Pixel Scroll 7/11/16 The Coal Equations

(1) OH, PUH-LEEZE. Hoping to prove his superiority to his critics, Simon Pegg resorts to the Quantum Defense as he justifies a gay Sulu, in “A Word About Canon”

The main thrust for those who aren’t keen on our LGBT Sulu, seems to come down to two things. Firstly, why Sulu? It’s a good point, I mean it could have been anybody: Kirk is a pansexual fun seeker; who knows why Bones got divorced? Nobody said Spock and Uhura were exclusive; Chekov is just permanently horny and let’s face it, there’s more to Scotty and Keenser than meets the eye. The fact is, we chose Sulu because of George, there was something sweet and poetic about it. Introducing a new gay character had its own set of problems, as I mentioned before, the sexuality of that character would have to be addressed immediately and pointedly and the new characters in Star Trek Beyond have enough on their plate, without stopping to give us the intimate details of their personal lives. We were concerned it might seem clumsy, tokenistic or worse, too little too late, raising and exasperated, “finally!” from those who’ve been waiting for representation for the last 50 years.

So why persist when George Takei wasn’t keen? The thinking behind embracing an existing character was that it felt as though it retroactively put right something that had long been wrong. By the time, we mentioned it to GT, the idea had taken shape, it felt good, interesting and worthy of thought and conversation. We were disappointed that George didn’t see it that way but, truth be told, Sulu Prime seemed to be missing a very important point. With galaxies of respect to the great man, this is not his Sulu. John Cho does not play a young George Takei, nor does he play the same character George Takei played in the original series. He is a different Sulu. This brings me to the second point of contention, Canon.

With the Kelvin timeline, we are not entirely beholden to existing canon, this is an alternate reality and, as such is full of new and alternate possibilities. “BUT WAIT!” I hear you brilliant and beautiful super Trekkies cry, “Canon tells us, Hikaru Sulu was born before the Kelvin incident, so how could his fundamental humanity be altered? Well, the explanation comes down to something very Star Treky; theoretical, quantum physics and the less than simple fact that time is not linear…..

Wouldn’t he have done better to skip that part and go right to his closing argument?

…I know in my heart, that Gene Roddenberry would be proud of us for keeping his ideals alive. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations, this was his dream, that is our dream, it should be everybody’s.Ultimately, if we love Star Trek, we are all on the same page, we all want Gene’s idea of a tolerant inclusive, diplomatic and loving Universe to become a reality.

(2) BIG BOOK LANDS TOMORROW. Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s Big Book of Science Fiction will be released July 12, 750,000 words and 1,216 pages.

(3) THE PACE OF FEAR. At the Horror Writers Association blog, Mac Childs begins his series “And the Clock Strikes Midnight: Time and Timing in Terror, Part I” with this advice —

Whether it’s the beeping of an alarm clock marking a night over too soon, a school buzzer announcing the start of a test period, or the chime of a grandfather clock in an old house declaring the start of the witching hour, there are lots of ways that time can provoke dread. So, when writers look no further than flashbacks and verb tenses, they miss out on timely tension opportunities.

With a little attention towards the timing of the horrors in your story—pacing as well as narratively—you can save yourself time in revisions, time better spent dreaming up new nightmares to implant in the fertile minds of your young readers.

First, you’ve got to figure out the best times for your horrors to strike. For this, you need to keep two axes (plural of axis, not axe) in mind: the external, physical timeline of pages experienced by the reader between scares, and the in-story time passage experienced by the characters. While it’s great when these two lines meet and overlap (e.g. during a tense scene when the protagonist experiences time in slow motion, with a reader savoring the moment), too much intersection becomes narratively unsustainable easily, or for some audiences unfeasible, because of the need to maintain the suspension of disbelief.

(4) IT COULD BE VERSE. Bertie MacAvoy discusses ”Poetry and Song”.

I don’t think that, prior to the wide use of the printing press, there was any distinction between poetry and song. It was only when a person could buy an edition of someone’s poems, and read them – not knowing at all how the writer had meant them to sound aloud – that a branch of poetry that consisted of interesting mind pictures could exist.

And that explains my preference over the poetry of Yeats to that of Eliot….

(5) ERRATA. Lee Gold sent me a link to Jack Bennett’s poem “Ben Ali the Egyptian” which appeared in 1893 in St. Nicholas Magazine, having just learned the authorship was misattributed to Randall Garrett in the collection Takeoff Too, which was assembled when his medical condition did not allow him to be consulted. I see the Internet Science Fiction Database already captured that information. Though as long as I had the link I took a look at the poem and now I understand its fannish appeal.

(6) DEFINING ACTIVISM. John Scalzi answers another writer’s question in “Activism, and Whether I Do It”.

