Pixel Scroll 5/25/17 Eight Pixels High And Scrolling For Touchdown

(1) FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY. Today’s the day. Aaron Couch of The Hollywood Reporter, in “‘Star Wars’: Unsung Heroes Finally Share Their Stories”, looks at the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, focusing on all the special effects people who made Star Wars great and how no one was sure at the time that the film would be a hit.

Well, not “no one.” There were all the people who had bought 20th Century-Fox stock in the months before it opened and boosted its price before I saw a screening and had that idea myself. I remember talking with somebody who managed a portfolio for the Hughes Aircraft pension plan who said I’d already missed the bargain. Somebody expected it to be a hit.

Star Wars went to San Diego Comic-Con in 1976, and people weren’t all that excited.

To lure an audience to a panel about an unknown property, the Star Wars promotional team employed star power from Marvel Comics, bringing writer Roy Thomas and artist Howard Chaykin to talk about their Star Wars comic book adaptation. Marketing head Charles Lippincott spent time at a table chatting with people and selling posters … which unfortunately for them, few people kept.

“I think they were $1.75 and that poster now is still available on the collector’s market — and it’s one of the two most expensive posters you can buy on the collector market because people didn’t keep them,” recalls Craig Miller, who worked as a publicity assistant. “It sells for two or three thousand dollars now.”

Yes, Miller does have one in his personal collection. (Saving pays off!)

(2) SHOULD HAVE QUIT WHILE HE WAS AHEAD. The BBC’s Nicholas Barber argues “Why Star Wars should have stopped at just one film”. Try not to hurt yourself laughing.

…A New Hope would be a lot more intriguing today if every other episode had been left to our imaginations –to playground games, to pub discussions, to self-published fan fiction. Instead, the episodes which did come along answered its questions, solved its mysteries, filled in its blanks and narrowed its mythical scope to the prosaic tussles within one dysfunctional family. The prequels demystified the iconic villain of A New Hope by showing him as a grumpy brat, while the most recent sequel, The Force Awakens, devalued its victory by showing us how ultimately pointless it was: not only did evil prevail, but two of the heroes (Han Solo and Princess Leia) had a son who grew up to be a genocidal, patricidal maniac….

(3) PHOENIX COMICON. Police may have averted a serious incident at a Phoenix convention — “Armed man arrested at Phoenix Comicon after struggling with police”.

A man armed with multiple guns at Phoenix Comicon is now in police custody.

Police say the 30-year-old Valley man was taken into custody Thursday afternoon for allegedly threatening to cause harm to Phoenix officers.

According to officials, the man was taking pictures of officers and was found at Comicon with three handguns and one shotgun. He also had knives and ammunition.

Police say the man was inside the Phoenix Convention Center and struggled with officers before he was detained.

(4) THE DOCTOR AFFECTED BY LATEST U.K. INCIDENT. Radio Times says “Doctor Who episode edited for Saturday airing following Manchester bombing”.

This week’s episode of BBC sci-fi series Doctor Who will have a section of dialogue removed as a mark of respect to victims of Monday night’s terrorist attack in Manchester, RadioTimes.com understands.

The excerpt in question from upcoming story The Pyramid at the End of the World made passing references to terrorism as part of a more general discussion of threats to Earth, but the BBC has decided that as a matter of sensitivity it should be removed.

(5) MOTHERBOARD LOSES A PIONEERING MEMBER. In November, Debbie Notkin resigned from the Tiptree Award committee to free her energy for other causes. This month she posted a farewell message.

Last November, after the disastrous U.S. election results, I resigned from the Tiptree Award motherboard. I have been involved with the award from immediately following Pat Murphy and Karen Joy Fowler’s creation of it more than a quarter of a century ago.

I remain deeply committed to the goals and work of the Tiptree Award. When I was trying to make this difficult decision, several people pointed out to me that the work of supporting transgressive artists is resistance, and I agree wholeheartedly. I just feel personally that it’s time for me to put my energy into other kinds of resistance and response.

(6) STAND BY TO FROTH. James Davis Nicoll fires his latest canon — “Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works About Science and Scientists Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”.

As with the previous core lists, here are twenty Speculative Fiction Works about Science and Scientists chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field [1]. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you should consider.

(7) GRAND TURK, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. The Traveler at Galactic Journey is fifteen years too early to see Star Wars but don’t think he lacks for excitement –he’s been watching TV coverage of Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter’s drama-laden mission. “[May 24, 1962] Adrift in Two Oceans (The Flight of Aurora 7)”.

Fun, to be sure, but at the end of the third orbit, Carpenter was in a pickle. Almost out of fuel, the ship misaligned thanks to a balky thruster, and the window for firing his retrorockets sliver-thin, the astronaut fired his braking thrusters a few seconds late. For half an hour, first in the shuddering initial reentry, and then in the chest crushing crashing through the atmosphere, culminating in the gentle sway beneath parachutes before splashdown in the Atlantic, Carpenter had no idea where he would end up.

Neither did the recovery fleet. In fact, Carpenter landed some 250 miles away from where he was supposed to. This did not bother the philosophical spaceman, who spent the next hours relaxing on his inflatable raft, sitting in pleasant companionship with a little black fish nearby. When the boats of the U.S.S. Intrepid finally arrived, hours later, Carpenter was completely calm. In fact, like a good guest, he offered them some of his food.

(8) HALO EFFECT. Mentioning The Saint in Roger Moore’s obituary reminded Cat Eldridge of a passage in Kage Baker’s 2007 review of “Otto Penzler’s The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps”.

It’s easy to grumble about Leslie White’s “The City of Hell!,” a wildly improbable fascist-cop fantasy, but at least the prose is lean and passionate. On the other hand, here is Leslie Charteris, clearly being paid by the word in “The Invisible Millionaire.” After 35 pages of coy overdescription and endless adoring references to the Saint’s perfect features, your correspondent was ready to go out and bitch-slap Roger Moore. And was it really necessary to include an entire badly-written novel (“The Crimes of Richmond City”) by Frederick Nebel? He may have been one of the seminal pulp writers, but surely a short story from him would have satisfied honor….

(9) MORE WHEATON COOLNESS. You can expect to find Wil Wheaton on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 before too long.

I have a small part on the first episode of MST3K’s first revival episode. Erin Gray and I get to deliver all the exposition about Jonah’s backstory. It’s pretty great, and this was a freaking dream come true for me.

(10) TODAY’S DAYS

  • Geek Pride Day

The idea for dedicating a day to celebrating geekiness originated in Spain in 2006 when Spanish blogger German Martinez, who chose the day to coincide with the 1977 release of Star Wars. Geek Pride Day spread rapidly across the internet and, soon after, the world, drawing attention from mainstream media as well.One of the events organized to celebrate this day was in Madrid when 300 geeks played a game of a human Pacman together. A list of the basic rights and responsibilities of geeks was also written up. The rights include “The right to not like football or any other sport” and “The right to not be ‘in-style’”, and the responsibilities include “Attend every geeky movie on opening night and buy every geeky book before anyone else.”

  • Towel Day

A tribute to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Towel Day sees fans of the author and the book carrying towels with them to work, to school and as part of their daily activities.

The most important thing that you need to remember in order to celebrate is DON’T PANIC; no matter what the day throws at you, draw comfort from the knowledge that you’re armed with your trusty towel.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 25, 1977 — Star Wars was released in theaters. (You may have caught a few hints about this earlier in the Scroll….)

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 25, 1944 –Frank Oz, of Muppets fame.

(13) DON’T FORGET TO WRITE. Great series of tweets about entering the writing profession by Nick Mamatas (via John Scalzi). It starts here —

(14) TALLYING REPRESENTATION. “GLAAD on LGBTQ representation in film: ‘It is not getting better’”The Verge has the story.

GLAAD released its annual report on LGBTQ representation in film today, and the numbers are bleak. They’ve barely increased since 2015, and when broken out into more specific demographics, they often got worse.

Overall, representation of lesbian, gay, transgender, or queer characters was slightly higher in 2016 than 2015. GLAAD reports that 18.4 percent of the industry’s top 125 films included a LGBTQ character. However, gay men still make up a whopping 83 percent of these characters, and of the 70 LGBTQ characters that GLAAD identified (up from 47 the year before), 14 of them were back-up dancers in one musical number in The Lonely Island’s summer comedy Popstar.

Racial diversity in films with LGBTQ representation decreased in 2016, with characters played by people of color down to 20 percent from 25.5 percent in 2015 and 32.1 percent in 2014.

Here is the link to the report itself — “2017 GLAAD Studio Responsibility Index”.

The GLAAD Studio Responsibility Index (SRI) maps the quantity, quality and diversity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people in films released by the seven major motion picture studios during the 2016 calendar year. GLAAD researched films released by 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers, as well as films released by four subsidiaries of these major studios. The report is intended to serve as a road map toward increasing fair, accurate and inclusive LGBTQ representation in film.

(15) PUBLICITY. Meanwhile, the gender disparity in publishing industry PR is measured by Breaking the Glass Slipper’s article “Gender parity in publisher PR”.

Results at a glance

Statistically, Orbit came in as the worst for gender disparity. Every single newsletter I opened was skewed in favour of their male authors. Men were mentioned over three times more often and also featured over three times more often.

Then you have a sliding scale. Rebellion’s parity was generally poor, as was Hodder, Gollancz and Voyager’s –though I received far fewer newsletters from them. Angry Robot achieved near parity between April –October 16, but for unknown reasons, the remainder of the year wasn’t as equal.

Tor.com was the only publisher who regularly featured more women than men, but this was almost solely as authors of articles and short stories published online.

These graphs only record the frequency of simple mentions. Another avenue of interest might be to follow the PR level of books once they’re published compared to the build-up beforehand. Some titles drop off the radar entirely, while others go from strength to strength. If that were tracked, I wonder whether this trend would continue?

(16) SPACE JAM. Dan Tepfer is a pianist and composer whose new album, Eleven Cages, is due out next Friday. He also maintains a keen interest in science — especially astrophysics, the subject of his undergraduate degree. WBGO asked him to elaborate on some recent findings in a faraway solar system, and he came back with this absorbing lesson in the music of planetary orbits: “Dan Tepfer, Pianist and Science Enthusiast, Walks Us Through the Music of the Cosmos “.

Watching the video below made me happy. It brings together two of the things I love most, astrophysics and music. It’s very unusual to find these two subjects talked about seriously in the same sentence, and even rarer when they are able, as in this video, to complement and illuminate each other. Watch as the orbits of planets around a distant star are expressed in sound:

 

I’m a jazz musician, but I studied astrophysics for my bachelor’s and have always loved science, so it feels natural to me that these two worlds belong together. Thinking about natural processes and mathematics has informed my composing for a long time. And while many artists remain math-adverse, there’s a small but significant number of musicians who think along similar lines. (Composer and saxophonist Steve Coleman, whom I heard at the Village Vanguard last week, is an inspiration to many in this regard, and has used orbital ratios in his work.)

So, what’s going on in this video? How, in the first place, were these orbits figured out? It’s only in the past 25 years that we’ve been able to detect planets in orbit around stars other than our own. This is mainly done indirectly, by (for example) measuring faint dips in a star’s brightness as planets pass in front of it….

(17) WINGING IT IN THERE. Perhaps Devenski should also yell ‘Dracarys!’ when he throws his fastball. MLB.com’s Cut4 reports “The Astros have a perfect ‘Game of Thrones’ bobblehead planned for Chris ‘Dragon’ Devenski”.

(18) WHERE PAPER IS KING. Not that you’ve never been to a bookstore before, but if you want a peek at what Amazon is doing in the Big Apple, Recode takes you “Inside Amazon’s first New York City bookstore”.

Inside, it’s brightly lit with a subtle warmth. And the first table, right inside the door, shows the kind of data-informed curation that Amazon seems to be aiming for: “Highly Rated” books, rated 4.8 stars and above — on Amazon’s website, of course.

Amazon uses its data throughout the store, including up-to-date star reviews on title cards for each book, as well as for other curation.

Here’s my favorite example: An endcap called “Page Turners,” consisting of books that Kindle readers finish in three days or less. Clever.

(19) NAME IN THE NEWS. Chinese sf writer Hao Jingfang’s new celebrity as the winner of a 2016 Hugo has already gained her an automobile endorsement.

Narrator: In the face of the unfamiliar and the unknown, there are a group of people who are fearless to march. To go beyond all the achievements. To imagine. To open up a new world. You are the first ones to create history when others are hesitating. Every owner of Audi is igniting the fire for change.

Ma Long is the first male Full Grand Slam winner in table tennis.
Hao Jingfang is the first female writer to win the Hugo Awards for Best Novelette.
Cheng Congfu is the first Chinese racing driver to compete in 24 Hours of Le Mans.

 

Of course, she is not the first women to win the Best Novelette category — that was Joan D. Vinge in 1978. Nor is even unusual for women to win the category — they’ve now done so four of the past five years. But it’s great to see another sf writer in commercials.

And is there something about novelette writers that attracts ad agencies? Don’t forget that Harlan Ellison had won three Best Novelette Hugos by the time they hired him to plug the 1988 Geo Metro.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, ULTRAGOTHA, Chip Hitchcock, Early Grey Editing, Brandy Wood, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 4/16/17 Illudium Q-36 Explosive File Moderator

(1) SOUL SURVIVOR. Peter Jones testifies: “Westboro Wannabees Picket Norwescon”

So, I’m in my hotel room at Norwescon. I don’t have a dealer table, and my panel appearances are kinda limited, so I’m making the best of it by getting a much done on Black Powder Goddess as I can. I’m deep into revisionland when all of a sudden a load, distorted voice from a megaphone starts shouting at me to repent my sins.

