Pixel Scroll 4/19/17 I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Pixel Scroller

(1) VALENTINELLI CONSIDERS ANTIHARASSMENT PROJECTS. Monica Valentinelli has issued a “Tentative Plan for Con Safety Discussion and Call for Feedback”.

…I want to stress, however, that I am no expert on the subject of con safety. There are several people (4) who are already doing the work to make cons/events safer, and I feel that any forthcoming materials needs to emphasis those efforts and individuals. As I mentioned in the previous post, the discussion about con safety is far bigger than what happened at one con, and there can definitely be more than one solution (5) and multiple books.

What I Can Offer

Besides offering support, words of encouragement, or signal boosting where I can (6), I’ve had a few volunteers saying they’d be willing to help put together a book (7) on con safety. Doing so is complex, because a) it collates invaluable knowledge from existing volunteers b) people need to be paid fairly for their time c) it needs to be inclusive to address “what’s missing” from underrepresented groups d) it requires a publisher and ample distribution and e) possibly a Kickstarter….

(2) NERD CON SAYS GOODBYE. Nerd Con, an Escondido, CA event, sent its fans into mourning when they announced on March 31 that the con is kaput.

Nerd Con Announcement:

These past years have been so much fun and we’ve had such a blast meeting so many awesome people. Its been really exiting bringing people together through our events (Nerd Con, Nerdy New Year) and creating memories that will surely last a lifetime.

We would like to thank the multitude of really great people who spent countless hours of time and dedicated their energy into making Nerd Con and Nerdy New Year special events for everyone.

At this time we no longer have the necessary resources to continue producing these events. We realize that this may come as a shock to many of you and we would like to thank you in advance for your patience and understanding….

It may have been a touch overdramatic to say “These past years have been so much fun…” The con’s only been around for two years — the first was in 2015.

But that’s been long enough to energize a few critics. Some wag put up a webpage with the message “Nerd-Con 2017 in Escondido IS CANCELLED for non-payment for services” and filled it with complaints about his experiences at last year’s con.

(3) BACK TO KRYPTON. Might as well start covering this now, I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about the series as time goes on — “Syfy’s Krypton: In Leaked Pilot Trailer, Grandpa Has a Message for Superman”.

The story of your family isn’t how we died, but how we lived.”

That’s the message being left by Kal-El’s grandfather in a leaked (and since-deleted, sorry!) trailer for Syfy’s upcoming Superman prequel pilot, Krypton.

Penned by David S. Goyer (Man of Steel) and Ian Goldberg (Once Upon a Time), Krypton is set two generations before the destruction of Superman’s home planet and follows the future Man of Steel’s forefather — Seg-El (played by The Halcyon‘s Cameron Cuffe), whose House of El was ostracized and shamed — as he fights to redeem his family’s honor and save his beloved world from chaos.

The cast also includes Georgina Campbell (Broadchurch) as Lyta Zod, a military cadet and Seg-El’s romantic interest; Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones) as Seg-El’s own grandpa, a genius fascinated by space exploration; Rasmus Hardiker (Black Mirror) as Seg-El’s best friend; Elliot Cowen (Da Vinci’s Demons) as chief magistrate Daron Vex; and Wallis Day (The Royals) as Daron’s daughter Nyssa.

(4) MAJOR BLABBAGE. DenofGeek brings “Doctor Who: huge Christmas special rumors” – coverage that comes with a big fat warning sign —

Huge rumours could become huge spoilers, so only read this article about the Doctor Who Christmas special if you’re okay with that…

The Mirror is reporting that David Bradley will portray William Hartnell’s first Doctor in the 2017 Christmas special, (sort of) reprising his role from the 2013 making-of drama, An Adventure In Space And Time.

“In the plot, the 1st Doctor has to help the 12th [Peter Capaldi] play out his last mission in the TARDIS. The pair must work together to save [their] home planet Gallifrey by moving it to another dimension”, The Mirror claims.

The tabloid’s report continues: “Fans will discover the close-up shot of Capaldi’s eyes from the 50th [anniversary] special The Day Of The Doctor, was actually the start of his own regeneration.”

(5) VERSATILE AUTHOR LAUNCHES PATREON. Since we last heard from Malcolm Cross (“Malcolm Cross, MilSF, and Piracy”), the author of Dog Country, Dangerous Jade, and Extinction Biome:  Invasion, Dog Country has been nominated for the Ursa Major and Coyotl Awards, which are the equivalent of a Hugo and Nebula for furry writers.  Cross has started a Patreon to reignite his career.

(6) HAPPY NEW YEAR! Standback’s Short Story Squee & Snark online short story club is starting on stories from 2017.

With a whole Internet constantly supplying us with excellent short fiction, SSS&S is devoted to reading short stories often, and widely. Every week we read a story – hopping between magazines, authors, styles and subgenres. Then, we meet up back here and discuss – love it or loathe it, being able to talk stories over is often half the fun!

We’re kicking off discussing Sarah Pinsker’s “And Then There Were (N-One)” – the story of SarahCon, the exciting new convention for Sarah Pinskers from across the multiverse.

And, entering a new year of short fiction, we’re very eager for story recommendations – tell us what stories from 2017 you’d love to see discussed, because we’d love to discuss ’em!

(7) 70TH EASTERCON. Last weekend the bid for Ytterbium was chosen to host the 2019 British Eastercon over the Easter weekend, April 19-22 at the Park Inn, Heathrow.

The Guests of Honour will be Frances Hardinge, Sydney Padua, John Scalzi, and DC.

Follow them here on Facebook.

And if someone is willing to alleviate my ignorance of who DC is, please do!

(8) KAYMAR. Congratulations to long-time fan John Thiel on winning the N3F’s Kaymar Award for 2017.

The Kaymar Award is given in April every year, supposedly because the [National Fantasy Fan Federation] was organized in the month of April. The award, unlike other awards in fandom, can only be awarded once to a single person. It is not given for talent or for popularity, but for work — work for the benefit of the club and its members. The award is a memorial to K. Martin Carlson [1904-1986], who originated, maintained, and financed it for 25 years. Carlson was a long-time N3F member who held many positions in the club, including club historian. He went by the fan name of Kaymar

(9) LOST LOSS LEADER. For a mere $29,000 you can own a Lost In Space B-9 Robot 3rd Season Ultimate Prop Replica. (Though wouldn’t you think you could get the original for that much money?)

This B9 Robot was given the privilege to appear at the “50th Anniversary of Lost in Space” at the Hollywood show in Los Angeles. It also held a private exclusive photo shoot with the cast along with their signatures. Photo’s and video will be made available as part of this sale.

3rd season version (paint & finish as seen in the final season)

Functioning Components:

– Lots of Sound FX and Dialogue from the series!
– This Robot has a 6 channel remote control that works 5 motors.
– The Robot will come to life at your control and you can impress family and friends.
– It has dual arm & claw extensions that will open and close, move forward and back.
– The Robot has a rotating torso, entire functions may be used at same time to bring the Robot to life.

(10) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. Some say they were creeped out by the commercial for ”Pandora: The World of Avatar”, which opens May 27 at Walt Disney World in Florida.

To others, Avatar feels like a distant memory now, but according to Polygon

It may seem strange for an Avatar-themed park to be opening in 2017, but the Avatar franchise is far from over. Last April, Fox confirmed Cameron would direct Avatar 2, Avatar 3, Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 over the course of the next six years, with the final movie expected to be released around Christmas 2023. Avatar 2, the sequel to Cameron’s box office-breaking 2009 film, will be released around Christmas 2018.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

The object in the water was not a form of marine life. It was a toy submarine outfitted with a sea-serpent head. This was revealed in 1994 when Christian Spurling, before his death at the age of 90, confessed to his involvement in a plot to create the famous Surgeon’s Photo, a plot that involved both Marmaduke Wetherell and Colonel Wilson.

  • April 19, 1987 — The first television appearance of The Simpsons — Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie — aired during the third episode of The Tracey Ullman Show.

(12) RESONANCE IMAGERY. Justira at Lady Business undertakes a deep. politically-based critique of two works in “Flawed Protagonists, Reader Discomfort, and the Semiotics of the Self: ‘Borderline’ & ‘White Tears’”.

