Pixel Scroll 2/18/18 The Turn Of A Friendly Pixel

By JJ:

(1) THE DOCTOR IS | IN | . Gallifrey One, the Doctor Who convention, is taking place in Los Angeles this weekend, and fans are posting some great photos:

(2) THE LEFT MENU OF DARKNESS. The Paris Review, which has previously interviewed Ursula K. Le Guin, has recently published an article by Valerie Stivers in which the author created a series of recipes based on food from Le Guin’s The Left Hand Of Darkness. Dishes include Hot Beer For Two, Batter-Fried “Sube-Egg” Porridge with Winter Vegetables, and others:

Overall, I found Winter’s low-food-chain ingredients easy to work with; they fit in well with our modern sustainability-oriented cooking, an approach Le Guin, a passionate environmentalist, would have welcomed. The sticking point was the drinks. The characters in The Left Hand of Darkness consume hot beer, which, Ai explains, may sound gross but “on a world where a common table implement is a little device with which you crack the ice that has formed on your drink between drafts, hot beer is a thing you come to appreciate.” Some research revealed that even on Earth, hot beer was common prior to refrigeration and often contained nutritious items like eggs or half-curdled cream. I tried several recipes that were uniformly undrinkable until coming up with an adaptation of something I read about in a Wall Street Journal story calling hot beer a trend. As improbable as it sounds, the results were wonderful, and I can only urge you all to try it. Remember, sometimes it’s nice to be speculative – in beers as well as in love and in fiction.

(3) IN MEMORIAM. In “Two Seattle Memorials to Ursula K. Le Guin”, Cat Rambo provides specifics for those who wish to attend:

Folio Forum: A Tribute to Ursula Le Guin
Tuesday, February 20, 2018, 7:00 PM
The Seattle Athenaeum, 314 Marion Street, Downtown Seattle
$10 at the door; $8 for Folio Members, SFWA Members, and Town Hall Members
Complimentary wine reception to follow
Noted local authors and fans honor the great writer, plus a recording of Le Guin, reading her famous story


Celebration of the Life and Work of Ursula K. Le Guin
Sunday, February 25, 7:00 PM
Blue Moon Tavern, 712 NE 45th St, Seattle, Washington 98105
$free (please support our venue by buying food and drink!)
Please join us for a reading to commemorate the words and worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin (1929–2018).

(4) ABUSER MANUAL. Lurkertype points to a graphic sequence where “Someone kinda like The Little Mermaid ‘splains how to fight sealioning”.

(5) ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERS TO THE ELDER GODS. In “Octlantis is a Just-Discovered Underwater City Engineered by Octopuses”, Ephrat Livni describes a revelation in octopod behavior:

Gloomy octopuses – also known as common Sydney octopuses, or octopus tetricus – have long had a reputation for being loners. Marine biologists once thought they inhabited the subtropical waters off eastern Australia and northern New Zealand in solitude, meeting only to mate, once a year. But now there’s proof these cephalopods sometimes hang out in small cities.

In Jervis Bay, off Eastern Australia, researchers recently spotted 15 gloomy octopuses congregating, communicating, dwelling together, and even evicting each other from dens at a site the scientists named “Octlantis.”

The discovery was a surprise, Scheel told Quartz. “These behaviors are the product of natural selection, and may be remarkably similar to vertebrate complex social behavior. This suggests that when the right conditions occur, evolution may produce very similar outcomes in diverse groups of organisms.”

(6) CAN’T LET IT GO. In “Why (some of the) Right Hates Elsa”, Camestros Felapton unpacks some of the criticisms of the Disney animated movie Frozen from conservative blogs, and tries to determine why, more than 4 years after its release, the film still seems to generate so much antipathy in some quarters:

The issue is not hard to diagnose. Frozen is mainly conventional Disney – in some ways even less than that. The plot is slight compared to other classic Disney films (e.g. the Lion King) and the songs (bar one) are unmemorable. Yet it does a few things and those things are interesting…

The story rejects romantic love as its central message and instead centres on the familial love of two sisters.

This being Disney, there really is zero implications about Elsa’s sexuality EXCEPT that at no point does she act out of desire for a romantic relationship with anybody of any gender. And with that we get to part of the multiple issues the right continue to have with the film.

(7) IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME. A new Kickstarter promotes the 6th Extinction Card Deck, a playable poker deck showcasing 54 extinct animals and birds from the ice age to the 1980’s, as illustrated by 34 different artists. One of the artworks featured is by Oor Wombat; her designated lifeform has not yet been revealed, but perhaps we can pry it out of her with a suitable bribe.

The Kickstarter has thus far achieved $843 in pledges toward a goal of $3,600, with 25 days left to go.