Now, understand something; I am on the tenth floor of the hotel. So this megaphone is putting out some serious decibels, if not clarity. I step out onto my balcony, and see that there are people with massive signs bouncing them up and down in front of the con hotel as megaphone-preacher predicts a future of eternal fire for me.

I admit, my first thoughts were of irritation. After all, I’m just trying to get some work done, here. Now I’ve got to listen to this moron shouting at me while I try to fix this little bit of dialogue, or that paragraph structure.

But other people begin to emerge onto their own balconies as well, and now we’re looking at each other. Occasionally, someone shouts something rude back at the preacher. One dude starts up a chant of “Live in sin” over and over again. There are catcalls, people fly the horns, etc. But even that starts to die down in the face of what appears to be a never-ending barrage of scripture.

And I’m thinking to myself; what the hell good can they possibly imagine this is doing?

I mean, is anyone going to say “Whelp, I was going to hit up a room party, drink like Bacchus, and compare various forms of magic and demons to one another, but now that someone I don’t know has yelled Bible verses at me through a megaphone I think I’m going to church instead?” No. That is a phrase said by nobody, ever.

Video of the protestors here.

(2) TRICORDER DESIGN WINS X-PRIZE. The Harris brothers — mentioned here a couple of weeks ago — beat nine other finalists, including some heavily-funded competition. IFL Science has the story — “Star Trek’s Tricorder Now Officially Exists Thanks To A Global Competition”.

Star Trek’s all-purpose medical device, the Tricorder, has also inspired a fair few people to recreate its near-magical ability to instantly diagnose a patient. As it happens, the non-profit X-Prize Foundation were so keen to get one invented that they started a global competition to see if any mavericks would succeed.

Rather remarkably, one team has emerged victorious in their endeavor. A family-led team from Pennsylvania, appropriately named Final Frontier Medical Devices, have bagged themselves a sum of $2.5 million, with a second-place prize of $1 million going to the Taiwan-based Dynamical Biomarkers Group.

The objective of the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition was to create a lightweight, non-invasive, handheld device that can identify 13 health conditions (12 diseases, and the very absence of disease) in 90 minutes to 24 hours with no additional help or counsel from medical professionals. Five vital health metrics, like heartbeat and respiratory function, were also required to be constantly monitored.

Beginning in 2012, 10 teams originally made the cut from an original starting point of 312 groups from 38 countries. Two finalists were announced last December, and six total were honored at the prize-giving ceremony in Los Angeles.

The team behind the winning design was headed by brothers Dr Basil Harris, an emergency physician, and George Harris, a network engineer. They came up with “DxtER,” a device infused with artificial intelligence, entire funded by themselves and two other siblings of theirs.

Concluding that one device alone was not sufficient to accurately and quickly diagnose various medical conditions in a patient, the team realized that they needed to link it up to a wealth of medical data….

(3) MORE POTTERCABULARY ON COURSE FOR THE DICTIONARY. Priya Joshi, in an International Business Times piece called “’Quidditch’ and ‘Potterhead’ could make their way into the Oxford English Dictionary”, says that the OED is considering these terms as well as “wrock,” which is short for “wizard rock.”  However, “muggle” was added to the OED years ago.

“Potterhead”, which is a term used to describe a Harry Potter super-fan, is in the running, as is “Wrock” [short for Wizard Rock] a genre of music favoured by the pupils of Hogwarts. “Bellatrix” the name of one of Rowling’s characters, may also make it into the OED.

While it is rare for made-up words to find their way into the Oxford dictionary, they have to be in circulation for 10 years to be considered for this authoritative record of the English language.

(4) TODAY’S 3000. In the opinion of The Verge’s Megan Farokhmanesh, “Mystery Science Theater 3000 perfectly dunks on Stranger Things.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back, and the first thing on its hit list is Stranger Things. Netflix has released a short MST3K crossover teaser that features the cast of the revival version of the show taking a break from their movie-centric entertainment to riff on the opening of Netflix’s breakout science-fiction thriller. Although the actual show is focused on questionable movies rather than viral-hit TV, the clip is still a brilliant bit of marketing.

 

(5) CROSSED SIGNALS. But wait, another writer for The Verge, Noel Murray, says the first episode is a sendup of the movie Reptilicus. Which The Verge also likes.

But Netflix’s revival version grasps something that most of the copycats miss: Mystery Science Theater was never just about sneering. The new Jonah Ray version of the series recaptures the original version’s handmade, “Hey kids, let’s put on a show” charm. The sets and effects look fussed-over and intricately detailed, but also inexpensive enough that any diligent, gifted community-theater tech could’ve pulled them off. During the first break in Reptilicus, Ray and the ’bots launch into a Hamilton-esque rap (penned by nerdcore songwriting duo Paul Sabourin and Storm DiCostanzo) about giant monsters around the world. In that song, Ray, Yount, and Vaughn hit every tricky, rapid-fire aural cue, but also knock over props and sing like spirited amateurs. The presentation throughout the first new episode is smart and energetic, but not always slick.

The main thing the Netflix MST3K gets right is the original’s giddy media deconstruction. During Reptilicus, there are jokes about the movie’s slow pace (“Feel free to begin the scene any time, guys”), and about the stock characters and casual sexism (“Brigadier General Military Industrial Complex, this is Miss Doctor Woman”). Ray and the ’bots have some fun with the poor quality of the source material itself (“Either this print is in really bad shape, or it’s raining tar”), and the movie’s distinctly Danish setting (“Protect the parfumerie!”).

(6) THAT OTHER TURING TEST. Emilio Lizardo never met the renowned codebreaker, but somehow Turing got interested in this saurian puzzler — “Color-shifting lizard’s skin morphs just as Alan Turing predicted”.

At least, when you take John von Neumann’s math into account…

There’s a particular type of lizard that changes the color of its spots as it ages — and researchers have just discovered the mathematical rules that govern this peculiar metamorphosis.

Meet the ocellated lizard, a 30-to-35 inch reptile that lives Europe. These lizards are born with unimpressive brown and white polka dots. But as they grow, they develop this beautiful, labyrinthine green and black pattern across their bodies. We don’t know exactly why this happens, but now, we know a little more about how. The lizard scales might be changing according to a particular mathematical model, reports a study published this week in Nature. The weird thing is, this model is somewhat different from the one that scientists have long believed to determine how animals get dots and stripes.

In fact, one overarching theory of how biological patterns form comes from an unlikely place: codebreaker Alan Turing. About 65 years ago, he proposed that stripes, spots, and even appendages like fingers may emerge from a series of chemical interactions between two hypothetical substances: an activator and an inhibitor. As both substances spread across a canvas like an animal’s skin at different paces, they compete with one another to give rise to patterns….

(7) TAYLOR OBIT. Robert Taylor, a pioneer of modern computing and the internet, died April 13 at the age of 85.

In the 1960s, Taylor was a researcher at the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA, where his frustration with what he saw as inefficient communication led him to envision an interconnected computer network.

At ARPA, Taylor had three separate computer terminals in his office to communicate with his colleagues across Berkeley, MIT, UCLA and Stanford. Each terminal connected to a different computer in a different part of the country, he told Raz.

“To get in touch with someone in Santa Monica through the computer, I’d sit in front of one terminal, but to do the same thing with someone in Massachusetts, I would have to get up and move over to another terminal,” Taylor said. “You don’t have to look at this very long to realize this is silly. This is stupid. So I decided, OK, I want to build a network that connects all of these.”

That shared network, ARPANET, evolved into what would become the internet. To build it, Taylor assembled a group of smart people, like Bill Duvall at Stanford, Len Kleinrock at UCLA and the 21-year-old programmer Charley Kline.

(8) EFFECTS.Ghost in the Shell Reel” on Vimeo is a demonstration of work by Ash Thorp about work he did for the 2017 movie.

(9) COUNTING EXERCISE. Lettie Prell and a white-hot adding machine tell about “Women Writers Winning Hugo Awards: A History”.

In sum, this analysis documents the large increase in Hugos going to women writers, from zero to a sweep of all four major fiction categories in 2016. I could have selected another award, or gathered other data, and documented the same upward trajectory, because what we’re really documenting here is the achievement of the broader women’s movement, which has been just one of the groups who’ve been working for a more inclusive culture. As for me, I’ve come to expect diverse voices, and I hunger for them as another dimension of the mind-expanding fare I’ve craved since high school.

(10) RATING YOUR UBER DRIVER. Buzzfeed fears that the Uber driver rating system gets people unjustly canned.

In a San Francisco Lyft car, there’s a chart taped to the back of the front passenger seat: “The Rating System Explained.” It details — in exaggerated terms — what Lyft’s one- to five-star rating scale really means to drivers.

Beginning at five stars — “got me where I needed to go” — the explanations quickly descend into parodic paranoia. Four stars: “This driver sucks, fire him slowly … Too many of these and I may end up homeless.” Three stars: “This driver sucks so bad I never want to see him again.” Two stars: “maybe the car had something dangerously wrong with it or he was doing 120 in a 40 mile zone.”

One star? “Threats or acts of violence possibly made, perhaps a callous disregard for his own safety.”

Though tongue-in-cheek, this rating system explainer touches on an essential truth of the gig economy: When companies like Lyft, Uber, and Postmates penalize workers who have low ratings, anything less than five stars feels like a rebuke….

(11) I GET AROUND. No beach for these boys, but plenty of sand — “’Star Wars’ Exclusive Sneak Peek: Hasbro’s Deluxe Luke Skywalker-Landspeeder Set”.

Luke Skywalker is all set to head down to Tosche Station for a rendezvous with Biggs, Windy, Deak, and Fixer in this exclusive first look at the latest addition to Hasbro’s premium Black Series line. The young moisture farmer can cruise the dunes of the twin-sunned planet, from Anchorhead to Mos Eisley, in his X-34 landspeeder.

(12) POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT. Blastr brings the good word — “Story by legendary sci-fi author Robert Silverberg being made into film”.

One of sci-fi’s greatest living legends is finally getting some love from Hollywood.

According to Deadline, John Ridley is set to write and direct a film for Miramax called Needle in a Timestack, based on a short story by Robert Silverberg. The story focuses on a man who sets out to save his marriage after it is destroyed by a rival using time travel to alter the course of history.

The involvement of Ridley, whose credits include writing and directing the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, as well as creating the acclaimed TV series American Crime and a new Showtime project called Guerrilla (he’s also still attached to write a mystery Marvel TV project), means it’s more likely to move forward than get stuck in development hell.

(13) SLEEPWALKING TO THE BANK. According to Looper’s Time Karan, “Upcoming Stephen King novel Sleeping Beauties already being developed for TV”.

It’s a scary great time to be Stephen King.

According to Empire, his upcoming novel Sleeping Beauties–which he wrote with his son Owen King–is already being developed into a TV series. The book is slated to arrive in September from Scribner. The TV series will be produced by The OA’s Michael Sugar and Ashley Zalta.

The novel is reportedly set in the relatively near future at a women’s prison in an Appalachian town. Here’s the official synopsis: “Something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep, they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain?”

(14) HUGH JACKMAN SINGS THE MUSIC MAN. David K.M. Klaus supplies the introduction to this 2012 Tonight Show clip:

He still had it memorized from when he was 14, doing eight voices in rapid succession, the opening scene on a train.  It’s a hoot! It shows that you can’t just walk in from somewhere and do superhero films — this is part of why he could master a role like Wolverine, through training as an actor and dancer. The opposite illustration of this would be Shaquille O’Neil playing Steel, from the Superman comics, and being an awkward disaster.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 7/25/16 The Ants Are My Friends, Scrolling In The Wind

(1) FIRST RULE OF GAME WRITING. Creators are interviewed in NPR’s feature “Amid Board Game Boom, Designers Roll The Dice On Odd Ideas – Even Exploding Cows”.

When you play a game, you have to learn some rules, right? Well, same goes for designing a game. And here’s one rule: No idea is too wacky.

Take a game called Unexploded Cow, for instance.

“That’s a game where you’ve discovered two problems with a common solution,” says the game’s co-creator, James Ernest. “There’s mad cows in England and unexploded bombs in the French countryside, and you’re going to bring them together and solve everybody’s problems by blowing up a bunch of cows. ”

Using cows with a debilitating brain disease to get rid of leftover bombs — for most people, that’s just an absurd joke. But Ernest designs board games for a living. He and a colleague took that weird idea and came up with a card game. Each player manages a herd of sick cows and tries to make money blowing them up.

That game, Unexploded Cow, is now one of the most popular he’s created….

Are these guys SFWAns in the making?

(2) GET IN THE GAME. Cat Rambo lists “What SFWA Offers Game Writers” at her blog.

In light of recent discussions, I wanted to jot down a few things that come to mind when what I think about SFWA has to offer game writers, because there’s actually quite a bit.

  • Access to SFWA promotional resources includes a number of venues quite suitable for publicizing games. Our curated Kickstarter page, the New Release Newsletter (which can easily be expanded to include games), the SFWA blog, SFWA’s presences on Facebook and Twitter. It’d be easy to make the Featured Book section a Featured Work section to go with Authors section on the SFWA website.
  • Even the book-specific promotional features, such as the NetGalley program, may be of use to game writers who are doing books or stories as well, as is often the case.
  • SFWA has been working at relationships with a number of companies that will be of interest to game writers. Our Outreach Committee has monthly checkins with representatives at Amazon, Audible, Draft to Digital, Kickstarter, Kobo, Patreon, and more….

(3) MORE SFWA ADVICE. Russell Galen offers his accumulated experience in “Ten Thoughts About The Business Side of Writing”.

