Pixel Scroll 12/25/17 When All Of A Sudden There Arose Such a Pixel

(1) STAR EXPLAINER. The New York Times profiles sf fan favorite Brother Guy Consolmagno in “Searching for the (Star) Light at the Vatican Observatory”.

Some 2,000 years ago, a celestial phenomenon is believed to have lit up the sky. Guiding the wise men of New Testament lore to the birthplace of Jesus, the star of Bethlehem has since become a planetarium and Christmas carol favorite.

What that star might have been — a comet, supernova, or the conjunction of planets, let alone whether it ever existed — is one of the recurring questions that Brother Guy Consolmagno is called on to answer even though, he noted dryly, “it has nothing to do with our work as scientists at the Vatican Observatory.”

“Too often people get distracted by the Star and forget to look at the Child! And yet I also have to admit I feel a certain joy in the story, and a joy that this story has been so popular for so many people over the centuries,” said Brother Consolmagno, since 2015, the director of La Specola Vaticana (which translates as Vatican Observatory). “Of course, we have no idea what Matthew was writing about. It doesn’t matter!”

The observatory is the only Vatican institution that does scientific research, and Brother Consolmagno, a former physics professor and later-in-life Jesuit, is the public face of an institution whose work “is to show the world that the church supports science.”

(2) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. And here’s what you can look forward to if you keep watching the skies – “Astronomy Calendar For 2018”

(3) TRACKING SANTA. It wasn’t an unlisted number after this happened: “NORAD’s Santa Tracker Began With A Typo And A Good Sport”.

This Christmas Eve people all over the world will log on to the official Santa Tracker to follow his progress through U.S. military radar. This all started in 1955, with a misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper and a call to Col. Harry Shoup’s secret hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command, now known as NORAD.

Shoup’s children, Terri Van Keuren, 65, Rick Shoup, 59, and Pam Farrell, 70, recently visited StoryCorps to talk about how the tradition began.

Terri remembers her dad had two phones on his desk, including a red one. “Only a four-star general at the Pentagon and my dad had the number,” she says.

“This was the ’50s, this was the Cold War, and he would have been the first one to know if there was an attack on the United States,” Rick says.

The red phone rang one day in December 1955, and Shoup answered it, Pam says. “And then there was a small voice that just asked, ‘Is this Santa Claus?’ ”

His children remember Shoup as straight-laced and disciplined, and he was annoyed and upset by the call and thought it was a joke — but then, Terri says, the little voice started crying.

“And Dad realized that it wasn’t a joke,” her sister says. “So he talked to him, ho-ho-ho’d and asked if he had been a good boy and, ‘May I talk to your mother?’ And the mother got on and said, ‘You haven’t seen the paper yet? There’s a phone number to call Santa. It’s in the Sears ad.’ Dad looked it up, and there it was, his red phone number. And they had children calling one after another, so he put a couple of airmen on the phones to act like Santa Claus.”

(4) DIAGNOSIS GRINCH. The Washington Post’s Susan Svrluga, in “The Grinch needs a good cardiologist, and other holiday stories explained by scientists”, interviews area scientists who answer scientific questions posed by fictional works, such as why Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’s nose glows.  (It could be because Santa’s sleigh crash-landed into the Red Sea and Rudolph got doused in glowing coral.)  Among the scientists interviewed was Johns Hopkins medical school cardiologist Dr. David Kass, who argues the reason why the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes in a day after he pigs out on Whoville food is that the Grinch is a snake and snake’s hearts expand after big meals.

(5) THE PERMANENT CAMPAIGN. Charles Stross, jockeying to keep his series eligible for a future year where he thinks there will be more UK voters to back him, asks —

Please do not nominate the Laundry Files for the best series Hugo award in 2018.

(Explanation below the cut.)

The rules for the best series Hugo award stipulate:

Previous losing finalists in the Best Series category shall beeligible only upon the publication of at least two (2) additional installments consisting in total of at least 240,000 words after they qualified for their last appearance on the final ballot and by the close of the previous calendar year.

This means that if series X is shortlisted in 2018 and loses, it won’t be eligible again until two more installments amounting to 240,000 words have been published in a subsequent year.

There is a significantly better chance of either series winning the award at a British—or Irish—worldcon, such as the one in Dublin in 2019, simply because the worldcon attendees will include more of my UK readers. However, a nomination in 2018 would probably lose (there are plenty of very good series works by American authors: consider Max Gladstone or Seanan McGuire, for example) and thereby disqualify me from eligibility in 2019.

(6) NOT TOO LATE. If you didn’t already get the gift you wanted this holiday season, maybe you can fill the void with the “Star Wars R2-D2 Coffee Press”. Or not – I keep visualizing giving R2 a sinus headache every time…

(7) OBITUARY.  Heather Menzies-Urich (1949-2017), best known for portraying Louisa von Trapp in the 1965 film The Sound of Music, died December 24 at the age of 68. Her main genre credit was starring as Jessica 6 in the TV series Logan’s Run (1977-78). She had an uncredited role in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969); other genre appearances include Sssssss (1973), The Six Million Dollar Man (one episode, 1977), Piranha (1978), Captain America (1979), Endangered Species (1982).

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 25, 1980 Altered States first premiered in theatres.
  • December 25, 1999 Galaxy Quest opened.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • December 25, 1924 – Rod Serling

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) NAUGHTY. The Guardian’s research shows Home Alone atop the pyramid — “Data sketch: the most pirated Christmas movies”. It’s A Wonderful Life is listed, too – I thought it was in public domain now?

(12) CHIANG OP-ED REBUTTED. Tech Crunch’s Jon Evans mounts a defense: “Ted Chiang is a genius, but he’s wrong about Silicon Valley”.

Ted Chiang isn’t just one of the greatest science-fiction writers alive — he’s one of the greatest writers alive full stop. Which is why I was so saddened and disappointed by his recent excoriation of Silicon Valley in BuzzFeed. As the tech industry grows ever more powerful, we need brilliant minds critiquing and dissecting its many flaws. Instead we got a trenchant takedown of a Valley that only exists in the minds of especially shallow journalists.

To be clear, his larger point is dead on: that being that the worry about an AI which maximizes for the wrong thing, most famously one which is told to make paperclips and responds by turning the entire planet into paperclips, is a worry which applies perfectly and exactly to capitalism itself.

…But the thing Chiang doesn’t get is: Silicon Valley is actually not a home of paperclip capitalism. That’s Wall Street. That’s Confessions of an Economic Hit Man-style neoliberal globalization. That’s not the tech industry. The Valley is a flawed and sometimes terrible place, true, but it’s a nuanced sometimes flawed and terrible place.

(13) WATER IS COMING. I don’t know if it would melt the Wall, but it wouldn’t do any good to the rest of the world — “This is what global warming would do to the ‘Game of Thrones’ planet”.

The warring inhabitants of Westeros — one of the four known continents in the Game of Thrones world — dread the planet’s long, unforgiving winters. But a global warming event there, stoked by an influx of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, would likely be even more dire.

Earlier this week, University of Bristol climate scientist Dan Lunt published a study that modeled the doubling of carbon dioxide on the Game of Thrones fantasy world. His results show that if these levels doubled over the course of a century, the average temperature on the planet would warm by over 2 degrees Celsius, or about 3.5 Fahrenheit. This climatic shift would make some areas nearly uninhabitable and unleash devastating natural disasters.

(14) A TOM LEHRER HOLIDAY. Mr. Sci-Fi renders the Science Fiction Christmas Song (recorded in 2014.)

Sci-Fi Ubergeek Marc Zicree sings Tom Lehrer’s Christmas song as great science fiction Christmas images from 1950s Galaxy Magazine and other sources flash by. Marc just recorded this song for Coast to Coast AM’s Christmas Album, with proceeds going to charity.

 

(15) THE DARTH VADER YULE LOG. A seasonal tradition (since 2015).

Gather the younglings for a centuries old family tradition the Darth Vader Yule Log. Sith Lords will be roasting on an open fire, as you sit back an enjoy some holiday classics.

 

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, JJ, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, and Steve Green for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 12/23/17 Pixels Sold Separately. Some Scrolling Required

(1) POPULAR SF ART INSPIRES FILM, Simon Stålenhags’ art book is becoming a movie reports Swedish news source Boktugg. Thanks to Hampus Eckerman for the translation:

The right to film Simon Stålenhag’s latest art book The Electric State has been sold to Russo Brothers Studio. The sale was preceded by a bidding where several studios showed their interest.

Simon says that it feels very exciting.

–        This has never been a goal, but I have loved movies since I was a kid, so it is a little bit of a dream actually. An unexpected dream!

The Passage (in English The Electric State) was released in December 2017 by the publisher Fria Ligan (The Free League). The release was preceded by a kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2017, which attracted over 3 million Swedish crowns. It is Simon Stålenhag’s third art book, his first two titles Tales from the Loop and Things from the Flood have made him a world-famous visual storyteller.

Russo Brothers Studio is run by the brothers Joe and Anthony Russo who directed several Marvel films. The film director is expected to become Andy Muschietti (who made the new film based on Stephens Kings It).

What do you think about them winning the bidding?

– They felt very good in our conversations. But above all, I’m very happy to have Barbara and Andy Muschietti with me, I loved It and they are absolutely amazing people. We just had the same picture of what is important in the book, and in movies in general, says Simon.

Simon Stålenhag himself will be an executive producer for the film, which means that he will be involved in all important decisions, such as role crew, scriptwriting and selection of managerial positions.

Will the story work as it is in the movie format or does it need to be adapted?

–        I suspect we will want to get a little more drama to fit the long-film format. With emphasis on “a little”, everyone in the team really agrees that the characters and the journey they make in the book is what we’re going to make a film about, says Simon Stålenhag.

(2) CHRISTMAS IN THE COLONIES. Cora Buhlert’s holiday fare includes a work in English: “Two new releases just in time for the holidays: Christmas on Iago Prime and Weihnachtsshopping mit gebrochenem Herzen”

Let’s start with the English language story. Back during the first July short story challenge in 2015, I wrote a little story called Valentine’s Day on Iago Prime, in which a couple attempts to celebrate Valentine’s Day at a new settled space colony.

I’d assumed that this was the first and last time I’d ever visit the colony of Iago Prime. However, I try to write a holiday story every year. And when I searched for ideas for a holiday story for this year, I suddenly thought “Why not write a science fictional holiday story about Christmas in a space station or interplanetary colony?” And then I thought, “Why not reuse the Iago Prime setting?”

The result is Christmas on Iago Prime. The protagonist this time around is Libby, a little girl whose scientist parents are due to spend a whole year on Iago Prime, including Christmas. Libby is not at all thrilled about this, at least at first. Kai and Maisie from Valentine’s Day on Iago Prime also appear and they have big news to share.

Available on Amazon and plenty of other ebook sellers for .99 USD/GBP/EUR.

(3) THE LONG RUN. A New York college made a video showing off its science fiction collection:

The City Tech Science Fiction Collection is held in the Archives and Special Collections of the Ursula C. Schwerin Library (Atrium Building, A543C, New York City College of Technology, 300 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201).

This large collection comes to City Tech from an anonymous donor. It includes nearly full runs of every professional science fiction magazine from 1950 to 2010, and an almost comprehensive collection of science fiction until 2010. There is also a significant amount of science fiction criticism, and selections of fringe texts, including horror and the supernatural.

 

(4) SFPA LEADERSHIP. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association announced the selection of two officers, F.J. Bergmann as Vice-President and Renee Ya as Secretary.

F.J. Bergmann (Madison, Wisconsin, USA) has been a member of SFPA since 2007, its webmaster since 2010 and recently stepped down from 5 years as Star*Line editor…

Renee Ya (Bay Area, California, USA) is a Hmong American writer, photographer, and space shamen who has been volunteering at SFPA for the last three years with varying capacity from keeper of the voting forms to periodic updates to the website.

(5) PARADIGM SHIFT. A revolutionary interpretation: “Physicists negate century-old assumption regarding neurons and brain activity”.

Neurons are the basic computational building blocks that compose our brain. Their number is approximately one Tera (trillion), similar to Tera-bits in midsize hard discs. According to the neuronal computational scheme, which has been used for over a century, each neuron functions as a centralized excitable element. The neuron accumulates its incoming electrical signals from connecting neurons through several terminals, and generates a short electrical pulse, known as a spike, when its threshold is reached.