(8) GO MAKE ME A SAMMICH. Forget digging to China, here’s the new global craze: Earth Sandwich. (click on the photo on the left, then click on the right arrows to scroll through the gallery)

(9) CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, REDUX. The January 22 Pixel Scroll (Item #13) reported the viral campaign of New York native Frederick Joseph to set up screenings of Black Panther for children across the U.S. through the #BlackPantherChallenge. The website for the challenge is now live; donors can click on any of the icons on the map to see existing GoFundMe challenges and choose one to which to contribute. (unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a “list” view, so in areas with numerous challenges, zooming in on the map is required to differentiate between them)

(10) HOT COUTURE. On the Daily Dot, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw interviews Gersha Phillips, who designed the costumes for Star Trek: Discovery:

In the end, Discovery wound up with a more sleek and high-tech look. The new uniforms follow the classic idea of color-coded Starfleet departments (gold, silver and bronze accents for Command, Science, and Operations), but also take inspiration from contemporary athleisure brands.

Speaking to Gersha Phillips, we delved into Discovery’s fashion influences from Alien to Balenciaga. She’s a fount of knowledge about the canon background for costuming details like Klingon armor (Klingons have different internal organs!), and cosplayers have her to thank for the Mirror Universe’s beautiful gold capes.

(11) #BOWIEURCAT. Somehow, I don’t think that this is quite what the Thin White Duke had in mind.


  • Born February 18, 1919Jack Palance, Actor (Batman, Solar Crisis)
  • Born February 18, 1948Sinéad Cusack, Actor (The Ballad of Tam Lin, V for Vendetta)
  • Born February 18, 1984Genelle Williams, Actor (Warehouse 13, Bitten)


(14) FIRE THE CANON. Grant Snider, at Incidental Comics, asks “Who Controls the Cannon of Literature?”

(15) MAPPING THE WORLDS. Sarah Gailey contributes to what has now become a series of posts on cartography in SFFnal worlds with “Hippos, Worldbuilding, and Amateur Map-Making”:

About a year ago, I attended a panel on worldbuilding in young adult literature. All of the authors on the panel were young, brilliant, dynamic women. They wore flower crowns and they talked about mapmaking and spreadsheets. They were impressive as all get-out. I have never felt more intensely envious in my life.

I was jealous of their flower crowns, of course. I was also jealous of the easy way they talked about going in-depth on planning color schemes for each chapter they wrote, and the Pinterest boards they referenced for their character aesthetics. I was jealous of the way their worldbuilding all seemed to start from the ground up, because that seemed to me to be a whole other level of professional-writer-ness. My worldbuilding has always leached out from my character development – I write how a character moves, and their movement defines the world they live in. The women on this panel were talking about writing thousands of words about the world their characters inhabited, all before they put a single line of dialogue on a page. They were clearly worldbuilding masters. I was in awe.

It only took seven words for my awe to become fear.

(16) THE TOR BOYCOTT IS STILL TOTALLY WORKING. The Tucson Festival of Books will take place from March 10-11, and you can do your part for the Tor Boycott by checking out their author sessions. Tor/Forge and Tor.com Publishing authors Candice Fox, Nancy Kress, K Arsenault Rivera, Myke Cole, Annalee Newitz, Kristen Simmons, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Patty Garcia will be participating. A schedule can be found at the link.


(18) BIRTHING PAINS. Jill Lepore, in a very long and very interesting essay at The New Yorker about childbirth, grief, and the de-feminization of Shelley’s best-known work, says in “The Strange and Twisted Life of “Frankenstein”: (content warning for miscarriage and infant death)

Because Shelley was readily taken as a vessel for other people’s ideas, her novel has accreted wildly irreconcilable readings…

“This nameless mode of naming the unnameable is rather good,” Shelley remarked about the creature’s theatrical billing. She herself had no name of her own. Like the creature pieced together from cadavers collected by Victor Frankenstein, her name was an assemblage of parts: the name of her mother, the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, stitched to that of her father, the philosopher William Godwin, grafted onto that of her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, as if Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley were the sum of her relations, bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh, if not the milk of her mother’s milk, since her mother had died eleven days after giving birth to her, mainly too sick to give suck – Awoke and found no mother.

(19) RULE 34 MEETS THE SHAPE OF WATER. (warning: this item is utterly Not Safe For Work) Doug Jones, who plays the fishman in Guillermo del Toro’s fantastical movie, admits of the glow-in-the-dark erotic accessory currently being marketed:

With a light chuckle, I can tell you it’s not exactly what I’d hoped for. After pouring my heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into this romantic, beautiful, magical role, the last thing I want to be remembered for is a silicone appendage that comes in two sizes.


 (21) UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE. The exhibit “A Conversation Larger Than the Universe: Science Fiction and the Literature of the Fantastic from the Collection of Henry Wessells” will run from January 25 to March 10, 2018 at The Grolier Club. Publishers Weekly describes the exhibition:

This erudite and altogether fascinating collection of essays from Wessells (Another Green World) explores the development of science fiction from its roots, focusing on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which the author considers “the point at which science fiction emerges from the gothic.” He then takes the reader on a personal journey through his favorite books, pointing out historic firsts such as Sara Coleridge’s Phantasmion (1837), the first fantasy novel published in English. He surveys the publishing history of some of the pillars of the genre, including Philip K. Dick, James Blish, Thomas M. Disch, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Robert Sheckley, as well as highlighting the work of authors whose names are less well known by the general public, such as Avram Davidson and R.A. Lafferty.

