Five That Shouldn’t Be Forgotten

[Republished as a post by permission.]

By Kyra: For my own contribution to “Five That Shouldn’t Be Forgotten,” here are the most obscure SFF books that I have listed as among my favorites, according to Goodreads. None has more than 200 ratings. By comparison, the most popular book on Goodreads I have listed among my favorites, The Hunger Games, has 4,940,743 ratings.

War Birds, by R. M. Meluch (Total Goodreads ratings: 46) A novel about the aftermath of one interplanetary war and the build-up to the next one, touching on culture clash, first contact, fear of the other, and the existential dangers of a technological arms race. Meluch took her writing to the next level with this 1989 tour de force space opera, and it shouldn’t be forgotten.

The Maerlande Chronicles by Elisabeth Vonarburg (Total Goodreads ratings: 153) How is this masterpiece of Canadian SF so obscure, according to Goodreads? Perhaps because it was originally available only in French? But a great translation is now available, so there’s no excuse. Although technically a sequel to 1981’s The Silent CIty, this 1992 far-future post-apocalyptic novel stands on its own quite well. Cultural change occurs in a matriarchal society where women vastly outnumber men. One of the best depictions I have ever read of how cultural shifts actually happen, plus a riveting plot and characters. Don’t forget it!

All the Colors of Darkness by Lloyd Biggle Jr. (Total Goodreads ratings: 155) This one comes from 1963. When humans finally develop practical teleportation, they attract the hostile attention of aliens. It falls to one man, held captive on the moon, to convince them that humans aren’t awful. A great piece from an SF master who deserves a wider reputation.

The Masters of Solitude / Wintermind by Parke Godwin and Marvin Kaye (Total Goodreads ratings: 163 and 71, respectively) The first two books of a planned trilogy that was sadly never completed, but enough is explored and enough plotlines are wrapped up in these rich, complex novels from 1978 and 1982 that you might not care — I didn’t. Another post-apocalyptic setting, another set of novels about change; when the “barbarians” of the outer world finally begin talking with the technologically advanced inhabitants of The City, both find themselves altered. There’s so much to these!

The Wine of Violence by James K. Morrow (Total Goodreads ratings: 179) Can this really be obscure? Can James K. Morrow’s first novel, and one of his finest, really be falling down the memory hole? Say it isn’t so! When a spaceship crash lands on a harsh planet, they find a utopia whose inhabitants are incapable of murder, assault, or aggression. But that utopia is under threat from external enemies … and from the novel’s protagonists. A true classic from 1981.

Scoping Out the Hugo Nomination Stats

By Kyra: [Reprinted from a comment by permission.] Some random observations about the voting statistics released with the 2017 Hugo finalists

Clear Favorites: The following categories had clear favorites during the nominations:

  • Almost 60% of nominators voted for the top pick in Dramatic Presentation Long (DPL)
  • Almost 50% of nominators voted for the top pick in Dramatic Presentation Short (DPS)
  • Roughly 50% of nominators voted for the top pick in Semiprozine

This may in part be due to fewer options to vote on in the case of Semiprozine — the votes were distributed among 103 nominees, the least of all categories by a significant margin. However, DPL had a number of nominees comparable with many other categories (206), and DPS had one of the highest number (569), so it seems likely that there were certain nominees that were either obviously standout or widely well-known. Probably true of Semiprozine as well — 103 is still quite a few!

Mild Favorites: Several categories had mild favorites:

  • About 36% of nominators voted for the top pick in Novella
  • About 37% of nominators voted for the top pick in Related Work

Novella nominations were spread over a relatively low list of nominees (187), but the number of Related Work nominees was fairly high (344).

In most of the other categories, about ~25% of nominators, +/-3%, voted for whatever the top pick was. Once again, there was a wide range for distribution of nominees for these, ranging from a low of 152 for fanzines to a high of 652 for novels.

No Favorites: The following categories arguably had no clear favorites:

  • Only about 14% of nominators voted for the top pick in Short Story.
  • Only about 17% of nominators voted for the top pick in Professional Artist.
  • Only about 15% of nominators voted for the top pick in Fancast.
  • Only about 18% of nominators voted for the top pick in Fan Writer.

For Short Story, this was almost certainly in part related to the wide number of options available – votes were distributed across 830 nominees! Professional Artist was also reasonably high at 387, but Fancast and Fan Writer were pretty typical at 253 and 275, respectively.

Moral: To have the lowest chance of winning a Hugo, write a short story. To have the highest chance, edit a semiprozine. If that sounds difficult, then simply writing or directing a widely-distributed SFF Hollywood blockbuster will also give you a decent shot.

Pixel Scroll 12/31/16 We All Know That The Pixel Never Scrolls Twice

(1) ON ITS WAY TO BEING DEADJOURNAL? LiveJournal was purchased by a Russian company in 2007 but continued to operate on U.S.-based servers until this month. According to Metafilter

As of a few days ago, the IP addresses for blogging service LiveJournal have moved to 81.19.74.*, a block that lookup services locate in Moscow, Russia. Now users — especially those who do not trust the Russian government — are leaving the platform and advising others to leave.

For years, the online blogging community LiveJournal — popular in Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine — has served as a key communications platform for Russian dissidents (the Committee to Protect Journalists earlier this month called on Russian authorities to release a LiveJournal user who has been sentenced to 2 years in prison for a critical blog post). Even after Russian company SUP bought it from California-based Six Apart in 2007 (previously), the fact that SUP continued to run the servers in the US meant that users felt relatively safe; a 2009 press release specifically said that LiveJournal, Inc.* would continue to run technical operations and servers in the United States (and claimed that 5.7 million LiveJournal users were Russia-based).

(2) REANIMATION NOW A HOLLYWOOD ISSUE. “Actors seek posthumous protections after big-screen resurrections” – Reuters has the story.

California law already gives heirs control over actors’ posthumous profits by requiring their permission for any of use of their likeness. As technology has improved, many living actors there are more focused on steering their legacy with stipulations on how their images are used – or by forbidding their use.

Robin Williams, who committed suicide in 2014, banned any use of his image for commercial means until 2039, according to court documents. He also blocked anyone from digitally inserting him into a movie or TV scene or using a hologram, as was done with rapper Tupac Shakur at Southern California’s Coachella music festival in 2012 – 16 years after his murder.

Virtual characters have been used when an actor dies in the middle of a film production, as when Universal Pictures combined CGI and previous footage for Paul Walker’s role in 2015’s “Furious 7” after Walker’s 2013 death in a car crash.

But “Rogue One” broke new ground by giving a significant supporting role to a dead star. A digital embodiment of British actor Peter Cushing, who died in 1994, reprised his role from the original 1997 “Star Wars” film as Tarkin.

Walt Disney Co recreated Tarkin with a mix of visual effects and a different actor.

A Disney spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Princess Leia would appear in films beyond “Episode VIII,” set for release in 2017. Fisher had wrapped filming for the next “Star Wars” episode before she died. She suffered a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles.

(3) ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS CLOSES. Quoting from JJ in a comment on yesterday’s Scroll:

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has made a public posting on Patreon: “All Romance Ebooks and its sister website Omnilit did something incredibly awful on December 28, 2016. It sent out a handful of emails, letting writers, publishers, readers, and others know that it was shutting its doors four days later.”

This is a really well-thought-out and helpful piece. The TL;DR is: 1) if you’re an author who was using them as a distributor, get your rights reverted immediately; 2) if you’re a reader who bought books through them, get them copied to your computer immediately.

There’s a lot more helpful advice for affected authors in there. I really hope that no Filers are affected by this, and I feel bad for all authors who were involved with that business; they are almost certainly not going to get any money they are owed.

Part of what Rusch explained:

ARe is a distributor, mostly, and so it is dealing with its writers as suppliers and unsecured creditors. I’ve been through a bunch of distributor closings, many in the late 1990s, with paper books, and they all happen like this.

One day, everything works, and the next, the distributor is closed for good. In some ways, ARe is unusual in that it gave its suppliers and creditors four days notice. Most places just close their doors, period.

I’m not defending ARe. I’m saying they’re no different than any other company that has gone out of business like this. Traditional publishers have had to deal with this kind of crap for decades. Some comic book companies went out of business as comic book distributors collapsed over the past 25 years. Such closures have incredible (bad) ripple effects. In the past, writers have lost entire careers because of these closures, but haven’t known why, because the publishing house had to cope with the direct losses when the distributor went down.

The difference here is that ARe wasn’t dealing with a dozen other companies. It was dealing with hundreds, maybe thousands, of writers individually, as well as publishers. So, writers are seeing this distribution collapse firsthand instead of secondhand.

To further complicate matters, ARe acted as a publisher for some authors, and is offering them no compensation whatsoever, not even that horrid 10 cents on the dollar (which, I have to say, I’ll be surprised if they pay even that).

(4) NZ ORDER OF MERIT. Professor Anthony Phillip Mann,  a Sir Julius Vogel winner whose novel The Disestablishment of Paradise was a finalist for the Clarke and Campbell Awards, has been named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to literature and drama.

(5) NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR SIR JULIUS VOGEL. Nominations for the 2017 Sir Julius Vogel awards are being accepted until 8.00 p.m. on March 31, 2017.

The awards recognise excellence and achhievement in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents, and first published or released in the 2016 calendar year.

We are using a web-based system for nominations this year to aid our administrative processes. Full information about the awards, including the rules and criteria for the Sir Julius Vogel Award, can be found here.

Anyone can make a nomination and it is free! To make a nomination, go to http://www.sffanz.org.nz/sjv/sjvAwards.shtml  and fill out the web-based nomination form.

Get busy reading NZ authors and watching NZ movies to find work to nominate. We have a list of New Zealand works that may be eligible for nomination here.

(6) CAMPBELL AWARD. Mark-kitteh reports, “Writertopia have set their Campbell Award eligibility page to 2017 mode. It’s obviously very sparse on 1st year eligibility at the moment, but there are a few new entries already.”

The John W. Campbell Award uses the same nomination and voting mechanism as the Hugo, even though the Campbell Award is not a Hugo.

Like the Hugo Awards, the Campbell Award voting takes place in two stages. The first stage, nomination, is open to anyone who had a Supporting or Attending membership in the previous, current, or following year’s Worldcon as of January 31. For Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, this means members of MidAmeriCon II, Worldcon 75 itself, and Worldcon 76 can nominate any eligible author. This web page helps identify eligible authors for the Campbell Award.

The official nomination page will be posted when it is available on the Worldcon 75 website. Nominations will likely close on March 31, 2017.

To be able to vote for the award, you must be a member of Worldcon 75 in Helsinki. If you are not a member of Worldcon 75 and wish to vote, you must purchase a supporting membership or an attending membership before January 31.

(7) COVERS REVEALED. Greg Ruth’s cover art for Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch  and Akata Warrior has debuted online. Ruth wrote —

We often in art mistake race for color, and what this taught me was a way to skip past those initial assumptions and get right to the heart of her structure rather than her tone. This meant a lot of research into what physical features are distinctively Nigerian, and bringing those to bear on this young woman. She had to, without leaning on skin color, be authentically Nigerian and herself as a true native of her culture in every bit as much the same way in which I might need to address and accomplish the same for a Cambodian scientist, or an Icelandic luthier. We all within our tribes carry specific physical marks that stem from our localized familial genetics. Folks of a Rwandan Tutsi heritage have different physical features even from Rwandan Hutu people due to the way we as people form our tribes via family and region. Whether or not my own self-aware whiteness drove me to paying especial attention to these subtle but significant differences, or whether it was just about cleaving close to that aforementioned ethic of art making to be its best and truly objective self, I can’t say. But I do confess to feeling as someone coming from a  different cultural experience, I owe a lot to research as a means to be the best scribe for the cultural truths and realities of one that is not mine. That means, int he case of INDEH, years of research, tracking tribal origins, genetic traits and societal issues so that the Apaches look like Apaches, especially to actual real Apaches. If I had done this first as part of this ongoing series, I am not sure I would have been able to if I were being honest. I think I needed to do the other three to fully grok what it was this pair of images needed to have done. It was entirely essential to this potential hubris that Nnedi had been so excited about the previous three- and particularly to have been so spot on with them both culturally and inherent in her mind to the characters as she see saw them. Her words brought great comfort to me in times of doubt- (Thanks Nnedi!).