…So let’s return to Millie before we move on to Seth and White Tears. One of Millie’s defining traits as a protagonist, when it comes to my reading experience, is that she made me uncomfortable, brought me discomfort. Sometimes this was the simple discomfort of a protagonist doing an obviously bad thing. That’s relatively was easy to deal with. But sometimes it was the book making a point. Let’s take Millie’s self-consciousness about her racism — that made me uncomfortable, too. Millie will form some negative impression of a character and then wonder, it’s not because he’s a POC, is it? Or, conversely, Millie will desire a POC in a pretty… shall we say, colour-coded way. This, she was less self-conscious about, but juxtaposed with the flip side of her racism, it seemed obvious to me. To me, Millie’s experience of this in her own head — am I thinking this because of X-ism? — ran perfectly parallel to my experience as a reader in regards to Millie: am I finding her unlikable in this moment because I’m ableist? This book uses reader discomfort as a tool to achieve a sociopolitical goal, to achieve a certain kind of consciousness, self-consciousness….

(13) SUBMISSION. Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s analysis and opinion, in “Drupal Developer Larry Garfield Ostracized Over Involvement in Sci-Fi Based Kink Community” on Reason’s “Hit and Run” blog, turns out to be about the consequences to an industry leader of being part of a community of “Goreans,” who are devotees of the novels of John Norman. (Amazing to find Gor novels in the news 40 years later.) A lot of the arguments about the interplay of personal rights and membership in communities are familiar from comments on various topics here.

Inc points out that “the deeper question about how much tolerance should be afforded to controversial views is one that has popped up multiple times in open-source communities” in recent years, from Brendan Eich’s removal as CEO of Mozilla over his opinion on same-sex marriage to the drama surrounding LambdaConf’s inclusion of programmer Curtis Yarvin (who runs a neoreactionary blog in his non-professional life).

Buytaert was at first quite explicit on his answer to this question. In a section of his blog post that’s now been deleted, the Drupal head opined that “someone’s belief system inherently influences their actions, in both explicit and subtle ways,” and wrote that he is “unwilling to take this risk going forward” with regard to Garfield’s potential beliefs about sex and gender potentially spilling over into his professional life. And here’s the real rub of it:

Larry’s continued representation of the Drupal project could harm the reputation of the project and cause harm to the Drupal ecosystem. Any further participation in a leadership role implies our community is complicit with and/or endorses these views, which we do not.

Whether Buytaert himself believes that Garfield is a sexist pervert is irrelevant—he’s clearly worried that other people will perceive Garfield as a sexist pervert, and afraid that this will create bad public-relations for Drupal. Rather than practice what he preaches about tolerance, respect, and creating “a culture of open-mindedness toward difference,” Buytaert offered up Garfield for social-justice sacrifice in order to appease prudes and busybodies. Here’s hoping the tech community continues to reject this sort of phony promise of diversity and attempts at inclusiveness through exclusion.

(14) FIRST NATIONS. Take Us to Your Chief and Other Stories: Classic Science Fiction with a Contemporary First Nations Outlook, edited by Drew Hayden Taylor, was released April 11.

A forgotten Haudenosaunee social song beams into the cosmos like a homing beacon for interstellar visitors. A computer learns to feel sadness and grief from the history of atrocities committed against First Nations. A young Native man discovers the secret to time travel in ancient petroglyphs.

Drawing inspiration from science fiction legends like Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, Drew Hayden Taylor frames classic science-fiction tropes in an Aboriginal perspective.

The nine stories in this collection span all traditional topics of science fiction–from peaceful aliens to hostile invaders; from space travel to time travel; from government conspiracies to connections across generations. Yet Taylor’s First Nations perspective draws fresh parallels, likening the cultural implications of alien contact to those of the arrival of Europeans in the Americas, or highlighting the impossibility of remaining a “good Native” in such an unnatural situation as a space mission.

Infused with Native stories and variously mysterious, magical and humorous, Take Us to Your Chief is the perfect mesh of nostalgically 1950s-esque science fiction with modern First Nations discourse.

(15) SENSE OF WONDER. John Joseph Adams’ Cosmic Powers anthology was released April 18 – cover by Chris Foss.

“Inspired by movies like The Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars, this anthology features brand-new epic stories from some of science fiction’s best authors.  For fans who want a little less science and a lot more action.”

Table of Contents

A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime  —  Charlie Jane Anders
Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance  —  Tobias S. Buckell
The Deckhand, the Nova Blade, and the Thrice-Sung Texts  —  Becky Chambers
The Sighted Watchmaker  —  Vylar Kaftan
Infinite Love Engine  —  Joseph Allen Hill
Unfamiliar Gods  —  Adam-Troy Castro, with Judi B. Castro
Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World  —  Caroline M. Yoachim
Our Specialty is Xenogeology  —  Alan Dean Foster
Golden Ring  —  Karl Schroeder
Tomorrow When We See the Sun  —  A. Merc Rustad
Bring the Kids and Revisit the Past at the Traveling Retro Funfair  !—  Seanan McGuire
The Dragon that Flew Out of the Sun  —  Aliette De Bodard
Diamond and the World Breaker  —  Linda Nagata
The Chameleon’s Gloves  —  Yoon Ha Lee
The Universe, Sung in Stars  —  Kat Howard
Wakening Ouroboros  —  Jack Campbell
Warped Passages  —  Kameron Hurley
The Frost Giant’s Data  —  Dan Abnett

(16) VERNE DISCOVERY. Mysterious Universe says a Jules Verne time capsule has been found after researchers analyzed hints about its location on his tomb.

So far, the box has only been examined with X-rays and, unfortunately, it and the materials inside show deterioration from being buried since the late 1800s – Verne died on March 24, 1905. According to Paris Descartes University Field Archaeologist Elouan Beauséjour, the papers appear damp and crumbling and the engravings on the inside of the box are nearly illegible. Other things that can be identified include books and metal objects. Beauséjour says the examination has moved to a more detailed phase that may involve opening the box in a sterile and preservative environment. He plans to issue a statement as this progresses.

(17) CAPITAL INFUSION. Not quite another The Leaky Establishment reference, but some unexpected people are getting into nuclear power: “British reality star building a fusion reactor”.

Although it would be easy to dismiss Dinan as a dreamer, his startup Applied Fusion Systems is one of a growing number of firms investing in the promise of fusion. In the UK alone, there are at least two other companies trying to produce commercial nuclear fusion power stations. And as BBC Future reported last year, in the US, several projects have received the backing of wealthy technology billionaires including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel and former Google vice president Mike Cassidy.

(18) COOL BEANS. And a lab demo of “negative mass”.

Prof Peter Engels, from Washington State University (WSU), and colleagues cooled rubidium atoms to just above the temperature of absolute zero (close to -273C), creating what’s known as a Bose-Einstein condensate.

In this state, particles move extremely slowly, and following behaviour predicted by quantum mechanics, acting like waves.

They also synchronise and move together in what’s known as a superfluid, which flows without losing energy.

To create the conditions for negative mass, the researchers used lasers to trap the rubidium atoms and to kick them back and forth, changing the way they spin.

When the atoms were released from the laser trap, they expanded, with some displaying negative mass.

“With negative mass, if you push something, it accelerates toward you,” said co-author Michael Forbes, assistant professor of physics at WSU.

He added: “It looks like the rubidium hits an invisible wall.”

(19) SHIRLEY YOU JEST. When John Hertz cast his eye on the new Shirley Jackson bio Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin (a Stoker nominee) this is what he discovered –

I turned to the index and found no entry for “One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts”. Various other works of hers were listed.

I haven’t read the book so can’t say if the story is included in the text and merely omitted from the index, or left out entirely.

Opinions differ as to whether it’s a horror story. I don’t think it is, but I do think it wonderful.

(20) FIRST PAST THE POST. Camestros Felapton rates “Hugo 2017: Best Dramatic Presentation Short”. Did that nominee we have already read Camestros raving about come in number one on his ballot? Well, yes!

(21) FURTHER DELIBERATIONS. More reviews from the Shadow Clarke jury – the hardest-working critics on the planet! Superb writers, too.

Empire V is about vampires, which is probably guaranteed to turn away many readers who could happily go the rest of their lives without seeing another vampire. The figure of the vampire has by this point been made to stand in for so many disparate things—the sexual predator, the romantic outsider, the lonely immortal, the feral beast, whatever—that the image feels quite emptied of meaning in itself. Merely knowing that there are vampires in a story no longer tells us anything useful about it. At best, one might make two safe guesses: one, that the story is not going to be about vampirism as such; two, that the vampires will be in some way a fringe element to society.

