Pixel Scroll 9/25/17 What Do A Pixel And A Scroll Have In Common? They Both Can’t Climb Trees

(1) STAR TREK DISCOVERING. Camestros Felapton takes you from photon soup to Klingon nuts: “Thoughts on Star Trek Discovery Episodes 1 & 2”. Although not especially spoilery, good form still demands a SPOILER WARNING!

However, Russell T Davies made a smart move from which Discovery could have learnt. Set a new series in a time that follows a catastrophe that creates both a bridge to the previous series, and allows the viewers to re-encounter familiar protagonists in a new way. That doesn’t imply a new Star Trek would need to have a post-apocalyptic vibe, rather some sort of event that disrupted galactic civilisations sufficiently that the Federation is needing to rebuild (a gamma-ray burst, a contagion that spreads via transporter beams, a big-bad alien did more damage than usual).

Discovery hasn’t taken that option but the setting kind of looks like it did. The technology is both old and new, the spaceships look both updated and more grungy, some aliens are now more familiar and closer to humans (e.g. the Vulcans) while others have become even more alien and Star Fleet understands them less (the Klingons). The whole feel of the show implies a setting where change has occurred but which claims that it is about changes that will occur and I find that somewhat annoying.

(2) ALLEGRO CON TROPE. The Independent is more enthusiastic — “Star Trek: Discovery season 1 episode 1 & 2 review: Tropes and unprecedented surprises balance out for an intriguing new Trek iteration”. But who are you going to believe?

The team behind Star Trek: Discovery could be forgiven for feeling under pressure. They had to deliver a show that satisfies one of the most rabidly pedantic fan bases out there, while still catering to normies only not really au fait with Trek beyond a few action movies about good-looking people having fights in space.

But, despite a reportedly troubled gestation, they’ve somehow managed to deliver, audaciously using their first two episodes to set up several seemingly key characters before wiping the slate clean in the closing moments. In truth, the first two episodes that arrive on Netflix today – ‘The Vulcan Hello’ and ‘Battle at the Binary Stars’ – function more as a standalone TV movie, setting up the tone and feel of the show while leaving about as much wiggle room for the future as conceivably possible.

(3) ROCKET SCIENCE. Video highlights of last Saturday’s Atlas V launch of NROL-42 from Vandenberg. Via United Launch Alliance.

(4) FUSION. The Register says it’s happening — “Hotter than the Sun: JET – Earth’s biggest fusion reactor, in Culham”.

Geek’s Guide to Britain I’m in a room that, in normal circumstances, is not fit for human habitation. It features a number of big red buttons surrounded by illuminated yellow rings – just in case. “Push button to switch off Jet. Press only in case of extreme emergency,” the signs read, informatively.

This is the Torus Hall, a 40,000m3 space the size of an aircraft hangar with two massive fly-towers that house 1,100-tonne doors to seal the room off from an adjacent assembly hall. The walls and ceiling are two metres thick. The atmospheric pressure inside the hall is kept lower than pressure outside so that in the event of a breach, air would be sucked in rather than vented.

The hall houses possibly the closest thing on Earth to the centre of a star: the Joint European Torus, the world’s biggest fusion reactor at the Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, UK. Jet is a tokamak, a circular structure shaped like a doughnut that employs powerful magnets to control that stuff of science fact and fiction: plasma.

…Jet is a European project involving 40 laboratories and 350 scientists. In 1997 it set a record, producing 16MW of fusion power from a total input power of 24MW.

Iter, however, is a scaled-up version of Jet currently under construction in the south of France planned to open in 2025 – a fusion reactor that aims to use 50MW to generate 500MW for 500 seconds. Iter, in turn, will pave the way for Demo, one or more proof of concept fusion power stations, with South Korea aiming to put a Demo live in 2037.

For now, however, Jet is the world’s biggest fusion device and proves that nuclear fusion can generate power – it’s just not big enough to create more power than it uses….

(5) HOW ONE AUTHOR GETS PAID. A post at Metafilter attempting to use Amazon stats to estimate writers’ sales provoked John Scalzi to explain why that is a futile effort: “Can You Tell My Earnings From My Amazon Sales? Spoiler: Nope, Not at All”.

…So what does this all mean? Well, it means that for a non-self-pubbed author, often none of their annual earnings from a book are directly related to how many of those books sell in a year (or any other specified time frame). In fact, depending on how the advance is paid out, three-quarters or more (even all!) of the author’s earnings from a book are disbursed before the book has sold a single unit.

Like so:

Book is contracted: 40% of the advance (“signing installment”) goes to the author. Books sold to date: 0.

Book is turned in and accepted: 20% of the advance (“delivery and acceptance installment”) goes to the author. Books sold to date: 0

Book is published in hardcover: 20% of the advance (“hardcover installment”) goes to the author. Books sold to date: 0 (there may be pre-orders, but the sales don’t usually start being counted until this time).

Book is published in paperback: Final 20% of the advance goes to author. Books sold to date: Hopefully some! But even if the number is zero, the final installment gets paid out (if so few books are sold that the publisher foregoes the paperback release, there’s still usually the contractual obligation to pay out)….

(6) CROWDFUNDING THREE ANTHOLOGIES. Joshua Palmatier’s “Guilds & Glaives, Insurgency, and Ur-Bar Anthologies!” Kickstarter has less than three days to run and is still looking to raise about $3,000 of its $20,000 goal.