(8) HINES AUCTION RESULTS. Jim C. Hines’ fundraiser for Transgender Michigan brought in $1,655.55.

We know transgender youth are at a higher risk of depression and suicide, and these coming months and years could be very difficult. So I’m proud and grateful to announce that with the help of some SF/F friends and the generosity of everyone who bid and donated, we raised a total of $1,655.55 to help Transgender Michigan continue their important work.

I wanted to pass along this thank you from Susan Crocker of Transgender Michigan:

Transgender Michigan would like to thank everyone involved with the fundraiser auctions run by Jim C. Hines. All of you are helping us provide services to the transgender communities of Michigan and beyond. This will help our help line, chapters, referral system, community building, and advocacy.

(9) RULES VARIATION. Cheryl Morgan has “Arabian Nights Questions”:

Something else I did over Christmas, as a bit of a break from the Wagnerthon, was remind myself of the rules for Arabian Nights, just in case I should end up in a game at Chance & Counters. There are solo play rules, and it didn’t take long to get back into the swing of things (not to mention crippled, enslaved, and ensorcelled). However, a couple of questions occurred to me along the way and I was wondering if anyone out there could enlighten me.

First up, I remember from playing the original version that you were not allowed to win if you were gender-swapped. Indeed, I wrote a whole blog post about that a couple of years ago. Checking the rules of the new edition it appears that rule has been dropped. The card for Geas still says you can’t win while you have that status, but no other statuses seem to have that effect. Can anyone confirm this, or have I missed something?

(10) WONG OBIT. Tyrus Wong (1910-2016) who worked on Disney’s Bambi, died December 30 according to the New York Times.

When Walt Disney’s “Bambi” opened in 1942, critics praised its spare, haunting visual style, vastly different from anything Disney had done before. But what they did not know was that the film’s striking appearance had been created by a Chinese immigrant artist, who took as his inspiration the landscape paintings of the Song dynasty. The extent of his contribution to “Bambi,” which remains a high-water mark for film animation, would not be widely known for decades

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 31, 1931 — A doctor faces horrible consequences when he lets his dark side run wild in Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, seen for the first time on this day. This was the first horror movie ever to win an Academy Award, it was for Best Actor. The movie was also nominated for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography.

dr-jekyll

  • December 31, 1935 — C. B. Darrow received a patent for his Monopoly game.
  • December 31, 1958Cosmic Monsters, aka The Strange World of Planet X, opens.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY AMPHIBIAN

  • Born December 31, 1955  — Michigan J. Frog, pictured with his dad, Chuck Jones.

frog-and-chuck-jones

(13) PROGRAM BREAKERS. The BBC discusses examples of names that break computer systems.

Some individuals only have a single name, not a forename and surname. Others have surnames that are just one letter. Problems with such names have been reported before. Consider also the experiences of Janice Keihanaikukauakahihulihe’ekahaunaele, a Hawaiian woman who complained that state ID cards should allow citizens to display surnames even as long as hers – which is 36 characters in total. In the end, government computer systems were updated to have greater flexibility in this area.

Incidents like this are known, in computing terminology, as “edge cases” – that is, unexpected and problematic cases for which the system was not designed.

I remember cracking up when I read an Ann Landers column about the soldier who didn’t have a regular name, just two initials, and once the military had processed him he was legally stuck with the name “Bonly Nonly.”

(14) PRESTIDIGITIZATION. Rich Lynch announces, “From out of the mists of nearly 30 years past, the third issue of the fanzine Mimosa is now online.  You can view it here: Mimosa #3.”

“Like everything else on the Mimosa website, the issue has been put online in eye-friendly HTML format.  This will make it easier to view, as it was originally published in two-column format and you do not need to turn pages to read an article in its entirety.”

Rich has also launched the 17th issue of his personal fanthology My Back Pages at eFanzines.com.

Issue #17 is a year-end collection that starts with a long and at times strange journey, and includes essays involving teetering glass display cases, sweaty dinner expeditions, accusations of spying, protected sanctuaries, icy traverses, well-attired mountain climbs, earthquake epicenters, frigid hitchhikes, altitude-challenged terrain, river confluences, photography challenges, clear skies, city park pow-wows, employment outsourcing, focal-point fanzines, woodland views from on high, Viennese composers, good and bad winter weather, entertaining musicals, minimalist paintings, subway mosaics, and the New York City street grid.  This issue also, for the first time in the run, includes a previously unpublished essay.”

(15) LEGENDS OF THE FALL. Jo Lindsay Walton’s blog has an impressive origin story, but he may be throttling back in 2017.

Superadded to this general siege of opinion, I had started to feel that those closest to me would sometimes, in a real casual way, slip into conversation a chance remark, not obviously aimed at me, which intimated that to hide one’s l33t under a bushel might itself be construed as vanity, and that in a way wouldn’t you say that, like, the most ostentatious blog you can have as a white middle class western cis man is no blog at all — the eyes flick anxiously to mine, linger an unsettling instant, flick away. I caved. My caving is all around you. In the end it was probably the dramatis personae itself that did it: what was reiterated strategum by strategum, however laughable the local strategic design, was this bald provocation: if so many millions of entities, living, dead, exotic, imaginary, could draw together under this one bloggenic banner, if Alex Dally MacFarlane, Alice Tarbuck, and Aliette de Bodard, if Amal El-Mohtar, Amy Sterling Casil, and Ann Leckie, if Anna MacFarlane, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, and Brad R. Torgersen?, if Carol Emshwiller, Catherynne M. Valente, and China Miéville, if Christina Scholz, Chuck Tingle, and Connie Willis, if Elizabeth Jones, George O. Smith, and George RR Martin, if Gillian Anderson, Harlan Ellison, and Jack Vance, if Jim Butcher, John C. Wright, and John Scalzi, if Jonah Sutton-Morse, Joseph Tomaras, and Kate Paulk, if Kathy Acker, Kevin J. Anderson, and Kim Stanley Robinson, if Kir Bulychev, Lois McMaster Bujold, and L. Ron Hubbard, if Larry Correia, Laura J. Mixon, and Lavie Tidhar, if Margaret Cavendish, N.K. Jemisin, and Nalo Hopkinson, if Naomi Novik, Nick Mamatas, and Paul Weimer, if R.A. Lafferty, Renay, and Robert Heinlein, if Robert Jordan, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, and Saladin Ahmed, if Sarah Hoyt, Sofia Samatar, and Sophie Mayer, if Steven Gould, Tricia Sullivan, and Vox Day, if countless others, could all make cause together to beg this one blog of me, if even Alice Bradley Sheldon and James Tiptree Jnr. could set aside their differences to ask this one thing, why then could I not set my false modesty aside, look into my historically-determined and socially-constructed heart, and blog? But now the PhD is kinda done, so … well, this will probably go a bit dormant now.

A volcano puffing out the odd mothball.

(16) PAGES TURNED. Abigail Nussbaum closes out with “2016,  Year in Reading: Best Reads of the Year” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar (review) I wrote several thousand words about Samatar’s second novel, the companion piece to her equally wonderful A Stranger in Olondria, earlier this year, and yet I still don’t feel that I’ve fully grappled with how special and revolutionary this book is.  This despite the fact that Histories initially feels a great deal more conventional, and much easier to sum up, than Olondria.  Its use of familiar epic fantasy tropes and styles is more pronounced than the previous novel, and whereas Olondria circled around the edges of a fantasyland civil war, Histories sets its story almost in the middle of it.  What ultimately becomes clear, however, is that just like the hero of A Stranger in Olondria, the four women who tell the story of The Winged Histories are trying to give shape to their lives by casting them into literary forms–in this case, the forms of epic fantasy, even if none of them are aware of that genre or would call it that.  And, one by one, they discover the limitations of those forms, especially where women and colonized people are concerned.  Not unlike Olondria, The Winged Histories is ultimately forced to ask whether it is even possible for people to tell their own stories using the tropes and tools left to them by their oppressors.  If the entire purpose of your existence is to be the Other, or the object, in someone else’s story, can you ever take their words, their forms, and make it a story about yourself?  For most of the novel’s characters, the solution is ultimately to fall silent, and yet The Winged Histories itself rings loudly.  As much as it is a rebuke of the fantasy genre, it is also a major work within it, and one that deserves more discussion and attention than it has received.

(17) KYRA LOOKS BACK AT 2016. In comments, Kyra sketched some mini-reviews of what she read this past year.

(18) SOME GOOD IN 2016 AFTER ALL. Creature Features, the Burbank collectibles store, put together a tribute to 2016 sff.

[Thanks to JJ, Andrew Porter, Kip W, Joe Rico, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ken Richards.]

Pixel Scroll 7/6/16 And She Gave Away The Pixels Of Her Past And Said, “I’ve Lost The Scroll Again”

(1) BLAME THOSE GUYS SOUTH OF CANADA. T. R. Napper’s “Americans Destroy Science Fiction” was passed along by JJ with the observation, “I find this piece ridiculously clueless about the history of Worldcon and the Hugo Awards, and about the actual reasons for the kerpupple and the American domination of the Awards. However, it certainly contains a different point of view, with some very valid points.”

…But let’s rewind a little. When I first started writing a few years back I heard there was this controversy in the genre. That diversity was being blocked, or rolled back, by a conservative praetorian guard of writers. My first thought was to man the barricades: to fight with those fighting for this thing they said was diversity, a concept I’ve always correlated with equity.

I worked in international aid for fifteen years. In that time, friends and colleagues of mine have been shot at, beaten, kidnapped, murdered, blown up, car-jacked, abused, and imprisoned. These horrific things were done to them because they tried to build a school for girls, or they ran a women’s empowerment program, or simply because they had the temerity to stand with the poor against a corrupt and violent social order.

So, you see, social justice, equity, are things I have a passing concern with.

The problem, I soon discovered, is that this debate is not about equity, and sure as hell isn’t about diversity. Rather, it is an inside-the-bubble conversation between two groups of American writers, each attempting to claim victim status. Worse, the boundaries of the discussion almost completely exclude non-Americans, and even within the US context there was little mention of disability, and none of class.

This particular tributary of the American culture wars is little more than tiny elite – the middle and upper-middle class of the most powerful country in the world – debating and defining diversity in the genre as a whole. It boils down to insiders arguing how to make awards more representative of 45% of the population (the middle and upper class) in a country accounting for 4% of the global population (the US).

(2) GAMING ADDICTION. On Real Life Magazine, Tony Tulahwitte, in an article called “Clash Rules Everything Around Me” talks about his love of Clash of Clans and tries to make the case for the positive things about spending all that time gaming.

Clan Prestige kicked me out immediately; Clan Friendship kicked me out for donating weak troops; Clan Love communicated mostly in Arabic. So I stayed awhile in the dead-silent Clan Maturity, left a week later for Clan Corgi Butts, and ended up where I always suspected I belonged: in the Trash Clan.