The first three books on my Sharke shortlist were an unabashed joy to me. Valente, Tidhar and Jemisin all delivered to my personal tastes in terms of prose, character and moral tone. I picked those books because I thought they would push my buttons and they did. I felt minimal friction while reading them or writing about them. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee was and is a different animal altogether; a book that I found challenging, elusive, tantalising and frustratingly obtuse by turns. This is unsurprising. I’m a historian and a medievalist by training, so military SF predicated on advanced mathematics is always going to test my limits. After 30 pages of immersion in Lee’s world I found myself entirely at a loss for what the hell was going on. My paradigmatic understanding of how things work smacked into the world of the novel at high speed. Stuff exploded, characters were killed, geocide was committed and I was left feebly grasping at threads as they whipped past me. I might have given up on the book in discombobulated despair if not for the muscular grip of the writing:

Hunters & Collectors is a book about celebrity and the way that online celebrity interacts with social class. Tomahawk presents himself as this hedonistic and transgressive figure but as his destruction suggests, his ability to transgress the rules of polite society is constrained by a particular social contract: As a critic, he can express himself as honestly as he wants as long as that self-expression does not extend beyond the realms of consumer advice to a critique of existing power structures and social systems. Be as rude as you like about restaurant owners, but don’t you dare talk about the government. The social contract also has an – unwritten but understood – rule that your celebrity and popularity are entirely dependent upon your ability to face the right direction at all times. Be as rude as you like about the out-group, but don’t you dare talk about people we aspire to be lest we turn against you. There is also an understanding that making any statement in public (even anonymously) positions you in a world where everyone spends their time tearing each other to pieces. Face the wrong direction and your support will evaporate and once your support evaporates, you can be utterly destroyed even if you have not done or said anything wrong. This is a dog-eat-dog world but only for those without any real power.

What I know as the Ashmolean Museum is, in Kavenna’s Oxford, the Tradescantian Ark, reflecting the fact that the collection Elias Ashmole gave to Oxford University was in part composed of John Tradescant the Younger’s collection of artefacts, known as the Ark, which he gave to Ashmole (or, depending on who you listen to, which Ashmole swindled him out of). So, perhaps we are in an Oxford which is less a ‘home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names, and impossible loyalties’, as Matthew Arnold memorably described it, and instead a place where potential wrongs have been righted even before they were committed, and Jeremiah Tradescant’s ownership of his family’s remarkable collection is justly celebrated. Perhaps, but rather as light is both particle and wave, so wrongs can be righted even as the lost causes and forsaken beliefs persist.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 7/3/16 All Blogs Go To Heaven

(1) CENTURIES. Marcelo Rinesi at Tactical Awareness offers an unusual free read – 100 Stories in 100 Words.

This books is a free collection of a hundred SF short stories (we live, as Warren Ellis remarks, in the Science Fiction Condition), each of them exactly one hundred words as reported by my text editor — if a piece of software says it, it must be true —, a self-imposed constraint I chose out of the same worrisome tendencies that made me need to do it in the first place.

It’s very weird, this world we’re building, with no overarching plot, some very unsettling corners, and no other moral lesson than with hindsight, it does look like something we would do, doesn’t it? If this book reflects at least part of it, I’ll think myself well rewarded for the time I put in it, and I hope you will too.

Here’s an example:

The Collectors

There’s a storm of happy notifications coming from your phone.

Somebody’s buying every last one of your paintings, so quickly that markets haven’t adjusted.

Quickly enough that they’ll have bought all of them before the ambulance gets to your cabin. The gunshot wound will have killed you before that anyway.

Maybe it’s the shock, but what enrages you is that they are going to destroy all of your paintings. All but one, which will become valuable enough to pay for the whole schema, assassin included.

You hope they at least pick the right one.

Click the link to access the PDF file.

(2) STELLAR IDEA. James Davis Nicoll’s line on Facebook was, “I can see no way that deliberately bombarding the Earth from space could go horribly wrong.”

National Geographic says “Get Ready for Artificial Meteor Showers”.

Natural meteor showers occur when Earth plows through trails of debris shed by passing comets. When this celestial schmutz slams into our atmosphere at breakneck speeds, the debris burns up and creates fiery streaks of light.

Now, if a Japanese start-up called ALE has its way, a satellite capable of generating artificial meteor showers will be in orbit sometime in the next two years. From 314 miles (500 kilometers) above Earth’s surface, the orbiter will shoot metal spheres the size of blueberries into the upper atmosphere.

As these particles move across the sky at roughly 17,400 miles (28,000 kilometers) an hour, the spheres will burn into brilliant crisps—painting the night with colorful streaks on demand….

(3) THE TRUTH IS NOT OUT THERE. Don’t rely on what you’re hearing, says the director. “Fuller: Trek Gossip Rated ‘Pants On Fire’”.

Bryan Fuller won’t share too many details of the new Star Trek series, reportedly saving them for San Diego Comic-Con next month. But what he can say is all that gossip originating from a blog with unverified and uncorroborated information? Totally not true.

Fuller, the former “Star Trek: Voyager” writer who will serve as showrunner for the CBS All Access series, says reports that circulated over the spring that set his show after “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” and before “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is false. Also false? The fact that the new series would be an anthology show.

In fact, Fuller said reading the various reports online about the show makes him almost wish there was a Politifact for rumors. Then he could check the accuracy and rate them on a varying scale between true and false.

“It’s interesting to see those suggestions, and seeing the truth mixed in with them, and going like, ‘Oh, they got that part right,'” Fuller told Moviefone’s Scott Huver. “But it’s sort of on the Truth-o-Meter on Politifact. It’s sort of like some truth, and a lot of like, ‘No, pants on fire! That’s not true.'”

(4) LEGION. Yahoo! Style reveals – “Another Marvel character just got their own TV show and we have our first look”.

Legion, a new series coming FX, centers around a character struggling with mental illness — and his own mutant powers. In the comics David Haller, played in the new series by Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens, is the son of Professor Charles Xavier and shares his father’s telepathic abilities.

In the television series, Haller will think the voices in his head are a symptom of mental illness, likely because in this universe (which is not the same as the universe of the X-Men films, but a parallel one) the public doesn’t know mutants exist. In fact, the U.S. government is only just becoming aware of them — so it’s natural for Heller not to realize he has superhuman powers.

(5) FINNCON. GoH Catherynne M. Valente at Finncon 2016. The committee says they drew 4000 visitors this weekend.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 3, 1985 — George Romero’s Day of the Dead is seen for the first time.
  • July 3, 1985 Back to the Future released, features 1981 DeLorean DMC-12

(7) UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE. You can admire photos of Kevin Standlee in character as Col. Chinstrap, with his aide (Lt. Hayes) and orderly (Pvt. Bear), in his Livejournal post about the second day of Westercon.

Here we are in full outfits. As we went by the SJ in 2018 bid table, a person (we don’t remember who and don’t want to remember) came over and insisted that the little bronze cannon on the Colonel’s pith helmet was a “representation of a weapon” and thus prohibited by the hotel weapon’s policy and that we would have to take the hat back to our room.

(8) ASCENT OF MAN. Lou Antonelli ponders his recent history as a user of social media in a “Causerie on reaching 3,000 Facebook Friends” at This Way To Texas.

First off, Facebook is a necessary evil. There are a myriad of social platforms today, the proliferation of which is leading America towards a collective nervous breakdown. People are too distracted and have the attention span – maybe – of a cocker spaniel. And as I have said before, we knew in the past men did not possess telepathy because if we knew what we were thinking about each other, we’d be at each other’s throats. Well, the internet has accomplished that anyway, and we are indeed at each other’s throats – figuratively. Only time will tell if we implode into a full scale shooting civil war, in which case the figurative will have become the literal.

It’s not my strategy to quote entire posts, so let me assure you of finding many other lively opinions therein.

(9) FUTURE UNGUESSED. At SF Crowsnest, Geoff Willmets returns to a perennial question: “Editorial – July 2016: Can Science Fiction go any further than it is today”.

