Pixel Scroll 6/27/17 Buy Pixels At Half Price At Filedepository SF

(1) STICK IT TO ‘EM. There will be “Ten of Disney’s finest villains on new U.S. set”Linn’s Stamp News has the story.

The Disney Villains stamps will be issued in a pane of 20 July 15 at the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, Calif. A 1:30 p.m. first-day ceremony is scheduled during the Disney fan event D23 Expo 2017.

…Each stamp in the set depicts a classic Disney villain set against a deep blue background. Each stamp includes text that identifies the film in which the villain appeared, and the villain’s name.

The 10 characters on the stamps are the Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Honest John (Pinocchio), Lady Tremaine (Cinderella), the Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland), Captain Hook (Peter Pan), Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), Cruella De Vil (One Hundred and One Dalmatians), Ursula (The Little Mermaid), Gaston (Beauty and the Beast), and Scar (The Lion King).

(2) SINGERS WHO ARE BAD. But not bad singers. This is the perfect place to drop in Peter Hollens’ new “Epic Disney Villains Medley” featuring Whitney Avalon.

(3) CLARION FUNDRAISER. The Clarion Write-A-Thon hopes to raise $15,000 for the workshop between June 25 and August 5. They’ve taken in $1,802 in the first two days.

Welcome to Clarion UCSD’s Eighth Annual Write-a-Thon! What is a write-a-thon, anyway? Think charity walk-a-thon. In a walk-a-thon, volunteers walk as far as they can in return for pledges from sponsors who make donations, usually based on the number of miles the volunteer walks. Our Write-a-Thon works like that too, but instead of walking, our volunteers write with a goal in mind. Their sponsors make donations to Clarion sometimes based on number of words written, sometimes based on other goals, or just to show support for the writer and Clarion.

People can sign up to write or support writers, and win prizes.

As always, we have prizes for our top Write-a-Thon earners. In addition, this year we have surprises as well as prizes!

  • The top fundraiser will receive a commemorative Clarion Write-a-Thon trophy celebrating their success.
  • Our top five fundraisers will each receive a critique from a well-known Clarion instructor or alumnus. We’ve lined up Terry Bisson, David Anthony Durham, Kenneth Schneyer, Judith Tarr, and Mary Turzillo to have a look at your golden prose. A roll of the dice decides who is paired with whom. (The authors have three months to complete their critiques, and the short story or chapters submitted must be 7,500 words or less.)
  • Our top ten fundraisers will each receive a $25 gift certificate of their choice from a selection of bookstores and stationers.
  • A few small but special surprises will be distributed randomly among everyone who raises $50 or more. Lucky winners will be decided by Write-a-Thon minions drawing names from Clara the Write-a-Thon Cat’s hat. These are such a surprise that even we don’t know what they are yet. We do know that certain of our minions will be visiting places like Paris and Mongolia this summer. Anything at all might turn up in their luggage. In addition, who knows what mystery items unnamed Clarionites might donate to the loot!

(4) ASSISTED VISION. Invisible 3, a collection of 18 essays and poems about representation in SF/F, edited by Jim C. Hines and Mary Anne Mohanraj, was released today. As with the first two volumes in this series, all profits go to benefit Con or Bust.

Here’s what you’ll find inside (with links to two free reads):

  • Introduction by K. Tempest Bradford
  • Heroes and Monsters, by T. S. Bazelli
  • Notes from the Meat Cage, by Fran Wilde
  • What Color Are My Heroes? by Mari Kurisato
  • The Zeroth Law Of Sex in Science Fiction, by Jennifer Cross
  • Our Hyperdimensional Mesh of Identities, by Alliah
  • Erasing Athena, Effacing Hestia, by Alex Conall
  • Not So Divergent After All, by Alyssa Hillary
  • Skins, by Chelsea Alejandro
  • The Doctor and I, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
  • My Family Isn’t Built By Blood, by Jaime O. Mayer
  • Lost in Space: A Messy Voyage Through Fictional Universes, by Carrie Sessarego
  • Decolonise The Future, by Brandon O’Brien
  • Natives in Space, by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • I Would Fly With Dragons, by Sean Robinson
  • Adventures in Online Dating, by Jeremy Sim
  • Of Asian-Americans and Bellydancing Wookiees, by Dawn Xiana Moon
  • Shard of a Mirage, by MT O’Shaughnessy
  • Unseen, Unheard, by Jo Gerrard

(5) GODSTALKER. Jamie Beeching finds many things to compliment in “Hamish Steel’s Pantheon – ‘Because gods are people too…'” , a graphic novel reviewed at Pornokitsch.

In Pantheon, Hamish Steele tackles the Egyptian deities in a way described by Steele as “a faithful retelling of […] the battle between the gods Horus and Set for the throne of Egypt.”  Perhaps the most interesting word in that quote is ‘faithful’.  I’m no expert on Egyptian mythology, so I’ll have to take the author’s word on the majority of the facts but I somehow doubt that any of the gods referred to Set as “a notorious cock”.  It’s exactly this mixture of genuine mythological weirdness (and we’re talking totally batshit) and modern irreverence that creates Pantheon’s unique and very successful blend of humour.