THE RAZOR’S EDGE, GUILDS & GLAIVES, and SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE URBAR anthology kickstarter is nearing its goal! If we can reach $20K by Noon, September 28th, EST, then there will be an open call for submissions for the remaining slots in the anthologies. If you have a story idea that fits one of the anthology themes, write it up, revise it, polish it, and send it in for consideration. I’ve posted the guidelines below. Note that the kickstarter still has a few days left and there are still some pretty awesome reward levels left…

(7) AS YOU WISH. “‘The Princess Bride’ Turns 30: Rob Reiner, Robin Wright, Billy Crystal Dish About Making the Cult Classic” is a Variety piece full of interviews about the beloved 1987 fantasy film.

“It was an impossible sell,” said Reiner. “The funny thing about it was that before I made ‘Stand by Me’ — I had made ‘Spinal Tap’ and ‘The Sure Thing’ — I had a meeting with this executive at Paramount. She said, ‘We love your films. What do you want to do next? I said, ‘Well, you don’t want to do what I want to do.’ She said, ‘No, that’s not true. I want to do what you want to do. I said, ‘No, no. You want me to do what you want to do.’  She said, ‘No, no. I want to do what you want to do. What is it?’ I said ‘The Princess Bride.’ She said, ‘Well, anything but that.’”

(8) PALS FOR ETERNITY. SyFy Wire contributes to the nostalgia in “The Princess Bride at 30: Why Fezzik and Inigo have one of the best friendships in film”. Reason number one is —

Helping each other deal with a difficult boss, Vizzini

Vizzini is clearly not an easy man to work for, and he doesn’t treat Fezzik or Inigo very well as his employees. After they kidnap Buttercup, Fezzik expresses his opinion that it’s not right to kill an innocent girl, but Vizzini isn’t interested in his hired help doing anything beyond what they are hired to do. He immediately insults Fezzik, and when Inigo voices his agreement with Fezzik, insults him as well before turning on Fezzik again. Once Vizzini walks away though, Inigo goes to Fezzik and the two rhyme together happily, much to Vizzini’s annoyance.

The scene captures how the two friends have each other’s back in this perhaps less than ideal work environment. Inigo didn’t have to voice his agreement with Fezzik after seeing Vizzini’s reaction, but he did. Then he tries to turn the mood around by doing something Fezzik enjoys and excels at: rhyming. It reminds Fezzik that he’s more than the dumb brute Vizzini wants him to be, and that Inigo recognizes his gifts, even if Vizzini does not.

(9) DONATIONS NEEDED. The father of Pierre Pettinger died recently due to a house fire, and Pierre has set up a Gofundme campaign to help cover the funeral expenses — Pierre Pettinger [Sr.] Funeral Fund. Their target is $13,000.

While it appears that insurance will cover the costs of repairing and restoring the home, the expenses for Dad’s funeral were significant and have put some strain on all the members of our family. Pierre will be administering the funds and will see to it that they go directly to the funeral home. The goal we have set represents the total cost, but any help you would care to offer would be received with gratitude.

Pierre the younger and his wife Sandy are Fan GoH for Worldcon 76. They’ve done wonders in Masquerades for years, winning many awards, and Pierre is Archivist for the International Costumers Guild.

(10) REED OBIT. SF Site News reports author Kit Reed (1932-2017) died on September 24 from an inoperable brain tumor.

Reed  was a Best New Author Hugo nominee in 1959. Reed was up for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award three times, had a novel, Where, on the John W. Campbell Memorial Award shortlist, and received the ALA Alex Award for Thinner Than Thou. Reed’s most recent novel, Mormama, was published earlier this year.

(11) JACOBS OBIT. Harvey Jacobs (1930-2017), a 1998 World Fantasy Award nominee for his novel American Goliath, died September 24 from an infection brought on by brain cancer treatment. An author sometimes compared with Vonnegut and Roth, he published his first story in 1951, contributed regularly to New Worlds and F&SF in the Sixties, and continued to produce a modest number of sff stories thereafter.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 25, 1989 — Fox TV’s Alien Nation premiered.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born September 25, 1930 — Shel Silverstein (author, humorist)
  • Born September 25, 1951 – Actor Mark Hamill
  • Born September 25, 1952 – Actor Christopher Reeve

(14) POURNELLE MEMORIAL. Jennifer Pournelle’s eulogy of Jerry Pournelle, delivered at the memorial service held September 16, has been posted at Chaos Manor.

He was generous as a husband. He adored his wife. He loved deeply, and passionately, and never anyone more than her. The parable of the widow’s alms teaches us the truest measure of generosity: when that of which you have the least, you give most freely. So by “generous,” here I do not mean with obvious things like, like gifts and jewelry and public events (though with those too). I mean that, although always awkward as a schoolboy in showing his feelings for her, he did his utmost with what he knew how to do: jokes, and puns, and praise, and respect, and walks, and stalwart support of her career, and four sons.

And especially—and this is most telling—by listening to her, and to her alone. Certainly not always. Probably not often enough. But I do not believe that any other human being on the planet had the capacity to tell him “no” and make it stick. Because of his generous love for her, he listened, and learned how to be a better father, and an outwardly more affectionate one. To say the words out loud. She taught him that the great light of a generous heart need not be hidden beneath a bushel. He listened, and let his generous light shine on her, and everyone around them.

