Fantastic Fiction at KGB Readings Series Features Gregory Frost and Rajan Khanna

Gregory Frost and Rajan Khanna

By Mark L. Blackman: On the muggy evening of Wednesday, August 16, the monthly Fantastic Fiction Readings Series hosted authors Gregory Frost and Rajan Khanna at its venue, the very Red Room at the 2nd floor KGB Bar in Manhattan’s East Village. (For those unfamiliar with the readings series, the Kraine Gallery Bar is red-walled with Soviet era posters and photos – no swastikas or Confederate flags there!) The gathering seemed smaller than usual, perhaps some regulars were still touring post-Worldcon.

The event opened, as customary, with Series co-host Matthew Kressel’s exhortation to support the Bar by buying a drink or two (and tip), and announcing upcoming readers:

  • September 20: Katherine Vaz and Chris Sharp
  • October 18: James Patrick Kelly and Kai Ashante Wilson
  • November 15: Grady Hendrix and David Rice
  • December 16: N.K. Jemisin and Chris N. Brown

(All dates are the third Wednesday of the month. Details and lineup well into 2018 are available at the Series website.) He concluded by introducing the evening’s first reader, a personal pleasure, as Raj Khanna is also a friend.

Khanna is an author, blogger, reviewer and podcast narrator. (As I’ve remarked previously, his soft voice is, as we heard, well-suited for narrating.) His post-apocalyptic airship adventure series, starting with Falling Sky (from which he read at the KGB back in December 2014) and Rising Tide, concluded in July 2017 with Raining Fire, from the middle of which he read. The trilogy is set in a post-apocalyptic near-future where fuel is so expensive that airships have come back, and, if that weren’t cataclysmic enough, a global pandemic has reverted hordes of people to a violent, zombielike, animalistic (and, of course, hungry) state called Ferals. The hero (and narrator), Ben Gold, who used to own an airship, but is now grounded, encounters a settlement about to be overrun by Ferals. Sufficiently overcoming their suspicions (but they’re keeping his gun), he works with them, using disparate parts from trucks and airships hurriedly to rig up a “junker” (“Frankensteinlike,” it’s dubbed “the Monster”) on which to flee as their walls are burst through.

After an intermission, Series co-host Ellen Datlow (newly returned from Helsinki, where she was awarded another well-deserved Hugo) took the podium and introduced the second reader of the night.

Gregory Frost is the author of Shadowbridge, Lord Tophet, Fitcher’s Brides, The Pure Cold Light and Attack of the Jazz Giants, along with “a whole mess” of short stories of the fantastic. His collaboration with Michael Swanwick, “Lock Up Your Chickens and Daughters, Hard and Andy Are Come to Town” (whose title convulsed the audience), won an Asimov’s Readers’ Award for 2015. With Jonathan Maberry, Frost founded the Philadelphia branch of The Liars Club, “a collective of semi-deranged and often inebriated authors” (or so he claims). He read from an as-yet-unpublished piece from his “weird collaborate[ve]” series with Jonathan Maberry based upon their novella Rhymer, a “riff” on Thomas the Rhymer, the first two chapters of his origin story. Here, the boy encounters the faerie queen (“the Queen of Heaven”) and her retinue, and his companion (Frost affected a Scots accent for his dialog) is taken. Thomas attempts a rescue, unsuccessfully.

Copies of Frost’s Shadowbridge and Khanna’s Raining Fire were for sale at the back of the room from the Word Bookstores of Greenpoint, Brooklyn (and Jersey City), and Frost had copies of his collection Attack of the Jazz Giants available.

Prior to the readings, as is her wont, Datlow had wended through the audience, snapping away; her photos of the event may be seen at the Series website, http://www.kgbfantasticfiction.org/.

Pixel Scroll 8/13/17 The Filers On The Hill See The Scroll Going Down, And The Eyes In Their Heads See The Pixels Spinning Round

(1) MUNSTER REVIVAL. “Who will play Marilyn?” John King Tarpinian wants to know. Variety reports “‘Munsters’ Reboot in Development at NBC With Seth Meyers Producing”.

The planned reboot is inspired by the original series and will follow an offbeat family determined to stay true to themselves struggles to fit in in hipster Brooklyn. Jill Kargman will executive produce and write the script, with Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker also executive producing. Universal Television (UTV) will produce along with Meyers’ and Shoemaker’s Sethmaker Shoemeyers Productions, which is set up with a first-look deal at UTV.

The development “The Munsters” reboot keeps Meyers in business with NBC, where he currently hosts the late-night series “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” In addition, the network recently ordered the Meyers-produced comedy “A.P. Bio” to series.

(2) KGB READINGS. Fantastic Fiction at KGB hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Gregory Frost and Rajan Khanna on August 16. The evening begins at 7 p.m. in the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs), New York.

Gregory Frost is the author of Shadowbridge, Lord Tophet, Fitcher’s Brides, and The Pure Cold Light and a whole mess of short stories of the fantastic. His collaboration with Michael Swanwick, “Lock Up Your Chickens and Daughters, H’ard and Andy Are Come to Town” won an Asimov’s Readers’ Award for 2015. That worked out so well that he and M. Swanwick are currently engaged in writing another collaboration. Greg is the Fiction Workshop Director at Swarthmore College, and with Jonathan Maberry founded the Philadelphia branch of The Liars Club, a collective of semi-deranged and often inebriated authors. Greg is working on a collaborative series with Jonathan Maberry based upon their novella “Rhymer,” published in the anthology Dark Duets.

Rajan Khanna is an author, blogger, reviewer, and narrator. His post-apocalyptic airship adventure series starting with Falling Sky and Rising Tide concluded in July 2017 with Raining Fire. His short fiction has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and several anthologies. His articles and reviews have appeared Tor.com and LitReactor.com and his podcast narrations can be heard at Podcastle, Escape Pod, PseudoPod, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Lightspeed Magazine. Rajan lives in Brooklyn where he’s a member of the Altered Fluid writing group.

(3) ABOUT THE CANCELLED ALZHEIMER’S LARP. Worldcon 75 published a “Statement on the Cancellation of LARP ‘A Home for the Old’”, a planned item that had drawn a lot of criticism in social media after people at the con saw the description in the schedule.

On Friday 11 August Wordcon 75 cancelled one of our programme items. A Nordic Freeform Event entitled “A Home for the Old” by Frederik Berg. The statement that we released in relation to this cancellation was neither a fair nor a full report of the facts and we would like to correct this.

Worldcon 75 believes that the event facilitator, Massi Hannula Thorhauge, would have guided the players with due regard for a subject as serious as Alzheimer’s. The convention asked her to run this event and we know she would have made sure those who signed up did not make light of the disease. She is a valued member of Worldcon 75 staff and we thank her for her time and enthusiasm throughout the con.

The description of the event published in the Worldcon 75 Programme was not a fair representation of the game. It was written for a specific audience and as presented to Worldcon lacks vital context and frameworks.

Both the convention and the event facilitators acknowledge more care should have been given to this, in light of the very sensitive subject and the cultural differences between many Worldcon members.

These cultural and contextual differences were at the root of the decision to cancel the item. While this freeform event has been extremely successful elsewhere we felt that it was not acceptable to the Worldcon members as presented. We were also concerned that some possible players may not have appropriately engaged with the material, given how different Worldcon is from Nordic gaming events.

We would also like to highlight how important gaming is as part of the genres we all love. Games such as “A Home for the Old” have helped those who have lost friends and relatives to Alzheimer’s and given them a greater understanding of the pressures put on those who care for people with the disease.

While playing games purely for fun is vital, they can also be used to teach, to explore even difficult subjects and themes, and to inspire. They are a hugely important part of a Worldcon programme and we are thrilled we have had so many people playing games in Helsinki this August.

(4) TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Dorothy Grant shares a warning about click farms at Mad Genius Club.

  1. Speaking of click farms, several indies have recently reported their accounts being locked / books taken off sale after buying “advertising” with a “guaranteed number of readers.” You know that picture of Batman slapping Robin? Yeah, picture that. Here’s how NOT to get your account locked and books delisted:

A.) You cannot guarantee buyers ethically. If buyers or readers are guaranteed, that means you’re paying a click farm to run a program on a laptop slaved to a bunch of stolen iphones, each loaded to an Amazon account, “borrowing” and “reading” them. Unless you’re paying a click farm in North Korea, in which case it’s a poor schmuck pacing down a table, manually finger-swiping every iphone.

B.) If you can’t sign up for their mailing list, it’s a click farm. Real promoters want everybody to sign up for their lists, so they can grow. Click farms say they have a list, but if it’s not obvious and easy to find, then it’s a lie.

C.) If they don’t have a website, it’s a click farm. ESPECIALLY if their only presence is a “closed facebook group.” Again, if they’re not soliciting more people to join them, they’re not right.

D.) If it’s too good to be true, it ain’t true. It’s more likely to be this: https://kotaku.com/inside-chinese-click-farms-1795287821

(5) NEBRASKA. Have a twofer: Carhenge is in the totality path: “As Eclipse Madness Sweeps U.S., A Stonehenge Made Of Cars Prepares”.

The ancients who built Carhenge back in 1987 didn’t know about this eclipse. Carhenge was the brainchild of a local named Jim Reinders, a petroleum engineer who spent years working in England. While there, he became acquainted with the prehistoric site of Stonehenge. It was built of giant rocks that people dragged for miles from the quarries. Archaeologists think the original Stonehenge was built to mark celestial events, such as the solstice.

Reinders wanted to build a version of Stonehenge as a memorial to his dad, who had passed away a few years earlier. But stones seemed heavy and cumbersome.

“So he decided if we build it out of cars, the wheels on it would greatly simplify the logistics,” says Howard. “And besides that, there’s not a stone in Nebraska that would work.”

(6) BR0K3N. “Password guru regrets past advice” – BBC has the story.

Bill Burr had advised users to change their password every 90 days and to muddle up words by adding capital letters, numbers and symbols – so, for example, “protected” might become “pr0t3cT3d4!”.

The problem, he believes, is that the theory came unstuck in practice.

Mr Burr now acknowledges that his 2003 manual was “barking up the wrong tree”.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born August 13, 1899 — Alfred Hitchcock

(8) KEEP HORROR OUT OF THE KITCHEN. Get your own copy of Mary and Vincent Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes 1965 – 2015.

A Treasury of Great Recipes has come to be regarded as “one of the most important culinary events of the 20th century” (Saveur Magazine) and was recently named the eighth most popular out-of-print book of any kind by Booklist. It has inspired countless chefs, garnered fans from around the world, and recently spawned many supper clubs who have been “cooking and eating Vincent” around the world.

(9) BY JOVE, I THINK HE’S GOT IT. Camestros Felapton offers a good, precise description of the phenomenon: “Parallels between minor SF kerfuffles & real world politics are both trite & true”.

My interest here was not the Brian Niemeiers of the groups but others, less inclined to create an SJW conspiracy out of nothing. In several cases, you could see them correctly reasoning that if they want the Dragon Awards to have any status then they would need authors like John Scalzi and N.K.Jemisin involved. However, they would always return to the idea that it was up to people like John Scalzi to, therefore, fix the problem by participating. Commenting here, author David Van Dyke took a similar tack – the Dragons need broad based participation, therefore can authors that the SF right calls “SJWs” (whether they are or not) please participate. This despite the fact that the reasons WHY authors didn’t want to participate were clear and unambiguous – they didn’t want to get caught up in the culture war that other on the SF right want the Dragons to be.

What is particularly interesting is this. When the right that is adjacent to the more belligerent alt-right NEED somebody to be reasonable, to compromise in WHICH direction do they turn? Note how it is the LEFT? This is more than just the modern conservative dictum of not-shooting-right/no-enemies-on-the-right but a tacit acknowledgement that they themselves have no capacity to control their allies.

The alt-right want the Dragons Awards to be a culture-war shitstorm because culture-war shitstorms help them recruit small numbers of extremists via radicalization and the comradery of a conflict. It’s a tactic anybody on the left will recognise from many micro-Trotskyist groups in the past, whose expectation of a conflict (e.g. a labour dispute) was that making hyper-strong demands (not necessarily EXTREME demands but essentially shitty negotiating positions) would not lead to a successful outcome but would lead to a better struggle and new recruits.

(10) THE YEAR IN RABIDITY. Jason Sanford leafs through the Hugo voting stats and concludes he is “Measuring the slow Hugo Award death of the rabid puppies”.

These numbers back up previous estimates of the weakness of the rabid puppies and give more evidence that 80 to 90 Hugo voters at most support Vox Day’s ballot stuffing. These are extremely small numbers compared to the more the 2,000 people who cast nominating ballots, or the 3,319 people who voted in the final Hugo ballot.

The reason the rabid puppies were able to cause so much trouble with the Hugo Awards in recent years is because the awards were easily gamed by a small group of slate voters. Only cultural constraints within fandom prevented this from happening previous to the rabid puppies.

The results of this year’s Hugo voting shows that making an award resistant to slate voting is a must in today’s genre.

Perhaps the Dragon Awards, a new SF/F award which is now being ravaged by slate voting from the pups, will learn from the Hugo experience. Or perhaps not.

(11) THE POINTS. Camestros Felapton also looks at the Rabid numbers in “Hugo Stats Time Some More”.

So a mean in the low 70s and a median of 83 votes. Which looks to be irrelevant because those votes are probably all from 2016 members. The Rabid vote drops precipitously in the final numbers.

(12) HELP WANTED. There’s a lot of money to be made looking for aliens, if you’re the right person — “The Reason China Can’t Find Anyone to Operate Its Alien-Hunting Telescope”.

China continues to up its game in space sciences, including one particularly ambitious project, the world’s largest radio telescope. There’s just one problem: they can’t find anyone to operate it.

The country’s government is looking to hire a foreigner as chief scientist to oversee the telescope’s daily operation, reports the South China Morning News, and it’s even offering free housing and a $1.2 million salary to boot. But no one has been hired, presumably because of challenges associated with the job and the high level of requirements needed to even apply.

The “Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope”, or FAST, is a $180 million, 1,600 foot-long radio telescope that’s capable of receiving radio signals from as far as 1,000 light years away; making it a leading instrument in the search for alien life. To give you an idea of its scale, FAST is roughly the size of 30 soccer fields.