(6) NINEFOX, TENFOX. Lightspeed Magazine interviews Yoon Ha Lee.

When did you notice or feel you had honed your voice? Was it before or after you made short story and poetry sales?

I think it developed during the process of learning to write. Early on, I aimed for a very clear, very transparent style in imitation of writers like Piers Anthony. Then I discovered Patricia McKillip and Harlan Ellison and Roger Zelazny, and they blew my head open in terms of how language can be used. Part of it was also subject matter. After reading Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game for the first time, I realized that what I wanted to write about, most of all, was military ethics. That was sometime in high school, and my writing shaped itself accordingly after that.

How has the overall reaction to Ninefox Gambit been from readers?

Very bimodal! From what I can tell, most people either love it or hate it. There were some narrative decisions I made that I knew would not be popular with some readers. For example, because the two main characters, Cheris and Jedao, are making command decisions from the very top, I chose to use throwaway viewpoint characters to depict the “boots on the ground” perspective and show the consequences of decisions that are abstract from a general’s perspective. Some readers really like to tunnel into a smaller number of characters and get close to them, and I knew that I would be losing people who like to read that way. For another, I used minimal exposition. I remember really enjoying C.J. Cherryh’s Faded Sun books because they’re told in a similar way, leading to this great sense of immersion, but some readers prefer to have the world spelled out for them. On the other hand, other readers liked those very things. There are always trade-offs.

(7) EU DROPS THE HAMMER ON GOOGLE. The Guardian reports “Google fined record €2.4bn by EU over search engine results”. However, huge civil penalties like that are really in the nature of an opening bid – Google will never pay that amount. But it makes for a stunning headline.

The European Union has handed Google a record-breaking €2.42bn (£2.14bn) fine for abusing its dominance of the search engine market in building its online shopping service, in a dramatic decision that has far-reaching implications for the company.

By artificially and illegally promoting its own price comparison service in searches, Google denied both its consumers real choice and rival firms the ability to compete on a level playing field, European regulators said.

The Silicon Valley giant has 90 days to stop its illegal activities and explain how it will reform its ways or face fines of up to €10.6m a day, which equates to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of its parent company Alphabet.

On the back of the finding that Google is the dominant player in the European search engine market, the EU regulator is further investigating how else the company may have abused its position, specifically in its provision of maps, images and information on local services.

…Google immediately rejected the commission’s findings, and signalled its intention to appeal, in an indication of the gruelling legal battle to come between the two sides.

(8) TREASURE MAP. The investor-pitch map of the first Magic Kingdom sold for a chest of gold.

An original map of the first Disneyland park has fetched £555,838 ($708,000) at an auction in California.

The 1953 drawing was used by Walt Disney to secure funding, after his own studio refused to fund the site.

The artist’s impression was given to an employee, and remained out of public view for more than 60 years.

The map was personally annotated by the creator of Mickey Mouse, and reveals a picture of Walt Disney’s vision for the theme park, built in 1955.

(9) AUDIOPUNK. Carl Slaughter says, “Via YouTube, listen to the complete BBC radio broadcast of Neuromancer, William Gibson’s cyberpunk classic brought to life in the form of a very well done radio drama.”


  • Born June 27, 1966 – J.J. Abrams

(11) COMIC SECTION. Martin Morse Wooster commends this Dilbert strip full of timey-wimey-ness.

(12) SINCE SLICED BREAD. Marc Scott Zicree, Mr. Sci-Fi, explains why science fiction conventions are the greatest thing ever.

(13) PECULIAR SCI-FI BAR. The Washington Post’s Maura Judkis discovered “The real reason everyone’s standing in line for D.C.’s ‘Game of Thrones’ pop-up bar”.

And this is what we want from our bars in 2017: an exhilarating escape from reality. Except instead of rides, we want photo ops.

“It’s purely for the Instagram,” said Lara Paek, 28, waiting with her sister in line outside the bar before it opened.

People who order “the tequila-and-grapefruit tonic ‘Shame,’ have the bartenders shout, ‘Shame! Shame!’ at them while everyone snaps photos for Snapchat.”

(14) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. Geoffrey Thomas’ debut novel, The Wayward Astronomer, is set in the same fictional universe as the online anthropomorphic graphic novel series Dreamkeepers, by Dave and Liz Lillie. The book was released May 17.


Hal Adhil and Miri Rodgers are best friends. They spend their days working at a small observatory in the Starfall Mountains beyond the metropolis of Anduruna.

Miri is the only person Hal trusts to understand a dangerous secret: Hal can see all wavelengths of light. Hal uses his superpower only when they are free from prying eyes that could report them to the authorities.

The lives of Hal and Miri quickly change one night, however, when a meteor crashes into the nearby mountains. When they set out to retrieve the fallen star, it quickly becomes apparent that things are not what they seem. What appeared to be an ordinary meteor is in fact a strange power source that Hal and Miri are not the only ones looking for.

