 states and 25 countries.

A kayak exploration through the largest ship graveyard in the Western Hemisphere. A private tour of the world’s original nuclear power plant. A classical concert in an abandoned hilltop spy station outside Berlin. What discoveries await you?

There are a bunch of events in the LA area, including a walking tour of The Kitschy Culture of Los Feliz Village, not far from Forrest J Ackerman Square.

(3) AN UNORTHODOX MOVE. Michael A. Burstein helped his Facebook readers translate the Four Questions. But not the way you might assume….

Once again, for those of you celebrating Pesach (Passover) as it begins tonight, here are the Four Questions in Klingon:

(4) MORE ABOUT CHINESE SF. Another interview with the author of “Folding Beijing” — “Award-Winning Sci-Fi Writer Hao Jingfang Sets Her Sights Closer to Home”.

When you first posted Folding Beijing for free on a Tsinghua university server, was that also for pleasure?

Yes, when I was in school, I had lots of time.

I am very surprised that studying physics, especially quantum physics, gave you a lot of time?

Perhaps that’s why I didn’t become a scientist! I was a good student, but not one good enough to become a scientist. Probably 95% of the physics students entered other fields after graduation. Only 5% to 10% of the top students became real physicists.

Is sci-fi an effective tool for investigating social issues?

I think science fiction is perhaps the freest genre for me to set my characters and everything else according to my opinion. Because in pure literature, I need to make sure I have the whole background and the reality of the people. You cannot just change the reality, if you do that the readers will be like ‘oh no! Life isn’t like that’. In science fiction you’re free, you can set the stage and tell readers, life is this, and you can form other stories on that stage. In my longer novel, I created one society on Mars and another on Earth, and then I can compare different policies and methods in these two places. The two societies can mirror each other. This is the kind of freedom I cannot find anywhere else.

(5) COODE STREET ADDRESS. The April 2 edition of The Coode Street Podcast promotes “A New Theory of Science Fiction.” The podcast is looking at Robinson’s New York 2140 which Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan claim is more in keeping with the Heinlein thesis that capitalism can fix Big Problems without a change in political and social structures. And they believe it’s also critiquing the controversial usage of info dumps and the belief that they’re particular to SF.

They also cover the history of the Crawford Award, the ICFA and Gary’s new History of Science Fiction.

(6) FIRST ON THE LIST. Popsugar ranks this café as “The 1 Place in Scotland that All Harry Potter Fans Should Visit at Least Once”.

Scotland is a veritable mecca for Harry Potter fans, considering J.K. Rowling herself lives there and wrote a large majority of the series there. Everywhere you turn, you can see Rowling’s inspiration or something that could easily be found in one of the films. While our Harry Potter travel bucket list can take you all over the world, it’s important to make a stop at where it all began: the Elephant House Cafe in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The cafe in the heart of Edinburgh touts itself as the birthplace of Harry Potter, because Rowling spent countless hours in this shop penning Harry Potter. She sat in the back of the restaurant, overlooking Edinburgh Castle and Greyfriars Kirkyard, where a grave for a man named Tom Riddell can be found.

(7) BROWN OBIT. Chelsea Brown (1942-2017), best remembered as a cast member on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In in the Sixties, passed away March 27 at the age of 74. She also had a genre credit — as Rosey Grier’s love interest in The Thing With Two Heads (1972). As the New York Times explains —

In that film, the head of an ailing bigot, played by Ray Milland, is grafted onto the body of a death-row inmate played by Mr. Grier, a former defensive lineman in the N.F.L. Car chases, gunfights and bickering ensue.

Mr. Grier and Mr. Milland eventually reach Ms. Brown. At first undaunted by Mr. Grier’s second head, she moves in for a kiss, then quickly withdraws and deadpans, “Honey, I know you don’t like to answer a lot of questions — but, but, how did that happen?”

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 10, 1981 The Howling was released in theaters.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born April 10 – David Langford

(10) TIME’S A-WASTIN’! There’s less than a week left to vote in the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards and Steve Vertlieb would like people to take a look at his nominated blog.

My blog, BETTER DAYS; BENNER NIGHTS, has been nominated for BEST BLOG OF 2016 in this year’s annual RONDO AWARDS competition. To vote for my series of articles, just send your selection (along with your name and E-Mail address) to David Colton whose voting address is taraco@aol.com prior to Sunday night, April 16th, 2017, at midnight.

Thanks sincerely for your consideration of my work. It’s an affectionate remembrance of the Saturday Matinee and 1950’s television when classic cliffhanger serials thrilled and excited “children of all ages”… when careening spaceships and thundering hooves echoed through the revered imaginations and hallowed corridors of time and memory…and when Buster Crabbe lovingly brought “Flash Gordon,” “Buck Rogers,” and “Captain Gallant Of The Foreign Legion” to life in darkened movie palaces all over the world. Return with us now to “those thrilling days of yesteryear” when Zorro, Hopalong Cassidy, “Space Patrol,” Ming, The Merciless, and Larry “Buster” Crabbe lit the early days of television, and Saturday afternoon motion picture screens, with magical imagery and unforgettable excitement.

(11) LIADEN UNIVERSE. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have posted their appearance calendar for the rest of the year.

We’ve had some queries about upcoming publications, and upcoming appearances, and, and — herewith an attempt to get them all in one place, for you, and for us.  Please note that the list is probably not complete; it’s only as complete as far as we know, as of Right Now.

(12) MAKE SCI-FI COME TRUE. GeekWire claims “NASA funds ideas from science fiction”. Well, if they’re smart they do.

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program, also known as NIAC, has been backing far-out aerospace concepts for almost 20 years. It started out as the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, modeled after the Pentagon’s DARPA think tank.

NIAC’s latest crop of 22 tech projects was announced this week, and they include a few concepts that were virtually ripped from the headlines of science fiction’s pulp magazines. Here are our favorite five:

Flying airships of Mars: The idea of sending airships floating through the Red Planet’s skies dates back to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom novels of the early 20th century.

One big problem: Mars’ actual atmosphere is so thin that an airship would have to maintain a vacuum to become buoyant. That’s exactly what Georgia Tech’s John-Paul Clarke intends to do with an experimental double-shelled, reinforced vacuum airship….

(13) EVEN BETTER. The 2084 anthology of dystopian fiction hit its funding target and now is plowing through its stretch goals.

Stretch goals!

After an opening week like that there’s only one thing we can do… And what better way to make the anthology better than with more stories? We’ve got more great writers lined up – people who will bring a fresh angle to the theme, people whose writing we love – and they’re poised and ready to go, right now. The first target is nice and easy, as well…

£6,000 – we add another story – HIT!

