Pixel Scroll 1/16/17 I’m A Boxticker, Jim, Not A Pixel!

(1) DEDICATED TO MEREDITH. It’s ”Appreciate a Dragon Day”.  According to the Donita K. Paul website:

Appreciate a Dragon Day was started in 2004 by Mrs. Paul to celebrate the release of DragonSpell. We encourage you to join us as we celebrate literacy and have some fun!

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(2) NEANDERTHALS. Jon Mooallem delivers a thoroughly fascinating account of paleoanthropological research in “Neanderthals Were People, Too” at the New York Times.

For millenniums, some scientists believe, before modern humans poured in from Africa, the climate in Europe was exceptionally unstable. The landscape kept flipping between temperate forest and cold, treeless steppe. The fauna that Neanderthals subsisted on kept migrating away, faster than they could. Though Neanderthals survived this turbulence, they were never able to build up their numbers. (Across all of Eurasia, at any point in history, says John Hawks, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “there probably weren’t enough of them to fill an N.F.L. stadium.”) With the demographics so skewed, Stringer went on, even the slightest modern human advantage would be amplified tremendously: a single innovation, something like sewing needles, might protect just enough babies from the elements to lower the infant mortality rate and allow modern humans to conclusively overtake the Neanderthals. And yet Stringer is careful not to conflate innovation with superior intelligence. Innovation, too, can be a function of population size. “We live in an age where information, where good ideas, spread like wildfire, and we build on them,” Stringer told me. “But it wasn’t like that 50,000 years ago.” The more members your species has, the more likely one member will stumble on a useful new technology — and that, once stumbled upon, the innovation will spread; you need sufficient human tinder for those sparks of culture to catch.

I picked that paragraph because it reminds me of Robert Zubrin’s argument about the need for population growth as a prerequisite in developing a starship.

To achieve a 200-times increase over today’s GDP, we will need a population of 54 billion. We will need energy of 2500 terawatts by the year 2200.

Pounding away at the opposite conclusions reached in Paul Ehrlich’s famous book The Population Bomb, Zubrin said, “If humans destroyed more than they made, the earth would be barren already. The real resource is human creativity.” Every mouth comes with a pair of hands and a brain. If we accept Malthusian advice, and act to reduce the world’s population, we will impoverish the future by denying it the contributions the missing people could have made.

(3) THE AI TROPE. Ann Leckie’s “Vericon 2016 GoH Speech” overflows with interesting ideas, just like her fiction.

The very first robot story–the first ever use of the word “robot” in fact–is a robot uprising story. But when Karel ?apek wrote RUR he wasn’t worried about artificial intelligence. The robots of his story aren’t mechanical, they’re made of some sort of synthetic biological material. And the word “robot” which ?apek famously coined, comes from a Czech word for “slave.” It’s a story about the revolt of people made on an assembly line (the first actual assembly line had debuted just ten years earlier). It’s a story about the rebellion of people who were built to be the cheapest, most efficient workers possible, workers you didn’t have to pay, or feed anything in particular, or take any notice or care of. In other words, slaves. And ?apek ‘s story hit a nerve. It didn’t just give us the word for robot, it is the ultimate model for nearly all the robot uprising stories since. So that model–robots as slaves, with all the assumed dangers attendant on enslaving people who outnumber you–is the model we’re using when we think about super smart machines. This has not been lost on any number of science fiction writers, who have used robot and AI stories to comment explicitly on oppression and racism. But just personally–well, I won’t go into my problems with the whole “slaves in my allegory are machines and the masters are human beings” bit, though that’s kind of icky when you think about it, but on top of that I think it’s a dangerous model to use as a basis for actual, serious real world predictions about artificial intelligence.

(4) AUSSIE FANHISTORY. Now available at eFanzines.com, issues of iOTA, a fanzine with news of Leigh Edmonds’ Australian fandom history project.

Here are a pair of excerpts from iOTA #2:

  • The purpose of this little efanzine is to serve as a progress report on my current history project which is to research and write a history of Australian fandom, focusing on the period between 1956 and 1975. It is also a place where I can publish little bits and pieces of the writing and art of Australia’s fan past to help introduce you to the rich vein of material that previous generations of fans have left us.
  • Fanzine Review what you missed in 1939. Our friend Robin Johnson turns up with the most interesting things at times.  Usually it is old airline timetables – and we share an interest it air transport so we can find hours of harmless interest and amusement in airline timetables – but not on this occasion. This time it was a little fanzines with a pink cover produced in the old fashioned way using carbon paper.  (If you are not aware of this form of reproduction, I’m thinking about writing a little series called something like ‘Reproductive Pleasures’ in some future issues.  Some people have never heard of carbon paper, which means that they are young and happy folk.) This little pink and carbon paper produced fanzine is Ultra 1, produced by Eric Russell in Sydney, bearing the date October 1939.  It is probably the fourth fanzine title to be published in Australia after John Devern’s single issue of Science Fiction Review published in February 1939, Australian Fan News, a single issue of which was published by William Veney, Bert Castellari and Eric Russell in May 1939 and three issues of the JSC Bulletin (Junior Science Club) published by Vol Molesworth and Ken Jeffreys in June 1939.  (Thanks to Chris Nelson for his extensive research in this area.)  Of these early titles Ultra was among the early successful Sydney fanzines, seeing fourteen issues published between October 1939 and December 1941 when the commencement of the Pacific War brought an end to most of this kind of frivolity in Australia.

(5) GERONIMO! Neil Clarke has quit his day job and gone into editing full-time.

I’m quite excited—and a little terrified—by the prospect of taking the leap. There are a bunch of uncertainties, like healthcare costs and filling the income gap between Lisa’s new job and my old one, but we’re close enough to give this career switch a try. As some of you know, this has been a major goal of mine since my heart attack four years ago. At age fifty, and after ten years working part-time, I’m finally going to be a full-time editor!

Naturally, my first priority has to be those uncertainties I mentioned: income gap and insurance. As I see it, I have a few things to target:

  1. I’ve altered the Clarkesworld Patreon goals to include direct salary and healthcare expenses. Would be nice if it was that simple, but I figure it’s worth putting out there….

(6) HOW TO MAKE IT TO THE FINISH LINE.  The New York Times tells “Obama’s Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books”. Some of these titles are of genre interest.

Even books initially picked up as escape reading like the Hugo Award-winning apocalyptic sci-fi epic “The Three-Body Problem” by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin, he said, could unexpectedly put things in perspective: “The scope of it was immense. So that was fun to read, partly because my day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty — not something to worry about. Aliens are about to invade!”

…To this day, reading has remained an essential part of his daily life. He recently gave his daughter Malia a Kindle filled with books he wanted to share with her (including “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” “The Golden Notebook” and “The Woman Warrior”). And most every night in the White House, he would read for an hour or so late at night — reading that was deep and ecumenical, ranging from contemporary literary fiction (the last novel he read was Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad”) to classic novels to groundbreaking works of nonfiction like Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow” and Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction.”…

(7) CERNAN OBIT. “Gene Cernan, last man to walk on Moon, dies aged 82” reports the BBC.

Captain Cernan was one of only three people to go to the Moon twice and the last man to leave a footprint on the lunar surface in 1972.

The final words he spoke there were: “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return with peace and hope for all mankind.”

He was the commander of the Apollo 17 mission at the time.

Twelve people have walked on the Moon, and only six of them are still alive today

(8) THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Neil Armstrong, recalling how it felt to look back at Earth from the surface of the moon: “I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 16, 1948 – John Carpenter.

(10) QUOTABLE QUOTE: “In England, I’m a horror movie director. In Germany, I’m a filmmaker. In the US, I’m a bum.” – John Carpenter.

(11) BRANDON EASTON INTERVIEW. From Motherboard, “How Diversity Writing Programs Can Help Sci-Fi Live Up to Its Ideals”.

Motherboard: What do you think is really the problem that people aren’t talking about?

Brandon Easton: A lot of the reason why white writers who are entry level aren’t getting work has nothing to do with diversity programs. It’s because showrunners are hiring their buddies who are also EP’s [executive producers] and co-producer level who have these immense salaries that eat up the budget, so that they can’t hire anybody underneath a story editor level. This is what’s going on. Everyone knows this, yet still you have all these disgruntled writers scapegoating diversity programs instead of talking about the real issue at hand, which is nepotism. If you look at how many people graduate from these programs every year that number is so fucking low, it doesn’t even register as a percentage.

Motherboard: Science fiction has a long history of being open-minded about multiculturalism. Some argue that it’s the most open-minded of the genres. Do you think that’s true?

Brandon Easton: Science fiction as a literary genre, in theory, has open-minded concepts. And the fact is that historically, black writers have not been allowed in because for a while the editors, the people who controlled it, the publishing industry itself, even if someone had a great story – once racial politics were revealed, those people didn’t get to work. Now, if you’re talking about TV and film, there has been some really cool stuff that has progressive undercurrents thematically, but, when it comes to hiring practices we still revert back to straight white men as writers and creators of science fiction. Again, I do believe science fiction in its content itself can be extremely progressive and extremely life affirming, but we’re talking about the content versus the content creators. And I think that’s the issue.

Motherboard: I still think science fiction is special versus the other genres. Not only historically in terms of casting, but because when I read the genre, I don’t care what the race of the writer is. I just want to be blown away. Show me a new way of thinking.

Brandon Easton: I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. What I’m saying is that it helps when people get the opportunity. That’s where the problem is. If you want to be really serious about it, the only genre that’s really helped black people more than anything else has been comedy. Historically, I’m going back to the early 1900s, comedy was the only place where black writers could get a chance to write. Several generations of mainstream black stars came out of comedy: Will Smith, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Jamie Fox, Bill Cosby, Chris Tucker, Eddie Murphy, Steve Harvey, Tyler Perry, Wanda Sykes, Whoopi Goldberg and so many others. Comedy is where African Americans have had a shot, as opposed to science fiction, particularly television, has almost been completely closed to black writers.

(12) PRIZEWORTHY. Jonathan Edelstein’s picks in short fiction – “Another year of awards” at Haibane.

I’ll start with novelettes rather than short stories, because that way I can start with my favorite story of 2016: Polyglossia by Tamara Vardomskaya (GigaNotoSaurus, March 2016). GigaNotoSaurus doesn’t usually get much attention from reviewers and critics, but this is a rich, multi-layered story that is well deserving of an award.

Polyglossia is a story of linguistics, cultural survival, family and resistance to oppression – not necessarily in that order – set in a low-magic fantasy world that suggests the early twentieth century. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of good world-building, and the world of this story is intricately detailed and plausible; more than that, the world-building is integrated into the plot and informs the characters’ actions such that no detail is wasted. The linguistics are also tightly integrated into the plot – the author is a Ph.D. candidate in linguistics with an interest in the philosophy of language, and it shows – and the politics of language and cultural preservation come to play a key part in its resolution. At the same time, the story calls into question what we call family, what duties we owe to our ancestors, and how to balance those duties against the exigencies of politics. Polyglossia is rewarding on several levels – thus far, I’ve never failed to get something new out of it with each rereading – and if I had to pick one story that defined speculative fiction for me in 2016, it would be this one.

(13) STEALING A MARCH. Dan Wolfgang very carefully avoids stepping on Sarah A. Hoyt’s Sad Puppies turf while offering slates for the Dragon Awards and Hugo Awards in “A Very Special Message About Pooka Related Sadness”.