In order to rescue his closest companion, Hal must not only unravel a mystery that has eluded his people for ages, but also face unsavory characters from his own past. Can Hal, the Wayward Astronomer, harness his supernatural powers to rescue his friend before time runs out?

(15) HARD-TO-MISS MACROPODESTRIANS. A problem Down Under? Volvo’s driverless car can avoid most animals but is confused by kangaroos.

The Swedish car-maker’s 2017 S90 and XC90 models use its Large Animal Detection system to monitor the road for deer, elk and caribou.

But the way kangaroos move confuses it.

“We’ve noticed with the kangaroo being in mid-flight when it’s in the air, it actually looks like it’s further away, then it lands and it looks closer,” its Australia technical manager told ABC.

(16) ANT POWER. There’s a pilot project for buses that run on formic acid. (Easier to handle than hydrogen as it just sits there.)

Team Fast has found a way the acid can efficiently carry the ingredients needed for hydrogen fuel cells, used to power electric vehicles.

The fuel, which the team has dubbed hydrozine (not to be confused with hydrazine), is a liquid, which means you can transport it easily and refill vehicles quickly, as with conventional fuels.

The difference is that it is much cleaner.

“The tailpipe emissions are only CO2 and water,” explains Mr van Cappellen. “No other harmful gases like nitric oxides, soot or sulphuric oxides are emitted.”

(17) STAND AND DELIVER. It’s the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the ATM in the UK – how many questions can you answer in this 10-part trivia quiz? “Cash machine quiz: Test your knowledge”.

I only got three right – you have to do better than that!

(18) GLOOP AVOIDANCE. Jason Heller reviews Karen Tidbeck’s novel for NPR — “In ‘Amatka,’ A Warped And Chilling Portrait Of Post-Truth Reality”.

Her 2012 short story collection, Jagganath, showcased her knack for sharp yet dreamlike tale-spinning. Tidbeck’s debut novel Amatka came out the same year, in Swedish only — and it’s seeing its first English translation now. Not a moment too soon, either: Despite being originally published five years ago, its surreal vision of deadly conspiracies, political oppression, and curtailed freedom couldn’t be more eerily timely.

Amatka takes place in one of the most audacious science-fiction settings since Bes?el/Ul Qoma from China Miéville’s The City and The City….

Tidbeck’s premise is almost comical, but her execution is anything but. Amatka teems with mysteries, and almost every innocuous detail — like the fact that the colony’s residents are vegan — winds up having head-spinning ramifications later on. As exquisitely constructed as her enigmas are, however, they’re atmospheric and deeply moving. Vanja is not an easy character to latch onto, but that sense of distance makes her ultimate choices and sacrifices — and what they say about loneliness and freedom — so much more poignant.

(19) UP IN THE AIR. Debut Tor novelist Robyn Bennis does sky military steampunk with a rookie female officer who has to overcome odds on all fronts.

THE GUNS ABOVE by Robyn Bennis (Tor)

Released May 2, 2017

In the tradition of Honor Harrington and the high-flying Temeraire series, Bennis’s THE GUNS ABOVE is an adventurous military fantasy debut about a nation’s first female airship captain.

They say it’s not the fall that kills you.

For Josette Dupre, the Corps’ first female airship captain, it might just be a bullet in the back.

On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat, a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble. Bernat’s own secret assignment is to catalog her every moment of weakness and indecision.

So when the enemy makes an unprecedented move that could turn the tide of the war, can Josette deal with Bernat, rally her crew, and survive long enough to prove herself?

Praise for The Guns Above:

  • “Steampunky navy-in-the-air military tale full of sass and terrific characters. Great storytelling. Loved it.” ?Patricia Briggs
  • “Marvelous, witty, gory AF, action-packed steampunk with exquisite attention to detail. Bennis’s writing is incredible, her vocabulary impressive, and she honest to God made me believe you could build an airship from spare parts.”?New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Ann Aguirre
  • “The Guns Above is a sharp, witty Ruritanian adventure full of flintlock rifles, plumed shakos, brass buttons… and airships! Taking place in an alternate mid-nineteenth-century Europe where dirigibles ply the smoky air over battlefields and women have been grudgingly admitted to the air corps,The Guns Above takes a clear-eyed, even cynical view of the ‘glories’ of war, complete with blood, shit, shattered limbs, and petty squabbles among the nobility. The aerial combat is gut-clenchingly realistic, the two viewpoint characters are well-drawn and as different as can be, and the action never stops. Hard women learn compassion, soft men learn bravery, and the fate of a nation depends on one rickety airship and its stalwart crew. A winner!” ?David D. Levine, author of Arabella of Mars
  • “An engaging gunpowder adventure with a helping of witty Noel Coward dialogue and a touch of Joseph Heller.” ?Tina Connolly, Nebula Award-nominated author of Ironskin
  • “Wonderfully adventurous and laudably detailed. Bennis paints airship battles so clearly you’d swear they were from memory.” ?Becky Chambers, author of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

(20) TONIGHT’S FINAL JEOPARDY! The Jeopardy! game show often makes references to sff. For example, in the Final Jeopardy answer for June 27 —

An homage to a 1953 novel, this number appears as an error code when a user tries to access a web page with censored content

Click here and scroll down past the ads to read the correct question.

