Pixel Scroll 8/24/17 Is The Grisly Pixel Scrolling?

(1) THE GREAT UNREAD. James Davis Nicoll fesses up – now you can, too: “Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works It May Surprise You To Learn I Have Not Yet Read Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”. Who knew there were 20 sff books altogether than he hadn’t read, much less ones not by Castalia House authors? Here are a few examples:

  • Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta by Doris Lessing
  • The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
  • England Swings SF edited by Judith Merril

(2) MOVING DAY. Meanwhile, at another of his platforms, James Davis Nicoll has gone silent while he works on moving that website.

Why was my site down? Because it turns out the soft-on-Nazis fuckwits running DreamHost thought it would be a good idea to host the Daily Stormer. My site will be moving. Until it has been moved, I won’t be updating it; I will go back to posting reviews on DW.

(3) GENRE TENSIONS. Here’s what Teleread’s Paul St. John Mackintosh deemed to be the takeaway from an all-star panel at Helsinki: “Worldcon 75: Horror and the World Fantasy Award”.

[Stephen] Jones pointed to the origins of the WFA Awards and their parent convention, the World Fantasy Convention, during the horror boom of the mid-1970s. The first WFC, held in Providence, RI in 1975, had as its theme “The Lovecraft Circle,” and that Lovecraftian association has persisted ever since, despite the name on the billboard. Jones attributed the perceived bias towards horror at fantasy and other conventions to the view that “the horror guys the people who go to all the fun conventions.” [Ellen] Datlow, conversely, reported that “from the horror people’s point of view, in the past ten years, they always feel there’s a bias towards fantasy.” Her analysis of actual awards and nominations showed no bias either way, and she saw this as “all perception,” depending on which end of the imaginative literature spectrum it’s seen from. [John] Clute described the situation as “pretty deeply confusing altogether,” given that the WFC externally was intended as a fantasy convention, and the final result has become “terminologically inexact,” though Jones pointed out that “the community itself has changed and mutated, as has the genre.”

(4) VOICE OF EXPERIENCE. Simon Owens reveals “What’s behind the meteoric rise of science fiction podcasts?” – and these are just the drama podcasts, never mind all the nonfiction ones…

According to Valenti, a serialized fiction podcast is an inexpensive way for aspiring filmmakers to gain recognition in the industry. “The reason you’re seeing all these shows crop up is because it’s so much less expensive to experiment and prove yourself as a storyteller in this medium, more than any other,” he said. It used to be that Hollywood directors got their foot in the door with short, independent films, but even those kinds of projects require significant resources. “With podcasts, you don’t have to spend any money on locations,” he explained. “You don’t have to spend any money on cameras, hardware, or hiring a cinematographer. And even if you have the footage, and you had a decent camera, which you probably had to rent because they cost thousands of dollars a day, you’re getting someone to color grade everything after it’s over.” Podcasts rarely require anything more than decent mics, actors, and audio mixing technology. And speaking of actors, your average voiceover performer costs much less to hire than a SAG member.

(5) INKY AWARDS. The shortlists for the 2017 Inky Awards were announced August 15 – the Gold Inky for Australia titles, and the Silver Inky for international titles. The award recognises achievement in young adult literature, with nominees and winners selected by voters under the age of 20. Some of these titles are of genre interest. Voting is currently open for the winners. [H/T Earl Grey Editing Services.]

(6) MORE WORLDCON WRITEUPS. The conreports keep on coming.

Kelly Robson: “What it’s like to lose a Hugo Award”

The Campbell was the second-to-last award, and sure, I was disappointed not to win, but not horribly. On a scale of one to ten, it was about a three at the time and now is zero. I’m very happy for Ada. She deserves every success.

However, I did feel foolish for thinking I could win, which was painful but mostly dispersed by morning. Being a finalist is wonderful. Winning would have been amazing, but it does come with a certain amount of pressure. So maybe — just maybe — being a finalist is the best of both worlds. And that lovely pin in the first picture is mine forever.

Ian Sales: “Kiitos, Helsinki”

My second panel of the con was at noon on the Saturday, Mighty space fleets of war. When I’d registered at the con, I’d discovered I was moderating the panel, which I hadn’t known. I checked back over the emails I’d been sent by the con’s programming team. Oops. I was the moderator. The other two panellists were Jack Campbell and Chris Gerrib. As we took our seats on the stage, Mary Robinette Kowal was gathering her stuff from the previous panel. I jokingly asked if she wanted to join our panel. And then asked if she’d moderate it. She said she was happy to moderate if we wanted her to, but we decided to muddle through ourselves. The panel went quite well, I thought. We got a bit of disagreement going – well, me versus the other two, both of whom admitted to having been USN in the past. I got a wave of applause for a crack about Brexit, and we managed to stay on topic – realistic space combat – for the entire time. I’d prepared a bunch of notes, but by fifteen minutes in, I’d used up all my points. In future, I’ll take in paper and pencil so I can jot stuff down as other members of the panel speak.