  1. Get a written agreement for every transaction, even with people you love and trust. I am still trying to solve feuds stemming from oral agreements for tiny properties that wound up becoming movie/TV franchises.
  2. Don’t ever think, “I don’t want to bother my agent with this trivial matter.” It’s not just that it might be a bigger matter than you realize, but even if it stays small, it may still have to be cleaned up some day. Your agent would rather do the work now than have to deal with a bigger problem later.

(4) NOW ONLINE. Suvudu delivers “SDCC 2016: Chuck Wendig Talks ‘Life Debt’, Snap Wexley, and Writing in the Present”.

SUV: You favorite a third-person present tense which is quite different from the other books in the Star Wars fiction line. Why did you go with that? What are some of the advantages of using this?

CW: On a simple level, what’s great is that Young Adult books tend to take a present tense viewpoint to telling stories. Sometimes first-person, sometimes third-person, but a lot of young adult fiction is written in present tense. For me, a person who likes to write in that already, the great thing is that we’re speaking to young readers and to older readers who are willing to be drawn into the cinematic component. Star Wars begins as film and moves on to TV. To have the books feel exciting in that kind of action-adventure thing, present tense keeps you in the moment. I always say that past tense is like looking at a painting on a wall in a museum, but present tense is like watching the painter paint it. It’s like watching Bob Ross: You see him painting on his half-hour show. You really don’t know what’s going to happen. I love that feeling: What’s he going to paint here? Is that an ocean? Is that a rock? There’s also a component where you think he’s going to mess the painting up completely but by the end he pools it all out. To me, present tense is like watching the painter paint. When you look at the Star Wars crawls, they’re written in third-person, present tense. I want to capture that: I do think that it’s very cinematic, and that’s why we went with it.

(5) SUPERHEROES TO WHO? “Optimism vs Cynicism in Superhero Narratives by Paige Orwin” at SFFWorld.

Now, there are deconstructions of the genre that take a more cynical view, of course, and it’s possible to tell dark superhero tales where those with power lose their way and take advantage of those around them. Marvel’s superheroes are perhaps more prone to making mistakes, while DC’s might be more prone to growing remote from the concerns of the people they protect, but the end result tends to be similar: things get worse, innocents get hurt, much anguish is had, humanity seeks desperately for someone else to take on the new menace and it’s all terribly bleak…

…but, eventually, things pretty much always get better. It helps that evil is fundamentally punchable, once you figure out who/what needs punching and where the head is. It helps that violence is so often the best answer.

(6) COMIC RELIEF. This photo appears in the middle of a huge gallery of cosplayers from San Diego Comic-Con.

gender at comic con

(7) OUTFITS FOR YOUR SJW CREDENTIAL. However, Chip Hitchcock is skeptical about the cosplaying cats featured in an NPR story — “For These Cosplayers, Geek Costumes Are The Cat’s Pajamas”

Nak, 13, and Fawkes, 6, have been cosplaying for a little more than a year. They’ve been ambitious. Their social media pages show off more than 50 geeky costumes: Alien, Star Trek, Fallout and Game of Thrones each make an appearance. During the year they’ve been active, they’ve gained a sizable following with nearly 10,000 followers on Twitter and 18,500 on Instagram.

Oh, and just one little thing: Nak and Fawkes are, well, cats.

Chip says, “Nobody discusses what this does to the cats’ psyches. I’m just amazed the cats put up with it; if I tried that with my part-Coon foundling (14+ pounds) I’d draw back a bloody stump.”

(8) EATING THE FANTASTIC. In Episode 14 of Scott Edelman’s podcast he is joined by Fran Wilde, the Nebula Award-winning and Compton Crook Award-winning author of Updraft, plus the host of the Cooking the Books podcast, which has a writers + food focus just like his.

Fran Wilde

Fran Wilde

(9) FROM THE EARTH TO…? Ken Murphy at The Space Review lists dozens of “Stories of cislunar suspense: Literary adventures on the near frontier (part 2)”.

Part 1, last week, examined literature from the 1950s through the 1980s.

1990s

The movement of the Baby Boomer generation into positions of power that began in the 1980s took full flower in the 1990s. This marked a significant shift (but not a real change) in the status quo, and there began the generation of much more ‘product for the marketplace’. Lots of Shuttle stories as we worked through the trauma of Challenger, but also solar power satellite and space station stories. Gen X coded the World Wide Web, while their bosses day-traded their way to enormous prosperity (oh…wait…), and the Millennials were digging Bill Nye the Science Guy. The Soviet Union didn’t so much collapse as dissolve into a new form of corruption and warlord-led tribalism, and this left writers looking for new enemies, from corporate baddies to Asians with cryptic agendas. The Space Shuttle was ramping up its tempo of flights, boldly going where it had gone so many times before, along with operations of Mir and the genesis of ISS.

Fallen Angels, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle & Michael Flynn (1991): in a future where technology is blamed for the world’s ecological ills, those trapped in orbit in the post-space age must struggle to survive. When a scoop ship is shot down, the race is on by the Fen to rescue the crew and return them to orbit. Don’t know Fen? Then this book is probably not for you. But if you’re a devotee of the science fiction writers cons then this book is entirely for you. [GoodReads: 3.49/1,937] …

(10) FIFTH ITERATION. David C. Handley tells why “Pokémon GO Signals New Social Media Paradigm” at SciFi4Me.

There’s just one issue with the current model for social media: it’s purely virtual. The social component has been lost. That means that apart from location data and images and people becoming connected (“friended” or “followed”) or disconnected (“unfriended” or “kicked to the curb”), there’s no way of determining interactions in the real world. The difficulty has always been to integrate physical reality and virtual reality.

Enter augmented reality. Although not a new concept (it’s been used for heads-up displays (HUD) for fighter jets since the 1970s), the smartphone has given it new applications. In Korea a few years back, for example, people could hold a phone camera up and landmarks would be marked on the screen.

Then camePokémon GO.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know by know that Pokémon GO has become … um … big. Really big. No, I mean huge! And it knows no limits. Players of all ages are collecting ’em all. And they’re changing the face of social media by combining the social with the media.

There are two ways that the game has, well, changed the game. The first is the reintroduction of social interaction. Not only do the catching and training of Pokémon cause interaction between players, but the competition and even the very act of searching for the virtual creatures has created peaceful gatherings that have had the feel of makeshift parties. People are meeting new people and making friends, something that was generally absent from the old flash mobs.

(11) NOMINATED NOVEL. Lisa Goldstein began her review of Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass  with seven things she disliked.

1. Butcher seems to go his own carefree way with many words, heedless of any actual dictionary definitions.  So, for example, the characters in this world live in huge circular towers far above the ground, which he calls “spires” — but spires are tapered or pointed, not cylindrical.  One of the types of airships that sail between the towers is called a “windlass,” which is actually a “device for raising or hauling objects.”  (Yeah, I had to look that one up.)  There are neighborhoods in the spires called spirals, which — as you’ve probably guessed by now — consist of streets in perfectly straight lines.

2. Both female leads are forthright, plucky, and kick-ass, to the point where I started confusing one with the other.  One is rich and small and the other one isn’t and isn’t, and that’s about the only difference I could find between them….

But all is not lost….

(12) GETTING READY TO VOTE. Lis Carey continues her progression through the Hugo-nominated short fiction at Lis Carey’s Library.

(13) MORE THAN YOU CAN SHAKE A STICK AT. JJ posted a bumper crop of short reviews in comments today.

2016 Novel Reading

  • Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold (2016) (Novella)
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong? by Taylor, Jodi (2016)
  • Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (2016)
  • Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer (2016)
  • Arkwright by Allen Steele (2016)

Leftover Novel Reading

  • Coming Home by Jack McDevitt (2014)
  • Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher (2015)
  • Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald (2015)

(14) BUT WHO GETS TO SIT IN THE CHAIR? Five captains all in one place.

(15) BLACK PANTHER. The Guardian reports “’Bad feminist’ Roxane Gay to write new Marvel Black Panther series”.

“It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done, and I mean that in the best possible way,” Gay told the New York Times. But “the opportunity to write black women and queer black women into the Marvel universe – there’s no saying no to that.”

Her story, she promised, would be “pretty intimate. There’s going to be all kinds of action, but I’m also really excited to show Ayo and Aneka’s relationship, build on that love story, and also introduce some other members of the Dora Milaje … I love being able to focus on women who are fierce enough to fight but still tender enough to love.”

The recruitment of Gay is part of Marvel’s drive to diversify its offering, both in terms of creators and characters. “So. I am writing a comic book series for Marvel,” Gay tweeted, announcing the news. “Black women are also doing the covers and art … And no. It doesn’t make sense that I am the first, in 2016. But I won’t be the last.” She also tweeted that it was likely to come out in November.

(16) MAN WITH A PLAN. At writing.ie,  “Outline Planning Permission: Part 1” by our own Nigel Quinlan.

This summer will be the summer of me learning to PLAN.

No plan survives first contact with your neurons.

Planing is defined in the dictionary as… I dunno, I haven’t a dictionary handy.

Already we’re off to a disastrous start, highlighting my failings as a planner. Had I planned ahead properly then the dictionary would be in reach. I would have overcome my laziness and inertia and fetched a dictionary from a nearby shelf. I would not have forgotten that I am typing this on a computer connected to the internet which has dictionaries in it. I’m a complete mess.

The ultimate aim of this exercise will be to have two proposals to slide onto the desk of my publisher and turn their eyes to pound signs. One will be for a big scary fantasy MG novel, the other will be for a series of MG books utilising ideas I cut from Cloak. Neither of these may be viable or publishable, but I am going to learn how to plan them and present them.

Nigel adds, “Part 2 should be up next week. I wrote it a few weeks ago and I look back now at few-weeks-ago-me and think, you poor sweet summer child.”

(17) WORKING ON THE FIVE W’S. Now fans know where, but not when — “Mystery Science 3000 Revival to Premiere on Netflix”.

Revealed during a panel at SDCC 2016, as reported by THR, the new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (or MST3K) will be broadcast by streaming giant Netflix, with a tentative start date set for (in a reference to the series’ original theme song) “the not-too-distant future.”

(18) HAMIT WINS. “’Christopher Marlowe’ Script By Francis Hamit Wins Screenplay Category” at Annual Hollywood Book Festival.

Francis Hamit has won the Screenplay category at the 11th Annual Hollywood Book Festival for his soon-to-be-produced script “Christopher Marlowe”. The Elizabethan-era thriller about the poet, playwright and spy has been in development for over six years and is based upon Hamit’s stage play “MARLOWE: An Elizabethan Tragedy”, which was originally presented in Los Angeles in 1988.

It will be directed by Michael John Donahue, DGA, and produced by Gary Kurtz. Negotiations for cast and financing are ongoing.

(19) SOLD TO THE HIGHEST BIDDERS. The Nate Sanders firm completed another auction on July 21.

”Peanuts” comic strip hand-drawn by its creator Charles Schulz, from 9 April 1958. The strip comments on a subject that we think is a modern phenomena, the fact that children can’t concentrate for a long period of time. Here, Schroeder reads that from a book, and Charlie Brown proves its point by watching TV, drawing, playing baseball and paddle ball in the course of four frames. Strip measures 28.75” x 7”. United Feature Syndicate label appears on third frame. Inscribed by Schulz to ”Elizabeth Vaughn and her sixth grade pupils – Charles M Schulz”. Some toning and a light paper backing affixed to verso, overall very good condition.

[Thanks to Nigel Quinlan, Martin Morse Wooster, Dawn Incognito, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]

Pixel Scroll 12/31 At the Scroll of Midnight

(1) THE PERFECT MATCH. Fathom Events is bringing Starship Troopers back to theaters – but only so the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 can give the movie everything it deserves.

The stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000® are bringing The Best of RiffTrax Live back to select cinemas nationwide. On Thursday, January 14, join Mike, Kevin, and Bill for a re-broadcast of their hilarious take on Starship Troopers.

Originally riffed in August 2013, this fan favorite features the guys hurling their wisecracking humor at what has become the king of modern campy sci-fi epics.

(2) THREE BODY. President Barack Obama spent his holiday vacation in Hawaii reading these four books reports Newsweek.

His reading list includes: The Whites by Richard Price, Purity by Jonathan Franzen, The Wright Brothers by David Mccullough, and The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin.

(3) DEMENTO AND CRAZY-EX. Joe Blevins at Splitsider fills you in on everything from Dr. Demento to YouTube in “2015: The Year Comedy Music Broke”.

And then there are the vloggers and other YouTube stars, the ones who make their livelihoods from the site. It’s an under-reported phenomenon, but original comedic music has played a huge role in the success of many of them. Popular channels like Epic Rap Battles of History, Axis of Awesome, and Schmoyoho, all of which regularly rack up millions of views per video, are essentially delivery systems for new comedy music, even if few would think to lump them in with the acts getting airtime on The Dr. Demento Show. They’re all playing the same basic sport, though, just in different arenas. The comedy duo Smosh, long one of YouTube’s most-subscribed channels, mostly concern themselves with sketches, but they do enough songs to warrant inclusion here. Even vlogger Jenna Marbles occasionally does a musical number (usually about her doted-upon dogs) as part of her weekly video series. If there is a way to make money doing funny music in 2015, it is to partner with YouTube, nurture a subscriber base, and never really define yourself as a comedy or worse yet “novelty” music artist. Meanwhile, none of these people are getting much validation from traditional media, including pop radio. Whether that constitutes a problem is debatable.

(4) CHAOTIC NEUTRAL. Brandon Kempner has declared Chaos Horizon ineligible for the 2016 Hugos.