(21) FAVES. At Open Culture, “Hayao Miyazaki Picks His 50 Favorite Children’s Books”. Here are the first five on his list:

  1. The Borrowers — Mary Norton
  2. The Little Prince — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  3. Children of Noisy Village — Astrid Lindgren
  4. When Marnie Was There — Joan G. Robinson
  5. Swallows and Amazons — Arthur Ransome

(22) OVERDRAWN AT THE IDENTITY ACCOUNT. What Happened To Monday? stars Noomi Rapace, Willem Dafoe, and Glen Close.

Set in a not so distant future burdened by overpopulation, with a global one child per family policy, seven identical sisters (portrayed by Noomi Rapace) live a cat-and-mouse existence pretending to be a single person to elude the Child Allocation Bureau.


[Thanks to Rich Lynch, Hampus Eckerman, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Carl Slaughter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor the day Peer Sylvester.]

Sunil Patel Interview

By Carl Slaughter: Sunil Patel talks about studying under Nancy Kress, Cat Rambo, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Ted Chiang; what it’s like to work with Mighty Mur; his duties as assistant editor of Mothership Zeta, the newest member of the Escape Artists family; his criteria for reviewing for Lightspeed; and how he broke into Asimov’s and Galaxy’s Edge as a newcomer; and his experience with science fiction plays.

CARL SLAUGHTER: Every new writer wants to break into Asimov’s.  Only a tiny fraction succeed.  How did you do it?

SUNIL PATEL: I submitted a story and Sheila Williams accepted it. Next question!

Okay, so that’s not the whole story, since many people submit stories to Asimov’s that are not accepted. In fact, I was and continue to be one of those people. The secret lies in a two-word mantra I have borrowed and internalized from Rose Lemberg: Don’t self-reject. The submission guidelines note that Asimov’s rarely publishes flash pieces and occasionally publishes humorous pieces, so I knew a humorous flash piece would be a hard sell. But I was encouraged by having gotten a personal note from Sheila regarding my first submission, which had been a humorous flash piece. “A Partial List of Lists I Have Lost Over Time” is a list story told as a series of lists, and I had identified two markets I thought it would be perfect for, both of which rejected it. For my third submission, most markets I thought would be a better fit for the story already had something of mine, and I saw on Submission Grinder that Asimov’s was rejecting quickly, so I figured I’d get that rejection out of the way. I never expected to get a rewrite request that turned into a sale. So that’s how I did it: I let the editor decide whether my story was a good fit for her magazine.

CS: Same question for Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge.

SP: Galaxy’s Edge does not have open submissions, so it can be a daunting market to crack. I was discussing with frequent contributor Tina Gower about the types of stories Mike Resnick liked, and among the general elements she listed were things like “humor” and “emotional heart” and “totally weird and way out there,” which exactly described “The Man Who Saved Manhattan,” a flash piece I hadn’t been able to find a home for. Now, I had shared an elevator with Mike Resnick at Worldcon and was too intimidated to speak to him and ask if I could submit to Galaxy’s Edge, but Tina very helpfully put in a good word for me, and he was happy to see a couple of my stories. So I sent him “The Man Who Saved Manhattan”…and received a contract the next night! (Sometimes he is fast, and sometimes he takes the usual six weeks or so. He form-rejected the other story I sent him.) So that’s how I did it: I saw a market that said “invitation only” and wrangled myself an invitation. This is a very common story if you talk to other people who have published in Galaxy’s Edge; I truly believe that if I had talked to Mike in that elevator and asked if I could submit, he would have said yes. (I finally officially met him at Worldcon this year, and he was delighted and encouraged me to send him something else. I did. He bought it.)

CS: What kind of feedback have you gotten from editors about your stories?

SP: I can interpret this question two ways, so I’ll answer the first way, which is about personal rejections. I have a love/hate relationship with them: I love the praise that often comes with them but hate that it’s not an acceptance. I’ve gotten a wide variety of feedback, very little of which I have taken to heart; I rarely revise stories in response to personal rejections unless something does resonate with me. Normally I just believe in my story. You think this flash piece does not do enough with its concept, that it should be expanded into a longer piece? Sorry, I conceived it this way and I like it how it is, and hey, this other editor agrees. You think the story starts out too slowly and needs to be heavily restructured? Sorry, I consider the structure a feature rather than a bug, and hey, this other editor agrees. You think the ending is weak and I should make the mother more sympathetic? Sor—wait, you are totally right, thank you, C.C. Finlay. Any feedback you get is one editor’s opinion, and it’s only one editor’s opinion that rejects your story. But it’s also one editor’s opinion that accepts your story. Listen to what works, discard what doesn’t, believe in the story you are trying to tell.