Marzie: “The Long Overdue WorldCon Recap!”

This was the first WorldCon I’ve attended and while I had voted in previous Hugo Awards, and attended other Cons (for instance NYCC) I was kind of taken aback by how non-commercial WorldCon is. A case is point is that there are no publishers hawking books at WorldCon, which, on the one hand is great because you don’t get tempted to buy a bunch of stuff and spend a fortune shipping it home and on the other hand is bad because if you’ve travelled a long way with a carry-on only bag, you’re probably packing clothes, not books for your favorite author to sign. Some authors take it all in stride, bringing their own small promotional items they can sign (Fran Wilde, Carrie Vaughn) or will happily sign anything that you set in front of them (Max Gladstone kindly signed a WorldCon postcard for my friend and fellow blogger Alex, who couldn’t come to WorldCon because of Fiscal Realities of New Home vs. Sincere Desire. So other than some interesting panels (climate change in science fiction and fantasy, readings by Amal El-Mohtar and Annalee Newitz, while I can say that pigeonholing fantasy genres is not for me!) the author signings and beloved kaffeeklatsches, the latter limited to ten people, are the definitely the most exciting thing about WorldCon.

Ian Moore: “Helsinki Worldcon write-up Part 1: estrangement, We3, crowds”

Tomi Huttunen introduced the concept of Estrangement, which derives from Russian art theorist Viktor Shklovsky who discussed the topic (Ostrananie) in an article in 1917. Huttunen and others on the academic track offered varying definitions of the concept, noting that different people in the past had come at this in a different way. For all that he was someone primarily associated with the avant-garde, Shklovsky’s own definition appeared to imply that all art involved a process of estrangement because of the difference between an actual thing and its artistic representation. Brecht later attempted his own definition, which appeared to be more about uncanny valley or the German concept of the unheimlich, which I found interesting as for all his ground-breaking approach to theatre Brecht had not particularly involved himself in work that strayed into non-realistic territory.

“Helsinki Worldcon write-up Part 2: Saunas, Robert Silverberg & Tanith Lee #Worldcon75”

On Thursday I did not quite get up in time to make it from where I was staying to the convention centre in time for the presentation on Tove Jansson’s illustrations for The Hobbit (which apparently appear only in Scandinavian editions of the book for Tolkien-estate reasons). I did make it to a panel on Bland Protagonists. One of the panelists was Robert Silverberg, a star of Worldcon and a living link to the heroic age of Science Fiction. He is a great raconteur and such an entertaining panelist that I wonder whether people do not want to appear on panels with him for fear of being overshadowed.

“Helsinki Worldcon write-up Part 3: Moomins, Clipping #Worldcon75”

After the Tanith Lee discussion there were a lot of potentially interesting things happening but we felt that we had to go to a session on the Moomins (entitled Moomins!). As you know, these are character that appeared in books written and illustrated by Tove Jansson of Finland. They started life in books and then progressed to comics and subsequently to a succession of animated TV series. If you’ve never heard of them, the Moomins are vaguely hippopotamus shaped creatures that live in a house in Moominvalley and have a variety of strange friends and adopted family members. Moomin stories are pretty cute but also deal with subjects a bit darker and more existential than is normally expected in children’s books.

(7) ROBOCRIMEVICTIM. It is a lawless country out there: “Popular Robots are Dangerously Easy to Hack, Cybersecurity Firm Says”.

The Seattle-based cybersecurity firm found major security flaws in industrial models sold by Universal Robots, a division of U.S. technology company Teradyne Inc. It also cited issues with consumer robots Pepper and NAO, which are manufactured by Japan’s Softbank Group Corp., and the Alpha 1 and Alpha 2 made by China-based UBTech Robotics.

These vulnerabilities could allow the robots to be turned into surveillance devices, surreptitiously spying on their owners, or let them to be hijacked and used to physically harm people or damage property, the researchers wrote in a report released Tuesday.

(8) TODAY’S DAY

Pluto Demoted Day

Many of us are fascinated by outer space and its many mysteries. Our own solar system went through a change in classification on 2006, when Pluto was demoted from a planet to a dwarf planet. Pluto Demoted Day now takes place every year to mark that very occasion. While sad for fans of the former ninth planet of the solar system, Pluto Demoted Day is an important day for our scientific history and is important to remember.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 24, 1966 Fantastic Voyage premiered theatrically on this day.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born August 24, 1951 – Orson Scott Card

(11) COMIC SECTION. Finnish comic  Fingerpori has a joke about the George R.R. Martin signing at W75. Tehri says it translates something like this (with the third frame being a sight gag):

First panel: (The guy’s name is Heimo Vesa) “What’s going on?”