(13) THE SUMMER OF HUH? Hippy disinformation? The BBC explains the accidental invention of the Illuminati conspiracy.

The Illuminati that we’ve come to hear about today is hardly influenced by the Bavarians at all, as I learned from author and broadcaster David Bramwell, a man who has dedicated himself to documenting the origins of the myth. Instead, an era of counter-culture mania, LSD and interest in Eastern philosophy is largely responsible for the group’s (totally unsubstantiated) modern incarnation. It all began somewhere amid the Summer of Love and the hippie phenomenon, when a small, printed text emerged: Principia Discordia.

The book was, in a nutshell, a parody text for a parody faith – Discordianism – conjured up by enthusiastic anarchists and thinkers to bid its readers to worship Eris, goddess of chaos. The Discordian movement was ultimately a collective that wished to cause civil disobedience, practical jokes and hoaxes

The text itself never amounted to anything more than a counter-culture curiosity, but one of the tenets of the faith – that such miscreant activities could bring about social change and force individuals to question the parameters of reality – was immortalised by one writer, Robert Anton Wilson.

According to Bramwell, Wilson and one of the authors of the Principia Discordia, Kerry Thornley, “decided that the world was becoming too authoritarian, too tight, too closed, too controlled”. They wanted to bring chaos back into society to shake things up, and “the way to do that was to spread disinformation. To disseminate misinformation through all portals – through counter culture, through the mainstream media, through whatever means. And they decided they would do that initially by telling stories about the Illuminati.”

At the time, Wilson worked for the men’s magazine Playboy. He and Thornley started sending in fake letters from readers talking about this secret, elite organisation called the Illuminati. Then they would send in more letters – to contradict the letters they had just written.

“So, the concept behind this was that if you give enough contrary points of view on a story, in theory – idealistically – the population at large start looking at these things and think, ‘hang on a minute’,” says Bramwell.  “They ask themselves, ‘Can I trust how the information is presented to me?’ It’s an idealistic means of getting people to wake up to the suggested realities that they inhabit – which of course didn’t happen quite in the way they were hoping.

… British electronic band The KLF also called themselves The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, named after the band of Discordians that infiltrate the Illuminati in Wilson’s trilogy as they were inspired by the religion’s anarchic ideology. Then, an Illuminati role-playing card game appeared in 1975 which imprinted its mystical world of secret societies onto a whole generation.

Chip Hitchcock, who found the link, assures everyone, “Yes, I’ve sent in a complaint about the incorrect date for the card game.”

(13) WHEN DEATH IS ON THE LINE. I was surprised to learn he’s still alive.

(14) FLICKER OF TIME. Anti Matter trailer #2.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 7/28/17 The Pixhiker’s Guide To The Scrolexy

(1) WORLD SF. Rosarium Publishing has announced the table of contents for its American edition of Future Fiction: New Dimensions in International Science Fiction, edited by Bill Campbell and Francesco Verso, will be released March 1, 2018.

In its brief existence, Rosarium Publishing has worked hard in “introducing the world to itself” through groundbreaking, award-winning science fiction and comics. In combing the planet to find the best in each field, Rosarium’s own Bill Campbell has found a fellow spirit in Italian publisher, Francesco Verso.  Borrowing from the fine tradition of American underground dance labels introducing international labels’ music to the people back home, Rosarium brings to you Future Fiction: New Dimensions in International Science Fiction, a thrilling collection of innovative science fiction previously published by Francesco Verso’s company, Future Fiction. Here you will find thirteen incredible tales from all around the globe that will not only introduce you to worlds you may not be familiar with but also expand your horizons.

Table of Contents

  • James Patrick Kelly – Bernardo’s House (USA)
  • Michalis Manolios – The Quantum Mommy (Greece) – translated by Manolis Vamvounis
  • Efe Tokunbo – Proposition 23 (Nigeria)
  • Clelia Farris – Creative Surgery (Italy) – translated by Jennifer Delare
  • Xia Jia – Tongtong’s Summer (China) – translated by Ken Liu
  • Pepe Rojo – Grey Noise (Mexico) – translated by Andrea Bell
  • Liz Williams – Loose Strife (UK)
  • Ekaterina Sedia – Citizen Komarova Finds Love (Russia)
  • Nina Munteanu – The Way of Water (Canada)
  • Tendai Huchu – Hostbods (Zimbabwe)
  • Swapna Kishore – What Lies Dormant (India)
  • Carlos Hernandez – The International Studbook of the Giant Panda (USA)

(2) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. The Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction / Uncanny Magazine Year 4 Kickstarter met its goal in three days. The total last time I looked was $23,359 – the target had been $22,000.

(3) NEXT AT KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series  hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Gregory Frost & Rajan Khanna on Wednesday, August 16, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

Gregory Frost

Gregory Frost is the author of Shadowbridge, Lord Tophet, Fitcher’s Brides, and The Pure Cold Light and a whole mess of short stories of the fantastic. His collaboration with Michael Swanwick, “Lock Up Your Chickens and Daughters, H’ard and Andy Are Come to Town” won an Asimov’s Readers’ Award for 2015. That worked out so well that he and M. Swanwick are currently engaged in writing another collaboration. Greg is the Fiction Workshop Director at Swarthmore College, and with Jonathan Maberry founded the Philadelphia branch of The Liars Club, a collective of semi-deranged and often inebriated authors. Greg is working on a collaborative series with Jonathan Maberry based upon their novella “Rhymer,” published in the anthology Dark Duets.

Rajan Khanna

Rajan Khanna is an author, blogger, reviewer, and narrator. His post-apocalyptic airship adventure series starting with Falling Sky and Rising Tide concluded in July 2017 with Raining Fire. His short fiction has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and several anthologies. His articles and reviews have appeared Tor.com and LitReactor.com and his podcast narrations can be heard at Podcastle, Escape Pod, PseudoPod, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Lightspeed Magazine. Rajan lives in Brooklyn where he’s a member of the Altered Fluid writing group.

KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs), New York, NY.

(4) IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE. Andrew Porter tells me there are New York authors with historic plaques on their old homes:

There are historic blue plaques on Montague Street, in the building where Norman Mailer lived for a while. Around the corner, there’s a bronze plaque on the building where W.H. Auden lived.

Once I heard that, I decided we should start agitating for historic plaques on the birth homes of  historic SF writers.

Andrew Porter suggested Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl, Robert Silverberg, and Julius Schwartz. Some others have added:

Avram Davidson, born in Yonkers, 1923

Robert Sheckley, b. 1928 (Brooklyn?)

and Tom Disch died on Union Sq. W. on 4 July 2008

(5) FUN APPROACH. Jared begins his review of The War of Undoing by Alex Perry at Pornkitsch —

This is a long – and often quite meandering – book. There’s a slow start, followed by a lot of quiet, discursive tangents. Several of Undoing’s plots and ‘hints’ don’t coalesce until the very end, and certain momentous occasions and world-changing events – which would be the very heart and soul of other fantasy novels – are downplayed, and shifted to the background. As a result, The War of Undoing can feel frustrating at times. But, and I can’t stress this enough, stick with it: this book simply has different priorities.

The War of Undoing uses a deceptively simple premise and a by-the-numbers fantasy world to great effect. It isn’t a book about what happens, where it happens, or, in some cases, even who it happens to. It is, instead, a book about the why – the choices we make, and what drives us to them.

That’s all worth excerpting – but then, Jared goes into overdrive deconstructing the book’s familiar motifs as if he was scoring the qualities of a role-playing game. That part is really entertaining.

(6) SENDING UP OLD WHO. Fathom Events will show “RiffTrax Live: Doctor Who: The Five Doctors” in theaters August 17 and August 24.

The Doctor is in the house! The RiffTrax house, that is! The stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000®, Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, are back on the big screen for a legendary riffing of the 1983 Doctor Who film “The Five Doctors.” Someone is taking the Doctor’s past selves out of time and space, placing them in a vast wilderness – a battle arena with a sinister tower at its center. As the various incarnations of the Doctor join forces, they learn they are in the Death Zone on their home world of Gallifrey, fighting Daleks, Cybermen, Yeti and a devious Time Lord Traitor who is using the Doctor and his companions to discover the ancient secrets of Rassilon, the first and most powerful ruler of Gallifrey.

Join Mike, Kevin and Bill as they join the Five Doctors for one of the most thrilling Doctor Who adventures ever!

(7) BUDGET BOOK LAUNCH. Mark-kitteh says, “I’m reading The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden — rather fun concept so far, not sure where it’s going but I’m interested to find out — and I went to check out her website. I thought this recent blog post on the finances of her book promotion might suit as a scroll item” — “Book Promotion on a $800 Budget”.

ARC GIVEAWAYS AND EARLY REVIEWS:

Four to six months before your book launches, you want to start getting ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) into as many people’s hands as possible. These early reviewers will help generate buzz for your book and get other readers interested. The easiest way to do this is by holding giveaways on Goodreads. Goodreads is where readers congregate and socialize, so you get a lot of visibility through social shares. Plus, unlike Amazon, people can start leaving reviews and ratings as soon as the book is listed, and not just once launch day has arrived.

Aim to give away at least 30 physical ARCs through random giveaways and targeting bigger name reviewers. If you’re with a big house or small press, they should be offering some giveaways on their own and getting you reviewers, so you’ll just be supplementing as necessary. For these figures, I’m assuming it costs about $7 to ship each book and $8 per book copy beyond free books provided by the publisher. I’m also assuming if you’re with a big house, you’ll get at least 20 free copies of your book, 10 for small press, and 0 for indie authors.

I’d recommend doing three big pushes prior to launch, and two small giveaways (1-2 books each) in the months after launch. Goodreads users can mark your book as to-be-read when they enter the contest, which will make them much more likely to purchase your book. With each giveaway you should see more and more interest. Below you can see how much “to-read” numbers jump when there’s a giveaway. The smaller spikes are the start of the giveaways….

(8) JULIE GOMOLL OBIT. Julie Gomoll (1962-2017), sister of Jeanne, died this past weekend. Jeanne’s eulogy on Facebook is now set to public.

Jackie Dana wrote this deeply touching reminiscence of Julie: “Our Chief Schemer Has Left Us”.

That was the last time I got to see you, and now I’m just reeling. How is it that you’re not going to be around anymore? No more Julie snark on Facebook, no photos of Mr. Pants sitting inappropriately, no more brainstorming. I just can’t bear it.

I sit here trying to make sense of it all, and I know you’re probably just rolling your eyes, wanting to tell me to go do something else. But it’s you, Julie, and I can’t. I knew about your personal struggles, and I knew you were trying to reinvent yourself professionally (like all of the best entrepreneurs do). But even though things were tough sometimes, you were a fighter. A bad ass. So I just can’t understand.

One thing’s for sure. I’m not alone. There’s a not-so-small army of friends and family who you inspired, and we’re all struggling to understand. We miss you so much already. You didn’t leave a hole behind when you left us—you left a chasm as wide as the Grand Canyon.

A fundraiser for Austin Pets Alive! has been started in her honor.

Please join me in honoring the memory of Julie Gomoll, a true digital pioneer.

Julie founded Go Media in 1987. It became one of the first major digital agencies in Texas. The web just seemed to run in her veins. Even when companies asked Julie to create mailers, she’d build them a website. One day, I was fortunate enough to see Julie’s portfolio. One page after another, I saw another piece of Austin digital history. Dell. Whole Foods. The City of Austin. Julie helped pin these organizations on the digital map. With the switch of a DNS server, her company connected them to the entire world.

Julie took the money she made on the sale of Go Media to Excite, and invested in a coworking space named Launchpad. This wasn’t 2015?—?this was 2007. She was a coworking goddess when other people were sweating their 9–5. Launchpad was an unfortunate casualty of the 2008 recession. The coworking movement, however, was not. Dozens of other Austin coworking formal and informal spaces emerged thanks to early adopters like Julie. There are hundreds of small companies that emerged as a result…

Julie loved dogs. Like, pretty much any dog. She even built the first website for Austin Pets Alive!, which has saved thousands of them. Thanks, Julie. We’d like to help you save thousands more. Please help honor Julie’s memory by donating to Austin Pets Alive! in her name.

And Julie Gomoll’s professional website has more about that side of her story.

(9) ZIMMERMAN OBIT. Bookstore owner Lorraine Zimmerman died July 12 reports The Indy. Along with her husband Norman, she owned the Fahrenheit 451 bookstore in Laguna Beach, CA from 1976 until it closed in 1988. It wasn’t a specialty store, however, they did sell everything Bradbury had in print. I bought Bradbury’s book of Irish stories there in the Eighties.

Lorraine Zimmerman, owner of legendary Fahrenheit 451 Books in Laguna Beach (1978-1988), of Collected Thoughts Bookshop in Berkeley (1996-2004), and partner at Berkeley’s University Press Books (2004-2017), passed away on July 12. She was 76 and is survived by her two brothers, three children and seven grandchildren.

Born and raised in Chicago, Lorraine entered the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1957. Pausing from university studies after marrying and starting a family, Zimmerman relocated to Orange, Calif., with family in 1970. She resumed her studies at UC Irvine, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in social ecology. A lover of books and ideas, Zimmerman bought Laguna Beach’s Fahrenheit 451 Books in 1976.

The bookstore soon received national recognition. In 1981, Lorraine was one of five booksellers interviewed in The New York Times for an article on independent bookstores. In 1987, the Los Angeles Times described Fahrenheit 451 Books as “one of the most distinctive independent bookstores in Southern California,” and “Laguna Beach’s literary landmark.” Zimmerman inspired Laguna residents with her own literary flare, publishing Fahrenheit Flasher, a newsletter with colorful images, stories about upcoming author signings and her reviews of forthcoming books. Zimmerman’s innovative promotional strategies included a children’s reading program that enrolled 40 families at its height, and a 12-book plan whereby customers received credit for the average price of their purchases.