£7,500 – we add a second bonus story – HIT!

£9,000 – we add a third extra story

(14) SOUND OF HUGOS. Camestros Felapton can’t believe his ears. (I really want to make this a Spock reference. I’m sure you do, too.) “Hugo 2017 Review: Splendor & Misery by Clipping”.

Experimental Hip Hop group, Clipping are not a stereotypical Hugo nominee but I’d be hard pressed to name an album that is so tightly linked to the Hugo tradition. Science fiction themes are not new to popular music from David Bowie to Janelle Monae but Splendor & Misery approaches science fiction from a different direction musically. Rather than reaching for the broader aesthetics of SF visuals, Splendor & Misery dives directly into science fiction as both a narrative and as a distinct historical genre.

(15) THOSE TRAD PUB JUNKIES. Claire Ryan (intentionally) revives the Sad Puppies favorite argument in “The Hugo Awards are irrelevant”.

I went to Amazon.com, and I took a look at the current bestsellers for sci-fi and fantasy in Kindle. I found a couple of self-published authors immediately. Let’s not hash out the same tired arguments that the indies are somehow less worthy or less talented, please. Clearly the readers don’t think so. Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking probably have more readers than all the current Hugo Best Novel finalists put together, and they’ve never even been nominated.

(16) LONDON CALLING. Shhh! Please remember, Jonathan McCalmont abhors attention.

(17) KAEDRIN BLOG. Mark Kaedrin says the novel category of the final Hugo ballot looks pretty good.

The novel ballot looks pretty good and indeed, I’ve already read three of the nominees, all of which were pretty good (and two of which were in my nominations). Ninefox Gambit is the clear front-runner for me, with its intricate worldbuilding and simple, pulpy plot. A Closed and Common Orbit ranks a distant second, but I liked its focus and positive attitude enough to throw it a nomination. All the Birds in the Sky has a great, whimsical tone to it, but of the novels I’ve read, it’s the one that could fall behind some of the things I haven’t read yet. Speaking of which, Cixin Liu returns to the ballot with Death’s End, the conclusion to the story begun in the Hugo-winning Three Body Problem and the one I’m most looking forward to catching up with (even if it requires me to read the second novel, which I never got to last year). Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning has been on my radar for a while, but I never pulled the trigger. It sounds like it has potential for me. N.K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate rounds out the nominees. A sequel to last year’s Hugo-winning The Fifth Season, a book that I have to admit that I did not enjoy at all. Well written and executed, but it felt a little too much like misery-porn for my liking, and thus I’m not particularly enthused about reading the sequel. I realize this puts me in the minority here, but it’s got me seriously considering not actually participating this year. I really don’t want to return to that gloomy world of suffering and despair, as well written as it may be…

He’s able to restrain his enthusiasm about some of the others.

(18) RED, WHITE AND BLUE. But somebody in their comments says they use Russian rockets – “Building on ULA’s Heritage, Setting the Pace for the Future of Space Launch.”

As a new era dawns, ULA continues to set the pace in space launch. Building on a heritage extending to the early days of American space launch, ULA is bringing future innovations to the table to support human launch from American soil and next-generation technology that will create transportation infrastructure to support a permanent human presence in space.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

From Here To Infinity with Jonathan Strahan

Bridging Infinity Cover

By Carl Slaughter: Prolific and award-winning anthology editor Jonathan Strahan continues his Infinity Project.  Engineering Infinity, Edge of Infinity, Reach for Infinity, and Meeting Infinity were followed by Bridging Infinity this past November. Infinity Wars is due out in September 2017 and Infinity’s End in 2018.

The series emphasizes hard science, grand scale science, and far-fetched science.

“Bridging Infinity puts humanity at the heart of these vast undertakings – as builder, as engineer, as adventurer – reimagining and rebuilding the world, the solar system, and even the entire universe.”

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Sixteen Questions for Kamala Chatterjee, by Alastair Reynolds
  • Six Degrees of Separation Freedom, by Pat Cadigan
  • The Venus Generations, by Stephen Baxter
  • Rager in Space, by Charlie Jane Anders
  • The Mighty Slinger, by Tobias Buckell & Karen Lord
  • Ozymandias, by Karin Lowachee
  • The City’s Edge, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Mice Among Elephants, by Gregory Benford & Larry Niven
  • Parables of Infinity, by Robert Reed
  • Monuments, by Pamela Sargent
  • Apache Charley and the Pentagons of Hex, by Allen Steele
  • Cold Comfort, by Pat Murphy & Paul Doherty
  • Travelling into Nothing, by An Owomoyela
  • Induction, by Thoraiya Dyer
  • Seven Birthdays, by Ken Liu

On his Coode Street blog last November, Strahan ran a series of brief interviews with many of Bridging Infinity’s authors. Here are some excerpts, with links to the complete posts.

Alastair Reynolds on “Sixteen Questions for Kamala Chatterjee”: “My story deals with a far-future engineering project to drill down into the Sun, for reasons that are explained in the story. But the story has its basis in the present, as the central protagonist is an Indian scientist who makes a critical discovery during her thesis work.  wanted to keep very literally to the theme of “bridging”, and that meant some sort of physical structure connecting two points. I kept coming back to James Blish’s short story “The Bridge” about a vast engineering project on (or in) Jupiter, but I wanted to go beyond that to something truly nuts, but just about feasible at the extreme range of present speculation. I wanted to keep away from space elevators and wormholes! I’d read about the solar heliospheric oscillations during my own degree work, and it had always struck with me that there’s a lot we still don’t know about the interior life of stars. I also did some sniffing around about very high temperature materials, and found that creating an alloy that could survive on the surface of the Sun isn’t as mad as it sounds. The other inspiration for the story was drawing a parallel between the sometimes stressful business of defending your thesis work, and an actual interrogation.”

Charlie Jane Anders on “Rager in Space”:  “Rager in Space is about peer pressure, and that moment when you realize that maybe you’ve outgrown your best friend. Sion and D-Mei have been inseparable since they were kids, and they’re unrepentant party girls in a world where artificial intelligence failed for some reason that nobody understands.  It’s a sad sort of world where nothing quite works, because the computers tend to go on the fritz whenever you need them. But then Sion gets an invite to go into deep space on the first interstellar spaceship, which is basically one big party bus in space. And then she discovers the reason why the Singularity (that moment where computers become smarter than us) never lived up to its promise.  I had been tinkering with this story for a couple years, actually. I was interested in the idea of a couple of party girls going into space and maybe meeting aliens. For a while the story was called “YOLO,” which was absurdly dated even when I started writing it. It didn’t really click for me until I wrote the flashback to Sion’s childhood, where she’s struggling with the fallout from the failed Singularity and then D-Mei comes to her rescue. That made this into much more of a story about a weird friendship. And then I got obsessed with building out the spaceship and the A.I. politics and everything else.”