“George R.R. Martin’s signing queue.”

Middle panel: “Well, I must experience this”.

(As in once in a lifetime thing.)

And Mike Kennedy says today’s Dilbert Classic confirms that publishers exist in order to stomp on potential author’s dreams.

(12) SHE HAS A LITTLE LIST. Kayleigh Donaldson asks “Did This Book Buy Its Way Onto The New York Times Bestseller List?” at Pajiba.

Nowadays, you can make the bestseller list with about 5,000 sales. That’s not the heights of publishing’s heyday but it’s still harder to get than you’d think. Some publishers spend thousands of dollars on advertising and blogger outreach to get that number. Everyone’s looking for the next big thing and that costs a lot of cash. For the past 25 weeks, that big book in the YA world has been The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, a searing politically charged drama about a young black girl who sees a police officer kill her friend, and the fallout it causes in her community. Through publisher buzz and exceedingly strong word of mouth, the novel has stormed to the forefront of the YA world and found thousands of fans, with a film on the way. Knocking that from the top of the NYT YA list would be a major deal, and this week it’s going to happen. But something’s not right.

Handbook For Mortals by Lani Sarem is the debut novel from the publishing arm of website GeekNation. The site announced this news only last week, through a press release that can be read on places like The Hollywood Reporter, not a site known for extensive YA coverage. Sarem has an IMDb page with some very minor acting roles, several of which are uncredited, but details on the book are scanter to find. Googling it leads to several other books with the same title, but most of the coverage for it is press release based. There’s little real excitement or details on it coming from the YA blogging world, which is a mighty community who are not quiet about the things they’re passionate about (believe me, first hand experience here).

YA writer and publisher Phil Stamper raised the alarm bells on this novel’s sudden success through a series of tweets, noting GeekNation’s own low traffic, the inability to even buy it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and its out-of-nowhere relevance…

(13) AMAZONIAN BOGOSITY. While reporters are dissecting the bestseller list, Camestros Felapton turns his attention to Amazon and the subject of “Spotting Fakery?”

One thing new to me from those articles was this site: http://fakespot.com/about It claims to be a site that will analyse reviews on sites like Amazon and Yelp and then rate the reviews in terms of how “fake” they seem to be. The mechanism looks at reviewers and review content and looks for relations with other reviews, and also rates reviewers who only ever give positive reviews lower. Now, I don’t know if their methods are sound or reliable, so take the rest of this with a pinch of salt for the time being.

Time to plug some things into their machine but what! Steve J No-Relation Wright has very bravely volunteered to start reading Vox Day’s epic fantasy book because it was available for $0 ( https://stevejwright.wordpress.com/2017/08/23/a-throne-of-bones-by-vox-day-preamble-on-managing-expectations/ ) and so why not see what Fakespot has to say about “Throne of Bones” http://fakespot.com/product/a-throne-of-bones-arts-of-dark-and-light

(14) WORLD DOESN’T END, FILM AT ELEVEN. Kristine Kathryn Rusch got a column out of the eclipse – “Eclipse Expectations”.

The idea for the post? Much of what occurred around the eclipse in my small town happens in publishing all the time. Let me lay out my thinking.

First, what happened in Lincoln City this weekend:

Damn near nothing. Yeah, I was surprised. Yeah, we all were surprised.

Because for the past 18 months, all we heard about the eclipse was what a mini-disaster it would be for our small town. We expected 100,000 visitors minimum. Hotel rooms were booked more than a year in advance—all of them. Which, the planners told us, meant that we would have at least that many people camping roadside as well.

The airlines had to add extra flights into Portland (the nearest major airport). One million additional people were flooding into Oregon for the five days around the eclipse. Rental cars were booked months in advance. (One woman found an available car for Thursday only and the rental car company had slapped a one-day rate on the car of $850. Yeah, no.)

The state, local, and regional governments were planning for disaster. We were warned that electricity might go down, especially if the temperature in the valley (away from us, but near the big power grids) soared over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 Celsius). Our internet connection would probably go down, they said. (Great, we said. Our business is on the internet. Phooey!) Our cell phones would definitely go down.

The state called out the National Guard, expecting all the trouble you get when you cram too many people in a small space. The hospitals staffed up. We were told that traffic would be in gridlock for four days, so plan travel accordingly. Dean and I own three retail stores in the area, so we spent weeks discussing scheduling—who could walk to work, who couldn’t, who might stay overnight if need be. Right now, as I write this, Dean is working our new bookstore, because the bookstore employees live 6 miles away, and couldn’t walk if there was gridlock. The schedule was set in stone; no gridlock, but Dean was scheduled, not the usual employee, so Dean is guarding the fort (so to speak).

(15) MAKING BOOKINGS. Website Focus on Travel News has made note of the Dublin win: “Dublin to host the 77th Annual World Science Fiction Convention”.