CS: What exactly is involved in your work with Mothership Zeta? Responsibilities, goals, experiences, benefits.

SP: I am Assistant Editor of Fiction, which means I handle pretty much everything related to the fiction that appears in Mothership Zeta (Karen Bovenmyer handles the nonfiction, but she also helps manage the slush). Obviously one of my most important responsibilities is choosing the stories during open submissions, and I read a huge amount of slush personally in addition to the vetted stories selected by my amazing slush readers. I try to give personal rejections when I can, and then I send the cream of the crop up to Mur for her to make the final decisions (which are very tough). I also solicit authors to send us stories outside of open submissions; as much outreach as we try to do, our slush does not have as many stories by marginalized authors as we’d like to be able to choose from. Once we have our stories, Mur and I figure out which ones go in which issue, and then we edit! Some stories take more editing than others, but I’ve found the back-and-forth very rewarding and so have the writers. We end up with an even better version of the story they submitted. Then it’s time to write some story introductions and editorials and put together the issue. As I said, we publish both fiction and nonfiction, and Karen and I like to pair stories with nonfiction pieces when possible, so our table of contents is meant to represent a cohesive reading experience, cover to cover. I review the issue to make sure formatting didn’t get lost in the ebook conversion or typo goblins haven’t wreaked unforeseen havoc. And I’ve left out so many little tasks; you never know what goes into publishing a magazine until you’re behind the scenes yourself. The October issue is ready to come out, which means it’s time to start editing stories for the January issue. It’s a lot of work, but I am so proud of all the stories we publish. I hope we inspire more fun SFF fiction, whatever your definition of “fun” (ours, as anyone who reads us knows, is not what you might think at first).

CS: What’s it like working for Mighty Mur?

SP: Mur is a wonderful boss because she respects me and appreciates the work I do (both privately and publicly). We don’t always see eye-to-eye on stories, but she listens to my reasons for championing a story, and sometimes she will accept a story she doesn’t feel as passionately about because she recognizes that if I love it so much, a certain subset of readers will too. In the end, she makes the decision that is best for the magazine. I frequently look to her for guidance since she has far more experience in the industry, but just as often she comes to me and Karen for our advice. I don’t know what it’s like at other magazines, but I feel that Mothership Zeta is a real team effort rather than one head honcho calling the shots on everything. Mur trusts both of us to handle our respective duties, leaving her to focus on the Big Decisions of running a magazine. Plus we’re all friends, so we’re constantly chatting in our little Google Hangout about our triumphs and woes in between talking magazine stuff. It’s a fun virtual office for our fun magazine.

CS: What are your standards and strategies as a reviewer for Lightspeed?

SP: I do not review books by white men. For the last several years, Strange Horizons has been publishing their “SF count” of representation in SF reviewing, and it was eye-opening for me to see how disproportionately books by women and people of color are reviewed, so when I took the position, I decided to do my small part in shifting the balance. To his credit, John Joseph Adams (a white man!) completely supported my decision, and I must admit I felt a small sense of pride in being a positive part of the 2015 SF Count. I have been trying to review more books by women of color, as too often diversity can manifest as “white women + men of color.” In each one of my quarterly columns, I review at least one young adult book because I believe there are great books being published for young adults that adult readers of Lightspeed should know about. When the announcement of the Locus Awards finalists revealed that people seemed unaware of the many women publishing books actually written for and marketed to young adults, I scrapped half my November column and decided to review three young adult books by women of color. Because I could. I have no idea whether anyone reads my column or whether I have any influence on the reading habits of the general Lightspeed readership, but I want to use my power for good. I only publish reviews of books I can recommend, even if I had some criticisms or I felt that it simply wasn’t for me but recognized that other readers would appreciate it more. My goal is always to increase your TBR pile by diversifying your reading.

CS: What did you learn from Nancy Kress?

SP: Nancy Kress had many insightful things to say during our two weeks together at Taos Toolbox; I want to go back and read all my notes now! She made me think about worldbuilding in new ways, providing so many important questions regarding law and economy and technology. She identified my tendency to sometimes undercut the power of a sentence by not ending it on the strongest word (though sometimes it’s deliberate). But the one thing I took away from her that I always remember when writing is her Swimming Pool Theory, where she uses a swimmer kicking off from the end of a pool as a metaphor for how much exposition and inaction you can get away with. Just as a stronger kick will allow a swimmer to coast further without having to exert themselves again, a strong narrative hook (KABOOM!!) buys you a few more hundred words of dithering or flashbacks before you must move the action forward again. And of course the converse is true: if you begin with a light hook, then you will lose the reader quicker if you don’t keep swimming.

CS: Same question for Ted Chiang.

