It’s Myers & Miller Time at the KGB Bar

By Mark L. Blackman: On the summerlike spring evening of Wednesday, May 17th, the monthly Fantastic Fiction Readings Series presented authors E.C. Myers and Sam J. Miller at its longtime venue, the dimly-lit and aptly-named Red Room of the second-floor KGB Bar in Manhattan’s East Village. I arrived later than usual, and the crowd seemed at more than capacity.

Series co-host Matthew Kressel greeted the crowd, and reported on their current fundraiser on Kickstarter to cover the Series’ expenses. While the readings are always free and there’s no cover charge, it costs about $120/month (or $1,500/year) to run. He recited a partial list of “rewards”for donors (a fuller list may be found here), among them: signed copies of John Crowley books; from John Joseph Adams, trade paperbacks of Queers Destroy Science Fiction; from Ellen Datlow, “lots of books,”including Alien Sex; and from Neil Gaiman, four rare signed copies of his books. Additionally, Nancy Kress and Jeffrey Ford are offering Tuckerizations (that is, a character with the donor’s name in their books); John Langan to create a monster; and N.K. Jemisin and others critiques. The money, he assured, will be used for small stipends for the authors and to treat them to dinner after their readings. (Earlier Myers had kidded that there are no tote bags and the readers would not be interrupted mid-reading for a fundraising appeal.) He concluded by introducing the event’s first reader.

E.C. Myers. Photo by Mark Blackman.

E.C. Myers (the “E” is for Eugene) describes himself as “assembled in the U.S. from Korean and German parts, and raised by a single mother and a public library in Yonkers, New York. ”He has published four novels, the first of which, Fair Coin, won the 2012 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult SF and Fantasy, and the subsequent The Silence of Six was selected by YALSA as one of its “Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers”in 2016. His next book will be DoubleThink, (he’s on a 1984 kick — the book very much fits the current zeitgeist), a collection of stories related to The Silence of Six. (He also writes for ReMade, a YA science fiction series from Serial Box Publishing, from which I heard Matthew Cody read earlier this month at the most recent NYRSF Readings event.)

His offering was from “Big Brother,”a story in Feral Youth, a multiauthor collected which he characterized as “Canterbury Tales as YA,”with each telling a story. The starting point is a 17-minute viral video of a 13-year-old girl sleeping and, by appearance, erotically dreaming (in “full-on When Harry Met Sally“mode) recorded by her teen older brother who has dreams of being a filmmaker. A glimpsed hovering presence, he and his friends deduce, is likely an incubus. The creepy aspects of the story were only somewhat relieved by their humorous comments.

After an intermission, co-host Ellen Datlow assumed the podium and exhorted us to thank the Bar by buying drinks (it was definitely a night calling for hydration), and announced upcoming readings:

  • June 21 — Catherynne M. Valente and Sunny Moraine
  • July 19K. Jemisin and Karen Heuler

She then introduced the second reader of the evening.

Sam J. Miller

Sam J. Miller’s short stories have appeared in multiple “year’s best” anthologies and been finalists for multiple Nebula Awards as well as for World Fantasy and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards. His short story “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides”(from which he read at the KGB last year) won the 2013 Shirley Jackson Award. His debut novel The Art of Starving, which will be out in July, was called “Funny, haunting, beautiful, relentless and powerful … a classic in the making” by Book Riot. His second novel, The Breaks, will be published in 2018.

Like Myers, his selection was from a YA work, the forthcoming The Art of Starving; he read from the very beginning and the end. The protagonist, it seems, is not actually starving or even hungry, but simply “chooses not to eat.”He suffers from an eating disorder — though he emphatically rejects the label — in which he sees himself as “an enormous, fat, greasy, disgusting creature”while the rest of the world somehow sees him as “a scrawny bag of bones”and urges him to eat, thereby earning his undying hatred. Ultimately, he releases hundreds of pigs from a slaughterhouse and leads the “squealing army”to defile and destroy the homes of his perceived enemies.

At the back of the room, copies of Myers’ The Silence of Six and its sequel Against All Silence were for sale by the Word Bookstores of Greenpoint, Brooklyn (and Jersey City). Also available were free copies of “pamphlet”editions of the novellas “S.O.S.: A Prequel to The Silence of Six“and “DoubleThink,”a stand-alone in the SOS (or SØS) Series that bridges The Silence of Six and Against All Silence. Miller’s novel is, of course, not out yet, but he had stickers to sign and go into the book.

Prior to the reading, Datlow, as usual, circulated, taking pictures. Her photos of the event may be seen on her Flickr page, linked to the Series’ website.

Pixel Scroll 3/6/17 Holy Pixels, Scrollman!

(1) FAME AND FORTUNE. Mark Lawrence, who contends there is a close correlation between the number of Goodreads reviews a book has and sales, has created a series of graphs that illustrate the number of GR reviews received by various segments of top-selling fantasy books.

The level to which A Game of Thrones outsells the rest of the field is quite staggering, particularly when the publication date means this difference will *increase* significantly when converting figures to a sales estimate.

But when we widen the field of that fantasy lens still further to include urban fantasy, paranormal romance fantasy, YA fantasy, literary fantasy and fantasy written for children… even the mighty GRRM is dwarfed.

(2) BAD NEIGHBORS. In The Australian, James Bradley reviews Stephen Baxter’s Massacre of Mankind, where H.G. Wells’s Martians come again.

As before, the attack begins in England. This time the Martians arrive in greater numbers, establishing a beachhead and overwhelming Britain’s armed forces. But this is only the first phase. With England secured, a second wave arrives, attacking cities around the world with ruthless and terrifying efficiency.

At his best Baxter produces big-picture Clarkean science fiction of a very high order. And while he could never be accused of being a high stylist, novels such as his Xeelee sequence or his recent Flood/Ark and Proxima/Ultima duologies are exhilaratingly accomplished exercises in hard science fiction. The Massacre of Mankind is a more intimate creation, and perhaps because of that takes obvious pleasure not just in pastiching Wells’s style, but the science and technology of the original novel’s setting.

Baxter has huge fun imagining a solar system informed by the theories of the “discoverer” of the Martian canals, Percival Lowell, and others about planetary evolution.

The narrative structure of the original, in particular the extended prelude to the actual attack, lends it a gorgeous elegiac power. While the decision to reproduce that here makes The Massacre of Mankind overlong, the intertextuality is frequently surprisingly entertaining. This is most evident in flourishes such as the complaints of several characters about the inaccuracy of Walter’s original account (and the almost-cameos by the “man of the future”, Wells himself), but it has its serious side as well.

(3) REBOOT. Dean Wesley Smith says Pulphouse Fiction Magazine is coming back.

As you can see from the pictures, we are doing an Issue Zero again this time that will be limited and part of a Kickstarter later in the summer. First issue comes out in January 2018 and the magazine will be quarterly, with about 70,000 words of short fiction every issue. It will be the size and shape of Smith’s Monthly.

I will be mixing some of the stories from the old Pulphouse days along with brand new fiction. I figured most of those older stories have long been forgotten and they need a new life. For each story we will push the author information and be clear to the reader if the story is new or if a reprint, where the story was originally published.

The magazine will have an attitude, as did the first run. No genre limitations, but high quality writing and strangeness.

(3) THE BOOK IS CLOSED. I reported yesterday that three actors are leading the wagering as favorites to become the next Doctor Who. Now Den of Geek says one has become such a popular choice that one UK bookmaker has stopped taking bets on him.

Peter Capaldi is leaving Doctor Who at the end of the year, and incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall is the man tasked with finding his replacement in the TARDIS.

As ever, it’s tough to put much stock in what bookies say on the matter. But, nonetheless, the latest story to emerge from Ladbrokes is an interesting one: they’ve stopped taking bets on Kris Marshall landing the gig.

The My Family, BT adverts and Death In Paradise star, who recently left his role in the latter, has become such a favourite with punters that Ladbrokes have decided to pull the plug and stop accepting bets.

“A surge of punters have backed Marshall so we’ve had no choice but to close the book,” Ladbrokes’ Alex Donohue told the – sigh – Daily Mail. (You really don’t have to click that link and show them any support.)

“If he does get the gig,” Donohue added, “the bookies will be exterminated first.”

…The bets-being-suspended-on-Kris-Marshall story in no way confirms that he, or anyone, has got the part.

(4) DATLOW BOUND FOR ANTIPODES. Every year Canberra-based SFF fans “get together to celebrate everything creepy, geeky and fantastical” at Conflux, and the lucky International Guest of Honour at Conflux 13 will be Ellen Datlow.

We have to keep pinching ourselves to make sure this is real, but (deep breath) Conflux 13 is bringing none other than Ellen Datlow to Australia!!!

Ellen Datlow has been editing science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction for over thirty-five years as fiction editor of OMNI Magazine and editor of Event Horizon and SCIFICTION. She currently acquires short fiction for Tor.com. In addition, she has edited more than ninety science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies, including the annual The Best Horror of the Year, Lovecraft’s Monsters, Fearful Symmetries, The Doll Collection, The Monstrous, Children of Lovecraft, Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror, and Black Feathers.  Forthcoming are, Hallows’ Eve (with Lisa Morton), and Mad Hatters and March Hares (stories inspired by Alice’s Adventures in in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There).

Conflux 13 will be held September 29-Ocober 2 in Canberra.

(5) FIGHT TO THE FINISH. Unbound Worlds brings back Cage Match. Mark-kitteh comments: “SF character cage matches. I think the Dune sandworm is a bit of a ringer though – how would they even get it in the cage?”

What the hell is Cage Match?

Great question. A long time ago, on an internet far, far away, there was a website called Suvudu, which had been founded by some editors at Del Rey as a place to nerd out about sci-fi and fantasy. In the barely remembered year 2010, those editors decided it’d be a real kick to pit their favorite SF/F characters against each other in a fight to the death, and it’d be even MORE of a kick if they brought in some authors to write short scenes illustrating how they thought those fights might play out. And on top of that, they invited users to come vote on the outcome of those fights.

And apparently you all liked it, because we’re still doing it seven years later.

(6) OSBORNE OBIT. TCM’s Robert Osborne is mourned by Steve Vertlieb:

Robert Osborne passed away this morning at age 84. He’d been in ill health for some time. Robert was the face of Turner Classic Movies since its inception, and was a wonderful fountain of enthusiasm, sincerity, and palpable adoration of classic cinema. Those of us who watched the cable movie channel these countless years came to look upon Robert as a friend, a tireless champion of the arts, and as the very definition of integrity. We all knew that he’d been ill, but were afraid to ask about his telling absence of late from the network. A true motion picture historian, Osborne’s warmth and passion for films and their creators will be sorely missed by movie lovers everywhere. Rest In Peace, Robert. Your own star shall shine ever brightly among a luminescent galaxy of stars.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • March 6, 1928 — William F. Nolan

(8) CREATED IN 7 DAYS. Skyboat Media wants to raise $7,000 via Kickstarter to create an 11-hour audiobook of Queers Destroy Science Fiction.