The successful Dublin bid was led by James Bacon, with support and guidance from the bid committee, Fáilte Ireland, Dublin Convention Bureau (DCB) and The CCD. Dublin was confirmed as the 2019 location by site selection voters at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki where 1,227 votes were received, of which Dublin won 1,160 votes.

“It’s fantastic that we had such a large turnout, indicating strong support for the bid,” said James Bacon, Dublin 2019 chair. “Voting is a vital part of the process so twelve hundred votes is a great endorsement and I’m very pleased it’s a new record for an uncontested bid. Given New Orleans and Nice have declared for 2023 and Perth and Seattle for 2025, that we remained unopposed is indicative of the enthusiasm, strategic determination and commitment from all involved with the bid. It’s absolutely magnificent to be able to say we are bringing the Worldcon to Ireland and we cannot wait now for 2019.”

(16) HELP IS COMING. Drones at serious work: “Tanzania Gears Up To Become A Nation Of Medical Drones”

Entries like these popped up as Keller Rinaudo browsed a database of health emergencies during a 2014 visit to Tanzania. It was “a lightbulb moment,” says the CEO and co-founder of the California drone startup Zipline.

Rinaudo was visiting a scientist at Ifakara Health Institute who had created the database to track nationwide medical emergencies. Using cellphones, health workers would send a text message whenever a patient needed blood or other critical supplies. Trouble is, while the system collected real-time information about dying patients, the east African country’s rough terrain and poor supply chain often kept them from getting timely help. “We were essentially looking at a database of death,” Rinaudo says.

That Tanzania trip motivated his company to spend the next three years building what they envisioned as “the other half of that system — where you know a patient is having a medical emergency and can immediately send the product needed to save that person’s life,” Rinaudo says.

(17) ROBOPRIEST. St Aquin? Not yet: “Robot priest: the future of funerals?” BBC video at the link.

Developers in Japan are offering a robot “priest” to conduct Buddhist funeral rites complete with chanted sutras and drum tapping – all at a fraction of the cost of a human.

It is the latest use of Softbank’s humanoid robot Pepper.

(18) UNDERSEA DRIVING. Call these “tunnel pipe-dreams”: “The Channel tunnel that was never built”.

The Channel Tunnel linking Britain and France holds the record for the longest undersea tunnel in the world – 50km (31 miles) long. More than 20 years after its opening, it carries more than 10 million passengers a year – and more than 1.6 million lorries – via its rail-based shuttle service.

What many people don’t know, however, is that when owner Eurotunnel won the contract to build its undersea connection, the firm was obliged to come up with plans for a second Channel Tunnel… by the year 2000. Although those plans were published the same year, the tunnel still has not gone ahead.

The second ‘Chunnel’ isn’t the only underwater tunnel to remain a possibility. For centuries, there have been discussions about other potential tunnelling projects around the British Isles, too. These include a link between the island of Orkney and the Scottish mainland, a tunnel between the Republic of Ireland and Wales and one between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

[Thanks to JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, lauowolf, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, and Robot Archie for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]

Pixel Scroll 9/26/16 Scrolls To The Left Of Me, Pixels To The Right

(1) JUST. ONE. SCHOOL. UPDATE. There was the inevitable brush with bureaucracy, but the books everyone donated are now being checked out to kids at Greenville High School in the Sierras of California.

“Just. One. School. A Saga Continues” (August 11) at Throwing Chanclas.

Last night I attended a monthly board meeting of Plumas Unified School District in Quincy, CA. I don’t normally attend such meetings as I thankfully as a reporter do not have the school board as my regular beat. I attended because I got last minute word that the Library Project was an agenda item. I’d received no phone call or email from the district, no inquiries whatsoever. As this was my idea and I’ve been heading up the volunteer effort (we’ll let my 17 years experience as a college instructor + knowledge of books, music, and film go at this point). So I show up there because um…my library, OUR library is on the agenda.

So I address the school board and give them a brief history of the project. As the board only has one member who regularly engages online, they were not all completely aware that we exist.  So I spend my five minutes of public comment time on facts of our project and I answer a few questions.

The curriculum director–who has never set foot in our library, nor called me or emailed me to ask questions–gets up and makes a brief presentation whereupon she states that she’ll “approve” students to check out books as soon as we produce a list of titles so that she can decide whether they belong in our library.

…America. This is why we can’t have nice things. This is why Holden Caufield whines about how every time you see something beautiful someone else has scrawled an OBSCENITY upon it.

None of this comes out of my mouth however. I do remind however that we are two schools, not one. That all summer 98% of my volunteers have been from community members and Indian Valley Academy students and parents and that we have no such stipulations concerning censorship and approval. Our goal –which we had thought and hoped was shared–was to get kids reading–especially kids who don’t read. And we’ve already been achieving our goal.

just-one-book-library

Mary of the Good Week (August 28)

There’s some bureaucratic snags. The curriculum director finally came down to look at the site (honestly we are a brisk 22 minutes from Capital City–it wasn’t that hard) and we hope she went away knowing that the books aren’t hers that they are indeed the communities and the kids.