Pat Murphy and Paul Doherty on “Cold Comfort”Pat Murphy: “If you crack the ice on the right Arctic lake and toss in a match, you can set off a methane flare.  That’s not fiction. It’s true. And that’s what inspired the story. (If you doubt me, search “methane lake” on YouTube, and you’ll find videos of Katey Anthony, a University of Alaska professor, demonstrating the technique.)  The Arctic is warming because of global climate change. As it warms, the permafrost is melting. As the permafrost melts, it releases methane, which bubble up in Arctic lakes.  And here’s the nasty bit: methane is a greenhouse gas that’s even more powerful than carbon dioxide. More methane means more warming, and that meant more permafrost melting, which means more methane and more warming…and so on in a positive feedback loop with negative consequences.  When Jonathan Strahan asked for a story about a super-engineering project, the melting permafrost was on my mind. My friend Paul Doherty and I had recently written about the permafrost and a (real life) project called Pleistocene Park for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. So I enlisted Paul in the creation of a project to save the world from the feedback loop of the melting permafrost. Of course, we started with an exploding lake.”

Paul Doherty: “I have real life engineering friends who are creating the fundamental science behind what might turn into huge engineering projects to help save us from the arctic methane problem. I used their discussions together with my experience working with the scientists, managers, engineers, and crazed artists  at McMurdo Station Antarctica to inspire our story line and more importantly paint a picture of the personalities of the people in our story.”

Pamela Sargent on “Monuments”: “My home town of Albany, capital of the state and a city much changed by the construction of the Empire State Plaza under then – Governor Nelson Rockefeller, an exercise in grandiose architecture and megalomania that cost 2 billion dollars and was the largest government complex ever built in North America.  The project began in 1965, disrupted the downtown for years, dislocated thousands of people and destroyed an entire area of the city. ‘Aggressively modernist’ is a polite way to describe this marble and stone plaza, which looks like it could have been designed by Albert Speer. One of my brothers worked on one of the Plaza’s construction crews, and people here are still arguing, fifty years later, about whether the Empire State Plaza vastly improved our city or destroyed much of its old, essential character.”

Gregory Benford and Larry Niven — “Mice Among Elephants”Gregory Benford: “Larry Niven and I wrote Mice Among Elephants’ because the recent LIGO discovery of gravitational waves excited our interest. We had set up in our two previous novels together, Bowl of Heaven and Shipstar, a mystery about the target star of an interstellar starship, Glory. Glory seemed to be a normal solar system – so how did radiate such powerful gravitational waves?  As a gravitational wave moves through space, one transverse direction stretches space-time itself, while in the other direction, space-time compresses. But gravitational waves are very weak – so how to make them, short of using masses greater than stars’?  So the humans venture near and find a small system of black holes. The key is that orbiting black holes, carrying the mass of Earth itself, are still only millimeters in size. They can orbit in small spaces. And inside that volume, the black holes don’t have to follow nice, orderly orbits like the planets we know.  Instead, gravitational effects in strong fields (for which you need General Relativity) lead to orbits that can wrap in close, then speed out—whirl and zoom orbits, physicists call them.  Not your mother’s good ol’ ellipse!”

Karen Lord and Tobias Buckell on “The Mighty Slinger”: “We wanted to tell an unapologetically Caribbean story, no explanations, no watering-down. People from small nations often travel far for work and get overlooked by large corporate and political interests. We made them the heroes that saved and mended our broken, used-up Earth when no-one else was willing to give it a chance.  A little bit of history, a little bit of now. There’s a hint of the building of the Panama Canal in there (many West Indians were part of that), and the tradition of sociopolitical commentary in kaiso goes back for generations and remains strong.  And the in-crowd knows that The Mighty Sparrow’s real name is Slinger Francisco. Our protagonist’s name is a nod to that. The people who travel to labor bring their memories and culture with them, so we wanted to show a future where diaspora continued and how vibrant it was.”

Ken Liu on “Seven Birthdays”: “My story starts out as a ‘climate change’ geo-engineering story based on ideas circulating in the scientific community but soon veers in an unexpected direction. It explores themes of family, our post-human essence, and the weight of history, which are close to my heart. But best of all, it features multiple ‘kites’ at astronomical scales. Who doesn’t like kites?  I wanted to take the idea of mega-engineering and scale it up to be as grand as I can imagine and still be (theoretically) possible. To tell a story at an epic scale within the compact space of a short story is a challenge I enjoy.”

Stephen Baxter on “The Venus Generations”: “Venus ought to be a twin of Earth. Instead, a little too close to the sun, a runaway greenhouse effect long ago removed all the water and covered it in an atmosphere as thick as an ocean. Even compared to Mars it’s a massive challenge to terraform – but a few thousand years from now a dynasty of engineers attempts it anyway, with disastrous personal results.  It’s set in my ‘Xeelee Sequence’ future history, in which I’m working on new novels. That sort of project generates its own ideas. I have a useful Venus in the far future; how did it get that way?”

Allen M. Steele on “Apache Charley and the Pentagons of Hex”: “’Apache Charley and the Pentagons of Hex’ is set in the expanded universe of the Coyote series, which are novels and stories that take place elsewhere in the galaxy besides the 47 Ursae Majoris system but share the same background. In this instance, it’s a story taking place on Hex, a not-quite Dyson sphere that I previously explored in a novel of the same title.  After Hex was published, a couple of readers pointed out a design flaw in my not-quite Dyson sphere: a sphere comprised if trillions of hexagons (i.e. six-sided circles) would need a few pentagons (i.e. eight-sided circles) here and there in order for the whole thing to fit together, even if the sphere is 2 a.u. in diameter. One of these readers, a fellow I met at a SF convention, then told me exactly where those pentagons would geometrically be located, and this intrigued me. What if someone noticed these locations, thought there was something special about them, and went out to discover what it was?”

Karin Lowachee on “Ozymandias”:  “The concept of the anthology intrigued me, but to be honest I cycled through a handful of ideas before settling on the one that became Ozymandias. The title refers to the sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of my favorites since I was young, because of the theme of inevitable collapse or destruction that follows some great creation. At the center of the story is a n’er-do-well named Luis Estrada and the AI SIFU who occupy a giant “light station” in space, which is essentially like a lighthouse in the cosmos, albeit military owned. Hijinks ensue.  I thought of the enormity and isolation of something that would essentially be a beacon and replenishment depot for military convoys in space. It would be mostly run by an AI, but for redundancy purposes, entail a human live-in engineer. As Luis came alive on the page, I realized I wanted a more light-hearted approach – a character who is not in awe of any feat of engineering, but would rather just make a buck. He would be the perfect point-of-view to kind of de-romanticize these massive creations that humanity tends to take such pride in. I wanted to explore the concept of destruction, the fact that things built by hand (or robots) can still be taken down. We shouldn’t get too cocky about our achievements.”