Reading ‘Cyberpunk Women, Feminism And Science Fiction by Carlen Lavigne’ last month made me realise once again that it’s been a long time since the last major attempt at change or addition to Science Fiction. My observations there that the real failure of cyberpunk, itself marketed since 1984, was because Ian Gibson took the tactic that young people would eventually rebel at computer tech taking over their lives when, as reality has shown, they have not only embraced but now can’t live without it. No major dissenters. No rebellion. No attacks on authority, be it corporation or government for privacy invasion, let alone taking over their lives. SF put up the markers and both sides are a little cautious or haven’t totally strayed into that area, with maybe the exception of China and some other dictatorial states. Well, not yet, anyway and the security services elsewhere don’t admit how much they can access so people tend to forget it. Those that fall into that category are either lone wolves or some rogue government wanting to stir things up but I doubt if it’s done for the dislike of computer software.

(10) PREDICTING THE PRESENT. Andrew Liptak seems to agree with Willmets about the arrangement of the literary map, but he is not disappointed with it — “How science fiction writers predicted virtual reality”.

What has set these novels apart from their peers is the ability of their authors to comprehend not the underlying technology itself, but how it is utilized by its users. Moreover, these authors have largely imagined not just their virtual worlds, but the real world that supports their use, depicting bleak, corporate-driven universes that feel not too unlike our own.

(11) NINEFOX. At Lady Business, renay reviews Ninefox Gambit in “Let’s Get Literate! Don’t Trust a Fox (Unless it’s a Robot Fox)”.

The society and political structure in Ninefox Gambit, known as the hexarchate, is one formed and held together by a version of advanced, far-future mathematics (i.e. magic) that allows a large society to create their own version of reality through a rigid belief system. And, okay, it’s not exactly math. But it has rules, like math has rules, so it’s a lot easier for me to think of it as mathematical. The book calls this system a calendar. Calendrical rot, which we’re introduced to in the first chapter, is what happens when another large group grows big and influential enough to create their own reality by believing something different. This creates a situation in which reality itself (depending on which calendar you’re standing in) doesn’t work right. Things go all wonky, weapons don’t work, and it’s a great big mess. The hexarchate is very interested in ensuring their dominance so their calendar and the six factions that operate under it remain the greatest calendar in all the universe. It’s an old story: people in power want to stay in power or want more power.

But wait! There’s a twist! There’s a heretical calendar afoot and it comes in the form of democracy and the captured-by-heretics Fortress of Scattered Needles.

For me, this is hard science fiction, because Ninefox Gambit is playing with how reality is formed and how we relate to one another on a system of time and in space. Ignoring the fact that the math and science in this novel are currently impossible, that’s enough for me to go, “well, this is a challenge to HOW WE PERCEIVE REALITY as a concept, that’s a logical problem, logic is math, there’s also sociology and psychology and philosophy mixed in, OMG THIS IS HARD SCIENCE FICTION.” Ask someone who didn’t fail every math class after 4th grade, and this is science fantasy, especially if you read “actual” hard science fiction. I don’t, because it’s often written by cisgender straight men who are like “women are people who can do things in novels besides be objects? That sounds fake but okay.” So yeah, I don’t read a lot of “proper” hard science fiction, with “real” math and science and that influences my reading of this novel. Bias disclosed!

(12) EAST MEETS WEST. Charles Stross and Cat Rambo at Westercon.

Had to get a pic with Charlie's shirt!

A post shared by Cat Rambo (@specfic) on

(13) GAIMAN ON LATE NIGHT. A couple weeks ago, Neil Gaiman was on Late Night with Seth Meyers and they talked about the American Gods TV adaptation.

(14) THE FLAMING C. Conan O’Brien will return to San Diego Comic-Con again this year, and interview the cast of Suicide Squad.

Last year O’Brien’s “Conacon” trip to SDCC produced some big laughs as he spoofed popular titles like Mad Max: Fury Road and brought his signature style of sarcastic, self-deprecating humor to everything from interviews with the cast of Game of Thrones to getting his own Conan superhero, The Flaming C, courtesy of Warner Bros. animator Bruce Timm. This year will likely boast even more laugh-out-loud moments as well as a huge amount of attention, given the comedian’s intention to interview the cast of Suicide Squad. Billed as social media’s most talked about movie of 2016, O’Brien’s sense of humor should provide an interesting and undoubtedly hilarious boost to Suicide Squad’s hype.

(15) THE PERMANENT THRONE CAMPAIGN. Emily Nussbaum tells why the just-ended season of Game of Thrones fits in so well with the election coverage in “The Westeros Wing”.

In the colossal, bloody, flawed, exhausting, occasionally intoxicating phenomenon that is “Game of Thrones,” the best bits are often moments like this: seductive mini-meditations on politics that wouldn’t be out of place in “Wolf Hall,” if “Wolf Hall” had ice zombies, or “Veep,” if “Veep” featured babies getting eaten by dogs. Season 6, which ended on Sunday, to the usual celebration and fury, and with the usual viral memes, and with corpses mangled (I assume, since HBO didn’t give me a screener), felt perversely relevant in this election year. It was dominated by debates about purity versus pragmatism; the struggles of female candidates in a male-run world; family dynasties with ugly histories; and assorted deals with various devils.

(16) BREWERS WITH SECRET IDENTITIES. David Mulvihill’s column about Southern California beers in the June/July Celebrator Beer News discusses Unsung Brewing, which is in Tustin but because of weird California reasons has their tasting room in Anaheim. The brewery was founded by Michael Crea.

Crea, an avid comic book fan when he was growing up. has incorporated the comics theme in his brewery’s branding and point of view. Beer nerd meets comic book nerd, as each beer takes the name of an unsung hero. Each backstory is created around the hero’s ingredients and its namesake’s alter ego or super power.  Look for quarterly releases of comics telling their heroes’ full stories, with artwork from local artists. See how Propeller-Head travels the world in search of the best coffee. How about the adventures of Buzzman’s battles with the yard beast?  Learn also about two female IPA heroes: Sylvan’s quest to save forests decimated by  big business and oil, and Anthia’s mission to help pollinate the earth’s fruit trees because of pesticide-related diminishment of bee and insect populations,  A prominent wall mural of Buzzman fighting the yard beast will be displayed in Unsung’s tasting room, which will be expected to open in early June.

The Unsung Brewing website has a section called “Credo” in which they explain why they’re all comics geeks.

We were raised on Batman. We came of age with the Incredible Hulk. We wore out our Spidey Super Stories LP. Hero mythology runs through our veins and flows through our glycol chiller. Digging deeper, we see super-traits in the unsung heroes of everyday life. From service men and women, firefighters and doctors, to friends and family who practice small acts of kindness and sacrifice– real life heroes surround us. We are dedicated to honoring these unsung heroes through philanthropy, and hope to inspire the hero in all of us.

(17) BY JUPITER 2. Lost in Space is getting rebooted by Netflix.

It’ll be interesting to see just how the new incarnation of the story is adapted on Netflix, especially with one of the executive producers behind Prison Break. Other rebooted science fiction television shows such as Battlestar Galactica have returned with a far more serious take than their original source material, and Netflix noted that this new version would be ready to please fans of the original show while bringing in modern audiences. A dark, modern drama is certainly something Netflix can deliver to viewers, but hopefully, they’ll keep the classic phrase “Danger, Will Robinson,” somewhere in there.

“I wonder if they will get John Williams to do the score?” asks John King Tarpinian.

 [Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

Pixel Scroll 3/27/16 (I’ll Never Be Your) Star Beast of Burden

(1) DANGER WILL ROBINSON! “’Lost in Space’ robot saved from Valley Village fire” reports Daily News.

TV and movie props that included a robot reportedly from TV’s “Lost in Space” were saved from destruction late Wednesday in Valley Village due to the efforts of Los Angeles firefighters.

The LAFD responded about 11:30 p.m. to a garage fire in the 5100 block of Whitsett Avenue. Firefighters attacked the blaze, which was electrical in nature, a fire department spokesman told a photographer at the scene.

The home belongs to a prop designer and special effects artist who was out of town at the time, according to a caretaker who woke to the smell of smoke.

(2) JOCULARITY. Two Easter hams are heard from.

(3) HEARSAY. Mark Evanier’s friend has convinced him this weekend’s blockbuster is “Not the World’s Finest” – as he explains at News From ME.

I don’t have a whole lot of interest in seeing the new Batman Vs. Superman movie, a film which has achieved something I didn’t think was possible. It actually caused my dear friend Leonard Maltin to use the word “sucks” in his review. Even Rob Schneider never managed that and lord, how he tried.