(22) MAKE THE ROBOT HAPPY. An SF & Fantasy Humble Bundle from Angry Robot is currently available, including books from Anna Kashina, Carrie Patel, Christopher Hinz, Dan Abnett, Danielle L. Jensen, Foz Meadows, Ishbelle Bee, Jay Posey, Justin Gustainis, Kaaron Warren, Keith Yatsuhashi, Megan O’Keefe, Peter Mclean, Peter Tieryas, Rod Duncan, and Wesley Chu. 10 days are left to grab the bundle, which benefits humanitarian charity Worldbuilders (be sure to click on “Choose where your money goes” before going through the checkout process).

(23) GIVE MY REGARDS TO KING TUT. Io9 says, “You Can Now Watch the Original Stargate Movie for Free”:

Back in 1994, few could have predicted what Stargate would become. The original film was a hit, but what happened after is damn near unprecedented. Not a theatrical sequel, no, but several popular television series and a rabid fandom that far overshadowed the people who saw the original movie in theatres.

But it did start with that original movie, directed by Roland Emmerich, starring Kurt Russell and James Spader. And though it’s been available in multiple formats since its initial release, this week MGM put the full film on YouTube for free.


[Thanks to Camestros Felapton, Cora Buhlert, Greg Machlin, Hampus Eckerman, James Davis Nicoll, jayn, Juliette Wade, lauowolf, lurkertype, Mark-kitteh, Paul Weimer, Rob Thornton, and Robin A. Reid for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 Contributing Editor of the Day JJ.]

Pixel Scroll 6/22/16 Careful With That Scroll, Eugene

(1) PRINCESS AWOL. Yahoo! Movies side-eyes this disturbing pattern – “’Moana’ Teaser: A Brief History of Disney Omitting Princesses From Princess Movie Trailers”. Moana doesn’t show up until :38 of this teaser trailer –

This all began after 2009’s The Princess and the Frog underperformed at the box office. That film had a few notable issues — like a meandering story, in which the princess spent most of her time being a frog — but per the Los Angeles Times, Disney execs came to the conclusion that The Princess and the Frog didn’t attract an audience because boys didn’t want to see a movie about princesses.

With that in mind, Disney Animation’s next princess-centric feature went through an image makeover. Instead of Rapunzel, it would be called Tangled, and the marketing would center on the princess’ love interest Flynn Rider. Here’s the first trailer, released in 2010, which barely includes Rapunzel at all.

(2) ANOTHER COUNTY HEARD FROM. Ashley Pollard dissents from the belief that Mary Shelley is the founder of British science fiction. She names her candidate in a post for Galactic Journey “[June 22, 1961] Home Counties SF (A Report From The UK)”.

Let me explain my title to you.  The British Home Counties surround London, where I live, and consists of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey, and Sussex.  I mention this apropos of probably the most well known of Britain’s science fiction novels: the apocalyptic War of the Worlds by Herbert George Wells.

The story is a veritable march through the Britain’s heartland, describing how the Martian tripods march from Woking in Surrey to Essex, wrecking all that’s nearest and dearest to the heart of the British people.  Though I should point out that this was a very English-centred story (Scotland, Wales and Ireland are left out), and regarding the rest of the world or our former colonies, Wells has little to say.

War, arguably, was where British science fiction was born.  I say “arguably” because Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein can probably lay claim to being the first British SF story; however, its roots seem to me to be more firmly in Gothic Horror.  I believe that Wells set the scene for British SF in a way that Shelley’s story has so far not.  Though perhaps now that we are in the swinging sixties, her influence will be felt more as women’s emancipation moves forward.

(3) KEEP ON BANGING. ScreenRant loves the music from Suicide Squad.

In case it wasn’t obvious from the excellent music choices for all of the trailers so far, Suicide Squad‘s soundtrack is set to be a major feature of the film. The full soundtrack listing for Suicide Squad: The Album has already been released, and features music by Panic! At The Disco, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Eminem, as well as a song called “Purple Lamborghini” which was written specifically for the film by Skrillex and Rick Ross.

With regards to “Purple Lamborghini,” we already know that Skrillex and Rick Ross filmed a music video with Jared Leto in his Joker costume – the song is, after all, named after his vehicle of choice. However, this isn’t the only tie-in music video to be released for the movie; twenty one pilots have just released their own, featuring the soundtrack song “Heathens,” which is set in Belle Reve (the maximum security prison where Task Force X are held before they are recruited by Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller) and features a few fragments of new footage from the movie.

Now Twenty-One Pilots is in the mix.

(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC PODCAST. Scott Edelman invites one and all to “Eavesdrop on my lunch with Linda Addison in Episode 11 of Eating the Fantastic”.


Linda Addison

We talked of how someone who earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics transforms into a four-time Bram Stoker Award winning writer, the way a chance encounter with Grand Master Frederik Pohl during a New York is Book Country Festival helped her make her first sale to Asimov’s, why this acclaimed horror poet has now decided to go from micro to macro and write a science fiction trilogy, and much more.

(5) NO CLINGING VINE. “’Gotham’ Casts New Grown-Up Poison Ivy for Season 3 Of Batman Backstory Series” says Deadline.