Using new types of experiments on neuronal cultures, a group of scientists, led by Prof. Ido Kanter, of the Department of Physics at Bar-Ilan University, has demonstrated that this century-old assumption regarding brain activity is mistaken.

In an article published today in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers go against conventional wisdom to show that each neuron functions as a collection of excitable elements, where each excitable element is sensitive to the directionality of the origin of the input signal. Two weak inputs from different directions (e.g., “left” and “right”) will not sum up to generate a spike, while a strong input from “left” will generate a different spike waveform than that from the “right”.

“We reached this conclusion using a new experimental setup, but in principle these results could have been discovered using technology that has existed since the 1980s. The belief that has been rooted in the scientific world for 100 years resulted in this delay of several decades,” said Prof. Kanter and his team of researchers, including Shira Sardi, Roni Vardi, Anton Sheinin, and Amir Goldental.

(6) BACK FROM BOSTON. Marcin Klak’s conreport — “Smofcon 35 or what do you do when you are not organizing a con”.

Handling Feedback panel was not related to programming only, but the programme feedback is important for the development of the convention. There were some discussions concerning the methodology of collecting feedback, but one thing that got stuck with me the most was how to determine whether we should resign from inviting a panellist for the next year. It is obvious what to do when we receive negative feedback about the panellist’s skills. It is more complicated if we have a good panellist who is not behaving properly or who makes racist or homophobic comments during the panel. Nchanter’s solution of checking the negative feedback with co-panellists and finally basing our decision on the reaction of the person in question is a really good and fair approach. It makes sure that we verify the situation and it allows us to predict whether the same situation is likely to happen again in the future.

(7) HELL ON WHEELS. RedWombat saw a reference to “Jane Austen’s Fury Road” and started riffing….

(8) IT’S A WONDERFUL TRIVIA

Sheldon and Leonard of The Big Bang Theory were named after the actor/producer Sheldon Leonard.  He played Nick the Bartender in the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life.  Also, producer of The Danny Thomas Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Spy.

The Muppets, Bert and Ernie, were also named after two characters from It’s a Wonderful Life.  Bert the policeman and Ernie the cab driver.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 23, 1823 A Visit From St. Nicholas, attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, first published.
  • December 23, 1947 Beauty And The Beast hit theaters
  • December 23, 1952 – The original The Day The Earth Stood Still premiered in Spain.
  • December 23, 1958 — Ray Harryhausen’s The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad premiered in theatres.
  • December 23, 1960 — Art Carney starred in a Christmas-themed episode of The Twilight Zone.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) FULL KIT WANKER. For the three of you who haven’t seen this yet –

(12) BY YNGVI. Kim Huett of Doctor Strangemind knows it’s the time of year to send up a traditional favorite: “‘Twas Night Before Christmas”.

…At one point Harold Shea and the Norse god Heimdall are imprisoned by Frost Giants after losing a fight with them. While there they encountered a fellow prisoner who comes to the front of his cell every hour on the hour to yell, “Yngvi is a LOUSE!”

Thus began a debate which fascinated science fiction fandom for decades. Was this Yngvi indeed a louse or had his good name been falsely besmirched? At the Denvention, the 1941 worldcon, Milton Rothman (who went on to become a nuclear physicist and science fiction author) put forward a motion at the business meeting to the effect that Yngvi was not a louse only for it to be defeated. A subsequent motion was then passed stating that Rothman himself was a louse….

…So I sat back in my chair to wait for my guest
To reveal himself fully and the why of his quest

It took a few moments of squirming and kicking
Before he appeared rather than sticking

It was Yngvi of course, I could tell by his dress
An amazingly scrofulous, glorious mess…

(13) FUNGUS AMONG US. “When this old world starts getting me down….”: “‘Remarkable’ truffle discovery on Paris rooftop raises hopes of more”.

There was celebration among French foodies after a wild truffle was discovered on a Paris rooftop.

The discovery, at the base of a hornbeam tree in a hotel roof garden near the Eiffel Tower, is thought to be a first for the city.

Truffles usually grow further south, in more Mediterranean climes, and are dug up by specially-trained pigs or dogs.

Prices for the aromatic fungi have recently doubled to more than 5,000 euros ($6,000) a kilo.

(14) LAST JEDI. Marc Scott Zicree (“Mr. Sci-Fi”) offers the opinion of a “Star Trek Writer on The Last Jedi.”

(15) THE MALL’S MY DESTINATION. I don’t doubt it. Mine could be up there somewhere.

(16) SAVING HUMANITY. If anything can … “H.G. Wells and Orwell on Whether Science Can Save Humanity”.

…Wells foresaw many of the landmarks of 20th-century scientific progress, including airplanes, space travel, and the atomic bomb. In “The Discovery of the Future,” he lamented “the blinding power of the past upon our minds,” and argued that educators should replace the classics with science, producing leaders who could foretell history as they predict the phases of the moon.

Wells’ enthusiasm for science had political implications. Having contemplated in his novels the self-destruction of mankind, Wells believed that humanity’s best hope lay in the creation of a single world government overseen by scientists and engineers. Human beings, he argued, need to set aside religion and nationalism and put their faith in the power of scientifically trained, rational experts….

…Orwell was not bashful about criticizing the scientific and political views of his friend Wells. In “What is Science?” he described Wells’ enthusiasm for scientific education as misplaced, in part because it rested on the assumption that the young should be taught more about radioactivity or the stars, rather than how to “think more exactly.”

(17) THE SHAPE OF BEER. From The Hollywood Reporter: “Guillermo del Toro on Seeing a UFO, Hearing Ghosts and Shaping ‘Water'”.

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s taste for sci-fi and fantasy doesn’t come from nowhere. When he was younger, the acclaimed director recalls, “I saw a UFO.”

“I know this is horrible,” del Toro continues. “You sound like a complete lunatic, but I saw a UFO. I didn’t want to see a UFO. It was horribly designed. I was with a friend. We bought a six-pack. We didn’t consume it, and there was a place called Cerro del Cuatro, “Mountain of the Four,” on the periphery of Guadalajara. We said, ‘Let’s go to the highway.’ We sit down to watch the stars and have the beer and talk. We were the only guys by the freeway. And we saw a light on the horizon going super-fast, not linear. And I said, ‘Honk and flash the lights.’ And we started honking.”

The UFO, says del Toro, “Went from 1,000 meters away [to much closer] in less than a second — and it was so crappy. It was a flying saucer, so clichéd, with lights [blinking]. It’s so sad: I wish I could reveal they’re not what you think they are. They are what you think they are. And the fear we felt was so primal. I have never been that scared in my life. We jumped in the car, drove really fast. It was following us, and then I looked back and it was gone.”

(18) ALTERNATE SOLOS. Will Lerner, in “Harrison Who? Here’s The Actor Who Almost Played Han Solo” for Yahoo! Entertainment. profiles Glynn Turman, who came This Close to being Han Solo, which would have meant that Han Solo would have been played by an African-American actor.

Before Star Wars started filming in 1976, director George Lucas auditioned dozens of actors for the first episode of his space saga, since rechristened as A New Hope. Over the years we’ve learned that Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Kurt Russell all read for the part of Han Solo before the role went to Harrison Ford. But there was a lesser-known candidate who almost scored the gig: Glynn Turman.

Turman, 70, started his career on Broadway, when he was cast as a 13-year-old in the original production of A Raisin in the Sun alongside legends Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee. Steadily picking up more and more screen roles through the ’70s, Turman finally got his chance to shine in 1975 as the lead of Cooley High. In the slice-of-life feature, Turman played a proxy of sorts for screenwriter and Good Times creator Eric Monte — a gifted young writer who aspires to a life beyond his housing project. Cooley High showcased Turman’s ability to play a scoundrel capable of great achievements. It’s no big surprise that performance captured the attention of Lucas.

(19) WALLY WOOD SANG? The comics artist seems to have branched out. It’s collectible, if not very listenable.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 12/6/17 Pixels Came Naturally From Paris, For Scrolls She Couldn’t Care Less

(1) MANIFESTO. Charles Payseur’s thought-provoking tweets about reviewing begin here —

Some of the points he makes include —

(2) THIS IS HORROR AWARDS. Public nominations are now open for the seventh annual This Is Horror Awards.  Click on the link for eligibility and other information: “This Is Horror Awards 2017: Public Nominations Are Open”. Here are the categories:

  • Novel of the Year
  • Novella of the Year
  • Short Story Collection of the Year
  • Anthology of the Year
  • Fiction Magazine of the Year
  • Publisher of the Year
  • Fiction Podcast of the Year
  • Nonfiction Podcast of the Year

Public nominations close at 12:01 a.m. PST on 22 December 2017. 

(3) DUFF. Yesterday’s announcement that they’re looking for Down Under Fan Fund candidates included a statement that the delegate will go to the Worldcon “or another major convention in North America in 2018.” I asked Paul Weimer, is that a change? Paul replied —

The intention for this is two fold–one to provide, in future years for situations in years where Worldcon is not in North America (if the 2020 NZ bid wins, for example, this will be an issue), and also to provide for the possibility that the winning delegate wants to focus on, say, Cancon, or another major SF con in the United States.

We expect that its almost certain that any winning delegate will want to go to Worldcon, but this provides flexibility in that regard.

(4) GREAT FANZINE. Australian faned Bruce Gillespie has released a new 90,000-word issue of SF Commentary. Download from eFanzines:

Cover by Ditmar (Dick Jenssen).

Major articles by John Litchen (the second part of ‘Fascinating Mars’) and Colin Steele (his usual book round up ‘The Field’), as well as articles by Tim Train and Yvonne Rousseau.

Major tribute to 2017 Chandler Award-winning Bill Wright by LynC and Dick Jenssen, and memories of Brian Aldiss, David J. Lake, Jack Wodhams, Randy Byers, Joyce Katz, among others.

Lots of lively conversations featuring such SFC correspondents as Michael Bishop, Leigh Edmonds, Robert Day, Patrick McGuire, Matthew Davis, Doug Barbour, Ray Wood, Larry Bigman, and many others.

(5) REZONING. The Twilight Zone is coming back. At The Verge, Andrew Liptak reports “Jordan Peele will resurrect The Twilight Zone for CBS All Access”.

The granddaddy of surreal, science fiction television anthologies is returning. CBS announced today that it has issued a series order for a revival of The Twilight Zone from Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and Simon Kinberg’s Genre Films for its All Access streaming service.

Peele and Kinberg, along with Marco Ramirez (Marvel’s The Defenders), will serve as executive producers on the show and will “collaborate on the premiere episode.” CBS has yet to announce a release date, casting, or any other writers attached to the project. Like Star Trek: Discovery, however, the show is destined as exclusive content for the network’s paid streaming service, CBS All Access.

(6) ON BOARD. How appropriate that The Traveler at Galactic Journey has found a way to kill time! “[December 6, 1962] How to Kill Friends and Influence People (The game, Diplomacy)”.

Ah, but here’s the tricky bit.  Turns are divided into two segments.  The latter is the one just described, where players write their marching orders.  The former is a 15-minute diplomacy segment.  This is the period in which players discuss their plans, try to hatch alliances, attempt to deceive about intentions.  It is virtually impossible to win the game without help on the way up; it is completely impossible to win without eventually turning on your allies.  Backstabbery is common, even necessary.  Honesty is a vice.

Diplomacy is, thus, not a nice game.  In fact, I suspect this game will strike rifts between even the best chums.  So why play at all?  Why suffer 4-12 hours of agony, especially when you might well be eliminated within the first few turns, left to watch the rest of your companions pick over your bones?

Well, it’s kind of fun.

(7) TREACHERY IN THE PRESENT. Meanwhile, here in 2017, holiday gift shoppers might want to pick up the “CLUE®: Game of Thrones™ Exclusive Expansion”.

Add more treachery and betrayal and create an all-new game play experience while solving the mysteries in Game of Thrones Clue with this  special exclusive expansion that includes two additional character suspects and power cards as well as beautifully gold-finished weapons.