SP: I’d be lying if I said the opportunity to study with Ted Chiang didn’t influence my decision to attend Clarion. We got Ted right after Kelly Link, and as we discovered, every instructor had a different vibe and focus. One of the most important things I got from Ted was the vocabulary of expressionistic vs. naturalistic modes, the idea that a story will generally fall more into one or the other and being conscious of what mode you’re working in tells you how much you can get away with and what the reader will expect. If you’re writing hard science fiction full of equations and data (naturalistic), it will be difficult for the reader to swallow the sudden appearance of sentient melting lollipops that emerge from cavities (expressionistic). I also learned about time travel using wormholes and relativity, which was a trip, let me tell you.

CS: Same question for Mary Robinette Kowal.

SP: Look, I could write a whole essay about what I’ve learned from Mary Robinette Kowal, both as a writer and a human being. She’s one of my role models in the industry, and I believe that if you are not reading her fiction and following her on social media, you are doing yourself a disservice. That woman can teach you more about writing in ten minutes with a boot than most writers could teach you in a day. I’ve had the privilege of studying with her a couple times, in her Short Story Intensive online workshop as well as at the Writing Excuses Retreat. The Short Story Intensive is hands-down the best workshop I’ve ever taken, and my main takeaway was the ability to outline. Whenever writers talked about outlining, I had envisioned very complicated outlines like the ones we did in high school to write papers, but it turns out that you can just write a list of things like “Pirates!” or “Sandeep reveals a terrible secret” or whatever. With this newfound power (and the various structural tools Mary gave us surrounding the MICE Quotient [now renamed MACE]), I was able to go from a basic thumbnail of a story Saturday night to a first draft Sunday afternoon! (Funny story: I actually forwarded Mary a rejection for that story because the editor specifically praised how well structured it was, and she deserved some of the credit. She was appropriately pleased.) I now had the confidence and experience to be able to draft a story from an outline, which came in very handy at Clarion, not to mention when writing my novel.

CS: Same question for Cat Rambo.

SP: I took a six-week online workshop with Cat, which was a good reintroduction to the basics after being out of the fiction game for a while. I also took a couple two-hour workshops on specific topics, and I particularly appreciated the one on description since I consider description one of my weak points as a writer. Both in that workshop and the six-week workshop, she had so many great tips, like the use of specific verbs to paint a picture of a character and choosing key sensory details to evoke a larger picture in the reader’s mind. She emphasized moving beyond visuals and using touch and smell to draw the reader in.

CS: How does your work in speculative theater overlap with your work in print?

SP: I don’t think there’s a direct overlap, but my work in theater was the creative outlet I needed for a few years before I decided to focus on publishing fiction. I’ve spoken about applying playwriting techniques in fiction before, but to be honest, it’s not something I consciously do when writing, though because one of my strengths is dialogue, sometimes my scenes do tend to be very dialogue-driven, relying on witty banter, and I naturally try to avoid having too many “sets” because I don’t want to describe new locations. One of the clearest ways it’s overlapped, however, is that my experience producing The Pub from Another World, a night of short science fiction/fantasy/horror plays chosen from open submissions, was my first taste of what it’s like to be an editor, which I discovered I enjoy quite a bit.

CS: What’s on the horizon for Sunil Patel?

SP: As I said, I’ve really enjoyed editing, both for Mothership Zeta and for Lightspeed’s People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction! Personal Essays, and I hope to do more of it in the future. Pending a successful Kickstarter, I will be editing a special POC Take Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination issue, but in addition to that, I’ve assembled an anthology of reprint flash fiction by writers of color that I’m very excited to share with people via the Kickstarter. Meanwhile, I have all these Clarion stories to revise, and I continue to work on my young adult superhero novel with a goal of submitting it to agents next year. Plus I have at least eight stories coming out in magazines and anthologies between now and April, including my first appearance in Lightspeed! But I may be most excited about my second appearance in Book Smugglers for a story called “You May Perhaps Be Interested in My Thoughts on Space Questers Seasons 1-5” that will be in the Quarterly Almanac in December. It might be the story I was put on this planet to write because no one else would write it but me. It’s fun and creepy and there’s a telepathic dog thing. What more could you ask for?

Pixel Scroll 1/22/16 Raindrops On Scrollses And Pixels On Kittens

(1) IT’S A WRAP. Tom Cruise will star in Universal’s reboot of The Mummy, now scheduled to arrive in theaters on June 9, 2017. This version will be set in the contemporary world. Cruise is not playing the title role, trade outlets are referring to his character as a former Navy SEAL.

So who is The Mummy?

Sofia Boutella, best recognized as the badass beauty with swords for legs in Kingsman: The Secret Service, will be playing this new version of the Mummy.

Who’s directing it?

Alex Kurtzman will be calling the shots. The only feature film he’s directed to date is People Like Us, but he’s best known for being a writer on a ton of big blockbuster movies, like Transformers, The Island, Mission: Impossible III, and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek series. It currently has a script from Jon Spaihts (Prometheus).