(3) KEEPS ON GOING. A total of nine NASA missions received extensions this week, including the two in the headline: “New Horizons Receives Mission Extension to Kuiper Belt, Dawn to Remain at Ceres”.

Following its historic first-ever flyby of Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons mission has received the green light to fly onward to an object deeper in the Kuiper Belt, known as 2014 MU69. The spacecraft’s planned rendezvous with the ancient object – considered one of the early building blocks of the solar system — is Jan. 1, 2019.

“The New Horizons mission to Pluto exceeded our expectations and even today the data from the spacecraft continue to surprise,” said NASA’s Director of Planetary Science Jim Green. “We’re excited to continue onward into the dark depths of the outer solar system to a science target that wasn’t even discovered when the spacecraft launched.”

Based upon the 2016 Planetary Mission Senior Review Panel report, NASA this week directed nine extended missions to plan for continued operations through fiscal years 2017 and 2018.  Final decisions on mission extensions are contingent on the outcome of the annual budget process.

In addition to the extension of the New Horizons mission, NASA determined that the Dawn spacecraft should remain at the dwarf planet Ceres, rather than changing course to the main belt asteroid Adeona.

Green noted that NASA relies on the scientific assessment by the Senior Review Panel in making its decision on which extended mission option to approve. “The long-term monitoring of Ceres, particularly as it gets closer to perihelion – the part of its orbit with the shortest distance to the sun — has the potential to provide more significant science discoveries than a flyby of Adeona,” he said….

(4) EASTERCON 2012 CHOW. Lawrence Schoen posted “Eating Authors: Adrian Tchaikovsky” on Monday —

And there, in that weird moment of existential, Star Trek-related crisis, I was found by a band of SF academics from Oxford who I very tentatively knew, mostly through a common acquaintance with Paul Cornell (who is the Kevin Bacon of the UK SF scene). And like some kind of choir of angels they took me from the windowless confines of the convention hotel, first into the Outside, which I had almost forgotten existed, and then off to a Chinese restaurant with a bunch of other fans.

(5) SMOOTH SEGUE. Here’s where I drop in the Rob James Morgan tweet in response to Delilah S. Dawson’s fears about something literally eating authors.

(6 FEELS GUIDE TO FANAC. Suvudu’s Matt Staggs recommends a book and podcast discussion: “Therapist Kathleen Smith Talks About ‘The Fangirl Life’ on ‘Beaks & Geeks’”.

In her book The Fangirl Life: A Guide to Feeling All the Feels and Learning How to Deal, Kathleen Smith, a licensed therapist, introduces readers to her own brand of fan-friendly self-help: a unique niche in therapeutic thought where Doctor Who is more important than Doctor Freud, and the feels is very real. This is her first book aimed at fangirls, but Smith has been offering sage advice to female fandom for handling anxiety, relationship troubles, and more for a long time at her site www.fangirltherapy.com.

If you enjoy flailing over badass fictional ladies or speculating endlessly over plot points, but would like to carve more space for the narrative of your own life, this is the book for you. Written by a proud fangirl who is also a licensed therapist, The Fangirl Life is a witty guide to putting your passions to use in your offline life, whether it’s learning how writing fan fiction can be a launching point for greater career endeavors, or how to avoid the myths that fictional romance perpetuates.

(7) T5S. Aaron Pound reviewed Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin for Dreaming of Other Worlds. (Haiku warning!)

Full review: There is a vague and indistinct region in between the genres of fantasy and science fiction. While some books rest comfortably on one side of this division or the other, others are happy to rest in that ambiguous zone between them, maybe from some angles a work of fantasy, and from others a work of science fiction. The Fifth Season is one of those books, with elements that make one think that the story is a pure fantasy, and others that are squarely within the realm of science fiction. Against this backdrop, Jemisin weaves a brutal story of enslavement, oppression, and anger that is at once intensely personal and breathtaking in its scope.

(8) QUOTE OF THE DAY:

Kyra: I consider SFWA to be a one-syllable word, pronounced as spelled.

(9) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman joined Gene O’Neill for lunch in Las Vegas on Episode 12 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

For the fifth and final episode of Eating the Fantastic recorded in Las Vegas during StokerCon, I headed out to Hash House A Go Go, one of my favorite restaurants—at least in its San Diego incarnation. My breakfast there is always one of my favorite Comic-Con meals. But alas, there turned out to be more than a 90-minute wait that Sunday morning in Vegas, so I moved on to Yard House at the recommendation of my guest, Gene O’Neill, who’d eaten there earlier that weekend.

Gene, with whom I attended the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, has been nominated 11 times for the Bram Stoker Award, and has won twice, in the categories of Long Fiction and Fiction Collection.

(10) INDIANAPOLIS FANDOM. Tony Schaab wrote a report on InConJunction for ScienceFiction.com.

Dubbed “The Crossroads of the Multiverse,” the small but mighty InConJunction celebrated it’s amazing 36th show this year on July 1-3, 2016, at the Marriott East in Indianapolis, IN.  A fan-run convention since the beginning some 30-plus years ago, the show is organized by The Circle of Janus Science Fiction & Fantasy Club.  With a heavy focus on sci-fi and fantasy, the show boasts several unique and entertaining aspects, including a fully-functional Bridge Simulator, an expansive Live Auction, a cosplay Masquerade, and specific rooms dedicated to ‘Doctor Who,’ anime, and more.

(11) SEVENTH HELL OF WHO. Not everyone thinks it was bad, however, “’Doctor Who’ Showrunner Steven Moffat Admits Series Seven Was ‘Miserable’”, at ScienceFiction.com.

If you don’t recall, Season Seven of NuWho involved a “monster movie of the week” feel with a series of standalone episodes that built up to the departure of Amy and Rory in the midseason episode ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’, the Doctor’s first adventures with Clara Oswald, and the introduction of John Hurt as the War Doctor. But with important moments like these, how could the season have been so generally bad? Well, it sounds like the pressure of Matt Smith leaving the show and the 50th anniversary got to Moffat a little bit:

“Matt [Smith], who was a friend and ally, was leaving – I couldn’t get him to stay. It felt like everything was blowing up around me. I was staggering into the 50th, with no Doctors contracted to appear in it, battered with endless hate mail about how I hadn’t got William Hartnell back and ‘Sherlock’ series three at the same time. I was pretty miserable by the end of it, and I couldn’t bear to let that be the end.”

(12) THE LOST WORLD. “See Gigantic Prehistoric Monsters Battle Modern Lovers” when the Alex Film Society screens The Lost World (1925) on Sunday, July 10 at 2:00 p.m.

“Imagine a Lost World—millions of years old—and now found by a daring exploring party. Imagine this world still existing as in the beginning of time—with gigantic antediluvian monsters roaming it—ape men—prehistoric men living on it—fighting at every turn for existence—fighting the monsters who would devour them. And it all happens in this tremendous love and adventure drama—and people from your own world were brave enough to encounter hardships and dangers to bring back this story to you. Without doubt the biggest motion picture achievement.”

Featuring some of the biggest stars of the silent era, including Wallace Beery, Bessie Love and Lewis Stone, as well as no less than a dozen different species of dinosaur, our print of The Lost World is a fully restored version from the George Eastman House collection. Famed composer and pianist Alexander Rannie will accompany the film with the musical score that was written for the original release.

 

Lost World poster COMP

(13) CHANGING ICON. In The Hollywood Reporter, Graeme McMillan has the story: “Tony Stark Replaced by Black Woman as Marvel’s Comic Book Iron Man”. The theory is that a brilliant MIT student who built her version of Iron Man armor will replace Tony Stark from Invincible Iron Man #7 onwards.

Williams debuted in Invincible Iron Man No. 7 in March of this year, and will headline a relaunched version of the title later this year as part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch. Created by series writer Brian Michael Bendis — who also co-created Miles Morales, the half-black, half-Latino Spider-Man who debuted in 2011 — and artist Mike Deodato, Riri has been shown to be even more resourceful than Stark himself, and just as stubborn.

Williams’ ascension as Iron Man (The title of the series will remain the same, according to Marvel) continues a trend for replacing, or at least adding to, the traditional white male heroes with a more diverse cast over the last few years; in addition to the Miles Morales Spider-Man, Sam Wilson became Marvel’s second black Captain America in 2014, the same year that Jane Foster took over as Thor.

imvim2015_promo-p_2016

(14) WILL THERE BE A MELTDOWN? Breitbart.com is canvassing the internet hoping to find negative reactions to the Iron Man story. This is a tweet they included in their news item.

(15) CAP CLAIMED BY BATTLING BOROUGHS. BBC reports a Marvel will place a statue of Captain America in a Brooklyn park. Naturally, this is causing controversy. For a change, it has nothing to do with Hydra.

The company has commissioned a 13-ft (3.96m) bronze statue which will be housed in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

It will be unveiled at the San Diego Comic Con later this month before being placed in the park from 10 August.

A sketch of the statue released by Marvel shows the character holding his signature shield in the air…..

The figure will also bear the superhero’s quote “I’m just a kid from Brooklyn” – said in the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger.

However, some fans have pointed out the original comic book character was actually from Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

In the comics, the superhero was the son of Irish immigrants – a similar background to that of co-creator Jack Kirby, who was the son of Austrian-Jewish immigrants living in the same area.

(16) COMIC STRIP. The eponymous character of The Wizard of Id is attending Wizardcon this week. Today he has a tough decision to make.

(17) NEXT ROGUE ONE TRAILER COMING. UPI says the second Rogue One trailer will premiere in the US on ABC.

According to fansite Making Star Wars, television listings for ABC reveal that they plan on airing a new Star Wars special on July 15 that will also include a new three minute trailer for Rogue One.

The title of the special, Secrets of The Force Awakens, shares the same name as a making of documentary that was included in the blu-ray release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

(18) JUNO. NASA posted images received from Juno as a time-lapse video of moons orbiting Jupiter.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured a unique time-lapse movie of the Galilean satellites in motion about Jupiter. The movie begins on June 12th with Juno 10 million miles from Jupiter, and ends on June 29th, 3 million miles distant. The innermost moon is volcanic Io; next in line is the ice-crusted ocean world Europa, followed by massive Ganymede, and finally, heavily cratered Callisto. Galileo observed these moons to change position with respect to Jupiter over the course of a few nights. From this observation he realized that the moons were orbiting mighty Jupiter, a truth that forever changed humanity’s understanding of our place in the cosmos. Earth was not the center of the Universe. For the first time in history, we look upon these moons as they orbit Jupiter and share in Galileo’s revelation. This is the motion of nature’s harmony.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 6/28/16 The Right To Scroll Pixels Is The Right to Be Free

(1) LEARNING SPACE. Steve Davidson has a fine interview with Jim C. Hines about the Launch Pad Academy Workshop.

Steve Davidson for Amazing Stories Magazine: How did you hear about the Launch Pad Workshop?

Jim C. Hines: I heard about it years ago online — I think it might have been the Speculations writing boards, back when it was still active. At the time, I didn’t feel qualified to apply, in part because I was only writing fantasy.

But I kept an eye on how it was going from year to year, as well as the comments and reports from other attendees.

ASM:  Was it a program you always wanted to participate in or was your interest piqued when you learned about it?

JCH: I’ve been interested in attending ever since I heard about the program, but there was the combination of needing to be able to leave for a week without causing difficulties with work or at home, and having a project where I thought the knowledge would be useful. This year, I’ve started working on my first SF trilogy, and I’d quit my day job last fall, so the timing was perfect.

ASM: How would you describe your familiarity with astronomy, cosmology, etc., prior to attending?