Really, though, for a genuine Game of Thrones experience it would have to be possible for all the suspects to be murdered in the same game.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 6, 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture premiered.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY COUNTRY

  • Born December 6, 1917 — Finland

(10) COMICS SECTION. Brian Kesinger, a veteran visual artist for Disney and Marvel, has created Watterson-style mashups that merge The Force Awakens characters with Calvin and Hobbes. “Disney Illustrator Combines Star Wars And Calvin & Hobbes, And The Result Is Adorable” at Bored Panda.

(11) HAIR TODAY. Interesting how movie marketing works now. A trailer for the new Jurassic World sequel will be out Thursday, heralded by a 16-second teaser, and this behind-the-scenes featurette. SciFiNow.uk claims, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom featurette has loads of new footage and freaking out”.

Ahead of the trailer release tomorrow, a new featurette has arrived for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom which features lots of new footage and plenty of the cast and crew freaking out about how awesome the film is going to be. And Jeff Goldblum’s got a beard.

 

(12) GARY FISHER IN LAST JEDI, TOO. The cat is out of the bag, and so is the dog: “Carrie Fisher’s Beloved Dog, Gary, Will Appear in ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi'”.

During the press tour for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Carrie Fisher’s therapy dog, Gary, became an internet sensation as the late actress took him everywhere for interviews and red carpets. Now, an eagle-eyed fan discovered that Gary will be making an Easter egg cameo in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which director Rian Johnson has confirmed.

Twitter user Clair Henry found a promotion still for the movie in which Finn (John Boyega) and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) face off at a galactic casino. On the left side of the screen, you can see a strange brown creature looking directly at the camera. That’s Gary, touched up with CGI to look like an alien pet.

(13) HELLO . A special wine collection is back in time for the season: “‘Hello Kitty’ Wine Returns In Time For The Holidays”.  The five-bottle collection goes for around $150, but you can also buy individual bottles.

The Hello Kitty wines by Torti “L’Eleganza del Vino” returns to the U.S. with new supercute designs and two new blends. Now including an award-winning Pinot Noir, a “Sweet Pink” blend, Sparkling Rosé, Pinot Nero Vinified in White, as well as a special edition Sparkling Rosé with limited edition packaging.

 

(14) CAN’T FACE IT. Forget Sad Puppies: “Sad poop emoji gets flushed after row”.

Plans to introduce a “frowning pile of poo” emoji have been flushed from the latest proposals by the group in charge of creating the symbols.

The symbol was floated as one of many to be introduced in 2018, but it angered typographers who said it was “embarrassing” to the group.

The Unicode Consortium pushes out a central list of emoji so that they show up properly on different devices.

It said changes to the “pile of poo” emoji had not been totally dumped.

Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment: “IME, the Unicode Consortium can be very random; around the time I started working with character storage, their principles sniffily declared that they were encoding only live characters, and would therefore not do Glagolitic (the alphabet that Cyril’s students developed into Cyrillic) — but they already had Tolkien’s Elvish alphabet(s?). They later relented, don’t ask me why.”

(15) ALL THEY’RE CRACKED UP TO BE. The BBC answers the question, “Why clowns paint their faces on eggs”. Pratchett fans may remember this was a plot point in at least one of his books.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of Faint’s collection, though, are the eggs. Each one is different, and represents the unique face design of its subject. Eggs like these are kept in only a handful of collections around the world, representing a kind of informal copyright – and much more.

(16) TREE SLEEPER. Older human: “Little Foot skeleton unveiled in South Africa”. 500,000 years older than Lucy — same species, different genus.

One of the oldest and most complete skeletons of humankind’s ancestors has been unveiled in South Africa.

A team spent more than 20 years excavating, cleaning and putting together the skeleton of Little Foot.

Its exact age is debated, but South African scientists say the remains are 3.67 million years old.

(17) BLACK MIRROR. Netflix has released a full trailer for Black Mirror Season 4. The release date is December 29.

(18) LE GUIN. At Electric Literature, “Ursula K. Le Guin Explains How to Build a New Kind of Utopia”:

…Good citizens of utopia consider the wilderness dangerous, hostile, unlivable; to an adventurous or rebellious dystopian it represents change and freedom. In this I see examples of the intermutability of the yang and yin: the dark mysterious wilderness surrounding a bright, safe place, the Bad Places?—?which then become the Good Place, the bright, open future surrounding a
dark, closed prison . . . Or vice versa.

In the last half century this pattern has been repeated perhaps to exhaustion, variations on the theme becoming more and more predictable, or merely arbitrary.

(19) SPACE COMMAND. Four days left in the Space Command: Redemption Kickstarter. Congratulations to Marc Zicree — they made their goal, and two stretch goals. To celebrate —

A scene from Space Command: Redemption in which Yusef (Robert Picardo) repairs a broken synthetic named For (Doug Jones). For more information about this new sci-fi series, follow this link:

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Rob Thornton, Cat Eldridge, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 11/12/17 I Saw A Pixel Order A Perrier At Trader Vic’s. And Its Scroll Was Perfect

(1) COURTING FATE. At The Millions, B.J. Hollars remembers “Ray Bradbury’s Keys to the Universe”.

I marvel at such miracles; in particular, Ray’s ability to forge his own fate as the opportunities presented themselves.  But I marvel, too, at his refusal to leave anything to chance.  Perhaps his stick-to-itiveness is best illustrated by way of a story he shared with me during my visit to his home all those years ago.  How, as a young, broke, telephone-less writer in L.A., he’d given editors the telephone number of the gas station payphone across the street.  His bedroom window flung wide, whenever that phone rang he’d leap out the window and sprint across the street. Then, as casually as possible, he’d answer, “Hello?”

Now that’s how it’s done, I remember thinking.  That’s how you become a writer.

(2) WWWWD? Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot wants Warner Bros. to pull the plug on accused harasser Brett Ratner. Page Six broke the story: “Gal Gadot will only be ‘Wonder Woman’ again if Brett Ratner is out”.

“Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot is continuing to battle accused Hollywood sexual harasser Brett Ratner by refusing to sign for a super­hero sequel unless the movie-maker is completely killed from the franchise.

A Hollywood source tells Page Six that Gadot — who last month backed out of a dinner honoring Ratner, where she was due to present him with an award — is taking a strong stance on sexual harassment in Hollywood and doesn’t want her hit “Wonder Woman” franchise to benefit a man accused of sexual misconduct.

Ratner’s production company RatPac-Dune Entertainment helped produce “Wonder Woman” as part of its co-financing deal with Warner Bros. The movie has grossed more than $400 million internationally, and Ratner’s company will take a healthy share of the profits. A Warner Bros. insider explained, “Brett made a lot of money from the success of ‘Wonder Woman,’ thanks to his company having helped finance the first movie. Now Gadot is saying she won’t sign for the sequel unless Warner Bros. buys Brett out [of his financing deal] and gets rid of him.”

(3) MORE HOLLYWOOD HARASSMENT. Classic Trek’s Mr. Sulu, actor George Takei, is one of the latest Hollywood figures to be accused of harassment. The Guardian has his denial — “George Takei responds to accusation he sexually assaulted a young actor”.

The Star Trek actor and gay rights activist George Takei responded on Saturday to an accusation that he sexually assaulted a young actor nearly 40 years ago. The alleged event “simply did not occur”, Takei said.

On Friday, Scott R Brunton told the Hollywood Reporter that in 1981, when he was 23, he was invited into Takei’s condo in Los Angeles. Brunton implied his drink may have been spiked, saying he passed out and awoke to find Takei trying to strip him and groping his genitals.

(4) SHOULDN’T BE A MYSTERY. On Friday night, the Jeopardy! game show had a “Science Fiction” category during the “Double Jeopardy” round. How did the contestants handle it? Andrew Porter supplied this narrative:

The category was in Double Jeopardy. I guess no one reads SF.

$400: This “Dune” author’s first published sci-fi tale appeared in Startling Stories Magazine in 1952.

No one answered.

$800: In John Wyndham’s 1951 novel “The Day of” these, “these” are carnivorous plants that can walk and kill a man.

No one answered.

$1200: Like “World War Z”, “Robopocalypse” is labeled this kind of history; it’s told by those who survived a robot war.

Wrong answer: “What is an alternate history?”

Correct answer: “What is an oral history?”

$1600: In “A Princess of Mars”, this fictional Civil War vet is transported to Mars & meets the beautiful Dejah Thoris.

No one answered.

$2000: The cover of this Isaac Asimov novel claimed, “four men and one woman journey into the living body of a man.”

Again, no one answered.

The final Jeopardy question, under “Awards & Honors”, was: “The Victoria Cross is for military bravery; this ross first given in 1940 & named for Victoria’s Great-grandson is for civilian bravery.”

Answers: “What is the Edward Cross?” – wrong; “What is the George’s Cross?” also wrong; “What is the George Cross?” – correct.

(5) BOOK RECS. Ann Leckie praises some “Things I’ve Read” beginning with —

I got an advance copy of Emergence, the next volume in C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series. Look, I’m a longtime fan of these, and I enjoyed the heck out of this one. If you’ve read the previous volumes, you’ll enjoy this one. If you haven’t, DO NOT START THE SERIES HERE. Give Foreigner a go–that’s the first volume–and see what you think.

(6) ALL IN BLACK AND WHITE FOR A DIME. Field Notes, a quarterly publication, will be doing a Dime Novel edition.

Inspiration for Field Notes Quarterly Editions can strike anytime, from anywhere. For our Fall 2017 edition, it struck from all the way back in 1860 in New York City and a pair of brothers: Erastus and Irwin Beadle. The Beadles had published a variety of inexpensive paperback books on subjects ranging from the tax code to baseball, but when they released Ann S. Stephens’ frontier tale Malaeska as the first of their orange-covered “Dime Novel” series, it sold more than sixty thousand copies and started a trend for cheap pocket-sized genre fiction.

Beadle’s Dime Novels eventually topped 300 titles, each selling 35–80,000 copies, and inspired countless other publishers to imitate (or often steal outright) the Dime Novel’s format, style, characters, and content. Along with imitators came an epic brotherly feud and a long series of lawsuits. It’s a complicated story, but in the end, a fair argument can be made that the Beadles created the mass-market American paperback

There’s also a four-minute video at the link.

(7) BRADBURY FOREVER. J. W. Ocker showed highlights of his Ray Bradbury artifact collection on his website in “Collecting Ray”.

Obviously, I wear my Ray Bradbury fandom on my [straightjacket] sleeve, but I’m also a Ray Bradbury collector, too. And I don’t mean his books, although that is part of it. I’m talking artifacts. Pieces of his life, his works, and those works inspired by him. They range from a brick from his now-demolished Los Angeles house to a test sketch by artist Joe Mugnaini for one of the illustrations for The Halloween Tree to a particularly disturbing prop from the movie version of his Something Wicked This Way Comes. Next time you come over to my house, I’ll show it all to you.

… See that wiry, coppery mass in the lower right corner? That’s actually the top of an award given to Bradbury in 2010 for “contribution to world peace through literature.” And it now sits on my shelf about a foot away from my desk, like I was the one who win it or something.

Ocker’s new book just came out, Death and Douglas. Here’s the front cover blurb:

“Spooky! Hilarious! And beautifully written. Ocker’s Death and Douglas now joins Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree as an annual autumn read.” — Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why and Piper.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 12, 1982 Creepshow premiered in theaters.

(9) YOUR DIGITAL SJW CREDENTIAL. The internet has a cat. Its name is Purrli.

(10) $PACE COMMAND. Marc Scott Zicree’s Kickstarter to fund Space Command: Redemption hit its basic $39,000 goal in the first three days and now is ticking off its stretch goals.

They’ve raised $45,434 as of this writing. Should they hit $80,000, there will be enough to pay for Part Two of Space Command: Redemption.

(11) PULP REVOLUTIONARY. Galactic Journey tells readers what they have to look forward to in the December (1962) issue of Amazing — “[November 12, 1962] HEADS ABOVE THE CLOUDS (the December 1962 Amazing)”.