(2) TRACING FIREBALLS TO THEIR SOURCE. In “A Precursor to the Chainmail Fantasy Supplement” Jon Peterson of Playing at the World identifies Leonard Patt as a forgotten influence or source on Gary Gygax, whose Chainmail (a collaboration with Jeff Perren) was the first game designed by Gygax sold as a professional product. It included a heavily Tolkien-influenced “Fantasy Supplement”, which made Chainmail the first commercially available set of rules for fantasy wargaming.

Patt, should he still be with us, would surely be unaware of how Chainmail followed his work, let alone the profound influence that concepts like “fire ball” and saving versus spells have had on numberless games over the decades that followed.

…In the early, pre-commercial days of miniature wargaming, the environment was very loose and collaborative, and these kinds of borrowings were not uncommon – but attribution was still an assumed courtesy. Gary Gygax has something of a reputation for adapting and expanding on the work of the gaming community without always attributing his original sources. The case of the Thief class is probably the most famous: the first draft of Gary’s rules do note their debt to the Aero Hobbies crowd, but as the published version of the rules in Greyhawk (1975) did not, the obligation of the Thief rules to Gary Switzer and the others at Aero Hobbies long went unacknowledged. Regarding Chainmail, Gary in late interviews says nothing to suggest that concepts like fireball were not of his own invention; Patt’s rules compel us to reevaluate those claims. Nonetheless, we must acknowledge that Gary had a singular gift for streamlining, augmenting and popularizing rules originally devised by others: certainly we wouldn’t say that Patt’s original rules could have inspired Blackmoor, and thus Dungeons & Dragons, without Gary’s magic touch and the elaboration we find in the Chainmail Fantasy Supplement.

But if you ever vanquished an enemy with a fireball in Dungeons & Dragons, or Magic: the Gathering, or Dragon Age, and especially if you ever made a saving throw against a fireball, thank Leonard Patt!

(3) LIGHTNING STRIKING AGAIN AND AGAIN. The Kickstarter appeal for People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction has raised $20,192 as of this writing – 400% of its original goal. Another special issue of Lightspeed, it will be guest-edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Kristine Ong Muslim, in partnership with section editors Nisi Shawl, Berit Ellingsen, Grace Dillon, and Sunil Patel, who are assembling a lineup of fiction, essays, and nonfiction from people of color.

Lightspeed’s Destroy series was started because of assertions that women, LGBTQ, and POC creators were destroying science fiction. The staff of Lightspeed took that as a challenge. Building on the astounding success of Lightspeed’s Women Destroy Science Fiction! (and Horror, and Fantasy) and Queers Destroy Science Fiction! (and Horror, and Fantasy), POC Destroy Science Fiction! brings attention to the rich history and future of POC-created science fiction and fantasy.

Like the previous Destroy issues, this campaign has the potential to unlock additional special issues focusing on Horror and Fantasy as well.

(4) DOUBTFUL. Breitbart.com’s Allum Bokhari dishonestly represents a commenter’s statement as a File 770 news item in “SJWs Are Purging Politically Incorrect Sci-Fi Authors From Bookstores”.

(5) BAKKA PHOENIX REPLIES. Yet he is getting the clicks he wants. One Toronto bookstore owner was intimidated into making a public denial — “A Question Worth Answering”.

We are Bakka Phoenix, a different bookstore entirely. We’re not going to comment on a rumour about XXX’s activities: that way lies madness and a lot of silly Twitter feuds. You might want to contact them directly (their website is XXX). Also, please note: from a Canadian perspective, Breitbart looks more like an outlet for the borderline-lunatic fringe than a credible news source.

But if you were wondering, we can assure you that we ourselves carry many books we find personally or politically reprehensible. Let’s face it, your left wing is somewhere off to our right, enough so that we’d have trouble even agreeing on the definition of ‘conservative’. Frankly, we find a lot of US political posturing completely unhinged.

But… so what? We’re in the business of selling books. Good books. Bad books. Titles some people love; titles others hate enough to throw across the room. Some books will transform readers minds and lives and be remembered for decades. Others will be forgotten immediately upon reading (or even partway through). We don’t have to like a book, its author, or its message in order to sell it. To suggest otherwise merely proves that the suggester spends very little time in actual bookstores.

The many wonderful independent booksellers I’ve met feel the same way. Independent bookstores exist for precisely that reason: to ensure that readers have the widest choice possible. So we — all of us — stock books we think our readers might be interested in, personal taste bedamned.


  • Born January 22, 1934 – Bill Bixby, of My Favorite Martian and The Hulk.
  • Born January 22, 1959 – Linda Blair, of The Exorcist.

(7) BUTTER WOULDN’T MELT. Kate Paulk wrote a post educating her readers about the Best Editor Hugo categories.

Both these categories have seen controversy since their introduction: first the lobbying to split Best Editor – the whispers say this was so that a specific individual could receive an award instead of always playing second fiddle to a very prominent (and very skilled) magazine editor, the apparent hand-off of both through much of their history between an extremely small number of people – so much so that it appears a group of Tor editors considered the Long Form award to be their property (just look at the list of winners…).