(4) PARAGRAPH FROM A FUTURE TRIP REPORT. GUFF delegate Jukka Halme outlined how he spent the day.

Sunday at Contact 2016 has been a small whirlwind. Moderated my first panel (Through New Eyes), which went really well. Chatted way too long at the Fan Fund table with the Usual Suspects. Bought books. Just a few. Waited ages for my Pad Thai at the hotel restaurant, that was brimming with people and not too many employees, Presented a Ditmar, with a little bit of Bob Silverberg routine (VERY little) to Galactic Suburbia. Held an auction for fan funds, which went smashingly well. And missed the bar, since this is a dry state and while it is apparently OK to sell alcohol during Easter Sunday, places either close up really early, or everybody had left the bar.

(5) AN AUTHOR’S USE OF NAVAJO CULTURE. “Utah author features Navajo characters, history in new science fiction thriller” in Deseret News.

After serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico, Robison Wells, who lives in Holladay, fell in love with both the area and the people he served. When he wrote his newest book, “Dark Energy” (HarperTeen, $17.99, ages 13 and up), which features several Native American characters and is scheduled to be released March 29, he worried about portraying them in the correct way.

“I wanted to show respect for the culture,” he said. “I didn’t want to appropriate their culture or their traditions.”

He sent his manuscript out to a lot of Navajo readers to get their reactions and tried to adjust his book accordingly. He knew writing a story centering on Native American characters and history would be a difficult and controversial thing to do, but he felt that it was such a compelling story that he had to tell it.

(6) ADDRESS FOR HAMNER CONDOLENCES. Anyone wishing to send a letter or card to the family may do so at the address below.

Jane Hamner
P.O. Box 220038
Newhall, CA 91322

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 27, 1963 — Quentin Tarantino

(8) TODAY’S BLOOD-PRESSURE BOOSTER. Jason Sanford says “The Retro Hugo Awards must be fixed”.

If any particular Worldcon wants to give out Retro Hugos, then e-book and/or online anthologies of eligible authors and stories must be made available to those nominating for the awards. And that must include works which are not in the public domain. Yes, it would take time to do this but I imagine most publishers and/or author estates would be willing to make the stories available for members at no cost.

But even if voters have access to stories from decades ago, it’s still unlikely that as many people will take part in the Retro Hugo nominating process as takes part in nominating for the regular Hugos. This, unfortunately, leaves the Retro Hugos open to missing important works and to being gamed.

To fix this here’s my next suggestion: Use a combination of juries and regular Worldcon members to nominate works for the Retro Hugos. 

I know juries seem like the ultimate insider power play, but when you’re dealing with stories published 75 or 100 years ago it can be useful to have experts in that genre time period also nominating stories. Perhaps the jury could nominate two of the five works in each category, and Worldcon members could nominate three of five. This also seems like a sensible way to make sure the nominated stories are truly the best that year has to offer.

(9) CAN MUSK AFFORD A MARTIAN ODYSSEY? “Neil deGrasse Tyson to Elon Musk: SpaceX Is ‘Delusional’ About Mars”. A writer at The Motley Fool explains Tyson’s reasons.

In less than 10 years from now, SpaceX may or may not beat NASA in the race to Mars. Astrophysicist, Hayden Planetarium director, and host of the National Geographic Channel’s StarTalk Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is placing his bet on “not.”

“The delusion is thinking that SpaceX is going to lead the space frontier. That’s just not going to happen…” Tyson said in an interview with The Verge. Tyson laid out his arguments for why fans of a solo SpaceX trip to Mars suffer from a “delusion.” According to Tyson, there are three main reasons SpaceX cannot go to Mars on its own.

Reason 1: Cost

“So if you’re going to bring in investors or venture capitalists and say, ‘Hey, I have an idea, I want to put the first humans on Mars.’ They’ll ask, ‘How much will it cost?’ You say, ‘A lot,'” Tyson said in the interview.

Tyson says it’s “very expensive” to go to Mars. How expensive? Some estimate $30 billion, but a bill of $160 billion isn’t out of the question, and critics in Congress charge that the total cost could reach $500 billion….

(10) CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE? Camestros Felapton is away traveling for a month. During their absence, Timothy the Talking Cat has taken over the blog, and has been busy posting such literary gems as “Timothy retells Dune”.

…Now there was this posh elitist liberal progressive family called the Artyfarties. They like super sucked at making money. The dad was a real wimp and the mum was in some sort of feminist cult. The son looked like the crazy guy in Agents of Shield but younger and more wimpy. The kid Artyfarties thought he was so much smarter than everybody but was a big wimp.

Now Boss Harkonen took pity on the Artyfarties. Big mistake! But he had a kind heart and he hated to see the Artyfarties suck so badly at businessing. So Boss Harkonen says to Dad Artyfarties: “You can run this planet for me. It is the only place you get Old Spice Magic which makes people young and makes spaceships run. It’s a classic monopoly, you can’t go wrong. Just don’t screw it up!” ….

(11) MEASURING SUCTION. Which is worse? Timothy the Cat’s retelling, or David Lynch’s? It’s close. Here’s Jonathan K. Dick’s evaluation of the movie at A.V Club, Dune can’t capture the novel’s incalculable brilliance”.

So what the hell is wrong with Lynch’s Dune? Before the collective “everything” echoes through the internet, it’s important to understand that the phrase itself “Lynch’s Dune” should already throw up the kind of red flags usually reserved for impending, air-raid level danger. Four years removed from his time behind the chair as director for the spirit-lifting biopic The Elephant Man and its eight Academy Award nominations, Lynch received the go-ahead from producer Raffaella De Laurentiis to direct the film adaption of Dune. This after 20 years, no less than 10 directors, producers, screenwriters, scripts, and general filmmaking anxiety that included the likes of Ridley Scott, Rudy Wurlitzer, Robert Greenhut, and of course the brilliantly documented attempt by Alejandro Jodorowsky.

(12) FIRST SEASON FLINTSONES COSPLAY? The Traveler from Galactic Journey amusingly interprets cosplay at this weekend’s WonderCon in terms of what fans knew in 1961 — “[March 27, 1961] What A Wonder! (WonderCon)”.

These are generally smallish affairs compared to their business-oriented cousins, with attendance running into the hundreds.  But for the fan who normally has a local community of just a half-dozen fellows (and perhaps many more as pen pals), going to a convention is like a pilgrimage to Mecca.  One meets people with completely different experiences, different perspectives.  There is the opportunity to get news from far and wide on exciting new projects, both fan and professional.  And the carousing is second to none, both in the heights of enthusiasm and creativity.

Take a look at my newly developed roll of shots from “WonderCon”, a sizeable affair held last weekend in Los Angeles.  These are some dedicated fans, some fabulous costumes, and some terrific times!

First off, a few attendees who came in street clothes: …

(13) MILESTONES ABOVE THE SKY. Motherboard advises that “‘In Space We Trust’ is a Beautiful History of Exploration”

In the timeline (which for all its beauty will entirely monopolize your CPU usage) you navigate the history of space as a young cosmonaut. The timeline begins with the October 4, 1957 launch of Sputnik and takes the user through all the major space milestones: first spacecraft, journeys to other planets, landings on celestial bodies.

Each milestone is accompanied by a series of stunning animations, a brief description of the event and a link to a Wikipedia page on the topic in case you want to read more. Your journey is orchestrated with an ethereal soundtrack that is overlaid with sounds from space like cosmonauts on a radio or rocket engines igniting.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 11/21 The Incredible Linking Fan

(1) For lovers and others of giant movie monsters, “Doc Kaiju” — well known at the Classic Horror Film Board — has put together a rather remarkable compendium of such creatures: Kaijumatic: House of 1,000 Giant Monsters

Or, as he likes to put it:

Now with 1003 pages stuffed with 1670 big stars from 749 movies!

And, he updates it, constantly.

(2) Barney Evans has uploaded 50 photos taken at the 1988 Loscon, including many from the masquerade.

(3) “David Tennant Answers Our Burning Questions… Sort Of” in a Yahoo! video and profile.

As any David Tennant fan knows after years of watching him promote Doctor Who and Broadchurch, no one evades questions more delightfully. Hoping some of the mind control capabilities of his latest character, the villainous Kilgrave in Marvel’s Jessica Jones (now streaming on Netflix), had rubbed off on us, we invited him in to Yahoo Studios, handed him a card filled with questions, and asked him to answer them.