With your help, if we can fund in 7 days, Skyboat will be able to produce an 11 hour digital audiobook for you of the short story and flash fiction portions of Lightspeed Magazine‘s QUEERS DESTROY SCIENCE FICTION! It will be a glorious vocal celebration of inclusivity, diversity and all things science fiction-y!

KICKSTARTER’S ALL in 1: We are doing this for only one week. Our project is aligned with Kickstarter’s theme of 1s and 0s; this means we are offering only digital rewards.

The book was published by Hugo winning anthologist John Joseph Adams and guest edited by Seanan McGuire.

So far they have raised $1,263 of the $7,000 goal.

(9) CASTING CLASH. At ComicsBeat Heidi MacDonald tracks the issue — “Finn Jones leaves Twitter after trying to explain why a white Iron Fist isn’t problematic to an Asian person”.

Don’t get me wrong, Jones has a right to talk about his show, but when he explained to an Asian person, Geeks of Color’s Creative Director, Asyiqin Haron, how to feel about race…he got busted whitesplaining. Then, when the heat got too much for him, Jones just deleted his twitter account.

Pretty much the same thing happened when Tilda Swinton and Margaret Cho had a tense email exchange over the Ancient One

(10) FAUX-MEN COMICS. Trae Dorn at Nerd & Tie says “The Fake X-Men Comics From ‘Logan’ Are Incredible”.

When Logan director James Mangold asked Marvel comics if he could include X-Men comics in the final Hugh Jackman Wolverine installment, he was told he could as long as they weren’t any real comic books. To create the old-school style books for the movie then, Mangold reached out to Joe Quesada and Dan Panosian to create the pages of the books for the movie….

They’re all, frankly, fantastic, and really capture the feel of the X-Men books from the 1980s. I love the way they look just close enough while retaining a slightly off aesthetic letting you know this is another world. It just adds to the fabric of a world which just feels lived in.

There’s a gallery with the post.

(11) THE FLAW IN THE OINTMENT. It’s a hell of a lot more entertaining when somebody else is on the receiving end of these pleonasms. Jonathan McCalmont unleashes “Rabid Cuddlers” at Ruthless Culture.

…Unfortunately for the puppies, while it must have been comically easy to convince a bunch of teenaged nihilists to troll the Hugo awards, it was never going to be easy to convince basement-dwelling trolls to set aside their Japanese pornography long enough to read a bunch of over-written Catholic fantasy novels. The fact that Gamergaters turned up to harass liberals but didn’t stick around to spend money explains why prominent puppies have  downplayed their involvement, decreased their ambitions, and failed to step back from the movement in time and wound up being forced to repeatedly beg for financial support from their dwindling fanbase…

…The puppies’ experiences as nerd-fuhrers may well come to define their adult lives but their flirtations with moral entrepreneurship failed to secure them the kind of following that might provide access to the lucrative world of conservative cultural commentary. Even worse, their attempts to cultivate a right-wing alternative to the stuttering multiculturalism of mainstream genre spaces appears to have resulted in little more than a handful of underwhelming blogs supporting the work of a few self-publishing authors….

…The social and ideological instabilities of the puppy movement should come as no surprise once you realise the gulf that separates adolescent edge-lords  from a bunch of stupid old men who want fandom to go back to the way it was in 1953. What is surprising is the speed at which a movement whose ruthlessness once made international news has been reduced to bleating about politeness and passing out internet hugs. Liberal genre culture may be ponderous, self-serving, and morally confused but it was never quite that pathetic….

(12) ABOUT. Who doesn’t enjoy a flash of humor at the end of an author bio? Here’s the last line of Kendare Blake’s

She lives and writes in Kent, Washington, with her husband, their two cat sons (Tybalt and Tyrion Cattister) and their red Doberman dog son, Obi Dog Kenobi.

[Thanks to JJ, Mark-kitteh, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 1/8/17 There Is No Joy In Pixelville – Mighty Casey Has Scrolled Out

(1) MOORCOCK REMEMBERS CLARKE, In New Statesman Michael Moorcock writes a wide-ranging memoir of Arthur C. Clarke which the publication rather myopically captions “’Close to tears, he left at the intermission’: how Stanley Kubrick upset Arthur C Clarke” – although, of course, that is one of Moorcock’s anecdotes.

Based primarily on his short story “The Sentinel”, together with other published fact and fiction, the film was very much a joint effort, although Arthur was overly modest about his contribution. For his part, Kubrick seemed unable to come up with an ending that suited him. When I visited the set, the film was already about two years behind schedule and well over budget. I saw several alternative finale scenes constructed that were later abandoned. In one version, the monolith turned out to be some kind of alien spaceship. I also knew something that I don’t think Arthur ever did: Kubrick was at some point dissatisfied with the collaboration, approaching other writers (including J G Ballard and myself) to work on the film. He knew neither Ballard nor me personally. We refused for several reasons. I felt it would be disloyal to accept.

I guessed the problem was a difference in personality….

Without consulting or confronting his co-creator, Kubrick cut a huge amount of Arthur’s voice-over explanation during the final edit. This decision probably contributed significantly to the film’s success but Arthur was unprepared for it. When he addressed MGM executives at a dinner in his honour before the premiere, he spoke warmly of Kubrick, declaring that there had been no serious disagreements between them in all the years they had worked together, but he had yet to see the final cut.

My own guess at the time was that Kubrick wasn’t at ease with any proposed resolution but had nothing better to offer in place of his co-writer’s “Star Child” ending. We know now that the long final sequence, offered without explanation, was probably what helped turn the film into the success it became, but the rather unresponsive expressions on the faces of the MGM executives whom Arthur had addressed in his speech showed that they were by no means convinced they had a winner….

As it turned out, Arthur did not get to see the completed film until the US private premiere. He was shocked by the transformation. Almost every element of explanation had been removed. Reams of voice-over narration had been cut. Far from being a pseudo-documentary, the film was now elusive, ambiguous and thoroughly unclear.

Close to tears, he left at the intermission, having watched an 11-minute sequence in which an astronaut did nothing but jog around the centrifuge in a scene intended to show the boredom of space travel. This scene was considerably cut in the version put out on general release

(2) CONGRATULATIONS! Pat Cadigan marks her ”Two-year Chemo-versary”.

Last year at this time, I was so…moved by the fact that I was going to live that it was a few weeks before I could think straight enough to get any work done. I think I was more affected by the news that I was going to live than I was by the news that I had terminal cancer. Even now––I mean, I’m getting things done but every so often I still have a sudden moment of clarity, of being surprised by joy.

(3) AWARD PICKERS. Horror Writers Association President Lisa Morton has named the members of HWA’s 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Committee:

Ramsey Campbell

Erinn Kemper

Monica Kuebler

John Little (chair)

Joseph Nassise

The Committee will immediately begin discussions to determine 2016’s recipient(s).

(4) OLDER VISITS THE BAY AREA. Daniel Jose Older will do a reading and signing at the main San Francisco Public Library on January 24.

Author, Daniel Jose Older, will read from his second book, entitled Shadowshaper, about a young Afro-Latina girl named Sierra who discovers her family’s history of supernatural powers and her ability to interact with the spirit world.

(5) FINAL RESTING PLACE. I might not do it. You might not do it. All that matters is – WWCD? “Carrie Fisher’s ashes carried in Prozac-shaped urn”.

Carrie Fisher has been laid to rest alongside her mother Debbie Reynolds at a private service where her ashes were carried in an urn in the form of an outsize Prozac pill.

The US actress, best known for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, was frequently open about her experience of mental health issues.

“I felt it was where she would want to be,” her brother Todd Fisher said.

Following the joint funeral service at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, Todd Fisher said the giant pill in the shape of the anti-depressant drug was chosen as the urn for his sister’s ashes because it was one of Carrie’s “favourite possessions”.

(6) IN TIMES TO COME. Entertainment Weekly writer Rachel DeSantis says these are the most anticipated movies of 2017:

Star Wars: Episode VIII, Blade Runner 2049, and Alien: Covenant topped Rotten Tomatoes’ survey of the most anticipated movies of the year.

Star Wars fans got an extra dose of the galaxy far, far away in 2016’s most anticipated movie, Rogue One, which has brought in more than $800 million at the worldwide box office following its Dec. 16 release. Episode VIII will serve as the follow-up to 2015’s smash hit Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That film will pick up where The Force Awakens left off and features Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis, and the late Carrie Fisher, who completed filming before she died last month.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 8, 1958 — Teenage Monster, aka Meteor Monster, opens in theaters.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • January 8, 1935 – Elvis Presley
  • January 8, 1942 – Stephen Hawking. A thought for the day: “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. ” — Stephen Hawking

(9) HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’VE MADE IT? W.E.B. Griffin gave a tagline to characters in his series The Corps: “The true test of another man’s intelligence is how much he agrees with you.”  When I read Brad R. Torgersen’s “What is ‘legitimate’ in the 21st century publishing environment?” I thought his answers were very intelligent…. Everyone would like Scalzi-size or even Milo-size book contracts, but that’s not a requirement of success.

My suggestion is to wholly ignore outside factors, and consider your specific situation alone. How much income — directly from prose writing — would it take to pay a single bill? How about several bills? The monthly rent, lease, or mortgage? Pay off the car loan? Wipe out college debt? Pay for a home remodel? Buy a new home entirely? These are scalable, individual goals which are within your individual grasp to quantify, and they don’t place you in competition with your peers. You are never keeping up with the Joneses, to use an old phrase. Your success is not determined by matching or “beating” anyone else in the business. It’s wholly dependent on how much progress you can make, and in what form, according to financial circumstances which are uniquely your own.

For example, I live in fly-over country. The cost of living, for my specific area of Utah, is rather modest. Especially compared to where I used to live in Seattle, Washington. It won’t take millions of dollars to pay off my home, or my auto loan, or to add a second floor onto my rambler, or to accomplish any other dozen things which I’d like to accomplish with my writing income. Better yet, these things can be accomplished without having to look at either Larry Correia to my northeast, or Brandon Sanderson to the south. I don’t have to “catch up” to feel like I am winning at the game of life. I am alone, on my own chess board, and I define my own conditions for victory. They can be reasonable. More importantly, they can be reachable. And I know for a fact that Larry, or Brandon, or any four dozen other successful Utah authors — we’ve got a lot of them out here — will understand completely. Because they’re all doing the same thing, too.

And so can you.

Once more, for emphasis: production, followed by readership, followed by income….

(10) SUCCESS BY ANYONE’S MEASURE. Adam Poots has a load of money he can to make the next edition of his game: “Board game raises over $10 million, becomes one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever”.

The crowdfunding campaign for Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 launched strong on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. It set Kickstarter records by raising its first million in only 19 minutes , faster than any project ever before on the popular crowdfunding platform.

Currently, with more than $10 million raised and a bit over a day left in the campaign, the game is thefifth most funded project ever to run on Kickstarter. The other top ten highest earning products include Pebble smartwatches, the “coolest cooler,” a deluxe travel jacket and a tiny desk toy called a Fidget Cube.

New York City-based game designer and founder of Kingdom Death Adam Poots is, unsurprisingly, excited. …

Just don’t plan on playing it very soon. “Poots expects to be able to deliver all elements of the game by December 2020.”