Roger Zelazny’s Moonless in Byzantium—his second Amazing story, fourth published—might have a broader appeal.  It’s a surreal riff on one of the more familiar plots in the warehouse, the lone rebel face to face with an oppressive regime, in this case the Robotic Overseeing Unit.  In this dystopia, machines are in charge, people are mostly machines, and our protagonist is charged with writing Sailing to Byzantium on a washroom wall.  He is also charged with illegal possession of a name—William Butler Yeats, which he appended to Yeats’s poem.  This is the world of Cutgab, in which language itself is drastically restricted and simplified, and writing forbidden.  ROU accuses: “You write without purpose or utility, which is why writing itself has been abolished—men always lie when they write or speak.” The outcome is inevitable save for the accused’s final and futile defiance.  This is one that succeeds on sheer power of writing; in theme and style, it suggests Bradbury with sharper teeth.  Four stars for bravura execution of a stock idea.

(12) CLAIM JUMPER. Richard Paolinelli is always trying to get mentioned in this space, but making claims like this isn’t a good way to do it. He often tweets about his Dragon Awards finalist Escaping Infinity, but yesterday’s tweet also identified it as a Nebula nominee.

So what is that supposed to mean? Everyone knows his book wasn’t a Nebula finalist. Did someone cast one vote for it? Interestingly, the tweeted honor isn’t even listed on his website’s Awards page.

(13) ASK UMAMI. As usual, everything you know is wrong: “The real truth about whether our tongues have ‘taste zones'”.

You probably remember the diagram from school – a pink tongue with different regions marked for different tastes – bitter across the back, sweet across the front, salty at sides near the front and sour at the sides towards the back. I can remember a biology class where we made sugar and salt solutions and pipetted them onto different parts of our tongues to confirm the map was right.

At the time it all seemed to make sense, but it turns out it’s not quite this simple.

The famous tongue diagram has appeared in hundreds of textbooks over the decades. It’s sometimes blamed on a dissertation from 1901 written by a German scientist called David Pauli Hänig. By dripping salty, sweet, sour and bitter samples onto different parts of people’s tongues, he discovered that the sensitivity of taste buds varies in different areas of the tongue.

…Today we know that different regions of the tongue can detect sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Taste buds are found elsewhere too – in the roof of the mouth and even in the throat. As well as detecting the four main tastes, each taste bud can also detect the most recently discovered taste, umami – the taste that makes savoury foods like parmesan so more-ish.

(14) SUNDAY DRIVER. The BBC reports “US rocket launch aborted after small plane enters airspace”.

A rocket launch in Virginia was aborted at the last moment when a small aircraft flew into restricted airspace.

The unmanned cargo ship was about to be launched en route to the International Space Station (ISS) when mission control called “abort, abort, abort!”.

They had spotted a small aircraft flying in restricted airspace at 500ft (150m) near Wallops Island.

Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment: “As a former lightplane pilot, I don’t know whether this was ignorance (of temporary rules closing the airspace) or deliberate stupidity.” The launch did go on schedule on Sunday morning.

(15) ANDY WEIR ON THE MOON. NPR interview — “In New Novel, ‘Martian’ Author Andy Weir Builds A Colony On The Moon”.

On where he got the idea for Artemis

I wanted to write a story that took place in the first city that was not on Earth. And I thought about Mars, I thought about lower Earth orbit, but the Moon is the obvious place to build it. If you were on a football field and you were standing at one goal line, and if Mars were at the other goal line, the moon would be 4 inches in front of you. So that is the distance scale between them. So, yeah, colonizing Mars before you colonize the moon would be like if the ancient Britons colonized North America before they colonized Wales.

(16) WEIR’S FAVES. Breathe a sigh of relief – for once your TBR pile is safe — you’ve probably read most of “Andy Weir’s 6 favorite science fiction books”. The sixth is —

The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (Orbit, $16).

A fantastic look at what a post-scarcity society might look like. There’s no hunger, no disease, no war — just benevolent computers that take care of humanity and other beings. How could there be conflict or struggle in such a world? Well, Banks is a genius and spins one hell of a story about what happens when the Culture meets a spacefaring alien race with far less enlightened views. And it doesn’t go how you think it would.

(17) GET READY. Naragansett Brewery’s Lovecraft Whiskey Release Party takes place December 1.

About two years ago, we released the I Am Providence Imperial Red Ale… and we’ve been keeping a deep, dark secret ever since.

While you were busy enjoying our other Lovecraft offerings, I Am Providence was distilled at Sons of Liberty, and has been aging in twisted oak barrels ever since.

Just as Cthulhu patiently waits to rise from the depths to destroy us all, I Am Providence has been waiting for you.

On December 1st, we unleash the madness. Get ready.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Fabrice Mathieu’s HZ Hollywood Zombies, a meteor strikes Hollywood! And all the Movie Stars become… Zombies! Which movie star would you like to be eaten by? Here are a couple of the many choices — Daniel Craig and Natalie Portman.

 

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Bill, Magewolf, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, Moshe Feder, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 10/14/17 We Can Pixel It For You Scrollsale

(1) FIRES SHUTTER FAMOUS MONSTERS CON. The Famous Monsters Halloween Convention scheduled for October 25-27 in San Jose has been officially cancelled due to Northern California wildfires.  Senior Manager Philip Kim wrote on the convention website:

On Sunday evening, October 8th, 2017, a historically violent wind blew through the Bay Area. This extreme wind proliferated what is now one of California history’s most dangerous cluster of wildfires, still raging in Sonoma County and claiming more homes and lives by the day. We are told this may be days to weeks before total containment, as the heavy winds are predicted to return this weekend, adding to an already horrific situation. Though containment efforts are underway, it is catastrophic here with no sign of slowing down. This, by legal or any other definition, is an act of God.

Though the show is in San Jose, the majority of our staff live and work in Sonoma County. My family and I have been evacuated from our home since Tuesday and have no idea when we will be allowed back or if we will have a home to go back to. We are currently shut down to guarantee the safety of our staff. I made great efforts to see if we could turn the show into a fundraiser, but there were a few key obstacles that would not allow us to achieve this. This may have been my greatest sadness.

My team and I are grateful to everyone who trusted us and believed in our show. It has been one of the hardest decisions of my Famous Monsters career, but we are officially canceling Famous Monsters Halloween 2017.

(2) IN EMERGENCY, DIAL 9-3/4. A BBC story called “Hogwarts Express Rescues Family Stranded in Highlands” says a family stuck in a remote part of Scotland was saved when the Hogwarts Express, a steam train that makes daily runs in the western part of Scotland, made an emergency stop to pick them up.

Jon and Helen Cluett and their four young children were staying at a remote bothy in Lochaber when their canoe was swept away by a swollen river.

Facing a long walk back to their car across boggy land, they phoned the police for advice.

To their delight, they arranged for the steam train used in the Harry Potter films to pick them up.

The train, called The Jacobite, is used for excursions on the West Highland Railway Line, crossing the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct that also features in the movies.

(3) DOES 2049 STINK? James W.  Harris is not a fan — “Blade Runner 2049 – The Evil of Heartless Sequels”.

Without the voiceover, both films are just action flicks of heartless machines killing heartless machines. Why has Ridley Scott never understood the Romeo and Juliet beauty of having a love story between lovers from two opposing houses? In Blade Runner 2049 we are taken on a meaningless thrill ride where it’s impossible to tell human from replicant – and I really didn’t give a shit either. There are a few touching scenes in Blade Runner 2049, but they are so artificial as to cause existential angst. At times we feel for K, our replicant protagonist, but the scenes are so obviously manipulating us that it’s hard to genuinely care.

(4) YOUTUBE CLICKBAIT OF THE DAY. And for those of you who favor the flop thesis there’s –

(5) MORE HELSINKI WORLDCON RESOURCES. Jani Ylönen’s Worldcon 75 podcasts:

(6) OF WORLDCONS YET TO COME. JJ recommends the discussion on Reddit at NextWorldcon.

This subreddit is about the next Worldcon – and the ones after that one. You can talk about the ones that are confirmed and the ones that are still only bidding to become a Worldcon. To be completely hosnest, you can probably get away with talking about past Worldcons too, but the main focus here is the future.

This is also a good place to meet new people who are going to the next Worldcon and people who can offer good advice the host city for the next Worldcon or advice for people who has never been to Worldcon before.

(7) SFF ART HISTORY. Adam Roberts and Graham Sleight are working to fund publication of “Wonders and Visions: A Visual History of Science Fiction” through Unbound.

Our book tells the story of science fiction through its most iconic, beautiful, interesting and (sometimes) crass cover art: from the earliest days of publishing in the 19th-century, through the glory days of Pulp magazine covers and the Golden Age, into the endless visual experimentation of the New Wave and so to the post-Star Wars era, when a ‘visual logic’ comes to dominate not just science fiction but culture as a whole.

With over 350 full-colour images and more than 50,000 words of text this is more than simply an anthology of famous science fiction covers–it is an ambitious attempt to tell the whole history of the genre in a new way, and to make the case that science fiction art, from the sober future-visions of Chesley Bonestell, to the garish splendours of Hannes Bok, from the Magritte-like surrealism of Richard Powers, Frank Freas, Judith Clute, and Ed Emshwiller to the amazingly talented designers and artists of the 21st-century, exists as a vital and neglected mode of modern art as such.

… There will be three main types of entry. Firstly, there will be several hundred key covers: one or sometimes two images + plus 150-200 words of text, of the ten (or more) most iconic and recognisable covers from each decade of our history: from Wells and Verne to H Rider Haggard’s Barsoom and E E ‘Doc’ Smith’s Lensman, from Arthur C Clarke’s Childhood’s End and Asimov’s Foundation to Leigh Brackett and Joanna Russ’s Female Man, from Cyberpunk masterpieces by William Gibson and Pat Cadigan to dystopias by Octavia Butler and Cormac McCarthy, to twenty-first century SF.

Second there will be more extended visual comparative studies, one or two page spreads that compare multiple covers for the same book, to see the way different artists and publishers have approached the task of visualising some of the most famous novels in the history of the genre: The Day of the Triffids; Dune; Left Hand of Darkness and more, as well as surveys of the work of famous illustrators, or publishing houses.

Third there will be milestone entries: examples of groundbreaking or unusual covers, usually the first example of (among other things) a fine late 19th-century illustrated binding for a SF title; a garishly coloured SF magazine cover; a Golden Age fix-up paperback, a psychedelic 1960s New Wave title, a movie-tie-in; a graphic novel adaptation of a classic: Shelley’s Frankenstein as first SF novel; Auf Zwei Planeten as first Martian invasion; Time Machine as first time travel; Orphans of the Sky as the first Generation Starship novel; Leo and Diane Dillon’s illustrations for Ellison’s Dangerous Visions; early computer-generated SF art; and Metal Hurlant revolutionising the potential of SF comics.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 14, 1926 — A. A. Milne’s classic, Winnie-the-Pooh, was published.
  • October 14, 1947 — Charles Yeager, piloting a Bell X-1 jet, became the first person to break the sound barrier.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinain says today’s The Argyle Sweater demonstrates another failed attempt to find a use for overly large garden produce.
  • Nor does true romance run a smooth course at Bizarro.
  • And then there was this premonition in 1966….

(10) PUMPKIN VINE. Is the wine good? Otherwise $1,600 it’s a lot of money to spend for a cute label: 2013 Stacked Jack Cabernet Sauvignon Etched 6L

This bottle is even more unique, as it features etched custom artwork. We affectionately refer to the label as “Stacked Jack,” was created by award-winning children’s book illustrator John Manders. Third generation family member and General Manager Nat Komes discovered John’s art while reading to his kids at the St. Helena library. Inspiration comes from many places!

(11) MUSIC OF THE FEARS. Remember that day Art Garfunkel went shopping with George Lucas? Their lovechild is on sale at BrainyTee.

(12) LOCKDOWN. The New York Times story “Twitter Users Split on Boycott Over Platform’s Move Against Rose McGowan” cited Brianna Wu:

Plenty of those participating in the protest came from outside the celebrity ranks.

“I love this platform, but it’s time to do better. See you all in 24 hours,” wrote Brianna Wu, a congressional candidate in Massachusetts

(13) MR. SCI-FI. Star Trek writer Marc Scott Zicree, Mr. Sci-Fi, spends a few minutes considering which is better, Star Trek: Discovery or The Orville. What do you think?

(14) EXHALE. The BBC reports how “NASA carbon space observatory ‘watches Earth breathe”.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) tracked the behaviour of the gas in 2015/2016 – a period when the planet experienced a major El Niño event.