Kristine Kathryn Rusch on “The City’s Edge”: “’The City’s Edge’ focuses on a failed engineering project—one that was on track, and then disappeared in the dead of night. There’s more than one gigantic engineering piece in this story, which made it fun to write.  When I received the anthology invitation, I decided not to write a story in my usual sf universes (Diving and the Retrieval Artist). The stories would’ve been too long, for one thing, and for another, I have loyalty to Asimov’s which usually publishes those first. However, that tied me up in serious knots. How do I write about a major sf engineering project without reaching into my usual sources.  I’m not really a near-future kind of hard sf writer, although I thought about doing something. I couldn’t find the hook. So, I read a few books on historical projects and something in a book on the New York subway system caught me—all the started and failed parts of the project. I realized I’d been looking at this wrong. Projects work after a lot of failure. That led me to my character, which led me to the story.”

Thoraiya Dyer on “Induction”: “Rising sea levels threaten Anguilla, but businessmen can always make a buck. It’s up to an ex-astronaut to save the ordinary people from his half-brother if he can. With the help of an engineer. From the depths of a shaft drilled the full thickness of Earth’s crust.  A combination of: Journal articles on Russian and Icelandic deep-drilling efforts, and wondering why they didn’t drill where the crust was thinnest. Renewable energy research. Alzheimer’s disease striking my friends and family. A chance encounter with someone who grew up on Groote Eylandt.”

PRAISE FOR BRIDGING INFINITY

  • “There are riches waiting to be discovered in Bridging Infinity. And now I’m keener than ever to investigate the other volumes in the Infinity Project – who knows where they’ll take me.” — Rising Shadow
  • Bridging Infinity is extremely insightful. While not all of the stories are ultra-hard sci-fi, all of them have practical significance to the reader.” — Edge of Infinity
  • “I have loved the Infinity series so far. I am consistently impressed by the variety of worlds presented and the writing talent included.” — Randomly Yours

Stories Picked for Strahan’s Best SF & F of the Year

Jonathan Strahan has announced the table of contents for his The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 11.

Here is the table of contents for this year:

  • “Two’s Company”, Joe Abercrombie (Sharp Ends)
  • “The Art of Space Travel”, Nina Allan (Tor.com)
  • “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit wood)
  • “Mika Model”, Paolo Bacigalupi (Slate)
  • “A Salvaging of Ghosts”, Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 01/03/16)
  • “Laws of Night and Silk”, Seth Dickinson (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 26 May 2016)
  • “Touring with the Alien”, Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld 115, 4/16)
  • “Red as Blood and White as Bone”, Theodora Goss (Tor.com)
  • “Even the Crumbs Were Delicious”, Daryl Gregory (The Starlit Wood)
  • “Number Nine Moon”, Alex Irvine (F&SF, 1/16)
  • “Red Dirt Witch”, N.K. Jemisin (Fantasy/PoC Destroy Fantasy)
  • “Whisper Road (Murder Ballad No. 9)”, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Sirenia Digest 125, 7/16)
  • “Successor, Usurper, Replacement”, Alice Sola Kim (Buzzfeed, 10/26/16)
  • “You Make Pattaya”, Rich Larson (Interzone 247)
  • “Foxfire Foxfire”, Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, March 2016)
  • “Seven Birthdays”, Ken Liu (Bridging Infinity)
  • “The Visitor from Taured”, Ian R. MacLeod (Asimov’s, 9/16)
  • “Elves of Antarctica”, Paul McAuley (Drowned Worlds)
  • “Things with Beards”, Sam J Miller (Clarkesworld 117, 6/16)
  • “Spinning Silver”, Naomi Novik (The Starlit Wood)
  • “Those Shadows Laugh”, Geoff Ryman (F&SF, 9-10/16)
  • “The Great Detective”, Delia Sherman (Tor.com)
  • “Terminal”, Lavie Tidhar (Tor.com, 04/16)
  • “The Future is Blue”, Catherynne M Valente (Drowned Worlds)
  • “Everyone from Themis Sends Letters Home”, Genevieve Valentine (Clarkesworld)
  • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay “, Alyssa Wong (Uncanny 10, 5-6/16)
  • “Fable”, Charles Yu (The New Yorker, 5/30/16)
  • “The Witch of Orion Waste and the Boy Knight”, E Lily Yu (Uncanny 12)

Pixel Scroll 11/30/16 It Ain’t Necessarily Scroll

(1) OUTRUNNING CANCER. Pat Cadigan decided – why wait to party? “The Hormones Laughed At Me, Saying, ‘Sleep? B!tch, Please – You Can Sleep When You’re Dead! Mwahahahahahaha!’”

Truth to tell, I suspected I was going to have some sleepless nights coming up anyway. This December was my original estimated time of departure. I didn’t believe for a moment that it would be (I’ve probably said that about a thousand times, here and elsewhere). But when a doctor gives you an expiration date, it kinda sticks in your mind even if it doesn’t come true. And though I didn’t believe it, I tried to imagine what it would be like but as I never got within spitting distance of Death’s Door, it didn’t seem like a productive use of my time so I stopped.

Anyway, starting tomorrow, 1 December, every day is a party. They won’t all be noisy and lively parties; some will be too sedate to really be worthy of the term. But I’m calling them parties anyway. From 1 December till…well, who knows? Whatever I’m doing, I’ll be partying. If I’m writing, I’m partying. If I’m in the bathtub, I’m partying. If I’m reading, I’m partying. You get the idea.

(2) IT ONLY TAKES MONEY. Martin Morse Wooster knows how you can get into the Hollywood sci-fi event of the season:

Now I know you’d like nothing better than to go to the Star Wars premiere in LA and chill with Forest Whitaker afterward.  Well, guess what:  this experience is yours for ONLY $35,000!  But you get TWO tickets.

This offer is made on a website called ifonly.com, which offers “unique experiences.”  I wish I could tell you more but they demand you sign up for their newsletter before they show you what they have so that’s what I’m able to tell you.

