Pixel Scroll 3/4/17 A Pixel That Scrolls For A Day, Replaced Next Morrow

(1) THE WEED OF CRIME. The Washington Post has an article by Rachel Weiner about Amil Chaudry being sentenced to nine years for identity theft, visa fraud, and money laundering.  Prosecutors said that Chaudry was part of a ring that charged $25 million on phony credit cards, and when banks challenged the charges used phony passports to back the claims.

“The scheme was uncovered in part because an FBI agent recognized actress Laura Vandevoort in one of these passports,” Weiner reports.  “The image was taken from a scene from the television show ‘V’ involving visas, authorities said.”

Vandevoort also played Supergirl in “Smallville” and Indigo in “Supergirl.”

(2) AN EVEN LISTIER LIST. Von Dimpleheimer has updated his ebook compilation of people’s lists of 2017 award recommendations. The latest version adds the File 770, Shadow Clarke, and SFWA recommendations and the finalists of the Asimov’s Readers’, Crawford, and Phillip K. Dick awards. JJ has approved his handling of the File 770 entry. The ebook is available as a free download.

(3) LEARN ABOUT AFRICAN SFF.  Geoff Ryman’s “100 African Writers of SFF” series continues at Strange Horizons.

Jennifer Nansubaga Makumbi

(An earlier version of this chapter was published at Tor.com in November 2016.) In Part Two of 100 African Writers of SFF, you’ll meet: a crime writer whose grandfather was a king—one who made a Western artist a priestess in the Ogun religion. A white South African anti-apartheid activist whose sister was tried under the security laws—and introduced him to the work of Joanna Russ. A Rastafarian from Zimbabwe whose experience of life under Mugabe has made him a free-market neoliberal. A South African rap/ jazz-rock star, illustrator, and author who models his look on the Wicked Witch of the West.

In Part Three of 100 African Writers of SFF, you’ll meet the editors of Cape Town: the people who make things happen. They include Constance Myerberg/Jenna Dann, co-founder of Jungle Jim; Kerstin Hall, founder of Luminous Worlds; Nerine Dorman, writer and editor of the anthology Terra Incognita; Ntone Edjabe, founder and editor of Chimurenga; and Rachel Zadok, a force behind Short Story Day Africa.

(4) BAD GUYS WHO WEREN’T VERY GOOD. Factory seconds from the comic book industry — The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains explores ill-thought comic book bad guys”.

Sometimes even comic greats can have terrible ideas — and in a fascinating new book, The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains: Oddball Criminals from Comic Book History, author Jon Morris explores the history of ill-thought and sometimes laughable antagonists you’ve probably never heard of. Below, check out a few highlights, complete with captions Morris has written for EW exclusively, to get a sneak peek before The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains hits shelves on March 28.

For example:

MIRROR MAN Created by: Mike Sekowsky and an uncredited writer Enemy of: Captain Flash Debuted in: Captain Flash #1 (Sterling Comics, November 1954)

© 1954 by Sterling Comics

The courageous Captain Flash fought a surprising number of menaces in his abbreviated career, but none quite as deadly, implacable and likely to jump out of a medicine cabinet as Mirror Man. A silicon-starved, glassy nogoodnik from a malevolent dimension, Mirror Man comes to Earth to destroy its finest scientific minds. Why? It’s never explained, but at least it gives Captain Flash something to do while running out the clock on his short-lived series. Boasting the ability to disappear into any reflective surface, and to appear from any other, Mirror Man is one of the first alien menaces to make his initial salvo against Earth from the convenience of a men’s restroom.

(5) A FINE POINTILLIST. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna interviews Bob Mankoff, who is ending his tenure as the New Yorker’s cartoon editor in April.  Mankoff discusses how he created the Cartoon Bank to provide another income source for cartoonists and how he imagines his late mother being asked about his job and told, ‘They paid you for that?”

Since he became editor, “the biggest change was that cartoons, even of the very benign variety that appear in the New Yorker, now have great power to offend — at least among the easily offended, a class whose numbers grow even as I write,” Mankoff says. “Now, even Canadians take offense at being stereotyped as polite.”

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 4, 1952 — Ernest Hemingway completes his short novel The Old Man and the Sea. He wrote his publisher the same day, saying he had finished the book and that it was the best writing he had ever done. The critics agreed: The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 and became one of his bestselling works.
  • March 4, 2017  — People read the above and demand to know why Mike is posting this item about a non-genre work.

(7) GONE BATS. Given enough time, critics will talk themselves into redeeming the irredeemable — “Why this ridiculous 1966 Batman movie is the most important Batman movie ever” by Greg Cwik in The Week.

You may look back affectionately on Batman’s innocently zany antics of the 1950s and early ’60s. But Batman was almost ruined by those robots and radioactive big bugs and kitschy toys and gimmicks and the definitely not-gay Bat-Family of Bat-Hound, Bat-Girl, Batwoman, Bat-Mite, and Mogo the Bat-Ape. Sales sunk. In fact, “they were planning to kill Batman off altogether” in 1964, said co-creator Bob Kane.

But then editor Julius Schwartz took over, and tried to save the comic by eradicating the Bat-Family. He was aided by artist Carmine Infantino, who redesigned Batman to be “more realistic.” Sales went up. But ironically, it was another gimmick-laden endeavor that truly rescued the Dynamic Duo: the Adam West-starring camp comedy Batman, which premiered in 1966, the year Kane retired.

Batman fans, particularly Frank Miller acolytes, like to say West’s show and movie “ruined” Batman. Actually, the parodic depiction made Batman a cultural icon after a decade of mail-in toys and cynical strategies. It presented a starkly different kind of Batman, at once refuting Wertham’s provocations while slyly embracing them through its ostensible innocence.

A genuine fad, the show and movie came and went in 26 months. But its influence altered the legacy of the Caped Crusader. The movie, which came out July 30, 1966, was the first official Batman movie since the serials of the 1940s. A generation of television viewers and moviegoers, unfamiliar with Kane and Bill Finger’s brooding detective (Batman killed people — by noose, by gun, by defenestration) now knew Batman only as a campy crusader with painted-on eyebrows and a syncopated delivery that sounds, to modern ears, like a lascivious cross between William Shatner and Jeff Goldblum. The juxtaposition between Walter Cronkite’s 1968 Vietnam expose on the dinnertime news and Burt Ward yawping, “Holy Diversionary Tactics!” must have been dizzying.

(8) BEAU OF THE BALL. Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard will appear in Game of Thrones.

According to Ken Davidoff at the New York Post, Syndergaard filmed his cameo in Spain in November when he had some free time after the Mets were eliminated from the postseason in the NL Wild Card Game.

“They just know that I’m a fan and they invited me to do that,” Syndergaard told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. “I couldn’t say no.”

(9) NERDS IN HELL. Nerds of a Feather is launching an ambitious series on dystopianism in SF/F that will continue for the next two months.

This series, conceived of as a sequel to Cyberpunk Revisited, seeks to explore questions of what dystopianism is and what purpose(s) it serves. What are the tropes and conventions of modern dystopian fiction? How have dystopian visions evolved over time, both in terms of approach and theme? And what do dystopian visions about the points in time and space in which they are written?

Equally, we will ask questions about why we like to read about dystopias. Is it possible that we even find them comforting, and if so, why?

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, we will consider dystopianisms’s complex relationship to its forebear, utopianism. We will explore works where dystopianism serves to negatively define utopia, as well as those where dystopia and utopia are presented side-by-side. Just how essential or intrinsic is the concept of utopia to that of dystopia?

We will explore these and other questions through a series of essays and dossier-style reviews, including of works not commonly associated with dystopianism, but which present dystopian themes. Our dossiers will have the following subheadings:

Filetype: whether the work under review is a book, film, game, etc.

File Under: whether the work presents a statist, stateless, fantasy or hybrid-form dystopia.

Executive Summary: summary of the plot.

Dystopian Visions: discussion of dystopian themes/content present in the work.

Utopian Undercurrents: whether and to what degree the work’s dystopianism underlies a utopian understanding of politics, society, etc.

Level of Hell: a quantitative rating of how terrible the presented dystopia is, from first to ninth—with an explanation of the rating.

Legacy: the importance of the work in question within its field.

In Retrospect: an editorial commentary on how good/not good the work is, from the vantage point of 2017.

Interspersed with these dossier reviews, we and a selection of guest writers will explore how to contextualize dystopia and dystopianism within literature and other media, as well as the moments in time and space when it has surged forward into popular consciousness.

(10) ACTING WITHOUT THE ACTOR. What if Leonard Nimoy’s Spock could be digitally resurrected for appearances in future productions of the Star Trek franchise? Here’s what Adam Nimoy has to say about it at CinemaBlend.

Adam Nimoy, who directed the 2016 documentary For The Love Of Spock that focused on his father, made this admission to Trek Movie.com, insisting that he wouldn’t have a problem with seeing his dad up on screen again as Spock. He also admitted that he was blown away by what Rogue One had achieved with Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher. Adam Nimoy remarked,

Yeah I think it’s an interesting idea. I loved what they did in Rogue One. I thought it was pretty clever, and I was blown away by it, frankly. All of the stuff that Peter Cushing was doing was mind-boggling to me. I’m a sucker for that stuff. I think it should certainly be explored, but I’m not the final arbiter as to whether it’s going to happen, but I think it’s a great idea, personally.

There’s every chance that an opportunity to resurrect Leonard Nimoy, who died back in 2015, as Spock could present itself in the near future. As the question was being posed to Adam Nimoy, the interviewer explained that Star Trek: Discovery will take place a decade before the events of the original Star Trek series, during which time Spock served under Captain Pike on the Enterprise.

(11) THINKIN’ UP SH*T. This reminds me of Bruce Willis’ line in Armageddon about what he assumed NASA spent its time doing. ASU’s workshop where “AI Scientists Gather to Plot Doomsday Scenarios (and Solutions)” is covered by Bloomberg Technology.

Artificial intelligence boosters predict a brave new world of flying cars and cancer cures. Detractors worry about a future where humans are enslaved to an evil race of robot overlords. Veteran AI scientist Eric Horvitz and Doomsday Clock guru Lawrence Krauss, seeking a middle ground, gathered a group of experts in the Arizona desert to discuss the worst that could possibly happen — and how to stop it.

Their workshop took place last weekend at Arizona State University with funding from Tesla Inc. co-founder Elon Musk and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn. Officially dubbed “Envisioning and Addressing Adverse AI Outcomes,” it was a kind of AI doomsday games that organized some 40 scientists, cyber-security experts and policy wonks into groups of attackers — the red team — and defenders — blue team — playing out AI-gone-very-wrong scenarios, ranging from stock-market manipulation to global warfare.

Horvitz is optimistic — a good thing because machine intelligence is his life’s work — but some other, more dystopian-minded backers of the project seemed to find his outlook too positive when plans for this event started about two years ago, said Krauss, a theoretical physicist who directs ASU’s Origins Project, the program running the workshop. Yet Horvitz said that for these technologies to move forward successfully and to earn broad public confidence, all concerns must be fully aired and addressed.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/24/17 770 Error: File Not Scrolled

(1) TED’S HOUSE SAVED. A copy of Ted White’s thank-you to supporters of his GoFundMe comes via Andrew Porter.

My thanks and my gratitude to all of you who helped me meet my goal within one day. I’m flabbergasted. I’m still getting my head around it.

But I must point out to everyone who has proffered Joel [Zakem]’s advice that I am not the legal owner of my house. My daughter is (I have the lifetime right of occupancy — for as long as I keep the taxes paid). For this reason I have been unable to qualify for tax abatement.

The moment I move out of the house, it will revert to my daughter, who will sell it to developers who will tear it down and build two separate houses on the adjoining lots and sell each for over a million bucks. I expect I’ll be dead by then.

In the meantime, my heartfelt thanks.

(2) AMBITIOUS COMIC CON. The Outdoor Retailers Show was formerly the largest event in Utah, generating $45M each July between hotel, dining and touring. They left over a public lands debate.

Conrunners Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg wrote on Linkedin that “Salt Lake Comic Con Can Fill the Void of Outdoor Retailers Exit”. They are scheduled to make a presentation before the Utah Legislature to promote their ideas, which might become one of the largest fannish public/private initiatives in the country.

…It’s a shame that Outdoor Retailer has left the state. Let’s fill that void with a world class comic con event. We can do this.

…We believe this creates an opportunity for us to step up and take advantage of an industry that is already thriving in Utah and make it even more beneficial to the state and its residents. We believe we can build something that will have much more impact if we are able to line up the type of support that Outdoor Retailers had here. Salt Lake Comic Con is only three years old and we’ve already helped generated tens of millions of dollars in economic impact to the area.”

Right now we are the largest comic con per capita in the world. The people of Salt Lake City and Utah are used to doing more with less. We are one of the top economies in the country, #1 for volunteerism, a top outdoor destination, best skiing on earth, have the internationally renowned Sundance film festival and one of the top locations for movies. But most importantly, Utah is the nerdiest state in the country. Let’s take all the successes and resources to become one of the top comic con destinations in the world.