Sad_Pookas--678x381

The post is labeled “satire,” but here are typical examples of the names and works populating the slates:

Best Editor, Long Form

Best Semiprozine

Best Fanzine

(14) ROCKET RESOURCE. Greg Hullender sends word that Rocket Stack Rank has posted its page to help people pick artists for the 2017 Best Professional Artist Hugo.

We’ve added some features to make this easier to use, based on our own use (we’ve both already used it ourselves to make our own nominations) but we’ve realized that Eric and I use it very differently, so we’d welcome feedback from others. As with much else involving awards, there’s no one “right” way, so it’s good to support a number of different ways.

Eric is the artistic one (he can actually draw), so he wants to see several pieces by the same artist and makes judgments on that artist’s style overall. When he sees things he likes, he wants to visit that artist’s site, look at their gallery—even read interviews with the artist.

I don’t know art, but I know what I like. I want to quickly flip through all the pictures, extract the ones that I like, and then winnow down the list. (“Extract” means “Press ctrl-click on the author’s name at the top of the lightbox.” That opens a new tab, with that author’s work at the top of it.)

So this year the list contains eligible pictures as well as some that aren’t eligible (either they’re from last year or else they’re from semiprozines). The award is for an artist, not a particular work, after all, and this provides a bit more context on many of the artists. No one is listed who doesn’t have at least one eligible work, though, and those are highlighted.

Since the usual way to use the list is by opening the lightbox and then flipping through the pictures, we inserted an image of the Hugo rocket to separate artists. Eric found that useful, but I discovered that I paid almost no attention to which artist was which until after I’d selected about fifteen pictures I liked.

Winnowing the list wasn’t that hard (for me—Eric’s process was more sophisticated). I looked at all fifteen just at the thumbnail scale, and dropped three or four that I decided weren’t really as good. I dropped a few more because they really only had one picture I’d liked and the rest looked different. (In one case, I went to the artist’s home page to confirm that other pics in his/her gallery really did look like the single picture I was using to judge.) When I had six, I eliminated one because I didn’t like any of that artist’s pictures that were actually qualified for 2016. (So much for the idea that it’s about the artist, not the art.)

To fill out the Hugo Ballot, I copy/paste the author’s name from the web site and for the example of that author’s work, I use a link to that artist’s place on the main Professional Artists’ page. For example, http://www.rocketstackrank.com/2017/01/2017-professional-artists.html#JulieDillon points to Julie Dillon’s work on our page. (It’s what you get when you click on her name in the lightbox.)

We’d love to know how well this works for other filers and what we might do to make it better.

(15) HIDDEN HISTORY. Lauren Sarner, in “Tim Powers Loves Conspiracies” at Inverse, interviews the author of The Anubis Gates, Last Call and Declare about hanging out with Philip K. Dick and the allure of conspiracy.

What was Philip K. Dick like?

Since his death, there has arisen a kind of caricature of him. If you just read casually, you’d get the impression that he was this drug addled, crazy visionary who imagined God spoke to him. Actually he was a very sociable, funny, realistic, generous, gregarious friend. Not at all the William Blake crazy mystique the general impression has become. If you read his last few books, like VALIS and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, you can see that this was a rational, skeptical, humorous person. But it always does annoy me when people say, ‘Didn’t he like live in a cave and wander up and down the street talking to himself?’

(16) YOU CAN TELL A BOOK (COVER) BY ITS COVER. JJ sent this link — “The Cover of Each Max Gladstone Book Has Predicted the Cover of the Next One” from Tor.com — with a recommendation:

Okay, this is not new, but it is too fucking funny (you have to read all the way to the end for the final cover).

I say it lives up to the hype…

(17) RESURRECTED TALENT. IMDB shows some pretty hefty credits for Citizen Vader (2014):

A lonely widower stalks his deserted mansion, gloomily contemplating ending his own life. His last word may hold the key to what has sent him down this dark path.

 

Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)

Aidan Duffy
George Lucas (characters)
Orson Welles (characters)

Music Department

Bernard Herrmann original score music
John Williams original score music

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Aziz H.Poonawalla, Cat Rambo, Andrew Porter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester.]

Pixel Scroll 12/14/16 The Wee Pawn Shops Of Ishtar

(1) ATTENTION ON DECK. Star Trek: Discovery has cast its lead reports Entertainment Weekly.

Sonequa Martin-Green, well known to genre fans for her role on AMC’s mega-hit The Walking Dead, has been cast as the lead of Star Trek: Discovery, sources tell EW.

The casting ends meticulous search to find the ideal actress to anchor the eagerly anticipated new CBS All Access drama. Martin-Green will play a lieutenant commander on the Discovery. (CBS Television Studios had no comment.)

Martin-Green is will continue to serve as a series regular on AMC’s zombie drama, where she has played the tough pragmatic survivor Sasha Williams since season 3

(2) CREATOR OF KRAZY KAT. The Washington Post has a review by Glen David Gold of Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White by Michael Tisserand, a 600-page biography of the creator of “Krazy Kat.” Tisserand explains why Herriman was so subversive, literary, and weird that his fans included T.S. Eliot and Umberto Eco.

Genius is simplicity. A dog, who is a policeman, loves a cat who loves a mouse. The mouse throws bricks at the cat, and the policeman jails him. Some aspect of this, more or less every day, for more or less 30 years, was the comic strip “Krazy Kat.” In isolation it seems as though it dropped out of the sky, and when its creator died in 1944, to the sky it returned. It has since been recognized as one of the greatest American comic strips, a mix of surrealism, Socratic dialogue, low-rent vaudeville, jazz improvisation, Native American motifs and, as it turns out, a subtle — so subtle no one seems to have noticed at the time — commentary on the peculiar notion of race.

(3) FOLLOW THE MONEY. A Reuters infographic charts the cumulative weekly box office take of all previous Star Wars movies, for those who want to see if the new release is as successful.

With the release of Rogue One, the first Star Wars anthology film, Disney is hoping to expand the Star Wars universe with stories that run outside of and in tandem with the main saga

(4) NEED FOR SPEED. Jay Leno’s Garage had Neil DeGrasse Tyson go to JPL to drive the Mars Rover, reports John King Tarpinian. There’s also a YouTube clip of Tyson along for a different ride “Jay Leno Blows Out The Window In His Jet Car.”

Blast off! Jay Leno takes Neil DeGrasse Tyson for a ride in his jet car. Built in Jay’s garage, the EcoJet has 650 hp and a Honeywell LTS-101 turbine engine. Watch the season finale of Jay Leno’s Garage Wednesday, December 14 at 10p ET/PT on CNBC!

 

(5) NAUGHTY OR NICE. The BBC tells how a gaming company dealt with a “troll”: “Fable video game team hunted down troll”.

The images had been posted to Lionhead’s own forums, which gave the staff access to the internet protocol (IP) address of the person who had uploaded them.

IP addresses can easily be traced back to a physical location through a variety of online tools, assuming the user has not taken steps to conceal the details.

In this case, the 16-year-old culprit had not taken the precautionary measure.

“We knew where the guy was living and managed to get a hold of the guy’s high school record through a mate, including the poem that he had recited at his end of year [class],” Mr Van Tilburgh said.

“We wrote a public message as Lionhead Studios to the group Kibitz and we started the message with the opening lines of the poem he had recited in high school, and we included the landmark he could see from his house where he lived.

“And I said, ‘You have got to stop this now otherwise I pass all this information on to your mum.’

Chip Hitchcock comments, “I’d have called this induhvidual a hacker or thief, but the interesting feature to me is the civil-liberties issue the article completely ignores. I wonder whether the gaming co. tried talking to the police or just assumed that would be useless (or at least not as effective as vigilantism).”

(6) FOX OBIT. Bernard Fox, who specialized in playing eccentric Englishmen on American television, has died at the age of 89 says The Hollywood Reporter. A popular actor who got a lot of work, he found some of his bit parts resulted in repeated callbacks.

Fox appeared as Dr. Bombay on 19 episodes of Bewitched, which ran from 1966-72, and then reprised the role on the 1977 sequel Tabitha, in 1999 on the soap opera Passions and on a 1989 episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

In a 1998 interview, Fox said he drew inspiration for Dr. Bombay from a man he served with in the Royal Navy during World War II.

“He was the officer in charge of the camp that we were in, and it was an all-male camp, and one evening, I was on duty and we got six Women’s Royal Naval Service arrived to be put up,” he recalled.

“So I went to this officer and said, ‘What shall I do?’ And he said, ‘Oh, I don’t know, give ’em a hot bran mash, some clean straw and bed ’em down for the night.’ And I thought, ‘What a great way to play [Dr. Bombay.]’ And that’s the way I played him, and [the Bewitched writers] just kept writing him back in.

“If I’d just gone for an ordinary doctor, you wouldn’t have heard any more about it. But because I made him such a colorful character, that’s why they wanted him back; he was easy to write for. They came up with the idea of him coming from different parts of the world all the time and in different costumes; that was their idea. The puns, I came up with, and in those days, they let you do that.”

Fox’s genre credits include the movies Munster, Go Home!, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Yellowbeard, and The Mummy, and appearances in episodes of TV series The Flintstones (voice), I Dream of Jeannie, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Wild, Wild West, Night Gallery, Fantasy Island, and Knight Rider.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 14, 1972  — The end of an era: Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan re-entered the lunar lander — the last man to walk on the moon.
  • December 14, 2005King Kong remake debuts.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born December 14, 1916 — Horror novelist Shirley Jackson.
  • Born December 14, 1946 – Actress Dee Wallace

(9) WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN? This gallery of 10 actors who have played Darth Vader wouldn’t make a good clickbait quiz because you wouldn’t remember half of them.

(10) POP-UP MUSIC. James Davis Nicoll asked his Facebook friends, “Has anyone done an angry song from Hermione’s point of view? Perhaps called ‘No, I won’t do your god-damned homework.’” His question inspired JTigwell to instantly create one. Tune in at Soundcloud – “(Hermione) I won’t do your fucking homework”

Nicoll has the complete lyrics at More Words, Deeper Hole. Here’s the last verse —

I know you’re always saying,
I’m the girl who has no fun,
But listen up here boy who lived,
I’m the girl who gets shit done

(11) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #16. The sixteenth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed copy of a Blaze Ward novel AND a Tuckerization.

Today’s auction comes from author Blaze Ward, for an autographed trade paperback copy of AUBERON and a Tuckerization (meaning you’ll show up as a minor character) in one of Ward’s forthcoming books. You can be either a hero or a villain — your choice!

About the Book:

Jessica Keller faces court martial for disobeying a direct order. Her actions also prevented a massacre during the latest starship battle between the Republic of Aquitaine Navy (RAN) and the Freiburg Empire.

What does this maverick commander have to do to impress the RAN high command? To get the Freiburg Empire to declare her a threat? And at what cost to herself?

Auberon–the first novel in The Chronicles of Jessica Keller–combines adventuring to distant stars with seat-of-the-pants excitement. A fascinating expansion to the Alexandria Station universe.

(13) NEW YORK SF FILM FESTIVAL. The first New York Science Fiction Film Festival takes place January 20-22. It’s only a conflict for those of you with Inauguration Ball tickets – which is to say, none of you at all.