You know, the Washington Nationals only charged me $40, and I got to see two Cy Young winners AND get a Coveted Star Wars Thingie.  Five digits for a STAR WARS experience is a little much…

Details

  • 2 tickets to the premiere of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” in Los Angeles on December 10
  • 2 passes to the after-party
  • Does not include a meet & greet with any cast members
  • Must be 16 or older
  • Travel and accommodations not included
  • Background check may be required and guests must provide names within 24 hours of the auction’s close

Auction ends December 5.

(3) END OF TORONTO FAN INSTITUTION. In her latest newsletter for the group, Yvonne Penney announced Toronto’s First Thursday gatherings will end next week.

December will be the final First Thursday as founded by Tommy Ferguson in 1997. This decision has not been an easy one because of its longevity in the SF community in Toronto and region.

Here is why this is happening:

  1. I am retiring in 2017 and I have a long list of things that I want to accomplish and hopefully will have the time and continued health to do it in.
  2. Arthritis is slowly making its presence felt. For a number of years I have had difficulty in walking because of arthritis in my right ankle, my shoulders are in constant pain and my hips give me grief at times.
  3. Because of an unfortunate atmosphere that has arisen because one member decided he didn’t like the pub we were using. When the Foxes Den suddenly closed its doors (It’s now a Firkin), a new venue needed to be found, and rather than work with the group, he decided to start his own. He and his group cannot lay claim to the original pubnite as they were not around when the First Thursday Pubnite was created, which by the way was not created solely for the 2003 Worldcon bid – it predates that. Also, attendance has been low for the past several years; we no longer had the numbers, even at the Foxes Den, we once had many years ago.

This sort of split is not new; it occurs all the time anywhere in the world for any community or interest. I find it stressful….

(4) TREASURE HOUSE FOR READERS. Literary Hub reveres the memory of James Lackington — “The Man Who Invented Bookselling As We Know It”.

Today, few people are likely to remember James Lackington (1746-1815) and his once-famous London bookshop, The Temple of the Muses, but if, as a customer, you’ve ever bought a remaindered book at deep discount, or wandered thoughtfully through the over-stocked shelves of a cavernous bookstore, or spent an afternoon lounging in the reading area of a bookshop (without buying anything!) then you’ve already experienced some of the ways that Lackington revolutionized bookselling in the late 18th century. And if you’re a bookseller, then the chances are that you’ve encountered marketing strategies and competitive pressures that trace their origins to Lackington’s shop. In the 21st-century marketplace, there is sometimes a longing for an earlier, simpler age, but the uneasy tension between giant and small retailers seems to have been a constant since the beginning. The Temple of the Muses, which was one of the first modern bookstores, was a mammoth enterprise, by far the largest bookstore in England, boasting an inventory of over 500,000 volumes, annual sales of 100,000 books, and yearly revenues of £5,000 (roughly $700,000 today). All of this made Lackington a very wealthy man—admired by some and despised by others—but London’s greatest bookseller began his career inauspiciously as an illiterate shoemaker.

(5) HINES AUCTION #5. In the fifth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions, up for bid are two autographed books (one trade paperback, one hardcover) by author Stephen Leigh.

Today’s auction is for a signed trade paperback of the Spectrum Award-winning DARK WATER’S EMBRACE and a signed hardcover of CROW OF CONNEMARA, both by Stephen Leigh.

The Crow of Connemara is a contemporary Celtic fantasy set primarily in Ireland.  Picking up threads from ancient Irish mythology and folktales, this story is fantasy, drama, and tragic romance all at once, a tale caught in the dark places where the world of ancient myth intersects our own, where old ways and old beliefs struggle not to be overwhelmed by the modern world.

Often compared to Ursula Le Guin’s ground-breaking The Left Hand of Darkness, Dark Water’s Embrace is a fascinating look at issues of human (and alien) sexuality. Stephen Leigh creates a rich world with elaborate care and uses this alien backdrop to delve into issues of survival, sexuality and the meaning of life itself.

(6) STRAHAN’S FAVORITES FROM THIS YEAR’S SHORT NOVELS. Spotted via Black Gate, Jonathan Strahan posted his imaginary ToC of Best Short Novels 2016

  • The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor)
  • The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor)
  • Every Heart A Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor)
  • This Census-taker, China Mieville (Del Rey)
  • The Charge and the Storm, An Owomoyela (Asimov’s)
  • The Devil You Know, K.J. Parker (Tor)
  • The Iron Tactician, Alastair Reynolds (Newcon)
  • The Best Story I Can Manage, Robert Shearman (Five Storeys High)
  • The Vanishing Kind, Lavie Tidhar (F&SF)
  • A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor)

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 30, 2011 — A pristine copy of Action Comics #1, famed for the first appearance of Superman, sold for $2,161,000. It was the first comic book to break the $2 million mark.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born November 30, 1937 – Ridley Scott

(9) QUARK FOR REALZ? Daniel Dern drew a connection between this New York Times news item and a Seventies TV show — “Space Trash Collector? A Japanese Entrepreneur Wants the Job”.

Sitting in a drab industrial neighborhood surrounded by warehouses and factories, Astroscale’s Tokyo office seems appropriately located for a company seeking to enter the waste management business.

Only inside do visitors see signs that its founder, Mitsunobu Okada, aspires to be more than an ordinary garbageman. Schoolroom pictures of the planets decorate the door to the meeting room. Satellite mock-ups occupy a corner. Mr. Okada greets guests in a dark blue T-shirt emblazoned with his company’s slogan: Space Sweepers.

Mr. Okada is an entrepreneur with a vision of creating the first trash collection company dedicated to cleaning up some of humanity’s hardest-to-reach rubbish: the spent rocket stages, inert satellites and other debris that have been collecting above Earth since Sputnik ushered in the space age. He launched Astroscale three years ago in the belief that national space agencies were dragging their feet in facing the problem, which could be tackled more quickly by a small private company motivated by profit.

Dern remembers Quark was a 1977-1978 TV show. Per Wikipedia:

Quark was created by Buck Henry, co-creator of the spy spoof Get Smart.

The show was set on a United Galaxy Sanitation Patrol Cruiser, an interstellar garbage scow operating out of United Galaxies Space Station Perma One in the year 2226. Adam Quark, the main character, works to clean up trash in space by collecting “space baggies” with his trusted and highly unusual crew.

In its short run, Quark satirized such science fiction as Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Flash Gordon. Three of the episodes were direct parodies of Star Trek episodes.

(10) MIND MELD RETURNS. At Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Shana DuBois curated “Mind Meld: Some of Our Favorite Characters”.

Kate Wilhelm wrote, “Great fiction reveals that there is no such thing as a common, everyday uninteresting person. They are all interesting if you learn enough about them to discover who lives behind the facade.”