(3) VON DIMPLEHEIMER’S LIST OF LISTS. Eric von Dimpleheimer has assembled another masterpiece which you can download free. He explains:

I began putting together an ebook of the various 2016 recommendation lists and sorting them by magazine (with some links to free stories), but as I kept coming across more recommendations, I abandoned the Sisyphean project. It is still useful (to me at least) and I thought others might be interested in it. I included two of Rocket Stack Rank’s annotated lists and Greg from Rocket Stack Rank is OK with me including them as long as the ebooks are free, which they are.

I want to stress that the ebooks are NOT finished or free from errors, but they are as complete as I am likely to make them. Anyone is free to add to or alter the ebooks as they see fit, as long as links to the sites of the original listmakers  remain (or in a few cases, better links are found.)

(4) MIND MELD. Shana DuBois has organized a new installment of this classic feature – “Mind Meld: Fresh Perspectives on Common Tropes” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

Tell us about a book, or books, that flipped SF/F/H on its head, approaching a common trope from such a fresh perspective you couldn’t stop thinking about it: What fresh methods did the book(s) use to look at the world anew?

Answering the question are Sofia Samatar, Max Gladstone, Joyce Chng, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Rachel Swirsky.

(5) BLOWN UP, SIR! Think of Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet made with transparent balloons. Then go to io9 and see the pictures – “Just Let This Little Girl’s Wonder Woman Invisible Jet Costume Win Every Contest”.

(6) THE SHADOW JURY KNOWS. The Shadow Clarke shortlists are starting to come thick and fast:

…But first, my six in alphabetical order by author surname:

The Power — Naomi Alderman (Penguin Viking)

I hummed and hawed the most about including this book on the list. It seems to be another example of one type of book that has done well in the Clarke during recent years; the kind of novel that features one or more young female protagonists and reflects on aspects of a patriarchal society in a manner that can be compared with the work of the Award’s first winner, Margaret Atwood. Indeed, Alderman was actually mentored by Atwood during the writing of the novel. Moreover, it might be argued that The Power is simply a provocative what-if story that turns on a gimmick. However, any such reading would miss the book’s capacity to mix raw excitement with complexity and subtlety. The combination of the framing narrative and the unforgettable illustrations is worth the price of admission alone.

I sat at my computer last Tuesday morning, flicking between my work and the Clarke Award twitter feed, waiting for the submissions list to drop. When it finally did and I clicked through, with trepidation and a flicker of excitement, my first thought was: there are fewer eye-catching features in the Award’s 2016 landscape than I was hoping for. By which I mean, the list felt very flat.

As I scrolled down the 86 submitted books the wildcard submissions seemed fewer and further between than in recent years.  The avalanche of self-published works that some anticipated didn’t materialise – submissions were actually down this year overall – but it looked as though a lot of other submissions hadn’t materialised either. A brief and unscientific comparison between 2016 and 2017 lists for example, seems to suggest a decrease in submissions from ‘mainstream’ or non-genre imprints – 36 in 2016, 28 in 2017 (with 20 imprints and 17 imprints submitting respectively). There were some books in this category notably absent.  The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan (William Heinemann) for one, Hystopia by David Means (Faber & Faber) for another. I’d also hoped that Salt might take a punt on Wyl Menmuir’s uncanny dystopian fable The Many; and Galley Beggar Press on Forbidden Line by Paul Stanbridge. The fact that the ratio of books by women has fallen this year (from 33% of the total to 28%) may be attributable to the drop in submissions from non-specialist imprints who, as a fellow shadow juror pointed out to me, are far more likely to publish female writers of SF.

My shortlist is primarily based on optimism– being impressed by the multiple things these novels are attempting to do– and, to quote Nina Allan’s recent introduction, “to pay sufficient attention to the ‘novel’ part of the equation.” It includes books I might not love, but I would like to see discussed in relation to more popular books that have a better chance of landing on the official shortlist. I have followed only one firm rule: I will not include any previous Clarke award winners. This omits Chris Beckett, Paul McAuley, China Miéville, Claire North, Christopher Priest, and Tricia Sullivan. In a couple of cases, this rule made my shortlist picks more difficult, but I’m a big proponent of the one-and-done rule (or won-and-done, rather) because it’s only too obvious SF awards culture likes to chase its tail.

(7) THE ENTERTAINER. Larry Correia’s Toastmaster speech at the Gala Banquet at Life, The Universe and Everything (LTUE 2017) is available on YouTube.

(8) STARGAZING. The Google Doodlers had fun with the discovery of seven exoplanets at Trappist-1.

(9) SUSAN CASPER OBIT. Philadelphia author Susan Casper (1947-2017), wife of Gardner Dozois for 47 years, passed away February 24.

Announcing her death on Facebook, Dozois said: “She was an extremely tough woman, and fought through an unbelievable amount of stuff in the last couple of years, but this last illness was just too much for her fading strength to overcome.”

She was the author of two dozen published stories. Her 1994 novella “Up the Rainbow” took sixth place in  Asimov’s annual Readers Poll.

Her fiction in collaboration with Gardner Dozois is part of Slow Dancing through Time (1990), which includes one collaboration with both Dozois and Jack M Dann.

She served as a Tiptree Award judge in 1994.

There will be no viewing or funeral service, but there will be a memorial gathering in the future.

Susan Casper. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter.

(10) MARTIN DEUTSCH OBIT. Courtesy of Dale Arnold:

Martin Deutsch, President of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, died February 24. He had been receiving chemotherapy for a bone marrow condition for several weekly cycles of treatment and his doctor was optimistic, but fate intervened.

The night before he had reported being very tired, but intending to meet with the BSFS Treasurer that morning as previously scheduled. He had also said he would be attending the BSFS book discussion on Saturday, but might need to borrow one of the wheelchairs BSFS keeps around for people who need them at Balticon to get into the building. However, the morning of the 24th before the BSFS Treasurer arrived Martin passed out in his favorite chair and died before medical assistance arrived. It is reported that there was little pain.

Martin was first elected as President of BSFS in 1980 and served continuously since then leading the meetings with his own twist on formal meeting rules. He never tired of building things for BSFS and Balticon and many of the fixtures and displays at the convention, particularly in the art show which he ran for many years with his wife Shirley Avery, were his inspiration made manifest. During the most recent election of BSFS officers Martin said he was not ready to give up yet and indeed his spirit never gave up.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • February 24, 1786 — Wilhelm Grimm was born, one of The Brothers Grimm.

(12) TODAY IN ALTERNATE HISTORY

  • February 24, 1989 The body of Laura Palmer is discovered in Twin Peaks, WA.

(13) NOW WITH SUBTRACTED GOODNESS. MovieWeb passes along the scuttlebutt – “Unaltered Original Star Wars Trilogy to Be Re-Released Before Last Jedi?”

This year not only brings Star Wars fans a new theatrical adventure in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but also a number of new books and, of course, another Force Friday event happening this fall, but that’s not all. This year also marks the 40th Anniversary of the original Star Wars, with the anniversary celebration kicking off at Star Wars Celebration, which runs from April 13 through April 16 in Orlando, Florida. If a new rumor is believed to be true, LucasFilm may be making a big announcement about the 40th anniversary soon, with plans apparently under way to release a new Blu-ray set with the theatrical versions of the original trilogy films.

(14) HERE’S THE PITCH. From MLB.com “Five baseball movies you probably haven’t seen that (mostly) deserve watching”. Martin Morse Wooster sent the link and a couple of comments:

  1. The fine film Battlefield Baseball HAS to be seen (or at least the trailer does).

The MLB.com description reads —

It’s kind of like “Friday Night Lights” in that it’s about high school sports rivalries. But it differs in one crucial way: The game doesn’t end until the opposing team is dead. Oh yeah, the synopsis also sounds like a Stefon sketch. “Battlefield Baseball” features zombies, deadly baseball equipment and that thing where a pitcher throws a lethal pitch known as the “Super Tornado.”

 

  1. The clip from Rhubarb does have Leonard Nimoy — in 1951!

There’s a good (very short) view of him about 2:10

(15) INCLUDES SEMIPRO AND FAN RECS. Shaun Duke has assembled a crowdsourced “2017 Hugo Awards Reading / Viewing List”.

As I did last year, I have begun to compile a big massive (and, indeed, very sexy) list of all the books, stories, comics, movies, fans, etc. suggested to me via my recent 2017 Hugo Awards Recommendations form. The following is by no means a comprehensive list, as it is based on suggestions by readers. If something is missing, let me know in the comments.

(16) PROBLEM DAUGHTERS ANTHOLOGY CANCELED. Nicolette Barischoff and Rivqa Rafael made the announcement in their “Statement on the Dissolution of the Problem Daughters Anthology”.

Unfortunately, the Problem Daughters project has been canceled, and Nicolette Barischoff and Rivqa Rafael have parted ways with Djibril al-Ayad and FutureFire.net Publishing. This decision was extremely painful, and not taken lightly in consideration of the many wonderful, generous people who helped us get to this point. Unfortunately, the ideological differences between the involved parties have proved insurmountable, leaving us no choice but to end this collaboration.

We apologize to all of you who feel let down by this decision — our backers, our potential contributors and just anyone who wanted to read this book. We did, too.

Everyone who backed the project will be contacted as soon as possible so we can arrange a refund. We ask for your patience as we undergo this process.

Once again, we thank you for your support, and apologize for this inconvenience and disappointment.

Publisher The Future Fire also posted that the anthology is permanently closed to submissions.

The editors of the Problem Daughters, Djibril al-Ayad, Rivqa Rafael, and Nicolette Barischoff were behind the “Intersectional SFF Roundtable” for Apex Magazine that was taken down after Likhain’s open letter to the editor protesting the involvement of Benjanun Sriduangkaew. Apex Magazine editor Jason Sizemore issued an apology, and briefly there also was an apology signed the three editors on The Future Fire site, now only readable in the Google cache file. The gist of their apology was that they were sorry for not including a black woman in a panel about intersectionality. The controversy about Sriduangkaew’s participation was not addressed.

(17) BE YOUR OWN BBC STATION. Michael O’Donnell recommends these BBC radio programs currently available on the BBC iPlayer.

In “I Was Philip K Dick’s Reluctant Host”, Michael Walsh – a journalist and respected film reviewer for The Province, a leading Vancouver newspaper – talks about the time he came to the aid of the author of Minority Report, Blade Runner, Total Recall and Man in the High Castle, who he met at a convention in 1972.

Discovering that Dick’s wife had walked out on him, that he had nowhere to go and was also suffering deep addiction problems, Michael invited Philip to stay with him and his wife Susan at their home in Vancouver.

It would go on to be one of the most challenging experiences of Michael’s life, as drug dependency, unwanted advances on Michael’s wife and unpredictable mood swings made the period something of an emotional rollercoaster for the wary hosts – but also fascinating insight into one of Sci-Fi’s greatest ever visionaries.

Clarke Peters (The Wire, Treme) reads The Underground Railroad, the new novel by Colson Whitehead. This brilliant and at times brutal novel about the history of slavery and racism in America won the US National Book Award for Fiction in 2016.

“What if the underground railroad was a literal railroad? And what if each state, as a runaway slave was going north, was a different state of American possibility, an alternative America?”

Whitehead’s inventive novel follows Cora and Caesar as they escape from a Georgia slave plantation and run north in pursuit of freedom, aided by the stationmasters and conductors of the Underground Railroad.

Vintage sci-fi serial from 1961.

“A glimpse across a weird threshold, on the rim of space where there should be nothing but eternal, frozen darkness. Yet where there was something more…..”

Newspaper reporter, Tom Lambert has decided to reinvestigate the strange events of ten years before, concerning the “cosmic noise”. Believing the inside story was never told, he’s tracked down the only man who knows, Dr Hayward Petrie.

Told in flashbacks, the story unfolds from Dr Petrie’s own recordings of the time when the detection of a strange pattern of signals sparks a mysterious discovery…

[Thanks to Michael O’Donnell, JJ, Daniel Dern, David Doering, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Moshe Feder, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Museum of Pop Culture 20th Anniversary SFF Hall of Fame Inductees

MoPOP in Seattle

MoPOP in Seattle

Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) has announced 24 new inductees to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame for 2016 year.

Creators:

  • Douglas Adams
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Keith David
  • Guillermo del Toro
  • Terry Gilliam
  • Jim Henson
  • Jack Kirby
  • Madeleine L’Engle
  • C.S. Lewis
  • H.P. Lovecraft
  • Leonard Nimoy
  • George Orwell
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Rumiko Takahashi
  • John Williams

Works:

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Blade Runner
  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • The Matrix
  • Myst
  • The Princess Bride
  • Star Trek
  • Wonder Woman
  • X-Files

Last spring, as part of its 20th anniversary celebration, the public was invited to nominate their favorite creators and works for the Hall of Fame. Twenty finalists were selected and the public was given a May 2016 deadline to vote, however, the results were never published, and the current class of inductees includes some who were not finalists, and omits others who were.

According to today’s press release:

Inductees were nominated by the public and selected by a panel of award-winning science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, editors, publishers, and film professionals. The 2016 committee included Jane Espenson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Torchwood), Cory Doctorow (Co-Editor, Boing Boing; Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom), Jen Stuller (Co-Founder, GeekGirlCon), Linda Medley (Castle Waiting), and Ted Chiang (Story of Your Life and Others).