JCH: I think I had some basic foundational knowledge, but most of it wasn’t anything I’d studied in depth. I knew enough to answer most of my kids’ basic questions about space, which astronomical bodies orbit one another, how the seasons work, and so on. And I’d read Douglas Adams, so I knew space was big. Really big.

(2) WOMEN IN SF, 1961. At Galactic Journey, in “[June 28, 1961] The Second Sex in SFF, Part IV”, The Traveler issues an invitation to increase our history of the genre:

Come meet six of these lady authors, four of whom are quite new, and two who are veterans in this, Part IV, of The Second Sex in SFF.

The six are Kit Reed, Jane Dixon Rice, Jane Roberts (the only woman invited for the first science-fiction writers conference in Milford, PA – I didn’t know that), Joanna Russ, Evelyn Smith, and Margaret St. Clair.

(3) YOUR HOUSE IN NORTH AMERICA. At Tor.com, Emily Asher-Perrin has scouted Pottermore for the latest additions: “Get Sorted Into Ilvermorny, the American Hogwarts!”

A ton of new information on the North American magic school, Ilvermorny, was just dropped onto Pottermore. But that’s not all! You can now get Sorted into the various Houses (if you have a Pottermore account, so sign on up).

As a reminder, the four Ilvermorny Houses are Horned Serpent, Wampus, Pukwudgie, and Thunderbird! Here is where you go for the Sorting, provided you have a Pottermore account. (I got Horned Serpent, which seems to be the brainy house? Not what I expected.) These Houses don’t break down quite the same way the Hogwarts ones do; instead, they are associated as follows….

 

(4) HOLD THAT TIGER. Lisa Goldstein reviews another Hugo nominee at inferior4 + 1 “Short Story: ‘Seven Kill Tiger’”.

This review contains spoilers.

“Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao is a disturbing story, but maybe not for the reasons the author thinks.  We start with a deeply unpleasant main character, Zhang Zedong, a company man sent from China to Zambia who needs to improve his production numbers and who is prone to thinking things like “Africa would be a glorious place were it not for the Africans.”  “What he needed was more Han people,” he thinks, and the solution he comes up with is to wipe out the native population of Africa using genetic warfare.

(5) BEST FANCAST. Joe Sherry is “Listening to the Hugos: Fancast” for Nerds of a Feather.

Admission of Bias Time: The longer the podcast, the less interested I am in listening to it. 30 minutes is my sweet spot, I’m comfortable up to an hour, and the farther a podcast goes past an hour the less interested I become, even when the topic and conversation is interesting. Most of the episodes of 8-4 Play run over 90 minutes, with a not insignificant number running over 120 minutes.

8-4 Play did not include links to recommended episodes, so I pulled one from 2015 that was focusing on some video games I was interested in (Zelda and Dragon Quest). 30 minutes later, I was done. 8-4 Play is a video game focused podcast, and it took way too long for the hosts to actually start talking about the games. The opening seemed more focused on refreshing each other what they’ve been up to than moving on to the games. Now, first main section on one guy’s Retro Collection was okay (and I love me some old school games) and they were only just moving into Fallout 4 by the time I gave up on the podcast, so maybe there is solid game talk and a reason why I should consider listening to 8-4 Play in the future, but this particular episode is more than two hours long and that’s really tough for me to overcome, and given that for this particular episode the hosts took waaaaaay too long getting to the meat, I won’t be coming back to it. Perhaps I selected the wrong episode and perhaps I should have skipped forward to the 38 minute mark, but perhaps this podcast is simply not for me. Pass.

(6) OBAMA’S TAKE ON STAR WARS. In the series “Conversations With Tyler,”  Tyler Cowen interviews Cass Sunstein about his Star Wars book. The Star Wars geekery begins at about 18:00 and continues to about 40:00, and all of the audience questions are about Star Wars. (There’s also a full text transcript available.) Many examples of the public policy ramifications of Star Wars are discussed, and at one point Sunstein, who served in the Obama administration as chief regulator of the Office of Management and Budget, reveals that he asked President Obama about which Star Wars movie was his favorite and argued with his boss that The Empire Strikes Back was better than A New Hope.

(7) WEDDING. Congratulations to Becky Thomson and Tom Veal, who married on June 25 in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

(8) KYRA IS BACK. Mini-reviews from Kyra today:

Airplane read #1: In the Time of Dragon Moon, by Janet Lee Carey (here)

Airplane read #2: The Wrath & The Dawn, by Renee Ahdieh (here)

Airplane read #3: Kingfisher, by Patricia McKillip (here)

Airplane Read #4: I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson (here)

Airplane Read #5: A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend, by Emily Horner (not SFF) (here)

Airplane Read #6 (last one!): Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, by Elizabeth Moon (here)

(9) ENTERPRISE DUE TO LEAVE DRYDOCK. NPR has a progress report: “Smithsonian Sets Phasers To Restore On Original Starship Enterprise”.

Sorry to disappoint Trekkies who still believe, but the actual USS Enterprise did not really take up much space.

That famous starship of Mr. Spock and Capt. James Tiberius Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series — which turns 50 this year — was a model. Quite a large one, to be fair: 11 feet long and about 200 lbs., made out of blow-molded plastic and wood. But not life-sized.

And for more than a decade, it hung in the gift shop of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C.

“From a conservator’s standpoint, that is probably one of the worst places to put an artifact,” says Malcolm Collum, the chief conservator of the National Air and Space Museum….

On Tues., June 28, the USS Enterprise will reach its final frontier beside other famous and historical aircraft in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • June 28, 1926 – Mel Brooks. He’d like to make Spaceballs 2.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • June 28, 1979 — Felicia Day

(12) THE ACTOR IS IN. At the invitation of Samantha Bee (Full Frontal), “David Tennant Unleashes His Inner Time Lord On Donald Trump”

The “Full Frontal“ host called on Scottish actor David Tennant to read a series of anti-Trump tweets that his fellow countrymen posted after the real estate magnate erroneously said they were “going wild“ for Brexit.

In contrast to the United Kingdom as a whole, the majority of Scots actually voted to remain inside the European Union.

By proxy, “Jessica Jones“ star Tennant called Trump a “wiggy slice,” “weapons-grade plum” and “ludicrous tangerine ball bag” in the segment that aired Monday.

 

(13) HOWARD DAYS. Keith West delivers a “Report on Howard Days 2016” at Adventures Fantastic.

Howard Days has grown, something that was emphasized since this year marked the 30th anniversary of the first Howard Days.  While things officially don’t start until Friday, people are showing up on Wednesday evenings.  Space is becoming a consideration, with events this year moved from the library to the high school auditorium or the Senior Center across the street from the library.  There were a number of new attendees, which is always a healthy thing for an event, and I’m not referring the 10,000 or so mosquitoes that showed up.There were multiple anniversaries, such as the first Frazetta cover on a Lancer paperback and both the publication and film version of Novalyne Price Ellis’s memoir, One Who Walked Alone (filmed as The Whole Wide World).

There have been some excellent reports on the 2016 Howard Days, such as this one by Lee Breakiron and this one by David Piske.  Also, Ben Friberg has uploaded Mark Finn’s interview with guest Michael Scott Myers and the boxing panel to YouTube.  I expect there will be more videos coming.  I’ll not repeat what they’ve said, especially since I don’t trust my memory on some of the details and didn’t make some of the panels that they did.  Rather I’ll focus on some personal highlights…..

(14) ENCELADUS. Scientific American discusses why “Excitement Builds for the Possibility of Life on Enceladus”.

Saturn’s frozen moon Enceladus is a tantalizing world—many scientists are increasingly convinced it may be the best place in our solar system to search for life. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, currently orbiting Saturn, has made intriguing observations of icy jets spewing from a suspected underground liquid ocean on the mysterious world that might be hospitable to alien life.

Cassini’s tour is due to wind down in 2017, and scientists badly want to send a dedicated mission to Enceladus to look for signs of life. In fact, some have already started seriously thinking about exactly how they might do this—including planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, who is the imaging team leader for Cassini. Earlier this month, she gathered a group of researchers including oceanographers, organic chemists and astrobiologists at the University of California, Berkeley, to strategize how to search for extraterrestrials on Enceladus—which, according to Porco, “is a total bitch of a problem to solve.”

Although Enceladus is small in size and shrouded in a thick shell of ice, it appears to be a habitable world: It has a source of energy from friction created by its orbit around Saturn, organic compounds that are building blocks for life and a liquid water ocean underneath all that ice. But just because Enceladus may be hospitable to life does not mean life exists there; it will take much more work to definitively prove it.

(15) TEACHING WITH COMICS. San Diego Comic-Con International has teamed up with the San Diego Public Library to host a free four-day “Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians” from July 20-23.

This first-of-its-kind educational conference will take place during Comic-Con, and will explore the role comics play in promoting education and literacy for all ages.

Library professionals and educators are invited to this free event to learn creative and exciting ways to incorporate comics and graphic novels into their work. Through presentations and panel discussions, the conference aims to engage the community, promote comics as a powerful tool for learning, and celebrate the medium as an important literary art form. The Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians is also an opportunity for attendees to connect and dialogue with publishers and industry professionals.

The Conference will be located in the Shiley Special Events Suite on the ninth floor of the San Diego Central Library. Each day of the Conference will have different themes….

The conference is free to attend, but space is limited and registration is required for each day. Comic-Con badge-holders with valid single same-day or four-day badges are welcome to attend and are not required to register. Further details about the Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians will be provided for registrants in the coming weeks.

(16) THE TWINKIE OFFENSE. “The World’s Oldest Twinkie” is has spent 40 years on display at a Maine school.

Bennatti had students buy a package of Twinkies from a nearby store during a 1976 lesson on food additives and shelf life. He placed the Twinkie on the blackboard for the class to observe, and there it remained until Bennatti retired in 2004 and passed custody of the aging snack cake to Rosemeier, who placed it in a case in her office.

(17) HOYT SERIES. Jeb Kinnison has kind words for “Sarah Hoyt’s Through Fire – Darkship Book 4”.

Through Fire, Book 4 in Sarah Hoyt’s Darkship series, came out last month and I bought it immediately, but despite its can’t-put-it-down action, I had to put it down until this week.

It’s a fine entry in the series, plunging us into action on the Seacity Liberté, which unlike the last book in the series I read, A Few Good Men (review here) is dominated by French cultural influences, with the rebellion set in motion in the first scene modeled on the French Revolution and its Terror.

(18) LMB ON SELF-PUBLISHING. At Eight Ladies Writing,“Lois McMaster Bujold Answers Three Questions about Self-Publishing”, now that she’s self-pubbing increasingly large parts of her back-catalog, and her novellas.

LMB: I first had some e-publishing experiences starting in the early 00s with the e-books company Fictionwise (later to be bought out and terminated by B&N.) This was not self-pubbing; they just took my manuscript files, or in some cases made OCR files themselves of my older paper books, did everything else themselves, and sent me checks. (These were the selection of my books whose old contracts predated e-books, hence those rights were still mine.) Their sales were all through their own website. But for one very interesting statement, my Fictionwise backlist e-titles were for sale on or via Amazon, for which the maybe $500-to-$1000-a-quarter they’d been jointly clearing shot up seven-fold, which riveted my attention. But then that went away as mysteriously as it had arrived, for corporate reasons I never discovered….

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, Lisa Goldstein, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

File 770 Destroys Poetry

File 770 commenters changed rhymes sublime and took a beater to the metre in yesterday’s spontaneous parody party.