It certainly shined on us, his children. He was generous as a father. OK, let’s start with the obvious. There was never a check he would not roll his eyes, groan, and write. School fees? Of course. Wrecked car? Harrumph. No problem. College expenses? Well, it’s your job to get the best deal you can. It’s my job to pick up the rest. Airplane tickets, tailored mess uniforms, personal sidearms? Here you go. Need a tool, a meal, a book, a computer, a printer, a place to sleep, a bottle of white-out? There’s one here somewhere in the house. Go find it. Help yourself.

But his real generosity was with imagination. He believed in space. He believed in adventure. He believed in deep truths in myth, and deep lessons in legend. He believed in science. He believed in nature. He believed in fun. And he combined them all. Road trips, hiking trips, shooting trips; flights of imagination; cooking (badly), reading (well), brainstorming plot lines, standing up to bluster, figuring out what you need to know, then figuring out who could tell you. He’d pick up a phone in a heartbeat if he thought he could marshal support or make a contact. He’d invite you to dinners across thresholds you’d never otherwise cross—and then always pick up the tab.

And when you finished what you started, or achieved what you’d aimed, or found success in your field, his outpouring of respect was spontaneous and generous—and never seeking to curry your favor….

(15) KEITH KATO. Keith Kato posted his own extensive memories of Jerry Pournelle and account of the memorial service at The Heinlein Society website.

Of course he knew not only all the Mercury astronauts, but also knew the candidates who did not make the cut. Jerry once told a funny story about turning John Glenn upside down and shaking him over a smoky fire, while fake-arguing with the staff, and dropping manhole covers on the floor. Glenn kept a dot in a circle, and his heartbeat remained rock steady (except for one momentary blip when the manhole covers landed), after which Glenn glaringly said “You son of a [redacted for the delicacy of our readers’ um…eyes?]!”

(16) MASTERCHEF. On the making of videogames: Jason Sheehan reviews Walt Williams’s Significant Zero: Heroes, Villains, and the Fight for Art and Soul in Video Games: “Leveling Up In The Video Game Industry, Without Checkpoints: ‘Significant Zero'”.

I learned this recipe from Walt Williams, whose debut book, Significant Zero, is all about the making of videogames. And also about the making of Walt Williams who, for years, has been involved (both seriously, tangentially, and in every way in between) with the production of some of the best videogames ever created: Bioshock, Star Wars Battlefront, Mafia II, Spec Ops: The Line. Mostly Spec Ops, which is one of the darkest, most haunting, and most narratively daring games I’ve ever played. Spec Ops was Williams’s masterpiece and Significant Zero is the story of everything it took to make it and everything it cost him — beginning years before, ending years after. Sure, it’s a workplace memoir (more or less): A writer writing about writing, which can be the most annoying thing in the world. Except for one thing.

Walt Williams is basically a ghost.

(17) OVERWHELMING SUCCESS. The BBC writes the biography of a product in “How plastic became a victim of its own success”.

He became so famous that Time magazine put his face on the cover without needing to mention his name, just the words, “It will not burn. It will not melt.”

What Leo Baekeland invented that July was the first fully synthetic plastic.

He called it Bakelite.

(18) EXTENDED MAINTENANCE. How would you like this job? “Airlander 10: ‘How we fix the world’s longest aircraft'” (short video)

Two technicians have told how they had to learn how to rope climb to fix the world’s longest aircraft.

The Airlander 10 – a combination of plane and airship – has been at Cardington Airfield, Bedfordshire, for the last four years.

Technicians Ivor Pope and Darren Gurney have overseen the aircraft since early 2016.

“Being up on the hull is a fantastic experience,” said Ivor Pope, the maintenance, modification and ground operations manager.

(19) BIKE RECYCLERS. Leave no trace? “Abandoned at Burning Man, bicycles now head for Houston and the Caribbean”.

After nine days of parties, music and larger-than-life art installations, the 2017 season of Burning Man came to a close on 4 September. In theory, all evidence of “Black Rock City” – which attracted 70,000 attendees to the dusty desert – was supposed to vanish. One of the festival’s core tenets is “leave no trace”.

However, clean-up crews found thousands of perfectly useable bicycles abandoned by attendees. Bikes are the most common form of transportation around Black Rock City, and the way they are tossed aside at the end has long been a problem.

Burning Man partners with local charities to take, refurbish and sometimes donate the bikes to needy families, but this year, the sheer number of bikes overwhelmed even these partners. An estimated 5,000 bicycles were left behind.

(20) I SWEAR THAT IT’S ALL TRUE. Past Daedalus: Whale tails and the human-powered watercraft speed record: “Water speed record that’s surprisingly hard to break”.

However, an Oxford University spinout called Animal Dynamics, co-founded by zoologist Adrian Thomas, is spending £200,000 ($260,000) to do just that. Their craft, the Malolo, is a hydrofoil-like Decavitator. Unlike its rival, the Malolo’s design is inspired by the way whales swim through water – instead of a propeller, it has the kind of large, arched tail that you sometimes spot above the water when a whale dives.