…We had a great moment last week when a kid who was on track to drop out and have no use for the world walked into the library almost on a dare and realized that every graphic novel and Japanese manga he ever wanted to read was in there. (He was too cool for school and then left like a kid coming out of a candy store). We let him borrow the Death Note series.

just-one-book-library-2

Just. One. Book. Live with Students! (September 9).

Since Sept 6 when we opened we’ve checked out about 65 books, dvds, and cds  to students and faculty.  Considering the two schools have only 200 students combined that’s some great reach.

THANK YOU!’

Oh and on a side note. Whoever sent the soundtrack to Hamilton? I LOVE YOU. That’s the first thing that I checked out.

(2) SFWA ISSUES STATEMENT ON GALAKTIKA MAGAZINE. On March 23, 2016, Bence Pintér published an article at Mandiner Magazine regarding numerous stories published by Hungary’s Galaktika Magazine in 2015 – most of them translated and reprinted without the knowledge or consent of the original authors. The unfolding story is included in today’s SFWA statement on Galaktika, warning professionals to avoid working with the publication.

SFWA has refrained from comment so far due to hopes that Galaktika would resolve outstanding issues, but so far this has not been the case. It has taken the Hungarian agency representing one leading U.S. agency months to arrive at an agreement with Galaktika calling for a per-story fee of $75 covering 37 stories by 16 authors; this agreement was finally signed by István Burger on 7th September 2016, and apparently the money is on the way to the Hungarian Agency.  Meanwhile, the same agency is still working on finding a satisfactory arrangement with other clients whose authors are involved, although no other agreement is in the works yet (as of mid-September 2016). Some clients of the Hungarian Agency reportedly are inclined to give Galaktika a post-publication license; others want to review legal options that their own clients can undertake; others are working with other U.S. agents to explore a possible collective response.

SFWA formally recommends that authors, editors, translators, and other publishing professionals avoid working with Galaktika until the magazine has demonstrated that existing issues have been addressed and that there will be no recurrence. Authors should check to determine whether or not their works have been published by Galaktika on the magazine’s website at http://galaktikabolt.hu/galaktika/page/6/. SFWA recommends that members work with their agents and publishers to address the issue before passing it to Griefcom. At the moment SFWA has three active grievances against Galaktika

(3) GETTING THERE EVENTUALLY. Kelly Robson, “On Being a Late Bloomer”, at Clarkesworld.

I always wanted to be a writer. That’s not unique. Many writers have their destiny revealed in childhood. Like others with this particular itch, I read voraciously, and when I bought my first Asimov’s magazine at the age of sixteen—a moment embedded in my senses more vividly than my first kiss—I knew I had to be a science fiction writer.

But it took me more than thirty years to become one. And by that, I don’t mean I was thirty before I published my first fiction. I was forty-seven. By anyone’s measure, that’s late for a first publication.

Most of us have preconceived ideas about how a writer’s career should proceed, and we judge ourselves harshly if we don’t achieve the various benchmarks on time…

(4) VISIT TO THE CHINESE NEBULAS. Cat Rambo has written up her trip to China: “Beijing/Chengdu Trip, September 206: Some Notes, Observations, and Images”.

We were treated very well. Overall, recent wins by Cixin Liu have drawn significant attention to SF in China. In all of this, I am speaking primarily about science fiction, rather than fantasy, since the Chinese see the two genres as very distinct from each other. There has also historically been tension between science writing and science fiction, which is the past has been perceived as being aimed at children, or at least that is something that came up multiple times over the course of the visit.

Nowadays, that’s very different. Numerous groups in China are working on putting together Worldcon bids and I would suspect the question is not so much whether or not we’ll see a Worldcon bid from China in coming years so much as which city will host it: Beijing, Chengdu, or Shanghai. Several people, including the World Science Fiction Society, said that they’d love to see SFWA’s Nebulas hosted over in China if we’re ever interested in doing that. Crystal Huff had been sponsored by the first group as part of their effort to research what would be needed to run a Worldcon.

(5) THE DARK ADDS MORENO-GARCIA. The Dark Magazine has hired Silvia Moreno-Garcia as co-editor alongside current editor Sean Wallace. Moreno-Garcia will assume her responsibilities effective October 1 and her first issues will start next January.

Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination, Silvia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, about music, magic and Mexico City, was listed as one of the best novels of the year at io9, Buzzfeed and many other places and nominated for the British Fantasy, Locus, Sunburst and Aurora awards. She was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for her work on the anthology She Walks in Shadows and is the guest-editor for Nightmare Magazine’s POC Destroy Horror. She edits The Jewish Mexican Literary Review together with award-winning author Lavie Tidhar. Her website can be found at www.silviamoreno-garcia.com

“Silvia has always impressed me with her editorial acumen and acquisitions, both with her own anthologies and Innsmouth Magazine, and it is to our credit that we have her onboard going forward,” said Sean Wallace, co-editor and publisher of The Dark Magazine.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born September 26, 1932  — Donna Douglas. Her “Eye of the Beholder” Twilight Zone episode had one of the best reveals on any TV show.
  • Born September 26, 1956 — Linda Hamilton

(7) ANCILLARY COMIC. Someone has been peeking inside the heads of Ancillary Justice readers.

(8) CROWDFUNDING TERRY JONES BOOK. Terry Jones’ publisher Unbound is crowdfunding the publication of the third volume of a Medieval adventure trilogy he has written. They discuss his recent announcement on this page.

It’s safe to say that when Unbound launched, five years ago, we could not have done it without Terry Jones.

He launched his collection of stories, Evil Machines, and went on every form of media to help us launch the business, brilliantly communicating what was new and exciting about Unbound. Here was one of the country’s best loved comic writers and performers – a Python! – entrusting us with a brand new book and pushing our start-up for all it was worth.

First and foremost, though, Terry has been a friend, not ‘just’ a driving force and collaborator. So the news of his illness has hit us hard.

We launched this book in the hope that we could get it to him for his 75th birthday in February but the announcement of illness gives us all pause for thought. We have considered whether we should remove the project but after speaking to the family we have decided we still very much want to publish this book because it completes the trilogy and because it meant a great deal to Terry that we should. So we hope you’ll agree that we should continue to fund and publish the final fictional work from an old and dear friend.

There’s an excerpt from Chapter 1 at the site.

(9) LETTERS TO TIPTREE. Alisa Krasnostein’s scorecard reads —

LETTERS TO TIPTREE has won: the Tin Duck, Ditmar, Aurealis Convenor Award, Locus, Alfie, British Fantasy; shortlisted for the British SF and WFA, long listed for the Tiptree. Which kinda blows my mind!!!!

(10) AN INGENIOUSLY DECEPTIVE WORK OF ART. Nobody knows about this transportation disaster because it didn’t happen it happened on the same day as the Kennedy assassination, you see…. Artist Joe Reginella told The Gothamist how he perpetrated the hoax.

Staten Island Ferry Disaster Monument

Staten Island Ferry Disaster Monument

Reginella told The Post that the project took six months to plan and that it’s “part practical joke, part multimedia art project, part social experiment.” The fliers, which he and his team have been giving out around downtown Manhattan and Staten Island in recent weeks, promise an octopus petting zoo, historical exhibits and a “Ferry Disastore” gift shop at the nonexistent museum.

It also includes directions to a fictitious shoreline address across the street from the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, where some people have ventured to. Francesca Navarro, who works the front desk of the Staten Island Museum, told the Post that despite the ludicrousness of the premise, some people can’t help but check it out: “I think they maybe have a suspicion it’s fake, but they feel like they just have to prove it.”

The Post found a few of the tricked: “Australian tourist Tamara Messina [said]: ‘The brochure sounded very intriguing,’ adding that her three young sons ‘seemed a bit more concerned that it may happen again’ as the family rode the ferry.”

In addition to the fake monument, there’s a website for the Staten Island Ferry Disaster Memorial Museum. The New York Post says people are still looking for it.

About the Memorial

The Staten Island Ferry Disaster Story. . . It was close to 4am on the quiet morning of November 22, 1963 when the Steam Ferry Cornelius G. Kolff vanished without a trace. On its way with nearly 400 hundred people, mostly on their way to work, the disappearance of the Cornelius G. Kolff remains both one of New York’s most horrific maritime tragedies and perhaps its most intriguing mystery. Eye witness accounts describe “large tentacles” which “pulled” the ferry beneath the surface only a short distance from its destination at Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan. Nobody on board survived and only small pieces of wreckage have been found…strangely with large “suction cup-shaped” marks on them. The only logical conclusion scientists and officials could point to was that the boat had been attacked by a massive octopus, roughly half the size of the ship. Adding to the tragedy, is that this disaster went almost completely unnoticed by the public as later that day another, more “newsworthy” tragedy would befall the nation when beloved President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated.  The Staten Island Ferry Disaster Museum hopes to correct this oversight by preserving the memory of those lost in this tragedy and educating the public about the truth behind the only known giant octopus-ferry attack in the tri-state area.

 

(11) SOMETIMES. Just saw this today and it cracked me up.