Transformed to a 19-year old, Ivy “Pamela” Pepper isn’t playing Selina Kyle’s sidekick anymore. With the Ted 2 actress now taking on the role, a newly confident and empower Pepper will be moving towards her poisonous persona and Bruce Wayne.

When we last saw her on Season 2 of Gotham, the foliage focused orphan who would become Batman villainess and eco-terrorist Poison Ivy was played by Clare Foley. Well, that’s about to change for Season 3 of the Fox series as Ivy has grown up and will now be portrayed by Maggie Geha, it was revealed today

(6) SHOUTING YOURSELF HORSE. Engaged by the discussion here of the huge battle in a recent Game of Thrones episode, Vox Day devoted a post to “The military geniuses at File 770”

It’s clear that neither the producers of the episode, nor Aaron, has any idea how cavalry was, and is, used on the battlefield. It is a secondary arm; it is the infantry that is “the queen of the battlefield”. Hollywood likes horses because they are exciting and dramatic, but one should never allow oneself to be misguided into thinking that the tactics one is seeing on the screen are even remotely reasonable, let alone realistic or historically plausible.

(7) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. TimeOut Los Angeles sounds skeptical — “Dinner in the Sky, coming to LA in July, dangles diners 15 stories in the air”.

Dinner in the Sky, an aerial dining experience that takes place 150 feet above ground level, launched in Belgium in 2006 before swiftly bringing its gravity-defying dinners to cities around the world (Rome, Athens, Kuala Lumpur and Cape Town, to name a few). On July 1, Dinner in the Sky is making its LA debut and will continue hoisting ballsy diners via crane from the comfort of LA Center Studios in Downtown LA throughout July. Once in the air, a small staff will serve a four-course meal with a view, cooked up by chef Keven Lee (the Hollywood-based chef currently owns a private events company called My World on a Plate).

The actual elevated contraption looks like some kind of inverted roller coaster ride, with diners strapped into bucket seats and a waitstaff securely fastened with harnesses. Still, after hearing about this arguably insane endeavor, a couple crucial questions were raised in our office:

What if you have to pee?

What if you have to puke?

What if you drop your fork?

What if you get drunk and start a fight with your dining partner? There is literally nowhere to cool off.

If none of the above fazes you, maybe the pricetag will: the whole experience starts off at $399,


  • June 22, 1947 – Octavia Butler
  • June 22, 1949 – Lindsay Wagner


  • June 22, 1958 — Bruce Campbell

(10) THE MIGHTY AMAZON. You can stop wondering who will play the President in Supergirl it’s Lynda Carter.

While the United States argues about whether the next president should be Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, at least we know DC Comics’ fictional world is in good hands.

The CBS TV series “Supergirl” (moving to The CW) announced today that Lynda Carter — best known for her role in the “Wonder Woman” TV series from ’70s — will be running the country (and hopefully having Supergirl’s back) as the president of the United States in the show starting in season 2, according to Variety.

(11) NIGHT OF GIANTS. The video has been posted of Stephen King’s visit with George R.R. Martin earlier this month in Santa Fe.

(12) HEALING ARTS. Nicola Griffith will have everyone wanting to sign up for her same medical plan

JJ asks, “But is the nurse named Dalek?”

(13) CHARM AND POISON. Entertainment Weekly eavesdrops as “Ricky Gervais and Jiminy Glick trade insults on Maya & Marty”.

Ricky Gervais never misses the chance to excoriate his fellow Hollywood celebrities, but he may have met his match in Jiminy Glick. Gervais sat down with Martin Short’s fat-suited celebrity interviewer on this week’s episode of Maya & Marty, and was immediately thrown into the deep end. First, Glick called him “Steve Carell,” and then said he only remembered Gervais’ name because it sounded like “gingivitis.”

“It’s like a talking egg,” Gervais said of Glick. “Humpty Dumpty came to life.”

“Thank you, first of all, because I’m a big fan of that guy,” Glick said.

Glick responded by taking issue with Gervais’ British accent, comparing him to Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins and pirates.

“You know it’s not an accent I’m putting on? This is my accent,” Gervais said.

(14) APEX NOVELLA. E. Catherine Tobler’s novella The Kraken Sea has been released by Apex Publications.


Fifteen-year-old Jackson is different from the other children at the foundling hospital. Scales sometimes cover his arms. Tentacles coil just below his skin. Despite this Jackson tries to fit in with the other children. He tries to be normal for Sister Jerome Grace and the priests. But when a woman asks for a boy like him, all that changes. His name is pinned to his jacket and an orphan train whisks him across the country to Macquarie’s. At Macquarie’s, Jackson finds a home unlike any he could have imagined. The bronze lions outside the doors eat whomever they deem unfit to enter, the hallways and rooms shift and change at will, and Cressida – the woman who adopted him – assures him he no longer has to hide what he is. But new freedoms hide dark secrets. There are territories, allegiances, and a kraken in the basement that eats shadows.

As Jackson learns more about the new world he’s living in and about who he is, he has to decide who he will stand with: Cressida, the woman who gave him a home and a purpose, or Mae, the black-eyed lion tamer with a past as enigmatic as his own. The Kraken Sea is a fast paced adventure full of mystery, Fates, and writhing tentacles just below the surface, and in the middle of it all is a boy searching for himself.