My answer to her was no, I don’t really consider myself an activist. The reason I gave her was pretty straightforward: I’m too lazy. Which is to say that while I have my beliefs and principles and largely follow them (sometimes imperfectly), and will happily tell others what those beliefs and principles are, the sort of committed action that to me defines activism — and the continued proselytization for a belief that activism often requires, including the desire to inspire others to take moral action — is not something I usually undertake.

There are other reasons for this besides laziness, including work and the desire to have other interests in my life, but laziness really is a large part of it. Activism is work. I’m glad other people do it, and admire their effort. But it’s not something I put much effort in.

But you write here all the time on political and social topics! Yes I do. But this is not a blog for activism, it’s a blog for whatever I feel like writing — or, when I’m writing a book as I am now, what I have time for writing. The blog is like me; all over the place and a bit pixelated….

Good Lord, it’s contagious!

(7) GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA PEOPLES. National Geographic reports on the unique discovery of a Philistine cemetery at the site of ancient Ashkelon in Israel.

An unrivaled discovery on the southern coast of Israel may enable archaeologists to finally unravel the origins of one of the most notorious and enigmatic peoples of the Hebrew Bible: the Philistines.

The discovery of a large cemetery outside the walls of ancient Ashkelon, a major city of the Philistines between the 12th and 7th centuries B.C., is the first of its kind in the history of archaeological investigation in the region. (Read more about ancient Ashkelon.)

While more than a century of scholarship has identified the five major cities of the Philistines and artifacts distinctive to their culture, only a handful of burials have been tentatively identified.

Simply put, archaeologists have found plenty of pots, but very few people.

(8) LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR POLISH WRITER. Piotrek celebrates “Andrzej Sapkowski with World Fantasy Award” at Re-enchantment of the World.

Andrzej Sapkowski is a big guy in Polish fantasy. The big one. Was big long before The Witcher games. Well, some young people might disagree. There are some more popular authors now. But he is… GRRM of our fantasy? Terrible movie/tv series adaptation of Witcher being as good Game of Thrones as our tv is capable of delivering … At a first glance a bit of Tolkien in him as well, adapting folklore for his stories. But if you read it – definitely a post-tolkienite.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • July 11, 1913 – Cordwainer Smith

(10) OH YES JOHN RINGO. Ringo told his Facebook followers —

It got announced at closing ceremonies that I’m to be the LibertyCon guest of Honor for LibertyCon 30. (I was in a meeting at the time so couldn’t make it to closing) They are calling it XXX. I hope there is no connection implied.

Here is the link to LibertyCon.

(11) 2016 LIBERTYCON REPORT. Jeb Kinnison has a gallery of photos to go with his account of attending his first LibertyCon.

…One obvious difference at LibertyCon — it’s a Red Tribe con, meaning most attendees are in the liberty-loving, military-respecting, rural-BBQ-and gun-loving population typical of the US away from the coastal urban enclaves. Since I grew up with those people and understand them well, I’m not frightened by guns, blades, military uniforms, seared meat, or the occasional less-than-sensitive remark….

(12) EATING THE FANTASTIC, DONUT EDITION. Scott Edelman found it was easy to get more than a dozen authors at Readercon to participate in his podcast, with an assist from Dunkin’ Donuts.

I planted myself in the lobby (as captured in the photo below by Ellen Kushner), where I offered free donuts to the first 12 random passersby willing to give brief interviews about their favorite Readercon memories.

I had no idea who might wander over, but knew that something entertaining would surely come out of this sugary experiment. And it did! I ended up with 15 guests digging into those 12 donuts—the differential being because there were three who eschewed—in a “lightning round” 13th episode I’ve decided to call the Readercon Donut Spectacular. Surprise visitors included Greer Gilman, Maria Dahvana Headley, Rajan Khanna, plus a dozen more.

Guests—some of whom had attended nearly every Readercon, and some for whom this was their first—shared their peak Readercon moments, many of which revolved around Samuel R. Delany.

 

(13) BUSIEK PRAISED. At Black Gate, Nick Ozment pays tribute to Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. Also Joyce, Hemingway, Faulkner, and a tangent on Modernism”.

Kurt Busiek’s Astro City is one of my favorite superhero comics. It consistently delivers brilliant, funny, poignant, human stories in a colorful, wonderfully idiosyncratic comic-book world. It is Busiek’s magnum opus — like Bendis’s Powers, it towers above his other work for the big publishers using their branded characters. He brings the sensibilities he honed in the groundbreaking Marvel miniseries Marvels to his own universe and, beneath all the ZAP! BANG! POW!, weaves tales you will never forget.