This climate phenomenon boosts the amount of CO2 in the air.

The US space agency’s OCO satellite was able to show how that increase was controlled by the response of tropical forests to heat and drought.

The forests’ ability to draw down carbon dioxide, some of it produced by human activity, was severely curtailed.

The science has significant implications because the kind of conditions associated with El Niños are expected to become much more common under global warming.

(15) BASED ON A SOMEWHAT TRUE STORY. NPR’s Mark Jenkins reports that “‘Professor Marston And The Wonder Women’ Is Strangely Subdued” — and loose with facts:

Sweet and rather silly, the movie is entertaining. It’s rarely persuasive, however, and generally seems like a missed opportunity.

Among the film’s most characteristically Hollywood traits is its rampant fictionalization. A complete accounting of the script’s liberties would require a dissertation, but it’s telling that Robinson has the Marstons meet Olive while she’s enrolled at Harvard/Radcliffe, where Bill is a professor and Elizabeth is a Ph.D candidate. In fact, Bill did get three degrees, and Elizabeth a master’s, from the university. But Bill didn’t teach, and Olive never studied, at Harvard or its sister school.

(16) PULLMAN PREVIEW. NPR delivers “First Read: Philip Pullman’s ‘The Book Of Dust'”.

Malcolm Polstead, the 11-year-old at the center of the story, sees a great deal of the secret life of Oxford from the perspective of the rivers and the canal in his canoe La Belle Sauvage. Here he witnesses something he’d never expected to see, and discovers something that will change his life.

— Philip Pullman

Malcolm let the canoe drift to a halt and then silently slipped in among the stiff stems and watched as a great crested grebe scrambled up onto the towpath, waddled ungracefully across, and then dropped into the little backwater on the other side.

(17) VIRTUAL CALORIES. BBC wants to show you “The city where the internet warms people’s homes”.

“The cloud” is a real place. The pictures you post on Instagram, the happy birthday wishes you leave on Facebook pages, and the TV shows you stream on Netflix aren’t living in a nebulous ball of condensation in the sky. They live on a massive series of servers – all connected together in rows and towers in giant warehouses.

Few people have ventured into these data centres. But in the Swedish capital Stockholm, I went inside these information labyrinths, and discovered that they’re not just housing data. All the heat they give off is helping to warm homes in the city of over 900,000 people. How does it work? And could it create a new business model for the tech industry worldwide?

(18) THE X IN MAISIE. Did you know Arya Stark is a mutant? In Marvel’s The New Mutants, in theaters April 13.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, David K.M. Klaus, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 8/18/17 And Though She Thought Mike Knew The Answer, Well He Knew But He Would Not Say

(1) THIS JOB IS NOT THAT EASY! Nicholas Whyte is back with “The Adminstrator’s Worldcon – part 2 of my 2017 Hugo memories”.

I almost didn’t make it to Worldcon 75. My taxi was 15 minutes late picking me up from home, and then encountered serious traffic en route to Zaventem airport. I was far too late to check my bag and brought it through security, where I almost came unstuck because of the Official Hugo Glue, which Dave McCarty had given me at Smofcon in December and I now needed to give back to him. (In fact we did not need it, as the artist who created the bases had engraved the winners’ plaques and attached them to the bases herself.) Five different security officials inspected the Official Hugo Glue Gun (which fortunately in Dutch is not a gun but a “lijmapparaat”, glue machine) before I was allowed to go on my way. The captain of my plane then scolded me, entirely fairly, for bringing “hand luggage” which was, in his words, “way too big”. But he did not throw me off, and I arrived in Helsinki.

Whyte includes a clear photo of the Hugo base by itself:

(2) ALL’S WELL. Yesterday’s Scroll quoted Renay’s tweets about the dismaying condition of Lady Business’ Hugo when it arrived. She told File 770 the problems were quickly resolved:

It turns out it was melted glue from where the felt was attached to the base (it’s hot here in Arkansas!). It’s been cleaned off with no problems and we’re looking into the proper type of glue to reattach the felt so disaster averted!! The bolt and washer were missing, too, but we’re going to pick a replacement up tomorrow. Nicholas Whyte from the Hugo team was super responsive. I’m also impressed everything arrived so fast. Those Worldcon 75 volunteers are ON IT.

(3) HUGO WINNER. The speech Ada Palmer was too overwhelmed to read at the Hugos is posted at her blog: “Campbell Award & Invisible Disability”.

Thank you very much. I have a speech here but I actually can’t see it. I can think of no higher honor than having a welcome like this to this community. This… we all work so hard on other worlds, on creating them, on reading them, and discussing them, and while we do so we’re also working equally hard on this world and making it the best world we possibly can. I have a list with me of people to thank, but I can’t read it. These tears are three quarters joy, but one quarter pain. This speech wasn’t supposed to be about invisible disability, but I’m afraid it really has to be now. I have been living with invisible disability for many years and… and there are very cruel people in the world for which reason I have been for more than ten years not public about this, and I’m terrified to be at this point, but at this point I have to. I also know that there are many many more kind and warm and wonderful people in this world who are part of the team and being excellent people, so, if anyone out there is living with disability or loves someone who has, please never let that make you give up doing what you want or working towards making life more good or making the world a more fabulous place.

(4) CONREPORT. Cora Buhlert shares her Worldcon experience in a short video, Cora’s Adventures at WorldCon 75 in Helsinki. Includes a shot of one of the File 770 meetups.

(5) CURBED ENTHUSIASM. Mark Ciocco weighs in on “Hugo Awards 2017: The Results”.

The 2017 Hugo Awards were announced on Friday, so it’s time for the requisite whining/celebration that peppers the steak of our blogging diet (that’s how food works, right?) Um, anyway, despite my formal participation in the awards process roughly coinciding with the Sad/Rabid Puppy era/debacle, this marks the fourth year wherein I’ve contributed to the results. This year’s awards were less directly impacted by those meddlesome puppies, but I feel like we’re still suffering through an indirect backlash and overcorrection. This isn’t exactly new, so let’s just get on with it. (For those who really want to geek out and see how instant-runoff voting works, the detailed final and nominating ballots are available.)

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin takes the rocket for Best Novel, making Jemisin just the third author to have back-to-back wins in this category (joining the ranks of Orson Scott Card and Lois McMaster Bujold). She’s a good author, but damn, these books are not for me. Both were at the bottom of my ballot and while I can see why her novel won last year, this one is a little more baffling. It appears to have been a close race though, with All the Birds in the Sky only narrowly missing the win. I regret not putting it higher on my ballot, as it’s the only non-series finalist, and that’s something that’s becoming more and more of an issue… My preferred Ninefox Gambit came in third in the voting, which wound up being a theme for my first ranked works this year….

(6) PHOTO FINISH. Amal El-Mohtar coincidentally provides another clear photo of the Hugo base.

(7) WHAT THEATRICAL GENIUSES ARE READING. Broadway World delivers “Your 2017 Summer Reading List Courtesy of Lin-Manuel Miranda”, which includes a few genre works:

(8) WHAT YOUNG PEOPLE ARE READING. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll has sicced the panel on “By the Waters of Babylon”. (Wow – I first read that in a junior high school textbook, when I was a Young People myself!)

The second story in Phase II of Young People Read Old SFF is Stephen Vincent Benét’s 1937’s“By The Waters of Babylon”. He’s more obscure than he once was now—dying at age 44 didn’t help him stay in the spotlight—but you may have encountered his The Devil and Daniel Webster or Benét’s upbeat toe-tapper, Nightmare, with Angels, quoted in part in John Brunner’s disco-era The Jagged Orbit…

(9) ROWELL REUNITES RUNAWAYS. Marvel is bringing back Nico, Karolina, Molly, Chase, Old Lace and even Gert.

This fall, best-selling YA writer Rainbow Rowell (Carry On, Eleanor and Park), superstar artist Kris Anka (All-New X-Men, Star-Lord) and Eisner-winning colorist Matt Wilson (The Mighty Thor, Black Widow)  team up to bring the universe’s pluckiest team of super heroes back to where they belong: in the pages of a Marvel comic book.

“As a Runaways fan, it’s been such a thrill for me to see these characters together again,” said writer Rainbow Rowell. “I can’t wait to let everyone else into the party.”

“For years I batted other editors and creators back from the Runaways,” said Executive Editor Nick Lowe. “I was the last Editor to edit them and they are precious to me, so I didn’t want just ANYBODY to bring them back. So when my new favorite writer (Rainbow’s Eleanor & Park slayed me in the best way) said they were her favorites, I knew I had half of the lightning I needed. Kris [Anka] was the other missing link for the PERFECT RUNAWAYS creative team and I’m so excited to share them with the world!”

(10) NO CAPTAIN SULU. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, talks about an unproduced Trek series:

Star Trek and Deep Space Nine writer Marc Scott Zicree shares the entire Captain Sulu Star Trek pilot he and Emmy winner Michael Reaves wrote, and shares the untold story of why you never got to see that series — despite its Hugo and Nebula Award nominations!

 

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 18, 1947 – Hewlett-Packard Co. is incorporated, nine years after William Hewlett and David Packard sold their first oscillators from a garage in Palo Alto, where they had set up shop with $538 in capital. Moving from oscillators, the first of which they sold to Disney for the movie Fantasia, the Stanford graduates built one of the world’s largest electronics companies
  • August 18, 2001Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies premieres in Japan.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born August 18, 1925 – Brian Aldiss

COMICS SECTION. John King Tarpinian approves of the monkey business on Brevity.

(13) INFRINGEMENT SUIT. In January the Arthur C. Clarke estate, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster joined with the estates of Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac to sue Frederik Colting, Melissa Medina, and their publishing firm, Moppet Books, charging copyright infringement. They charged that KinderGuides seek “to capitalize on the [classic] Novels’ enduring fame and popularity,” describing the titles as “a transparent attempt to recast their unauthorized derivatives as ‘study guides’ intended for the elementary school set.”

Publishers Weekly has a progress report on the litigation in “Still No Opinion, but Judge’s Order Bans Distribution of ‘Infringing’ KinderGuides”.

Following a summary judgment ruling last month, a federal judge this week signed off on a permanent injunction immediately barring Moppet Books from distributing in the U.S. any versions of its KinderGuides series held to be infringing, until the works on which they are based enter the public domain. In addition, Moppet Books also agreed to destroy all current copies of the infringing works “in its possession or under its control” within 10 days.

Don’t expect the shredders to fire up quite yet, however. While the ban on distribution is effective immediately, the injunction includes an automatic stay on the destruction of existing stock, pending the “final outcome” of the appeal process.

…On July 28, Judge Jed Rakoff issued a summary judgment for the plaintiffs, rejecting Moppet Books’ claims that the works, created by founders Frederik Colting and Melissa Medina for the company’s KinderGuides series, were protected by fair use. The ruling came just days after oral arguments were presented in the case, and without an accompanying memorandum by Rakoff explaining his decision, which the judge said would come “in due course.”

…Meanwhile, despite the ongoing legal battle, Moppet Books is moving ahead with plans to launch a new line of books in October, including a collection of KinderGuides based on public domain works, and two original nonfiction works.

(14) WHAT’S THAT, ROCKY? The New York Times, in “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth”, reports that new fossil discoveries show prehistoric “squirrels” glided through forests at least 160 million years ago.

In a study published on Wednesday, a team of paleontologists added some particularly fascinating new creatures to the Mesozoic Menagerie. These mammals did not lurk in the shadows of dinosaurs.

Instead, they glided far overhead, avoiding predatory dinosaurs on the ground — essentially flying squirrels of the Jurassic Period, from an extinct branch of mammals that probably still laid eggs.

(15) BRADBURY DRAMATIZED. Broadway World says a one-man Bradbury play will be part of a stage festival in New York next month.

Bill Oberst Jr. brings his award-winning solo performance, “Ray Bradbury‘s Pillar Of Fire,” one of Bradbury’s darkest tales, to Theatre Row on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 6:00pm. The NYC debut is part of the United Solo Theatre Festival.

Ray Bradbury has something to say to us at this exact moment in time;” said Oberst, “that we are citizens of the cosmos first, that the way we imagine our future determines our future, and that the most dangerous minds are those which cannot imagine themselves to be wrong.”