The festival will serve as a meeting place where creativity and expression takes center stage with a highly acclaimed lineup of science fiction, horror, supernatural and fantasy films and virtual reality entertainment. Valuing the importance of filmmakers from all walks of life, the festival presents to audiences modern masterpieces where storytelling transcends expectations and possibilities are endless.

Highlights include the USA premiere of Marcos Machado’s UFO’s in Zacapa (Ovnis en Zacapa) (2016), the NYC premiere of Marco Checa Garcia’s 2BR02B: To Be or Naught to Be (2016) and the East Coast premiere of Ian Truitner’s Teleios (2016). Among its many gems, the festival is also proud to screen Hiroshi Katagiri’s Gehenna: Where Death Lives (2016) starring Doug Jones (Hellboy) and Lance Henriksen (Alien), Lukas Hassel’s Into the Dark (2014) starring Lee Tergesen (The Strain) and a prominent virtual reality block featuring Ben Leonberg’s Dead Head (2016) and Ryan Hartsell’s I’ll Make You Bleed (2016) set to the music of the band These Machines are Winning.

The festival will run on January 20, 2017 at Instituto Cervantes (211 E 49th St, New York, NY 10017), January 21, 2017 at Producers Club (358 W 44th Street, New York, NY 10036) and The Roxy Hotel Cinema (2 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013) and January 22, 2017 at Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Avenue [at 2nd Street], New York, NY 10003).

(14) BUT THERE ARE NO OLD BOLD COLD EQUATIONS. Paul Weimer has worked up a great Twitter thread based on the discussion of “The Cold Equations” here at File 770.

(15) POPULARIZING SF IN CHINA. The Hugo-winning author is the genre’s spearhead in China – “’People hope my book will be China’s Star Wars’: Liu Cixin on China’s exploding sci-fi scene” in The Guardian.

When he was a schoolboy, Liu Cixin’s favourite book was Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne. This might seem like a fairly standard introduction to science fiction, but Liu read it under exceptional circumstances; this was at the height of the Cultural Revolution, in his native China, and all western literature was strictly forbidden….

But more than 40 years ago, growing up in a coal-mining city in the Shanxi province, a young Liu found the book that would alter the course of his life, hidden in an old box that once belonged to his father.

“No science-fiction novels were published, and people did not have any notion of scientific imagery,” Liu recalls. “At the time, almost all the translated novels from the west were strictly banned, so I had to read it in secret. This very book turned me into a sci-fi fan.”

It wasn’t until the late 1970s, when China experienced economic reform and the strictures on western literature were relaxed, that science fiction was translated widely into Chinese. With this came a sudden surge of Chinese authors writing in the genre – and Liu wanted to be one of them. But instead of studying literature, he got a job as a power-plant engineer in Yangquan. But what looks like a career diversion was entirely strategic: the stability of his career meant he could write, he says.

“For about 30 years, I stayed in the same department and worked the same job, which was rare among people of my age. I chose this path because it allowed me to work on my fiction,” he says. “In my youth, when I tried to plan for the future, I had wished to be an engineer so I could get work with technology while writing sci-fi after hours. I figured that if I got lucky, I could then turn into a full-time writer. Now looking back, my life path has matched my design almost precisely. I believe not a lot of people have this kind of privilege.”

(16) NASA VISUALS. NASA now is sharing its best images on Pinterest and GIPHY.

On Pinterest, NASA is posting new and historic images and videos, known as pins, to collections called pinboards. This social media platform allows users to browse and discover images from across NASA’s many missions in aeronautics, astrophysics, Earth science, human spaceflight, and more, and pin them to their own pinboards. Pinboards are often used for creative ideas for home decor and theme-party planning, inspiration for artwork and other far-out endeavors. To follow NASA on Pinterest, visit:

https://www.pinterest.com/nasa

NASA also is now on GIPHY, a database and search engine of animated images in GIF format. Users can download and share the agency’s creations on their own social media accounts, and can be used to create or share animated GIFs to communicate a reaction, offer a visual explanation, or even create digital works of art. These GIFs are accessible directly from the Twitter app. Just tap or click the GIF button in the Twitter tool bar, search for NASAGIF, and all NASA GIFs will appear for sharing and tweeting.

To see NASA’s animated GIFs on GIPHY, visit:

http://giphy.com/nasa

iss-wave

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/13/16 I Know Why The Crottled Greep Pings

Art by Camestros Felapton.

Art by Camestros Felapton.

(1) TALKING ABOUT “DESTROY” OR “DIG” COLLECTIONS? Neil Clarke, editor of Clarkesworld, raises the question of whether special collections for underrepresented communities is a good idea.

(2) THE ELDER CLODS. The Huffington Post continues to cover the full horror of this year’s presidential election: “Stephen King Compares Donald Trump To Cthulhu; Cthulhu Issues Angry Denial”.

(3) NEXT FROM LIU CIXIN. Death’s End, the last book in Liu Cixin’s trilogy which started with The Three-Body Problem, will be released September 20. A preview can be read here on the Tor/Forge Blog.

And the author’s next translated novel is announced in a tweet from Ken Liu.

(4) AUTHOR LIFE. What is Joe Hill doing today?

So we’re doing #authorlife today. Okay. I’ll play. I’ll try to write 1500 words on a new novella (the last in a book of four), working longhand in an oversize National Brand account book. If it goes badly, I’ll accept 1000 words and hope for better tomorrow. When I’m done (1 PM? 2?) I’ll have a salad and read forty pages of A MAN LIES DREAMING, the current book (starring Adolf Hitler, PI, no, really). The afternoon is for office chores and email. If I can I’ll write a snail mail letter to a friend. Because I like doing that. At some point I’ll also listen to a chapter of the current audio book (PRINCE CASPIAN). Over the course of the day I’ll have four cups of tea. Three black, no cream, no sugar. The last is green and has honey and lemon. It all sounds very exciting, doesn’t it? Living life on the edge, that’s me. I’d like to be more physical but haven’t been on any kind of regular exercise schedule since before THE FIREMAN book tour. Hummmm. I also started playing piano this year for the first time since I was 13, and come evening I like to practice for a half hour. But I won’t today cos one of my fingers is f’d up. Maybe I’ll have an episode of THE AMERICANS. Then it’ll be 10PM and I’ll go to bed, like an old person. Shit. I think I’m an old person.

(5) I’VE HEARD THIS SONG BEFORE. Cora Buhlert’s “The Three Fractions of Speculative Fiction” jumps off from a Nathaniel Givens article recently linked in the Scroll, analyzing the sources of complaints about Hugo Award winners, then goes back to 2013 when Sad Puppies had barely begun for an eye-opening comparison of Hugo complaints then being made by fan critics and iconoclasts totally unrelated to the Puppies. Extra points to Buhlert for remembering what those other voices were saying.

Nonetheless, I did remember that there was a controversy involving the 2013 Hugos at the time, a controversy I chronicled in several posts here, here and here.

Interestingly, most “The Hugos are broken” complaints that year came not from the puppy side (though Larry Correia waded into the fray, being his usual charming self) but from overwhelmingly British critics, who complained about the alleged lack of sophistication of the nominees. For examples, check out these posts by Justin Landon, Aidan Moher, Adam Callaway and Jonathan McCalmont.

The critics who wrote those posts are not puppies. Quite the contrary, they are probably the polar opposite. Where the puppies complain that the Hugos aren’t populist enough and reward obscure literary works, these critics complain that the Hugos are too populist and not sophisticated enough. However, if you read through those posts (and particularly Justin Landon’s remains a marvel of condescension) you’ll notice that their criticisms of the Hugos eerily mirror those made by the sad and rabid puppies a few years later: The Hugos are broken, they are dominated by a small and incestous clique of aging babyboomers who have been attending WorldCon for decades and/or an equally incestous clique of livejournal posters voting for their friends, those cliques are hostile to outsiders and disregard everybody who doesn’t attend cons as “not a real fan”, only works that appeal to that clique of insiders are nominated and the books/authors the critics like are never nominated. So the Hugos should be burned to the ground or reformed to represent all of fandom or maybe a new award should be established to better represent what’s best in SFF. And as if the puppy parallels weren’t striking enough, many of those posts also contain some bonus condescension towards women writers and writers of colour. Oh yes, and they all agree that Redshirts is an unworthy nominee. Ditto for Lois McMaster Bujold and Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire. Opinions are divided on Saladin Ahmed.

So what is going on here? Why do two seemingly diametrically opposed groups make so very similar points? …

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 13, 1977 – Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror is published.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born September 13, 1916 — Roald Dahl
  • Born September 13, 1939 — Richard Kiel

(8) NOT ALL CATS ARE SJW CREDENTIALS. L. Jagi Lamplighter, in “The Bifrost Between Calico and Gingham”, explains the difference between Sad Puppies and those who are satisfied with the Hugos, using “Cat Pictures Please” as an illustration [BEWARE SPOILERS].

I have been asked what the Puppies—Sad and Rabid alike—are objecting to? If they are not racist or homophobes—ie, if it is not the author’s identity that they object to—why do they think that so many of the stories that have been winning the Hugo and the Nebula are receiving their awards for the wrong reasons?

I think I can explain. I will use, for my example, the short story that won the Hugo in 2016: “Cat Pictures Please.” ….

So, to Left-Leaning readers, “Cat Pictures Please” is a witty story with a common, but perhaps new-to-them, SF premise, which also reinforces their idea of truth about the world and comes to a delightfully-satisfying conclusion.

The mixture of the simple SF premise, the wit, and the satisfying political leaning make it a very delightful story indeed.

To anyone who is Right-Leaning, “Cat Pictures Please” is a witty story with a common, and perhaps not-so-new-to-them, SF premise, which is full of concepts and moral choices that grate on them the wrong way, and the end is, while a bit amusing, rather unpleasant.

The first group says, “This is a great story!

The second group says, “Look, I’ll be fair and overlook all the pokes in the eye, but as I am regarding the story through my blurry, now-painful eyes, I want to see some really fantastic science fiction. Something that wows me so much that I am going to think it is worth putting next to “Nightfall” or “Harrison Bergeron.” And I just don’t see it.

 “Your stuff is not new. If you take today’s problems and put them in space, that’s not science fiction. You need the new, the controversial, to be SF. 

“Where is the stuff that’s going to shake my world and make me think, the way the Hugo winners of years gone by, such as “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, did?

(9) HOW HUGO VOTING CHANGES MAY WORK. Cheryl Morgan wrote an analytical post after watching the MACII Business Meeting videos – “WSFS Has Spoken – What Does It Mean?” —  which I just got a chance to read today. I found Cheryl’s speculation about the impact of the changes to the Hugo voting rules very interesting, indeed. Here’s just one brief excerpt:

So I have no objection to the detection of “natural slates”. Politically, however, I suspect it will be a minefield. If, next year, when EPH is used on the actual voting, people who are not on the Puppy slates get eliminated by it, I think that there will be an outcry. Fandom at large is expecting EPH to get rid of all of the Puppies, and no one else. It will not do either. People are not going to be happy.

Another potential issue here is the effect that EPH will have on Helsinki in particular. Finnish fans will presumably want to vote for Finnish works. Because there are a lot fewer Finnish writers than non-Finnish ones, there will be much less diversity in their nominations. I suspect that EPH will see the Finnish votes as a slate and kick some of the nominees off. That too will make some people unhappy, including me.