One example:

Name a book, TV show, or movie you’ve pretended to have read or seen, but you totally haven’t.

That’s a very good question. Probably in audition I’ve done that several times with some worthy director, who asked me what I thought of their latest opus.

(4) Entertainment Weekly looks on as “Stephen Colbert mocks scientists for making wrong Lord of the Rings reference”:

This week, a new species of spider was identified and given the name Iandumoema smeagol, a reference to Smeagol, the hobbit who would become Gollum after getting ahold of the One Ring. The cave-dwelling spider was given the name Smeagol because it shared a similar lifestyle with the character, who lived in a cave and stayed out of the sun until he morphed into the monstrous Gollum.

Colbert, however, wasn’t having any of it on Friday’s show. “Smeagol wasn’t a scary creature who lived in a cave,” Colbert said before recounting Smeagol’s biography, and how he killed his cousin after finding the One Ring.

Explained Colbert: “Smeagol hid from his guilt and the yellow face of the sun, by retreating into a cave, where his shame and his fear turned him into an unrecognizable creature. That creature wasn’t Smeagol anymore; that creature was Gollum. You should have named the spider Gollum. You don’t discover a venomous snake and name it Anakin. You name it Darth Vader.”

 

(5) Brandon Kempner strikes gold in “SFWA 2015 Nebula Recommended Reading List: Analysis and Prediction” at Chaos Horizon.

Table 1: Correlation Between Top 6 (and Ties) of the 2014 Nebula Suggested Reading List and the Eventual 2014 Nebula Nominees

Novel: 4 out of 6, 67.7%
Novella: 6 out of 6, 100%
Novelette: 5 out of 6, 83.3%
Short Story: 6 out of 7, 85.7%

(6) Netflix will remake Lost in Space.

The original comedy, which ran from 1965 to 1968, centered on the Robinson family as they attempted to colonize another planet in deep space — a mission that was sabotaged by a foreign secret agent and caused their ship to get knocked off course.

According to our sister site Deadline, the updated version is an epic (but grounded!) sci-fi saga about “a young explorer family from Earth, lost in an alien universe, and the challenges they face in staying together against seemingly insurmountable odds.”

(7) Laughing Squid presents the entire history of Doctor Who illustrated as a medieval tapestry.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, Bill Mudron has created a “slightly ridiculous” tribute to the Bayeux Tapestry that shows the entire history of the show. It begins when the Doctor runs away from his home planet of Gallifrey and ends with “The Day of the Doctor,” the 75-minute 50 anniversary special set to air on BBC One on November 23rd, 2013. A larger version of the illustration can be found on Mudron’s Flickr, and prints are available to pre-order online.

 

Doctor Who tapestry COMP

(8) The sparks fly when Galactic Journey’s time traveler to the sf genre of 55 years ago rubs together the contemporary and historical notions of political correctness in “I aim at the Stars (but sometimes I hit London)” .

If the United States is doing well in the Space Race, it is in no small thanks to a group of German expatriates who made their living causing terror and mayhem in the early half of the 1940s.  I, of course, refer to Wehrner von Braun and his team of rocket scientists, half of whom were rounded up by the Allies after the War, the other half of whom apparently gave similar service to the Soviets.

The traveler comments on a hagiographic von Braun biopic released at the time, and provides a scan of the souvenir Dell comic book based on the film.

(9) Michael J. Martinez prepping to see the new Star Wars movie by watching the two original trilogies in their canonical order. He begins — Star Wars wayback machine: The Phantom Menace.

This is basically a movie that’s supposed to remind us of the first trilogy, but does very little to actually create an origin story for those older movies. Instead, we have attempts at nostalgia. Look, Jedi! Lightsabers! The Force! Spaceships and space battles! But even there, we have problems. Such as:

There’s no smart-ass. All the prequels were missing the Han Solo archetype — the scrappy outsider and audience surrogate who can stand toe-to-toe with these gods and monsters.

There’s George Lucas’ efforts at being cute, with the Gungans. I think George felt that he needed to appeal to the cute younger audiences, starting with Return of the Jedi, and thus we had Ewoks. Now we have Gungans, complete with silly mannerisms and catchphrases. Adults always underestimate kids’ ability to grasp nuanced entertainment, and this is no exception. We didn’t need Gungans.

The stereotypical accents and mannerisms of the Gungans and the Trade Federation folk have been covered elsewhere. But still…WTF were you thinking, man? Just no.

Wooden dialogue and stiff acting. I think I know what George was going for here — a shout-out to the sci-fi serials and movies of the 1940s and 1950s. Fine, I get it. But it didn’t work. At all.

(10) “Don’t nominate me for any awards” posts Lela E. Buis.

I don’t want to be left out of the trending commentary….

(11) “4 Beautiful Ray Bradbury Quotes That Celebrate Autumn”  selected by Jake Offenhartz at History Buff.

Though mid-afternoon sunsets and leafless trees may give the impression that winter is fast approaching, we’re still technically just halfway through fall. Which strikes us as good enough reason to look back at the work of Ray Bradbury—master of science fiction, adversary of censorship, and chronicler of all things fall. The author wrote extensively about the season, penning autumnal wisdom in various projects throughout his career, most notably in a short story collection called The October Season and a novel titled The Halloween Tree. We’ve collected some of our favorite fall-related quotes below, so cozy up and have a read:

1. The October Country (1955)

“That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.”

(12) Merlin is in Disney’s future says CinemaBlend.

If you were going to create a checklist for how to make a current Hollywood blockbuster there are a few things you want to be sure were on it. First, you want to base it on an already existing piece of fiction, preferably a book. It would be even better if it were a series of books, about a character people were already familiar with. It would need to be able to have big fantasy action set pieces too. Then you want to bring in a production team that was involved in one of the previous fantasy action franchises based on a series of books, because that stuff looks great on a trailer. It looks like Disney just checked off all their boxes as they just brought in an Academy Award winning screenwriter from The Lord of the Rings to pen the screenplay based on a 12 book series about Merlin the magician.

Philippa Boyens is known, almost exclusively, as one of the writers behind the incredibly successful films based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

(13) Guy Gavriel Kay, Member of the Order of Canada.

(14) Caitlin Kiernan, two-time WFA winner, regrets the Lovecraft bust is being retired, in her post “I have seen what the darkness does.”

You may or may not have heard that the World Fantasy Committee has voted to change the design of the World Fantasy Award from Gahan Wilson’s bust of Lovecraft, which has served as the award since it was first given out in 1975. No, I don’t approve. I don’t believe this was the appropriate course of action. I’m saddened by this lamentable turn of events, and I’m glad that I received my two World Fantasy awards in advance of this change. How long, now, before the Mystery Writers of America are pressured to abandon the Edgar Award? When we set this sort of thing in motion, where does it end?

(15) A limited TV series based on a Vonnegut book – it could happen, reports A.V. Club.

Back in April, we reported that Kurt Vonnegut’s fourth novel, Cat’s Cradle, had been optioned for TV by IM Global Television. At that point almost nothing was known about the project other than the fact that it would indeed use Cat’s Cradle as its source material, which is implicit in a TV show labeled as Cat’s Cradle adaptation. Now though, according to Deadline, a precious few details have emerged: the show will live on FX as a limited series, and be written and executive produced by Fargo creator Noah Hawley.

Vonnegut’s original work was published in 1963 and takes on science, technology, and religion with equal satirical fire. After the novel’s narrator, John, becomes involved in the lives of the adult children of Felix Hoenikker, a fictional co-creator of the atomic bomb, he travels to the fake Caribbean island of San Lorenzo and encounters a strange outlawed religion called Bokononism that many of the area’s inhabitants practice anyway. Through Hoenikker’s children he also learns about ice-nine, a way to freeze water at room temperature that could be devastating if used improperly. Needless to say, destruction and dark humor ensue.

(16) On its February cover, Mad Magazine slipped Alfred E. Newman into a crowd of storm troopers.

MAD-Magazine_555x717_532_54d52a91bb51c7_86515890

(17) IGN will be ranking the top 100 movie trailers of all time in a feature that will be unveiled November 23-25.

(18) Comic Book Resources retells a bit of lore about the making of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in “Movie Legends Revealed: The Accidental ‘Star Trek’ Actress?”

It is a funny scene, but it was also ad-libbed. Notice how everyone else ignores them? The woman who answered them was also supposed to ignore them. The comedy was supposed to derive from the fact that they couldn’t get an answer (and, yes, from the way Chekov says “vessels”).