(11) TRIBUTE ANTHOLOGY. If, on the other hand, you don’t need to get paid for your writing…. Zoetic Press is seeking fiction and nonfiction submissions for an anthology memorializing dead cultural icons.

We invite writers to eulogize the fallen icons who have profoundly shaped your relationship to yourself and your place in the world. We are more interested pieces which memorialize public figures who have recently passed, but all in memoriams submitted will be given equal attention.

We regret that we cannot consider In Memoriam pieces for Dearly Beloved which are not about public figures. We cannot consider pieces about family members, pets, friends, or figures that are not public for Dearly Beloved– this anthology is a memorial for the artists and public personalities that shape each of us differently.

(12) WE’RE A LITTLE LATE. From October, Alison Flood of The Guardian reports: “Stephen King pens children’s picture book about train that comes alive”.

Charlie the Choo-Choo, written under the pseudonym Beryl Evans, steams out out of the pages of King’s Dark Tower fantasy series and into bookshops – with a warning for Thomas fans

“As he looked down at the cover, Jake found that he did not trust the smile on Charlie the Choo-Choo’s face. You look happy, but I think that’s just the mask you wear, he thought. I don’t think you’re happy at all. And I don’t think Charlie’s your real name, either.”

Now, King has written a real-life version of Charlie the Choo-Choo: out on 22 November from Simon & Schuster, under the pseudonym Beryl Evans, and illustrated by Ned Dameron.

(13) THE COMIC SECTION. John King Tarpinian notes that online comic Brevity has a very amusing Star Trek reference today.

Meanwhile, Martin Morse Wooster points out that the latest installment of Pearls Before Swine might be seen as complementary to John Scalzi’s 10-point advice post linked in yesterdays Scroll.

(14) ANIMAL CINEMATOGRAPHY. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna looks at how Illumination Entertainment’s fomula of talking animals and many, many jokes has proven highly profitable, leading to the green-lighting of Despicable Me 3, The Secret Life of Pets 2, and Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch.

Before 2016, Illumination had scored a modest hit with 2011’s “Hop” and, a year later, did well with “Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax.” But the studio had a single go-to franchise: 2010’s “Despicable Me” grossed $543 million globally — just about equal to Illumination’s total reported production budget to date — and spawned the monster hits “Despicable Me 2? in 2013 ($970.8 million worldwide) and 2015’s “Minions” ($1.159 billion). Add in the sales of all cute yellow Minion merchandising, and Illumination had one property it could bank on. (“Despicable Me 3? is set to land this June.)

But “Despicable Me” writers Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul then brought their deft skills with spinning family-friendly adventures to “The Secret Life of Pets,” which grossed more than $875 million worldwide last year — making it the highest-grossing non-Disney film in 2016 (no small feat).

(15) GRANDMASTER INTERVIEWS PAST MASTER. A rare interview with Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery) at the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, conducted by James Gunn in 1970.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester.]

ComicMix Moves For Dismissal of Seuss Lawsuit

oh-the-places-youll-boldly-go

File 770 reported in September a crowdsourced appeal for funds to publish Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!, featuring the writing of David Gerrold, the art of Ty Templeton, and the editorial skills of ComicMix’s Glenn Hauman.

While the Kickstarter was in progress, Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) objected, claiming that the project infringed their copyright on Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go! They filed suit for damages on November 10 in Dr. Seuss Enterprises vs. David Gerrold, et al.

Now ComicMix’s Haumann reports his attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss the Dr. Seuss lawsuit on the grounds that Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go! constitutes fair use of any elements of Dr. Seuss books protected by copyright or trademark law.

A GeekNation article by Michael Hinman summarizes the contacts between DSE and ComicMix prior to the lawsuit:

Even at the start of the campaign, ComicMix acknowledged there could be problems moving forward with the book project, telling potential donors “there may be some people who believe that this might be in violation of their intellectual property rights. And we may have to spend time and money proving it to people in black robes. And we may even lose that.”

Just before the crowdfunding campaign was completed, raising nearly $30,000, Dr. Seuss Enterprises made a copyright claim to Kickstarter, forcing the company to remove the campaign and freeze the funds. That prompted an angry letter from ComicMix attorney Booth just before Halloween.

In that letter, Booth demanded the Seuss people to reinstate the campaign, especially since Kansas City-based Andrews McMeel Publishing had agreed to publish the book, and rush it for a Christmas release.

“Also anticipating Christmas sales, one vendor ordered 5,000 copies of the book as long as printing and shipping are completed by Nov. 11, but ComicMix expects to lose that order because, thanks to your notice, Kickstarter is withholding all $29,575 that the campaign raised, so ComicMix cannot use that money to cover the printing costs as intended.”

ComicMix’s response to the suit and its motion to dismiss are analyzed by Janet Gershen-Siegel at Semantic Shenanigans (“Seuss v. Gerrold, et al – Getting the Ball Rolling”). Her post includes links to copies of all the defense’s filings.

The Memo of Points and Authorities filed with the court outlines the defense’s arguments for dismissal. Here are two excerpts illustrating their main justifications. The memo itself also contains highly-detailed narrative comparisons showing the differences between the original work and ComicMix’s takeoff.

Introduction: Oh, the Uses Seuss Sues!

Defendant ComicMix LLC (“ComicMix”) respectfully moves the Court for an order dismissing this matter for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), on the grounds that ComicMix’s allegedly infringing book constitutes fair use of any elements of Dr. Seuss books protected by copyright or trademark law.

This case presents a simple question: May an author’s estate use the courts to stymie publication of a book that makes critical, parodic use of the author’s books? On the facts alleged, the answer must be no. The Copyright Act, the Lanham Act and the First Amendment fully protect ComicMix’s right to comment and build on Dr. Seuss’ works. The law does not place his beloved books above parody, beyond critical commentary, or past the reach of cultural transformation and nominative use….

Copyright law limits the scope of DSE’s claims.

DSE alleges that Boldly infringes its copyrights to Go!’s title, “story arc,” and characters and illustrations from Go!, Horton Hears a Who, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (“Grinch”), The Lorax, and The Sneetches and Other Stories. Doc. 1 ¶ 26. Yet copyright covers few of those elements, and Boldly infringes none….

DSE declines to identify any such well-delineated character, leaving its allegation of character “misappropriation” wholly speculative. No character in Go! meets this standard. The one character to appear more than once (except perhaps some elephants, who do not reappear in Boldly) is the protagonist, a walking cipher. The boy has no name or dialogue and few distinguishing characteristics beyond his yellow knit-cap and onesie. This lightly sketched everyman lacks the “distinctive character traits” required to be protectable by copyright. Towle, 802 F.3d at 1020.  Further, Boldly does not copy any Dr. Seuss character or its traits. In the boy’s place is the Enterprise’s captain, wearing the uniform of Star Trek commanding officers (a gold shirt with an arrowhead insignia over the left breast, and black trousers) or a spacesuit, or on one page, a green tunic like Captain Kirk sometimes wore. His spiky, adult hairstyle is not covered by a child’s knit-cap. Boldly’s wholly distinct characters do not infringe on any protectable character trait of the original. Nor does Boldly infringe on Go!’s simple, episodic storyline. See RJN Ex. 6. In Go!, the boy decides to leave town. He joins a balloon race, taking the lead before getting stuck in a tree. He lands in a “Slump,” comes to a place with unmarked streets, and has a hard time deciding where to turn. In confusion, he races down the road to “The Waiting Place,” where “everyone is just waiting.” He escapes to watch a musical performance by a “Boom Band”, then to join a parade of banner-flying elephants, and then to play on a convoluted ball-field. His athletic skill makes him world-famous, but he is again left all alone to face more scary things. Copyright does not protect the general plot line of an adventurer persevering as he faces both emotional and physical highs and lows. “The copyright of a story covers what is new and novel in it.” Bradbury v. CBS, 287 F.2d 478, 485 (9th Cir. 1961). “General plot lines are not protected by copyright law.” Cavalier v. Random House, Inc., 297 F.3d 815, 823 (9th Cir. 2002) (internal citations omitted). “Familiar stock scenes and themes that are staples of literature are not protected.” Id.

Any story element in Go! that is not too generic to warrant copyright protection is not copied in Boldly, which depicts no confusing streets, balloon races, Slump, Waiting Place, music, elephants, or parades. The Go! boy’s one idiosyncrasy, a talent for playing an unusual multi-player sport, also does not recur in Boldly. Instead, Boldly is filled with allusions to episodes of the original Star Trek series. Any similarities between the plot lines of Boldly and Go! are generic and unprotectable.

The judge has allowed the plaintiff until January 19 to file its opposition to the motion to dismiss. Thereafter, ComicMix will have three weeks to file any reply. And the judge set a hearing for March 16, 2017.

Pixel Scroll 11/23/16 A Pixel On All Your Houses

(1) COVER GIRL. Maya Kaathryn Bonhoff continues her critique of the clothing (or lack of it) depicted on sff book covers in “There’s a Bimbo on the Cover, Verse 2: The Bimbo Wears Black Leather” at Book View Café.

I may be outvoted, but so far the winner of the award for Wardrobe Malfunction is the Dutch cover of Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake (Droomslang in Dutch). Vonda assures me that she has no problem with full frontal nudity. She does, however, have a problem with full frontal nudity that is nowhere in the book.

(2) ELLISON KICKSTARTER. Jason Davis, needing to squeeze out another $17,000 to reach the Harlan Ellison Book Preservation Kickstarter’s $100,000 goal, sent an e-mail to his list reminding them about the donor perks. This one’s my favorite —

$300 — A Piece of the Puzzle, signed by Harlan: In the earliest days of HarlanEllisonBooks.com, Harlan entrusted to me an unusual item: a book of New York Times crossword puzzles. All the puzzles were completed between 2010 and 2011, and Harlan had signed and dated each page.

(3) HINES CONTINUES CHARITY AUCTION. Jim C. Hines fundraiser for Transgender Michigan is in its second day, auctioning a Tuckerization and Autographed ARC from A. M. (Alyx) Dellamonica.

Full details and bidding instructions at the site.

(4) BRANDON SANDERSON’S BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE. Tachyon Publications knows where you can find Brandon Sanderson on the road, from Seattle to Hoboken.

(5) THE SOUND AND THE FURY. The print edition is on the way for a novella that, unusually, was first offered as an audiobook: “Subterranean Press Announces Print Edition of John Scalzi’s The Dispatcher (Tor.com).

As promised, John Scalzi’s new novella The Dispatcheroriginally released as an audiobook from Audible, will also be available in print. Subterranean Press announced today that it will publish The Dispatcher in May 2017, in both trade hardcover edition as well as a limited signed hardcover edition.

Subterranean Press shared the cover, by Vincent Chong, who also handled interior illustrations. The trade edition is a fully cloth bound hardcover edition; 400 limited-edition versions are signed numbered hardcover copies, bound in leather.

(6) KOWAL’S LADY ASTRONAUT PROGRAM. Tor.com also brings word of a “New ‘Lady Astronaut of Mars’ Book Series Coming, Based on Hugo-Winning Novelette”.

Tor Books is happy to announce that author Mary Robinette Kowal will build on the universe of her Hugo Award-winning novelette “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” with two new books coming in 2018!