A new exhibition commemorating the 20th anniversary Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, opening March 4, 2017, will invite visitors to explore the lives and legacies of the 108 current inductees through interpretive films, interactive kiosks, and more than 30 artifacts, including Luke Skywalker’s severed hand from George Lucas’ The Empire Strikes Back, the Staff of Ra headpiece from Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, author Isaac Asimov’s typewriter, and the “Right Hand of Doom” from Guillermo del Toro’s film Hellboy.

The Hall of Fame was previously shown as part of the Icons of Science Fiction exhibit when MoPOP was called the Experience Music Project Museum. Founded in 1996, the Hall of Fame was relocated from the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas to EMP in 2004.

Pixel Scroll 11/11/16 Some Say Scrolls, It Is A Pixel, That Leaves Your Eyes To Bleed

(1) RELIGHTING FIREFLY. CinemaBlend’s Nick Venable has been listening to actor Alan Tudyk, who says “Nathan Fillion Has an Awesome Idea for More Firefly”.

[Alan Tudyk] “I’m always hopeful that it’ll come back in some form or fashion. I think as long as you have Nathan Fillion – truly, if you have the captain – he can put the crew back together. Some new faces, some old faces, and get back in the air. I think Nathan pitched an idea once to me, and I think he actually got it from some fan fiction: Now, out in some shack on some forgotten moon somewhere, somebody comes and knocks on [Mal’s] door and says, ‘We need you.’ And he answers the call.”

I know that you guys might not have gotten goosebumps like I did when Alan Tudyk was saying it, but I’m sure everyone pictured that potential opening scene accordingly. It’s the perfect set-up for an action narrative, with the unpredictable hero getting picked out of reclusion to head back out for one last mission. One. Last. Mission. Not that anyone said this would have to be the final mission for Mal Reynolds, who may or may not still have his Captain status, since there should never be a last mission for him.

I’m picturing Nathan Fillion with a big giant beard, and he’s complaining about the “gorram WiFi never working” on his moon. There’s probably some kind of a booze still behind his shack. And something happened that was so foul that he vowed never to get back out into the cosmos again, for either fun or profit. But then maybe Jayne or Zoe is in trouble – take that, Jayne – and only Mal can be the one to bring him/her/them/all the gold back. Combine that with the masterfully wild shot that Joss Whedon never got to bring to Firefly, and it all starts to write itself, though that’s only helpful if the project can also order itself to series and air itself.

(2) KC DISCOVERS SUSHI. Scott Edelman of the Eating the Fantastic podcast invites you to “Take a break for sushi with Kathleen Ann Goonan” in Episode 22 of the series.

Kathleen Ann Goonan

Kathleen Ann Goonan

I may have given you the impression, based on the three previous episodes of Eating the Fantastic, that all I ate while I was in Kansas City for this year’s World Science Fiction Convention was BBQ. Not true! This episode’s guest requested sushi, which led us Bob Wasabi Kitchen, giving me some respite from the meat sweats.

And who’s the guest this time? Kathleen Ann Goonan, whose first novel, Queen City Jazz, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and who won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for In War Times. And, I should add, who wrote the story, “The Bride of Elvis,” which I had the honor of publishing twenty years ago (yikes!), back when I was editing Science Fiction Age magazine.

(3) LIFE OF TOLKIEN. The Verge reports “J.R.R. Tolkien biopic Middle Earth will add new depth to Lord of the Rings”.

Earlier this week, Deadline revealed that New Line Cinema would be revisiting the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien. Rather than adapting one of his many novels or stories, director James Strong will be helming a film about the author himself, which has the potential to give viewers an entirely new way of looking at the works that he’s most famous for.

Middle Earth is described as following Tolkien’s “early life and love affair with Edith Bratt,” as well as his service to the British Army during the First World War. The film, to be written by Angus Fletcher, is reportedly based on years of archival research on Tolkien’s life.

(4) VAUGHN OBIT. Actor Robert Vaughn (1932-2016) died November 11. His most famous role was Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which aired from 1964-1968, and reprised in a 1983 reunion movie for television. When reruns of the late-1950s series Men Into Space began airing recently, Rich Lynch spotted a young Robert Vaughn in his first sf genre role, the episode “Moon Cloud.”  He appeared in episodes of dozens of TV series over the decades, and in several movies, notably Bullitt and The Magnificent Seven.

The late James H. Burns wrote several File 770 posts about Vaughn, whom he had interviewed for print articles.

When I chatted with Robert Vaughn a few weeks ago, there was a fascinating surprise…

…Vaughn had just spent, for the first time, I believe, a great deal of time watching “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”!

When the U.N.C.L.E. marathon was on, a few months ago (was it on the DECADES cable channel?), Vaughn found himself checking in, within the coziness of his Connecticut home.

He had never really seen the episodes, and was now watching a number of the excellent first season shows.

Now, this isn’t unusual for any actor. In the 1960s, the schedule on television shoots could be overwhelming. (That’s been true, really, in any era of filmmaking.) Vaughn was also busy with his private education, and of course, civic pursuits….

 

We were at a tribute to Vaughn at the Players Club in Manhattan, and were chatting amiably afterwards:

Vaughn was I think I bit surprised and happy that there was someone to talk with who knew a bit about various aspects of his career… (Plus, I had just explained the ending of Bullitt  to him, something which had apparently eluded the both of us, for years!)

…In the early ’70s. Vaughn had signed to star in The Protectors, a syndicated, half-hour action adventure series about international detectives, from ITC and producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. The Andersons, of course, are well known to TV buffs and science fiction fans of a certain age for Supercar, Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet — all marionette shows, and the live-action series UFO, and Space: 1999.

The Protectors was a big deal for Anderson, his first major (and, as it turned out, last) mainstream–non-fantasy–endeavor.

The Andersons invited Vaughn and his then business partner to their London home for dinner, for a celebratory meal.

Vaughn and his business manager/pal had drinks in the living room, and then Gerry and Sylvia led them into the formal dining room…

It was only this small group, but the huge table was set for MANY:

And seated at each gilded chair was one of the Andersons’ famous Supermarionation figures!

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born November 11, 1922 – Kurt Vonnegut

(6) VERTLIEB ON FILM HISTORY PANELS AT PHILCON. Steve Vertlieb wants you to know you can find him at Philcon 2016 in Philadelphia discussing Ray Harryhausen and Hammer Films.

The Convention of The Philadelphia Science Fiction Society at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on Saturday, November 19th, 2016, presents…

THE CLASSIC HAMMER FILMS: AN OVERVIEW

[Panelists: Steve Vertlieb (mod), Richard Stout, John Vaughan, Tony Finan, Mark Leeper, James Chambers]

Hammer Films released numerous productions from the 50’s through the 80’s. From Frankenstein and Dracula with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing to the astonishingly brilliant Quatermass films, these movies helped set up the future of Science Fiction media

Sat 5:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two (1 hour)

RAY HARRYHAUSEN: A LIFE

[Panelists: Steve Vertlieb (mod), Richard Stout]

An affectionate remembrance of a motion picture special effects pioneer, and a nearly fifty year admiration and friendship. Writer Steve Vertlieb recalls the Harryhausen legacy, and a profoundly moving personal relationship with a fantasy film legend

(7) SHATNER DRAMA. The Nate Sanders firm is auctioning a handwritten soliloquy “William Shatner Sincerely Wants to Know Why George Takei Doesn’t Like Him – ‘…Not so long after that very friendly time he began to say very mean things about me. – Why?’”

Fascinating account by William Shatner on his relationship with George Takei, where he seems to try to sincerely understand why Takei doesn’t like him, even perhaps using the account as a public question. Composed on Shatner’s personal stationery, autograph signed recollection reads in full, ”George Takei was living in a beautifully appointed apartment. I was there to interview him for a book I was writing. He was most gracious – kind, mannered even formal. He was the essence of an Asian gentleman. We talked memories of Star Trek, his very difficult childhood given that he and his family were put behind a wired fence – in effect a concentration camp. We were at war with Japan and American fears were such that the government put everybody with a Japanese background into those camps – what a terrible beginning of life. But George had overcome [by] working hard and with intelligence he had bettered himself – he had disciplined his body as a runner and he had done the same with his mind; he was running for office as well. His apartment showed all that discipline – it was ordered, it had character, it was immaculate and so was George. I had never really got to know him. He would come in every so often during the week while we were shooting Star Trek. I was busy learning lines and dealing with my life, so I really can’t remember a meaningful conversation – I’m sure that would be my fault – my lack of attention – Never the less when we all wrapped that last day of shooting it was all meaningfull [sic] – for all of us – Star Trek was cancelled. Until this moment in his apartment we had not spoken. Not so long after that very friendly time he began to say very mean things about me. – Why? / William Shatner”. Single page measures 7.25” x 10.25”. Near fine condition.

(8) BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Also on the auction bloc: “William Shatner Defends His Decision Not To Attend His Friend Leonard Nimoy’s Funeral – ‘…we’ll mourn Leonard, say his name and then pledge your money….’”

Very interesting handwritten signed recollection by William Shatner on the death of his friend Leonard Nimoy, who served as Shatner’s best man at his 1997 wedding, but with whom he was no longer speaking to in 2015 when Nimoy died. Shatner famously did not attend Nimoy’s funeral, which he explains here: ”Leonard was very sick – he was in the hospital. His health was difficult – he was in fact dying – but nobody but his family knew – certainly I didn’t. A month or so prior to his going into the hospital, the American Red Cross asked me to do their largest fundraiser. It would be a huge event, thousands of potential donors, millions of dollars. I enthusiastically said yes. I was to leave on a Friday night for a Saturday performance when the news of Leonard’s death was delivered – the funeral was to be Sunday – what to do? My immediate thought given the blinding news of his death, my appearance or non appearance would not be noticed – also what about the people who had given good money with the expectation of seeing me – heartbroken dilemma – I chose to go the Red Cross and as I said to the people there – all is dust – your name, my name, Leonard’s name will soon be forgotten – but the good deeds you do tonight will be long remembered – I meant those emphatically. Helping others ever reverberates through time – we’ll mourn Leonard, say his name and then pledge your money. / William Shatner”. Single page composed on Shatner’s personal stationery measures 7.25” x 10.25”. Near fine condition.

(9) COMPARING HORNBLOWER AND KIRK. The Nate Sanders house also is auctioning this handwritten anecdote: “William Shatner Describes Captain Kirk: ‘…the gravity of each decision, the mastery of everybody on board…riding a stud horse bareback, loving the ladies – sound familiar?…’”

Fantastic handwritten signed recollection by William Shatner, reflecting on Captain Kirk, his famous alter ego from ”Star Trek”. Composed on Shatner’s personal stationery, he offers an unexpectedly frank and humorous account of Kirk: ”’Horatio Hornblower’ – Roddenberry said in answer to my question ‘who is he like’ – so I read Horatio Hornblower. Horatio is a captain of a British ship plowing the unknown oceans of America in the 1600’s – the loneliness of command, the gravity of each decision, the mastery of everybody on board – awesomeness of command. Yes, very good I got it- and that was the basis of the character of Kirk – I had just, the year before, shot a movie of Alexander the Great, this marvelous, historical character who was one of the great and noble characters of history – using a sword, riding a stud horse bareback, loving the ladies – sound familiar? And those tight costumes!! I had been lifting weights and put on some muscle, I was ready to play Capt. James Tiberius Kirk. Now all I had to do is remember ten pages of dialog – a lot of those words had no basis in English – Scientific goblygook that required head pounding memorization. Memorizing is difficult, some actors, like James Spader, have a photographic memory – they glance at a paper and it’s there forever – me? I have to go over and over and over – it’s a source of great tension – what’s the next word? The eternal actor’s question. / William Shatner”. Single page measures 7.25” x 10.25”. Near fine condition.

(10) GENE FOUGHT FOR THE EARS. The fourth item of Shatner holography being auctioned by the Nate Sanders firm is — “William Shatner Reflects on Gene Roddenberry & the ‘Star Trek’ Pilot – ‘….there was some objection to Spock’s ears. ‘Too devilish’ somebody said – Gene fought for the ears….”

 Fantastic handwritten signed recollection by William Shatner on Gene Roddenberry and getting the ”Star Trek” pilot made, as well as his relationship with Roddenberry as the show progressed. Composed on Shatner’s personal stationery, in full: ”I met Gene Roddenberry over the phone – he had called me in New York to ask me to come see a pilot film he had just made for N.B.C. He was calling it Star Trek. I flew to Los Angeles and went to see this pilot film that N.B.C. didn’t want to buy. I thought it was terrific – I sat in Gene’s office and made a few suggestions – I thought the pilot was a little slow, a little ponderous. It could use some lightness, some humor – He looked at me from across the desk and after a silence said ‘Let’s do it’ – We shot the pilot film for the second time and we were rewarded by a sell. He told me later there was some objection to Spock’s ears. ‘Too devilish’ somebody said – Gene fought for the ears and like in a really good bullfight, he was awarded the ears. Gene was on the set in these early shows and we looked to him for guidance and counsel – which he freely gave. I would frequently go to the office and talk to him about the script, some item of dialogue, some thought that I might have – in these early years he was open – that slowly changed as time went on. / William Shatner”. Single page measures 7.25” x 10.25”. Near fine condition.