Zimmerman made headlines by hosting book signings with such renowned authors as Ray Bradbury, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, June Jordan, P.D. James, and Michael Chabon. Upon selling Fahrenheit 451 Books, Zimmerman reflected on her experience in American Bookseller magazine, writing in May 1989: “Discussing books with customers and local writers; sponsoring literary events; having a finger on the pulse of current American thought through the knowledge of forthcoming books and my customers’ requests; having the ability to disseminate hard-to-find information–these were the daily rewards of bookselling.”

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 28, 1957 The Cyclops premieres.
  • July 28, 1995 Waterworld debuted in theaters.

(11) COMIC SECTION. John King Tarpinian recommends today’s Moderately Confused.

(12) CLARKE WINNER. Colson Whitehead said in his Arthur C. Clarke Award acceptance remarks, “Way back when I was 10 years old, it was science fiction and fantasy that made me want to be a writer. If you were a writer, you could work from home, you didn’t have to talk to anybody, and you could just make up stuff all day. Stuff about robots and maybe zombies and maybe even miraculous railway lines. Fantasy, like realism, is a tool for describing the world, and I’m grateful that a book like The Underground Railroad, which could not exist without the toolkit of fantastic literature, is being recognized with the Arthur C. Clarke award.”

(13) ELLISON BIO. Daniel M. Kimmel gives a glowing review to his friend Nate Segaloff’s A Lit Fuse, The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison.

What makes this so special? It is a full-bodied portrait of Ellison the writer as well as the ups and downs of his personal life. It doesn’t turn away from the touchy subjects (“The City on the Edge of Forever,” the Connie Willis controversy, the never published Last Dangerous Visions), but it also celebrates not only his successes, but the way he has inspired the writers who followed him, created works of lasting value, and demonstrates that while he is, indeed, one of the giants of science fiction, he is also a writer of mysteries, of criticism, of essays, and of one of the most interesting lives in modern American letters. Even If you are not a devoted Ellison fan, it is a fascinating story, and you may find yourself eager to fill in the gaps in your own reading of Ellison.

(14) SUMMERTIME AND THE READING IS EASY. The Washington Post’s Michael Dirda presents “A summer book list like no other”.

To everything there is a season, and the season for short stories is summer — except for tales of ghosts and demons, which should be reserved for late fall. To help you enjoy your time on a beach or in a hammock, here are seven short-story collections worth looking for.

Other Arms Reach Out to Me: Georgia Stories , by Michael Bishop (Fairwood Press). Michael Bishop is well known as a science fiction writer — don’t miss his best-of collection, “The Door-Gunner and Other Perilous Flights of Fancy” — but this new book collects his equally fine stories about contemporary Southern life. How can anyone resist “The Road Leads Back,” which pays homage to Flannery O’Connor? From the opening sentence, its tone is pitch-perfect: “Flora Marie did not want to visit the Benedictine monastery in Alabama. Back in April, at the insistence of her aunt Claire, who had paid for the pilgrimage, she’d made a fatiguing round-trip journey by air to Lourdes. Aunt Claire had believed that a reverent dip in the shrine’s waters would enable Flora Marie to throw away her crutches and live again as a ‘normal person.’ ” Other stories recall the trailer-park black humor of Harry Crews or Barry Hannah: In “Doggedly Wooing Madonna,” a misfit teenager repeatedly writes letters proposing to the Material Girl, who eventually pays him a visit while he is working at Finger Lickin’ Fried. Bishop closes his excellent collection with the Nebula Award-nominated “Rattlesnakes and Men.” …

(15) YOU’RE INVITED. There will be a “Chinese Fandom Fan Party” at Worldcon 75. The public is invited. (Here is the Facebook event link.)

Hosted by The Shimmer Program, Storycom and Science Fiction World Publishing House

Thursday, August 10 at 9 PM – 11 PM UTC+08 Room 103, Messukeskus, Helsinki, Finland

You have to be a Worldcon 75 member to attend the parties. Our party welcome all guests and feel free to share it with your friends who are coming to Worldcon this year! The more the merrier! Highlights:

  • Meet Chinese sf authors, Xia Jia, Zhang Ran, A Que, Luo Longxiang, Tan Gang, Nian Yu and more…
  • Meet Chinese editors in Science Fiction World to discuss how to publish your works in China
  • Meet Chinese fans who won Storycom’s Worldcon 75 Attending Funding…
  • Introduction of Chengdu City – “SF capital of China”
  • Welcome to The Fourth China (Chengdu) International SF Conference
  • Learn about various ways of attending cons in China for free
  • Free snacks and drinks
  • Chinese specialties and Chinese tea

(16) KEEPING UP WITH JEOPARDY! Steven H Silver sent me this information from the future about a genre reference on today’s episode of Jeopardy!

In Double Jeopardy, categories were:

Plan

9

From Outer Space

Other Odd Films

(17) SLUSSER CONFERENCE. Organizers have put out a call for papers for The George Slusser Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy to be held at UC Irvine on April 26-29, 2018.

Coordinators: Jonathan Alexander (University of California, Irvine)

Gregory Benford (University of California, Irvine)

Howard V. Hendrix (California State University, Fresno)

Gary Westfahl (University of La Verne)

Although the late George Slusser (1939–2014) was best known for coordinating academic conferences on science fiction and editing volumes of essays on science fiction, he was also a prolific scholar in his own right, publishing several books about major science fiction writers and numerous articles in scholarly journals and anthologies. His vast body of work touched upon virtually all aspects of science fiction and fantasy. In articles like “The Origins of Science Fiction” (2005), he explored how the conditions necessary for the emergence of science fiction first materialized in France and later in England and elsewhere. Seeking early texts that influenced and illuminate science fiction, he focused not only on major writers like Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, and H. G. Wells but also on usually overlooked figures like E. T. A. Hoffmann, Benjamin Constant, Thomas De Quincey, Honoré de Balzac, Guy de Maupassant, J.-H. Rosny aîné, and J. D. Bernal. His examinations of twentieth-century science fiction regularly established connections between a wide range of international authors, as suggested by the title of his 1989 essay “Structures of Apprehension: Lem, Heinlein, and the Strugatskys,” and he fruitfully scrutinized both classic novels by writers like Arthur C. Clarke and Ursula K. Le Guin and the formulaic ephemera of the contemporary science fiction marketplace. A few specific topics repeatedly drew his interest, such as the mechanisms of time travel in science fiction and the “Frankenstein barrier” that writers encounter when they face the seemingly impossible task of describing beings that are more advanced than humanity. And he aroused controversies by criticizing other scholars in provocative essays like “Who’s Afraid of Science Fiction?” (1988) and “The Politically Correct Book of Science Fiction” (1994). No single paragraph can possibly summarize the full extent of his remarkably adventurous scholarship.

The George Slusser Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy seeks to pay tribute to his remarkable career by inviting science fiction scholars, commentators, and writers to contribute papers that employ, and build upon, some of his many groundbreaking ideas; we also welcome suggestions for panels that would address Slusser and his legacy. To assist potential participants in locating and studying Slusser’s works, a conference website will include a comprehensive bibliography of his books, essays, reviews, and introductions. This selective conference will follow the format that Slusser preferred, a single track that allows all attendees to listen to every paper and participate in lively discussions about them. It is hoped that the best conference papers can be assembled in one volume and published as a formal or informal festschrift to George Slusser.

Potential contributors are asked to submit by email a 250-word paper abstract and a brief curriculum vitae to any of the four conference coordinators: Jon Alexander (jfalexan@uci.edu), Gregory Benford (xbenford@gmail.com ), Howard V. Hendrix (howardh@csufresno.edu), or Gary Westfahl (Gwwestfahl@yahoo.com ). The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2017, and decisions will be provided by mid-January, 2018. Further information about the conference schedule, fee, location, accommodations, and distinguished guests will be provided at the conference website.

(18) AT HOME WITH RAY’S HUGOS. Jonathan Eller writes about this photo —

Ray Bradbury’s two most recent Retro Hugo Awards, “Best Fan Writer, 1941” and “Best Fanzine, Futuria Fantasia, 1941,” have been in the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies since Center director Jon Eller accepted them on behalf of the Bradbury family at the 2016 World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City (August, 2016). The Bradbury family graciously agreed to have the Bradbury Center curate these Hugo Awards through a long-term loan agreement completed earlier this year.  Here you see both awards in the Bradbury center, guarded by a Martian modeled on one of the 1970s stage productions of The Martian Chronicles.  The Bradbury Center, as well as the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts and IUPIU, are deeply indebted to the Bradbury family for this curatorial loan.  —  Jon Eller

[Thanks to Steven H Silver, Matthew Kressel, Howard Hendrix, Andrew, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 7/3/17 Hokey Tickboxes And Ancient Pixels Are No Match For A Good Filer At Your Side, Kid

(1) STAR WARS CARTOONS. In a Yahoo! Movies piece called “New ‘Star Wars’ Cartoon Shorts Debut Online, Bringing Female Heroes in Full Force”, Marcus Errico says that Disney is releasing sixteen three-minute cartoons online featuring female Star Wars heroes,  The first, “Sands of Jakku” is online and has Daisy Ridley in it.

Lucasfilm Animation has produced an initial run of 16 shorts. New shorts will arrive daily at YouTube.com/Disney ahead of their broadcast premiere on the Disney Channel on July 9. Future episodes will center on Princess Leia, Padmé Amidala, Rogue One‘s Jyn Erso, The Clone Wars fan favorite Ahsoka Tano, and Sabine Wren from Star Wars Rebels, with each installment narrated by Maz Kanata and featuring John Williams’s seminal soundtrack.

In addition to Ridley, film stars John Boyega (Finn), Felicity Jones (Jyn) and Lupita Nyong’o (Maz) will reprise their roles, as will key talent from the TV series Clone Wars and Rebels, including Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka), Tiya Sicar (Sabine), and Vanessa Marshall (Hera Syndulla).

“The movies tell these epic heroes’ journeys, big pieces of mythology,” Carrie Beck, VP of Lucasfilm Story and Animation and a producer of Forces of Destiny, told Yahoo Movies earlier this year. “For this, we thought these stories could tell those moments of everyday heroism… the kind of stories that would be appropriate over two to three minutes.”

(2) UNHOLY ROAD TRIP. The LA Times questions “Neil Gaiman on the ‘American Gods’ season finale and what’s on tap for Season 2”.

The first season of Starz’s ambitious “American Gods” ended on the brink of a godly brawl. But Neil Gaiman, an executive producer of the series and author of the book from which it is adapted, teases that his divine road trip across the secret supernatural back roads of the United States is just beginning…

Did you have an emotional reaction to the end of the first season of “American Gods?”

I have all sorts of emotions.…I’m fascinated by how involved people are. How grumpy they are about the fact that, now they got their eight episodes, they have to wait for another season. I love watching the joy of having faces that plug into these characters who were names and descriptions in the book. I’m loving seeing how people argue online. There are people out there who think Laura [Moon, played by Emily Browning] is the best female character that they’ve ever seen on television.And there are people who would pay good money to make sure that she never appears on their screen ever again, but they love the whole series apart from her.

(3) GUESS WHO JOINED GAB. GAB is the new message platform popular with Vox Day, Jon Del Arroz, and others who find Twitter hasn’t always appreciated the way they exercise their freedom of speech.

And, unexpectedly, it now is someplace you can find Brianna Wu:

Why did I join Gab? Well, joining App.net early (another Twitter competitior) was amazing for my career. It was a networking goldmine. The other part is, I’m running for congress in a part of Massachusetts with many conservatives. Listening to the other side helps me be a better candidate.

(4) SOCIETY OF ILLUSTRATORS. Top fantastic illustrators Wayne Barlowe, Donato Giancola, Greg Manchess will demonstrate their skills and techniques in an open forum at the Society of Illustrators in New York on July 8 from Noon to 4 p.m.

Plus! Have your portfolios reviewed by renowned art directors Irene Gallo (Associate Publisher, Tor.com/ Creative Director, Tor Books) and Lauren Panepinto (Creative Director, Orbit Books/ Yen Press). 15 minutes reviews. Reservations required

Admission: $50 Non-members | $40 Members | $20 Students/ seniors (Undergrad with valid ID) Price includes the catalog from The Korshak Collection: Illustrations of Imaginative Literature.

(5) SPACE SALVATION. Sylvia Engdahl revives a philosophical debate in “Space colonization, faith, and Pascal’s Wager” at The Space Review.

In his essay “Escaping Earth: Human Spaceflight as Religion” published in the journal Astropolitics, historian Roger Launius argues that enthusiasm for space can be viewed as a religion. He focuses mainly on comparisons with the outer trappings of religion, many of which are apt, but in one place he reaches the heart of the issue. “Like those espousing the immortality of the human soul among the world’s great religions… statements of humanity’s salvation through spaceflight are fundamentally statements of faith predicated on no knowledge whatsoever.”

I think Launius may be somewhat too pessimistic in his assertion that we have no knowledge whatsoever about our ability to develop technology that will enable humans live in the hostile environment of space, but that is beside the point. It’s true that we have no assurance that the colonization of space will ensure the long-term survival of humankind. “Absent the discovery of an Earthlike habitable exoplanet to which humanity might migrate,” Launius continues, “this salvation ideology seems problematic, a statement of faith rather than knowledge or reason.” And the accessibility of such an exoplanet is questionable, since by current knowledge it will not be possible to cross interstellar space rapidly enough to achieve much migration.

It is indeed faith that underlies the conviction that traveling beyond our home world will prevent the extinction of the human race. But Launius’ presentation of this fact seems to imply that it lessens the significance of such a conviction, as if beliefs supported by mere faith were not to be taken seriously. That is far from the case, as the history of human civilization clearly shows. Most major advances have been made by people who had faith in what they envisioned before they were able to produce evidence; that was what made them keep working toward it. Having faith in the future, whether a personal future or that of one’s successors, has always been what inspires human action.

On what grounds can faith without evidence be justified? This issue was addressed by the 17th century philosopher Blaise Pascal in what is known as Pascal’s Wager, now considered the first formal use of decision theory. Pascal was considering whether is rational to believe in God, but the principle he formulated has been applied to many other questions. In his words, “Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.” If on the other hand, you bet on it being false and it turns out to be true, you lose everything; thus to do so would be stupid if the stakes are high.