(10) JEOPARDY! Another science fiction question on Jeopardy! This one was worth $800 in Numerical Literature. Steven H Silver sent a long a screencap, and confirmed “They got it right.”

jeopardy-que

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven Silver, Rose Embolism, Mark-kitteh, and Steve Davidson for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

 

Pixel Scroll 6/14/16 The Scroll Above The Port Was The Color of a Pixel, Encoded in a Dead Website

(1) BIG CON BUSINESS. At ICv2 Rob Salkowitz analyzes “Three Convention Trends We Could Do Without”, art scammers, pay to (cos)play and –

Indifference to fan experience. The rising prominence of cons means more and more families and individuals plan vacations and big-ticket trips around these experiences. The expectations are higher, and more at stake for the business in delivering great experiences.

Naturally, each year, there are always a few bad cons, and bad moments at good cons. These are complex events to organize, and well-meaning folks can get in over their heads. I find it’s best to never attribute to malevolence what can adequately be explained by incompetence.

But as the industry becomes more competitive and conventions become more templated, it’s easy to see how organizers can get so focused on the “best practices” for separating fans from their money that they lose sight of the big picture: that this whole business is built on fun and passion.

The more shows become dependent on tightly-booked celebrities, the more likely that some fans will get the runaround. It’s already astounding to me how much some fans will put up with – and spend – to get a few seconds and a photo with a famous media personality. But when cons lose control of this process, either because they are not following through on little details like whether the photos actually came out properly, or because they are having a behind-the-scenes business dispute with their talent, as happened at Houston’s Space City Comic Con a few weeks ago, it’s the fans who suffer.

(2) THREE BODY. Carl Slaughter delivers another awesome interview: “Liu Cixin, The 3 Body Problem, and the Growth of SF in China”. Where? Here!

CARL SLAUGHTER: Why was science fiction not taken seriously in China until several years ago?

LIU CIXIN: Actually, the 80s was a peak period for Chinese science fiction.  Some books during that period sold as many as 4 million copies.  When public officials deemed parts of science fiction socially unhealthy, publishers went through a slump.  In the 21st century, science fiction in China made a comeback.  This might be related to China’s modernization.  Modernization focuses people’s attention on the future.  They see the future as full of opportunities, as well as crisis and challenges.  This set the stage for the development of science fiction and an interest in this literary form.

(3) GAMER. In “Guest Post: Better Sci-Fi Through Gaming, by Yoon Ha Lee”, the author talks about growing up gaming, for the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

Not that I needed writing a novel an excuse to play games, mind you. But it made for useful background. One of the major characters in the novel basically is a game designer; he comes  from the Shuos faction, which likes using games and game design in its pedagogy. It’s something I can trace back to my excellent 8th grade teacher Mr. Capin, who taught social studies and made use of simulations. I’ll never forget the Middle East sim, in which the class was divided up into different nations. I was assigned to “Israel.” Mr. Capin also played the role of the USA, and from time to time, the “USA” would drop “foreign aid” on us. The other groups hated us instantly. Another time, we did the “Roman Senate,” with Mr. Capin playing the role of “Julius Caesar.” He gave me the opportunity to try to stop him, so long as I didn’t spoil what was to come. I was insufficiently persuasive, and he assassinated me. (I have never been prouder to have a teacher announce, “Senator Yoon is dead.” God knows, that’s the closest I’ll ever come to a government position!) It was very visceral, and I’ve never forgotten how vivid the lessons became in that format.

(4) GHOSTBUSTED. “Doc” Geressey, a fixture at cons in NC, SC, and VA for several years, known for having a very exact Ghostbusters replica vehicle and dressing up as a Ghostbuster with friends, has been charged with soliciting a child on social media.

The Gaston Gazette reports:

Michael “Doc” Robert Geressy, 36, of South New Hope Road, has been charged with soliciting a child for sex act by a computer and appearing to meet a child.

Detectives with the Lincolnton Police Department conducted an undercover sting operation involving Geressy. An officer posed as a 14-year-old child on social media. Geressy reportedly discussed meeting to engage in sexual activity.

When Geressy arrived at the predetermined location and was arrested, he was wearing a black suit, tie and sunglasses, police said, like characters in the movie, “Men in Black.” Geressy showed up driving a 1987 Ford Crown Victoria that is a replica of the car used in the movie, according to reports. The vehicle had emergency light equipment as well as after-market toggle switches to replicate the car seen in the movie, police say.

Another member of The Carolina Ghostbusters told the reporter that the group disbanded a year ago, however, they were advertised as appearing at XCON World in Myrtle Beach last month.

carolina_ghostbusters

(5) MESZAROS OBIT. Michu Meszaros, an actor who brought the titular alien in ’80s sitcom “Alf” to life, has died reports Variety. He was 76.

I had no idea – I thought Alf was a puppet….

(6) TEMERAIRE. Kate Nepveu reviews the series finale: “The Temeraire Series Sticks the Landing: Non-Spoiler Review of League of Dragons”, at Tor.com.

Let me put the conclusion up front: League of Dragons sticks the landing, and if you like the series overall, you should read it. It handles gracefully the general challenges of concluding a long series, and it has lots of the best parts of the series to date, and not that much of the worst.

The general challenges are, by this point, fairly well known. The final book of a long series has to address long-standing problems, without being boringly obvious; surprise the reader, without being unfair; maintain continuity, without letting past decisions unduly constrict the story; and give the reader a satisfying sense of where the important characters wind up, without overstaying its welcome.

I think League of Dragons does well on all these fronts.

(7) A PG-RATED DRAGON. Disney dropped the official trailer for Pete’s Dragon today.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 14, 1938 — The first Superman comic book — Action Comic No. 1 — was published

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • June 14, 1909 – Burl Ives, the voice of Gepetto in a Pinocchio TV movie, and Sam the Snowman in Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer, who also had a role in an episode of Night Gallery.
  • June 14, 1949 – Harry Turtledove

(10) WHY WAIT FOR THE MOVIE? Based on viewing the trailer, BBC popular culture writer Nicholas Barber gives the Ghostbusters remake a thumb’s-down, but only for the “right” reasons: “Why the sexists get Ghostbusters wrong”.

Fast-forward 32 years, and it doesn’t look as if much of that innovation and counter-cultural grubbiness has made it into the new film. From what we have seen of it so far, Feig’s version will be a slavish copy of Reitman’s – right down to the cameos by Slimer and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man – except with bright and shiny CGI replacing practical effects, and all-for-one togetherness replacing cynical opportunism. But the one thing it has got right is its casting. After all, the Ghostbusters were always meant to be unconventional underdogs. They were meant to be the last people you would expect to save the world from demonic forces – just as the film as a whole was meant to challenge your preconceptions of what a summer blockbuster could be. And one ingenious way to give both the new film and its protagonists that pioneering freshness is to have women in the lead roles.

(11) RADIANCE. Speculiction hosts Jesse Hudson’s “Review of Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente”.

Working with the art of filmmaking, the relationship between the fictional and the real, and Hollywood of old, Radiance is a novel that possesses every ounce of Valente’s literary awareness and fervor for language. Paul Di Filippo calls it “uncategorizable fantastika,” which is, in fact, a shortcut from Valente’s own more complex but accurate description: “a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery.” Dynamic to say the least, the milieu is never allowed to desiccate into simple retro-pulp homage, going further to tell a rich, multi-faceted tale of one woman’s life and legacy in Hollywood’s Golden Age—or what it would have been were the solar system alive with humanity.

(12) MONEY IN HAND. Buy a first edition of Logan’s Run, signed and decorated by Bill Nolan, from Captain Ahab’s Rare Books.

  1. Nolan, William F. and George Clayton Johnson. LOGAN’S RUN – INSCRIBED TO HERB YELLIN. New York: The Dial Press, 1967. First American Edition. First Printing. Octavo (23cm); red pebbled paper-covered boards, with titles stamped in black on spine; dustjacket; [10], 134pp. Inscribed by the author to his long-time friend and publisher on the half-title page: “A GEN-U-INE LOGAN 1ST!! / To Herb, with hand, and with friendship, Bill Nolan / June 4, ’80.” At the center of the page Nolan has drawn an open hand with crystal disc in red, blue, and black ink; he has also tipped a typed 41-line bio of himself (measuring 2.75″ x 3.5″) onto the opposite page. Pinpoint wear to spine ends and corners, with upper rear board corner gently tapped (though still sharp); very Near Fine. Dustjacket is unclipped (priced $3.95), lightly shelfworn, with a few short tears, shallow loss at crown, with a few small chips along edges of front panel; an unrestored, Very Good+ example.

Nolan’s best-known work, a novel which takes place “after a strange act of nuclear terrorism, forcing the remaining population into underground keeps; a youth culture takes over, instituting the dystopian rule that all those over twenty-one must be killed to combat overpopulation” (Encyclopedia of Science Fiction). Basis for Michael Anderson’s Oscar-nominated 1976 film, starring Michael York and Farrah Fawcett. Sargent, p.144.             $1,750.00

Logans Run nolan auto

(13) SIMAK FAN. The Traveler at Galactic Journey is excited about this recently-completed serial: “[June 14, 1961] Time is the simplest thing… (The Fisherman, by Clifford Simak)”.

If you’re a fan of Cliff’s, you know that he excels at writing these intensely personal stories, particularly when they have (as this one does) a rural tinge.  The former Fisherman’s transformation into something more than human is fascinating.  Blaine’s voyage of self-discovery and self-preservation is an intimate one, a slow journey with a growing and satisfying pay-off.  The pace drags a little at times, and Simak adopts this strange habit of beginning a good many of his sentences with the auxiliary words “for” and “and,” which lends an inexorable, detached tone to the proceedings.

Still, it’s an unique book, one that I suspect will contend for a Hugo this year.  It single-handedly kept Analog in three-star territory despite the relative poor quality of its short stories and science articles.

I won’t spoil things for The Traveler by blabbing about what else came out in 1961 if you won’t….

(14) THE SPY WHO SLAGGED ME. James Bond vs Austin Powers – Epic Rap Battles of History – Season 5.

[Thanks to Laura Haywood-Cory, Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]

Liu Cixin, The 3 Body Problem, and the Growth of SF in China

Liu Cixin is China’s most famous science fiction author.  He has won the Galaxy, China’s version of the Hugo, 9 times.  His trilogy, “The 3 Body Problem,” won the Hugo and Galaxy for best novel and was nominated for a Nebula.  The story was first published as a series in Science Fiction World, China’s #1 science fiction magazine.  The English version was translated by Ken Liu and published by Tor.  A screen version, produced in China and starring Chinese A-listers, will be released in July.

Cixin Liu

Cixin Liu

CARL SLAUGHTER: Why was science fiction not taken seriously in China until several years ago?

LIU CIXIN: Actually, the 80s was a peak period for Chinese science fiction.  Some books during that period sold as many as 4 million copies.  When public officials deemed parts of science fiction socially unhealthy, publishers went through a slump.  In the 21st century, science fiction in China made a comeback.  This might be related to China’s modernization.  Modernization focuses people’s attention on the future.  They see the future as full of opportunities, as well as crisis and challenges.  This set the stage for the development of science fiction and an interest in this literary form.

CS: “The Three Body Problem” significantly contributed toward science fiction becoming legitimate and popular literature in China.  What is the appeal of the story to a broader audience?