(11) HEIRESSES OF RUSS. A.M. Dellamonica posts the “Heiresses of Russ 2015 ToC Announcement”.

I am so pleased to announce the finalized line-up for Heiresses of Russ 2016, from Lethe Press, edited by Steve Berman and myself. This is my editorial debut and it’s the sixth, I believe in the HoR series. As the Lethe Press site says, Heiresses of Russ reprints the prior year’s best lesbian-themed short works of the fantastical, the otherworldly, the strange and wondrous under one cover.

Here’s the line-up:

(12) SECOND FIFTH ELEMENT. Sciencefiction.com invites us to “Check Out The First Trailer For Luc Besson’s ‘Valerian’”

Although Luc Besson has only occasionally ventured into the realm of science fiction, with films like ‘Lucy‘ and of course ‘The Fifth Element’ to his credit, he has nonetheless made a substantial mark on the genre. And now he is poised to do so once again, with his upcoming film ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets‘.

Based on the long-running French comic ‘Valerian and Laureline’, created by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres (who collaborated with Besson, a longtime fan, on ‘The Fifth Element), the film follows Valerian and his partner/love interest Laureline, a pair of government operatives tasked with investigating Alpha, a vast, alien metropolis that may harbor a grave danger to human civilization….

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 9/25/16 Keep Your Scrolls Close, But Keep Your Pixels Closer

(1) SFWA IN A TENT. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America had a tent at this year’s Baltimore Book Festival. Here’s some highlights.

The SFWA line up #bmorebookfest

A post shared by Anne Tibbets (@annetibbets) on

(2) OVERTIME. William Patrick Maynard tells how “Phileas Fogg Finds Immortality” at Black Gate.

When Jules Verne created gentleman adventurer Phileas Fogg in his 1873 novel, Around the World in Eighty Days, he had no way of imagining the bizarre turn his character’s chronicles would take a century later. When Philip Jose Farmer added The Other Log of Phileas Fogg to his Wold Newton Family series in 1973, he had no way of imagining that four decades later there would exist a Wold Newton specialty publisher to continue the esoteric literary exploits of some of the last two centuries’ most fantastic characters.

(3) HOW THIS YEAR’S HUGO BASES WERE MADE. Read artist Sara Felix’s Facebook post about creating the bases. And there’s an Instagram from the company that did the fabrication.

(4) HUGO LOSER DIFFERENT FROM JUST PLAIN LOSER. The Vancouver Sun ran an article on Sebastian de Castell, with a Puppyish spin on events, “The time George R.R. Martin called Vancouver writer Sebastien de Castell a loser”.

It was nothing personal, though. In fact, it had little to do with de Castell at all. De Castell was at the annual celebration of science fiction and fantasy writing/fandom because he had made the Hugo shortlist for best new writer. De Castell figured he would lose to Andy Weir of The Martian fame — he was correct in this prediction — and he assumed Martin believed the same thing.

But Martin was also reacting to the fact that de Castell had been nominated in part because of the efforts of two fan voting blocs: the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies. The Puppies groups have caused chaos in the Hugo Awards and the broader sci-fi and fantasy communities lately by trying to fight what they see as the takeover of the awards by “social justice warriors” who vote for politically correct works at the expense of good writing and storytelling. Both the Sad Puppies, created by bestselling author Larry Correia, and the Rabid Puppies, launched by right-wing writer Vox Day, have put forward slates of suggested writers and works to vote for, and de Castell wound up on just such a list much to his surprise.

Sebastien de Castell elaborated in this Reddit thread: As Peter [reporter Peter Darbyshire] noted in the article, George R.R. Martin wasn’t being hurtful towards me at all–he was simply calling it as he saw it and, of course, was completely correct in his assessment. My mature, adult self understood that there was nothing ungracious on his part in our very brief encounter. My eight year-old inner self, of course, had quite reasonably been expecting his first words to me to be, “What? Sebastien de Castell? By Jove, chap, I’ve been looking all over for you in order to praise your works as the finest in a generation. Also, because I’d love your thoughts on the final books in A Song of Ice & Fire…I happen to have some early pages here if you’d like to read them?”

That’s what Peter and I were discussing in that portion of the interview–the gap for me between feeling like a “big time author” and coming face-to-face with the reality of being a guy who’s really still very much in the early stages of his career.

The most interesting thing about WorldCon (MidAmericon II) for me was how kind people were to me overall. I was very cognizant that my presence on the Campbell shortlist was controversial and likely painful to a lot of people within that community. They had every reason to suspicious and even dismissive of me, but in fact folks were generous and welcoming. David Gerrold gave me some excellent advice on completing the final book in the Greatcoats series, Alyssa Wong was terrific and fun to hang out with (we were the only two Campbell nominees in attendance so our official photos got pretty silly), and I got to spend some time chatting with the brilliant Michael Swanwick.

(5) DC EXPLORING 2024 WORLDCON BID. Their polished website suggests a group that is doing more than just thinking about it, however, they say DC in 2024 is still in the exploratory stage.

We are members of the Baltimore-Washington Area Worldcon Association, Inc. (BWAWA). In 2013, we launched DC17, a bid to host the 2017 Worldcon in Washington, DC at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel… but we lost to Worldcon 75.

We’re back to explore the possibility of hosting the 82nd Worldcon in 2024. Washington, DC is still a super location for a World Science Fiction Convention and we believe it’s time Worldcon returned to DC for the third time. The year 2024 will be the 50th anniversary of Discon II, the last DC Worldcon.

We are still very early in the planning stage. Please check back for information on supporting our bid and our future activities. Our social media links are also still under construction.

They’re exploring right now – but I expect they’ll find they’re bidding if they keeping looking.

(6) WEINBERG OBIT.  SF Site News reports Robert Weinberg (1946-2016) passed away today.

Author Robert Weinberg (b.1946) died on September 25. Weinberg began publishing fiction in 1967 and from 1970 to 1981 edited the fanzine Pulp about pulp magazines. He wrote for Marvel Comics and was known for his art collection. Weinberg also ran a mail order book business until 1997. Weinberg received a special committee award at Chicon 7, the 2012 Worldcon.

Here is the citation that was read at Chicon 7 when Weinberg was presented with his Special Committee Award.

Each year, the Worldcon committee is entitled to recognize someone who has made a difference in our community.  Someone who has made science fiction fandom a better place.  This can be a fan, an author, a bookseller, a collector, a con-runner, or someone who fits into all those and more.  This year, Chicon 7 is pleased to recognize someone who fits into all of those categories.

Robert Weinberg attended his first meeting of the Eastern SF Association in 1963, discovered the club offered something he liked, and became active, eventually becoming the club’s president in 1968.  Maintaining an interest in the pulp magazines which formed so much of the basis for what we read today, Bob published fourteen issues of the fanzine, Pulp, from 1974 through 1980.

In 1968, Bob began publishing readers guides to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, eventually expanding both to book length and publishing additional guides and books about the pulp magazines and the authors who wrote for them.  1973 saw his publication of WT50, an anniversary tribute to Weird Tales, a magazine to which Bob would acquire the rights in 1979 and help revive.

Bob is a collector of science fiction and fantasy art from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, working to preserve art which otherwise might have been lost. His interest in art collection also led to him writing A Biographical Dictionary of SF & Fantasy Artists, which served as a basis for Chicon 7’s Guest of Honor Jane Frank’s own A Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists.

Beginning in 1976, Bob began serving as the co-chairman of the Chicago Comicon, then the second largest comic book convention in the United States.  He continued in that position for twenty years before it was sold to Wizard Entertainment.  During that time, Bob also chaired the World Fantasy Convention when it came to Chicago on two different occasions and in 1978 he co-chaired the first major Doctor Who convention in the United States.

Bob has also written his own books, both non-fiction and fiction.. His first novel, The Devil’s Auction, was published in 1988 with more than a dozen novels and collections to follow.  He worked with Martin H. Greenberg to edit and publish numerous anthologies beginning in the 1980s.

Not content to write his own books and monographs, run conventions, and collect art, Bob also, for several years, ran the mail-order Weinberg Books.  Bob offered advice to Alice Bentley when she was setting up The Stars Our Destination, a science fiction specialty bookstore in Chicago from 1988 through 2003.  In 1997, Bob sold his mail order business to Alice.

Bob’s long career as a fan, author, bookseller, collector, and con-runner has helped make science fiction the genre, and the community, it is today.  Chicon 7 would like to recognize Robert Weinberg for his years of service and devotion given to advancing the field of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

(7) PETERSON OBIT. First Fandom member Robert C. Peterson (1921-2016) died August 15. John Coker III wrote the following appreciation:

Robert C. Peterson (May 30, 1921 – August 15, 2016)

Robert Constant Peterson passed away on August 15 after a brief illness.  He is survived by his four sons, John, James, Alan, and Douglas, and his grandchildren, Katherine, Eric, Diana, and Jay.

Robert was preceded in death by his wife of over 50 years, Winifred.

Robert graduated in 1942 from the University of Wyoming and served in the U.S. Army during World War II.  He was an avid hiker and was an active member of the Colorado Mountain Club.  He led hikes for the club until just before he turned 80.  He met his wife, Winifred, on a mountain club hike.

Robert was an early fan of science fiction.  In 1994 he was elected to the First Fandom Hall of Fame, and in 2008 he received the Sam Moskowitz Archive Award in recognition of his SF collection.

Robert and Winifred were lifelong members of the Washington Park United Church of Christ and were strong supporters of social justice.  They supported Winifred’s sister Gretchen in her work at the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) in Japan.  Robert and Winifred travelled extensively in the U.S. and throughout the world.

In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the American Friends of the ARI (http://www.friends-ari.org/).

(8) GARMAN OBIT. Jack Garman (1944-2016), credited with a judgment call that saved the first moon landing, died September 20 at the age of 72.

On July 20, 1969, moments after mission control in Houston had given the Apollo 11 lunar module, Eagle, the O.K. to begin its descent to the moon, a yellow warning light flashed on the cockpit instrument panel. “Program alarm,” the commander, Neil Armstrong, radioed. “It’s a 1202.”

The alarm appeared to indicate a computer systems overload, raising the specter of a breakdown. With only a few minutes left before touchdown on the moon, Steve Bales, the guidance officer in mission control, had to make a decision: Let the module continue to descend, or abort the mission and send the module rocketing back to the command ship, Columbia.

By intercom, Mr. Bales quickly consulted Jack Garman, a 24-year-old engineer who was overseeing the software support group from a back-room console. Mr. Garman had painstakingly prepared himself for just this contingency — the possibility of a false alarm.

“So I said,” he remembered, “on this backup room voice loop that no one can hear, ‘As long as it doesn’t reoccur, it’s fine.’”

At 4:18 p.m., with only 30 seconds of fuel remaining for the descent, Mr. Armstrong radioed: “Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Mr. Garman, whose self-assurance and honed judgment effectively saved mankind’s first lunar landing, died on Tuesday outside Houston. He was 72. His wife, Susan, said the cause was complications of bone marrow cancer.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 25, 1959 — Hammer’s The Mummy, seen for the first time in the UK on this day.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born September 25, 1930  — Shel Silverstein
  • Born September 25, 1951 – Mark Hamill
  • Born September 25, 1952  — Christopher Reeve

(11) JUST BEFORE THE FINAL FRONTIER. Need an excuse to feel miserable? Read “Leonard Nimoy Died Hating William Shatner” at About Entertainment.

(12) CULTURAL APPROPRIATION DEBATE. Kaitlyn Greenidge makes some trenchant comments in “Who Gets To Write What?” for the New York Times.

…Claudia Rankine, when awarded the MacArthur genius grant this past week, noted that the prize was “the culture saying: We have an investment in dismantling white dominance in our culture. If you’re trying to do that, we’re going to help you.” For some, this sounds exciting. For others, this reads as a threat — at best, a suggestion to catch up and engage with a subject, race, that for a long time has been thought of as not “universal,” not “deep” enough for fiction. The panic around all of this is driving these outbursts.

It must feel like a reversal of fate to those who have not been paying attention. The other, who has been relegated to the background character, wise outcast, dash of magic, or terror or cool or symbolism, or more simply emotional or physical whore, is expected to be the main event, and some writers suspect that they may not be up for that challenge.

A writer has the right to inhabit any character she pleases — she’s always had it and will continue to have it. The complaint seems to be less that some people ask writers to think about cultural appropriation, and more that a writer wishes her work not to be critiqued for doing so, that instead she get a gold star for trying.

Whenever I hear this complaint, I am reminded of Toni Morrison’s cool assessment of “anti-P.C. backlash” more than 20 years ago: “What I think the political correctness debate is really about is the power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name. And the defined are now taking that power away from them.”

This debate, or rather, this level of the debate, is had over and over again, primarily because of an unwillingness on one side to consider history or even entertain a long line of arguments in response. Instead, what often happens is a writer or artist acts as though she is taking some brave stand by declaring to be against political correctness. As if our entire culture is not already centered on a very particular version of whiteness that many white people don’t even inhabit anymore. And so, someone makes a comment or a statement without nuance or sense of history, only with an implicit insistence that writing and publishing magically exist outside the structures of power that dominate every other aspect of our daily lives.