So we asked members of the genre community:

What is one of your favorite novels in which the characters sucked you into the story? What about these characters sets them apart?

The panelists answering the question are: Michael Damian Thomas, Cheryl Morgan, Jana Nyman, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Arianne “Tex” Thompson, Rachel S. Cordasco, and Beth Cato.

(11) FIGHTING ALZHEIMERS. Bill Gates tells about the research he saw on a visit to CalTech in “Why I’d Love To Be A College Student Again”.

People often think that the U.S. spends a huge amount of money—perhaps too much—on R&D. In fact, all U.S. R&D spending accounts for less than 1 percent of national income.

I’ve written before about the importance of government investment to jumpstart innovation. Government-backed research in universities and labs leads to new ideas and technology that build new businesses, create jobs, and strengthen our overall economy.

But those big, life-changing discoveries and innovations—from the cancer cures to moonshots to solar cells– often get their start as an experiment in a university lab, an equation sketched on a professor’s blackboard, or a student asking, “What if?”

A new idea is a fragile thing. It needs allies to nurture it. Government R&D investments provide that important support. Without it, we would have fewer scientific breakthroughs.

Let me give a couple examples of why this is so important.

Some of the most exciting research I learned about during my visit was from Caltech scientists working on identifying possible treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. All of the researchers received government R&D funding.

(12) VISION QUEST. Diane Duane told Facebook readers she developed an eye problem last Sunday. She feared it was a torn retina. It wasn’t – though the real problem is also a concern.

So here’s the tl:dr; version of today’s episode of the Adventure of the Dexter Eye.

Part 1: What happened to me was (thank all Gods in the neighborhood) NOT any kind of retinal detachment, vitreous detachment, or similar traumatic damage to the retina. So today’s teaching moment is: even if you are a health care professional (or former one) and expert at Googling For Symptoms, don’t be so sure you know what’s going on.

This means that I’ve dodged this bullet, only to find I’m standing in front of a bigger, slower one.*

Part 2: What seems to have happened to me is a small transient circulatory blockage in the retina….

And that could be symptomatic of any number of other problems.

This is a herald of other things that may be going on elsewhere. So over the next couple of weeks I get to go to my GP here and have a full workup of bloods and various diagnostic procedures to be determined as we go along, with an eye to ruling in/out a complex of possibilities: circulatory system problems, heart problems, incipient dIabetes, plaque, sunspots, you name it. (There are way too many possible causes for this event…) (OKAY, maybe not sunspots.)

(13) MARTIAN HOPS. The Space Review posted the first part of a discussion of two new productions with Martian roots. “Love and a Red Planet: popular entertainment and the settlement of Mars (part 1)” at The Space Review.

It takes Hollywood about two years to produce a movie or a television show. It can happen faster, and it certainly can be done slower—a situation often referred to as “development hell” in the industry—but two years is about average. Thus, it is unlikely that any of the Mars-themed shows and movies appearing today are a direct result of the success of last year’s movie The Martian. More likely, National Geographic’s Mars series and the weepy teen romance The Space Between Us got started as a result of the success of Andy Weir’s 2014 book that inspired the hit movie, as well as the increased attention that human exploration of Mars gained starting around 2013 or so with Mars One and Elon Musk. The success of the movie, which starred Matt Damon and premiered in fall 2015, probably only reassured any nervous financiers that movies and television shows that used Mars as a backdrop could find an audience.

Mars premiered on The National Geographic Channel on November 14. The Space Between Us was to open in theaters in mid-December (it has recently been delayed to early February), but had a special advance showing in Washington, DC, a couple of weeks ago. Both have at their core fictionalized stories about the first humans on Mars, and in both cases they depict plans for settlement involving public-private partnerships, as opposed to the more common theme of human exploration of Mars. Because of these similarities they serve as useful indicators of how the subject of human settlement of Mars—not simply exploration—is being depicted in popular entertainment. Has Mars-themed entertainment been liberated of some of its prior constraints and is it evolving in new ways, or is it still beholden to many of the standard tropes we’ve seen in numerous other movies? This article will address The Space Between Us, and the second part will address the National Geographic series Mars.

Has Mars-themed entertainment been liberated of some of its prior constraints and is it evolving in new ways, or is it still beholden to many of the standard tropes we’ve seen in numerous other movies?

…Part 2 will address National Geographic Channel’s Mars miniseries.

(14) DEEP SPACE NEIN. With fake news getting so much attention right now, can a new Moon mission succeed in convincing people Neil Armstrong really went there in 1969? “German Mission to the Moon Will Prove the Apollo Landings Weren’t a Hoax”. Gizmodo has the story.

A German Lunar X-Prize team has announced its intentions to send two mobile probes to the Moon to inspect the lunar rover left behind by the Apollo 17 mission. Finally, something that’ll get the Moon landing conspiracy nutters to shut the hell up.

The group, known as PT Scientists, is one of 16 teams currently vying for the $30 million Google Lunar X-Prize, a competition requiring a private group to land an autonomous vehicle on the Moon, travel more than 500 meters (1,640 feet), and transmit high-definition photographs back to Earth. The group is currently working with German automobile manufacturer Audi to develop the rover, and it has signed a deal with broker Spaceflight Industries to secure a ride on a commercial launch vehicle (which rocket company is yet to be determined).

[Thanks to Murray Moore, JJ, Daniel Dern, Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

A Dozen “Year’s Best”

By Carl Slaughter: A dozen editors, some of them household names in the speculative community, take their stab at the year’s best stories.

The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Third Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois

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The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume One edited by Neil Clarke

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The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015 edited by Joe Hill and John Joseph Adams

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The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016 Edition edited by Rich Horton

horton-best-2016

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Ten edited by Jonathan Strahan

strahan-best-v-10

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016 edited by Karen Joy Fowler and John Joseph Adams

BASFF-2016-2_01

The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas 2016 edited by Paula Guran

guran-years-best-novellas-2016

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2016 Edition edited by Paula Guran

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Nebula Awards Showcase 2016 edited by Mercedes Lackey

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The Year’s Best Military & Adventure SF 2015: Volume 2 edited by David Afsharirad

Years Best milSF 2015

The Best Horror of the Year Volume Eight edited by Ellen Datlow

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The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction 8  edited by Allan Kaster

kaster-years-top-ten-v-8

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are strong female characters important for you?

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

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

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

The post has lots of GIFs of the action.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 9/13 Pixellary Justice

(1) Why is Stieg Larsson’s fourth Millennium novel a news item for the scroll? Well, it is a book a lot of us will read, but that’s not the reason. Sweden’s Ahrvid Engholm supplies the connection in his coverage “From the Biggest Book Release of 2015: ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’” on Europa SF.