Oberst’s one-act adaptation uses Ray Bradbury‘s poetic prose to tell the story of William Lantry, a 400-year-old corpse who rises from the grave in the year 2349 to find himself the last dead man on Earth. Filled with hatred for a future world where superstition, gothic literature and human burials are all banned, Lantry decides to create an army of the dead. Bradbury later called the novella “a rehearsal for Fahrenheit 451.” He also famously said, “I don’t predict the future, I try to prevent it.”

(16) OLD HOME WEEK. Andrew Porter used to live in part of the historic Henry Siegel mansion, whose story was chronicled in the Daytonian in Manhattan blog yesterday.

…This is where I first published ALGOL, DEGLER! and then S.F. WEEKLY. It’s where I lived while I worked on the 1967 Worldcon, NYCon 3. I had numerous fan gatherings there, and have photos of Ted White and Arnie Katz in my room. This block of East 82nd Street is also the direct approach to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose fabled entrance stairs are visible directly down at the end of the block.

He wrote a long, fascinating comment there, including this genre tidbit –

In later years, part of the basement housed a toy store accessed by a stairway from the bookstore above. The proprietor told me that some of the toy soldiers he sold came from the collection of Donald A. Wollheim, a well-known collector and once publisher of DAW Books. And one of the buyers was George R.R. Martin, whose “Game of Thrones” (HBO) is so popular.

…For many years there was also a bookstore. In early 2017, Crawford Doyle Booksellers, which claimed to be there for 21 years, closed. However, there’d been a bookstore there since at least the late 1950s. I know, because as a teenager, I had a job delivering Womrath Library rental books to posh apartments around the area.

(17) IN THE FLOW. The Hugo Award Book Club discusses John Scalzi’s latest novel in “Review: The Collapsing Empire”.

Given John Scalzi’s track record, high profile, and vocal fan base, it seems likely that The Collapsing Empire will be given a fair amount of consideration on many 2018 Hugo nominators’ lists.

Based on how fun this book is at times, that consideration is probably warranted. The novel is set in an interstellar empire tied together by limited faster-than-light traderoutes known as ‘the Flow.’ This empire — The Interdependency — has lasted for millennia because of the economic dependence of its member worlds to each other. The key protagonists are the new Empress of the Interdependency, and the son of a scientist on a distant world whose father has spent decades discovering that the flow is going to collapse. The overaching plot — which has some parallels to Asimov’s Foundation— is expertly constructed and well-paced. Although the characters all seemed to speak with a similar voice, their motivations were clear, and the conflicts felt natural.

(18) THROWING SHADE. Solar-powered California prepares for the eclipse:

“We’re doing a lot of coordination, a lot of preparation,” says Deane Lyon, a manager at the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages about 80 percent of the state’s electric grid. “It’s probably the most work this company has done to prepare for a three-hour event in our history.”

Solar power already comes with up and downs, in the form of clouds.

“So this was a particularly cloudy day,” says Jan Klube of Enphase, pulling up a graph showing the solar output from one California home. The Petaluma-based company monitors rooftop solar systems around the country day in and day out.

To show how a single cloud can make a difference, he points to the afternoon hours, when the output dips by about a third. “You see the big drop, so there’s a cloud coming and going,” he explains. “That’s why you see the zigzag.”

If your solar panels are in the path of totality during the eclipse, “it will go all the way to zero,” he says.

California isn’t squarely in the path, but the moon’s partial shadow will obscure 90 percent of the sun in the north, down to nearly 60 percent in the south. That’s more than enough to cause some anxiety for the people who have to keep California’s lights on.

(19) THE DARK SIDE. Scientists to study whether nature really goes crazy during an eclipse: “Will The Eclipse Make Crops And Animals Flip Out? Scientists Ask (Really)”.

With the help of elementary school students, University of Missouri biology professor Candi Galen is putting out microphones near beehives, in gardens and in a pumpkin patch to record buzzing activity.

“I don’t think it is really known the cues that bees use or don’t use when they are foraging that tell them to jump ship and go back their hives or stay put,” Galen says. “Bees depend upon the environment to regulate their temperature, and that may suggest that if indeed it does cool off a few degrees as the eclipse progresses, then they would get less active because they would be at a lower temperature physiologically.”

Researchers are also working with nearby cattle ranchers and even fishermen to monitor fish activity, Reinbott says.

(20) DNA EDITING. An NPR report is allowed to go “Inside The Lab Where Scientists Are Editing DNA In Human Embryos”.

Critics, however, pounced on the news. They fear editing DNA in human embryos is unsafe, unnecessary and could open the door to “designer babies” and possibly someday to genetically enhanced people who are considered superior by society.

As the debate raged last week, I asked Mitalipov if I could visit his lab to see the next round of his experiments. He wants to confirm his initial results and determine whether the method can be used to repair other mutations.

He agreed to a visit, and on Monday, I became the first journalist to see these scientists cross a line that, until recently, had been taboo.

Chip Hitchcock adds a historical note: “Readers of antique SF may remember Heinlein’s elaborate description of deductive sorting of ova in Beyond This Horizon; another infodump bites the dust.”

(21) PUNISHER. The Verge invites everyone to watch The Punisher teaser trailer:

The Defenders hits Netflix today, and with it comes a look at Marvel’s upcoming show The Punisher. Frank Castle was introduced in season 2 of Daredevil. He’s played by Jon Bernthal, who will reprise his role as the gun-toting Army vet out for revenge.

Various rips of the trailer are popping up all over YouTube…

 

(22) SAY HELLO. Amazon Prime video will stream The Tick on August 25.

From creator Ben Edlund comes the hero you’ve been waiting for. In a world where heroes and villains have existed for decades, a mild-mannered accountant named Arthur has his life turned upside down when he runs into a mysterious blue superhero, The Tick, who insists that Arthur become the brains to his brawn in a crime-fighting duo. Will Arthur resist the call of Destiny or join the fight?

 

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Karl-Johan Norén, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born June 27, 1966 – J.J. Abrams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WAYWARD ASTRONOMER

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the way kangaroos move confuses it.

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

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

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

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

The difference is that it is much cleaner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE GUNS ABOVE by Robyn Bennis (Tor)

Released May 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Praise for The Guns Above:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Pixel Scroll 1/23/17 Scroll ‘Em Danno

(1) SOMETHING IN THE AIR. Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer interviews Lois McMaster Bujold at Tor.com: “Fanzines, Cover Art, and the Best Vorkosigan Planet: An Interview with Lois McMaster Bujold”. Everyone will have a favorite section – here’s mine.

ECM: You published a Star Trek fanzine in the 1960s, while the series was still on the air. It’s the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek, so I can’t resist asking you about it. What was it like to be a fan writer in the 1960s?

LMB: It was a lonelier enterprise back then than it is now. I go into it a little in this recent interview.

Other than that, I expect it was like being a newbie writer at any time, all those pictures and feelings churning around in one’s head and latching on to whatever models one could find to try to figure out how to get them down on a page. Besides the professional fiction I was reading, my models included Devra Langsam’s very early ST fanzine Spockanalia, and Columbus, Ohio fan John Ayotte’s general zine Kallikanzaros. It was John who guided Lillian and me through the mechanics of producing a zine, everything from how to type stencils (ah, the smell of Corflu in the morning! and afternoon, and late into the night), where to go to get electrostencils produced, how to run off and collate the pages—John lent us the use of his mimeograph machine in his parents’ basement. (And I just now had to look up the name of that technology on the internet—I had forgotten and all I could think of was “ditto”, a predecessor which had a different smell entirely.)

Fan writing, at the time, was assumed to be writing more about SF and fandom, what people would use blogs to do today, than writing fanfiction. So an all-fiction zine seemed a novelty to some of our fellow fans in Columbus.

John Ayotte! There’s someone I haven’t heard of since I was a young fan.

(2) A GR8 NAME. It’s only fitting that the official Star Wars site be the ones who tell us: “The Official Title for Star Wars: Episode VIII Revealed”.

THE LAST JEDI is written and directed by Rian Johnson and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is scheduled for release December 15, 2017.

Last Jedi poster

(3) BUMPER CROP. The Razzie czars, explaining the extra nominees this year, said, “The crop of cinematic crap in 2016 was so extensive that this year’s 37th Annual Razzie Awards is expanding from 5 nominees to an unprecedented 6 contenders in each of its 9 Worst Achievement in Film categories.” Genre films stank up the shortlist, for example —

WORST PICTURE

  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • Dirty Grandpa
  • Gods of Egypt
  • Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
  • Independence Day: Resurgence
  • Zoolander No. 2

WORST ACTOR

  • Ben Affleck / Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • Gerard Butler / Gods of Egypt & London Has Fallen
  • Henry Cavill / Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • Robert  de Niro / Dirty Grandpa
  • Dinesh D’Souza [as Himself] Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
  • Ben Stiller / Zoolander No. 2

WORST ACTRESS

  • Megan Fox / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
  • Tyler Perry / BOO! A Medea Halloween
  • Julia Roberts / Mother’s Day
  • Becky Turner [as Hillary Clinton]  Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
  • Naomi Watts / Divergent Series: Allegiant & Shut-In
  • Shailene Woodley / Divergent Series: Allegiant

The “winners” will be announced February 25, the day before the Academy Awards.

(4) CLARKE ESTATE SUES. 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the works recast as a “study guide” for elementary school readers. Publishers Weekly has the story: “PRH, S&S Sue Moppet Books’ KinderGuides for Infringement”.

Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster have joined with the estates of Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac and Arthur C. Clarke to file a lawsuit against Frederik Colting, Melissa Medina, and their publishing firm, Moppet Books, charging copyright infringement.

Filed January 19 in the Southern District of New York, the suit alleges that Moppet Books’ KinderGuides, a line of illustrated children’s adaptations that feature versions of The Old Man and the Sea, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, On the Road, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, with “willful copyright infringement of four acclaimed copyrighted classic novels.” The suit notes that PW wrote about the launch of the KinderGuides in August 2016.

The suit charges that the KinderGuides seek “to capitalize on the [classic] Novels’ enduring fame and popularity,” describing the titles as “a transparent attempt to recast their unauthorized derivatives as ‘study guides’ intended for the elementary school set.”

(5) ’69 IS DEVINE. Martin Morse Wooster uncovered a hidden gem. “That Nature profile of Sir Arthur C. Clarke linked to a 1969 New Yorker profile of Clarke by Jeremy Bernstein that  I haven’t seen before. (The New Yorker has been putting some of its older pieces online.) It’s called ‘Out of the Ego Chamber’ and is well worth breaking the paywall for. You learn how Clarke’s experiences in fandom in the 1930s and 1940s informed his fiction, how he wrote many books about the sea even though he never really learned to swim, and how a 16-year old doofus asked Clarke in 1968 to write a scenario for a short film for free in the hopes he would be paid back when the doofus ‘became famous.’”

However, it is only in the last few years—especially since he and Stanley Kubrick wrote “2001: A Space Odyssey”—that he has become widely known to the general public. He became even more widely known, of course, during the recent flight to the moon, when he served as one of the commentators assisting Walter Cronkite in his coverage of the event for the Columbia Broadcasting System. Cronkite has been a Clarke fan for many years, and Clarke has done a number of television broadcasts with him, beginning as far back as 1953. In following the Apollo 11 flight, Clarke made some dozen appearances. During an early one, Cronkite asked him if he would mind explaining the ending of “2001,” and Clarke answered that he didn’t think there was enough time—then or later. He went to Cape Kennedy with the C.B.S. team, and at the moment of the launch, as he told a friend on his return, he, like everyone around him, burst into tears. “I hadn’t cried for twenty years,” he said. “Right afterward, I happened to run into Eric Sevareid, and he was crying, too.” After the launch, Clarke returned with the rest of the C.B.S. crew to New York and spent most of the next several days in and out of the C.B.S. studios, watching the flight and, from time to time, going on camera. The actual landing on the moon was, in many ways, the fulfillment of a life’s dreaming and prophesying. “For me, it was as if time had stopped,” he said later.

(6) 2001 ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. Sci-Fi writer-director-producer Marc Zicree went to Stan Lee’s Comikaze Convention for his Space Command panel and ran into 2001: A Space Odyssey star Keir Dullea, who shared a scene cut from the film — and re-enacted it!