Imagine the better, stronger fiction that could be produced if writers took this challenge to stretch and grow one’s imagination, to afford the same depth of humanity and interest and nuance to characters who look like them as characters who don’t, to take those stories seriously and actually think about power when writing — how much further fiction could go as an art.

(13) THE VOX DAY FASHION SHOW. Day spared no effort to fit into the theme of a 5K he ran —  “The Color Run: a story of courage, endurance, and ninjas, part I”.

Spacebunny and Vox Day.

Spacebunny and Vox Day.

We got up very early, so early that it was pretty much a toss of the coin as to whether I’d just stay up all night or not, and made the drive to Lausanne, Switzerland, where we met our friends with whom we were doing the run. We changed in the parking lot, where it was much appreciated how my multicolored tutu nicely matched the colorful logo of the t-shirts we were provided. It was rather cold, which inspired Spacebunny to deliver an equally colorful soliloquy in appreciation for the generosity of the donors who were the reason she was wearing nothing but a bikini under her tutu.

Which, of course, was not as pretty as mine, as hers was only yellow. I pointed out that she would probably be glad to not be wearing very much in the way of clothing once we started running and the sun rose a bit higher in the sky, an intelligent observation that impressed her to such an extent that she expressed a keen wish to feel my teeth in her flesh, a sentiment that she managed to phrase in an admirably succinct manner. She was also delighted to discover that while there were people wearing everything from unicorn suits to dragon outfits, she was the only runner in a bikini.

The Color Run happens in hundreds of town internationally in the course of a year:

The Color Run is a five-kilometer, un-timed event in which thousands of participants, or “Color Runners”, are doused from head to toe in different colors at each kilometer. With only two rules, the idea is easy to follow:

1Wear white at the starting line!

2Finish plastered in color!

After Color Runners complete the race, the fun continues with an unforgettable Finish Festival. This larger than life party is equipped with music, dancing and massive color throws, which create millions of vivid color combinations. Trust us, this is the best post-5k party on the planet!

(14) REAL NEWS AND A FAKE TRAILER. From Den of Geek, “Doctor Who Spinoff: Class – Latest News”.

Peter Capaldi will be appearing in the first episode of Class! The show announced the good news via its social media accounts.

We also know that the show’s first two episodes will premiere in the UK on October 22nd. The Twitter account also announced the titles of the first two episodes: “For Tonight We Might Die” and “The Coach With the Dragon Tattoo.” Whoa. That first one is dark and that second one really does sound like it could be a Buffy episode….

Sadly, we don’t yet have an official trailer for Class, though we do have an amazing fanmade one that is pretty brilliant in showing a potential tone of the show and put it into context within the larger Doctor Who universe. It gives a sense of just how ingrained the Coal Hill School has been in the Doctor Who world.

 

[Thanks to Steven H Silver, Bartimaeus, Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Rambo, A wee Green Man, and John King Tarpinian, for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor IanP.]

Pixel Scroll 7/4/16 Pixeled On The Fourth of July

The three actual LEGO minifigures of Jupiter, Juno and Galileo on the Juno probe as seen before launch. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/LEGO)

The three actual LEGO minifigures of Jupiter, Juno and Galileo on the Juno probe as seen before launch. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/LEGO)

(1) LEGO AND JUNO. CollectorSpace tells about three hitchhikers aboard the Juno mission to Jupiter.

The Juno minifigure holds a magnifying glass to signify her search for the truth and her husband holds a lightning bolt. Galileo, who is credited with several important discoveries about Jupiter, including identifying its four largest moons, holds both a model of the planet and his telescope.

The three figures stand along a ledge on the spacecraft’s hexagonal two-deck body, which also houses Juno’s eight primary science instruments, 29 sensors and a first-of-its-kind shielded vault to protect the probe’s electronics from Jupiter’s heavy radiation environment.

“We put these LEGO minifigures on board Juno in order to inspire and motivate and engage children, to have them share in the excitement of space exploration and reaching for the best goals that you can,” Bolton said.

To that end, NASA and LEGO have partnered on “Mission to Space,” a new design challenge that invites children to use the toy building bricks to imagine the future of space exploration.

(2) FIFTIES MOVIE TRIVIA. HowStuffWorks offers “The 1950s Sci-Fi Movie Quiz”

Even though I scored 24 out of 30, Tarpinian will be disgusted that I got the Ray Bradbury question wrong. So am I!

(3) AUSSIE SF SCREENWRITING COMPETITION. Australia Writers Guild members (only) have until August 22 to enter: “Call for Entries: John Hinde Awards for Excellence in Science Fiction”.

The award was established to encourage, reward and foster creativity in the development and showcasing of science fiction writing for feature film, short film, television, radio and interactive media. It also provides an avenue for unproduced works to enter.

Jesse O’Brien, the 2015 winner in the Produced category for his screenplay Arrowhead, says, “We’re only a few movies away from a significant genre resurgence and if Arrowhead can inspire the imaginations of other writers, then it has done the very best thing movies can do,” he says. “Thank you to John Hinde for leaving this treasure for us to find, and to the AWG for presenting it.”

The Prizes

The competition will be split up into two separate categories – produced and unproduced. Each category will have its own specific prize.

Produced:

  • $10,000 cash prize

Unproduced:

  • The winning script will be read by an experienced genre producer and the writer will be set up with a meeting with an industry professional hand-selected for your specific piece of work. Associated travel expenses will be covered by the AWG/John Hinde Bequest.
  • The winner and all shortlisted applicants will be provided with entry into the AWG Pathways Program – an initiative that provides networking opportunities for writers and the chance to showcase their ideas to industry professionals thereby giving those industry professionals access to quality scripts.

(4) NEILL OBIT. Known for playing Lois Lane in The Adventures of Superman, actress Noel Neill died July 3 at the age of 95. She was a popular guest at media cons, where many fans got to meet her over the years.

Noel Neill and Kirk Alyn (another screen Superman) at Equicon II in 1974. Photo by Dik Daniels.

Noel Neill and Kirk Alyn (another screen Superman) at Equicon II in 1974. Photo by Dik Daniels.

SF Site News adds:

She retired from acting when the show went off the air, but appeared as Lois Lane’s mother in the film Superman, as well as bit roles in the television series Superboy and the film Superman Returns. She also played Aunt Lois in Surge of Power.

Bleeding Cool’s obit includes other details of her entertainment career.

With the help of Bing Crosby, Noel signed a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures in 1941. She initially made several short films, then appeared in mostly non-speaking roles, gradually gaining leading lady status beginning with 1944’s Are These Our Parents?

In total, Noel made close to 100 films in her long and incredible career, and surprisingly, most were Western films made in the 1940s and 1950s. She worked with many noted directors such Cecil B. DeMille, Vincent Minnelli, and Hal Roach, and starred with actors Bob Hope, Crosby, Gene Kelley, Clayton Moore, Johnny Mack Brown and William Holden.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 4, 1862 — Lewis Caroll first told Alice Liddell the story of Alice in Wonderland.

(6) TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION

  • Donald F. Glut asks, “Did Forry say, ‘Harpy Fearth of Ghoul Eye’?”

(7) FOURTH WITH. Damien G. Walter wishes us a jolly holiday:

(8) HUGO NOM COVERAGE. Lisa Goldstein sent a note that she has reviewed “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” at inferior4+1, and wishes everyone, “Happy Fourth! And Fifth!”

(9) GAME OF THRONES. Via ScienceFiction.com “Cersei Lannister Lets It Go In ‘Game of Thrones’/‘Frozen’ Mash-Up”. How ill!

BEWARE SPOILERS

(10) METAL MEN. Jennifer Ouelette at Gizmodo says a “New Study Busts the Myth That Knights Couldn’t Move Well in Armor”.

Daniel Jaquet of the University of Geneva and several colleagues aim to bust that myth with a new study examining the range of motion and energy cost while fighting in medieval armor. They published their findings in a recent paper in Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History.

Medieval scholars have long known that armor worn by knights of that era allowed for far more mobility than most people realize. There’s even a 1924 educational film created by the Metropolitan Museum of New York to address the popular misconception. But until quite recently, little quantitative data was available to support that stance.

(11) JAPANESE CULTURE CON. NatsuCon runs July 22-24 in St. Louis:

NatsuCon is a Saint Louis metro-area based anime convention possessing the sole desire of expanding the appreciation, understanding, and acceptance of Japanese pop-culture in America. By the use of media ranging from art, to music, to visual screenings, NatsuCon strives to present attendees with an accepting, friendly environment allowing guests of all ages to meet and express similar interests. The staff and volunteers of NatsuCon all share the common wish of providing attendees with a fun and welcoming atmosphere. Through educational panels and interactive presentations and events based around precepts of Japanese culture, NatsuCon will offer its guests with an opportunity to empower themselves by increasing knowledge, diversity, and strength of character.

(12) SPOCKUMENTARY SCREENS IN BOSTON. Adam Nimoy’s tribute to his father was shown to Kickstarter donors in Boston last week.

“Star Trek” fans like the character of Mr. Spock because he’s low-key and emotionally detached. But it turns out Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played the Vulcan with the pointy ears, was the same way in real life, which wasn’t so great for his son. That’s the sense one gets watching Adam Nimoy’s documentary about his dad, “For the Love of Spock,” which screened at the Revere Hotel this week. (The movie, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, comes out Sept. 9.)

Monday’s invite-only screening was for Trekkies who contributed to the filmmaker’s Kickstarter campaign, an effort that raised a whopping $660,000. (That ranks as one of the crowd-funding platform’s most successful campaigns ever.)

Introducing “For the Love of Spock,” Adam Nimoy said it was a special treat to screen the film in Boston, where his dad grew up. (The elder Nimoy was raised in the West End and hawked newspapers in Boston Common as a kid.)

(13) YABBA DABBA DUDE. Michael Cavna, who writes “Comic Riffs” for the Washington Post, brings word of a Flintstones comics reboot.

DC COMICS reached out with a mission for Mark Russell. How would he like to write a reboot of “The Flintstones”?

His prompt reply: “I kind of hate ‘The Flintstones.’ ”

The DC editors’ response: They liked his humorous take for his award-winning comic “Prez,” so his distaste for the old animated Hanna-Barbera TV show was not a dealbreaker.

“So I knew from the beginning,” Russell tells The Post’s Comic Riffs, “that it would be a satiric, edgy response to ‘The Flintstones.’ ”

Next month, DC will debut “The Flintstones” No. 1, which slyly unfurls Russell’s sardonic take on the “modern Stone Age family” from the town of Bedrock.

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Hampus Eckerman, Lisa Goldstein, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John King Tarpinian.]

Pixel Scroll 4/19/16 You’ve Lost That Scrollin’ Feelin’

(1) OPENING DAY. The PKDFest is three days long — I posted about the Friday and Saturday sessions at Cal State Fullerton. The party starts Thursday, April 28 on another campus — at UC Irvine.

PKD IN OC CROP

Philip K. Dick in the OC: Virtually Real, Really Virtual

Thursday, April 28, 2016, 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Humanities Gateway 1030)

Philip K. Dick spent the last decade of his life from 1972 to 1982 in Orange County, having fled the Bay Area convinced he was the target of various malevolent forces, ranging from governmental agencies to religious groups. In Orange County, PKD experienced the anonymity of everyday life in suburbia. He also experienced a divine vision that, as he explained in later writings, permitted him to glimpse the “trans-temporal constancy” of the universe. During his decade in Orange County, he produced some of his most enduring and enigmatic works, including novels like A Scanner Darkly and VALIS that reflect a pervasive sense of paranoia and also PKD’s attempts to make sense of his life-altering spiritual experience.

Schedule:

Opening Remarks & Welcome – 10:30am

  • Jonathan Alexander

10:45am-12:00pm

  • Interviewing Phil, Charles Platt
  • PKD in Perspective, Gregg Rickman
  • PKD on the Couch, Barry Spatz

Lunch Break – 12:00pm-1:00pm

Living with Phil – 1:00pm-2:00pm

  • Tessa Dick, Grania Davis, Gregory Benford (moderator)

Visualizing Phil (in the High Castle and Otherwise) – 2:00pm-3:00pm

  • Sherryl Vint, Jonathan Alexander, Antoinette LaFarge

Coffee break – 3:00pm-3:15pm

PKD and Privacy – 3:15pm-4:30pm

  • David Brin, Gregory Benford

Closing Reception – 4:30pm

Please RSVP to icruse@uci.edu to confirm your attendance.

(2) B.C. Things Kelly Link did before being announced as a Pulitzer finalist yesterday now appear in a strange new light….

(3) VENDORS IN SPACE. Russ Ault told Facebook readers merchants are getting a bum deal at Worldcons.

Some of us out here in the world of convention merchants have, for some time now, been getting increasingly disenchanted with the opportunity presented by the typical Worldcon. (For those unfamiliar, that’s the annual “World Science Fiction Convention”, held in a different place each year, and nominally staffed and run by a different group each year as well.) In a space that is typically similar to that occupied by a Wizard World event, at a cost of more than twice as much per attendee, they end up hosting a crowd that is just 10% to 25% of the size of the typical media or comic con – but the rates they want for vendor space (when you include the price of the separate membership) end up being commensurate with the worst of the WW shows in terms of per-live-body-square-foot results. An eight-foot table and one membership will cost you over $400, with the prospect of having a crowd of as few as 3500 to 4000 people. (Compare that to a 10×10 booth for $1500 with a delivered head count that’s typically in the area of 20,000 – which is not really a very good deal either.)