There were big news and no news at the Stockholm press conference (August 26th) for the fourth Millennium novel, “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” by David Lagercrantz. Big news because of all the speculations and hysteria around this book, in the international bestseller (80+ million copies world-wide) series created and written by Stieg Larsson….

Stieg Larsson was one of Sweden’s top science-fiction fans throughout the 1970’s, as fanzine publisher (titles like Fijagh, SFären, Långfredagsnatt) board member and later chairman of the Scandinavian SF Association (where Yours Truly met him every week for several years), for which he and Eva Gabrielsson also edited the memberzine. He then turned to nonfannish journalism, covering neonazi and racist movements, and became quite well-known, writing books and appearing on TV talking about that field. When he died in a heart attack 2004, the first volumne in the Millennium saga was just about to be published. He never lived to see his huge success.

(2) The SFEditors (Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Paula Guran, Rich Horton, and Jonathan Strahan) are practically machine-gunning out short fiction recommendations.

(3) io9 lists “11 Science Fiction Books That Are Regularly Taught in College Classes”.

“But where is Fahrenheit 451?” demands John King Tarpinian.

(4) Lock your doors!

(5) Lee Hutchinson’s review of The Martian on Ars Technica focuses on whether it got the science right.

Fortunately, The Martian, is a good blind date. Screenwriter Drew Goddard has translated Andy Weir’s novel into a script that keeps almost all of the science and humor intact, and director Ridley Scott allows the vast emptiness of Mars to speak for itself, while keeping the gimmicks to a minimum.

And, of course, Matt Damon does wonders for the role of Mark Watney—the best botanist on the planet. The planet of Mars.

(6) Tom Knighton reviews Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves and concludes:

Absolutely amazing book.  I now find myself eagerly awaiting the next book.  I only wish Stephenson had a tip jar on his website.  I’d easily kick him whatever his percentage should be, because he easily deserves it.

(7) The oft-interviewed Samuel R. Delany answers questions, this time in The Nation:

CD: What other writers were doing this kind of work in ways that resonated with you?

SD: The first white writer who wrote a black character I personally found believable—and I read lots and lots, both inside and outside science fiction—was Thomas M. Disch, in his 1968 New Wave novel Camp Concentration, first serialized in the British science-fiction magazine New Worlds, whose first installment appeared in its first tabloid-style issue. The presentation of Mordecai is one reason I think it’s such an important book in science fiction’s history. Yes, that book passed my own Turing test in a way that, for me, Faulkner’s black characters did not—as, indeed, many of his white characters failed to do for me as well, though I always found his language exacting, when it wasn’t exhausting. Tom told me later that he’d modeled Mordecai on a black classmate of his in the Midwest. But, boy, did I recognize him from my memories of myself and my black friends on the Harlem streets.

(8) Forry Ackerman wrote a fan letter to Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1931 — and got an answer. Read both on Letters of Note.

(9) Just found out somebody was selling these in 2009. (“See The World Through The Eyes of MST3K”.)

MT3K glasses

And somebody else 3-D printed a version that glows in the dark.

(10) Here’s a random connection. Batman creator Bob Kane is buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

Cartoonist. Born in New York City, he was a comic book artist and writer, credited as the creator of the DC Comic’s superhero “Batman” character. He was a trainee animator when he entered the comic book field in 1936. Merging with DC Comics action series in 1938, editors were in a scramble for more heroes such as Superman. It was then when Kane who had influences from film actor action characters, conceived “Batman” as a superhero. Writer Bill Finger joined artist Kane and the “Batman” character debuted in DC’s Detective Comics series in May 1939, and was a breakout hit… (bio by: John “J-Cat” Griffith)

Who is Kane’s nearest neighbor? Stan Laurel.

Burial: Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)

Los Angeles

Los Angeles County

California,

USA Plot: Court of Liberty, Lot #1310 (behind Stan Laurel).

(11) Jonathan Kay reports how he was sheared at Fan Expo Canada.

On Sunday, I took two of my daughters to the 2015 instalment of Fan Expo Canada, billed as “the largest Comics, Sci-fi, Horror, Anime, and Gaming event in Canada.” More than 100,000 fans show up annually for the four-day exhibition, which now sprawls over both buildings of the massive Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Under one roof, I was able to meet a life-size My Little Pony, compete in a Catan tournament, playtest emerging console video games, commission custom panels from famous cartoonists, pose with life-size Futurama characters, buy a fully functional 3D-chess set, and generally revel in all the various subcultures that the rest of society stigmatizes as dorky and juvenile. My girls and I have been to Fan Expo Canada three years in a row, and we always have a good time….

In fact, the best way to describe Fan Expo’s celebrity protocol is as a sort of Chicago Mercantile Exchange for human beings. Instead of live cattle, lean hogs, skimmed milk powder, cash-settled butter, and softwood pulp, this big board (displayed above) lists prices for Billy Dee Williams, Gillian Anderson, Danny Trejo, Neve Campbell, Norman Reedus, Skeet Ulrich, Zach Galligan, and fifty other stars and quasi-stars. The precision of the numbers suggests a fine-tuned demand-driven adjustment process that any commodities trader would recognize. Williams (Lando Calrissian from Star Wars, but you knew that) was listed at $57. Anderson (X-Files): $91. Danny Trejo (Machete): $74. Neve Campbell (Scream): $97. Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead): $130. Skeet Ulrich (Jericho): $68. Zach Galligan (Gremlins): $63. Just my luck: Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley, Harry Potter’s red-haired sidekick) was listed at $142—highest on the board. I wanted to bail out. But having made the mistake of getting dragged this far, turning back wasn’t going to be a good-dad move.

And it got worse. Fan Expo also sells “Team Ups”: Photo-ops that allow big spenders to pose with multiple cast members from the same show or movie. In the case of Potter fans, $260 gets you the “Weasley family”—featuring not only Grint, but the two actors who play his fictional twin brothers Fred (James Phelps) and George (Oliver Phelps). The twins alone could be had for a mere $102, but my daughters convinced me that the family plan offered “the best value.” A second print: another $10. Digital copy: That was extra, too. With frames and tax, I was in for well over $300….

“Fleeced,” “Rip-off,” “Sucker”—I’ve used some strong language here. But in fact, Fan Expo and the Weasleys were scrupulously honest. They promised me a photo for a printed price. And that’s exactly what they delivered. And it’s a great shot: Everyone’s beaming. We look like fast friends. Perfect for generating social media likes and green-envy emoticons.