(15) CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RAY BRADBURY READ. Steven Paul Leiva is urgently looking for proposals for this Bradbury-themed event August 22 in Downtown Los Angeles.

To be considered as a reader you must submit a proposal for a reading of a five-minute-or-under excerpt from one of Bradbury’s many works. The excerpt can come from any of Ray’s published prose and verse writings and should have a central theme, coherence, and completeness about it. More than one excerpt or poem can be read, as long as their reading time does not exceed five minutes. Excerpts from plays and screenplays will not be accepted.

You must submit your excerpt in a typed, double-spaced Word or PDF document. The date you are submitting the document should be at the top of page one, along with your name and contact information. Before the text of the excerpt, list the work it is from and, in the case of a story, essay, or poem, the collection you found it in. After the excerpt, you are more than welcome to add a few words of why you chose the excerpt and what it means to you.

Readers will be chosen based on what excerpts will make for the best possible program of readings for the afternoon, with a balance between the types and tones of Bradbury’s writings. In the case of duplicate excerpts proposed, if an excerpt is included in the program, the first submission of that excerpt will be chosen.

Submissions will be accepted between June 1 and July 15. Submissions should be sent as attachments to an email sent to Steven Paul Leiva at stevenpaulleiva@aol.com. Readers will be chosen and informed by August 8.

The readers will be chosen by Steven Paul Leiva, the director of the Ray Bradbury Read.

Ray Bradbury Read 8 22

(16) WORLD’S LARGEST NERF GUN. Speaking of weapons civilians don’t need, Mark Rober’s gun, which is powered by a 3000 psi paintball tank, shoots darts made from pool noodles and toilet plungers.

BONUS SILLINESS. This comes via Jim Rittenhouse —

Krypto via jim rittenhouse

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Scott Edelman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 6/16/16 Schroedinger’s Kzin

(1) ARM-WRESTLING WITH A PUBLISHER. Kristine Kathryn Rusch sees writers as too prone to follow rules, and too prone to think themselves as powerless in the face of contractual language: “Business Musings: Thus, Lawyers, and Writers (Contracts/Dealbreakers)”.

Lawyers aren’t afraid of thugs and goons and cartoon characters that go bump in the night. They’re not afraid of someone who plays the Big Dog and says, You’ll never work in this town again. Lawyers generally say, Well, let’s see.

Lawyers know there’s usually a solution—and it’s often as simple as standing up and saying to the person on the other side of the contract, I’m not playing your silly game. No. I’m not doing it. Now, what are you going to do?

…. Here’s the bottom line, people. I know a bunch of you are stuck in contracts you don’t like. Publishers are reinterpreting contracts in whole new ways, ways that they never looked at in the past.

The big shift is that publishers no longer see themselves as manufacturers and distributers of books. They’re running a rights management business, which means taking advantage of the full copyright on a property, instead of licensing a tiny part of that copyright. (If you don’t understand that sentence, get a copy of the Copyright Handbook. If you’re too damn lazy or cheap to do that, at least see this blog post of mine.)

(2) ATWOOD. “Margaret Atwood awarded 2016 PEN Pinter Prize”.

Canadian poet, novelist and environmental activist Margaret Atwood has been awarded the 2016 PEN Pinter Prize. She will receive her award at a public event at the British Library on the evening of Thursday 13 October, where she will deliver an address.

Margaret Atwood was chosen by this year’s judges Vicky Featherstone, Zia Haider Rahman, Peter Stothard, Antonia Fraser and President of English PEN and Chair of Judges, Maureen Freely.

The judges praised Atwood as a ‘consistent supporter of political causes’, adding ‘her work championing environmental concerns comes well within the scope of human rights … she is a very important figure in terms of the principles of PEN and of Harold Pinter’.

Atwood said:

I am humbled to be the recipient of the 2016 PEN Pinter Prize. I knew Harold Pinter and worked with him – he wrote the scenario for the film version of The Handmaid’s Tale, back in 1989 – and his burning sense of injustice at human rights abuses and the repression of artists was impressive even then. Any winner of such an award is a stand-in for the thousands of people around the world who speak and act against such abuses. I am honoured to be this year’s stand-in.

(3) GUY WITH A GUN. Bruce Arthurs wrote about this army experience in 2012 after the Aurora theater shooting, and it’s relevant again this week: “Shots In The Dark, or, How I Became A Sharpshooter”.

Several ammo clips later, I and the other trainees have finished the Night Firing exercise and gather around to get our scores. I get a high score.  I get a surprisingly high score.  I get an astonishingly high score, far above the type of scores I’d gotten during daytime firing exercises.  I get a score so high that suddenly I’ve moved up into Sharpshooter-level numbers. That Holy Shit guy?  He skunked it.  Didn’t hit a single target. Well, let’s revise that statement, because it doesn’t take much time or brains to figure out what happened.  In the dark, with everyone firing around him, with multiple targets and multiple dim flashes, he’d gotten his orientation just slightly off and had been shooting at the wrong target.  The target of the guy next to him.  At my target.