From Kowal: “I jokingly call the Lady Astronaut universe ‘punchcard punk’ because it’s rooted in the 1950s and 60s. It’s a chance to re-imagine the science-fiction of Ray Bradbury and Cordwainer Smith, where all of the science was very physical and practical.”

The novels will be prequels, greatly expanding upon the world that was first revealed in “Lady Astronaut”. The first novel, The Calculating Stars will present one perspective of the prequel story, followed closely by the second novel The Fated Sky, which will present an opposite perspective; one tightly woven into the first novel.

(7) THORNTON OBIT. From The Hollywood Reporter: “Ron Thornton, Emmy-Winning Visual Effects Guru on ‘Babylon 5,’ Dies at 59”:

Ron Thornton, an Emmy-winning visual effects designer, supervisor and producer who worked on such shows as Babylon 5 and Star Trek: Voyager, has died. He was 59.

Thornton, often credited with bringing the power of CGI to television visual effects, died Monday at his home in Albuquerque, N.M., after a short battle with liver disease, his friend, veteran VFX supervisor Emile Smith, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Thornton received his Emmy for the 1993 telefilm Babylon 5: The Gathering (the pilot for the series) and also was nominated for his work on episodes of Star Trek: Voyager and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and on the 2002 telefilm Superfire.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOLT BOY

  • Born November 23, 1887 – Boris Karloff

(9) THANKSGIVING DAY TV MARATHONS. The Los Angeles Times says “’Mystery Science Theater 3000′ returns with new blood for the Turkey Day marathon”:

Twenty-eight years ago the little science fiction show that could, “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” premiered on Thanksgiving Day. It all started with one Earthling, series creator Joel Hodgson, and his gang of lovable robot puppets. Together they drifted through space in the “Satellite of Love,”…

In Los Angeles, we also have KTLA’s annual 18-episode marathon of Rod Serling’s classic anthology series “The Twilight Zone.” 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

RETRO MARATHON MAN. This will be the first Thanksgiving since File 770 contributor James H. Burns passed away. If he were still with us I know he’d have come up with a brand new way for me to point to his trilogy of articles at The Thunder Child about the era when a New York City TV station persuaded whole families to park in front of the set on Thanksgiving and watch King Kong for the zillionth time.

King Kong in the City: A Thanksgiving Tradition: Burns tells about his father’s affinity for the famous ape movie, and his personal memory of discovering the film on Saturday morning TV in the Sixties. The station was New York’s channel 9 (the former WOR-TV) and in the next decade it broadcast the movie every Thanksgiving, before long adding the sequel, Son of Kong, and 1949’s Mighty Joe Young, another stop-motion animation picture from Kong’s creators. The annual tradition lasted until 1985.

Chris Steinbrunner: A Renaissance of Fantasy: Chris Steinbrunner, an executive with WOR-TV, is according to Burns “one of the great unsung heroes of fandom, who helped run many of his era’s conventions, was an Edgar-award winning author, wrote one of the very first books on science fiction and fantasy movies, published many books (with Centaur Press)… and produced what may well be a lost 007 special!…”  Burns says, “My old pal was a pretty neat guy, and a while ago, I was stunned that save for a short Wikipedia entry, there was virtually none of Chris’ history on the web.” Articles like this surely will keep him from being forgotten.

One of the great times Chris and I were together came early one morning in 1983 when we ran into each other high atop the Empire State Building, gathered on the Observation Deck for a special press party commemorating King Kong’s fiftieth anniversary. With the men in suits and the ladies elegantly attired, champagne was poured as we looked towards the bi-planes in the distance, booked especially for the event, that buzzed as though in a dream, above the shores of Manhattan.

When someone asked Chris about Kong Thursdays, he replied, as he almost always did, with a quick pause, a sudden smile, and said:  “King Kong on Thanksgiving…? Whoever would have thought of such an odd idea?”

Meanwhile, At the Empire State Building: The third installment is about the Empire State Building and Fay Wray.

(10) BANG BANG. Jonathan McCalmont of Ruthless Culture delivers two cheap shots for the price of one tweet.

(11) A BEASTLY MOVIE. Book View Café’s Steven Harper Piziks has seen it – “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them–An Extensive Review” (beware spoilers).

Is there good stuff?  Sure.  It’s fun to see the Harry Potter world in 1920s America.  The movie focuses on magical animals instead of spells and potions, a potentially fun new area to explore.  The effects are lovely.  Dan Fogler as Mr. Kowalski is a delight as the stand-in for the audience as he’s accidentally thrust into a wizardling world he can barely understand but gamely does his best to master.

But…

The movie has serious pacing problems.  Things take forever to get moving in the beginning. We  spend too much time dealing with unimportant issues, like the annoying niffler’s thieving and the preparation of food in a witch’s kitchen, and not enough time on actual plot points, like what the villain wants and how he intends to get it.  The latter is annoyingly muddled and confused.  Less time on special-effects creatures and more time on human character development would have been a better scripting choice.

(12) EVERYBODY NEEDS A HOBBY. “Mr. Night Has The Day Off,” on Vimeo, is a charming cartoon from Lithuania about what happens when Night wanders around during his day off and zaps things (cars, clothes) black.

(13) THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT. Is there anyplace where the grapes have more wrath than Westeros? Now you can buy Game of Thrones wine, albeit at Lannister prices.

Vintage Wine Estates announced that they’ve partnered with HBO to release three different officially licensed Game of Thrones wines—a Chardonnay (suggested retail $19.99), a Red Blend (suggested retail $19.99) and a Cabernet Sauvignon (suggested retail $39.99). We haven’t heard Tyrion mention a preferred varietal, but based on his wine habit it seems safe to assume he’d back all of these.

 

gotr-wine

(14) THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS GIFT PAST. A computer that can fit in your pocket – if you’re Captain Kangaroo – and at such a reasonable price! Of course, that’s back when $169.95 really was worth $169.95…

tra80

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

Pixel Scroll 11/21/16 Pon Far. Squa Tront.

(1) FOR LONG DISCUSSIONS ABOUT SHORT STORIES. Standback and Levana Taylor have launched the Short Story Squee & Snark website. It began as a Facebook group and all of the 50+ discussions from the existing group have been imported to the new site.

But it’s safe to assume the real action will be around the newest, most recent story selections. For our first few weeks, we’ve got story suggestions from Chinelo Onwualu, from Charles Payseur, and Abigail Nussbaum. Our first discussion begins tomorrow.

After that, we’ll be pressing on with selections from your humble hosts, Standback and Levana – and suggestions from you. You can follow us on RSS or on Twitter to join along.

(2) OCCASIONAL TIRADER. Julie Phillips profiles “The Fantastic Ursula Le Guin” ini The New Yorker.

To talk to Le Guin is to encounter alternatives. At her house, the writer is present, but so is Le Guin the mother of three, the faculty wife: the woman writing fantasy in tandem with her daily life. I asked her recently about a particularly violent story that she wrote in her early thirties, in two days, while organizing a fifth-birthday party for her elder daughter. “It’s funny how you can live on several planes, isn’t it?” she said. She resists attempts to separate her more mainstream work from her science fiction. She is a genre author who is also a literary author, not one or the other but indivisibly both.

Le Guin can be polemical, prone to what one close friend calls “tirades” on questions she feels strongly about. I once watched her participate in a panel discussion on gender and literature at WisCon, an annual gathering of feminist science-fiction writers, readers, and academics in Madison, Wisconsin. Scowling like a snapping turtle, she sat waiting for illogical remarks, which she then gently but firmly tore to bits. Yet a conversation with Le Guin is often full of comic asides, laughter, and—a particularly Le Guin trait—good-natured snorts. Humor seems to be her way of taking the edge off the polemic, as well as an introvert’s channel of communication. Behind even the lightest remarks, one is aware of a keen intelligence and a lifetime of thought, held back for the purposes of casual conversation.

(3) DEMON WITH A BRASS BAND. Omni’s Joshua Sky interviewed Jason Davis, editor of many Harlan Ellison collections, about the project to digitize and preserve all of Ellison’s writings, in “To Preserve A Demon”.

Writer/editor Jason Davis has a special ambition — to catalog, digitize, edit, correct, annotate and re-publish (or publish for the first time, in some cases) all of Harlan Ellison’s writings. Twenty-six four-foot-wide drawers of typescripts, over 100 feet of paper if stacked, the lifework of a man who is easily one of the most influential and cantankerous authors of the 20th century. Jason is spearheading the Harlan Ellison Books Preservation Project, a grand undertaking “To create definitive versions of all Harlan Ellison’s writings, fiction and non-fiction, to preserve in print for posterity.”…

JS: How did this project come about?

JD: I took over HarlanEllisonBooks.com in 2012. For the most part, I’ve been limited to publishing the previously uncollected, and un-reprinted stuff. His other works were with other publishers. I could do a new collection, like Harlan 101, which contains stories that you’ll find spread across many other Ellison collections. I can do that as a unique volume, and it did very well.

Certain economic factors were built into the original business model before I took over, and — as previously noted — the rights to most of the iconic collections are tied up elsewhere, so because of the need to sell X copies of a given book to make a return, I’ve concentrated on material that wasn’t available in any form elsewhere, with a few exceptions — like Harlan 101 or 8 in 80 by Ellison — where there was some unique aspect to the book that made it worth releasing.

For the Preservation Project, I’m working at the story/essay level, so I’m not stepping on anyone else’s toes. The entirety of Harlan’s work will be digitized and corrected to make sure it’s as the author intends it. In the future, if a publisher comes to him and says, “I want to put out a new edition of Shatterday in hardback,” it will be a simple matter of pushing a button, and a complete text of that collection goes off to the publisher in electronic form after the contract is signed. As it currently stands, that publisher would receive a large box of photocopied typescripts which would have to be scanned or typed into a computer for publication, which leads to inputting errors and a lot of back-and-forth between the publisher’s employees and Harlan’s office via phone, fax and e-mail. One of the goals of this project is to make republishing Harlan’s writings more appealing to publishers — who have their own economic pressures to deal with — by front-loading a lot of the editorial work.

To date the Kickstarter has raised $78,375 of the $100,000 goal.

(4) THE CALCULUS OF ONLINE BOOK SHOPPING. After Max Florschutz sells you the book, he’ll try to sell you on reviewing that book on Amazon.

Now, there’s some truth to why we think this way, after all. I’m not saying that those that pass over a book with only three reviews are being subconsciously manipulated. Rather that the reasoning for such is so valid and ingrained that we as consumers tend to let it subconsciously spill into all sorts of areas.

So, getting back to that review number, it turns out that it’s really important, because people recognize that a higher number of reviews is a good thing. It means a wider variety of readers purchased the product and then left their opinion. And if the book was poor, even with a few outliers that enjoyed it immensely and gave it high reviews, the average rating would reflect that. In this manner, a book that has five stars at ten reviews is, to many, less trustworthy and less likely to be a truly good read than a book that has three stars but three hundred reviews.

And this compounds. The higher the number of reviews, the greater the variety among those leaving them, and the greater chance that the average rating is, the way a prospective reader sees it, accurate. Which therefore increases the chance that they will then seriously consider purchasing the book.