The first comment, by Draven:

“yeah well, you know who we say for long form…”

The second comment, by Dorothy Grant:

“Hmmm, Maybe, maybe not. This year will be the last year David Hartwell will be eligible. (He edited L.E. Modesitt & John C. Wright, among others.) The industry lost a good man, and a good editor, yesterday. Granted, he’s won three, but these things do happen in tribute.”

The third comment, by Kate Paulk:

“They do indeed, and David Hartwell is certainly a worthy nominee.”

(8) BRUSHBACK PITCH. Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in the National League, also has a less well known claim to fame – his great-uncle Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. That explains his loyalty to the diminutive world, and his recent contradiction of NASA on Twitter.

(9) SINBAD. The Alex Film Society will screen The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) on Thursday, April 28 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

(10)  A SCI-FI KID REMEMBERS. Film fan Steve Vertlieb has compiled his memories about meeting genre stars into one extravaganza post:

After some forty seven years of writing about films, film makers, and film music, I thought that I’d take a moment to remember the glorious moments, events, and artists who have so generously illustrated the pages of my life, and career, over these many remarkable years.  Do return with me now to Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear when artistry and grandeur populated the days of our lives…days when gallant souls courageously rescued their leading ladies from screen villainy…days when culture and dignity proliferated the screen, television, radio, and the printed page.  Look for it only in books, for its sweet reflection of gentle innocence is but a faded memory…a  tender, poignant whisper of grace and wonder that, sadly, has Gone With The Wind.

Those memories are also the driving force of his autobiographical documentary Steve Vertlieb: The Man Who “Saved” The Movies. The director keeps an online journal of their progress.


Whew!  It would be a bitch of an exhausting marathon, because we had lots of LITERAL ground to cover in Center City, hopscotching from one locale to another blocks away; then to another, then to another; finally finishing up on the “high steel”, the center of the city’s Benjamin Franklin Bridge, stretching from Philadelphia across the Delaware River into Camden, N.J.  But everyone agreed.  And our “Philadelphia Marathon” was off and running.

The documentary film will wrap in February, 2016, with film festival screenings planned for this Spring.

(11) ALAN RICKMAN. Today Star Talk Radio site revisited Neil deGrasse Tyson’s 2012 conversation with Alan Rickman.

So what does astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson ask him about? Failing physics in high school, of course. They also talk a little about acting, including how Alan chooses and prepares for his roles, from researching the heart surgeon in Something the Lord Made to the wine-tasting scene in Bottle Shock. You’ll hear Alan explain his sense of responsibility to his audience and what he describes as “the mysterious mechanism of acting and theatre and storytelling.” Neil and Alan also get philosophical about the limits of human perception, the flocking behavior of birds, and the interaction of sound and memory.

(12) MARTIAN HOP. Tintinaus has a great addition to The Martian musical, based on Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.”

Every Martian knows that the secret to survival,
Is solving the next problem,
And then the problem after that.
‘Cause every day’s a winner
Even if you’re gettin’ thinner,
And the best that you can hope for
Is growing tates in your crewmate’s scat.


You gotta know when to sow ’em
Know when to hoe ’em
Know when to harvest
For a bumper yield
You never count sauce satchels
‘Cause that would be depressing.
Knowing how long ungarnished taters
Will be your only meal.

[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 Kyra.]

Lightspeed, Apex Magazines Depart Semiprozine Hugo Category

Lightspeed Magazine, which won the Best Semiprozine Hugo in 2014 and 2015, and Apex Magazine, a three-time nominee, have announced they are no longer eligible in the category.

They announced the change in response to queries from Neil Clarke, who contacted the publishers while updating his Semiprozine Directory.

Clarke reports Nebula Rift (formerly eSciFi), and New Realm (formerly eFantasy) have also been confirmed as professional. He still has a query open about the eligibility of Albedo One,

Jason Sizemore shared his feelings about Apex Magazine’s accomplishment in a blog post titled “Matriculation.”

The other day I received an email from Neil Clarke. He owns Clarkesworld Magazine and he maintains the directory of Semiprozine publications for the edification of Hugo Award voters. With the recent ascendancy of Apex Magazine and my transition to full-time publisher/editor, he wanted to inquire regarding the magazine’s Semiprozine candidacy.

He made the observation that from the outside, it appeared ` was now a pro-zine. As it turned out, Neil was correct.

At first, I was bummed out. We’ve been Hugo Award-nominated three of the last four years in the Best Semiprozine category. We had a strong 2015 and had hopes of receiving a fourth nomination.

Then it occurred to me that matriculating from the ‘semiprozine’ level is itself an achievement and noteworthy. It’s 10+ years of work and tens of thousands of dollars of effort to reach this level. I’m proud that Apex Magazine now exists on the same plane as Clarkesworld, F&SF, and Locus.

Two Four titles have graduated from the category, however, the list of semiprozines continues to grow. Comparing Clarke’s current list with the directory from last April, I found these new additions:

Update 01/12/2016: Clarke wrote in a comment that Nebula Rift and New Realms have been confirmed as professional.