Now two years after starting work on the project, the team have begun testing their third prototype off the south coast of England. According to Thomas, they have already reached speeds of about 12 knots (13.8mph/22km/h).

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Nancy Sauer, Cat Eldridge, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Picking Stories for an Anthology: A Guest Post by Joshua Palmatier

Joshua Palmatier

By Joshua Palmatier: Mike Glyer asked me to write a post about some of the behind-the-scenes action at my small press Zombies Need Brains.  As some of you might know, ZNB holds an open call for a short window (usually from the time the Kickstarter funds to the end of December) where anyone can submit a short story that fits one of our themes and have it considered for possible inclusion in that anthology.  I thought I’d talk about how we handle these submissions and perhaps get into a little bit of what I look for in the stories as I read them.  But first, a quick introduction just in case some of you don’t know about this small press, along with a plug for our current Kickstarter.

ZNB is a small press founded by me, fantasy author Joshua Palmatier.  Every year, I run a Kickstarter to fund a set of themed anthologies.  So far I’ve managed to produce seven anthologies over the course of four years.  What I think makes ZNB unique is that we fill half of the anthologies with well-known SF&F writers, but the remaining slots are up for grabs with an open call for submissions.  So each anthology has New York Times bestselling authors alongside authors who’ve just made their first professional sale to ZNB.  [ZNB is recognized by SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) as a qualifying market.]

We’re excited about the themes and anchor authors we have up for grabs this year.  THE RAZOR’S EDGE is a military SF&F anthology where the stories will explore that fine line between being a rebel and becoming an insurgent.  We hope to see some great sci-fi—and yes, fantasy—from our anchor authors, including Gerald Brandt, William C. Dietz, D.B. Jackson, Chris Kennedy, Kay Kenyon, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Seanan McGuire, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Steve Perry.  In GUILDS & GLAIVES, authors will explore their sword & sorcery sides, with a dash of guilds for flavor; anchor authors include David B. Coe, James Enge, David Farland, Esther Friesner, Howard Andrew Jones, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, and Seanan McGuire.  And lastly, we have SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE URBAR, which is a follow-up to a previously released anthology called AFTERHOURS: TALES FROM THE URBAR, published by DAW Books.  Here, Gilgamesh bartends a time-traveling bar where history mixes with a touch of magic.  Anchor authors include Jacey Bedford, Gini Koch, Juliet E. McKenna, C.E. Murphy, Kristine Smith, and Kari Sperring.

If any (or all) of these themes intrigue you, check out our Kickstarter!  Help us bring these three themes to life by backing our project!  You can find out further details about our past projects and the small press at www.zombiesneedbrains.com.

So, how does ZNB handle the “slush pile”—all of the stories that authors submit to the anthologies for consideration?  Well, the basics are simple and boring, yet essential:  I take the submissions, copy them to a folder on Dropbox, and then share them with the editors of that anthology.  I usually do this every day once the submission window opens until the last day, December 31st.  We get a lot of submissions, so if I didn’t do it every day, I’d end up spending an entire week at the end taking care of it.  As I move the submitted stories to the Dropbox, I record in an Excel file the title, author, date of submission, and word count.

Then it’s time to read.

I pretty much read stories non-stop from the moment the open call starts until February of the next year.  I read in the car (when I’m a passenger), during breaks at work, in the evenings, basically every chance I get.  With every story, I usually read the entire thing, then give the story a ranking from 1-5.  I record the ranking in the Excel file, then write a few words about the story so that later on I’ll remember it, and then a few words about what I thought worked or didn’t work in the story (essentially, the reasons behind my ranking).  Then I move on to the next story.

You’ll note that I said I usually read the entire story.  That’s true, but typically by the end of the first or second page I’ve already got a solid handle on a) how well the writer writes and b) where the story is going.  It’s surprising how quickly you can reach these conclusions.  HOWEVER, even if I’ve already decided that the story isn’t going to make the cut (at least for me; the other editor might disagree), I keep reading.  I do this because there are rare instances where the story either went in a direction I hadn’t foreseen OR the story simply had a bad start and there really is a good story in there, it just starts on page 7.  I’ve had both of these happen in the past, so I keep reading.

This policy may not continue, however.  ZNB has been receiving more and more submissions with each new set of anthologies.  We’re going to reach a point where we have too many submissions for me to get through them all by the end of February.  If this happens, I may have to forego reading every story all the way to the end.  I don’t want to do this, but if we don’t get our stories picked by the end of February, we’ll fall behind in the production process and then the anthology won’t be delivered in August, as promised.  So … make the beginning of your story strong!

At this point, you’re probably wondering what makes certain stories stand out over others.  The answer is:  a complete story with a cool idea that’s on theme and involves characters I care about.  It sounds like a simple statement, but there’s a lot going on in that one sentence.  Let’s break it down:

First, the idea must be on theme.  This is the number one reason for story rejections.  For example, the slush pile for TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER had many stories where the word “time” or “time travel” was mentioned on page 8 out of 10 and was never mentioned again.  The theme was everyday objects that were somehow acting temporally out of order.  These stories had no object acting out of order, they just randomly mentioned time somewhere and were about something else entirely.  This is an automatic 1 ranking:  it’s not on theme.