After careful thought, I’m declaring that Chaos Horizon (and myself) will not accept a Hugo nomination in 2016. Because Chaos Horizon reports so extensively on the numbers related to the Hugo process, I feel it would be a conflict of interest to be part of that process in any way.

Since I do reporting and analytical work here at Chaos Horizon, it’s important from me to maintain some journalistic distance from the awards. I couldn’t do that if I were nominated. This is consistent with my past practice; I haven’t voted in the Hugos since I began Chaos Horizon. Simply put, the scorekeeper can’t play the game.

(5) TANGENTIAL HISTORY. The Tangent Online 2015 Recommended Reading List” says it contains 417 works: 355 short stories, 46 novelettes, and 16 novellas.

Its long, error-filled endorsement of Sad Puppies 4 begins with this generous rewriting of history —

Sad Puppies was the name given to a small group of fans four years ago who had become disgruntled after seeing many of the same names on the final Hugo ballot, year after year. It was spearheaded that first year by SF author Larry Correia, who decided to put forth a list of authors and works he believed were being overlooked. He recused himself from being recommended or being nominated.

The Sad Puppies name was given these campaigns by their creator, Larry Correia, who started them to stir support for his own Hugo prospects. He was successful enough to be nominated three times; it was only the third he declined. Nor did he recuse himself from Sad Puppies 3, but supported the SP3 slate with his novel on it, only at the end suprising his fans by taking himself off the ballot.

(6) SOMETIMES THEY DO GET WEARY. The respected Lois Tilton begins “2015 Reviews in Review” at Locus Online with a sigh:

Lovers of SFF can only deplore the late year’s outbreak of divisiveness and animosity, with the hostile parties displaying a willingness to destroy the genre in order to deny it to the other. Calls for unity go unheard while the partisans make plans to continue the hostilities in the upcoming year. The only bright spot is that ordinary readers appear to have largely ignored the entire thing.

(6) FLICK ANALYSIS. Ethan Mills shares his picks “2015 Movies: The Good, the Bad, and the Mediocre” at Examined Worlds.

I’ve been trying to decide between Fury Road and The Force Awakens as my favorite movie of the year.  Both movies have ultra-competent female protagonists, although Fury Road could certainly have done better on the racial diversity front.  While Fury Road gives us pulse-quickening action and a fully realized post-apocalyptic world, Star Wars gives us all the fun of a real Star Wars movie.

Click to see who wins.

(7) READY-TO-WEAR TBR PILE. And if you have a week free, Fantasy Faction will tell you about the Top 50 fantasy novels of 2015.

It’s getting harder and harder to be a well-read and up-to-date reviewer in Fantasy these days. It’s also getting incredibly difficult to order the best of the year lists. I know that complaining that too many good books are being released probably isn’t an argument I will get much support for, but wow oh wow were there too many damned good books published in 2015, right? RIGHT!?

It’s not just the quality of the books, but the diversity of the Fantasy genre worth applauding too. Take Empire AscendantThe Grace of Kings, The Vagrant and Uprooted – these aren’t books being based on proven and familiar formulas

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born December 31, 1945 – Connie Willis

https://twitter.com/EdMcKayinFay/status/682559367087013888

(9) MURDER BY DEATH. “The Medieval Revenant: Restless, Dead, and Out for Revenge” by Matt Staggs at Suvudu. Interesting paragraph – perhaps the literati around here can tell whether it’s accurate.

Unlike us, medieval men and women didn’t make much of a distinction between various kinds of the living dead. There were revenants who fed on blood, and vampires who fed on anything but blood. Sometimes the restless dead took physical form, and other times they were immaterial spirits, like ghosts. (The zombies stayed down in Haiti, and those poor souls didn’t eat anyone.) Because of these reasons, classifying a story as one about a revenant rather than a ghost, vampire, or other restless dead thing can be difficult. That said, we can draw upon these tales for some ideas of what revenants did and why they rose from the dead in the first place.

(10) MISSING YOU. Journey Planet #27 takes as its theme “Fan History – To Absent Friends.” Download it here.

2342389

We look at the impact of those who have come before us, and what they meant to the evolution of Fandom, and of fans. Wonderful stories of legends like Bruce Pelz, Peggy Rae Sapienza, Jerry Jacks, Mikey Jelenski, Fred Duarte, Gary Louie, Robert Sacks, Poul Andersen, Mick O’Connor, Dave Stewart, James White, Ted Johnstone, Joe Mayhew, LeeH, Jay Haldeman, George Flynn, and many many more, help us understand the legacies that led us to where fandom is today.

It was lovely to learn more about so many people that we had heard of but sadly never met, and to learn about people new to us that, unfortunately, we will never have an opportunity to meet. Our experience as fans is enriched by knowledge, and we hope that you will all have a similar experience reading the issue. Produced by guest editors Helen Montgomery & Warren Buff, plus editors Chris Garcia & James Bacon.

(11) BOOKLESS. Is making these announcements a new trend? Greg Van Eekhout is another author explaining why he won’t have a new book out in 2016.

First of all, I won’t have a new novel out. That’s mostly because I didn’t complete one in time to have a novel out in 2016. From the time a novel is sold, a publisher usually needs at least nine months and often more than a year to get it ready for release. And by “ready” I mean not just editing and printing, but also positioning it with a marketing campaign and finding an advantageous slot for it in the release schedule. So, for me to have a book out in 2016, I would have had to finish writing it sometime in late 2014 or early 2015, so an editor could edit it, so I could revise it, so an art director and book designer and cover artist could make it pretty, and so on. Unfortunately, taking care of two elderly parents was more than a full-time job that didn’t leave much physical or emotional energy for new writing.

(12) EXPANSE RETURNING. Lizard Brain shares Syfy’s press release announcing that The Expanse has been renewed for a second season.

Currently airing on Syfy Tuesdays at 10PM ET/PT, THE EXPANSE has garnered strong multiplatform viewership since its December 14 debut, with 4.5 million viewers sampling the first episode on Syfy.com, On Demand and digital outlets prior to the series’ linear premiere, and an average of 1.6 million P2+ linear viewers (L3) in its first three episodes.

(13) MISTER LISTER. Black Gate’s John ONeill amusingly comments

Fortunately, the tireless John DeNardo works much harder than me. He doesn’t go to Christmas parties, or watch movies. Ever. Or sleep, apparently. No, he read every single one of those Best SF & Fantasy of the Year lists. The ones that matter anyway…

— before guiding us to John DeNardo’s compilation of “The Best of the Best of 2015’s Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books” at Kirkus Reviews. There, De Nardo explains:

o  I used 8 different sources to arrive at the aggregate, all of them specifically geared toward science-fiction and fantasy books: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Publishers Weekly, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and course Kirkus Reviews.

o  I only included books that garnered three or more mentions. That yielded a list of seven books, which seems like a good size. That said, I also include below a list of “Honorable Mentions” that appeared on two lists.

(14) SNOPES CLEARS HARLAN. Snopes says a famous Harlan Ellison story never happened/

Claim:   Writer Harlan Ellison was rebuffed after making a crude remark to a tall blonde woman at a party.

Status:   False.

In Snopes’ example, Isaac Asimov spins out an entire anecdote, but the gist is —

…Harlan approached one of these giraffelike women, fixed her with his glittering eye, and said, “What would you say to a little fuck?” And she looked down at him and said, “I would say, ‘Hello, little fuck.'”

Snopes says this is nothing more than a riff off one of the jokes in Gershon Legman’s Rationale of the Dirty Joke first published by Grove Press in 1968.

I remember hearing the joke whispered between fans in the early 1970s. It must have been freshly purloined from Legman at the time.

(15) HALLOWEEN STAMPS. Naturally, horror news blog Dread Central is more interested in the 2016 Jack O’Lantern stamps that will be issued for Halloween. I skipped over those to avoid spoiling the symmetry of the space and Star Trek theme in yesterday’s post. But they are lovely!

halloweenstamps

(16) TREK ACTORS CASH IN. “Star Trek Actor Salaries Just Beamed Up With Big Raises” at Celebrity Net Worth says Paramount will pay big to hang onto the cast of its franchise films.

…In order for the latest Star Trek film series to “live long and prosper,” Paramount needed to keep Pine and Quinto on board as Spock and Kirk…

Pine only made $600 thousand for 2009’s Star Trek, which grossed over $385 million. For 2013’s Star Trek: Into Darkness, Captain Kirk made $1.5 million of the $467 million gross. Before a new deal was struck, he was scheduled to make $3 million for the upcoming Star Trek Beyond. Thanks to a lucrative new deal, Pine will now make $6 million for the third Star Trek film, which is double what he was supposed to make, and will be 10 times what he made for the first film in the series!

The new deal features big raises and much better performance bonuses for the cast. Paramount only wanted to give the ship mates nominal raises, but ended up giving in for the better of the franchise. Thanks to last minute negotiations, the production house ended up adding somewhere between $10 and $15 million to the movie’s budget to pay the stars of the show. As part of the new deal, Pine and Quinto have been granted an option and will now be a part of the 4th film in the J.J. Abrams directed series.

(17) SKY TRASH. Almost 20,000 pieces of space debris are currently orbiting the Earth. This visualisation, created by Dr Stuart Grey, lecturer at University College London and part of the Space Geodesy and Navigation Laboratory, shows how the amount of space debris increased from 1957 to 2015, using data on the precise location of each piece of junk. (Via Chaos Manor.)

(18) KEEP THE FAITH. James H. Burns writes:

For the end of the year, or really the start of the new, and in the spirit of the season, one of the greatest minutes ever in the history of filmed science fiction…  Courtesy of J. Michael Straczynski, and the good folks at, and on, Babylon 5….

 

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

Pixel Scroll 12/12 Do Androids Look Up When They’re Dreaming Of Electronic Sheep?

Live, from way later than the bleeping middle of Saturday night!

(1) VOTER DECEPTION? People are gathering signatures for a San Diego ballot initiative that allegedly will help keep Comic-Con in town, but the organizers of Comic-Con told Deadline.com they have nothing to do with it and it won’t affect whatever they may decide.

Will Comic-Con stay in San Diego? No word yet, but there’s a lot of confusion among fans on what’s going on with the organization’s desire to expand their annual convention in San Diego. Comic-Con International made the unusual move today of putting out a statement regarding a ballot initiative that was drawn up by a group called Citizens Plan for San Diego that seems to be at odds with their own desires for a contiguous expansion along the waterfront. Signatures are being gathered for a ballot initiative to keep Comic-Con in San Diego albeit a different spot, and those collecting signatures are actually advertising the initiative with signs stating “Keep Comic-Con in San Diego….

“There is a lot of confusion about this matter so we felt it necessary to put out a statement to let people know that we are not a party to this, have not read the initiatives and it will have no bearing on our decision of whether we stay in San Diego,” Comic-Con spokesperson David Glanzer told Deadline. He said they have been getting a lot of calls about this and just wanted to set the record straight.

(2) THERE ARE NO BAD PRINCESSES. Check out the photos of what Hampus Eckerman likes to call Disney’s newest Princess at boingboing.

Sophie’s parents tapped their friend, Megan, to turn a Chewbacca doll into a Princess Chewbacca birthday cake, using the “Barbie cake” method, and making Sophie’s third birthday just the bestest.

(3) BYERS SURGERY. SF Site News reports Chunga co-editor Randy Byers is back home after brain surgery.

Fan Randy Byers is recovering at home after undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumor. Byers will receive further diagnosis of his tumors and whether or not additional treatment will be needed, in about a week.

(4) Today In History

  • December 12, 1941 — On this day in 1941 The Wolf Man is unleashed in theaters. Did you know: the “wolf” that Larry Talbot fights with was Lon Chaney Jr.’s own German Shepherd.

wolfman w dog

(5) KRAMPUS. Now just hours away is a local stage performance of a Krampus-themed play.

He’s certainly not jolly, and you sure as hell had better not call him “Nick.” The St. Nicholas you’ll meet tonight is the genuine old-world artifact – the stern judge who oversaw a creaky old style of child-rearing the Germans call “gingerbread and whip.”

Of course Nicholas himself didn’t dirty his hands with whips. For that he had the Krampus. Today, every self-respecting hipster loves Krampus. But while your friends rhapsodize about the ersatz bubblegum Krampus of American comic books, TV, and monster fandom, tonight you’ll get a glimpse of the old devil in his original form – the Krampus of the ancient alpine “Nikolausspiel” or NICHOLAS PLAY, a folk theater production somewhat resembling England’s old Christmas mummers’ plays.

 

kinderhorror-postcard-6

(6) SAFETY LAST. Great video — Samurai Smartphone Parade.

99% of people think using a smartphone while walking is dangerous.

73% of people have used a smartphone while walking.

 

(7) THE HUGO URGE. George R.R. Martin makes two recommendations for the Best Related Work Hugo in a new post at Not A Blog.

THE WHEEL OF TIME COMPANION was a mammoth concordance of facts about the universe and characters of the late Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series, edited and assembled by Harriet McDougal, Alan Romanczuk, and Maria Simons. It’s a labor of love, and everything one could possibly want to know about Jordan’s universe is in there.

Also

Felicia Day’s delightful look at her life, YOU’RE NEVER WEIRD ON THE INTERNET (Almost).

(8) VERHOEVEN’S STINKER. Jason Fuesting, in “Starship Troopers: Book vs. Movie” for Mad Genius Club, takes a movie we both dislike and, by applying his powers of persuasion, still finds grounds for disagreement.

Ultimately, Verhoeven takes a message needed badly by so many today, with their safe spaces and trigger warnings, and turns it into the film equivalent of those same children’s tantrums, a film so poorly written that only Mystery Science Theater 3000 could find use for it.  A better director would have used Joe Haldeman’s “Forever War,” an excellent book in its own right.  Haldeman makes all the points this film bobbled in “Forever War,” but using it would have meant going without all the Nazi imagery that Verhoeven is evidently fond of and not butchering an outstanding work in the process.  Verhoeven’s film is surely satire, but I do not think he realizes the joke is on his side.