LC: Many reasons.  “The Three Body Problem” describes a great crisis for the human race.  Namely an alien invasion.  The story is closely related to reality.  It discusses issues of morals and humanity, politics and cultures, from the perspective of universe, and also shows China’s current and future situation and the world’s perspective on space.  Part of the appeal of the story is that there’s never been a story like “The Three Body Problem” in China.  Also, past science fiction fans were teenagers and college students.  Now they are grown, have high social status and more discourse power, and can make a difference in promoting “The Three Body Problem” in social networking media.

CS: How did you develop a love for and cultivate an understanding of the science fiction genre in an age when there was little available to Chinese science fiction fans?

LC: My interest in science fiction is mainly from my interest in science, my curiosity about the universe and nature.  After being introduced to science fiction, I was fascinated with imaginable worlds and joined the first generation of science fiction fans.

CS: Your stories seem to consistently fit these patterns:  apocalyptic, macro structure, Sino-centric, scientist centric, and hard science.  Is that an accurate analysis?

LC: Science fiction is imaginative in ways other genres cannot be.  This is the main attraction of science fiction.  The end of the world and the macro structure you mentioned belong to this category.  I’ve always believed the science premise is one of the best elements of science fiction.  I use the science background to create the literary form of the beauty of science.  In my novels, scientists and science are prominent.  You mentioned Sino-centric.  My stories are Sino-centric because my audience is primarily Chinese readers and because I’m familiar with Chinese history and culture.  “The Three Body Problem” has a lot of Chinese elements, most of the people in the story are Chinese, and Chinese characters save the world.  But I believe in human-centric science fiction, not Chinese-centric science fiction.

CS: Is there a science fiction movement in China, with magazines, ebooks, podcasts, fan clubs, conventions, etc?

LC: Compared to English language science fiction, the percentage of fandom in China is relatively small, but active.  There are few Chinese science fiction magazines, Science Fiction World being the most influential.  China’s literature network is well developed.  Most science fiction stories in China are very long and serialized on the Internet.  There are a large number of science fiction fan clubs in China.  Most of them are on university campuses.  There are also some online groups.  There are many activities related to science fiction every year.  Mainly the Milky Way and Nebula awards.  The former is sponsored by Science Fiction World Magazine.  The latter is sponsored by the Chinese Science Fiction Association.  Large numbers of fans attend conferences.  There are also online forums.  “The Three Body Problem” has a reader forum.  All of the characters in the book have a profile on WeiBo.

CS: China is a big market for Hollywood and science fiction has been mainstream in America for some time.  What about Chinese produced science fiction movies and TV shows in China?  Is your screen industry starting to catch on to the potential science fiction market?

LC: Screen science fiction in China is not well developed.  Most movies are low budget and don’t have much impact.  Most science fiction movies watched by Chinese audiences come from Hollywood.  The highest grossing science fiction movies in Chinese markets are Hollywood movies.  But the situation is changing.  The domestic film and television industry see screen science fiction as having huge market potential.  On the other hand, producers, directors, and screenwriters lack experience with science fiction.  So Chinese screen science fiction is still in infancy.  If it wants to be an A industry, it has a long way to go.

CS: Is there a screen version of “The Three Body Problem” in the works?

LC: The first movie in the “Three Body Problem” trilogy finished shooting in March of last year and is in production.  The investment was huge and generated a lot of attention at home and abroad.

CS: What do you see in the future for print Chinese science fiction in China, print Chinese science fiction in the west, and print western science fiction in China?

LC: Since the 80s, China has been introduced to a large amount of foreign (mainly English) science fiction.  Some influential American science fiction has been translated and published in China.  The publication cycle has been greatly shortened.  For example, when stories win a Hugo/Nebula, they are soon after published in China.  Foreign publishing in China is still in infancy and quantity is tiny.  “The Three Body Problem” is the only Chinese science fiction novel published in English.  It won a Hugo.  Some Chinese writers have appeared in western magazines and websites.  There are 2 Chinese writers published in Nature.  In my opinion, science fiction is the most global literature because it deals with issues relevant to all races.  So I prefer English speaking science fiction fans read my novel because it’s science fiction, not because it’s “Chinese” science fiction.

Ken Liu and Cixin Liu at the Autograph Session during SFWA Nebula Weekend.

Ken Liu and Cixin Liu at the Autograph Session during SFWA Nebula Weekend.

CS: One of the translators for the English version of “The Three Body Problem” is Ken Liu.  He’s a very popular author in America.  I met him through a writing workshop and later interviewed him.  How did you meet him?

LC: I used to read the books written by Liu Yu Kun and I appreciated it very much.  The first time I met him was in the Nebula ceremony held in Beijing in 2013.  Since then, we have had many chances to communicate and cooperate because he is the translator of first and third “The Three Body Problem” novels.

CS: Are you planning to travel internationally to promote the English version of “The Three Body Problem”?  Will your American fans be able to meet you at a convention?  Will there an English website for “The Three Body Problem?”

LC: I carried out these kinds of activities in America in 2014.  I met many readers and science fiction writers in New York and Chicago and we had pleasant conversations.  Last year, I went to Turkey to promote “The Three Body Problem” in Turkish.  I am going to promote this book in Europe. There are 2 main websites of “The Three Body Problem.”  One is the English version; the other is the website which is made by film producer.  The latter is http://www.3body.com/

3 body poster

ENDNOTE

MIKE GLYER: Carl, I’ve seen the author’s name rendered as Cixin Liu and Liu Cixin. Which is right?

CARL SLAUGHTER: Both versions of the name are correct.  In Chinese culture, the family name is listed before the given name; in western culture, vice versa.  Thus, we English speakers call the translator of “The Three Body Problem” — and he calls himself —  Ken Liu.  When I tell my Chinese students that I interviewed China’s most famous science fiction author, I write “Liu Cixin” on the board; but when I tell them that I also interviewed his translator, I write “Ken Liu” on the board; same when I assigned my college translation majors several English science fiction stories, including “The Paper Menagerie,” as homework.

To make identification even more complicated, his name has 2 Chinese versions.  One written in simplified Hanzi, which is used on the mainland; one written in traditional Hanzi, which is still used in Taiwan and Hong Kong.  BTW, the spelling with English letters is called Pinyin.  At the request of his American publicist, I submitted the interview through her; at the insistence of his Chinese publicist, his American publicist had to go through her.  Since I conducted the interview through 2 intermediaries, I’ve never actually corresponded with the author directly, so I’ve never seen how he signs his name.  Anyway, Wikipedia lists his name as Liu Cixin.

Pixel Scroll 5/12/16 The Pixels Scrolls Don’t See

(1) THE SICHUAN CHICKEN EMERGENCY. Last year’s Hugo-winning novelist has received a new honor — “Dinosaur relics named after science fiction writer Liu Cixin”.

A new kind of bird-footed dinosaur footprint was discovered in Gulin county, Southwest China’s Sichuan province and named for Chinese science-fiction writer Liu Cixin, to honor his contribution to raising public interest in science.

Liu, who was thrilled to hear the news, said that he has great interest in paleontology.

“It is like a science fiction we’re reading that the dinosaur in Gulin county was preserved so well for billions of years. It helps us travel back in time. I hope the relics could be studied and preserved well.”

(2) SUPERGIRL ADDS W, LEAVES BS BEHIND. Variety makes it official — “’Supergirl’ Lands at the CW for Season 2”.

After nearly two years of rumors, “Supergirl” is heading to the CW for its second season, Variety has learned….

At CBS, “Supergirl” averaged a 2.5 rating in adults 18-49 and 10.03 million viewers overall in Nielsen’s “live plus-7” estimates. It was CBS’ top-rated rookie drama this season in the demo, and was also its youngest-skewing drama with a median age of 55.6 — however, it was down from comedies in the Monday night timeslot last year.

The hotly anticipated crossover with “The Flash” on March 28 was a ratings hit for the CW, prompting the rumors to begin swirling once again that “Supergirl” would head over to the younger-skewing network, in order to nab a renewal. That episode, co-starring “Flash’s” Grant Gustin, averaged a 2.5 rating in 18-49 and 9.6 million total viewers in L+7 — the show’s best numbers in the second half of its run.

(3) KRYPTON. Vulture says Supergirl’s home planet is also going to be on the tube: “Syfy Orders Pilot for Krypton, a Show About Superman’s Grandpa Who Lives on a Planet That Definitely Isn’t Going to Explode Any Time Soon”.

And you thought Batman was the only DC Comics superhero who would get a TV show about what everyone around him was doing before he became interesting: THR reports that SyFy has ordered a pilot for Krypton, a Superman prequel from David S. Goyer set on the eponymous doomed planet. The series will follow Superman’s grandpa as he “fights to redeem his family’s honor and save his beloved world from chaos,” which is one task at which he is guaranteed to fail (because the world will blow up) and another that is a bit of a moot point (because, again, the world will blow up).

(4) GEMMELL VOTING STARTS TOMORROW. Voting on the longlists for 2016’s David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy (the Legend, Morningstar, and Ravenheart Awards) opens midday on Friday, May 13 and closes at midnight on Friday June 24.

The award’s Facebook page revealed there will be 48 nominations for the Legend Award, 6 for the Morningstar and 39 for the Ravenheart.

Voting on the shortlist opens at midday on Friday July 8 and closes at midnight on Friday August 19.

The presentation takes place at 8pm on Saturday September 24 at Fantasycon in Scarborough.

(5) MIND MELD. SFFWorld threw a lifeline to Rob B, whose Mind Meld installment needed a home after SF Signal went offline. The participants are N. E. White, Jonah Sutton-Morse, Yanni Kuznia, and Summer Brooks.

“MIND MELD: Recent SF/F/H You’ve Read & Enjoyed About Which You Knew Little”

Q: What recent SF/F/H books have you read and enjoyed which you knew little to nothing about beforehand? (For example, you go into a bookstore and picked a book off the shelf based on title and/or cover alone.)

(6) NEW YORK NEW YORK NEW YORK. Pornokitsch compares and contrasts in “Will Eisner and Three Visions of New York”.

Both Eisner and Fantasia 2000 also recognise this aspect of the city: it can grind people down, even to the point of death. Using the darkness of the city in this way all three of these representations show the city itself to be an active force working on their various protagonists. Dark Dark Dark focus more on the elemental aspects of the city while Eisner examines the interaction of the people and their home, but both are aware of the inherent magic of the place. Dark Dark Dark present in their enigmatic lyrics and the swirling otherworldliness of their instrumentals what Eisner recognised in his introduction to ‘The Building’, there is something “unexplained and […] magical” about the city which can affect those that live in it.

(7) NEW DESTINATION. Variety’s article “Winchester Mystery House Movie Attracts Spierig Brothers” discusses the next project by the Spierig Brothers, Winchester, about the famous San Jose, CA haunted house.

Keith Kato writes, “Michael and Peter Spierig, the Spierig Brothers, are favorites of (and members of) The Heinlein Society for their most recent film, Predestination (2014 U.S. release), based on the Robert A. Heinlein short story ‘All You Zombies.’ We have been told by the Brothers that they will be out of the country from July-September, presumably for filming commitments for this project and they regret they will not be able to attend the Kansas City Worldcon.”

(8) FURNITURE. I don’t think we’ll be able to order a park bench from them, though it’s nice to know Sancal’s Futura collection is based on 1960s sci-fi space stations.

Dezeen promotion: Spanish brand Sancal has launched a “retro-futuristic” collection of furniture, featuring tables, chairs and ornaments that reference 1960s science fiction films (+ movie).