But having an idea on theme isn’t quite enough either.  It has to be a COOL idea that’s on theme.  For example, SUBMERGED was an underwater themed anthology.  I expected, and got, tons of stories about Atlantis, mermaids, sirens, etc., because when you say underwater SF&F, those are the ideas that leap first to mind, right?  It’s possible to write a cool story with those topics and be on theme, but we aren’t going to choose 5 stories about Atlantis.  We want the anthology to have some variety.  It’s better to try to come up with something ELSE that’s cool and different.  A suggestion is to sit down and start writing out ideas that fit the theme in a notebook, numbering them from 1 to, say, 24.  The first 10 are probably doing to be standard tropes about that theme, which means we’ll likely see many, many stories like that.  The ideas from 15 on are probably going to be far-fetched—you’re reaching at that point and the ideas just become crazier and crazier.  Too crazy to make sense, actually.  But those in the 10-15 range … those might be just outside the box enough to be cool and interesting, while still not so far out that they’re entering crazy territory.

But having a cool idea that’s on theme isn’t enough.  I see many stories where I find the idea interesting … but then the story goes nowhere.  It’s just an idea.  You need to build up a story AROUND that idea.  Story is probably the second biggest reason a submission is rejected.  So ask yourself, once you have this idea, what you can do with it.  What are the consequences of the idea?  What are its ramifications?  How can the idea go wrong?  What can you do with that idea that will bring in some kind of conflict?  Having a cell phone that can call the past is interesting, but how can that bring up conflict?  That conflict is the story.

And lastly, connected to the conflict, there needs to be a character that we care about.  I’ve read tons of stories where I thought the idea was cool, there was a story, but as I was reading I found I just didn’t care whether the character lived or died, found the lost city, or talked to their dead relative.  The character needs to be interesting as well.  (Notice it didn’t necessarily say they had to be likeable; I’m perfectly willing to read a story about a character I hate if he/she gets his/her comeuppance.)  The character, along with the conflict, add the human element to the story that’s so essential for it to work as a whole.

OK, so I read and rank the stories.  The other editor is doing the same thing.  Once we’ve both read the stories, we get together with our rankings in hand and talk about our top 20 picks.  Most of the time, there are a few stories we both agree are great.  Those usually get automatically put into the anthology.  The rest … well, we sit and argue about them.  We each explain what we liked and didn’t like about them.  We also compare them to the stories we’ve already accepted and the anchor author stories.  As I said, we want variety, so if you wrote something similar to an anchor author, well, the anchor author is already guaranteed a spot.  We also compare tones—no one wants to read an anthology with all dark, depressing stories.  If yours is the only humorous story in our top 20s, you’ll likely get in.  In the end, usually over the course of a couple of days, the arguments resolve all but the last slot or so.  This is when it becomes really tough, because the stories left to consider are usually all on an equal standing.  A decision has to be made though, whether it’s me being “publisher” and saying this is the story we’re taking OR, if the stories truly are equal, deciding to take both (or neither).

After that, decisions made, I have the happy job of sending out acceptance emails to those we decided to keep, and the horrible job of sending out the rejections.

So that’s how ZNB chooses their stories from the slush pile and also a little about what I look for when I’m reading.  I hope it was at least mildly interesting.  And once again, we can’t produce these anthologies without backers for our Kickstarter, so check out our current set of anthologies at tinyurl.com/insurgenturbar and help bring a new batch to life!


Guilds & Glaives, Insurgency, and Ur-Bar Anthologies!

The Razor’s Edge cover by Justin Adams of Varia Studios


The Razor’s Edge: One man’s insurgent is another man’s freedom fighter…
From The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to The Hunger Games, everyone enjoys a good rebellion. There is something compelling about a group (or individual) who throws caution to the wind and rises up in armed defiance against oppression, tyranny, religion, the government–you name it. No matter the cause, or how small the chance, it’s the courage to fight for what is right against overwhelming odds that grabs our hearts and has us pumping our fists in the air.
On the other hand, the greater good isn’t always good for everybody, and someone (or some group) must enforce the laws necessary to keep the disaffected from tearing society apart. Where is the line between the freedom fighter and the insurgent, or is it simply a matter of perspective?
Win or lose, it’s the righteous struggle we cherish, and those who take up arms for a cause must walk The Razor’s Edge between liberator and extremist.
Edited by Troy Bucher & Joshua Palmatier, this military SF&F anthology will explore the heroes and villains on both sides of insurgencies. It will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of 6000 words each.


Second Round: A Return to the Ur-Bar:
In 2011, DAW published AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR, the first anthology edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, starting them down the road that eventually led to the formation of the small press Zombies Need Brains. Now, we’d like to return to that legendary time-traveling bar with all new authors and all new stories set throughout the ages. Here you will find heroes and villains alike, as the immortal bartender Gilgamesh serves up drinks mixed with magic and a dash of intrigue. And if you’re lucky, perhaps he’ll even mix you up his own special elixir! Edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, the anthology will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of 6000 words each.


Guilds and Glaives:
Sword and sorcery has long been a much beloved staple of the SF&F community, from Fritz Leiber’s “Lankhmar” novels and Moorcock’s “Elric” saga, to Violette Malan’s more recent “Dhulyn and Parno” series. Who doesn’t like a daring thief skulking through back alleys in the dark of night, or a deranged mage conjuring death spells in a bubbling cauldron? This anthology will tackle the subgenre of thieves, assassins, guilds, and dark magic with some of today’s hottest authors! Edited by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of 6000 words each.