(5) NO TWO SNOWFLAKES ARE ALIKE. Camestros Felapton reviews the reviewer: “MetaReview: Dave Truesdale Reviews Diabolical Plots #21”.

That the reviewer frames his review around a comment by the author—the “unjust violent death of Michael Brown”—and then gives the reader of Truesdale review a totally different narrative that is nothing short of intellectual dishonesty. Truesdale’s review fails on literary grounds (the shift of focus from a fictional story about emotional pain in the face of perceived injustice and violence to Truesdale’s evaluation of whether the author is justified in feeling angry about a real-world event), and from an error in judgment by Truesdale in attempting to justify a judicial killing, which not only reveal the weakness in the review itself, but which highlights how the reviewer’s own strong prejudice in the matter clouded his thinking, and obstructed his capacity to give a professional review.

(6) TREVOR OBIT. Irish novelist, playwright and short story writer Sir William Trevor (1928-2016) died November 20 reports The Bookseller. He won the O. Henry Prize four times and the Whitbread Award three times; he was also nominated for the Booker Prize five times.

The Internet Science Fiction Database lists his genre work as:

Novels

The Children of Dynmouth (1976)

Shortfiction

Miss Smith (1967)
The Only Story (1971)
The Love of a Good Woman (1972)
George and Alice and Isabel (1973)
Visions of Hell (1974)
Mrs. Acland’s Ghosts (1975)
The Death of Peggy Morrissey (1975)
Broken Homes (1977)
The Raising of Elvira Tremlett (1977)
Autumn Sunshine (1980)

(7) CLOWES OBIT. Jonathan Clowes, Doris Lessing’s agent, has died at the age of 86. The Bookseller published a tribute:

After founding Jonathan Clowes Ltd. in 1960, Clowes assembled a select and high-powered client list including international bestseller Len Deighton, novelist, poet and playwright Maureen Duffy, Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing, novelists Sir Kingsley Amis, Elizabeth Jane Howard and Brian Freemantle.

His clients also included television writers David Nobbs, Carla Lane and Dr David Bellamy.

Clowes took an unlikely path to become one of London’s most renowned and respected literary agents, having left grammar school aged 15 and worked in a number of different trades, from gardener to decorator, even going on to serve time in prison for his stance as a conscientious objector.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 21, 1942: “Tweety Bird” debuted

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born November 21, 1924 – Christopher Tolkien
  • Born November 21, 1944 – Harold Ramis

(10) BEASTLY CAPITALISM. ScienceFiction.com has a question: “Weekend Box Office (11/18-11/20): ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Did Fantastically… But Fantastically Enough?”

It’s no surprise that ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ topped the box office charts this weekend, with $75M in the US and $218.3M globally.  This film kicks off a series of five projected movies– with the first sequel already scheduled to arrive on November 16, 2018– all penned by J.K. Rowling, the creator of ‘Harry Potter’, but did studio Warner Brothers bite off more than they could chew?  That’s what some insiders are wondering, as this movie’s opening is below that of other franchise players like ‘Doctor Strange’ ($85M opening weekend) and WB’s own ‘Suicide Squad’ ($133.6M… and that was considered a disappointment).

(11) ATTENTION BAKER STREET REGULARS. Sherlock Season 4 is almost upon us. Reportedly, for the first time shows in the UK and the US will be broadcast on the same dates.

Sherlock will return in “The Six Thatchers” on January 1, 2017 on MASTERPIECE on PBS.

Coming in 2017, Sherlock will return with three brand-new episodes that promise laughter, tears, shocks, surprises and extraordinary adventures.

Season four begins with the mercurial Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch), back once more on British soil as Doctor Watson (Martin Freeman) and his wife Mary (Amanda Abbington) prepare for their biggest challenge yet: becoming parents.

(12) ANOTHER ITEM FOR THE WISH LIST. Dread Central is making a list and getting it wet.

Leave it to Mondo to tug on our nostalgic heartstrings just before Christmas. They’re releasing a vinyl version of the soundtrack to Joe Dante’s Gremlins, and the packaging literally changes when exposed to water and sunlight… just like the titular creatures.

gremlins_front%20cover_uv%20lightgremlins_sleeve%201gizmo_dry

(13) THREE STOOGES AT THE ALEX. Glendale’s Alex Theatre hosts the 19th Annual The Three Stooges® Big Screen Event this Saturday at 2:00 & 8:00 p.m.. Order tix online here.

The LA Weekly has named The Affordable Curly Care Act: Poking Medicine in the Eye Since 1933 their “Pick of the Week.” What more can we say? How about, “Buy your tickets early to avoid the lines at the box office.”

A special surprise bonus will be shown in addition to this lineup of five classic Stooges shorts:

  • FROM NURSE TO WORSE (1940 – Jules White)
  • CASH & CARRY (1937 – Del Lord)
  • SOME MORE SAMOA (1941 – Del Lord)
  • SCRAMBLED BRAINS (1951 – Jules White)
  • ALL THE WORLD’S A STOOGE (1941 – Del Lord)

(14) WHAT TOOLS THESE MORTALS BE. Mark-kitteh writes: “A performance of The Tempest with a live motion-capture Ariel on stage? I’m sure some will say the Bard will be spinning in his grave, but I suspect he’d just be updating his list of stage directions to include ‘exeunt stage upwards’,” — The Tempest review: Real-time digital avatar brews storm in a teacup” at ArsTechnica.

(15) ANYTHING YOU CAN DO. ScreenRant knows “Everything Supergirl Can Do That Superman Can’t”.

Supergirl is more than a chip off the ol’ Krypton block. While her younger cousin gets all the credit for bench-pressing the earth and saving the universe, Supergirl’s individual strengths have been sorely undervalued….

  1. She Can Shapeshift

Superman is dead. This is the reality of the post-Crisis “pocket universe” where Lex Luthor was a good guy who bet the ranch on recreating his long lost love, Lana Lang. Lex’s advanced form of AI was called the “protoplasmic matrix,” or just “Matrix” for short. Indeed, Luthor’s weird science led to the recreation of his lady love, now called Matrix– an unholy hodgepodge containing the memory of Lana with the Kryptonian specs of Superman (whom he knew about thanks to his otherworldly technology).

In addition to being almost as strong as Kal-El, this new creation had the powers of invisibility, telekinesis, and shapeshifting, which she took full advantage of by morphing into Supergirl 2.0. In a battle against General Zod, Faora, and Quex-UI, Matrix/Supergirl held her own but ultimately had to call on the support of Superman to take down the triumvirate. Though the pair defeated the Krypton criminals, the pocket universe was basically destroyed, and the new shapeshifting Matrix was taken back to the mainline DC Universe where she became the first post-Crisis Supergirl.

(16) ANOTHER MILLION BRICKS IN THE WALL. How many LEGO bricks does it take to build these various science fictional structures?  This infographic from earlier in the year has the theoretical answers.

How Many Lego Would It Take To Build Sci-Fi Megastructures
How Many Lego Would It Take To Build Sci-Fi Megastructures Created By: Ebates

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

Pixel Scroll 11/1/16 We Have Scrolled The Pixel, And It Is Us

Mowatt Rhino run on Christmas

Mowatt ran to Save the Rhino on Christmas

(1) ANOTHER WAY TO HELP. Jim Mowatt’s rhino-saving run is now a book: From Parkrun To London Marathon: Running The London Marathon For Save The Rhino.

Some time ago I thought it would be a jolly good idea to run the London Marathon.I was fantastically excited about it and eager to consume every blog, book and youtube video I could find that contained any tiny morsel of information about the marathon. I consumed everything I could find and wanted more. Ideally I wanted a book that would relate how someone prepared for the marathon and give me a description of what it felt like to actually run the steps it would take to get around the streets of London. I couldn’t find what I wanted so I have now written the book that I wanted to read. It is now available on Amazon for anyone who might want an insight into how it feels to train for and run a marathon. I also describe the shorter runs that I did in the rhino costume.

The book is called, From Parkrun To London Marathon. Every penny I receive after Amazon have taken their cut will be sent to Save The Rhino International.

(2) READY TO WRIMO. Kameron Hurley says she’s finally gotten past an “epic brain freeze” – just in time for “NaNoNoNoNo”.

Finally, I was able to sit at the keyboard, in the dark, with a beer and a skull candle, and just completely inhabit another world. In my mind’s eye I was surfacing back in Nasheen again, running around a contaminated desert, dodging bursts and bombs, and trying not to care about my companions too much because the world had already ended and living was so very glorious. That’s the sort of writing experience I crave, when you feel like you’re not making things up so much as dictating a story as you’re living it in your head.

(3) MINNEAPOLIS WORLDCON BID. Emily Stewart announced there will be a Minneapolis in 2023 Open Discussion about a possible Worldcon bid on November 19.

If somebody could satisfy my curiosity about who in addition to Stewart is starting up the discussion, I’d appreciation knowing.

(4) CURSED CUBS IN SFF. With the Cubs staying alive for a couple more days, an article about the Cubs and Science Fiction… The Verge has an article about sf and fantasy stories that reference the Cubs’ World Series drought, including those by Jim Butcher. Andy Weir and John Scalzi.

(5) BASEBALL SEASON. Meantime, Steven H Silver invites you to gaze in amazement at his very long bibliography of baseball-referencing science fiction.

(6) CLARKE CENTER PODCAST. Launching today, Into the Impossible is a podcast of stories, ideas, and speculations from the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination.

Early episodes will take listeners through exciting, ranging conversations with and between scientists, artists, writers, and thinkers of different stripes, on the nature of imagination and how, through speculative culture, we create our future. The first episode includes Freeman Dyson (physicist and writer), David Kaiser (physicist, MIT), Rae Armantrout (Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, UCSD professor emeritus), and Brian Keating (astrophysicist, UCSD).

(7) JUST $79,000 SHORT. Jason Davis is asking Kickstarter donors for $100,000 to fund The Harlan Ellison Books Preservation Project, “To create definitive versions of all Harlan Ellison’s writings, fiction and non-fiction, to preserve in print for posterity.”

A digital library of Harlan’s entire literary oeuvre created from thousands of papers filed in his home office.

Harlan’s preference for working on manual typewriters from the instrument’s heyday through to his latest work has resulted in an astonishing volume of paper, much of it crammed into overstuffed drawers that often require the industry of two people to extract or—even more difficult—reinsert files.

While oft-reprinted stories like “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” and “Jeffty Is Five” exist as formal, preferred-text documents from which all reprints are set, many of Harlan’s more obscure pieces exist only as faded carbon copies on decaying yellow pages.

Some of the never-before-reprinted stories collected in HONORABLE WHOREDOM AT A PENNY A WORD and its sequel only exist on 60-year-old carbon copies of the original typescripts and, due to fading of the carbon impressions and yellowing of the paper, are almost illegible. Though one can usually reference the published version of a faded tale in Harlan’s copy of the original pulp magazine, itself exceedingly brittle, it’s preferable to work from the original, which might contain passages excised by the original editor upon initial, and often only, publication.

Jason Davis says the fruits of the project also would include —

At least five all-new Ellison collections.

In addition to reissuing the back catalog titles, there are several more HarlanEllisonBooks.com titles in various stages of completion.