And they wonder why we bristle when they say things like “The Worldcon doesn’t owe the dealers anything.”

(4) ARTIFICIAL CHARM. Hugh Hancock foresees the “Rise of the Trollbot” in a guest post on Charles Stross’ blog.

… In “Accelerando”, Charlie posited the idea of a swarm of legal robots, creating a neverending stream of companies which exchange ownership so fast they can’t be tracked.

It’s rather clear to me that the same thing is about to happen to social media. And possibly politics.

What makes me so sure?

Microsoft’s Tay Chatbot. Oh, and the state of the art in Customer Relationship Management software….

2: On The Internet, No-one Knows Their Friend Is A Dog.

In many ways, the straightforward trollswarm approach is the least threatening use of this technology. A much more insidious one is to turn the concept on its head – at least initially – and optimise the bots for friendliness.

Let’s say you wish to drive a particular group of fly-fishers out of the fishing community online for good.

Rather than simply firing up a GPU instance and directing it to come up with the world’s best fly-fishing insults, fire it up and direct it to befriend everyone in the fly-fishing community. This is eminently automatable: there are already plenty of tools out there which allow you to build up your Twitter following in a semi-automated manner (even after Twitter clamped down on “auto-following”), and Tay was already equipped to post memes. A decent corpus, a win condition of follows, positive-sentiment messages and RTs, and a bot could become a well-respected member of a social media community in months.

THEN turn the bot against your enemies. Other humans will see the fight too. If your bot’s doing a half-decent job – and remember, it’s already set up to optimise for RTs – real humans, who have actual power and influence in the community, will join in. They may ban the people under attack from community forums, give them abuse offline, or even threaten their jobs or worse.

For even more power and efficiency, don’t do this with one bot. One person starting a fight is ignorable. Twenty, fifty or a hundred respected posters all doing it at once – that’s how things like Gamergate start.

(And of course, the choice of persona for the bots, and how they express their grievances, will be important. Unfortunately we already have a large corpus of information on how to craft a credible narrative and cause people to feel sympathy for our protagonist – storytelling. If the bot-controller has a decent working knowledge of “Save The Cat” or “Story”, that’ll make the botswarm all the more effective…)

(5) A NUMERICAL LACK. From the Dictionary of Fantastic Vocabulary, ”a compendium of imaginary words and their uses,”comes —

Anquintan, n.

a person without five

That’s what happens when someone uses double share!

(6) DO AS I SAY. Dr. Mauser says “Don’t Pirate Indies”. (But dude, your blog is named Shoplifting in the Marketplace of Ideas!)

…. Now, I understand a bit of what’s going on, there’s an awful lot of piracy going on out there, and yeah, in strictest terms, virtually every picture you’ve got on your phone or hard drive that you didn’t take yourself is some kind of copyright violation. I’m not going to go down that puritan road. But let me go through the usual excuses and explain why they don’t apply to indy books….

But I’m broke! – No, you’re not, you just can’t prioritize, or childishly can’t manage your budget. We’re talking an e-book in the $2.99 to $5.99 range. Hell, Comic books are about that much apiece these days. You just bought the latest video game for enough to buy TEN eBooks. You could stock a library for what you spent on that Con. Give up ONE Latte? (Furries are particularly notorious for pleading poverty when their favorite artists put out a $10 portfolio, then drop $50 for a single commission of their personal character in some sexual position – go fig.)

Hey, I’m doing you a favor, it’s free publicity! – Bullshit. In my friend’s case, it’s costing him plenty – hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Free publicity is writing reviews, having discussions, all that stuff they call “Word of Mouth”, and actually BUYING the book so that its Amazon Rankings go up. If you actually Love the author’s work, why are you destroying it?

(7) CAT’S PICTURES. Cat Rambo tells “How I Use Instagram”.

Still working frantically on the update for the Creating an Online Presence for Writers book, plus prepping for this weekend’s online class. One big change since the last version is Instagram‘s rocket upward in popularity. Here in 2016, it is the number two social media network in number of users, second only after Facebook.

It lets you post pictures, often with some sort of caption, and see what other people are posting. Unlike Facebook, it doesn’t play fast and loose with what you see, but gives you a stream composed of everyone you’re following.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 19, 1987 — The Simpsons first aired on The Tracey Ullman Show.

(9) MORTALITY. Rachel Swirsky has revised her essay “On Writing and Mortality”. “It was originally published in 2011. I had recently had a death scare.”

A year or two ago, an article made the rounds which had asked a number of famous authors for ten pieces of writing advice. Some of the advice was irritating, some banal, some profound, and some amusing.

One piece of advice that got picked up and repeated was the idea that if you were working on a project, and found out that you had six weeks to live, if you were willing to set the project down then it was the wrong project for you to be writing.

I dislike that advice. It seems to come from the same place that makes writers say things like “a real writer has to write” or “any writers who can be discouraged should be.” (A convenient excuse for acting like a jerk.)

(10) GOOGLE BOOK SCANNING UPHELD. “Supreme Court rejects challenge to Google book-scanning project”. As David Klaus puts it, “The court says ‘to Hell with your ownership of the books you write.’”

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge by a group of authors who contend that Google’s massive effort to scan millions of books for an online library violates copyright law.

The Authors Guild and several individual writers have argued that the project, known as Google Books, illegally deprives them of revenue. The high court left in place an October 2015 ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in favor of Google.

A unanimous three-judge appeals court panel said the case “tests the boundaries of fair use,” but found Google’s practices were ultimately allowed under the law.

The individual plaintiffs who filed the proposed class action against Google included former New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton, who wrote the acclaimed memoir “Ball Four.”

Several prominent writers, including novelist and poet Margaret Atwood and lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim, signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief backing the Authors Guild.

The authors sued Google, whose parent company is Alphabet Inc, in 2005, a year after the project was launched. A lower court dismissed the litigation in 2013, prompting the authors’ appeal.

(11) WICKED AUTOGRAPH. Abe Books has a special Something available for Bradbury fans.

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. (SIGNED)

BRADBURY, Ray, [ Christopher Lee ].

Published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 1962 Second Edition. Hardback. Dust Jacket. (1962)

Used Hardcover Signed

…Signed presentation from the author on the front endpaper to Christopher Lee, ‘For Christopher Lee, who is Mr. Dark! With the admiration of his fan – Ray Bradbury, Mar. 21st 1964’. Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, CBE,(1922–2015) was an English actor, singer, author, and World War II veteran. He was notably in ‘The Wicker Man’ and ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ but is best known for his role as Count Dracula in a sequence of Hammer Horror films and later as Saruman in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy.

(12) SPOCK AT TRIBECA. Yahoo! Movies’ Seth Kelley has the story: “’For the Love of Spock’ Q&A Remembers Leonard Nimoy, Talks Future of ‘Star Trek’ Franchise”.

Adam Nimoy remembered his late father, Leonard, during a Q&A that followed a screening of his documentary “For The Love of Spock.” The discussion took place on Monday as part of the Tribeca Film Festival where the film first screened two days earlier.

Variety‘s Gordon Cox moderated the conversation, which also included Zachary Quinto, EP David Zappone and film critic and self-proclaimed Trekker Scott Mantz.

Adam Nimoy, who wrote and directed the film, said that he had plenty of material. “A lot of things got left on the cutting room floor, unfortunately,” he said. But he added that his father would have approved of the final cut. “I think he would be very pleased and proud.”

(13) IMMURED. “Elizabeth Banks Unrecognizable As Power Rangers Reboot’s Rita Repulsa” says Yahoo! News.

People magazine has lifted the lid on 2017?s live action ‘Power Rangers’ reboot by revealing the film’s villain Rita Repulsa as played – beneath layers of costume and prosthetic make up – by Elizabeth Banks.

The ‘Hunger Games’ star is channelling her dark side to play the mean green witch – her first villain role – describing the character as “a modern and edgy re-imagining of the original Rita”.

(14) CROWDSOURCED BOWIE TRIBUTE. Unbound’s project Fill Your Heart: Writers on Bowie will be an anthology of writers inspired by the musician.

Our mourning isn’t over, but we want to write, we’ve got to write: to him, for him, about him. Fill Your Heart: Writers On Bowie is an anthology by some of our greatest contemporary writers. It is an anthology celebrating David Bowie with creativity. Whether a short story, a poem, a piece of memoir, psychogeograhy or creative non-fiction, these pieces will be personal responses to Bowie, to his shaping work and influence.

Edited by the novelist Tiffany Murray, this will be an important celebration, possibly a strange, mad celebration, but it is for anyone who was and is inspired by David Bowie and his work.

Fill Your Heart will be creating something new, a bold anthology that in some way shows us all how Bowie sparked each generation’s imaginations: how he made us.

Let’s spark together.

The collection is 11% funded so far.

(15) GUARDIANS. A Russian Marvel-esque superhero flick. It’s called Zaschitniki (Russian) or Guardians (English).

Set during the Cold War, a secret organization named “Patriot” gathered a group of Soviet superheroes, altering and augmenting the DNA of four individuals, in order to defend the homeland from supernatural threats. The group includes representatives of the different nationalities of the Soviet Union, which each one of them have long been hiding their true identity. In hard times, they settled down to business and gather to defend their homeland.

 

[Thanks to Kendall, JJ, Will R., Gregory Benford, David K.M. Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 4/17/16 Hives of Light

(1) TIE-IN BOOKS. “The Secret Life of Novelizations”, an 11 minute segment on WYNC.

Write a great book and you’re a genius. Turn a book into a great film and you’re a visionary. Turn a great film into a book…that’s another story.

Novelizations of films are regular best-sellers with cult followings — some are even more beloved than the films that spawned them — but respected they are not. Instead, they’re assumed to be the literary equivalent of merchandise: a way for the movie studios to make a few extra bucks, and a job for writers who aren’t good enough to do anything else. But the people who write them beg to differ.

OTM producer Jesse Brenneman goes inside the world of novelizations, featuring authors Max Allan CollinsAlan Dean FosterElizabeth Hand, and Lee Goldberg.

(2) SPOCK DOC. Lance Ulanoff reviews For the Love of Spock at Mashable — “’For the Love of Spock’ is a moving love letter to an icon and a father”.

For the Love of Spock is three stories woven together into a solid, emotionally charged strand. There is the story of a gifted actor — a renaissance man, as he is described in the film — and his journey from bit player to fame, fortune and permanent pop-culture icon status.

It’s also the story of a character who sprang from the mind of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, but became flesh and blood — and Vulcan salutes — in the hands of Nimoy. And finally, it’s the story of a father and son and their decades-long journey toward love and mutual acceptance.

There’s no way to fit 83 years into a rather fast-paced 100 minutes. As a consequence, huge swaths of Nimoy’s life and career are mentioned all-too-briefly (his directing career) or not at all (Star Trek V and VI, and much of his latter TV career).

(3) MORE FREQUENT DARK. SF Site News says editor Sean Wallace has announced his magazine is stepping up its schedule.

Sean Wallace has announced the the dark fantasy magazine The Dark will shift to a monthly schedule beginning with the May 2016 issue.

(4) ADAMANT. J.C. Carlton says he is really, really right about that book he still hasn’t read – “Why Generation Ships Will NOT ‘Sink’ A Failure To Communicate” at The Arts Mechanical.

As an engineer, I think that Mr. Robinson is clearly wrong.  Or at least, he doesn’t understand the basic rules for setting mission parameters and designing to meet those parameters.  Mr. Robison’s vessel failed because he wanted it to fail.  But to extend that to saying that ALL such proposals would fail is more than a little egotistical. And wrong, really wrong.

Now I haven’t as yet read the book.(Somehow this sticks in the craw of the people over at File 770….

Real pioneers don’t screw up  because failure is not an option and incompetence is something that can’t be tolerated. Yes the environment and the unknowns get the pioneers, think the Donner Party, but the typical pioneers don’t go down without a fight.  They do the work that needs to get done because they are working to make a better place for the next generation, not themselves.  We as a culture have suppressed the pioneer spirit in the last few years and maybe that’s a mistake.  Because pioneers desire and understand liberty and the alternative is tyranny.

Here’s a bunch of links to get the pioneer spirit started.  Sorry, Mr. Robinson, our carracks to the stars will not fail because the pioneer spirits in them, will not let them fail.  Look if my ancestors can cross the North Atlantic in a tiny leaky little boat, can I say anything less?

(5) HOWDY NEIGHBOR. “Never Before Seen Galaxy Spotted Orbiting the Milky Way”: New Scientist has the story.

The galaxy’s empire has a new colony. Astronomers have detected a dwarf galaxy orbiting the Milky Way whose span stretches farther than nearly all other Milky Way satellites. It may belong to a small group of galaxies that is falling into our own.

Giant galaxies like the Milky Way grew large when smaller galaxies merged, according to simulations. The simulations also suggest that whole groups of galaxies can fall into a single giant at the same time. The best examples in our cosmic neighbourhood are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the Milky Way’s two brightest satellites, which probably orbit each other.