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 23, 1957 — Machines at the Wham-O toy company roll out the first batch of their aerodynamic plastic discs–now known to millions of fans all over the world as Frisbees.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • January 23, 1923 – Walter Miller, Jr., author of A Canticle for Leibowitz.
  • Born January 23, 1954 – Craig Miller, animation writer, and early leader of the Official Star Wars Fan Club.

(9) BELATED BARBARIAN BIRTHDAY

  • Born January 22, 1906 – Robert E. Howard

(10) THEATER OF THE IMAGINATION. Turner Classic Radio hosts vast quantities of Golden Age shows, which evidently are free to listen to. Includes lots of superheroes (Superman, The Green Hornet) and suspense (Suspense, what else?).

(11) SEVENEVES? Mental Floss compiled a list of “86 Books Barack Obama has recommended during his presidency”, including the Harry Potter series, Seveneves, and The Three-Body Problem.

(12) SIGNERS OF THE TIMES. The Change.org petition to “Repeal California Assembly Bill 1570” (the new law about sale of autographed items) now has 1,612 signatures.

Nearly everyone in California is impacted by AB 1570, California’s new autograph bill, because it affects everyone with a signed item in their possession, whether it’s a painting passed down through generations, an autographed baseball, or a treasured book obtained at an author’s book signing. Under the new law, when a California consumer sells an autographed item worth $5 or more, the consumer’s name and address must be included on a Certificate of Authenticity. This requirement applies to anyone reselling the item as authentic, be it a bookseller, auction house, comic book dealer, antiques dealer, autograph dealer, art dealer, an estate sales company, or even a charity.

AB 1570 is fatally flawed and must be repealed with immediate effect. It is rife with unintended consequences that harm both consumers and small businesses. It has been condemned by newspaper editorial boards and the American Civil Liberties Union.

(13) EXPLORE SPACE IN THE DISCOMFORT OF YOUR OWN HOME. A BBC reporter speaks of the “lucky” people who have been to ISS, but discovers in just 48 hours that it’s not the least like fun and games: “My unhappy 48 hours as an astronaut”.

Yet, it is not always necessary to travel into space to experience what it is like living as astronauts do. It may come as a surprise to discover on Earth, dozens of people all over the world have spent months, and even over a year, living in specially built confined spaces that mimic life in space. These simulation pods are found in places like China, Hawaii and Russia,  giving researchers the ability to study the effects of long-term isolation and confinement on people in preparation for long-haul space travel.

While we can glean plenty of information from astronauts’ experiences in the ISS and its predecessors, the challenges faced by astronauts will change as space agencies set their sights on the Red Planet. A mission to Mars will mean spending approximately three years in space – six-to-eight months to travel there, several months on the surface, and six-to-eight months to return. The long-term nature of the trip is expected to pose several psychological challenges for those picked to make it

To find out what it might be like, for 48 hours, I tried to live just as astronauts do  – attempting to keep up with the schedule of crewmembers on the ISS. As it turns out, they have a very tightly packed workday. I woke up, drank coffee, ate not-so-great food directly from the bag, worked out, worked and repeated the pattern until the day was done. Oh, and I had to spit into a towel twice a day after brushing my teeth.

(14) NO. 1 SHOULD BE NO SURPRISE. Blastr lists “The top 11 composers who have created musical masterpieces for geeky properties”.

  1. Murray Gold

If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you know the music of Murray Gold. Gold has been the composer for the popular series ever since it returned to television in 2005. Composing for such distinguished Doctors as Christopher Eccleston to Peter Capaldi, he’s created some of the best themes and music in the series’ more than 50-year history. His unforgettable work includes “The Doctor’s Theme,” “Doomsday,” “This is Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home,” and “I Am the Doctor.” His music has made us feel like we’re on other planets, in a different time period, and traveling through time and space in the TARDIS. Gold also created the themes for the spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Notable piece: “A Good Man? (Twelve’s Theme)” from Doctor Who

Out of all of Gold’s work, his theme for the current Doctor stands out from the rest. It’s like nothing we’ve heard before in the series and captures Capaldi’s Doctor perfectly, more so I think than a theme has fit any of the previous Doctors. Listening to it, you get a sense of mystery, danger, wonder, adventure and determination. There’s gravity to it as well as playfulness. Gold laces it all together into a complex, catchy piece that makes it hard not to picture everything the Doctor has been through, all he has done and all he will continue to do.

(15) FICKLE FINGERS. Atlas Obscura claims: “One Danger of Flashing the Peace Sign Could Be Stolen Fingerprints”. Cat Eldridge sent the link with a comment, “Brunner was right: the future indeed does arrive too soon and in the wrong order.”

Have you ever posed for a photo with your index and middle fingers raised, indicating your desire for world peace? Probably, since the sign has become shorthand for the sentiment after Vietnam War activists popularized it in the 1960s.

But researchers in Japan warned this week that those flashing their exposed fingertips were at risk of fingerprint theft, which in turn could be used for any number of things, like unlocking your iPhone.

Isao Echizen, a researcher at the National Institute of Informatics, said that he and his team were able to lift the fingerprints from someone’s fingers from a photo taken about nine feet away, according to Phys.org.

(16) MAKE AMERICA SMART AGAIN. Owning this shirt will give you an IQ bonus.

Tyson-Nye-Let-Us-Together-Make-America-Smart-Again-600x600

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Stephen Burridge, Steven H Silver, Arnie Fenner, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mark-kitteh.]

Pixel Scroll 12/11/16 “Scrollitively, Mr. Pixel?” “Pixelutely, Mr. Scroll!”

(1) NOT TODAY’S TITLE. “ONCE UPON a time there was a Martian with a wooden leg named Valentine Michael Smith. What its other two legs were named, nobody knows.”

(2) EXFOLIATE! The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has seasonally decorated the club’s Dalek. Michael J. Walsh snapped a photo —

bsfs-dalek-foto_no_exif

(3) ICON RECOGNITION. The Guardian’s “Picture quiz: how well do you know your sci-fi and fantasy?” is really an elaborate ad for The Folio Society.

Calling all Tolkien heads and sci-fi savants: can you match the illustration to the book? Each one has a clue to help you out.

In theory you should be able to guess from the artwork. Although I scored 7/8, without the clues I don’t know if I’d gotten any of them right.

(4) THE ROOTS OF BABY GROOT. Skeptics have been put on notice that this was something done only for wholesome artistic reasons – I’m sorry, did my nose just grow? Guardians of the Galaxy 2 director says Baby Groot was a ‘creative change,’ not a marketing ploy”.

Despite what some may believe, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn insists Baby Groot is not a ploy to sell more Marvel merchandise.

Responding to a fan inquiry on Twitter, Gunn wrote, “I’m sure some people think that but for me keeping him Baby Groot throughout the film was the creative change that opened the film up for me. I was less confident the studio was going to buy in on Baby Groot than I was they were going to buy in on Ego the Living Planet” — the latter being Kurt Russell’s character and Star-Lord’s father.

(5) DYLAN’S NOBEL. The New Yorker’s Amanda Petrusich covered the ceremony — “A Transcendant Patti Smith Accepts Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize”.

That Dylan ultimately accepted the Nobel with a folk song (and this specific folk song, performed by a surrogate, a peer) seemed to communicate something significant about how and what he considers his own work (musical, chiefly), and the fluid, unsteady nature of balladry itself—both the ways in which old songs are fairly reclaimed by new performers, and how their meanings change with time. Before Smith took the stage, Horace Engdahl, a literary historian and critic, dismissed any controversy over Dylan’s win, saying the decision “seemed daring only beforehand, and already seems obvious.” He spoke of Dylan’s “sweet nothings and cruel jokes,” and his capacity for fusing “the languages of the streets and the Bible.” In the past, he reminded us, all poetry was song.

 

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 11, 1972 — Apollo 17 landed on the moon. It was the final Apollo lunar landing. Ron Evans was the command module pilot and Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt walked on the surface during the mission. Cernan was the last to re-enter their lunar module — the last man on the moon.
  • December 11, 1991 — Amblin’s Hook opens in wide release after its LA premiere days earlier.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born December 11, 1922  — Vampira, (aka Maila Nurmi).

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 11, 1781 — Scottish physicist and kaleidoscope inventor David Brewster

(9) WHAT’S A GOOD INTRODUCTION TO SF? Jason Sanford returns to controversy he wrote about last year in “Let Us Now Praise ‘Famous’ Authors”.

A few years ago I was on a SF/F convention panel about bringing new readers into our genre. I mentioned that science fiction needed more gateway novels, which are novels new genre readers find both approachable and understandable (a type of novel the fantasy genre is filled with but which are more rare in the science fiction genre).

As I stated this another author on the panel snorted and said we don’t need new gateway SF novels because the juvenile novels written by Heinlein in the 1950s are still perfect. This author believed the first exposure kids have to science fiction should be novels from the 1950s. And that this should never change.

That is the attitude people should fear because, in the long run, it will kill our genre.

This brings me back to my earlier point about the “famous” people our world holds up to acclaim. Yes, many famous authors helped build our genre, but so did the work and love of countless forgotten people.

(10) ROGUE SCIENCE. Neil deGrasse Tyson only needs a minute to explain why he is a Death Star skeptic in a video on Business Insider.

Owning a Death Star comes with some serious risk, especially when it was constructed with a serious design flaw. But astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has a more practical reason why the ‘Star Wars’ Death Star didn’t quite make sense.

(11) DIGITAL COMICS POLL. You have until December 23 to vote for Digital Comic of The Year 2016 at Pipedream Comics.

It’s been another bumper year for exciting and innovative digital comics in 2016. From boundary pushing webcomics to crowd-funded sensations to cutting edge apps, we have picked out 10 of the best for you to vote on and declare the best Digital Comic Of The Year 2016. So get involved and make sure your favourite joins the likes of Madefire’s Captain Stone and Mono:Pacific, David Lloyd’s Aces Weekly and last year’s champion Adventures in Pulp, as winner of our prestigious prize. Below is our rundown of the contenders for this year’s prize, and you can cast your vote here. (Polls close at midnight on December 23rd!)

Here are links to some of the contenders, where you can see full comics or samples:

(12) DOG SHOW. When Doris V. Sutherland dared to question the quality of Brian Niemeier’s Dragon Award-winning book, the author and another puppy blogger insisted the emperor was so wearing clothes — “Horror Puppies Redux: Is Souldancer Really Horror Fandom’s New Favourite Novel?”.

And while we’re at it, let’s look at the two books that I personally found to be the strongest contenders in the Dragons’ horror category. Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay is at #156,590 in ebooks, and at #561,851 (paperback) and #60,849 (hardback) in books; Alice by Christina Henry is at #156,678 in ebooks and #27,655 in books. I stand by my statement at WWAC: if the Dragon Awards truly honoured the works most popular amongst fans, then the award for Best Horror Novel would not have gone to Souldancer.

Niemeier concluded his post by asking his readers to prove me wrong by posting reviews of Souldancer; he confidently predicted that the book will soon have more than fifty ratings on Amazon. This call to action resulted in Souldancer‘s review count going from eight to twelve, prompting Niemeier’s glass-half-full statement that “Souldancer reviews are up 50%”. A few more reviews have been posted since then – although the more recent ones have been somewhat mixed, as is to be expected from the novel reaching a broader audience following its Dragon Award victory.

(13) LIGHTS, CAMERA, NO MONEY! If Sad Puppies made a sci-fi movie, I  bet their promo would sound a lot like the ads for This Giant Papier Mache Boulder is Actually Really Heavy, a New Zealand comedy film.

What happened to the good old days of sci-fi, when spaceships were real models, monsters made of latex and laser guns a curling iron painted silver? Now imagine a universe where everything was just like this for real.

For three ordinary guys Tom, Jeffrey and Gavin, this just became a reality. One minute they were watching an old b-grade movie, the next they’ve been thrust inside the movie itself and at the helm of a rickety old spaceship. Panic ridden they stumble into a space battle. and make a mortal enemy of the evil Lord Froth while unwittingly saving the space princess Lady Emmanor. Then suddenly Jeffrey starts to change into a sci-fi character called Kasimir. They must adapt quickly if they are to survive long enough to find a way home. For all they know they could be next. If that happens they will be lost in this world forever. They embark on a quest to find a cure for Jeffrey and a way back home. This is an action-packed comedy adventure of giant lizards, space battles, robots, aliens, warlords and amazons that has to be seen to be believed.