The Futura collection, which was exhibited by Sancal during this year’s Milan design week, is modelled on the set designs of movies such as the 1968 epic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

futura-furniture-collection-sancal-milan-design-week-2016_dezeen_936_8

(9) NEW AWARDS? Bleeding Cool passed on this rumor about the San Diego Comic-Con.

The word on the street is that we are about to get a brand-new, very well-funded awards show for San Diego Comic Con.

I understand that high level talks are taking place between Jennifer O’Connell, Executive VP of Alternative Programming, Seth Lederman, Executive VP General Manager of the new streaming channel Comic-Con HQ and David Glanzer, Chief Communications and Strategy Officer of Comic-Con International, the people behind San Diego Comic Con.

While the existing Eisner Awards cover the comic book industry, and have been the premier awards at San Diego for some time, this new award show is planned to cover comics, TV, film, games and all manner of fan and genre culture. So expect very big names on hand to host and present awards…..

Lionsgate is said to be interested in producing the show.

(10) YESTERDAY IN HISTORY. Can it be May 11th was National Twilight Zone Day….? And I missed it?

Well…! Then I guess that makes it appropriate to feature a “lost episode”…

(11) STARFLEET TRAINING. “’Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience’ is coming to the USS Intrepid this summer”. MeTV has the story.

The museum exhibit will allow fans to study Starfleet culture as part of “Starfleet Academy’s Career Day.”

Beginning July 9, those lucky enough to get to New York City can visit Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience. The museum exhibit is opening aboard the USS Intrepid, which sits on Pier 86 along the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan. A naval museum might seem like a strange location for a Star Trek exhibit, but what is Star Trek if not a space navy? Besides, NASA’s Space Shuttle Enterprise is on display at the Intrepid Museum.

The Intrepid Museum will be the first venue in the United States to host this immersive “Trek Tech” experience, a sort of quick fantasy camp. The exhibit allows visitors to join Starfleet Academy’s Career Day, which includes orientation and nine zones of study in language, medicine, engineering, navigation, command and science. Tickets cost $18–$35. The exhibit runs through October 31, 2016. (That final day will be a cosplay dream.)

Visit the Intrepid website for more information.

(12) MEMORIES. Here’s a Lou Stathis artifact I never heard of before.

The cover image comes from here.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born May 12, 1937 — George Carlin (comedian; first to host Saturday Night Live)
  • Born May 12 – Heather Rose Jones
  • Born May 12 – David Doering

(15) WILL FANAC FOR CHARITY. Jim C. Hines is back with another example of “SF/F Being Awesome: Lar DeSouza and Sailor Bacon”.

If my math is right, Lar [DeSouza] and his fans have raised around $40,000 in total to fight MS.

There’s even a new Sailor Bacon plush, with a portion of the proceeds going to MS research.

Fighting MS by con light,
Winning breakfast by daylight,
Rainbow beard that is so bright!
It is the one named Sailor Bacon!

The MS Walk was May 1 this year, but it looks like you can still donate.

(16) END OF DISNEY DOLLARS. Paleofuture at Gizmodo mourns that gift cards have killed Disney Dollars.

When I was a kid I loved Disney Dollars. For those unfamiliar, they’re Disney’s paper notes that look like real money and feature cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse and Dumbo on the front. They’re only good at Disney Parks and stores, making them essentially like gift certificates. But Disney will stop printing Disney Dollars on May 14, 2016.

It’s truly the end of an era for Disney nerds. As reported by WDW News Today, the move is being blamed on the rise of gift cards and the general death of paper money. Disney staff were told just a couple of hours ago but the company has yet to make an official statement.

Disney Dollars will continue to be accepted at Disney locations, since they have no expiration date. But unless you have hundreds of notes to unload you should probably just hold on to them for a bit. The resale market for even once-common Disney products can be pretty lucrative after a few years.

John King Tarpinian recalls, “A long time ago when friends would have a kid or a grandkid I would buy one share of Disney stock. (Usually with a $25 premium over the stock price.) The certificates were beautifully framed, not to mention that with even one share it would get an invite to corporate events. Then Disney went electronic and that was gone. Now Disney Dollars. Gift cards are just not the same.”

(17) CAP’S PSA. Jim Burns says, “With all this Captain America chat (my all time favorite super hero, by the way!), a truly rare piece of film: a public service announcement, circa 1980 (or thereabouts)!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Keith Kato, Will R., Tom Galloway, Andrew Porter, and James H. Burns for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Doctor Science.]

SF Goes Global in the Year of the Monkey

By Brian Z. Liu Cixin’s 2015 Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel was listed today as one of China’s top ten cultural events of 2015 by Xinhua News Agency, the official press agency of the People’s Republic of China.

The rocket-shaped trophy shared space on the state news agency’s top ten list with the Chinese film industry, which earned praise for a record 2015 box office of $6.8 billion, making China the world’s second largest film market. By the end of 2017, the Los Angeles Times reports, China is expected to surpass North America as the largest movie market in the world.

The first day of the Year of the Monkey (February 8, 2016) will see an unprecedented number of Chinese genre blockbuster releases, including “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: Sword of Destiny” (trailer – US release on February 26), Stephen Chow’s fantasy comedy “The Mermaid (trailer), and “The Monkey King 2” (trailer), a fantasy film inspired by the Ming Dynasty novel Journey to the West. “Kung Fu Panda 3” (trailer), co-produced by Dreamworks and China Film Co., opens in both China and the United States a week before the holiday (January 29).

This first day of the Lunar New Year will also see the release of China’s first English-language sci-fi action flick, “Lost in the Pacific (trailer), written (together with Peter Cameron) and directed by Vincent Zhou. Starring erstwhile Superman Brandon Routh and Zhang Yuqi, who also stars in “The Mermaid,” the film is set in the year 2020 and tells the story of passengers on an inaugural luxury transoceanic flight who meet with an unspeakable terror. Later in 2016, China Film Co. has announced, comes another sci-fi thriller, “The Arctic,” about humans under attacks from mysterious creatures.

“The Three-Body Problem,” aka “3Body in 3D,” is expected in July. December will bring director Zhang Yimou’s science fantasy adventure “The Great Wall,” starring Matt Damon, Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau, Pedro PascalWillem Dafoe, and many more. Set a thousand years in the past and shot on location in Qingdao in northeastern China, it is, at a reported $135-150 million, China’s most expensive film to date.

“The Great Wall” is a product of Legendary Entertainment’s partnership with China Film Co. Earlier this month, Variety reported that entertainment and real estate giant Dalian Wanda Group Co., owned by China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, was in talks to buy a significant minority stake in Legendary. Wanda owns Wanda Cinemas, bought the US AMC Entertainment in 2012, and is building China’s largest studio complex in Qingdao. Last year, Japanese SoftBank Corp. also said it is investing an initial $250 million in a minority stake in Legendary.

Zhang Yimou said at a press conference in July that although “The Great Wall” is fantasy, his film is still about Chinese culture.

“China doesn’t have many stories about fighting against monsters. This time I will do it with Chinese cultural messages and make it outstanding and unique, and allow the whole world to experience China and its culture,” Zhang said.

“But the biggest pressure for me is to make it understandable for everyone, not just Chinese audiences, but young people all over the world.”

Liu Cixin, First Financial reported today, feels less than optimistic about the success of Chinese science fiction as literature, at least in the near term. “Few writers, a small number of works, little influence, in 2016 there will not be any change,” he said.

But Liu Cixin sees 2016 as the first year of the Chinese science fiction movie. With the concurrent release of so many SF films after so many years of preparation, he believes, the success or failure of films like 3Body will either allow the trend to continue or bring it to a screeching halt.

Liu Cixin expects to spend 2017 working on adapting the rest of his trilogy, Remembrance of Earth’s Past. Rights have been sold for other works by Liu Cixin, “The Era of Supernova,” “The Wandering Earth,” “The Micro-Age,” “The Rural Teacher” and “Of Ants and Dinosaurs,” and the first two are said by China Film Co. to be in the pipeline. However, the author is not sure at what level he will participate in those projects. The public and market attention can be a blessing and a curse, he says, “which has to be properly handled, to give yourself time and energy for creation.”

Over the past five years, film options for science fiction stories have gone from as low as ¥30-50,000 ($4,600-7,700) to over ¥1,000,000 ($153,500) – and Liu Cixin notes this trend may continue in 2016.

According to Global Times, the industry research institute Entgroup has listed Remembrance of Earth’s Past as the most valuable IP out of all traditional publications in China. But Liu Cixin’s goal, he told China Youth Daily, is to inspire young people to enter the field of aerospace. “Liu Cixin is already China’s Clarke and Asimov,” that paper concurred, “but China still needs the appearance of its own Elon Musk.”

Pixel Scroll 12/31 At the Scroll of Midnight

(1) THE PERFECT MATCH. Fathom Events is bringing Starship Troopers back to theaters – but only so the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 can give the movie everything it deserves.

The stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000® are bringing The Best of RiffTrax Live back to select cinemas nationwide. On Thursday, January 14, join Mike, Kevin, and Bill for a re-broadcast of their hilarious take on Starship Troopers.

Originally riffed in August 2013, this fan favorite features the guys hurling their wisecracking humor at what has become the king of modern campy sci-fi epics.

(2) THREE BODY. President Barack Obama spent his holiday vacation in Hawaii reading these four books reports Newsweek.

His reading list includes: The Whites by Richard Price, Purity by Jonathan Franzen, The Wright Brothers by David Mccullough, and The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin.

(3) DEMENTO AND CRAZY-EX. Joe Blevins at Splitsider fills you in on everything from Dr. Demento to YouTube in “2015: The Year Comedy Music Broke”.

And then there are the vloggers and other YouTube stars, the ones who make their livelihoods from the site. It’s an under-reported phenomenon, but original comedic music has played a huge role in the success of many of them. Popular channels like Epic Rap Battles of History, Axis of Awesome, and Schmoyoho, all of which regularly rack up millions of views per video, are essentially delivery systems for new comedy music, even if few would think to lump them in with the acts getting airtime on The Dr. Demento Show. They’re all playing the same basic sport, though, just in different arenas. The comedy duo Smosh, long one of YouTube’s most-subscribed channels, mostly concern themselves with sketches, but they do enough songs to warrant inclusion here. Even vlogger Jenna Marbles occasionally does a musical number (usually about her doted-upon dogs) as part of her weekly video series. If there is a way to make money doing funny music in 2015, it is to partner with YouTube, nurture a subscriber base, and never really define yourself as a comedy or worse yet “novelty” music artist. Meanwhile, none of these people are getting much validation from traditional media, including pop radio. Whether that constitutes a problem is debatable.

(4) CHAOTIC NEUTRAL. Brandon Kempner has declared Chaos Horizon ineligible for the 2016 Hugos.

After careful thought, I’m declaring that Chaos Horizon (and myself) will not accept a Hugo nomination in 2016. Because Chaos Horizon reports so extensively on the numbers related to the Hugo process, I feel it would be a conflict of interest to be part of that process in any way.

Since I do reporting and analytical work here at Chaos Horizon, it’s important from me to maintain some journalistic distance from the awards. I couldn’t do that if I were nominated. This is consistent with my past practice; I haven’t voted in the Hugos since I began Chaos Horizon. Simply put, the scorekeeper can’t play the game.

(5) TANGENTIAL HISTORY. The Tangent Online 2015 Recommended Reading List” says it contains 417 works: 355 short stories, 46 novelettes, and 16 novellas.