Originally, I was hired as a freelance editor for the first four HarlanEllisonBooks.com releases, but the original publisher moved on and I arranged to continue the project. Since the 2012 release of ROUGH BEASTS and NONE OF THE ABOVE, the endeavor has been a deficit-financed operation wherein I, as editor and publishing associate, used all my free time (outside of my editorial day job) to collect, edit, layout, design, typeset, publish, and market new Ellison books (12 so far), with all expenses out of pocket. Only after the books are released do I receive payment via a commission (not unlike an agent’s) paid to me by Harlan, who is paid directly by our distributor two months after each individual book sells.

(8) NEW HECKEL BOOK. The Dark Lord Jack Heckel, an author covered here by Carl Slaughter, is on sale today from Harper Voyager Impulse.

After spending years as an undercover, evil wizard in the enchanted world of Trelari, Avery hangs up the cloak he wore as the Dark Lord and returns to his studies at Mysterium University. On the day of his homecoming, Avery drunkenly confides in a beautiful stranger, telling her everything about his travels. When Avery awakens, hungover and confused, he discovers that his worst nightmare has come true: the mysterious girl has gone to Trelari to rule as a Dark Queen. Avery must travel back to the bewitched land and liberate the magical creatures . . . but in order to do so, he has to join forces with the very people who fought him as the Dark Lord.

(9) TODAY’S BELATED BIRTHDAY LAB

Eighty years ago, when interplanetary travel was still a fiction and that fiction looked like Flash Gordon, seven young men drove out to a dry canyon wash in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and helped jump-start the Space Age.

They were out there on Halloween 1936 to try what few people at the time had tried: lighting a liquid rocket engine. It took them four attempts to get a rocket to fire for a glorious three seconds — though an oxygen hose also broke loose and sent them scampering for safety as it thrashed around.

The result was encouraging enough for this group — made up of five grad students studying at Caltech and two amateur rocket enthusiasts — to keep going, to build more rockets that would lead to an institution where they could do this kind of work every day.

(10)  THE CRITIC. James Davis Nicoll reprinted his list of rejected ideas for review series which includes categories like —

  • Least Believable Teenaged Girl Protagonist Written by a Man
  • Beloved Classics That Make Modern Readers Say “What the Helling Hell, Old Time SF Fans?”
  • SF Books She Wrote and He Took the Credit For
  • Hard SF Ain’t Nothing But Nonsense Misspelled

(11) FOUND IN TRANSLATION. When Newsweek invites you to “Meet the Man Bringing Chinese Science Fiction to the West”, it’s Ken Liu they’re talking about.

As Xia Jia, an award-winning sci-fi writer and lecturer in Chinese literature, puts it in the essay that closes Invisible Planets, Chinese sci-fi since the 1990s “can be read as a national allegory in the age of globalization.” But Liu argues that the everyday problems encoded by speculative stories in China apply just as much in the West. “People’s lives tend to be dominated by the same considerations…petty bureaucracy, how to make a living, how to give your children a good education…how to adjust to a radically changing society.”

(12) DRAGON AWARDS TAKING NOMINATIONS.  Thanks to Camestros Felapton, we know the Dragon Awards site has been updated its to accept nominations for the 2017 awards. Eligible works are those first released between 7/1/2016 and 6/30/2017.

Welcome to the second annual Dragon Awards! A way to recognize excellence in all things Science Fiction and Fantasy. These awards will be by the fans, for the fans, and are your chance to reward those who have made real contributions to SF, books, games, comics, and shows. There is no qualification for submitting nominations or voting – no convention fees or other memberships are needed. The only requirement is that you register, confirm your email address for tracking nominations and voting purposes, and agree to the rules. This ensures that all votes count equally.

Once you have submitted a nomination for a category you cannot change it. If you are not sure about a category, then leave it blank. You can come back at a later date and add nominations for any category you leave blank using this same form. Make sure your name (First and Last), and the email address match your original submission. No need to fill in your original nominations, the form will append the new nominations to your prior list.

Nomination Deadline: July 24, 2017. We encourage you to get your nominations in early.

(13) LATE ADOPTER. Is TV narration for blind people really a thing?

(14) AIRBRUSHED COSTUME. This is what it looks like when it’s Halloween and your dad is Dan Dos Santos.

I introduced Uno to ‘Akira’ a few weeks ago, and we both immediately thought he’d make a great Tetsuo. He doesn’t care that none of his friends will know who he is.

uno-by-dan-dos-santos

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Tom Galloway, JJ, Steven H Silver, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 10/30/16 Now When Them Pixel Scrolls Get Rotten, You Can’t Tick Very Much Cotton

(1) A GAME THAT WILL MAKE YOU TINGLE. Jamoche brings to everyone’s attention Zoe Quinn’s crowdfunding appeal, Kickstarted in the Butt: A Chuck Tingle Digital Adventure:

Zoe Quinn is making a game inspired by Chuck Tingle: Project Tingler [True Name Concealed Until Release to Protect From Dark Magics] is a brilliant blend of classic adventure games, dating sims, and the world of Amazon Kindle Sensation and Hugo Award Nominee Dr. Chuck Tingle (Space Raptor Butt Invasion; Slammed in the Butthole by My Concept of Linear Time; Pounded in the Butt by My Hugo Award Loss) from game developer Zoë Quinn (Depression Quest; Framed; Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk), to be released on computrons of the PC/Mac variety in early 2017.

In case you wondered, they say the game’s visuals will be restrained —

GET TINGLED BY OUR CUSTOM SMUT! The very nature of the Tingleverse is The Rawest of Graphic Sensualities, but players who aren’t down with visual depictions of sexual content needn’t fear. While we’re working with video and real actors (the cast will most certainly SURPRISE and AMAZE you), there won’t be explicit footage of people taking a trip to bonetown. Our salacious scenes are literary in nature and read aloud by talented performers, intended to pound the most sexual of your organs…Your imagination.

To date she has raised $36,958 of the $69,420 goal, with 16 days to go.

(2) FRENCH WORLCON BID. Here’s a video of the Worldcon in France presentation at Utopiales yesterday. Hint: It’s not in English.

(3) FILLION. At Digital Trends, “Nathan Fillion on ‘Firefly,’ mastering selfies, and living the Con life”.

How big a fan boy were you growing up?

There were things that I really enjoyed. I lived half an hour from school. I got out at 3:30 and my favorite show, Gilligan’s Island, started at 4:00. Because in the winter time that little tropical island was the only reprieve I had from the snow. But you had to haul ass to make that trip in a half an hour. You had to move. You couldn’t walk or you’d miss half the show. So it was a half hour run to get home to see Gilligan’s Island at 4:00. That was a big deal to me. We didn’t have access back then the way people have access now. People can get online and see when someone’s going to be in their city. The convention circuit is huge now. But it wasn’t a big deal back then. People weren’t connected the way they are now. And on top of all that you can just get online and say, “Hey, what’s Bob Denver thinking about today?” If Bob Denver had a Twitter, I’d know what he was doing.

(4) SFWA AND INDIE. Cat Rambo’s hometown paper published an interview with a great photo of her: “Science fiction author Cat Rambo helps expand genre”.

With changes in who writers are and where they’re from, there’s also changes in how people are reading science fiction. Traditional publishers are nervous when it comes to e-books, but that is where quite a bit of the market is going, Rambo says. A year and a half ago, SFWA voted to allow in independent publishers that meet certain criteria. The organization can help increase awareness for lesser-known authors.

“I think self-publishing will become more and more accessible,” she says. “The biggest issue those authors have is discoverability. Once you have more gatekeepers saying what’s good, it gets easier.”

She reads an extremely high number of books each month — somewhere between 50 and 100 — and about 80 percent of those are e-books. That doesn’t mean print books don’t have a future, though. Print books can continue to push the boundary of the definition of a book, Rambo says. The can blend books and games, for instance, or expand what a book looks like through changing fonts, how words appear or what’s included in a text.

(5) HALLOWEEN READING. Cat Rambo has posted a free story suitable for the holiday, “The Silent Familiar”.

The Wizard Niccolo was not happy. At the age of 183 — youthful for a wizard, but improbable for an ordinary human — he had thought certain things well out of his life. Sudden changes in his daily routine were one. And romance was another – even if it was his familiar’s romance, and not his own.

(6) FERTILITY. And, says Cat, put in a link to Will Kaufman’s “October’s Son” in Lightspeed Magazine, perfectly timed for Halloween and also free to read.

No excerpt, which would give away the story, so let me quote from Arley Sorg’s interview with Kaufman in the same issue:

This piece is full of surprises and frank, unsettling images, which is part of what makes it so effective. To me, it never goes too far or becomes gratuitous. What, for you, are the benefits and the hazards, or perhaps the challenges, of surprise and shock?

In a short story, visceral imagery can be a great tool. Short stories don’t give the writer a lot of time to work a wedge into the reader’s brain so you can split it open and fiddle around inside. A solid visceral image is a very fast, effective way to do that. Reading is often portrayed as an intellectual activity, but it can also be very bodily. Nothing reminds people of that, or grounds them in their bodies and short-wires the defenses that separate mind from body, quite like a little body horror.

tz-books

(7) BEFORE THEY WROTE FOR TZ: MeTV says there are “8 books any fan of The Twilight Zone should read”, such as —

Richard Matheson – ‘Nightmare At 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories By Richard Matheson’

In his introduction, Stephen King describes Matheson’s influence on the horror genre in the 1950s as “a bolt of pure ozone lightning.” The master also confesses that without Matheson, he “wouldn’t be around.” This modern collection largely draws from the 1950s, with some 1960s shorts thrown in as well, keeping it contemporary with Twilight Zone. Matheson was the mind behind other classic episodes like “Third from the Sun,” “Nick of Time,” “The Invaders,” “Night Call” and more.

(8) CREATING THE CREATOR. What happened to Rod Serling before TZ also has a lot to do with why he created the series: “The psychological trauma that Rod Serling suffered after WW2 inspired him to creat ‘The Twilight Zone’”.

In his senior year of high school, he was interested in joining the military, enlisting after graduation. He served as a U.S. army paratrooper and demolition specialist with the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division.

His military service was a turning point in his life and influenced much of his writing, experiencing combat for the first time in November 1944 on the Philippine island of Leyte. When he was discharged in 1946, Serling had earned the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Philippine Liberation Medal.

Nightmares and flashbacks of his wartime experiences haunted Serling constantly once he returned. One particular event while serving in World War II would dramatically change his life and writings….

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 30, 1938 — Orson Welles triggered a national panic with a realistic radio dramatization of a Martian invasion, based on H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds.” The wire service news story about the event began —

NEW YORK, Oct. 30, 1938 (UP) — Residents of New Jersey fled their homes tonight, squad cars and ambulances roared through Newark and newspaper and press association offices throughout the country were besieged with telephone calls demanding to know about “a meteor which fell in New Jersey.”