ULTRAGOTHA bites This Is Just To Say

This Is Just To Say
I have consumed
the pixels
that were in
the scroll

and which
you were probably
posting
for news

Forgive me
they were delectable
so interesting
and so bold

RedWombat plucks The Raven

Once upon a laptop blurry, while I pondered, weak and bleary,
Over many a quaint and curious pixel of forgotten scroll—
While I nodded, nearly Skyping, suddenly there came a typing,
As of some one faintly sniping, sniping at the pixel scroll.
“’Tis some commenter,” I muttered, “sniping at my pixel scroll—
Only this and nothing mo’.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was the month after December;
And each separate dying ember of a flame war guttered forth fifth.
Reluctantly I saw the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
More time for reading’s surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the loss of myth—
For the rare and radiant Hugo whom the fans award to myth—
No award for pups and kith.

Bruce Baugh capitalizes on e. e. cummings

pity this busy monster, fanunfandom,

not. Blogging is a comfortable disease:
your victim (news and comfort safely beyond)

plays with the postness of his his blogness
— electrons deify one new item
into a mountainrange; pingback extend
unwish through curving wherewhen till uncomment
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born — pity poor blogger

and dragons, poor brackets and reviews, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We commenters know
a hopeless case if — listen: there’s a hell
of a good blog next door; let’s go

Jim Henley destroys a Basho haiku

Vile hive
A scroll drops in
Without a pixel

Kip W changes the stripes on The Tyger

Pyxel! Pyxel! Scrolling fast
In the hives of columns past!
What dread buttons, what dread fans,
Dare dight the thoughts your maker scans!

RedWombat dismounts a Kobayashi Issa haiku

O Pixel!
Climb Mt. File 770
But slowly, slowly.

bloodstone75 carries off The Red Wheelbarrow

So much depends
upon

a fine scrolled
pixel

glazed with troll
nonsense

beside the cruel
brackets

Kip W disassembles Naming of Parts

Today we have scrolling of pixels. Yesterday,
We had spaceship coveting. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have several cascades of puns. But to-day,
To-day we have scrolling of pixels.

Bruce Baugh condenses Prufrock

In the dealer room the SJWs come and go
Speaking of Scalzi and of Hugo
I do not think they will vote for me.

Jonathan Edelstein sabers The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a scroll, half a scroll
Onward to destiny;
All in the valley of trolls
Wrote the sev’n seventy.
“Essays by Beale I spy!
Time for some snark,” say I:
Into the valley of trolls
Wrote the sev’n seventy.

Puppies are here to stay:
Greet they that with dismay?
Not though they see today
Months more of enmity:
Theirs not to look for sense,
Theirs but to make defense,
Guarding an art immense,
Into the valley of trolls
Wrote the sev’n seventy.

Puppies to right of them,
Puppies to left of them,
Puppies in front of them
Thunder’d unpleasantly:
Storm’d at with insults vile
Stood they with wit and style,
Into the culture wars,
There at the Hugos’ doors
Wrote the sev’n seventy.

Flash’d all their keystrokes swift
Flash’d as they gave short shrift
To those who spurn’d the gift
Cleaning the slate of them
And then, incredibly,
Once silent, they were now
Join’d by a common vow;
Sads and the Rabids
Reel’d from the ballots cast
Driven to entropy:
They were not overwhelmed
Not the sev’n seventy.

Puppies to right of them,
Puppies to left of them,
Puppies behind them
Thunder’d unpleasantly:
Label’d and curs’d apace
Stood they with wit and grace:
They that had won the race
Came thro’ with no awards
Back to the art’s embrace
Now even more of them
More than sev’n seventy.

When can their glory fade?
O the defense they made!
And again presently:
As Rabids now crusade
Honor the fan brigade:
Noble sev’n seventy!

Cally fires a clip at Hiawatha, on the way to Jerusalem

By the shores of the Pacific,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water
Scroll the pixels of Mike Glyer
Host of File 770, Glyer.

***

And did those scrolls in pixeled times
Talk about Fandom’s hopes and dreams?
And were the fans, and authors too,
On Worldcon’s pleasant panels seen?

And did the Hugo winners float
The rest of Worldcon on a cloud?
And Hugo losers truly say
The nomination made them proud?

Bring me my nomination form!
Bring me my list of what I love!
Let no one tell me how to vote;
My socks will orbit up above!

I will not yield to childish taunts,
Nor let a slate make choices less.
And we shall celebrate the works
That Worldcon fans think are the best!

Jim Henley destroys The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Some for the pixels of this scroll; and some
Sigh for the bracket tournaments to come;
Ah, take the filk and let the facecloths go,
Nor heed the rumble of the slates to come.

–From The Rubaiyat of Camestros Felapton.

ULTRAGOTHA immures Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a Hugo,
That sends the frozen-distain to destroy it,
And scoffs at the stories writ by Other,
And misconstrues even clear basic prose.
The work of puppies is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one word upon a word,
But they would beat the dinosaur with a tire iron,
To please the yelping dogs. The awards I mean,
Puppies have not created them or helped them become,
But at spring nominating-time we find them ripped apart.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to read the stories
And love the prose within covers once again.
We share the books between us as we go.
To each the narrative joy that has fallen to each.
And some are flash and some so nearly epics
We have to use a spell to set them right:
‘Stay as you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our eyes sore with reading them.
Oh, just another kind of well-loved game,
With no sides. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the Hugo:
He is all Fantasy and I am Military Fiction.
My Ray Guns will never fire across
And lay waste the magic in his books, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good genre make good neighbors’.

Ultra Frost

Camestros Felapton toots Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

Childe Pixel to the Dark Scroll Came – with apologies to Robert Browning

MY first thought was, he lied in every word,
That hoary blogger, with malicious eye
Askance to watch the working of his lie
On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford
Suppression of the glee, that pix’ld and scroll’d
Its edge, at one more victim gain’d thereby.

What else should he be set for, with his posts?
What, save to waylay with his lies, ensnare
All fannish-readers who might find him posting there,
And ask the net? I guess’d what skull-like laugh
Would break, what crutch ’gin write my epitaph
For pastime in that dusty cyberwar,

If at his counsel I should turn aside
Into that ominous tract which, all agree,
Hides the Dark Scroll. Yet acquiescingly
I did turn as he pointed: neither pride
Nor hope rekindling at the end descried,
So much as gladness that some end might be.

For, what with my whole world-wide-web wandering,
What with my search drawn out thro’ years, my hope
Dwindled into a ghost not fit to cope
With that obstreperous joy success would bring,—
I hardly tried now to rebuke the spring
My heart made, finding failure in its scope.

There the filers stood, ranged along the hill-sides, met
To view the last of me, a living frame
For one more comment! in a sheet of flame
I saw them and I knew them all. And yet
Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set,
And blew “Childe Pixel to the Dark Scroll came.”

Camestros Felapton plows under Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

An Australian’s Elegy on a US Blog Comment Section (with apologies to Thomas Gray)

The Glyer scrolls the pixel of the parting day,
The filking herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The comments homeward plod their weary way,
And leaves half the world to darkness and to me.

Kyra rolls up The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

The Lovescroll of J. Alfred Pixel

Let us scroll then, you and I,
Where the pixels are spread out before the eye
Like a screenshot rasterized in nested tables;
Let us link to certain half-demented posts,
And make nostalgic toasts
To restless nights in three-night con hotels
And xeroxed RPGs with broken spells
(Spells that always cause a tedious argument
About authorial intent
And lead you to an underwhelming session —
So do not ask, “How’s that work?”
Just accept it’s mostly hackwork.)

In the scroll the pixels come and go
Talking of Attanasio.

The shallow blog that made a linkback to the Windows screen,
The shallow troll that tried to puzzle out the Windows screen,
Flicked its post into the corners of the comments,
Lingered so it could afterwards complain,
Attempted to backtrack the statements it had uttered,
Slipped in an insult, made a sudden pounce,
And seeing that it was trapped in moderation,
Snarled once about the host, and did a flounce.

After that, there is downtime
From the shallow troll that slides along the blog,
Rubbing its ick upon the Windows screen;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a post to meet the filers that you meet;
There will be time to edit and create,
And time for all the filks for all the fans
That lift and drop a poem on your plate;
Time for you and time for me —
Five minutes for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the finish of the post you see.

In the scroll the pixels come and go
Talking of Sergey Lukyanenko.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Did that rhyme?” and, “Was that worse?”
Time to look back and to soundly curse
At the lame spot in the middle of my verse —
(They will say: “How the verse is past its prime!”)
My meter and my word choice hewing strictly to the rhyme,
My subject apropos with substitutions made at fitting times —
(They will say: “A self-indulgent waste of time!”)
Do I dare
Disturb this classic verse?
In five minutes there’s no time
For decisions and revisions, and past that there’s no reverse.

For I have scrolled them all already, scrolled them all:
Have scrolled in evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my energy in spoons;
I have seen attack ships dying with a dying flare
Above the shoulder of a larger meme
(And glittering C-beams.)

For I have read the books already, read them all—
Books that transfix you with a fascinating phrase,
And when I am fascinated, reading through LeGuin,
When I am pinned and marveling at it all,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all my counterfeit and skim-milk filk?
And how should I presume?

And I have seen the films already, seen them all—
Films that are magical and finely wrought
(But in the daylight, full of holes in plot.)
Are there spoilers I have seen
Disguised in rot13?
Films that spin a timeless fable with a slanted starting crawl..
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dawn through SF brackets
And watched the votes that come out with the gripes
Of grumpy fans with Feelings, raving about God Stalk? …

I should have banned anthologies, because.
I should have crowdsourced long before round three.

And the pixel scroll, the comments, blog so peacefully!
Smoothed by Mike Glyer,
Relaxed … soothing … or do they tire,
Stretching the page, typed out by you and me.
Do I, as I feel my zeal diminish,
Have the strength to force this filking to the finish?
For though I have tried to keep myself inspired,
Though I have seen my rhymes (grown slightly weak) grow longer with each posting,
I am no poet, and make no great boasting;
I have seen the moment of my bedtime nearing,
And I have seen a comfy blanket temptingly appearing,
And in short, I’m really tired.

bloodstone75 multiplies Sonnet 18

Sonnet 770

Shall I compare this to a nutty tale?
Thou art too pink and poofy in thy prose.
Oh dear, thy hero isn’t even male;
Why must thee push thy dogma up my nose?

Sometime too loud the message fiction shrills
And often is thy plotting sadly dim
In service to thy listing of the ills
That needs must always stem from He and Him.

No, thy eternal grievance shall not fade
Nor wilt thou cease from ruining the gen’re,
‘Til ev’ry con and imprint you invade
Be stripped of fun and manliness and hon’r.

So long as men can type, thine eyes will frown,
And thou wilt work to keep the straight man down.

Kip W. tackles Tichborne’s Elegy

My scroll of pixels is but a flash of suns,
My slate of tales is but a mess of mutts,
My hive of wits is but a mash of puns,
And all my squirreling is but food for nuts;
The game is on, yet I did not pass Go,
And now I tell you what I do not show.

My thread is over, but yet it was not run,
My bows were taken, yet no curtain fell,
My jokes were told, but only half in fun,
And my Farmers did not come from Dell;
The game runs still, over top and below,
And now I tell you, and now you know.

I sought for life and found it on the page,
I looked for laughs and found them in the posts,
I tried to rhyme, for it was all the rage,
And now I’m haunted by great poets’ ghosts;
The glass is crack’d, and out the verses flow,
You’ve told me yours; here’s my quid pro quo.