 

Joshua Palmatier’s Alien Artifacts Anthology

alien-artifacts-cover

By Carl Slaughter. Alien Artifacts. Published September 13, by Zombies Need Brains, a new small press specializing in Kickstarter-funded, themed anthologies. ZNB was founded by Compton Crook finalist and DAW trilogist Joshua Palmatier.

What might we run into as we expand beyond Earth and into the stars? As we explore our own solar system and beyond, it seems inevitable that we’ll run into aliens … and what they’ve left behind. Alien artifacts: what might they reveal about us as we try to unlock their secrets? What might they reveal about the universe? In this anthology, nineteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors explore how discovering long lost relics of alien civilizations might change humanity.

Jin Walter H. Hunt, Julie Novakova, David Farland, Angela Penrose, S.C. Butler, Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin, Juliet E. McKenna, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Andrija Popovic, Jacey Bedford, Sofie Bird, James Van Pelt, Gini Koch, Anthony Lowe, Jennifer Dunne, Coral Moore, Daniel J. Davis, C.S. Friedman, and Seanan McGuire as they discover the stars and the secrets they may hold—both dark and deadly and awe-inspiring.

Available on Amazon.

Joshua Palmatier

Joshua Palmatier

SOCIAL MEDIA

Zombies Need Brains Website — http://www.zombiesneedbrains.com/

Joshua Palmatier Website — www.sff.net/people/jpalmatier

Joshua Palmatier Amazon Page — https://www.amazon.com/Joshua-Palmatier/e/B001KHI94Q

Pixel Scroll 9/9/16 Pixel Trek: The Search For Scrolls

(1) WORKING. Global News reports “Majel Barrett may voice ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ ship computer”.

But wait, you’re thinking. Barrett died in 2008. How is that possible?

It turns out that just before her death, Barrett recorded an entire library of phonetic sounds for future usage. It’s so thorough that it’s already been used, most recently in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot. Technically, Barrett could be the voice of Starfleet for eternity.

(2) UNDERSTANDING EPH. Karl-Johan Norén writes: “Not that it matters that much now that things are settled for another year, but I wrote down a walkthrough how EPH works: http://kjn.livejournal.com/65023.html Hopefully it can help fen understand better what EPH sets out to accomplish and how it goes about it.”

Right now I see a bit of pushback against the newly ratified E Pluribus Hugo rules (see eg Jed Hartman and Rachael Acks). In part this is because the test runs on prior Hugo nominations didn’t yield as good results as some may have hoped for, another might be that many fans do not feel they can exactly understand how EPH works. FPTP may be unfair, but it’s simple to understand. At its core, E Pluribus Hugo isn’t about selecting the works with the most “support”. It’s more about selecting the set of works that generates the most voter happiness, where happiness is defined as “getting a work onto the final ballot”. I think this framing has gone missing from the discussion. But in order to help with understanding, no, grokking how EPH works, here is my manually run example…

(3) PAWPROOF. In a comment, Lee calls our attention to software designed to detect when your SJW credentials are using your keyboard, which can then prevent inadvertent posting, expensive unintentional eBay purchases, or data destruction: Pawsense.

When cats walk or climb on your keyboard, they can enter random commands and data, damage your files, and even crash your computer. This can happen whether you are near the computer or have suddenly been called away from it.

PawSense is a software utility that helps protect your computer from cats. It quickly detects and blocks cat typing, and also helps train your cat to stay off the computer keyboard.

Every time your computer boots up, PawSense will automatically start up in the background to watch over your computer system.

Even while you use your other software, PawSense constantly monitors keyboard activity. PawSense analyzes keypress timings and combinations to distinguish cat typing from human typing. PawSense normally recognizes a cat on the keyboard within one or two pawsteps.

(4) FANHISTORY. Petréa Mitchell noted in a comment  that in honor of Star Trek’s anniversary, Revelist has a surprisingly well-researched article about early Star Trek fandom.

Long before becoming part of a fandom was as easy as starting a Tumblr account, female Trekkies (or Trekkers, as some older fans of the series prefer) not only dominated the “Star Trek” fan community but helped to create that community in the first place.

“It redefined the classic nerd to be much more inclusive. There were more women involved,” Stuart C. Hellinger, one of the organizers of the first ever fan-led “Star Trek” conventions, told Revelist. “The entire show was diverse in many ways, including the people that worked on the show. You had women writers and women story editors, and that wasn’t as common back then. A lot of different areas were opened up because of Gene [Roddenberry]’s vision, and a lot of the fannish community took that to heart, which is a very, very good thing.”

The framework that these women and men and wonderful weirdos put into place not only extended the legacy of “Star Trek” into what it is today, but became the basis for many aspects of fandom that modern people take for granted.

(5) EDITING AN ANTHOLOGY, STEP BY STEP. Joshua Palmatier, author, and editor of anthologies including Clockwork Universe, Temporally Out Of Order, and Aliens and Artifacts, has started a series of blog posts on “How to Create an Anthology.” The first entry is about finding a good concept.