What Marvels did that was so fresh in 1994 is it “lowered the camera” from the god-like supers knocking each other through buildings and focused in on the ordinary humans down here at street level, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, watching it happen. What impact did the existence of such powers have on their day-to-day lives?

(14) TOIL, TEARS, AND SWEAT NOT ON OFFER. “Finally, you can buy Richard Garriott’s blood” reports Ars Technica.

Richard Garriott selling vials of his blood for thousands of dollars is one of those stunts.

Yes, Lord British himself, the 55-year-old creator of the Ultima series and noted space tourist, is auctioning off samples of his actual blood to raise money for his new fantasy RPG, Shroud of the Avatar. The six reliquaries—which we’ll note again are full of Richard Garriott’s actual blood—are being marketed as limited-run art pieces, “made of bakelite, copper, nails, glass, and mirrored glass that can be hung on your wall.”

…Bidding for the vials starts at $5,000.

The items originally were offered on eBay, then were removed, speculates Ars Technica “ quite possibly because it’s a violation of eBay’s policy against selling human remains and body parts.”

The listings have been moved to Shroud of the Avatar‘s own Make a Difference store, where two reliquaries have already sold for $6,000 and $8,000 each, and another is still available for $11,000.

(15) ACCEPTING FOR. While researching the Geffen Award, I came across these humorous tweets from a 2015 accepter –

(16) MAGIC MAKEOVER. The Sun interviewed a family that’s redone its dining room Harry Potter-style. (I was charmed all to heck by the replica of Dobby, looking like a mummy that’s seen better days…)

Charlotte, 31, her husband Andrew, 39, and kids Eleni, three, Max, four and Kiri, six, are all massive fans of the magical movies.

After visiting Warner Bros. Studios: The Making of Harry Potter, the family decided to splash out on some renovations to their home.

It wasn’t a quick turnaround though – the family spent 18 months perfecting the room, which now boasts a sorting hat, props from the films, wooden panelling and a large table…..

“We have a lot of replica props and two original props from the films.

“We have one of the letters thrown through the fire place which we bought from a dealer, which cost us about £200.

“We also have a witch in a jar which was from Professor Lupin’s office in the third film. That cost £350.”

One of the most exciting items are the ‘moving pictures’ – which show the kids riding broomsticks and were cunningly created using an iPad.

In all, the Harry Potter dining room has cost the family a whopping £13,004.72.

(17) TOY DEPARTMENT. On sale soon, Game of Thrones stuffed direwolves:

With this year’s Comic-Con right around the corner, details are spilling out as to what goodies you’ll find down in San Diego this year. Factory Entertainment has just revealed some of their OMG products for this year’s line-up, and our favorite product is by far the collection of direvolves. ALL SIX OF THEM! FOR ALL SIX STARK CHILDREN!

The Stark direwolves come in three sets, priced depending on how many direwolves you’re getting for your dollar. The first set is $30, and includes Shaggydog, Summer, and Lady. Set two is $40 and now includes GHOST! The last set, and the best set, has all six dogs for a steal at $55. You’ll get Rickon’s Shaggydog, Bran’s Summer, Sansa’s Lady, and now also Arya’s Nymeria, Robb’s Grey Wind, and of course, Jon’s Ghost.

direwolves

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, Cat Eldridge, and DMS for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.] 

Tepper, Levin Marry

Debra Levin and Matthew Tepper wed in a Jewish ceremony at the LASFS clubhouse on June 30 in the presence of about 75 family members and friends.

A canopy lifted on four poles was carried into the main meeting room by members of the wedding party including John DeChancie and David Gerrold.  The canopy was blue fabric with an elaborate yellow design.

The principals came forward in procession, Rabbi Marcia Minsky, who presided over the ceremony, Tepper in a top hat and black tuxedo, and Levin wearing a white wedding gown beautifully trimmed in lace.

Minsky was assisted by Mark Poliner. Tom Safer cued the music. Other participants included Joyce Sperling, Eylat Poliner, Charles Lee Jackson II and Jerry Pournelle, plus several more whose names I didn’t know.

At the appropriate point in the ceremony, various people had the honor of reading one of the seven blessings, in Hebrew if they were able, otherwise in English translation. Jerry Pournelle recited the third blessing in English: “Blessed are You, LORD, our God, sovereign of the universe, who creates man.” Barry and Lee Gold did a glorious job reading the lengthy seventh blessing, first in Hebrew, and then in translation.

Matthew waved off the applause that began when people thought the service had ended, because he still needed to stamp on the glass – then the couple was introduced and applause resumed.

LASFS officers figured prominently in the service. The groom is club president, while his bride is vice-president-elect. Marcia Minsky and Eylat Poliner, are co-vice-presidents, and Charles Lee Jackson II is a Special Advisor.