Its long, error-filled endorsement of Sad Puppies 4 begins with this generous rewriting of history —

Sad Puppies was the name given to a small group of fans four years ago who had become disgruntled after seeing many of the same names on the final Hugo ballot, year after year. It was spearheaded that first year by SF author Larry Correia, who decided to put forth a list of authors and works he believed were being overlooked. He recused himself from being recommended or being nominated.

The Sad Puppies name was given these campaigns by their creator, Larry Correia, who started them to stir support for his own Hugo prospects. He was successful enough to be nominated three times; it was only the third he declined. Nor did he recuse himself from Sad Puppies 3, but supported the SP3 slate with his novel on it, only at the end suprising his fans by taking himself off the ballot.

(6) SOMETIMES THEY DO GET WEARY. The respected Lois Tilton begins “2015 Reviews in Review” at Locus Online with a sigh:

Lovers of SFF can only deplore the late year’s outbreak of divisiveness and animosity, with the hostile parties displaying a willingness to destroy the genre in order to deny it to the other. Calls for unity go unheard while the partisans make plans to continue the hostilities in the upcoming year. The only bright spot is that ordinary readers appear to have largely ignored the entire thing.

(6) FLICK ANALYSIS. Ethan Mills shares his picks “2015 Movies: The Good, the Bad, and the Mediocre” at Examined Worlds.

I’ve been trying to decide between Fury Road and The Force Awakens as my favorite movie of the year.  Both movies have ultra-competent female protagonists, although Fury Road could certainly have done better on the racial diversity front.  While Fury Road gives us pulse-quickening action and a fully realized post-apocalyptic world, Star Wars gives us all the fun of a real Star Wars movie.

Click to see who wins.

(7) READY-TO-WEAR TBR PILE. And if you have a week free, Fantasy Faction will tell you about the Top 50 fantasy novels of 2015.

It’s getting harder and harder to be a well-read and up-to-date reviewer in Fantasy these days. It’s also getting incredibly difficult to order the best of the year lists. I know that complaining that too many good books are being released probably isn’t an argument I will get much support for, but wow oh wow were there too many damned good books published in 2015, right? RIGHT!?

It’s not just the quality of the books, but the diversity of the Fantasy genre worth applauding too. Take Empire AscendantThe Grace of Kings, The Vagrant and Uprooted – these aren’t books being based on proven and familiar formulas

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born December 31, 1945 – Connie Willis

https://twitter.com/EdMcKayinFay/status/682559367087013888

(9) MURDER BY DEATH. “The Medieval Revenant: Restless, Dead, and Out for Revenge” by Matt Staggs at Suvudu. Interesting paragraph – perhaps the literati around here can tell whether it’s accurate.

Unlike us, medieval men and women didn’t make much of a distinction between various kinds of the living dead. There were revenants who fed on blood, and vampires who fed on anything but blood. Sometimes the restless dead took physical form, and other times they were immaterial spirits, like ghosts. (The zombies stayed down in Haiti, and those poor souls didn’t eat anyone.) Because of these reasons, classifying a story as one about a revenant rather than a ghost, vampire, or other restless dead thing can be difficult. That said, we can draw upon these tales for some ideas of what revenants did and why they rose from the dead in the first place.

(10) MISSING YOU. Journey Planet #27 takes as its theme “Fan History – To Absent Friends.” Download it here.

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We look at the impact of those who have come before us, and what they meant to the evolution of Fandom, and of fans. Wonderful stories of legends like Bruce Pelz, Peggy Rae Sapienza, Jerry Jacks, Mikey Jelenski, Fred Duarte, Gary Louie, Robert Sacks, Poul Andersen, Mick O’Connor, Dave Stewart, James White, Ted Johnstone, Joe Mayhew, LeeH, Jay Haldeman, George Flynn, and many many more, help us understand the legacies that led us to where fandom is today.

It was lovely to learn more about so many people that we had heard of but sadly never met, and to learn about people new to us that, unfortunately, we will never have an opportunity to meet. Our experience as fans is enriched by knowledge, and we hope that you will all have a similar experience reading the issue. Produced by guest editors Helen Montgomery & Warren Buff, plus editors Chris Garcia & James Bacon.

(11) BOOKLESS. Is making these announcements a new trend? Greg Van Eekhout is another author explaining why he won’t have a new book out in 2016.

First of all, I won’t have a new novel out. That’s mostly because I didn’t complete one in time to have a novel out in 2016. From the time a novel is sold, a publisher usually needs at least nine months and often more than a year to get it ready for release. And by “ready” I mean not just editing and printing, but also positioning it with a marketing campaign and finding an advantageous slot for it in the release schedule. So, for me to have a book out in 2016, I would have had to finish writing it sometime in late 2014 or early 2015, so an editor could edit it, so I could revise it, so an art director and book designer and cover artist could make it pretty, and so on. Unfortunately, taking care of two elderly parents was more than a full-time job that didn’t leave much physical or emotional energy for new writing.

(12) EXPANSE RETURNING. Lizard Brain shares Syfy’s press release announcing that The Expanse has been renewed for a second season.

Currently airing on Syfy Tuesdays at 10PM ET/PT, THE EXPANSE has garnered strong multiplatform viewership since its December 14 debut, with 4.5 million viewers sampling the first episode on Syfy.com, On Demand and digital outlets prior to the series’ linear premiere, and an average of 1.6 million P2+ linear viewers (L3) in its first three episodes.

(13) MISTER LISTER. Black Gate’s John ONeill amusingly comments

Fortunately, the tireless John DeNardo works much harder than me. He doesn’t go to Christmas parties, or watch movies. Ever. Or sleep, apparently. No, he read every single one of those Best SF & Fantasy of the Year lists. The ones that matter anyway…

— before guiding us to John DeNardo’s compilation of “The Best of the Best of 2015’s Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books” at Kirkus Reviews. There, De Nardo explains:

o  I used 8 different sources to arrive at the aggregate, all of them specifically geared toward science-fiction and fantasy books: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Publishers Weekly, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and course Kirkus Reviews.

o  I only included books that garnered three or more mentions. That yielded a list of seven books, which seems like a good size. That said, I also include below a list of “Honorable Mentions” that appeared on two lists.

(14) SNOPES CLEARS HARLAN. Snopes says a famous Harlan Ellison story never happened/

Claim:   Writer Harlan Ellison was rebuffed after making a crude remark to a tall blonde woman at a party.

Status:   False.

In Snopes’ example, Isaac Asimov spins out an entire anecdote, but the gist is —

…Harlan approached one of these giraffelike women, fixed her with his glittering eye, and said, “What would you say to a little fuck?” And she looked down at him and said, “I would say, ‘Hello, little fuck.'”

Snopes says this is nothing more than a riff off one of the jokes in Gershon Legman’s Rationale of the Dirty Joke first published by Grove Press in 1968.

I remember hearing the joke whispered between fans in the early 1970s. It must have been freshly purloined from Legman at the time.

(15) HALLOWEEN STAMPS. Naturally, horror news blog Dread Central is more interested in the 2016 Jack O’Lantern stamps that will be issued for Halloween. I skipped over those to avoid spoiling the symmetry of the space and Star Trek theme in yesterday’s post. But they are lovely!

halloweenstamps

(16) TREK ACTORS CASH IN. “Star Trek Actor Salaries Just Beamed Up With Big Raises” at Celebrity Net Worth says Paramount will pay big to hang onto the cast of its franchise films.

…In order for the latest Star Trek film series to “live long and prosper,” Paramount needed to keep Pine and Quinto on board as Spock and Kirk…

Pine only made $600 thousand for 2009’s Star Trek, which grossed over $385 million. For 2013’s Star Trek: Into Darkness, Captain Kirk made $1.5 million of the $467 million gross. Before a new deal was struck, he was scheduled to make $3 million for the upcoming Star Trek Beyond. Thanks to a lucrative new deal, Pine will now make $6 million for the third Star Trek film, which is double what he was supposed to make, and will be 10 times what he made for the first film in the series!

The new deal features big raises and much better performance bonuses for the cast. Paramount only wanted to give the ship mates nominal raises, but ended up giving in for the better of the franchise. Thanks to last minute negotiations, the production house ended up adding somewhere between $10 and $15 million to the movie’s budget to pay the stars of the show. As part of the new deal, Pine and Quinto have been granted an option and will now be a part of the 4th film in the J.J. Abrams directed series.

(17) SKY TRASH. Almost 20,000 pieces of space debris are currently orbiting the Earth. This visualisation, created by Dr Stuart Grey, lecturer at University College London and part of the Space Geodesy and Navigation Laboratory, shows how the amount of space debris increased from 1957 to 2015, using data on the precise location of each piece of junk. (Via Chaos Manor.)

(18) KEEP THE FAITH. James H. Burns writes:

For the end of the year, or really the start of the new, and in the spirit of the season, one of the greatest minutes ever in the history of filmed science fiction…  Courtesy of J. Michael Straczynski, and the good folks at, and on, Babylon 5….

 

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, James H. Burns, Brian Z., and Sean Wallace for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Chinese SF News Roundup

3 body poster

By Brian Z. SF author and historian Andrew Liptak’s informative review essay, “Narratives of Modernization: China’s History of Science Fiction” is up at Barnes & Noble. Liptak places Chinese SF in its historical context and showcases some important works available in English, including Lao She’s 1930s interplanetary social satire, Cat Country, Cixin Liu’s short fiction collection, The Wandering Earth, and Chan Koonchun’s banned political allegory, The Fat Years.

On Saturday, August 22nd, 2015, author Ken Liu stepped up to the podium at Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, to accept the Hugo Award for Best Novel on behalf of Liu Cixin, author of The Three-Body Problem. It was a historic moment: Liu Cixin’s novel was the first translated novel to ever win the award, one of the highest honors in SF/F fandom.

Precipitating this moment is a long history of science fiction in China. The genre enjoys its own vibrant tradition of speculative works, developed over the past century. Liu Cixin’s award comes at an interesting time for China: the Asian nation has become a major player in the world economy, and as it grows, its authors and culture are reaching new, global audiences, introducing the western genre culture to new worlds of ideas and stories.

In related news, Cixin Liu fans might be interested in seeing two-meter high, three-meter wide model of Red Coast Base from the upcoming movie “Three Body” (July 2016), first unveiled at the Chinese Nebula Awards on October 18. Photos, not terribly well lit, have been posted on various websites (some accompany an article translated to English, “’Red Bank base’ debut tour family Nebula award Pictures called ‘three body’ will exceed expectations”, at Sunning View), and the Red Coast Base design sketch turned up on Facebook.

Red Base

Just ahead of Chinese Nebula Weekend there had come news about the construction of China’s 500 meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, prompting twitter users to ask: Red Coast Base?

“China enters the search for alien life with the construction of the world’s biggest radio telescope” at the Independent.

Chinese scientists are constructing the world’s biggest radio telescope, which will be more effective than any other at picking up weak messages from outer space that could be linked to intelligent life.

Assembly of the Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, began in July and is expected to be completed in 2016.

 

A CCTV news report from a while back included some interesting footage of the filming of “Three Body,” the actors and the special effects team, and some comments from Cixin Liu. Chinese only, but fun to look at.