Jim Henley plays Abbot to Elvis Costello

Welcome to the Pixel Scroll

Now that your fifth is in the roundup being SFnally admired and you can
troll anyone that you have ever desired
All you gotta tell me now is why why why why

Welcome to the pixel scroll
Oh I know that we file ya
because we are vile yeah
Welcome to the pixel scroll
The way it’s dated maybe grated
but at least it’s not slated

We wish our favorites somehow could have survived
Hartwell and Bowie maybe both might still arrive
along with Alan Rickman, and give us all high fives

Welcome to the pixel scroll
Oh I know that we file ya
because we are vile yeah
Welcome to the pixel scroll
The way it’s dated maybe grated
but at least it’s not slated

I heard you sayin’ even Puppies are fine
if they talk about their favorite books
Spend all your money on your TBR
cause you can’t resist the impulse to look

Sometimes I wonder who is really a Trufan
Why’d I break your bracket-heart when I
Rejected miniseries out of hand

Welcome to the pixel scroll
Oh I Welcome to the pixel scroll

Oh, The Brackets We’ll See!

Happy Birthday File 770 THUMBCooling wellsprings of fun scattered throughout the summer of 2015, Kyra’s polls were especially delightful because they were a game we could play with books!

Novels on her community-sourced lists would be paired against each other — how did the dice know which pairings could produce the maximum angst, forcing fans to pick between two favorites? The winners advanced through the brackets, the results of each heat delivered with Kyra’s humorous commentary, until we knew which work had been crowned The Best by File 770 commenters.

Here are the results of her first four polls.

20th-century Science Fiction

A conversation I remember vividly.

I don’t remember the exact age I was, but I know from the circumstances I had to be 12 years old or younger. I was talking about books with a friend of the family who was, I think, in her twenties. The talk turned to Ursula K. Le Guin.

I had discovered Le Guin, as I suspect many did, through the EarthSea books. I had gone on to read a great deal more. By that point, Three Hainish Novels. The Lathe of Heaven. The Compass Rose. The Wind’s Twelve Quarters. The Dispossessed. And The Left Hand of Darkness.

But, I confessed during this conversation, I didn’t think I had really understood The Left Hand of Darkness. I didn’t get it. Something in it was opaque to me.

“Well,” the friend of the family asked me, “Have you ever been in love?”

“What?” I said. “I, um, well. I don’t think so. No.”

“Read it again after you fall in love,” she advised.

So, some years later, I did.

Oh.

 

  • WINNER: Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness – 31 votes
  • Mary Shelley: Frankenstein – 15 votes

 

The winner of the Brackett bracket is The Left Hand of Darkness. The book is awarded this lovely pair of brackets: [ ], suitable for framing or using in its text. The decision was made by the most reliable metric currently known – 31 people on the internet.

(And in my opinion, they have chosen well.)

 

20th-century Fantasy

[In this poll, Kyra tested her theory that The Lord of the Rings would defeat all challengers.]

Lord of the Rings

  • WINNER: The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien – 38
  • The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin – 36

Tombs of Atuan

  • WINNER: The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien – 36
  • Small Gods, Terry Pratchett – 35

small-gods

  • WINNER: The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien – 37
  • The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle – 34

Last_unicorn_hb

  • WINNER: The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien – 44
  • Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny – 27

nine princes in amber

Tolkien is the WINNER, AND STILL CHAMPEEN in all pairings, although in one of them it was by one vote, in one by two votes, and in one by three votes.

(The voting patterns that gave these results suggest to me — although they by no means prove — that the three-way battle of the previous round, in which Small Gods and The Tombs of Atuan tied and The Last Unicorn came in a very close second, was not, in particular, the result of vote-splitting; people here really do seem to favor those works in almost equal numbers.)

And there you have it. Once again, a double digit number of people on the internet has registered its clearly immutable judgment! The Lord of the Rings shall receive this lovely pair of brackets: [ ], suitable for framing or using in its text.

 

21st-century Fantasy

  • WINNER: The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison – 28 votes
  • Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold – 23 votes

And the winner is Katherine Addison’s tale of victory through kindness, bridge-building both literal and idiomatic, political intrigue, and confusing names. Nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards, winner of the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and now winner of this lovely pair of brackets:

[ ]

suitable for framing or incorporating into its text. We welcome it to the ranks of previous bracket winners, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.

 

21st-century Science Fiction

And, in an extremely shocking conclusion that no one could have … nah, just kidding, it was totally Ancillary Justice:

 

  1. MILES, MILLENARIAN MATHS, AND MULTIPLE MIANAAI
  • WINNER: Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie – 32 votes
  • Anathem, Neal Stephenson – 8 votes
  • Diplomatic Immunity, Lois McMaster Bujold – 3 votes

And who is the second place winner? Removing AJ and distributing its votes to the second-place options, we get:

  • 2nd Place: Diplomatic Immunity, Lois McMaster Bujold – 19 votes
  • Anathem, Neal Stephenson – 18 votes

An EXTREMELY close contest, but by the merest of hairs Bujold wins second place in what proved to be an uneven contest of Ancillary Justice Vs. Everyone Else.

 

 

Other Filers have followed her model and run polls on other topics. I plan to do a post on theirs next week.

  • The Alternate Universe 2015 Hugo Best Novel Organised by JJ
  • Rory Root Memorial Comics Bracket Curated by David Goldfarb
  • Live-Action TV Tournament/Brackets Curated by Jim Henley
  • Fantasy Movie Bracket Curated by Hampus Eckerman
  • Science Fiction Movie Bracket Curated by Hampus Eckerman

Pixel Scroll 12/10 Plan Whine from Outer Space

(1) SPOILERS SPOIL. You know this. “Spoiler alert: Story spoilers can hurt entertainment” at EurekAlert.

While many rabid fans may have scratched their heads when a 2011 study showed that spoilers could improve story enjoyment, a recent experiment, conducted by researchers Benjamin Johnson (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and Judith Rosenbaum (Albany State University), shows that narrative spoilers can ruin a story. Their findings show that spoilers reduce people’s entertainment experiences.

“Our study is the first to show that people’s widespread beliefs about spoilers being harmful are actually well-founded and not a myth,” says Johnson. Furthermore, in a follow-up study, Johnson and Rosenbaum found that the effects of spoilers are actually linked to people’s personality traits. Johnson: “While the worry and anger expressed by many media users about ‘spoilers’ in online discussions or reviews is not completely unfounded, fans should examine themselves before they get worked up about an unexpected spoiler.”

(2) DOCTOR VISITS HOSPITAL. Radio Times has a heartwarming video — “Peter Capaldi surprises young Doctor Who fan in hospital, stays in character the whole time”.

“There’s a new Doctor on the ward and it’s me…”

 

https://twitter.com/BadWilf/status/674283494982492160

(3) SATURDAY SIGNING IN GLENDALE. Mystery and Imagination Bookshop‘s Christine Bell says “Call it a mini HORROR SLAM.” This Saturday at 2 p.m. in the store’s upstairs room, Peter Atkins and Dennis Etchison will read a couple of stories, talk about writing, take questions, and sign books.

Oh, the wonderfulness of being famous literary smart guys. Could this be the start of a new Saturday afternoon tradition? It’s all free and it won’t hurt a bit. After that it’ll still be daylight, so…Porto’s is just across the street! I mean, really, what more could you ask for? See you there?

The address is Mystery and Imagination & Bookfellows Bookshops at 238 N. Brand Blvd.

(4) RETRO REVIEWS. Steve Davidson has the latest installment of “Scide Splitters: 1941 Retro Hugo Eligible Novelettes” posted at Amazing Stories, which focuses on humorous stories such as “Butyl and the Breather” by Theodore Sturgeon (Astounding Science-Fiction, October 1940).

Although this story can be read as a stand-alone, it is a sequel to Sturgeon’s 1939 short, “Ether Breather,” and I do think it is more enjoyable if you read that one first.

Ted Hamilton, a writer and central character in the original story, still feels guilty that about telling the Ether Breather to stop messing up color television. It has been a year since the incident and the Breather has refused to respond to any attempts to contact it. Mr. Berbelot, perfume tycoon and television hobbyist, is still mad at Hamilton for exactly that incident and refuses to speak to him. But Hamilton has come up with an idea to get the Breather to respond and Berbelot reluctantly agrees to hear him out.

(5) BROOKS OBIT. Actor Martin E. Brooks died December 7 at the age of 90. Brooks played scientist Dr. Rudy Wells in two 1970s TV series, Six Million Dollar Man and its spinoff, The Bionic Woman.

His other genre work included episodes of The Wild Wild West (1967), Night Gallery (1971), Planet of the Apes (1974 – I’d managed to forget this was also a TV series), and Airwolf (1985).

He also was in the movies Colossus: The Forbin Project, T-Force, and TV’s Bionic Ever After?

While Brooks probably didn’t think he was ending his career at the time, IMDB shows his last role was symbolically the “Man thrown off the roof” in Street Gun (1996).

(6) A NOT-STUPID. Ethan Mills at Examined Worlds poses the philosophical question “Is Violence the Answer” in “Like Avatar, but Not Stupid: The Word for World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin”.

Okay, Ursula Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest is actually not that much like Avatar, but there are similarities.  Some militaristic Terrans come to steal resources from a forest planet inhabited by small, furry humanoids called Athsheans.  The Athsheans end up fighting the technologically superior but numerically inferior Terrans.  There’s a Terran anthropologist who comes to almost understand the Athsheans (but he doesn’t quite go full Avatar). One of the villages of the furry guerrillas fighting an imperial power is called Endtor.  Maybe George Lucas owes Le Guin some royalties, not just James Cameron. But as an American book published in 1972, the real background seems to be the war in Vietnam.

(7) BLOOM NOMINATED. Rachel Bloom is a Golden Globes nominee for her work on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Ray Bradbury would be thrilled.

(8) THE XANATOS QUESTION. Larry Correia put his spin on last night’s game show reference to Puppygate:  “Sad Puppies: The Hugos Lost On Jeopardy”.

Some Puppy supporters didn’t like how it was phrased, with “scandal” having negative implications. Personally, I like it. Especially the part where they used “Rocked”. Damn right. Rocked you like a hurricane. The scandal was the part where the CHORFs ran a lying media smear campaign, and handed out wooden butt holes, while block voting No Award to keep out barbarian Wrongfans having Wrongfun.

(9) PUPPY TIME. And coincidentally, at Mad Genius Club Kate Paulk has declared “It’s Time”.

Because yes, it is time to start Sad Puppies 4 in Earnest. And Houston. And Philadelphia. And Back-o-Beyond. You get the idea.

Nominations will open in January 2016, and probably close in March (the closing date hasn’t been officially announced). I’m planning to have The List posted mid to late February (depending, as always, on just how feral my work schedule happens to be). Recommendations have been trickling in, but we need more. MOAR!

(10) WRIGHT IN. John C. Wright, commenting on Vox Day’s post about Jeopardy!, told the Dread Ilk he is prepared to make the sacrifice of being a multiple Hugo-nominee again in 2016.

“Does anybody know if Wright is willing to be a lightening rod again? “

Lightning rod for the sputtering sparks of CHORF energy? I get a bigger shock from petting the cat on a dry day after rubbing my stocking feet on the carpet. I was pleased in a dark and evil way to see the Morlocks burn their own cities rather than allow me be elected mayor. I would have been MORE pleased had he Hugo Awards kept even a modicum of decency and honesty, and actually received the awards I earned, but I cannot expect powerdrunk patheticos to give up on power. I did not expect schoolboy wooden anus jokes, however. That was pathetic. Numbers wise, I am not sure if we can sweep the nominations again, but I would like to see the Hugos either returned to the old worth, or destroyed utterly. Leaving them in the clammy webbed hands of Christ-hating America-hating, Science-hating, Literature-hating Morlocks is unimaginable to me.