(12) THAT MALLEABLE VERSE. And I had a smile left over for this —

[Thanks to Janice Gelb, Sean Wallace, Ruth, Steven H Silver, Dawn Incognito, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Kelly Robson on “Waters of Versailles”

Kelly Robson

Kelly Robson

By Carl Slaughter: Kelly Robson’s fantasy alternate history short story, “Waters of Versailles,” edited by Ellen Datlow and published by Tor, was nominated for a Nebula Award, World Fantasy Award, and Aurora Award. In this interview, she shares insight into the story’s appeal.

CARL SLAUGHTER: Who is the main character in ”Waters of Versailles,” what makes him tick, and what is he trying to accomplish?

KELLY ROBSON: Sylvain de Guilherand is a womanizer and social climber working his way up the social ladder at the Palace of Versailles in 1738. Sylvain is from a noble family in the southern Alps. He’s always been a man of action — a hunter at home and an officer in the French army — so the enforced elegant idleness of Versailles is maddening to him. He’s pursuing wealth and influence by upgrading the palace’s failing water systems and offering the nobility the latest status symbol — the flush toilet.

waters-ofversailles

CS: Who is the fantasy character, how does she enter the story, and what part does she play in the plot?

KR: Sylvain’s water system is powered by an incredibly powerful young nixie. Sylvain caught her in a glacier lake when she was just a tadpole, brought her to the palace, and installed her in an underground cistern. Now she’s the size of a six-year-old child, and has an irrepressibly playful and mischievous personality to match.

CS: What kind of dynamic do these 2 characters have?

KR: Sylvain has been relying on an elderly manservant to take care of the nixie, and he’s been rather snotty about it because doesn’t regard taking care of children as a proper use of a man’s time. The nixie, on the other had, thinks of Sylvain as her father. This is a recipe for trouble, because Sylvain has no idea how to care for a magical child and no particular desire to do so, and the nixie is easily bored. She’s perfectly capable of springing leaks all around the palace for fun.

CS: How does the main character evolve — or does he? — and what is the catalyst for that evolution?

KR: To save his reputation, Sylvain has to negotiate his relationship with the nixie. He has to nurture her, entertain her, and teach her — in essence, he becomes her parent. And parenthood comes with an emotional bond that Sylvain certainly wasn’t expecting.

CS: Same question for the fantasy character?

KR: The nixie is a sweet, good-hearted child, but like all children she craves attention and entertainment. She’s wants to please Sylvain — she’s imprinted on him — but doesn’t like being ignored. She’s demanding. She needs much more attention than Sylvain’s willing to give her, and she’s growing more powerful every day.

CS: How do the various other characters make things complicated for these 2 characters?

KR: I’ve always been interested in characters who have it all but find out how little it does for them. Sylvain has it all: a beautiful and charming lover, a steadfast best friend, a position of power and influence in the richest nation in the world, the admiration of the king and court, and the loyalty of an extremely powerful magical creature. Where it starts to go wrong for Sylvain is when he tries to be all things to all people — a man with no limits.

CS: What do we take away from this story?

KR: First, that the act of taking nurturing creates love, and love changes you. And second, that trying to be please everyone is a recipe for disaster. In the end, it’s only the people you love who matter.

CS: First the Nebula, then the World Fantasy, now the Aurora. Meanwhile, inclusion in Jonathan Strahan’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year. What’s the appeal of this story?

KR: I think the story hits the mark with a lot of people simply because it’s about love. Not romantic love, but the simple uncomplicated bond between a parent and a child — which is universal.

Read Carl’s profile of Kelly at SF Signal.

Pixel Scroll 8/14 Tom Swift and His Positronic Pixels

High dudgeon, low dudgeon, and dudgeon in between, all in today’s Scroll.

(1) Liz Lutgendorff tells New Statesman readers that the books on NPR’s list of 100 best fantasy and sci-fi novels aren’t all that.

When it comes to the best of anything, what do you expect? If it’s science fiction and fantasy novels you want epic adventures and getting out of impossible situations. But what you often get is barely disguised sexism and inability to imagine any world where women are involved in the derring-do.

At the end of 2013, after a year of reading very little, I decided to embark on a challenge: read all the books I hadn’t yet read on NPR’s list of 100 best sci-fi and fantasy novels. Nostalgia permeates the list. Of the books I read, there were more books published before 1960 than after 2000. The vast majority were published in the 1970s and 1980s. There were also many sci-fi masterworks or what were groundbreaking novels. However, groundbreaking 30, 40, 50 or 100 years ago can now seem horribly out of date and shockingly offensive….

I was working my way up to a proper fannish rage when I encountered this paragraph –

In contrast to the male-dominated stories, there’s The Doomsday Book, where a woman named Kivrin is put into all sorts of danger. She’s stuck in 14th century England, with her meticulously crafted cover blown by illness, and only her knowledge, strength and intelligence to help her survive.

Why, that’s one of my favorite books. All is forgiven — what good taste you have, Liz!

(2) The world’s first science fiction convention in Leeds is chronicled by David Wildman at Tiny Tickle. (Maybe File 770 is not such a bad title!)