(9) MST3K CAMEOS. There will be a bushel of celebrity cameos on the revived MST3K.

MST3K creator Joel Hodgson announces a celebrity-packed cameo list that includes Seinfeld, Hamill, Harris, Jack Black, Bill Hader and Joel McHale for the new series.

Fans also found out this week from Hodgson that the new MST3K writing team will include not only the cast, but also guest writers such as “Community” creator Dan Harmon and his “Rick & Morty” co-creator Justin Roiland. Others will include “The Muppet Show” writer Nell Scovell, “Ready Player One” author Ernie Cline, “The Name of the Wind” author Pat Rothfuss, musical comedy duo Paul and Storm, “Simpsons” writer Dana Gould, “The Book of Mormon” songwriter Robert Lopez and director of the next “Lego Movie” Rob Schrab.

(10) RETHINKING SUSAN PEVENSIE. E. Jade Lomax of Hark, the empty highways calling has written a set of thoughtful, heart-tugging parallax views about what happened after Narnia’s Susan returned to England.

http://ink-splotch.tumblr.com/post/69470941562/there-comes-a-point-where-susan-who-was-the

…I want to read about Susan finishing out boarding school as a grown queen reigning from a teenaged girl’s body. School bullies and peer pressure from children and teachers who treat you like you’re less than sentient wouldn’t have the same impact. C’mon, Susan of the Horn, Susan who bested the DLF at archery, and rode a lion, and won wars, sitting in a school uniform with her eyebrows rising higher and higher as some old goon at the front of the room slams his fist on the lectern.

Susan living through WW2, huddling with her siblings, a young adult (again), a fighting queen and champion marksman kept from the action, until she finally storms out against screaming parents’ wishes and volunteers as a nurse on the front. She keeps a knife or two hidden under her clothes because when it comes down to it, they called her Gentle, but sometimes loving means fighting for what you care for.

She’ll apply to a women’s college on the East Coast, because she fell in love with America when her parents took her there before the war. She goes in majoring in Literature (her ability to decipher High Diction in historical texts is uncanny), but checks out every book she can on history, philosophy, political science. She sneaks into the boys’ school across town and borrows their books too. She was once responsible for a kingdom, roads and taxes and widows and crops and war. She grew from child to woman with that mantle of duty wrapped around her shoulders. Now, tossed here on this mundane land, forever forbidden from her true kingdom, Susan finds that she can give up Narnia but she cannot give up that responsibility. She looks around and thinks I could do this better….

http://ink-splotch.tumblr.com/post/79664265175/ifallelseperished-i-was-so-tall-you-were

Can we talk about Susan Pevensie for a moment?

Let’s talk about how, when the war ends, when the Pevensie children go back to London, Susan sees a young woman standing at the train platform, weeping, waving.

First, Susan thinks civilian; and second, she thinks not much older than me.

Third, Susan thinks Mother.

They surge off the train, into their parents’ arms, laughing, embracing. Around them, the train platform is full of reunions (in her life, trains will give so much to Susan, and take so much away).

(11) NPR RECOMMENDS. NPR staff and critics have listed 260 books they loved this year – click here to see the ones in the science fiction and fantasy category.

(12) TOUGHER MEGABUCKS.  Scott Mendelson at Forbes tells why he thinks “For ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ Breaking The Opening Weekend Record Just Got Less Likely”.

But if The Force Awakens breaks the opening weekend record next weekend, it, like The Phantom Menace, will have to do it in a lot fewer theaters than expected. Walt Disney reported yesterday (according to the always trustworthy BoxOffice.com and Box Office Mojo) that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be opening next week on around 3,900 screens in America.

That’s only the 11th biggest theater count in 2015 and nowhere close to the biggest theater count of all time. The biggest theatrical release in 2015 was the 4,301 screen release for Minions ($115 million debut weekend). The widest release of all time was for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse which debuted on July 4th weekend of 2010 in 4,468 theaters. There have been 62 releases debuting in more than 4,000 theaters. If you presume that the figure is closer to 3,900 versus 3,999 theaters next week, that puts the Walt Disney release at merely one of the 100 biggest releases ever, about on par with Spectre and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Point being, Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn’t going to have anywhere closer to the widest theatrical release of all time.

(13) ‘TISN’T THE SEASON. A friend of mine *coff* *coff* wanted me to ask John Scalzi a favor, but after reading “On the Asking of Special Holiday Favors From Me” I’m going to tell my friend *coff* *coff* this is a bad time…

Folks: This week I’ve gotten no less than five requests from fans (or family/friends of fans) asking if I could do some particular special thing or another that would mean a lot to the fan for the holidays. Since there are several of these this week, and these sorts of requests are something I’ve had to juggle before, especially during the holidays, I’m posting this as a general note so people know it’s not personal. And that note is:

I really can’t….

[Thanks to Janice Gelb, John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, Hampus Eckerman, and Brian Z. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/11 Fresh Squeezed Pixel Juice

(1) COME OUT OF YOUR SHELL. The University of Maryland Libraries is hosting “Exam Wars: The Turtle Awakens” (U of M’s mascot is the terrapin.)

They’re having a Star Wars drawing contest, among other things.

Exam Wars Illustration Contest Students will send us a drawing of a Star Wars character, and will be entered into a drawing for their very own VIP Study Room, (modeled after the University of Dayton <http://www.programminglibrarian.org/blog/very-important-prize>  study room give-away). This room in McKeldin will be available to the winner during reading day and finals week.

(2) REFERENCE DIRECTOR! “Calista Flockhart Thought the Millennium Falcon Was an Airline”, or so she told Jimmy Kimmel.

In recent months, Harrison Ford has grudgingly acknowledged that he has a soft spot for Star Wars — but apparently, not enough to show the films to his wife Calista Flockhart. During a visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, Supergirl actress Flockhart admitted that she was completely in the dark about all things Han Solo until this year. In fact, when a producer on Star Wars: The Force Awakens called to inform her of Ford’s accident on the Millennium Falcon, she had no idea what the Millennium Falcon was.

“A producer called me and she said, ‘Hi Calista, I have some bad news. Harrison has been hurt. He had an accident: he was standing on a Millennium Falcon and the door fell,’” Flockhart told Kimmel. “And I thought that he was on some commercial airline, and the door fell off and he flew out of the airplane!”

Totally confounded, Flockhart called a friend. “I said, ‘What the hell is the Millennium Falcon? I have never heard of that airline!’” she recalled. (Never heard of that airline? It’s the airline that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs!)

(3) DAMMIT JIM! ”Dammit Jim!” beer got its name when New Republic Brewing Company had to rename of one its products.

Dammit jim sixpack

The New Republic Brewing Co received a cease and desist letter from a law firm representing Luxco. They demand that we stop using the brand name Bellows as it is in violation of their trademark.  They claim that you, the consumer will confuse their plastic bottle bourbon with our quality craft beer.

Jim Beam apparently has a ‘Bellows’ line of rail-liquor and put pressure on New Republic. Thus, I suppose the message behind the new name is, “Dammit Jim, I’m a beer not a bourbon!”

Chad B. Hill commented, “The closest Captain Kirk will ever get to a 6 pack!”

(4) BANDERSNATCH EXPLAINED. “Diana Pavlac Glyer Talks About New Book, Bandersnatch” at the Azusa Pacific University website.

What common misconception about creative writing does Bandersnatch hope to eliminate?

This is a good opportunity to explain how Bandersnatch got its title. In a written exchange with Lewis an interviewer asked, “What influence have you had on Tolkien?” He responded, “No one ver influenced Tolkien—you might as well try to influence a bandersnatch.” (A bandersnatch is a mythical animal with a fierce disposition created by author Lewis Carroll.) Many researchers argued that Tolkien and Lewis must, therefore, have worked independently. In the very same letter, however, Lewis goes on to explain that Tolkien either ignores suggestions all together, or completely redoes his work.

The idea of the solitary genius is extremely popular, especially in the United States. Many people imagine the creative process this way: Someone struck with inspiration, sits alone with a typewriter and completes an entire book in one sitting. This could not be more off base. The world’s most influential creators are those embedded in a web of collaboration. They communicate deeply with other people about their ideas, and immerse themselves in groups of influence. When we work among others, our own productivity flourishes. We need people not only to work with us, but to do small things like encourage us along the way.

(5) SECRET AGENT NARNIAN. Harry Lee Poe’s title is overdramatized, however, he seems to be literally correct in saying “C.S. Lewis Was a Secret Government Agent”, according to the information in his article for Christianity Today.

…[The] British did the next best thing they could do to help Denmark and the rest of Europe: They launched a surprise invasion of Iceland, which was part of the Kingdom of Denmark….

Though British control of Iceland was critical, Britain could not afford to deploy its troops to hold the island when greater battles loomed elsewhere, beginning with the struggle for North Africa. Holding Iceland depended upon the goodwill of the people of Iceland who never had asked to be invaded by the British. If Britain retained Icelandic goodwill, then Churchill could occupy the island with reserve troops rather than his best fighting forces.

This was the strategic situation in which C. S. Lewis was recruited. And his mission was simple: To help win the hearts of the Icelandic people.

The Work of a Literary Secret Agent

The Joint Broadcasting Committee recruited C. S. Lewis to record a message to the people of Iceland to be broadcast by radio within Iceland. Lewis made no record of his assignment, nor does he appear to have mentioned it to anyone. Without disclosing his involvement with military intelligence, however, Lewis did make an indiscreet disclosure to his friend Arthur Greeves in a letter dated May 25, 1941. Lewis remarked that three weeks earlier he had made a gramophone record which he heard played afterwards. He wrote that it had been a shock to hear his own voice for the first time. It did not sound at all the way his voice sounded to himself, and he realized that people who imitated him had actually gotten it right!

(6) MST3K CASHES IN. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Kickstarter raised $5,764,229 with 48,270 backers , and another $600,000 in add-ons, for a total of $6,364,229. MST3K claims $5,764,229 is a Kickstarter record, beating Veronica Mars to become the most funded media project ever.

We get 13 episodes, a holiday special, and a 14th episode. More importantly we have shown the industry that fans have real power, and in fact don’t need networks and studios to rule our viewing choices. Good work.

(7) SHAGGY. R. Graeme Cameron takes a deep dive into the November 1958 issue of LASFS’ fanzine Shangri-L’Affaires #39 in “The Clubhouse; Fanzine Reviews: ‘breaking people off at the ankles’”.

He begins by reciting the entire credits page (“If the following doesn’t convince you the clubzine SHAGGY was a group effort by a staggering array of now legendary fans in the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, there’s no hope for you”), quotes a Halloween party review at length (Fritz Leiber attended in costume), and documents Bjo’s abilities to mesmerize male fans of the 1950s.

(8) COMPANIONSHIP. All I can say about TVGuide.com’s “The Most Fabulous Doctor Who Companions, Ranked” is any such list that doesn’t have Donna Noble at #1 will not be receiving my daughter’s seal of approval.

(9) SECRETS OF CERES. NASA reports “New Clues to Ceres’ Bright Spots and Origins”.

Ceres reveals some of its well-kept secrets in two new studies in the journal Nature, thanks to data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. They include highly anticipated insights about mysterious bright features found all over the dwarf planet’s surface.

In one study, scientists identify this bright material as a kind of salt. The second study suggests the detection of ammonia-rich clays, raising questions about how Ceres formed.

(10) LAST SASQUAN GOH RETURNS HOME. Sasquan GoH and NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren had a longer flight than most. He returned to Earth earlier today (December 11).

Expedition 45 flight engineers Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos (Russian Federal Space Agency) and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) touched down at approximately 8:12 a.m. EST (7:12 p.m. Kazakhstan time) northeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. It was the first time a crew has landed after sunset and only the sixth nighttime Soyuz return from the space station.

 

Kjell Lindgren

Kjell Lindgren

(11) BE YOUR OWN ALIEN. See the cartoon at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal“Why has no one made this?!”

(12) Today In History

  • December 11, 1992:  The Muppet Christmas Carol premieres in theaters.

(13) Today’s Birthday Ghoul

  • Born December 11, 1922 – Vampira, aka Maila Nurmi.

(14) PUPPY SCHOLARSHIP. Doris V. Sutherland in “2014 Hugos Versus 2015 Sad Puppies: Short Stories” quotes Gregory Benford’s complaint about fantasy taking over the Hugo Awards, and after a long introduction to the Sad Puppy controversy (excerpted here) assays the sf worth of the 2014 Hugo finalists compared to the stories on the slates.

The grave talk of a fight against a “toxic” and “hateful” ideology that controls the Hugos is a long way from the puckish humour of Correia’s early posts. At this point, what started out as a jokey bit of grandstanding has begun to resemble an online holy war against “SJW” hordes.

This element of moral imperative is the key distinction between the Sad Puppies campaign and earlier exercises in slate-voting, such as John Scalzi’s “Award Pimpage”. When a slate of potential nominees is taken as a simple suggestion, that is one thing; when it is taken as a call to arms against evil forces, that is quite another.

And the Winner Is… Well, Nobody

I am, of course, awfully late to the party, and by now I think just about anyone reading this will know the result of the two campaigns. The Sad and Rabid Puppies gathered enough support to sweep the nominees with a mixture of choices from the two slates. And yet, they also had enough detractors to keep almost all of those choices from winning – even if it meant voting “no award” to the tops of multiple categories.