Orbiting galaxies

About four dozen known galaxies orbit our own. The largest in terms of breadth is the Sagittarius dwarf, discovered in 1994 – but it’s big only because our galaxy’s gravity is ripping it apart. The next two largest are the Magellanic Clouds.

(6) BATMAN V SUPERMAN V ABIGAIL. This is the kind of post that has inspired me to write Abigail Nussbaum’s name on my Hugo ballot from time to time. In the paragraphs following the excerpt, she deconstructs a scene from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and gives us a wonderful premise for understanding what shaped Superman’s psyche in the Snyder and non-Snyder movie versions.

Nor am I here to talk about how Batman v Superman fundamentally betrays its two title characters–and betrays, along the way, the fact that Snyder and writers David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio fundamentally do not understand what either of those characters are about.  Because the truth is, I don’t really care.  I’m not a comic book reader, but I’ve been watching Batman movies for twenty years, and good or bad they all depict the character as, at best, someone who is working out their mommy-and-daddy issues by beating up poor criminals, and at worst, an outright fascist.  I’m perfectly willing to believe that there is more to the character, and that the comics (and the animated series) have captured that, but I think at this stage it’s a mug’s game to go to a Batman movie expecting to find more than what they’ve been known to give us.  As for Superman, if I want stories about a character who is all-powerful yet fundamentally good, and still interesting for all that, I’ve got the MCU’s Captain America, not to mention Supergirl, so that fact that Batman v Superman depicts Superman as someone who seems genuinely to dislike people, and to be carrying out acts of heroism (when he deigns to do so) out of a sense of aggrieved obligation, doesn’t really feel worth getting worked up over.  On the contrary, I was more upset by those scenes in Batman v Superman in which characters insisted–despite all available evidence–that its Superman was a figure of hope and inspiration, because they made it clear just how badly the people making the movie had misjudged its effect.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 17, 1810 Lewis M. Norton patented a vat for forming pineapple-shaped cheese. (Even John King Tarpinian doesn’t know why he sent me this link.)
  • April 17, 1970 — With the world anxiously watching on television, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returned to Earth.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY DUCK.

  • April 17, 1937 – Daffy Duck.

From the CBS News Almanac: …That day saw the premiere of a Warner Brothers cartoon titled “Porky’s Duck Hunt.”

The cartoon followed Porky Pig as he attempted to bag a most unusual duck … a duck quite unwilling to follow the rules:

Porky: “Hey, that wasn’t in the script!” Daffy: “Don’t let that worry you, Skipper! I’m just a darn fool crazy duck!”

Actually, make that DAFFY Duck, in his very first film role — his first, but by no means his last.

(9) ACCOUNTING FOR TASTES. Fynbospress, in “Preorders” at Mad Genius Club, sorts out how that sales tool affects traditional and indie publishers differently.

Several years ago, indie publishers put up quite a hue and cry about not having preorders available to them on Amazon, unlike their trad pub competitors. Amazon listened, and made preorders available, with a few caveats to ensure that indie pub would indeed have the product ready on ship date, and not leave Amazon holding the bag while angry customers yelled at them.

With glee, indie pub rushed out to put things on preorder…. and promptly found it wasn’t all that and a bag of chips. It’s a useful tool, but it isn’t nearly as important to them as it’s made out to be.

The critical differences:

  1. Amazon counts a preorder toward the item’s sales rank the day the order is placed.

This makes logical sense in the non-publishing world, as the “sale” happens the day a contract to sell is agreed upon, not the ship date, not the date money changes hands, nor the date the customer receives the item. This is pretty standard whether ordering a run of shoes manufactured in China, selling wheat futures in Chicago, or a racehorse in Kentucky.

(10) QUIDDITCH ON TV. “Quidditch, the sport of wizards” was a segment on today’s CBS Sunday Morning. There’s a video report and a text article at the link.

Quidditch, anyone? No idle question in Columbia, South Carolina, where a big championship match is underway this weekend. Anna Werner attended last year’s contest, where she saw an author’s imaginary game come to life:

It’s been nearly 20 years since the first Harry Potter book came out and proceeded to cast a spell over fans around the world. J.K. Rowling’s creation became the most popular book series in publishing history, with over 450 million copies sold — and one of the biggest movie franchises in film history, with nearly $8 billion in ticket sales.

And now Potter-mania has spawned another craze, one based on the high-flying fantasy game played by Harry and his friends called Quidditch, which has now jumped from the world of wizards to the playing fields of Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Yes, real-world Quidditch, complete with players “riding” broomsticks.

“Quidditch has exploded into the college scene and the high school scene all over the world,” said one girl. “It’s absolutely amazing!”

It’s even been the subject of a documentary called “Mudbloods” (a Harry Potter reference, of course).

“People get passionate about it because they grew up with Harry Potter,” said one fan.

The documentary introduces Alex Benepe, one of the founders of Quidditch. He’s been playing since 2005, when a classmate at Middlebury College turned to him with an idea: “‘This weekend, we’re gonna try and play real-life Quidditch,'” Benepe recalled. “We were freshman. And I just thought to myself, ‘There’s no way this is gonna work. This is gonna be so dumb!'”

(11) PLAYING QUIDDITCH. CBS Sunday Morning also provides “A how-to guide to Quidditch”.

The Balls

A volleyball doubles as a Quaffle, which players use to score points, either by throwing it or kicking it through a hoop.

Bludgers are dodgeball-weapons used against opposing players; hit someone with a bludger, and they are temporarily out. They must drop whatever ball they possess, head to the sidelines, and touch a goalpost before returning back to the field.

In the J.K. Rowling books, a Snitch (or a Golden Snitch) is a winged ball that tried to avoid capture. Since magical equipment is harder to come by in real life, Snitches are instead played by people dressed in yellow, who run onto the field at the 18-minute mark and must evade players who try to steal their “tail.”

If a Snitch loses his tail (actually a tennis ball in a sock), the game is over, but in the event of a tie score, play goes into overtime.

(12) RUNNING LOGAN’S MOVIE. Once upon a time there was a Jeopardy! answer…

Jeopardy Logans Run

John King Tarpinian says “In the book middle age would be ten.”

And while we’re on the topic, John recommends Reading The Movie Episode 3: Logan’s Run, a 2011 video.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/13/16 The Dark Nightfall Returns

(1) FOR THE LOVE OF SPOCK. A teaser trailer has been released for the Leonard Nimoy documentary.

(2) KEENE LEAVING HWA. Brian Keene cites over a dozen major organizational failures by Horror Writers of America in “Why and When I Will Begin Boycotting the HWA”, a list that ends —

*And most recently (as of today) allowing an avowed white supremacist and fascist who has previously demonstrated a bias against others based on their race, religion, etc. to participate as a Bram Stoker Award Jury member — an award which will include candidates of various races and religions…..

…Effective 1/1/17 (when the new year’s memberships become active) I will no longer work with anyone who is a then-Current member of the HWA, including writers, publishers, editors, etc. I will not give cover blurbs, introductions, or anything else. If I am asked to be in an anthology, and the anthology is being edited by a then-current HWA member, I will decline. If I am asked to submit a novel, and the publisher is a then-current HWA member, I will decline.

So… if you’d like to work with me in 2017, or you’d like my help with something going forward, I’m very happy to — provided you are not a member of the HWA as of January 1, 2017. Consider this an eight-month notice, which I think is more than fair.

I realize that this decision will put me at odds with both dear friends and fellow mutually-respected peers. That’s okay. It won’t be the first time that has happened. But this is my decision. I am not a Conservative or a Progressive, and I hold the extremists in both camps with contempt. But I am a human being, and a father, and I know what is right and what is wrong. Discrimination of someone based on their race, religion, creed, etc. is wrong.

We endorse things by our participation in them. This current debacle — and previous debacles — are not things I endorse, and I will not, in good conscience, contribute my name, my money, my talent, my draw, or my platform to them.

(3) BE MY GUEST. This is not a problem File 770 has, however, Melanie R. Meadors’ advice to prospective guest bloggers makes a lot of sense — “How to Write a Publicity Query Email That Won’t get You Blacklisted by Bloggers” at Bookworm Blues.

8. Offer them content that will draw readers to their blog. Bloggers are not your bitches. They aren’t working for you. They have a blog because they want people to read them. The harsh reality is that book spotlights get skimmed or skipped. No one cares. Anything that is easy for you, the author, is usually the least effective. Bloggers want content. They want an author’s unique view of things, they want to offer their readers something to entertain and inform them. They want something that will be shared on social media. And really, that’s what YOU want, too. You are doing a publicity tour so that you can actually reach readers. Not just so you can check off a box that says “stuck crap up on the internet.” Spotlights don’t reach readers in a memorable way. Posts that make them laugh, let them hear your voice, and show them who you are hit readers in a positive way that will make them click on the link to your work so they can learn more. That type of content is good for bloggers and is good for you. Tell them what type of post you are interested in, and if possible, even offer them a topic.

(4) STANDING UP. Randall at Catalyst Game Labs wrote his “I’m Standing Up” post before Ken Burnside’s appeared, but he subsequently linked to Burnside which is how I came across it:

I’ve certainly not been perfect. I can look back across a lifetime of con attendance and gaming and cringe now and then at stupid comments I’ve made. And for that, I publicly apologize to any woman who ever felt as though I didn’t respected her, or made her feel as though she is less valuable as she is to our hobby, community, and industry.

And perhaps for that very same sense, there are men who feel ashamed to stand up. Well shake it off. Do the right thing. Stand up. This will only change if we shine a bright enough light down into those repugnant currents. If we get enough people saying this is not okay we just might push those currents down where they’re too afraid to come out any more.

Now let me be absolutely clear, here: Harassment or bullying of any sort against anyone for any reason—be it gender, race, religion, you name it—is not okay. And if I hear anyone around me gatekeeping with that tired old mantra “you’re not a real gamer,” I’m gonna slap that down. Catalyst employees know this and swiftly take care of any such situations. (If anyone has ever had any issues that were not treated appropriately by one of our employees or Catalyst agents, feel free to email me randall@catalystgamelabs.com and I’ll immediately follow up). So this filth laps onto far too many. But it seems pretty clear to me over the research I’ve done that women, by a large margin, take the brunt of this hurt.

For anyone that feels even a moment’s regret over any of this, or experiences they’ve had, please spread this post. Plenty of others are doing the same and doing it well. But we need to do it more. I’m adding my voice to theirs to swell the chorus and shine a light on those currents.

And for all those amazing gamers that make the hobby brilliant for millions of people all over the world, thank you!

I’m a white, male gamer. And I’m standing up.

(5) ASIMOV DEBATE. The 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate topic “Is the Universe a Simulation?” was discussed by panelists on April 5 at The American Museum of Natural History.

What may have started as a science fiction speculation—that perhaps the universe as we know it is a computer simulation—has become a serious line of theoretical and experimental investigation among physicists, astrophysicists, and philosophers.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, moderated a panel composed of David Chalmers, Professor of philosophy, New York University; Zohreh Davoudi, Theoretical physicist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; James Gates, Theoretical physicist, University of Maryland; Lisa Randall, Theoretical physicist, Harvard University; and Max Tegmark  Cosmologist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

(6) BILLIONS BEYOND FANDOM. Martin Morse Wooster passed along two fannish points from a profile of LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman by Nicholas Lemann in the October 16 issue of New Yorker.

1. In middle school in the mid-1980s, Hofmann was a game tester for Chaosium, located near Hofmann’s home in Emeryville.

“Hoffman got himself into one of the groups, and then returned to Chaosium, offering to correct errors he had found in a set of role-playing scripts for Dungeons & Dragons that the company had published.  He wrote a detailed memo and took it to Steve Perrin, a major game developer (All the World’s Monsters, RuneQuest, Elfquest) who was working at Choasium at the time.  ‘He looked at it and said, ‘This is good feedback,’ Hofmann says.  So they gave me another scenario pack to review.  He also began writing reviews for Different Worlds, a gaming magazine that Chaosium published, and getting modestly paid for his work.”

2. Peter Thiel, a friend and college classmate of Hofmann’s, said that Hofmann “was entranced by Snow Crash, a science-fiction novel by Neal Stephenson, published in 1992, which takes place in a twenty-first century California where government has collapsed and people create avatars and try to find a new way to live through a technology-based virtual society called the Metaverse….

….Hofmann was playing with a set  of ingredients that he had first explored at Stanford, with Thiel and others–fantasy gaming, computer technology, philosophy–and thinking about whether there was a big idea that could enable him to have a major effect on the world, first through a business and then through the creation of an entire social system.”

“So sf and fandom is responsible for LinkedIn!” says Wooster, and he asks, “Can we collect royalties?”

(7) FIRST LINES. Rachel Swirsky studied her first lines and other authors’, now the third installment in her series answers the question “First Lines Part III: What Can They Do?”. Here are two of her seven points:

After giving close reading to a dozen first sentences, half mine and half others, I’m ready to make a list of things that a first line can do (although probably no first line should try to do all of them).