Attendees at the 1937 Leeds convention.

Attendees at the 1937 Leeds convention.

So to some, it may actually be more of a surprise to learn that the first ever science fiction convention didn’t actually take place until 1937, and they may be less surprised to find that it was based in Leeds, and not the likes of London or some city in the US.

And so is the controversy about whether it really was the first.

But was it really the first science fiction convention? – The Philadelphia claim

Like many great things to happen in the world, there is always contention, there is always conspiracy and like many average things, there is always disagreement born from jealousy and pride.

Unfortunately, the title to the first science fiction convention in the world is marred somewhat by a claim laid by an event held in Philadelphia in 1936 – just one year before Leeds’ own.

Indeed, the only question the article leaves unanswered is why it includes a ginormous photo of Captain Kirk clutching Yeoman Rand?

(3) More about Rachel Bloom promoting her new sitcom:

The cast of the new CW musical comedy “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” are ready to take the Internet by storm with a tap-off.

In a video that was released Friday, series stars Rachel Bloom, Donna Lynne Champlin and Vincent Rodriguez III (and yes, Pete Gardner too), show off their hoofing skills and dare fellow musical theater-loving stars of shows like “Jane the Virgin,” “The Flash,” “Supergirl” and “Madam Secretary” to record themselves doing the same.

The CW is donating to nonprofit fundraising and grant-making organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS in honor of this video — and will continue to donate for every new video made.

(4) Crystal Huff of the Helsinki bid tells about her formal fannish adoption.

Crystal Huff adoption certNo, really! That happened!

I and a couple of others were called into the bar (the major social space of the con after the function rooms were closed down). There was some laughter, and then, along with three others, I was declared officially an adopted Finnish fan. I have framed the adoption certificate they presented to me, which was drawn by my friend Petri Hiltunen and features several Finnish SFF characters around the border.

I am apparently the alien baby at the top, wrapped in a Finnish flag. I adore this piece of paper. It hangs proudly in my dining room.

I didn’t have to learn any Finnish in order to be accepted into this group, although I have tried to retain basic greetings and courtesies such as “kiitos” and “ole hyvää” (aka “thank you” and “you’re welcome”). I am having great difficulty learning how to roll my R’s, I must say.

(5) Rachael Acks deals with Brad R. Torgersen’s latest gulag quote by inviting him to “fuck all the way off”.

All I have to say is this: how dare you, Brad. After you helped garner John C. Wright, a man who not-at-all-coyly talks about gay bashing as an “instinctive reaction” to “fags” a record number of nominations, how dare you project your paranoid fantasies of people wanting to harm you on us. How dare you wrap yourself in a blanket of imagined persecution when to this day transpeople are being murdered for simply existing. How dare you whip up false fears about people wanting you to die over a fucking literary award when right now black men and women are being killed by the police for simply existing. How dare you imagine yourself a second-class citizen when underprivileged women and girls are suffering because their male-run government has decided they have no right to bodily autonomy.

How dare you talk about people being shipped to frozen gulags when, today, gay and trans youth are still subjected to the very sort of reeducation you claim we want.

How dare you.

Real people are harmed every day by the positions those with whom you associate yourself espouse. Real people, who experience real pain, and real suffering, and all too often real death. The number of your faction that has been sent off to a reeducation camp is zero, and it will remain zero.

Rumors are that Santa Claus left a comment and, believe me, it wasn’t “Ho, ho, ho.”

(6) Kelly Robson thinks it should be possible to mediate between Puppies and everyone else – “The Hugos and the problem of competing narratives”

In just over a week the Hugos will be done. But it won’t be over. This shit storm we’ve been living through will go on. It’ll probably get worse. I’m sick to death of it and you probably are too.

There’s no end in sight because both sides are telling stories — personal, important, urgent stories, but stories nonetheless, told with apocalyptic rhetoric and elevated language, using energy that would be much better spent on fiction.

It’s not surprising. We are fiction writers. We are very good at making stirring narratives out of chaos.

But there’s the problem. These stories aren’t true. They’re important but not true….

The puppy narrative is that they’ve been discriminated against for 30 years. Nothing will move them off that narrative because it feels true to them. Our narrative is that the puppies are out to destroy the Hugos. Nothing will move us off that narrative because it feels true to us.

Many times people have claimed Vox Day explicitly said he wants to destroy the Hugos. In those words. But as I searched File 770 this is what I found Vox Day had said in comments contradicting those claims:

I don’t WANT the awards to be destroyed, I simply EXPECT them to be destroyed by the very people who claim to love them so much.

I didn’t have time to scour Vox Popoli to see if things changed later. Feel free to let me know what you find. But it’s possible Robson is right – that is the narrartive, and it may be inaccurate.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, David Doering and Laura Resnick for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cubist.]