Both sides took this as a victory. Many opponents of the Puppies congratulated themselves on keeping the slated works from winning, while supporters took the results as evidence that the Hugos were run by “SJWs” who barred any nominees with the wrong ideology.

Myself, I would have to agree with Liana Kerzner: “No one won. It was just a disruption in the Force like Palpatine ripped a big fart.”

(15) CONTENT WARNING. The Castalia House blog has posted the first two of a five-part series “Safe Space as Rape Room: Science Fiction Culture and Childhood’s End.” The series argues the sf community has a pedophilia problem. Whether you read it, you now know it exists – Part IPart II.

[Thanks to David Doering, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chris S.]

Pixel Scroll 12/9 The Flounce On The Doorstep

(1) MST3K+PO. Patton Oswalt has agreed to join Mystery Science Theater 3000 as the Forrester’s newest Evil Henchman, TV’s Son of TV’s Frank. Joel Hodgson explains:

I first became aware of Patton around fourteen years ago, when he was doing “commentary” for the MTV Awards – live in the room during the event! I realized right away he was a kindred spirit, and damn funny too. Since then, obviously, he’s bloomed into this amazing comedy/internet dynamo, and I’ve gotta tell you: I’ve seen a lot of stand-ups over the years, but – no lie – Patton really is one of the best ever. And just as important, he’s a very fun, articulate and witty soul – just the kind of person who we’ve always tried to bring onboard for MST3K.

That’s probably why, when I started putting together my dream roster of special “guest writers” for the next season of MST3K, the idea of Patton kept coming back to me. I knew he was a Mystery Science Theater fan from way back – he even moderated our 20th Anniversary Reunion panel at San Diego Comic-Con)–and I thought he’d be terrific at writing riffs. Then I started to wonder if he might be a good fit on camera, too.

Remember last week, how I said my creative process usually starts with visuals, and then I work backward? Well, in this case, I first imagined Patton dressed up like TV’s Frank. I figured maybe he’d be Frank’s son, or at least a clone. But yeah: the idea of Patton wearing black lab assistant’s garb, with a big mound of silver hair and a spitcurl…? It was just really funny to me, in a visual / cross-referential / meta kind of way.

(2) HIGH CASTLE. Marc Haefele, once the editor for some of Philip K. Dick’s later books from Doubleday, praised Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle on an NPR affiliate’s show “Off-Ramp.” BEWARE MINOR SPOILERS.

Juliana (Alexa Davalos) — Frink’s estranged wife in the book, his girlfriend in the series — was that rarest of Dick characters, a strong, positive, effective woman. She is even more so on the screen. The substitution of various film reels for the original fictional novel McGuffin generally works, albeit there seem to be a few too many abandoned operating 16 mm projectors left around.

And there are some clunkers. Like when the Nazi elevated monorail from which-side-is-he-on Nazi/underground operative Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) descends bears the label “U-Bahn.” Whoops, that’s a subway folks. The elevated is an “S-Bahn.” Or why is “Mack the Knife,” a song by a Communist  (Bertolt Brecht) and a Jew (Kurt Weill), being  sung at an otherwise terrifyingly well-imagined Aryan Victory Day picnic in occupied Long Island?

(3) BEST STAR WARS MOVIE. Michael J. Martinez marches on: his Star Wars rewatch has reached movie #5 — “Star Wars wayback machine: The Empire Strikes Back”.

In this rewatch, we have the crown jewel of the entire saga: The Empire Strikes Back. Pretty much everything we love about Star Wars is front-and-center here, and this one stands up to the test of time as well as any classic film you can think of. Yes, it’s as good as I remembered.

(4) FICTIONAL HISTORY. Jonathan Nield delivers “A defense of historical fiction” at Pornokitsch.

…Perhaps this introduction may be most fitly concluded by something in the nature of apology for Historical Romance itself. Not only has fault been found with the deficiencies of unskilled authors in that department, but the question has been asked by one or two critics of standing – What right has the Historical Novel to exist at all? More often than not, it is pointed out, the Romancist gives us a mass of inaccuracies, which, while they mislead the ignorant (i.e., the majority?), are an unpardonable offence to the historically-minded reader. Moreover, the writer of such Fiction, though he be a Thackeray or a Scott, cannot surmount barriers which are not merely hard to scale, but absolutely impassable. The spirit of a period is like the selfhood of a human being – something that cannot be handed on; try as we may, it is impossible for us to breathe the atmosphere of a bygone time, since all those thousand-and-one details which went to the building up of both individual and general experience, can never be reproduced….

(5) RIDING HIGH IN APRIL, SHOT DOWN IN MAY. We all have those days.

(6) BURSTEIN IN TRANSLATION. Michael A. Burstein had a short story in a recent issue of the Chinese prozine Science Fiction World.

I am pleased to announce that my short story “The Soldier WIthin” has been translated and published in the November 2015 issue of [Chinese characters]. (In English, the magazine is known as Science Fiction World.) This is my first time having a story translated into Chinese or published in China. I’d like to thank Joe Haldeman for having purchased the story for the anthology Future Weapons of War back in 2007, and the editor of SF World, Dang Xiaoyu (I hope I have that right), for choosing to reprint the story .

In theory, this means the story will be read by approximately 1 million people in China. That would make it the most widely read story of mine.

(7) THE BILLIONS NOBODY WANTED. Remember when no film buyers wanted Star Wars for their theater chains? Me neither. But several swear it happened in “’Star Wars’ Flashback: When No Theater Want to Show the Movie in 1977”, an article from The Hollywood Reporter.

LENIHAN I was 23 and booking country towns in Northern California for United Artists, which also owned the Coronet Theatre in San Francisco. I tease Travis all the time that the only time I ever won was when he picked The Deep for a theater in Redding, Calif., while I picked Star Wars. On opening day at the Coronet, there were lines around the block. It played there until Close Encounters of the Third Kind opened in December, and we were still hitting our holdover numbers.

(8) FAMOUS COSTUMES. The “Star Wars and the Power of Costume” exhibit will be moving to Denver where it will run from November 13, 2016-April 2, 2017.

Included in the show’s 60 costumes, which will be displayed in the museum’s Hamilton Building Anschutz and McCormick galleries, are such classics as Princess Leia’s bikini, Darth Vader’s menacing black uniform, and the royal red gown Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) wore in 1999’s ” Star Wars: Phanton Menace.”

In addition to featuring costumes and conceptual art, the exhibit includes videos with designers, actors and George Lucas talking about the creative process.

(9) UNHEARD OF. New York Magazine discovered it takes less than 90 seconds to repeat all the dialogue spoken by women other than Princess Leia in the entire original Star Wars trilogy.

(10) STAR CHOW. And if that doesn’t give you a case of Star Wars-related indigestion, here’s a couple more things to try.

You’ll need:
Donut holes
12 ounces white candy melts
Black icing
Blue icing
Orange Icing
Lollipop sticks

 

When it comes to setting up a holiday dinner table, why not make it more festive by incorporating Star Wars! Flavored butter can be made to be savory or sweet. Pumpkin Spice and Cranberry orange butters are warm and seasonal and taste great with breads and scones. Garlic Herb and Sriracha Lime have a kick that goes well with crackers and sandwiches made of leftovers.

By shaping them into stormtrooper helmets the butter becomes a unique and fun way to add Star Wars to your traditional holiday meal.

(11) HOLY ANDY WARHOL! Or failing that, an entire line of Campbell’s products in Star Wars-themed cans.

star wars campbell soup cans COMP

(12) HOUSE CALL. Should you need an antidote, try paging through Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook by Chris-Rachael Oseland.

Your taste buds are about to take a wibbly wobbly, timey wimey adventure through the 2005 Doctor Who reboot. Megafan and food writer Chris-Rachael Oseland spent a year rewatching all of series one through six and experimenting in her kitchen to bring you a fresh recipe for every single episode. There are recipes in here for every level of cook. If you’re terrified of the kitchen, there are things so simple even Micky the Idiot couldn’t get them wrong. For the experienced chefs, there are advanced fish and beef dishes that wouldn’t be amiss on the Starship Titanic. Along the way, you’ll also find plenty of edible aliens to decorate the table at your next Doctor Who viewing party.

This book is a treat for any Whovian who wants to offer more than a plate of fish fingers and a bowl of custard at your next viewing party. Want to host an elegant dinner party to show off your new Tardis corset? Start the evening with a Two Streams Garden Cocktail followed by Baked Hath, Marble Cucumber Circuits with Vesuvian Fire Dipping Sauce, Professor Yana’s Gluten Neutrino Map Binder, Slitheen Eggs, and some of Kazran’s Night Sky Fog Cups for dessert.

(13) PARODY. Ed Fortune wrote and produced a homage to the world of sci-fi fandom called This Is Not The Actor You Are Looking For, the story of an actor from a popular movie franchise with a confession to make.

(14) THEY MIGHT BE. The BFG official trailer #1. A girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kindhearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because unlike his peers refuses to eat boys and girls.

(15) INSTANT CLASSIC. Kyra’s lyrics to “Old Man Zombie”

Old man zombie,
That old man zombie,
He don’t say nothing
But won’t stop moving —
He just keeps shambling
He just keeps shambling along.

It might be fungal,
It might be viral,
We might be trapped in
A downward spiral,
But old man zombie
He just keeps shambling along.

You and me, we sweat and swear,
Body all aching and racked with fear,
Bar that door!
Hide that pit!
I wandered off alone
And I just got bit.

I’m infected
Your brain I’m eyeing,
I’m scared of living
And tired of dying,
I’m old man zombie
And just keep shambling along!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Josh Jasper.]

Pixel Scroll 12/8 When Blogs Collide

(1) ROBOTS FLASH. At the Barnes & Noble blog they’re “Introducing the 12 Days of Robot Christmas” — 12 Days of Flash Fiction from Angry Robot Authors (plus eBook discounts). Posted so far —

Still to come — Adam Rakunas (12/9), Marianne de Pierres (12/10), Peter McLean (12/11) , Carrie Patel (12/14), Ferrett Steinmetz (12/15), Peter Tieryas (12/16), Rod Duncan (12/17), and Matthew De Abaitua (12/18)

Matt Hill’s installment “The New Tradition” begins with a strong hook –

Every Christmas Eve since the biological attack, they let me visit Nan to see what was left of her.

(2) LANSDALE. Joe R. Lansdale will be honored with the 2015 Raymond Chandler Award at Courmayeur during the Noir in Festival to be held December 8-13.

With over forty novels and hundreds of stories to his credit, Lansdale is perhaps the most prolific and brilliant writer working in the noir genre today. With models such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Mark Twain and Jack London, but also the science fiction of Ray Bradbury and Fredric Brown, as well as comic strips, B movies and “pulp” fiction, Lansdale´s novels are a blend of his jaded sense of humor, unbridled imagination and an unsparing description of reality in its most ruthless, violent and absurd incarnations. His books include The Drive-In and The Drive-In 2, Mucho Mojo, Two-Bear Mambo, Bad Chili, Rumble Tumble, Edge of Dark Water, Devil Red, The Bottoms (winner of an Edgar Award in 2001), Bubba Ho-Tep, and Hap & Leonard.

At Courmayeur, Lansdale will be presenting his latest novel, Honky Tonk Samurai (published in Italian by Einaudi): a new investigative romp featuring the popular characters Hap Collins and Leonard Pine.

The Raymond Chandler Award is a lifetime achievement award. Past winners include sf/f/h writer J.G. Ballard (1995), and Michael Connelly, Scott Turow and John le Carré,

(3) COMPANION ISSUES. James Whitbrook tells how he deals with post-traumatic television series stress in his confessional “The Exact Moment When Doctor Who Taught Me to Never Trust Television Again” at io9.

And being an idiot teen, it was shocking enough to basically make myself vow to never be hurt by television again. Oh, teen James. TV drama basically exists to hurt us on an emotional level, you silly fool. But it kickstarted a habit I still have to this day—if I’m invested in a television series, be it Doctor Who or anything else, I keep up with all the behind the scenes info I can. I go as far as to hunt out spoilers, just to see what’s happening or if people are leaving a show, so I can prepare myself. If I’m binge-watching a show and find myself liking a certain character, I absent-mindedly Google them on my phone to find out if they inevitably die or leave the series before it ends. It infuriates my friends and family, but it’s a force of habit for myself now.

(4) Alamo Drafthouse will host a movie-watching endurance contest in Austin — Star Wars : The Marathon Awakens.

Starting promptly at 4 AM, December 17th, the seven pre-selected fans will take their seats at Alamo’s South Lamar venue to view the first six STAR WARS films in sequential order. Following the close of the initial marathon they will then participate in an endless, round-the-clock screening of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS until one final fan is left to claim their mantle of inter-galactic super fan supremacy….

For a chance to be chosen as one of the seven lucky participants in STAR WARS: THE MARATHON AWAKENS, fans need to show the Alamo Drafthouse their Jedi devotion on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook using the #AlamoJedi hashtag. Tattoos, toy collections, cosplay, Hoth haiku — whatever he or she feels shows their ultimate dedication to STAR WARS should be posted to sway the votes of the Alamo’s Jedi Council.

Rules are a requirement for every budding Jedi and STAR WARS: THE MARATHON AWAKENS is no exception. Participants will be given breaks between movies to stretch their legs and channel their inner Force. Sleeping, illegal drugs and talking & texting during the movies (of course) will result in disqualification and a swift trip to the Sarlacc Pit. However, for those strong enough to persevere, intergalactic immortality awaits.

(5) EDELMAN REVISITS 1974. Scott Edelman’s first Worldcon was Discon II in 1974. He has posted scans of the event schedule.

So which of these programming items did I choose to attend?

Well, there was no way I was going to miss Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison hurling insults at each other across a crowded ballroom, or the screening of a rough cut of A Boy and His Dog, or Roger Zelazny’s Guest of Honor speech, or the Hugo banquet and ceremony. Or endless wandering through the dealers room, where I picked up several items I still own to this day.

Sadly, of many panels I remember little. A women in science fiction panel featuring Susan Wood, Katherine Kurtz, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro? A panel on the problems facing today’s (well, 1974’s) science fiction magazines, with Jim Baen, Ben Bova, Ed Ferman, and Ted White? How I wish there was audio or video of those for us to relive those presentations today!

(6) TRAILER FORECAST. ScreenRant has learned the Star Trek Beyond trailer will premiere with Star Wars 7.

THR is reporting that Star Trek Beyond‘s first trailer will be attached to The Force Awakens in theaters – though, of course, it’s far from the only 2016 tentpole that is expected to hitch a ride aboard the Star Wars train. Indeed, both the recently-unveiled Captain America: Civil War teaser trailer and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s third theatrical preview are both likely candidates to be shown before The Force Awakens. Furthermore, it’s been reported in the past that the first X-Men: Apocalypse trailer will make its debut on the big screen with co-writer/director J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars feature, as might also be true for another 20th Century Fox project – Roland Emmerich’s alien invasion sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence.

(7) SCULL ANALYZES TOLKIEN BIOS. Christina Scull assays the field in “Tolkien Biographies Continued, Part One” on Too Many Books and Never Enough.

Christina writes: In the Reader’s Guide volume of our J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide Wayne and I devoted nearly seven pages to a review of biographies of Tolkien which had appeared to date (2006). Carpenter’s of course was, and remains, the standard life, and the source upon which most subsequent biographers of Tolkien have relied to a great extent. The major exceptions, in terms of new research, are John Garth in Tolkien and the Great War and ourselves in the Companion and Guide, but a few others have made notable contributions to the literature. Diana Pavlac Glyer in The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community (2007) has a worthwhile discussion of the importance of the Inklings to Tolkien. Andrew H. Morton has produced two studies (the first in association with John Hayes) centred on Tolkien’s Aunt Jane Neave: Tolkien’s Gedling 1914: The Birth of a Legend (2008) and Tolkien’s Bag End: Threshold to Adventure (2009). Phil Mathison has filled in some details about Tolkien’s life during the First World War in Tolkien in East Yorkshire 1917–1918 (2012). And Arne Zettersten in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Double Worlds and Creative Process: Language and Life by Arne Zettersten (2011, previously published in Swedish in 2008) recalls his meetings and conversations with Tolkien in the latter’s final years (although Zettersten refers to correspondence, no quotations are given) and usefully discusses Tolkien’s academic work on the ‘AB language’.

(8) A ROAD NOT TAKEN. The actor’s daughter told the Guardian that “Toshiro Mifune turned down Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader Roles” when George Lucas was casting the original Star Wars movie.

The star of Rashomon and Seven Samurai was approached by George Lucas to appear in his 1977 sci-fi adventure, but the two couldn’t strike a deal, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“I heard from my father that he was offered the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but he was concerned about how the film would look and that it would cheapen the image of samurai, on which George Lucas had based a lot of the character and fighting style,” said Mika.

The plot of Star Wars was loosely based on The Hidden Fortress, a 1958 film that Mifune starred in for director and frequent collaborator Akira Kurosawa.

“At the time, sci-fi movies still looked quite cheap as the effects were not advanced and he had a lot of samurai pride,” Mika said. “So then, there was talk about him taking the Darth Vader role as his face would be covered, but in the end he turned that down too.”

Other actors who turned down roles in the film include Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Burt Reynolds, Robert De Niro and James Caan.

(9) BRACKETT SMACK. Christopher M. Chupik volunteers his previously unsuspected ability to identify deserving feminist icons in “To Tower Against The Sky”.

Despite being an inspiration to such writers as Ray Bradbury, Michael Moorcock and E. C. Tubb, Brackett seems to have fallen into a curious limbo. Feminists like to invoke her name in lists of female SF authors, but there seems to be a curious reluctance to speak of the woman or her work. A female writer who held her own in a male-dominated field long before the women’s liberation movement would seem to be the kind of role model modern feminists would want to celebrate, right?

Wrong. Nowadays, she’s mostly known for having written the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back, very little of which made it to the screen. And this is often portrayed as the crowning achievement of her career….

And here, I suspect, we come to the real reason the feminists have marginalized Brackett: she was a conservative.

I had to dig a bit to confirm this. I had a suspicion based on her work that her opinions were not quite in tune with modern leftist orthodoxy. Brackett, along with her husband Edmond Hamilton, were signatories to the pro-Vietnam War petition that appeared in the June 1968 issue of Galaxy. Combine that with her disinterest in feminism, and it becomes very clear why Brackett has been allowed to drift towards obscurity

(10) THEY TOLD DISNEY NO THANKS. The Hollywood Reporter says “Plans for Unfinished Disney Park in St. Louis Up for Auction”  — by Profiles in History, on Thursday.

In the 1960s, Disney drew up plans for an indoor theme park in downtown St. Louis before giving up in a dispute over money and turning attention to Florida.

Imagine packing up the kids and heading for that dream vacation to a Disney theme park … in St. Louis.

It almost happened a half-century ago when Disney drew up plans for an indoor theme park in downtown St. Louis before giving up in a dispute over money and turning its attention to Florida. St. Louis’ loss was the Orlando area’s gain: Walt Disney World became one of the world’s top tourist attractions.

St. Louis can only lament what might have been….

On Thursday, one of the few remnants of the park goes on the auction block — 13 pages of 1963 blueprints spelling out plans for “Walt Disney’s Riverfront Square” in St. Louis. The Calabasas, Calif.-based company Profiles in History is offering up the blueprints as part of its “Animation and Disneyana” auction

(11) CANDIDATES FOR MST3K. Now that Mystery Science Theater 3000 has successfully crowdfunded a string of new episodes, the crew will have to pick some bad flicks to abuse. CNET’s Danny Gallagher helpfully names “7 movie turkeys the new MST3K needs to tackle”.

Any movie buff knows there are still plenty of bad movies out there that deserve to get the MST3K treatment. Here are seven of those stinkers.

  1. “Yor, the Hunter from the Future”

…The people who made this dud don’t seem sure what genre they want it to be. “Yor” starts as a prehistoric adventure movie, but it morphs into science fiction when UFOs and technological warfare are shoved into the plot. They should have called this one, “Yor, the Warrior from…Squirrel!”

(12) A POLITICAL COMMENT. Apparently having a nose isn’t enough to recommend him — J.K. Rowling tweeted Tuesday that Donald Trump is worse than Lord Voldemort.

Rowling’s tweet came after Trump called for preventing all Muslims from entering the United States.

(13) FOUNDING A CON. Lou J. Berger and Quincy J. Allen’s We Are ALL Science Fiction theme will be embodied by a convention bearing the same name, to be held November 4-6, 2016 in Ocean Shores, WA.

Put on by an all-fan, all-volunteer, non-profit group made up of fans with decades of experience in con running and attending (from all over the globe), our first annual convention will feature award-winning authors Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Jody Lynn Nye, and many others, including Hugo nominee Jennifer Brozek, Anna Korra’ti, Raven Oak, with other guests such as Scott Hungerford (Games), Marvel comic artist (and fine artist) Jeffrey Veregge, Musical guest Dara Korra’ti of Crime & the Forces of Evil, Tor editor Beth Meacham, and actor Drew Hobson (Voice of Marcus, State of Decay).  We hope to be an international fan destination as we add more speakers and guests in the coming months!

An Indiegogo appeal to pay the expenses has raised $25 of its $9,000 goal in the first 23 hours.

(14) THE FOUNDERS’ CODE. The We Are ALL Science Fiction Code of Conduct announced by Lou J. Berger and Quincy J. Allen is:

#WeAreALLSF is open to all comers, no exceptions, no exclusions, and in this place we treat everyone with respect, even if we disagree with them.

There is one rule: If you don’t have something nice to say, then say it someplace else. Lou and I will be rather draconian in removing those who can’t follow such a simple rule.

That is our one code of conduct.

(15) THE PAST THROUGH PHOTOSHOP. artworkofarmies’ collection “Images may not be historically accurate” improves WWII-era photos by adding science fictional references.

View post on imgur.com

(16) RETRO MOVES FORWARD. Von Dimpleheimer, our correspondent from 1940, has made progress with his due diligence for Volume 5 of Retro-Hugo eligible stories.

I went back and double and triple checked all the previous stories and the ones that would be in Volume Five and I found another mistake. In 1950, Nelson Bond made a fix-up novel of the Lancelot Biggs stories and did renew the copyright of that book in 1977. I removed “Lancelot Biggs Cooks a Pirate” from Volume One and uploaded the new version. I actually knew about the book and remember checking for a renewal, but just missed it somehow.

I cut the Lancelot Biggs stories from Volume Five and I am sure the remaining stories are public domain, but I’ll quintuple check them before I send you the links later this week.

On the plus side, all this checking led me to the fact that “Russell Storm” was actually Robert Moore Williams and I now have two more of his stories for future volumes.

(16) FAVORITE 2015 FANTASY. Stephanie Bugis’ list of “Favorite Fantasy Novels from 2015” leads off with a book by Aliette de Bodard.

 

  1. The House of Shattered Wings, by Aliette de Bodard. Rich, immersive, gorgeous dark fantasy with fallen angels and Vietnamese Immortals, set in a magically post-apocalyptic version of twentieth-century Paris. I read the whole thing on my overnight plane ride back from America to the UK this summer and was so absorbed, I didn’t even mind the lost sleep! You can read my full Goodreads review here.

(17) STOCK THE SHELVES. Melissa Gilbert’s post “Read Like a Writer” at Magical Words takes inspiration from several Stephen King quotes.

I am going to start with the first quotation: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

I cannot express how much truth there is to these statements. Writing is hard work, contrary to the romanticized ideal of a guy with a beret sitting in a Parisian coffee shop daydreaming about the next bestseller. Being a writer is sitting at the keyboard and pushing keys in rapid succession trying to convey into words the sometimes jumbled picture that is floating around in your brain. It’s living off Snickers bars for a while because you have a deadline and no time to cook actual food. It’s reading in the bathroom instead of Facebooking because you need to finish that next chapter. It’s lugging a book or forty with you in your suitcase when you go on vacation so that you don’t run out of things to read. It’s typing with your thumbs on your smartphone while waiting for the elevator or while commuting on the train so you can get your thousand words in that day. It’s talking to people when you get stuck. It’s staring at the blank page in abject fear that no ideas will come. Writing isn’t easy. Okay, maybe it is. Let me rephrase. GOOD writing isn’t easy. But some things (like reading) can help to make it pleasurable.

(18) ONE’S THE LIMIT. Madeleine E. Robins advocates limiting a character’s advantages over others in “A Rule of One” at Book View Café.

I have this theory. Or maybe it’s just an idea. It’s about the advantages you give your characters. And how many advantages you can give them without distracting from the story or making them unbearable.

Advantages? Beauty is one, and very common; but there’s also intelligence, skill, charm, grace, wit, fortune, discernment, athletic ability, good birth, kind parents, a person who encourages them to follow their dreams, etc. All of these things are wonderful. But most people don’t get to have them all. And if you write a character who does get them all, it’s sort of cheating.

This is particularly important in writing historical fiction, or fantasy set in an historically inspired context (it works for SF too, but to keep things simple I’m limiting my scope). It is easy, and tempting, to create a character who is ahead of her/his time: “You fools, feudalism is doomed! Let us storm the castle and demand the birth of democracy!” A reader may want to sympathize with a character who partakes of our sensibilities more than he does of those of his time, but some writers leave out any clue as to where that vision came from.

(19) RED MARS. According to io9, a live-action adaptation of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars is coming to Spike TV.

J. Michael Straczinski and Game of Throne’s Vince Gerardis are executive producing, and believe it or not, Spike TV has ordered it “straight-to-series” without a pilot.

(20) SELDES OBIT. Editor and literary agent Timothy Seldes died December 5 reports Newsday. He was 88.

Raised in New York City and a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, Seldes grew up around words, ideas and the performing arts. He was the brother of Tony-winning actress Marian Seldes, son of the drama critic and author Gilbert Seldes and nephew of the pioneering press critic George Seldes. He spent much of his editing career at the Doubleday house, where he rose to managing editor and authors included [Richard] Wright and Isaac Asimov.

(21) TWITTER. Your tweetage may vary. Ann Leckie’s certainly does, as she explains in “Me and Twitter”.

Now, I do look at my mentions, and not infrequently reply to those in some way. I do enjoy doing that. But every now and then, someone will turn up in my mentions in some way that’s very clearly designed to get my attention in a particular way–the tweeter wants me to notice their book, or asks explicitly that I follow them back (and they’re not someone I already know). I’m going to be honest, this irritates me. No offense, right? They’re obviously using Twitter as a promotional tool, where I’m using it to hang with people. This is mostly fine with me, in the abstract, I’ve got no problem with publicity or promotion. In the concrete and specific, I’d suggest that approaching promotion on Twitter as largely a question of amassing a lot of followers who you can then tweet to about your book is, perhaps, not as effective as you imagine it might be. I’ll also suggest that, if you want to engage the interest of someone with a lot of twitter followers, whose retweets or conversations with you might bring you the visibility you’re after, you might want to do your research about who that person is and why they have those followers, and not try to engage them with generic questions, let alone passive-aggressive tweets meant to guilt or provoke that person into replying or following back. But, you know, it’s your call, your life, your Twitter feed. And I’m totally okay with using the block and mute buttons whenever it seems convenient. (That would be the way the “react badly” mentioned in the tweets above usually manifests itself.)