(5) FIRST FIFTH. Joe Sherry continues his series at Nerds of a Feather with “Reading the Hugos: Novel”. Number five on his ballot is: The Aeronaut’s Windlass:

Butcher’s novel is the only finalist not on my nomination ballot. Prior to last year, I was completely unfamiliar with Butcher’s work. I knew that it existed, but until Skin Game‘s nomination, I had never read anything Butcher wrote. Happily, Skin Game was a solid read and one that I vastly preferred over the eventual winner, The Three-Body Problem. The Aeronaut’s Windlass is the first volume in a steampunk epic fantasy series from Butcher. I like it more than Skin Game, and I’m happy to be getting in on the ground floor of the series rather than jumping in at Book 15 like I did with the Dresden Files. The setting was fantastic (airships and insanely tall towers), but what drew me in was the characters. Gwen, Benedict, Brother Vincent, Bridget Tagwynn, Rowl, Captain Grimm, and pretty much everyone across the board are what sold me on this book. These are characters I would love to spent more time with.

This is one of those spots on my ballot that I could realistically swap positions with the next one up. I think Seveneves is an overall a better book, but I enjoyed The Aeronaut’s Windlass just about as much as I did Seveneves, just in different ways. They are two very different sorts of novels, and I’m down for more of Butcher’s Cinder Spires series, but Seveneves gets the nod today.

Sherry’s first installment was – “Watching the Hugos: Dramatic Presentation Long Form”.

(6) CONCLUSION OF FROZEN SKY. “Jeff Carlson has finished his Frozen Sky trilogy and the third book is by far the biggest and most ambitious of the 3 books,” reports Carl Slaughter. Frozen Sky 3: Blindsided was released June 11.
Carl interviewed Jeff in 2014 for Diabolical Plots. He was nominated for the John Campbell and Philip Dick awards and has been published in Asimov’s.

The aliens in The Frozen Sky are intelligent, but they look a bit like squids, they don’t speak and they don’t have sight. Why not bipedal aliens like Vulcans or Klingons or Romulans with vocal cords and eyes?

Because I’m not constrained by a production budget! Ha. “Let’s glue some ears on him. We’ll glue some forehead thingies on them. Okay, we’re done.”

Star Trek is good fun but limited in presentation. That’s the beauty of being a novelist. The medium requires the reader’s imagination. Yes, I direct the action, but hard sf readers are smart readers. They want to be strangers in a strange land. So I can say, well, I have this claustrophobic three-dimensional low-gravity environment like the mazes of an ant farm inside Europa’s icy crust. What would kind of creatures would evolve here? Six-foot-tall bipedal creatures like people? Heck no.

Jeff’s other series is the Plague series.


(8) EARLY WRITING. Jami Gray gets a great interview — “Hugo award winner, Seanan McGuire visits with latest InCryptid novel!”

Many writers have that first novel which will never see the light of day. Out of curiosity, do you have one stashed somewhere? Inquiring minds want to know: what was your first attempt at writing and how old were you?

My first serious attempt at writing was a fourteen-page essay when I was nine, explaining to my mother why she had to let me read Stephen King. It had footnotes and a bibliography. I finished my first book when I was twelve. It was called Dracula’s Castle, and if I knew where it was, I’d probably put it online.

(9) MORE STORIES. Editor Glenn Hauman’s Indiegogo appeal to fund the Altered States of the Union anthology has an update – “We’re annexing new territory!”

The response to the concept behind Altered States has inspired a lot of authors to join in the fun, so we’re proud to announce we’re expanding the book by almost 60%, adding new stories by:

  • Russ Colchamiro
  • Peter David
  • Keith R.A. DeCandido
  • Robert Greenberger
  • Meredith Peruzzi
  • Aaron Rosenberg
  • David Silverman & Hildy Silverman
  • Anne Toole

(10) A BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU. Dutch writer Thomas Olde Heuvelt will be on a book tour in the US in June and July, courtesy of TOR. The trip includes three appearances in California, including an LA-vicinity stop at Dark Delicacies Bookstore in Burbank on the evening of Tuesday, July 19.


(11) MEDIA STRATEGY. Vox Day’s tells followers at Vox Popoli that his new philosophy is “Don’t talk to the media!”

In light of my ridiculous experience with Wired and after seeing how multiple media outlets turned to George RR Martin and John Scalzi to ask them to interpret my actions, I now turn down most media requests. I do so literally every week; I just turned down two yesterday alone. The media is not in the business of reporting the news, they are in the business of selling their masters’ Narrative.

(12) A MAD GENIUS ON THE HUGOS. Kate Paulk devotes half of “Hugo Awards – The Nominee Highlights – Best Fanzine” to criticizing Gregory Benford’s intention to vote for Steve Stiles in the Best Fan Artist category. Yet his reasons for supporting Stiles — Steve’s years of accomplishment as a cartoonist — parallel my reasons for voting for Toni Weisskopf as Best Pro Editor in 2015.

(13) PRINCE OF TIDES, THE GREAT SANTINI. George R.R. Martin urges readers to donate:

Pat [Conroy] passed away in March… but his books will live on, and so will his memory. In his memory, his family has now establishing a Pat Conroy Literary Center in his beloved home town of Beaufort, South Carolina. You can read about it here: http://patconroyliterarycenter.org/ A worthy project, I think. I’ll be donating. I urge all of you who love good writing to do the same.