(6) NEXT AT KGB. “Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series” hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Karen Neuler and Genevieve Valentine on July 19 at the KGB Bar. The event starts at 7 p.m.

Karen Heuler

Karen Heuler’s stories have appeared in over 100 literary and speculative magazines and anthologies, from Conjunctions to Clarkesworld to Weird Tales, as well as a number of Best Of anthologies. She has received an O. Henry award, been a finalist for the Iowa short fiction award, the Bellwether award, the Shirley Jackson award for short fiction (twice), and a bunch of other near-misses. She has published four novels and three story collections, and this month Aqueduct Press released her novella, In Search of Lost Time, about a woman who can steal time.

Genevieve Valentine

Genevieve Valentine is an author and critic. Her most recent book is the near-future spy novel ICON; her short fiction has appeared in over a dozen Best of the Year anthologies. Her comics work includes Catwoman for DC Comics and the Attack on Titan anthology from Kodansha. Her criticism and reviews have appeared in several venues including the AV Club, the Atlantic, and The New York Times. Please ask her about the new King Arthur movie.

(7) AMBIENT TRIBUTE TO DUNE SERIES. April Larson, a Louisiana ambient/drone/noise musician, has released a tribute album to the original Dune trilogy and the other Dune-related novels on Bandcamp.

It is titled “You Stand in a Valley Between Dunes” and the album features tracks with names such as “The Fall of Ix (Core Instability Mix),” “Lady Jessica,” and “Guild Navigator (Junction).”

April Larson is the representative of a tribe of naga located along the coast of Louisiana. She translates music into sense- data… through a collection of three interlaced brains. She continues her research in oneironautic listening and regularly delivers lectures on relevant tone-clusters to beehives and ghosts.

(8) RYAN OBIT. YouTuber Stevie Ryan (1984-2017): American comedian, actress and writer; found dead by apparent suicide on 3 July, aged 33. She appeared as a version of herself in the experimental thriller John Doe: Diary of a Serial Killer (2015, but apparently never released).

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 3, 1985 Back to the Future released, features 1981 DeLorean DMC-12.
  • July 3, 1985 — George Romero’s Day of the Dead is seen for the first time.
  • July 3, 1996 Independence Day was released.

(10) FACE IN A DUFF CROWD. Paul Weimer took this picture on his trip Down Under. I’ve interacted with Ian Mond online but I’ve never seen him before.

(11) SKIFFY AND FANTY POLL. Man, this is a hard one!

(12) BEWARE DOCTOR WHO SPOILER NEWS. You’ve been warned. Tariq Kyle, in “’Doctor Who’ season 10 finale explained: Yes, that is who you think it is” on Hypable, says that the mysterious guy in the end of the Season 10 finale of Doctor Who is in fact William Hartnell (played by David Bradley) and that Hartnell and Peter Capaldi will survive until this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, at which time Capaldi will regenerate.

Doctor Who season 10 just ended with a cliffhanger that none of us saw coming, and if you’re wondering who the mysterious new character is and where they are in the Doctor’s timeline, then check out our explanation!

Obviously, if you haven’t seen the season 10 finale of Doctor Who yet, beware of huge spoilers. If you continue on and you don’t want to be spoiled, then ¯\_(?)_/¯.

(13) CHILL FACTOR. Reason TV has put out a video called “Mark Hamill v. Autographed Memorabilia:  The Revenge of the Dark Side,” which is mostly about Bill Petrocelli of the San Francisco-based chain Book Passage and how his company will be affected by the California autograph law. The impetus for the law was Mark Hamill’s complaining about fake Hamill autographs, which caught the ear of the legislator who had the law introduced.

(14) WHAT AUNT MAY HAS TO SAY. This is not your uncle’s Aunt May: “WATCH: Marisa Tomei on making Aunt May cooler than Peter in Spider-Man: Homecoming”.

What is different is Aunt May herself. Let’s face it, Tiger: May has never been cooler than she is now, as portrayed by Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei. She’s much younger than she’s ever been portrayed in the comics or any of the previous Spider-Man feature films. The fact that the age difference between Peter and May is much less adds a new dynamic to their relationship … but, thankfully, not even a hint of sexual tension. (Hey, the actress brought it up, not me!)

SYFY WIRE talked with Tomei about how her Aunt May still worries about Peter, primarily about the fact that he doesn’t seem to have a social life. We also talked about whether May trusts Tony Stark as Peter’s mentor and what she wants to see in an Aunt May action figure.

 

(15) WHAT’S MY LINE? Meanwhile, back in the Sunday funnies: “Spider-Man and His Inker: Wrists Still Going Strong a Half-Century Later”. Joe Sinnott in his studio; several photos.

Joe Sinnott says spider webs drive him crazy, even though he has been drawing them for over 50 years for one of the world’s most famous superheroes.

“They’ve got to be so accurate, and they’ve got to be the same all the time,’’ he said. “It takes me about three days to do two pages.”

At 90, Mr. Sinnott still brings to life the action tales spun by Stan Lee, the co-creator of Spider-Man, continuing a collaboration begun in 1950 when Mr. Sinnott first went to work for Mr. Lee at what later became Marvel Comics. “Imagine having the same boss for 67 years,” Mr. Sinnott said. He added that they should be in the Guinness World Records book.

With pen and brush, he keeps Spider-Man flying over New York City, soaring from skyscraper to skyscraper, in a never-ending battle against supervillains. “It just takes time putting all those lines, and the tiny spider on Spider-Man’s chest, in such a small space,” Mr. Sinnott said.

(16) WEB REVIEW. The BBC says the new Spider-Man is “fun”.

The makers of Spider-Man: Homecoming have remembered something that the makers of almost every other recent superhero film have forgotten. They’ve remembered that if you’re going to tell a story about someone in a skin-tight costume who can throw cars around like frisbees, then it should probably be fun for all the family. That’s not to say that superhero movies can’t be used to lecture us on the international arms trade, or to examine why allies fall out and turn against each other. But sometimes they should return to their comic-book roots, and offer snazzy, buoyant entertainment for children as well as for their parents – and that’s what the latest Spider-Man film does.

Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment: “The story complains that the ‘gauche, geekily enthusiastic youngster with a pubescent squeak of a voice’ isn’t true to the comics; does anyone remember what Parker was like in the very early comics, when he was still in high school (as in the movie)?”

(17) SUNK COST. A first-class ticket to see the Titanic: “The ‘merman’ facing a Titanic mission”

Next year he will be taking dozens of paying passengers down about 12,500ft (nearly 2.4 miles or 3.8km) to the wreck of the Titanic, 370 miles south-southeast of Newfoundland.

OceanGate, the US firm behind the dives, says more people have been into space or climbed Mount Everest than have visited the Titanic’s final resting place.

The firm stresses that it is a survey expedition and not a tourist trip.

Over six weeks from next May, David will make repeated dives in a new carbon fibre submersible called Cyclops 2, designed to withstand depths of up to 4,000m.

On each trip to the bottom of the ocean, he will take three “mission specialists” – passengers who are underwriting the expedition – and a “content expert” with a good working knowledge of the wreck

The expedition doesn’t come cheap. Each one of the 54 people who have signed up for the deep dive is paying $105,129 for the privilege.

(18) LINEUP, SIGN UP, AND RE-ENLIST TODAY. The Washington Post’s Steve Hendrix asks “There are already four-hour lines at Walt Disney World’s new ‘Avatar’-themed attraction. Does Pandora live up to the hype?” And he answers that the Avatar-based “Pandora” section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a “trippy, tropical” and “an authentically immersive land that soothes even as it dazzles,” but prepared to wait four hours to get on the two rides in the section.

The Disney iteration, though, takes place generations after the miners have been driven out (hopefully with ample job-retraining for these victims of the War on Unobtanium) and the peacefully gigantic blue Na’vi of Pandora are busy restoring it to space-age splendor. That ingenious conceit allowed planners to combine dystopian ruins (the colossal exo-armor battle suit from the movie’s climax sits rusting outside the gift shop) with lush streambeds and flowering vines.

(19) SUBTRACTION BY DIVISION. Lela E. Buis, in “Does the Hugo really represent fandom?”, totes up the racial and sexual minorities among this year’s Hugo-nominated fiction authors only to find a problem with this diversity. And what is that problem?

So, what are the chances that SFF fandom as a whole would elect this ballot? Remember that taste is never random, but with equal participation I’d expect the SFF readership demographics should roughly match the ballot for a popular award. Assuming that everyone participates, of course.

What does that mean? If the right people were voting for the Hugos the list of winners would look like the Dragon Awards? Is that what this is code for?

(20) APPROPRIATION V. EXCHANGE. K. Tempest Bradford wrote a commentary NPR that declares “Cultural Appropriation Is, In Fact, Indefensible”.

…Cultural appropriation can feel hard to get a handle on, because boiling it down to a two-sentence dictionary definition does no one any favors. Writer Maisha Z. Johnson offers an excellent starting point by describing it not only as the act of an individual, but an individual working within a “power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.”

That’s why appropriation and exchange are two different things, Johnson says — there’s no power imbalance involved in an exchange. And when artists appropriate, they can profit from what they take, while the oppressed group gets nothing.

I teach classes and seminars alongside author and editor Nisi Shawl on Writing the Other, and the foundation of our work is that authors should create characters from many different races, cultures, class backgrounds, physical abilities, and genders, even if — especially if — these don’t match their own. We are not alone in this. You won’t find many people advising authors to only create characters similar to themselves. You will find many who say: Don’t write characters from minority or marginalized identities if you are not going to put in the hard work to do it well and avoid cultural appropriation and other harmful outcomes. These are different messages. But writers often see or hear the latter and imagine that it means the former….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for some of these stories and the fried chicken. Other story thanks goes to Rob Thornton, Dann, Steve Green, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Cat Eldridge. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Pixel Scroll 6/15/17 Go Ahead, Make My Pixel

(1) THINKING INSIDE THE BOX. “This was amazing,” says James Bacon about a special feature of Lazlar Lyricon 3, a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy convention held last weekend. “I was on the committee and it was an incredible endeavour.”

It’s all about Chris Tregenza and Jess Bennett and “The Secret of Box 42”.

Idea, Idea, A Kingdom for an Idea

Even with our self-imposed restrictions we struggled to think of anything at first. Every idea was discarded as being too profligate, too big, too small or simply impractical.

Then, bouncing around ideas with the aid of a bottle of wine (or two), our conversation drifted onto computer games and how in games like Skyrim there are treasure chests scattered around from which the player can take loot. In any particular game, all the treasure chests have an identical appearance and the player quickly associates that graphic with a reward even though sometimes the chests are empty. This led the conversation into Pavlovian conditioning and Skinner’s pigeon experiments and then bang! We asked ourselves a question.

What happens if we applied the same psychology in the real world by scattering boxes containing treasure around a convention? ….

What’s In The Box

Our first step was to brainstorm lots of ideas for box contents which we then loosely organised into different types. After some refinement we ended up with five classes of boxes inspired by the five levels of Maslow’s hierarchy: rewards, treasures, activities, quests and meta. Each of the types had a different purpose and place in the overall game.

Reward boxes were primarily a simple psychological conditioner. Inside these boxes were sweets or other gifts along with instructions to €˜help yourself’. These boxes were designed to build a positive association with opening boxes. Treasures were like rewards except they only contained a single valuable item which anyone could take if they chose. This introduced rarity and encouraged people to look in the boxes quickly before someone else took the item. Activity boxes instructed the opener to do something such as play a game or challenge someone to a duel. In these boxes were appropriate things (like a deck of cards or toy guns) but unlike the reward boxes, the instructions only suggested the box opener used them, not keep them. Meta-boxes contained nothing except a quote from the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. The chosen quotes were amusing in their own right but also all related to the theme of hunting for the meaning of life.

(2) DITCHING THE RECEIVED WISDOM. Jason Sanford breaks the rules! gisp “Oh writing advice which I loathe, let me count the ways I’ve ignored you”. Sanford confesses eight violations.

Thinking about all the writing advice I don’t follow. This should mean I’m a literary failure. Instead, my stories are published around the world.

So what writing advice have I failed to follow? Let’s count down the greatest hits of advice I’ve ignored.

  1. “Write what you know.” Didn’t do that. I write science fiction and fantasy set in imaginary worlds I’ve never known. I create what I know!

(3) SOLAR TREK. From Space.com, Intergalactic Travel Agents rate the “Solar System’s Best and Worst Vacation Destinations (Video)”.

Part of the purpose of this interview is to promote Olivia Koski’s and Jana Grcevich’s book, Vacation Guide to the Solar System, which plans vacations using current astronomical knowledge.

(4) WHAT MUSIC THEY MAKE. Seanan McGuire recently had a special encounter with some children in an airport. The Twitter stream here is well worth a gander.

(5) KICKSTARTER REACHES GOAL. The 2017 Fantastic Fiction at KGB Kickstarter is a huge success, reports co-host Matthew Kressel, providing enough funds to keep the series running for at least six more years. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series Kickstarter ran from May 17 through June 14 and raised $9,771 (before Kickstarter and credit card processing fees)€¦. Dozens of rewards were chosen by 196 different backers.

Why We Needed Financial Support Each month we give the authors a small stipend, we tip the bartenders (who always give the authors free drinks), and we take the authors and their partners/spouses out for dinner after the reading. Since it typically costs us around $120 per month, we need $1500 per year to maintain the series. We were looking to raise $4500, which would allow us to keep the series running for another three years. Each additional $1500 let us run for an additional year. Fantastic Fiction has been a bright light in the speculative fiction community for nearly two decades, and because of your help we will continue for many more years to come. Thank you!

(6) DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING. Today Mary Robinette Kowal give her platform to Jon Del Arroz: “My Favorite Bit: Jon Del Arroz talks about FOR STEAM AND COUNTRY” .

(7) OH BOTHER. Goodbye Christopher Robin is the “based on a true story” movie about A.A. Milne, his son, and the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.

(8) HARRYHAUSEN ART. Tate Britain will host an exhibition of The Art of Ray Harryhausen from June 26 through November 19.

Explore drawings and models by Ray Harryhausen with some of the art that inspired him

The American-born Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013) is one of the most influential figures in cinema history. In a succession of innovative, effects-laden movies, from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms 1952 to Clash of the Titans 1981, Harryhausen created fantastic worlds and creatures that have inspired generations. He is acknowledged as the master of stop-motion animation techniques, involving models being moved and filmed one frame at a time to create the illusion of movement.

Harryhausen attended art classes as a young man, and readily acknowledged his debt to earlier painters and illustrators. The epic scenery and towering architecture of 19th century artists Gustave Dore, and John Martin were especially important to him, and he collected prints and paintings by both artists.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 15, 1973 The Battle for the Planet of the Apes premiered

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born June 15, 1941 — Graphic artist Neal Adams.

Adams has worked hard in the comics industry bringing to life such fascinating characters as Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern, The Spectre, Thor, The X-Men, and countless others. For those wanting to know about the man and his career, you can check out his website right here. Adams was born on this day in 1941.

(11) THIS JUST IN. AND OUT. The New York Post reports “Sex in space is a ‘real concern’ that science needs to figure out”.

Romping in space is a “real concern” for astronauts, a top university professor has warned.

It’s something we know little about — but it’s crucial if we ever want to colonize other planets like Mars.

During a recent Atlantic Live panel, Kris Lehnhardt, an assistant professor at George Washington University, said the topic needs to be addressed immediately.

He said: “It’s a real concern — something we really don’t know about is human reproduction in space.”

“If we actually want to go places and stay there, there’s a key component and that’s having babies,” he added.

(12) MIGRATION. Richard Curtis, President of Richard Curtis Associates, Inc. broadcast this information:

Our curtisagency.com server crashed, and as it’s been happening a little too often lately I’m going to switch to gmail. So please use rcurtisagency@gmail.com going forward.

(13) PARSEC DEADLINE. Podcasters who have been nominated for a Parsec Award must submit their judging sample by July 16.

Podcast material released between May 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017 is eligible for the 2017 awards.

Material released needs to be free for download and released via a mechanism that allows for subscriptions (RSS Feed, iTunes, YouTube…). More rules and guidelines are posted at our website.

(14) EXTRA CREDITS. Top 10 Marvel post-credit scenes. Carl Slaughter says, “Notice this is an Avengers heavy list. Also, there is a conspicuous X-Men and Guardians absence.”

[Thanks to James Bacon, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Rose Embolism, Jon Del Arroz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Darrah Chavey.]

Pixel Scroll 6/12/17 Avoid The Green Pixels, They’re Not Ripe Yet

(1) READING SERIES CROWDFUNDING. Less than two days to go in the Fantastic Fiction Kickstarter at KGB and Matthew Kressel says they’re still about $1500 shy of what they need to run for six years.

Here are a few of the clever Facebook appeals made by the Kindling Kris Dikeman to encourage people to squeeze out a few more bucks for the series.

  • Sick of how things are going? Hoping the singularity hits soon? You can make things better right now by supporting the Fantastic Fiction Reading Series Kickstarter. The Fantastic Fiction series helps writers promote their work and creates a community for genre artists. Pay tribute to our future robot overlords and receive cool stuff at http://kck.st/2rq5KFA
  • Has the state of our world got you wishing the zombie apocalypse would just start already? You can make the world a better place without the rotting undead’s help by supporting the Fantastic Fiction Reading Series Kickstarter. The Fantastic Fiction series helps writers promote their work and creates a community for genre artists. Plus, you’re going to need stuff to read while you’re cowering in the dark. Check it out: http://kck.st/2rq5KFA
  • Considering a move to the Shire to escape the current state of the world? Put down that second breakfast and shuffle your hairy little feet on over to the Fantastic Fiction Reading Series Kickstarter. The Fantastic Fiction reading series helps writers promote their work and creates a community for genre artists. Galadriel sez: do it for me, hafling: http://kck.st/2rq5KFA

(2) DISAPPOINTMENT. Mari Ness sent a series of tweets discussing why she isn’t on Worldcon 75 programming.

(3) WILD CARDS. In “Something Old, Something New…” George R.R. Martin refutes an old complaint, then explains why readers will have no grounds for it in the Wild Cards book coming out tomorrow.

I’ve had some readers complain about my name being featured on the covers of the Wild Cards books because I “didn’t write them.” That’s a bullshit complaint, IMSHO. No, I am not the sole author of the Wild Cards stories, I am only one of… ah, lemme see, I believe it was forty-one writers at last count.

I am, however, the editor of every single one of the twenty-three volumes published to date, and the new ones in the pipeline as well… the guy who recruits all those writers, determines the ‘overplots’ of the triads, solicits proposals, accepts and rejects, and gives extensive notes on rewrites. (And there’s a LOT of rewriting in Wild Cards, to make all the bits fit together so the whole will be more than the sum of its parts). It’s a lot more work than any other sort of anthology, believe me… though I love it, so I don’t complain… too much. I earn those credits, and to suggest that my name is just being ‘slapped on’ the covers while someone else does the work is as ignorant as it is offensive.

(4) BIRD IS THE WORD. At Tor.com, Aidan Moher makes Yoon Ha Lee’s Raven Stratagem sound irresistible.

Unlike its predecessor, Raven Stratagem requires no warming up period. Very little of the narrative in Raven Stratagem is bogged-down by incomprehensible infodumps about “calendrical rot.” In comparison, it feels open and airy. Through Cheris and Jedao, Lee proved his ability to create complex and interesting characters, and this time around he throws the doors open by introducing several new point-of-view characters, all of whom are engaging in their own way. From the crashhawk Brezan, who’s on a mission to take Jedao down, to General Kel Khiruev, who is reluctantly beholden to the undead general after he commandeers her swarm, to Shuos Mikodez, leader of a faction of assassins, each of the major players has their own well-defined and compelling part to play in Raven Stratagem’s overall narrative. They’re all damaged and dangerous, full of regrets, but they are also vulnerable and likeable in a way that allows readers to connect with them on the right emotional level.

(5) FOOLPROOF WISDOM. Timothy the Talking Cat continues to dispense advice to writers in “More Mentoring from Tim” on Camestros Felapton’s site. It’s all one graphic, so we’ll have to do without an excerpt. But I’m sure knowing Timothy’s track record you have already clicked through before reaching the end of this paragraph.

(6) AUSTIN OBIT. UK comics fan Alan Austin died May 9.

Alan Austin, pioneer of UK comics fandom and a long-time friend of 30th Century Comics, passed away yesterday morning after a long struggle with cancer.

Beginning in the 1970’s, Alan published the long-running fanzine Fantasy Unlimited (later Comics Unlimited), which drew together comics enthusiasts from all over the UK, and indeed, all over the world. He also published Whiz Kids, Golden Age Fanzine, and the Marvel Super-Hero Index, as well as being a co-publisher of the very first Comics Price Guide for Great Britain. For many years, he ran the shop Heroes, in Islington, London, and in later years was a regular feature at UK comic marts.

Neil Gaiman purchased his first Spirit comic book from Austin’s shop in 1975.

(7) VERDUGO OBIT. Actress Elena Verdugo died May 30. Her radio, movie and TV career spanned six decades. Although she was best known for her TV role in Marcus Welby, M.D., her genre work included horror movies like The Frozen Ghost (1945). Here’s an excerpt from her New York Times obituary,

… Because she had a Hispanic surname, Hollywood mostly typecast her in horror movies and comedies as Gypsy girls, Indian maidens, Mexican peasants, harem handmaidens and South Sea islanders. “With that name, they don’t call you up to do little American parts,” she was quoted as saying in “Women in Horror Films, 1940s” (1999) by Gregory William Mank. “They think you’re a black-eyed, dark-haired señorita” and I’m blond. So I put on my wig and tried to live up to what they thought ‘Spanish’ to be or ‘Gypsy,’ or ‘native,’ or something.”

She later played opposite Lon Chaney Jr. and Boris Karloff in Universal’s “House of Frankenstein” (1944), in which a trio of movie monsters collaborate against their makers’ enemies, and in “The Frozen Ghost” (1945), also opposite Chaney.

(8) TODAY’S DAY

Superman Day

What’s that?! There in the sky? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s the Man of Tomorrow! Superman has gone by many names over the years, but one thing has remained the same. He has always stood for what’s best about humanity, all of our potential for terrible destructive acts, but also our choice to not act on the level of destruction we could wreak. Superman was first created in 1933 by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, the writer and artist respectively. His first appearance was in Action Comics #1, and that was the beginning of a long and illustrious career for the Man of Steel. In his unmistakable blue suit with red cape, and the stylized red S on his chest, the figure of Superman has become one of the most recognizable in the world.

Mark Seifert at Bleeding Cool News has more:

In 2013, DC Entertainment declared June 12 as Man of Steel day “in celebration of the summer’s most eagerly anticipated film”. The date seems to have stuck, with a name change to “Superman Day” because I’ve seen a whole lot of #supermanday hashtags in my twitter feed this morning. I know that Metropolis, IL just held their Superman Celebration over the past 4 days€¦

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 12, 1968 Rosemary’s Baby first seen this day.
  • June 12, 1987 Predator first played to audiences.
  • June 12, 2015 Jurassic World debuted.

(10) PAST TENSE. ComicsBeat tees up an unusual WW2-era critique, “Bennett and Savuage take on Japanese Internment in new BOMBSHELLS UNITED series”.

It was important to Bennett to make her takes on DC’s greatest heroines less inherently perfect and to provide them with the opportunity for improvement and redemption. “I’m very into fallible heroines,” Bennett explained. “I understand why so many inspirational characters are given to girls, whether it’s to make up for the years that their weren’t any or that there were so many damsels in distress, but there’s a degree at which when we only give children– but little girls especially– aspirational heroines, we’re denying them the ability to screw up. To have a complete human experience. Being a child and seeing these role models, I knew that I could never possibly compete or live up, so when I screwed up it was horrible. These characters weren’t afforded the opportunity to fail and come back from it.”

Indeed, the first arc of Bombshells United is all about failure– in particular, America’s failure to protect the rights of up to 120,000 Japanese Americans when the national government imprisoned them in internment camps for the duration of World War II. In Bennett’s exploration of Japanese American internment, she casts Cassie Sandsmark and Donna Troy, two characters who have carried the Wonder Girl moniker, as second generation Japanese Americans whose friends and family are being held against their will. While Cassie and Donna are not Japanese in the mainstream DC Universe, according to Bennett, these are her universe’s “definitive versions” of the characters.

(11) POSTSCRIPT. Abigail Nussbaum has more to say — “Five (Additional) Comments on Wonder Woman”.

My problem, however, with talking about Wonder Woman as a feminist work is that most of that feminism is external to the film. That is, Wonder Woman is feminist because of what it is, not because of what it does. To be clear, I absolutely agree with the statement that being the first movie about a female superhero in the current, mega-successful iteration of superhero movies (and one of only a small number before that) is a feminist act in its own right. But there’s only so much that you can say about that, and that’s a problem that is exacerbated by Wonder Woman herself. More than almost any other character in pop culture, Diana exists outside of patriarchy. And while it’s powerful to see a woman who brushes aside the assumption that she’s not as good as a man because the very idea that this might be true is completely foreign to her heritage and upbringing, what this also means is that a lot of the central questions of feminism are equally foreign to her. I’m not as down on Wonder Woman as Jill Lepore, writing in The New Yorker, but she’s not wrong when she says that “Gadot’s Wonder Woman doesn’t fight for rights because she transcends that fight; she is unfettered by it and insensible to it, an implausible post-feminist hero.” Diana’s journey over the course of the movie involves learning to see humanity–or, as she puts it, “men”–for what it is, with all its strengths and flaws. But left completely unacknowledged is the degree to which the cruelty of men is often visited upon women. How does Diana’s bemusement at the concept of marriage face up to the discovery that almost all of the people she meets in 1918 would consider it acceptable for a man to beat his wife? How does her decision to engage in heterosexual intercourse change in light of the fact that she is moving through a rape culture? How does her joy at seeing a baby withstand the knowledge that most women in that period have no choice in when or whether to have children, and that many of them die in childbirth?

(12) WONDER WHY. Meanwhile, Stephanie Abraham clearly feels there’s no pop culture victory that can’t be pictured as a defeat with a little effort — “When Will Wonder Woman Be a Fat, Femme Woman of Color?”

Why couldn’t Wonder Woman be a woman of color? When it was announced that Gadot would play Wonder Woman, audiences went wild body shaming her for not having large enough breasts. One can only imagine the white supremacy that would have emerged had the announcement said instead that she would be played by a Black woman. On Paradise Island, there are Black warriors in addition to white ones, which is a good start, but other women of color are missing. Also, while the female warriors are strong and ass-kicking, they all have tall, thin body types and they all could be models on a runway. In fact, in a pivotal battle scene, Wonder Woman struts across the battlefield as if on a catwalk. As a result, their physical strength plays second fiddle to their beauty, upholding the notion that in order to access power women must be beautiful in a traditional way. Especially with the body positivity movement gaining steam, the film could have spotlighted female warriors with fat, thick and short body types. While people have said that warriors can’t be fat, some of our best paid male athletes are, particularly linebackers on the football field, and no one doubts their physical strength.

Another problem is that the story’s overt queerness gets sublimated by heteronormativity. Diana comes from a separatist commune of women who have intentionally chosen to live without men. In one of the first scenes between Diana and Steve, she explains that she read 12 volumes of a series on sex that concluded that while men are required for reproduction, when it comes to female pleasure, they’re unnecessary. While a love story develops between them, a requirement in superhero stories, Diana thankfully doesn’t compromise her integrity for him.

(13) GENRE MOVIE POSTERS. Bill recommends Posteritati

Hundreds of SF movie posters: https://posteritati.com/genre/sci-fi?page=1

Hundreds more Fantasy movie posters: https://posteritati.com/genre/fantasy?page=1

Note: click “In Stock Only” to “off” to maximize browsing.

(14) BIONIC HANDS. Click on “3D printed bionic hands trial begins in Bristol” to see the video report.

The world’s first clinical trial of 3D printed bionic hands for child amputees starts this week in Bristol.

They are made by a South Gloucestershire company which only launched four years ago.

If the trial is successful the hands will become available on the NHS, bringing life-changing improvements for patients.

(15) PROSPECTIVE ASTRONAUTS. NPR’s story “Meet Your Lucky Stars: NASA Announces A New Class Of Astronaut Candidates” comes with pictures and short interviews.

Jasmin Moghbeli, one of the dozen candidates, spoke with NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro from Houston’s Johnson Space Center, where she’ll undertake the training program starting in August.

Moghbeli, who says she’s wanted to be an astronaut since the sixth grade, talked about what kind of candidate it takes to earn the coveted spot.

“Start looking into science, technology, engineering, math, those kinds of fields,” the German-born, New York native says. But whatever you do, she says, love it.

“There were many other applicants that applied who were extremely qualified for this position that aren’t lucky enough to be sitting up here like I am,” she adds. “So make sure you’re doing what you love. If I did not get the call saying, ‘Hey can you join us here at NASA?’ I still would’ve been extremely happy in the career that I was in.”

The seven men and five women of the class bring an impressive resume to NASA: The astronaut candidates are an athletic crew and include former SpaceX employees, a marine biologist and half of them are military officers.

(16) CAPED CLAPTRAP. Glen Weldon claims “Adam West Saved Batman. And Me.” If only by reaction — the author argues that the show was so silly it revived interest in the One True Dark Knight.

In my book, The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture, I attempt to unpack how the show, and West’s performance in particular, are the reason anyone’s talking about the character of Batman today.

Batman comics had languished near the bottom of the sales charts — the publisher even made (likely disingenuous) threats to cancel them outright — before West took the hero into the mainstream. The mainstream embraced him, and — after a brief Batmania fad gripped the country in 1966 — swiftly tired of all things Bat. Batman comics sales plummeted again.

Comics creators and fans resented the clownish version of their hero who’d spent time in the cultural spotlight, and reacted against it by engineering a version of the character who was — specifically and intentionally — everything West’s Batman wasn’t: dark, haunted, gothic, brooding. Obsessed.

A new generation of comics readers — who knew a little something about obsession — saw themselves in this new, grim, self-serious Batman. For better or worse, he’s been DC Comics’ top-selling hero ever since.

(17) NOT FOR NO PARTICULAR REASON. Whenever Larry Correia blows his stack at me, once he finally runs out of obscene things to say, which takes awhile, the next thing he does (like today) is tell people I keep linking to his blog to get pingbacks that will lure traffic from his popular site. Which is not only a lie – I link whenever I have an interest in an item – but is absurd on its face. Below are the Alexa rankings for our two sites. And the fact is that although Correia has repeated this claim several times since 2014, at no time then or now was his site ranked above mine, or anywhere close to it.

(Bear in mind that 1 would be the highest ranking, so the site with the most traffic has the lower rank numbers.)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Bill, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Fantastic Fiction at KGB Opens Kickstarter Appeal

KGB Bar

By Carl Slaughter: Fantastic Fiction at KGB needs your help. By June 14th, 2017, Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel want to raise a minimum of $4,500 to host the famous, longstanding, monthly reading in New York for 3 more years — and they’ve launched a Kickstarter to do it.

The reading series features luminaries and up-and-comers in speculative fiction. Admission is always free. The series brings together the greater New York community of writers, editors publishers, agents and fans into one location each month. We also publish a monthly podcast audio of the readings so people who cannot attend the physical event can still enjoy the readings. Fantastic Fiction is a great place to hear and meet talented new and veteran authors, as well as make valuable connections and meet new friends. Many lasting friendships and professional connections have been made through the Fantastic Fiction reading series.

Past readers: Joyce Carol Oates, Lucius Shepard, Jeffrey Ford, N.K. Jemisin, Scott Westerfeld, Kelly Link, Paul Tremblay, Laird Barron, China Miéville, Nancy Kress, Peter Straub, James Patrick Kelly, Victor LaValle, Joe Hill, Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene, Samuel Delany, Holly Black, Michael Swanwick, Kit Reed, Andy Duncan, Richard Bowes, Catherynne M. Valente, Jeff VanderMeer, Naomi Novik, Elizabeth Bear, Lev Grossman, and a host of other talented authors. Click the link for the full list.

Quick history: Terry Bisson and Alice K. Turner started the KGB Fantastic Fiction reading series in the late 1990s, attempting to bring together mainstream writers with writers of speculative fiction in order to show, in Alice Turner’s words, “that at a certain level they were plowing exactly the same field.” In the spring of 2000 editor Ellen Datlow took over for Alice K. Turner and in August 2002 Gavin J. Grant, publisher of Small Beer Press, stepped in for Bisson when he moved to California. Author Matthew Kressel stepped in for Gavin in April of 2008.

Matthew Kressel and Ellen Datlow.

Ellen Datlow answers a few questions.

Carl Slaughter: Where does the money go?

Ellen Datlow: Each month we give the authors a small stipend, we tip the bartenders (who always give the authors free drinks), and we take the authors out for dinner after the reading. Since it typically costs us around $120 per month, we need $1500 per year to maintain the series.

CS: What’s the criteria for inviting an author to read?

ED: We try to pick two readers whose work might complement each other-also at least one better-known writer with a relative unknown. We try to make sure we have at least one reader who will bring in more of an audience than our regulars.

CS: Is there a cost for getting into the bar or listening to the readings?

ED: No -we get the use of the bar for free for two hours a month. The bar in turn hopes that attendees will buy drinks (soft or hard) during that period of time.

CS: Is there a charge for accessing the podcast?

ED: No-it’s free on the website

CS: Have you ever thought about charging to ease the financial burden?

ED: No – even if we wanted to, we could not without a different deal with the bar.

CS: What about selling an audio?

ED: No – we haven’t really though about it, although if we did, we’d have to contact all the readers and ask their permission.

CS: Do you pay travel expenses for out of town authors?

ED: No we don’t.

CS: What books are on display?

ED: Word Bookstore supplies books for the readers if they are available through a wholesaler. If not, the readers can sell copies of their own books before the reading, during intermission, or afterward.

CS: Suppose an author who hardly ever visits New York will be in town on a reading night? Or just wants a memorable experience and is willing to pay their own way?

ED: They’re welcome to join the audience. We’re scheduled several months in advance, so anyone coming to town needs to query us wayyyy in advance.

CS: Who’s on the horizon?

ED: Sunny Moraine, Catherynne M. Valente, Karen Heuler, N.K. Jemisin, Rajan Khanna, Chris Sharp, Katherine Vaz, Kai Ashanti Wilson, James Patrick Kelly, Grady Hendrix, David Rice.

CS: Is there a CD or website with an archive of readings?

ED: The audio files are our archives: http://www.kgbfantasticfiction.org/.

Pixel Scroll 4/22/17 Get Out Of There At Once! The Pixels Are Coming From Inside The Scroll!

(1) CON REPORT. Outer Places went to Steve Wozniak’s comic con — “The SVCC Tech Showcase Was Filled With Robots and Supercars”.

Second only to the Woz himself, the night’s biggest show-stealer was SoftBank Robotics‘ Pepper the Robot. The machine is designed to be able to accurately perceive emotions, and is currently being marketed as a personal assistant in Japan. Tonight, Pepper mostly just rolled up to people and requested they take a selfie with them – that may sound like a waste of Pepper’s talents, but any robot who can perceive emotions would eventually realize that humans enjoy doing really silly things. So before the robots take over, we’ll take selfies with them.

(2) CAPTAIN KIRK. Of course, that may be underestimating William Shatner who was at SVCC yesterday, too — “William Shatner delights fans at Silicon Valley Comic Con” . Watch the KGO news video at the link.

From “Star Wars” to “Star Trek” and everything in between, the second annual Silicon Valley Comic Con did not disappoint on its opening night. In addition to costumes and cosplay fans were treated to an evening with Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner.

(3) SOMEBODY’S WRONG ON THE INTERNET! The Fargo/Hugo Award identification continues to outrun the correction – as per usual in social media. But I’m impressed how many people know what a Hugo is. By comparison, it’ll be a cold day in Fargo Hell before the masses think they recognize a Dragon Award being used as a murder weapon on TV – take that, Puppies!

Series of tweets here:

(4) SCIENCE’S SIBLING RIVALRY. Star Trek, Arrival, linguistics, and “soft” science versus “hard” science: “Uhura Was a Comms Officer: Why Linguistics Matter”.

In Arrival, Louise Banks melds xenolinguistics, language documentation and underlying pattern recognition—even within the film, however, her specialty is derided as “not real” science by her male (theoretical physicist) counterpart Ian Donnelly. After quoting from a book on linguistics Banks wrote, Ian says flatly that she’s wrong:

“Well, the cornerstone of civilization isn’t language. It’s science.”

This is a succinct rendition of how language study tends to be viewed by those outside of it: that the scientific study of language isn’t science. This also, of course, ties into other things (such as sexism and whatnot, plus trying to use dialogue as characterization in media) but detailing such factors is beyond the scope of this article; suffice it to say, Arrival tries to detail the work of documenting and recognizing patterns of a completely unfamiliar system.

(5) WELCOME TO MARS, NOW DROP DEAD. Daily Mail, which enjoys such a reputation around here, warns “Visitors to Mars Will Die in Under 68 Days”..

…One of the most important conclusions of the research is that neither crops nor oxygen generated for the inhabitants will be sufficient to support life for long. A fatal fire is also a major risk.

The Daily Mail summarized the very long MIT paper:

Mars One is an ambitious plan by a Dutch entrepreneur to send people to Mars next decade and start building a colony there. The proposal has received fierce criticism for its lack of realistic goals, and now one study has dealt the team a crushing blow – by saying the colonists will begin dying in 68 days. Low air pressure, habitats at risk of explosion and a lack of spare parts are among the potentially fatal dangers that apparently await anyone who makes the inaugural trip.

(6) LEND A RESEARCHER A HAND. Zack Weinberg asks for your help. I ran this past a friend whose computer and network knowledge I respect and he agreed it looked bona fide – but as always, exercise your own wisdom about participating. This demo is part of a research study conducted by Zachary Weinberg, Nicolas Christin, and Vyas Sekar of Carnegie Mellon University. And as he says at the end, “’I particularly want Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and South America.”

I’m doing a research project related to online censorship, which you can help with, by visiting https://research.owlfolio.org/active-geo/ in any reasonably recent version of Firefox, Chrome, or IE. (You must have JavaScript enabled. It doesn’t work in Safari, which unfortunately means you cannot use an iDevice.) Press the Start button on the map, wait for it to finish, and then click the “Tell me more” button (which appears when it’s done) and read the text and follow the instructions. It is especially helpful if you do this on a computer physically located somewhere other than Europe and North America.

The experiment is testing “active geolocation”, which is when you try to figure out where a computer physically is by measuring how long it takes a packet of information to go round-trip between one computer and other computers in known locations. This has been studied carefully within Europe and the continental USA, but much less so elsewhere.

This is relevant to Internet censorship because, in order to measure Internet censorship, you need access to a computer within the sub-network run by a censorious country or organization. Commercial VPN services are one way to do this. Unfortunately, the countries that are most aggressive about censoring the Internet are also countries where it is difficult and expensive to host servers. I suspect that several commercial VPN providers’ claims of widespread server hosting are false: they are placing servers in countries where it is easy to do business, and then adding false entries to commonly-used geolocation databases. If whatsmyip and the like tell their users that the VPN server is in the right country, that’s good enough to make a sale…

I have run these measurements myself on many VPN servers, but I don’t know how accurate they are, and the accuracy varies depending on the true location. By visiting this page, running all the way through a measurement, and then telling me honestly where your computer really is, you provide me with data that I can use to calibrate the VPN measurements. Again, data from places other than Europe and North America is especially helpful: I particularly want Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and South America.

(7) CHARLES VESS. Coming this fall, an art book by the master — “Charles Vess Has An Original Art Edition of The Book of Ballads”.

From Neil Gaiman’s retelling of “The False Knight on the Road”, to Jeff Smith’s “The Galtee Farmer”, and Jane Yolen’s “King Henry” – Charles Vess’ The Book of Ballads brought new visions of the classic folktales from the brightest New York Times bestsellers, award winners, and masters of science fiction and fantasy together with stunning art from Charles Vess. With this new The Boo of Ballads Art Edition, get ready to experience the stories anew!

Hits comic stores September 13, 2017 and bookstores on November 10, 2017.

(8) SQUEE DOWN UNDER Ryan K. Lindsay is an excited Aurealis Award winner.

(9) TODAY’S DAYS

Two choices for April 22 —

EARTH DAY

Earth Day Network

The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air ActClean Water ActEndangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Twenty years later, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage.

MARCH FOR SCIENCE

March for Science

The March for Science is the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments.

(10) MARCHER FOR SCIENCE. Given what a lot of you think about the Daily Mail, why wouldn’t most their coverage of the March for Science in London revolve around Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi? Except that you think it’s a good thing, don’t you. Fess up!

Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi joined physicists, astronomers and biologists at the March for Science as protesters paraded past London’s most celebrated research institutions.

Leading figures used the occasion to warn Britain’s impending divorce from the continent could compromise their work by stifling collaboration with overseas colleagues.

Organisers claimed 12,000 people joined the London event, as hundreds of similar protests took place around the globe, from Australia to the US.

Somebody needs to say it: What’s Doctor Who but a show that glorifies fake science and boasts a stunning lack of internal consistency? Yes, I love it, too, but let’s not get confused about what happens every episode….

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 22, 1953 – Sci-fi horror movie Invaders From Mars was released on this date.
  • April 22, 1978 — The Blues Brothers make their world premiere on Saturday Night Live.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • April 22, 1894:  Legendary film heavy Rondo Hatton is born in Hagerstown, MD. (Which makes me wonder, did he ever meet Harry Warner, Jr.?)

(13) SEE THE AUTHORS. Here are Ellen Datlow’s photos from the April 19’s Fantastic Readings at KGB with Laura Anne Gilman and Seth Dickinson.

(14) HEAR THE AUTHORS. At the next Fantastic Fiction at KGB on May 17, hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present E.C. Myers and Sam J. Miller.

E.C. Myers was assembled in the U.S. from Korean and German parts and raised by a single mother and a public library in Yonkers, New York. He has published four novels, and short stories in various magazines and anthologies, including Space & Time Magazine, Hidden Youth: Speculative Stories of Marginalized Children, and Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy. His first novel, Fair Coin, won the 2012 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult SF and Fantasy, and YALSA selected The Silence of Six as one of its “Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers” in 2016. His next book will be DoubleThink, a collection of stories related to The Silence of Six from and he continues to write for ReMade, a science fiction series from Serial Box Publishing.

And

Sam J. Miller’s short stories have appeared in publications such as Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, and Lightspeed, along with multiple “year’s best” anthologies. His debut novel The Art of Starving, forthcoming from HarperTeen, was called “Funny, haunting, beautiful, relentless and powerful… a classic in the making” by Book Riot. His second novel, The Breaks, will be published by Ecco Press in 2018. He graduated from the Clarion UCSD Science Fiction & Fantasy Workshop in 2012. A finalist for multiple Nebula Awards along with the World Fantasy and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards, he won the 2013 Shirley Jackson Award for his short story “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides.”

May 17th, 7 p.m. at KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)

(15) GO AROUND AGAIN. The … individual … pushing circular runways backs up his ideas: “Circular runways: Engineer defends his proposal”

Last month we published a video arguing the case for circular runways at airports, as part of a series called World Hacks. It took off and went viral.

The video has had more than 36 million views on Facebook and generated heated debate on social media – including within the aviation community. Many people are sceptical about the concept.

So we decided to hand-pick some of the top concerns and put them straight to the man proposing the idea: Dutch engineer Henk Hesselink.

This is what he had to say….

Chip Hitchcock remarks, “I like how he casually dismisses increased landing speeds (ignoring their effects on tires) and doesn’t even discuss how difficult it would be to build several miles of surface with a uniform concavity or to refit several thousand airplanes with an autopilot sophisticated enough to handle such a landing — or how much harder aborting safely would be if the autopilot failed.”

(16) GET YOUR TISSUES READY. Nerdist has photos — “Little Jyn Erso Cosplayer Delivers Death Star Plans to Leia at STAR WARS Celebration”.

Harley and her dad made the data cards as a fun activity for the convention. Harley loves interacting with other people, and they thought this was a fitting tribute to their love of Star Wars and Fisher. As Harley ran into Leia cosplayers of all variety of ensemble, she handed over the Death Star plans. I don’t know how many Leia cosplayers were moved to tears by this act, but I’d wager it wasn’t a small number.

(17) KAMIKASSINI. Cassini sets up for final plunge: “Cassini probe heads towards Saturn ‘grand finale'”.

In the years that it has been studying the Saturnian system, the probe has flown by the haze-shrouded world on 126 occasions – each time getting a kick that bends it towards a new region of interest.

And on Saturday, Cassini pulled on the gravitational “elastic band” one last time, to shift from an orbit that grazes the outer edge of Saturn’s main ring system to a flight path that skims the inner edge and puts it less than 3,000km above the planet’s cloud tops.

The probe will make the first of these gap runs next Wednesday, repeating the dive every six and a half days through to its death plunge, scheduled to occur at about 10:45 GMT on 15 September.

The probe is scheduled for deliberate destruction to avoid any risk of it hitting and contaminating a Saturnian moon.

(18) APOLLO 13. Now there’s a documentary about “The unsung heroes who prevented the Apollo 13 disaster”.

Two days into what should have been a mission to the Moon, disaster struck Apollo 13. A new film explores the drama – and astronaut Jim Lovell recounts the incredible efforts to bring the crew back….

These tanks, in the spacecraft service module, were Liebergot’s responsibility. They held oxygen and hydrogen, which was converted to electricity and water in three fuel cells – powering the capsule and providing the astronauts with drinking water. The routine instruction to turn on stirring fans was to make sure the liquid in the fuel vessels was properly mixed, to ensure the gauges gave accurate readings.

Swigert flicks the switches for the fans. Two minutes later, there is a bang and the master alarm sounds.

On the ground, Liebergot is beginning the last hour of his eight-hour shift and is the first to see something has gone wrong. “The data went crazy, there was a lot of commotion in the room,” he says. “We didn’t know what we were seeing.”

That eight-hour shift would eventually end three days later.

“Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” Lovell tells mission control. “It looks to me, looking out the hatch, that we are venting something. We are venting something out into space.”

Chip Hitchcock opines, “To go with a documentary about the rescue, which I can see starting another round of does-this-qualify-for-the-DP-Hugo — provided it gets enough attention. (Released 5 weeks ago, but I don’t recall it showing in Boston at all; did anyone else see it before it went to Amazon video?)

(19) BACK IN THE STEM. “Why Russia is so good at encouraging women into tech” — Chip Hitchcock introduces this with a lemony comment: “Makes an interesting contrast to the recent proposal to decriminalize wifebeating; I wonder whether their rightward political shift will affect this.”

According to Unesco, 29% of people in scientific research worldwide are women, compared with 41% in Russia. In the UK, about 4% of inventors are women, whereas the figure is 15% in Russia.

Russian girls view Stem far more positively, with their interest starting earlier and lasting longer, says Julian Lambertin, managing director at KRC Research, the firm that oversaw the Microsoft interviews.

(20) PUB SIGN. Catching up on the news from 2011 — “Sizewell: Unique pub sign scoops top award” in the East Anglian Daily Times.

His unique creation features three variations on the vulcan theme – the Roman god, the delta-winged jet aircraft and the TV character Mr Spock.

Mr Fisk, who has been at the pub since 1997, decided to create a new sign after the old one was hit by a lorry around 18 months ago.

(21) HOLD EVERYTHING. In “Love in Public” on Vimeo, Noah Malone explains what happens to relationships when talking club sandwiches give gratuitous advice.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/19/17 She’s Got Electric Trolls, A Pixel Scroll

(1) READING ROPEMAKER IRONMONGER. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll has turned the panel loose on Cordwainer Smith’s “The Ballad of Lost C’Mell”

Smith’s best known work is set several thousand years in the future, when humans have colonized the galaxy under the benevolent or at least firm hand of the Instrumentality. For humans, it’s a utopia. For the artificial Underpeople, created to serve humans and without any rights at all, it is not. “The Ballad of Lost C’Mell” was deemed worthy of inclusion in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two, which honored noteworthy stories denied a shot at the Nebula Award because they predated that award. How does it stand up in the eyes of my young readers?

Here’s your first clue – I say, “Fire the panelists!”

(2) WRITING BUSINESS. Kristine Kathryn Rusch analyzes the summary business reports for 2016 and extracts the nuggets for indie writers. This is just one of many —

Readers still go to bookstores, yes, and some readers will go to the brick-and-mortar store first. But most readers go online first, even if they choose not to order the book there.

There’s an interesting piece from The International Council of Shopping Centers (which I found through the Marketing Land article). On January 3, the International Council of Shopping Centers released the results of a survey conducted after the holiday season ended. The survey had a relatively small sample size (1030 adults) , but the findings seemed to be backed up by the other data that’s coming in.

The survey found that 70% of the shoppers surveyed preferred shopping at a place with an online and a physical presence. That number was even higher for Millennials—81%. Part of the reason was the ability to compare prices, but some of it was—again—convenience. Since most shoppers waited until the last minute in 2016 to shop, they ended up looking online to see if what they wanted was at a store, and then they went to the store to pick it up.

Sixty-one percent of the people who went to the store to pick up the item they purchased online bought something else at that store (75% of Millennials.) Why am I harping on Millennials? Because they are the future of the next decade or so of retailing.

(And, like it or not, writers, you’re in the retailing business when it comes to getting your books in the hands of consumers.)

This, my friends, is why Amazon is opening brick-and-mortar bookstores. Because they’re seeing similar statistics, and they understand, perhaps better than any of us, that the consumer wants a blended experience.

(3) GAINING FAME. Matthew Kressel of Fantastic Fiction at KGB reveals “How to Run a (Successful) Reading Series” at Tor.com.

Give the Authors Something for Their Time

Let’s face it, even though the author is getting lots of free promotion by reading at your series, they still have to make the effort to travel to your city, book a hotel, and get to the event on the day itself. The absolute least you can do is give them something for their time. (Simply “allowing” them to read for you is not enough). Give them a stipend/honorarium. Buy them drinks and/or dinner. Give your guests something to show them that you appreciate their time and effort.

Promote the S**t Out Of Your Events

It goes without saying that in today’s glut of media, you have to rise above the noise to be heard, especially if you’re just starting out. Establish a social media presence. Make a website. Tweet, Facebook, Tumblr, and G+ the s**t out of your readings. Create an email list. Make a Facebook event. Ask the bar/venue to put it up on their website. Leave no promotional stone unturned. It will be really hard for people to come to your reading if they don’t know about it.

(4) HEAD FOR THE BORDERLANDS. Two signings coming up at Borderlands Books in San Francisco:

  • Laura Anne Gilman, THE COLD EYE (Hardcover, Saga Press, $27.99) on Sunday, January 22nd at 3:00pm
  • Ellen Klages, PASSING STRANGE (Trade Paperback, Tor.com, $14.99) on Saturday, January 28th at 3:00pm

(5) LITERARY HISTORY. You can bid on eBay for a copy of the issue of Mademoiselle containing Ray Bradbury’s first mainstream publication. And the story gets even better —

I believe that this will be one of the rarest and coolest Ray Bradbury collectibles you will see on ebay this year. In 1946, a year before the publication of Bradbury’s first book, Ray was just starting to break out of publishing only in the pulps and weird fantasy magazines and gain some traction with more highly respected mainstream publications. He submitted his classic story Homecoming to Mademoiselle magazine but it sat in their offices for months without being read. Truman Capote, then working at the magazine as an editorial apprentice, came across the story, loved it, and passed it along to his editor. This was not a typical story for Mademoiselle. So, amazingly enough, Bradbury found himself working closely with the magazine’s staff as the story became the centerpiece for a supernatural Halloween themed issue. Even the fashion spreads reflect the ghoulish theme. It is slightly bizarre. The story is accompanied with a double page Charles Addams illustration, the same picture that is ultimately used as the Cover of From The Dust Returned. Although the image there was flipped to accommodate the book jacket, so the picture in the magazine is as the artist originally intended….

So why do you almost never see one of these come up for sale? Keep in mind that this came out the year before Ray’s first book was published. Even if you were an avid Bradbury fan (and at this time there were few of them) and were on the lookout for Ray stories you are not going to look at Mademoiselle magazine, especially since Ray’s name is not on the cover. And who is going to hold onto this for 70 years? At 325 pages it is a tome. Women do not generally collect things like this, so most of these were probably discarded early on. These magazines are almost the definition of disposable. Try to find this anywhere at any price.

(6) THOSE WEREN’T THE DAYS MY FRIEND. The Traveler at Galactic Journey warns against reading the February 1962 Analog – advice most of you should find easy to follow: “[January 19, 1962] Killing the Messenger (February 1962 Analog)”

The problem is Analog’s editor, Mr. John W. Campbell.  Once a luminary in the field, really hatching an entire genre back in the late 30’s, Campbell has degenerated into the crankiest of cranks.  And since he offers 3 cents a word for folks to stroke his ego, he necessarily gets a steady stream of bespoke stories guaranteed to be published.

Want to know the secret to getting printed in Analog?  Just include psi powers and a healthy dose of anti-establishment pseudo-scientific contrarianism, and you’re in like Flynn.

Case in point: this issue’s lead story, The Great Gray Plague, by Raymond F. Jones.  Never have I seen such a cast of straw men this side of a cornfield.  The setup is that the snooty head of a government agency that oversees science grants refuses to consider the bucolic Clearwater College as a candidate because they rank so low on the “Index.”  Said “Index” comprises a set of qualifications, some reasonable like the ratio of doctorates to students and published papers per year, to the ridiculous like ratio of tuxedoes to sport coats owned by the faculty and the genetic pedigree of the staff.  Thus, the “Index” serves as a sort of Poll Tax for institutions, making sure only the right kind remain moneyed.  The Dean of Clearwater makes an impassioned argument to the government employee that such a narrow protocol means thousands of worthy scientists and their inventions get snubbed every year in favor of established science.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 19, 1990 — Natives of a small isolated town defend themselves against strange underground creatures in Tremors, seen for the first time on this date. The official scientific name of the Graboid worm is “Caederus mexicana“.
  • January 19, 1996  — Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez team up for From Dusk Till Dawn.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

(9) GREAT NEWS ABOUT GOOD OMENS. Coming to Amazon Video, SciFiNow reports “Good Omens TV series confirmed, Neil Gaiman will write every episode”.

It was confirmed last year that Neil Gaiman was working on a TV adaptation of his and the late Sir Terry Pratchett’s classic novel Good Omens, and now there’s some big news to get excited about.

Variety reports that Amazon has greenlit a six-episode series, and that Gaiman himself has written every script and will serve as showrunner.

So, that’s pretty brilliant.

Because of the tragic logistics of how long things actually take to get made, we won’t see Good Omens until 2018, but this is truly wonderful news.

Good Omens will be a co-production with the BBC and Rhianna Pratchett’s production company Narrativia, and it will air on the BBC after launching on Amazon Video.

This adaptation will be “set in 2018 on the brink of an apocalypse as humanity prepares for a final judgment. But follies ensue — Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a demon aren’t enthusiastic about the end of the world, and can’t seem to find the Antichrist.”

(10) PATROLLING THE BEAT. Hey there, what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down: “So Long, Mall Cop! Enter Silicon Valley Start-Up’s Robot Guards”.

The mall cop is going to have some company. Silicon Valley start-up Knightscope believes its security robots can help take a bite out of the crime that costs the American economy $1 trillion every year. Knightscope CEO William Santana Li says his robots are already on duty in several key California locations including the Sacramento Kings arena, the Microsoft campus and Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose. The robots are designed to detect and report anomalies, which help existing human security personnel perform better and stay safer.

Francis Hamit comments: “This will actually make human security officers more effective since it will increase their range. They have several accounts now in California and are raising additional funds through a Regulation A+ offering on their website. I bought some shares myself Yeah, it still looks like a Dalek. but they are not weaponized. They come in peace…”

(11) NO, I WON’T JUST SIT BACK AND ENJOY IT. Kate Paulk repeats a favorite talking point in “Making History is Messier than you Thought” at Mad Genius Club.