(22) DRAWING TO A PAIR OF VONNEGUTS. Ginger Strand’s biography The Brothers Vonnegut is receiving mixed reviews, though all the critics say it’s interesting.

Katy Waldman on Slate finds some of connections discovered by the author “immensely satisfying.”

The Brothers Vonnegut, with its perfect-storm-of-concepts subtitle “Science and Fiction in the House of Magic,” focuses on Bernard and Kurt Vonnegut during the late ’40s and ’50s, when both were involved in the glittering ascent of General Electric during the postwar prosperity boom. Bernard, an MIT graduate and model elder son, researches at the company’s prestigious science lab. Kurt, having survived the Western Front (where he saw the firebombing of Dresden firsthand), takes a job as a PR flack, issuing zingy press releases about GE’s latest innovations.

Ben Jackson at the Guardian concludes:

[Kurt] didn’t hold out much hope for us: in Fates Worse than Death he wrote: “My guess is that … we really will blow up everything by and by”. No doubt Strand is right to locate the origin of many of his concerns in his time at GE, and there is certainly a lot to be said for her interesting book, but Kurt Vonnegut had more on his mind than the weather.

Jeff Milo at Paste Magazine is the most enthusiastic:

The benefits of The Brothers Vonnegut are threefold, starting with Strand’s insights into the professional and domestic lives of these two brothers, both equally strong-willed in their works despite their fields being worlds apart. Strand also draws attention to the vital support these brothers received from their wives, Lois Bowler with Bernard and Jane Marie Cox (Kurt’s first wife). More than that, though, these women are able to substantially enter into the narrative’s insightful spotlight, rather than being merely supportive backdrops for the brothers.

(23) RAMPAGE ON RECORD. Jim Mowatt’s run to Save the Rhino made the Cambridge News.

Mowatt in Cambridge News

(24) PLUTO ON CAMERA. NASA has released a video composed of the sharpest views of Pluto obtained by its New Horizons spacecraft during its flyby in July.

[Thanks to Von Dimpleheimer, Alan Baumler, David K.M. Klaus, JJ, Andrew Porter, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 11/10 The nine and sixty ways of constructing Pixel Scrolls

(1) Oscar handicappers have The Martian running second for Best Picture says Variety.

In the Oscar race for best picture, “The Martian” has taken off like a rocket among the predictions by media experts at Gold Derby. One month ago, it wasn’t even in the top 10, but now it’s tied for second place with “Joy,” both sharing 17 to 2 odds. “Spotlight” remains out front and has picked up support as it debuts in theaters.

(2) J. K. Rowling tweeted her favorite fan art of Sirius and James Potter:

https://twitter.com/lilymydeer/status/653257716232757248

(3) Auditioning to be the next Doctor?

(4) “Future’s Past: The astronauts of 2001: A Space Odyssey at The Space Review covers actors Keir Dullea’s and Gary Lockwood’s appearance at Dragon Con.

Lockwood also said that they got to meet the Apollo 11 crew, and then he paused and said, “I liked Neil… I don’t like Buzz.” He added that often when he and Dullea do joint appearances at film showings, somehow Buzz Aldrin always seems to appear and people want to introduce Aldrin to him. Lockwood drolly replies that he already knows the moonwalker. He implied that he had a similar low opinion of William Shatner, with whom he appeared in the second television pilot for Star Trek.

Lockwood also told a great story about working on the centrifuge set, which he thought was brilliantly designed. He joked that he realized that Kubrick hired him for the job because of his previous experience as a cowboy stuntman. One day Lockwood found himself strapped into his chair, eating goop from his food tray—upside down. Keir Dullea was supposed to climb down the ladder at the center of the set and then the whole set would rotate as he walked over to where Lockwood was sitting. Kubrick called “action” and told Lockwood to take a bite, and Lockwood then watched as the three squares of goop slowly peeled off his tray… and fell nearly 70 feet to the floor below, splattering everything on the pristine white set. They didn’t shoot for the rest of the day.

The actors took some questions from the audience and had some really interesting answers. For instance, somebody asked if they knew that the film would be a classic. Dullea said that he had his doubts because the early reviews were so poor. In particular, he mentioned New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael’s infamous devastating review, where she referred to 2001 as “trash masquerading as art” and “monumentally unimaginative.” Kael later recanted upon seeing the film a second time, but 2001 received numerous other lackluster and even harsh reviews. Considering that 2001 was released way behind schedule and over budget, expectations had been high, and presumably many critics were waiting to pounce.

(5) Entertainment Weekly has the good word — “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Is Returning”.

Next year, TV viewers will be able to relive all manner of classic ’90s shows, with new episodes of The X-FilesTwin Peaks, Gilmore Girls, and Full House on the horizon. Add one more returning series to that list, as Joel Hodgson is announcing Tuesday that his beloved cult creation Mystery Science Theater 3000 is coming back after 15 years of dormancy.

For those unaware, the premise of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is brilliantly simple: A mad scientist has launched a man into space, and he torments said subject with psychological experiments that involve him watching some of the worst movies ever made. In order to keep it together, the poor marooned host talks back at the screen, aided by a pair of pop culture-obsessed robots. The MST3K crew may not have invented talking back to the screen, but they certainly brought it to the masses.

(6) Gray Rinehart finds connections between running for local office and his experience as a Hugo nominee in “Political Lessons and… the Hugo Awards?”

I ran for elective office this year, and lost. (For the record, I spent about 0.41% of the total that all four candidates in my district spent up until the election, and I got 3.5% of the vote. Not close to winning, but a good return on my meager investment.)

I was also nominated for a Hugo Award this year, and lost. The story behind that has been chronicled on this blog and elsewhere, and I won’t go into it in this post. (For the record, and as nearly as I can tell from trying to figure out the preferential voting numbers, about 9% of the 5100 novelette voters selected my story as their first choice. I ended up in fourth place . . . two spots below “No Award.”)

I introduce the fact of my being on political and literary ballots this year because I observed two things in the recent Town Council election process that seem pertinent to this year’s Hugo Awards. Specifically, that the political parties inserted themselves deeply into what was supposed to be a nonpartisan race, and other players also wielded considerable influence; and that a lot of voter information was readily available for the candidates to use.

A lot of food for thought. Among Rinehart’s many points:

And as long as we divide ourselves, or in the case of fandom subdivide ourselves; as long as we separate ourselves into (virtual or actual) walled-off enclaves and echo chambers, and associate only with those who look like us, act like us, and believe the things we do; we will find it harder to understand, relate to, and get along with one another — in civil life as well as in the SF&F community.

I think we would be well-served as a fannish community if we talked more about what we love and why we love it, without implying that those who do not love it as we do are ignorant or contemptible. And I think we would be better off if we recalled another RAH observation, also from Friday (emphasis in original): “Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms . . . but a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.”

(7) A fascinating installment of Robert W. Weinberg’s memoirs published by Tangent Online in 2011, “Collecting Fantasy Art #5: Lail, It Rhymes With Gail”

Six months later, Victor grew tired of the Freas and traded it to me.  The impossible had happened.  So much for my predictions. I now owned the original cover paintings for the first and second serial installments of Robert Heinlein’s novel, The Door Into Summer.  Immediately, I contacted Al, the guy I had met at the 1976 World SF Convention in Kansas City, to see if he still owned the third and final cover painting for the serial.  I had passed on that cover, though it had been priced cheap, because I had felt certain at the time I would never obtain the second cover painting for the novel.  Now that I had that piece, I really wanted the third cover so I would have all three paintings for the novel.

No such luck.  Al had sold the Freas painting at the convention.  He didn’t remember who bought it, and he didn’t even remember how much they had paid for it.  The painting was long gone.  I had had a chance to buy it back in Kansas City and had passed it by.

I learned my lesson that day.  Only too well.   Never pass up a painting of minor importance because someday that minor meaning might explode.  It was a difficult lesson to learn, but an important one.  It’s one I have never forgotten.

(8) No other writer handles one-star reviews this badly. “British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle” at Gawker.

A 28-year-old British man, most notable for his 2006 victory on the quiz show Countdown, tracked down a Scottish teenager who’d written a negative review of his self-published novel and shattered a bottle of wine on the back of her head. The aspiring author pleaded guilty to the 2014 assault in a Scottish court Monday, the Mirror reported.

Brittain claimed the early reception for The World Rose was strong, blogging that “The praise I received was remarkable and made me feel great; I was compared to Dickens, Shakespeare, Rowling, Raymond E Feist and Nora Roberts.”

…But he also complained about bad reviews from “idiots” and “teenagers.”

One of those teenagers was Paige Rolland, the eventual victim of Brittain’s savage bottle attack. Her entire harsh (but fair) review has been preserved on Amazon, but this passage really sums up her criticism:

As a reader, I’m bored out of my skull and severely disappointed in what I might have paid for. As a writer (albeit an amateur one) I’m appalled that anyone would think this was worthy of money.

Not only does it begin with “once upon a time” which you could argue is perfect as this is a fairytale (and it doesn’t work, it’s incredibly pretentious), but it’s filled with many writing no-nos. Way too much telling, pretentious prose, and a main character that I already hate. Ella is the perfect princess (true to fairytales, so we can at least give him a little credit despite how painfully annoying this is coupled with a complete lack of real personality shining through).

Rolland also noted that Brittain “has gained a bit of infamy on Wattpad where he’s known for threatening users who don’t praise him (pray for me),” which turned out to be quite portentous.

(9) Here’s a word I’m betting you haven’t in your NaNoWriMo novel yet.

(10) Strange poll.

It’s a perennial question. I remember at the 1995 Lunacon that Mordechai Housman, an Orthodox Jew, was having fun circulating copies of his provocative arti­cle Hitler’s Crib, which tries to determine wheth­er religious law would permit time travel and, specifically, wheth­er it would permit travel­ing in time to kill Hitler.

(11) You know this guy: “Plane” at The Oatmeal.

(12) Today In History

  • November 10, 1969Sesame Street debuts.
  • November 10, 1969 — Gene Autry received a gold record for the single, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 20 years after its release.

(13) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • November 10, 1960 – Neil Gaiman

(14) James Whitbrook presents “The 7 Least Subtle Political Allegories on Doctor Who. His pick at number one (most lacking in subtlety) is “The Happiness Patrol.”

But it’s the despot herself who is the most obvious pastiche. Sheila Hancock openly plays the leader Helen A as a satirical take on then-Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady” who dominated British politics. At the time, this barely made ripples, but a 2010 story in the British newspaper The Sunday Times about the connection—featuring a quote from Sylvester McCoy describing Mrs. Thatcher as “more terrifying than any monster the Doctor had encountered”—saw Conservative politicians in uproar at the anti-Conservative bias this revealed on the part of the BBC. Ex-script editor Andrew Cartmel was brought onto the BBC news program Newsnight to answer claims that the 1980s Doctor Who creative team had been a source of left-wing propaganda in the wake of the “revelation”… despite the story having been no particular secret, 22 years earlier.

Always remember – science fiction is never about the future….

(15) A previously unpublished Leigh Brackett story is one of the lures to buy Haffner Press’ tribute book, Leigh Brackett Centennial.

SF and mystery author Leigh Brackett (1915-1978) – who also wrote screenplays for The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo and The Empire Strikes Back —?is represented by an array of nonfiction pieces by and about here, as well as the previously unpublished story “They,” which Haffner describes as “a mature science fiction tale of power and intrigue, of homegrown xenophobia versus stellar exploration, with an answer to the ultimate question: ‘Are we alone?’” The volume collects the majority of Brackett’s nonfiction writings, supplemented with vintage interviews and commentaries/remembrances from such luminaries as Ray Bradbury, Michael Moorcock, Richard A. Lupoff and more.

Brackett writes of bringing Philip Marlowe into the 1970s for Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye in “From The Big Sleep to The Long Goodbye and More or Less How We Got There.”

SF-author and NASA employee Joseph Green records the time he hosted Brackett at the launch of Apollo XII . . .
Midwest bookseller Ray Walsh documents the day he escorted Brackett to view a new groundbreaking space-fantasy film in the summer 1977…

Order the book at this link: http://www.haffnerpress.com/book/lb100/

(16) John Scalzi gives his take on balancing awards and mental health:

I’ve won and lost enough awards to know an award is not The Thing That Changes Everything. An award is fun, an award is nice, an award may even be, at times, significant. But at the end of the day, whether you win or lose, you still go home with yourself, and you don’t change — at least, not because of an award. It’s perfectly fine to want an award (I’ve wanted them from time to time, you can be assured) and it’s perfectly okay to be disappointed if you don’t get one. But ultimately, putting the responsibility for your happiness onto an award, which is, generally speaking, a thing over which you have absolutely no control, is a very fine way to become unhappy. Which will not be on the award, or any of the people who voted for it. It will be on you, whether you want to own that fact or not.

(17) Luna Lindsey reviews two competing online tools in “Panlexicon vs. Visual Thesaurus — Who Will Win?” at the SFWA Blog.

I kept Visual Thesaurus on retainer as my go-to onomasticon until I stumbled upon Panlexicon.com in all of its simple, elegant magic.

The power of Panlexicon lies in its ability to search on multiple terms, which will bring up a larger spectrum of metonyms than most thesauri (including Visual Thesaurus). So it’s perfect for finding that just-out-of-reach expression when all you can remember are remotely-related numinous approximations of what you’re going for. Simply type two or more related words or phrases, separated by a comma, and voilà. (And of course, you can always search a standalone word.)

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., Mark-kitteh, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Jim Meadows for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]