The woman in question was San Francisco resident Layla Sarakalo, who woke up one day to discover her car had been towed. She had missed the notices that “Star Trek” was filming on her street, and her car was in the way. She decided that one way to get the money to pay for the towing was to get a job as an extra on the set.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 9/16 Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Scrolls of Our Lives

(1) “A Halloween garden gnome” is what John King Tarpinian calls one of the pieces Tokyo University of Arts students created for a festival —

tako-2

This massive work of art, which features a giant octopus wrapped around a Greek-style temple, has captured the attention of people across Japan. Now that the festival is over, though, the students are asking if anyone wants to buy it! 

More photos of the work on parade at the Rocket News 24 website.

(2) Of course, being scientists, these folks had to do what every science fiction fan knows better than to do — revive the ancient giant virus.

It’s 30,000 years old and still ticking: A giant virus recently discovered deep in the Siberian permafrost reveals that huge ancient viruses are much more diverse than scientists had ever known.

They’re also potentially infectious if thawed from their Siberian deep freeze, though they pose no danger to humans, said Chantal Abergel, a scientist at the National Center for Scientific Research at Aix-Marseille University in France and co-author of a new study announcing the discovery of the new virus. As the globe warms and the region thaws, mining and drilling will likely penetrate previously inaccessible areas, Abergel said.

“Safety precautions should be taken when moving that amount of frozen earth,” she told Live Science. (Though viruses can’t be said to be “alive,” the Siberian virus is functional and capable of infecting its host.)

…The new virus isn’t a threat to humans; it infected single-celled amoebas during the Upper Paleolithic, or late Stone Age.

(3) Next step, Wolverine? Claws still required, and it’s titanium not adamantium, but… a Spanish hospital recent replaced a significant amount of a man’s rib cage and sternum with a titanium replacement.

Putting titanium inside people’s chests is nothing new, but what made this different was the implant was 3D printed to match his existing bone structure.

(4) Lost In Space first got lost on September 15, 1965. The Los Angeles Times visited with some of the original cast.

Fifty years after the CBS sci-fi series “Lost in Space” blasted into orbit on Sept. 15, 1965, the show’s five surviving stars are still very close. A few gather each year to have dinner to celebrate the birthday of Jonathan Harris, the late actor who played the diabolical and very funny Dr. Zachary Smith.

“We have stayed very much like a normal dysfunctional family,” said Bill Mumy, who played child prodigy Will Robinson during the series’ three-season run.

Baby boomers who grew up watching “Lost in Space” still have a strong connection to the campy show, which boasted a terrific early score from Oscar-winner John Williams, then billed as Johnny Williams.

“When I do these conventions, people are still so wrapped up in it,” said June Lockhart, who played matriarch Maureen Robinson. “The last time I did one, I said, ‘Excuse me.’ I looked out at the audience and said, ‘I must remind you: It was all pretend!'”

“Lost in Space” was created and produced by Irwin Allen, who went on to make such disaster film classics as “The Poseidon Adventure” (1972) and “The Towering Inferno” (1974).

The series revolved around the Robinson family — John Robinson (Guy Williams), his wife (Lockhart) and their children Judy (Marta Kristen), the brilliant Penny (Angela Cartwright) and Will.

On the anniversary date, Cartwright and Mumy released a new book, Lost (and Found) in Space, a memoir with rare photographs.

(5) Steven H Silver recreates a convention report of the 1976 Worldcon in Kansas City in “A Brief History of MidAmeriCon” at Uncanny Magazine.

Early projections seemed to indicate that Big MAC would have as many as 7,000 members and the committee knew they couldn’t handle a con that size. To ensure it didn’t happen, they introduced the sliding rate scale, making the con more expensive the later a fan bought a membership, they announced that they would not run an all–night movie room, and they also announced there would be no programming related to comic books, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, or the Society for Creative Anachronism. All of these decisions were met with howls of protest. MidAmeriCon was clearly attempting to destroy fandom and the Worldcon.

Keller was also concerned that people would crash MidAmeriCon, so prior to the convention, he announced that the convention would have a foolproof way of ensuring that only paid members were in attendance. There was much speculation prior to the Worldcon that this meant holograms on the badges. Keller had something else in mind and each attendee was given a plastic bracelet that could not be put on again once it was taken off. Of course, foolproof doesn’t mean fanproof, and some fans set themselves the goal of subverting the security measure. They found a woman who was being released from the hospital and convinced her to continue to wear her hospital ID, so they could try to bring her to the various official functions of the convention. They succeeded.

(6) People are still hard at work mapping what parts of the universe SFWA controls.

(7) Ursula K. Le Guin is interviewed by Choire Sicha at Interview Magazine.

SICHA: There’s a sort of growing professional class of writers that may not have had access to being a professional. Before the internet, you would go to your terrible job and then you would write at night. I actually found that system really rewarding, separating out the money and the work.

LE GUIN: On the other hand, if it was a nine-to-five job, and if you had any family obligations and commitments, it’s terribly hard. It worked very much against women, because they were likely to have the nine-to-five job and really be responsible for the household. Doing two jobs is hard enough, but doing three is just impossible. And that’s essentially what an awful lot of women who wanted to write were being asked to do: support themselves, keep the family and household going, and write.

SICHA: And the writing was the first thing to go when things got tough, I’m sure.

LE GUIN: I had only a little taste of that. I did have three kids. But what my husband and I figured—he was a professor and teaching a lot—was that three jobs can be done by two people. He could do his job teaching, I could do my job writing, and the two of us could do the house and the kids. And it worked out great, but it took full collaboration between him and me. See, I cannot write when I’m responsible for a child. They are full-time occupations for me. Either you’re listening out for the kids or you’re writing. So I wrote when the kids went to bed. I wrote between nine and midnight those years. And my husband would listen out if the little guy was sick or something. It worked out. It wasn’t really easy but, you know, you have a lot of energy when you’re young. Sometimes I look back and I think, “How the hell did we do it?” But we did.

(8) A Kickstarter appeal seeks to fund the printing of 5,000 copies of Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice by David Pilgrim.

David Pilgrim is the founder and curator of the About the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI.

For many people, especially those who came of age after landmark civil rights legislation was passed, it is difficult to understand what it was like to be an African American living under Jim Crow segregation in the United States. Most young Americans have little or no knowledge about restrictive covenants, literacy tests, poll taxes, lynchings, and other oppressive features of the Jim Crow racial hierarchy. Even those who have some familiarity with the period may initially view racist segregation and injustices as relics of a distant, shameful past. A proper understanding of race relations in this country must include a solid knowledge of Jim Crow—how it emerged, what it was like, how it ended, and its impact on the culture.

Understanding Jim Crow introduces readers to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, a collection of more than ten thousand contemptible collectibles that are used to engage visitors in intense and intelligent discussions about race, race relations, and racism. The items are offensive. They were meant to be offensive. The items in the Jim Crow Museum served to dehumanize blacks and legitimized patterns of prejudice, discrimination, and segregation.

Using racist objects as teaching tools seems counterintuitive—and, quite frankly, needlessly risky. Many Americans are already apprehensive discussing race relations, especially in settings where their ideas are challenged. The museum and this book exist to help overcome our collective trepidation and reluctance to talk about race.

(9) In “An Interview With Jennifer Brozek” at Permuted Press, the author and editor is unflinching, positive and brave.

Permuted: With the Hugo Awards sparking so much debate this year, do you have any thoughts on the controversy in general as a nominated editor?

Jennifer: Awards are a funny thing. I’m honored to have been nominated. I’m glad my part in the controversy is over. I’m also really pleased that there is a renewed interest in the Hugo award itself. Talk about an adrenalin shot in the arm.

Permuted: Your protagonist in the NEVER LET ME series, Melissa, has bipolar disorder. Can you describe your experience writing a character with a mental illness?

Jennifer: As a high functioning autistic adult, I am very aware of how people in media are portrayed. Either the mental illness is a superhero power (Alphas, Perception) or it makes a person a psychopathic criminal. It is rarely shown in-between. It is rarely shown as it really is—something millions of people deal with every single day. There are a lot of physical aspects to mental illness as well as coping mechanisms. With Melissa, I wanted to show a protagonist who had mental illness but it was neither a “power” nor something that made her unable to cope with the world. She is medicated and it works. This is the goal of every person suffering from mental illness on meds.