(11) HAN TALKS CHEWIE DOWN. Must have missed this in November  — Harrison Ford settled his feud with Chewbacca on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

(12) IN MEMORY YET GREEN. Chris Taylor analyzes “How Star Wars Conquered the Galaxy: The economic power of the greatest movie franchise ever” at Reason.com.

…Even before the December release of The Force Awakens, the Star Wars franchise pulled in an estimated $42 billion total in box office, DVD sales and rentals, video games, books, and related merchandise. And that’s just the amount flowing into officially sanctioned channels; the unofficial, unlicensed Star Wars economy has generated untold billions more.

Some $32 billion of that staggering revenue was derived from physical stuff rather than an audio-visual experience. Like Davy Crockett, the Star Wars universe made its biggest economic impact in the realm of merchandise—clothing, accessories, food and drink, housewares (Darth Vader toaster, anyone?), and especially toys. But unlike Walt Disney, George Lucas devised a way to pocket much of that money himself. That helped buy editorial freedom, which helped this obsessive creative make the rest of his movies how he saw fit, for good and ill, until Disney bought the rights to the franchise in 2012 for $4.06 billion. Lucas and Star Wars created a category of economic activity that previously did not exist, and in so doing forever changed the face of entertainment….

(13) FOUNTAIN OF LOOT. Here’s some of that Star Wars merchandise – a series of fountain pens that sell for $575 apiece. Jon Bemis tells why he’s a happy customer in his review “Why I Bought the Cross Townsend Star Wars Limited Edition Fountain Pens” at The Pen Addict.

…While it looks like a standard brass pen body from a distance, close up the C-3PO is fluent in over six million forms of beautiful. It is gold (of course) and covered with accent lines recalling the curves and circles etched on Threepio himself. The clip is centered in a ring of concentric circles like those in the center of the protocol droids chest, and the caps finial looks like his eye….

 

C3PO style Cross pen.

C3PO style Cross pen.

(14) JUST PLAIN BILL. The Captain of the Enterprise is still out there hustling every day, too. Vulture has a new interview with William Shatner, who is hard at work marketing Priceline. He talks about his new book project and tells a Nimoy story he says he’s never told before.

What’s a piece of science you’ve come across lately that was particularly interesting to you?

I’m writing a novel with a writer named Jeff Rovin that will be out next year called Zero-G, and I suggested we use something in it that I had read about. I read that microbial life dries up and seems to be dead and then, with the addition of water thousands of years later, can come back to life. That’s astonishing. Thousands of years! These are scientific concepts so mysterious that they beggar our imagination. I saw a photograph yesterday of a black hole absorbing a star, and it burped energy back out! A black hole cosmic-burped dust out the other way! What is more intriguing than that? Perhaps a good pasta.

(15) SMACK BACK. For those who are fed up with Kirk there’s an alarming site — Slapkirk.com – that lets users control an animation of Kirk slapping himself, and with a kind of slap-o-meter that tracks how many slaps have been delivered, at what rate per second. Those who get it going fast enough are rewarded with the “Red Alert” sound effect…

(16) MUTANT TRAILER. A trailer is out for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, coming to theaters June 3, 2016.

(17) LET KYRA EXPLAIN. Kyra’s comment makes the taxonomy of fantasy fiction as clear as is the summer sun...

Look, it’s very simple —

Urban Fantasy: Fantasy set in a city
High Fantasy: Fantasy set in the mountains
Low Fantasy: Fantasy set in the Netherlands
Fantasy of Manners: Fantasy set in manors
Epic Fantasy: Fantasy in the form of a lengthy narrative poem
Fairy Tale Fantasy: Fantasy about fairies with tails
Science Fantasy: Science fiction but there’s an annoying pedant in the seat behind you saying that it’s fantasy because FTL travel isn’t real plus the Force, what about that
Sword and Sorcery: The party must include a magic user, a cleric, a fighter, and a thief
Weird Fiction: Like, the characters know they’re in a book and some of the text is upside down and stuff like that
Steampunk: Everyone has cybernetic enhancements but get this, they’re CLOCKWORK
Dieselpunk: Like Steampunk, but the cybernetic enhancements require diesel fuel
Mythpunk: Like Steampunk, but the cybernetic enhancements have tiny gods in them
Grimdark: When the superheroes change their costumes so that now they’re in dark colors, weird
Magic Realism: Like when your aunt actually believes that if you put the knife under the crystal pyramid, it will totally get sharper
Paranormal Romance: Fantasy with naughty bits
Young Adult Fantasy: One of the above genres marketed to a group that will actually buy it

See? Easy.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/9 The Flounce On The Doorstep

(1) MST3K+PO. Patton Oswalt has agreed to join Mystery Science Theater 3000 as the Forrester’s newest Evil Henchman, TV’s Son of TV’s Frank. Joel Hodgson explains:

I first became aware of Patton around fourteen years ago, when he was doing “commentary” for the MTV Awards – live in the room during the event! I realized right away he was a kindred spirit, and damn funny too. Since then, obviously, he’s bloomed into this amazing comedy/internet dynamo, and I’ve gotta tell you: I’ve seen a lot of stand-ups over the years, but – no lie – Patton really is one of the best ever. And just as important, he’s a very fun, articulate and witty soul – just the kind of person who we’ve always tried to bring onboard for MST3K.

That’s probably why, when I started putting together my dream roster of special “guest writers” for the next season of MST3K, the idea of Patton kept coming back to me. I knew he was a Mystery Science Theater fan from way back – he even moderated our 20th Anniversary Reunion panel at San Diego Comic-Con)–and I thought he’d be terrific at writing riffs. Then I started to wonder if he might be a good fit on camera, too.

Remember last week, how I said my creative process usually starts with visuals, and then I work backward? Well, in this case, I first imagined Patton dressed up like TV’s Frank. I figured maybe he’d be Frank’s son, or at least a clone. But yeah: the idea of Patton wearing black lab assistant’s garb, with a big mound of silver hair and a spitcurl…? It was just really funny to me, in a visual / cross-referential / meta kind of way.

(2) HIGH CASTLE. Marc Haefele, once the editor for some of Philip K. Dick’s later books from Doubleday, praised Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle on an NPR affiliate’s show “Off-Ramp.” BEWARE MINOR SPOILERS.

Juliana (Alexa Davalos) — Frink’s estranged wife in the book, his girlfriend in the series — was that rarest of Dick characters, a strong, positive, effective woman. She is even more so on the screen. The substitution of various film reels for the original fictional novel McGuffin generally works, albeit there seem to be a few too many abandoned operating 16 mm projectors left around.

And there are some clunkers. Like when the Nazi elevated monorail from which-side-is-he-on Nazi/underground operative Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) descends bears the label “U-Bahn.” Whoops, that’s a subway folks. The elevated is an “S-Bahn.” Or why is “Mack the Knife,” a song by a Communist  (Bertolt Brecht) and a Jew (Kurt Weill), being  sung at an otherwise terrifyingly well-imagined Aryan Victory Day picnic in occupied Long Island?

(3) BEST STAR WARS MOVIE. Michael J. Martinez marches on: his Star Wars rewatch has reached movie #5 — “Star Wars wayback machine: The Empire Strikes Back”.

In this rewatch, we have the crown jewel of the entire saga: The Empire Strikes Back. Pretty much everything we love about Star Wars is front-and-center here, and this one stands up to the test of time as well as any classic film you can think of. Yes, it’s as good as I remembered.

(4) FICTIONAL HISTORY. Jonathan Nield delivers “A defense of historical fiction” at Pornokitsch.

…Perhaps this introduction may be most fitly concluded by something in the nature of apology for Historical Romance itself. Not only has fault been found with the deficiencies of unskilled authors in that department, but the question has been asked by one or two critics of standing – What right has the Historical Novel to exist at all? More often than not, it is pointed out, the Romancist gives us a mass of inaccuracies, which, while they mislead the ignorant (i.e., the majority?), are an unpardonable offence to the historically-minded reader. Moreover, the writer of such Fiction, though he be a Thackeray or a Scott, cannot surmount barriers which are not merely hard to scale, but absolutely impassable. The spirit of a period is like the selfhood of a human being – something that cannot be handed on; try as we may, it is impossible for us to breathe the atmosphere of a bygone time, since all those thousand-and-one details which went to the building up of both individual and general experience, can never be reproduced….

(5) RIDING HIGH IN APRIL, SHOT DOWN IN MAY. We all have those days.

(6) BURSTEIN IN TRANSLATION. Michael A. Burstein had a short story in a recent issue of the Chinese prozine Science Fiction World.

I am pleased to announce that my short story “The Soldier WIthin” has been translated and published in the November 2015 issue of [Chinese characters]. (In English, the magazine is known as Science Fiction World.) This is my first time having a story translated into Chinese or published in China. I’d like to thank Joe Haldeman for having purchased the story for the anthology Future Weapons of War back in 2007, and the editor of SF World, Dang Xiaoyu (I hope I have that right), for choosing to reprint the story .

In theory, this means the story will be read by approximately 1 million people in China. That would make it the most widely read story of mine.

(7) THE BILLIONS NOBODY WANTED. Remember when no film buyers wanted Star Wars for their theater chains? Me neither. But several swear it happened in “’Star Wars’ Flashback: When No Theater Want to Show the Movie in 1977”, an article from The Hollywood Reporter.

LENIHAN I was 23 and booking country towns in Northern California for United Artists, which also owned the Coronet Theatre in San Francisco. I tease Travis all the time that the only time I ever won was when he picked The Deep for a theater in Redding, Calif., while I picked Star Wars. On opening day at the Coronet, there were lines around the block. It played there until Close Encounters of the Third Kind opened in December, and we were still hitting our holdover numbers.

(8) FAMOUS COSTUMES. The “Star Wars and the Power of Costume” exhibit will be moving to Denver where it will run from November 13, 2016-April 2, 2017.

Included in the show’s 60 costumes, which will be displayed in the museum’s Hamilton Building Anschutz and McCormick galleries, are such classics as Princess Leia’s bikini, Darth Vader’s menacing black uniform, and the royal red gown Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) wore in 1999’s ” Star Wars: Phanton Menace.”

In addition to featuring costumes and conceptual art, the exhibit includes videos with designers, actors and George Lucas talking about the creative process.

(9) UNHEARD OF. New York Magazine discovered it takes less than 90 seconds to repeat all the dialogue spoken by women other than Princess Leia in the entire original Star Wars trilogy.

(10) STAR CHOW. And if that doesn’t give you a case of Star Wars-related indigestion, here’s a couple more things to try.

You’ll need:
Donut holes
12 ounces white candy melts
Black icing
Blue icing
Orange Icing
Lollipop sticks

 

When it comes to setting up a holiday dinner table, why not make it more festive by incorporating Star Wars! Flavored butter can be made to be savory or sweet. Pumpkin Spice and Cranberry orange butters are warm and seasonal and taste great with breads and scones. Garlic Herb and Sriracha Lime have a kick that goes well with crackers and sandwiches made of leftovers.

By shaping them into stormtrooper helmets the butter becomes a unique and fun way to add Star Wars to your traditional holiday meal.

(11) HOLY ANDY WARHOL! Or failing that, an entire line of Campbell’s products in Star Wars-themed cans.

star wars campbell soup cans COMP

(12) HOUSE CALL. Should you need an antidote, try paging through Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook by Chris-Rachael Oseland.