(14) LOOKING FOR LAUGHS? The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog is enthusiastic about Joe Zieja’s humorous Mechanical Failure.

Comedy is a tricky beast, especially in science fiction. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is unquestionably a towering achievements of the form, but after than, opinions vary wildly (we’d wager John Scalzi has equal numbers of fans who either want him to stop trying to be funny, or to stop writing books that are so serious). It’s rare in genre to find a book that can do satire without being preachy, comedy without being entirely silly (not that a little silliness is a bad thing), and still manage toss a little “science fiction” into the mix. Joe Zieja’s debut novel, Mechanical Failure (the first part of the Epic Fail trilogy, which gives you a hint as to what you’re in for) makes as good a bid as we’ve seen in quite some time, diving headfirst into full-on military SF parody and making it look easy.

(15) UPJOHN OUTPACED BY REALITY? Alexandra Erin’s facing a challenge that reminds me of the one Garry Trudeau faced while producing Doonesbury during the Watergate era — it’s hard to be more absurd than real life.

Mr. Upjohn’s post-con report from WisCon is still forthcoming; it’s evolved and grown a few times since the con actually ended as I took reality onboard , which once again has made parody seem tame. When actual flesh and blood con attendants are decrying the “dystopian” tape lines designating travel lanes on the crowded party floor, I clearly need to step up the game.

Meanwhile, Erin writes, “I’d really love to close out my WorldCon fundraiser” – still needs $375.

(16) CHANGE OF ADDRESS. Juliette Wade has ported her TalkToYoUniverse content to her Dive Into Worldbuilding site.

Introducing the Dive into Worldbuilding Workshop at Patreon!

Dive into Worldbuilding started in 2011 – five years ago – when Google+ introduced their hangouts feature and I decided it would be fun to hang out with fellow writers and talk about worldbuilding. Since then, it has grown and changed, from just a bunch of friends meeting online with no record except my written summaries, to a meeting that got recorded and sent to YouTube, to a show featuring a wide variety of guest authors as well as regular topic discussions. With each change, my goal has been to reach a wider variety of interesting people, listen to more interesting views on worldbuilding, and share insights with as many people as possible.

Today, I’m taking it a step further with the Dive into Worldbuilding Patreon – which is also the Dive into Worldbuilding Workshop.

This Patreon will do more than just support my research into panel topics. It will help me to pay my guest authors for their time and expertise – but it will also let me help more of you.


  • June 16, 1816 — At the Villa Diodati, Lord Byron reads Fantasmagoriana to his four house guests—Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont, and John Polidori—and challenges each guest to write a ghost story, which culminates in Mary Shelley writing the novel Frankenstein, Polidori writing the short story The Vampyre, and Byron writing the poem Darkness.

[Thanks to Petréa Mitchell, Vincent Docherty, Michael J. Walsh, Carl Slaughter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Oh, The Brackets We’ll See!

Happy Birthday File 770 THUMBCooling wellsprings of fun scattered throughout the summer of 2015, Kyra’s polls were especially delightful because they were a game we could play with books!

Novels on her community-sourced lists would be paired against each other — how did the dice know which pairings could produce the maximum angst, forcing fans to pick between two favorites? The winners advanced through the brackets, the results of each heat delivered with Kyra’s humorous commentary, until we knew which work had been crowned The Best by File 770 commenters.

Here are the results of her first four polls.

20th-century Science Fiction

A conversation I remember vividly.

I don’t remember the exact age I was, but I know from the circumstances I had to be 12 years old or younger. I was talking about books with a friend of the family who was, I think, in her twenties. The talk turned to Ursula K. Le Guin.

I had discovered Le Guin, as I suspect many did, through the EarthSea books. I had gone on to read a great deal more. By that point, Three Hainish Novels. The Lathe of Heaven. The Compass Rose. The Wind’s Twelve Quarters. The Dispossessed. And The Left Hand of Darkness.

But, I confessed during this conversation, I didn’t think I had really understood The Left Hand of Darkness. I didn’t get it. Something in it was opaque to me.

“Well,” the friend of the family asked me, “Have you ever been in love?”

“What?” I said. “I, um, well. I don’t think so. No.”

“Read it again after you fall in love,” she advised.

So, some years later, I did.



  • WINNER: Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness – 31 votes
  • Mary Shelley: Frankenstein – 15 votes


The winner of the Brackett bracket is The Left Hand of Darkness. The book is awarded this lovely pair of brackets: [ ], suitable for framing or using in its text. The decision was made by the most reliable metric currently known – 31 people on the internet.

(And in my opinion, they have chosen well.)


20th-century Fantasy

[In this poll, Kyra tested her theory that The Lord of the Rings would defeat all challengers.]