(10) Light in the Attic Records has released soundtrack to the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. It is available in 2xLP and CD.

This is the soundtrack to the story about the greatest film that never was.

Jodorowsky’s Dune tells the tale of cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unsuccessful attempt to adapt Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel, Dune, to the big screen. Composer Kurt Stenzel gives life to a retro-futuristic universe as fantastic as Jodorowsky’s own vision for his Dune–a film whose A-list cast would have included Salvador Dalí, Orson Welles, and Mick Jagger in starring roles and music by psychedelic prog-rockers Pink Floyd.

Building upon director Frank Pavich’s idea for a score with a “Tangerine Dream-type feel,” Stenzel lays out a cosmic arsenal of analog synthesizers that would make any collector green at the gills: among other gems are a rare Moog Source, CZ-101s, and a Roland Juno 6, as well as unorthodox instruments like a toy Concertmate organ and a Nintendo DS. “I also played guitar and did vocals,” says Stenzel, “some chanting… and some screaming, which comes naturally to me.” The score also features narration by Jodorowsky himself. As Stenzel notes, “Jodo’s voice is actually the soundtrack’s main musical instrument–listening to him was almost like hypnosis, like going to the guru every night.”

[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Will R., Mark, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]

Ib Melchior (1917-2015)

REPTILICUS_(3) COMPFilmmaker and writer Ib Melchior passed away March 13 at the age of 97. His short story “The Racer” was twice adapted for the screen – as Death Race 2000 (1975) and Death Race (2008).

He wrote and directed The Angry Red Planet (1959) and The Time Travelers (1964), and co-wrote Reptilicus (1961), Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962) and Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964).

For television, he wrote two episodes of Men Into Space, “Water Tank Rescue” (1959) and “Voice of Infinity (1960), as well as “The Premonition” episode of The Outer Limits (1965).

He also claimed to be the creator of the original idea upon which Irwin Allen based the TV series Lost In Space, an allegation documented in Ed Shifres’ Lost in Space: The True Story.

He was the son of opera singer and movie star Lauritz Melchior, about whom he wrote a biography, Lauritz Melchior: The Golden Years of Bayreuth.

In recent years he was a regular at the annual LA Vintage Paperback Show.

Robert Kinoshita (1914-2014)

Tobor_the_Great_posterRobert Kinoshita, who designed three of the most famous robots in science fiction, died December 9 at the age of 100.

He was the principal designer for the robot in Tobor the Great (1954); Robby the Robot from the films Forbidden Planet (1956) and The Invisible Boy (1957); and the “B9 Environmental Control” robot from the 1960s TV series Lost in Space (privately nicknamed “Blinky.”)

Robby and Blinky even appeared together in two episodes of Lost in Space, “War of the Robots” and “Condemned of Space.”

(Robby  also appeared in a 1958 episode of The Gale Storm Show and a 1962 episode of The Twilight Zone.)

Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet

Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet

Kinoshita gave an interview to the B9 Robot Builders Club about his creation for Lost in Space, which he said was initially conceived without an operator because “at any moment it could stop or trip wherever and inside there is all kinds of stuff that he could get hurt on. There was a yellow cord running up the back of the Robot that held 2,000 volts.” However, they decided having someone inside would help give the robot personality (Bob May got the job) – manipulating the plexiglass head, turning the body, moving the arms, etc.

Jonathan Harris and Robot from Lost in Space.

Jonathan Harris and Robot from Lost in Space.

Kinoshita made other artistic contributions to these productions, designing the lab of Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) in Forbidden Planet and the final version of the Jupiter 2 spaceship for Lost in Space.

He was a free-lancer on Gene Roddenberry’s pilot Planet Earth . His non-sf credits include TV shows Highway Patrol (1955–1959), Bat Masterson (1960–1961), Hawaii Five-O (1970–1971), and Kojak (1973–1974).

[Thanks to Mark R. Kelly and John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Dick Tufeld Passes Away

Dick Tufeld, one of the most influential voices in the history of science fiction, died January 21 at the age of 85.

His most famous role was the Robot from Lost In Space, uttering the iconic line “Danger, Will Robinson!” He performed this role again in the movie and an episode of The Simpsons.

Prior to that he earned science fiction immortality as the narrator of Space Patrol on radio where he opened the show saying:

Space Patrol! High adventure in the wild vast reaches of space … missions of daring in the name of interplanetary justice. Travel into the future with Buzz Corry … commander-in-chief of … the Space Patrol!

Tufeld also served as the announcer on other Irwin Allen TV shows like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and The Time Tunnel. He introduced Disney’s prime-time anthology series, and its Zorro series.

Other credits included Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends,The Fantastic Four and many non-genre programs.

Theme Songs

Awhile ago I wrote about the death of Vic Mizzy, composer of The Addams Family theme. Thinking about his playful, finger-snapping song made me remember many other 1960s TV theme songs. As they began to replay in my mind there seemed no end. Of course, I spent more hours watching television during that decade than in any other.

Probabilities aside, I wonder if theme songs were more important to marketing series in the 1960s than later in the history of television. It wasn’t just the successful shows like the Munsters or The Addams Family that had unforgettable songs. There were plenty of shows whose catchy themes have outlasted nearly all the other memories about them.

I loved Richard Rogers powerful march for The Great Adventure, a short-lived American history anthology series that aired in the fall of 1963. And I can still hum the theme from the otherwise forgettable astronauts-meet-cavemen series It’s About Time (“It’s about time, it’s about space, About two men in the strangest place.”)

This represented a change in emphasis from 1950s series which often chose public domain classics, the way Alfred Hitchcock Presents used “Funeral March of a Marionette.”

There were memorable exceptions, of course, such as Henry Mancini’s theme for Peter Gunn. The Rawhide theme so engraved itself in a generation’s memory that it became the subject of a joke in the movie Blues Brothers, being the only country-western tune they knew. And the lyrics to Car 54 Where Are You? were fodder for endless Mad Magazine parodies. (Proving what a small world it is, when Car 54 ended its two leads went their separate ways, Fred Gwynn to The Munsters and Joe E. Ross to It’s About Time.)

We know that in the early days of television some decisions were made in the hopeful expectation that a show would go on for years, like the most popular radio programs had. Originally, when networks launched a prime-time show they ordered a full season’s worth of shows, a 39-episode run. The shows that bombed died a lingering death.

Few science fiction TV shows can boast scripts more powerful than their themes. I still enjoy hearing the opening music for The Time Tunnel but I never need to see another episode.

The instrumental opening of Lost in Space, a tune far superior to the silly stories, is one of the most science-fictional-sounding themes of any show in the genre. With the cadence of a navigational instrument desperately pinging for traces of the familiar, its repeating cycles dramatize the unfulfilled search for home.

Ironically, while Star Trek was a much better-written show, if the theme by Alexander Courage hadn’t played over images of a starship zooming past would I have thought of it as science fiction music? I doubt it. That shrill and breezy tune sounded like the excited humming of a classroom of high school girls preparing for a formal dance featuring Xavier Cugat and his orchestra.

Since the Sixties there seem to have been far fewer TV themes that have remained a vivid part of the popular culture. Nearly everybody can sing The Brady Bunch Theme song. (Well, I can’t. I alone remain pure…)

Bob May, Hollywood Suit

Lost in Space cast in 1995

He had an important part in the Sixties series Lost In Space, but viewers never saw his face. His character had a lot of lines (“Danger, Will Robinson!”), but none of them were spoken by him. Bob May was the fellow who wore The Robot’s suit, and that was enough for fans to seek him out at memorabilia shows. He passed away January 18 at the age of 69, from congestive heart failure.

“He always said he got the job because he fit in the robot suit,” said June Lockhart, who played family matriarch Maureen Robinson. “It was one of those wonderful Hollywood stories. He just happened to be on the studio lot when someone saw him and sent him to see Irwin Allen about the part. Allen said, ‘If you can fit in the suit, you’ve got the job.'”

That was the important thing because an announcer (Dick Tufeld) would actually record the character’s lines. May lucked out – the suit fit. After that, they could hardly get him out of it.

“He was a smoker,” Lockhart remembered. “From time to time (when he was on a break), we’d see smoke coming out of the robot. That always amused us.”

Bob May is the gray-haired fellow on the left in the back row of this photo taken in 1995.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the alert.]