Your taste buds are about to take a wibbly wobbly, timey wimey adventure through the 2005 Doctor Who reboot. Megafan and food writer Chris-Rachael Oseland spent a year rewatching all of series one through six and experimenting in her kitchen to bring you a fresh recipe for every single episode. There are recipes in here for every level of cook. If you’re terrified of the kitchen, there are things so simple even Micky the Idiot couldn’t get them wrong. For the experienced chefs, there are advanced fish and beef dishes that wouldn’t be amiss on the Starship Titanic. Along the way, you’ll also find plenty of edible aliens to decorate the table at your next Doctor Who viewing party.

This book is a treat for any Whovian who wants to offer more than a plate of fish fingers and a bowl of custard at your next viewing party. Want to host an elegant dinner party to show off your new Tardis corset? Start the evening with a Two Streams Garden Cocktail followed by Baked Hath, Marble Cucumber Circuits with Vesuvian Fire Dipping Sauce, Professor Yana’s Gluten Neutrino Map Binder, Slitheen Eggs, and some of Kazran’s Night Sky Fog Cups for dessert.

(13) PARODY. Ed Fortune wrote and produced a homage to the world of sci-fi fandom called This Is Not The Actor You Are Looking For, the story of an actor from a popular movie franchise with a confession to make.

(14) THEY MIGHT BE. The BFG official trailer #1. A girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kindhearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because unlike his peers refuses to eat boys and girls.

(15) INSTANT CLASSIC. Kyra’s lyrics to “Old Man Zombie”

Old man zombie,
That old man zombie,
He don’t say nothing
But won’t stop moving —
He just keeps shambling
He just keeps shambling along.

It might be fungal,
It might be viral,
We might be trapped in
A downward spiral,
But old man zombie
He just keeps shambling along.

You and me, we sweat and swear,
Body all aching and racked with fear,
Bar that door!
Hide that pit!
I wandered off alone
And I just got bit.

I’m infected
Your brain I’m eyeing,
I’m scared of living
And tired of dying,
I’m old man zombie
And just keep shambling along!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Josh Jasper.]

This Will Ring Your Chimes

The magnificent series of mashups in yesterday’s comments deserves to be collected in a post. Thanks to the incandescent Kyra and the sublime RedWombat, Simon Bisson, Jim Henley, and Camestros Felapton.

Kyra

“Dr. Suess’ Lord of the Rings”

I am Samwise. I am Samwise. Samwise I am-wise.

Samwise Gamgee! Samwise Gamgee! I do not like Samwise Gamgee!

Would you bear the ring with me?

I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee. I will not bear the ring with thee.

Would you bear the ring to Bree?

I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee.

Would you bear it to Weathertop, where ringwraiths stab you when we stop?

I won’t bear it to Weathertop if ringwraiths stab me when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee.

Would you bear it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell?

Not Rivendell, where elf-lords dwell. Nor Weathertop, stabbed when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee.

Would you? Could you? Through the Mine? (Gandalf will die, but he’ll be fine.)

I would not, could not, through the Mine.

You could bear it now and then. Maybe to Lothlórien!

I would not to Lothlórien. Nor through the Mine, no matter when! I won’t bear it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell. I won’t bear it to Weathertop if ringwraiths stab me when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee.

The Morgul Vale! The Morgul Vale! Would you, to the Morgul Vale?

Not to the Vale, Lothlórien, nor through the Mine, no matter when! I won’t bear it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell. I won’t bear it to Weathertop if ringwraiths stab me when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee.

Say! Past Shelob? Just past Shelob? Would you, could you, past Shelob?

I would not, could not, past Shelob.

Would you, could you in orc jail?

I would not, could not in orc jail, nor past Shelob, nor to the Vale, Lothlórien, or through the Mine. I won’t, and that’s the bottom line. Not Rivendell, nor Weathertop. Not where elves dwell or ringwraiths stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly.

You will not bear the ring with me?

I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee.

Could you, would you, to Mt. Doom?

I would not, could not to Mt. Doom!

To drop it in a lava flume?

I could not drop it in the flume! I will not take it to Mt. Doom. I will not take it to orc jail! Nor past Shelob! Nor through the Mine! Or to the Vale! I must decline! I won’t bear it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell. I won’t bear it to Weathertop If ringwraiths stab me when we stop. I will not bear the ring to Bree. I will not bear it willingly. I will not bear the ring with thee. I will not bear it, Sam Gamgee.

You will not bear it. So you say. Bear it! Bear it! Come what may. Bear it come what may, I say.

Samwise! If you let me be, I will bear it. You will see … Say! Gollum, with his nasty cough, just went and bit my finger off! Then fell right in the lava flume, after I bore it to Mt. Doom! And I bore it through the orc jail, and past Shelob, and through the Vale, Lothlórien, and in the Mine where Gandalf died (but then was fine). And I bore it to Rivendell, where Glorfindel and Elrond dwell. And I bore it to Weathertop, though ringwraiths stabbed me at that stop. And yes, I bore the ring to Bree. I bore that ring most willingly. I’m glad I bore that ring with thee! Thank you, thank you, Sam Gamgee!

 

Kyra

Middlemarch/Red Book of Westmarch

> “And if you replace taking the ring to Mordor in Lord Of the Rings with a young woman making an unsuitable marriage in a perhaps misguided effort to valourise the intellectual over the sensual, you get Middlemarch.”

Miss Undomiel had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Lúthien appeared to Gondorian painters; and her profile as well as her stature and bearing seemed to gain the more dignity from her plain garments, which by the side of provincial fashion gave her the impressiveness of a fine quotation from the Red Book of Westmarch,—or from one of our elder poets,—in a paragraph of to-day’s broadside …

 

Simon Bisson

“Melville’s Ring World (or The Big Dumb Object)”

Call me Louis Wu. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having far too much money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on Earth, I thought I would explore about a little and see the livable parts of Known Space. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before the organ banks, and snarling up at the face of every Kzinti I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to space as soon as I can. This is my substitute for wirehead and tasp. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the stars. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the skies with me.

 

RedWombat

A Tale of Two Empires

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was a more civilized age, it was a more barbaric age, it was long long ago, it was far far away, it was the season of Jedi, it was the season of Sith, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Coruscant, we were all going direct to Korriban–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

There were an emperor with a pointed jaw and a lord with a plastic face, on the throne of the Empire; there were an admiral with no jaw and a princess with a fair face, on the throne of the Rebellion. In both factions it was clearer than crystal that things in general were settled for ever and there would be no need for prequels ever again.

 

Red Wombat

Ring and Ringwraith

IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single hobbit in possession of the One Ring must be in want of a volcano.

However little known the feelings or views of such a hobbit may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding armies, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their squadrons.

“My dear Foultongue,” said his second to him one day, as he was roasting cave spiders over an open flame, “have you heard that the Ring is come to Mordor at last?”

Foultongue replied that he had not.

“But it is,” returned she; “for Urguk has just been here, and she told me all about it.”

Foultongue made no answer. His spider was nearly well-done.

“Do not you want to know who Is bearing it?” cried his second impatiently.

“You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”

(Presumably an excerpt of Ring and Ringwraith.  And I would be very surprised if no one had done it before.)

 

Jim Henley

“Dashiell Hammitt, Red Barkfest”

I first time heard Puppyville called Poopyville by a red-diapered SJW named Hickey Dewey in the con suite at Wiscon. He also called his butt a boot. I didn’t think anything of what he had done to the movement’s name. Later I heard fen who could manage their u’s give it the same pronunciation. I still didn’t see anything in it but the meaningless sort of humor that made richardsnary the nerd’s word for dictionary. A few years later I read Wisdom From My Internet and learned better.

–Dashiell Hammett, Red Barkfest.

 

Jim Henley

To Wound the Autumnal Fandom

So howled out for the in-crowd to give him an award.

The in-crowd answered with blogs.

All you know I know: tweeting astronauts and bank-clerks glancing at the Kindle during lunch; editors refreshing Facebook pages and gun shop owners wiping a thumbprint from a steel barrel; #blacklivesmatter; know that dark women in writers’ groups shook their heads last week because in six months award season has paled outlandishly; how bile tastes after you’ve read John C. Wright essays, sober, a whole month.

A whole month he slated, reader suggestions tucked in an iCloud folder (the unread one), listening to his friends mention recent publications.

–Samuel R. Delany, Dog-gren.

 

Camestros Felapton

1984

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him. “Wait – isn’t this a science fiction novel already?” he thought as he entered the hallway that smelt of boiled cabbage and old mats. “I thought the idea was to transpose SF/F novels onto classic literature” he pondered as he passed the huge coloured poster, too large for indoor display, that had been tacked to the wall. It depicted simply an enormous face, more than a metre wide: the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features.

Then he recalled the work he had done that day – excising the lies S.J.W. Goldstein had somehow snuck into the library catalogues of Oceania. He tried hard to focus on the today’s truth. 1984 was literary fiction not science fiction and always had been…

 

Simon Bisson

“Phlebas And Loathing In The Culture: Hunter M Thompson”

We were somewhere around Schar’s World on the edge of the Command System when the glands began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive. …” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the jump lane was full of what looked like huge GSVs, all swooping and screeching and diving around the ship, which was going about 100 times lightspeed in the grid with the top down to the Clear Air Turbulence. And a voice was screaming: “Minds! What are these goddamn knife missiles?”

Then it was quiet again. Kraiklyn had taken his shirt off and was pouring some liquor on his chest, to facilitate the hyperspace jump. “What the hell are you yelling about?” he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Idiran sunglasses. “Never mind,” I said. “It’s your turn to drive.” I hit the brakes and aimed the Very Fast Picket toward a convenient asteroid belt. No point mentioning those Ships, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.

 

Red Wombat

From H.P. Lovecraft’s Rebecca

Last night I dreamt I went to many-columned Y’ha-nthlei again. It seemed to me I stood by the dark reef leading to the sea, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There were scorch marks and torpedo holes upon Devil’s Reef. I called in my dream to my grandmother, and had no answer, and peering closer through the eldritch swirls of the water I saw that the reef was uninhabited. No Deep Ones swam from the cyclopean caverns, and the little tidepools gaped empty and forlorn. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the reef before me.

(Actually…you could totally rewrite Rebecca so that the dead wife is a Deep One and goaded her husband into shooting her when she realized that she was acquiring the Innsmouth Look…but the Venn diagram of overlaps for that particular audience is probably an infinitesimal sliver.)

 

Camestros Felapton

The Case of the Naked Sun by Sir Arthur Issac Asimov Doyle

On glancing over my notes of the seventy odd cases in which I have during the last eight years studied the methods of my friend Elijah Baley, I find many tragic, some comic, a large number merely strange, but none commonplace; for, working as he did rather for the love of his art than for the acquirement of wealth, he refused to associate himself with any investigation which did not tend towards the unusual, and even the fantastic. Of all these varied cases, however, I cannot recall any which presented more singular features than that which was associated with the well-known Spacer family of the Delmarres of Solaria. The events in question occurred in the later days of my association with Baley. It is possible that I might have placed them upon record before, but a promise of secrecy was made at the time, from which I have only been freed during the last month by the untimely death of the lady to whom the pledge was given. It is perhaps as well that the facts should now come to light, for I have reasons to know that there are widespread rumours as to the death of Dr. Rikaine Delmarre which tend to make the matter even more terrible than the truth.

 

Camestros Felapton

District Metamorphosis by Neil Blomkamp

Translated by Frans Kafka

One morning, when Wikus van de Merwe woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible alien ‘prawn’. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His mouth pedipalps, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.

“What’s happened to me?” he thought. It wasn’t a dream. His room, a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of relocation papers lay spread out on the table – Wikus was a manager at MNU – and above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame.