Pixel Scroll 4/4/17 I Used To Be A Filer Like You, But Then I Took A Pixel In The Knee

(1) CATAPOSTROPHE. New Mexico fan Jack Speer’s relentless habit of correcting others’ fanwriting earned him the nickname “Grammar West of the Pecos.” Sounds like they’ve found his soul-mate in England — “’Banksy of punctuation’ puts full stop to bad grammar in Bristol”.

BBC tracks down self-styled ‘grammar vigilante’ on mission to rid city of rogue apostrophes

…He told the BBC he was a family man who worked in engineering. “I’m a grammar vigilante,” he said. “I do think it’s a cause worth pursuing.”

The man said he began by scratching out an extraneous apostrophe on a sign but had since become more sophisticated and has built an “apostrophiser” – a long-handled piece of kit that allows him to reach up to shop signs to add in, or cover up, offending punctuation marks. “This is a device that enables you to plant an apostrophe quite high up and get over any obstacles,” he said.

(2) PACK YOUR BOOKS. For years there have been stories that TOR will move out of the Flatiron Building and a new report from a real estate blog makes it sound like it could happen. Really. Maybe.

Another one of the book business’s “Big 5” publishers is seeking a new chapter in Lower Manhattan. Macmillan Publishers, the sole office tenant at the landmarked Flatiron Building, is weighing a move to Silverstein Properties’Equitable Life Building at 120 Broadway, sources tell The Real Deal.

…If the deal goes through, it would be the first time the Flatiron Building, owned by Sorgente Group of America, would be completely empty since it was built more than 100 years ago. Part of the reason Macmillan is relocating is the fact that the Flatiron District, the area named for the 22-story building, has become the epicenter of the city’s technology industry, driving up rents.

Sorgente could either lease the building to higher-paying tenants, or follow through on a plan it previously considered to convert it into a hotel.

(3) BOOK RECS WANTED. James Davis Nicoll will soon be writing two milestone reviews and is looking for book recommendations.

I have two notable reviews coming up for my Because My Tears Are Delicious To You reviews: the 150th one and the third anniversary one. Tears reviews are of books I read and liked as a teenager (between 1974 and 1981). I welcome suggestions for candidate books.

(4) JACK WILLIAMSON LECTURESHIP. The 41st Annual Jack Williamson Lectureship will be given by Melinda Snodgrass on April 7 at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.

The 41st Annual Jack Williamson Lectureship, with events April 7, 2017, welcomes author and friend of the Lectureship, Melinda M. Snodgrass, with special guest author Michael Cassutt, and writers, friends and fans from across the region for this annual celebration of Jack Williamson and the genre to which he contributed so significantly.

This year’s theme is Wild Cards! – the shared universe anthologies by some of the best writers in science fiction, edited by George R.R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass. First released in 1987, the series published its 23rd volume in 2016. Adapted to role-playing games and comics, the Wild Cards series is now slated for television by Universal Cable Production (UCP), executive producer Melinda Snodgrass, with SyFy Films’ Gregory Noveck….

(5) PREHISTORIC COMIC CON. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler ingeniously makes his visit to last weekend’s Wondercon look like it happened in 1962.

(6) BLACK HOLE BIRTHDAY PARTY. “Massive explosion from unknown source billions of light years away baffles astronomers” starts out as a news item, then delves deep into black holes. As so much news does these days….

This enabled a distance to the burst to be measured: about 12 billion light years. The universe has expanded to four times the size it was then, 12 billion years ago, the time it took the light to reach Earth.

GRB170202 was so far away, even its host galaxy was not visible, just darkness. Because the GRB was a transient, never to be seen again, it is like turning on a light in a dark room (the host galaxy) and trying to record the detail in the room before the light goes out.

Mystery of gamma ray burst

The flash of gamma radiation and subsequent optical transient is the telltale signature of a black hole birth from the cataclysmic collapse of a star. Such events are rare and require some special circumstances, including a very massive star up to tens of solar masses (the mass of our Sun) rotating rapidly with a strong magnetic field….

(7) ON TRACK. Yahoo!’s story “Cyborgs at work: employees getting implanted with microchips” comes from Stockholm.

The syringe slides in between the thumb and index finger. Then, with a click, a microchip is injected in the employee’s hand. Another “cyborg” is created.

What could pass for a dystopian vision of the workplace is almost routine at the Swedish startup hub Epicenter. The company offers to implant its workers and startup members with microchips the size of grains of rice that function as swipe cards: to open doors, operate printers, or buy smoothies with a wave of the hand.

The injections have become so popular that workers at Epicenter hold parties for those willing to get implanted.

(8) COMPETING NARRATIVES. David Gerrold ended his overview of the 2017 Hugo finalists with these comments:

My seat-of-the-pants analysis (I could be wrong) is that the Hugos are in the process of recovering from the 2015 assault, precisely because the Worldcon attendees and supporters see themselves as a community.

There’s a thought buried in that above paragraph — that communities unite to protect themselves when they perceive they are under attack. This works well when the attack is real, such as Pearl Harbor. But it can also have negative effects when hate-mongers such as Bryan Fischer and Pat Robertson (both of whom were in fine form this week) invent a scapegoat (LGBT people) for unwarranted attacks in an attempt to unite the community around their own agendas.

So while those who have a long history of participation in Worldcons will see this unity as a good thing — those who identify themselves as the aggrieved outsiders will see it as more evidence that the establishment is shutting them out.

Myself, I see it as a collision of two narratives — one that is based on 75 years of mostly healthy traditions, and one that is based on a fascist perception of how the world works.

Most important, however, is that most of this year’s ballot suggests that we are seeing a return to the previous traditions of nominations based on excellence. Most of the nominations are well-deserved, and my congratulations to the finalists.

(9) GLEE. The Book Smugglers were pleased with their Best Semiprozine nomination and that’s not all —

Now, the best thing about this year’s Hugos? Is that it feels GREAT to be a part of it again – it’s super easy to get excited and happy about the ballot with so many great people and works on it and with what seems to be like an almost canine-free ballot. We can’t wait to spend the next few months squeeing and discussing and agonising over who to vote for. Seriously, check out that Best Novel list – some of our favourites of 2016 are there!!

(10) NO WEISSKOPF. A lot of Finns are happy with the Hugo ballot. Not this one. Declan Finn covered the announcement: “Newsflash: Hugo Awards Swamped by Crap”.

Six nominees for best editor. See anything missing?

I’ll give you a hint: we were all told that This Person would have almost certainly have won the Hugo award for best editor, but she lost because she was a Puppy Pick.

If you said, “Who is Toni Weisskopf, Alex?” you’d be right.

But strangely enough, Toni isn’t here. But she’s not a Puppy Pick this year. We were all told that she would have won if she weren’t a Puppy Pick.

Guess what: she wouldn’t have even been NOMINATED if she weren’t a Puppy Pick.

They lied. Shocking, isn’t it?

He also did not approve of the Best Series finalists. Or anything else, really, except for Jeffro Johnson and the Castalia House blog.

(11) SCHADENFREUDE. Jon del Arroz is thrilled by the substantial dropoff in nominating ballots since a year ago.

Of course, in recent years, they’ve been telling anyone who’s a conservative or Christian that they’re not real fans, and not welcome at their conventions, certainly never allowed to speak.  And so the Sad Puppies were born, and had a good run for a few years before once again, just like their projecting meme, the establishment behind the Hugos said “these are not real fans” and changed the rules to make it impossible for anyone but their chosen to get noticed.

The Puppies pulled out. I promised you numbers, and here’s what we have.

Best Novel: 2,078 ballots in 2017 vs. 3,695 ballots in 2016, a 44% drop.

Best Novella:  1,410 ballots in 2017 vs. 2,416 ballots in 2016, a 42% drop.

Best Novelette: 1,097 ballots in 2017 vs. 1,975 ballots in 2016, a 45% drop.

Best Short Story: 1,275 ballots in 2017 vs. 2,451 ballots in 2016, a 52% drop.

I can keep going on with the numbers here, but that kind of pull out of an audience is staggering. If this were a TV show or a comic, it would be instantly cancelled. The execs would be using this as a case study as to what went wrong and why so that they could never do it again. Kinda like is beginning to happen in comics right now (but they’re still in the denial stage of grief).

You’re seeing about a thousand less votes across the board per category. That means a thousand less people with memberships than last year. Wow. Note to “real science fiction fandom”: you told about half your audience you hate them and you want them to go away. They did. This spells big trouble for you in the future.

(12) FROM A RETIREE. The world is filled with people who are pleased to pass along any piece of news they know will annoy the recipient. Larry Correia has a friend like that, and the upshot was “Don’t Forget to Nominate for the Dragon Awards”.

The reason for this post was that a friend of mine sent me a PM this morning, that they had announced the Hugo nominations, and gave me a link. Being retired from trying to cure Puppy Related Sadness, I only gave the list a brief cursory glance, saw the names of many proper goodthinkers, and counted like a dozen(+) nominations for Tor, so it appears that balance has been restored to their sainted halls of Trufans enjoying themselves in the proper approved manner. I’m sure many wooden buttholes will be sacrificed upon the altar of Social Justice.

(13) EYES RIGHT. The Castalia House blog had not posted an acknowledgement of its Best Fanzine nomination when I looked. They were just doing business as usual, showing how they earned that nomination with their two latest posts, “The Most Overrated Novel of the 20th Century by Alex Stump” (about Frank Herbert’s Dune) and “How Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller Ruined Comics by Jon Del Arroz”.

(14) ON TOUR IN CLEVELAND. John Scalzi tweeted about the ballot several times. He may have been overlooked for awards, but there was good news about his latest novel.

And as Jerry Pournelle often says, “Money will get you through times of no Hugos better than Hugos will get you through times of no money.”

(15) STILL FLYING. Harrison Ford keeps license, escapes fine for piloting error after an FAA investigation into his taxiway landing:

After actor Harrison Ford landed his small plane on a taxiway, rather than a runway, at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., in February, the Federal Aviation Administration began looking into the incident….

The Federal Aviation Administration determined at the conclusion of its inquiry that “no administrative or enforcement action was warranted,” Ford’s lawyer, Stephen Hofer said in a statement. “Mr. Ford retains his pilot’s certificate without restriction.”

The actor, who played swashbuckling space smuggler and Millennium Falcon pilot Han Solo in the “Star Wars” film franchise, also was cited by the agency for his “long history of compliance” with FAA regulations and “his cooperative attitude during the investigation,” Hofer said.

Although Ford incurred no penalty, he agreed to undergo voluntary “airman counseling” before the FAA closed the matter, his lawyer said.

(The BBC used a more colorful metaphor: No fines for Ford for being a ‘schmuck’)

(16) WHAT IF THEY CHEAT BETTER? Web inventor slams US, UK attacks on net privacy.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee was speaking to the BBC following the news that he has been given the Turing Award.

It is sometimes known as the Nobel Prize of computing.

Sir Tim said moves to undermine encryption would be a “bad idea” and represent a massive security breach.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said there should be no safe space for terrorists to be able to communicate online. But Sir Tim said giving the authorities a key to unlock coded messages would have serious consequences.

“Now I know that if you’re trying to catch terrorists it’s really tempting to demand to be able to break all that encryption but if you break that encryption then guess what – so could other people and guess what – they may end up getting better at it than you are,” he said.

(17) WHAT IF THEY CHEAT A LOT BETTER? It depends on how much those cheaters have prospered. These guys made a lot: “Overwatch ‘cheat maker’ told to pay $8.6m to Blizzard”.

“The Bossland hacks destroy the integrity of the Blizzard games, thereby alienating and frustrating legitimate players and diverting revenue from Blizzard to defendants,” the US games developer had argued.

The tools included the ability to see other players’ positions, health scores and other information from a distance within games.

The Zwickau-based firm’s managing director said it did not accept the US court had jurisdiction over it, and that the judgement did not take into account that many of the licences it had sold had been “trials” at a fraction of the normal cost.

“We are discussing with our lawyers how to continue – if an appeal to the declined motion to dismiss is worth trying,” Zwetan Letschew told the BBC.

Bossland’s website remains active and continues to advertise cheats for several Blizzard games, insisting “botting is not against any law”.

(18) A WIZ OF A WIZ HE IS. “Ian McKellen Explains Why He Refused to Play Dumbledore in Harry Potter” at io9.

Anyway, McKellen is in good spirits about the whole thing. When host Stephen Sackur asked, “You mean you could have been Dumbledore?” McKellen responded, “Well sometimes, sometimes when I see the posters of [Harris’ eventual replacement] Mike Gambon, the actor who gloriously plays Dumbledore, I think sometimes it is me.”

(19) INVENTORY READY TO GO. I foolishly wasted my time writing news posts when I could have been preparing to monetize my nomination!

And The Mary Sue is so excited they turned the Hugo Award announcement into a Chuck Tingle promo with three of his book covers for art.  Love of money is real!

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

Pixel Scroll 11/5/16 Scroll Ain’t Nothin’ But Pixel Misspelled

(1) ACKERMAN SQUARE DEDICATION. Although the neighbors didn’t succeed in having Forry Ackerman’s last home designated a cultural landmark, the city did name a Los Feliz neighborhood intersection in his honor.

The official dedication is November 17.

Come join the ceremony to honor Uncle Forry with commemorative plaques installed on all 4 corners of Franklin and Vermont where he spent so many happy decades visiting with fans and friends. The public is invited to meet at Franklin and Vermont (where the signs will be installed), southwest side, near House of Pies at 9:30 AM, November 17, 2016

(2) SUPPORTING MENTAL HEALTH. Gail Z. Martin explains “Why #HoldOnToTheLight Matters” at Magical Words.

The 100+ authors who agreed to write for #HoldOnToTheLight run the fame gamut. But all of us have fans and readers, Facebook friends and Twitter followers, people who hold us and our books in some regard. And to those people, however many they might be, our opinion matters. Our story matters.

We lost so many people in Southern fandom at the beginning of this year. I got tired to saying ‘good-bye’ and being invited to wakes. It made me mad, but I didn’t know what to do about it. Then in April I saw the #AlwaysKeepFighting campaign in Supernatural fandom and how the show’s stars used their fame and their connection to fans to do something really good.

And I wondered—what would happen if the authors whose books create the genre spoke out with their own stories about the impact of mental health issues on them, their characters, and their books?

We might not have the reach or following TV stars have, but we have some following. And when people in the public eye speak out and own taboo issues, the stigma lessens. We could encourage fans and stand in solidarity with the ones who are struggling and let them know that they are not alone.

Most of the blog posts are up now, with a few more straggling in. Life gets in the way, even of good intentions. I’m gobsmacked by the honesty, the willingness to share without flinching, the vulnerability revealed in the posts. You can read them here, as well as new ones when they post.

(3) HANDS OFF THE BRAND. Beset by internet thieves. Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson calls out for “Help!”

Working in conjunction with our licensee – Futures Past Editions (a division of Digital Parchment Services, one of the original ebook publishers), we have been steadily producing a number of different publications.

These include – The Amazing Stories Best Of The Year anthologies –

Special “Anniversary” reprints –

Amazing Stories Classics novels –

and Authorized Replicas of individual issues of the magazine …

But there’s a fly in the ointment: lots and lots of other people seem to think they can willy-nilly use the Amazing Stories name to produce their own versions of the same things.  Right now, the bulk of Experimenter’s budget is being spent on intellectual property attorneys.  We’re pleased with their findings so far (but these kinds of things take a lot of time), but in the meantime – if you purchase a facsimile edition of an Amazing Stories issue (or a poster reprinting one of its fantastic covers) from anyone other than Futures Past Editions or this website, not a dime will be going to help fund this project.  It will instead go to people who obviously do not respect the history of the magazine (or the law).

(4) THE FOUNDATIONS OF UTOPIA. In the November 4 Guardian, China Mieville writes about Sir Thomas More’s Utopia on its 500th anniversary, explaining why the utopian impulse is still important in our cynical age.

If you know from where to set sail, with a friendly pilot offering expertise, it should not take you too long to reach Utopia. Since the first woman or man first yearned for a better place, dreamers have dreamed them at the tops of mountains and cradled in hidden valleys, above clouds and deep under the earth – but above all they have imagined them on islands.

… We don’t know much of the society that Utopus and his armies destroyed – that’s the nature of such forced forgetting – but we know its name. It’s mentioned en swaggering colonial passant, a hapax legomenon pilfered from Gnosticism: “for Abraxa was its first name”. We know the history of such encounters, too; that every brutalised, genocided and enslaved people in history have, like the Abraxans, been “rude and uncivilised” in the tracts of their invaders.

A start for any habitable utopia must be to overturn the ideological bullshit of empire and, unsentimentally but respectfully, to revisit the traduced and defamed cultures on the bones of which some conqueror’s utopian dreams were piled up. “Utopia” is to the political imaginary of betterness as “Rhodesia” is to Zimbabwe, “Gold Coast” to Ghana.

(5) FIFTH! Always remember the 5th of November. Preferably more than once.

Catholic dissident Guy Fawkes and 12 co-conspirators spent months planning to blow up King James I of England during the opening of Parliament on November 5, 1605. But their assassination attempt was foiled the night before when Fawkes was discovered lurking in a cellar below the House of Lords next to 36 barrels of gunpowder. Londoners immediately began lighting bonfires in celebration that the plot had failed, and a few months later Parliament declared November 5 a public day of thanksgiving. Guy Fawkes Day, also known as Bonfire Night, has been around in one form or another ever since. Though originally anti-Catholic in tone, in recent times it has served mainly as an excuse to watch fireworks, make bonfires, drink mulled wine and burn Guy Fawkes effigies (along with the effigies of current politicians and celebrities).

(6) ALLEGRO NON TROOPER. Ryan Britt reacts to news that “‘Starship Troopers’ Reboot Will Give Rico His Real Name Back” at Inverse.

In Robert A. Heinlein’s classic science fiction novel Starship Troopers, Johnny Rico’s name was actually “Juan” Rico, but the 1997 film turned him into a white guy. Now, a new reboot of Starship Troopers will stick closer to the novel, which probably means Rico will be Filipino again.

Though the Paul Verhoeven take on Starship Troopers is considered something of a kitsch classic among sci-fi movie fans, it’s tone and characters differ enough from the Heinlein text warrant a totally new film adaptation. According to the Hollywood Reporter producer Neal H. Moritz is gearing up to make a new Starship Troopers for Columbia Pictures. The continuity of this film will have nothing to do with the 1997 film nor any of the direct-to-video sequels. It “is said to be going back to the original Heinlein novel for an all-new take.” This means that even the intelligent alien insects — the Arachnids of Klendathu — might be completely reimagined, too.

(7) BABBITT OBIT.  Natalie Babbitt (1932-2016) died October 31.

Natalie Babbitt, the children’s author and illustrator who explored immortality in her acclaimed book “Tuck Everlasting,” has died in her Connecticut home. She was 84.

Natalie Babbitt poses with the cast of “Tuck Everlasting” on Broadway in April.

Babbitt’s husband, Samuel Babbitt, confirmed she died on Monday in Hamden, Connecticut. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was under hospice care at home when she died.

Babbitt wrote or illustrated more than 20 books, but she is perhaps best known for tackling the complex subject of death in her novel “Tuck Everlasting.”

…In 1966, she collaborated with her husband on a children’s book called “The Forty-ninth Magician,” her first published work. While her husband, a university administrator, became too busy to continue writing, the book was only the beginning in Babbitt’s nearly 50-year career. Her last published work was “The Moon Over High Street” in 2012.

Babbitt received the Newbery Honor Medal, the American Library Association’s Notable Book designations, and The New York Times’ Best Book designations, among other awards for her work.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY –- WELL, CLOSE ENOUGH FOR GOVERNMENT WORK

Cartoonist Al Capp, creator of the Li’l Abner cartoon strip, conceived of a day in fictitious Dogpatch, USA, when all unmarried ladies (including the character Sadie Hawkins) could pursue their men. If the men were caught, marriage was unavoidable. The idea took off in real life—and in November 1938, the first recorded “girls-ask-boys” Sadie Hawkins Day dance was held. Today, the observance is usually celebrated on a Saturday in early November.

(9) BULLISH ON TWINKIES. The official health food of sci-fi readers goes public: “Hostess Brands, Purveyor of Twinkies and Ho-Hos, Returning to Wall Street”.

Hostess Brands Inc. is expected to start trading as a public company on Monday, putting the snack business to its first broad test of investor appetite since it was bought out of liquidation almost four years ago.

The 86-year-old brand behind the famous Twinkies cakes is due to list on the Nasdaq Stock Market with the ticker symbol TWNK.

(10) MAKING OF A SELF-PROFESSED “NASTY WOMAN”. Melinda Snodgrass covers a lot of personal history to make a point in “What Trump’s Misogyny Really Says”.

In due course and after a side trip to Austria to study opera I went on to graduate with a major in history, Magna cum laude, and a minor in music.  I enter law school.  I was part of the first really large wave of women entering law school and in the first week the male students made it very clear that they expected the women to type their papers for them.  Some of us refused.  Others didn’t, they knuckled under maybe to avoid being called fucking cunts.  The dean found out and to his credit it put a stop to that nonsense.

At the end of three years I graduate in the top 10% of my class, pass the bar and go looking for a job.  Eventually I end up in a corporate law firm.  Literally the first day I’m at work I’m in my small office in the back when I hear loud male voices in the outer office.  “I hear Charlie went and hired himself a girl!”  “Lets go see the girl.”   And then standing in the door of my office are six or seven men all staring at me.  I had that sick feeling I’d experienced back in college, but I was older and tougher so I made Oook oook noises and pretended to scratch under my arm like a chimpanzee in the zoo.  They got the message and vanished out of my doorway.

(11) CASH IN HAND. The Guardian previews the merchandise: “JK Rowling’s hand-drawn Tales of Beedle the Bard go up for auction”.

A handwritten copy of JK Rowling’s story collection The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which she made for the publisher who first accepted Harry Potter for publication, is set to fetch up to £500,000 when it is auctioned next month.

Rowling handwrote and illustrated six copies of her collection of fairytales set in the Harry Potter universe, giving them as presents to “those most closely connected to the Harry Potter books”. A seventh copy, which Rowling made to raise money for her charity Lumos, was sold at auction by Sotheby’s in 2007 for £1.95m.

(12) FOR A RAINY DAY. We may not have Damien Walter to kick around anymore, however, here’s one of his Guardian essays that appeared in August while I was out of action — “Bureaumancy: a genre for fantastic tales of the deeply ordinary”.

There’s nothing wrong with being a bureaucrat. So you’re a tiny cog in a machine made of abstract rules, paperwork, and the broken dreams of those who do not understand either. So what? You’re just misunderstood. Without you, nobody would know where to file their TPS reports. Nobody would even know what a TPS report is.

But writers understand. As species of personality go, the writer and the bureaucrat are closely related: they’re deskbound creatures who enjoy the comfortable certainties of Microsoft Office and dazzling us with wordcraft, be it small-print legalese or the impenetrable prose of literary fiction. Of course, Kafka understood the true power of the bureaucrat because he was one – and thus portrayed bureaucracy as a looming, all-powerful presence. The wonderful Douglas Adams imagined an entire planet faking the apocalypse just to get all its middle managers to evacuate in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, while in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, hell itself is one endless system of bureaucratic red tape, where doomed souls are made to sit through every last codicil and sub-paragraph of the rules pertaining to Health and Safety – all 40,000 volumes of them.

(13) KEVIN SMITH’S NEXT FLASH. He’s back — “The Flash: Kevin Smith’s ‘Killer Frost’ Episode Synopsis Revealed”.

Smith previously helmed the season 2 episode of The Flash, ‘The Runaway Dinosaur’ and is set to direct an episode of Supergirl’s second season as well. He has been teasing both episodes on social media; for The Flash, he promised more action than in ‘The Runaway Dinosaur’, revealed the ‘Killer Frost’ episode title, and confirmed the inclusion of Dr. Alchemy — who is proving to be a major antagonist in The Flash season 3. So, much of the ‘Killer Frost’ synopsis seems to confirm details we previously knew or could deduce.

As for Smith’s return behind the camera, since ‘The Runaway Dinosaur’ was well received by critics and fans, it stands to reason ‘Killer Frost’ may be similarly received by viewers. Smith himself has earned plenty geek credit given his own status as a fan of comics, so it’s likely he brings a unique perspective to The Flash.

(14) UNBOUND WORLDS LAUNCHES. The Unbound Worlds SFF site is holding a book giveaway contest to attract readers’ attention.

“Unbound Worlds has officially launched, and to celebrate this momentous occasion, we’re giving away a carefully curated library of TWENTY-THREE science fiction and fantasy titles! Enter below by November 18, 2016, at 11 PM EST for your chance to win.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, rcade, Chip Hitchcock, David K.M. Klaus, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano (who is not to blame for the dialect in the version used).]

Pixel Scroll 7/2/16 The Ancillary Swords of Lankhmar

(1) THIS IS THE END MY FRIEND. Melinda Snodgrass advises writers about “Sticking the Landing” at SFFWorld.

All of these various skills work in concert, but I think if a writer fails to deliver a satisfying ending — the ending that has been promised by the story then the entire project is likely to fail.  It doesn’t matter how good the ride or delightful the journey.  If the final scene is disappointing and leaves the reader/viewer/player feeling cheated they probably aren’t going to be recommending that book or film or game to their friends and family.

There are various ways to state this — “keeping your promise”, “sticking the landing”, “providing a sense of closure”.  Often people who dismiss this requirement do so by sniffing “that the readers/viewers/players just want a happy ending.”  That may be true, and it’s probably a topic for a different essay, but let me say that I think there is case to be made for the happy ending.  Too often critics seem to equate darkness with importance.

So how do you make an ending satisfying?  First, you have to lay in the ultimate solution and the tools to bring about that solution in the beginning of the book or film or game.  You can’t suddenly ring in a new player, or a new fact, a new magic power or super power for the protagonist to use at the end and expect to keep your fans.  They will rightly feel cheated, that you hid the football from them and didn’t play fair.  Worse is the conclusion that you didn’t really know what you were doing and just grabbed for some kind of resolution.  Often those kind of ending don’t seem organic and true to the world that was created, the rules of that world, and the problem as presented…

(2) BUY-IN. Sherwood Smith responds to the question “Reading: What makes YOU believe?” at Book View Café.

A lot of these readers are lured by what I call the seduction of competence: characters who have agency, especially with panache. Anyone who has dreamed of stepping forward and having the right idea, which everyone responds to, and leading the way to righting an egregious wrong instead of cowering back waiting for someone else to act (or, worse, stepping forward just to be shouted down scornfully, or totally ignored) probably looks for characters who either start out as heroes, or attain heroism through hard work.

So those are the easy ones: readers willingly invest in characters they can fall in love with, or identify with, or admire. And then there are the characters who fascinate for whatever reason, like the many who couldn’t get enough of Hannibal Lector. Some are drawn to characters who are monstrous, or ridiculous.

(3) VERSATILITY. Coach Paul Cornell visited Convergence today.

(4) THE INK NO LONGER STINKS. Technology has turned the corner, in the latest installment of M.D. Jackson’s series: “Why Was Early Comic Book Art so Crude (Part 4)”.

But there were two other factors that changed the nature of comic books. One was technological and the other was economical.

The technology of printing was changing with the adoption of flexography. Flexography is a high speed print process that uses fast-drying inks and can print on many types of absorbent and non-absorbent materials. The flexopress is cheaper because the inks are water based, which meant they dried quicker and were easier to clean up. The flexographic presses also are lighter and take up less room.

For years comics were printed on low-grade, absorbent papers that were not meant to last. Early comics were rare because the paper degraded so quickly. The distribution system also was designed to put comic books in as many places as they could find kids to buy them. Remember the spinner racks of comics in your local drug store? Comic books, then retailing for about 25 – 30 cents per title, were available everywhere, but they were not made to last.

In the 1980’s the comic book companies began printing certain titles on a better quality of paper, Baxter paper. It was smoother and whiter and the inks and colors looked much better than your regular comic book fare….

(5) CONVERGENT EVOLUTION. Jennifer Frazer, in “The Artful Amoeba” blog on Scientific American, rounds up the photographic evidence for “Butterflies in the Time of Dinosaurs, With Nary a Flower in Sight”.

Jurassic butterflies disappeared a full 45 million years before the first caterpillar decided to grow up and become a beautiful butterfly. Again

…Apparently, way back when Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, a group of insects called lacewings produced butterflies. Not the butterflies we see flitting around today from the Order Lepidoptera, but floating, flapping, nectar-sucking flibbertigibbits nonetheless, with wings adorned with eyespots, veins, and scales….

(6) THOSE DAYS OF YESTERYEAR. At Getty Images you can view footage of the Sinclair oil dinosaur exhibit from the 1933 World’s Fair.

PAN along Brontosaurus dinosaur over to a Triceratops confronting a Tyrannosaurus Rex and down to a duck-billed Hadrosaurid; all dinosaurs were part of the Sinclair Oil exhibit.

(7) FOR SOME VALUES OF HISTORY. Vox Day interrupted his Castalia House status report to endorse the assault on Judith Merril’s memory

Meanwhile, Barry Malzburg makes it clear that some women have always been bent on destroying science fiction.

— because, after all, the measure of a man’s intelligence is how closely he agrees with you, regardless of whether you’ve ever heard of Barry Malzberg before.

(8) QUITE RIGHT.

(9) GAME DEMO. Based on the work of Jeff VanderMeer.

(10) DEEP DIVE INTO BUSIEK/ROSS.

Osvaldo Oyala’s “Marvels and the Limited Imagination of Nostalgia”.

I had not read Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’s Marvels in quite some time, probably 15 years or more, and despite having a memory of quite liking it when I first read it in the 90s sometime, my suspicion was that it would not hold up to that memory. And, while I was right, it also was not so hagiographic that I could just dismiss it. On the surface it certainly seems that way—unapologetically nostalgic about Marvel’s Golden and Silver Age—but it is actually constructed with competing visions that grant it a bit—a little bit—more complexity, even if ultimately it fails as anything except a sharp reaction to the moment in mainstream comics from which it emerged.

After Phil Sheldon lets a young mutant girl his daughters were sheltering run off into the anti-mutant riotous streets (a reference to a story in 1953’s Weird Science #20) it is difficult to take any of his moral claims seriously (from Marvels #2).

Marvels is a look back at the emergence of Marvel Comics’ heroes through the eyes of “Everyman” photojournalist, Phil Sheldon, from the first appearance of characters like the Original Human Torch and Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner in 1940, through the death of Gwen Stacey in the early 70s. Sheldon, as a kind of stand-in for the Marvel reader, displays complex and shifting attitudes towards the superheroes he calls “Marvels.” In each of the four issues we see his different perspectives on Marvel’s super-characters. From a deep fear of their raw power and capricious behavior that shifts to an appreciative awe of their demi-god stature as forces of nature in the first issue to a threatening cynicism that leads him to retire from his livelihood snapping pictures of their conflicts, adventures and social appearances in the last issue, when Gwen Stacey’s death becomes just another minor detail buried in a seeming endless cycle of superhero fisticuffs and collateral damage. In between, he participates in paranoid anti-mutant riots before abandoning his bigotry upon realizing mutants can be “our own children” (which made me roll my eyes so hard they still hurt), and later grows angry at the flaring bouts of negative public sentiment against heroes like the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and Spider-Man, fuming at the lack of gratitude displayed for their having saved the city or the world over and over again. And in case we might forget Sheldon’s special insight into the world of superheroes, in the first issue he loses an eye, calling to the One-Eyed Man or Blind Seer trope. At every stage when everyone else seems to return to hating or being suspicious of the superhero figure, Sheldon sees through public fear and pettiness (despite sometimes feeling it himself) to an understanding of the world he occupies that evokes something akin to the awe of Moses before the burning bush. As he says in the first issue after the rubble from the epic confrontation between the original Human Torch and the Sub-mariner takes his eye (a re-telling of the events of Marvel Mystery Comics #8 and 9), “It isn’t going to be them that adapts to us. The world is different now.” In other words, he can see with his Odin-eye what the general public cannot or will not, everyday people exist in the superhuman world, not the other way around. As Geoff Klock posits in his seminal book of comic book literary criticism, How to Read Superhero Comic Books and Why, unlike the transformative comic book texts like Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns that ask, “What would it be like if superheroes lived in our world? Marvels…ask[s], what would it feel like if we could live in theirs?” (77). And the answer is, kinda fucking scary.

This narrative vision constructed by Busiek, however, manifests in the near-photorealistic painting of Alex Ross which provides a Rockwellian patina of troubling idealism that passes for “realism.” ….

(11) LEWIS DRAMATIZED. The Most Reluctant Convert, a stage show about C.S. Lewis, will be in town July 10-23 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre in Irvine, CA.

Max McLean brings to life one of the most engaging personalities of our age and takes audiences on Lewis’ fascinating theatrical journey from atheism to Christianity. Adapted exclusively from Lewis’ writings, McLean inhabits Lewis from the death of his mother, his estranged relationship with his father and the experiences that led him from vigorous debunker to the most vibrant and influential Christian intellectual of the 20th Century. Experience a joyous evening of Lewis’ entertaining wit and fascinating insight. Cherish every minute of the extraordinary journey of C.S. Lewis as The Most Reluctant Convert.

Lewis’ experience is synopsized in a Director’s Note.

In 1950, C.S. Lewis received a letter from a young American writer expressing his struggle to believe Christianity because he thought it “too good to be true.” Lewis responded, “My own position at the threshold of Christianity was exactly the opposite of yours. You wish it were true; I strongly hoped it was not…Do you think people like Stalin, Hitler, Haldane, Stapledon (a corking good writer, by the way) would be pleased on waking up one morning to find that they were not their own masters…that there was nothing even in the deepest recesses of their thoughts about which they could say to Him, ‘Keep out! Private. This is my business’? Do you? Rats!… Their first reaction would be (as mine was) rage and terror.”

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

(13) GENTLEFEN, BE SORTED. Want to be enrolled in the North American wizards’ school? Potterverse will run you through the process.

“Ilvermony House: Thunderbird”

Named by Chadwick Boot after his favourite magical beast, the Thunderbird, a beast that can create storms as it flies. Thunderbird house is sometimes considered to represent the soul of a witch or wizard. It is also said that Thunderbird favours adventurers.

(14) LINEAGE UNLOCKED. A recent episode of Game of Thrones inspired Adam Whitehead to draw conclusions about Jon Snow — “When Theories Are Confirmed: Twenty Years of Speculation”.

BEWARE SPOILERS. OR AT LEAST SPECULATIVE ATTEMPTS AT SPOILERS.

However, its status as the biggest mystery in fantasy had already long been supplanted. In 1996 George R.R. Martin published the first novel in A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones. A minor subplot revolves around the status of Eddard Stark’s bastard son, Jon Snow, born out of wedlock to Eddard and…well, someone. His wife, Catelyn, believes it was a Dornish noblewoman, Ashara Dayne of Starfall. Eddard himself has told King Robert Baratheon – incredibly reluctantly – that it was a serving girl named Wylla. In A Storm of Swords the young lord of Starfall, Edric Dayne, also confirms (to Arya Stark) that it was Wylla, who was his wetnurse.

(15) NONE DARE CALL IT SLASH. NPR found there is plenty of fan fiction online about the 2016 candidates, Bernie, Donald, and others now out of the running.

In another story, written in the style of a Western, Jeb Bush fights to protect a Florida school from a Sharknado.

“You think ‘it can happen anywhere,’ never realizing that it can happen anywhere.

A SHOT —

The shard of glass in Jeb’s hand shatters by the scrape of a bullet. Jeb drops the ground, rolls through the booze-soaked ground. He jumps up to a squat and whips out the old pistol and holds it to the bullet hole in the doorway. The engraved barrel shimmers: Gov. Jeb Bush.

Florida hasn’t been safe since the Sharknados started coming. When I was in my 40s, the kids used to tease about the swamp sharks. Gave me the heebie-jeebies over a plague of mutant sea creatures that roamed the Everglades.”

In the 2016 presidential cycle, where everything seems unpredictable, fiction allows voters to determine exactly what happens next – whether it’s set in the present day or some kind of alternate universe where sharks rain down in a natural disaster.

(16) WHEN TWO FANTASISTS MET. Walt Disney and Roald Dahl hung out together in 1942 – who knew?

More than a decade before Walt Disney welcomed guests into his land of fantasy and two decades before author Roald Dahl penned his excursion into The BFG’s cave and Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, these two creative legends crossed paths in 1942 when The Walt Disney Studios optioned Dahl’s first book, The Gremlins, for an animated feature. With Disney’s The BFG coming to theaters on July 1, D23 takes a look at the connection between these two creative visionaries.

The Gremlins was fashioned from stories told by English airmen who attributed equipment failures and other mishaps to mischievous little saboteurs. From these tales, Dahl—then a Flight Lieutenant for the Royal Air Force—created a story and specific characters for his book.

(17) LACKING CHARACTERS. In an “Uninvent This” feature for The New Yorker, Ted Chiang contemplated “If Chinese Were Phonetic”.

So let’s imagine a world in which Chinese characters were never invented in the first place. Given such a void, the alphabet might have spread east from India in a way that it couldn’t in our history, but, to keep this from being an Indo-Eurocentric thought experiment, let’s suppose that the ancient Chinese invented their own phonetic system of writing, something like the modern Bopomofo, some thirty-two hundred years ago. What might the consequences be? Increased literacy is the most obvious one, and easier adoption of modern technologies is another. But allow me to speculate about one other possible effect.

One of the virtues claimed for Chinese characters is that they make it easy to read works written thousands of years ago. The ease of reading classical Chinese has been significantly overstated, but, to the extent that ancient texts remain understandable, I suspect it’s due to the fact that Chinese characters aren’t phonetic. Pronunciation changes over the centuries, and when you write with an alphabet spellings eventually adapt to follow suit. (Consider the differences between “Beowulf,” “The Canterbury Tales,” and “Hamlet.”) Classical Chinese remains readable precisely because the characters are immune to the vagaries of sound. So if ancient Chinese manuscripts had been written with phonetic symbols, they’d become harder to decipher over time.

Chinese culture is notorious for the value it places on tradition. It would be reductive to claim that this is entirely a result of the readability of classical Chinese, but I think it’s reasonable to propose that there is some influence. Imagine a world in which written English had changed so little that works of “Beowulf” ’s era remained continuously readable for the past twelve hundred years. I could easily believe that, in such a world, contemporary English culture would retain more Anglo-Saxon values than it does now. So it seems plausible that in this counterfactual history I’m positing, a world in which the intelligibility of Chinese texts erodes under the currents of phonological change, Chinese culture might not be so rooted in the past. Perhaps China would have evolved more throughout the millennia and exhibited less resistance to new ideas. Perhaps it would have been better equipped to deal with modernity in ways completely unrelated to an improved ability to use telegraphy or computers.

(18) STRONG LURE. At BookRiot, Derek Attig feels there’s no need to bait the hook when what you’re offering is as irresistible as “100 Must-Read Books about Libraries & Bookstores”.

I’m not even sure why I’m writing an introduction to this list. It’s a hundred books about libraries and bookstores! That should sell itself.

But sure. Fine. I’ll make the pitch.

Books are a crucial part of our lives (especially yours, since here you are being a great big nerd on Book Riot), but I think we don’t always pay enough attention to the institutions that get those books into our grubby, greedy little hands. Sure, we’ll bicker about Amazon sometimes or squee over a bookmobile, but how much time do we take to really explore and think about what libraries and bookstores really mean?

Not enough!

(19) SORRY ABOUT THAT. Godzilla and fellow monsters apologized at a Japanese press conference for acts of destruction. Why, yes, it’s another scheme to sell toys – how did you guess?

The world of gachapon vending machine capsule toys just got even weirder with a new lineup of figurines from top Japanese toy producer Bandai. Called the “Godzilla Toho Monsters Press Conference”, the series depicts Godzilla, along with three other kaiju monsters from the acclaimed movie production and distribution company Toho, all appearing at fictional press conferences, complete with microphone stand and name plaque. These types of formal apologies are commonly seen on television news reports around Japan, in cases where high-profile politicians and celebrities formally atone for scandals and wrongdoings, expressing remorse to the public with deep, heartfelt bows. Only this time, it’s a group of well-known movie monsters making amends for their actions.

Godzilla apologizes

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Paul Weimer, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peter J.]

Pixel Scroll 1/5/16 A Fine and Pixeled Place

Note: I’m going to start putting the year in the header, too.

(1) SNODGRASS ON AXANAR. Melinda Snodgrass commented about the suit against Axanar on Facebook.

So far a cease and desist order has only been issued and a lawsuit filed against Axanar, but speaking as a former attorney I see no way for CBS and Paramount to turn a blind eye to the other fan efforts. As it is they have an “unclean hands” issue because they allowed the fan productions to go forward for so many years without reacting. Now that they are taking notice they will have to take notice across the board — no exceptions. That’s my best prediction based on training and education.

Because I am a professional screenwriter and also as a trained attorney I feel I have to step away from any involvement with any Star Trek fan funded project. Out of love for Star Trek, and the chance to write for two wonderful actors from the original series I was excited to write a new Trek script. And at the time I agreed to do this CBS was giving everyone tacit approval, a sort of wink and a nod. That is no longer the case.

Am I disappointed? Of course. Having met Walter I would love to have written for him, but it’s not to be. Look, I don’t blame the network or the studio. Bottom line the intellectual property that is Star Trek belongs to them. They have an obligation and a right to protect their asset.

(2) BIG BUCKS BUT SMALL FOOTPRINT. Forbes writer Scott Mendelson ponders why “Five Years Ago, ‘Avatar’ Grossed $2.7 Billion But Left No Pop Culture Footprint”. Why does the film Avatar have no great fannish following (ala Star Wars)?

Despite a pretty swift case of blockbuster backlash, whereby pundits quickly attributed the film’s box office success entirely to the 3D effects, I still think it’s a pretty fantastic adventure film. The characters are simple but primal, and the storytelling is lean and efficient even while running nearly three hours. Avatar was arguably the right film at the right time, with a potent anti-imperialism message that came about just as America was waking up from its post-9/11 stupor and the rest of the world was more-than-ready to cheer a film where murderous private armies were violently defeated and driven away by impassioned indigenous people.

But it was basically a historical cinematic footnote not a year later, with no real pop culture footprint beyond its record-setting box office and groundbreaking 3D.

(3) ADVISED BY C3PU? Hasbro responded to complaints about not including a Rey figure in Monopoly.

https://twitter.com/HasbroNews/status/684205970248089600/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Few bought the explanation.

(4) GALLIFREY CONUNDRUM. LA’s Doctor Who-themed convention Gallifrey One has posted a “Program & Guest Update: Early Schedule, Fan Panels and More!” Here’s a panel devoted to a question I’ve wondered about myself.

Life and Death in the Moffat Era — These days it doesn’t seem like anybody who’s dead stays dead… it’s merely a setback! From Clara to Rory to Missy to Osgood to Davros and even the Time Lords — and you have to through the increasingly complicated history of River Song in there somewhere — has Steven Moffat’s decision to bring back multiple characters made death in Doctor Who anti-climactic? Or is it just another example of the wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey fun that keeps the show fresh?

(5) USED BOOKSTORES. Mad Genius Club’s Amanda S. Green, in “Bookstores: Friend or Enemy”, a commentary on Kristen Lamb’s post about the publishing industry (also linked here the other day), makes an interesting point about used book sales.

When I started this post, I did so figuring I’d be flaying Lamb over how she viewed used bookstores. Why? Because some of the comments I’ve seen around the internet claimed she denounced used bookstores as bad for authors. She doesn’t, not really. She points out something a lot of readers don’t understand. When you buy a book from a used bookstore, the author gets nothing from that sale. Also, she rightly points out that the books you will find in such stores are, by the vast majority, traditionally published books. So, used bookstores aren’t much help for indie authors.

However, for authors whose books are found there, used bookstores do serve a purpose. In fact, it is much akin to the same purpose libraries serve. A person is more likely to pay a percentage of the price of a new book for an author they have never read before than they are to pay full price. So, even though that author doesn’t get a royalty from that particular sale, if the buyer likes the book, there is the possibility of a royalty sale down the road. Even if the reader doesn’t buy a new book later, they will discuss the book with others who might. To me, it is promotion and a good thing. Word of mouth is the best sort of promotion an author can have.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 5, 1889 — The word hamburger first appeared in print in the Walla Walla Union, Walla Walla, Washington.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born January 5, 1914 — George Reeves, of Adventures of Superman fame. (He was also one of Scarlett O’Hara’s suitors in Gone With The Wind.)
  • Born January 5, 1929 — Russ Manning, artist of the comic strip Tarzan, whose credits include Magus Robot Fighter.
  • Born January 5, 1941 Hayao Miyazaki,  Japanese film director, producer, screenwriter, animator, author, and manga artist.

(8) DIRTY PICTURES. Settle down, they’re only pictures of dirt. NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now sending back close-ups of tall, ripple-ridden Martian sand dunes. Lots of photos here.

(9) GOTHAM. Formerly known as Pee Wee Herman — “Gotham: First Look At Paul Reubens As Penguin’s Father”.

Cobblepot is in need of a parental figure on Gotham, after his mother was killed toward the end of the first half of the season, by Theo “Dumas” Galavan. What role daddy dearest will play in that story is unclear, but from this image it looks like Penguin may have gotten his more vengeful side from his paternal parent.

While we don’t know exactly when Penguin’s Papa will show up, Gotham returns February 29, 2016, so we can expect him soon after.

(10) LEAPIN’ LITTERS. Not every dog has his day.

(11) THE CERTAINTY UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE. T. C. McCarthy can’t explain it.

(12) QUIDDITCH PONG. Combining the elements of Harry Potter’s favorite sport with beer pong, the Unofficial Quidditch Pong tabletop game assigns the player representing each house three unique spells. For example —

Slytherin:

Avada Kedavra– Once per game, choose a cup and remove it from the table. (can be used on Resurrection Stone)

Crucio– All of your opponents must make trick shots for one round

Imperio– Dictate which cup your opponents must make for one round

 

Quidditch Pong slide_2

(13) WETFOOT. Past LASFS President, actor Ed Green, plays one of the hundreds of faux lawyers and bankers fording the Rio Grande to illustrate a talking point in this Ted Cruz campaign ad. (If there’s a problem with the embedded video below, it can also be played at the Ted Cruz website Fix Our Border Yeah, like you would do that…)

Ed appears at in all his glory at :14, :25 and :35.

[Thanks to Dave Doering, John King Tarpinian, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 10/29 – Scrolls and the Art of Blog Maintenance

(1) Rob Cottingham’s “Ancillary Stapler” at Medium.com is highly recommended.

I am lost in thought when Coffeemaker speaks to me, timidly, to say she is almost empty.

Not the emptiness of a depleted urn; it is still half full. No, this is the emptiness that strikes at Coffeemaker’s soul: there are no beans in her hopper. When Coffeemaker dreams, this is how her nightmares end.

Marketing Six checks the bean level regularly, even though that isn’t in her job description, but Marketing Six isn’t here this morning, is she? Off sick. I reach out, and find her iPhone’s location coordinates.

“Address Book, where does Marketing Six live?” I ask silently.

“Not at a Starbucks in Eastgate Square Shopping Mall,” she says. I didn’t know Address Book could be wry.

(2) A previously unsuspected musical subgenre – Vulcabilly.

(3) Prowse Still Grumpy, Film at 11.

The original Darth Vader actor, asked about his interest Star Wars: The Force Awakens, told the Guardian:

“It depends,” he said. “It depends if I’m playing the part of Darth Vader in it … Yes – then I’d be very interested. But if they’re putting somebody else in Darth Vader’s mask, then I’m not the slightest bit interested.”

(4) At SF Signal – “SF/F Crowdfunding Roundup: Familiar, ZILF!, Spanish Women of Wonder”.

(5) It will be even harder to be a “dirt farmer” on Mars. Jim Bell, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University, will discuss how hard in a lecture titled “Soils of Mars: Keys to Understanding the Habitability of the Red Planet” at the Soil Science Society of America’s annual meeting on November 18.

(6) The “Journey To Space” exhibition opened today at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

journey-to-space-the-exhibition COMP

Of the more than 7 billion people on Earth, less than 600 have ever left our home planet to experience the beauty, wonder, and danger of space.

Now it’s your turn….

In the harsh, airless environment of space, peril is everywhere. Meteoroids soar by at speeds that can make them deadly to astronauts. Temperature fluctuates from burning hot to unbearably cold. It’s up to scientists to develop the technology that keeps astronauts safe. Journey to Space: The Exhibition’s hands-on exhibits and immersive experiences give you a chance to not only see that amazing technology (including Neil Armstrong’s glove), but to try handling some of the challenges of space travel yourself.

Take a turn managing the energy of a simulated orbiting space station, operate a robotic arm, and find out how astronauts eat, sleep, and even go to the bathroom in space. See if you have “the right stuff” to deal with the disorienting environment of zero gravity as you step into a rotating chamber, inspired by the International Space Station’s Destiny Module, and feel what it’s like to be in a place where there is no up and no down. Designed with the help of astronauts and space scientists, Journey to Space: The Exhibition will inspire the astronaut, engineer and scientist in all of us.

(7) Juliet McKenna appeals for donations to the GoFundMe benefitting Rochita Loenen Ruiz

Rochita Loenen Ruiz is a brave, generous and talented author and all round lovely person. She has suddenly, tragically lost her beloved husband, the father of her two young children, to an ultimately fatal heart attack.

We cannot comprehend her bereavement. But we can understand the practical challenges she and her family will face in the next little while. That at least is something we can help with.

A fundraising campaign has been set up by her closest friends via GoFundMe

As you will see on clicking through, an array of writers and publishers are offering rewards by way of thanks to those offering their support.

(8) Tom Knighton applauds Wil Wheaton’s refusal to let HuffPo post his stuff gratis.

Wheaton declined because he didn’t figure he needed the exposure.  Frankly, I’m proud of him.

Any kind of creative type gets these “offers” all the time.  Someone likes what you’re doing.  They like it so much they want to utilize it in some way, either have your band play in their bar or run your blog post or something.  “What do you pay?” you ask.

“Oh, we just pay in exposure,” they reply.

My reply?  “Son, people die from exposure.”

Huffington Post is one of the biggest news websites out there.  They can afford to pay for content.  Yet they don’t.  You know why?  Because people will give it to them for free.

(9) Melinda Snodgrass will be executive producer overseeing the writing of Star Trek: Renegades.

Okay, so now I can talk about the work I’ll be doing for Star Trek: Renegades. As many of you probably know there has been a tradition of fans of the show making their own episodes and putting them up on-line. They range in quality, but some are produced by people in “the Industry” as we call it. Renegades is one of those.

I was approached by executive producer Sky Conway and asked if I would come on board. I said I would have to look at the pilot they had produced and also that they had to be a WGA signatory. I don’t work outside of my guild. I then went and watched Renegades and was very impressed.

A Kickstarter to fund production of Star Trek: Renegades episodes 2 and 3 is in progress. So far they have raised $100,535 of their $350,000 goal.

(10) If Alice Cooper has a middle name, it’s not “Humility.” Three of his own songs are in his Halloween Top 10.

There were monsters in rock songs before Alice Cooper surfaced in the early ‘70s with songs like “The Ballad of Dwight Fry,” “Dead Babies,” and “Killer,” But there weren’t monsters in rock. Cooper changed all that.

Yet despite his violence and gore, Cooper’s style of horror has always been akin to a carnival ride or a monster movie. The thrills are real, but the terror is not, which makes Cooper the ultimate character for Halloween tricks and treats.

Cooper recently talked to Yahoo Music about his 10 favorite Halloween songs, 30 percent of which happen to be his own. “I’m going to have a lot of songs in this top 10,” he explained, “because I’m the only one that really writes scary songs.”

(11) Today In History

  • October 29, 1998 — In 1998, U.S. Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, who in 1962 became the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth, returned to space aboard the shuttle Discovery. At 77, he became the oldest person to travel in space.
  • October 29, 1969 — The first connection on what would become the Internet was made when bits of data flowed between computers at UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute.

(12) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born October 29, 1947 — Actor Richard Dreyfuss, made famous by starring roles in American Graffiti, Jaws, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, is born in Brooklyn.

(13) Vox Day, in collaboration with artist Red Meat, has a new cartoon that explains the difference between the Ilk, the Dread Ilk, and the Vile Faceless Minions of Vox Popoli.

(14) Emperor Palpatine has been elected to a Ukranian city council; Chewbacca was arrested for campaigning for him…

A candidate who dresses as Star Wars villain Emperor Palpatine has been voted on to a Ukrainian city council despite standing as a joke.

According to fellow candidate Aleksandr Borovik, the man posing as Sheev Palpatine, the Emperor of the Galactic Empire, won a place on Odessa City Council, in the south west of the country.

It comes after the local electoral commission revealed that 48 candidates from the Darth Vader Block political party were registered to stand in the local election.

It has been reported that Emperor Palatine won 54.4 per cent of the poll, causing Mr Borovik to speak of his disbelief, despite respecting the choice of voters

He told RT.com: ‘This is beyond my understanding. People, what’s wrong with you?’

(15) If you’re an optimist about there ever being a Pacific Rim 2, you’ll be glad to know that Guillermo del Toro has finished the script. He’s still looking for somebody to greenlight production, of course.

(16) According to “The definitive list of werewolf-friendly cities”  Gregory Benford should beware – Irvine is #4 on this list. David Doering will be shocked to see which city is #1….

Werewolves, the cursed humans that turn into enormous beasts at the full moon, date back to the 15th century. Of old English folklore, supposed shapeshifters were put on trial in Switzerland in the 15th century, much like those believed to practice witchcraft.

In the spirit of Halloween, FindTheHome and FindTheCompany wanted to see where werewolves would live (if they do indeed exist) in the United States today. We looked at the following criteria to map likely werewolf haunts.

Cities deemed dog-friendly. Low number of gun shops and gunsmiths. Low prevalence of silver-producing companies (silver is rumored to be able to kill wolves).Low population density (where werewolves would be less easily found).

(17) Today is the day to see Son of Frankenstein at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

Alex marquee son of frankenstein COMP

[Thanks to Arnie Fenner, Will R., Mark-kitteh, Jonathan Olfert, Janice Gelb, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 9/1 The Pixellent Prismatic Spray

(1) I encountered this oasis while researching today’s scroll — Nelson Lowhim’s clever story “Sasquan, worldcon and the science fiction convention”

…Leaning back and inhaling the sterile convention center smell, I realized that I’d sat on a book. I pulled it out from under me and examined the cover: on it a gallant woman rode a chariot being pulled by naked men. They were headed to a shining light at the end of the road.

It was thin, the book, and so I read through it, the writing clean enough for me not to stop and the premise interesting enough for me to flip the pages. When I was finished, unsure with the ending, I threw the book on the table where it collided with the sculpture.

It was then that I noticed a shift in the atmosphere and the smell of something like rotting feet. Out from the shadows in a corner stepped a large man. I froze. For not only was he large, not only did he wield a large sword, but he moved with the kind of nimbleness that signifies a specifically potent violence.

“Treat the book with a little more respect, small man.”…

(2) Marko Kloos – “My Sasquan Weekend”

So we were at the Hugo Losers party, mingling with old and new friends and generally having a good time, when GRRM had a special surprise for us. He brought out a table full of trophies made from 1950s hood ornaments which he called the Alfies, after Alfred Bester, the winner of the inaugural best Novel Hugo in 1953. George started giving them out to various people who would have been on the ballot without the slates, especially in those categories where the nominees all came from the slates.

And then he awarded one to Annie Bellet, who withdrew her short story from the ballot the same day I withdrew my novel…and I thought to myself, “Self, he may call you up there too.” The room was packed with people, many of them authors and editors of works you’ve probably read, and I basically had two or three minutes to think up something to say that wouldn’t make me look like a giant jackass.

(3) Angela Blackwell on Bull Spec – “The Exploding Spaceship Visits Sasquan – Worldcon 2015”

Panel organizers appeared to try to bring diverse authors onto panels but like many conventions could really have used some oversight from a diversity coordinator. Many “diverse” authors were on panels with topics which had nothing to do with the type of writing they do. It looked as if someone said, “Oh, we need diversity on this panel so let’s randomly pick a diverse author we used somewhere else instead of broadening our panelist pool and finding a diverse author who fits the topic”. Also “diverse” authors need to be put on panels about the subgenres they write about not just on generic panels….

Next year’s Worldcon will be in Kansas City. We hope their panel organizers learn from the many comments on Twitter and Facebook as well as at the convention about how different authors were placed on panels and what panel topics were chosen. All the members of the community need to feel welcome and none should be stuck in a “diversity” box, or a “minority political opinion” box.

(4) Ellen Datlow has over a hundred photos from Sasquan, many from GRRM’s Hugo Losers Party, posted here.

(5) Lou Antonelli on Facebook

Thought for the Day: In light of the way he depicts social occasions in his fantasy writing, I was rather surprised anyone would accept an invitation to a private event from George R.R. Martin. (wink)

(6) Campbell nominee Rolf Nelson – “Sasquan post, obligatory”

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect being totally ignored, but that’s largely what happened. No offers of being on panels. No interviews. Nobody to introduce me. No packet available that was supposed to be ready for me. No open attacks on me. No large shows of support for the puppies. (Some background on the puppies here: http://sfauthor.net/burning-down-the-house/ ; I was a “rabid puppy” nominee. Five second recap: the insiders worked the nominations and voting in back rooms and parties for years, and didn’t like it when an outsider did the same thing, out in the open, and better, shutting them out of a lock on the awards). Normally new writers are loaded up with panels and shown around and introduced to folks. For me and most of the non-TOR-books nominees? Nothing. So I wandered around, watched, listened, talked to a lot of “average SF con attendees.” They were mostly nice, and most knew little or nothing about the whole puppies thing. Most who knew something had a warped left-wing version of events in their heads. I managed to line up 3 interviews of my own by walking down to the press room and asking “want to interview a rabid puppy?” including one with Amy Wallace of Wired (http://www.wired.com/2015/08/won-science-fictions-hugo-awards-matters/ ) who talked to me for 20 or 25 minutes, but didn’t use any of it (flatly contradicted what I said, in fact, perhaps because I was recording the interview, too, so she could not out-of-context sound-bite me).

(7) Melinda Snodgrass – “There Is and Was No Conspiracy”

So now I have to address the boatload of idiotic conspiracy theories that have sprung up from the fervid brains of the Puppies both Sad and Rabid.

No, George did not know in advance who had won and who had lost.  He had to wait for the pink sheet that detailed the Hugo nominations before he could figure out who was going to receive an Alfie.  I know because I had to check in with him when thing were running late for presenting the awards, and he told me in harried tones that he had had to wait for the breakdown to come out and everything was running late.

No, George did not buy 3000 memberships and tell them how to vote.  Has anyone looked at fandom?  Herding cats wold be easier.  And seriously — George is the guy who loves this award.  He would never, ever game his beloved Hugos.

No, the Puppy votes were not “discounted”.  It’s the Australian ballot.  It’s confusing.  Here’s a link where Ranked Voting is explained.  Try to understand.  So you don’t get your money back.

No, you can’t sue.  You have to show harm before you can get into court, and you have to have standing to bring a lawsuit. If someone calls you a banana that might hurt you deeply, but the court will not provide a remedy for your pain.   You voted/you lost.  If your argument had merit I’d be suing over the 2000 election.  Let it be noted that I didn’t.

(8) Jim Hensley on Unqualified Offerings – “Social Engineer-ing”

Ken Burnside writes the best “pro-Puppy” retrospective on the Hugo Awards that I’ve seen. It’s frank about the pain he felt from the way some people treated him during the controversy but impressively free of bitterness. The piece is long, but what interests me most is something he doesn’t quite say, and possibly doesn’t quite realize. Here’s what he does say, about what he identifies as the “Heroic Engineer” genre, also known as competence porn:

Heroic Engineer Stories drive a lot of sales. Nearly every SF author I know who doesn’t need a day job writes an action-adventure series, where the Heroic Engineer/Officer/Competent Protagonist Solves The Problem. They sell, and they sell to a male demographic, often current or recently retired military, and that demographic skews conservative.

Let’s zero in on the last sentence. It states that SF competence porn sells to people who see themselves in the protagonist. They are pleased to read stories in which they recognize people like them.

Which is exactly what gets called affirmative-action “box checking” when the protagonist is female, non-white, queer or some combination of those. Often, particularly when Puppy advocates are writing, when readers derive pleasure from seeing themselves in those protagonists, they are accused of favoring representation over quality, even though representation can be a marker of quality.

I remember when I first saw Apollo 13 in the theater, my overwhelming, thrilled reaction was: “My people!” Those very clever, very white nerdboys in Mission Control, trying to save the lives of the astronauts via kitbashing and pedantry reminded me of myself and my friends in a way hardly any screen protagonists had heretofore. And you know, there’s nothing wrong with that. And there’s nothing wrong with an ex-service-member deriving pleasure from stories about guys kinda like him saving the world with shop tools and shaped charges.

But there’s also nothing wrong with a black woman deriving pleasure from stories about black women on Mars, or gay men enjoying stories about gay men dealing with unexplained phenomena. This even goes beyond the issue of representation-as-quality – that stories with people of color, LGBT folks and women of agency better reflect the world as we know it and our plausible futures. While the old stereotype of science-fiction and fantasy as nothing but wish-fulfillment stories was unjust, wish-fulfillment remains an element of much fiction, and most adventure fiction. There’s simply no case that non-white, non-straight, non-male readers’ enjoyment in seeing themselves reflected in fiction is somehow less legitimate than the pleasure that “a male demographic, often current or recently retired military” takes in the same phenomenon.

(9) After Chris Meadows meets Michael Z. Williamson at the gun show, he reviews and approves Kate Paulk’s plans for SP4 “Whether Sad Puppy or opposed, fans are people, too” .

That’s a much better way to approach the matter than coming up with a slate with just a small number of candidates, the way Brad Torgersen did last year. As Paulk points out later in the livestream, Torgersen didn’t fill every category on the Sad Puppy slate with five candidates, but its having fewer than five left room for the Rabids to come in and piggyback on them by putting five on theirs. It also resulted in some candidates that Puppies might have nominated, such as the Heinlein biography, getting left out because Torgersen didn’t know about them to put them on the slate. Listing all suggested nominees will make a lot more sense.

More importantly, it’s also the way that a lot of other places make Hugo recommendations. That’s how John Scalzi’s “Fans Award Recommendation Threads” work, for example—people plug stories they personally think are worthy and recommend that others read them. And people have historically been fine with that kind of thing. There’s no attempt there to make a specific list of just a few works in each category. There are also people out there attempting to list and discuss every possible eligible work for 2016, so people will know what’s available.

Torgersen might have meant the 2015 slate as a list of recommendations for things people should read and then nominate if they liked them (though he wasn’t really very clear about that in the original announcement), but the problem with a list that has just a few candidates on it is that a lot of people will choose to nominate it as-is without actually bothering to read the works on it. They might not feel like they have the kind of time it would take to read everything, but that list is right there and it’s easy to copy and paste. Hopefully more people will be moved to nominate stuff they actually read this year.

(10) Elton Gahr on Life, the Universe, and Sci-Fi “My Controversial Opinion on the Hugo Awards”

I know I’m a bit late commenting on the Hugo awards, but the recent Hugo awards controversy annoyed me enough I wanted to comment with my own super controversial opinion on the Hugo awards. I apologize before I tell you because I know that it’s going to surprise and possibly upset some people, but the award for the best science fiction story, novel, etc should go to the, wait for it… Best story.

Basically what I’m saying is that most of the people involved in the argument are wrong regardless of which side you’re on (though I’ll admit if it makes you feel better that some are more wrong than others). If you’re voting for people instead of the work of fiction they wrote you’re wrong. I can understand not voting for someone if you really dislike them simply because you don’t want to support them. But voting for someone because they are a white male, a black Hispanic woman or an aboriginal Australian when you don’t believe their story is the best is just wrong and it doesn’t really matter why you’re doing it. Ignore the author and vote for the story you like the best. That’s what the award is for….

I have no problem with people putting together a list of stories that they think are the best though it seems clear that isn’t going to be a good idea. I’m also very pleased that more minorities and women are writing science fiction. Part of the reason I read science fiction is to see the world from the point of view of people who see it different from me. And if they write the best science fiction story in their respective categories they deserve to win, but honestly anyone who votes for them because they are a minority or a woman when they don’t believe it’s the best story is voting wrong.

So that’s basically it. My controversial opinion about the Hugo Awards is that the rabid people on both sides of this are idiots. If I heard someone saying that women or minorities shouldn’t be involved in science fiction I’d have a hard time not punching them in the face. It’s 2015 and we are supposed to be past that type of thing. But I really don’t feel much better about the people on the opposite extreme. If you won’t vote for someone just because they are a white male then there is no difference at all. If you assume someone is racist because they disagree about what the best story then you need to consider that they might just like something different than you and that’s O.K. and if you vote for someone who didn’t write the best story to make a political point you’re helping to prove the people on the other side right.

(11) Jonathan Jones in the Guardian – “Get real. Terry Pratchett is not a literary genius”

It does not matter to me if Terry Pratchett’s final novel is a worthy epitaph or not, or if he wanted it to be pulped by a steamroller. I have never read a single one of his books and I never plan to. Life’s too short.

No offence, but Pratchett is so low on my list of books to read before I die that I would have to live a million years before getting round to him. I did flick through a book by him in a shop, to see what the fuss is about, but the prose seemed very ordinary.

I don’t mean to pick on this particular author, except that the huge fuss attending and following his death this year is part of a very disturbing cultural phenomenon. In the age of social media and ebooks, our concept of literary greatness is being blurred beyond recognition. A middlebrow cult of the popular is holding literature to ransom. Thus, if you judge by the emotional outpourings over their deaths, the greatest writers of recent times were Pratchett and Ray Bradbury. There was far less of an internet splurge when Gabriel García Márquez died in 2014 and Günter Grass this spring. Yet they were true titans of the novel. Their books, like all great books, can change your life, your beliefs, your perceptions. Everyone reads trash sometimes, but why are we now pretending, as a culture, that it is the same thing as literature? The two are utterly different.

(12) Damien G. Walter – “Sorry Jonesy, but I can write for the Guardian and love Terry Pratchett”

I never had the good fortune to meet Terry Pratchett, but I’ve been reading his books since I was eleven. My favourite Discworld tomes – Mort, Small Gods and Going Postal – have been read a half dozen times each at least. I also hold a Masters degree, have been a senior university lecturer, and am a columnist for The Guardian, the very same bastion of middlebrow values that Jonathan Jones penned his opportunistic attack on Terry Pratchett. Unlike Jones however, I see no conflict in being both an intelligent educated human being and loving the fuck out of Terry Pratchett’s discworld books.

(13) Christopher Priest – “You Don’t Know What It Is, Do You, Mister Jones?”

Finally, the works of Sir Terry Pratchett. I have been provoked to write this essay today by an article in the Guardian’s blog, by the newspaper’s arts correspondent Jonathan Jones. As a display of closed-minded prejudice, and an astonishing willingness to brag about it, there have been thankfully few precedents. Here is how Jones starts:

It does not matter to me if Terry Pratchett’s final novel is a worthy epitaph or not, or if he wanted it to be pulped by a steamroller. I have never read a single one of his books and I never plan to. Life’s too short. No offence, but Pratchett is so low on my list of books to read before I die that I would have to live a million years before getting round to him. I did flick through a book by him in a shop, to see what the fuss is about, but the prose seemed very ordinary.

Unsurprisingly, the online comments on this pathetic piece of ignorant journalism have swarmed in (at the time of writing, just under one thousand), and for once almost all of them agree with each other. I will be surprised and disappointed if Mr Jones retains his job with the Guardian, at least in the capacity of an arts correspondent. I have rarely seen a letter of resignation so overtly and shamelessly revealing as this. I was forcibly reminded of a letter my old friend John Middleton Murry wrote to the Observer many years ago on another, not dissimilar, matter: ‘I note your organ does not have a reporter in Antarctica, and suggest that this would be a suitable posting for Mr Martin Amis.’

I should add that Terry Pratchett and I were respectful colleagues rather than personal friends. We knew each other better in the days when we were teenage hopefuls, trying to get our first stories sold. The years went by, we found our publishers and we went our separate ways. I doubt if Terry ever read my books – I read only a few of his. Terry does not need me to defend him – Jones’s article is contemptible.

But I would say that of all the writers I have ever known, or the books I have ever read, Terry Pratchett’s seem to be a dead cert for long-term classic status.

(14) Scott Lynch on Storify – “That awful, awful SJW message fiction”

(15) OK. Now it’s been said.

Bingo?

(16) Angelique Trouvere has a request:

Some merriment, circa mid-1970s, at a New York STAR TREK convention... That's also Elyse Pines (Rosenstein) second from left in front, Joan Winston on Jeff Maynard's lap (sadly, both Joan and Jeff are also gone), "Patia Von Sternberg," redheaded, fourth from left in the back, and a very popular helmsman, under the beanie....

Some merriment, circa mid-1970s, at a New York STAR TREK convention… That’s also Elyse Pines (Rosenstein) second from left in front, Joan Winston on Jeff Maynard’s lap (sadly, both Joan and Jeff are also gone), “Patia Von Sternberg,” redheaded, fourth from left in the back, and a very popular helmsman, under the beanie….

I’ve attached the photo you included [in Toni Lay’s obituary] of the group shot from the early Trekcon with George Takei and I had a question that I hope you may be able to help me with:

There is a woman sitting next to Elyse on the far left–she’s wearing a red jacket and a white top with dots – she’s an old friend from the cons who moved to L.A shortly after that pic was taken. I visited her there but lost contact with her.  It’s been so long that I can’t be sure if her first name is Barbara or Sharon.   This photo was also published in Joan’s book, “The Making of the Star Trek Conventions” but it’s a grainy b/w.   Would you know her or know someone who might?

If you have the answer e-mail me at mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com and I will pass it on to Ms. Trouvere.

(16) The one true reason why people are writers:

(17) Just what do the Orks want anyway? Multiplexer gives this neglected sociological question extended thought at Critical Hits.

Coda

Generic evil for the sake of being evil is boring.  The most banal and dull of demi-humans benefit from a bit of motivation, incentives, history and background.   Why are the Orks in the dungeon?  What do they get out of being in the dungeon?  Did they come from a village?  How is that village?  Can the PCs learn anything about this culture while killing things and looting their stuff?  Maybe they have something and the local magistrates want it more?

No one is what they seem and everything has little pull-able threads that unravel into a tapestry of background, story, and tale.

Or maybe the Murder Hobos only want to roll bad guys and take their stuff.

(18) We end today with this highly scientific excerpt from io9 “Archeologists Tracked Lewis and Clark by Following Their Trail of Laxatives”

Eventually, researchers came across some information that helped clarify things… and that information came from their latrines. Lewis and Clark were fairly well-equipped and well-trained, even if only by the standards of the day. Given what those standards were, it’s surprising that they only lost one person during their trek. According to their own records, they bled people who were feverish, they gave purgatives to people who felt weak, and they administered potassium nitrate (a preservative substitute for salt) to people suffering from heat stroke and dehydration. They also brought along the wonder drug of the day, mercury chloride (otherwise known as calomel), as a pill, a tincture, and an ointment.

Calomel was often used to treat those with syphilis (mercury does work against the bacterium that causes syphilis, but it takes out the host as well, so don’t try it at home) along with nearly everything else, including constipation. And an expedition that ate mainly the game they could catch along the way would have suffered from constipation regularly. In their journals, Lewis and Clark regularly make note of someone having to take one of Dr. Rush’s Bilious Pills (because constipation was thought to be caused by an excess of bile) and spending the day purging.

If you know that you and your men are going to spend a day expelling everything they’ve eaten for a week, you make sure to dig a latrine. Most of the mercury that the men ingested went out of the system again, which means that over a century later, historians and archaeologists were able to pin down where Lewis and Clark had stayed by testing old latrine contents for mercury.

[Thanks to Paul Weimer, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these links. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek, with a signal boost by Shambles .]

If You Were a Puppy, My Love 4/23

aka “Catch A Barking Star, Tell Me Where the Hugos Are” 

A combination of new voices speaking out and old hands breaking silence feature in today’s roundup. Cheryl Morgan, T. L. Knighton, Arthur Chenin, T. C. McCarthy, David Gerrold, Melinda Snodgrass, Vox Day and Chris Meadows are among those who chimed in. (And title credits go to File 770 consulting editors of the day, ULTRAGOTHA and Laura Resnick.)

Cheryl Morgan on Cheryl’s Mewsings

“Puppygate – Winners and Losers” – April 23

Has fandom lost? Well obviously if VD and his pals win a bunch of Hugos then we will have done this year. But the final ballot hasn’t happened yet. I understand that Sasquan took an additional 1350 supporting memberships in the two days after the Hugo finalists were announced. I suspect that more memberships are still being bought. Sasquan is on course to be the first Worldcon ever to have more supporting memberships than attending, and probably the third largest Worldcon ever. Some people, I know, are convinced that all of those new members are VD loyalists who will vote as he directs. Personally I’m not so sure.

It’s not just those 1350 or so new members (presumably all voters) that we need to think about either. Given the way that nominating eligibility works (members of last year, this year and next year’s Worldcon), there must have been at least 12,000 people eligible to nominate. Only 2,122 people actually did so. And in the Puppy-dominated short fiction categories the largest number of nominating ballots was 1,174.

What would have happened if all 12,000 eligible WSFS members had cast nominating ballots? Well in Novel, where there were 1,827 ballots cast, three non-Puppy works became finalists.

It is certainly true that a small number of people voting for a slate has far more influence on the nominating ballot than a larger number of people voting independently. But there is a limit. With enough people voting, even a slate becomes less effective.

So my first point is this: VD didn’t win the Hugos, we (collectively) gave them to him by failing to use our votes. Obviously there are good reasons why people don’t participate even though they have the right to do so, but if we want to fix the Puppy problem one of our main priorities ought to be to increase the level of participation in Hugo voting. I do, as you might expect, have ideas about how to do that, which I’ll address in a later post. For now, however, fannish outrage at Puppygate is doing a fine job of encouraging people to vote.

My second point, of course, is that if enough of us vote in the final ballot then he won’t win that either.

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way of Life

“Behold, the Gavel of WSFS” – April 23

LoneStarCon 3 agreed when I asked to fund the purchase of a new one, and a few days ago I finally got around to ordering it

Gavel of WSFS ph K Standlee

 

T. L. Knighton

“Anti-Hugo Shenanigans” – April 23

Many of the Sad Puppies crowd is well aware that things are getting ugly.  The CHORFs, as we well know, seek to do nothing but destroy their enemies with whatever tools they can manage.  One of those tools are negative reviews on Amazon.

But, the question is, how on Earth can you tell someone didn’t read the works versus just didn’t like them?  Well, let me paint you a picture.

 

Arthur Chenin on In Which I Geek

“Don’t be a sad puppy about the Sad Puppies” – April 23

Where Chris [Garcia, on Nedvana Podcast] and I disagree is in how much damage has been done.  He thinks the Hugos are irreparably damaged whereas I think they just got an embarrassing black eye.  He thinks that the Hugo administrators failed in not disallowing the Sad/Rabid Puppy slate nomination ballots.  I agree with Kevin [Standlee] that the Hugos have rules for a reason and that we need to work within those rules or else we truly are the controlling clique the Puppies claim we are.

So how do I see things playing out?

Two things are going to happen this year at Sasquan.  First, there is going to be the World Science Fiction Society business meeting chaired by Kevin Standlee that will address the issue of changing the rules to prevent slating from occurring.  I don’t know what those exact changes are going to be but like Kevin  I hope they go for something simple like instituting a 3/6 or 4/8 rule [1].  The other is that we will know who, if anybody, won any awards.  Vox Day actually did something miraculous by inflicting his slate on the short list, he managed to unite fandom a task akin to herding cats.  I fully expect No Award to win most, if not all, the slated categories.

“But wait,” I hear you cry, “Didn’t Vox Day threaten to burn down the Hugos if No Award wins any of the writing or editing categories?”  Yes, he did and I fully expect him to try.

 

Max Florschutz on Unusual Things

“Speaking on Hugos and Sad Puppies” – April 23

Goats and sheep are not latrine animals. They go wherever. And they don’t care after that. So their pens? They pooped everywhere.

I apologize for those of you who might be off-put by the discussion of so much poop. It isn’t going to get rosier from here, though.

Anyway, these little guys could poop like nobodies business. And they would fill the bottoms of their pens with it. And I’m not exaggerating there. The bottoms of their pens were packed down straw, dirt, and poop. Hard as rock, slightly smelly … and oh, after a few months, a foot or so thick. That’s right, you could walk up to the side of these pens and look at the side railings. A foot thick or more of compact manure. It didn’t bother them. It was dry and mixed with straw leftovers. And they were only in their pens a few hours a day anyway. But it had to be shoveled (well, forked with a pitchfork, since it didn’t cut easily under a shovel blade) every few months because it would get high enough that eventually they would be able to jump out of their pens.

And guess who had to do that? Yup. Me. I was a manure shoveler from the moment my parents decided I was old enough to shovel. Sometimes it went to straight to the garden. Other times it went to one giant compost pile or another. I’m talking emptying piles of poop ten by ten by two feet … and doing six of them. That’s a lot of poop….

So, what’s the point of me telling you this? Pretty simple: I’ve shoveled my fair share of crap. I’ve experienced it on a daily basis. I’ve shoveled, and shoveled and shoveled. And you know what I’ve learned about it?

There are times when it’s worth it to shovel crap, and there are times when it isn’t. And dealing with the endless, recycled crap that the anti-sad puppies crowd continues to spout? Not worth my time.

Look, I’ll admit that no one is flawless. And the Sad Puppies clearly swept the Hugos, much to their surprise. As a result, SP4 will probably be even more interesting to follow. But when it comes down to looking at one side or the other, I’m on the side of the Sad Puppies here, because I know crap, and there’s so much of it coming from the anti-sad puppies side it’s not just filling the pen, it’s burying the occupants, the producers, and their allies.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – April 23

Tananarive Due and I have now gone through two meetings and three drafts of the proposed Hugo Award Ceremony script.

Every draft has been passed before the Hugo Award administrators, the senior officers of the Con Committee, and several others whose advice is needed. Notes have been passed back and forth. Adjustments and tweaks have been made.

But here’s the important part. Here’s the part I want to stress: From the very beginning, the commitment has been to recognize that the Hugo Award Ceremony is the highlight of the fannish calendar. It is a celebration of the genre, it is a celebration of the community, it is most of all a celebration of the nominees. The evening is for them — it is to honor them as standard bearers for excellence in the field.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – April 23

Okay, @Karl J. Martin. Here’s the challenge. If you can raise $25,000 to be split between the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund and The Orangutan Foundation, I will host the Hugos in a large purple dress. With shoes to match.

Go for it.

 

T. C. McCarthy

“How I Spent Easter: Tweeting #HugoGate #GamerGate #Sadpuppies #Hugoawards” – April 6

The 2015 announcement of the Hugo nominees was met with so much asshattery that I broke my 4 years of silence on the issue, and tweeted/posted all my thoughts regarding the left side – the establishment side – of the SFF community. I documented the entire weekend on video so you could see the rage in my eyes, the anger in my face, and what I look like when I don’t shower. Click above on my facebook and twitter links to read about all the drama…

(Don’t be expecting another ShayCarl here is all I have to say.)

 

Melinda Snodgrass

“Puppies! – My Two Cents” – April 23

Science fiction is now a world wide source of entertainment from our movies to our TV shows.  Shouldn’t our prose also try to reflect this wonderful kaleidoscope of human diversity?  In fact prose is probably the best place to present this fascinating dance of differing outlooks and beliefs, to speak to and hear from people who aren’t just like us.

I think it deepens and enriches our genre when we have women, and people of color and the LGBT community, and different religions or no religions discussed and explored.

Over the years I’ve had people ask “what do you do?” and when I tell them I’m a writer their initial reaction is “oh cool”.  Then they ask what I write and when I say science fiction the reaction becomes “Oh, that’s kid stuff.  I don’t read science fiction.”  By broadening our field to include this rich symphony of different voices I think science fiction has graduated from being that “Buck Rogers, kid stuff” into a genre which is perfectly positioned to discuss big issues and the deepest human motivations in really interesting ways.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a place for some good old fashioned buckle and swash, but that shouldn’t be the entirety of our field.  Let’s not eat just vanilla ice cream or sing one kind of song.  Let’s explore all of the wonder that the minds of humans can imagine.  I see no evidence that the buckle and swash is being forced out in favor of a more diverse fiction.  The pie is getting bigger not smaller.  More books are being published.  More voices are being heard.  Today readers have an expansive feast to be enjoyed.

What I’m trying to say is none of us should be afraid.  It’s a small blue dot and because of advances in technology we have the ability to hug each other close and face the void united in our humanity and celebrating our differences.

 

Laura Resnick in a comment to Melinda Snodgrass – April 23

Actually, I have decided I am totally on board with 100% RELIABLE & COMPREHENSIVE PACKAGING as a standard for book covers. I think this is a great idea!

Yes! I advocate packaging of books to warn me that the female characters in a novel are all coat-holding carboard cutouts and the male characters address them as “cupcake” and “baby doll” and “cutie.” Packaging that would warn me that the writing is so convoluted and pretentious, or so clumsy and tepid, one can only wonder at what the English language ever did to make the author hate it so much. Packaging that would alert me that the characters are all stereotypically tedious action heroes who shoot everything in sight and make “clever” puns after killing someone. Packaging could warn me that every black character in the book is a servant, every Hispanic person a criminal, every woman a sex object, and every atheist an Evil Marxist Villain.

This would be a GREAT system, and I fully support it!

 

 Vox Day on Vox Populi

“A Thing to Remember” – April 23

In any event, I stand with the Dread Ilk. I stand with the Rabid Puppies. I stand with the Evil Legion of Evil. And I stand with #GamerGate. We don’t reject anyone out of hand for simply existing or disagreeing with us. We don’t demand that people think exactly the way we do, we don’t expect them to march in lockstep with us, nor do we police their thoughts, speech, beliefs, or works. And we don’t need anyone. If you don’t like where things are going or how they are being done, you’re free to leave at anytime.

I supported the Sad Puppies goals, even though I believed that their failure to grasp the true nature of science fiction’s SJWs meant their well-intentioned attempts to reach out to the science fiction left and find common ground were likely to meet with eventual failure. But I have been wrong before, and so I saw no harm in the attempt. I did not use them. I did not need them. I

won’t abandon the Sad Puppies. I will support Sad Puppies 4 and Kate the Impaler. I won’t disavow them when I disagree with them in the future, just as I did not when I disagreed with them in the past.

Evil-Legion-of-Evil_Vile-Faceless-Minion_512x512 from Vox Popoli

Chris Meadows on Teleread

“Why the Hugos are broken, and who’s breaking them now”  – April 23

The Internet Breaks the Hugos

Whether you’re for the Puppies or against them, there can’t be any argument that the Hugo nomination and voting process is badly broken. The interesting thing is that the process hasn’t changed appreciably for years or even decades. It didn’t just break on its own. No, the same thing happened to it that happened to so many other processes and industries that had long been taken for granted. The Internet happened…..

So, here we have the Hugo Awards, adapting their voting process to the Internet by making it possible for associate members to enter ballots by web instead of just mailing them in as before, without taking into account that the Internet makes it possible to organize concerted campaigns by letting people post communications to everyone else on the Internet. Something like this was inevitable. Perhaps the only thing to be surprised about is that it didn’t happen sooner. (And, given that this is the third year in a row there has been Puppy activity, and it takes two years to implement Hugo rule changes, perhaps the Worldcon folks should have started considering this problem a little earlier, before it became the full-blown crisis that it is this year.)

And this could be only the beginning. When I was chatting with SF and romance novelist Mercedes Lackey the other day, she made this prediction:

I cannot WAIT until someone lets the Romance Writers know about this, and how to get a book on the Hugo ballot.

Romance readers outnumber SF readers by about 100 to one, and a very high percentage of them would be gleeful to only pay $40 to get one of their beloved writers an award.

Romance writers are extremely savvy women about energizing their fan bases. They were using social media for that long before SF writers started.

I want to see their faces when Diane Gabaldon takes the Hugo in 2016.

 

 

 

Wild Cards Movie in the Works

The screen rights to the Wild Cards superhero anthology series edited by George R.R. Martin have been acquired by Syfy Films, a joint venture between Syfy and Universal Pictures.

Co-creator of the shared universe Melinda Snodgrass will write the screenplay for the project. The Hollywood Reporter says Martin and Snodgrass will executive produce.

One of the unique aspects of the books ­ (the series has changed publishers several times, it is now on volume 22) is the way the characters evolve. Some age, some marry, some die, new ones are introduced, building a tapestry of stories. Meanwhile, on the author front, the senior generation of writers has made way for new ones such as Paul Cornell (Doctor Who) and Carrie Vaughn (the Kitty Norville book series). The many creators were one reason why dealmaking took months to wrap up before THR was able to exclusively report the news of the film project.