This is the first of a series of blog posts that I intend to do in order to show how I create the anthologies for Zombies Need Brains, the small press that I founded in order to produce anthologies. It’s basically a behind-the-scenes look at the process, which will be covered in multiple parts. Obviously, this is only how I produce an anthology and there may be other roads to follow in order to produce one. Keep that in mind. So the first step in creating an anthology–at least a themed anthology, like the ones Zombies Need Brains creates–is to come up with a concept. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Ideas are a dime a dozen and can be found on every street corner. The problem is that not every idea will actually work as an anthology theme. There are some key aspects to the idea that need to be present in order for the anthology to work.

(6) MIDAMERICON II PROGRAM. I’m a big fan of con programming, which also seems the hardest part of the Worldcon to find out about afterwards. All those smart and creative people, all the different topics. Seems like once missed, it’s gone forever. Except for Jake Casella at PositronChicago blog who has posted recaps of numerous MACII panels. You’re a lifesaver, Jake!

(7) A DIALOGUE WITH GIBRALTAR APES. Kate Paulk scientifically proved the Worldcon is dead, and has always been, in a Mad Genius Club post “Worldcons and Hugos by the Numbers.” But standing out from the anti-Worldcon comments she elicited was Ben Yalow’s personal testimony about what he gets from his continued attendance. It made me want to stand up and cheer, as someone said in an old Frank Capra movie.

…The Worldcon was still full of those magic moments, despite being an enormous amount of work.

But watching a real astronaut accepting the Campbell for Andy Weir bubbling about how he got the science right was magic. And looking at the original typewritten correspondence between the previous KC Worldcon (in 1976) and Heinlein (the GoH that year). And walking into the exhibit hall, and seeing Fred, our 25 foot high inflatable astronaut — knowing it was named Fred because the funds to get it were donated by a Texas club in memory of Fred Duarte, a friend of mine for decades, and Vice-chair of the first Texas Worldcon, who died much too young last year. And having a video of a panel from 1976, with Jon Singer showing how a mimeo works by kneeling on a table and having the other panelists crank his arm. And watching the Business Meeting tie itself up in knots, and going through a long parliamentary routine, so as to let Kate Paulk ask Dave McCarty (this year’s Hugo Administrator) to state his opinion on the wisdom of EPH at a time when that question wasn’t in order (and, as expected, he was able to answer that he was opposed). And seeing Robert Silverberg at the Hugo ceremony, realizing that he’s been to every one of them since the first one in Philadelphia in 1953. And — I could go on for a long time, but won’t.

And watching, and being part of, a team of volunteers from around the world get together to make it all happen. We agreed on some things, we disagreed on others — but it all happened, and lots of people went home with their magic moments. And that’s what’s important to me.

(8) WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT ALFIES. George R.R. Martin writes about his first Hugo Losers Party, and its latest sequel, in “Our Kansas City Revels”.

The night before, at the awards ceremony, I had lost two rockets (one to Larry Niven, one to Roger Zelazny, fwiw). The affair began as a modest little party in a modest little room, with some peanuts and cheese curls and whatever booze we had been able to scrounge from other parties. But as fate would have it, my room was next to the pool deck, which allowed us to overflow the confines of my double, which we soon did, to become the loudest, largest, and most memorable party of the con. Gardner Dozois was our ‘herald,’ announcing each guest as they appeared, and naming them either a winner or a loser. Losers were cheered and welcomed, winners were booed and cursed and pelted with peanuts… unless they told a good story about they were really losers. (Which Alfie Bester did most memorably). Thus did that first Losers Party pass into fannish legend.

Martin’s next post details the Alfie awards ceremony – “Losers and Winners”. Here’s part of his commentary about the Alfies given in the fan Hugo categories.

Aside from two ‘committee awards’ (I am the ‘committee’), I do not choose the Alfie winners. The fans do, with their nominations. The Alfies go to those who produced outstanding work in 2015, but were denied a spot on the ballot, and thus the chance to compete for the Hugo, by slating…..

One of my special ‘committee awards’ went to BLACK GATE, which had 461 nominations in the Fanzine category, second among all nominees and good for a place on the ballot. But Black Gate turned down the nomination, just as they did last year, to disassociate themselves from the slates. Turning down one Hugo nomination is hard, turning down two must be agony. Integrity like that deserves recognition, as does Black Gate itself. Editor John O’Neill was on hand to accept the Alfie.

Our Alfie for BEST FAN WRITER went to ALEXANDRA ERIN, whose 213 nominations led all non-slate nominees in this category. (I note that I myself got 103 nominations in the category, good for thirteenth place. What the hell, guys, really? I thank you, but… I know professionals have won in this category before, but I’m really more comfortable leaving the Fan Writer awards for fans).

JOURNEY PLANET, by James Bacon and Christopher J. Garcia, had 108 nominations for BEST FANZINE, and took the Alfie in that category. Have to say, I loved Bacon’s enthusiasm (and he’s the calm, quiet, shy one of the two).

(9) NEW EPIC SUPPORTED BY PATREON. Two authors launch a vast fictional project, which they hope readers will back with regular contributions.