(12) You probably haven’t read enough tortured reasoning about the Hugos and Sasquan lately and will be thrilled that a lawyer has been studying the possibilities of suing about the asterisks.

More here.

Asterisking the Hugo Nominations is therefore perfectly legal, UNLESS the presentation was unofficial… which WorldCon can deny at the drop of a formal filing. All three lawyers were convinced that the second WorldCon obtained legal representation, they’d be advised to throw their Hugo Committee Chair (and all of his emails to me) under the biggest bus they could find. While this would essentially invalidate the 2015 Hugos entirely, it was pointed out that the organization’s alternatives would be far more disastrous.

Why?

Because WorldCon had complete control of the venue and process, but did nothing to prevent (or even denounce) any illegal use of its trademarks therein. Failure to defend a trademark against known infringement endangers the trademark.

That’s entirely aside from the issue of fraud, which comes in under the heading of deliberate misrepresentation. WorldCon’s Hugo Chair isn’t saying that they are invalidating the Asterisks after the fact… instead, he’s saying the Asterisks were never legitimate to begin with. Yet at the actual event, they were publicly represented as THE official Nominee awards. Rather than treated as jokes, they were lionized by those on stage as representative of SF/F fandom as a whole.

The denial itself is an act of fraud, affecting all 2015 Hugo Voters, but in terms of public record the World Science Fiction Society has given every appearance of endorsing the Asterisk Awards as official. Were I to file action, they’d only need to respond with verification of their existing public position. That would invalidate any claim of damages I could make. Only if they formally back up their Hugo Chair do they risk anything.

As none of the lawyers I spoke to believe they’ll be that stupid, none want to accept the case at this point.

‘Tis clear as is the summer sun.

(13) Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best was published July 7. An anonymous contributor sent me this report on how the 2015 Hugo nominees fared.

But yesterday, I did compare the ballots to Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Table of Contents and Honorable mention list and came across something I find interesting…

Of all the nominees, both on the final ballot and those who dropped off the ballot, none of the stories made the table of contents and only two authors made the Honorable Mention list.

Given the positive comments about Annie Bellet and Kary English, it would be natural to think they might have made Gardner’s Honorable Mention list, but they didn’t.

The only Hugo nominated story to make Gardner’s honorable mention list was Michael Flynn’s “The Journeyman: In the Stone House,” which many of non-puppies complained was not a complete story since it is a part of a larger work.

The only other Hugo nominated author to make the list, amazingly enough for a non-Hugo related story, was John C. Wright, for “Idle Thoughts.”

(14) John Scalzi would do it this way – “My Almost Certainly Ill-Advised Proposed Award Voting Process”.

  1. How the vote works: There are three voting rounds: Nomination, long list, and finalist.

Nomination: Everyone votes for one and only one work (or person, if it’s that sort of category) in the category. The top ten or twelve vote-getters are sent to the long list stage (ties, etc are fine but the goal would be to get number of long list nominees as close to the ideal long list number as possible).

Long List: Everyone votes for up to three works on the long list, none of which can be the single work they originally nominated. That’s right! You have to choose something else in this stage, and hope enough other people like the work you originally nominated to include it among their own selections!

But what if people choose not to make selections in the stage in the hope that their lack of selection of other work will bump up the chances of their preferred work? Well, I would consider making a rule that says failure to participate in this round counts as a point against your original choice’s score in this round — which is to say if you don’t vote in this round, a point is deducted for your original choice’s score in this round (presuming it made the long list at all). You’re better off voting if you want your original selection to make it to the final round.

In this round, the top five or six vote-getters graduate to the final round. Hope your original choice made it!

Finalist: This vote is done “Australian Rules” style, where each voter ranks the works from first to last choice. “No Award” is an option in this round, so if you hated everything in the long list round, this is where you may register your disapproval. The winner is the one which collects the majority of votes, in either the first or subsequent balloting rounds.

(15) The Sci-Fi Air Show is an incredible bit of imaginative work.

What if instead of using sets, models and special effects, the producers of science fiction films and television shows constructed full sized flying spaceships? That is the premise of the Sci-Fi Air Show.

In a similar story arc to the Batmobile and the Aries 1B miniature from 2001: A Space Odyssey, these ships would have likely been sold off, traded, hidden away in basements and eventually rescued, restored and put on public display.

The images you see here on the site are photographs of practical miniature spaceships digitally blended with actual air show backgrounds. It is a fantasy air show that only exists on line, but appeals to many of us who, at one time, believed that these ships of fantasy really could fly.

(16) If somebody wanted to run real museum like that, they could begin by gathering up this abandoned wooden space shuttle.

Wooden shuttle COMP

While exploring an abandoned corner of the Zhukovsky airfield (Ramenskoye Airport) in Moscow two years ago, aviation photographer Aleksander Markin stumbled onto a forgotten relic of Russia’s Buran Space Program. This decaying wooden spacecraft was used as a wind tunnel model in the 1980s for the VKK Space Orbiter, the largest and most expensive Soviet space exploration program conceived as a response to the United States’ Space Shuttle. Despite its scientific purposes the wooden ship has the appearance of a fantastic children’s playground feature.

According to Urban Ghosts, this 1:3 scale replica was just one of 85 wind tunnel models used to test various aerodynamic properties of the orbiter. The testing would eventually reveal that NASA’s prototype for the Enterprise was ideal for spaceflight and the VKK Space Orbiter would take a similar design as a result.

(17) Huffington Post helped an astronaut take down a tabloid story in “The UFOs Didn’t Come In Peace! Astronaut Sets Record Straight on ET Nuclear War”.

Few people are surprised by the eye-popping headlines in The Mirror. But when the infamous British tabloid quoted astronaut Edgar Mitchell as saying that “UFOs came in peace” to “save America from nuclear war,” it shocked everybody — including Mitchell.

“I don’t know where The Mirror got the story,” Mitchell, 84, said in an email to The Huffington Post, accusing the paper of fabricating his quotes and denying that an interview for this story ever took place.

The sixth man to walk on the moon has been outspoken over the years in his belief that extraterrestrials have visited the Earth and the moon — and that the government is withholding vital information about UFOs. Still, Mitchell insists the Aug. 11 Mirror story has no basis in the truth and disavows the information in it.

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

One-Day Deal on Strahan’s Best of 2012, 6/19

Best SF&F v7 StrahanJonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 7, a collection of 2012 stories, is available for $1.99 as a Kindle download til midnight tonight (June 19).

The collection of 32 stories includes “Fade to White” by Catherynne Valente, “Mono No Aware” by Ken Liu, “The Easthound” by Nalo Hopkinson, “Two Houses” by Kelly Link and “The Education of a Witch” by Ellen Klages.