Lord of the Rings

  • WINNER: The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien – 38
  • The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin – 36

Tombs of Atuan

  • WINNER: The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien – 36
  • Small Gods, Terry Pratchett – 35


  • WINNER: The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien – 37
  • The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle – 34


  • WINNER: The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien – 44
  • Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny – 27

nine princes in amber

Tolkien is the WINNER, AND STILL CHAMPEEN in all pairings, although in one of them it was by one vote, in one by two votes, and in one by three votes.

(The voting patterns that gave these results suggest to me — although they by no means prove — that the three-way battle of the previous round, in which Small Gods and The Tombs of Atuan tied and The Last Unicorn came in a very close second, was not, in particular, the result of vote-splitting; people here really do seem to favor those works in almost equal numbers.)

And there you have it. Once again, a double digit number of people on the internet has registered its clearly immutable judgment! The Lord of the Rings shall receive this lovely pair of brackets: [ ], suitable for framing or using in its text.


21st-century Fantasy

  • WINNER: The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison – 28 votes
  • Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold – 23 votes

And the winner is Katherine Addison’s tale of victory through kindness, bridge-building both literal and idiomatic, political intrigue, and confusing names. Nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards, winner of the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and now winner of this lovely pair of brackets:

[ ]

suitable for framing or incorporating into its text. We welcome it to the ranks of previous bracket winners, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.


21st-century Science Fiction

And, in an extremely shocking conclusion that no one could have … nah, just kidding, it was totally Ancillary Justice:


  • WINNER: Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie – 32 votes
  • Anathem, Neal Stephenson – 8 votes
  • Diplomatic Immunity, Lois McMaster Bujold – 3 votes

And who is the second place winner? Removing AJ and distributing its votes to the second-place options, we get:

  • 2nd Place: Diplomatic Immunity, Lois McMaster Bujold – 19 votes
  • Anathem, Neal Stephenson – 18 votes

An EXTREMELY close contest, but by the merest of hairs Bujold wins second place in what proved to be an uneven contest of Ancillary Justice Vs. Everyone Else.



Other Filers have followed her model and run polls on other topics. I plan to do a post on theirs next week.

  • The Alternate Universe 2015 Hugo Best Novel Organised by JJ
  • Rory Root Memorial Comics Bracket Curated by David Goldfarb
  • Live-Action TV Tournament/Brackets Curated by Jim Henley
  • Fantasy Movie Bracket Curated by Hampus Eckerman
  • Science Fiction Movie Bracket Curated by Hampus Eckerman

Today’s Birthday Girl 8/30

frankenstein ms

Mary Shelley’s handwritten first draft of Frankenstein.

Born 1797: Mary Shelley

What would horror fans have done without Frankenstein to scare the bejabers out of them?

Shelley’s book began on a stormy night in June 1816 on the shores of Lake Geneva as her entry in a ghost-story writing contest between Byron, the Shelleys, and Byron’s physician Polidori.

Yet Frankenstein received two rejection slips — Percy Shelley’s and Lord Byron’s publishers both passed – before finally being accepted.

Why Some Publishers Are Forgotten

Can you imagine Mary Shelley getting a rejection slip for Frankenstein?

The University of Iowa Special Collections has posted the note Percy Shelley added to one of his wife’s letters saying, “Poor Mary’s book has come back with a refusal which has put me in rather ill spirits.”

Frankenstein was rejected not once but twice — Percy Shelley’s and Lord Byron’s publishers both passed — before being accepted.

View the letter online here.

Results of NPR Top 100 SF&F Survey

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien finished atop of NPR’s Top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy survey. Over 60,000 voters participated. Coming in second and third were Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

The three highest-ranking works by women were Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, #20, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, #22, and Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, #33.

Ray Bradbury had four books make the list, the most popular being Fahrenheit 451, #7. The leading Heinlein novel among his three on the list was Stranger in a Strange Land at #17.

And oh, yes, Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep, #93, ran ahead of Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book, #97. I’ll have to ask if Jo Walton is willing to go two falls out of three…

Frankenstein First Draft on Display

Never mind that stronger expression Anne Lamott uses to describe her first drafts, “monstrous” is precisely right to describe this one: Mary Shelley’s handwritten first draft of Frankenstein, going on display December 3 at Oxford’s Bodleian Library as part of “Shelley’s Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family.”

The exhibit will remain in the UK until March 27, then will transfer and reopen at the New York Public Library central branch at 42nd and Fifth Avenue.

Pages of cursive writing once handled by the author have a nearly spiritual appeal for me that other kinds of drafts can’t approach. In the 1970s David Gerrold used a Selectric with a mag tape to generate original scripts for auction, and today Cory Doctorow can send a copy of his original pixels in a Word track-changes document on a moment’s notice to anyone in the world if the whim strikes him, but these copies (for whatever reason) lack romance compared with Mary Shelley’s marked-up, ink-spattered pages.

Other relics on display at the Bodleian include Percy Bysshe Shelley’s spy-glass, thought to have been aboard the Don Juan on Shelley’s final voyage which resulted in his drowning, and his baby rattle.

I learned from a comment on the Daily Mail’s article that supposedly Percy, not Mary, really wrote Frankenstein. I hope somebody has already taken the obvious step of analyzing the handwriting in the manuscript and verified it is Mary Shelley’s, even if there are other literary arguments that can’t be answered quite as simply.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]