Authors Melissa Scott and Don Sakers had always wanted to collaborate on a project, but each attempt produced sprawling ideas and enormous casts of characters that couldn’t easily be confined to a conventional series of novels, much less to any shorter format. As electronic publishing opened up new formats and lengths, it became possible to imagine serial fiction again — and not just serial fiction, but the kind of serial fiction that would allow novelists to explore the sort of expansive, elaborate universes more commonly seen in comics. For the first time, Scott and Sakers could work at the scale their story demanded, without sacrificing character, setting, or idea.  What’s in the story? Pirates. Judges. Weird physics. Desperate refugees. Struggling colonists. Missing persons and a mystery ship. A quest for human origins in a pocket universe. A thousand individual stories that together create a much larger tale.

Thanks to websites like Patreon to handle payments, and open-source website building tools like Drupal, the sprawling serial space opera The Rule of Five launches in September 2016, taking full advantage of the enormous canvas available on the web. Each month, Scott and Sakers will post an episode of at least 2000 words — a solid short story. All subscribers will be able to see each month’s episode plus the previous episode. Subscribers at higher levels can get a quarterly ebook compilation, access to all past episodes, and even a print editions containing each completed Season, as well as public acknowledgement for their support. For readers joining the series in progress, quarterly and seasonal compilations will always be available to bring them up to speed.

Taking advantage of change, The Rule of Five offers a new kind of serial science fiction, borrowing structure from comics and series television, but firmly grounded in classic space opera. The prelude is open to all at http://donsakers.com/ruleof5/content/prelude. Readers can subscribe to The Rule of Five at http://patreon.com/ruleof5.

[Thanks to Rogers Cadenhead, JJ, Petréa Mitchell, Karl-Johan Norén and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mark-kitteh.]

Were-anthology Table of Contents Released

Cover by Justin Adams.

Cover by Justin Adams.

Joshua Palmatier has announced the table of contents for the Were-anthology coming out in August 2016. The book was funded as part of last year’s Alien Artifacts & Were- SF&F Themed Anthologies Kickstarter.

The cover art is by Justin Adams.

The tentative back cover copy reads —

Werewolves rule the night in urban fantasy, but everyone knows there are other were-creatures out there just as dangerous and deadly, if not as common, each with their own issues as they struggle to fit into—or prey upon—society. What about the were-goats? The were-crows and were-wasps?

Here are seventeen stories of urban fantasy by today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors that introduce you to some of those other were-creatures, the ones hiding in the dark background shadows, waiting to bite. Join us as they take you into the hidden corners of our world to see some lesser known were-creatures. You may want to bring along some silver . . . just in case.

Table of Contents;

  • Introduction by Joshua Palmatier
  • “Best In Show” by Seanan McGuire
  • “We Dig” by Ashley McConnell
  • “Eyes Like Pearls” by Susan Jett
  • “Among the Grapevines, Growing” by Eliora Smith
  • “A Party For Bailey” by David B. Coe
  • “Cry Murder” by April Steenburgh
  • “Missy the Were-Pomeranian vs. the Masters of Mediocre Doom” by Gini Koch
  • “Paper Wasp” by Mike Barretta
  • “Point Five” by Elizabeth Kite
  • “The Promise of Death” by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
  • “The Five Bean Solution” by Jean Marie Ward
  • “Witness Report” by Katharine Kerr
  • “Attack of the Were-Zombie Friendship With Benefits” by Sarah Brand
  • “The Whale” by Anneliese Belmond
  • “Anzu, Duba, Beast” by Faith Hunter
  • “Shiftr” by Patricia Bray
  • “Sniff For Your Life” by Phyllis Ames

Those who preorder the paperback of the anthology will get a special Kickstarter edition of the book and will be able to read it early, before the general public. Likewise for those that preorder the ebook. Preorder at the Zombies Need Brains Online Store.

[Thanks to JJ for the story.]

Alien Artifacts ToC Released

Alien Artifacts cover by Justin Adams.

Alien Artifacts cover by Justin Adams.

Joshua Palmatier has announced the Table of Contents for his Alien Artifacts anthology. The Kickstarter-funded book is coming out in August and can be preordered from the Zombies Need Brains Online Store.

What might we run into as we expand beyond Earth and into the stars? As we explore our own solar system and beyond, it seems inevitable that we’ll run into aliens … and what they’ve left behind. Alien artifacts: what might they reveal about us as we try to unlock their secrets? What might they reveal about the universe?

Table of Contents

  • Introduction by Patricia Bray
  • “Radio Silence” by Walter H. Hunt
  • “The Nightside” by Julie Novakova
  • “The Familiar” by David Farland
  • “Me and Alice” by Angela D. Penrose
  • “The Other Side” by S.C. Butler
  • “The Hunt” by Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin
  • “The Sphere” by Juliet E. McKenna
  • “Shame the Devil” by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
  • “The Captain’s Throne” by Andrija Popovic
  • “Weird is the New Normal” by Jacey Bedford
  • “And We Have No Words to Tell” by Sofie Bird
  • “Titan Descanso” by James Van Pelt
  • “Alien Epilogue” by Gini Koch
  • “The Haint of Sweetwater River” by Anthony Lowe
  • “Music of the Stars” by Jennifer Dunne
  • “The Night You Were a Comet” by Coral Moore
  • “The God Emperor of Lassie Point” by Daniel J. Davis
  • “Pandora” by C.S. Friedman
  • “Round and Round We Ride the Carousel of Time” by Seanan McGuire

[Thanks to JJ for the story.]