 

(14) MR. SCI-FI. Marc Scott Zicree shares his afterword for the new Magic Time audio play he and Elaine directed and wrote that will be released by Skyboat Media. It’s based on his bestselling series of novels from HarperCollins, and stars Armin Shimerman of Deep Space Nine and Buffy and Christina Moses of The Originals and Containment.

(15) EXTRATERRESTRIAL SEASON’S GREETINGS. Another sampling from the sci-fi Christmas catalog.

Barry Gordon – Zoomah the Santa Claus From Mars

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W. “Not Today’s Title” credit goes to File 770 contributing editor Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 11/15/16 The Manhunt Extended Across More Than One Hundred Pixels And Eight Box Tick Scrolls

(1) NAMING CALLS. Katie Rask announced that the YA Award Survey has had over 1,200 entries so far.

(2) THE SHIRT OFF YOUR BACK. The gift-giving season approaches, so it’s time to pay another visit to the Litographs store, where you can pick up something from The Princess Bride movie, or Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper, or quite a few other genre authors from Diana Gabaldon and Ellen Kushner to Kurt Vonnegut and H. P. Lovecraft.

princess-bride-t-shirtdaniel-jose-older-t-shirt

(3) LINGUISTICS IN SF. Rowan Hooper’s piece for New Scientist looks at the use of linguistics in Arrival to give a survey of how sf films have treated linguistics, with references to Contact and Interstellar — “The science behind the twisting alien linguistics of Arrival.

Science fiction thrillers usually send in gun-toting heroes like Will Smith or Tom Cruise to kick invading alien butt. Arrival is completely, wonderfully different: it sends in a linguist, played by Amy Adams.

“Language,” one character says, “is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.” The big question to ask the aliens: what is their purpose on Earth?

In Contact, the aliens used prime numbers as a Rosetta stone that could be used to decrypt their communication; in Close Encounters of the Third Kind they helpfully used five musical tones in a major scale, presumably because vibrating strings have the same harmonics in other parts of our galaxy.

(4) MR. SCI-FI NEEDS SPACE. Storage space, that is — anybody want to store a spaceship?

Writer-Director-Producer Marc Zicree needs your help! Part of the hero set of Space Command (half the floor) needs a free home! (The rest is in storage). He’s been working to get overhead down on costs such as rent, while he’s busy at work completing the two-hour pilot of Space Command and selling the show. Have some of your garage or yard free to give us some space for our spaceship floor? You can help!

 

(5) INTO THE WEST ONCE MORE. HBO has renewed Westworld reports the New York Times.

“Westworld,” an expensive sci-fi drama, had been sidetracked by development problems and its October debut was later than expected. Before it had its premiere, HBO executives were privately saying they were unsure if it would land with its audience. But landed it has. “Westworld” has regularly been the No.-3-highest-rated scripted TV show in cable, drawing nearly three million viewers each week. HBO said on Monday that after adding up additional metrics like DVR, HBO Go and HBO Now views, the show is averaging 11.7 million viewers per episode, a figure they said is higher than “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective” at similar points in their freshman seasons. And like the first season of “True Detective,” it has ignited a lot of commentary online.

(6) SERIES BASED ON ATWOOD NOVEL. Hulu is planning a 10-episode adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Taking a cue from Netflix, Hulu isn’t slowing down with its original programming. Today, the streaming service announced that it’s ordered a full series adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s seminal sci-fi novel. It centers on a totalitarian society where the birth rate is falling, and fertile women are placed in sexual slavery as “handmaids” to help humanity repopulate. Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, Top of the Lake) will star as Offred, a handmaid working in the home of a government official named The Commander. Her main goal? To find her daughter, all the while trying to deal with her low place in society.

(7) OUTRÉ LIMITS. Sheila Williams explains why the current issue of Asimov’s consists of all fantasy stories.

Welcome to our annual slightly spooky issue. The fall double issue is always long in the making. Throughout the year, we see stories that land a little outside Asimov’s, admittedly rather soft, parameters. While we do publish one or two stories in each issue that could be called fantasy, surreal fiction, or slipstream, our focus is primarily on science fiction. Of course I get a lot of traditional science fiction story submissions, but I see a lot of uncanny submissions, too. The average issue of Asimov’s rarely features ghosts, witches, or werewolves, so during the year I tend to set aside many of my favorite outré tales while I wait to lay out the October/November issue.

(8) I KNOW. The actress kept this news on ice for 40 years — “Carrie Fisher Reveals She Had an Affair With Harrison Ford on ‘Star Wars’: ‘It Was So Intense’”.

Carrie Fisher is finally going public with a secret she has guarded closely for 40 years: When she was 19, she and Harrison Ford, then a 33-year-old married father of two, had a whirlwind three-month affair while filming the original Star Wars in 1976.

“It was so intense,” the actress-author, 60, tells PEOPLE exclusively of the real-life romance die-hard fans of the franchise have wished for since Han Solo and Princess Leia captured hearts on-screen.

(9) POP CULTURE QUEST. The actor who convinced California to pass a law about authenticating collectibles now has turned his interest into a TV show — “Mark Hamill on Turning Professional Toy and Collectibles Explorer”.

Hamill has launched a new series, Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Quest, on the recently-launched Comic-Con HQ subscription service – you can watch the first episode right now via DC Comics’ YouTube channel.

On the series, Hamill — an avid toy and memorabilia collector himself — travels to see different notable collections, from classic Godzilla and other Japanese-created toys kept in a fan’s home to the iconic Batman comics and items on display at DC Comics’ headquarters. I spoke to Hamill about how the series came to be, what it’s like for him to interview the subjects, and more, including his own personal history as a collector….

IGN: As we’re doing an interview right now, I’m curious, doing this show, do you enjoy getting to be the interviewer, having been on the other side of it so many times?

Hamill: Oh yes, absolutely. That’s part of the fun. I thought, “Boy, I could really get used to this.” You’re right. It’s role reversal. One thing that I discovered… Because you look at the schedule and it’s like, “We’re going to do a show about a guy who collects shoes!?” That doesn’t really grab me, but then you meet the person and it’s really the shared trait that all collectors have that you relate to and then you hear the personal stories of how they got started on whatever collection they have and that’s the connective tissue. So that’s part of the fun. I don’t personally collect some of these things, but I love seeing other people who do.

(10) NAME CHANGE. Seattle’s EMP is now Museum of Pop Culture—MoPOP.

As of Saturday, November 19, EMP will officially be named Museum of Pop Culture—MoPOP. As you know, our museum encompasses so much more than music, and as we look toward the future, MoPOP reflects the entirety of the museum and where we are headed.

Spanning science fiction, fantasy, horror, fashion, sports, and video games, MoPOP reflects our vision for curating, exploring, and supporting the creative works that shape and inspire our lives. While the name of the museum is evolving, our mission remains the same: to bring genuine human experience and perspective to pop culture through our exhibits, programs, and events that invite exploration and inspire creativity.

We are so excited to showcase the breadth of the museum and celebrate pop culture in all its diversity with our Pop Culture Party, an all-day fest that is free to the public this Saturday. Admission includes entry to all MoPOP galleries—including Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds—and will feature live music, architectural tours, pop culture games, and more fun for guests of all ages.

(11) SUBSTANDARD DANCE. Cemetery Dance has been delisted by SFWA.

Please note that, as of November 1, 2016, Cemetery Dance is no longer a SFWA-qualifying market. In 2014, SFWA increased the standard of payment from 5¢/word to 6¢/word, and this publication has not increased its pay rate to keep pace. In addition, payment for stories is capped at $250, regardless of length. Cemetery Dance was alerted in September about the issue and their upcoming de-listing and has declined to raise its rates or change the story cap. Should the magazine change its policy to meet SFWA standards, it will be reinstated to our qualifying list.

(12) THE EXPLANATION. Charles Stross thinks there are no coincidences and all the disparate parts should fit together, rather like a Tim Powers novel played out in real life.

What happened last week is not just about America. It was one move—a very significant one, bishop-takes-queen maybe—in a long-drawn-out geopolitical chess game. It’s being fought around the world: Brexit was one move, the election and massacres of Dutarte in the Philippines were another, the post-coup crackdown in Turkey is a third. The possible election of Marine Le Pen (a no-shit out-of-the-closet fascist) as President of France next year is more of this stuff. The eldritch knot of connections between Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Da’esh in the wreckage of Syria is icing on top. It’s happening all over and I no longer think this is a coincidence.

Part of it is about the geopolitics of climate change (and mass migration and water wars). Part of it is about the jarring transition from an oil-based economy (opposed by the factions who sell oil and sponsor denial climate change, from Exxon-Mobil to the Kremlin) to a carbon-neutral one.

Part of it is the hellbrew of racism and resentment stirred up by loss of relative advantage, by the stagnation of wages in the west and the perception that other people somewhere else are stealing all the money—Chinese factories, Wall Street bankers, the faceless Other. (17M people in the UK have less than £100 in savings; by a weird coincidence, the number of people who voted for Brexit was around 17M. People who are impoverished become desperate and angry and have little investment in the status quo—a fancy way of saying they’ve got nothing to lose.)

But another big part of the picture I’m trying to draw is Russia’s long-drawn out revenge for the wild ride of misrule the neoconservatives inflicted on the former USSR in the 1990s.

(13) GRIM FAIRY TALE. Easier to understand is M.A.M.O.N. (Monitor Against Mexicans Over Nationwide), “a satirical fantasy sci-fi shortfilm that explores with black humor and lots of VFX the outrageous consequences of Donald Trump´s plan of banning immigration and building an enormous wall on the Mexico – US border.”

(14) FIRST ROBOTS. Jim Meadows writes:

A college radio station in my town is airing a student production adapted from the play “R.U.R.” by Karel Capek, credited for coining the word ‘robot’.

The play, “Airing Robots” is being broadcast today and tomorrow (Tuesday & Wednesday) on WPCD, 88.7 FM in Champaign, Illinois. The station streams at its website, http://wpcd.parkland.edu/index.html

The play aired today at 10 AM Central Time, and will repeat today at 6 PM and Wednesday at 12 PM and 8 PM.

The production is the culmination of two different Communications classes at Parkland College, a public community college in Champaign.

Here’s a link to an article in Parkland’s student newspaper, the Prospectus, which actually does a fair job of summarizing key elements of the play

One aspect of “Airing Robots” and its source material Geiken finds interesting is the type of robots featured: androids as opposed to cog-and-gear machines.

“[T]he robots of R.U.R are not your typical mechanical robots that you might imagine for this sort of early sci-fi story, but more akin to cyborgs or androids made from organic matter. The robots of R.U.R. are more like the ‘Cylons’ of the 2004 version of ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ or the cyborgs of the ‘Terminator’ movie series,” he said.

?apek, who was a highly-political writer, wrote “R.U.R.” in 1920, when Europe was feeling the effects of the Russian civil war and the end of World War I. According to Czech writer and biographer Ivan Kilma, ?apek wrote the play in response to many of the societal and technocratic utopian ideas that were spreading around Central Europe at that time.

R.U.R. was first performed in 1921, Kilma states.

(15) ROSEWATER. Rosewater by Tade Thompson is a new release from Apex Publications. Thompson lives and works in the south of England. His first novel Making Wolf won the 2016 Kitschies Golden Tentacle award for best debut novel.

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Between meeting a boy who bursts into flames, alien floaters that want to devour him, and a butterfly woman who he has sex with when he enters the xenosphere, Kaaro’s life is far from the simple one he wants. But he left simple behind a long time ago when he was caught stealing and nearly killed by an angry mob. Now he works for a government agency called Section 45, and they want him to find a women known as Bicycle Girl. And that’s just the beginning.

An alien entity lives beneath the ground, forming a biodome around which the city of Rosewater thrives. The cities of Rosewater are enamored by the dome, hoping for a chance to meet the beings within or possibly be invited to come in themselves. But Kaaro isn’t so enamored. He was in the biodome at one point and decided to leave it behind. When something begins killing off other sensitives like himself, Kaaro defies Section 45 to search for an answer, facing his past and comes to a realization about a horrifying future.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]