Pixel Scroll 12/6 From the Mixed-Up Pixels of Mrs. Basil E. Frankscroller

(1) WITNESS FOR GOLLUM. Well-known Tolkien scholar Michael D.C. Drout is quoted in the New York Times’ “Is Gollum Good or Evil? Jail Term in Turkey Hinges on Answer”.

Michael D. C. Drout, an English professor at Wheaton College who edits an annual review of Tolkien’s works, is observing the situation from America. He said that those experts will be assessing the most complicated character in the English writer’s already complex world.

“I don’t think there’s any consensus that Gollum is evil,” Mr. Drout said in an interview. “He is the most tragic character in ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ ”

Middle Earth, the place where Gollum began his life as a creature named Sméagol, is full of complex characters and allegiances. But a single gold ring, forged with a dark lord’s evil powers, has the power to rule them all. Sméagol catches a glimpse of the ring, murders for it, and possesses it for centuries until it is mislaid and found by another hobbit. Sméagol struggles to redeem himself, but his obsessive bloodthirst for the ring wins out. He accidentally destroys himself and the ring, but also saves Middle Earth in the process. (It is the hobbit hero Frodo who gets most of the credit.)

“The context is this: Gollum accidentally, not intentionally, saves the entire world,” Mr. Drout said.

Mr. Drout said that no one would’ve appreciated the existential debate over Gollum more than the author who created him. Painfully and pitifully, Sméagol almost succeeds in overcoming his evil side, but fails. It is a scene that is said to have upset Mr. Tolkien to the point of tears as he wrote it, Mr. Drout said.

“He didn’t see him as irredeemably evil,” he said of Mr. Tolkien. “He saw him as someone who had been destroyed by this evil ring.”

(2) COMIC CON IN INDIA. The fifth Delhi Comic Con drew an estimated 40,000 people last weekend.

Thousands of fans cheered and clicked pictures with their favorite comic characters Saturday at India’s annual comic book fest at a sprawling fairground in southeast New Delhi.

The fifth Delhi Comic Con had something for everyone who attended on this mild, wintry day. Die-hard fans came dressed as their favorite comic characters. Others crowded the more than 200 stalls selling comic books, graphic novels and merchandise on cartoon characters.

There was real live entertainment, as well.

Crowds of college students and young people cheered and roared as Kristian Nairn, best known for his role as Hodor in “Game of Thrones,” ascended a stage and addressed them. Nairn was mobbed as eager fans pushed to get themselves clicked with the star of the popular television series….

Indian mythological heroes, dressed in gaudy costumes with bejeweled crowns and sparkly clothes, added to the carnival atmosphere, ready to oblige fans with an autograph, a selfie or a photograph.

Indian comics have seen a revival in the last decade thanks to new funding and technologies for printing, animation, digitizing and distribution.

(3) STAR WARS REWATCH. A new installment of Michael J. Martinez’ Star Wars rewatch has been posted: ”Star Wars wayback machine: Star Wars (or A New Hope if you prefer)”.

I know this movie by heart. In fact, while in my 20s and firmly in my barfly life-stage, several friends and I recreated the entire movie over pints at the pub. We didn’t miss a line. There are few cultural touchstones so firmly rooted in our global community as this one.

But I’m now looking at it with fresh eyes, and asking myself…is it really any good? Does it stand up to the test of time and the grey clouds of cynicism accumulated with age?

Largely, yes. Enthusiastically, yes. Are there things that I’ve noticed now, years later, both good and bad? Absolutely. Is it dated? Sure, but not as bad as you think. But ultimately, I think it works. The resonance it has in our culture is well deserved.

(4) STANDLEE ON SMOFCON. Kevin Standlee is running short notes on his LiveJournal about this year’s SMOFcon.

At 4 PM, I went to the panel about administering the Hugo Awards. A year ago, a panel on this subject would have been lucky to draw more audience than panelists. This year, it was standing-room-only. Had we two hours rather than one to discuss how the Hugo Awards are administered, we could have filled it.

 

After breakfast with Linda Deneroff, Mo Starkey, and John Sapienza, I went to the first panel of the morning, presented by Andrew Adams based on work that René Walling has done to accumulate available demographic information about Worldcon members. The slide above shows the memberships over time, attending and supporting, both in absolute numbers (line) and percentage (colored bars) for the 2015 Worldcon, showing how the numbers changed over time. (The upper line and the upper colored section are supporting members; the lower are attending.) Sasquan really was different. There were many more very interesting charts in this presentation, and you can see some of them if you click through the photo above, but Andrew said he’d publish the entire slide deck later and asked us not to keep taking photos.

 

How to Call Out Other Conventions. This was a discussion about how and whether you should point out other groups’ mistakes, particularly the most egregious ones that could poison your convention’s relationship with hotel facilities. I found it very interesting listening to the stories behind the panel title, but I was so sleepy that I couldn’t concentrate that well.

(5) ASTRONAUTS SEND MESSAGE ON CLIMATE CHANGE. Sasquan GoH Kjell Lindgren is one of the astronauts in the video “Call to Earth: Astronauts Send a Message from Space to Global Leaders at #COP21 Urging Action on Climate Change”.

In less than three days, an outpouring of messages streamed in from astronauts around the world – eyewitnesses to profound changes to our planet they’ve seen first hand while in orbit. The messages were produced by members of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), the professional association of flown astronauts, cosmonauts and taikonauts. ASE assists members to communicate their unique perspective of Earth to help stimulate humanity’s sense of responsibility for our home planet.

Also in the video was Wubbo Ockels, Ph.D. Space Shuttle, the first Dutch citizen in space, who said “Our Earth has Cancer and I have cancer too.” He was filmed the day before he died.

(6) BUCKELL. Tobias Buckell offers 28 solid ideas for finding focus in the task of writing.

There are two places to lose focus. One: yourself sitting down to do the work. Two: inside the work as the work itself loses focus. I’ll tackle number one, as I think that was what was being asked.

Caveat: I believe most writing advice is only as valuable to someone as it works. In other words, I believe all writing advice is a hack to get you to a finished draft and help you find tricks to get there. You try something. If it works, it goes in your toolbox. If it doesn’t, you mark it as not currently effective and move on….

11) Don’t tell anyone about what you’re writing about before sitting down to do it

12) Tell someone how cool what you’re writing about is right before sitting down to do it

I really like this pair. Obviously the answer is to use the alternative that helps you. Larry Niven always perfected his story ideas by explaining them to select people before putting them on paper. In contrast, if I tell somebody an idea, then I never feel the need to actually do the writing…

(7) WRIGHT. Someone showed John C. Wright Liu Cixin’s remarks about the Sad Puppies in Global Times, which triggered Wright into writing a post headlined “Liu Cixin to Sci Fi: Drop Dead”.

Within the same fortnight that David Hartwell announced that the World Fantasy Award trophy would no longer be a bust of Lovecraft, but instead be the head of someone whose sole qualification to represent all of fantasy literature is her skin color, Liu Cixin, the first chinaman ever to win a Hugo Award has publicly spit in the face of those of us who voted for him….

That means that this man is gullible enough to believe either what his translator, or Tor Books, or the mainstream news told him, namely, that we who voted for him were motivated by race-hatred against non-Whites. So we voted for a non-White because his book was good, not because his skin color was correct. Because we treated the award as if it were for the merit of science fiction story telling, not as if it were a political award granted to whatever most helped the far Left. We ignored race. By Morlock logic, that makes us racist.

I realize, my dear readers, that if you read THREE BODY PROBLEM, and weighed its merits, and in your honest judgment you thought it was the best SF novel of the year, and your judgment does not matter because you are not the correct sort of people to have opinions.

Even though your opinion in this one case agreed with our Leftist insect Overlords, the mere fact that the opinion was your taints it.

You are wrongfans.

(8) COLLECTING HEINLEIN. Black Gate’s John ONeill compares the collectible paperback market for science fiction’s Big Three – Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein – and comes away surprised by the demand for Heinlein.

Whatever your opinion on their relative merits, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Heinlein has endured longer than Asimov and Clarke… and virtually any other Twentieth Century genre writer except H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Philip K. Dick. Much of his work is still in print in mass market paperback today.

Even more impressively, Heinlein has stayed popular and in print with virtually no help from the film industry. With the notable exception of 1997’s Starship Troopers (and the much lesser-known films The Puppet Masters, from 1994, and Predestination, 2014), Heinlein has endured chiefly on his own steam.

(9) MORLEY REMEMBERED. Available online now and for the next few weeks is the BBC 4 radio production 1977, about the creation of the soundtrack for Watership Down.

In 1977 the bestselling children’s novel Watership Down was made into an animated film. Malcolm Williamson, Master of the Queens music, had been hired as the film’s composer. But all was not well. Williamson, a notoriously difficult and complicated man, was under extreme pressure; it was the Queens jubilee year and he was over commissioned. When the film’s conductor, Marcus Dods, arrived looking for the film’s score he found to his horror that all that existed were two small sketches of music which amounted to no more than seven minutes of screen time. With an expensive orchestra and recording studio booked for the following week, the film’s future looked to be in jeopardy. In desperation he turned to the one person he knew could help; composer and arranger Angela Morley. But she, for her own reasons, was going to need some persuading…

Morley needed persuading because this would be her first high-profile composing job after transitioning to female. Morley later worked on other genre music projects, too, scoring for TV’s Wonder Woman, and assisting John Williams on several films including E.T.

(10) BULK SALES. Hey, John King Tarpinian saw rafts of these at his local CostCo and shot a photo.

GRRM at Costco by JKT COMP

Let Suvudu’s Shawn Speakman fill you in on the details —  “Gifts For the Geek – Day 6: George R. R. Martin leather Box Set”.

I’m always on the hunt for leather books!

George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones Leather-Cloth Boxed Set fits that bill. It is a gorgeous representation of the bestselling series, perfect for that Game of Thrones fan in your life.

The books are not full-sized but instead of a traveling variety, easy to take with as well as looking beautiful on the shelf.

(11) EMPIRE PERIOD ARCHITECTURE. “Alamo Drafthouse Unveils ‘Star Wars’ Themed Movie Theater” at ScienceFiction.com.

If you happen to be curious about what it would be like to see a movie on the Death Star, you don’t need to travel to a galaxy far, far away. You can just head to Omaha, Nebraska. The Alamo Drafthouse just opened a Star Wars-themed cineplex that’s absolutely astounding.

There’s a 10-foot replica of the Death Star in the front lobby, and from the looks if it, you can purchase tickets at an Imperial Command center.

(12) SISTERS. The new Tina Fey/Amy Poehler movie Sisters will be released on the same day as The Force Awakens. How will they fight for their audience share? With a Star Wars trailer of their own called “Sisters – The Farce Awakens.”

(13) ALIENS DIG SECONDHAND SMOKE. Saturday Night Lives presents the Pentagon debriefing of three subjects of the first verified alien abduction.

An establishing shot of the Pentagon took us to a room where National Security Agency dudes Aidy Bryant and Bobby Moynihan are interviewing the three participants in “the first verified alien abduction.” Cecily Strong and Gosling are all lah-dee-dah groovin’ on the cosmic beauty of the mind-expanding, I’ve-seen-God-and-all-the-colors-of-the-rainbow Kenny-G-type experience. Then there’s McKinnon, slumped in her chair in a K-Mart blouse and jeans, her hair a rat’s nest, cigarette in hand, relating a series of experiences that were much more, let’s say tactile, than teleological.

 

[Thanks to Petrea Mitchell, JJ, Brian Z., Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]