The forces that have dominated civil (or uncivil) discourse of late are in the process of losing what was once a near-absolute grip on public expression, and they don’t like it. This is showing up in the Big 5 versus Amazon rolling arguments, the repeated attempts to delegitimize and other all things Indie, the Sad Puppies campaigns (and yes, the Rabids as well. Had the reaction to Sad Puppies 2 been less vitriolic, the whole thing would have likely faded off and been forgotten by now. Instead, well… Take note, folks. If you don’t like something, the best way to deal with it is to politely ignore it and let it rise or fall on its own merits. If it really is as bad as you think, it will sink. Of course, if there’s manipulation behind the scenes that’s a whole nother argument).

(12) ANIMATED LOVECRAFT. “Mark Hamill, Christopher Plummer Lead Voice Cast of ‘Lovecraft’ Feature”Deadline has the story.

Mark Hamill, the beloved Star Wars actor, is taking a little time out to voice an animated Lovecraft feature. He, along with Jeffrey Combs (Transformers Prime), Christopher Plumme and Doug Bradley (Hellraiser) have been set for the voice cast in the upcoming animated feature Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom from Shout! Factory and Arcana Studios. Written, directed and produced by Sean Patrick O’Reilly, the film is the adaption of Bruce Brown and Dwight L. MacPherson’s bestselling graphic novel of the same name, and marks the second installment of Howard Lovecraft animated film series.

(13) THE PLOTS HATCH. Tor.com’s Natalie Zutter, in “Disney All But Confirms Shared-Universe Fan Theories With Pixar Easter Eggs Video”, explains why you should watch it.

That is, by going super granular—freeze-framing and then panning over to a background character (or image) that you may not have noticed on first viewing, then jumping over to the movie it references. From Inside Out‘s Riley peering into the aquarium in Finding Dory to the shadow of Up‘s Dug chasing Remy in Ratatouille two years before the former came out… or even Skinner’s bright red moped showing up in the scrap pile in WALL-E… this is an Easter egg video to the nth degree.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Francis Hamit, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 1/7/17 And Someday, If I Can, I’m Gonna Be A Pixel Scroller Just Like My Old Man

(1) STABBY TIME. Reddit’s r/Fantasy group is voting on the winners of The 2016 Best of r/Fantasy Stabby Awards through January 11. You’re invited.

For 2016, we need you to vote!

The eligible candidates below were set by the 2016 r/Fantasy Nomination Thread and populated by r/Fantasy members. The list was locked in place this past Wednesday at 10PM Pacific.

To vote, please click the upvote arrow next to your choice or choices for ‘best of’ in each category. Yes, you can upvote more than one.

(2) STICKS THE LANDING. The New York Times’ Neil Genzlinger reviews Emerald City in “Toto, You’re Not a Basket-Size Terrier Anymore”

Dorothy, the Wizard and the rest of the Oz gang get the “Grimm” treatment as well as the grim treatment in “Emerald City,” a series beginning Friday on NBC, one that’s addictive if you allow it to be. That may, however, require some effort on your part.

emerald-city-nbc

You may not be conscious of just how deeply imprinted the film version of “The Wizard of Oz” is on your psyche until you watch a bit of this show, which initially seems so very wrong in every possible way. Where is the singing? Where are the psychedelic colors? So here’s what you do: At the first commercial break, pause and marvel all over again at what a spectacular achievement in artistry and cross-generational endurance the 1939 Judy Garland film is, and then let it go.

“Emerald City” has its Dorothy, engagingly played by Adria Arjona, but it draws on the full canon of L. Frank Baum’s “Oz” books (a series that continued after his death in 1919). It is partial to the dark and unsettling aspects of those tales, which it teases out and enhances with flourishes of its own. When this Dorothy lands in Oz, she’s armed, and that dog alongside her is no basket-size terrier.

The result is decidedly not a fairy tale for young children. This version of Oz has bloodshed, charred bodies, a very disturbing multiple suicide and much more. Friday’s premiere consists of two episodes, which is good, because two hours is about how long it takes you to acclimate to the tone and intent. In the third episode, a doozy, the show’s grip on you really tightens.

(3) NOT SINBAD AND NOT SHAZAAM. Kenneth R. Johnson emailed his theory about the misremembered genie movie debated in comments on yesterday’s Scroll:

I think I may have the answer to what the mysterious genie movie is that various people are mis-remembering as “Shazaam.”  I distinctly remember watching a movie on TV back in the 1990s in which the genie was played by a tall black guy with dreadlocks;  he also had some kind of British accent.  After extensive googling I’ve identified it as “Bernard and the Genie,” a TV movie from 1991.  The genie was played by British actor/comedian Lenny Henry.  He may have been doing a Jamaican accent to make the genie appear pseudo-Rastafarian.  The movie also has Alan Cumming and Rowan Atkinson in it.  It’s very strange.

(4) BUG JACQUES BARRON. French citizens are now automatic organ donors under the law.

All French citizens are now automatic organ donors, unless they officially opt out of the program.

A new law that went into effect on Jan. 1 makes everyone an organ and tissue donor. People can opt out of the program, but they must enroll in something called the National Rejection Register in order to do so.

A low number of organ donations prompted the new rule, according to news reports.

France’s biomedicine agency said in a statement on its website that “in the name of national solidarity, the principle of presumed consent was chosen,” The World Post reported.

(5) REMEMBER THE ALICORN. Rick Riordan putting his foot down —

(6) FATE OF THE FRANCHISE. What would you do? HuffPo says “’Star Wars’ Team Grappling With How Leia Will Live On After Carrie Fisher’s Death”.

In the wake of Carrie Fisher’s death, the team responsible for future “Star Wars” projects is reportedly reconsidering the place of her character, Leia Organa, in the franchise’s ever-expanding universe, according to The Hollywood Reporter. …

Fisher, who first played the iconic princess in 1977, brought Leia back to the big screen as a general in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015. The actress has apparently already filmed her scenes for the second installment in the latest trilogy, but was rumored to have an even larger role in the following film….

The team is reportedly concerned with two key scenes featuring Fisher that would bring her character and the film’s plot full circle: a much belated reunion between Leia and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and a faceoff with her son Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who killed his father and her lover, Han Solo, in “The Force Awakens.”

Shooting for “Star Wars: Episode IX” isn’t scheduled to begin until early 2018, so until then, those at the helm are pursuing a variety of options on how to proceed. Resurrecting Fisher with CGI effects is apparently one alternative in play, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Technological advances have allowed for actors like the late Peter Cushing to return to the screen in the latest “Star Wars” offering, “Rogue One,” so Fisher could continue to have a similar presence, however limited, in future films.

The braintrust is also reportedly discussing writing the character out all together and reshooting certain scenes to lay the groundwork for her eventual exit from the franchise.

(7) BRINGING ATWOOD TO TV. The Daily Mail brings the showbiz news: “Not quite Stars Hollow! Gilmore Girls’ Alexis Bledel set to star in dystopian Handmaid’s Tale as subversive lesbian”. She’s best known for her role as Rory Gilmore in the idyllic Gilmore Girls.

But it seems Alexis Bledel’s next role will be significantly darker, as it was announced she’ll be joining Hulu’s dystopian Handmaid’s Tale, according to TV Line.

The 35-year-old actress will play the role of Ofglen in the 10 episode series, which is based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling novel.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 7, 1977:  Michael Winner’s The Sentinel premieres in New York City.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born January 7, 1903 — Alan Napier (Alfred Pennyworth) is born in Birmingham, England.
  • Born January 7, 1928 – William Peter Blatty (The Exorcist).

(10) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. On January 18 the hosts of the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series, Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel, present Holly Black and Fran Wilde. The event begins at 7 p.m. in the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, NY — just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)

Holly Black is a writer of bestselling contemporary dark fantasy. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare) and The Darkest Part of the Forest. She has been a a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award, the Mythopoeic Award and a Newbery Honor.

Fran Wilde writes science fiction and fantasy. Her debut novel, Updraft, won the Andre Norton Award and the Compton Crook award, and was a Nebula nominee. Cloudbound, the second book in the Bone Universe series, came out in September 2016, and Horizon will appear in fall 2017. Her novella, “The Jewel and Her Lapidary,” was published by Tor.com publishing in May 2016. Fran’s short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, Uncanny Magazine, Tor.com, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

(11) BE YOUR OWN TIME LORD. Cat Rambo tells Risingshadow readers the importance to writers of “Daily rituals”.

The thing I have learned more than anything else is that a writer must defend their time. That everyone assumes that you’re ready to take a break, come down to the coffee shop and kill a couple of hours. A friend complained to my husband that he felt as though I was timing our encounters, and I was. At the hour mark, I needed to get back to work, because otherwise I’d sit there nattering for far too long. Because you must defend that time not just from others, but from yourself and your own human tendencies toward procrastination and farting around on the Internet, while still being mindful that you do deserve a break every once in a while. You become your own manager, and that is a more difficult task than it might seem.

(12) SURVIVAL TACTICS. John Scalzi’s “10-point plan for getting creative work done in the age of Trump” is easier to understand than Christopher Priest’s.

Scalzi’s plan, published in the Los Angeles Times, was introduced to Whatever readers in these terms:

First, and in case you missed me talking about it on Twitter yesterday, I have a piece up at the LA Times site (a version of it is also in the Sunday newspaper) about getting creative work done in the Trump years — some advice about how to keep focus when it’s likely to be a challenging time for the creative class. Note that this advice generally probably also works for people working in professions generally considered “non-creative” as well, but I’m working with what I know here. Also, of course, if you’re neutral or positive on the idea of the incoming Trump administration, then this particular piece is probably unnecessary for you. Carry on, then.

One of Scalzi’s ten points is —

  1. Reconnect (judiciously). When you go back to the news of the world, and to social media, it’s perfectly all right to ask yourself: Is this making me happy? Is it giving me useful information? Is it inspiring me to engage in the world or does it make me want to run from it?

If it’s not helping you, let it go. Unfollow that Facebook friend passing along fake news, and block those fake news sites outright. Mute that person on Twitter who is apparently always angry. Evaluate the news sources you read and keep the ones that offer news accurately and truthfully (spin is spin, even if it’s spin you like). Design your media intake to be useful, truthful and less stressful.

As for Christopher Priest, he posted on New Year’s Eve that he’ll be moving 500 miles from Devon, England (he didn’t identify where). He spends nearly the entire post pouring out his fear and loathing of Donald Trump, yet never managing to establish any connection between the move and Trump’s election. Did he just want to insure an audience for his farewell address?

(13) LIVING IN STAR TREK TIMES. The Washington Post’s Hayley Tsukayama, in “The Big Takeaway From This Year’s CES”, concludes:

There has been no killer gadget at this year’s International CES technology show. Instead, something more subtle has emerged as the keystone of the tech world.

I’m talking about the smart, central voice assistant. Yes, even that may sound a bit old hat for those who’ve been paying attention….

Virtual assistants can now understand what you say and even interpret the many ways you may say it. Shawn DuBravac, an economist for the Consumer Technology Association, said that machines now have the same word error rate — that is, the batting average of understanding what we’ve actually said — as humans. That’s up from a 23 percent error rate in 2013, meaning that the tech is getting better, and quickly.

That fact has made the dreams of a STAR TREK-like computer come even closer to reality.  The hope is that these assistants will move even beyond our sci-fi dreams and learn our habits and needs well enough to anticipate them.

David K.M. Klaus comments, “I think it’s clear that nobody connected with the program at the time thought it likely that voice-controlled devices would come into mass use in just a half-century — yet the program itself has accelerated technology design in its own direction. I started writing letters to local newspapers pointing out the inspiration when they published articles about new technology thirty years ago.  (Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein, et al. predated that, of course, but Star Trek in particular has been responsible for how it looks.)  Glad to see that mundane reporters have finally caught up with me.”

(14) WATCH YOUR INTAKE. Cat Rambo shares a second bit of writerly advice at GeekMom in “Artificial inspiration”.

This phenomenon underscores the fact that authors need to pay attention to what they’re putting into their mental buckets, particularly whenever they’re working on a project. The old computer adage, “Garbage in, garbage out,” comes into play. Or turn it around and aim it in another direction: put marvelous things in, get marvelous things out.

In some ways, I think of it like learning a language. We all speak storytelling, we’ve heard it spoken around and to us in fairytales, myths, fables, and a kerjilliion other texts, down to the format of many ads. And just as, when you’re around a number of people all speaking with the same accent, that accent begins to creep into your own speech. So if you’re only hearing one kind of storytelling, all that you speak in that language of storytelling will have that accent–or flavor, or texture, or however you choose to conceptualize it.

Want to create something wonderful? Then you must read wonderful things and not just read them but study them. Take the sentences apart as carefully as a pathologist dissecting an organ and figure out how they work–and then apply that knowledge so you know you’ve got the tool down and have added it to your writerly toolkit.

(15) I’LL BE BACK. At the BBC, Frank Swain tells “Why we may be living in the future of The Running Man”.

The vision of 2017 depicted in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 30-year-old dystopian action movie captures how our world is changing today.

In a world beset by a collapsing economy, the US media conspires with the government to keep the population in check with a combination of heavy-handed policing and a steady stream of vapid reality TV shows. Meanwhile, one of the most powerful men in the world is the host of a reality TV show.

Sound familiar? That was 2017 conjured by campy action thriller The Running Man when it was released 30 years ago.

Sci-fi commonly reveals hidden truths about society. So, it makes you wonder: what else could this dystopian vision say about the world we live in today? If we look at where we are in 2017, what can The Running Man tell us about our changing politics, media and technology?

Chip Hitchcock urges, “Note the photo of Erland van Lidth de Jeude partway through; when he was in the MIT Musical Theatre Guild we used to say that he might be the first Olympic victor to sing his own national anthem. The movies typecast him as a hulk, losing the singing voice that he used in roles ranging from Roderick Murgatroyd to Richard Henry Lee.”

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, Andrew Porter, Cat Rambo, Chip Hitchcock, David K.M.Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]