It was a great occasion, and a chance to greet some old friends including Elst and Carole Weinstein, Regina Renante, Marty Cantor, and quite a few of those named above.

Fandom’s Most Beloved Typo

Wordnik.com’s “Word of the Day” for May 25 is “filk” —

adj. (adj) About or inspired by science fiction, fantasy, horror, science, and/or subjects of interest to fans of speculative fiction; frequently, being a song whose lyrics have been altered to refer to science fiction; parodying.

The Wordnik post takes its definition from the Wikitionary entry for “filk”.

Unlike most developments in the history of popular culture, how the word “filk” got its start is precisely known. Lee Jacobs typoed the word “folk” in the title of his manuscript “The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Filk Music” intended for distribution in a mailing of the Spectator Amateur Press Society in the early 1950s. While I’ve never seen the article and can’t say what the problem was, Wrai Ballard, SAPS’ official editor at the time, feared its bawdy content could get him into trouble with the Post Office under the Comstock Laws and he refused to send it out. Ballard nevertheless enjoyed the typo, as did the others he told about it. “Filk music” rapidly became part of the faannish jargon.

Thanks to Lee Gold, we even know that the first composition to designate itself a filksong was “Barbarous Allen”, lyrics attributed to Poul Anderson, in Karen Kruse Anderson’s SAPSzine Die Zeitschrift für Vollstandigen Unsinn #774 (1953).

[Thanks to Sam Long for the story.]

Crime and Punishment

Weekly World News reports that the Seventh Circuit upheld the warden’s order to a Wisconsin inmate — “No Dungeons & Dragons in Jail”!

He was told he could not have the materials because the game “promotes fantasy role playing, competitive hostility, violence, addictive escape behaviors, and possible gambling.”

Singer filed a federal lawsuit, saying the prison had violated his free speech and due process rights, but the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld the policy.

The decision read, “After all, punishment is a fundamental aspect of imprisonment, and prisons may choose to punish inmates by preventing them from participating in some of their favorite recreations.”

David Klaus, tongue in cheek, comments: “I guess Lee Gold had better not ever get arrested.” (Lee, of course, is the LASFSian who started a D&D apa, Alarums and Excursions, 35 years ago.)

David says the tabloids are always good for a laugh:

I saw my all-time favorite Weekly World News headline in a 7-Eleven on Duarte Rd. at the Arcadia/Monrovia border back in ’80 or ’81. It said, in all-capitals type big enough to fill the entire tabloid front page:

“AIR FORCE FIGHTER HAS DOGFIGHT WITH ARMED STARSHIP”

I should have bought a couple to pass around, I don’t know why I didn’t.

John Hertz: A Carol

John Hertz has rewritten a seasonal song and offered me the chance to post it here. It originally appeared in Vanamonde #606. John notes Lee Gold deserves credit for a suggestion incorporated into the final version.

Deck the mind with gosh and golly,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la la;
Science fiction can be jolly,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la la.
At its best it’s such a treasure,
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la la la;
At its worst it’s no one’s pleasure,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la la, la, la.
 
See the Hugos bright before us,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la la;
Let us not just speak in chorus,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la la.
If poor work should be well-rated,
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la la la,
Think what else was nominated,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la la, la, la.
 
Fast away the old year passes,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la la;
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la la.
Look out for what may be worthy,
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la la la,
That due praise may not be dearthy,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la la, la, la.

1948: First Westercon Program Book

The program book from the very first Westercon has been scanned and posted on the LASFS website, reports Lee Gold.

There were very few sf conventions anywhere in 1948, and none at all in the southwestern US, when Walt Daugherty proposed an annual convention be started for West Coast fans. The first Westercon was held on September 5 that year at the Park View Manor (the same hotel used for the 1946 Worldcon). 

The day-long convention attracted 77 attendees to hear from a number of well-known local authors. E. Mayne Hull, L. Ron Hubbard and Dr. Eric Temple Bell (aka John Taine) spoke in the afternoon, and astronomer Dr. Robert C. Richardson (aka Philip Latham) was one of three speakers on the evening program.

This copy of the Program Book belonged to Aline and Gerry Thompson, who collected numerous autographs from fans and pros at the con — Genie Willmorth, Jerry G. Thompson, Forrest J Ackerman, Harvard Johnson, Fred Johnson, Roy A. Squires, Rick Sneary (appended: South Gate in 58!), Elmer B. Perdue, Andy Anderson, Stan Woolston, William Rotsler, Dale Hart, Al Ashley, A. E. Van Vogt, Jean Cox, G. Gordon Dewey.

[Thanks to Lee Gold for the story.]