The uproar resulted from a radio dramatization of H.G. Wells’ novel, “The War of the Worlds,” in which the arrival of men from Mars upon earth at first is believed to be a meteor shower.

welles-1938

(10) NOVELLA DISCUSSION ON REDDIT. Reddit user jddennis has created a subreddit for people to discuss SFF novellas: https://www.reddit.com/r/Spec_Fic_Novella_Club/

The first two being discussed are:

The Warren by Brian Evenson <https://www.reddit.com/r/Spec_Fic_Novella_Club/comments/5a1ciw/discussion_the_warren_by_brian_evenson/> and

Folding Beijing by Jingfang Hao <https://www.reddit.com/r/Spec_Fic_Novella_Club/comments/5a1c5b/discussion_folding_beijing_by_jingfang_hao/>.

(11) ROCKS. Brad R. Torgersen has an excellent column on the importance of persistence to a writer —  “It takes a lot of rocks to get to the candy” — at Mad Genius Club.

My wife and I coordinated our Halloween costumes this year, to correspond with It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! She’s Lucy, complete with red witch hat and green witch mask; both custom-made — my wife is just talented as hell like that. My outfit, on the other hand, is far simpler: Charlie Brown — to include the white sheet with way too many eye holes. A family friend commented to me (tonight, at the local ward party) that all I needed to complete my portion, was a football, and a paper sack filled with rocks.

I’ve use the sack-full-of-rocks analogy before, to describe what it’s like being an aspiring author….

Yeah, I get it. No sane person gets a sack full of rocks every single year, and doesn’t experience moments of severe doubt. I was getting ready to throw in the towel by 2005 — after over a dozen years of rejection — when my wife said to me, “If you let this dream go, you have to replace it with an equal or better dream.” I ultimately couldn’t do that, because I couldn’t turn off the story-generator in my head. Even if my storytelling chops weren’t yet good enough to take what was happening in my head, and smoothly translate it to words. So I redoubled my effort. And I switched up my style. Moving from third-person to first-person — especially for short stories — was a huge win for me. Uncomfortable as hell, at first. But it was the necessary move that helped me bump my short work into entry-level professional territory. So that by 2010 I had stuff under contract, with more on the way, and a bona fide career was launched.

And because I still had all those sacks filled with rocks, I could look at them and relish the (then, new) candy suddenly being thrown my way….

(12) AWARD FANAC. Jugger Grimrod continues “The Hugo Conversation (Hugo Awards 2016)” at silence is a weapon.

Once I started thinking about Fandom in these terms, it occurred to me that voting on awards is just as much a Fan activity as any of those others. Voting, in this case, doesn’t just mean checking boxes and clicking submit on a form, it means the whole process: researching potential candidates, nominating, reviewing and ranking nominees, presenting the awards, celebrating the winners, and examining all of the voting statistics afterwards. Different voters may emphasize different parts of the process, but they all put time and effort into it, just like Fans of other activities.

So when we talk about a Fan-voted award, we aren’t talking about a random sampling of Fans from across Fandom. We aren’t talking about a group that was selected on some basis, they aren’t necessarily more knowledgeable than anyone else and they don’t have an agenda to push. The core Voter Fan group is unified only by the fact that they enjoy participating in awards. They don’t make up the whole voter population, there will also be occasional participants who are either trying it to see if they enjoy it, or they joined the group for some other reason and they’re voting just because they can, or because they do have a particular story, author or agenda to push (obviously this has been an issue recently). So Voter Fandom doesn’t automatically control the outcome of any particular vote, but they’re usually going to be an influential voice in the proceedings.

This explains why a relatively small group of Fans determines the outcome of some major awards. It’s just not an activity that attracts a big crowd….

(13) THESE ARE THE JOKES, FOLKS. The New York Post reveals “Mel Brooks’ hilarious secrets behind the making of ‘Young Frankenstein’”.

Mel’s mother was funnier than he is.

Mel was 5 years old in 1931 when he saw Boris Karloff in “Frankenstein.” He was so terrified he asked his mother, Kate, if he could sleep with the window by the fire escape closed in their Brooklyn apartment. It was 90 degrees outside, but Mel thought the monster would come through the window and eat him.

His mother thought for a moment and said, “The monster lives in Romania . . . Romania is not near the ocean. He’s going to have to go a long way to get to a boat. Then he has to have money to pay for his passage. He may not have any money if he is just a monster. He may not have pockets. Let’s say he gets a boat to America. The boat may go to Miami. But if it goes to New York and he gets off, he doesn’t know the subway system. Let’s say he gets to Brooklyn. He doesn’t know our street. Let’s say he does find our street. The people on the first floor have their window open. If he’s hungry, he is going to eat who’s ever on the first floor.”

(14) PEN PAL. Camestros Felapton becomes a story doctor in “Tmothy and the publishing delay”.

“Never mind all that – I need you to think of an ending for my book.” grumbled the cat, who now sat on his haunches in front of the specially cat-adapted keyboard.

“Your book?” I asked. Timothy’s book? I had announced Timothy’s book some weeks ago and it was originally going to be a domestic drama called the “Confusing Walrus” based on unsubtle plagiarism of a John Scalzi space-opera, which had led to some excitement among Timothy’s inexplicable following. The capricious cat had then forced me to retract that announcement because the supposedly “finished” book was now going to be a cook-book called the “Collapsing Souffle”.

[Thanks to JJ, Gregory N. Hullender, John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, and Jamoche for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

Pseudopod’s 10th Anniversary Kickstarter

pseudopod-logo

Alasdair Stuart of the Pseudopod podcast by Escape Artists has launched a Kickstarter fundraising appeal as part of the podcast’s 10th Anniversary celebration.

Here’s the plan: we already pay pro rates for stories. We pay our editorial, production and administrative staff – a unique position in the industry. Now, it’s time to add our narrators to that list. For that, we need extra capital.

A host of incentives are being offered to donors. Here are three examples.

The Mug: Pseudopod Tower

The mug has been designed especially for us by Jonathan M. Chaffin, whose Horror in Clay company has run five successful crowdfunding campaigns for horror-themed mugs. Jonathan does amazing work; I own a couple of the mugs myself and we’re really excited to see this one become a reality. Particularly since the design is Pseudopod Tower constructed with nods to famous horror movies, a mysterious hooded ‘Slush wrangler’ and the show’s catchphrase ‘We have a story for you and we promise you it’s true’ in Enochian. Enochian!

pseudopod-tiki-mug

The Anthology: For Mortal Things Unsung

We’re going all out too, launching our first ever anthology. For Mortal Things Unsung features specially commissioned stories from some of our best authors as well as reprints of all-time favourites.

Enhanced Patronage

We have added a few reward levels for those of you who would like to enhance your patronage.

Matross’ Lesser Sponsor

Want to be specifically thanked in an episode endcap? Or you want someone else to be thanked in your place? We can do that, and we’re ready to thank one person every week for a year.

Matross’ Sponsor and Matross’ Greater Sponsor

Want to include a special message before or after an episode? Birthday or anniversary wish to that special horror fan in your life? Pick the closing quote? Want to get Alasdair to recite horror limericks in his Manx accent? We can do that, too, and we’re ready to have one of each every month for a year. The Greater Sponsor can place the message before the story and the regular can place it after.

The Pseudopod 10th Anniversary Kickstarter has raised $4,199 of its $30,645 goal with 28 days left to run.

Pixel Scroll 10/6/16 Have Fun Storming The Pixels!

(1) MCCARTY REMEMBERS HARRISON. Dave McCarty pays tribute to his friend Howard Harrison, who passed away October 5, by retelling the experience of running the 1999 Capricon.

…I asked what if we weren’t actually throwing *Capricon*?  What if instead, we were holding the annual meeting of the International Order of Villains?  We treat the whole convention like it is some *other* event?  Tracy asked me why that would be and then I hit her with the nefarious money plan.  You see, if it’s a conference like that, when folks sign up, they would tell the convention organizers which kind of villain they were…be it henchmen, lackey, minion, mad scientist, Igor, etc.  We could badge each of those groups differently so you’d know who was who.  The kicker was that you could also choose to register as an Evil Overlord, but this would be a premium membership for which you would need to pay more money.  If you wanted to be an Evil Overlord, you had to pay.  We could work out getting them some tokens and souvenirs for it, but as long as we only spent a couple bucks on that, we were still helping the convention.  The idea excited me and it excited Tracy, so we shared it with a few other folks and it universally got folks excited and worked up….

From that point on we were in a world we’d never anticipated.  We got no small number of people to pay us extra money to be an Evil Overlord and boy howdy did that help us, but holy hell did it make for a convention that’s hard to forget.  See, quite a number of the Evil Overlords were going around the convention recruiting minions, henchmen, and lackeys to their cause.  Even more brilliantly, Howard Harrison was spending almost all of the time he wasn’t in the filk room going around and organizing the Union of Minions, Henchmen, and Lackeys Local 302.  When I asked him why, he told me (in his best Chicago Superfan imitation) “You see, I know that I am going to die in a fiery explosion, or be thrown into a volcano, or just act as fodder for my bosses escape.  I need to know what’s going to happen for my family!“.  These conversations and all the recruiting brought me to freaking tears.  Our whole convention was a LARP and almost everyone was playing and nobody was having a bad time or feeling pressured to participate.  Howard even invented the UMHL salute.  Take your right hand and make a tight thumbs-up, then flip it upside down (thumbs down).  Now, place  your knuckles against your temple in salute fashion.  There you go, union salute!  Howard then took his unionized brothers and sisters and started approaching the Evil Overlords to inquire about benefits and insurance and post-death family care to get his folks the best deal he could….

…At the time, I told him how brilliant he was…but over the years, his playfulness that weekend grew to mean a lot more to me and I don’t think I ever really got to tell him what that grew into for me.  I’m sad that I can’t do that with him now, but I *can* share this story with all of you so that you know what a special guy he was.

(2) MAGIC IN SNORE-TH AMERICA. If you bet against J.K. Rowling writing magical history that’s as dusty and dull as regular history is reputed to be – you lost. New at Pottermore, “The Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA)”.

The Magical Congress of the United States of America, known to American witches and wizards by the abbreviation MACUSA (commonly pronounced as: Mah – cooz – ah) was created in 1693, following the introduction of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy. Wizards worldwide had reached a tipping point, suspecting that they could lead freer and happier lives if they built an underground community that offered its own support and had its own structures. This feeling was particularly strong in America, due to the recent Salem Witch Trials.

MACUSA was modeled on the Wizards’ Council of Great Britain, which predated the Ministry of Magic. Representatives from magical communities all over North America were elected to MACUSA to create laws that both policed and protected American wizardkind…

 

(3) SURVIVING HOSTILITY. Angelica Jade Bastién, in an article for New Republic, says “For Women of Color, the Price of Fandom Can Be Too High”.

I’m open to criticism and discussing my writing with those who respectfully don’t agree with my opinion, but in covering comic properties, I’ve dealt with everything from people accusing me of not reading comics as if I had no idea what I was talking about to being told I was race baiting by acknowledging certain issues in the film. The worst were the very pointed attacks calling me an “idiot” or a “bitch” and far worse epithets from people I blocked. I won’t even go into the Reddit threads about my article that I was once tauntingly sent screenshots of. It’s something I’ve grown almost numb to as a critic. But what was more interesting to me was the level of hurt coming from these men and their routine way of doubting my comic knowledge—a dynamic other female journalists get time and time again.

I’ve watched all of the Star Trek series more times than I can count, and I often whip out Klingon when I’m nervous.

I have been reading comics obsessively since I was about ten years old. I can probably quote from John Ostrander’s original Suicide Squad run in my sleep, I’ve watched all of the Star Trek series more times than I can count, and I often whip out Klingon when I’m nervous. But I’ve found that the love and knowledge I have on these subjects never seems to be good enough for the people who grow furious at a black woman writing about these properties. White male fans often don’t want to face how their beloved properties often have troubling racial and gender politics.  (Just peruse the comments on my review of X-Men: Apocalypse for RogerEbert.com: “The author feels like the X-Men series in general has failed its female characters—ignoring the fact that Mystique is elevated to a leadership and relevance level well above the source material.” Many didn’t want to face a critique coming from a woman, and a fan, who knows them better than they do.) You can only delete emails and block people on Twitter for so long until you feel burnt out. The reason why we don’t see more black women writing about these subjects with such visibility isn’t because we haven’t been interested in them, it’s that publications rarely give us the opportunity, and when we do write, we often find ourselves facing personal scrutiny that has little to do with the actual writing. At times, I’ve been left to wonder, why do I love these stories so much when they rarely care about people who look like me?

(4) HOLD ON TO THE LIGHT. At Magical Words, “100+ Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors Blog About Suicide, Depression, PTSD—a #HoldOnToTheLight Update by Gail Z. Martin” includes links to the first 40 posts authors have written around the theme.

More than 100 authors are now part of the #HoldOnToTheLight conversation! Our authors span the globe, from the US to the UK to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Even more exciting is that as the campaign picks up traction and visibility, more authors want to join, meaning a growing, vibrant dialog about mental wellness and coping with mental illness.

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

(5) MUSEUM OF SF KICKSTARTER FOR A WOMEN IN SF ANTHOLOGY. The Museum of Science Fiction has opened a Kickstarter appeal to fund Catalysts, Explorers & Secret Keepers, a “take-home exhibit” featuring short science fiction works by and about the women of the genre.

This anthology will showcase how they—as readers, as writers, and as characters—have engaged with and influenced science fiction for more than a century….

The cover of Catalysts, Explorers, & Secret Keepers will feature original artwork by the Hugo winning artist Julie Dillon. Award-winning authors Eleanor Arnason, Catherine Asaro, N.K. Jemisin, Nancy Kress, Naomi Kritzer, Karen Lord, Seanan McGuire, Sarah Pinsker, Kiini IburaSalaam, Carrie Vaughn, Jane Yolen, and Sarah Zettel have already agreed to contribute work to the exhibit.

Upon reaching the minimum funding target, the Museum will open submissions until December 1, 2016. The public will be able to submit original work that fits the take-home exhibit’s theme. Authors of original fiction published in Catalysts, Explorers, & Secret Keepers will receive the SFWA-standard pro-rate ofUS $0.06 per word, while authors of solicited reprints will receive US $0.03 per word. All authors featured in this exhibit will be invited to discuss their work as presenters and panelists in 2017 at Escape Velocity, the Museum of Science Fiction’s annual celebration of all things science fiction.

The appeal has raised $6,068 of its $8,500 goal with 26 days to go.

(6) TOR.COM REOPENING FOR NOVELLAS. Tor.com publishing will take unsolicited novella submissions for three months beginning October 12.

Lee Harris and Carl Engle-Laird will be reading and evaluating original novellas submitted by hopeful authors to http://submissions.tor.com/tornovellas/. You can find full guidelines here, and we highly recommend you read the guidelines before submitting. We will be open for three months, beginning on October 12th around 9:00 AM EDT (UTC-4:00) and ending on January 12th around 9:00 AM EST (UTC-5:00). We may extend this period depending on how many submissions we receive over the course of the open period.

(7) TAKE US TO YOUR CHIEF. From CBC Radio, “Drew Hayden Taylor on why we need Indigenous science fiction”.

Science fiction is meant to take us to places we’ve never been — this is what writer Drew Hayden Taylor is aiming to do with his new collection of short stories, Take Us to Your Chief.

Taylor’s new book filters famous sci-fi tropes such as aliens, time travel and government spying through the lens and perspective of Indigenous people. For him, he is simply taking these familiar stories and putting “some hot sauce on them.”   …

“I pictured myself as a 12-year-old kid back on the reserve, reading science fiction or reading books and not seeing our experiences in this book,” he explains. “I was just taking certain touchstones that we were all familiar with and then using them to take them out of the reserve environment into the larger sci-fi environment, and giving it that sort of resonance.”

(8) POSTSCRIPT TO NATIONAL FINISH-YOUR-BOOK DAY. Camestros Felapton reports there was  third sf novel finished yesterday – Timothy the Talking Cat’s The Confusing Walrus. According to Camestros,

I’ve read his ‘manuscript’ and it says “Copy whatever John Scalzi has written but use find/replace on the words ‘space’, ‘galaxy’, ‘star’ and ‘planet’ with the word ‘walrus’”

confusingwalrus-min

(9) INTERVIEW WITHOUT A VAMPIRE. Masters of Horror held a get-acquainted session with Horror Writers of America President Lisa Morton.

Interview With Lisa Morton By David Kempf

When did you first become interested in writing?

I’ve been writing almost as long as I’ve been reading – my first poem was published when I was 5! – but I didn’t seriously consider making a living out of it until I saw The Exorcist at the age of 15. Seeing the astonishing impact that film had on audiences during its initial release made me realize I wanted to do that, too.

How did you make this a full time job?

Well, it’s not my full time job now. I tried that for a while, back when I was making a fair amount of money as a screenwriter, and it didn’t work for me at all. I know most writers dream of being able to leave their day job and pursue writing all the time, but for me it was too isolating. Plus, I really love being a bookseller.

How did you become President of the Horror Writers Association?

By attrition, sadly. I was serving as Vice President when the President, Rocky Wood, passed away. Before that I’d held a variety of positions within the organization. I do find it satisfying to work with other writers and promote a genre that I love….

(10) NEXT BLADE RUNNER. The Verge reports “The Blade Runner sequel is officially titled Blade Runner 2049”.

(11) BROOKS ON WILDER AND FRANKENSTEIN. Mel Brooks got emotional before a screening last night.

Mel Brooks introduced one of the funniest movies ever made, Young Frankenstein, on Wednesday night. But the director couldn’t hold back tears.

Brooks paid homage to Gene Wilder, the star and co-writer of his 1974 classic comedy, before showing Young Frankenstein on the 20th Century Fox lot.

The live event was beamed to theaters around the country and turned into a tribute to Wilder, who died Aug. 29 at age 83. An encore presentation with Brooks’ introduction will screen in theaters Oct. 18.

“I get just a little overcome,” said Brooks, 90, from the stage, dabbing his eyes as he discussed Wilder. “I’ve had a few great memories in my life. But, honestly, I think making Young Frankenstein is my best year.”

(12) SWEET SWILL. ‘Tis the season for Deadworld Zombie Soda! (Turn the sound down when you click on this site.) The sodas come in 12 flavors, with label art created by comic book artists based on the characters and events that take place in Deadworld comic book universe.

  • ORANGE  – Orange Roamer
  • CHERRY COLA – Goon Biters
  • BLACK CHERRY – Royal Rotter
  • CREAM SODA – Brain Sap
  • COTTON CANDY – Zeek Cocktail
  • VANILLA CREAM SODA – Geek Juice
  • GRAPE – Grisly Swill
  • VANILLA ROOT BEER – Slow Decay
  • STRAWBERRY – Rot Berry
  • ROOT BEER – Twilight Shuffler
  • GREEN APPLE – Morbid Mix
  • GINGER ALE – Graveyard Delight

Untitled

Deadworld is the award winning, long running cult hit comic book series published by Caliber Comics that first exploded on the comic scene in 1986. With over 1 million copies in print and over 100 comics & graphic novels released to date, Deadworld is not your typical “zombie comic book or story”.

A supernatural plague has been unleashed on the world. The dead return to walk the earth…but this is no standard zombie story.  The dead are just foot soldiers for those who have crossed the ‘Gateway’ from another dimension. There are leader zombies who are intelligent, sadistic, and in addition to having a hankering for flesh, enjoy the tortuous ordeals they put the surviving humans through.

(13) EERIE OUTFITTER. Tim Burton’s costume designer Colleen Atwood interviewed by NPR (with comments on Miss Peregrine’s…):

From Hannibal Lecter’s mask to Edward Scissorhands’, well, scissor hands, Oscar-winning costumer Colleen Atwood has pretty much designed it all.

Working steadily since the 1980s, she’s dressed characters from the past and the future — the Middle Ages for Into the Woods, the Civil War for Little Women all the way to Gattaca and the 2001 Planet of the Apes. Her latest movie, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, is her eleventh with Tim Burton. It travels back in time to Wales during World War II….

(14) SLOW DOWN, YOU MOVE TOO FAST. The BBC sums up interstellar travel:

Science fiction writers and moviemakers have shown us countless visions of humanity spread out across the Universe, so you might be forgiven for thinking that we’ve already got this in the bag. Unfortunately, we still have more than a few technical limitations to overcome – like the laws of physics as we understand them – before we can start colonising new worlds beyond our Solar System and galaxy.

That said, several privately funded or volunteer initiatives such as the Tau Zero Foundation, Project Icarus and Breakthrough Starshot have emerged in recent years, each hoping to bring us a little bit closer to reaching across the cosmos. The discovery in August of an Earth-sized planet orbiting our nearest star has also raised fresh hopes about visiting an alien world.

Interstellar spacecraft will be one of the topics discussed at BBC Future’s World-Changing Ideas Summit in Sydney in November. Is travelling to other galaxies possible? And if so, what kinds of spacecraft might we need to achieve it? Read on to get up to (warp) speed: …

(15) TREK BEYOND BLOOPERS. CinemaBlend has the story and the video — “Chris Pine Does His Best Shatner Impression In Hysterical Star Trek Beyond Gag Reel”.

As professional as the actors all are on the set of a Star Trek movie, the final cut of the film adds effects and music to the experience which help transport you to the fictional world. Without that, you’re just a guy standing on a set spouting Star Trek gibberish. This becomes all the more clear when an actor trips over their lines, and suddenly everybody remembers that they’re acting again. The best part, though, is when Chris Pine calls for “Full impulse, Mr. Suliu” and John Cho stops to say that he sounds like he’s doing a William Shatner impression. Pine does add a bit of a classic Shatner pause to the line, so it does sound a bit like him to us. As much as we love William Shatner, we hope this doesn’t become a habit.

(16) THAT’S APPERTAINMENT. IanP unleashed this instant classic in a comment on File 770 today.

With apologies to Paul Weller

A pixeled car and a screaming siren
A shuggoth trail and ripped up books
A walrus wailing and stray pup howling
The place of fifths and tea drinking

That’s appertainment, that’s appertainment

A file of scrolls and a rumble of boots
A wretched hive and a bracket ‘head cloth
Ink splattered walls and the award of a rocket
Time machine appears and spews out pizza

That’s appertainment, that’s appertainment.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Darrah Chavey.]