  1. Include a mystery the reader wants to solve by reading the next sentence.
  2. Set a fast reading pace.

(8) FINNISH WORLDCON’S FIRST PR. Worldcon 75, to be held in Helsinki in 2017, has issued its first Progress Report. Download it or read it online here. The contents include:

  • Tips on small talk with the guests of honour
  • Finland: An assortment of notes and information
  • The word for Worldcon is Maailmankongressi
  • Finnish fandom: Some unique characteristics

You can go directly the online magazine (done in a format where you digitally flip pages) by clicking here.

(9) TOHO BRINGS BACK GODZILLA. Kotaku says “Japan’s New Godzilla Movie Looks Awesome”.

For the first time in over a decade, there’s a new Godzilla movie coming from Japan’s Toho Studios. This one’s being directed by none other than Neon Genesis’ Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi.

 

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Terhi Törmänen,  David K.M. Klaus, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 3/25/16 Phantom MacSpaceface O’Trollington

(1) SOLID NUMBERS. “So How Many Books Do You Sell?” is the question. Kameron Hurley dares to answer.

It’s the question every writer dreads: “How many books have you sold? ”

It’s a tricky question because for 99% of the year, those with traditionally published books honestly have very little idea. But two times a year – in the spring and in the fall – we receive royalty statements from publishers, which give a sometimes cryptic breakdown of what has sold where. So for those keeping track here with my “Honest Publishing Numbers” posts, here’s an update.

(2) HAND JIVE. Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration Honors Leonard Nimoy’s Artwork”.

More than 50 pieces will be featured during a 50th-anniversary Star Trek art exhibit honoring a half-century of exploring the final frontier. That includes the final piece of art created by original series star, the late Leonard Nimoy.

The event, which San Diego Comic-Con attendees will arrive just in time for, opens on July 21 at the Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts in San Diego, CA. It will then travel to Las Vegas, Toronto, and the UK.

The official Star Trek site is rolling out all the pieces bit by bit, but the artistic work of the beloved Nimoy was one of the first released. The piece, which depicts multiple images of Nimoy’s hand giving the “Live Long and Prosper” salute, was created for the Star Trek Art Exhibit.

The red, yellow and blue motif is a nod to the uniform colors worn by the Star Trek cast of characters in the original show.

(3) LISTEN UP. In “These hearing aids aren’t just for show A.k.a. This message speaks volumes”, Swedish fan Feeejay describes how her being hard of hearing impacted her experiences at the 2014 Swecon, her coping strategies, and how we can assist them.

What can you do to help? In social situations:

Face me when talking.
Repeat or double check that I’ve got the important information.
Help me sit in the center so I can hear everyone.
Speak clearly, and if I ask you to repeat yourself, try to raise your voice just a tad, but mostly speak slower and more clearly.
If you have a induction loop in a facility, use it.
Microphones should always be used, and if an audience microphone is available, use it too.
Alternatively, have the moderator repeat the questions.

When I’m at conventions, I always sit in the front row. If I’m in a panel I prefer to sit in the middle. This is what works for me — if you don’t know what works for someone else, try asking!

And how did it go at the Steampunkfestival?

Some panels went just fine, if I was placed in the center and didn’t get an audience question. Some panels worked less fine if the moderator forgot to repeat the audience question before someone answered it.

In one panel, I got an audience question and waited for the moderator to repeat it. My silence was interpreted as confusion or not having a good answer, so other panel members answered instead, while I looked like a question mark. I felt really stupid.

(4) THE MAGIC NUMBER FIVE. Lavie Tidhar, interviewed by Shelf Awareness, is asked a numerical question.

Your top five authors:

The writers who most influenced me (for good or bad) are probably Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler, Cordwainer Smith (the pen name of Paul Linebarger, who was an intelligence specialist and the godson of Sun Yat-sen and wrote the most extraordinary and peculiar science fiction stories). Tim Powers–I still remember discovering him for the first time and being so blown away. T.S. Eliot.

It’s a sort of Hardboiled Five, isn’t it? It’s more a list of people who directly influenced my writing in some way than anything else.

(5) READ COATES. Rachel Swirsky makes a “Favorite Fiction Recommendation: ‘Magic in a Certain Slant of Light’”

I met Deborah Coates when I was in graduate school at the University of Iowa. She and I were in a writers group together with a lot of other people. We called it Dragons of the Corn.

Deb writes beautiful magical realism, fantasy and science fiction. At one point, she was tossing around the term “rural fantasy.” Her prose is lovely, and the moods she creates are delicate and pervasive.

“Magic in a Certain Slant of Light” is one of my favorites of her short stories….

(6) HAMNER. Earl Hamner, Jr.’s family thanked everyone for their condolences on Facebook, and at the post provides addresses of charitable institutions he supported.

We have been asked about a memorial or service and all I can tell you at this time is that Dad was emphatically opposed to the idea. He even made my mother promise him not to even consider the idea! So, we are respecting his wishes, but at the same time trying to imagine a way to remember him that he would like. (I.e., we all meet at the James River in Virgina and go fishing and drink a lot of Jack Daniels.) In the meantime, if you feel you need to do something to honor him, you will find below a list of organizations that Dad supported. A charitable gift in his memory would make him proud.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 25, 1956 — Lon Chaney stars as “Butcher” Benton, The Indestructible Man.

(8) RED MARS HITS RED LIGHT. Deadline reports “Spike TV ‘Red Mars’ Series On Pause After Showrunner Exits”.

Spike TV has pushed the pause button on Red Mars, its 10-episode straight-to-series drama adaptation of Kim Stanley Robinson’s best-selling “hard” science-fiction trilogy. The move comes as executive producer/showrunner Peter Noah has exited the project, produced by Skydance TV.

…. I hear Straczynski, who had written the pilot script out of his passion for the books, had the option to stay on as showrunner or leave and keep an executive producer credit. The writer, who had been busy in features and TV, opted for the latter, and Noah came in as showrunner. He has now departed too over what I heard were creative differences with Spike.

(9) THE MESSAGE. Chris Van Trump is “Back In The Sad-dle Again” at Shambling Towards Bethlehem.

…What bothers me about the whole Sad Puppies situation is how often the existence of talent in the opposition has been denied, by both sides in this small battlefield of the culture war. Obviously that was Correia’s point in kicking off the whole affair; to expose what he considered to be ideological filtering in the Hugo nomination and voting process.

Personally, I think he was right. Not because of some grand cabal of liberal hypocrites willing to trash good authors on the grounds of political dissent, but because communities develop specific cultures, and those cultures create preferences.

And WorldCon has its own subculture, and as a result its own preferences, and those preferences lean towards the kind of pretentious twaddle that bores me to tears. But hey, it has the right messages, and that’s what’s important.

Or is it?

You see, there’s something that bothers me more than the denial of talent on the grounds of ideology, and that is the degradation of talent in the service of ideology.

One of the problems you run into, and this is something I’ve seen in other mediums as well, is that when you place the perceived political and social value of a work over its artistic value when determining merit, you get, well, precisely what you deserve. Passive, politically-correct-for-your-critical-lens pablum. A checklist of boxes to be marked off, with the expectation of accolades if enough boxes are checked.

You get boring message fiction. Or games. Or art of any kind….

(10) ON THE DOGS. Lela E. Buis, in “Discrimination against the Puppies?”, applies the thoughts from her recent posts about multiculturalism to the Puppy dilemma.

But, is Kate Paulk telling it straight? I don’t quite think so. Unfortunately I’m not going to have time to read the whole list of recommendations before the award nominations are due, but I have worked through the short stories and some of the related works. I can’t speak for the novels, but much of what I’ve read are not neutral recommendations. If you’re keeping up with my reviews, these works are slanted to present the Puppies side of the recent conflict. That means they are written by SJW’s on the Puppy side.

Who’s right? I suspect the SFF community needs to consider the Puppies’ point of view. If you’re reading along on my social commentary, you’ll note that the 50-year era of multiculturalism has closed, and we are now entering a period where community is becoming more important. This means the actions of divisive activists will be less well received than in the past—on all sides. I know people like to fan the flames, but wouldn’t community building be time better spent?

(11) PERFECTION. Sarah A. Hoyt begins “Perfectly Logical” with an epic autobiographical introduction to justify her view about why people asked off the Sad Puppies 4 List.

….It wasn’t a stupid fear.  It was real.  Even though writers can’t control who reads them and likes them, if you’re liked by the “far right” you must be using “dog whistles” — and thus the blacklisting starts.

So those people asking to be removed from the Hugo recommendations which were made by fan vote?  Perfectly logical.  Getting tainted by association is a thing in their circles.

The people proclaiming that we: Larry, Brad, myself, John C. Wright, I don’t know if they were stupid enough to include Kevin J. Anderson and Butcher in that, but definitely everyone else in the list, had “ruined their careers” are right.  For their world and their definition of career.  None of the big four will ever publish us again, except Baen.

They are stuck in the old push-model days in their head.  They think that everyone down the chain will now boycott us.  And they want to make d*mn sure it doesn’t splash on them.

Meanwhile we’re living in a different world.  We’ve tried indie, and it worked.  (Even though in my case it was just toe dipping.  More to come once internet is fixed and bedrooms, kitchen and office unpacked. (It’s all we’re unpacking in this house.)

We’re living in a world where we can be rude to whomever we please, love our fans whoever they are, and have our own opinions.  Because NYC publishing is NOT the boss of us….

(12) CASTING DUDES. “’Why Can’t We Have One White Superhero?’ Said No One Ever” is the topic today at Angry Asian Man.

Many of us who were following the casting of Marvel’s upcoming Iron Fist Netflix series were disappointed when news broke that some white dude named Finn Jones would play the title role of Danny Rand.

Inspired by this thoughtful plea by Keith Chow of The Nerds of Color, over the last two years a vocal fan movement had swelled and rallied around the possibility of an Asian American Iron Fist. While Danny Rand has traditionally been depicted as white in the comic books, there is no legitimate reason why he had to be played by a white actor. This could have been an interesting opportunity to cast an Asian American actor in the lead role, and complicate and reclaim some of the more problematic, orientalist elements of the character’s mythos.

It was a nice thought. But alas, Danny Rand will be white and it’s business as usual. Some people had some gripes about that. And of course, some people had gripes about the people with gripes.

Comic book creator Joshua Luna, best known for his work as a co-creator and writer of such books as Ultra, Girls and The Sword with his brother Jonathan Luna, recently posted a funny comic offering his take on the Iron Fist casting. Imagine, if you will, an alternate dimension…

(13) BEST SF TV. Adam Whitehead offers his list of the 20 Best SF TV shows of all time at The Wertzone.

In the grand tradition of Gratuitous Lists, here’s a look at the twenty Best Science Fiction TV Shows of All Time (that I can think of today). The list is in alphabetical order, not order of quality, nor is there a #1 choice as I’d probably have a totally different choice tomorrow. So rather than argue about arbritary placements on the list, you can instead yell at me at what got left off.

In case you’re wondering, the list contains only overtly science fictional TV shows. No fantasy (that’d be another, different list) and no anime, as I’m not well-enough versed in the field. After some debate, also no superhero stuff as the SF credentials of those shows can vary wildly and there’s enough of them now to make for another list.

(14) LEGO ACTORS. The LEGO Batman Movie – Batcave Teaser Trailer.

(15) DO YOUR DAMN DUTY. The Onion has a jaded view of the Batman v Superman experience:

Promising that it would be best to just buy a ticket and take care of the unpleasantness right away, a new Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice promotional campaign launched this week reportedly urged filmgoers to simply get this whole thing over with. “Listen, you all knew this day was coming, so just go sit your ass in the theater, stare up at the IMAX screen for a couple hours, and be done with this shit once and for all,” said Warner Brothers marketing strategist Elizabeth Harris, who encouraged fans to make plans with friends right now so they could all bite the fucking bullet over opening weekend.

(16) PRE-SUMMER HUMMER. No matter what you may have heard about the movie, Deadline says Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice set the cash registers spinning.

East coast registers are winding down and Warner Bros.’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is still on track to be the biggest pre-summer opening day with $80.5M (beating Furious 7‘s $67.4M) and weekend with $169.5M (outstripping The Hunger Games $152.5M) at 4,242 theaters. In sum, this is $20M better than where the industry originally estimated the film to be.

(17) THEME SONG. Darren Garrison’s salute to the late Garry Shandling takes a peculiar turn:

This is the theme to Glyer’s blog,
The theme to Glyer’s blog.
Glyer tweeted me and asked if I would write his theme song.
I’m almost halfway finished,
How do you like it so far?
How do you like the theme to Glyer’s blog?

This is the theme to Glyer’s blog,
The opening theme to Glyer’s blog.
This is the music that you hear as you read the comments.
We’re almost to the part of where he starts to Pixel Scroll.
Then we’ll read Michael Glyer’s blog.

This was the theme to Michael Glyer’s blog.

For those scratching their heads (starting around 30 seconds in):

(18) FLAME ON. Stoic Cynic rocked this verse.

With apologies to BOC:

You see me now a veteran
Of a thousand Usenet wars
I’ve been living on the edge so long
Where the posts of flaming roar

And I’m young enough to look at
And far too old to see
All the scars are on the inside
I’m not sure if there’s candy left in me…

[Thanks to Karl-Johan Norén, Michael J. Walsh, John King Tarpinian, Will R., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]